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Islamic World News ( 16 Sept 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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UAE and Bahrain Channels Share Live Broadcast with Israeli Channel for The First Time in History


New Age Islam News Bureau

17 September 2020

 

News channels from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel share a live broadcast for the first time in history. (Twitter)

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• Hospital Will Hold the Centre Stage on Ayodhya Mosque Complex: Architect of The Mosque Complex in Ayodhya

• Pakistan Court Indicts 4 Close Aides of Hafiz Saeed In Terror Financing Cases

• Afghan Peace Team Leader, Masoom Stanekzai, Calls for Islamic Republic System to Be Upheld

• Pompeo Praises ‘Monumental’ Deal Between UAE, Bahrain And Israel

• Sudan Says It Has Dismantled Terrorist Cell in Khartoum, Seized Massive Explosives

• U.S. Military Seeks Authority to Expand Counterterrorism Drone War to Kenya

• After 28 Years, 9 Serbs Held Over Bosnia Killings of Muslims

 

Mideast

• UAE and Bahrain Channels Share Live Broadcast with Israeli Channel for The First Time in History

• Rouhani Urges Betrayers of Palestine Not to Claim Arabism

• Lawmaker: Iran to Restore Unlimited Peaceful N. Industry If UNSC Sanctions Reinstated

• Iran: US, Defying N. Deal Parties Not Entitled to Use Trigger Mechanism

• MP: Parliament to Require Gov’t to End All N. Deal Undertakings If Trigger Mechanism Activated

• Turkish police detain over 100 people with alleged ties to Gulen: Report

• Israeli aircraft strike Gaza after rocket barrage from strip amid fallout over Arab normalization deals

• Fury in Palestine, Bahrain over ‘deals of shame’ with Israel

• Israeli jets bomb Gaza after rocket fire clouds peace deal signing

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India

• Hospital Will Hold the Centre Stage on Ayodhya Mosque Complex: Architect of The Mosque Complex in Ayodhya

• Islamic State Most Active in A Dozen Indian States, Union Home Ministry Tells Rajya Sabha

• Babri mosque demolition case verdict on Sept 30; LK Advani among 32 accused asked to be present

• Three terrorists, woman killed in encounter in J&K

• J&K youth held for terror link found dead

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Pakistan

• Pakistan Court Indicts 4 Close Aides of Hafiz Saeed In Terror Financing Cases

• If Pakistan Is Unwilling to Protect Its Shia Citizens, They May Look to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

• Pakistan: Hardline Sunni groups on collision course with Shiites

• Pakistan parliament passes three FATF related bills amid opposition protests

• Stringent law to curb child abuse, rape on the cards

• IHC disposes of Nawaz’s appeal against order in Al-Azizia case, for now

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South Asia

• Afghan Peace Team Leader, Masoom Stanekzai, Calls for Islamic Republic System to Be Upheld

• Discussing Cause of War Determines Peace in Afghanistan: Taliban Spokesman

• Taliban Tell Afghan Government They Have No Aim to Seize Power

• Pompeo: Less than 200 Al Qaeda Left in Afghanistan

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Arab world

• Pompeo Praises ‘Monumental’ Deal Between UAE, Bahrain And Israel

• How The Islamic State Found A Haven In Syrian Desert

• Iraq, counter-IS coalition kill, capture Islamic State figures

• Syria calls US ‘rogue state’ over Trump remark on wanting to kill al-Assad

• Rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone housing US embassy: Reports

• Lebanon hits bottom of barrel credit rating as government formation flounders

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Africa

• Sudan Says It Has Dismantled Terrorist Cell in Khartoum, Seized Massive Explosives

• Libya east-based force: 7 militants, foreign fighters killed

• Nigeria's 3rd Place in Global Terrorism Ranking Disappointing, Says APC Group

• Al-Shabab growing more emboldened in targeting US troops

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North America

• U.S. Military Seeks Authority to Expand Counterterrorism Drone War to Kenya

• US will do all it needs to do to ensure Iran sanctions enforced: Pompeo

• US Secretary Pompeo criticizes France for policy on Iran, Hezbollah

• NJ man admits to supporting foreign terrorist organization

• Hundreds gather to honour man stabbed to death outside Toronto mosque

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Europe

• After 28 Years, 9 Serbs Held Over Bosnia Killings of Muslims

• UK repatriates British child from Syria despite ISIS policy

• Turkey open to ‘constructive’ talks but determined on east Med, Erdogan tells Merkel

• EU chief pledges to defend Cyprus rights in Turkey standoff

• France Arrests Four Ex-Directors Of Shia Zahra Centre Founded By Hezbollah Supporter

• Palestinian doctor caught in ‘dirty squabble’ between MI5 and New IRA

• Explosives accused 'interested in white supremacy'

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Southeast Asia

• Muhyiddin unveils Perikatan-led Opposition manifesto that aims to address Sabah’s woes

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL:  https://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/uae-and-bahrain-channels-share-live-broadcast-with-israeli-channel-for-the-first-time-in-history/d/122876

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 UAE and Bahrain Channels Share Live Broadcast with Israeli Channel for The First Time in History

16 September 2020

 

News channels from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel share a live broadcast for the first time in history. (Twitter)

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News channels from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel shared a live broadcast for the first time in history after the two Arab Gulf states signed treaties normalizing ties with Israel on Tuesday.

“After the signing of the peace deal between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, we witness the first TV broadcast of its kind between an Emirati channel, Dubai TV, an Israeli channel, Channel 12, and a Bahraini channel, Bahrain TV,” Dubai TV presenter Mohammed al-Kaabi said at the start of the broadcast.

A signing ceremony for the US-brokered peace deals was held in Washington, DC on Tuesday at the White House.

“Welcome. From the White House garden to the Middle East, the wind of peace is blowing in this important day in the Arab-Israeli conflict. For the first time in history, a live broadcast from Israeli Channel 12 and the official channels of the UAE, Dubai TV, and Bahrain TV. We send you peace from Jerusalem,” Israeli news anchor Yonit Levi said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed agreements with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani.

The UAE was the first Gulf country, and the third in the Arab world, to normalize ties with Israel, and Bahrain announced shortly after it would follow the UAE’s lead.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/16/First-of-its-kind-UAE-Bahrain-channels-share-live-broadcast-with-Israeli-channel

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Hospital Will Hold the Centre Stage on Ayodhya Mosque Complex: Architect of The Mosque Complex in Ayodhya

Sep 16, 2020

 

Jamia Millia Islamia’s Architecture Department dean Professor SM Akhtar.

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Founder Dean, Faculty of Architecture & Ekistics, Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof SM Akhtar, who has been appointed architect of the mosque complex in Ayodhya smashes the stereotype of mosques with huge domes and minarets, saying legacies of Muslim rulers don’t define Islamic architecture. Speaking to Arshad Afzaal Khan, he said, the design of the new mosque will meet modern-day challenges and the centre will be uphold the Islamic essence of selfless service to humanity

Q: What’s uppermost in your mind as you execute the design of the mosque complex on 5acre land in Ayodhya in lieu of Babri masjid? Will the hospital hold centrestage or the mosque?

A: The new mosque will be bigger than Babri masjid, but won’t be a lookalike of the structure which once stood in Ramjanmabhoomi premises. The hospital of course will hold centrestage on 5acre land allotted to Sunni Waqf Board at Dhannipur village in Ayodhya. The hospital will serve humanity in the true spirit of Islam as taught by the prophet in his last sermon 1400 years ago. It won’t be a usual concrete structure, but will be in sync with the architecture of the mosque, replete with calligraphy and Islamic symbols and will house a 300-bed speciality unit, where doctors will work with missionary zeal to provide free treatment to the ailing.

Q: What would be the tentative design of the mosque? Islam is characterized by simplicity and strictness. Will these two characteristics reflect on the architecture or would you replicate the grandeur and style of mosques or monuments built by Muslim rulers of India?

A: We don't want our present generation to live in the past. The mosque design will contemporary and modern and we won’t imbibe or replicate the architectural legacy of any Muslim ruler. The Masjid-e-Haram or Khaana-e-Kaaba has no minarets or domes, yet it symbolises the true spirit of Islam. The Ayodhya mosque design will be hammered out to meet modern-day challenges will not be symbolized by domes and minarets. Architecture cannot be replicated or stereotyped. How can only medieval architecture symbolise Islam, which is global and always relevant? The monumental legacy of Mughal, Persian or other Muslim dynasty rulers cannot be strictly defined as Islamic architecture. What we will build today should be relevant for centuries to come. Only one thing is important, the direction (qibla) of the mosque should be towards Kaaba and funds should ‘halaal’ (legal).

Q: Could you elaborate on the concept of contemporary architecture?

A: A mosque in Udupi, Karnataka, has a modern structure powered by solar energy and there’s one in Qatar in the shape of a space ship. Now, would you say this fits into the Islamic stereotype? That’s being contemporary. But there will be a ‘jhalak & jhapak’ (reflection) of Sufism as Islam was spread in India by Sufi saints. The underlying philosophy of the centre at Dhannipur will be to serve, heal, feed and teach people without differentiating on religion caste or creed.

Q: Can you shed light on the museum and archive, which will be part of the mosque complex?

A: The master plan will be designed to house an archive, museum and community kitchen in the mosque complex. The archive and museum will exhibit contribution of Muslims to nation building, Indian culture and freedom struggle and of course Sufi saints who spread love and harmony.

Q: How will the centre reach out to society and bridge differences?

A: The centre will uphold the true essence of Islam and erase misconceptions about our religion so that people across religions can approach us and we can serve and heal humanity.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/hospital-will-hold-the-centrestage-on-ayodhya-mosque-complex/articleshow/78145109.cms

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Pakistan Court Indicts 4 Close Aides Of Hafiz Saeed In Terror Financing Cases

Sep 16, 2020

 

Hafiz Saeed leader of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa

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LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan on Wednesday indicted four top leaders of the banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD), including the brother-in-law of Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, in four more cases of terror financing.

"Terror financing charges were framed on Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki (brother-in-law of Saeed), Yahya Mujahid (JuD spokesperson), Zafar Iqbal and Muhammad Ashraf in four more cases,” a court official told PTI after the hearing.

The suspects were brought to the ATC-III amid high security from the Kot Lakhpat Jail. The official said judge Ijaz Ahmad Buttar directed the prosecution to present witnesses on next hearing on Thursday.

Last month, the ATC Lahore handed down over 16 years imprisonment to Zafar Iqbal and Hafiz Abdus Salam and one-and-a-half-year sentence to Makki in another terror financing case.

In February, Saeed was sentenced to a jail term of 11 years on terror finance charges by the ATC of Lahore. The court sentenced Saeed and his close aide Zafar Iqbal to five-and-a-half years each in two cases. A total of 11 years sentence will run concurrently.

Saeed is serving his term in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail. He was arrested in July last year.

The Counterterrorism Department of Punjab police had registered 23 FIRs against Saeed and his accomplices for terror financing in different cities of the province.

Saeed-led JuD is the front organisation for Lashkar-e-Taiba which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The US named Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and the US, since 2012, has offered a $10-million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.

He was listed as a terrorist under the UN Security Council Resolution 1267 in December 2008.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-court-indicts-4-close-aides-of-hafiz-saeed-in-terror-financing-cases/articleshow/78153331.cms

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Afghan Peace Team Leader, Masoom Stanekzai, Calls for Islamic Republic System to Be Upheld

September 16, 2020

In their first formal session on Tuesday evening, the Afghan peace negotiating team leader, Masoom Stanekzai emphasized the importance of the current democratic system in the country, but still keeping it within the framework of an Islamic Republic.

In his speech to all negotiating team members, from both the Afghan delegation and the Taliban team, he said the war in Afghanistan has been imposed on the people, who for decades have had to sacrifice their lives.

He stated that today’s Afghanistan, from a social, economic, humanitarian and human rights point of view, is witnessing fundamental changes and has a system with broad foundations and strong infrastructure in which the rights and freedoms of all citizens of the country are protected based on Islamic beliefs and values.

He made it clear that the governing system of Afghanistan was recognized by all countries around the world, unlike during the Taliban’s regime. He said during Taliban rule, “this country was in complete isolation of the international community.”

Stanekzai also stated that enormous strides had been made in the field of education – specifically in Islamic education.

“In addition to the construction and renovation of hundreds of mosques and the strengthening of Islamic teachings in educational institutions in the country, more than one thousand religious centers, including madrassas, and Darul Uloom (Islamic University) have been established.

He said: “The system of republic and the existing constitution of the country is the connecting point of our nation.”

He also said the current constitutional law, passed by the highest and most important decision-making body, the Loya Jirga, has no precedent in the history of the country.

“This law is one of the most authoritative laws in terms of Islamic values, both at the regional level and in comparison with the eight constitutional laws that make Islam the religion of the state,” he said.

Stanekzai said peace does not have to lead to the destruction of existing structures, but it should instead revive, reform and strengthen structures within the framework of the Islamic system, which has regional and global credibility.

Noting the high death toll that years of conflict has inflicted on the country, he said “who killed more or less is not debatable at all. The important question is why and for what crime are Afghans being killed?”

He asked all negotiators to look at all the grievances and problems in the country and come to an understanding that will end the war and work for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

He said the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is committed to achieving lasting peace and has proved it in its actions.

“As you know, one of the key secrets to the success of negotiations is a strong commitment to peace and both sides must have a common understanding to achieve peace. If this principle does not exist, then no matter how hard we try, peace will not be possible,” he said.

“It is natural for each side in the negotiations to insist on its own principles, values and aspirations and try to get the most out of its demands on the other side. But we must also keep in mind that our demands, based on past experiences, are only for the sake of Allah and the country, not for personal gain.”

Reiterating calls for an end to violence, Stanekzai said: “The biggest and most important priority of our people is to stop the bloodshed in the country,” adding that the Afghan population was putting all its hope in the hand of negotiators to end the killing and suffering.

In conclusion, he stated that in respect of the withdrawal of foreign troops, the security and safety of the people must be taken seriously “and we must have a comprehensive dialogue on this issue.”

https://ariananews.af/peace-team-leader-calls-for-islamic-republic-system-to-be-upheld/

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Pompeo praises ‘monumental’ deal between UAE, Bahrain and Israel

Joseph Haboush

16 September 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Wednesday praised the “monumental accomplishment of the Abraham Accords” during a meeting with the Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in Washington.

“The Secretary commended the Foreign Minister for the monumental accomplishment of the Abraham Accords and thanked him for his participation in the White House signing ceremony,” a statement from Pompeo’s office said.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The UAE announced its deal to normalize ties with Israel last month before Bahrain followed suit last week.

Tuesday’s deal means that four Arab states now recognize Israel after Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties in 1979 and 1994.

Pompeo and al-Nahyan also discussed the need to work to “continue countering Iran’s malign influence in the region,” the statement from Pompeo’s office said.

