New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 10 May 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Under Tight Security, Friday Namaz Proceeds Peacefully In Gurgaon
















Namaz was read in only 47 places, of which 23 were “open spaces” and 24 were Masjids or properties belonging to the Waqf board. (Express Photo by Manoj Kumar)

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Under Tight Security, Friday Namaz Proceeds Peacefully In Gurgaon

Taliban Assured No Fatwa to Be Issued Against Them at Trilateral Moot in Indonesia

Taliban Capture Three Afghan Districts

‘Dark Forces’ Of Intolerance Spreading In Indonesia, Say Parliamentarians

For First Time in Decades, Israel Comes Under Attack by Tens of Rockets from Syria

US Places Travel Restrictions on Pakistani Diplomats

 

India

Under Tight Security, Namaz Proceeds Peacefully In Gurgaon

Government Unlikely To Accept Jammu and Kashmir Ceasefire For Ramzan

24 Bangladeshis with suspected terror links held in Tripura railway station

Class 8 reference book in Rajasthan calls Bal Gangadhar Tilak ‘father of terrorism’

Efforts on to free 6 Indians from Taliban clutches: MEA

Iran’s Chabahar port work on but fear of US sanctions loom

Sushma calls on Myanmar President, Rohingya refugee crisis on the plate

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Pakistan

Taliban Assured No Fatwa to Be Issued Against Them at Trilateral Moot in Indonesia

Pakistan Disappointed As US Blocks Move to Place JuA Chief on Terror List

Pakistan to impose reciprocal restrictions on US diplomats

Blocking Khurasani’s listing part of double standards in fight against terrorism: FO

Protest in NA over bail for ‘TTP men’ in Benazir killing case

Over 150 PTM activists booked for sedition, terrorism

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South Asia

Taliban Capture Three Afghan Districts

Saudi Strongly Reacts At Coordinated Taliban, ISIS Attacks In Kabul

‘Only one Bangladeshi migrant deported this year’

Myanmar Hits Back at OIC Over ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Accusations in Rakhine State

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Southeast Asia

‘Dark Forces’ Of Intolerance Spreading In Indonesia, Say Parliamentarians

Deadly Uprising by ISIS Followers Shakes Indonesia’s Prison System

Indonesia ends militant jail siege after five officers 'sadistically' killed

Tax exemption for Philippine Muslim schools and worship sites proposed

PAS to discuss partner for Kedah government

Muslims gather at Monas to protest US recognition of Jerusalem

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Arab World

For First Time in Decades, Israel Comes Under Attack by Tens of Rockets from Syria

Calls for Restraint after Israeli Raids on Iranians in Syria

Syria Intercepts 70% of Israeli Missiles, Targets 3 Fighter Jets

Damascus: Israeli Assault Indicates 'New Phase of Aggression' against Syria

Saudi tests siren after Iran backed Houthi militia fire new missiles

Syrian Army Spreading Buffer Zone in Strategic Region of Deir Ezzur

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

Bahrain backs Israel's most direct confrontation in Syria

Iraq used Baghdadi aide's cell phone to capture top Daesh commanders

Foreign support for terrorists prolonging Syria crisis: Assad

Saudi Arabia and Norway agree to provide water and sanitation for Somali refugees

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North America

US Places Travel Restrictions on Pakistani Diplomats

Trump Heralds Capture of Five Islamic State Commanders

Iran or terrorists may target Tuesday's US Embassy opening in Jerusalem

US sanctions Iranians days after Trump withdraws from nuclear deal

US Treasury slaps new sanctions on Iranian figures, entities

Thousands of Ismaili Muslims from Edmonton area welcome Aga Khan in Calgary

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Europe

Sajid Javid A Triumph Of British Multiculturalism, Belying ‘Rivers Of Blood’ Soothsayers

Europe’s Terror Convicts Gain Freedom to Improvised Response

Islamist cells raided in Italy for 'financing terrorism'

Europe safer thanks to Iran's anti-terror efforts: Rouhani to Merkel

UK apologises to Libyan dissident Belhaj over rendition

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Mideast

Russia: Israeli Strikes Used 28 Planes, Fired 70 Missiles

UAE Puts Nine Iranian Entities, Individuals on Terrorism List

New US Military Base in Manbij to Increase Ankara-Washington Tensions

Iran does not want ‘new tensions’ in Mideast, Rouhani tells Merkel

Israel blames Iran for firing rockets at the Golan from Syria

Israeli attacks on Syria meant to prop up terrorists: Iran

EU warns about 'dramatic escalation of hostilities' in Yemen

Turkey issues arrest warrants for nearly 190 over affiliation to Gulen network

Saudi-led raids kill more Yemenis, including 2 whole families

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Africa

ICC Renews Call to Arrest Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi

Outrage after deadly South Africa mosque attack

Expert says poverty makes youth vulnerable to terror

Uganda: Was Usafi Mosque a Terrorist Hide-Out, or Security Front?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/under-tight-security,-friday-namaz-proceeds-peacefully-in-gurgaon/d/115216

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Under Tight Security, Friday Namaz Proceeds Peacefully In Gurgaon

Written by Sakshi Dayal | Gurgaon | Updated: May 11, 2018

A week after members of right-wing outfits, under the banner of Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, disrupted Namaz being read in open spaces in Gurgaon, Friday prayers were offered across the district this afternoon, under heavy police presence, with no violence or friction being reported. However, unlike the usual figure of around 100 spots, namaz was read in only 47 places, of which 23 were “open spaces” and 24 were mosques or properties belonging to the Waqf board.

The district administration, Gurgaon police, and representatives of the Muslim community had compiled and finalised this list on Thursday – combining small groups of worshippers within a certain radius, to reduce the spots where Namaz is read, also making security deployment easier in the process. The deputy commissioner, Chander Shekhar Khare, had deployed 76 district magistrates across Gurgaon to help maintain law and order.

The reduction in the number of places where worshippers were allowed to gather created chaos and confusion among them. Many missed the prayers entirely as they searched frantically for the new or alternate spaces, allotted for the purpose.  Imaams leading prayers and worshippers both estimated that close to 40 per cent people missed the prayers entirely as a result of the confusion and last minute changes. “I usually read the namaz near Medanta – The Medicity but, today, when I reached there I saw no one else from the community was present. So I ended up driving around looking for vacant plots where the prayer was being conducted”, said Farhaz, who works in a private company in the city. “I finally found this spot in Sector 47, but the namaz was already over by the time I parked my car”, he added.

At other spots, police personnel and volunteers from civil society had been stationed to direct worshippers to the closest spot where they could pray. As a result, even as the namaz began in a vacant plot opposite the Haryana Vigilance Bureau in Gurgaon, tempos and autorickshaws full of people coming from spots close by, where they would pray earlier, kept arriving. “I first went to Sohna road, where I usually pray, but when I saw no one was there. I went to Subhash Chowk, and then to Cyber Park. It was at the latter that police personnel told me to get into the auto transporting other commuters to this spot, and I finally reached here”, said Ibrahim, who hails from Uttar Pradesh (UP) and works as a helper at a private company in the city.

However, even as prayers proceeded smoothly, workers of Hindu outfits, who have come together to form the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, maintained “vigil” across Gurgaon, making a list of places where namaz was allegedly being read. “We only went and checked places across the city. We did not take the law into our own hands this time, and only took note of such spots where prayers were being offered illegally”, said Rajiv Mittal, national general secretary of the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Kranti Dal, which is one of the outfits that is part of the Samiti. “We will be holding a meeting at 4 pm today to discuss the matter, and will hand over a list of these places to the district administration and Gurgaon Police, so they can take action accordingly”, he added.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/namaz-proceeds-peacefully-in-gurgaon-5172735/

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Taliban assured no fatwa to be issued against them at trilateral moot in Indonesia

Tahir Khan

MAY 11, 2018

Afghan TalibanISLAMABAD: The visit of representatives of Afghan Taliban to Indonesia has forced the government to change the agenda of a trilateral conference of religious scholars to be held on May 11 (Friday) in Jakarta, two Taliban leaders confirmed to Daily Times on Thursday.

Indonesia had invited Taliban representatives in March after they urged scholars from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia to boycott the conference, rejecting it as an “intelligence ploy” by foreign invaders “as they have faced defeat on the battlefield.” The Taliban’s strong opposition led to the postponement of the meeting in March and later the organisers also changed the agenda and assured the Taliban that no “fatwa” or religious edit will be issued about Afghanistan and only a joint statement will be released at the conclusion, a Taliban leader, privy to the visit and the understanding between the Taliban and Indonesian organisers, said.

“I can confirm that the Taliban visited Jakarta for talks. The visit was aimed at ensuring that no ‘fatwa’ is issued, and no speech is delivered against the jihad,” the Taliban source said.

Meanwhile, a 15-member delegation of Pakistani scholars has arrived in Jakarta to join their Afghan and Indonesian counterparts to explore ways for Afghan peace and reconciliation, a Pakistani delegate told Daily Times in a phone call on Thursday.

The participant, requesting not to be identified, complained that the organisers had not shared the agenda and the proposed joint statement with the Pakistani delegates until Thursday evening despite requests by delegates.

The Indonesian authorities had changed Afghan-specific theme of the conference to “Muslim Ummah — Peace and Harmony,” even removing Afghanistan’s mention in the title.

The Afghan government has long been lobbying for a “fatwa” on the war in Afghanistan; but has not yet succeeded as Pakistani scholars want Afghan clerics to call for the withdrawal of the US-led forces that they believe are the main cause of war in Afghanistan. Kabul was also annoyed at a Pakistani “fatwa” as Afghan leaders said it was only limited to Pakistan.

Indonesian ambassador to Pakistan Iwan Suyudhie Amri said that the conference is aimed at promoting peace in Afghanistan.

“We know it is a complex issue. For Indonesia, we just would like to see peace so as to embark on development both in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” ambassador Amri told Daily Times in a text message.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declined to comment on the conference, saying that the militia had already explained its position in a statement released in March.

“Our message to the noble scholars is that they should avoid participation in such gatherings and not afford an opportunity to the invading infidels in Afghanistan to misuse their name and participation as means of attaining malicious objectives,” the Taliban said in March.

The Pakistani delegation said the participants had informal consultations on Thursday and they reached an understanding to support peace in Afghanistan, but they would call for a political solution and press for an end to the foreign invasion. He said majority of Pakistani delegates would not support any edict against the “Islamic injunctions.”

A 20-member Afghan delegation, including senior members of the High Peace Council, will take part in the conference.

Daily Times has learnt that Saudi Arabia has also planned to hold an international ‘ulema’ conference on Afghanistan, most likely after Eid, that could discuss issuance of a ‘fatwa’ against violence.

The Kingdom and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had announced to organise the conference in 2016, but had to postpone it after OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani resigned reportedly infuriating Egypt over a remark that mocked President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Madani was the central figure behind plans to hold the conference that was strongly opposed by the Taliban.

Pakistani clerics, who have arrived in Jakarta, include the deputy chief of Madrassa Haqqania, Akora Khattak, Maulana Anwarul Haq, and his son Salmanul Haq; a senior teacher at Haqqania, Maulana Sheikh Idrees; the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology Dr Qibla Ayaz; the chief of his own faction of JUP, Shah Owais Noorani; Senator Sajid Mir; a leader of Ansarul Ummah, Fazalur Rehman Khalil; Dr Attaur Rehman of the Jamaat-e-Islami; Allama Yasin Zafar of the International Islamic University; Allama Niaz Hussain Naqvi of the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Fiqah Jafria; Peer Maulana Azizur Rehman Hazarvi; Dr Ziaul Haq; Mufti Naeem of Karachi; Mufti Ghulamur Rehman; Sahibzada Qasmi and the rector of the International Islamic University Islamabad Dr. Masoom Yasinzai.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/238501/taliban-assured-no-fatwa-to-be-issued-against-them-at-trilateral-moot-in-indonesia/

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Taliban capture three Afghan districts

May 11, 2018

KABUL - Anti-government militants have stepped up activities against government interests elsewhere in the conflict-hit Afghanistan as three districts have fallen to the insurgents over the past one week.

Taliban militants in the latest achievements overrun the statically important Tala-o-Barfak district in the northern Baghlan province on Tuesday night putting the government forces into defensive positions.

According to local observers, if the Taliban were able to keep control over Tala-o-Barfak district which connects Baghlan to the central Bamyan province, the militant group would be able to tighten the noose around neighbouring Kohmard and Sighan districts in Bamyan.

The militants have also captured Bilchiragh district in the northern Faryab province and Kohistan district in Badakhshan province, inflicting casualties on security forces, according to media reports, besides capturing arms and ammunitions, over the past few days.

Although the government forces have recaptured Bilchiragh district in the northern Faryab province and have been fighting back to evict militants from the remaining Kohistan and Tala-o-Barfak districts, Afghans have doubted government’s ability to root out militants and bring about lasting peace in the country.

“It has been 13 days since we left our houses due to conflict in Tishkan district of Badakhshan but we have not received any humanitarian assistance from government, nor military operations to oust militants from our villages,” complained a displaced person in talks with local television channel Tolo on Thursday.

Meantime, an army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said that the security forces would chase militants elsewhere to ensure viable peace in the country.

The Taliban outfit launched its so-called annual spring offensive on April 25 and since then fierce fighting has erupted in parts of the country.

Both the Taliban and the hardliner Islamic State group claimed responsibility for attacks on police stations in Kabul on Wednesday that left over two dozen people dead and injured besides damaging properties at nearby buildings.

FORCES KILL 26 MILITANTS

As many as 26 militants loyal to the Taliban outfit were killed following a series of operations in the country’s southern Ghor and eastern Laghman provinces over the past 24 hours, officials said Thursday.

Up to 14 insurgents have been killed and six others wounded in Shahrak district of Ghor province since Wednesday and several villages have been liberated from militants’ clutches, Mohammad Iqbal, the provincial police spokesman told Xinhua.

One local policeman lost his life during the operations, he added.

Similarly in Alingar district of the eastern Laghman province over the past 24 hours, 12 militants have been killed and another arrested during operations launched by the National Directorate for Security (NDS), said Sarhadi Zowak, the spokesman of the provincial governor.

AFP adds: The death toll from apparent coordinated attacks on two Kabul police stations has risen to 10, the health ministry said Thursday, as the Afghan capital remains on edge in expectation of more violence.

At least 23 people were also wounded in Wednesday’s hours-long assaults in the city, the ministry said. The Taliban and Islamic State group each claimed responsibility for one of the attacks.

The Taliban said the attack in front of a police station in Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood in downtown Kabul was revenge for an Afghan airstrike on a religious ceremony in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan on April 2.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Monday that children made up most of the 107 casualties in the airstrike that Afghan authorities said had targeted senior Taliban commanders planning attacks.

“It was revenge for the perpetrators and organisers of that attack who used this centre (in Kabul) to plan and organise the attack (in Kunduz province),” the Taliban said in a statement.

During a weeks-long investigation, UNAMA verified that 36 people were killed - 30 of them children - in the attack in Dasht-e-Archi district.

Seventy-one people were wounded, including 51 children, it said.

A senior Taliban commander told AFP recently the Kunduz attack had given the militant group a propaganda boost.

“People in general are very angry with the attack on a seminary in Kunduz and it has positively changed the atmosphere for the Taliban,” he told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

“All doors for peace talks are currently closed. I can see more war in the future.”

Suicide bombers and gunmen carried out Wednesday’s attacks in Kabul, with loud explosions and volleys of gunfire jangling already frayed nerves in the city.

https://nation.com.pk/11-May-2018/taliban-capture-three-afghan-districts

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‘Dark forces’ of intolerance spreading in Indonesia, say parliamentarians

11th May 2018

PARLIAMENTARIANS from across Southeast Asia have warned of “dark forces” of intolerance in Indonesia, calling upon the government to act to counter rights abuses against minorities and restrictions on freedom of religion.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) members from Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and Indonesia concluded a four-day fact finding mission in Yogyakarta earlier this week, a city long reputed for being a tolerant melting pot of religions and cultures.

In recent years, however, incidents involving attacks against religious minorities, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and other minority groups have risen significantly.

In January, hardline Muslim groups harassed cafes and bars in a popular tourist street of Yogyakarta over the service of alcohol, later demanding that the city government shut down the cafes. The following month, a man wielding a sword attacked a church in Yogyakarta, injuring four people and slashing at the statue of Jesus.

“The authorities must ensure that all faith communities are afforded equal protection and the freedom to worship and practice their religions,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives who led the delegation in a statement.

“This includes ensuring accountability for vigilante attacks and instituting preventive measures to protect vulnerable communities from attacks before they happen,” she said.

While Muslim-majority Indonesia’s constitution protects pluralism and freedom of religion, rights groups have long criticised so-called “religious harmony” laws introduced under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which in practice has made it more difficult to establish minority houses of worship.

“We heard stories of how difficult it is for religious minorities to obtain necessary approval for their houses of worship,” said Rachada Dhnadirek, an APHR member and former MP from Thailand. “The burdensome process and unclear requirements create unnecessary barriers to religious practice for too many, and it is clear that this decree should be amended.”

Intolerance and violence against the LGBT community has also grown in Yogyakarta, as elsewhere in Indonesia. In 2015, a demonstration by the LGBT community in Yogyakarta to mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance was targeted by radical groups who violently attacked the protesters.

A local Islamic boarding school for transgender people founded in 2008 has in recent years been targeted by the vigilante groups such as the Front Jihad Islam (FJI), which has attempted to shutter the school.

“All sectors of society must work together to push back against the rising tide of intolerance in Yogyakarta and across all of Indonesia,” added Sundari. “We need to put human rights at the centre of efforts to address religious hatred and vigilantism.”

Intensified crackdowns against homosexuals and transgender Indonesians have accompanied rising Islamic conservatism, including bans on LGBT-friendly phone apps and raids against so-called “gay parties” by police and hardline religious vigilantes.

“As parliamentarians, we have a role to play not only to ensure that strong laws are in place, but also to provide proper oversight of the implementation of those laws,” Sundari said.

Indonesia’s parliament is currently considering revisions to the national criminal code which would make sexual relations defined as zina – the Islamic concept of adultery – jailable offences. This would criminalise pre-marital sex and homosexuality, putting millions of people at risk of prosecution.

Back in February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein expressed concern over the spread of “extremist” views in Indonesia, leading to discrimination and violence against minority groups.

“If Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too,” said Zeid. “Islamophobia is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs and colour is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or any other status is wrong.”

“The spectre of growing intolerance and vigilantism threatens Indonesia’s democratic success,” Sundari added. “We cannot allow the spirit of democracy, human rights, and Pancasila to be undermined by these dark forces.”

https://asiancorrespondent.com/2018/05/dark-forces-of-intolerance-spreading-in-indonesia-say-parliamentarians/#TWPOxIioX14LyLbu.97

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For First Time in Decades, Israel Comes Under Attack by Tens of Rockets from Syria

May 10, 2018

Syria's state news agency, SANA, reported on Wednesday night that the Syrian army's air defense systems intercepted Israel's missile attacks on the town of al-Ba'ath; Israel had also earlier targeted the town with artillery fire.

According to the report, the Syrian army's air defense systems intercepted tens of Israeli missiles in the sky while a number of missiles hit the air defense and radar units as well as arms caches.

Meantime, al-Mayadeen news channel reported that over 50 rockets were fired at 4 Israeli military complex centers in occupied Golan, each including several military units, after Israel's attacks on Quneitra.

Other sources, including al-Alam news channel, also reported that the number of rockets fired at occupied Golan went over 68.

It added that tens of Israeli military centers, including the command center for technical and electronic tapping, the 9900 secret border headquarters to collect visual intelligence, the military command center for electronic warfare, the pin-pointing weapons watchtower, the regional command center for the Isreali army unit 810, the military brigade command center in Harmoun, the al-Shatawi center of Benastim winter warfare special unit, came under attack.

Al-Mayadeen also said that the Israeli Iron Dome defense shield has failed to intercept the rockets, adding that Tel Aviv has ordered troops to avoid disclosing any information about the target of the attacks.

Some sources also reported that Israel has attacked al-Kaswah region in Southern Damascus, but the attack was fully repelled by the Syrian army.

The Syrian Army air defense units intercepted two Israeli missiles fired at the Southern part of Damascus province on Tuesday night as well.

SANA reported that the air defense units intercepted 2 Israeli missiles fired at al-Keswah region in Southern Damascus on Tuesday night.

In the meantime, al-Jazeera TV channel reported that the Israeli missile attack was launched to target a militant base in Southern Damascus.

Also, al-Mayadeen TV quoted sources in Quneitra province as reporting that three Israeli missiles were fired from the occupied Golan Heights at Syrian territories on the same night.

The sources further told al-Mayadeen that the Israeli warplanes were flying over the Golan Heights, underlining the possibility that the fighter jets fired the missile at Syria's soil.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000298

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US places travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats

11 May 2018

Pakistan confirmed late Thursday that the U.S. has imposed travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats.

“The restrictions on our diplomats will be implemented from May 11, and these will be on a reciprocal basis,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told reporters at a briefing.

But negotiations are ongoing between the two sides on the matter, Faisal added.

Earlier, local and foreign media reported that U.S. authorities had planned to impose travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats in the U.S. from May 1, but the plan was delayed until May 11.

Under the new plan, Pakistani diplomats in Washington and at consulates in other U.S. cities will be barred from traveling more than 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) from their posts without prior permission, the local Dawn daily reported.

U.S. authorities have complained that Pakistan’s government has imposed travel restrictions on their diplomats.

“Our diplomats are under restrictions and they can travel farther [than the capital Islamabad], but they have to notify the government of Pakistan. So we’ve taken reciprocal steps,” Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon told U.S. state-run media Voice of America last week.

Pakistani authorities have said that such measures have been adopted to ensure the security of foreign missions and their employees and the country has no other motives.

Relations between the two allies in the war against terrorism have been tense since President Donald Trump assumed office in January last year, mainly due to a clash of interests in war-torn Afghanistan.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/201935/us-places-travel-restrictions-on-pakistani-diplomats

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India

 

Government unlikely to accept Jammu and Kashmir ceasefire for Ramzan

May 10, 2018

The Mehbooba Mufti government on Thursday continued to push for a unilateral ceasefire with terror groups in the state and along the border with Pakistan during the holy month of Ramzan, but New Delhi, while it will consider the issue, is unlikely to accept the proposal, particularly with regard to internal operations, several officials familiar with the development said.

The security forces, in particular, have conveyed their opposition to the move, these people added. Mufti’s ally in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is against a ceasefire.

“There is a demand; the issue is at the deliberation stage, but no final decision has been taken in this regard by the centre,” said one of the officials.

The official said that a ceasefire is already in force on the international border and the line of control (LoC), the de-facto border that divides Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

But the person added that there have been constant violations of the ceasefire agreement. “The issue of whether the ceasefire would be extended within the valley or be enforced more strictly at the border and LoC is yet to be decided. A decision is expected within next couple of days,” added the person.

Officials in the home ministry, army, and Jammu and Kashmir police said an internal ceasefire is laden with risks, while the enforcement of a ceasefire with Pakistan is contingent on the latter’s behaviour.

A second official familiar with the development said a unilateral ceasefire within the valley is highly unlikely. “The situation in the valley is difficult. We cannot just declare a unilateral ceasefire,” he added.

The army and local police believe the move could be counter-productive.

An army officer familiar with counter-terror operations said on condition of anonymity that this could give terror outfits an opportunity to regroup at a time the force has an upper hand in the valley.

“The army has had a string of successes in eliminating hard-core terrorists in recent weeks. The terror outfits are on the back foot and we can’t squander that advantage,” added this person.

A similar experiment announced by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2000 was a failure, said another army officer who spoke on condition of anonymity. On the eve of Ramzan in November 2000, Prime Minister Vajpayee announced non-initiation of combat operations (NICO) against terrorists in the state.

“A unilateral ceasefire could give terror outfits breathing space. It could prove to be a good window for carrying out recruitments. If a ceasefire has to be there, it has to be called and respected by all stakeholders, including terror groups,” the army officer added.

Another senior government functionary concurred and said that there was a major terror attack at the Srinagar airport during the period of the first ceasefire and any such announcement would be construed as ‘weakness’.

He added: “Many still recall that terrorists roamed freely in this period. Is there any guarantee that the situation would not repeat itself?”

A senior official in the Jammu and Kashmir Police, who did not want to be named, also expressed similar concerns.

An all-party meeting convened by Mufti on Wednesday decided to push for a “Ramzan ceasefire” along the lines of Vajpayee’s initiative in 2000.

The CM said: Aa consensus was built to appeal to government of India to consider a unilateral ceasefire...the way Atal Bihari Vajpayee did a unilateral ceasefire in 2000.’’

The holy month of Ramzan will start in the third week of May. Mufti said on Wednesday that a delegation from the state is also likely to meet the Prime Minister to discuss the issue and a memorandum in the regard will also be submitted to the centre.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit rejected the decision suggesting the issue was barely discussed in the all party meeting on Wednesday.

“This issue was raised first by Engineer Rashid (independent MLA) and then by others. But there was no broader discussion on the issue and we don’t want any unilateral ceasefire at this juncture,” party spokesman Arun Gupta said at a press conference in Jammu.

The statement from the state BJP attracted sharp criticism from the National Conference, which has supported the proposal.

Its leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah, chided the Chief Minister on not being on the same page with her allies. “What was the point of @MehboobaMufti calling an all-party meeting to build a consensus around initiatives in Kashmir when her ally in the government doesn’t agree with her! Yet she will shamelessly cling to power because that’s all that matters to her,” Abdullah said on Twitter.

The PDP-BJP alliance has come under severe criticism after the fresh cycle on violence this month.

At least 16 people, including eight militants, seven civilians and a tourist, have been killed in the past four days.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/government-unlikely-to-accept-jammu-and-kashmir-ceasefire-for-ramzan/story-tYbndaToC0SjsH3M0ljZJL.html

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24 Bangladeshis with suspected terror links held in Tripura railway station

May 10, 2018

Twenty-four Bangladeshi youths with suspected terror links were arrested from Agartala railway station on Thursday, a senior police official said.

All of them were carrying fake Aadhaar cards and a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is coming from Guwahati on Friday to interrogate the youths, the official said.

Acting on a tip-off, Mobile Task Force (MTF) personnel raided the railway station and arrested the 24 Bangladeshis, who reached here from Delhi in the Tripura Sundari Express, MTF Superintendent of Police Abhijit Chowdhury told PTI.

The MTF, a section of the state police, deals with illegal immigration and related cases.

“All of them were carrying fake Aadhaar cards, showing they were issued from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. We checked the Aadhaar cards online and found they were fake. Some of them had identity cards issued from different madrasas of our country,” Chowdhury said.

“A team of NIA officials is coming from Guwahati tomorrow (Friday) to interrogate them,” Chowdhury said adding, “We cannot rule out the possibility of their link with any terrorist outfit.”

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/24-bangladeshis-with-suspected-terror-links-held-in-tripura-railway-station/story-AN4h7ZhVFh7tBBTIqb9NcL.html

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Class 8 reference book in Rajasthan calls Bal Gangadhar Tilak ‘father of terrorism’

May 10, 2018

A reference book for Class 8 Social Studies describes freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak as the ‘father of terrorism’.

The book by a Mathura-based publisher is being used by private English-medium schools affiliated to the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE).

Textbooks by the Rajasthan State Textbook Board are published in Hindi, forcing students of English-medium schools to use reference books.

Describing Tilak, the book, on page 267 in chapter 22 under the heading ‘Incidents of National Movement during Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century’, says, “Tilak demonstrated a path towards national movement, therefore, he is called as the father of terrorism.”

“He clearly believed that ‘we cannot achieve anything just by pleading the British officers’. Through Shivaji and Ganpati festivals, Tilak aroused unique awareness in the country. He instilled the mantra of freedom among the masses, due to which he became a thorn in the eyes of British,” the book reads.

Tilak’s description as ‘father of terrorism’ seems to be more of a case of poor choice of words rather than the work of an ideologically motivated writer as nothing else in the context seems to fit the rogue description.

In the preceding paragraphs too, the book says that dissatisfaction among the people grew owing to government’s negligence towards the plague outbreak and goes on to say, “The fire was induced further by the spread of diarrhoea,” thereby reflecting poor phrasing of content.

Students said that they are using the reference book as no other English medium book is available and books issued by Rajasthan board are in Hindi medium.

A principal of an Ajmer school which uses the book said he was not aware of the matter as he had joined a few days back only, but promised action after looking into it.

An official of the Student Advisor Publication Private Limited, which publishes the book, said the reference book is strictly as per the guidelines provided by the board.

“The book is being used by schools affiliated to both the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) as well as the RBSE,” said Mukesh Yadav over telephone from Mathura.

Historians said it is derogatory to call Tilak the father of terrorism.

“Tilak is one of the greatest soldiers of Indian freedom struggle who awakened Indian masses, especially in Maharashtra, to fight against tyrannical British rule,” said N K Upadhyay, retired professor of history at Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer.

Another historian Pramila Poonia, too, called the description misplaced. “The British called him ‘father of Indian unrest’, but for us Indians, he was a great nationalist. He was the one who first pushed the ideas of boycott of English goods and use of swadeshi goods,” said Poonia, an associate professor of history at University of Rajasthan.

Textbooks of Rajasthan have previously been mired in controversies for sidelining the role of Nehru and Gandhi and valorising that of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in the Indian independence struggle.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/class-8-reference-book-in-rajasthan-calls-bal-gangadhar-tilak-father-of-terrorism/story-26l3T48MXCz56pOKgZcfxJ.html

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Efforts on to free 6 Indians from Taliban clutches: MEA

May 11, 2018

NEW DELHI: Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and national security adviser Ajit Doval have spoken to their counterparts in Afghanistan regarding the abduction of six Indian engineers by the Taliban in Baghlan province."We are in touch with different people who are involved in the exercise through the Afghan government," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

But he refused to share any specific details citing sensitivity of the case. "I would not like to get into the details of the people and authorities with whom we are in touch with," he told journalists at the weekly media briefing. The Indian engineers were abducted by the Taliban militants from near the Cheshma-e-Sher area in Baghlan on Sunday.

Swaraj spoke to Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani on Sunday. On Monday, Rabbani met the new Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar where he promised to do his utmost. Doval spoke to his counterpart Hanif Atmar on the subject as well .

The Taliban have launched their spring offensive with a series of brutal attacks in and around Kabul, even as the Ashraf Ghani government is pushing through the election process."This is a sensitive matter. The lives of seven Indians are involved and, therefore, I would not like to share much on where we are at this point of time," said the MEA spokesperson.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/efforts-on-to-free-6-indians-from-taliban-clutches-mea/articleshow/64116875.cms

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Iran’s Chabahar port work on but fear of US sanctions loom

May 10, 2018

The work on Chabahar port that India is building on the Iranian southeast coast was on schedule and the government didn’t foresee an immediate impact on the project of the US exiting the nuclear deal with Iran, officials said Thursday.

India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL) managing director Arun Kumar Gupta was in Iran this week to pick the local operator for managing the first phase of the Shahid Beheshti port as part of an interim arrangement, the officials said. The first phase was completed in December. IPGPL is a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust.

“We will finalise the local operator shortly and put in place an interim arrangement before June 16,” shipping secretary Gopal Krishna said.

Three Iranian companies had sent in their bids, an official familiar with the development said. India signed a short-term lease, as part of the agreement signed during the February visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, to start interim operations before June 17, failing which penalty will be imposed.

Built 90 km from the China-sponsored Gwadar port in Pakistan, Chabahar opens a transit route to Iran and Afghanistan that will also give India access to markets in Central Asia. New Delhi has committed $500 million to the strategically important port that bypasses Pakistan.

While India is not too worried at present but officials said Delhi would wait to see the fallout of US sanctions on the project. Before making a midterm or a long-term assessment, India would also keep an eye on how the other five countries, who were party to the pact, deal with the situation.

