New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 28 Oct 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

US Commission for International Religious Freedom: Religious Freedom in India Continued 'Downward Trend' In 2018







Muslims in Bengal Raise Funds for Temple Demolished For Road; A Maulvi Inaugurates It

Muslims Join Hindus to Celebrate Diwali Swaminarayan Temple in Karachi

'Ideology Does Not Die With Baghdadi': For US Law Enforcement, ISIS Threat Remains

Photo of Trump Watching Baghdadi Raid Was Staged: Former White House Photographer

At Border Mosque, a Muslim Prayer Is Shared Across the US-Mexico Divide

UN Says Cannot Verify Credibility of US Statement on Al-Baghdadi's Death

Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, Likely Successor to Dead ISIS Leader Also Reported Killed

Saudi Arabia Says Baghdadi 'Distorted' Image Of Islam, Praises Killing

Hefazat Chief’s Blessing Sought to Maintain Communal Harmony

After Baghdadi Death, Southeast Asia Expects Long Fight against Islamic State's Influence

Iran: Terrorism, ISIL Not Ended by Al-Baghdadi's Death

 

India

US Commission for International Religious Freedom: Religious Freedom In India Continued 'Downward Trend' In 2018

Muslims in Bengal Raise Funds for Temple Demolished For Road; A Maulvi Inaugurates It

Several European Parliamentarians Visiting Kashmir Are From Right-Wing, Anti-Islam Parties

Sikh devotees’ procession leaves from Delhi for Nankana Sahib: Pak High Commission

Islam Isn’t So Weak, Shabana Azmi Hits Back After People Troll Shah Rukh Khan For Wearing Tilak

PM Modi arrives in Saudi Arabia; to attend key economic forum, hold bilateral talks with King Salman

15 civilians injured in grenade attack by terrorists at Sopore bus stand

Pakistan targets civilian areas in Nowshera sector of Rajouri

Terrorists kill Jammu-based truck driver in Anantnag

Indian banks should exploit untapped potential in Islamic banking: Experts

Tipu Sultan to be removed from history textbooks? Education minister seeks report

J&K: Rs 45 lakh award for info on five Hizbul militants

J-K administration orders continuation of officials in UTs of J-K, Ladakh

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Pakistan

Muslims Join Hindus to Celebrate Diwali Swaminarayan Temple in Karachi

Pakistan: Islamists Join the Global Protest Fray

No one can give assurance for his own life, let alone someone else's, Pak PM Khan on Nawaz Sharif's health

Free speech muzzled in Pakistan: Activist stopped from speaking to media

China warns member countries not to politicise FATF

PM orders steps to save children from sexual abuse

PM, Khalilzad say Afghanistan peace in region’s best interest

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North America

'Ideology Does Not Die With Baghdadi': For US Law Enforcement, ISIS Threat Remains

Photo of Trump Watching Baghdadi Raid Was Staged: Former White House Photographer

Senior Politician: Trump Using Al-Baghdadi's Death as Token for Election Campaign, US

US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says US will ramp up economic pressure on Iran

Trump using al-Baghdadi’s death to further predatory policy of US imperialism: Scholar

Trump claims impeachment was reason he kept Daesh raid secret

US military convoys cross back into Syria from Iraq: Observatory

US ramping up sanctions on Iran with 'specific' Israeli ideas: Mnuchin

Remains of Daesh leader Al-Baghdadi buried at sea

Mnuchin says US will ramp up pressure on Iran

Anti-Daesh coalition to meet in Washington November 14: US

Trump considering releasing Baghdadi raid video

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Europe

At Border Mosque, a Muslim Prayer Is Shared Across the US-Mexico Divide

UN Says Cannot Verify Credibility of US Statement on Al-Baghdadi's Death

Anti-Muslim letter sent to mosque in German capital

Macron receives Muslim Council amid headscarf debate

Radical associations to be disbanded in overhaul of French Islam

Former ultra-right candidate tries to burn French mosque, shoots 2

Gunman with ‘far-right connections’ opens fire at mosque in Paris

Terrorist sympathizers in London attack Turkish mayor

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Arab World

Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, Likely Successor to Dead ISIS Leader Also Reported Killed

Saudi Arabia Says Baghdadi 'Distorted' Image Of Islam, Praises Killing

Saudi Arabia Working For Promotion Of ‘True Image Of Islam’

Iraqi Intelligence Shared ISIS Leader's Location With US-Led Coalition: Report

Baghdadi given burial at sea, afforded religious rites

Iraqi military declares curfew in Baghdad: State TV

US threatens ‘military force’ against ‘any group’ challenging occupation of Syria oil fields

Iraqi parliament passes measures to meet anti-govt. protesters' demands

Golan will remain integral part of Syria: Ambassador Ja’afari

Indian PM Narendra Modi: ‘We value the Kingdom’s vital role’

Security increased at Daesh prisons after leader’s death

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South Asia

Hefazat Chief’s Blessing Sought to Maintain Communal Harmony

Afghan, US forces kill over 80 Taliban fighters, officials say

Taliban key commander among 5 killed in Afghan district

Airstrikes kill 31 Taliban and ISIS militants in 6 provinces

Airstrikes kill 52 Taliban militants in 5 provinces

U.S. envoy for Afghan peace, Pakistani Prime Minister discuss Afghan peace process

Special Forces kill, detain 30 Taliban militants in Nangarhar and Kunduz provinces

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Southeast Asia

After Baghdadi Death, Southeast Asia Expects Long Fight against Islamic State's Influence

Minister says will defend athletes’ right to wear what they want

Sarawak CM says must be fair to all because he is Muslim

Malaysia's leader decided by top Pakatan Harapan body: PM Mahathir

​​​​​​​ Mass group disperses 'caliphate' lecture planned by former HTI members in NTT