“They discussed regional and bilateral issues of concern, including the need to overcome divisions between Gulf countries,” the statement added.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2020/09/17/Pompeo-praises-monumental-deal-between-UAE-Bahrain-and-Israel

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Sudan says it has dismantled terrorist cell in Khartoum, seized massive explosives

16 September 2020

Sudanese authorities have dismantled a terrorist cell in Khartoum that had vast amounts of explosives which could threaten neighboring countries, said Sudan’s Attorney General on Wednesday.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The explosives seized from the terrorist cell were sufficient to blow up Khartoum, the attorney general said in a press conference, adding that the seized materials were similar to those that exploded in the port of Beirut in August.

Beirut's port was devastated after 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire, causing a massive explosion that killed at least 190 people and injured thousands more.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/16/Sudan-says-it-has-dismantled-terrorist-cell-in-Khartoum-seized-massive-explosives

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U.S. Military Seeks Authority to Expand Counterterrorism Drone War to Kenya

By Eric Schmitt and Charlie Savage

Sept. 15, 2020

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military’s Africa Command is pressing for new authorities to carry out armed drone strikes targeting Qaeda-linked Shabab fighters in portions of eastern Kenya, potentially expanding the war zone across the border from their sanctuaries in Somalia, according to four American officials.

The new authorities, which must still be approved by Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and then President Trump, do not necessarily mean the United States will start carrying out drone attacks in Kenya. Nevertheless, they would give Africa Command permission under certain circumstances to expand the counterterrorism drone war into another country.

The push for the expanded authorities traces back to a Shabab attack in January on a military base in Kenya that housed United States troops, the officials said. The attack on the airfield at Manda Bay killed three Americans and caused millions of dollars in damage.

U.S. commanders scrambled immediately after that attack to track and kill the Shabab hit team that had infiltrated the base from Somalia, securing permission on the fly to carry out a drone strike on them in Kenyan territory, according to the officials. But they never attacked because the militants — retreating to Somali territory — eluded them.

As they confronted the fallout from the debacle, officials recognized that they lacked guidelines to conduct drone strikes in Kenya should Shabab attack there again. The Pentagon led an interagency push to write rules for any future strikes in Kenya under more relaxed limits on drone strikes that Mr. Trump’s national security team created in 2017, replacing more stringent procedures from the Obama era.

Col. Christopher P. Karns, the command’s chief spokesman, declined to comment on the new authorities. “Africom certainly recognizes the need to apply consistent international pressure on Al-Shabab and to monitor their activity, presence, and actively confront them in order to prevent their spread,” he said in an email. “This can take several forms.”

Lt. Col. Anton T. Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman, added in an email, “The U.S. military will defend U.S. personnel, citizens and homeland as necessary anywhere in the world.” He also did not address the new guidelines.

But according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the draft guidelines would theoretically authorize not only drone strikes in self-defense of American troops or collective self-defense of partnered Kenyan forces, but also offensive strikes intended to pre-empt a suspected threat — like if officials uncovered intelligence about preparations at a compound to assemble a car bomb.

Several officials noted, however, that Kenya has a stable government and capable security forces. As a result, the officials did not expect the authorities to prompt the United States to carry out frequent drone strikes there, if any. Still, they said they could envision a situation in which a drone would be the only realistic option to try to pre-empt a terrorist operation.

The draft plan was said to contain limitations. Among them, the military would be permitted to conduct strikes only in a portion of Kenya, two officials said. One specifically identified the potential strike zone as Garissa and Lamu Counties, which encompass the air strip camp at Manda Bay and the nearby border region with Somalia.

Moreover, the Kenyan government would have to consent to any strike — a major difference from Somalia, whose provisional government has essentially given the United States blanket permission to carry out strikes when it sees fit. The American military would also have to consult with the U.S. ambassador in Kenya.

In addition to the military’s desire for expanded authorities, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya asked Mr. Trump during a White House visit in February for additional counterterrorism assistance, including “armed aerial support” to help combat the Shabab, a senior American official said.

The Kenyan Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.

Mr. Esper, who has been weighing cuts to American troops on the continent as part of a global reshuffling of forces to address new threats from China and Russia, initially expressed reluctance to approve the new authorities, officials said.

But he relented to the narrowly focused guidelines rather than be seen as rejecting an important force-protection measure favored by his field commanders, officials said.

Still, some American lawmakers complained on Tuesday that Congress had been cut out of the process.

“We need to do whatever’s necessary to defend American lives and interests, but that doesn’t require starting a drone war in Kenya without consulting Congress and using a war authorization that’s two decades old,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, referring to the 2001 law Congress passed authorizing strikes against Al Qaeda.

The Shabab, Al Qaeda’s largest and most active global affiliate, has in recent months issued specific new threats against Americans in East Africa and even the United States. After a hiatus this year, it has increased a campaign of car bombings in Somalia, American counterterrorism and intelligence officials said.

Several ominous signs indicate that the Shabab is seeking to expand its lethal mayhem well beyond its home base and attack Americans wherever it can — threats that prompted a flurry of American drone strikes in Somalia this year to try to snuff out the plotters.

“Al Shabab is the most capable terrorist group on the African continent,” Rear Adm. Heidi Berg, the Africa Command’s director of intelligence, told reporters on Friday.

Shabab fighters have consolidated positions in the Juba River valley in southern Somalia to create “a de facto safe haven” where terrain and other factors prevent American troops from hunting them down, Maj. Gen. Dagvin R.M. Anderson, who commands American Special Operations forces in Africa, said last week.

“What that has allowed them to do is develop their planning, develop their finance, develop their media operations there to a high degree,” General Anderson told a virtual security conference held by the American Enterprise Institute last week.

This month, three Somali military officers were killed and two others were injured along with an American service member in a truck bombing in the Jana Abdalle area in the Lower Juba region of Somalia.

In recent years, the Shabab, which American intelligence analysts estimate has 5,000 to 10,000 fighters, has lost many of the cities and villages they once controlled. Despite facing a record number of American drone strikes, the group has morphed into a more nimble and lethal outfit, carrying out large-scale attacks against civilian and military targets across Somalia and neighboring countries.

To weaken the Shabab’s presence, Somali forces work alongside troops from the African Union peacekeeping operations, which include forces from Kenya, Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda and Ethiopia. Kenya, in particular, has been a frequent target of Shabab retaliatory attacks.

“Al Shabab remained intent on and capable of conducting attacks inside Kenya and along the Somalia-Kenya border, consistent with its stated intent to compel Kenyan forces to withdraw from Somalia,” an interagency inspectors general report released on Sept. 1 concluded.

Shabab militants in early 2019 assaulted a hotel-shopping complex in Nairobi, Kenya, killing at least 21 people, including a police officer. Six years earlier, masked gunmen stormed the upscale Westgate Shopping Mall in the Kenyan capital, in a rampage that killed at least 67 people.

But the brazen assault on Jan. 5 at Manda Bay, a sleepy seaside base near the Somali border, took American and Kenyan troops by surprise. Armed with rifles and explosives, about a dozen Shabab fighters destroyed an American surveillance plane as it was taking off and ignited an hourslong gunfight.

Many of the local Kenyan forces, assigned to defend the base, hid in the grass while other American troops and support staff were corralled into tents with little protection to wait out the battle, American officials said.

The deaths of the three Americans — one Army soldier and two Pentagon contractors — were the largest number of United States military-related fatalities in Africa since four soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger in October 2017.

The attack set in motion the push by the Africa Command and some Pentagon officials for the new authorities to protect the roughly 200 American soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines, as well as about 100 Pentagon civilian employees and contractors, in Kenya helping train and assist local forces. Most of them work at Manda Bay, according to military officials.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/15/us/politics/shabab-drone-authorities-kenya.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1528355_

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After 28 years, 9 Serbs held over Bosnia killings of Muslims

September 16, 2020

SARAJEVO: Bosnian police arrested nine ethnic Serbs on Wednesday suspected of taking part in the killings of 44 Muslim civilians in a village at the start of the 1990s war, prosecutors said.

The nine men, mostly former soldiers and two police commanders, are suspected of having “planned, organised and taken part” in the killings and persecution of Muslim civilians in the area of Sokolac in eastern Bosnia in September 1992, a prosecutors’ statement said.

When the Bosbian Serb army attacked the village of Novoseoci, men were separated from women and children before being taken to a rubbish dump and shot, the statement said.

The victims, aged between 14 and 82, were buried there while women and children were expelled from the village.

After the executions, a village mosque was destroyed and its debris brought to the dump and thrown over the victims’ remains.

All but one of the victims, which include one woman, were exhumed and identified after the 1992-1995 war.

Former Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic, serving a 35-year jail term handed down by a UN court for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, is also a suspect in the case and will be questioned, the statement said.

Another suspect is currently in Canada and his extradition will be sought, it added.

Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war between its Croats, Muslims and Serbs claimed some 100,000 lives.

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2020/09/16/after-28-years-9-serbs-held-over-bosnia-killings-of-muslims/

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Mideast

 

Rouhani Urges Betrayers of Palestine Not to Claim Arabism

Sep 16, 2020

"There are some countries in the region whose people are Muslims and religious but their rulers do not understand religion, the rules of religion and do not care about their debt towards the Palestinian people,” Rouhani said on Wednesday.

“They claim to be Arabs! In Palestine, the Zionists' crime is on the rise, how did you shake hands with the Zionist regime and are going to give a base to Zionists in your country?" he added.

"You are responsible for all the future consequences that may occur. You have done these things contrary to the regulations and security of the region," he warned the regional Arab rulers, a reference to the Bahraini and UAE rulers.

US President Donald Trump tweeted the news of the Israel-Bahrain normalization deal on Friday after he spoke by phone to Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Following the announcement at the White House, Palestinian officials condemned the Israel-Bahrain normalization deal announced by US President Donald Trump as another "stab in the back" by an Arab state.

Friday's accord normalizing diplomatic ties between Israel and Bahrain comes one month after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) agreed to normalize ties with Israel under a US-brokered deal.

On August 13, President Trump announced a deal brokered by his government between Israel and the UAE which he said would lead to full normalization of ties between the two.

Critics see the deal as the latest attempt by Trump to save his presidential campaign against the Democrat Joe Biden.

In relevant remarks on Tuesday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee said normalization of ties with Israel is a strategic mistake, stressing that any kind of insecurity in the region will be seen from now on by Tehran as to be the outcome of this compromise deal.

“It is a strategic mistake to normalize ties with Israel and the responsibility for all the consequences of the action falls on the Bahraini government and any government that has compromised,” Rabiyee said.

“Iran considers the Zionist regime's interference in the region as a threat,” he noted.

“The oppressed people of Palestine and Muslims who have lived with the Palestinian cause will not allow any normalization of relations,” the spokesman continued.

Also on Tuesday, Iranian Lawmaker Ebrahim Azizi said the recent compromise deal inked by Manama and Abu Dhabi with Israel has humiliated the two Arab regimes, adding that Bahrain and the UAE have slaughtered the Palestinian cause at the behest of Washington.

“The normalization of ties with Israel is equal to humiliation,” Azizi said, and noted, "Unfortunately, Bahrain and the UAE have sacrificed the goals and aspirations of the Palestinian people to the oppressive demands of the US and its rulers."

“It is a betrayal of interests [of Islamic Ummah] and lack of commitment to the Muslim Ummah and its leaders,” he added.

"The United States is taking such steps to save itself from the crises it is facing and its tarnished image in the world," Azizi stressed.

The MP said that Trump has engineered the compromise deal to prevent the decline of the child-killing Israeli regime and also save face for himself before the upcoming presidential elections.

He reiterated that Iran will support every measure in favor of the Resistance Axis.

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990626000994

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Lawmaker: Iran to Restore Unlimited Peaceful N. Industry If UNSC Sanctions Reinstated

Sep 16, 2020

“If the US succeeds in automatically returning the sanctions, then there will be left nothing called the nuclear deal and certainly, the Islamic Republic of Iran will discard the undertakings it was implementing under the nuclear deal,” Zohreh Elahian told FNA on Wednesday.

“The parliament is determined to give up the Islamic Republic of Iran’s undertakings under the nuclear deal in case the sanctions are reinstated on Saturday and our country’s peaceful nuclear industry will again continue its activities without limitations of the nuclear deal,” she added.

Earlier today, a senior Iranian legislator had also warned the US and Europe that activation of the trigger mechanism against Iran will force the government to withdraw from all its undertakings based on the nuclear deal.

“We caution the enemy that if it wants to activate this mechanism, certainly the revolutionary parliament will require the government to drop all its undertakings based on the nuclear deal, including the Additional Protocol (to the Non-Proliferation Treaty),” Seyed Jalil Mir-Mohammadi said, addressing an open session of the parliament in Tehran on Wednesday.

He also called on the lawmakers to more seriously pursue approval of the triple-urgency bill which requires the government to adopt reciprocal measures against the US and European states’ collaboration at the UN Security Council against Tehran.

Another Iranian MP had also on Tuesday declared preparation of the parliament to approve the triple-urgency bill.

“The Europeans are playing a hypocritical game about the US attempts to activate the trigger mechanism and their declared policies are different from what they do,” Nasrollah Pejmanfar said, addressing an open session of the parliament.

He noted that the parliament should study the bad cop and good cop game launched by the US and the Europeans against Iran more thoroughly.

“The parliament has prepared a triple-urgency bill in this regard to adopt appropriate actions against the Europeans and Americans’ mischievous collaboration,” Pejmanfar said.

US President Donald Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.

In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the United States' withdrawal.

On January 5, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.

Now the US has stepped up attempts aimed at extending the UN arms ban on Iran that is set to expire as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2231.

The US first sought to extend the Iran's arms embargo in a fresh UNSC resolution in contradiction to the contents of the Resolution 2231 in two attempts within a month, but failed.

The United Nations Security Council resoundingly rejected last month the second US bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire in October.

The resolution needed support from nine of 15 votes to pass. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the US and the Dominican Republic were the only “yes” votes.

The United States has become isolated over Iran at the Security Council following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal 2018.

Iran had said that the US resolution would fail to gain the required support at the Security Council, pointing out that Washington has no legal right to invoke a snapback mechanism to reinstate sanctions against Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal that the US unilaterally left in May 2018.

In relevant remarks in August, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it is by no means justifiable for the US to use Dispute Resolution Mechanism with regard to UNSC Resolution 2231.

"US recourse to Dispute Resolution Mechanism in 2231 has NO LEG TO STAND ON," Zarif wrote on his Twitter page late Sunday.

"AmbJohnBolton has repeated today what he said on May 8, 2018, while National Security Advisor in the Trump administration," he noted, adding, "At least he is consistent—a trait notably absent in this US administration."