Krishna said they were in the process of firming up the arrangement for picking the Indian company that will manage, operate and maintain the container and multipurpose terminals for 10 years.

The process is already behind schedule because the three Indian firms shortlisted in the technical bid stayed away from financial bidding.

“We are now revisiting the tender guidelines after which a fresh tender will be issued” said a government official who didn’t want to be named. As per the agreement, Tehran will lease operational control of the port to India for 18 months. India will equip and operate two terminals in first phase on a 10-year lease.

Officials, however, warned that Trump administration could prevent foreign countries from accessing the US market. Before the 2015 deal, Washington used to sanction foreign firms that deal with the Iran Central Bank.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/iran-s-chabahar-port-work-on-but-fear-of-us-sanctions-loom/story-5EODxpNYhlDZR2JrqZaOkI.html

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Sushma calls on Myanmar President, Rohingya refugee crisis on the plate

May 10, 2018

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday called on Myanmar President U Win Myint soon after she arrived in Nay Pyi Taw for talks with the country’s top leadership on key bilateral and regional issues, including the Rohingya refugee crisis.

An estimated 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August last year after large-scale violence following a military crackdown. The exodus of refugees in large numbers has resulted in a major crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Swaraj is in Myanmar on a two-day visit for discussions on a number of bilateral and regional issues, including the situation in the Rakhine State from where lakhs of Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh.

Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbours and it shares a 1,640 km border with a number of northeastern states, including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.

On her arrival in Nay Pyi Taw, Swaraj was warmly received by India’s ambassador Vikram Misri and permanent secretary of ministry of foreign affairs of Myanmar U Myint Thu.

In December, India had announced a development assistance of $25 million for Rakhine State.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sushma-calls-on-myanmar-president-rohingya-refugee-crisis-on-the-plate/story-EthQ0bord0s4b3f2HX8AmL.html

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan disappointed as US blocks move to place JuA chief on terror list

MAY 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed disappointment over the failure of the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions committee in listing of Umer Khalid Khurasani, leader of banned outfit Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA).

“We are deeply disappointed … he has the blood of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis on his hands,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Faisal said during the weekly briefing on Thursday. “If the organisation, JuA, has been listed by the sanctions committee, its leader should also have been listed,” he argued.

The spokesman confirmed that the US had blocked the recommendation. “The US move shows double standards in fighting terror,” he said, adding the move also showed complete disregard of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

The sanctions committee did not approve Pakistan’s request to list Umer Khalid Khurasani alias Abdul Wali, since it could not reach a consensus due to disagreement by a member, the spokesperson said. “But the committee has not yet formally conveyed this development to us.”

JuA was listed by the sanctions committee in 2017. The organisation is based in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan and has been involved in a series of terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

The Foreign Office called for respect to international agreements in its formal response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the historic Iran nuclear deal. “Pakistan believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) represents a very good example of a negotiated settlement of complex issues, through dialogue and diplomacy,” the spokesman said.

He said Pakistan believes that international treaties and agreements concluded through painstaking negotiations are sacrosanct. “Arbitrarily rescinding such agreements will undermine confidence in the value of dialogue and diplomacy in the conduct of international relations and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he added.

The spokesman recalled that Pakistan had welcomed the JCPOA when it was concluded and hoped that all parties will find a way for its continuation, especially when the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance. “We have noted the willingness of the parties to the agreement to work together on upholding their respective commitments as stipulated in the JCPOA, despite US decision to withdraw from it,” he said.

Referring to the situation in Indian-held Kashmir, the FO said neither can India break the will of the Kashmiri people nor can it succeed in misleading the international community through its malicious propaganda by terming the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination as ‘terrorism’. “Indeed, in the history of the past 70 years, it has been demonstrated time and again that the ferocity and inhumanity of India’s state-terrorism in Held Kashmir is no match to the resolve and resilience of the innocent and unarmed Kashmiri people,” the spokesman said.

“Pakistan calls upon the world community to play its rightful role in promoting a just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. We believe this is a sine qua non for durable peace and stability in South Asia,” the spokesperson added.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/238516/pakistan-disappointed-as-us-blocks-move-to-place-jua-chief-on-terror-list/

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Pakistan to impose reciprocal restrictions on US diplomats

Anwar Iqbal

May 11, 2018

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is considering imposing reciprocal restrictions on United States diplomats in Pakistani cities, official sources told Dawn on Thursday, as US lawmakers advised the Trump administration not to take measures that inhibit conversation.

The Trump administration seems all set to force Pakistani diplomats to stay within 25 miles of the city they are posted at, further straining already tense relations between the two countries who were once close allies in the war against terror.

Official sources told Dawn that Pakistan too planned to enforce similar restrictions on US diplomats in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. They already are prohibited from visiting high-security areas, such as Fata, to protect them against possible terrorist attacks.

Hours before the proposed restriction goes into effect in the US, American lawmakers reminded the Trump administration that it was not a smart thing to do.

Congressman Donald Norcross, a New Jersey Democrat, was one of two US lawmakers who addressed a meeting of the Pakistani American Congress on Capitol Hill, emphasising the importance of continuing a relationship with Pakistan.

“The important thing is to have dialogue,” he said. “And if (by imposing those restrictions) we are inhibiting conversation, I do not think that’s a smart thing to do."

US concerns about growing insurgency in Afghanistan appear to be the main cause for this shrinking space for Pakistan in the US, a point also highlighted by various speakers on Thursday.

Congressman Thomas R. Suozzi, a New York Democrat, put it bluntly, saying that in the US “everyone is focused now on the Afghan-Pakistan border, not Kashmir. We now need the civilian government to be stronger than they have been before”.

“We do understand the war in Afghanistan is not winding down and we also understand that President Trump has set a deadline,” said Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary. “Pakistan too wants peace in Afghanistan. We share the same objectives.”

But while trying to allay US concerns on Afghanistan, Ambassador Chaudhary made another point that may ruffle feathers in Washington. “I believe the US has emboldened India to take a heavy-handed approach in Kashmir,” he said.

Congressman Norcross said that Pakistan and India both faced the same security challenges, which also concerned the United States. “We are starting to work on having a much more productive relationship, Afghan-Pakistan terrorism has been a huge issue and it does not just affect our country but also your country,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1406934/pakistan-to-impose-reciprocal-restrictions-on-us-diplomats

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Blocking Khurasani’s listing part of double standards in fight against terrorism: FO

May 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that blocking the listing of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) leader Umer Khurasani by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) Sanctions Committee was a reminder of the double standards in fighting terrorism.

Speaking at the weekly media briefing, FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said: “This action demonstrates the double standards prevailing in the international fight against terrorism and also shows complete disregard of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in this fight.”

Pakistan had in October last year asked the UNSC Sanctions Committee to list Abdul Wali, commonly known as Umer Khalid Khurasani, because he was the mastermind behind a number of major terrorist strikes in the country, including the Army Public School carnage and Easter bombing in Lahore. Khurasani was also leading the JuA, an organisation which the committee has listed.

However, Pakistan’s request for Khurasani’s listing was blocked by the United States on the grounds that the listing request identified his current location as Afghanistan.

The FO spokesman avoided mentioning the US, claiming the proceedings of the committee were confidential and the decision had not been formally conveyed to Pakistan.

“We are aware that the UN Al Qaeda/IS Sanctions Committee did not approve Pakistan’s proposal to list Umer Khalid Khurasani aka Abdul Wali, the leader of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, since it could not reach a consensus due to an objection by a member,” he said.

Dr Faisal expressed disappointment over the blocking of Khurasani’s listing and recalled that he was “a known terrorist and has the blood of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis on his hands”.

“If the organisation has been listed by the sanctions committee, its leader should also have been listed,” he argued.

Responding to a question, the spokesman said that the restrictions on the movement of Pakistani diplomats in the United States would take effect from Friday (today).

The restrictions were initially planned to take effect from May 1, but were postponed for 10 days by the US government due to continuing talks between the two countries on the issue.

Earlier, Dr Faisal had said that he was optimistic about an amicable settlement of the dispute. Now that the restrictions are finally being implemented, it was implied that so far the talks had failed to resolve the matter.

At the press briefing, however, the spokesman noted that negotiations on the matter were still continuing.

Dr Faisal said the agrément for the appointment of Ali Jehangir Siddiqui as Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington had been received from the United States. “The process for him to assume charge of his assignment in Washington has started,” he added.

The spokesman did not comment on the reports about an Iranian diplomat who went missing from Lahore while visiting Pakistan. He said that he would respond after “checking details”.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1406935/blocking-khurasanis-listing-part-of-double-standards-in-fight-against-terrorism-fo

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Protest in NA over bail for ‘TTP men’ in Benazir killing case

Amir Wasim

May 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah has protested over a court order to grant bail to suspected plotters of the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, terming it another “black day in the history of the country’s judiciary”.

Speaking on a point of order during the budget debate in the assembly on Thursday, the opposition leader asked the politicians to demonstrate unity on the issue, saying that the whole parliament should “condemn” this act of the court.

“Who has got the assassins of Benazir Bhutto released? And why are they being released?” Mr Shah asked.

“Benazir Bhutto used to say that she will grant the people their rights. Today same Benazir Bhutto is not getting justice. The head of the whole nation should hang in shame,” the opposition leader said.

A two-member Rawal­pindi bench of the Lahore High Court on Monday had granted bail to five suspected members of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who had been arrested for conspiring to assassinate Ms Bhutto in 2007. Despite issuance of the court orders, the suspects have not been released from Kot Lakhpat jail yet due to some technical reasons.

Ms Bhutto was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack after a rally in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on Dec 27, 2007. For her assassination, the then government of Gen Pervez Musharraf had blamed TTP chief Baituallah Mehsud, who had later denied any involvement in her killing.

Mr Shah recalled that when an attack was carried out on the convoy of the then military dictator Musharraf, the crime scene remained cordoned off for four days for collection of evidence whereas the authorities washed the site of Ms Bhutto’s assassination within a few hours. He regretted that the plotters of the attack on the dictator had been arrested whereas the “killers of a politician are being released”.

“Are we giving a message that those who kill politicians on getting signals from someone will be acquitted?” he asked.

After Mr Shah’s speech, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq termed Ms Bhutto a “national leader” and directed Law Minister Mahmood Bashir Virk to write a letter to the court to inquire about the reasons behind releasing the accused in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. He also asked the law minister why the 10-year-old case was not being heard on a daily basis.

The law minister, in an apparent reference to excessive exercise of suo motu powers by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, said that the politicians should collectively ask the courts to focus on huge backlog of cases, instead of paying attention to other matters. He said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was appearing in court almost daily but the politicians were still divided.

Mr Virk said that today the country was passing through a dangerous phase and attacks were being carried out on ministers under a “conspiracy against the state”.

Taking part in the budget debate, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party president Mehmood Khan Achakzai expressed concern over what he described as the “interference” of the armed forces in political affairs of the country.

Mr Achakzai asked Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to direct his “subordinates” not to “interfere” in political affairs. He said that the country had already suffered damage due to interference in the elections in the past. All institutions, including the judiciary, should remain within their constitutional limits, he said.

Mr Achakzai said that after disqualifying Pakistan Muslim League-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif for life, now efforts were being made to put him behind bars. He said that if Mr Sharif was sent to jail then his daughter (Maryam Nawaz) would lead the movement and he would fully support her.

Water shortage

The members from Sindh, mainly belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party, strongly protested over water shortage in their province and threatened to launch street protests over the issue.

Khursheed Shah claimed there was no water even for drinking of cattle in Sindh. He said that the federal government would not be able to face wrath of the people if they started taking to the streets. He asked the government to announce “water emergency” in the country and immediately convene a meeting of the Indus River System Authority.

Nawab Yousuf Talpur said that the people were protesting in Mirpurkhas and tomorrow (on Friday) there would be a protest in Umerkot. The PPP MNA said that a massive protest would be held in Hyderabad on May 16 which would be attended by the opposition leader and other important politicians.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1406946/protest-in-na-over-bail-for-ttp-men-in-benazir-killing-case

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Over 150 PTM activists booked for sedition, terrorism

May 11, 2018

KARACHI: Police have registered cases against workers of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on terror, sedition and other charges for carrying out rallies at three separate places in the metropolis a few days ahead of their main rally, police and PTM officials said on Thursday.

Manghopir police registered FIR (165/2018) against over 150 workers of the PTM under Sections 124-A (sedition), 125 (waging war against any power in alliance with Pakistan), 500 (punishment for defamation), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 7-ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997). The case was registered on behalf of the state through a police officer.

According to contents of the FIR, around 150 workers of the PTM, some of them mentioned in the case, held a corner meeting in the Sultanabad area of Manghopir under direction of their leader, Manzoor Pashteen.

According to the FIR, the speakers allegedly levelled “serious charges” against military institutions.

An identical case was also registered against PTM workers at Shah Latif Town police station, said area SHO Abdul Ghaffar Shah. One more case was registered at Bin Qasim Town police station.

So far, no one had been arrested, added the officials.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1406903/over-150-ptm-activists-booked-for-sedition-terrorism

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South Asia

 

Saudi strongly reacts at coordinated Taliban, ISIS attacks in Kabul

May 10 2018

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strongly reacted at the coordinated attacks in capital Kabul claimed by the Taliban and ISIS terrorist groups.

An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s strong condemnation and denunciation of the attacks that targeted Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, and a blast that hit Wanlaweyn Town in Southern Somalia, according to Saudi Press Agency.

The source further adds that the ministry of foreign affair of Saudi reiterated the Kingdom’s solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Republic of Somalia alternatively against extremism and terrorism.

The Kingdom offered condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the two governments and peoples, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

A group of at least seven militants launched coordinated attacks in the Police Districts 10th and 13th of Kabul city on Wednesday morning.

The ISIS claimed responsibility behind the attack in the 13th police district which according to the security officials was carried out by two militants and claimed the lives of two police officers while two others were wounded.

However, the Taliban claimed the attack on police district 10 which was carried out by five attackers and left a number of policemen and civilians dead or wounded.

According t the ministry of public health, at least seven people lost their lives in the attack and several others were wounded in the two attacks.

https://www.khaama.com/saudi-strongly-reacts-at-coordinated-taliban-isis-attacks-in-kabul-05126/

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‘Only one Bangladeshi migrant deported this year’

MAY 11, 2018

Right-wing organisations demand the identification of illegal migrants

Opposing the offering of namaz in the open spaces in the Millennium City, the right-wing organisations have argued that a majority of the Muslims in the city are illegal Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingyas.

In contrary to this, the Gurugram police have identified and deported only one Bangladeshi migrant during its periodic special drives this year so far.

“The Gurugram police carry out special drives against illegal Bangladeshis at regular intervals every year. So far, we have identified only one illegal Bangladeshi this year and deported him,” said Gurugram police spokesperson Ravinder Kumar.

The right-wing organisations have been blaming the swelling Muslim population in the Gurugram over the past few years to the increasing population of illegal Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingyas.

Mr. Kumar, however, said that there was no confirmed information on the presence of Rohingyas in Gurugram.

One of the major demands of the right-wing organisations in their nine-point charter to the district administration has been identification of these illegal migrants.

‘False propaganda’

Reacting to it, Indian Islamic Research Centre president Matlood Ahmed said that the fact that only one Bangladeshi has been deported so far this year proves that the right-wing organisations are carrying out a false propaganda against the Muslims in the city.

He said that the most of the migrant Muslim population to Gurugram are involved in menial jobs such as domestic workers, rickshaw pullers and construction workers.

A majority of them are from Malda, Murshidabad and 24 Parganas, he said, adding that being residents of districts bordering Bangladesh, these Muslims are not well-conversant with Urdu and speak Bengali.

Ishraq Thameem, a Muslim resident of Gurugram involved with the community, said that the migrant Muslim population in Gurugram comprised the Bengali natives of Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts, Muslims from neighbouring areas like Mewat, Nuh, Faridabad, Alwar. They are engaged in some type of skilled work, he added.

‘Religious needs’

The others include Muslims of a different literate and social level, educated and aware and maulavis, and huffaaz who have come here drawn by the religious needs of these people.

Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti Executive Committee Rajiv Mittal, however, said that it was the failure of the police administration to identify only one Bangladesh so far and they need to work harder.

Muslims of a different literate and social level, educated and aware and maulavis, and huffaaz who have come here drawn by the religious needs of these people.

A senior police officer, who has earlier worked at Gurugram’s FRRO Branch, said that drives against illegal migrants were carried out on regular basis, but without much success.

“The maximum number of illegal migrants identified in a single year was a 100-odd a few years ago,” said the officer.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/only-one-bangladeshi-migrant-deported-this-year/article23842757.ece

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Myanmar Hits Back at OIC Over ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Accusations in Rakhine State

2018-05-10

Myanmar on Thursday rebutted a declaration by the world’s top Islamic intergovernmental body condemning the Southeast Asian nation’s army for targeting Rohingya Muslims in “systematic” ethnic cleansing and calling on member states to collectively pressure Naypyidaw over the issue.

The Council of Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) issued a Dhaka Declaration on Sunday at the conclusion of the 57-member organization’s two-day meeting in Bangladesh, that Myanmar’s treatment of Muslims in northern Rakhine state amounted to ethnic cleansing and is a “serious and blatant violation of international law.”

OIC members adopted a resolution on the situation of the Rohingya community in Myanmar, agreeing to form an ad hoc ministerial committee to handle allegations of human rights violations carried out by Myanmar security forces against the long-persecuted and stateless minority group.

The group also said it will continue to work with the United Nations and other relevant international organizations to address human rights violations of the Rohingya Muslims taking into account recent developments.

The military began a crackdown on Rohingya communities in northern Rakhine state in late August 2017 following deadly attacks by a militant Muslim group on police outposts.

Thousands of Rohingya died during the brutal campaign, which included acts of rape, torture, and arson, and nearly 700,000 others fled to safety in neighboring Bangladesh, according to the U.N. and rights groups.

“The declaration lacks balance and fairness, and fails to denounce the brutal attacks of the terrorist group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which triggered the humanitarian situation unfolding today,” said Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement issued on Thursday.

The government also rejected what it called the “irresponsible labeling of ‘ethnic cleansing’ or ‘state-backed violence’” to describe the crackdown in Rakhine, asserting that more than half of the Muslim community, which represents a majority in the Maungdaw region, did not flee and have remained in their villages.

It also restated a pledge that allegations of human rights abuses backed by evidence will be investigated and action taken against the perpetrators in accordance with the law.

Expediting repatriations

Headed by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Foreign Ministry also called for cooperation from Bangladesh to start repatriating Rohingya refugees who live in makeshift shelters in sprawling displacement camps and will be vulnerable to flooding and disease during the upcoming monsoon season.

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement November 2017 to repatriate Rohingya refugees who want to return to Rakhine, as long as Myanmar officials verify that they resided in the region prior to a smaller-scale crackdown in October 2016.

The program, which Myanmar expected to start in late January, has been beset by delays, however.

“It is highly regrettable that the Dhaka Declaration did not even mention the immediate need for the repatriation of displaced persons from Rakhine in accordance with the bilateral agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh,” the ministry’s statement said.

“As the monsoons are approaching, Myanmar is now focusing on expediting the repatriation process,” it said. “To that end, Myanmar urges Bangladesh to take all necessary steps to help the process in accordance with the said agreement. Myanmar stands ready to facilitate the voluntary, safe, and dignified return of the displaced persons from Rakhine.”

Reactions inside Myanmar to the OIC’s comments on the crisis in Rakhine state and the Myanmar government’s response were mixed.

“The Myanmar government is too weak to give assurances for the repatriation process, and what is the guarantee that the refugees will get back property they lost during the problematic times,” said Rohingya activist Abul Tarhal, referring to the crackdown by security forces.

“The Myanmar government also needs to do a lot to make sure the same problem does not recur in the future in Rakhine state,” he said.

Nyan Win, a member of the ruling National League for Democracy's Central Executive Committee who serves as a party spokesman, said it was one-sided for the OIC to blame Myanmar for problems with the repatriation process getting under way.

“Both countries [Myanmar and Bangladesh] have agreed on refugee repatriation and are working on it, but the international community, especially the OIC countries, don’t talk about what we are doing,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “The only thing they do is pressure us and blame us. We can’t accept it.”

“They need to listen to both sides if there is a problem,” he said. “If people listen only to one side, the problem becomes more difficult to resolve and moves in a wrong direction.”

Nyo Nyo Thinn, a Myanmar politician and former lawmaker of Yangon’s regional parliament, said the OIC should steer clear of getting involved in Myanmar’s internal matters.

“The U.N. Secretary Council is working on resolving the Rakhine problem, so there is no reason for the OIC to interfere in it at this time,” she said.

The Security Council on Wednesday issued a statement urging Myanmar to “step up its efforts to create conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in Rakhine state and to address the root causes of the crisis.”

The statement came after 15 Security Council diplomats conducted a fact-finding mission to Bangladesh and Myanmar in late April, where they visited refugee camps and assessed the situation on the ground in northern Rakhine state.

“To build trust with the international community, the Myanmar government has to work with more transparency, reduce centralized control, and work with local ethnic groups and the state government,” Nyo Nyo Thinn said.

Concrete evidence needed

Yu Lwin Aung, a member of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MHRC), said the OIC must provide evidence for its assertions.

“We don’t deny the OIC’s accusation that the military committed human right violations, though we didn’t see any of this while we were in Rakhine state on MHRC’s trips to investigate human rights violations after the violence,” he told RFA.

“But the OIC needs to provide concrete evidence,” he added. “If so, government authorities will take action against anybody who violated human rights, I believe.”

On Tuesday, Kyaw Tin, Myanmar’s minister for international cooperation, summoned Ambassador Manjurul Karim Khan Chowdhury of Bangladesh to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Naypyidaw to discuss border security issues and challenges that are preventing the repatriation of refugees, the official Myanmar News Agency reported.

During the meeting, Kyaw Tin called for the removal of bunkers and other structures built by the Bangladeshi side near the border along a non-construction zone and asked that Bangladeshi authorities stop assisting with the construction of sheds and shelters on the Myanmar side of zone, the report said.

He also requested that Bangladesh facilitate the return of the displaced persons residing illegally inside the zone.

Also on Tuesday, four human rights groups – Fortify Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Global Center for Responsibility to Protect – called on the U.N. Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court over the crackdown, saying the violence amounted to crimes against humanity.

Full report at:

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/myanmar-hits-back-at-oic-over-ethnic-cleansing-accusations-in-rakhine-state-05102018163112.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Deadly Uprising by ISIS Followers Shakes Indonesia’s Prison System

By Joe Cochrane

May 10, 2018

DEPOK, Indonesia — A day after Islamic State followers seized  part of a high-security terrorist detention center and killed five guards, the country was left on Thursday with no shortage of questions to ponder.

The logical first one: How could this have happened?

Located in the sleepy West Java town of Depok, south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, the detention center is in a sprawling, heavily guarded compound of the local headquarters of the Mobile Brigade Corps, a paramilitary unit of the Indonesian National Police, and it was guarded by elite counterterrorism officers.

The uprising began with a riot Tuesday night in a section of the detention center holding 156 terrorism suspects and detainees, many of them accused of being violent, radical followers of the Islamic State’s ideology. The detainees managed to seize dozens of weapons, attacked guards, and then took several of them hostage.

It ended Thursday morning with a mass surrender of the detainees after counterterrorism officers began blasting apart walls and firing tear gas into a cellblock where the men had holed up.

By the time the smoke finally cleared, five guards and one detainee were dead, the Islamic State gleefully had claimed responsibility, the Indonesian government was scrambling for answers, and the country’s prison system was — once again — forced into an uncomfortable spotlight.

For years, the detention center only held police personnel being prosecuted for crimes, but in 2013, it began housing convicts and detainees suspected of terrorism who were believed to be violent and dangerous.

The detainees were housed in three blocks within the center, sometimes 10 men to a cell, which went against government regulations.

“This detention center was not designed as a maximum security facility to hold large numbers of high-risk terrorist inmates,” said Leopold Sudaryono, an Indonesian doctoral scholar in criminology at Australian National University.

“The Ministry of Law and Human Rights had issued a regulation in 2017 requiring high-risk offenders be detained in isolation with very minimum physical interaction with other inmates or guards,” he said. “This requirement cannot be carried out in this police facility. No wonder within a period of six months, two riots by terrorist inmates happened.”

In November, a group of terrorism detainees incited a riot when guards searched cells for contraband including cellphones. Temporarily holding the guards at bay, the detainees took photographs and video of themselves brandishing the black flag of the Islamic State and shouting, “God is great.”

Gatot Goei, program director of the Jakarta-based Center for Detention Studies, said this week’s uprising showed that the guards, while members of a Western-trained antiterrorism unit, did not have the skills to handle violent outbreaks by prisoners.

“Their emergency response system fell apart when they were challenged — they lost the ability to begin an emergency response,” he said. “In prisons, they have emergency response teams in case a guard is hurt.”

Mr. Goei also noted that the detainees had been able to break doors and smash through walls to take over one of the detention blocks and seize weapons from their guards.

“The physical facilities were weak,” he said, saying they were “different than most prisons in Indonesia that are under the Ministry of Law.”

As the uprising was unfolding on Wednesday, the Islamic State’s media arm uploaded graphic videos and photographs from inside the detention center, showing the bodies of dead guards who had been repeatedly stabbed and in some cases shot.

Photographs showed detainees brandishing weapons, raising the Islamic State flag and pledging allegiance to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

By Thursday morning, all 155 terrorism detainees were being transported under heavy guard to the maximum security prison island of Nusakambangan, off the south coast of Java Island, where the authorities separate high-risk prisoners from each other.

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, speaking at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Thursday, said the government and public “will never be afraid and will never give room for terrorism and actions that will disrupt the country’s security.”

However, the Indonesian authorities apparently did not see or heed warnings about the police detention center’s vulnerability. In February, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a Jakarta-based research organization, warned in a report that the detention center was “a disaster waiting to happen” because of overcrowding in the detainee blocks. It also said there was no effort to offer counseling against violent extremist ideology to new arrivals.

In a 2016 report, the institute had warned that despite some small successes by the Indonesian government in managing extremist prisoners, “structural problems of the prison system and inadequate staff continue to defeat efforts at deradicalization, disengagement and rehabilitation.”

Noor Huda Ismail, founder of the Institute of International Peace Building, which works to reintegrate former convicted terrorists back into Indonesian society, said the police detention center suffered from the same problems plaguing hundreds of state prisons across the country: overcrowding, lack of infrastructure to monitor high-risk detainees, and a shortage of human resources.

“Inmates always find ways to smuggle phones in, therefore they could live-stream the incident and mobilize support from outside the prison,” he said.

Asked whether terrorist detainees among those involved in this week’s uprising could ever be rehabilitated, Mr. Ismail said: “Well, at least we can disengage them from violence, but it will take a very long time to deradicalize them.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/world/asia/indonesia-prison-riot-islamic-state.html

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Indonesia ends militant jail siege after five officers 'sadistically' killed

MAY 10, 2018

DEPOK, Indonesia (Reuters) - A hostage crisis at a high-security jail in Indonesia ended on Thursday after Islamist militant prisoners who killed five police surrendered and released an officer they were holding, authorities said.

The five members of an elite counter-terrorism force had been “sadistically” killed by prisoners during the 36-hour standoff, which officials called an “act of terror” at the jail on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta.

“We have minimized the number of victims. The operation ended at 7:15,” deputy chief of national police Syafruddin told reporters.

Four other police were injured and one inmate killed in the incident which began late on Tuesday.

The death toll was the highest suffered by the counter-terrorism police force, known as Detachment, or ‘Densus’, 88, which was set up in 2003 with funding and training from Australia and the United States.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo thanked security forces for their efforts in containing the crisis.

“The state and all the people are never afraid and will never give the slightest room to terrorism and also to efforts that undermine the security of the country,” Widodo told a news conference.

Syafruddin said the crisis was resolved with a “very soft approach”, although earlier on Thursday a Reuters witness had heard several blasts at the jail. Indonesian media reported those blasts were controlled explosions carried out by police to clear the area of any booby traps.

Chief security minister Wiranto told reporters that all 155 convicted terrorists who were involved had surrendered after a police “ambush” forced the last 10 convicts to give up.

All the convicts were moved to a maximum-security prison on Nusakambangan Island in central Java.

PRISONERS SEIZED WEAPONS

Authorities said the prisoners had armed themselves with about 30 weapons, including long-range rifles, taken from officers and a storage area in the jail for weapons confiscated during police operations.

Deputy police chief Syafruddin said “five officers were killed sadistically”, and a police spokesman said most were found with deep wounds to the neck and elsewhere on their bodies. One officer was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

Funerals were held on Thursday for the police victims, including one officer who had recently become a father, media said.

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian who is serving a sentence for blasphemy against Islam at the same prison, was safe and still in the jail, his sister Fifi Lety Indra said.

The counter-terrorism squad has won international praise for breaking up militant cells in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

But a recent spate of attacks inspired by Islamic State prompted authorities to more than double its strength to 1,300 late last year.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the clashes at the jail, in a message carried on its Amaq news agency.

Police had denied Islamic State was involved and said a dispute had broken out over checks by prison authorities of prisoners’ food.

But police also said some prisoners had recently met Aman Abdurrahman, who is believed to be the ideological leader of IS sympathizers in Indonesia. He is on trial for terrorism and is being held at the same prison.

Last year, an attack by two suicide bombers, using pressure cookers packed with explosives, killed three police and wounded 12 people at a Jakarta bus terminal.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-security/indonesia-ends-militant-jail-siege-after-five-officers-sadistically-killed-idUSKBN1IB046

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Tax exemption for Philippine Muslim schools and worship sites proposed

May 10, 2018

Manila: A committee that is studying changes in the 1987 Constitution has proposed schools and places of worship of Filipino-Muslims to be exempt from tax, a senior official said, adding this will foster better relations between majority of Filipino Catholics and the Filipino-Muslim minority, most of whom are based in the southern Philippines.

“It has been proposed that the provision of Article VI Section 28 of the 1987 Constitution should read, ‘Charitable institutions, churches, temples, masjids (Muslim places of worship) and parsonages or convents, madrasas (Muslim educational institutions), non-profit cemeteries and all lands, buildings and improvements, actually, directly and exclusive used for religious, charitable or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation,’” said former associate justice Eduardo Nachura, a member of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) which is in charge of Constitutional change.

The Concom will meet next week to deliberate on the issue, Nachura told Gulf News on Thursday.

There are an estimated 2,000 Islamic schools or madrasas nationwide, more than 50 per cent are in Mindanao, turf of majority of Filipino-Muslims. About 1,200 schools are funded by foreign and local donors. But less than 50 (only 40) are registered with the education department, sources said.

The Philippine government has already forged pro-autonomy peace settlements with the 50-year old Moro National Liberation Front in 1976 and in 1996; and the 40-year old Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014. But several kidnap-for-ransom and terror groups with suspected Al Qaida links are still operating in Mindanao.

Government and Muslim leaders have been shaping a moderate Islamic curriculum to prevent Islamist influences in local madrasas, authorities said.

Since 2005, the education department has introduced a state curriculum for Arabic and Islamic studies in state schools in Muslim-dominated areas outside of Mindanao. In 2011, the Bangsamoro Development Authority (BDA), Community of Learners, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the education department jointly developed the Tahderiyyah (kindergarten) curriculum for preschool Filipino-Muslim students, In 2011, the curriculum was implemented in BDA-managed schools in Metro Manila and in 17 madrasas in war-torn parts of Mindanao.

Even before the Philippine government and MILF signed their pro-autonomy peace settlement in 2014, in 2012, the education department released P250,000 (Dh25,000) grant to every Muslim school to upgrade facilities and implement state curriculum for Filipino-Muslim students.

Former President Benigno Aquino also approved the allocation of P300 million (Dh25 million) in 2012 — from P200 million (Dh16.6 million) in 2010, to fund initiatives for Filipino-Muslim education.