Indonesia Seeks Preferential Trade Deal with 'Old Friend' Morocco

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Mideast

Iran: Terrorism, ISIL Not Ended by Al-Baghdadi's Death

Iran Looms Over Race to Lead U.N. Nuclear Agency

Gunmen blow up oil pipeline in southeastern Yemen

Gaza Terrorist Groups Raise Alert Level amid Fears Of Israeli Operations

Turkey detains 20 foreigners seen tied to ISIS: Anadolu

Saudi Arabia's detention of Palestinians unacceptable: Hamas official

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Africa

How the death of ISIS leader Baghdadi affects Boko Haram in Nigeria

US AFRICOM says it eliminated 25% of ISIS militants in Libya

Renewed Boko Haram attacks displaced 140,000 persons in 2019 – UN

Al Qaeda-linked group reappears in Nigeria

Nigeria: 38 Aid Workers Killed in Boko Haram Conflict

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/us-commission-for-international-religious-freedom--religious-freedom-in-india-continued--downward-trend--in-2018/d/120121

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US Commission for International Religious Freedom: Religious Freedom In India Continued 'Downward Trend' In 2018

Press Trust of India |  Washington

April 29, 2019

Citing India as one of the countries where it is increasingly difficult to separate religion and politics, a US federal government appointed commission on Monday alleged that religious freedom in India continued a "downward trend" in 2018.

US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in its annual report on international religious freedom, said that in several countries where it found deteriorating religious freedom conditions in 2018, it also found increased "securitisation and politicisation" of religion.

For example, in countries like India, it is increasingly difficult to separate religion and politics, a tactic that is sometimes intentional by those who seek to discriminate against and restrict the rights of certain religious communities, the USCIRF said.

And the very governments perpetrating or tolerating these abuses often decry interference in internal affairs when they are rightfully admonished for their deplorable religious freedom and human rights records, the report said, without mentioning India.

India has previously rubbished USCIRF's report on religious freedom, saying the group has no locus standi to pass its judgement and comment on its citizens constitutionally protected rights.

USCIRF retained India in Tier Two Category of countries on religious freedom. Other countries being Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.

Countries are placed in Tier 2 for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the systematic, ongoing, egregious standard for designation as a country of particular concern.

Based on its report, USCIRF recommended that the State Department in 2018 redesignate 10 countries as Countries of Particular Concerns on religious freedom. These are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

USCIRF also found that six other countries meet the CPC standard and should be so designated: Central African Republic, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

In the India section of the report, USCIRF said that in 2018, religious freedom conditions continued a downward trend".

"Its history of religious freedom has come under attack in recent years with the growth of exclusionary extremist narrativesincluding, at times, the government's allowance and encouragement of mob violence against religious minoritiesthat have facilitated an egregious and ongoing campaign of violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindu and lower-caste Hindu minorities," it said.

USCIRF alleged that in 2018, approximately one-third of state governments increasingly enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws discriminatorily against non-Hindus and Dalits alike.

Further, cow protection mobs engaged in violence predominantly targeting Muslims and Dalits, some of whom have been legally involved in the dairy, leather, or beef trades for generations. Mob violence was also carried out against Christians under accusations of forced or induced religious conversion, it said.

In cases involving mobs killing an individual based on false accusations of cow slaughter or forced conversion, police investigations and prosecutions often were not adequately pursued.

Rules on the registration of foreign-funded nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) were discriminatorily implemented against religious minority groups. Religious freedom conditions varied dramatically from state to state, with some states continuing to be relatively open, and free for religious minorities, while othersif taken on their ownhad systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom, the report said.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi seldom made statements decrying mob violence, and certain members of his political party have affiliations with Hindu extremist groups and used inflammatory language about religious minorities publicly, the report said.

Victims of largescale attacks in recent years have not been granted justice, and reports of new crimes committed against religious minorities were not adequately accounted for or prosecuted.

India's substantial population both complicates and limits the ability of national and state institutions to address these issues, USCIRF said.

USCIRF said the Indian government repeatedly has denied USCIRF access to India.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/religious-freedom-in-india-continued-downward-trend-in-2018-uscirf-119042901261_1.html

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Muslims in Bengal Raise Funds for Temple Demolished For Road; A Maulvi Inaugurates It

Koushik Dutta

Oct 29, 2019

Nasiruddin Mandal had a special job on Sunday night.

The maulvi of the local mosque in West Bengal’s Birbhum district inaugurated a temple dedicated to goddess Kali, on a night when the state was observing Kali Puja.

The show of communal amity took place in Basapara of Nanoor area, about 160 km away from state capital Kolkata, that often grabs headlines for political fights.

“I have inaugurated mosques and madrasas. But this is the first time I have inaugurated a Hindu temple. It’s a different feeling altogether,” Mandal said.

Members of the Muslim community in Basapura even raised money to rebuild the Kali temple that was demolished two years ago for widening a village road. They also purchased the land for relocating the temple.

According to the 2011 census, Muslims constitute about 35% of the population of Nanoor block.

“The temple was demolished for widening a road that was an urgent need of the locals. The temple was about 30 years old and devotees regularly came here,” a local, Nikhil Bhattacharya, said.

After the temple was demolished, locals took up the plan to rebuild it at a new location. Muslims joined the drive to raise funds and, in fact, ended up collecting Rs 7 lakh of the total Rs 10 lakh that was spent to rebuild the temple at a new site.

“We discussed the issue of rebuilding the temple with locals most of whom are from the Muslim community. They collected funds. Of the Rs 10 lakh spent for the temple, Rs 7 lakhs was raised by Muslims,” Sunil Saha, president of the temple’s puja committee, said.

Both Bhattacharya and Saha said Muslims also helped in organising Durga Puja in 2018 and 2019 that became uncertain since the puja was held in the temple. They organised funds and gave logistics support to organise the puja in the absence of the temple.

“If local Muslims did not help us, organising the puja and rebuilding the temple would not have been possible. So we invited Nasiruddin Mandal to inaugurate the temple on Sunday evening,” said Saha.

Kerim Khan, the official in charge of road affairs in Birbhum Zilla Parishad, who hails from the area, said, “We are not ready to regard it as an issue involving two communities. We all live together peacefully. We stand beside each other and this is our culture. We have played a small role in the rebuilding of the temple.”