Zarif' tweet came in reaction to former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's article in Wall Street Journal where he criticized US' decision to trigger ‘snapback mechanism’ against Iran, saying, "The agreement [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]’s backers argue that Washington, having withdrawn from the deal, has no standing to invoke its provisions. They’re right. It’s too cute by half to say we’re in the nuclear deal for purposes we want but not for those we don’t."

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990626000946

--------

Iran: US, Defying N. Deal Parties Not Entitled to Use Trigger Mechanism

Sep 16, 2020

“The reality is simple. The US is not a member of the nuclear deal to use the so-called snapback mechanism against Iran; even if the US were a member of the nuclear deal, it could not do the snapback without implementing its nuclear deal undertakings with a good will,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohsen Baharvand said, addressing a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors in Vienna on Wednesday.

He added that if the members of the international community strongly stand against the US unilateral policies, the nuclear deal and related inspections carried out by the IAEA of Iran can continue.

“No one can expect my country to comply with all its nuclear deal undertakings without enjoying the rights emphasized in the agreement,” Baharvand said.

He also called on the EU, specially the three European members of the nuclear deal (Britain, France and Germany), to fully act upon their undertakings under the nuclear deal.

Iranian officials have warned that if the UN sanctions resolutions waived under the nuclear deal are reinstated as a result of the US trigger mechanism, Tehran would not hesitate to end the agreement.

A senior Iranian legislator on Wednesday warned the US and Europe that activation of the trigger mechanism against Iran will force the government to withdraw from all its undertakings based on the nuclear deal.

“We caution the enemy that if it wants to activate this mechanism, certainly the revolutionary parliament will require the government to drop all its undertakings based on the nuclear deal, including the Additional Protocol (to the Non-Proliferation Treaty),” Seyed Jalil Mir-Mohammadi said, addressing an open session of the parliament in Tehran.

He also called on the lawmakers to more seriously pursue approval of the triple-urgency bill which requires the government to adopt reciprocal measures against the US and European states’ collaboration at the UN Security Council against Tehran.

Another Iranian MP had also on Tuesday declared preparation of the parliament to approve the triple-urgency bill.

“The Europeans are playing a hypocritical game about the US attempts to activate the trigger mechanism and their declared policies are different from what they do,” Nasrollah Pejmanfar said, addressing an open session of the parliament.

He noted that the parliament should study the bad cop and good cop game launched by the US and the Europeans against Iran more thoroughly.

“The parliament has prepared a triple-urgency bill in this regard to adopt appropriate actions against the Europeans and Americans’ mischievous collaboration,” Pejmanfar said.

US President Donald Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.

In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the United States' withdrawal.

On January 5, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.

Now the US has stepped up attempts aimed at extending the UN arms ban on Iran that is set to expire as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2231.

The US first sought to extend the Iran's arms embargo in a fresh UNSC resolution in contradiction to the contents of the Resolution 2231 in two attempts within a month, but failed.

The United Nations Security Council resoundingly rejected last month the second US bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire in October.

The resolution needed support from nine of 15 votes to pass. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the US and the Dominican Republic were the only “yes” votes.

The United States has become isolated over Iran at the Security Council following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal 2018.

Iran had said that the US resolution would fail to gain the required support at the Security Council, pointing out that Washington has no legal right to invoke a snapback mechanism to reinstate sanctions against Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal that the US unilaterally left in May 2018.

In relevant remarks in August, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it is by no means justifiable for the US to use Dispute Resolution Mechanism with regard to UNSC Resolution 2231.

"US recourse to Dispute Resolution Mechanism in 2231 has NO LEG TO STAND ON," Zarif wrote on his Twitter page late Sunday.

"AmbJohnBolton has repeated today what he said on May 8, 2018, while National Security Advisor in the Trump administration," he noted, adding, "At least he is consistent—a trait notably absent in this US administration."

Zarif' tweet came in reaction to former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's article in Wall Street Journal where he criticized US' decision to trigger ‘snapback mechanism’ against Iran, saying, "The agreement [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]’s backers argue that Washington, having withdrawn from the deal, has no standing to invoke its provisions. They’re right. It’s too cute by half to say we’re in the nuclear deal for purposes we want but not for those we don’t."

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990626000900

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MP: Parliament to Require Gov’t to End All N. Deal Undertakings If Trigger Mechanism Activated

Sep 16, 2020

“We caution the enemy that if it wants to activate this mechanism, certainly the revolutionary parliament will require the government to drop all its undertakings based on the nuclear deal, including the Additional Protocol (to the Non-Proliferation Treaty),” Seyed Jalil Mir-Mohammadi said, addressing an open session of the parliament in Tehran on Wednesday.

He also called on the lawmakers to more seriously pursue approval of the triple-urgency bill which requires the government to adopt reciprocal measures against the US and European states’ collaboration at the UN Security Council against Tehran.

Another Iranian MP had also on Tuesday declared preparation of the parliament to approve the triple-urgency bill.

“The Europeans are playing a hypocritical game about the US attempts to activate the trigger mechanism and their declared policies are different from what they do,” Nasrollah Pejmanfar said, addressing an open session of the parliament.

He noted that the parliament should study the bad cop and good cop game launched by the US and the Europeans against Iran more thoroughly.

“The parliament has prepared a triple-urgency bill in this regard to adopt appropriate actions against the Europeans and Americans’ mischievous collaboration,” Pejmanfar said.

US President Donald Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.

In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.

Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the United States' withdrawal.

On January 5, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.

Now the US has stepped up attempts aimed at extending the UN arms ban on Iran that is set to expire as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been endorsed by Security Council Resolution 2231.

The US first sought to extend the Iran's arms embargo in a fresh UNSC resolution in contradiction to the contents of the Resolution 2231 in two attempts within a month, but failed.

The United Nations Security Council resoundingly rejected last month the second US bid to extend an arms embargo on Iran, which is due to expire in October.

The resolution needed support from nine of 15 votes to pass. Eleven members abstained, including France, Germany and Britain, while the US and the Dominican Republic were the only “yes” votes.

The United States has become isolated over Iran at the Security Council following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the multilateral Iran nuclear deal 2018.

Iran had said that the US resolution would fail to gain the required support at the Security Council, pointing out that Washington has no legal right to invoke a snapback mechanism to reinstate sanctions against Tehran under the 2015 nuclear deal that the US unilaterally left in May 2018.

In relevant remarks in August, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said it is by no means justifiable for the US to use Dispute Resolution Mechanism with regard to UNSC Resolution 2231.

"US recourse to Dispute Resolution Mechanism in 2231 has NO LEG TO STAND ON," Zarif wrote on his Twitter page late Sunday.

"AmbJohnBolton has repeated today what he said on May 8, 2018, while National Security Advisor in the Trump administration," he noted, adding, "At least he is consistent—a trait notably absent in this US administration."

Zarif' tweet came in reaction to former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's article in Wall Street Journal where he criticized US' decision to trigger ‘snapback mechanism’ against Iran, saying, "The agreement [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]’s backers argue that Washington, having withdrawn from the deal, has no standing to invoke its provisions. They’re right. It’s too cute by half to say we’re in the nuclear deal for purposes we want but not for those we don’t."

https://en.farsnews.ir/newstext.aspx?nn=13990626000736

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Turkish police detain over 100 people with alleged ties to Gulen: Report

16 September 2020

Turkish police detained more than 100 people, mostly soldiers on active duty, in an operation on Wednesday targeting supporters of the Muslim preacher who Ankara says was behind a failed coup in 2016, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported.

The operation marks a fresh wave in a four-year-old crackdown targeting the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. He denies involvement in the July 2016 putsch, in which some 250 people were killed.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The Istanbul state prosecutor’s office issued detention warrants for 132 suspects, 82 of them serving military personnel and the rest retired or expelled from the armed forces, Anadolu said. So far 106 people have been arrested in raids by counter-terrorism police across 34 provinces, it said.

On Tuesday, prosecutors in the western province of Izmir ordered the arrest of 66 suspects, including 48 serving military personnel, in an investigation of the armed forces.

Since the coup attempt, about 80,000 people have been held pending trial and some 150,000 civil servants, military personnel and others sacked or suspended. More than 20,000 people had been expelled from the Turkish military alone.

Ankara prosecutors on Friday ordered the detention of dozens of lawyers suspected of operating in support of Gulen.

Turkish and international lawyers’ groups said the lawyers were simply doing their job representing clients accused of Gulen links.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/16/Turkish-police-detain-over-100-people-with-alleged-ties-to-Gulen-Report

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Israeli aircraft strike Gaza after rocket barrage from strip amid fallout over Arab normalization deals

16 September 2020

Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip have traded strikes with the Israeli military as the signing of contentious normalization treaties between Tel Aviv and two Arab regimes provokes another flare-up in the blockaded territory.

Palestinian Arabic-language Ma’an news agency, citing local sources, reported that Israeli fighter jets and helicopters bombed a training base run by the Hamas resistance movement northwest of Beit Lahiya town early on Wednesday.

Eyewitnesses confirmed that huge explosions were heard in the northern Gaza Strip before the site caught fire.

The sources noted that Israeli warplanes carried out four air raids against the site, while three others were launched by choppers.

Later, Israeli jets targeted another Hamas-run site in an area located between Deir al-Balah city in the central Gaza Strip and Khan Yunis in the southern sector of the Palestinian enclave.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in either attack.

The raids came shortly after Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip fired a barrage of rockets into the Israeli-occupied territories.

Reacting to the news of the fresh flareup, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that the overnight rocket fire was meant to undermine Israel's deals with Arab states.

"They want to prevent peace, they won't. We will hit everyone who tries to harm us, and we will extend a hand of peace to all who reach out to us to make peace," Netanyahu said in a statement

‘A message of resistance’

Following the Israeli warplanes’ latest bombardment of the enclave, Hamas issued a warning to the Tel Aviv regime.

"The occupation (Israel) will pay the price for any aggression against our people or resistance sites and the response will be direct," said the resistance group in a statement.

"We will increase and expand our response to the extent that the occupation persists in its aggression," Hamas added on Wednesday.

The Palestinian rockets triggered sirens in the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod, potentially sending hundreds of thousands of Israelis rushing to bomb shelters just as Netanyahu was signing agreements at the White House with Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani.

Two people were reportedly injured and several more treated for shock after a rocket slammed into a street in Ashdod, according to Israeli media.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, view the US-brokered deals as a betrayal of their cause.

Mohammad al-Hindi, a senior official with the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad resistance movement, said “the Gaza rockets are a message that this great vanity of the United States and Israel will be shattered by the Palestinians and that the final word is for those in the right.”

Hamas also said in a statement that the Palestinian nation “insists on continuing its struggle until it secures the return of all of its rights.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also protested the normalization deals with Israel, stating they will not foster peace in the Middle East as long as the United States and the Israeli regime do not recognize the rights of the Palestinian nation to establish an independent and sovereign state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since June 2007, after Hamas, which has vowed to resist Israeli occupation, won the elections and rose to power in the enclave.

Since imposing the siege, Israel has also waged three wholesale wars against Gaza, killing and wounding thousands of Palestinians in each.

The crippling blockade has caused a sharp decline in the standard of living as well as unprecedented levels of unemployment and unrelenting poverty in the strip.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/16/634199/Israeli-aircraft-strike-Gaza-Strip-after-UAE,-Bahrain-sign-US-brokered-normalization-deals

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Fury in Palestine, Bahrain over ‘deals of shame’ with Israel

16 September 2020

Palestinians and Bahrainis have reacted with anger to the US-mediated normalization agreements that the regime in Manama and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed with Israel.

The agreements were inked on Tuesday at the White House, where US President Donald Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with Emirati and Bahraini foreign ministers, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani.

The texts of the accords did not mention any suspension of the Tel Aviv regime’s plans to annex the occupied West Bank and had little to say about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians rallied in the West Bank cities of Ramallah, Nablus and al-Khalil (Hebron) as well as the besieged Gaza Strip to denounce the Emirati and Bahraini deals with Israel.

The demonstrators also trampled on the pictures of Netanyahu, Trump, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan before burning them.

Clutching Palestinian flags, they also carried banners reading “Treason,” “No to normalization with the occupier,” and “The agreements of shame.”

“We call on the UAE and Bahrain to backtrack from the agreement with Israel,” said al-Khalil protester Mohammad Mohanna. “At a time where companies in the West are boycotting Israel, two Arab countries are about to make trade agreements with it.”

Gaza demonstrator Emad Essa told the Al Jazeera broadcaster that the blockaded coastal enclave is home to “hundreds of Gazan youth who have lost their legs and got crippled for life for just for merely protesting against the Israeli blockade.”

“And in the West Bank and Jerusalem [al-Quds], the Israeli bulldozers continue to demolish Palestinian homes and ethnically cleanse the Palestinians out of their villages and cities on a daily basis,” he said. 

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians, and the UAE and Bahrain somehow chose to reward Israel for these crimes by making agreements with it. The deals are stains of shame on the forehead of those leaders who sold the Palestinian cause for a very cheap price,” he added.

Palestinian officials denounce Israel-Arab pacts

In a statement carried by the Wafa news agency, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s office said peace in the Middle East would not materialize without the recognition of the Palestinians’ right to statehood.

“Everything that happened in the White House … will not achieve peace in the region as long as the United States and the Israeli occupation authority do not recognize the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent and continuous state on the June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem [al-Quds] as its capital, and resolve the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with Resolution 194,” read the statemen.

“The main problem is not between the countries that signed the agreements and the Israeli occupation authority, but with the Palestinian people who are suffering under occupation.”

Additionally, Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat said the normalization agreements were tantamount to signing off on Trump’s self-proclaimed “deal of the century.” The controversial scheme, which was unveiled  in January, was a green light for Netanyahu’s plan to impose its “sovereignty” over West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley — some 30 percent of the West Bank.

“They never mentioned the 1967 borders. I know the White House, and this is the height of the campaign season. There isn’t a word of this which wasn’t precisely specified by the Americans,” Erekat underlined.

Which Israel did Bahrain and UAE recolonise ? Is it Israel on the 1967 borders or Israel of the map of President’s Trump vision? https://t.co/wbzz7QWSvB

— Dr. Saeb Erakat الدكتور صائب عريقات (@ErakatSaeb) September 16, 2020

Jibril Rajoub, secretary general of Fatah political party, called the normalization accords “a disgrace,” stressing that “what is happening today in Washington is a form of collapse of the official Arab order.”

“The international absence from attending the agreement’s signing… is evidence of the world’s belief in the necessity of resolving the conflict in accordance with international law,” he added.

During the signing ceremony, the Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement fired two rockets into the occupied territories, indicating in a statement that the attack was in response to the peace treaties.