There are 11 per cent or 10.7 million Filipino-Muslims in the Philippines, said the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). Islam is the second largest religion in the country.

Full report at:

https://gulfnews.com/news/asia/philippines/tax-exemption-for-philippine-muslim-schools-and-worship-sites-proposed-1.2219433

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PAS to discuss partner for Kedah government

May 11, 2018

KUALA TERENGGANU: PAS will be calling a special meeting of the party’s leadership soon to determine the form of cooperation, whether with Barisan Nasional (BN) or Pakatan Harapan (PH), to facilitate the establishment of the Kedah state government.

Its president Abdul Hadi Awang said at present, no party in Kedah was able to form the state government as none had managed to secure a simple majority in the 14th general election.

“We are the kingmakers in Kedah and we will discuss this at the special meeting,” he told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony of the Terengganu menteri besar at Istana Syarqiyyah, Chendering here last night.

Asked which party had the top priority in the cooperation, Hadi said PAS would look at those who could adjust their policies to accommodate PAS’ Islamic struggle.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/05/11/pas-to-discuss-partner-for-kedah-government/

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Muslims gather at Monas to protest US recognition of Jerusalem

May 11, 2018

Thousands of Muslims flocked to the National Monument (Monas) Park in Central Jakarta on Friday morning to join the Aksi Indonesia Bebaskan Baitul Maqdis (Indonesia for the Liberation of Jerusalem) rally to protest the planned May 14 relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Several Islamic groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic Defenders Troop (LPI), joined the protest, which started around 4 a.m. at Istiqlal Mosque and is scheduled to finish at around 1 p.m. after the mass Friday prayer planned at Monas.

The protesters represented all age groups, with several families spotted at Monas Park leading underage and school-age children to  join the protest.

Jakarta Sanitation Agency and Jakarta Fire and Rescue Agency vehicles were parked at several locations in the vicinity to provide clean water and toilet facilities for the protesters.

Dozens of Jakarta Police officers were stationed around Monas, which is located near the US Embassy and the Presidential Palace, and were diverting traffic from the area.

“We are anticipating the protest, which will be held in Monas and at Istiqlal Mosque,” Jakarta Police spokesman Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Friday, as reported by kompas.com.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/11/muslims-gather-at-monas-to-protest-us-recognition-of-jerusalem.html

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Arab World

 

Calls for restraint after Israeli raids on Iranians in Syria

May 11, 2018

JERUSALEM - Israel carried out widespread deadly raids against what it said were Iranian targets in Syria on Thursday after rocket fire towards its forces it blamed on Iran, drawing global calls to avoid any further escalation.

The exchange of fire came after weeks of rising tensions and followed US President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to withdraw from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a move Israel had long advocated. The bombardment led to immediate calls for restraint from Russia, France, Germany and Britain, while the United States put the blame squarely on Iran and stressed Israel’s right to “self-defence”. Germany and Britain joined the United States in denouncing the rocket fire they also said came from Iran, while France reiterated its “unwavering support for Israel’s security”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran had “crossed a red line” and that the resulting bombardment “was a consequence” Iran has made no comment about the rocket fire.

The raids, which a monitor said killed 23 fighters, were one of the largest Israeli military operations in recent years and the biggest such assault on Iranian targets, the Israeli military said. “We hit nearly all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” said Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “I hope we’ve finished this episode and everyone understood.”

Israel carried out the raids after it said 20 rockets, either Fajr or Grad type, were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights at around midnight. It blamed Iran’s Quds force, adding that Israel’s anti-missile system intercepted four while the rest did not land in its territory. There were no Israeli casualties.

If confirmed, it would be the first time Iran has sought to directly attack Israeli-controlled territory aside from an alleged attempted drone assault in February.

“We know that comes from the Al-Quds force,” army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said, referring to the special forces unit affiliated with Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor reported that dozens of rockets were fired from Syria towards the Israeli-occupied Golan, without saying they were fired by Iranian forces. It said the rockets followed a “first Israeli bombardment on the town of Baath” in Quneitra province. A senior pro-regime military source in Syria confirmed the salvo of rockets, insisting Israel had fired first.

Later, in the early hours of the morning, explosions were heard in Damascus, while live images were broadcast on television showing projectiles above the capital and several missiles destroyed by anti-aircraft systems.

Syrian state media said Israeli missile strikes had hit military bases as well as an arms depot and a military radar installation, without specifying where.

The official SANA news agency said “dozens of missiles were shot down by anti-aircraft systems in Syrian airspace”, acknowledging a number had reached their targets. Israel’s military later confirmed it had carried out the raids, saying some 70 targets had been struck and all of its aircraft had returned safely.

The army’s Conricus said intelligence, logistics and storage facilities as well as vehicles were targeted, in addition to the origin of the rockets. Syrian air defences, which fired dozens of times on Israeli jets, were also targeted, he said.Lieberman called the rocket fire “a new phase”. “We don’t want an escalation, but won’t let anyone attack us or build an infrastructure to attack us in the future,” he said.

Russia said 28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 planes took part in the raids with a total of around 70 missiles fired.

Syria said it was the Israeli strikes that marked a “new phase” of direct involvement in the country’s seven-year conflict.

Its army said three people had been killed. In a rare if not unprecedented move for an Arab country, Bahrain backed Israel’s right to “defend itself” after the strikes.

Bahrain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the two countries, whose foreign policies are often in lockstep, view Iran as the chief threat to the region.

Israel has long warned it will not accept Iran entrenching itself militarily in neighbouring Syria, where the Islamic republic is supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the civil war.

It has been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that have killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged those raids. The Jewish state says it has conducted dozens of raids in Syria to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to Iran-backed Hezbollah, another key foe of Israel. Israel had been preparing itself for weeks for possible Iranian retaliation. Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal has added to tensions and led to a new level of uncertainty over how Iran will respond. On Wednesday, Netanyahu held talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has provided massive military and diplomatic backing to Assad’s regime.

“I told President Putin that it is the right of every state, certainly the right of Israel, to take the necessary steps in order to protect itself from this aggression,” Netanyahu said, referring to Iran’s presence in Syria. Israel and Russia have established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in the war-torn country. Russia was informed in advance of Israel’s strikes on Thursday, Conricus said.

https://nation.com.pk/11-May-2018/calls-for-restraint-after-israeli-raids-on-iranians-in-syria

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Syria Intercepts 70% of Israeli Missiles, Targets 3 Fighter Jets

May 10, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel reported on Thursday that 70% of Israeli missiles were intercepted over the Syrian airspace last night.

It added that the Syrian air defense shield has also engaged 3 Israeli warplanes which had violated the country's airspace, but it did not reveal any details on their fate.

The Syrian army intercepted tens of incoming Israeli missiles and reciprocated the assault with a barrage of rocket attacks on military centers in occupied Golan, the first such response in decades.

Syria's state news agency, SANA, reported on Wednesday night that the Syrian army's air defense systems intercepted Israel's missile attacks on the town of al-Ba'ath; Israel had also earlier targeted the town with artillery fire.

According to the report, the Syrian army's air defense systems intercepted tens of Israeli missiles in the sky while a number of missiles hit the air defense and radar units as well as arms caches.

Meantime, al-Mayadeen news channel reported that over 50 rockets were fired at 4 Israeli military complex centers in occupied Golan, each including several military units, after Israel's attacks on Quneitra.

Other sources, including al-Alam news channel, also reported that the number of rockets fired at occupied Golan went over 68.

It added that tens of Israeli military centers, including the command center for technical and electronic tapping, the 9900 secret border headquarters to collect visual intelligence, the military command center for electronic warfare, the pin-pointing weapons watchtower, the regional command center for the Isreali army unit 810, the military brigade command center in Harmoun, the al-Shatawi center of Benastim winter warfare special unit, came under attack.

Al-Mayadeen also said that the Israeli Iron Dome defense shield has failed to intercept the rockets, adding that Tel Aviv has ordered troops to avoid disclosing any information about the target of the attacks.

Some sources also reported that Israel has attacked al-Kaswah region in Southern Damascus, but the attack was fully repelled by the Syrian army.

The Syrian Army air defense units intercepted two Israeli missiles fired at the Southern part of Damascus province on Tuesday night as well.

SANA reported that the air defense units intercepted 2 Israeli missiles fired at al-Keswah region in Southern Damascus on Tuesday night.

In the meantime, al-Jazeera TV channel reported that the Israeli missile attack was launched to target a militant base in Southern Damascus.

Also, al-Mayadeen TV quoted sources in Quneitra province as reporting that three Israeli missiles were fired from the occupied Golan Heights at Syrian territories on the same night.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000673

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Damascus: Israeli Assault Indicates 'New Phase of Aggression' against Syria

May 10, 2018

"This aggressive conduct by the Zionist entity [pejorative for the State of Israel]… will lead to nothing but an increase in tensions in the region," Syrian news agency SANA cited an official in the Foreign Ministry as saying.

Damascus affirmed that the Israeli aggression on Syrian territories came within the framework of the aggressive approach of the Zionist entity and in response to the defeat of the terrorist groups.

The Russian Defense Ministry has stated that some 28 Israeli aircraft fired around 60 air-to-surface rockets in a massive overnight strike in Syria on Thursday morning, adding that Syrian air defense systems managed to intercept more than half of the missiles.

Israeli forces bombed the Syrian territory for two hours between 1:45 am and 3:45 am local time on Thursday, according to reports.

The Russian military said in a statement that “28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 planes" were involved in the assault, while “Syrian air-defense systems shot down more than half of the rockets as they repelled the Israeli attack”.

After Damascus intercepted tens of incoming Israeli missiles, the Syrian Army reciprocated the assault with a barrage of rocket attacks on military centers in occupied Golan, the first such response in decades.

Tel Aviv said 20 rockets were fired into the Golan Heights early Thursday, and acknowledged that its well-known Iron Dome has only shot down 4 projectiles.

Israel has seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and continued to occupy two-thirds of the strategically-important territory ever since. The Tel Aviv regime has built tens of illegal settlements in the area since its occupation and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

The Tel Aviv regime has launched sporadic attacks against various targets on Syrian soil over the past few years, in assaults slammed by Damascus as attempts to boost terrorist groups who have been suffering heavy defeats in battle against Syrian government forces.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000850

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Saudi tests siren after Iran backed Houthi militia fire new missiles

May 10, 2018

RIYADH: The Director of Civil Defense, Sulaiman Alamro said Thursday that it tested a new siren system for the capital Riyadh and oil-rich Eastern Province, the day after Houthi militia fired three ballistic missiles at the kingdom from Yemen.

The Saudi civil defense posted a video on its official site of the alarm system being tested. In a statement, Alamro stressed the importance of the early warning system to achieve the objectives of civil defense in the protection of life and property. The most important element of which are warning sirens, designed to “face risks of all kinds” and alert the population “in case of emergency.”

Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi militia have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against neighboring Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition to restore the legitimately elected government in Sanaa. The Houthi insurgents announced they had fired two ballistic missiles at Riyadh and a third at the southern city of Jizan near the border, on Wednesday alone.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said the kingdom’s air defenses intercepted all three, in statements carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Riyadh has long accused Tehran of supplying the Houthi militia with ballistic missiles.

Wednesday’s salvo came after US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, which he criticized for excluding measures to curb Iran's ballistic missile program.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1300316/saudi-arabia

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Syrian Army Spreading Buffer Zone in Strategic Region of Deir Ezzur

May 10, 2018

The army units continued to advance in Badiyeh Deir Ezzur on Thursday after fully purging terrorists of al-Feyzeh, Feyzeh Mawina'a and al-Tamah in Southeastern Deir Ezzur, regaining control of 1,500sq/km of lands from the ISIL terrorists.

A field source said that the Syrian army troops have advanced over 60km inside Badiyeh region in their operations against the ISIL in al-Mayadeen's two-way road.

He added that the army has cut off the terrorists' vital roads in Badiyeh through the recent advances in the region and increased security in the strategic town of al-Mayadeen.

The Syrian army had on Wednesday sent more fresh forces and military equipment to Southeastern Deir Ezzur to continue attacks on remaining pockets of the ISIL near the town of al-Mayadeen.

The army plans to send tens of fresh forces, several tanks and a large volume of heavy military equipment to Southeastern Deir Ezzur to hunt the remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists to restore more security to al-Mayadeen.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000413

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

10 May 2018

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

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

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

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

Future plans

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

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

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

Full report at:

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

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Bahrain backs Israel's most direct confrontation in Syria

May 11, 2018

Bahrain has expressed support for Israel after Tel Aviv hit dozens of military targets in Syria amid Syrian army advances against Takfiri terrorists and other foreign-backed militants.

In a rare expression of support, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa twitted on Thursday that Tel Aviv had a right to "defend itself" after Israel said it carried out some 50 raids inside Syria.  

Al-Khalifa copied claims made by Israeli authorities, praising the attack as a response to an Iranian rocket attack from the Syrian territory against Israeli military bases in the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel claimed that the early Thursday assault was its most extensive strike against Syria in decades. Syria’s military said Thursday that the airstrikes had killed three people and destroyed a radar station and an ammunition warehouse.

In a statement carried by state news agency SANA, Syria’s foreign ministry said that the Israeli strikes on its territory were a “direct confrontation” that marked a “new phase” in the country’s seven-year conflict.

Syrian Arab Army Brig. Gen. Ali Mayhoub, who read a statement on Syrian television, said his country’s air defense systems had intercepted “the large part” of the incoming Israeli strikes.

Russia backed up the Syrian military’s claims, saying approximately half of the incoming Israeli missiles had been intercepted by Syrian air defenses.

The Russian defense ministry told local media that 28 Israeli F-15 fighter jets had fired 60 missiles and ground troops had launched 10 surface-to-surface missiles at targets inside Syria.

Israeli officials claimed the attack was a response to a barrage of 20 rockets from Syria at Israeli military outposts in Golan and blamed Iran for the attack.

Iranian officials traditionally do not respond to Israeli claims, saying they do not merit an answer. Nevertheless, an Iranian lawmaker quoted by Lebanon's Al-Manar television network, denied his country was behind the barrage. 

“Iran has nothing to do with the missiles that struck the enemy entity yesterday,” deputy head of parliament's national security committee Abolfazl Hassan-Baygi reportedly said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the Israeli attack on Syria, calling it an attempt by "the main supporter of terrorist groups" in Syria to retaliate their many defeats against the Syrian government.

In a statement on Friday, Qassemi said the terror groups were in fact "proxies" waging a war on behalf of the US, Israel and their regional allies.

Israel has stepped up its attacks on Syrian military positions in what is considered an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy losses and retreating on multiple fronts, most recently from their strongholds in Damascus suburbs.  Israel has been acting as a de facto air force of the militants for some time but its extensive raids Wednesday night were its most brazenly direct engagement in Syria's fight on terrorism. 

Syria has had strained relations with most of the Arab states in the Persian Gulf in recent years, but the Bahraini foreign minister's support for the Israeli strikes marks a rare, if not unprecedented public stance by an Arab government.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/11/561303/Israel-Syria-Golan-Heights-Bahrain-FM-Sheikh-Khalid-bin-Ahmed-alKhalifa

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Iraq used Baghdadi aide's cell phone to capture top Daesh commanders

May 10, 2018

A high-ranking Iraqi security official says authorities are holding a top aide to the purported leader of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and have used a messaging application on his mobile phone to nab four commanders of the militant outfit.

Hisham al-Hashimi, a consultant to the Baghdad government on the anti-Daesh campaign, told Reuters on Thursday that Ismail al-Eithawi, better known by the nom de guerre Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, was captured in Turkey in February by Turkish authorities and handed over to Iraqi agents.

Hashimi added that Iraqi forces used the Telegram messaging app on Eithawi's mobile phone, and managed to tempt a number of Daesh commanders in Syria to cross the border into Iraq, where they were arrested.

Those held include Syrian national Saddam Jamal, who served as the so-called Daesh governor of Syria's eastern Euphrates region.

The other three field commanders were identified as Syrian Mohamed al-Qadeer as well as Omar al-Karbouli and Essam al-Zawbai, who are both of Iraqi descent.

Hashimi described Eithawi as a direct aide to Baghdadi, noting that he was responsible for money transfers to Daesh bank accounts in various countries.

The security advisor to the Iraqi government went on to say that Iraqi intelligence agents, in cooperation with US forces, had managed to uncover bank accounts used by Daesh and decipher secret communication codes Eithawi used.

On April 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pledged to continue airstrikes on Daesh positions and headquarters inside neighboring Syria but stressed that Baghdad would not infringe upon the sovereignty of the Damascus government.

“Iraq will continue airstrikes in Syria and will do more to eliminate Daesh group. It will neither allow Daesh militants to come back, nor a similar terrorist organization to appear, but Iraq doesn't mean to interfere in internal affairs of Syria,” Abadi stated.

On December 9, 2017, Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in Iraq.

“Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh,” he told a conference in Baghdad then.

On July 10, Abadi formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561261/Iraq-used-Baghdadi-aides-cell-phone-to-capture-top-Daesh-commanders

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Foreign support for terrorists prolonging Syria crisis: Assad

May 10, 2018

President Bashar al-Assad has blamed foreign intervention for the prolongation of the conflict in Syria, saying otherwise it would take “less than a year” to restore peace to the Arab country.

“I have always said, without any interference, it will take less than a year to regain stability in Syria; I don’t have any doubt about this,” Assad said in an interview with the Greek Kathimerini newspaper published on Thursday.

Assad referred to foreign support for extremist groups operating in the war-torn country as another factor for the persistence of the crisis, however, expressing hope that “we’re going to end this conflict and we’re going to re-unify Syria under the control of the government. When? I cannot answer. I hope it’s going to be soon.”

He lashed out at Western countries, including France, Britain and the US along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey for supporting various terrorist groups, saying they “should be held accountable” for the bloodshed in Syria.

Assad said Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the “army” of the US, Turkey and the Saudi regime, stressing that “any aggressor” and “any army … are all enemies as long as they came to Syria illegally.”

The Syrian president further denounced as “aggression” the ongoing Turkish operation in Syria's Kurdish-controlled region. “This is an occupation. Any single Turkish soldier on Syrian soil represents occupation,” he said.

He said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “was assigned by the West, mainly the United States, to interfere, to make the situation complicated, again because without this interference, the situation would have been resolved much faster.”

Turkey began the so-called Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on January 20 to clear the northern Syrian border of the US-backed Kurdish militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), whom it associates with the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting for autonomy on Turkish soil.

The Turkish military says it has exercised “utmost care” not to harm civilians. The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitor, however, said last week that more than 280 civilians had been killed since the onset of the operation.

The Turkish operation has been launched without permission from the Syrian government. It has also pitted Ankara against Washington, which has armed and supports the Kurdish militants.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad rejected the Western allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government near the capital of Damascus as a “farce and a very primitive play” whose only goal is to “attack the Syrian army” after the defeat of terrorists.

The alleged April 7 attack in the militant-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region purportedly left dozens dead and drew international condemnation from various countries and international bodies.

Immediately after the reported chemical attack, the United States and its allies rushed to accuse the Syrian government of conducting it.

One week after the incident, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.

Assad said, “When the terrorists lost, the US, France, UK, and their other allies, who want to destabilize Syria, they lost one of their main cards, and that’s why they had to attack the Syrian army, just to raise the morale of the terrorists and to prevent the Syrian army from liberating more areas in Syria.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561217/Syria-President-Assad-foreign-intervention-crisis-Turkey-Saudi-Arabia-West-chemical-attack

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Saudi Arabia and Norway agree to provide water and sanitation for Somali refugees

May 10, 2018

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center signed a joint agreement today, planning to improve access to potable water, and sanitation for refugees in Somalia. The agreement is in cooperation with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), at a total cost of $2 million.

The agreement was signed by the General Manager of the Center, Dr. Abdullah Alrabiah and Abeer Shobasi, the Gulf Region Director of the NRC, at the headquarters of the Relief Center in Riyadh.

The agreement aims to provide drinkable water and water for sanitary use. Also, to provide, training and health education for those in the most affected areas of Somalia.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1300176/saudi-arabia

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North America

 

Trump Heralds Capture of Five Islamic State Commanders

May 10, 2018

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that five "most wanted" leaders of the Islamic State militant group had been captured, an apparent reference to the capture of five commanders of the militant group by Iraq.

"Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS just captured!" Trump wrote in a post on Twitter, providing no further details.

Iraq had described the capture of the Islamic State commanders as "some of the most wanted" leaders of the group. The list did not include Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-05-10/trump-heralds-capture-of-five-islamic-state-commanders

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Iran or terrorists may target Tuesday's US Embassy opening in Jerusalem

by Tom Rogan

May 10, 2018

Iran or a number Islamic terrorist groups may react violently on Tuesday, when the U.S. officially opens its new embassy in Jerusalem. While the embassy's opening coincides with Israel's 70th anniversary, it also falls on a day when Hamas will lead thousands of Palestinians in an aggressive march on the Israeli border.

The operative concern here is that Jerusalem has a defining ideological importance for every Islamic extremist entity that targets Israel. This includes the Iranian hardliners aligned with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Lebanese Hezbollah. As home to the Al-Aqsa mosque (the third holiest mosque in Islam) these entities see Jerusalem as a physical and theological sacrament that must be liberated from Israel.

Evidencing as much, the IRGC's external action Quds force is actually named after Jerusalem: "Al-Quds" is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. Jerusalem also takes a prominent role in Iranian revolutionary iconography and an image of Al-Aqsa sits center in the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad logos. Thus, for these groups, the U.S. embassy's opening in Jerusalem is both a grave affront to and a reinforcement of their ideology. That put the embassy at high risk of attack.

Now while the Israeli Shin Bet security service will work closely with U.S. Diplomatic Security Service and the Secret Service to secure the opening, no threat can be fully eliminated. This is also complicated by the fact that Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are also traveling to the embassy opening. Their presence will be an inducement to attack for the IRGC in particular, which is keen to flex its muscles in the face of President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.

How would such an attack be carried out? Possibly by terrorists on the ground, possibly by Iranian missiles capable of hitting Jerusalem (although the IRGC knows employing those missiles would lead to an overwhelming Israeli response and perhaps a US response as well).

So, what can the U.S. do to mitigate the risks here?

Not much beyond working with the Israelis to secure the opening as best as possible. But Trump should make it clear that any attack on the embassy will result in a direct U.S. military response. Although they are ideologically committed jihadists, the IRGC and Hamas can be deterred by the threat of devastating U.S. retaliation to their antics.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/iran-or-terrorists-may-target-tuesdays-us-embassy-opening-in-jerusalem

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US sanctions Iranians days after Trump withdraws from nuclear deal

10 May 2018

The US Treasury imposed fresh sanctions on Thursday against six people it linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Qods Force and three Iranian entities, just days after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

The six individuals and three entities were sanctioned under US regulations targeting specially designated global terrorist suspects and Iranian financial activity, the Treasury Department said in a statement on its website.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2018/05/10/US-sanctions-Iranians-days-after-Trump-withdraws-from-nuclear-deal.html

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US Treasury slaps new sanctions on Iranian figures, entities

May 10, 2018

The US Treasury has imposed fresh sanctions on several Iranian individuals and entities in the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw Washington from the 2015 nuclear deal.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement on its website Thursday that it had sanctioned six people allegedly tied to the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and three Iranian entities.

The Treasury also said it was working with the UAE to disrupt a network that was purportedly transferring millions of dollars to the Quds Force, accusing Iran's central bank of helping the group access US dollars held in foreign banks.

Trump triggered international condemnation late Tuesday, when he announced that the US was walking away from the Iran nuclear accord, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Trump also said he would reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose "the highest level" of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

Iran has said it will remain in the JCPOA for now, pending negotiations with the other signatories in the coming weeks before making a final decision on its future role in the agreement.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561284/Iran-IRGC-Treasury

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Thousands of Ismaili Muslims from Edmonton area welcome Aga Khan in Calgary

May 10, 2018

More than 5,000 Ismaili Muslims from the Edmonton area are gathering in Calgary this week to visit their religious leader and mark his Diamond Jubilee.

Prince Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan IV is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He succeeded his grandfather in 1957 and is the spiritual leader for approximately 20 million people worldwide.

The Aga Khan, 80, is also a millionaire who is known for his humanitarianism. His international aid organization, the Aga Khan Development Network, has built schools and hospitals around the world. He received honorary Canadian citizenship in 2010.

"This week's been a truly important event for me as an Ismaili Muslim and as a Canadian," said Shafin Kanji on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM Thursday.

Kanji, an Edmonton resident and spokesperson for the Ismaili Council for Edmonton, is in Calgary this week for the celebrations.

This is not the first time Kanji has seen the Aga Khan. He last saw him a decade ago, also in Calgary, during celebrations for his Golden Jubilee.

"Usually, we use jubilees as a method to reaffirm the principles of our faith and to really work on the concepts of Islam, including pluralism and diversity," Kanji said.

The Aga Khan's Diamond Jubilee coincided with Canada's 150th birthday. To mark the occasion, Ismaili Muslims in Canada pledged to complete one million hours of community service — a goal they exceeded in six months.

Kanji, who volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, said volunteerism is an important part of faith for Ismaili Muslims.

New garden nearing completion

The Aga Khan is funding a $25-million garden in construction at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, just north of Devon.

"I don't want to spoil it, but I've seen recent pictures and I'm in awe," Kanji said.

The garden is scheduled to be finished this summer.

The Aga Khan's visit to Canada began early this month. He dined at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on May 2, visited Vancouver on May 5 and arrived in Calgary on Monday.

Full report at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/thousands-ismaili-muslims-from-edmonton-area-to-welcome-aga-khan-in-calgary-1.4656832

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Europe

 

Sajid Javid A Triumph Of British Multiculturalism, Belying ‘Rivers Of Blood’ Soothsayers

10 May 2018

Sajid Javid’s appointment as Home Secretary (Minister) in the British government effectively makes him the most powerful Muslim politician in the West.

He has made history by becoming the first BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) to hold one of the three most important offices of state after the prime minister – the other two being foreign secretary and chancellor of the exchequer – and is symbolic of the successful multiculturalism that the UK has been practicing for the last few decades.

Javid’s elevation to this important post is replete with ironies but the sweetest of them is that he broke this glass ceiling within days of the 50th anniversary of Conservative MP Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of blood’ speech which was considered by many as the “most incendiary racist speech of modern Britain”.

Powell had in April 1968 prophesied that if the UK did not stop the inflow of immigrants from the Commonwealth then “whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population” whose presence would trigger race conflicts and rivers of blood to flow.

Powell called for a reduction in the number of immigrant arrivals and a policy to encourage those already in the UK to return to their country of origin. His speech was much-reviled by the rest of his countryman and his promising political career came to an abrupt end.

Ironically Javid was born in 1969 in Rochdale, Greater Manchester in north west England into the sort of immigrant family that Powell would have liked to have seen sent back to where they came from. His parents, Abdul Ghani and Zubeda Javid came to Britain from Pakistan in 1961 with “just one pound in their pockets”.

Javid’s father worked as a bus driver to feed his family, just like the second most powerful Muslim in the West, Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London.

Meteoric rise

The meteoric rise of Javid and Khan, both second generation immigrants, in British politics in less than half a century shows the power of hard-work in a truly multi-cultural society that believes in justice and fair play.

Contrary to critics the duo also prove that Muslims have sufficiently integrated into society and are considered British enough to be voted into Parliament by a non-Muslim electorate. While Javid like Powell is a Tory, Khan is a member of the Labor Party and tipped to one day head his party.

As Home Secretary Javid will now among other things also be in charge of UK’s immigration policy. He replaces colleague Amber Rudd who was forced to resign for implementing a “hostile” immigration policy put in place by Prime Minister Theresa May during the six years she was the Home Secretary in the David Cameron government.

May could almost be called a latter-day Powell as she too wanted to reduce the numbers of immigrants into the country and create a ‘hostile environment’ for BAME migrants so that they would return “home”.

However when details of denial of rights and harsh treatment of descendents of what is being called the Windrush generation (after the boat Empire Windrush that brought 492 Jamaicans to Britain in 1948) became public, there was a massive public backlash.

May’s fall-guy

The policy conflicted with the high ideals of equality of treatment, opportunity and justice regardless of race, religion and color that the British pride themselves on and of which Javid and Khan are living examples – so much so that Rudd became May’s fall-guy.

Javid does not share May’s vision and he made that very clear from his first speech in Parliament as Home Secretary when he rejected the polarizing “hostile environment” as “unhelpful, as it doesn’t represent our values as a country” in favour of a “compliant environment”.

Javid said: “Like the Caribbean Windrush generation, my parents came to this country from the Commonwealth in the 1960s…I thought that it could be my mum, my brother, my uncle or even me” who could be denied their rights and have to prove their status in Britain despite having lived here for 70 years.

Javid is not close to May and has been openly critical of some of her decisions giving credence to some political analysts’ argument’s that May has given him the difficult job in order to see him fail.

Only time will tell who comes out on top, Javid or May. What May cannot take away from Javid is that he has broken so many glass ceilings to get to where he has and the only one left now is for a BAME to become prime minister.

Javid is perhaps best placed to become that too. When that happens Powell will really turn in his grave!

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2018/05/10/Sajid-Javid-a-triumph-of-British-multiculturalism-belying-rivers-of-blood-soothsayers.html

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Europe’s terror convicts gain freedom to improvised response

May 10 2018

Over the next two years, terrorism convicts will walk free from European prisons by the dozens - more than 200 inmates who largely formed the first wave of jihadist streaming to Syria and Iraq, dreaming of an Islamic caliphate not yet established.

In all, about 12,000 Europeans left to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaida; about a third of those are now believed to be home, mostly living freely. Some are awaiting trial, but most never faced serious charges due to insufficient evidence.

And many more saw their travel plans thwarted, left behind to stew.

How much of a threat do these avowed extremists living throughout Europe pose, and how equipped are authorities to handle them? The response has been, at best, improvised.

The impending releases of jihadi veterans could be considered “a fourth wave of returnees,” according to Rik Coolsaet, a scholar at Belgium’s Egmont Institute.

“There are a number of personal frustrations and motivations that have pushed the kids in their journey to ISIS that we now have to address,” Coolsaet said. “If we don’t address it now, the environment will remain as conducive for this kind of jihadi violence.”

Farid Benyettou, an ex-jihadi who served four years in prison and has now publicly renounced extremist violence, fears Europe is not ready.

Once nicknamed the “imam Voltaire” after the school he left to become a backroom preacher to young Muslims, Benyettou has written a book detailing his descent into Islamic extremism.

Among the members of the group he once led were Cherif and Said Kouachi, who gunned down 12 people at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in 2015.

The cell epitomizes Europe’s urgent question: Are the terrorism convicts verging on freedom like Benyettou, the Kouachis or somewhere between?

“These guys who are convicted today or who are awaiting trial will get out one day,” Benyettou told The Associated Press. “And that’s the issue, in fact: What kind of preparations will there be for their release?”

Terrorism prison sentences in Europe until very recently averaged about six years, compared to 13 years in the United States, according to Europol data. Since 2015, sentences have risen, but remain well below U.S. levels.

“The danger is the risk of recidivism. We should not be too quick to believe certain terrorists who say they are repentant,” Catherine Champrenault, the Paris prosecutor general, recently told Le Monde newspaper.

France, which has been struck repeatedly by Islamic State fighters and sympathizers, will free 57 inmates - about half its current population of terrorism convicts. In Britain, where nearly half of terrorism sentences are four years or less, 25 inmates are due for release - fully three-quarters of those convicted under one of the country’s main terrorism statute as of mid-2017. In Belgium, 80 acknowledged foreign fighters already are free and as many as 44 others will be joining them. In Spain, 21 of 34 returning extremists already were free as of late last year. And in Bosnia and Kosovo, every jailed foreign fighter will go free.