A local leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) praised the efforts.

“It’s indeed nice that people from both communities came together in the construction of the temple. We do believe in living together and not to be divided by religion,” Dilip Ghosh, the BJP’s vice-president of Birbhum district unit, said.

Over the past few years, there have been quite a few incidents in West Bengal where one community came forward to help the other.

In December 2018, Mohammad Faruq, a 58-year-old resident of Dubrajpur area in Birbhum district, donated land for setting up a crematorium for Hindus. The land that he gave had a market value of about Rs 10 lakh.

In 2017, a Muharram committee of Kharagpur town in West Midnapore district decided not to organise Tajia, and instead, gave the money to a Hindu cancer patient for his treatment.

In the same year, when no drum beater turned up to perform at a Tajia in Muharram in Suvur village of Bhatar area of East Burdwan district, the dhakis at the Durga Puja in the village replaced them.

In another incident in November 2017, a group of Muslims came forward to fund the wedding of a Hindu woman in Khanpur village of Malda district, when her family could not afford it.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/muslims-in-bengal-raise-funds-for-temple-demolished-for-road-a-maulvi-inaugurates-it/story-wbTc4eCg7jbjKYROzgRprK.html

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Muslims Join Hindus To Celebrate Diwali Swaminarayan Temple In Karachi

By Sameer

October 28, 2019

Karachi: Members of the Muslim community joined Hindus to celebrate Diwali at the Swaminarayan Temple here.

Muslims participate in celebrations

Karachi’s Sunni and Shia Muslims participated in the celebrations at the Temple on MA Jinnah road on Sunday to honour the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness, and to once again set an example of inter-faith harmony, Pakistani media reported. Somewhere ‘salam’ was replied with ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Happy Diwali’ with ‘Thank You’, while the arrangements were made not only by Hindus but Muslims as well, especially social and political activists, who were seen assisting the minority community to make their festival as memorable as possible.

“It’s a decades-old tradition at the mandir, where Hindus and Muslims get together for the celebration of holy occasions,” said Vijay Maharaj, a custodian of the Temple.

He said that such celebrations provide an opportunity to other communities to closely observe the Hindus faith and their religious culture.

Hindu community share joys, love with other communities

On the occasion of Diwali, the Hindu community share their joys and love with one another as well as with other communities, he added.

Qurat Mirza of the Women’s Action Forum said that the presence of government officials and political leaders at the Diwali celebrations was negligible, but the presence of civil society and social activists was encouraging enough.

https://www.siasat.com/pakistan-muslims-join-hindus-celebrate-diwali-1708974/

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'Ideology does not die with Baghdadi': For US law enforcement, ISIS threat remains

By Josh Campbell, CNN Law Enforcement Analyst

October 27, 2019

(CNN)While the announcement on Sunday of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been praised among a bipartisan group of elected US leaders, current and former law enforcement officials say the possible threat to the US homeland by ISIS sympathizers persists.

Two senior US law enforcement officials tell CNN that agencies and police departments around the country remain on guard for any potential coordinated or lone-wolf attacks that could occur by individuals seeking to retaliate against the death of Baghdadi, who died Saturday evening during a raid in Syria by US special operations forces.

The officials noted that although authorities remain on alert, there is currently no known specific or credible threat to public safety.

Since the major rise of ISIS in 2014, federal law enforcement has dedicated significant resources to investigating sympathizers of the group and stopping plots inside the United States. Earlier this month, an FBI spokesperson told CNN that of the approximately 5,000 open international terrorism cases being investigated by the bureau, about 1,000 are on individuals associated with ISIS.

Recent cases of thwarted plots include the arrest of Everitt Jameson, a 27-year-old former US Marine who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for providing material support to ISIS and attempting to conduct a Christmas holiday terrorist attack in San Francisco in 2017.

Another case involved the arrest of Vicente Solano, a 53-year-old ISIS sympathizer who was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison after the FBI learned of his desire to bomb a Florida shopping mall.

The concern by law enforcement about potential attacks following the death Baghdadi is similar to those that resulted in the wake of the killing of Al Qeada leader Osama bin Laden. Following his death, the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to law enforcement to be on alert, although no domestic attacks materialized.

According to experts, the death of Baghdadi will require additional vigilance on the part of law enforcement to identify new potential threats, while also ensuring they have complete visibility on known and suspected bad actors.

"The FBI will be increasing surveillance on individuals on their radar as ISIS followers, and will likely increase attention to social media platforms," said Lisa Monaco, a former career national security prosecutor who also served as homeland security adviser under President Barack Obama.

Although President Donald Trump has previously declared the defeat of ISIS, that view is not universally held among national security professionals.

"ISIS is not defeated," said Brett McGurk, the former US envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, who resigned in December following Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria after announcing the terrorist group's demise.

This view of ISIS' lingering threat is shared by other experts who note that the group's near certain territorial defeat does not mean its violent ideology will be equally eliminated. Current and former government officials tell CNN the terrorist group will continue to have the ability to inspire sympathizers around the globe to act with violence, regardless of its current status on the battlefield or the death of its leadership.

"The bottom line is this is a great day for the US national security community and the unrelenting focus of counterterrorism professionals," said Lisa Monaco. "But they also know that the ideology does not die with Baghdadi, and we have to remain vigilant."

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/10/27/politics/baghdadi-raid-isis-threat-us-law-enforcement/index.html

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Photo of Trump watching Baghdadi raid was staged: Former White House photographer

Oct 28, 2019

A former White House photographer puts into question the shooting time of a photo in which US President Donald Trump and his advisers are said to be monitoring the operation of killing Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Pete Souza, the chief official White House photographer for former presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, tweeted that the photo released by the White House of Trump in the Situation Room alongside US military top brass monitoring the raid did not match up with the reported time of the raid.