“The normalization agreements between Bahrain, the UAE, and the Zionist entity are not worth the paper they were written on,” Hamas said, adding that the Palestinian nation “insists on continuing its struggle until it secures the return of all [of] its rights.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also emphasized that the Bahrain and UAE agreements would not bring peace, saying, “Peoples of the region will continue to deal with this occupation as their true enemy.”

Senior Islamic Jihad official Mohammad al-Hindi said, “The Gaza rockets are a message that this great vanity of the United States and Israel will be shattered by the Palestinians and that the final word is for those in the right.”

Bahrainis hold protests

On Tuesday night, Bahraini people took to the streets to protest the normalization accords.

Lua Lua television network showed demonstrators stepping on Israeli flags.

Social media and political activists shared images of the rallies online, stressing that the Bahraini nation views normalization with Israel as treason.

The Bahraini opposition Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society also tweeted, “At the moment of treason and when they sign on the conspiracy against al-Quds and Palestine, we shout God is Great, God is Great.”

The spiritual leader of Shia majority in Bahrain, Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, has said in a fatwa (religious decree) that any normalization with the occupying Israeli regime is forbidden.

Sheikh Isa Qassim said in a recent statement that each of the Arab regimes, which has normalized or is normalizing relations with the Israeli enemy, knows that this contradicts the will of God and that of the nation, and that this would “represent a submission to both the American and Israeli will.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/16/634201/Palestine-Bahrain-UAE-Israel-normalization

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Israeli jets bomb Gaza after rocket fire clouds peace deal signing

September 17, 2020

GAZA CITY: Israel bombed Gaza on Wednesday after militants fired rockets through the night, overshadowing the signing of landmark normalization deals with the UAE and Bahrain in Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the militants of seeking to stop the peace deals, Israel’s first with an Arab country since 1994.

But Gaza ruler Hamas warned Israel it faced an escalation if the bombing continued, barely two weeks after a renewed Egyptian-brokered truce halted near-nightly exchanges across the border through August.

The signing of the two agreements at a White House ceremony hosted by US President Donald Trump prompted protest rallies across the Palestinian territories.

The deals broke with decades of Arab consensus that there would be no normalization of relations with Israel until it had made peace with the Palestinians and drew accusations of “betrayal” against the Western-backed Gulf states.

At least 15 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip between 8 p.m. on Tuesday and early Wednesday, nine of which were intercepted by Israeli air defenses, the military said.

One hit the southern port city of Ashdod, wounding at least two people, emergency services said.

“We were surprised by the rockets,” said Ilanit Levy, a 45-year-old resident of Sderot, an Israeli town close to the Gaza border.

“It’s because of the agreements. Maybe they wanted to say that they don’t want peace with us, that they want to damage the agreements,” she added.

The Israeli military said fighter jets responded with strikes on Hamas military targets.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire.

But Israel held Hamas responsible, warning it would “bear the consequences for terror activity against Israeli civilians.”

The rocket fire came as the UAE and Bahrain signed accords establishing diplomatic relations with Israel and Netanyahu accused the militants of seeking to

derail them.

“They want to prevent peace, they won’t. We will hit everyone who tries to harm us, and we will extend a hand of peace to all who reach out to us to make peace,” the prime minister said in a statement.

The landmark agreements prompted demonstrations on Tuesday in both Gaza and the occupied West Bank.

Clutching Palestinian flags and wearing blue face masks for protection against coronavirus, demonstrators rallied in the West Bank cities of Nablus, Hebron and Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority.

Trump said the agreements “will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”

“After decades of division and conflict we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” he said.

Speaking later to reporters, he said Israel would enter into similar deals with up to nine other countries, including regional power Saudi Arabia.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that the deals would “not achieve peace in the region” until the US and Israel acknowledged his people’s right to a state.

“Peace, security and stability will not be achieved in the region until the Israeli occupation ends,” he said.

Abbas warned that “attempts to bypass the Palestinian people and its leadership, represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization, will have dangerous consequences.”

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov arrived in Gaza on Wednesday for pre-scheduled meetings with Hamas officials.

The new rocket fire came after militants launched rockets and balloons fitted with incendiary devices across the border through much of August, drawing retaliatory Israeli airstrikes.

Late last month, the two sides renewed an Egyptian-brokered truce under which Israel has allowed financial aid from the gas-rich state of Qatar to flow into impoverished Gaza, which has been under Israeli blockade since 2007.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1735766/middle-east

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India

 

Islamic State Most Active in A Dozen Indian States, Union Home Ministry Tells Rajya Sabha

Kamaljit Kaur Sandhu

September 16, 2020

Union Home Ministry has informed the Parliament that Islamic State (IS) is active in at least a dozen states in India. MoS Home G Kishan Reddy in a reply to an unstarred question in Rajya Sabha said on Tuesday that Islamic State is most active in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and a number of other states.

"Investigations by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) have revealed that the Islamic State is most active in Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir," Reddy informed Rajya Sabha on a question asked by BJP MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe.

The Home Ministry has stated that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has registered 17 cases related to the presence of Islamic State in the southern states of Telangana, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and has arrested 122 accused persons.

Islamic State or Islamic State of Iraq and Levant/ Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/ Daish/ Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP)/ ISIS Wilayat Khorasan/ Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham-Khorasan (ISIS-K) and all its manifestations have been notified as terrorist organisations and have been included in the First Schedule to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 by the Central Government, the MHA has stated.

Further, MHA has also stated that Islamic State is using various internet-based social media platforms to propagate its ideology. As a counter measure the cyber space is being closely watched in this regard by the agencies concerned and action is taken as per law.

In a written response, Reddy stated that some instances of individuals from different states, including southern states, having joined Islamic State (IS) have come to the notice of central and state security agencies.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/islamic-state-most-active-in-a-dozen-indian-states-mha-tells-rajya-sabha-1722286-2020-09-16

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Babri mosque demolition case verdict on Sept 30; LK Advani among 32 accused asked to be present

September 16, 2020

The judgment in the case involving the demolition of the Babri Masjid will be delivered by a special CBI court on September 30.

Judge SK Yadav has directed all accused to remain present in the court on the day of judgment.

Among the 32 accused in the decades-old case are former deputy prime minister LK Advani, former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh, BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi and Vinay Katiyar.

CBI counsel Lalit Singh told PTI that arguments of the defence and prosecution concluded on September 1 and thereafter the special judge started writing the judgment. The CBI has produced 351 witnesses and about 600 documentary evidence before the court. The Babri mosque in Ayodhya was demolished by karsevaks on December 6, 1992.

A Supreme Court bench had last month extended the deadline for judgment in the Babri Masjid demolition case till September 30, 2020.

The Babri Masjid, reportedly built by Babur's general Mir Baqi was demolished by Kar Sevaks on December 6, 1992. At the time, Advani and Joshi were at the forefront of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement which asserted that the mosque was constructed in the place of an ancient Ram temple.

An FIR was registered in this regard against kar sevaks who demolished the structure. Apart from Advani-Joshi, cases were also registered against Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leaders Ashok Singhal, Sadhvi Rithambara and Vishnu Hari Dalmiya among others.

Former Deputy PM Lal Krishna Advani deposed before the special CBI court via video conference on July 24, claiming that he has been falsely implicated. Similarly, Kalyan Singh's statement was recorded on July 13, Uma Bharti's on July 2 while Murli Manohar Joshi deposed before the court on July 23 of this year.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/babri-mosque-demolition-case-verdict-sept-30-advani-present-judgment-1722382-2020-09-16

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Three terrorists, woman killed in encounter in J&K

Sep 17, 2020

SRINAGAR: Three terrorists and a civilian woman were killed, while two CRPF personnel, including an officer, sustained injuries in a predawn gunbattle on Thursday in Batamaloo area of the city, officials said.

Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Firdousabad locality in Batamaloo area at around 2.30 am following information about the presence of terrorists there, the officials said.

Jammu and Kashmir: Three terrorists neutralised in encounter with security forces in Batamaloo area of Srinagar(vi… https://t.co/11weV6qJpt

— ANI (@ANI) 1600311004000

They said the search operation turned into an encounter after terrorists opened fire on security forces.

One civilian identified as Kaunsar Riyaz was killed in the firing, while two CRPF personnel, including an officer, were injured, the officials said.

The injured personnel were taken to hospital and the operation was still in progress, they said.

In the ensuing encounter, three unidentified terrorists were killed, police tweeted, adding the searches were still going on.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/three-terrorists-neutralised-in-ongoing-encounter-in-srinagar/articleshow/78159361.cms

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J&K youth held for terror link found dead

Sep 16, 2020

SRINAGAR: A 23-year-old Kashmiri arrested on suspicion of being an "overground worker" of a terrorist outfit was mysteriously found dead near a quarry in Baramulla district early Wednesday, triggering allegations of custodial torture and protests that prompted the administration to suspend internet services in the Sopore area.

J&K Police said the deceased, Irfan Ahmad Dar of Sideeq Colony, escaped while being taken to the Tujjar-Sharief area to verify information provided by him regarding a suspected arms dump. His body was found a couple of hours later, an officer said.

Till late in the night, there was no confirmation of how the youth died. The police claimed his body bore no injury marks.

Irfan's family contested the police's claim, saying he was arrested without any proof of his alleged involvement in subversive activity and possibly tortured to death in custody. "Our residence has CCTV cameras. You can check footage recorded over a month-and-a-half and if you find any clue that we harboured terrorists, I am ready to face any punishment you may pronounce," said the youth's elder brother Javed, who had also been picked up but was let off when his health deteriorated.

Javed was released at 11pm on Tuesday, seven hours after his arrest.

"No recovery (of ammunition) was made from our place, as claimed by the police. Ten days ago, they had alleged that a terrorist was hiding in our residence. We asked them to check the CCTV recordings," he said.

In a statement, the police said Irfan had been arrested at 12.45pm on Tuesday and two hand grenades of Chinese make seized from him. "During the course of the investigation, a police team visited the Chairdaji area of Tujjar-Sharief along with the OGW (overground worker) for some more recoveries based on his disclosure. In the meanwhile, the OGW managed to escape, taking advantage of the darkness and terrain."

A separate case was registered at Bomai police station regarding his escape, the statement said.

The PDP termed Irfan's death a "custodial murder". A spokesperson for the party said, "This excruciating episode has once again served as a grim reminder of how truth is mangled and stories are fabricated to justify killing innocent civilians in J&K."

Accusing the Centre of trying to justify "its repressive, unconstitutional, inhuman and extremely violent measures upon the people of Kashmir", the PDP said that all it needs is a "militancy narrative".

National Conference demanded a probe into the circumstances of Irfan's death. "The family of the deceased has a different view, necessitating an impartial and time-bound inquiry."

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/jk-youth-held-for-terror-link-found-dead/articleshow/78154138.cms

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Pakistan

 

If Pakistan Is Unwilling to Protect Its Shia Citizens, They May Look to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards

September 16, 2020

The world’s largest population of Shia Muslims outside Iran is found in neighbouring Pakistan where they account for an estimated 15 to 20 per cent of the population. Although a sizeable minority in the country’s four provinces and major cities, they are the majority in the northernmost autonomous region of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Relations between Pakistani Shia and the larger Sunni community have been largely harmonious since the creation of Pakistan in 1947 after the partition of India. Sectarianism was never really at the forefront of identity politics at the time and the country’s secular founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who hailed from an Ismaili Shia family, envisioned that the country would be progressive, democratic and tolerant of minorities, even as a Muslim-majority country.

However, by the late 1970s, it became apparent that Jinnah’s idea of Pakistan was eroding when the country underwent a fateful period of Islamisation under military ruler General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. The year 1979 in particular was pivotal, as it saw the emergence of a Shia theocracy in Iran and the start of the Soviet-Afghan war which lasted into the next decade and in which Pakistan got involved following stronger ties with Saudi Arabia and the US. These developments had negative consequences for Pakistan’s Shia citizens who faced systematic persecution from the 1980s onwards at the hands of militant anti-Shia organisations. A minority of Shia groups turned to violence in order to defend the community against attack, albeit relatively restrained by comparison.

Of the two main sub-sects among Pakistan’s dominant Hanafi-Sunni population, the Barelvis are the largest (50 to 60 per cent), which is a similar position to that in India. They are very much Sufi-inclined and moderate in their religious views, and arguably closer to the Shia when compared with the Deobandis who account for around 20 per cent and control most of the country’s madrassas (religious schools). The Taliban in Afghanistan follow this Hanafi sub-sect. There are also the Ahle-Hadeeth, otherwise known as Salafis, who have a more modest but growing following.

Deobandis and Ahle-Hadeeth are closer ideologically to Saudi Arabia’s puritanical interpretation of Islam sometimes referred to as Wahhabism. From the time of Zia ul-Haq money started flooding in from the Gulf, especially from Saudi Arabia, to fund the Deobandi-affiliated madrassas and mosques. This coincided with the decline of state-funded education in Pakistan and an uptick in violent sectarianism.

Some of these foreign funds went onto supporting sectarian jihadist groups such as Sipah-e-Sahabah Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in an effort to counter and contain Shia revolutionary influence from Iran. They were also sponsored by the Pakistani intelligence agencies and were only designated as terrorist groups in 2002 by former President Pervez Musharraf in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the US. Nevertheless, they are still active and in many ways the state tolerates their existence.

Decades of terrorist attacks on Shia religious processions, mosques, neighbourhoods and pilgrims returning from Iran, in addition to targeted killings, disappearances and forced migrations, have prompted activists and human rights organisations to describe the plight of Pakistan’s Shia as an ongoing genocide. Moreover, it is said to be one in which the state has not only been ineffective and failed to provide security for its Shia citizens, but has also, in effect, colluded with the perpetrators through the free space afforded to supposedly outlawed groups who continue to evade prosecution.

Legislation has also played a part in facilitating the persecution of Shia and other religious minorities such as Christians and the Ahmadis. Between 1987 and 2019, for example, hundreds of blasphemy cases were reported across various religions and sects in Pakistan.

The SSP is said to have introduced the Namus-i-Sahabah (Honour of the Companions of the Prophet) Bill in the National Assembly, which sought to add the names of the four Rightly-Guided Caliphs to the list of those covered by the Blasphemy Law. It has also been argued that the 1980 amendment which added the companions to the blasphemy law — Section 295A — was probably a symbolic gesture by Zia-ul-Haq’s government to show its “Islamic credentials” and win over the hardliners. Nevertheless, it was obvious that the Shia community would be affected disproportionately by the amendment when its members do not share the same historic reading or hold the same opinions about certain individuals held dear by the Sunnis.

In July, the Punjab Assembly, the largest provincial legislature in Pakistan, ruled in favour of a bill which seeks even more stringent blasphemy laws for “protecting Islam”. This led to widespread criticism with fears that the country will witness further sectarianism and extremism as a result.