In just those countries alone, the total runs to more than 200, according to the AP’s count.

And the actual number is undoubtedly higher because not every country releases data - notably Germany, which had nearly 1,000 residents leave for the war zone but releases no comprehensive figures on convictions or releases.

The most recent attack blamed on returning foreign fighters was in March 2016, when an ISIL cell of jihadists set off suicide bombs at the Brussels airport and in the metro. The network already had attacked a Paris-to-Brussels high-speed train in August 2015 and orchestrated a brutal assault on Paris in November 2015. In all, the cell killed 162 people.

Still, the overwhelming majority of returning jihadists have not been arrested and have caused no harm.

Many of the homegrown extremists are young and poor with limited education, and feel cut off from society.

Once free from prison, no programs or policies govern them.

France applies a range of post-release constraints, ranging from requiring those freed to periodically check in with authorities - as is the case for Benyettou - to home detention.

In Bosnia, where all 23 terrorism convicts are leaving prison, the Justice Ministry said local housing, social workers and employment agencies are notified, but that there’s little capacity to do much more.

Britain has limited counseling and monitoring, and offers a voluntary re-integration program.

And Spain began “re-education and reinsertion” in 2016 in which terrorism inmates are evaluated for risk and undergo counseling. But the government said only 10 out 146 extremist inmates have undergone the much-hyped program.

For Benyettou, getting support as he planned a future was crucial to abandoning extremism. He studied first to be a nurse only to see that dream evaporate because of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. He is now training as a trucker.

“Everyone has setbacks in life, plans that don’t happen. For me, it’s my past,” he said. “You bounce back and try to do something besides to fall back on this logic of victimhood.”

And that’s where many fear Europe will fail the next wave of terrorism convicts

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/europes-terror-convicts-gain-freedom-to-improvised-response-131635

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Islamist cells raided in Italy for 'financing terrorism'

10th May 2018

ITALY: Twenty raids were underway in Italy on Thursday targeting two Islamist cells suspected of laundering money to fund jihadist fighters in Syria, police and investigators said.

Arrest warrants are out for 14 suspects, the sources in northern Brescia and the Sardinian capital Cagliari said in a joint statement.

The Brescia cell was made up of 10 Syrians suspected of "abusive" use of payment services in various EU countries such as Sweden, Italy and Hungary, as well as in Turkey.

"Two of them are also accused of financing terrorism," the statement said.

The Sardinian cell included four militants of Syrian and Moroccan origin accused of backing the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

They too are accused of financing terrorism, the statement said.

Full report at:

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2018/may/10/islamist-cells-raided-in-italy-for-financing-terrorism-1812845.html

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Europe safer thanks to Iran's anti-terror efforts: Rouhani to Merkel

May 10, 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Iran's anti-terror efforts in the Middle East region have helped make the world a safer place.

"Determined to achieve and maintain regional stability and security, Iran has always tried to de-escalate tensions in the region and under no condition does it welcome more tensions," Rouhani told the German leader in a phone conversation on Thursday.

Citing Iran's military advisory role in Iraq and Syria as examples, the Iranian head of state said even Europe has benefited from the Islamic Republic's successful anti-terror efforts.

"The battle that Iran and the people of Iraq and Syria fought against Daesh terrorists has brought relatively good levels of security to Syria and Iraq, and has benefitted the region and the world, including Europe," he asserted.

'Europe's time to save JCPOA limited'

Rouhani also brought up US President Donald Trump's recent decision to pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a landmark nuclear deal that Iran signed in 2015 with the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

"Breaching and stamping on an agreement endorsed by a United Nations Security Council resolution will lead to damaging consequences on the world stage," he said.

The JCPOA was reached after some 12 years of negotiations between Iran on one side and the six world powers on the other in July 2015.

After criticizing the agreement for months, Trump on Tuesday officially declared that Washington was pulling out of the deal.

The American head of state claimed that the deal had failed to stop Iran's development of ballistic missiles and lacked mechanisms to stop its growing influence in the region.

In announcing his decision, Trump said he will not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions that were lifted as part of the deal but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the country.

Merkel, who had advised Trump against the move, said it was very important for Europe to keep the JCPOA in place.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561292/Iran-Germany-Rouhani-Merkel-Trump-JACPOA

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UK apologises to Libyan dissident Belhaj over rendition

by Arwa Ibrahim

May 11, 2018

The UK has apologised for contributing to the ill-treatment of Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who was kidnapped in Thailand in 2004, transferred to Libya and tortured.

Belhaj - who was seized with his then-pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar and four children while on their way to the UK - has said that a tip-off from MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency, led to their capture.

"The UK government's actions contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering ... On behalf of Her Majesty's government, I apologise to you unreservedly," Theresa May, Britain's prime minister, said in a letter to Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar, which was read out in parliament on Thursday by Jeremy Wright, the attorney general.

Wright said the settlement with the couple included a £500,000 payment to Boudchar.

Speaking in Istanbul, Turkey, after the settlement was announced, Belhaj said: "I welcome and accept the prime minister's apology, and I extend to her and the attorney general my thanks and goodwill.

"For more than six years I have made clear that I had a single goal in bringing this case: justice. Now, at last, justice has been done.

"Britain has made a wrong right today, and set an example for other nations to follow."

Belhaj's case, and that of another Libyan dissident Sami al-Saadi, whose family was also abducted and rendered to Libya, had been investigated by British police who accumulated nearly 30,000 pages of evidence over a five-year period.

While the Saadi family received a £2m ($2.5m) settlement two years ago, Belhaj insisted he only wanted an apology and a symbolic £1 ($1.24) payment from each of the defendants.

Following the announcement, which Boudchar attended with her son in London, she thanked the British government for their apology.

"I thank the British government for its apology ... I accept the government's apology," Boudchar said.

"By today's settlement, I look forward to rebuilding my life with dignity and honour, and living free from the weight of these events with my husband and our five beautiful children."

For Cori Crider, a lawyer and the strategic director of Reprieve's Abuses in Counter-Terrorism Team, who has been working as a lawyer and counsel to the family for many years, the settlement is a victory.

"This is not just Abdul-Hakim and Fatima's victory. It is a victory for everyone who opposes injustice, secret detention, and torture," said Crider in a written statement following the announcement.

"Britain lost its way when it got mixed up in rendition, but today, by apologising for its part in that dark story, the UK has stood on the right side of history."

Years-long ordeal

A former fighter with the anti-Gaddafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Belhaj was imprisoned in Libya for six years after his capture.

During that time he says he was routinely tortured and mistreated.

The case came to light after the fall of Tripoli in 2011, when faxes from Mark Allen, MI6's then-counterterrorism director, describing the rendition flights were found in the ransacked office of Moussa Koussa, Libya's head of intelligence.

The US deemed the anti-Gaddafi LIFG to be a "terrorist" group allied with al-Qaeda.

Belhaj denied that any links between the group and al-Qaeda existed and said he believed his rendition to Libya was part of a covert deal between former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown and killed in a popular uprising in 2011.

Reconciliation deal

Belhaj and Saadi were released from jail in Tripoli in 2010 under a reconciliation deal arranged by Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam.

British officials, including Jack Straw, then the foreign secretary and responsible for MI6, repeatedly denied that they had anything to do with the rendering of "terror" suspects, a practice more widely undertaken by the CIA.

However, in 2011, documents revealed when NATO aircraft destroyed the Tripoli offices of Gaddafi's intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, implicated the UK government.  

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/uk-apologises-libyan-dissident-belhaj-rendition-180510121257142.html

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Mideast

 

Russia: Israeli strikes used 28 planes, fired 70 missiles

10 May 2018

Israel’s strikes on Syria saw 28 planes take part in raids with a total of around 70 missiles fired, Russia’s defence ministry said on Thursday.

“28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the attack, which released around 60 air-to-ground missiles over various parts of Syria. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles,” the ministry said in a statement, quoted by Interfax news agency.

Russia said Syria’s air defense systems shot down more than half of the missiles, while the extent of the damage was still being assessed.

“The locations of Iranian armed groups and also the positions of the Syrian army’s air defenses in the area around Damascus and in the south of Syria were attacked,” the ministry said. Israel carried out the raids after it said around 20 rockets were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights overnight.

It blamed the rocket fire on Iran’s Al-Quds force, adding that Israel’s anti-missile system intercepted four of the projectiles while the rest did not land in its territory.

‘Restraint on all sides’

On Thursday Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov called for “restraint on all sides”, adding that Moscow was “concerned” at the development.

The strikes came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has provided massive military and diplomatic backing to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s seven-year civil war.

At the meeting Putin also expressed “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a key 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, a decision Netanyahu supported. On Wednesday the Russian leader called the situation in the Middle East “unfortunately very acute”.

Netanyahu had told Putin that “it is the right of every state, certainly the right of Israel, to take the necessary steps in order to protect itself from (Iranian) aggression)”, his office said in a statement Wednesday, referring to Iran’s presence in Syria.

Moscow informed

Israel forewarned Russia of its strikes on Thursday against multiple targets in Syria, an Israeli military spokesman said.

“The Russians were informed prior to our attack by the established mechanisms that we have,” Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters without elaborating.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/10/Russia-Israeli-strikes-used-28-planes-fired-70-missiles.html

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UAE puts nine Iranian entities, individuals on terrorism list

10 May 2018

The  United Arab Emirates listed on Thursday nine Iranian entities and individuals on the terrorism list for transferring funds to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

According to the statement published by WAM, the Cabinet issued Ministerial Resolution No. 24 of 2018, which included the nine entities and individuals supporting terrorism.

Individuals and entities were listed as having bought and transferred millions of dollars to the Quds Force of the IRGC and its agents to finance activities to destabilize the region by concealing the purpose for which the dollars were obtained.

Iranian entities and individuals were included in the list as a result of close cooperation between the UAE and the United States of America, which included the same individuals and entities on their list.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin praised the efforts of the UAE and its close cooperation in this regard, stressing that all countries of the world should be aware of Iran's efforts to exploit the financial institutions of other countries to exchange currencies and finance terrorist organizations which are active under the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/05/10/UAE-puts-nine-Iranian-entities-and-individuals-on-terrorism-list.html

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New US Military Base in Manbij to Increase Ankara-Washington Tensions

May 10, 2018

Spokesman for Manbij's Military Council affiliated to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Sharfan Darwish announced on Wednesday that the US forces have set up a new military base in Manbij in Northern Syria at the borders with Turkey.

He said that the French forces have been stationed in the military base with the aim of monitoring and protecting the borders, adding that the base has been established immediately after the Turkish army and its allies' attacks on the Kurdish forces in Afrin and Ankara's repeated threats to enter Manbij.

Experts say military assessments show that establishment of a new military base in Manbij that comes in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump's pullout pledge will exacerbate tensions between Washington and Ankara.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, a long convoy of Turkish Army vehicles arrived in Western Aleppo to set up the tenth truce monitoring point.

The Turkish army sent a convoy, including 60 military armored and military vehicles, to al-Rashedeen strategic region in Western Aleppo via Kafr Luseen passageway.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000470

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Iran does not want ‘new tensions’ in Mideast, Rouhani tells Merkel

10 May 2018

Iran does not want “new tensions” in the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday in a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Iran has always sought to reduce tensions in the region, trying to strengthen security and stability,” Rouhani said, according to a statement on the website of Iran's presidency.

Rouhani did not mention Israel’s strikes on Thursday against what the Jewish state said were Iranian targets in Syria, or those against the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/10/Iran-does-not-want-new-tensions-in-Mideast-Rouhani-tells-Merkel.html

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Israel blames Iran for firing rockets at the Golan from Syria

10 May 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

assess is low.”

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

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

Israel has neither confirmed or denied responsibility.

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

Full report at:

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

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Israeli attacks on Syria meant to prop up terrorists: Iran

May 11, 2018

Iran has condemned Israel's recent attack on Syria, calling it an attempt by the main supporter of Syrian terrorist groups to retaliate their many defeats against the government of Syrian President Bashar as-Assad.

"The Zionist regime's repeated attacks on Syrian soil under self-proclaimed, baseless pretexts amount to a blatant violation of Syria's sovereignty and goes against all international conventions," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in an early Friday statement.

The statement came after Israel attacked dozens of targets inside Syria in what the Tel Aviv regime claimed was its most extensive strike against the Arab country in decades.

Israeli officials said the assault early on Thursday was a response to a barrage of 20 rockets that were fired from Syria at Israeli military outposts in the occupied Golan Heights hours earlier. It also blamed the rocket fire on Iran.

The regime's attacks against Syrian military positions have become more frequent over the past months, amid Assad forces' major victories over terrorist groups across the country.

Qassemi said the terror groups were in fact "proxies" waging war on behalf of the US, Israel and their regional allies.

"Today, the main supporters of these groups are directly attacking and invading Syrian territories in an attempt to avenge the many failures of their self-created terrorists and tip the scales in their favor," he asserted.

"The Zionist regime cannot stand peace and stability in the region and sees its own safety in making the region all the more unstable," the ministry spokesman argued, blasting the international community for giving the Israeli regime the green light by refusing to take action in the face of its crimes. 

Damascus says Israel and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups operating inside the Arab country, while the Tel Aviv regime's military carries out sporadic strikes against Syrian government forces. The Israeli regime has even set up field hospitals to treat wounded militants evacuated from Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/11/561297/Iran-Syria-Qassemi-Israel-attacks-Golan

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EU warns about 'dramatic escalation of hostilities' in Yemen

May 10, 2018

The European Union has expressed concerns about escalating tensions in Yemen, saying the crisis gripping the impoverished country needs a political solution not a military approach.

In a statement released on Thursday, Maja Kocijancic, the EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs and security policy, said Yemen has witnessed "a dramatic escalation of hostilities" in the past few weeks, resulting in many casualties and civilian infrastructure damage.

"This escalation runs against the commitment of all sides to a political solution of the conflict in Yemen and feeds into a vicious cycle of successive retaliations that risks to undermine the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and put the resumption of peace talks in jeopardy," the statement read.

"There is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen. Only a negotiated, political solution through an inclusive process can put an end to the conflict and restore hope for stability and peace in the country and the region," it added.

The EU further supported a Wednesday statement by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the conflict in Yemen.

Guterres reminded the parties to the Yemen crisis that "a negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue is the only way to end the conflict and address the ongoing humanitarian crisis."

Calling on all sides to refrain from further escalation, he noted that all potential violations of international humanitarian law should be thoroughly investigated.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a war on Yemen in March 2015 in support of Yemen’s former Riyadh-friendly government and against the Houthi Ansarullah movement

The military campaign has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians, according to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights.

Several Western countries, the US and the UK in particular, are accused of being complicit in the aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment.

Yemeni forces regularly target positions inside Saudi Arabia in retaliatory attacks against the Riyadh-led military operation.

Saudi Arabia tests alarm system

In another development on Thursday, Saudi Arabia tested a new siren system for the capital, Riyadh, and Eastern Province, amid retaliatory missile strikes from Yemen.

The Saudi civil defense said in a statement that the system was designed to "face risks of all kinds" and alert the population "in case of emergency."

It also posted a video on its website showing the testing of the new siren system.

The Yemeni army and allied popular fighters from the Houthi Ansarullah movement have launched a number of missile attacks on economic and other targets deep within the Saudi soil in retaliation for the devastating war that has been launched by Riyadh on its southern neighbor since March 2015.

On Sunday, Yemeni forces fired a domestically-manufactured Zalzal-2 (Earthquake 2) ballistic missile at the Ain al-Thwareen base in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern Asir region.

Last month, Houthi fighters fired two Badr 1-type ballistic missiles at a Saudi Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia's Jizan Province. They also targeted Jizan airport in with a missile strike.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561266/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-EU

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Turkey issues arrest warrants for nearly 190 over affiliation to Gulen network

May 10, 2018

Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for nearly 190 people on suspicion of affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices in the western province of Izmir had issued arrest warrants for 96 people, including 91 suspended soldiers who served the Turkish Air Forces Command.

The source added that 93 arrest warrants had also been issued in the capital Ankara for former employees of a school linked to Gulen’s movement, outlawed and branded by Ankara as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

A police operation is reportedly underway to apprehend the suspects.

During the botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.

“Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders,” he said in a statement.

The 77-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he says is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561242/Turkey-issues-arrest-warrants-for-nearly-190-over-affiliation-to-Gulen-network

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Saudi-led raids kill more Yemenis, including 2 whole families

May 10, 2018

The entire members of two Yemeni families have been killed in separate Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes on residential areas in Yemen.

Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported that all members of a family, including the father, mother, and their two children, were killed when their house was targeted in a Saudi-led airstrike in the Azreqein neighborhood in the capital, Sana’a, in the early hours of Thursday.

It added that two other civilians were also killed in the same airstrike, which also wounded six people, including three children.

Late on Wednesday, Saudi-led fighter jets also killed a single parent and her four children in an airstrike against a residential area in the town of Dhahian in the northern province of Sa’ada, al-Masirah said in a separate report.

According to Yemen’s official Saba news agency, Saudi-led warplanes carried out at least 16 airstrikes on several provinces in the war-torn Yemen over the past 24 hours. In one incident, the coalition aircraft hit a residential area in Sa’ada with banned cluster monitions, killing a child and wounding a couple.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 in support of the country’s former Riyadh-friendly government. The war has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians, according to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights.

In one of the deadliest air raids, Saudi warplanes last month targeted a wedding ceremony in Hajjah several times, killing almost 50 people and wounding 55 others. Saudi jets also carried out raids on the ambulances transporting the casualties to local hospitals.

Late on Wednesday, Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, launched a domestically-made short-range Badr-1 ballistic missile against a military base in Saudi Arabia’s southern region of Najran in a retaliatory strike, al-Masirah reported, citing an unnamed security source.

A few hours earlier, the Yemeni forces had fired several domestically-made Burkan 2-H (Volcano H-2) ballistic missiles at “economic targets” in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the report said, saying all missiles successfully hit their designated targets.

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

Saudi Arabia often claims that it intercepts incoming Yemeni missiles, but a close study of evidence by The New York Times last year clearly suggested that in one of the most high-profile of such Yemeni missile attacks, the projectile, launched deep into Saudi territory, had in fact landed unimpeded, bypassing American-made Patriot missiles and potentially other defenses used by Riyadh. Saudi Arabia claimed that it had foiled that attack, which targeted the Riyadh airport.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561227/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-airstrikes-whole-families

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Africa

 

ICC renews call to arrest Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi

May 10, 2018

The International Criminal Court yesterday renewed its calls for the arrest of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Al-Khaleej Online reported.

Since 2011, the ICC has been calling for Gaddafi’s arrest on charges that he carried out crimes against humanity during the revolution that ousted his father, but the Libyan judiciary has insisted it would prosecute him.

However, he had been released and a couple of weeks ago, a family member announced he would run in the presidential elections.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown but called for him to be handed over to the international court.

Carrying out field investigations in Libya is difficult, she said. “The security situation is aggravating due to the conflict among the warring parties.”

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180510-icc-renews-call-to-arrest-saif-al-islam-gaddafi/

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Outrage after deadly South Africa mosque attack

by Azad Essa

May 11, 2018

South African police are hunting for three attackers who slit the throat of an imam and stabbed and seriously injured two other people at a Shia mosque.

The attack on the mosque on Thursday in Verulam, a town 27km north of Durban, left the Muslim community outraged and demanding answers.

Major Bheki Langa, KwaZulu-Natal province's acting police commissioner, said in a statement the motive was still unclear. The assailants also set the mosque on fire before escaping in a getaway vehicle.

"Such criminality cannot be tolerated. A team of investigators has been dispatched to solve the case and bring perpetrators to book," Langa said.

Emergency rescue services said the imam's throat had been slit and he later died, while the two other men had been stabbed. Both victims were in hospital in critical condition.

Swift condemnation

The incident drew immediate condemnation from the Muslim leadership across the country.

Faisal Suleman, chairperson of the South African Muslim Network, told Al Jazeera his organisation would not want to speculate on a motive given it was still not clear.

"We condemn this attack and we are urging the law enforcement to spare no effort in apprehending the perpetrators alive so that the reasons become known," Suleman said from Durban.

"South Africa has not had such attacks in the past, so we caution against speculation."

The Muslim Judicial Council denounced the bloodshed and said the core of Islamic teachings and principles are "respect for all human beings".

Islamic scholar Shaykh Rafeek Haseen told community radio station Voice of the Cape that Durban's Muslim community is in shock and urged people not to jump to conclusions.

"It may be a case of money laundering or a personal issue between the perpetrators and the victims. I do not think we should jump to conclusions that this attack is motivated by sectarianism," said Haseen.

The United Ulama Council of South Africa denounced "these grievous and vicious attacks".

"We condemn these unjustifiable acts of violence, which foster nothing but tension, mistrust, and insecurity within communities," said the group's Secretary General Yusuf Patel.

Extremely rare

Muslims make up about 1.9 percent of South Africa's 55 million population, with most following the Sunni Muslim denomination. Attacks on mosques are extremely rare, but observers note anti-Shia rhetoric has been on the rise over the past few years, especially on social media.

Farid Sayed, editor of the Muslim Views newspaper based in Cape Town, said there have been attacks on mosques before, but usually from the "racist, white right-wing".

Sayed said many Muslims in South Africa deny the fact that there is intra-faith intolerance in the community.

"One can dismiss this as a once-off attack, it may not even be a sectarian attack. But I think it alerts us to the fact that we could actually be facing a situation where there could be violence [in the future].

"In the past, it was always verbal attacks, not physical. I have some [social media] posts that suggest that it 'was just a Shia mosque', in other words, they deserved to be attacked," Sayed said.

The country's parliament also released a statement condemning the violence.

"A mosque is a religious institution and South Africa's constitution guarantees and protects the right to religious practices," Francois Beukman, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, said in a statement released from parliament.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/outrage-deadly-south-africa-mosque-attack-180510200743838.html

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Expert says poverty makes youth vulnerable to terror

May 10, 2018

Poverty, ignorance and increased unemployment make Muslim youths in Africa vulnerable to extremist activities as terrorist groups like Al Shabaab often recruit the youngsters and use them in terror activities after promising them money, said a lecturer from an Ugandan university.

Ebraheem Ssali, lecturer of Arabic language at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and the executive secretary of the African Forum for Muslim Councils (AFMC) - a religious body for uniting all Muslim councils in Africa, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the International Muslim Minorities Congress (IMMC) in Abu Dhabi that some Muslim youths in African countries such as Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria and others are often lured into joining extremist groups because they are poor and unemployed, and also lack basic knowledge about their religion.

"There is an urgent need to help the Muslim youths in Africa through education and sensitisation so that they learn more about the values of the religion like peace and tolerance, and the dangers of extremism and radicalism," he said.

According to Ssali, among the main challenges faced by Muslim minorities in many African countries are the lack of adequate education services, youth unemployment and discrimination by governments. The UAE had in April launched a global committee to help tackle problem of millions of Muslim minorities around the world who face discrimination by helping bridge the gap between the Muslims and the governments.

Called the International Muslim Minorities Congress (IMMC), the platform based in Abu Dhabi is headed by the Muslim Council of Elders and will comprise representatives from 140 countries.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, on Tuesday told the audience that Abu Dhabi establishes itself as the world's capital of tolerance and peaceful co-existence by playing host to the world council of Muslim minorities.

"The UAE adopts a forward-thinking vision based on considering that cultural pluralism and peaceful co-existence between all segments of society are prerequisites for development, progress and stability. In the UAE, we are benefiting from the moderate nature of Islam to convey a message of tolerance through our media and educational institutions. All nations should embrace the same," Sheikh Nahyan told the conference.

Ssali, who was among the Ugandan delegates who gathered along with other Muslim leaders and government officials at the two-day conference, said the International Muslim Minorities Congress would help tackle problems facing Muslim minorities in Africa and other parts of the world.

"Young African Muslim men and women need to be engaged in Islamic activities and capacity building through training on vocational and technical skills that help them get employment," he said.

Ssali noted that through the African Forum for Muslim Councils (AFMC), Muslim leaders in Africa are trying to help educate Muslim youths on the basic principles and values of the religion through lectures in colleges and universities, mosques and organising community development workshops.

Full report at:

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/abu-dhabi/expert-says-poverty-makes-youth-vulnerable-to-terror

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Uganda: Was Usafi Mosque a Terrorist Hide-Out, or Security Front?

9 MAY 2018

By Baker Batte Lule

There are many theories swirling around the swoop on the Usafi market mosque on the night of April 27 by police and the army.

A day after the raid, the minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, police spokesman Emilian Kayima and his army counterpart, Brig Richard Karemire addressed the press. They said the attack followed intelligence that one of the key suspects in the Susan Magara murder that shocked the nation in February had sought sanctuary in the mosque.

The three officials said the attack revealed a lot of heinous crimes being committed in the mosque, including the holding of more than 100 people, including children and women hostage.

Over the last two weeks, The Observer has talked to numerous people about this mosque and their story is similar. To them, government knew about this mosque, the extremists running it, its radicalised membership and whatever indescribable mischief has been happen- ing there.

Even security forces do not deny that they have been aware of the criminal goings-on, although, according to them, there was no actionable intelligence.

ABOUT USAFI MOSQUE

The land on which the mosque sits near Usafi market, belonged to the late Ibrahim Kimera who in the 1990s had been given amnesty after denouncing rebellion and severing ties with the Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terror outfit led by the now-jailed Jamil Mukulu.

Speaking to The Observer, one of the earlier members of the mosque (who became one of the preachers there), said it was first used as a prayer area after Kimera disagreed with colleagues at the main Tabliq sect mosque at Nakasero.

"We wanted to put all the prophet's Sunna [ways of the prophet Muhammad PBUH] in practice and that was not possible at Nakasero," the former leader said.

There was no incident until Abdul- Rahman Faisal became the leader. The former leader said Faisal slowly planned to eject Kimera. The management of the mosque first proposed to buy out Kimera for Shs 400 million but this plan died out.

"With the help of powerful people in government they pushed out Kimera and Faisal took full control of the mosque," the preacher said.

Interestingly, Kimera died after a long illness on the same day the mosque was raided. After consolidating his grip on the leadership, Faisal sought to establish total control over his followers. Some of them told The Observer that Faisal required that all his 'students' are registered.

"He said he needed to know all of us and that it was important for us to swear an oath of allegiance to him as our supreme leader," Mahmoud Ssebugwawo, a former student, said.

His followers believed in him so much that he would instruct them to sell their homes and opt to stay at the mosque.

"It was him and him alone; he said he was reawakening the sunna but his actions were at cross-purposes with the sunna. We started getting suspicious of his methods," the preacher man said.

"Many of those people arrested there, they went there willingly contrary to what police is saying that they have been held against their will."

YOU'RE NOT MUSLIMS

Perhaps this explains why the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council under Mufti Shaban Mubajje, the Kibuli-based leadership of the Supreme Mufti, Sheik Siliman Kasule Ndirangwa and the Nakasero-based Jammuiyyat Da'awa Assalaffiya and other Muslim groupings have not condemned the attack.

To the Usafi group who refer to themselves as the Al Khawaaliji, all other Muslims in Uganda are kafir (non- believers).

"Faisal would say anybody who has not killed a non-Muslim is not yet a believer. He would refer to all sheikhs in Uganda except Quraish Mazinga as pastors," Salimdin Ayiko, another former student of Faisal, said.

To show that they believed that anyone who was not a member of their mosque was a non-Muslim, they would not buy meat anywhere in Kampala. Every week they slaughtered their own animals. They also never responded to the Islamic greeting of salaam unless greeted by a fellow Al Khawaaliji.

"No mosque in Uganda can preach what they have been preaching for all this time and it remains open. I have no doubt in my mind that Abdul-Rahman Faisal has been working with the state. They know him properly; he has been on their mission," one of the most senior sheikhs at Nakasero said.

"People have complained about his preaching; they have filed cases at different police stations but nothing has been done. One time police made some arrests at the mosque but Gen Kale Kayihura (former police chief ) ordered for their release before they could even spend a day in detention. This is not the overzealous Kayihura we knew who would arrest people on unsubstantiated allegations," the sheikh added.

Ssebugwawo adds that Faisal freely said on loud speakers that their leader was Jamil Mukulu, now the jailed leader of the rebel ADF.

"His teachings were that there was no way a true Muslim would practice Islam in Uganda whose leaders are anti- Islam."

"He would tell us that we were here briefly; that our ultimate place to be was the Daula Islamiyya [Islamic state] which our amir had created for us in the Democratic Republic of Congo called Al-Madina," our first source said.

ORDER ARRESTS

One of the people The Observer talked to for this story was Ismail Katende [not real name], a student at Makerere University, whose two friends were lured into joining the Daula Islamiyya in DRC. They were among a dozen others arrested at the Uganda-DRC border.

"Every small detail of how they joined, where they joined and how much money they had paid as commitment fees to the struggle was laid bare in their trial. This showed that someone; maybe their recruiter, was working for government," Katende says.

Katende says he narrowly survived being part of the group. His antennae were raised when his would-be recruiters asked him to provide two passport- size photographs.

"I wondered what they needed my photographs for. I was ready to join and I had availed myself. Why then would they require me to take photos? This made me suspect foul play; that's why I stepped back to reflect... They never came back to try to convince me," Katende says.

SECURITY VIEWPOINT

Speaking at Uganda Media Centre on Monday, police deputy spokesperson, Patrick Onyango, denied that security agencies are using Faisal for counterterrorism; to lure radical young Muslims into joining rebel activities and then arrest them.

"How do we work hand in hand with criminals; that can't happen. Those are just allegations that can't be proved. We don't work with criminals, no, no no," Onyango said.

Asked about allegations that groups such as this were the creation of Kayihura, and that the current Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola is on a mission to crack the whip, Onyango feigned ignorance.

"Our main duty is to dismantle criminal gangs; that's why I put on this uniform. If the current IGP is doing that, then we are very happy," Onyango said.

On why it took them years to take action despite reports by different people on the nature of activities at the mosque, Onyango said people must realise that police needed to have enough information before acting.

"Normally our operations are intelligence-led. In this case, we didn't have enough intelligence to raid it. This is a religious institution we cannot just raid without justifiable reasons," Onyango said.

On the whereabouts of Abdul-Rahman Faisal, Lt Col Deo Akiiki, the deputy army spokesman, could neither deny nor confirm that they had him. He also denied that two soldiers were found at the mosque on the night of the raid.