Pete Souza

@PeteSouza

The raid, as reported, took place at 3:30PM Washington time. The photo, as shown in the camera IPTC data, was taken at "17:05:24". https://twitter.com/Scavino45/status/1188451497421561856 …

Dan Scavino Jr.🇺🇸

@Scavino45

View image on Twitter

58.5K

8:35 PM - Oct 27, 2019

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26.1K people are talking about this

Souza, an outspoken critic of Trump, said the timestamp showed it was taken at 17.05 on Saturday – more than 90 minutes after the 3.30 p.m. raid reportedly happened.

There were also tabloids claiming that the US president was golfing at the time of the operation and that he returned to the White House at 3.33 p.m.

Some others suggested that the photo was released to be compared with the photograph of Obama intently watching the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Souza also said it was possible that the operation continued through the time the photo was taken.

"It's entirely possible that the raid was still going on at 5:05 p.m. Before drawing definite conclusions about the photo, reporters need to nail down the actual timeline of the raid."

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Trump said he watched the operation alongside Vice President Mike Pence, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and a few others.

He marveled at the quality of the video feed, telling reporters it was "like a movie."

On Saturday, Newsweek reported that the United States military had conducted a special operations raid against the ringleader.

According to a senior Pentagon official familiar with the operation and Army official briefed on the matter, a "high value ISIS (Daesh) target" - believed to be Baghdadi - was targeted during a top-secret operation in Syria's northwestern Idlib province earlier on Saturday.

The Joint Special Operations Command carried out the raid after receiving actionable intelligence, according to sources familiar with the operation.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/28/609770/US-Donald-Trump-Abu-Bakr-alBaghdadi-daesh

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At Border Mosque, a Muslim prayer is shared across the US-Mexico divide

October 28, 2019

Alejandra Molina

PLAYAS DE TIJUANA, Mexico (RNS) — Imam Omar Suleiman led a binational prayer Sunday (Oct. 27) at Friendship Park, a historic meeting place on the U.S.-Mexico border that overlooks the Pacific Ocean between San Diego and Tijuana.

Participants believe it was the first time a formal Muslim prayer was shared across the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“There is no barrier between us and the heavens today,” said Suleiman, founder of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research in Irving, Texas, who stood on the U.S. side of the wall.

Suleiman delivered a message of solidarity with migrants and deportees at “Pray Beyond Borders,” a binational day of prayer that invited Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith leaders.

The event was held to commemorate the six-month anniversary of Border Mosque, a group of Muslims that meets for prayer at the border on the last Sunday of the month. Those prayers coincide with Border Church, or La Iglesia Fronteriza, a Sunday service held for the last decade at the border and led by the Rev. John Fanestil, a United Methodist minister.

Since April, the Border Mosque group has joined Fanestil in prayer once a month.

“We hear you and we will continue to strive for you and to pray for you,” said Suleiman, addressing those on the Mexico side of the wall. “ … We will not allow our prayers for you to be restricted to this physical space.

“We were created by one God and that one God has given us all dignity and has called us to recognize that dignity in each and every one of us,” he said.

Friendship Park was dedicated in 1971 by then-first lady Pat Nixon at a time when the border, as the local news site Voice of San Diego described, consisted of “just a few strings of barbed wire.” The park is open between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the U.S. side Saturdays and Sundays. Last year new U.S. government restrictions took effect at the site, limiting 10 people in the area at the same time, with federal immigration officials rotating them in and out every 30 minutes. Fanestil said 25 people used to be allowed in the area.

People visiting loved ones from the U.S. side are secured between two walls.

About a handful of people Sunday joined Suleiman in midday prayer on the U.S. side, as Fanestil stood next to them. About two dozen on the Mexico side participated as passersby, food vendors and tourists looked on. Communion for Border Church resumed after the Muslim prayer.

The Rev. David Farley, director of justice and compassion ministries for the California Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church, said he’s seen how militarized the border has become over the years.

“It’s become more restricted,” said Farley, who celebrated Communion on the Mexican side of the border on Sunday. “You used to be able to reach your hands across.”

Farley said the presence of faith communities at the border is crucial.

“I think it’s a way of saying, ‘We’re not going away. We’re not giving up,'” he said. “This is a witness forever until justice comes … I think it’s a very valuable thing to be consistently present.”

Sonia Garcia, who participated in the prayer from Mexico, said she believes the interfaith gathering can help remove physical barriers.

“This is historic … and it’s a miracle from God,” said Garcia, founder of the San Diego-based Latina Muslim Foundation.

There’s a lot of feelings toward the deported, toward people who are on the other side and people here. “There’s a feeling of pain, but it’s a valuable day for Muslims,” she said.

For Guillermo Navarrete, a lay leader with the Methodist Church of Mexico, the Sunday gathering was “something very impactful.”

Navarrete said the interfaith service is more than just a gathering and acceptance of different faiths.

“It opens a perspective of unity,” he said. “We’re all children of God.”

“A goal of this place is to offer peace, hope and faith to those who don’t have it — to the one who has been deported, to the migrant who doesn’t know where to go and who is being oppressed by immigration laws,” said Navarrete who ministers on the Mexico side during Border Church.

Tania Mendoza, a Playas de Tijuana resident who was deported from the U.S., said the unity between Border Church and Border Mosque strengthens the community along the dividing line.

Mendoza, 33, said she’s at the border every other Sunday to represent Dream Will Childhood Arrivals, a binational support group for people like her, who were brought to the U.S. as kids, are undocumented and later find themselves deported from the U.S. She said she hasn’t been able to see her child since she was deported nine years ago.

“You lose the dreams. You lose education. You lose resources,” said Mendoza, who went to high school in Los Angeles. “You have to start all over again.”

She found Sunday’s service enlightening.

“When I see a Muslim community getting included and adapting to our ways … It brings a lot of happiness because we’re getting together,” she said.

For Anissa Trejo Garcia, 34, who is Muslim and lives in Tijuana, this kind of interfaith prayer makes sense. Trejo Garcia said she became Muslim about five years ago after her husband converted.

“This gathering is important because in the end, we all believe in one single God,” she said.