According to a press release issued earlier this month by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, it was reported that there had already been some 40 reported cases of extremism in the previous month. In fact since the passing of the bill, there have been numerous arrests of Shia clerics and eulogists during the month of Muharram over long-established supplications recited to mark the Day of Ashura.

Days later there were huge rallies by tens of thousands of people in Karachi, which included the participation of the SSP, LeJ and other extremist groups publically denouncing Shia as Kaafirs (non-believers). Unsurprisingly, there followed more targeted killings of Pakistani Shia citizens, several of which have been publicised widely on social media. One notable incident involved Shia shopkeeper Qasim Imran; CCTV footage shows him being shot multiple times at point blank range by his assailants who then fled the scene.

The developments are a cause of great concern for Pakistan’s Shia, especially when the government has failed to protect them and basically look the other way as the extremist voices become louder and the violence more brazen.

With few options left for their very survival, the Shia of Pakistan may find that they have little choice but to turn to Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The Corps has a track record of training and arming the likes of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq, both of which emerged either due to the marginalisation of the Shia or the incompetence of the state in protecting them. The IRGC has already trained Afghan and Pakistani brigades. Some argue that they are simply refugees who are being exploited and sent to fight primarily in Syria. As the persecution of Shia citizens in Pakistan intensifies, the need to defend themselves may lead to the so-called Zainebiyoun Brigades shifting the focus from Syria back to Pakistan, although the faction is still in its early years of development.

In an ironic twist of fate, therefore, it would seem that the policy of Saudi Arabia and Zia-ul-Haq intended to curtailing Iranian influence in Pakistan through promoting extremist Sunni groups could eventually usher it back in.

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200916-if-pakistan-is-unwilling-to-protect-its-shia-citizens-they-may-look-to-irans-republican-guards/

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Pakistan: Hardline Sunni groups on collision course with Shiites

14.09.2020

Pakistani police registered at least 40 blasphemy cases in August, according to the country's human rights groups.

The South Asian country's independent Human Rights Commission said most of these cases were filed against Shiite Muslims in relation to speeches made at religious processions.

On Friday, hardline Sunni groups organized a large-scale rally against Shiites in the country's financial hub, Karachi. Thousands of people participated in the demonstration and chanted anti-Shiite slogans, including "Shia kafir" (Shiites are infidel).

Although, the Sunni-Shiite conflict in Islam is centuries old, it intensified in Pakistan in the 1980s, after the 1979 Iranian revolution and the subsequent Saudi-Iranian rivalry.

Sunni groups accuse Shiites of "disrespecting" some of the Prophet Muhammad's companions, who they hold in high esteem.

In the past decade, pro-Saudi Sunni militant extremists have intensified their attacks on Shiites, who have a religious affiliation to Iran.

Fear of violence

The rise in blasphemy accusations and street protests against Shiites has raised concern about a possible violent confrontation between the two groups.

"It is an unprecedented rise, and we are worried it can flare up sectarian violence," Mehdi Hasan, chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), told Dpa news agency last week

Rights groups criticize the government for not taking action against hardline sectarian outfits, some of which are banned in the country.

Asad Iqbal Butt, a senior official of the HRCP, says the authorities are not doing anything to rein in extremist groups.

"The situation is alarming not only for Shiites but also for the members of other minority groups. The government has turned a blind eye to sectarian organizations that are spreading hatred against Shiites and other religious minorities," Butt told DW.

Protection of Islam

In July, lawmakers of the provincial Punjab assembly passed a bill that imposed punishments for vilifying holy Sunni figures.

Shiite activist Rashid Rizvi told DW that most of the blasphemy cases against Shiites have been filed after the passage of the bill. "More than 40 cases have been registered in the month of August only and more people are being booked. One Shiite cleric fled the country due to death threats against him and some were arrested by police," Rizvi said.

Senator Akram Baloch is also of the view that the bill has led to a spike in blasphemy cases. "The Punjab government should immediately scrap the law because it is fueling sectarian tensions in the country. The law is being misused," Baloch told DW.

Sunni groups, however, say the law is necessary to protect Islam.

Hafiz Ihtesham Ahmed, an Islamabad-based Sunni cleric, alleges that members of the Shiite community regularly commit blasphemy. "The Punjab assembly bill has exposed Shiites who blaspheme against holy figures that are revered by Sunni Muslims. So, I think the cases [against them] are genuine, and the government should arrest all those who have been booked," Ahmed told DW.

Muhammad Jalal Uddin, a member of the Jamiat Ulema Islam, says his party would oppose any attempt to amend or repeal the Punjab assembly law. "We will go to any extreme to protect this law. Pakistan is an Islamic country and we should have Islamic laws," he told DW.

An alarming situation

Blasphemy is a sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslims. According to Pew Research Center, adherents of Shiite Islam in Pakistan make up between 15-20% of the country's total population.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws have come under hefty criticism, as they have often been used to target minorities, activists, and to settle personal vendettas. Although no one has yet been executed under the laws, dozens of people are currently sitting on death row due to blasphemy convictions.

Read more: Pakistan: Lahore court sentences Christian to death on blasphemy charges

According to rights groups, around 1,549 blasphemy cases were registered in Pakistan between 1987 and 2017. More than 75 people have so far been killed extra-judicially after blasphemy allegations. Some of them were even targeted after being acquitted in blasphemy cases by courts.

In 2018, Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was acquitted on appeal and left the country, provoking violent protests across Pakistan.

Peter Jacob, a rights activist, said he was concerned at the recent spike in blasphemy cases, which also involved other minority groups. "In recent weeks, three members of the minority Ahmaddiya community have been killed – one over alleged blasphemy and other for unknown reasons. Some Christians have also been booked in blaspheme cases. Now even Shiite Muslims are being targeted, with extremist groups openly spreading hatred against them," Jacob told DW.

Ishaq Khakwani, a former federal minister and member of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, admits that the situation is worrisome. "I am concerned over an increase in blasphemy cases. People are afraid of supporting the accused. Even if the person who is accused of blasphemy is released, his life continues to be in danger," he told DW.

https://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-hardline-sunni-groups-on-collision-course-with-shiites/a-54925086

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Pakistan parliament passes three FATF related bills amid opposition protests

Sep 16, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Hours after being rejected by the Senate, Pakistan’s parliament in a joint sitting on Wednesday bulldozed three Financial Action Task Force-related laws in an attempt to avoid being added to the task force’s blacklist.

In the joint session, marred by opposition protests, the bills were passed with a thin majority of 10 votes, with 200 lawmakers voting in its support and 190 opposition legislators opposing the legislation.

The three bills passed with amendments were the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill, 2020; Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill; and the Anti-Terrorism Act (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Being passed thrice by the National Assembly in the past, these bills were blocked three times by the opposition-dominated Upper House, prompting President Arif Alvi to summon a joint session of parliament to make crucial legislation.

The Paris-based FATF had placed Pakistan on its grey list in June 2018, making it extremely difficult for the cash-starved country to raise money on the international bond market.

Before the bills were passed in parliament’s joint sitting, the Senate had rejected the FATF-related anti-money laundering legislation, objecting to some of its provisions.

According to the Anti-Terrorism Act(Amendment) Bill, 2020, the one specifically aimed at addressing FATF’s 27-point action plan given to Islamabad last year, the investigating officer, with the permission of the court, can conduct covert operations to detect terrorism funding and track communications and computer systems by applying the latest technologies in 60 days. It also states that written requests would be made to the court for extension of investigation and the court may extend the period for another 60 days. The bill says funding for terrorism is a major obstacle in the country’s development and a source of disgrace. “Terrorism funding was benefiting those elements which were not only a threat to internal and external peace of the country but also its allies,” it says.

“The main purpose of introducing this bill is to enable law enforcement agencies to eradicate these curses by adopting certain preventive techniques with the empowered assistance of the courts of law,” it adds.

The Anti-Money Laundering Bill, 2020, is about streamlining the existing anti-money-laundering law in line with international standards prescribed by the FATF.

The Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill is aimed at proper management, supervision and administration of Waqf properties in the territorial limits of Islamabad Capital Territory.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-parliament-passes-three-fatf-related-bills-amid-opposition-protests/articleshow/78154240.cms

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Stringent law to curb child abuse, rape on the cards

Iftikhar A. Khan

17 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced that the government will soon introduce a three-tier legislation providing for registration of sex offenders, exemplary punishment for rape and child abuse and effective policing.

“Such incidents ruin the lives of victims and their families also have to suffer,” said Mr Khan, referring to the heart-wrenching incident on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway on Sept 9. He pointed out that the main suspect in the recent gang-rape case was a history-sheeter, explaining that global data indicated that such criminals were repeat offenders and therefore maintaining their data was important.

The prime minister expressed these views while addressing a joint sitting of parliament after passage of a number of Financial Action Task Force-related bills on Wednesday.

Imran accuses opposition of blackmailing govt over FATF-related bills

Mr Khan said the legislation being prepared would not only provide for exemplary punishment for rape and child abuse offences but would also contain provisions for registration of sex offenders and effective policing. He admitted that only a very small percentage of such cases were reported to police in the country. Even after the arrest of offenders in rape and child abuse cases, their conviction was not easy in absence of proper prosecution and concrete evidence, he pointed out. For this reason, he said, the bill being prepared would also provide for witness protection.

The prime minister in his speech also accused the opposition parties of trying to blackmail the government over the Financial Action Task Force-related legislation.

After the passage of a few more FATF-related bills, Mr Khan said the opposition had demanded amendment to 34 of the total 38 clauses of the National Accountability Bureau law, which if accepted would mean burying the anti-graft watchdog.

He said the opposition sought to exclude money laundering from the NAB law under the cover of FATF-related legislation in order to hide corruption of their leaders who owned precious foreign assets. “Why they are scared if they have not laundered ill-gotten money,” Mr Khan remarked.

According to a report, Mr Khan said, 10 billion dollars were laundered from Pakistan each year. He said Hyde Park-1 was one of the most expensive properties in London. Likewise, Mayfair was among most-prized land in London. He said the other opposition party leader also owned properties in the name of his front-men. However, he said, former president Asif Zardari had a property in New York in his name and a case in this regard was in process.

He also criticised the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party governments for five-fold increase in external debts during their 10-year rule. In attempt to justify the borrowings in last two years, the prime minister said what other option was left for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government to run the country’s affairs when “half of the amount collected by us through taxes went in debt servicing and Rs2,600 billion of the Rs4,000 billion revenue generated in the second year would be spent to pay loan installments”.

Mr Khan said when the government talked of corruption, the opposition clamoured terming it political victimisation. “Are they protecting public interest? They want to save the stolen money,” he said.

He explained that Pakistan had not been grey-listed by the FATF during the present government term, but it had inherited this status. He said democratic opposition had an important role to play in protecting the rights of the masses.

“The opposition’s attitude on FATF legislation has confirmed my views about their leadership. The interests of their leaders and Pakistan are in contrast with each other,” he remarked.

He elaborated that Pakistan’s placement on the FATF’s grey list would simply mean sanctions, which would crash the economy. Therefore, he said, the bills to meet FATF requirement were in the country’s interest but the opposition gave preference to personal interest.

The prime minister said the government was ready to extend any kind of cooperation to the opposition in the interest of the country and democracy, but ruled out any compromise on corruption.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1580060/stringent-law-to-curb-child-abuse-rape-on-the-cards

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IHC disposes of Nawaz’s appeal against order in Al-Azizia case, for now

17 Sep 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will start hearing appeals against conviction of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Al-Azizia reference after completing the requirements regarding his attendance in the court.

The court disposed of a petition seeking hearing of his appeal on merit with the observation that “decision regarding the disposal of the appeal of the appellant on merit under Section 423 CrPC [criminal procedure code] shall be taken [up] after the procedure for procuring attendance of the appellant is completed”.

The IHC’s division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Tuesday issued non-bailable warrants for Mr Sharif.

In the detailed judgement, the bench directed the federal government to execute the warrants “through High Commission of Pakistan in United Kingdom”.

Says plea to be taken up after matters pertaining to his attendance in court are dealt with

Further hearing in this matter has been adjourned till Sept 22.

During the course of the hearing on Tuesday, Mr Sharif’s counsel Khawaja Haris Ahmed had cited a number of judgements, including the one relating to trial of retired General Pervez Musharraf, and pointed out that the superior judiciary had granted right of audience to the counsel for the former military ruler even after he had been declared a proclaimed offender.

He argued that Mr Sharif had to travel abroad for his treatment due to a “life-threatening indisposition”. He further contended that the appellant was unable to return to Pakistan and appear before the court due to his condition and, therefore, the instant appeal be decided on merit after hearing the pleader/counsel appointed by him for representing him in the appeals.

In support of his contentions, the counsel relied on Section 423 of the CrPC as well as the case law on the subject. He also disclosed the details of a certificate issued by one Dr David Lawrence.

The court noted that the appellant sought a decision on the case on merit in the light of the fact that he was unable to appear before the court on the dates to be fixed for a decision on the appeal in view of Section 423 of the CrPC.

The reason for absence is the indisposition of the appellant.

The court said: “For the sake of backdrop, it is mentioned that the appellant was tried and convicted by Accountability Court-I, vide judgement dated July 6, 2018; he filed the instant appeal and with the same a petition under Article 199 of the Constitution was also filed seeking suspension of the sentence and release on bail. The said petition was allowed by this court vide judgement dated September 19, 2018.

“The appellant [Mr Sharif] then proceeded to the United Kingdom in November 2019 and is still there allegedly on account of his indisposition. Meanwhile, the appellant was declared a proclaimed offender by Accountability Court No-III, vide order dated September 9, 2020, in Toshakhana reference.”

The court also observed in its order: “It is trite law that after a person has been declared as a fugitive from law or an absconder, even in another case he loses his rights granted to him by procedural or substantive law.”

Because in a connected appeal the bail granted to the appellant had lapsed, an order had been passed for his attendance and appearance before the court.

According to the judgement, Mr Sharif ought to surrender before the court after lapse of his bail granted by the IHC.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1580075/ihc-disposes-of-nawazs-appeal-against-order-in-al-azizia-case-for-now

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South Asia

 

Discussing Cause of War Determines Peace in Afghanistan: Taliban Spokesman

By Mohammad Arif Sheva

17 Sep 2020

DOHA, Qatar – The Taliban’s Spokesman Mohammad Naeem Wardak said Wednesday in Doha the group will not agree to a ceasefire unless the main cause of the war is discussed on the peace ‘negotiating table’, according to sources.

While the Taliban claim to have reduced violence in Afghanistan since beginning of the peace process, the Afghan government said the group has intensified war throughout the country amid peace talks, which is “unacceptable”.

“It does not make sense to end 20 years of war in one hour,” Wardak told TOLOnews reporter Karim Amini in Doha. “In our perspective, it will be logical to discuss the main aspects of the problems and the war and then finalize a ceasefire so that the problem is resolved permanently.”