The police said it has 154 people in custody with investigations still ongoing. Onyango said those found to be having a prima-facie case will be charged in court before the end of this week.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201805100173.html

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URL:

 

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

 

Namaz was read in only 47 places, of which 23 were “open spaces” and 24 were Masjids or properties belonging to the Waqf board. (Express Photo by Manoj Kumar)

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Under Tight Security, Friday Namaz Proceeds Peacefully In Gurgaon

Taliban Assured No Fatwa to Be Issued Against Them at Trilateral Moot in Indonesia

Taliban Capture Three Afghan Districts

‘Dark Forces’ Of Intolerance Spreading In Indonesia, Say Parliamentarians

For First Time in Decades, Israel Comes Under Attack by Tens of Rockets from Syria

US Places Travel Restrictions on Pakistani Diplomats

 

India

Under Tight Security, Namaz Proceeds Peacefully In Gurgaon

Government Unlikely To Accept Jammu and Kashmir Ceasefire For Ramzan

24 Bangladeshis with suspected terror links held in Tripura railway station

Class 8 reference book in Rajasthan calls Bal Gangadhar Tilak ‘father of terrorism’

Efforts on to free 6 Indians from Taliban clutches: MEA

Iran’s Chabahar port work on but fear of US sanctions loom

Sushma calls on Myanmar President, Rohingya refugee crisis on the plate

--------

Pakistan

Taliban Assured No Fatwa to Be Issued Against Them at Trilateral Moot in Indonesia

Pakistan Disappointed As US Blocks Move to Place JuA Chief on Terror List

Pakistan to impose reciprocal restrictions on US diplomats

Blocking Khurasani’s listing part of double standards in fight against terrorism: FO

Protest in NA over bail for ‘TTP men’ in Benazir killing case

Over 150 PTM activists booked for sedition, terrorism

--------

South Asia

Taliban Capture Three Afghan Districts

Saudi Strongly Reacts At Coordinated Taliban, ISIS Attacks In Kabul

‘Only one Bangladeshi migrant deported this year’

Myanmar Hits Back at OIC Over ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Accusations in Rakhine State

--------

Southeast Asia

‘Dark Forces’ Of Intolerance Spreading In Indonesia, Say Parliamentarians

Deadly Uprising by ISIS Followers Shakes Indonesia’s Prison System

Indonesia ends militant jail siege after five officers 'sadistically' killed

Tax exemption for Philippine Muslim schools and worship sites proposed

PAS to discuss partner for Kedah government

Muslims gather at Monas to protest US recognition of Jerusalem

--------

Arab World

For First Time in Decades, Israel Comes Under Attack by Tens of Rockets from Syria

Calls for Restraint after Israeli Raids on Iranians in Syria

Syria Intercepts 70% of Israeli Missiles, Targets 3 Fighter Jets

Damascus: Israeli Assault Indicates 'New Phase of Aggression' against Syria

Saudi tests siren after Iran backed Houthi militia fire new missiles

Syrian Army Spreading Buffer Zone in Strategic Region of Deir Ezzur

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

Bahrain backs Israel's most direct confrontation in Syria

Iraq used Baghdadi aide's cell phone to capture top Daesh commanders

Foreign support for terrorists prolonging Syria crisis: Assad

Saudi Arabia and Norway agree to provide water and sanitation for Somali refugees

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North America

US Places Travel Restrictions on Pakistani Diplomats

Trump Heralds Capture of Five Islamic State Commanders

Iran or terrorists may target Tuesday's US Embassy opening in Jerusalem

US sanctions Iranians days after Trump withdraws from nuclear deal

US Treasury slaps new sanctions on Iranian figures, entities

Thousands of Ismaili Muslims from Edmonton area welcome Aga Khan in Calgary

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Europe

Sajid Javid A Triumph Of British Multiculturalism, Belying ‘Rivers Of Blood’ Soothsayers

Europe’s Terror Convicts Gain Freedom to Improvised Response

Islamist cells raided in Italy for 'financing terrorism'

Europe safer thanks to Iran's anti-terror efforts: Rouhani to Merkel

UK apologises to Libyan dissident Belhaj over rendition

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Mideast

Russia: Israeli Strikes Used 28 Planes, Fired 70 Missiles

UAE Puts Nine Iranian Entities, Individuals on Terrorism List

New US Military Base in Manbij to Increase Ankara-Washington Tensions

Iran does not want ‘new tensions’ in Mideast, Rouhani tells Merkel

Israel blames Iran for firing rockets at the Golan from Syria

Israeli attacks on Syria meant to prop up terrorists: Iran

EU warns about 'dramatic escalation of hostilities' in Yemen

Turkey issues arrest warrants for nearly 190 over affiliation to Gulen network

Saudi-led raids kill more Yemenis, including 2 whole families

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Africa

ICC Renews Call to Arrest Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi

Outrage after deadly South Africa mosque attack

Expert says poverty makes youth vulnerable to terror

Uganda: Was Usafi Mosque a Terrorist Hide-Out, or Security Front?

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Under Tight Security, Friday Namaz Proceeds Peacefully In Gurgaon

Written by Sakshi Dayal | Gurgaon | Updated: May 11, 2018

A week after members of right-wing outfits, under the banner of Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, disrupted Namaz being read in open spaces in Gurgaon, Friday prayers were offered across the district this afternoon, under heavy police presence, with no violence or friction being reported. However, unlike the usual figure of around 100 spots, namaz was read in only 47 places, of which 23 were “open spaces” and 24 were mosques or properties belonging to the Waqf board.

The district administration, Gurgaon police, and representatives of the Muslim community had compiled and finalised this list on Thursday – combining small groups of worshippers within a certain radius, to reduce the spots where Namaz is read, also making security deployment easier in the process. The deputy commissioner, Chander Shekhar Khare, had deployed 76 district magistrates across Gurgaon to help maintain law and order.

The reduction in the number of places where worshippers were allowed to gather created chaos and confusion among them. Many missed the prayers entirely as they searched frantically for the new or alternate spaces, allotted for the purpose.  Imaams leading prayers and worshippers both estimated that close to 40 per cent people missed the prayers entirely as a result of the confusion and last minute changes. “I usually read the namaz near Medanta – The Medicity but, today, when I reached there I saw no one else from the community was present. So I ended up driving around looking for vacant plots where the prayer was being conducted”, said Farhaz, who works in a private company in the city. “I finally found this spot in Sector 47, but the namaz was already over by the time I parked my car”, he added.

At other spots, police personnel and volunteers from civil society had been stationed to direct worshippers to the closest spot where they could pray. As a result, even as the namaz began in a vacant plot opposite the Haryana Vigilance Bureau in Gurgaon, tempos and autorickshaws full of people coming from spots close by, where they would pray earlier, kept arriving. “I first went to Sohna road, where I usually pray, but when I saw no one was there. I went to Subhash Chowk, and then to Cyber Park. It was at the latter that police personnel told me to get into the auto transporting other commuters to this spot, and I finally reached here”, said Ibrahim, who hails from Uttar Pradesh (UP) and works as a helper at a private company in the city.

However, even as prayers proceeded smoothly, workers of Hindu outfits, who have come together to form the Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti, maintained “vigil” across Gurgaon, making a list of places where namaz was allegedly being read. “We only went and checked places across the city. We did not take the law into our own hands this time, and only took note of such spots where prayers were being offered illegally”, said Rajiv Mittal, national general secretary of the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Kranti Dal, which is one of the outfits that is part of the Samiti. “We will be holding a meeting at 4 pm today to discuss the matter, and will hand over a list of these places to the district administration and Gurgaon Police, so they can take action accordingly”, he added.

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/namaz-proceeds-peacefully-in-gurgaon-5172735/

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Taliban assured no fatwa to be issued against them at trilateral moot in Indonesia

Tahir Khan

MAY 11, 2018

Afghan TalibanISLAMABAD: The visit of representatives of Afghan Taliban to Indonesia has forced the government to change the agenda of a trilateral conference of religious scholars to be held on May 11 (Friday) in Jakarta, two Taliban leaders confirmed to Daily Times on Thursday.

Indonesia had invited Taliban representatives in March after they urged scholars from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia to boycott the conference, rejecting it as an “intelligence ploy” by foreign invaders “as they have faced defeat on the battlefield.” The Taliban’s strong opposition led to the postponement of the meeting in March and later the organisers also changed the agenda and assured the Taliban that no “fatwa” or religious edit will be issued about Afghanistan and only a joint statement will be released at the conclusion, a Taliban leader, privy to the visit and the understanding between the Taliban and Indonesian organisers, said.

“I can confirm that the Taliban visited Jakarta for talks. The visit was aimed at ensuring that no ‘fatwa’ is issued, and no speech is delivered against the jihad,” the Taliban source said.

Meanwhile, a 15-member delegation of Pakistani scholars has arrived in Jakarta to join their Afghan and Indonesian counterparts to explore ways for Afghan peace and reconciliation, a Pakistani delegate told Daily Times in a phone call on Thursday.

The participant, requesting not to be identified, complained that the organisers had not shared the agenda and the proposed joint statement with the Pakistani delegates until Thursday evening despite requests by delegates.

The Indonesian authorities had changed Afghan-specific theme of the conference to “Muslim Ummah — Peace and Harmony,” even removing Afghanistan’s mention in the title.

The Afghan government has long been lobbying for a “fatwa” on the war in Afghanistan; but has not yet succeeded as Pakistani scholars want Afghan clerics to call for the withdrawal of the US-led forces that they believe are the main cause of war in Afghanistan. Kabul was also annoyed at a Pakistani “fatwa” as Afghan leaders said it was only limited to Pakistan.

Indonesian ambassador to Pakistan Iwan Suyudhie Amri said that the conference is aimed at promoting peace in Afghanistan.

“We know it is a complex issue. For Indonesia, we just would like to see peace so as to embark on development both in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” ambassador Amri told Daily Times in a text message.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid declined to comment on the conference, saying that the militia had already explained its position in a statement released in March.

“Our message to the noble scholars is that they should avoid participation in such gatherings and not afford an opportunity to the invading infidels in Afghanistan to misuse their name and participation as means of attaining malicious objectives,” the Taliban said in March.

The Pakistani delegation said the participants had informal consultations on Thursday and they reached an understanding to support peace in Afghanistan, but they would call for a political solution and press for an end to the foreign invasion. He said majority of Pakistani delegates would not support any edict against the “Islamic injunctions.”

A 20-member Afghan delegation, including senior members of the High Peace Council, will take part in the conference.

Daily Times has learnt that Saudi Arabia has also planned to hold an international ‘ulema’ conference on Afghanistan, most likely after Eid, that could discuss issuance of a ‘fatwa’ against violence.

The Kingdom and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) had announced to organise the conference in 2016, but had to postpone it after OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani resigned reportedly infuriating Egypt over a remark that mocked President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Madani was the central figure behind plans to hold the conference that was strongly opposed by the Taliban.

Pakistani clerics, who have arrived in Jakarta, include the deputy chief of Madrassa Haqqania, Akora Khattak, Maulana Anwarul Haq, and his son Salmanul Haq; a senior teacher at Haqqania, Maulana Sheikh Idrees; the chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology Dr Qibla Ayaz; the chief of his own faction of JUP, Shah Owais Noorani; Senator Sajid Mir; a leader of Ansarul Ummah, Fazalur Rehman Khalil; Dr Attaur Rehman of the Jamaat-e-Islami; Allama Yasin Zafar of the International Islamic University; Allama Niaz Hussain Naqvi of the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Fiqah Jafria; Peer Maulana Azizur Rehman Hazarvi; Dr Ziaul Haq; Mufti Naeem of Karachi; Mufti Ghulamur Rehman; Sahibzada Qasmi and the rector of the International Islamic University Islamabad Dr. Masoom Yasinzai.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/238501/taliban-assured-no-fatwa-to-be-issued-against-them-at-trilateral-moot-in-indonesia/

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Taliban capture three Afghan districts

May 11, 2018

KABUL - Anti-government militants have stepped up activities against government interests elsewhere in the conflict-hit Afghanistan as three districts have fallen to the insurgents over the past one week.

Taliban militants in the latest achievements overrun the statically important Tala-o-Barfak district in the northern Baghlan province on Tuesday night putting the government forces into defensive positions.

According to local observers, if the Taliban were able to keep control over Tala-o-Barfak district which connects Baghlan to the central Bamyan province, the militant group would be able to tighten the noose around neighbouring Kohmard and Sighan districts in Bamyan.

The militants have also captured Bilchiragh district in the northern Faryab province and Kohistan district in Badakhshan province, inflicting casualties on security forces, according to media reports, besides capturing arms and ammunitions, over the past few days.

Although the government forces have recaptured Bilchiragh district in the northern Faryab province and have been fighting back to evict militants from the remaining Kohistan and Tala-o-Barfak districts, Afghans have doubted government’s ability to root out militants and bring about lasting peace in the country.

“It has been 13 days since we left our houses due to conflict in Tishkan district of Badakhshan but we have not received any humanitarian assistance from government, nor military operations to oust militants from our villages,” complained a displaced person in talks with local television channel Tolo on Thursday.

Meantime, an army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said that the security forces would chase militants elsewhere to ensure viable peace in the country.

The Taliban outfit launched its so-called annual spring offensive on April 25 and since then fierce fighting has erupted in parts of the country.

Both the Taliban and the hardliner Islamic State group claimed responsibility for attacks on police stations in Kabul on Wednesday that left over two dozen people dead and injured besides damaging properties at nearby buildings.

FORCES KILL 26 MILITANTS

As many as 26 militants loyal to the Taliban outfit were killed following a series of operations in the country’s southern Ghor and eastern Laghman provinces over the past 24 hours, officials said Thursday.

Up to 14 insurgents have been killed and six others wounded in Shahrak district of Ghor province since Wednesday and several villages have been liberated from militants’ clutches, Mohammad Iqbal, the provincial police spokesman told Xinhua.

One local policeman lost his life during the operations, he added.

Similarly in Alingar district of the eastern Laghman province over the past 24 hours, 12 militants have been killed and another arrested during operations launched by the National Directorate for Security (NDS), said Sarhadi Zowak, the spokesman of the provincial governor.

AFP adds: The death toll from apparent coordinated attacks on two Kabul police stations has risen to 10, the health ministry said Thursday, as the Afghan capital remains on edge in expectation of more violence.

At least 23 people were also wounded in Wednesday’s hours-long assaults in the city, the ministry said. The Taliban and Islamic State group each claimed responsibility for one of the attacks.

The Taliban said the attack in front of a police station in Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood in downtown Kabul was revenge for an Afghan airstrike on a religious ceremony in a Taliban stronghold in northern Afghanistan on April 2.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Monday that children made up most of the 107 casualties in the airstrike that Afghan authorities said had targeted senior Taliban commanders planning attacks.

“It was revenge for the perpetrators and organisers of that attack who used this centre (in Kabul) to plan and organise the attack (in Kunduz province),” the Taliban said in a statement.

During a weeks-long investigation, UNAMA verified that 36 people were killed - 30 of them children - in the attack in Dasht-e-Archi district.

Seventy-one people were wounded, including 51 children, it said.

A senior Taliban commander told AFP recently the Kunduz attack had given the militant group a propaganda boost.

“People in general are very angry with the attack on a seminary in Kunduz and it has positively changed the atmosphere for the Taliban,” he told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

“All doors for peace talks are currently closed. I can see more war in the future.”

Suicide bombers and gunmen carried out Wednesday’s attacks in Kabul, with loud explosions and volleys of gunfire jangling already frayed nerves in the city.

https://nation.com.pk/11-May-2018/taliban-capture-three-afghan-districts

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‘Dark forces’ of intolerance spreading in Indonesia, say parliamentarians

11th May 2018

PARLIAMENTARIANS from across Southeast Asia have warned of “dark forces” of intolerance in Indonesia, calling upon the government to act to counter rights abuses against minorities and restrictions on freedom of religion.

Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR) members from Thailand, Burma (Myanmar) and Indonesia concluded a four-day fact finding mission in Yogyakarta earlier this week, a city long reputed for being a tolerant melting pot of religions and cultures.

In recent years, however, incidents involving attacks against religious minorities, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and other minority groups have risen significantly.

In January, hardline Muslim groups harassed cafes and bars in a popular tourist street of Yogyakarta over the service of alcohol, later demanding that the city government shut down the cafes. The following month, a man wielding a sword attacked a church in Yogyakarta, injuring four people and slashing at the statue of Jesus.

“The authorities must ensure that all faith communities are afforded equal protection and the freedom to worship and practice their religions,” said Eva Kusuma Sundari, a member of the Indonesian House of Representatives who led the delegation in a statement.

“This includes ensuring accountability for vigilante attacks and instituting preventive measures to protect vulnerable communities from attacks before they happen,” she said.

While Muslim-majority Indonesia’s constitution protects pluralism and freedom of religion, rights groups have long criticised so-called “religious harmony” laws introduced under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which in practice has made it more difficult to establish minority houses of worship.

“We heard stories of how difficult it is for religious minorities to obtain necessary approval for their houses of worship,” said Rachada Dhnadirek, an APHR member and former MP from Thailand. “The burdensome process and unclear requirements create unnecessary barriers to religious practice for too many, and it is clear that this decree should be amended.”

Intolerance and violence against the LGBT community has also grown in Yogyakarta, as elsewhere in Indonesia. In 2015, a demonstration by the LGBT community in Yogyakarta to mark the Transgender Day of Remembrance was targeted by radical groups who violently attacked the protesters.

A local Islamic boarding school for transgender people founded in 2008 has in recent years been targeted by the vigilante groups such as the Front Jihad Islam (FJI), which has attempted to shutter the school.

“All sectors of society must work together to push back against the rising tide of intolerance in Yogyakarta and across all of Indonesia,” added Sundari. “We need to put human rights at the centre of efforts to address religious hatred and vigilantism.”

Intensified crackdowns against homosexuals and transgender Indonesians have accompanied rising Islamic conservatism, including bans on LGBT-friendly phone apps and raids against so-called “gay parties” by police and hardline religious vigilantes.

“As parliamentarians, we have a role to play not only to ensure that strong laws are in place, but also to provide proper oversight of the implementation of those laws,” Sundari said.

Indonesia’s parliament is currently considering revisions to the national criminal code which would make sexual relations defined as zina – the Islamic concept of adultery – jailable offences. This would criminalise pre-marital sex and homosexuality, putting millions of people at risk of prosecution.

Back in February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein expressed concern over the spread of “extremist” views in Indonesia, leading to discrimination and violence against minority groups.

“If Muslim societies expect others to fight against Islamophobia, we should be prepared to end discrimination at home too,” said Zeid. “Islamophobia is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of religious beliefs and colour is wrong. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or any other status is wrong.”

“The spectre of growing intolerance and vigilantism threatens Indonesia’s democratic success,” Sundari added. “We cannot allow the spirit of democracy, human rights, and Pancasila to be undermined by these dark forces.”

https://asiancorrespondent.com/2018/05/dark-forces-of-intolerance-spreading-in-indonesia-say-parliamentarians/#TWPOxIioX14LyLbu.97

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For First Time in Decades, Israel Comes Under Attack by Tens of Rockets from Syria

May 10, 2018

Syria's state news agency, SANA, reported on Wednesday night that the Syrian army's air defense systems intercepted Israel's missile attacks on the town of al-Ba'ath; Israel had also earlier targeted the town with artillery fire.

According to the report, the Syrian army's air defense systems intercepted tens of Israeli missiles in the sky while a number of missiles hit the air defense and radar units as well as arms caches.

Meantime, al-Mayadeen news channel reported that over 50 rockets were fired at 4 Israeli military complex centers in occupied Golan, each including several military units, after Israel's attacks on Quneitra.

Other sources, including al-Alam news channel, also reported that the number of rockets fired at occupied Golan went over 68.

It added that tens of Israeli military centers, including the command center for technical and electronic tapping, the 9900 secret border headquarters to collect visual intelligence, the military command center for electronic warfare, the pin-pointing weapons watchtower, the regional command center for the Isreali army unit 810, the military brigade command center in Harmoun, the al-Shatawi center of Benastim winter warfare special unit, came under attack.

Al-Mayadeen also said that the Israeli Iron Dome defense shield has failed to intercept the rockets, adding that Tel Aviv has ordered troops to avoid disclosing any information about the target of the attacks.

Some sources also reported that Israel has attacked al-Kaswah region in Southern Damascus, but the attack was fully repelled by the Syrian army.

The Syrian Army air defense units intercepted two Israeli missiles fired at the Southern part of Damascus province on Tuesday night as well.

SANA reported that the air defense units intercepted 2 Israeli missiles fired at al-Keswah region in Southern Damascus on Tuesday night.

In the meantime, al-Jazeera TV channel reported that the Israeli missile attack was launched to target a militant base in Southern Damascus.

Also, al-Mayadeen TV quoted sources in Quneitra province as reporting that three Israeli missiles were fired from the occupied Golan Heights at Syrian territories on the same night.

The sources further told al-Mayadeen that the Israeli warplanes were flying over the Golan Heights, underlining the possibility that the fighter jets fired the missile at Syria's soil.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000298

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US places travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats

11 May 2018

Pakistan confirmed late Thursday that the U.S. has imposed travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats.

“The restrictions on our diplomats will be implemented from May 11, and these will be on a reciprocal basis,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told reporters at a briefing.

But negotiations are ongoing between the two sides on the matter, Faisal added.

Earlier, local and foreign media reported that U.S. authorities had planned to impose travel restrictions on Pakistani diplomats in the U.S. from May 1, but the plan was delayed until May 11.

Under the new plan, Pakistani diplomats in Washington and at consulates in other U.S. cities will be barred from traveling more than 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) from their posts without prior permission, the local Dawn daily reported.

U.S. authorities have complained that Pakistan’s government has imposed travel restrictions on their diplomats.

“Our diplomats are under restrictions and they can travel farther [than the capital Islamabad], but they have to notify the government of Pakistan. So we’ve taken reciprocal steps,” Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon told U.S. state-run media Voice of America last week.

Pakistani authorities have said that such measures have been adopted to ensure the security of foreign missions and their employees and the country has no other motives.

Relations between the two allies in the war against terrorism have been tense since President Donald Trump assumed office in January last year, mainly due to a clash of interests in war-torn Afghanistan.

http://www.worldbulletin.net/america-canada/201935/us-places-travel-restrictions-on-pakistani-diplomats

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India

 

Government unlikely to accept Jammu and Kashmir ceasefire for Ramzan

May 10, 2018

The Mehbooba Mufti government on Thursday continued to push for a unilateral ceasefire with terror groups in the state and along the border with Pakistan during the holy month of Ramzan, but New Delhi, while it will consider the issue, is unlikely to accept the proposal, particularly with regard to internal operations, several officials familiar with the development said.

The security forces, in particular, have conveyed their opposition to the move, these people added. Mufti’s ally in the state, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is against a ceasefire.

“There is a demand; the issue is at the deliberation stage, but no final decision has been taken in this regard by the centre,” said one of the officials.

The official said that a ceasefire is already in force on the international border and the line of control (LoC), the de-facto border that divides Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

But the person added that there have been constant violations of the ceasefire agreement. “The issue of whether the ceasefire would be extended within the valley or be enforced more strictly at the border and LoC is yet to be decided. A decision is expected within next couple of days,” added the person.

Officials in the home ministry, army, and Jammu and Kashmir police said an internal ceasefire is laden with risks, while the enforcement of a ceasefire with Pakistan is contingent on the latter’s behaviour.

A second official familiar with the development said a unilateral ceasefire within the valley is highly unlikely. “The situation in the valley is difficult. We cannot just declare a unilateral ceasefire,” he added.

The army and local police believe the move could be counter-productive.

An army officer familiar with counter-terror operations said on condition of anonymity that this could give terror outfits an opportunity to regroup at a time the force has an upper hand in the valley.

“The army has had a string of successes in eliminating hard-core terrorists in recent weeks. The terror outfits are on the back foot and we can’t squander that advantage,” added this person.

A similar experiment announced by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2000 was a failure, said another army officer who spoke on condition of anonymity. On the eve of Ramzan in November 2000, Prime Minister Vajpayee announced non-initiation of combat operations (NICO) against terrorists in the state.

“A unilateral ceasefire could give terror outfits breathing space. It could prove to be a good window for carrying out recruitments. If a ceasefire has to be there, it has to be called and respected by all stakeholders, including terror groups,” the army officer added.

Another senior government functionary concurred and said that there was a major terror attack at the Srinagar airport during the period of the first ceasefire and any such announcement would be construed as ‘weakness’.

He added: “Many still recall that terrorists roamed freely in this period. Is there any guarantee that the situation would not repeat itself?”

A senior official in the Jammu and Kashmir Police, who did not want to be named, also expressed similar concerns.

An all-party meeting convened by Mufti on Wednesday decided to push for a “Ramzan ceasefire” along the lines of Vajpayee’s initiative in 2000.

The CM said: Aa consensus was built to appeal to government of India to consider a unilateral ceasefire...the way Atal Bihari Vajpayee did a unilateral ceasefire in 2000.’’

The holy month of Ramzan will start in the third week of May. Mufti said on Wednesday that a delegation from the state is also likely to meet the Prime Minister to discuss the issue and a memorandum in the regard will also be submitted to the centre.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s state unit rejected the decision suggesting the issue was barely discussed in the all party meeting on Wednesday.

“This issue was raised first by Engineer Rashid (independent MLA) and then by others. But there was no broader discussion on the issue and we don’t want any unilateral ceasefire at this juncture,” party spokesman Arun Gupta said at a press conference in Jammu.

The statement from the state BJP attracted sharp criticism from the National Conference, which has supported the proposal.

Its leader and former chief minister Omar Abdullah, chided the Chief Minister on not being on the same page with her allies. “What was the point of @MehboobaMufti calling an all-party meeting to build a consensus around initiatives in Kashmir when her ally in the government doesn’t agree with her! Yet she will shamelessly cling to power because that’s all that matters to her,” Abdullah said on Twitter.

The PDP-BJP alliance has come under severe criticism after the fresh cycle on violence this month.

At least 16 people, including eight militants, seven civilians and a tourist, have been killed in the past four days.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/government-unlikely-to-accept-jammu-and-kashmir-ceasefire-for-ramzan/story-tYbndaToC0SjsH3M0ljZJL.html

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24 Bangladeshis with suspected terror links held in Tripura railway station

May 10, 2018

Twenty-four Bangladeshi youths with suspected terror links were arrested from Agartala railway station on Thursday, a senior police official said.

All of them were carrying fake Aadhaar cards and a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is coming from Guwahati on Friday to interrogate the youths, the official said.

Acting on a tip-off, Mobile Task Force (MTF) personnel raided the railway station and arrested the 24 Bangladeshis, who reached here from Delhi in the Tripura Sundari Express, MTF Superintendent of Police Abhijit Chowdhury told PTI.

The MTF, a section of the state police, deals with illegal immigration and related cases.

“All of them were carrying fake Aadhaar cards, showing they were issued from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. We checked the Aadhaar cards online and found they were fake. Some of them had identity cards issued from different madrasas of our country,” Chowdhury said.

“A team of NIA officials is coming from Guwahati tomorrow (Friday) to interrogate them,” Chowdhury said adding, “We cannot rule out the possibility of their link with any terrorist outfit.”

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/24-bangladeshis-with-suspected-terror-links-held-in-tripura-railway-station/story-AN4h7ZhVFh7tBBTIqb9NcL.html

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Class 8 reference book in Rajasthan calls Bal Gangadhar Tilak ‘father of terrorism’

May 10, 2018

A reference book for Class 8 Social Studies describes freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak as the ‘father of terrorism’.

The book by a Mathura-based publisher is being used by private English-medium schools affiliated to the Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education (RBSE).

Textbooks by the Rajasthan State Textbook Board are published in Hindi, forcing students of English-medium schools to use reference books.

Describing Tilak, the book, on page 267 in chapter 22 under the heading ‘Incidents of National Movement during Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century’, says, “Tilak demonstrated a path towards national movement, therefore, he is called as the father of terrorism.”

“He clearly believed that ‘we cannot achieve anything just by pleading the British officers’. Through Shivaji and Ganpati festivals, Tilak aroused unique awareness in the country. He instilled the mantra of freedom among the masses, due to which he became a thorn in the eyes of British,” the book reads.

Tilak’s description as ‘father of terrorism’ seems to be more of a case of poor choice of words rather than the work of an ideologically motivated writer as nothing else in the context seems to fit the rogue description.

In the preceding paragraphs too, the book says that dissatisfaction among the people grew owing to government’s negligence towards the plague outbreak and goes on to say, “The fire was induced further by the spread of diarrhoea,” thereby reflecting poor phrasing of content.

Students said that they are using the reference book as no other English medium book is available and books issued by Rajasthan board are in Hindi medium.

A principal of an Ajmer school which uses the book said he was not aware of the matter as he had joined a few days back only, but promised action after looking into it.

An official of the Student Advisor Publication Private Limited, which publishes the book, said the reference book is strictly as per the guidelines provided by the board.

“The book is being used by schools affiliated to both the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) as well as the RBSE,” said Mukesh Yadav over telephone from Mathura.

Historians said it is derogatory to call Tilak the father of terrorism.

“Tilak is one of the greatest soldiers of Indian freedom struggle who awakened Indian masses, especially in Maharashtra, to fight against tyrannical British rule,” said N K Upadhyay, retired professor of history at Maharshi Dayanand Saraswati University, Ajmer.

Another historian Pramila Poonia, too, called the description misplaced. “The British called him ‘father of Indian unrest’, but for us Indians, he was a great nationalist. He was the one who first pushed the ideas of boycott of English goods and use of swadeshi goods,” said Poonia, an associate professor of history at University of Rajasthan.

Textbooks of Rajasthan have previously been mired in controversies for sidelining the role of Nehru and Gandhi and valorising that of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in the Indian independence struggle.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/class-8-reference-book-in-rajasthan-calls-bal-gangadhar-tilak-father-of-terrorism/story-26l3T48MXCz56pOKgZcfxJ.html

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Efforts on to free 6 Indians from Taliban clutches: MEA

May 11, 2018

NEW DELHI: Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and national security adviser Ajit Doval have spoken to their counterparts in Afghanistan regarding the abduction of six Indian engineers by the Taliban in Baghlan province."We are in touch with different people who are involved in the exercise through the Afghan government," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

But he refused to share any specific details citing sensitivity of the case. "I would not like to get into the details of the people and authorities with whom we are in touch with," he told journalists at the weekly media briefing. The Indian engineers were abducted by the Taliban militants from near the Cheshma-e-Sher area in Baghlan on Sunday.

Swaraj spoke to Afghan foreign minister Salahuddin Rabbani on Sunday. On Monday, Rabbani met the new Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar where he promised to do his utmost. Doval spoke to his counterpart Hanif Atmar on the subject as well .

The Taliban have launched their spring offensive with a series of brutal attacks in and around Kabul, even as the Ashraf Ghani government is pushing through the election process."This is a sensitive matter. The lives of seven Indians are involved and, therefore, I would not like to share much on where we are at this point of time," said the MEA spokesperson.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/efforts-on-to-free-6-indians-from-taliban-clutches-mea/articleshow/64116875.cms

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Iran’s Chabahar port work on but fear of US sanctions loom

May 10, 2018

The work on Chabahar port that India is building on the Iranian southeast coast was on schedule and the government didn’t foresee an immediate impact on the project of the US exiting the nuclear deal with Iran, officials said Thursday.

India Ports Global Private Limited (IPGPL) managing director Arun Kumar Gupta was in Iran this week to pick the local operator for managing the first phase of the Shahid Beheshti port as part of an interim arrangement, the officials said. The first phase was completed in December. IPGPL is a joint venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust.

“We will finalise the local operator shortly and put in place an interim arrangement before June 16,” shipping secretary Gopal Krishna said.

Three Iranian companies had sent in their bids, an official familiar with the development said. India signed a short-term lease, as part of the agreement signed during the February visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, to start interim operations before June 17, failing which penalty will be imposed.

Built 90 km from the China-sponsored Gwadar port in Pakistan, Chabahar opens a transit route to Iran and Afghanistan that will also give India access to markets in Central Asia. New Delhi has committed $500 million to the strategically important port that bypasses Pakistan.

While India is not too worried at present but officials said Delhi would wait to see the fallout of US sanctions on the project. Before making a midterm or a long-term assessment, India would also keep an eye on how the other five countries, who were party to the pact, deal with the situation.

Krishna said they were in the process of firming up the arrangement for picking the Indian company that will manage, operate and maintain the container and multipurpose terminals for 10 years.

The process is already behind schedule because the three Indian firms shortlisted in the technical bid stayed away from financial bidding.

“We are now revisiting the tender guidelines after which a fresh tender will be issued” said a government official who didn’t want to be named. As per the agreement, Tehran will lease operational control of the port to India for 18 months. India will equip and operate two terminals in first phase on a 10-year lease.

Officials, however, warned that Trump administration could prevent foreign countries from accessing the US market. Before the 2015 deal, Washington used to sanction foreign firms that deal with the Iran Central Bank.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/iran-s-chabahar-port-work-on-but-fear-of-us-sanctions-loom/story-5EODxpNYhlDZR2JrqZaOkI.html

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Sushma calls on Myanmar President, Rohingya refugee crisis on the plate

May 10, 2018

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday called on Myanmar President U Win Myint soon after she arrived in Nay Pyi Taw for talks with the country’s top leadership on key bilateral and regional issues, including the Rohingya refugee crisis.