“We’re all going to the same place … So it’s great for us to unite, regardless of religion and race.”

https://religionnews.com/2019/10/28/at-border-mosque-a-muslim-prayer-is-shared-across-the-us-mexico-divide/

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UN says cannot verify credibility of US statement on al-Baghdadi's death

Oct 29, 2019

Spokesman for the UN Secretary General says the world body cannot verify the accuracy of the United States' claim on the death of Daesh leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"We’ve taken note of the announcement by the President of the United States on the death of Abu Bakr alBaghdadi, the leader of the UNdesignated terrorist group Daesh," Farhan Haq said in a press briefing Monday.

However, he said the UN "cannot personally verify the accuracy of this."

" We trust the reliability of the various sources of information that have been speaking up, but, obviously, any sort of information would need to be verified by the various authorities on the ground," he noted.

When asked why the UN was only taking note of, and not welcoming the death of Daesh chief who was killed in a weekend operation, Haq stuck to the wording and refused to welcome the development.

"This is one of the events that we’ve taken note of.  We’ve made very clear that any progress against Daesh is to be welcomed. The SecretaryGeneral and the many branches of the UN, including our offices dealing with political affairs, with counterterrorism and others, have repeatedly urged all Member States to work together in the fight against Daesh, and any progress against them is to be commended," he added.

"Daesh has committed heinous crimes and brought tragedy and death to thousands of men, women and children. And we should take this moment to remember the victims and families of victims of terrorism," Haq said.

Meanwhile, the US has confirmed the killing of Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, billed as Baghdadi’s right-hand man in the Syrian town of Jarablus in Aleppo province.

Also according to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, an American soldier has been killed while two terrorists captured during the operation to take out Baghdadi.

US President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had blown himself up, dying "like a dog," and "like a coward" after American forces trapped him inside a dead-end tunnel in a village in Syria.

"Last night the United States brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice," Trump said while addressing the media at the White House on Sunday.

The president said the Daesh leader detonated his suicide vest while “crying and whimpering” during an overnight raid by American special ops forces in Syria. He said the explosion was so strong that al-Baghdadi’s body was “mutilated” and the tunnel was destroyed but forensics teams were able to identify his remains.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/29/609825/US-claim-Daesh-leader-death-farhan-haq

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Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, Likely Successor to Dead ISIS Leader Also Reported Killed

By Ben Hubbard and Karam Shoumali

Oct. 27, 2019

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A day after an American raid killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a separate attack killed the man who was considered his likely successor, according to the leader of a Syrian Kurdish militia and a Syrian activist.

The spokesman, known by his nom de guerre Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, was being smuggled across northern Syria in the back of an oil tanker truck when it was hit by what witnesses said they believed to be an American airstrike, according to Hussein Nasser, an activist who said he had spoken to people at the scene.

Mazlum Abdi, the head of a Kurdish-led militia that fought the Islamic State with the United States, wrote on Twitter that Mr. al-Muhajir had been killed on Sunday in an operation coordinated between his forces and the United States.

American officials could not immediately confirm the reports that Mr. al-Muhajir had been killed.

The spokesman issued his last statement in March, calling for retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims in New Zealand by a white supremacist.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/world/middleeast/al-baghdadi-successor-reported-killed.html?

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Saudi Arabia says Baghdadi 'distorted' image of Islam, praises killing

OCT 28, 2019

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said Monday that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had distorted the image of Islam, and hailed his killing by US special forces in northwestern Syria.

"The kingdom appreciates the US administration's efforts to pursue members of this terrorist organisation that distorted the real image of Islam... and committed atrocities and crimes," said a Saudi foreign ministry source, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

"Saudi Arabia continues its efforts with its allies, especially the United States, in fighting terrorism," the source added.

US President Donald Trump announced on Sunday that Baghdadi had died "like a dog" in an overnight raid by US special forces in Syria.

Trump said many IS jihadists had been killed in the raid and that Baghdadi had detonated a suicide vest when he was cornered in a tunnel.

IS had seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, imposing a violent form of Islamic rule on some seven million residents of its "caliphate", headed by Baghdadi.

The Iraqi, believed to be 48 years old, was rarely seen during his years as leader of the group, last appearing in a propaganda video in April.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/saudi-arabia-says-baghdadi-distorted-image-of-islam-praises-killing/articleshow/71793566.cms

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Hefazat chief’s blessing sought to maintain communal harmony

October 28th, 2019

Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council delegation made courtesy call on Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi 

A four-member delegation of Bangladesh Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council, a platform for the religious minority communities, made a courtesy call on Allama Shah Ahmad Shafi, ameer of Hefazat-e-Islam, in Chittagong’s Hathazari upazila Monday afternoon.

The delegates, led by the council’s General Secretary Rana Dasgupta, met with the hardliner Islamist leader at Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Madrasa in Hathazari, according to a press statement issued by the council on Monday.

During the meeting, the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council delegates thanked Shafi, on behalf of the religious minorities, for maintaining peace and order in the area during the recent violence in Bhola.

They also sought Shafi’s blessing so they would be able to maintain communal harmony in future. In response, Shafi offered his blessings for them.

The other three members of the delegation were Indunandan Dutta, member of the unity council’s central advisory board, Dr Gobinda Prasad Mohajan, vice president of the council’s North Chittagong district unit, and Dr Ashok Kumar Deb, general secretary of the council’s Hathazari upazila committee, the press statement said.

A protest, sparked by hate speech against Islam via fabricated Facebook messages, turned violent and led to a clash between a mob of Islamist protesters and police in Borhanuddin upazila, Bhola on October 20, which killed four people and injured 200 others.

In response to the Bhola clash on the same day, an unruly mob in Hathazari, after bringing out a procession in protest from Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Madrasa, went on a violent rampage and vandalized Hathazari police station.

However, Azizul Haque Islamabadi, central organizing secretary of Hefazat-e-Islam, claimed that no student of the Qawmi Madrasa had taken part in the vandalism.