“Suppose, if we announce a ceasefire today, but then we fail to reach an agreement at the negotiating table tomorrow, do we go toward the war again? What does this mean?” he elaborated.

Highlighting their vision on peace negotiations, the Taliban spokesman said they have two objectives: first “to end the invasion of Afghanistan, the other one was that there is a true Islamic system that is answerable to the public and the nation.”

“We have entered the peace process with a strong will and determination, we want this problem finally to be resolved,” Wardak said as quoted by TOLOnews. “The process is complicated and it has its own complexities, but we are hopeful that the problems come to an end.”

Roughly a week has passed by, yet both the Afghan and Taliban delegations have to finalize the talks’ mechanism and agenda, which will not only determine a political settlement in the country, but also the achievement of the past two decades. 

https://www.khaama.com/discussing-cause-of-war-determines-peace-in-afghanistan-taliban-spokesman-2343/

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Taliban Tell Afghan Government They Have No Aim to Seize Power

By Eltaf Najafizada

September 16, 2020

Taliban leaders told their government counterparts at the Afghan peace talks they wouldn’t seek to seize power and that their struggle was to free the country from foreign forces and establish an Islamic system.

“Our battle is not for taking power but for the independence of our country from foreign occupation and the establishment of an Islamic system,” the group’s chief negotiator, Abdul Hakim Haqqani, told the government delegation Tuesday, according to a series of tweets by his spokesman.

The government is holding the first peace talks in 19 years with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, where the group has an office, facilitated by the U.S. Both sides are looking to end the two-decade war that’s killed or wounded tens of thousands of Afghans and cost the U.S. more than $900 billion.

Hakim Haqqani said the Taliban is bound by the Feb. 29 peace agreement reached with the U.S. and urged the U.S. and its allies to live up to their obligation under the pact to pull out of the country within 14 months of signing of the agreement.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-15/taliban-tell-afghan-government-they-have-no-aim-to-seize-power

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Pompeo: Less than 200 Al Qaeda Left in Afghanistan

By Mohammad Haroon Alim

16 Sep 2020

Pompeo speaking at an Atlantic Council, pointed there are fewer than 200 Alqaeda members left in Afghanistan.

“We are now delivering a set of outcomes that will reduce the cost of blood from our American servicemen and women,” Pompeo said.

According to the U.S – Taliban Deal, the Taliban vowed to cut ties with Alqaeda and other insurgent groups.

The agreement requires the United States to withdraw its remaining troops from Afghan soil.

https://www.khaama.com/pompeo-less-than-200-alqaeda-left-in-afghanistan/

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Arab world

 

How the Islamic State found a haven in Syrian desert

Sultan al-Kanj

Sep 15, 2020

The Islamic State (IS) operations against Syrian regime and pro-Iranian targets have recently intensified, causing additional losses among those forces despite the military operation that Russia launched on Aug. 25 against IS in the Syrian desert, known as Badiya, in central Syria.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sept. 7 that IS “carried out separate attacks and set up ambushes in separate areas of Badiya, over the past week. The organization’s operations included bombings, attacks and ambushes, and were concentrated in al-Shula area west of Deir ez-Zor, the desert of Boukamal to the east of Deir ez-Zor, the Deir ez-Zor-Al-Mayadin road, the Hamima-third station road toward the city of Palmyra in the eastern countryside of Homs, the Rusafa area in the countryside of Raqqa, the Ithria area in the eastern countryside of Hama and the desert of Sweida.”

Following the killing of a Russian general at the hands of IS, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced Aug. 25 the launch of a military operation against IS in Badiya under the name of “White Desert.”

A Russian military spokesman said in a statement, “The terrorists are impeding the return of social and economic life in Syria, and they are also working to hinder normalization between the local Arab tribes and the authorities [in reference to the Syrian regime]. The United States is the main beneficiary of [IS attacks], using them as a pretext to justify its presence in eastern Syria.”

The Russian general, Vyacheslav Gladkikh, was killed Aug. 18 along with a leader of the National Defense Forces, which is affiliated with the regime, by an improvised explosive device planted by IS in the countryside of Deir ez-Zor province.

Hammam Issa, a media activist from the countryside of Aleppo in the know of IS operations, told Al-Monitor, “The Syrian desert extends over an area of about 80,000 square kilometers [31,000 square miles], which gives the organization the ability to catch the regime forces off guard as they move to and from Deir ez-Zor province in the far east of Syria through the Raqqa desert. This desert extends to the countryside of Suwayda, the countryside of Damascus, the countryside of Hama and Homs in the west, and reaches the Syrian-Iraqi border in the east. It also extends to the Syrian-Jordanian border in the south and the outskirts of the provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in the north.”

He said that Russia is using Liwa al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigade) as a spearhead in the fight against IS in Badiya to fill the void left by the National Defense Forces after they withdrew from the confrontation against IS in the area due to the losses incurred in the past months. The Russian forces are now providing support to Liwa al-Quds to control the security and military situation in the Syrian desert, he explained.

Liwa al-Quds, formed in 2013, is mainly made up of Palestinian fighters fighting alongside Syrian regime forces.

Liwa al-Quds, according to Issa, transferred pro-regime military groups from Aleppo and Idlib countryside to Badiya to take part in operations against IS.

In this context, Suhaib Abdul-Razzaq Jaber, a journalist from Deir ez-Zor countryside, told Al-Monitor, “IS has turned Badiya into a black hole that swallows regime soldiers. All the parties controlling the area [the regime forces, Russia, Iran and the Kurdish forces] know very well that the organization still has a last enclave in the desert. And since 2017, they [the parties] have been aware of the size of this enclave and the number of IS elements present therein.”

He added, “They [the Syrian regime, Kurdish forces, Russia and Iran] are the ones who allowed the organization to flee toward the desert and get stationed in this last enclave, in al-Maizilah and Sabaa Biyar and their surroundings. The organization’s recent moves are only normal since it is a terrorist organization. But what is more of a terrorist act is having allowed this terrorist organization to survive while it targeted civilians that year [in reference to the July 2018 killing of hundreds in Suwayda] and civilians fleeing the 'virtual' war between IS and [President Bashar al-] Assad.”

Jaber noted that IS moves easily in the desert, where it is easy to hide, especially at night. IS militants carry out individual attacks, making it hard to be targeted by airstrikes, he added, and this has helped the organization to survive in its last enclave, by also carrying out surprise attacks before disappearing.

“Some leaders of Assad’s militias are also dealing with IS to smuggle people and goods. The two parties have even covered for each other under a truce or an agreement between them. This truce or agreement may have happened after a number of leaders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps visited military bases in Badiya, close to IS pockets, including Qasem Soleimani in 2019 and the Iranian minister of defense [in 2018],” Jaber added.

He said the reason Russia lost some of its officers at the hands of IS is that these officers are not trained to conduct military operations in desert areas. Also, he added, Russian officers do not know the places where IS planted mines.

The journalist ruled out that IS would launch attacks with the aim of controlling some cities, such as the city of al-Sukhna, the second-largest city in Badiya after Palmyra. However, he said, the organization launches on a weekly basis attacks in the outskirts of the main cities such as Abu Kamal, al-Mayadin, al-Ashara, al-Quriah, al-Sukhna, Palmyra, al-Shula and Kobajjep, among others.

Asked about the regime forces’ failure to eliminate IS in Badiya, Jaber said, “All the regime’s operations are failing because its forces are drained. It does not have the human, technical or material capabilities to fight this battle, and its main dependence is on Western powers that are inexperienced in fighting the organization under such circumstances.”

Abd al-Rahman al-Asef, a former jihadist leader and expert on jihadist groups, told Al-Monitor, “The most important factor contributing to the organization’s steadfastness is its organizational structure. Add to this its conduct of operations based on a well-thought-out strategy. Russia will continue to be defeated by IS so long as it is unaware of the organization’s strategy. Meanwhile, Russia is inflating IS losses in order to portray itself as fighting terrorism at a time when the United States has failed to seriously deal with terrorism. All this propaganda is to justify its presence in Syria and its support for the regime’s killing of Syrians. After all, Russia came to Syria to support Assad, not to fight terrorism.”

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/09/syria-desert-islamic-state-attacks-regime-russia.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1528355_

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Iraq, counter-IS coalition kill, capture Islamic State figures

Sep 15, 2020

Iraqi commandos killed a suspected Islamic State (IS) financier and captured an IS leader in an operation in western Anbar province on Monday, according to Iraq’s Defense Ministry.

Soldiers of Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) were dropped in al-Rutba district by helicopters of the US-led coalition, coalition spokesperson Capt. Jose Uriarte told Al-Monitor via email.

Iraq’s Security Media Cell described the killed suspect as a “major financier” of IS in the predominantly Sunni Anbar province.

Neither a spokesperson for Iraq’s Defense Ministry nor one for Iraq’s CTS returned requests for comment.

Iraq’s security forces have arrested more than a dozen suspected IS operatives across the country over the past several days. The CTS said today its soldiers thwarted an attempted bombing in a Baqubah market.

Earlier this week, Iraq’s Defense Minister Juma Inad Saadoun visited the Anbar Operations Room to discuss continuing operations against IS cells in the western desert. On Saturday, Iraqi forces got into a skirmish in the Anbar desert with suspected IS militants, the Defense Ministry said.

Iraq’s military also continues to uncover weapons stashes in the desert near the Syrian border, the Defense Ministry said.

IS lost control of western Anbar in 2017, but a recent United Nations report said as many as 10,000 IS fighters remain at large in Iraq and Syria.

US-led international coalition troops rarely accompany Iraqi forces on joint ground operations anymore. The coalition, which underwent a routine change-of-command ceremony in Baghdad last week, has consolidated in the Iraqi capital and withdrawn from smaller bases around the country as it transitions to focus on advising and mentoring Iraqi commanders.

The transition earlier this year was hastened by the impending coronavirus pandemic and rocket attacks by suspected Iran-linked militias.

The Trump administration says it will withdraw more than a third of its coalition military personnel from Iraq before the 2020 US presidential election, which is scheduled for November.

In March of last year, Syrian Kurdish-led forces backed by the US-led coalition captured IS’s last redoubt, a town called Baghouz on the Syrian side of the Syria-Iraq border.

Thousands of foreign suspected IS fighters and their family members remain in makeshift prisons and detention camps in northeast Syria, with little prospect of trial or extradition.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/09/iraq-isis-financier-terrorist-anbar.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1528355_

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Syria calls US ‘rogue state’ over Trump remark on wanting to kill al-Assad

16 September 2020

Damascus on Wednesday hit back at Donald Trump and likened the US to a “rogue” state or “terrorist group,” after the US president said he had wanted to assassinate Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad.

“Trump’s admission of such a step confirms that the US administration is a rogue... state,” Syria’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SANA.

“It pursues the same tactics as terrorist groups such as murder and assassination,” it said, one day after Trump made the remarks to the morning show Fox & Friends.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The US president said his then-secretary of defense Jim Mattis opposed the assassination of al-Assad in 2017.

“I would have rather taken him out. I had him all set,” Trump said.

“Mattis didn’t want to do it. Mattis was a highly overrated general, and I let him go.”

Trump was reportedly mulling assassinating al-Assad after the Syrian president allegedly launched a chemical attack on civilians.

In April 2017, a sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun killed more than 80 people.

Trump unleashed missile strikes against the regime’s Shayrat airbase, from where the gas attack was allegedly launched.

However, Trump’s remarks to Fox & Friends contradict other comments he made to reporters in the Oval office on September 5, 2018, when he said that killing Assad “was never even contemplated.”

In April 2018, the US, France and Britain launched retaliatory strikes after another alleged regime chemical attack on the then rebel-held town of Douma, near Damascus.

After nine years of war, the al-Assad government controls some 70 percent of Syria.

The conflict has since 2011 killed at least 380,000 people and displaced around half of Syria’s pre-war population.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/16/Syria-calls-US-rogue-state-over-Trump-remark-on-wanting-to-kill-al-Assad

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Rocket attack on Baghdad’s Green Zone housing US embassy: Reports

16 September 2020

A Katyusha rocket was launched toward the Green Zone in Baghdad, home to the US Embassy, from the Amil District, the Iraqi News Agency (IQA) reported on Wednesday.

No damages or casualties have been reported, IQA said.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Sirens sounded from the US embassy in southwestern Baghdad, according to an Al Arabiya correspondent.

“A Katyusha rocket landed inside the Green Zone, specifically on the residential building No. 31 in the al-Qadisiyah Residential Complex. It did not cause damage or lead to human losses. I was launched from the Amil District near al-Hadi Mosque,” the Iraqi News Agency reported citing a statement from the Iraqi Security Media Cell.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/16/Rocket-attack-on-Baghdad-s-Green-Zone-housing-US-base-Reports

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Lebanon hits bottom of barrel credit rating as government formation flounders

16 September 2020

Lebanon’s credit rating downgraded again on Wednesday as the country continues to feel the effects of compounding economic and financial crises.

Credit ratings company Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Lebanon to the firm’s lowest possible rating, a C, taking the country to the deepest end of junk status. Lebanon’s economic collapse has accelerated since the end of 2019 and talks with the International Monetary Fund to restructure the country’s debt have stalled.

“Lebanon's C rating is the lowest on our rating scale, reflecting our expectation that losses incurred by bondholders will likely exceed 65 percent,” said Elisa Parisi-Capone, vice president - senior analyst at Moody’s Investors Service in a press release. “The rating is unlikely to move from its current position before the restructuring, given the extent of the macroeconomic, financial and social challenges and our expectation of very significant losses.”

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Moody’s said the collapse of the local currency in the parallel market and subsequent inflation have fueled a highly unstable environment.

The Lebanese lira, which is technically pegged to the US dollar at 1,507 lira to one, now trades for above 7,000 on the parallel market. Inflation has soared as a result, salaries have plunged, while prices for basic goods, such as food, have increased.

Lebanon’s economic environment has been made more volatile as access to external funding is conditioned upon government reforms, Moody’s explained. For years, aid from Western donors has been conditional on structural reforms across various sectors that successive governments have failed to make.

“For Lebanon’s rating to rise from current levels, the key drivers of the country's debt dynamics, such as economic growth, interest rates, privatization revenue and the ability to generate and sustain large primary surpluses, would need to evolve in a way that ensures future debt sustainability,” Moody’s said.

Lebanon, which has relied on deposits from abroad to keep its highly dollarized economy running, began to face problems last October as the greenback became increasingly scarce.

Since then, crises have mounted as the fragile political system unwound with protesters taking to the streets calling for reform.

Most recently, government corruption and incompetence came into focus when ammonium nitrate stored at the Port of Beirut caused an unprecedented explosion on August 4, causing damage to large sections of the city, and pushing the country further into economic hardship. While previous governments knew of the chemical’s presence for years, they had failed to move it elsewhere.

Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab stepped down in the wake of the blasts, and now, with French intervention, new Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib was given two weeks to form a government. However, that deadline has since passed and rumors now swirl that that Adib may step aside.

Meanwhile, the country’s economy continues to sink and the current government, in its caretaker capacity, has little ability to pass legislation or make reforms necessary that could attract foreign aid or boost the country’s credit rating.

Moody’s noted that reforms must include making public finances and the banking system solvent again via comprehensive debt restructuring, passing legislation to formalize capital controls, the elimination of the current multiple exchange rate system, and comprehensive audits of state-owned enterprises and the central bank.

While a capital controls law has been drafted, it was shelved by lawmakers. The central bank has intervened to try to stabilize the exchange rate by setting various rates, but the multiple-tiered exchange system is still in place. In July, the government hired Alvarez & Marsal to audit the central bank.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/business/economy/2020/09/16/Lebanon-hits-bottom-of-barrel-credit-rating-as-government-formation-flounders

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Africa

 

Libya east-based force: 7 militants, foreign fighters killed

15 September 2020

CAIRO -- Libya's east-based army claimed on Tuesday that its troops killed at least seven Islamic State militants, including foreign fighters, in a raid on their hideout in the country’s south.

The statement from the self-styled Libyan Arab Armed Forces said a six-hour firefight overnight with the militants took place in a neighborhood of the city of Sabha, 650 kilometers (400 miles) south of the capital, Tripoli.

The force, led by commander Khalifa Hifter, said the dead include three militants from Saudi Arabia, an Australian, an Egyptian and two Libyans. Hifter's troops shared graphic photos of the dead, along with their alleged passports to show their identities.

The troops also detained two women, a Libyan and an Egyptian, in the raid. A pro-Hifter news website, al-Marsad, reported that three of Hifter's forces were also killed.

Libya is divided between two rival administrations, based in the country's east and west, with an array of fighters and militias, backed by various foreign powers allied with each side.

In the years after the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi, IS and other extremists had managed to gain a foothold in the country, benefiting from Libya’s remote stretches near the borders with Egypt, Sudan, Chad, Algeria, Niger and Tunisia.

Hifter, who was instrumental in pushing back IS and who is aligned with the east-based administration, attempted a power grab last year, with a military offensive launched in April 2019 aimed at capturing Tripoli.

But the west-based Libyan forces and militias allied with the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli defeated that offensive with Turkey's military help and Hifter's campaign collapsed in June.

Fighting has died down in recent weeks amid intensive international efforts, including from the United States, to establish a lasting cease-fire and avert a showdown between the rival sides over the strategic city of Sirte, the gateway for vital oil facilities.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/libya-east-based-force-militants-foreign-fighters-killed-73019653?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1528355_

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Nigeria's 3rd Place in Global Terrorism Ranking Disappointing, Says APC Group

14 SEPTEMBER 2020

By Joseph Erunke

The APC Consolidation Group, a group in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC-CG, has described Nigeria's latest ranking as third in the Global Terrorism Index,GTI, as not only disappointing but also embarrassing, saying the rating had confirmed its position that the nation's service chiefs were not on top of its security situation.

To this end, it reiterated its call that President Muhammad Buhari relieves the security chiefs of their positions, saying anything contrary would portray the president as being insensitive to the security of lives and property of citizens which it noted,the president swore in the constitution to protect.

The National Coordinator of the group, Dr Usman Mohammed, in a statement Monday morning,in reaction to the latest Global Terrorism Index report which places Nigeria as occupying the third position among countries worst hit by terrorism, globally,insisted that APC-CG was disturbed given what it noted,government had expended so far to free the country of security threats.

The group which had in a recent statement, called on the president to sack the service chiefs as according it,they were not indispensable to be done away with on the face of daily security threats confronting the country,insisted that the president must see reason with its position and immediately do the needful.

In the statement it tagged,"Sack Service Chiefs over Global Terrorism Rating",the APC group regretted that the latest Global Terrorism Index rating would further drive away foreign investments thus reduce the country's Gross Domestic Product,GDP.

Describing the GTI rating as "the worst thing that has ever happened to a government that mean so well for the people like the Government of President Muhammad Buhari," it noted that:"No doubt,the rating is so due to the actions and inactions of his service chiefs."

"We are saddened by this report which by implication will close many economic doors on Nigeria and drastically bring down our GDP," it said.

The statement read in full:" We, the entire members of APC Consolidation Group,APCG received with rude shock and total disappointment the 2019 Global Terrorism Report which ranks Nigeria as the 3rd most terrorized country in the world.

"This report is the worst thing that has ever happened to a government that mean so well for the people like the Government of President Muhammad Buhari. No doubt,the rating is so due to the actions and inaction of his service chiefs. So,we are worried our dear president's continuous retention of these officers.

"Consequently,we are calling on the president to sack the current security chiefs heading the Nigeria Armed forces. The chiefs of Defence, Army, Airforce and Naval Staff,over their inability to deliver on his vision and the expectation of Nigeria's on security.

"We are saddened by this report which by implication will close many economic doors on Nigeria and drastically bring down our GDP. Investors will leave Nigeria and intending once may have a rethink about coming to Nigeria .

"We in APC Consolidation Group insist that Mr President means well for for Nigerians in every area, but unfortunately insecurity is threatening his policies in agriculture, infrastructure, power and others.

"From our findings, if urgent steps is not taken to address the insecurity in the land, famine will by next year,be alarming and that will frustrate his huge investment in agriculture through CBN.

" Farmers cannot conveniently farm this year because of banditry attacks and kidnapping. Power installations are being vandalized on a daily basis,thus frustrating his huge investment in power and agricultural sectors.

"The entire Northern Nigeria is not safe as at today because of terrorism, banditry and some strange crimes that were before now, alien to Nigeria. This call for serious and urgent concern, and Mr President must reason to act now.

"The global terrorism report is a total embarrassment to our country and the security architecture. We wonder how we got here despite the government huge investment in security particularly the Armed Forces.

"We have nothing personal against the service chiefs. As a matter of fact, they have done their best, but our concern is borne out of sincere love for Nigeria,our president and our great party which this insecurity is threatening it's glory.

"The current service chiefs, no doubt, having spent five years plus, must have ran out of fresh ideas required to transform the country's security situation. To us,they have lost touch with the current security reality and there's need for our president to sack them without further delay.

We want to once again, remind Mr President that every Nigeria is tired with the insecurity and need results. We are therefore calling on Mr president to listen to Nigeria's and sack the service chiefs immediately."

Recall that the GTI, which is in its sixth edition, is produced annually by the Institute for Economics & Peace, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank with offices in Sydney, New York, and Mexico City,respectively.

https://allafrica.com/stories/202009150186.html?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1528355_

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Al-Shabab growing more emboldened in targeting US troops

16 September 2020

Al-Shabab, an al-Qaida offshoot based in Somalia, is growing more emboldened in targeting U.S. troops, according to U.S. Africa Command’s director of intelligence Navy Rear Adm. Heidi Berg.

“We do assess that there is a definitive shift in focus on conducting attacks against the U.S.” Berg told reporters Friday. “We’ve watched that take place over the course of a couple of months.”

Violent extremist groups including ISIS-Somalia, Boko Haram and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb exist in Africa. But Berg claimed that al-Shabab is particularly worrisome, and noted that the organization’s propaganda and public announcements are “reminiscent” of al-Qaida’s prior to the 9/11 attacks.

“We currently assess that al-Shabab is the most capable terrorist group on the African continent in terms of the ability to potentially threaten Western interests regionally,” Berg said.

The comments come days after a U.S. service member was injured in an al-Shabab attack on Sept. 7 where militants used a vehicle as an improvised explosive device and mortar fire.

AFRICOM reported last week the service member, who was among U.S. and Somali troops conducting an advise, assist and accompany mission at the time of the attack, was in stable condition and receiving treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.

But other al-Shabab attacks have been deadly for Americans. In January, U.S. and Kenyan forces were attacked at Manda Bay Airfield in Kenya and the ambush resulted in the deaths of Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, and two U.S. Department of Defense contractors, Dustin Harrison, 47, and Bruce Triplett, 64.

AFRICOM officials previously told reporters that they believed al-Shabab militants came from Somalia and received assistance from facilitators in Kenya to pull off the attack.

https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-military/2020/09/15/africom-al-shabab-growing-more-emboldened-in-targeting-us-troops/?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1528355_

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North America

 

US will do all it needs to do to ensure Iran sanctions enforced: Pompeo

16 September 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the US would return to the United Nations to reimpose sanctions on Iran next week and would do all it needed to do to make sure those sanctions are enforced.

Pompeo made the comments in a joint news conference in Washington with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.

Pompeo said last month he had triggered a 30-day process to reimpose all UN sanctions on Iran by lodging a complaint with the Security Council accusing Tehran of breaching a 2015 nuclear deal.

Pompeo has said sanctions should be reimposed from Sunday.

But 13 of the 15 council members said the US move is void because Washington withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal two years ago.

Pompeo said Tuesday that America’s “European friends” did not support the proposed US resolution of extending the UN arms embargo on Iran - put forward by the US last month - because of fear and political calculations.

“Our European allies fear that if they hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing behavior, Iran will violate the [nuclear deal] even more in response,” he said in statements to the US Virtual Iran Embassy.

“This strategy of appeasement does nothing but play into Iran’s grand strategy,” Pompeo said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/16/US-will-do-all-it-needs-to-do-to-ensure-Iran-sanctions-enforced-Pompeo

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US Secretary Pompeo criticizes France for policy on Iran, Hezbollah

15 September 2020

France’s leadership is failing to stand up to Iran and its proxy Lebanese Hezbollah, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has recently attracted attention for two high-profile visits to Lebanon following the Beirut port explosion on August 4.

According to reports in French newspaper Le Figaro, Macron met with a Hezbollah official during his first trip, saying to Mohammed Raad: “I want to work with you to change Lebanon but prove that you are Lebanese,” referring to the organization supporting Iran’s regional policies.

In remarks published on the US’ Virtual Iran Embassy, Pompeo called France’s approach to Iran and Hezbollah “appeasement.”

Pompeo questioned how France could vote against extending the UN arms embargo on Iran and also have its president meet with a Hezbollah official in Beirut.

“How could France vote down the arms embargo one week, and President Macron meet with a senior Hizballah official in Beirut the next?” Pompeo said.

Designating Hezbollah terrorist organization

Pompeo criticized France’s refusal to designate “all of Hizballah a terrorist organization, as other European nations have done.”

Earlier this year, both the UK and Germany designated the entire Hezbollah a terror organization.

Like France and the European Union, both countries previously had distinguished between Hezbollah’s political arm and military units.

“Paris maintains the fiction that there is a ‘political wing’ of Hizballah, when all of it is controlled by a single terrorist, Hassan Nasrallah,” said Pompeo, adding that he backs a group of 27 prominent French figures, who recently called for France to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization in an article published in Le Figaro.

Macron has rejected criticism of his approach, saying he wants to avoid “escalation.”

Extending UN arms embargo on Iran

France, in addition to the UK and Germany, did not support the US resolution to extend the UN arms embargo on Iran, resulting in it failing to pass the UN Security Council vote.

The current UN arms embargo on Iran is set to expire next month, despite the US and allies in the region pointing to the dangers of allowing Iran to purchase arms considering its destabilizing regional activities.

Pompeo said America’s “European friends” did not support the “reasonable proposal” because of fear and political calculations.

“Our European allies fear that if they hold Iran accountable for its destabilizing behavior, Iran will violate the [nuclear deal] even more in response,” he said.

“This strategy of appeasement does nothing but play into Iran’s grand strategy,” Pompeo said.

France is one of the partners to the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and has advocated for the preservation of the deal that the Trump administration exited in 2018 - despite Tehran violating the deal multiple times since then.

“The question is whether France is willing to join us to stand up to Iran and secure peace and regional stability,” Pompeo said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/15/US-Secretary-Pompeo-criticizes-France-for-policy-on-Iran-Hezbollah

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NJ man admits to supporting foreign terrorist organization

15 September 2020

A Bernards man admitted in federal court Tuesday to concealing his attempts to provide support to Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Jonathan Xie, 21, of the Basking Ridge section, pleaded guilty via video conference before U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp to one count of concealing attempts to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement.

Xie admitted that he knowingly concealed and disguised the nature, location, source, ownership and control of the attempt to provide material support and resources to Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyya and the Islamic Resistance Movement, an organization that is commonly referred to as Hamas, according to the statement.

Xie admitted that he knew Hamas was a designated foreign terrorist organization and has engaged in terrorist activities. He said he attempted to conceal the attempted support believing it would be used to commit or assist in the commission of a violent act, the statement said.

In December 2018, Xie sent $100 via Moneygram to an individual in Gaza who Xie believed to be a member of the Al-Qassam Brigades — a faction of Hamas that has conducted attacks, to include suicide bombings against civilian targets inside Israel, according to the statement.

Around the same time that Xie sent the money, he posted on his Instagram account: “Just donated $100 to Hamas. Pretty sure it was illegal but I don’t give a damn," according to the statement.

In April 2019, Xie appeared in an Instagram Live video wearing a black ski mask and stated that he was against "Zionism and the neo-liberal establishment," the statement said.

When asked by another participant in the video if he would go to Gaza and join Hamas, Xie stated, “Yes, If I could find a way,” the statement said.

Later in the video, Xie displayed a Hamas flag and retrieved a handgun. He then said, “I’m gonna go to the [expletive] pro-Israel march and I’m going to shoot everybody,” according to the statement.

In subsequent Instagram posts, Xie stated, “I want to shoot the pro-israel demonstrators ... you can get a gun and shoot your way through or use a vehicle and ram people ... all you need is a gun or vehicle to go on a rampage ... I do not care if security forces come after me, they will have to put a bullet in my head to stop me,” the statement said.

In April 2019, Xie sent a link to a website for the Al-Qassam Brigades to an undercover FBI employee online.

Xie described the website as a “Hamas” website and said he had previously sent a donation to the group.

Xie then sent screenshots of the website to the undercover employee and demonstrated how to use a new feature on the website that allows donations to be sent via Bitcoin. On April 18, 2019, when the undercover employee asked whether Bitcoin was anonymous, Xie responded: “yah… i think thats why hamas is using it now because money transfer is not that anonymous.”

The count of concealing attempted material support carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

https://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/crime/jersey-mayhem/2020/09/15/nj-man-admits-supporting-foreign-terrorist-organization-hamas/5809406002/?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1528355_

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Hundreds gather to honour man stabbed to death outside Toronto mosque

Sep 16, 2020

Mohamed-Aslim Zafis spent his last hours as he did countless ones before — volunteering at a northwest Toronto mosque and helping those in need.