An estimated 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine State since August last year after large-scale violence following a military crackdown. The exodus of refugees in large numbers has resulted in a major crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Swaraj is in Myanmar on a two-day visit for discussions on a number of bilateral and regional issues, including the situation in the Rakhine State from where lakhs of Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh.

Myanmar is one of India’s strategic neighbours and it shares a 1,640 km border with a number of northeastern states, including militancy-hit Nagaland and Manipur.

On her arrival in Nay Pyi Taw, Swaraj was warmly received by India’s ambassador Vikram Misri and permanent secretary of ministry of foreign affairs of Myanmar U Myint Thu.

In December, India had announced a development assistance of $25 million for Rakhine State.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sushma-calls-on-myanmar-president-rohingya-refugee-crisis-on-the-plate/story-EthQ0bord0s4b3f2HX8AmL.html

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan disappointed as US blocks move to place JuA chief on terror list

MAY 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed disappointment over the failure of the United Nations Security Council’s sanctions committee in listing of Umer Khalid Khurasani, leader of banned outfit Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA).

“We are deeply disappointed … he has the blood of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis on his hands,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Faisal said during the weekly briefing on Thursday. “If the organisation, JuA, has been listed by the sanctions committee, its leader should also have been listed,” he argued.

The spokesman confirmed that the US had blocked the recommendation. “The US move shows double standards in fighting terror,” he said, adding the move also showed complete disregard of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism.

The sanctions committee did not approve Pakistan’s request to list Umer Khalid Khurasani alias Abdul Wali, since it could not reach a consensus due to disagreement by a member, the spokesperson said. “But the committee has not yet formally conveyed this development to us.”

JuA was listed by the sanctions committee in 2017. The organisation is based in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan and has been involved in a series of terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

The Foreign Office called for respect to international agreements in its formal response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the historic Iran nuclear deal. “Pakistan believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) represents a very good example of a negotiated settlement of complex issues, through dialogue and diplomacy,” the spokesman said.

He said Pakistan believes that international treaties and agreements concluded through painstaking negotiations are sacrosanct. “Arbitrarily rescinding such agreements will undermine confidence in the value of dialogue and diplomacy in the conduct of international relations and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” he added.

The spokesman recalled that Pakistan had welcomed the JCPOA when it was concluded and hoped that all parties will find a way for its continuation, especially when the International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly verified Iran’s compliance. “We have noted the willingness of the parties to the agreement to work together on upholding their respective commitments as stipulated in the JCPOA, despite US decision to withdraw from it,” he said.

Referring to the situation in Indian-held Kashmir, the FO said neither can India break the will of the Kashmiri people nor can it succeed in misleading the international community through its malicious propaganda by terming the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination as ‘terrorism’. “Indeed, in the history of the past 70 years, it has been demonstrated time and again that the ferocity and inhumanity of India’s state-terrorism in Held Kashmir is no match to the resolve and resilience of the innocent and unarmed Kashmiri people,” the spokesman said.

“Pakistan calls upon the world community to play its rightful role in promoting a just and lasting solution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. We believe this is a sine qua non for durable peace and stability in South Asia,” the spokesperson added.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/238516/pakistan-disappointed-as-us-blocks-move-to-place-jua-chief-on-terror-list/

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Pakistan to impose reciprocal restrictions on US diplomats

Anwar Iqbal

May 11, 2018

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is considering imposing reciprocal restrictions on United States diplomats in Pakistani cities, official sources told Dawn on Thursday, as US lawmakers advised the Trump administration not to take measures that inhibit conversation.

The Trump administration seems all set to force Pakistani diplomats to stay within 25 miles of the city they are posted at, further straining already tense relations between the two countries who were once close allies in the war against terror.

Official sources told Dawn that Pakistan too planned to enforce similar restrictions on US diplomats in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. They already are prohibited from visiting high-security areas, such as Fata, to protect them against possible terrorist attacks.

Hours before the proposed restriction goes into effect in the US, American lawmakers reminded the Trump administration that it was not a smart thing to do.

Congressman Donald Norcross, a New Jersey Democrat, was one of two US lawmakers who addressed a meeting of the Pakistani American Congress on Capitol Hill, emphasising the importance of continuing a relationship with Pakistan.

“The important thing is to have dialogue,” he said. “And if (by imposing those restrictions) we are inhibiting conversation, I do not think that’s a smart thing to do."

US concerns about growing insurgency in Afghanistan appear to be the main cause for this shrinking space for Pakistan in the US, a point also highlighted by various speakers on Thursday.

Congressman Thomas R. Suozzi, a New York Democrat, put it bluntly, saying that in the US “everyone is focused now on the Afghan-Pakistan border, not Kashmir. We now need the civilian government to be stronger than they have been before”.

“We do understand the war in Afghanistan is not winding down and we also understand that President Trump has set a deadline,” said Ambassador Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary. “Pakistan too wants peace in Afghanistan. We share the same objectives.”

But while trying to allay US concerns on Afghanistan, Ambassador Chaudhary made another point that may ruffle feathers in Washington. “I believe the US has emboldened India to take a heavy-handed approach in Kashmir,” he said.

Congressman Norcross said that Pakistan and India both faced the same security challenges, which also concerned the United States. “We are starting to work on having a much more productive relationship, Afghan-Pakistan terrorism has been a huge issue and it does not just affect our country but also your country,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1406934/pakistan-to-impose-reciprocal-restrictions-on-us-diplomats

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Blocking Khurasani’s listing part of double standards in fight against terrorism: FO

May 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office said on Thursday that blocking the listing of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) leader Umer Khurasani by the United Nations Security Council’s (UNSC) Sanctions Committee was a reminder of the double standards in fighting terrorism.

Speaking at the weekly media briefing, FO spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said: “This action demonstrates the double standards prevailing in the international fight against terrorism and also shows complete disregard of the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in this fight.”

Pakistan had in October last year asked the UNSC Sanctions Committee to list Abdul Wali, commonly known as Umer Khalid Khurasani, because he was the mastermind behind a number of major terrorist strikes in the country, including the Army Public School carnage and Easter bombing in Lahore. Khurasani was also leading the JuA, an organisation which the committee has listed.

However, Pakistan’s request for Khurasani’s listing was blocked by the United States on the grounds that the listing request identified his current location as Afghanistan.

The FO spokesman avoided mentioning the US, claiming the proceedings of the committee were confidential and the decision had not been formally conveyed to Pakistan.

“We are aware that the UN Al Qaeda/IS Sanctions Committee did not approve Pakistan’s proposal to list Umer Khalid Khurasani aka Abdul Wali, the leader of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, since it could not reach a consensus due to an objection by a member,” he said.

Dr Faisal expressed disappointment over the blocking of Khurasani’s listing and recalled that he was “a known terrorist and has the blood of hundreds of innocent Pakistanis on his hands”.

“If the organisation has been listed by the sanctions committee, its leader should also have been listed,” he argued.

Responding to a question, the spokesman said that the restrictions on the movement of Pakistani diplomats in the United States would take effect from Friday (today).

The restrictions were initially planned to take effect from May 1, but were postponed for 10 days by the US government due to continuing talks between the two countries on the issue.

Earlier, Dr Faisal had said that he was optimistic about an amicable settlement of the dispute. Now that the restrictions are finally being implemented, it was implied that so far the talks had failed to resolve the matter.

At the press briefing, however, the spokesman noted that negotiations on the matter were still continuing.

Dr Faisal said the agrément for the appointment of Ali Jehangir Siddiqui as Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington had been received from the United States. “The process for him to assume charge of his assignment in Washington has started,” he added.

The spokesman did not comment on the reports about an Iranian diplomat who went missing from Lahore while visiting Pakistan. He said that he would respond after “checking details”.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1406935/blocking-khurasanis-listing-part-of-double-standards-in-fight-against-terrorism-fo

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Protest in NA over bail for ‘TTP men’ in Benazir killing case

Amir Wasim

May 11, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah has protested over a court order to grant bail to suspected plotters of the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, terming it another “black day in the history of the country’s judiciary”.

Speaking on a point of order during the budget debate in the assembly on Thursday, the opposition leader asked the politicians to demonstrate unity on the issue, saying that the whole parliament should “condemn” this act of the court.

“Who has got the assassins of Benazir Bhutto released? And why are they being released?” Mr Shah asked.

“Benazir Bhutto used to say that she will grant the people their rights. Today same Benazir Bhutto is not getting justice. The head of the whole nation should hang in shame,” the opposition leader said.

A two-member Rawal­pindi bench of the Lahore High Court on Monday had granted bail to five suspected members of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who had been arrested for conspiring to assassinate Ms Bhutto in 2007. Despite issuance of the court orders, the suspects have not been released from Kot Lakhpat jail yet due to some technical reasons.

Ms Bhutto was assassinated in a gun-and-bomb attack after a rally in Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on Dec 27, 2007. For her assassination, the then government of Gen Pervez Musharraf had blamed TTP chief Baituallah Mehsud, who had later denied any involvement in her killing.

Mr Shah recalled that when an attack was carried out on the convoy of the then military dictator Musharraf, the crime scene remained cordoned off for four days for collection of evidence whereas the authorities washed the site of Ms Bhutto’s assassination within a few hours. He regretted that the plotters of the attack on the dictator had been arrested whereas the “killers of a politician are being released”.

“Are we giving a message that those who kill politicians on getting signals from someone will be acquitted?” he asked.

After Mr Shah’s speech, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq termed Ms Bhutto a “national leader” and directed Law Minister Mahmood Bashir Virk to write a letter to the court to inquire about the reasons behind releasing the accused in the Benazir Bhutto murder case. He also asked the law minister why the 10-year-old case was not being heard on a daily basis.

The law minister, in an apparent reference to excessive exercise of suo motu powers by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, said that the politicians should collectively ask the courts to focus on huge backlog of cases, instead of paying attention to other matters. He said that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was appearing in court almost daily but the politicians were still divided.

Mr Virk said that today the country was passing through a dangerous phase and attacks were being carried out on ministers under a “conspiracy against the state”.

Taking part in the budget debate, Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party president Mehmood Khan Achakzai expressed concern over what he described as the “interference” of the armed forces in political affairs of the country.

Mr Achakzai asked Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to direct his “subordinates” not to “interfere” in political affairs. He said that the country had already suffered damage due to interference in the elections in the past. All institutions, including the judiciary, should remain within their constitutional limits, he said.

Mr Achakzai said that after disqualifying Pakistan Muslim League-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif for life, now efforts were being made to put him behind bars. He said that if Mr Sharif was sent to jail then his daughter (Maryam Nawaz) would lead the movement and he would fully support her.

Water shortage

The members from Sindh, mainly belonging to the Pakistan Peoples Party, strongly protested over water shortage in their province and threatened to launch street protests over the issue.

Khursheed Shah claimed there was no water even for drinking of cattle in Sindh. He said that the federal government would not be able to face wrath of the people if they started taking to the streets. He asked the government to announce “water emergency” in the country and immediately convene a meeting of the Indus River System Authority.

Nawab Yousuf Talpur said that the people were protesting in Mirpurkhas and tomorrow (on Friday) there would be a protest in Umerkot. The PPP MNA said that a massive protest would be held in Hyderabad on May 16 which would be attended by the opposition leader and other important politicians.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1406946/protest-in-na-over-bail-for-ttp-men-in-benazir-killing-case

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Over 150 PTM activists booked for sedition, terrorism

May 11, 2018

KARACHI: Police have registered cases against workers of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on terror, sedition and other charges for carrying out rallies at three separate places in the metropolis a few days ahead of their main rally, police and PTM officials said on Thursday.

Manghopir police registered FIR (165/2018) against over 150 workers of the PTM under Sections 124-A (sedition), 125 (waging war against any power in alliance with Pakistan), 500 (punishment for defamation), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) and 7-ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997). The case was registered on behalf of the state through a police officer.

According to contents of the FIR, around 150 workers of the PTM, some of them mentioned in the case, held a corner meeting in the Sultanabad area of Manghopir under direction of their leader, Manzoor Pashteen.

According to the FIR, the speakers allegedly levelled “serious charges” against military institutions.

An identical case was also registered against PTM workers at Shah Latif Town police station, said area SHO Abdul Ghaffar Shah. One more case was registered at Bin Qasim Town police station.

So far, no one had been arrested, added the officials.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1406903/over-150-ptm-activists-booked-for-sedition-terrorism

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South Asia

 

Saudi strongly reacts at coordinated Taliban, ISIS attacks in Kabul

May 10 2018

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strongly reacted at the coordinated attacks in capital Kabul claimed by the Taliban and ISIS terrorist groups.

An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s strong condemnation and denunciation of the attacks that targeted Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, and a blast that hit Wanlaweyn Town in Southern Somalia, according to Saudi Press Agency.

The source further adds that the ministry of foreign affair of Saudi reiterated the Kingdom’s solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Republic of Somalia alternatively against extremism and terrorism.

The Kingdom offered condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the two governments and peoples, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

A group of at least seven militants launched coordinated attacks in the Police Districts 10th and 13th of Kabul city on Wednesday morning.

The ISIS claimed responsibility behind the attack in the 13th police district which according to the security officials was carried out by two militants and claimed the lives of two police officers while two others were wounded.

However, the Taliban claimed the attack on police district 10 which was carried out by five attackers and left a number of policemen and civilians dead or wounded.

According t the ministry of public health, at least seven people lost their lives in the attack and several others were wounded in the two attacks.

https://www.khaama.com/saudi-strongly-reacts-at-coordinated-taliban-isis-attacks-in-kabul-05126/

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‘Only one Bangladeshi migrant deported this year’

MAY 11, 2018

Right-wing organisations demand the identification of illegal migrants

Opposing the offering of namaz in the open spaces in the Millennium City, the right-wing organisations have argued that a majority of the Muslims in the city are illegal Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingyas.

In contrary to this, the Gurugram police have identified and deported only one Bangladeshi migrant during its periodic special drives this year so far.

“The Gurugram police carry out special drives against illegal Bangladeshis at regular intervals every year. So far, we have identified only one illegal Bangladeshi this year and deported him,” said Gurugram police spokesperson Ravinder Kumar.

The right-wing organisations have been blaming the swelling Muslim population in the Gurugram over the past few years to the increasing population of illegal Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingyas.

Mr. Kumar, however, said that there was no confirmed information on the presence of Rohingyas in Gurugram.

One of the major demands of the right-wing organisations in their nine-point charter to the district administration has been identification of these illegal migrants.

‘False propaganda’

Reacting to it, Indian Islamic Research Centre president Matlood Ahmed said that the fact that only one Bangladeshi has been deported so far this year proves that the right-wing organisations are carrying out a false propaganda against the Muslims in the city.

He said that the most of the migrant Muslim population to Gurugram are involved in menial jobs such as domestic workers, rickshaw pullers and construction workers.

A majority of them are from Malda, Murshidabad and 24 Parganas, he said, adding that being residents of districts bordering Bangladesh, these Muslims are not well-conversant with Urdu and speak Bengali.

Ishraq Thameem, a Muslim resident of Gurugram involved with the community, said that the migrant Muslim population in Gurugram comprised the Bengali natives of Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts, Muslims from neighbouring areas like Mewat, Nuh, Faridabad, Alwar. They are engaged in some type of skilled work, he added.

‘Religious needs’

The others include Muslims of a different literate and social level, educated and aware and maulavis, and huffaaz who have come here drawn by the religious needs of these people.

Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti Executive Committee Rajiv Mittal, however, said that it was the failure of the police administration to identify only one Bangladesh so far and they need to work harder.

Muslims of a different literate and social level, educated and aware and maulavis, and huffaaz who have come here drawn by the religious needs of these people.

A senior police officer, who has earlier worked at Gurugram’s FRRO Branch, said that drives against illegal migrants were carried out on regular basis, but without much success.

“The maximum number of illegal migrants identified in a single year was a 100-odd a few years ago,” said the officer.

Full report at:

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/only-one-bangladeshi-migrant-deported-this-year/article23842757.ece

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Myanmar Hits Back at OIC Over ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Accusations in Rakhine State

2018-05-10

Myanmar on Thursday rebutted a declaration by the world’s top Islamic intergovernmental body condemning the Southeast Asian nation’s army for targeting Rohingya Muslims in “systematic” ethnic cleansing and calling on member states to collectively pressure Naypyidaw over the issue.

The Council of Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) issued a Dhaka Declaration on Sunday at the conclusion of the 57-member organization’s two-day meeting in Bangladesh, that Myanmar’s treatment of Muslims in northern Rakhine state amounted to ethnic cleansing and is a “serious and blatant violation of international law.”

OIC members adopted a resolution on the situation of the Rohingya community in Myanmar, agreeing to form an ad hoc ministerial committee to handle allegations of human rights violations carried out by Myanmar security forces against the long-persecuted and stateless minority group.

The group also said it will continue to work with the United Nations and other relevant international organizations to address human rights violations of the Rohingya Muslims taking into account recent developments.

The military began a crackdown on Rohingya communities in northern Rakhine state in late August 2017 following deadly attacks by a militant Muslim group on police outposts.

Thousands of Rohingya died during the brutal campaign, which included acts of rape, torture, and arson, and nearly 700,000 others fled to safety in neighboring Bangladesh, according to the U.N. and rights groups.

“The declaration lacks balance and fairness, and fails to denounce the brutal attacks of the terrorist group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), which triggered the humanitarian situation unfolding today,” said Myanmar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement issued on Thursday.

The government also rejected what it called the “irresponsible labeling of ‘ethnic cleansing’ or ‘state-backed violence’” to describe the crackdown in Rakhine, asserting that more than half of the Muslim community, which represents a majority in the Maungdaw region, did not flee and have remained in their villages.

It also restated a pledge that allegations of human rights abuses backed by evidence will be investigated and action taken against the perpetrators in accordance with the law.

Expediting repatriations

Headed by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, the Foreign Ministry also called for cooperation from Bangladesh to start repatriating Rohingya refugees who live in makeshift shelters in sprawling displacement camps and will be vulnerable to flooding and disease during the upcoming monsoon season.

Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement November 2017 to repatriate Rohingya refugees who want to return to Rakhine, as long as Myanmar officials verify that they resided in the region prior to a smaller-scale crackdown in October 2016.

The program, which Myanmar expected to start in late January, has been beset by delays, however.

“It is highly regrettable that the Dhaka Declaration did not even mention the immediate need for the repatriation of displaced persons from Rakhine in accordance with the bilateral agreement between Myanmar and Bangladesh,” the ministry’s statement said.

“As the monsoons are approaching, Myanmar is now focusing on expediting the repatriation process,” it said. “To that end, Myanmar urges Bangladesh to take all necessary steps to help the process in accordance with the said agreement. Myanmar stands ready to facilitate the voluntary, safe, and dignified return of the displaced persons from Rakhine.”

Reactions inside Myanmar to the OIC’s comments on the crisis in Rakhine state and the Myanmar government’s response were mixed.

“The Myanmar government is too weak to give assurances for the repatriation process, and what is the guarantee that the refugees will get back property they lost during the problematic times,” said Rohingya activist Abul Tarhal, referring to the crackdown by security forces.

“The Myanmar government also needs to do a lot to make sure the same problem does not recur in the future in Rakhine state,” he said.

Nyan Win, a member of the ruling National League for Democracy's Central Executive Committee who serves as a party spokesman, said it was one-sided for the OIC to blame Myanmar for problems with the repatriation process getting under way.

“Both countries [Myanmar and Bangladesh] have agreed on refugee repatriation and are working on it, but the international community, especially the OIC countries, don’t talk about what we are doing,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service. “The only thing they do is pressure us and blame us. We can’t accept it.”

“They need to listen to both sides if there is a problem,” he said. “If people listen only to one side, the problem becomes more difficult to resolve and moves in a wrong direction.”

Nyo Nyo Thinn, a Myanmar politician and former lawmaker of Yangon’s regional parliament, said the OIC should steer clear of getting involved in Myanmar’s internal matters.

“The U.N. Secretary Council is working on resolving the Rakhine problem, so there is no reason for the OIC to interfere in it at this time,” she said.

The Security Council on Wednesday issued a statement urging Myanmar to “step up its efforts to create conditions conducive to the safe, voluntary, and dignified return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons to their homes in Rakhine state and to address the root causes of the crisis.”

The statement came after 15 Security Council diplomats conducted a fact-finding mission to Bangladesh and Myanmar in late April, where they visited refugee camps and assessed the situation on the ground in northern Rakhine state.

“To build trust with the international community, the Myanmar government has to work with more transparency, reduce centralized control, and work with local ethnic groups and the state government,” Nyo Nyo Thinn said.

Concrete evidence needed

Yu Lwin Aung, a member of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MHRC), said the OIC must provide evidence for its assertions.

“We don’t deny the OIC’s accusation that the military committed human right violations, though we didn’t see any of this while we were in Rakhine state on MHRC’s trips to investigate human rights violations after the violence,” he told RFA.

“But the OIC needs to provide concrete evidence,” he added. “If so, government authorities will take action against anybody who violated human rights, I believe.”

On Tuesday, Kyaw Tin, Myanmar’s minister for international cooperation, summoned Ambassador Manjurul Karim Khan Chowdhury of Bangladesh to the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Naypyidaw to discuss border security issues and challenges that are preventing the repatriation of refugees, the official Myanmar News Agency reported.

During the meeting, Kyaw Tin called for the removal of bunkers and other structures built by the Bangladeshi side near the border along a non-construction zone and asked that Bangladeshi authorities stop assisting with the construction of sheds and shelters on the Myanmar side of zone, the report said.

He also requested that Bangladesh facilitate the return of the displaced persons residing illegally inside the zone.

Also on Tuesday, four human rights groups – Fortify Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Global Center for Responsibility to Protect – called on the U.N. Security Council to refer Myanmar to the International Criminal Court over the crackdown, saying the violence amounted to crimes against humanity.

Full report at:

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/myanmar-hits-back-at-oic-over-ethnic-cleansing-accusations-in-rakhine-state-05102018163112.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Deadly Uprising by ISIS Followers Shakes Indonesia’s Prison System

By Joe Cochrane

May 10, 2018

DEPOK, Indonesia — A day after Islamic State followers seized  part of a high-security terrorist detention center and killed five guards, the country was left on Thursday with no shortage of questions to ponder.

The logical first one: How could this have happened?

Located in the sleepy West Java town of Depok, south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, the detention center is in a sprawling, heavily guarded compound of the local headquarters of the Mobile Brigade Corps, a paramilitary unit of the Indonesian National Police, and it was guarded by elite counterterrorism officers.

The uprising began with a riot Tuesday night in a section of the detention center holding 156 terrorism suspects and detainees, many of them accused of being violent, radical followers of the Islamic State’s ideology. The detainees managed to seize dozens of weapons, attacked guards, and then took several of them hostage.

It ended Thursday morning with a mass surrender of the detainees after counterterrorism officers began blasting apart walls and firing tear gas into a cellblock where the men had holed up.

By the time the smoke finally cleared, five guards and one detainee were dead, the Islamic State gleefully had claimed responsibility, the Indonesian government was scrambling for answers, and the country’s prison system was — once again — forced into an uncomfortable spotlight.

For years, the detention center only held police personnel being prosecuted for crimes, but in 2013, it began housing convicts and detainees suspected of terrorism who were believed to be violent and dangerous.

The detainees were housed in three blocks within the center, sometimes 10 men to a cell, which went against government regulations.

“This detention center was not designed as a maximum security facility to hold large numbers of high-risk terrorist inmates,” said Leopold Sudaryono, an Indonesian doctoral scholar in criminology at Australian National University.

“The Ministry of Law and Human Rights had issued a regulation in 2017 requiring high-risk offenders be detained in isolation with very minimum physical interaction with other inmates or guards,” he said. “This requirement cannot be carried out in this police facility. No wonder within a period of six months, two riots by terrorist inmates happened.”

In November, a group of terrorism detainees incited a riot when guards searched cells for contraband including cellphones. Temporarily holding the guards at bay, the detainees took photographs and video of themselves brandishing the black flag of the Islamic State and shouting, “God is great.”

Gatot Goei, program director of the Jakarta-based Center for Detention Studies, said this week’s uprising showed that the guards, while members of a Western-trained antiterrorism unit, did not have the skills to handle violent outbreaks by prisoners.

“Their emergency response system fell apart when they were challenged — they lost the ability to begin an emergency response,” he said. “In prisons, they have emergency response teams in case a guard is hurt.”

Mr. Goei also noted that the detainees had been able to break doors and smash through walls to take over one of the detention blocks and seize weapons from their guards.

“The physical facilities were weak,” he said, saying they were “different than most prisons in Indonesia that are under the Ministry of Law.”

As the uprising was unfolding on Wednesday, the Islamic State’s media arm uploaded graphic videos and photographs from inside the detention center, showing the bodies of dead guards who had been repeatedly stabbed and in some cases shot.

Photographs showed detainees brandishing weapons, raising the Islamic State flag and pledging allegiance to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

By Thursday morning, all 155 terrorism detainees were being transported under heavy guard to the maximum security prison island of Nusakambangan, off the south coast of Java Island, where the authorities separate high-risk prisoners from each other.

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, speaking at the presidential palace in Jakarta on Thursday, said the government and public “will never be afraid and will never give room for terrorism and actions that will disrupt the country’s security.”

However, the Indonesian authorities apparently did not see or heed warnings about the police detention center’s vulnerability. In February, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, a Jakarta-based research organization, warned in a report that the detention center was “a disaster waiting to happen” because of overcrowding in the detainee blocks. It also said there was no effort to offer counseling against violent extremist ideology to new arrivals.

In a 2016 report, the institute had warned that despite some small successes by the Indonesian government in managing extremist prisoners, “structural problems of the prison system and inadequate staff continue to defeat efforts at deradicalization, disengagement and rehabilitation.”

Noor Huda Ismail, founder of the Institute of International Peace Building, which works to reintegrate former convicted terrorists back into Indonesian society, said the police detention center suffered from the same problems plaguing hundreds of state prisons across the country: overcrowding, lack of infrastructure to monitor high-risk detainees, and a shortage of human resources.

“Inmates always find ways to smuggle phones in, therefore they could live-stream the incident and mobilize support from outside the prison,” he said.

Asked whether terrorist detainees among those involved in this week’s uprising could ever be rehabilitated, Mr. Ismail said: “Well, at least we can disengage them from violence, but it will take a very long time to deradicalize them.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/10/world/asia/indonesia-prison-riot-islamic-state.html

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Indonesia ends militant jail siege after five officers 'sadistically' killed

MAY 10, 2018

DEPOK, Indonesia (Reuters) - A hostage crisis at a high-security jail in Indonesia ended on Thursday after Islamist militant prisoners who killed five police surrendered and released an officer they were holding, authorities said.

The five members of an elite counter-terrorism force had been “sadistically” killed by prisoners during the 36-hour standoff, which officials called an “act of terror” at the jail on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta.

“We have minimized the number of victims. The operation ended at 7:15,” deputy chief of national police Syafruddin told reporters.

Four other police were injured and one inmate killed in the incident which began late on Tuesday.

The death toll was the highest suffered by the counter-terrorism police force, known as Detachment, or ‘Densus’, 88, which was set up in 2003 with funding and training from Australia and the United States.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo thanked security forces for their efforts in containing the crisis.

“The state and all the people are never afraid and will never give the slightest room to terrorism and also to efforts that undermine the security of the country,” Widodo told a news conference.

Syafruddin said the crisis was resolved with a “very soft approach”, although earlier on Thursday a Reuters witness had heard several blasts at the jail. Indonesian media reported those blasts were controlled explosions carried out by police to clear the area of any booby traps.

Chief security minister Wiranto told reporters that all 155 convicted terrorists who were involved had surrendered after a police “ambush” forced the last 10 convicts to give up.

All the convicts were moved to a maximum-security prison on Nusakambangan Island in central Java.

PRISONERS SEIZED WEAPONS

Authorities said the prisoners had armed themselves with about 30 weapons, including long-range rifles, taken from officers and a storage area in the jail for weapons confiscated during police operations.

Deputy police chief Syafruddin said “five officers were killed sadistically”, and a police spokesman said most were found with deep wounds to the neck and elsewhere on their bodies. One officer was found with a gunshot wound to the head.

Funerals were held on Thursday for the police victims, including one officer who had recently become a father, media said.

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian who is serving a sentence for blasphemy against Islam at the same prison, was safe and still in the jail, his sister Fifi Lety Indra said.

The counter-terrorism squad has won international praise for breaking up militant cells in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country in the years since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

But a recent spate of attacks inspired by Islamic State prompted authorities to more than double its strength to 1,300 late last year.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the clashes at the jail, in a message carried on its Amaq news agency.

Police had denied Islamic State was involved and said a dispute had broken out over checks by prison authorities of prisoners’ food.

But police also said some prisoners had recently met Aman Abdurrahman, who is believed to be the ideological leader of IS sympathizers in Indonesia. He is on trial for terrorism and is being held at the same prison.

Last year, an attack by two suicide bombers, using pressure cookers packed with explosives, killed three police and wounded 12 people at a Jakarta bus terminal.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-security/indonesia-ends-militant-jail-siege-after-five-officers-sadistically-killed-idUSKBN1IB046

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Tax exemption for Philippine Muslim schools and worship sites proposed

May 10, 2018

Manila: A committee that is studying changes in the 1987 Constitution has proposed schools and places of worship of Filipino-Muslims to be exempt from tax, a senior official said, adding this will foster better relations between majority of Filipino Catholics and the Filipino-Muslim minority, most of whom are based in the southern Philippines.

“It has been proposed that the provision of Article VI Section 28 of the 1987 Constitution should read, ‘Charitable institutions, churches, temples, masjids (Muslim places of worship) and parsonages or convents, madrasas (Muslim educational institutions), non-profit cemeteries and all lands, buildings and improvements, actually, directly and exclusive used for religious, charitable or educational purposes shall be exempt from taxation,’” said former associate justice Eduardo Nachura, a member of the Consultative Committee (ConCom) which is in charge of Constitutional change.

The Concom will meet next week to deliberate on the issue, Nachura told Gulf News on Thursday.

There are an estimated 2,000 Islamic schools or madrasas nationwide, more than 50 per cent are in Mindanao, turf of majority of Filipino-Muslims. About 1,200 schools are funded by foreign and local donors. But less than 50 (only 40) are registered with the education department, sources said.

The Philippine government has already forged pro-autonomy peace settlements with the 50-year old Moro National Liberation Front in 1976 and in 1996; and the 40-year old Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in 2014. But several kidnap-for-ransom and terror groups with suspected Al Qaida links are still operating in Mindanao.

Government and Muslim leaders have been shaping a moderate Islamic curriculum to prevent Islamist influences in local madrasas, authorities said.

Since 2005, the education department has introduced a state curriculum for Arabic and Islamic studies in state schools in Muslim-dominated areas outside of Mindanao. In 2011, the Bangsamoro Development Authority (BDA), Community of Learners, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the education department jointly developed the Tahderiyyah (kindergarten) curriculum for preschool Filipino-Muslim students, In 2011, the curriculum was implemented in BDA-managed schools in Metro Manila and in 17 madrasas in war-torn parts of Mindanao.

Even before the Philippine government and MILF signed their pro-autonomy peace settlement in 2014, in 2012, the education department released P250,000 (Dh25,000) grant to every Muslim school to upgrade facilities and implement state curriculum for Filipino-Muslim students.

Former President Benigno Aquino also approved the allocation of P300 million (Dh25 million) in 2012 — from P200 million (Dh16.6 million) in 2010, to fund initiatives for Filipino-Muslim education.

There are 11 per cent or 10.7 million Filipino-Muslims in the Philippines, said the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). Islam is the second largest religion in the country.