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2019/10/28/hefazat-chief-s-blessing-sought-to-maintain-communal-harmony

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After Baghdadi death, Southeast Asia expects long fight against Islamic State's influence

28/10/2019

By Martin Petty and Rozanna Latiff

MANILA/KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Southeast Asian countries fighting Islamic State’s influence in the region lauded the killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi but said security forces were preparing for a long battle to thwart the jihadist group’s ideology.

The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, home to some of Asia’s most organised Islamist militants, said on Monday they were braced for retaliation by Islamic State loyalists, including “lone wolf” attacks by locals radicalised by the group’s powerful online propaganda.

Baghdadi killed himself in a tunnel in northwest Syria by detonating a suicide vest as U.S. forces closed in, according to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Though his death will unsettle Islamic State, it remains capable and dangerous, said Delfin Lorenzana, defence secretary of the Philippines, where the group’s influence has taken a hold among unschooled Muslim youth in its troubled Mindanao region.

“This is a blow to the organisation considering al-Baghdadi’s stature as a leader. But this is just a momentary setback considering the depth and reach of the organisation worldwide,” Lorenzana said. “Somebody will take his place.”

Southeast Asia has long been an important focus for Islamic State, which has inspired Islamist militants in West Africa, across the Middle East and Asia and through to Indonesia and the Philippines.

The Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are concerned Islamic State supporters from the region and those fleeing Iraq and Syria could exploit the porous borders, lawlessness and abundant arms found in Mindanao to take refuge in its far-flung villages.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for four suicide bombings since July last year in the Philippines, which fought its toughest battle since World War Two in 2017 when extremists seeking to establish an Islamic State laid siege to Marawi City and occupied it through five months of air and ground assaults.

Fighters from at least seven countries took part, including Malaysia, which remains on high alert and has arrested 400 people suspected of links to militant groups.

Malaysian police counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said the real concern was not Islamic State’s leadership but the effect of its teachings.

“It’s good news, but his death will have little impact here as the main problem remains the spread of the Islamic State ideology,” he told Reuters.

“What we are most worried about now are ‘lone wolf’ attacks and those who are self-radicalised through the internet. We are still seeing the spread of IS teachings online. IS publications and magazines from years ago are being reproduced and re-shared,” he said.

‘JIHADWILLNEVERSTOP’

Chatrooms in messaging applications used by Islamists such as Telegram showed defiant messages about Baghdadi’s death, according to a researcher who monitors activity by Islamic State sympathisers.

“God Willing, whatever happens, Islamic jihad will not rely on any one individual, but will always stand tall on the orders of God and His Prophet,” read one posting under the handle Ansurul Ummah.

Another participant, Abu Abdullah Asy Syami, posted: “Jihad will never stop, even if our own caliph dies.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a similar observation, and said Baghdadi’s death was by no means the end.

“This is a many-headed monster … As you cut one off, another one inevitably arises,” he told reporters.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country, is grappling with a resurgence in militancy and has detained hundreds of suspects this year under tightened anti-terrorism laws.

Authorities believe thousands of Indonesians draw inspiration from Islamic State and about 500 are thought to have joined the group in Syria.

Indonesia’s intelligence agency said it was ready for retaliation and though Baghdadi’s death would be a psychological blow, Islamic State would have a successor in place.

“It is a war. Usually, there must be a counterattack or the like. When it comes to security, we are sure that we will secure this country,” said its spokesman, Wawan Purwanto.

Security analyst Rommel Banlaoi said Baghdadi’s demise and uncertainty about the leadership could undermine operations of Islamic State loyalists seeking to regroup and establish their own territory in Southeast Asia.

“Pro-ISIS groups in the Philippines will surely re-examine their roles in the post-Baghdadi era,” he said.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff in Kuala Lumpur, Tom Allard and Agustinus Beo Da Costa in Jakarta, John Mair in Sydney and Martin Petty and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by David Clarke)

https://www.euronews.com/2019/10/28/after-baghdadi-death-southeast-asia-expects-long-fight-against-islamic-states-influence

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Iran: Terrorism, ISIL Not Ended by Al-Baghdadi's Death

Oct 28, 2019

"Daeshism, terrorist and sectarian thoughts and extremism still exist and it has always been among the tools used by countries like the US," Mousavi said in an interview with the state TV on Sunday.

"We do not see the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the end of terrorism and the ISIL, and we warn that this way of thinking is still alive and their remnants might be reorganized by the Americans again to conduct sabotage operations in the region," he added.

Mousavi described the US hype over killing al-Baghdadi as not a so big achievement, noting that the US president means to make use of the incident in his election campaign.

"The ISIL was defeated by us (Iran) and the regional states; yet we should wait and see the next plot hatched by the enemies for the future of the region," he said.

Baghdadi died "whimpering and crying" in a raid by US special forces in northwest Syria, President Donald Trump claimed on Sunday.

Baghdadi killed himself during the raid by detonating a suicide vest after fleeing into a dead-end tunnel, Trump said in a televised address from the White House.

He was positively identified by DNA tests 15 minutes after he died, he said. "He was a sick and depraved man and now he's gone."

The Russian military on Sunday questioned the official US account of the military raid that killed al-Baghdadi, saying it was not aware of any US military operations in the region.

In a statement, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the Russian military “does not have reliable information” on a US Special Operations raid in Syria’s Idlib province, adding, “The increasing number of direct participants and countries that allegedly took part in this ‘operation,’ each one giving completely contradictory details, raises legitimate questions and doubts about its existence and especially the level of its success.”

In a statement that followed the raid, Trump thanked Russia for its assistance, as well as Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds.

Russia maintains a major base in Syria at Lattakia. Konashenkov said, however, that the Russian military had observed no strikes by US aircraft in the region.

“Firstly, on Saturday and in recent days no air strikes were made on the Idlib de-escalation zone by US aircraft or the so-called ‘international coalition’ were recorded,” Konashenkov said. “Secondly, we are not aware of any alleged assistance to the passage of American aviation into the airspace of the Idlib de-escalation zone during this operation.”