Zafis, 58, was remembered by friends and family at his funeral on Wednesday as a "kind, gentle soul" who, even on the day he was killed, handed out food to the hungry and worked to keep his fellow worshippers safe.

"He was an incredible man," Zafis's nephew, Zahir Zafis, said through tears.

"He never had any negative thoughts or words."

Several hundred mourners gathered in the parking lot of the International Muslim Organization in Etobicoke to say goodbye to Zafis, just metres away from where he was stabbed to death on Saturday evening.

The attack — which police have said bears many similarities to another killing just days earlier — happened as Zafis was controlling entry to the mosque.

Had just finished prayers before attack

He had just finished saying the sunset prayers before he returned to his usual post outside the mosque, where he ensured everyone who entered wore a mask and respected COVID-19 physical distancing rules.

Imam Ayman Taher said he chatted with Zafis just minutes before the attack, when they discussed a local Syrian family who had just lost a child. Zafis had prepared food for the family, he told Taher, to help them through the difficult time.

Giving food was important Zafis, his friends said. He spent years volunteering at a nearby food bank, preparing hampers for the hungry, and recently held a drive-through barbecue for children before they returned to school, Taher said.

He also kept candies in his pockets that he gave out to children as a treat.

Zafis was born in Guyana and still has many family members there, his nephews said.

The parking lot at the mosque was a place of love for Zafis, said Mustafa Farooq, the CEO of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

"It was here in the parking lot he'd sit with his friends and sip Pepsi with lemon slices," Farooq said.

"He'd distribute food to the poor, to the needy, in this parking lot."

'Found peace and happiness' in doing work of God

Imam Junaid Bhaiyat said Friday morning will be especially difficult.

Zafis sent a message to him, and many others, every Friday between 12:15 a.m. and 12:23 a.m., like clockwork, wishing all "a blessed and happy Friday."

"Tomorrow night I'm going to wait for that message — and the week after that, and the week after that — and it's not going to come," Bhaiyat said.

Zameer Zafis said his uncle devoted much of his life to his faith.

"He found peace and happiness doing the work of Allah," he said.

"We also ask of you at this time to pray that this individual be brought to justice, but also to forgive him for the sin that he has committed."

Police still investigating motive

The head of the Toronto police homicide squad said Monday they have no evidence Zafis's killing was motivated by  hate, but acknowledged it is a possibility.

Insp. Hank Idsinga also said police cannot discount the homicide could be the work of a serial killer.

The mosque has urged its worshippers to remain vigilant of their surroundings.

"No one can intimidate us and prevent us from attending our place of worship," Taher said.

Supt. Ron Taverner told mourners police are working 24 hours a day to try to capture the killer.

"We are taking every measure possible," he said.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/toronto-mosque-stabbing-1.5726993?cmp=rss

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Europe

 

UK repatriates British child from Syria despite ISIS policy

16 September 2020

Britain said on Wednesday it had repatriated a child from Syria, one of dozens of British children thought to be trapped in the war-torn country.

British officials have previously faced criticism for refusing to help nationals including children to return home after they or their parents were accused of joining the ISIS militant group.

“Pleased we have been able to bring home a British child from Syria,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“Safely facilitating the return of orphans or unaccompanied British children, where possible, is the right thing to do.”

The foreign ministry declined to provide further details, citing reporting restrictions on cases involving minors.

Save the Children said in a report last year that more than 60 British children were stranded in northeast Syria.

Change from Shamima Begum policy

The UK has taken a strict approach, stripping citizenship from some of those suspected of travelling to support ISIS.

Among the most high profile cases is that of Shamima Begum who was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from east London left to join ISIS in 2015.

She claims to have married a Dutch convert soon after arriving in ISIS-held territory who subsequently died.

Begum, now 20 and marooned in a refugee camp, was discovered nine months pregnant in another camp in February last year, and her newborn baby died soon after she gave birth.

Two of her other children also died under ISIS rule.

Britain annulled her UK citizenship on national security grounds after an outcry led by right-wing media but Begum has mounted a legal challenge of the decision.

The UK supreme court is set to decide on whether she can return to Britain to fight the case in court.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2020/09/16/UK-repatriates-British-child-from-Syria-despite-ISIS-policy

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Turkey open to ‘constructive’ talks but determined on east Med, Erdogan tells Merkel

16 September 2020

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday that Ankara was open to “constructive” talks but would remain determined in its eastern Mediterranean standoff with Greece.

The videoconference call between the two leaders came ahead of an EU summit next week at which the bloc will discuss imposing sanctions on Turkey over its search for energy in waters claimed by Cyprus and Greece.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

Germany has taken the lead in trying to mediate an end to a conflict that has seen the two NATO neighbors stage rival air and sea drills in strategic waters between Cyprus and Crete.

The Turkish presidency said Erdogan told Merkel that the dispute “could be resolved through negotiations... provided that a constructive approach, based on fairness, prevails.”

Erdogan “underscored that he will continue to implement a decisive and active policy with regard to Turkey’s rights,” his office said.

Turkey believes that the EU unfairly backs Greece in a maritime dispute that stretches back decades but which gained added importance with the discovery of large natural gas deposits in recent years.

The standoff appeared to be cooling off when Turkey’s Oruc Reis research vessel and its accompanying fleet of warships ended their month-long mission near a Greek island and pulled back to shore last weekend.

But Turkey stressed that the vessel was only undergoing planned maintenance and would soon continue its exploration in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

The Turkish navy on Tuesday also announced the extension of the Yavuz drillship’s stay in disputed waters near Cyprus until October 12.

The Turkish and Greek war games have drawn in EU powers and even the naval assets of the United States and the United Arab Emirates.

NATO is hosting periodic rounds of technical talks aimed at opening up channels of communication that could keep Greece and Turkey from accidentally going to war.

Their two navies’ warships collided on August 12 in an incident that prompted Erdogan to warn Greece of a “heavy price” to pay were Turkish ships ever attacked.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/09/16/Turkey-open-to-constructive-talks-but-determined-on-east-Med-Erdogan-tells-Merkel

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EU chief pledges to defend Cyprus rights in Turkey standoff

16 September 2020

European Council chief Charles Michel pledged Wednesday that the bloc will defend the rights of member state Cyprus in its standoff with Turkey over maritime and energy rights.

Michel’s visit to the island comes a day after Turkey said its Yavuz drillship would continue its search for oil and gas off Cyprus until October 12, despite international calls to withdraw.

The top EU official is in Cyprus ahead of an emergency meeting of EU leaders next week that will address Turkish actions in the eastern Mediterranean with sanctions a possibility.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“The European Union stands in solidarity with Cyprus as it faces a grave situation. That is why we have decided to call a summit on relations with Turkey,” Michel told reporters after meeting Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

“I believe we must be very firm when it comes to defending the rights of all member states, including Cyprus.”

Turkey, Greece and Cyprus have been locked in a dispute over offshore energy rights and maritime borders in the region, with Ankara infuriating the EU allies by sending research ships with naval escorts to work in contested waters.

Although Cyprus has been an EU member since 2004, its jurisdiction is not recognized by Turkey, which dismisses the island’s internationally recognized government as an exclusively Greek Cypriot administration.

There have been fears of conflict erupting and Cyprus is pressing the rest of the EU to impose fresh sanctions on Ankara over the drilling.

Michel said Brussels did not want to send the message that this was a dispute involving only Greece and Cyprus with Turkey as it affected the “rights of the EU.”

Cyprus’s president said Michel’s visit comes at an “extremely worrisome” time as “Turkey continues to violate our maritime zones” with “illegal” drilling.

He said the bloc should show its readiness to take action to protect its members’ rights.

“Respect for the sovereignty of all member states should remain a rule that no one can ignore or show contempt for,” Anastasiades said.

“As long as there are illegal actions against member states, the EU’s response should be immediate.”

Turkey said the Yavuz will be accompanied by three other Turkish ships, according to a maritime notice that added “all vessels are strongly advised not to enter” the area.

Nicosia said such maritime notices within its jurisdiction were illegal.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup in Nicosia seeking to unite the whole island with Greece.

A breakaway Turkish Cypriot state in the north of the island is recognised only by Ankara.

Turkey insists that the minority community’s interests must be protected and has called for the exploitation of offshore oil and gas reserves to be put off until an agreement on reunifying the island has been reached in UN-backed talks.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/09/16/EU-chief-pledges-to-defend-Cyprus-rights-in-Turkey-standoff-

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France Arrests Four Ex-Directors Of Shia Zahra Centre Founded By Hezbollah Supporter

16 September 2020

Four former directors of a major Shia Muslim center in France have been arrested on suspicion of continuing to run the association despite its dissolution over alleged support for extremist violence, a judicial source said Wednesday.

The Zahra Centre in northern France was founded in 2009 by Yahia Gouasmi, a religious figure who has spoken in support of Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

It was shuttered in March last year by the French government for alleged calls to armed jihadism and condoning violence by Hezbollah and other organisations classified as terror groups.

The center is also alleged to have disseminated hate speech, anti-semitism and to have incited violence.

The judicial source told AFP that four former leaders of the centre were taken into custody on Tuesday, though one has been freed for health reasons.

Prosecutors are investigating the group for "participation in or maintenance of a dissolved association."

The four are accused of preaching on site and on social media, the prosecution service said.

In October 2018, French police launched a dawn anti-terror raid on the centre as well as the homes of its directors, yielding a cache of illegal firearms.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2020/09/16/France-arrests-four-ex-directors-of-Shia-Zahra-Center-founded-by-Hezbollah-supporter

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Palestinian doctor caught in ‘dirty squabble’ between MI5 and New IRA

16 September 2020

A terrorism trial in Northern Ireland has shed light on the secret but ferocious war between the British Security Service (MI5) and so-called dissident militant Irish Republicans.

At the center of the trial is a Palestinian man, one Dr Issam Bassalat, who not only maintains his innocence, but in fact claims he is a victim of a “dirty squabble” between MI5 and so-called dissident Republicans.

Edinburgh-based Dr Bassalat made the incendiary claim during an unsuccessful bail application at Dungannon Magistrates Court.

The prosecution claims that Dr Bassalat, 62, was an intrinsic part of a plan by the New IRA organization to procure weapons.

He is accused of attending an alleged New IRA leadership meeting in Omagh in July that was bugged by MI5.

For his part, Dr Bassalat denies all charges and claims he was “misled” into attending the meeting by an alleged MI5 agent, Dennis McFadden, who had penetrated the New IRA group.

Dr Bassalat was arrested at Heathrow Airport in August.

Upon hearing evidence from both sides the trial judge refused to release Dr Bassalat on bail on the grounds that he poses a flight risk.

The judge made the following statement: “The nature of the alleged offending and taking note of the prevalence of terrorist offences in Northern Ireland and worldwide, and the nature of those who commit such acts, leads me to find a real risk of further offending".

The British media refers to the New IRA and sister organizations, such as the Continuity IRA, as “dissidents” with a view to creating schism and division among the Irish Republican community.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2020/09/16/634259/UK-Northern-Ireland-New-IRA-Terrorism-Trial

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Explosives accused 'interested in white supremacy'

15 September 2020

A man accused of storing grenades, mines and chemical weapons at his farm had an interest in Nazi Germany and white supremacy, a court has heard.

Russell Wadge was charged after counter-terrorism police raided his property in Trimsaran, Carmarthenshire.

Newport Crown Court heard large stocks of chemicals found in June 2019, "could kill or injure" when combined.

Mr Wadge, 58, denies 28 charges of possessing explosive devices and chemical weapons.

The court heard Mr Wadge "proudly admitted" making hydrogen cyanide, "one of the most rapidly acting poisons known to man".

'Cyanide in freezer'

Tom Little QC, prosecuting, said: "We need to consider the B - word - not Boris but Brexit.

"There were those frustrated by the delays to the Brexit process who were agitating, but they did not have access to this range of chemicals."

He said hydrogen cyanide was discovered in the freezer, and a pint-glass containing a liquid with a sticker indicating poison was found "between the salad cream and ginger beer" in the fridge.

The jury heard internet searches showed significant interest in the white supremacist terror attack in New Zealand in 2019.

When questioned by police, Mr Wadge said he did not believe in any extremism and had a "keen interest" in chemistry.

However, Mr Little said: "This is not a case about naïve enthusiasm in chemistry - we say it is so much more."

The jury heard books describing how to make improvised plastic explosives, three jars of gunpowder and the ingredients to make a "very dangerous explosive" called TATP (triacetone triperoxide), as used in the Manchester Arena bombing, were found.

Boxes of grenades, mines and scale drawings of a KGB weapon to deploy hydrogen cyanide were also discovered and Mr Wadge had researched an antidote, Mr Little said.

The prosecution said the accused man told police, "if it's dodgy or poison, I love it" and sought out restricted information for "the thrill or buzz of it".

Mr Wadge earlier admitted five charges of unlawful possession of poisonous chemicals without a licence.

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-54165276?utm_source=iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1528355_

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Southeast Asia

 

Muhyiddin unveils Perikatan-led Opposition manifesto that aims to address Sabah’s woes

16 Sep 2020

BY JULIA CHAN

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 16 — Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today unveiled Gabungan Rakyat Sabah’s (GRS) manifesto that focuses on reviving the state’s economy, which he said can only be fulfilled if the federal and state governments work together.

Dangling the carrot of federal funding in front of voters as crucial to fulfilling the promises, the Perikatan Nasional chairman said that Sabah, with its dispersed population and vast land areas, needed major development to take it to the next level.

“The manifesto was given to me to announce as prime minister because it involves cooperation between the state and federal governments, which is of utmost importance,” he said.

The nine thrusts contained in GRS’ manifesto are: infrastructure, Sabah rights, employment, youth, health, civil service, prosperity, education, security, human capital and women development.

GRS comprises Perikatan Nasional (PN), Barisan Nasional (BN) and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

“I believe this is what Sabahans want. Things are hard right now, and in these unprecedented times, we cannot just promise the usual like other elections.

“So this is our total commitment to raise Sabahans’ livelihoods to the next level,” he said during the manifesto’s launch at Sutera Harbour Resort here today where members of the Opposition alliance had gathered.

Meanwhile, Sabah PN chief Datuk Hajiji Noor described the manifesto as the Opposition’s main plan to revive the economy after it was allegedly left in shambles by the Warisan government.

“We are offering much-needed facilities and infrastructure,” he said.

When pushed for a timeline, he said that this was promised for the coming five-year term.

“We cannot do this in one or two years. Things like infrastructure take time. Roads can take two to three years to complete. If we have allocations, we can do it. We need a continuous mandate to ensure the manifesto promises are achieved,” he said.

The 16th Sabah state election will take place on September 26 where some 16 parties are vying for votes in 73 seats.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/09/16/perikatan-led-opposition-unveils-manifesto-that-it-says-will-address-sabahs/1903791

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