Full report at:

https://gulfnews.com/news/asia/philippines/tax-exemption-for-philippine-muslim-schools-and-worship-sites-proposed-1.2219433

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PAS to discuss partner for Kedah government

May 11, 2018

KUALA TERENGGANU: PAS will be calling a special meeting of the party’s leadership soon to determine the form of cooperation, whether with Barisan Nasional (BN) or Pakatan Harapan (PH), to facilitate the establishment of the Kedah state government.

Its president Abdul Hadi Awang said at present, no party in Kedah was able to form the state government as none had managed to secure a simple majority in the 14th general election.

“We are the kingmakers in Kedah and we will discuss this at the special meeting,” he told reporters after the swearing-in ceremony of the Terengganu menteri besar at Istana Syarqiyyah, Chendering here last night.

Asked which party had the top priority in the cooperation, Hadi said PAS would look at those who could adjust their policies to accommodate PAS’ Islamic struggle.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2018/05/11/pas-to-discuss-partner-for-kedah-government/

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Muslims gather at Monas to protest US recognition of Jerusalem

May 11, 2018

Thousands of Muslims flocked to the National Monument (Monas) Park in Central Jakarta on Friday morning to join the Aksi Indonesia Bebaskan Baitul Maqdis (Indonesia for the Liberation of Jerusalem) rally to protest the planned May 14 relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Several Islamic groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic Defenders Troop (LPI), joined the protest, which started around 4 a.m. at Istiqlal Mosque and is scheduled to finish at around 1 p.m. after the mass Friday prayer planned at Monas.

The protesters represented all age groups, with several families spotted at Monas Park leading underage and school-age children to  join the protest.

Jakarta Sanitation Agency and Jakarta Fire and Rescue Agency vehicles were parked at several locations in the vicinity to provide clean water and toilet facilities for the protesters.

Dozens of Jakarta Police officers were stationed around Monas, which is located near the US Embassy and the Presidential Palace, and were diverting traffic from the area.

“We are anticipating the protest, which will be held in Monas and at Istiqlal Mosque,” Jakarta Police spokesman Comr. Argo Yuwono said on Friday, as reported by kompas.com.

Full report at:

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/11/muslims-gather-at-monas-to-protest-us-recognition-of-jerusalem.html

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Arab World

 

Calls for restraint after Israeli raids on Iranians in Syria

May 11, 2018

JERUSALEM - Israel carried out widespread deadly raids against what it said were Iranian targets in Syria on Thursday after rocket fire towards its forces it blamed on Iran, drawing global calls to avoid any further escalation.

The exchange of fire came after weeks of rising tensions and followed US President Donald Trump’s decision Tuesday to withdraw from the landmark 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a move Israel had long advocated. The bombardment led to immediate calls for restraint from Russia, France, Germany and Britain, while the United States put the blame squarely on Iran and stressed Israel’s right to “self-defence”. Germany and Britain joined the United States in denouncing the rocket fire they also said came from Iran, while France reiterated its “unwavering support for Israel’s security”.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran had “crossed a red line” and that the resulting bombardment “was a consequence” Iran has made no comment about the rocket fire.

The raids, which a monitor said killed 23 fighters, were one of the largest Israeli military operations in recent years and the biggest such assault on Iranian targets, the Israeli military said. “We hit nearly all the Iranian infrastructure in Syria,” said Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “I hope we’ve finished this episode and everyone understood.”

Israel carried out the raids after it said 20 rockets, either Fajr or Grad type, were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights at around midnight. It blamed Iran’s Quds force, adding that Israel’s anti-missile system intercepted four while the rest did not land in its territory. There were no Israeli casualties.

If confirmed, it would be the first time Iran has sought to directly attack Israeli-controlled territory aside from an alleged attempted drone assault in February.

“We know that comes from the Al-Quds force,” army spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus said, referring to the special forces unit affiliated with Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor reported that dozens of rockets were fired from Syria towards the Israeli-occupied Golan, without saying they were fired by Iranian forces. It said the rockets followed a “first Israeli bombardment on the town of Baath” in Quneitra province. A senior pro-regime military source in Syria confirmed the salvo of rockets, insisting Israel had fired first.

Later, in the early hours of the morning, explosions were heard in Damascus, while live images were broadcast on television showing projectiles above the capital and several missiles destroyed by anti-aircraft systems.

Syrian state media said Israeli missile strikes had hit military bases as well as an arms depot and a military radar installation, without specifying where.

The official SANA news agency said “dozens of missiles were shot down by anti-aircraft systems in Syrian airspace”, acknowledging a number had reached their targets. Israel’s military later confirmed it had carried out the raids, saying some 70 targets had been struck and all of its aircraft had returned safely.

The army’s Conricus said intelligence, logistics and storage facilities as well as vehicles were targeted, in addition to the origin of the rockets. Syrian air defences, which fired dozens of times on Israeli jets, were also targeted, he said.Lieberman called the rocket fire “a new phase”. “We don’t want an escalation, but won’t let anyone attack us or build an infrastructure to attack us in the future,” he said.

Russia said 28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 planes took part in the raids with a total of around 70 missiles fired.

Syria said it was the Israeli strikes that marked a “new phase” of direct involvement in the country’s seven-year conflict.

Its army said three people had been killed. In a rare if not unprecedented move for an Arab country, Bahrain backed Israel’s right to “defend itself” after the strikes.

Bahrain is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and the two countries, whose foreign policies are often in lockstep, view Iran as the chief threat to the region.

Israel has long warned it will not accept Iran entrenching itself militarily in neighbouring Syria, where the Islamic republic is supporting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the civil war.

It has been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that have killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged those raids. The Jewish state says it has conducted dozens of raids in Syria to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to Iran-backed Hezbollah, another key foe of Israel. Israel had been preparing itself for weeks for possible Iranian retaliation. Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal has added to tensions and led to a new level of uncertainty over how Iran will respond. On Wednesday, Netanyahu held talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has provided massive military and diplomatic backing to Assad’s regime.

“I told President Putin that it is the right of every state, certainly the right of Israel, to take the necessary steps in order to protect itself from this aggression,” Netanyahu said, referring to Iran’s presence in Syria. Israel and Russia have established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in the war-torn country. Russia was informed in advance of Israel’s strikes on Thursday, Conricus said.

https://nation.com.pk/11-May-2018/calls-for-restraint-after-israeli-raids-on-iranians-in-syria

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Syria Intercepts 70% of Israeli Missiles, Targets 3 Fighter Jets

May 10, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen news channel reported on Thursday that 70% of Israeli missiles were intercepted over the Syrian airspace last night.

It added that the Syrian air defense shield has also engaged 3 Israeli warplanes which had violated the country's airspace, but it did not reveal any details on their fate.

The Syrian army intercepted tens of incoming Israeli missiles and reciprocated the assault with a barrage of rocket attacks on military centers in occupied Golan, the first such response in decades.

Syria's state news agency, SANA, reported on Wednesday night that the Syrian army's air defense systems intercepted Israel's missile attacks on the town of al-Ba'ath; Israel had also earlier targeted the town with artillery fire.

According to the report, the Syrian army's air defense systems intercepted tens of Israeli missiles in the sky while a number of missiles hit the air defense and radar units as well as arms caches.

Meantime, al-Mayadeen news channel reported that over 50 rockets were fired at 4 Israeli military complex centers in occupied Golan, each including several military units, after Israel's attacks on Quneitra.

Other sources, including al-Alam news channel, also reported that the number of rockets fired at occupied Golan went over 68.

It added that tens of Israeli military centers, including the command center for technical and electronic tapping, the 9900 secret border headquarters to collect visual intelligence, the military command center for electronic warfare, the pin-pointing weapons watchtower, the regional command center for the Isreali army unit 810, the military brigade command center in Harmoun, the al-Shatawi center of Benastim winter warfare special unit, came under attack.

Al-Mayadeen also said that the Israeli Iron Dome defense shield has failed to intercept the rockets, adding that Tel Aviv has ordered troops to avoid disclosing any information about the target of the attacks.

Some sources also reported that Israel has attacked al-Kaswah region in Southern Damascus, but the attack was fully repelled by the Syrian army.

The Syrian Army air defense units intercepted two Israeli missiles fired at the Southern part of Damascus province on Tuesday night as well.

SANA reported that the air defense units intercepted 2 Israeli missiles fired at al-Keswah region in Southern Damascus on Tuesday night.

In the meantime, al-Jazeera TV channel reported that the Israeli missile attack was launched to target a militant base in Southern Damascus.

Also, al-Mayadeen TV quoted sources in Quneitra province as reporting that three Israeli missiles were fired from the occupied Golan Heights at Syrian territories on the same night.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000673

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Damascus: Israeli Assault Indicates 'New Phase of Aggression' against Syria

May 10, 2018

"This aggressive conduct by the Zionist entity [pejorative for the State of Israel]… will lead to nothing but an increase in tensions in the region," Syrian news agency SANA cited an official in the Foreign Ministry as saying.

Damascus affirmed that the Israeli aggression on Syrian territories came within the framework of the aggressive approach of the Zionist entity and in response to the defeat of the terrorist groups.

The Russian Defense Ministry has stated that some 28 Israeli aircraft fired around 60 air-to-surface rockets in a massive overnight strike in Syria on Thursday morning, adding that Syrian air defense systems managed to intercept more than half of the missiles.

Israeli forces bombed the Syrian territory for two hours between 1:45 am and 3:45 am local time on Thursday, according to reports.

The Russian military said in a statement that “28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 planes" were involved in the assault, while “Syrian air-defense systems shot down more than half of the rockets as they repelled the Israeli attack”.

After Damascus intercepted tens of incoming Israeli missiles, the Syrian Army reciprocated the assault with a barrage of rocket attacks on military centers in occupied Golan, the first such response in decades.

Tel Aviv said 20 rockets were fired into the Golan Heights early Thursday, and acknowledged that its well-known Iron Dome has only shot down 4 projectiles.

Israel has seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and continued to occupy two-thirds of the strategically-important territory ever since. The Tel Aviv regime has built tens of illegal settlements in the area since its occupation and has used the region to carry out a number of military operations against the Syrian government.

The Tel Aviv regime has launched sporadic attacks against various targets on Syrian soil over the past few years, in assaults slammed by Damascus as attempts to boost terrorist groups who have been suffering heavy defeats in battle against Syrian government forces.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000850

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Saudi tests siren after Iran backed Houthi militia fire new missiles

May 10, 2018

RIYADH: The Director of Civil Defense, Sulaiman Alamro said Thursday that it tested a new siren system for the capital Riyadh and oil-rich Eastern Province, the day after Houthi militia fired three ballistic missiles at the kingdom from Yemen.

The Saudi civil defense posted a video on its official site of the alarm system being tested. In a statement, Alamro stressed the importance of the early warning system to achieve the objectives of civil defense in the protection of life and property. The most important element of which are warning sirens, designed to “face risks of all kinds” and alert the population “in case of emergency.”

Yemen’s Iran-allied Houthi militia have in recent months ramped up missile attacks against neighboring Saudi Arabia, which leads a military coalition to restore the legitimately elected government in Sanaa. The Houthi insurgents announced they had fired two ballistic missiles at Riyadh and a third at the southern city of Jizan near the border, on Wednesday alone.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition said the kingdom’s air defenses intercepted all three, in statements carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

Riyadh has long accused Tehran of supplying the Houthi militia with ballistic missiles.

Wednesday’s salvo came after US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, which he criticized for excluding measures to curb Iran's ballistic missile program.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1300316/saudi-arabia

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Syrian Army Spreading Buffer Zone in Strategic Region of Deir Ezzur

May 10, 2018

The army units continued to advance in Badiyeh Deir Ezzur on Thursday after fully purging terrorists of al-Feyzeh, Feyzeh Mawina'a and al-Tamah in Southeastern Deir Ezzur, regaining control of 1,500sq/km of lands from the ISIL terrorists.

A field source said that the Syrian army troops have advanced over 60km inside Badiyeh region in their operations against the ISIL in al-Mayadeen's two-way road.

He added that the army has cut off the terrorists' vital roads in Badiyeh through the recent advances in the region and increased security in the strategic town of al-Mayadeen.

The Syrian army had on Wednesday sent more fresh forces and military equipment to Southeastern Deir Ezzur to continue attacks on remaining pockets of the ISIL near the town of al-Mayadeen.

The army plans to send tens of fresh forces, several tanks and a large volume of heavy military equipment to Southeastern Deir Ezzur to hunt the remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists to restore more security to al-Mayadeen.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000413

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

10 May 2018

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

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

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

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

Future plans

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

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

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

Full report at:

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

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Bahrain backs Israel's most direct confrontation in Syria

May 11, 2018

Bahrain has expressed support for Israel after Tel Aviv hit dozens of military targets in Syria amid Syrian army advances against Takfiri terrorists and other foreign-backed militants.

In a rare expression of support, Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa twitted on Thursday that Tel Aviv had a right to "defend itself" after Israel said it carried out some 50 raids inside Syria.  

Al-Khalifa copied claims made by Israeli authorities, praising the attack as a response to an Iranian rocket attack from the Syrian territory against Israeli military bases in the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel claimed that the early Thursday assault was its most extensive strike against Syria in decades. Syria’s military said Thursday that the airstrikes had killed three people and destroyed a radar station and an ammunition warehouse.

In a statement carried by state news agency SANA, Syria’s foreign ministry said that the Israeli strikes on its territory were a “direct confrontation” that marked a “new phase” in the country’s seven-year conflict.

Syrian Arab Army Brig. Gen. Ali Mayhoub, who read a statement on Syrian television, said his country’s air defense systems had intercepted “the large part” of the incoming Israeli strikes.

Russia backed up the Syrian military’s claims, saying approximately half of the incoming Israeli missiles had been intercepted by Syrian air defenses.

The Russian defense ministry told local media that 28 Israeli F-15 fighter jets had fired 60 missiles and ground troops had launched 10 surface-to-surface missiles at targets inside Syria.

Israeli officials claimed the attack was a response to a barrage of 20 rockets from Syria at Israeli military outposts in Golan and blamed Iran for the attack.

Iranian officials traditionally do not respond to Israeli claims, saying they do not merit an answer. Nevertheless, an Iranian lawmaker quoted by Lebanon's Al-Manar television network, denied his country was behind the barrage. 

“Iran has nothing to do with the missiles that struck the enemy entity yesterday,” deputy head of parliament's national security committee Abolfazl Hassan-Baygi reportedly said.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the Israeli attack on Syria, calling it an attempt by "the main supporter of terrorist groups" in Syria to retaliate their many defeats against the Syrian government.

In a statement on Friday, Qassemi said the terror groups were in fact "proxies" waging a war on behalf of the US, Israel and their regional allies.

Israel has stepped up its attacks on Syrian military positions in what is considered an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy losses and retreating on multiple fronts, most recently from their strongholds in Damascus suburbs.  Israel has been acting as a de facto air force of the militants for some time but its extensive raids Wednesday night were its most brazenly direct engagement in Syria's fight on terrorism. 

Syria has had strained relations with most of the Arab states in the Persian Gulf in recent years, but the Bahraini foreign minister's support for the Israeli strikes marks a rare, if not unprecedented public stance by an Arab government.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/11/561303/Israel-Syria-Golan-Heights-Bahrain-FM-Sheikh-Khalid-bin-Ahmed-alKhalifa

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Iraq used Baghdadi aide's cell phone to capture top Daesh commanders

May 10, 2018

A high-ranking Iraqi security official says authorities are holding a top aide to the purported leader of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and have used a messaging application on his mobile phone to nab four commanders of the militant outfit.

Hisham al-Hashimi, a consultant to the Baghdad government on the anti-Daesh campaign, told Reuters on Thursday that Ismail al-Eithawi, better known by the nom de guerre Abu Zaid al-Iraqi, was captured in Turkey in February by Turkish authorities and handed over to Iraqi agents.

Hashimi added that Iraqi forces used the Telegram messaging app on Eithawi's mobile phone, and managed to tempt a number of Daesh commanders in Syria to cross the border into Iraq, where they were arrested.

Those held include Syrian national Saddam Jamal, who served as the so-called Daesh governor of Syria's eastern Euphrates region.

The other three field commanders were identified as Syrian Mohamed al-Qadeer as well as Omar al-Karbouli and Essam al-Zawbai, who are both of Iraqi descent.

Hashimi described Eithawi as a direct aide to Baghdadi, noting that he was responsible for money transfers to Daesh bank accounts in various countries.

The security advisor to the Iraqi government went on to say that Iraqi intelligence agents, in cooperation with US forces, had managed to uncover bank accounts used by Daesh and decipher secret communication codes Eithawi used.

On April 30, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi pledged to continue airstrikes on Daesh positions and headquarters inside neighboring Syria but stressed that Baghdad would not infringe upon the sovereignty of the Damascus government.

“Iraq will continue airstrikes in Syria and will do more to eliminate Daesh group. It will neither allow Daesh militants to come back, nor a similar terrorist organization to appear, but Iraq doesn't mean to interfere in internal affairs of Syria,” Abadi stated.

On December 9, 2017, Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in Iraq.

“Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh,” he told a conference in Baghdad then.

On July 10, Abadi formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561261/Iraq-used-Baghdadi-aides-cell-phone-to-capture-top-Daesh-commanders

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Foreign support for terrorists prolonging Syria crisis: Assad

May 10, 2018

President Bashar al-Assad has blamed foreign intervention for the prolongation of the conflict in Syria, saying otherwise it would take “less than a year” to restore peace to the Arab country.

“I have always said, without any interference, it will take less than a year to regain stability in Syria; I don’t have any doubt about this,” Assad said in an interview with the Greek Kathimerini newspaper published on Thursday.

Assad referred to foreign support for extremist groups operating in the war-torn country as another factor for the persistence of the crisis, however, expressing hope that “we’re going to end this conflict and we’re going to re-unify Syria under the control of the government. When? I cannot answer. I hope it’s going to be soon.”

He lashed out at Western countries, including France, Britain and the US along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey for supporting various terrorist groups, saying they “should be held accountable” for the bloodshed in Syria.

Assad said Syria is fighting terrorists, who are the “army” of the US, Turkey and the Saudi regime, stressing that “any aggressor” and “any army … are all enemies as long as they came to Syria illegally.”

The Syrian president further denounced as “aggression” the ongoing Turkish operation in Syria's Kurdish-controlled region. “This is an occupation. Any single Turkish soldier on Syrian soil represents occupation,” he said.

He said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “was assigned by the West, mainly the United States, to interfere, to make the situation complicated, again because without this interference, the situation would have been resolved much faster.”

Turkey began the so-called Operation Olive Branch in Afrin on January 20 to clear the northern Syrian border of the US-backed Kurdish militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), whom it associates with the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighting for autonomy on Turkish soil.

The Turkish military says it has exercised “utmost care” not to harm civilians. The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitor, however, said last week that more than 280 civilians had been killed since the onset of the operation.

The Turkish operation has been launched without permission from the Syrian government. It has also pitted Ankara against Washington, which has armed and supports the Kurdish militants.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Assad rejected the Western allegations about the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government near the capital of Damascus as a “farce and a very primitive play” whose only goal is to “attack the Syrian army” after the defeat of terrorists.

The alleged April 7 attack in the militant-held town of Douma in the Eastern Ghouta region purportedly left dozens dead and drew international condemnation from various countries and international bodies.

Immediately after the reported chemical attack, the United States and its allies rushed to accuse the Syrian government of conducting it.

One week after the incident, the US, Britain and France launched a coordinated missile attack against sites and research facilities near Damascus and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s capability to produce chemicals.

Assad said, “When the terrorists lost, the US, France, UK, and their other allies, who want to destabilize Syria, they lost one of their main cards, and that’s why they had to attack the Syrian army, just to raise the morale of the terrorists and to prevent the Syrian army from liberating more areas in Syria.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561217/Syria-President-Assad-foreign-intervention-crisis-Turkey-Saudi-Arabia-West-chemical-attack

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Saudi Arabia and Norway agree to provide water and sanitation for Somali refugees

May 10, 2018

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center signed a joint agreement today, planning to improve access to potable water, and sanitation for refugees in Somalia. The agreement is in cooperation with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), at a total cost of $2 million.

The agreement was signed by the General Manager of the Center, Dr. Abdullah Alrabiah and Abeer Shobasi, the Gulf Region Director of the NRC, at the headquarters of the Relief Center in Riyadh.

The agreement aims to provide drinkable water and water for sanitary use. Also, to provide, training and health education for those in the most affected areas of Somalia.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1300176/saudi-arabia

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North America

 

Trump Heralds Capture of Five Islamic State Commanders

May 10, 2018

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that five "most wanted" leaders of the Islamic State militant group had been captured, an apparent reference to the capture of five commanders of the militant group by Iraq.

"Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS just captured!" Trump wrote in a post on Twitter, providing no further details.

Iraq had described the capture of the Islamic State commanders as "some of the most wanted" leaders of the group. The list did not include Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-05-10/trump-heralds-capture-of-five-islamic-state-commanders

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Iran or terrorists may target Tuesday's US Embassy opening in Jerusalem

by Tom Rogan

May 10, 2018

Iran or a number Islamic terrorist groups may react violently on Tuesday, when the U.S. officially opens its new embassy in Jerusalem. While the embassy's opening coincides with Israel's 70th anniversary, it also falls on a day when Hamas will lead thousands of Palestinians in an aggressive march on the Israeli border.

The operative concern here is that Jerusalem has a defining ideological importance for every Islamic extremist entity that targets Israel. This includes the Iranian hardliners aligned with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Lebanese Hezbollah. As home to the Al-Aqsa mosque (the third holiest mosque in Islam) these entities see Jerusalem as a physical and theological sacrament that must be liberated from Israel.

Evidencing as much, the IRGC's external action Quds force is actually named after Jerusalem: "Al-Quds" is the Arabic name for Jerusalem. Jerusalem also takes a prominent role in Iranian revolutionary iconography and an image of Al-Aqsa sits center in the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad logos. Thus, for these groups, the U.S. embassy's opening in Jerusalem is both a grave affront to and a reinforcement of their ideology. That put the embassy at high risk of attack.

Now while the Israeli Shin Bet security service will work closely with U.S. Diplomatic Security Service and the Secret Service to secure the opening, no threat can be fully eliminated. This is also complicated by the fact that Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are also traveling to the embassy opening. Their presence will be an inducement to attack for the IRGC in particular, which is keen to flex its muscles in the face of President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.

How would such an attack be carried out? Possibly by terrorists on the ground, possibly by Iranian missiles capable of hitting Jerusalem (although the IRGC knows employing those missiles would lead to an overwhelming Israeli response and perhaps a US response as well).

So, what can the U.S. do to mitigate the risks here?

Not much beyond working with the Israelis to secure the opening as best as possible. But Trump should make it clear that any attack on the embassy will result in a direct U.S. military response. Although they are ideologically committed jihadists, the IRGC and Hamas can be deterred by the threat of devastating U.S. retaliation to their antics.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/iran-or-terrorists-may-target-tuesdays-us-embassy-opening-in-jerusalem

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US sanctions Iranians days after Trump withdraws from nuclear deal

10 May 2018

The US Treasury imposed fresh sanctions on Thursday against six people it linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's elite Qods Force and three Iranian entities, just days after President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

The six individuals and three entities were sanctioned under US regulations targeting specially designated global terrorist suspects and Iranian financial activity, the Treasury Department said in a statement on its website.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2018/05/10/US-sanctions-Iranians-days-after-Trump-withdraws-from-nuclear-deal.html

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US Treasury slaps new sanctions on Iranian figures, entities

May 10, 2018

The US Treasury has imposed fresh sanctions on several Iranian individuals and entities in the wake of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw Washington from the 2015 nuclear deal.

The US Treasury Department said in a statement on its website Thursday that it had sanctioned six people allegedly tied to the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and three Iranian entities.

The Treasury also said it was working with the UAE to disrupt a network that was purportedly transferring millions of dollars to the Quds Force, accusing Iran's central bank of helping the group access US dollars held in foreign banks.

Trump triggered international condemnation late Tuesday, when he announced that the US was walking away from the Iran nuclear accord, which is officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Trump also said he would reinstate US nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose "the highest level" of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

Iran has said it will remain in the JCPOA for now, pending negotiations with the other signatories in the coming weeks before making a final decision on its future role in the agreement.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561284/Iran-IRGC-Treasury

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Thousands of Ismaili Muslims from Edmonton area welcome Aga Khan in Calgary

May 10, 2018

More than 5,000 Ismaili Muslims from the Edmonton area are gathering in Calgary this week to visit their religious leader and mark his Diamond Jubilee.

Prince Karim Al Hussaini Aga Khan IV is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. He succeeded his grandfather in 1957 and is the spiritual leader for approximately 20 million people worldwide.

The Aga Khan, 80, is also a millionaire who is known for his humanitarianism. His international aid organization, the Aga Khan Development Network, has built schools and hospitals around the world. He received honorary Canadian citizenship in 2010.

"This week's been a truly important event for me as an Ismaili Muslim and as a Canadian," said Shafin Kanji on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM Thursday.

Kanji, an Edmonton resident and spokesperson for the Ismaili Council for Edmonton, is in Calgary this week for the celebrations.

This is not the first time Kanji has seen the Aga Khan. He last saw him a decade ago, also in Calgary, during celebrations for his Golden Jubilee.

"Usually, we use jubilees as a method to reaffirm the principles of our faith and to really work on the concepts of Islam, including pluralism and diversity," Kanji said.

The Aga Khan's Diamond Jubilee coincided with Canada's 150th birthday. To mark the occasion, Ismaili Muslims in Canada pledged to complete one million hours of community service — a goal they exceeded in six months.

Kanji, who volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, said volunteerism is an important part of faith for Ismaili Muslims.

New garden nearing completion

The Aga Khan is funding a $25-million garden in construction at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, just north of Devon.

"I don't want to spoil it, but I've seen recent pictures and I'm in awe," Kanji said.

The garden is scheduled to be finished this summer.

The Aga Khan's visit to Canada began early this month. He dined at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on May 2, visited Vancouver on May 5 and arrived in Calgary on Monday.

Full report at:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/thousands-ismaili-muslims-from-edmonton-area-to-welcome-aga-khan-in-calgary-1.4656832

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Europe

 

Sajid Javid A Triumph Of British Multiculturalism, Belying ‘Rivers Of Blood’ Soothsayers

10 May 2018

Sajid Javid’s appointment as Home Secretary (Minister) in the British government effectively makes him the most powerful Muslim politician in the West.

He has made history by becoming the first BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) to hold one of the three most important offices of state after the prime minister – the other two being foreign secretary and chancellor of the exchequer – and is symbolic of the successful multiculturalism that the UK has been practicing for the last few decades.

Javid’s elevation to this important post is replete with ironies but the sweetest of them is that he broke this glass ceiling within days of the 50th anniversary of Conservative MP Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers of blood’ speech which was considered by many as the “most incendiary racist speech of modern Britain”.

Powell had in April 1968 prophesied that if the UK did not stop the inflow of immigrants from the Commonwealth then “whole areas, towns and parts of towns across England will be occupied by sections of the immigrant and immigrant-descended population” whose presence would trigger race conflicts and rivers of blood to flow.

Powell called for a reduction in the number of immigrant arrivals and a policy to encourage those already in the UK to return to their country of origin. His speech was much-reviled by the rest of his countryman and his promising political career came to an abrupt end.

Ironically Javid was born in 1969 in Rochdale, Greater Manchester in north west England into the sort of immigrant family that Powell would have liked to have seen sent back to where they came from. His parents, Abdul Ghani and Zubeda Javid came to Britain from Pakistan in 1961 with “just one pound in their pockets”.

Javid’s father worked as a bus driver to feed his family, just like the second most powerful Muslim in the West, Sadiq Khan the Mayor of London.

Meteoric rise

The meteoric rise of Javid and Khan, both second generation immigrants, in British politics in less than half a century shows the power of hard-work in a truly multi-cultural society that believes in justice and fair play.

Contrary to critics the duo also prove that Muslims have sufficiently integrated into society and are considered British enough to be voted into Parliament by a non-Muslim electorate. While Javid like Powell is a Tory, Khan is a member of the Labor Party and tipped to one day head his party.

As Home Secretary Javid will now among other things also be in charge of UK’s immigration policy. He replaces colleague Amber Rudd who was forced to resign for implementing a “hostile” immigration policy put in place by Prime Minister Theresa May during the six years she was the Home Secretary in the David Cameron government.

May could almost be called a latter-day Powell as she too wanted to reduce the numbers of immigrants into the country and create a ‘hostile environment’ for BAME migrants so that they would return “home”.

However when details of denial of rights and harsh treatment of descendents of what is being called the Windrush generation (after the boat Empire Windrush that brought 492 Jamaicans to Britain in 1948) became public, there was a massive public backlash.

May’s fall-guy

The policy conflicted with the high ideals of equality of treatment, opportunity and justice regardless of race, religion and color that the British pride themselves on and of which Javid and Khan are living examples – so much so that Rudd became May’s fall-guy.

Javid does not share May’s vision and he made that very clear from his first speech in Parliament as Home Secretary when he rejected the polarizing “hostile environment” as “unhelpful, as it doesn’t represent our values as a country” in favour of a “compliant environment”.

Javid said: “Like the Caribbean Windrush generation, my parents came to this country from the Commonwealth in the 1960s…I thought that it could be my mum, my brother, my uncle or even me” who could be denied their rights and have to prove their status in Britain despite having lived here for 70 years.

Javid is not close to May and has been openly critical of some of her decisions giving credence to some political analysts’ argument’s that May has given him the difficult job in order to see him fail.

Only time will tell who comes out on top, Javid or May. What May cannot take away from Javid is that he has broken so many glass ceilings to get to where he has and the only one left now is for a BAME to become prime minister.

Javid is perhaps best placed to become that too. When that happens Powell will really turn in his grave!

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2018/05/10/Sajid-Javid-a-triumph-of-British-multiculturalism-belying-rivers-of-blood-soothsayers.html

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Europe’s terror convicts gain freedom to improvised response

May 10 2018

Over the next two years, terrorism convicts will walk free from European prisons by the dozens - more than 200 inmates who largely formed the first wave of jihadist streaming to Syria and Iraq, dreaming of an Islamic caliphate not yet established.

In all, about 12,000 Europeans left to fight with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaida; about a third of those are now believed to be home, mostly living freely. Some are awaiting trial, but most never faced serious charges due to insufficient evidence.

And many more saw their travel plans thwarted, left behind to stew.

How much of a threat do these avowed extremists living throughout Europe pose, and how equipped are authorities to handle them? The response has been, at best, improvised.

The impending releases of jihadi veterans could be considered “a fourth wave of returnees,” according to Rik Coolsaet, a scholar at Belgium’s Egmont Institute.

“There are a number of personal frustrations and motivations that have pushed the kids in their journey to ISIS that we now have to address,” Coolsaet said. “If we don’t address it now, the environment will remain as conducive for this kind of jihadi violence.”

Farid Benyettou, an ex-jihadi who served four years in prison and has now publicly renounced extremist violence, fears Europe is not ready.

Once nicknamed the “imam Voltaire” after the school he left to become a backroom preacher to young Muslims, Benyettou has written a book detailing his descent into Islamic extremism.

Among the members of the group he once led were Cherif and Said Kouachi, who gunned down 12 people at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in 2015.

The cell epitomizes Europe’s urgent question: Are the terrorism convicts verging on freedom like Benyettou, the Kouachis or somewhere between?

“These guys who are convicted today or who are awaiting trial will get out one day,” Benyettou told The Associated Press. “And that’s the issue, in fact: What kind of preparations will there be for their release?”

Terrorism prison sentences in Europe until very recently averaged about six years, compared to 13 years in the United States, according to Europol data. Since 2015, sentences have risen, but remain well below U.S. levels.

“The danger is the risk of recidivism. We should not be too quick to believe certain terrorists who say they are repentant,” Catherine Champrenault, the Paris prosecutor general, recently told Le Monde newspaper.