Konashenkov argued in his statement that Syrian government backed by Russian air power had defeated ISIL, saying that al-Baghdadi’s death “has absolutely no operational significance on the situation in Syria or on the actions of the remaining terrorists in Idlib”.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980806000518

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India

 

Several European parliamentarians visiting Kashmir are from Right-wing, anti-Islam parties

JYOTI MALHOTRA and AZAAN JAVAID

28 October, 2019

New Delhi/Srinagar: The Narendra Modi government is signalling a shift of sorts by allowing 28 members of the European Parliament (MEP) to travel to Jammu & Kashmir Tuesday. But it now transpires that several of the visiting MEPs are from Right-wing and extreme Right-wing parties in Italy, Germany and France.

Lega Nord of Italy, Rassemblement National of France and Alternative For Germany (Deutsche, or AfD) have one thing in common: They are seen to be anti-immigration, anti-Islam and anti-Euro.

Alice Wiedel, a leader of Germany’s AfD, in the run up to the 2017 polls, said the arrival of more than a million refugees had made the country “a safe haven for criminals and terrorists”, and that those who attacked homosexuals were “always the same”, that is, “people with Muslim backgrounds, Arabs”.

Lega Nord, or simply Lega, which was led until September by Italy’s former deputy prime minister and interior minister Matteo Salvini, at a 2018 conference in Vienna on security and migration, likened African immigrants to slaves — evoking a rebuke from the Luxembourg foreign minister who was present.

Rassemblement National (National Rally)’s leader Marine Le Pen, who in 2018 tried to rebrand her party by changing its name (it was earlier Front National) and moving towards a more populist and anti-immigrant position and away from its anti-Semitic and racist overtones, is said to be a friend of Salvini.

A local NGO, WESTT, is said to be the Indian host of the European parliamentarians. Other MEPs from Britain and Poland are also part of the delegation.

‘Private visit’

The Ministry of External Affairs seems to have washed its hands of the European Union delegation. Sources said the MEA had “nothing to do with them”, that this was a “private visit”.

Significantly, European Union diplomats in Delhi said the same thing. “They are in Delhi in their personal capacity,” an EU diplomat who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told ThePrint.

Except that the meeting of the European parliamentarians with Prime Minister Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was not so private.

An official statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said: “PM Modi expressed the hope that (the MEPs) have a fruitful visit to various parts of the country, including Jammu & Kashmir. Their visit to Jammu & Kashmir should give the delegation a better understanding of the cultural and religious diversity of the region of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh; apart from giving them a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region.”

Official sources also said that the European parliamentarians separately met NSA Doval for more than half-an-hour, and he briefed them on a “number of facts” which countered the “false propaganda by Pakistan”.

Doval said there are no longer any restrictions on movement, that there is 100 per cent landline and mobile telephony in J&K, that all hospitals are functional, and that although terrorists were trying to disrupt a return to normalcy by targeting innocent civilians, the government was ensuring the normal functioning of the economy.

The NSA’s briefing was also historical in nature: How Pakistan had never objected to the inclusion of J&K as a state of the Indian Union, how Article 370 was always “temporary” and the only such one out of 395 articles in the Constitution, how J&K had signed the Instrument of Accession into India in 1947.

Itinerary in Kashmir

The MEPs will travel to Srinagar Tuesday and spend the night in the city. They are likely to visit the Dal Lake and attend a presentation by civilian and police administration about the present situation and the working of the state.

According to sources, the delegation is also likely to have a lunch session with Indian Army officials at Badami Bagh Cantonment.

Police sources also said that the MEPs had put in a request to visit the militant-affected Shopian district in south Kashmir, but the state administration recommended they visit Anantnag instead. Though Anantnag too is an area affected by militancy, the district has a high concentration of security forces. This plan has not been finalised.

The delegation is also likely to meet a select group of civil society members — in Anantnag if the MEPs end up going there, or in Srinagar. The MEPs are then likely to hold a press conference or an interaction with select journalists, which is set to be held at a heavily-guarded Army facility in Srinagar.

Significance of the visit

The MEP visit to Srinagar is clearly aimed at countering Pakistan’s attempt to internationalise Kashmir. Pakistan PM Imran Khan, with considerable help from the Chinese, has succeeded in bringing it into the UN Security Council, although India managed to restrict it to closed-door discussions.

Only a week ago, Islamabad took Pakistan-based diplomats and media to the Line of Control and told them that India’s claims regarding terrorists being pushed into Jammu & Kashmir was not true.

https://theprint.in/diplomacy/several-european-parliamentarians-visiting-kashmir-are-from-right-wing-anti-islam-parties/312599/

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Sikh devotees’ procession leaves from Delhi for Nankana Sahib: Pak High Commission

Oct 28, 2019

A group of Sikh devotees from India, part of a religious procession, on Monday started off their spiritual journey from Delhi to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, the birthplace of founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev, the High Commission here said.

The ‘Nagar Kirtan’ (procession) is led by Sardar Paramjit Singh Sarna, the former president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), and includes representatives from different sections of the Sikh community in India, the Pakistan High Commission said in a statement.

On Monday morning, the procession was sent off by several dignitaries, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, it said.

Acting High Commissioner of Pakistan Syed Haider Shah also attended the send-off ceremony as a special guest, the statement added.

The ‘Nagar Kirtan’ via Ludhiana and Amritsar would be crossing over to Pakistan on October 31 through the Wagah border, the High Commission said.

“Today, a religious procession (‘Nagar Kirtan’) of Sikh devotees from India started off their spiritual journey from New Delhi to the birthplace of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikh religion, in Nankana Sahib, a sacred city in Pakistan,” the statement said. This ‘Nagar Kirtan’ from India is being welcomed by Pakistan as a special gesture this year on the auspicious occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, it added.

“Around 1,300 visas issued for the ‘Nagar Kirtan are over and above the ‘jatha’ covered under the ‘Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines 1974’ between Pakistan and India,” the statement said.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/sikh-devotees-procession-leaves-from-delhi-for-nankana-sahib-pak-high-commission/story-51gdKPPQxoMpqs49vhJ8tI.html

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Islam Isn’t So Weak, Shabana Azmi Hits Back After People Troll Shah Rukh Khan For Wearing Tilak

Garima Satija

Oct 28, 2019

And once again Shah Rukh Khan is getting trolled for celebrating Diwali. This time when the superstar posted a picture sporting a tilak, he was called a “fake muslim” by some of the people on social media.