France, which has been struck repeatedly by Islamic State fighters and sympathizers, will free 57 inmates - about half its current population of terrorism convicts. In Britain, where nearly half of terrorism sentences are four years or less, 25 inmates are due for release - fully three-quarters of those convicted under one of the country’s main terrorism statute as of mid-2017. In Belgium, 80 acknowledged foreign fighters already are free and as many as 44 others will be joining them. In Spain, 21 of 34 returning extremists already were free as of late last year. And in Bosnia and Kosovo, every jailed foreign fighter will go free.

In just those countries alone, the total runs to more than 200, according to the AP’s count.

And the actual number is undoubtedly higher because not every country releases data - notably Germany, which had nearly 1,000 residents leave for the war zone but releases no comprehensive figures on convictions or releases.

The most recent attack blamed on returning foreign fighters was in March 2016, when an ISIL cell of jihadists set off suicide bombs at the Brussels airport and in the metro. The network already had attacked a Paris-to-Brussels high-speed train in August 2015 and orchestrated a brutal assault on Paris in November 2015. In all, the cell killed 162 people.

Still, the overwhelming majority of returning jihadists have not been arrested and have caused no harm.

Many of the homegrown extremists are young and poor with limited education, and feel cut off from society.

Once free from prison, no programs or policies govern them.

France applies a range of post-release constraints, ranging from requiring those freed to periodically check in with authorities - as is the case for Benyettou - to home detention.

In Bosnia, where all 23 terrorism convicts are leaving prison, the Justice Ministry said local housing, social workers and employment agencies are notified, but that there’s little capacity to do much more.

Britain has limited counseling and monitoring, and offers a voluntary re-integration program.

And Spain began “re-education and reinsertion” in 2016 in which terrorism inmates are evaluated for risk and undergo counseling. But the government said only 10 out 146 extremist inmates have undergone the much-hyped program.

For Benyettou, getting support as he planned a future was crucial to abandoning extremism. He studied first to be a nurse only to see that dream evaporate because of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. He is now training as a trucker.

“Everyone has setbacks in life, plans that don’t happen. For me, it’s my past,” he said. “You bounce back and try to do something besides to fall back on this logic of victimhood.”

And that’s where many fear Europe will fail the next wave of terrorism convicts

Full report at:

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/europes-terror-convicts-gain-freedom-to-improvised-response-131635

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Islamist cells raided in Italy for 'financing terrorism'

10th May 2018

ITALY: Twenty raids were underway in Italy on Thursday targeting two Islamist cells suspected of laundering money to fund jihadist fighters in Syria, police and investigators said.

Arrest warrants are out for 14 suspects, the sources in northern Brescia and the Sardinian capital Cagliari said in a joint statement.

The Brescia cell was made up of 10 Syrians suspected of "abusive" use of payment services in various EU countries such as Sweden, Italy and Hungary, as well as in Turkey.

"Two of them are also accused of financing terrorism," the statement said.

The Sardinian cell included four militants of Syrian and Moroccan origin accused of backing the Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

They too are accused of financing terrorism, the statement said.

Full report at:

http://www.newindianexpress.com/world/2018/may/10/islamist-cells-raided-in-italy-for-financing-terrorism-1812845.html

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Europe safer thanks to Iran's anti-terror efforts: Rouhani to Merkel

May 10, 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Iran's anti-terror efforts in the Middle East region have helped make the world a safer place.

"Determined to achieve and maintain regional stability and security, Iran has always tried to de-escalate tensions in the region and under no condition does it welcome more tensions," Rouhani told the German leader in a phone conversation on Thursday.

Citing Iran's military advisory role in Iraq and Syria as examples, the Iranian head of state said even Europe has benefited from the Islamic Republic's successful anti-terror efforts.

"The battle that Iran and the people of Iraq and Syria fought against Daesh terrorists has brought relatively good levels of security to Syria and Iraq, and has benefitted the region and the world, including Europe," he asserted.

'Europe's time to save JCPOA limited'

Rouhani also brought up US President Donald Trump's recent decision to pull out from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a landmark nuclear deal that Iran signed in 2015 with the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany.

"Breaching and stamping on an agreement endorsed by a United Nations Security Council resolution will lead to damaging consequences on the world stage," he said.

The JCPOA was reached after some 12 years of negotiations between Iran on one side and the six world powers on the other in July 2015.

After criticizing the agreement for months, Trump on Tuesday officially declared that Washington was pulling out of the deal.

The American head of state claimed that the deal had failed to stop Iran's development of ballistic missiles and lacked mechanisms to stop its growing influence in the region.

In announcing his decision, Trump said he will not only reinstate the anti-Iran sanctions that were lifted as part of the deal but will also “be instituting the highest level of economic” bans against the country.

Merkel, who had advised Trump against the move, said it was very important for Europe to keep the JCPOA in place.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561292/Iran-Germany-Rouhani-Merkel-Trump-JACPOA

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UK apologises to Libyan dissident Belhaj over rendition

by Arwa Ibrahim

May 11, 2018

The UK has apologised for contributing to the ill-treatment of Libyan dissident Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who was kidnapped in Thailand in 2004, transferred to Libya and tortured.

Belhaj - who was seized with his then-pregnant wife Fatima Boudchar and four children while on their way to the UK - has said that a tip-off from MI6, the British foreign intelligence agency, led to their capture.

"The UK government's actions contributed to your detention, rendition and suffering ... On behalf of Her Majesty's government, I apologise to you unreservedly," Theresa May, Britain's prime minister, said in a letter to Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar, which was read out in parliament on Thursday by Jeremy Wright, the attorney general.

Wright said the settlement with the couple included a £500,000 payment to Boudchar.

Speaking in Istanbul, Turkey, after the settlement was announced, Belhaj said: "I welcome and accept the prime minister's apology, and I extend to her and the attorney general my thanks and goodwill.

"For more than six years I have made clear that I had a single goal in bringing this case: justice. Now, at last, justice has been done.

"Britain has made a wrong right today, and set an example for other nations to follow."

Belhaj's case, and that of another Libyan dissident Sami al-Saadi, whose family was also abducted and rendered to Libya, had been investigated by British police who accumulated nearly 30,000 pages of evidence over a five-year period.

While the Saadi family received a £2m ($2.5m) settlement two years ago, Belhaj insisted he only wanted an apology and a symbolic £1 ($1.24) payment from each of the defendants.

Following the announcement, which Boudchar attended with her son in London, she thanked the British government for their apology.

"I thank the British government for its apology ... I accept the government's apology," Boudchar said.

"By today's settlement, I look forward to rebuilding my life with dignity and honour, and living free from the weight of these events with my husband and our five beautiful children."

For Cori Crider, a lawyer and the strategic director of Reprieve's Abuses in Counter-Terrorism Team, who has been working as a lawyer and counsel to the family for many years, the settlement is a victory.

"This is not just Abdul-Hakim and Fatima's victory. It is a victory for everyone who opposes injustice, secret detention, and torture," said Crider in a written statement following the announcement.

"Britain lost its way when it got mixed up in rendition, but today, by apologising for its part in that dark story, the UK has stood on the right side of history."

Years-long ordeal

A former fighter with the anti-Gaddafi Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), Belhaj was imprisoned in Libya for six years after his capture.

During that time he says he was routinely tortured and mistreated.

The case came to light after the fall of Tripoli in 2011, when faxes from Mark Allen, MI6's then-counterterrorism director, describing the rendition flights were found in the ransacked office of Moussa Koussa, Libya's head of intelligence.

The US deemed the anti-Gaddafi LIFG to be a "terrorist" group allied with al-Qaeda.

Belhaj denied that any links between the group and al-Qaeda existed and said he believed his rendition to Libya was part of a covert deal between former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown and killed in a popular uprising in 2011.

Reconciliation deal

Belhaj and Saadi were released from jail in Tripoli in 2010 under a reconciliation deal arranged by Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam.

British officials, including Jack Straw, then the foreign secretary and responsible for MI6, repeatedly denied that they had anything to do with the rendering of "terror" suspects, a practice more widely undertaken by the CIA.

However, in 2011, documents revealed when NATO aircraft destroyed the Tripoli offices of Gaddafi's intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, implicated the UK government.  

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/uk-apologises-libyan-dissident-belhaj-rendition-180510121257142.html

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Mideast

 

Russia: Israeli strikes used 28 planes, fired 70 missiles

10 May 2018

Israel’s strikes on Syria saw 28 planes take part in raids with a total of around 70 missiles fired, Russia’s defence ministry said on Thursday.

“28 Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft were used in the attack, which released around 60 air-to-ground missiles over various parts of Syria. Israel also fired more than 10 tactical ground-to-ground missiles,” the ministry said in a statement, quoted by Interfax news agency.

Russia said Syria’s air defense systems shot down more than half of the missiles, while the extent of the damage was still being assessed.

“The locations of Iranian armed groups and also the positions of the Syrian army’s air defenses in the area around Damascus and in the south of Syria were attacked,” the ministry said. Israel carried out the raids after it said around 20 rockets were fired from Syria at its forces in the occupied Golan Heights overnight.

It blamed the rocket fire on Iran’s Al-Quds force, adding that Israel’s anti-missile system intercepted four of the projectiles while the rest did not land in its territory.

‘Restraint on all sides’

On Thursday Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov called for “restraint on all sides”, adding that Moscow was “concerned” at the development.

The strikes came a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose country has provided massive military and diplomatic backing to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s seven-year civil war.

At the meeting Putin also expressed “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from a key 2015 Iran nuclear deal on Tuesday, a decision Netanyahu supported. On Wednesday the Russian leader called the situation in the Middle East “unfortunately very acute”.

Netanyahu had told Putin that “it is the right of every state, certainly the right of Israel, to take the necessary steps in order to protect itself from (Iranian) aggression)”, his office said in a statement Wednesday, referring to Iran’s presence in Syria.

Moscow informed

Israel forewarned Russia of its strikes on Thursday against multiple targets in Syria, an Israeli military spokesman said.

“The Russians were informed prior to our attack by the established mechanisms that we have,” Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters without elaborating.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/10/Russia-Israeli-strikes-used-28-planes-fired-70-missiles.html

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UAE puts nine Iranian entities, individuals on terrorism list

10 May 2018

The  United Arab Emirates listed on Thursday nine Iranian entities and individuals on the terrorism list for transferring funds to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

According to the statement published by WAM, the Cabinet issued Ministerial Resolution No. 24 of 2018, which included the nine entities and individuals supporting terrorism.

Individuals and entities were listed as having bought and transferred millions of dollars to the Quds Force of the IRGC and its agents to finance activities to destabilize the region by concealing the purpose for which the dollars were obtained.

Iranian entities and individuals were included in the list as a result of close cooperation between the UAE and the United States of America, which included the same individuals and entities on their list.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin praised the efforts of the UAE and its close cooperation in this regard, stressing that all countries of the world should be aware of Iran's efforts to exploit the financial institutions of other countries to exchange currencies and finance terrorist organizations which are active under the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/05/10/UAE-puts-nine-Iranian-entities-and-individuals-on-terrorism-list.html

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New US Military Base in Manbij to Increase Ankara-Washington Tensions

May 10, 2018

Spokesman for Manbij's Military Council affiliated to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) Sharfan Darwish announced on Wednesday that the US forces have set up a new military base in Manbij in Northern Syria at the borders with Turkey.

He said that the French forces have been stationed in the military base with the aim of monitoring and protecting the borders, adding that the base has been established immediately after the Turkish army and its allies' attacks on the Kurdish forces in Afrin and Ankara's repeated threats to enter Manbij.

Experts say military assessments show that establishment of a new military base in Manbij that comes in the backdrop of US President Donald Trump's pullout pledge will exacerbate tensions between Washington and Ankara.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, a long convoy of Turkish Army vehicles arrived in Western Aleppo to set up the tenth truce monitoring point.

The Turkish army sent a convoy, including 60 military armored and military vehicles, to al-Rashedeen strategic region in Western Aleppo via Kafr Luseen passageway.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970220000470

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Iran does not want ‘new tensions’ in Mideast, Rouhani tells Merkel

10 May 2018

Iran does not want “new tensions” in the Middle East, President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday in a telephone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“Iran has always sought to reduce tensions in the region, trying to strengthen security and stability,” Rouhani said, according to a statement on the website of Iran's presidency.

Rouhani did not mention Israel’s strikes on Thursday against what the Jewish state said were Iranian targets in Syria, or those against the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/05/10/Iran-does-not-want-new-tensions-in-Mideast-Rouhani-tells-Merkel.html

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Israel blames Iran for firing rockets at the Golan from Syria

10 May 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

assess is low.”

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

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

Israel has neither confirmed or denied responsibility.

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

Full report at:

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

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Israeli attacks on Syria meant to prop up terrorists: Iran

May 11, 2018

Iran has condemned Israel's recent attack on Syria, calling it an attempt by the main supporter of Syrian terrorist groups to retaliate their many defeats against the government of Syrian President Bashar as-Assad.

"The Zionist regime's repeated attacks on Syrian soil under self-proclaimed, baseless pretexts amount to a blatant violation of Syria's sovereignty and goes against all international conventions," Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said in an early Friday statement.

The statement came after Israel attacked dozens of targets inside Syria in what the Tel Aviv regime claimed was its most extensive strike against the Arab country in decades.

Israeli officials said the assault early on Thursday was a response to a barrage of 20 rockets that were fired from Syria at Israeli military outposts in the occupied Golan Heights hours earlier. It also blamed the rocket fire on Iran.

The regime's attacks against Syrian military positions have become more frequent over the past months, amid Assad forces' major victories over terrorist groups across the country.

Qassemi said the terror groups were in fact "proxies" waging war on behalf of the US, Israel and their regional allies.

"Today, the main supporters of these groups are directly attacking and invading Syrian territories in an attempt to avenge the many failures of their self-created terrorists and tip the scales in their favor," he asserted.

"The Zionist regime cannot stand peace and stability in the region and sees its own safety in making the region all the more unstable," the ministry spokesman argued, blasting the international community for giving the Israeli regime the green light by refusing to take action in the face of its crimes. 

Damascus says Israel and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups operating inside the Arab country, while the Tel Aviv regime's military carries out sporadic strikes against Syrian government forces. The Israeli regime has even set up field hospitals to treat wounded militants evacuated from Syria.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/11/561297/Iran-Syria-Qassemi-Israel-attacks-Golan

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EU warns about 'dramatic escalation of hostilities' in Yemen

May 10, 2018

The European Union has expressed concerns about escalating tensions in Yemen, saying the crisis gripping the impoverished country needs a political solution not a military approach.

In a statement released on Thursday, Maja Kocijancic, the EU spokeswoman for foreign affairs and security policy, said Yemen has witnessed "a dramatic escalation of hostilities" in the past few weeks, resulting in many casualties and civilian infrastructure damage.

"This escalation runs against the commitment of all sides to a political solution of the conflict in Yemen and feeds into a vicious cycle of successive retaliations that risks to undermine the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and put the resumption of peace talks in jeopardy," the statement read.

"There is no military solution to the conflict in Yemen. Only a negotiated, political solution through an inclusive process can put an end to the conflict and restore hope for stability and peace in the country and the region," it added.

The EU further supported a Wednesday statement by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the conflict in Yemen.

Guterres reminded the parties to the Yemen crisis that "a negotiated political settlement through inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue is the only way to end the conflict and address the ongoing humanitarian crisis."

Calling on all sides to refrain from further escalation, he noted that all potential violations of international humanitarian law should be thoroughly investigated.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a war on Yemen in March 2015 in support of Yemen’s former Riyadh-friendly government and against the Houthi Ansarullah movement

The military campaign has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians, according to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights.

Several Western countries, the US and the UK in particular, are accused of being complicit in the aggression as they supply the Riyadh regime with advanced weapons and military equipment.

Yemeni forces regularly target positions inside Saudi Arabia in retaliatory attacks against the Riyadh-led military operation.

Saudi Arabia tests alarm system

In another development on Thursday, Saudi Arabia tested a new siren system for the capital, Riyadh, and Eastern Province, amid retaliatory missile strikes from Yemen.

The Saudi civil defense said in a statement that the system was designed to "face risks of all kinds" and alert the population "in case of emergency."

It also posted a video on its website showing the testing of the new siren system.

The Yemeni army and allied popular fighters from the Houthi Ansarullah movement have launched a number of missile attacks on economic and other targets deep within the Saudi soil in retaliation for the devastating war that has been launched by Riyadh on its southern neighbor since March 2015.

On Sunday, Yemeni forces fired a domestically-manufactured Zalzal-2 (Earthquake 2) ballistic missile at the Ain al-Thwareen base in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern Asir region.

Last month, Houthi fighters fired two Badr 1-type ballistic missiles at a Saudi Aramco facility in Saudi Arabia's Jizan Province. They also targeted Jizan airport in with a missile strike.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561266/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-EU

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Turkey issues arrest warrants for nearly 190 over affiliation to Gulen network

May 10, 2018

Turkish prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for nearly 190 people on suspicion of affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices in the western province of Izmir had issued arrest warrants for 96 people, including 91 suspended soldiers who served the Turkish Air Forces Command.

The source added that 93 arrest warrants had also been issued in the capital Ankara for former employees of a school linked to Gulen’s movement, outlawed and branded by Ankara as the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

A police operation is reportedly underway to apprehend the suspects.

During the botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.

“Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders,” he said in a statement.

The 77-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he says is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561242/Turkey-issues-arrest-warrants-for-nearly-190-over-affiliation-to-Gulen-network

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Saudi-led raids kill more Yemenis, including 2 whole families

May 10, 2018

The entire members of two Yemeni families have been killed in separate Saudi Arabian-led airstrikes on residential areas in Yemen.

Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported that all members of a family, including the father, mother, and their two children, were killed when their house was targeted in a Saudi-led airstrike in the Azreqein neighborhood in the capital, Sana’a, in the early hours of Thursday.

It added that two other civilians were also killed in the same airstrike, which also wounded six people, including three children.

Late on Wednesday, Saudi-led fighter jets also killed a single parent and her four children in an airstrike against a residential area in the town of Dhahian in the northern province of Sa’ada, al-Masirah said in a separate report.

According to Yemen’s official Saba news agency, Saudi-led warplanes carried out at least 16 airstrikes on several provinces in the war-torn Yemen over the past 24 hours. In one incident, the coalition aircraft hit a residential area in Sa’ada with banned cluster monitions, killing a child and wounding a couple.

Saudi Arabia and its allies launched the war on Yemen in March 2015 in support of the country’s former Riyadh-friendly government. The war has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians, according to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights.

In one of the deadliest air raids, Saudi warplanes last month targeted a wedding ceremony in Hajjah several times, killing almost 50 people and wounding 55 others. Saudi jets also carried out raids on the ambulances transporting the casualties to local hospitals.

Late on Wednesday, Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, launched a domestically-made short-range Badr-1 ballistic missile against a military base in Saudi Arabia’s southern region of Najran in a retaliatory strike, al-Masirah reported, citing an unnamed security source.

A few hours earlier, the Yemeni forces had fired several domestically-made Burkan 2-H (Volcano H-2) ballistic missiles at “economic targets” in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, the report said, saying all missiles successfully hit their designated targets.

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

Saudi Arabia often claims that it intercepts incoming Yemeni missiles, but a close study of evidence by The New York Times last year clearly suggested that in one of the most high-profile of such Yemeni missile attacks, the projectile, launched deep into Saudi territory, had in fact landed unimpeded, bypassing American-made Patriot missiles and potentially other defenses used by Riyadh. Saudi Arabia claimed that it had foiled that attack, which targeted the Riyadh airport.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/05/10/561227/Yemen-Saudi-Arabia-airstrikes-whole-families

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Africa

 

ICC renews call to arrest Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi

May 10, 2018

The International Criminal Court yesterday renewed its calls for the arrest of Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Al-Khaleej Online reported.

Since 2011, the ICC has been calling for Gaddafi’s arrest on charges that he carried out crimes against humanity during the revolution that ousted his father, but the Libyan judiciary has insisted it would prosecute him.

However, he had been released and a couple of weeks ago, a family member announced he would run in the presidential elections.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown but called for him to be handed over to the international court.

Carrying out field investigations in Libya is difficult, she said. “The security situation is aggravating due to the conflict among the warring parties.”

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180510-icc-renews-call-to-arrest-saif-al-islam-gaddafi/

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Outrage after deadly South Africa mosque attack

by Azad Essa

May 11, 2018

South African police are hunting for three attackers who slit the throat of an imam and stabbed and seriously injured two other people at a Shia mosque.

The attack on the mosque on Thursday in Verulam, a town 27km north of Durban, left the Muslim community outraged and demanding answers.

Major Bheki Langa, KwaZulu-Natal province's acting police commissioner, said in a statement the motive was still unclear. The assailants also set the mosque on fire before escaping in a getaway vehicle.

"Such criminality cannot be tolerated. A team of investigators has been dispatched to solve the case and bring perpetrators to book," Langa said.

Emergency rescue services said the imam's throat had been slit and he later died, while the two other men had been stabbed. Both victims were in hospital in critical condition.

Swift condemnation

The incident drew immediate condemnation from the Muslim leadership across the country.

Faisal Suleman, chairperson of the South African Muslim Network, told Al Jazeera his organisation would not want to speculate on a motive given it was still not clear.

"We condemn this attack and we are urging the law enforcement to spare no effort in apprehending the perpetrators alive so that the reasons become known," Suleman said from Durban.

"South Africa has not had such attacks in the past, so we caution against speculation."

The Muslim Judicial Council denounced the bloodshed and said the core of Islamic teachings and principles are "respect for all human beings".

Islamic scholar Shaykh Rafeek Haseen told community radio station Voice of the Cape that Durban's Muslim community is in shock and urged people not to jump to conclusions.

"It may be a case of money laundering or a personal issue between the perpetrators and the victims. I do not think we should jump to conclusions that this attack is motivated by sectarianism," said Haseen.

The United Ulama Council of South Africa denounced "these grievous and vicious attacks".

"We condemn these unjustifiable acts of violence, which foster nothing but tension, mistrust, and insecurity within communities," said the group's Secretary General Yusuf Patel.

Extremely rare

Muslims make up about 1.9 percent of South Africa's 55 million population, with most following the Sunni Muslim denomination. Attacks on mosques are extremely rare, but observers note anti-Shia rhetoric has been on the rise over the past few years, especially on social media.

Farid Sayed, editor of the Muslim Views newspaper based in Cape Town, said there have been attacks on mosques before, but usually from the "racist, white right-wing".

Sayed said many Muslims in South Africa deny the fact that there is intra-faith intolerance in the community.

"One can dismiss this as a once-off attack, it may not even be a sectarian attack. But I think it alerts us to the fact that we could actually be facing a situation where there could be violence [in the future].

"In the past, it was always verbal attacks, not physical. I have some [social media] posts that suggest that it 'was just a Shia mosque', in other words, they deserved to be attacked," Sayed said.

The country's parliament also released a statement condemning the violence.

"A mosque is a religious institution and South Africa's constitution guarantees and protects the right to religious practices," Francois Beukman, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, said in a statement released from parliament.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/outrage-deadly-south-africa-mosque-attack-180510200743838.html

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Expert says poverty makes youth vulnerable to terror

May 10, 2018

Poverty, ignorance and increased unemployment make Muslim youths in Africa vulnerable to extremist activities as terrorist groups like Al Shabaab often recruit the youngsters and use them in terror activities after promising them money, said a lecturer from an Ugandan university.

Ebraheem Ssali, lecturer of Arabic language at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and the executive secretary of the African Forum for Muslim Councils (AFMC) - a religious body for uniting all Muslim councils in Africa, told Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the International Muslim Minorities Congress (IMMC) in Abu Dhabi that some Muslim youths in African countries such as Somalia, Kenya, Nigeria and others are often lured into joining extremist groups because they are poor and unemployed, and also lack basic knowledge about their religion.

"There is an urgent need to help the Muslim youths in Africa through education and sensitisation so that they learn more about the values of the religion like peace and tolerance, and the dangers of extremism and radicalism," he said.

According to Ssali, among the main challenges faced by Muslim minorities in many African countries are the lack of adequate education services, youth unemployment and discrimination by governments. The UAE had in April launched a global committee to help tackle problem of millions of Muslim minorities around the world who face discrimination by helping bridge the gap between the Muslims and the governments.

Called the International Muslim Minorities Congress (IMMC), the platform based in Abu Dhabi is headed by the Muslim Council of Elders and will comprise representatives from 140 countries.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, on Tuesday told the audience that Abu Dhabi establishes itself as the world's capital of tolerance and peaceful co-existence by playing host to the world council of Muslim minorities.

"The UAE adopts a forward-thinking vision based on considering that cultural pluralism and peaceful co-existence between all segments of society are prerequisites for development, progress and stability. In the UAE, we are benefiting from the moderate nature of Islam to convey a message of tolerance through our media and educational institutions. All nations should embrace the same," Sheikh Nahyan told the conference.

Ssali, who was among the Ugandan delegates who gathered along with other Muslim leaders and government officials at the two-day conference, said the International Muslim Minorities Congress would help tackle problems facing Muslim minorities in Africa and other parts of the world.

"Young African Muslim men and women need to be engaged in Islamic activities and capacity building through training on vocational and technical skills that help them get employment," he said.

Ssali noted that through the African Forum for Muslim Councils (AFMC), Muslim leaders in Africa are trying to help educate Muslim youths on the basic principles and values of the religion through lectures in colleges and universities, mosques and organising community development workshops.

Full report at:

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/abu-dhabi/expert-says-poverty-makes-youth-vulnerable-to-terror

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Uganda: Was Usafi Mosque a Terrorist Hide-Out, or Security Front?

9 MAY 2018

By Baker Batte Lule

There are many theories swirling around the swoop on the Usafi market mosque on the night of April 27 by police and the army.

A day after the raid, the minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, police spokesman Emilian Kayima and his army counterpart, Brig Richard Karemire addressed the press. They said the attack followed intelligence that one of the key suspects in the Susan Magara murder that shocked the nation in February had sought sanctuary in the mosque.

The three officials said the attack revealed a lot of heinous crimes being committed in the mosque, including the holding of more than 100 people, including children and women hostage.

Over the last two weeks, The Observer has talked to numerous people about this mosque and their story is similar. To them, government knew about this mosque, the extremists running it, its radicalised membership and whatever indescribable mischief has been happen- ing there.

Even security forces do not deny that they have been aware of the criminal goings-on, although, according to them, there was no actionable intelligence.

ABOUT USAFI MOSQUE

The land on which the mosque sits near Usafi market, belonged to the late Ibrahim Kimera who in the 1990s had been given amnesty after denouncing rebellion and severing ties with the Islamist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) terror outfit led by the now-jailed Jamil Mukulu.

Speaking to The Observer, one of the earlier members of the mosque (who became one of the preachers there), said it was first used as a prayer area after Kimera disagreed with colleagues at the main Tabliq sect mosque at Nakasero.

"We wanted to put all the prophet's Sunna [ways of the prophet Muhammad PBUH] in practice and that was not possible at Nakasero," the former leader said.

There was no incident until Abdul- Rahman Faisal became the leader. The former leader said Faisal slowly planned to eject Kimera. The management of the mosque first proposed to buy out Kimera for Shs 400 million but this plan died out.

"With the help of powerful people in government they pushed out Kimera and Faisal took full control of the mosque," the preacher said.

Interestingly, Kimera died after a long illness on the same day the mosque was raided. After consolidating his grip on the leadership, Faisal sought to establish total control over his followers. Some of them told The Observer that Faisal required that all his 'students' are registered.

"He said he needed to know all of us and that it was important for us to swear an oath of allegiance to him as our supreme leader," Mahmoud Ssebugwawo, a former student, said.

His followers believed in him so much that he would instruct them to sell their homes and opt to stay at the mosque.

"It was him and him alone; he said he was reawakening the sunna but his actions were at cross-purposes with the sunna. We started getting suspicious of his methods," the preacher man said.

"Many of those people arrested there, they went there willingly contrary to what police is saying that they have been held against their will."

YOU'RE NOT MUSLIMS

Perhaps this explains why the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council under Mufti Shaban Mubajje, the Kibuli-based leadership of the Supreme Mufti, Sheik Siliman Kasule Ndirangwa and the Nakasero-based Jammuiyyat Da'awa Assalaffiya and other Muslim groupings have not condemned the attack.

To the Usafi group who refer to themselves as the Al Khawaaliji, all other Muslims in Uganda are kafir (non- believers).

"Faisal would say anybody who has not killed a non-Muslim is not yet a believer. He would refer to all sheikhs in Uganda except Quraish Mazinga as pastors," Salimdin Ayiko, another former student of Faisal, said.

To show that they believed that anyone who was not a member of their mosque was a non-Muslim, they would not buy meat anywhere in Kampala. Every week they slaughtered their own animals. They also never responded to the Islamic greeting of salaam unless greeted by a fellow Al Khawaaliji.

"No mosque in Uganda can preach what they have been preaching for all this time and it remains open. I have no doubt in my mind that Abdul-Rahman Faisal has been working with the state. They know him properly; he has been on their mission," one of the most senior sheikhs at Nakasero said.

"People have complained about his preaching; they have filed cases at different police stations but nothing has been done. One time police made some arrests at the mosque but Gen Kale Kayihura (former police chief ) ordered for their release before they could even spend a day in detention. This is not the overzealous Kayihura we knew who would arrest people on unsubstantiated allegations," the sheikh added.

Ssebugwawo adds that Faisal freely said on loud speakers that their leader was Jamil Mukulu, now the jailed leader of the rebel ADF.

"His teachings were that there was no way a true Muslim would practice Islam in Uganda whose leaders are anti- Islam."

"He would tell us that we were here briefly; that our ultimate place to be was the Daula Islamiyya [Islamic state] which our amir had created for us in the Democratic Republic of Congo called Al-Madina," our first source said.

ORDER ARRESTS

One of the people The Observer talked to for this story was Ismail Katende [not real name], a student at Makerere University, whose two friends were lured into joining the Daula Islamiyya in DRC. They were among a dozen others arrested at the Uganda-DRC border.

"Every small detail of how they joined, where they joined and how much money they had paid as commitment fees to the struggle was laid bare in their trial. This showed that someone; maybe their recruiter, was working for government," Katende says.

Katende says he narrowly survived being part of the group. His antennae were raised when his would-be recruiters asked him to provide two passport- size photographs.

"I wondered what they needed my photographs for. I was ready to join and I had availed myself. Why then would they require me to take photos? This made me suspect foul play; that's why I stepped back to reflect... They never came back to try to convince me," Katende says.

SECURITY VIEWPOINT

Speaking at Uganda Media Centre on Monday, police deputy spokesperson, Patrick Onyango, denied that security agencies are using Faisal for counterterrorism; to lure radical young Muslims into joining rebel activities and then arrest them.

"How do we work hand in hand with criminals; that can't happen. Those are just allegations that can't be proved. We don't work with criminals, no, no no," Onyango said.

Asked about allegations that groups such as this were the creation of Kayihura, and that the current Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola is on a mission to crack the whip, Onyango feigned ignorance.

"Our main duty is to dismantle criminal gangs; that's why I put on this uniform. If the current IGP is doing that, then we are very happy," Onyango said.

On why it took them years to take action despite reports by different people on the nature of activities at the mosque, Onyango said people must realise that police needed to have enough information before acting.

"Normally our operations are intelligence-led. In this case, we didn't have enough intelligence to raid it. This is a religious institution we cannot just raid without justifiable reasons," Onyango said.

On the whereabouts of Abdul-Rahman Faisal, Lt Col Deo Akiiki, the deputy army spokesman, could neither deny nor confirm that they had him. He also denied that two soldiers were found at the mosque on the night of the raid.

The police said it has 154 people in custody with investigations still ongoing. Onyango said those found to be having a prima-facie case will be charged in court before the end of this week.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201805100173.html

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