This time as well, trolls said that it was shameful that despite being a Muslim he was wearing a Tilak. While people called him fake muslim, Shabana Azmi who is also a Muslim took a stand for him.

Giving it back to the trolls, Shabana Azmi wrote on Twitter, "Appalled to read that@iamsrk  Diwali greeting invites wrath of rabid Islamists, gets called a “False Muslim” for sporting a tilak!”FUNDOS get a life! Islam is not so weak that it stands threatened by what is a beautiful Indian custom.Indias beauty is in her GangaJamuni tehzeeb."

Azmi Shabana

@AzmiShabana

Appalled to read that @iamsrk Diwali greeting invites wrath of rabid Islamists, gets called a “False Muslim” for sporting a tilak!”FUNDOS get a life! Islam is not so weak that it stands threatened by what is a beautiful Indian custom.Indias beauty is in her GangaJamuni tehzeeb

7,804

1:55 PM - Oct 28, 2019

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On Saturday, actor Vishwa Bhanu, who has worked in movies like Special 26 and Mardaani, had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that his Muslim neighbours were hindering his Diwali celebration. He said that they wouldn’t let his wife make Rangoli and they even destroyed the lights.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatimes.com/entertainment/islam-isn-t-so-weak-shabana-azmi-hits-back-after-people-troll-shah-rukh-khan-for-wearing-tilak-378755.html

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PM Modi arrives in Saudi Arabia; to attend key economic forum, hold bilateral talks with King Salman

Oct 29, 2019

RIYADH: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Riyadh late on Monday night on a two-day visit, during which he will attend the third edition of Saudi Arabia's high-profile annual financial conference and hold bilateral talks with top leadership of the Gulf Kingdom.

"Landed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, marking the start of an important visit aimed at strengthening ties with a valued friend. Will be taking part in a wide range of programmes during this visit," the prime minister tweeted.

The Prime Minister landed in Saudi Arabia a short while ago. https://t.co/l6WSNbsh7U

— PMO India (@PMOIndia) 1572295394000

He will deliver the keynote address under the title 'What's next for India?' at the Future Investment Initiative (FII), which is dubbed as 'Davos in the Desert'+ .

Besides addressing the forum he will hold bilateral talks with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two sides are expected to sign a number of agreements in several key sectors including oil and gas, renewable energy and civil aviation to bolster their ties.

The three-day forum, beginning on Tuesday, will host financiers, governments, and industry leaders who would discuss global trade and explore the trends, opportunities and challenges shaping the global investment landscape over the coming decades.

"India and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed traditionally close and friendly relations. Saudi Arabia has been one of the largest and reliable suppliers of India's energy needs," Modi said in his departure statement in New Delhi.

He noted that defence, security, trade, culture, education and people-to-people contacts are the other important areas of bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

The two sides would also sign an agreement to establish a Strategic Partnership Council to coordinate on key issues. The council will be headed by Prime Minister Modi and the crown prince and it will meet every two years.

"The Agreement for establishment of the Strategic Partnership Council will further elevate the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership to a new level," the prime minister said in his statement.

This would be Prime Minister Modi's second visit to the Gulf Kingdom. During his first visit in 2016, King Salman conferred Saudi's highest civilian award on him. The Crown Prince visited India in February 2019, giving a further fillip to the bilateral ties.

India's relations with Saudi Arabia have been on an upswing over the last few years. India's bilateral trade with Saudi Arabia was at $27.48 billion in 2017-18, making Saudi Arabia its fourth largest trading partner.

Saudi Arabia last month said that it was looking at investing $100 billion in India in areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining.

At the FII forum, Prime Minister Modi will speak on India's economy, its challenges and opportunities for equitable growth and prosperity.

"I will speak about the growing trade and investment opportunities for the global investors in India as the country marches forward to a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024," Modi said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pm-arrives-in-saudi-arabia-to-attend-key-economic-forum-hold-bilateral-talks-with-king-salman/articleshow/71798375.cms

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15 civilians injured in grenade attack by terrorists at Sopore bus stand

Oct 28, 2019

SRINAGAR: Fifteen civilians were injured when terrorists threw a hand grenade at the bus stand in Sopore town, north Kashmir, on Monday afternoon.

A woman was stated to be in critical condition, hospital sources said, adding that four of the injured had been evacuated to a Srinagar hospital. No arrests had been made at the time of going to press.

The attack comes a day ahead of the visit of a 19- member EU delegation to J&K on Tuesday to assess the situation.

Earlier, on Saturday, terrorists had lobbed a hand grenade at a CRPF picket near SMHS Hospital in Karan Nagar here, injuring six personnel. The terrorists managed to escape though security forces did launch a search operation.

According to the police, Monday’s targets were people waiting to catch a bus at the stand.

On September 28, a CPRF picket at Nawakadal, in Srinagar’s old city, was the target of a grenade attack, but no one was injured.

Fourteen people, including a traffic cop, were injured in a hand grenade attack near the deputy commissioner’s office in Ananatnag, south Kashmir, on October 5, and seven people were injured when terrorists threw a hand grenade at pavement vendors in Hari Singh High Street, Srinagar, on October 12.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/15-civilians-injured-in-grenade-attack-by-terrorists-at-sopore-bus-stand/articleshow/71796630.cms

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Pakistan targets civilian areas in Nowshera sector of Rajouri

Oct 28, 2019

JAMMU: Pakistan violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Nowshera sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district and targeted civilian areas on Monday afternoon.

“At about 2.30pm, Pakistan troops initiated unprovoked ceasefire violation by firing of small arms and shelling with mortars in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district. The civilian areas were also targeted by Pakistan, forcing people to take shelter in bunkers/safe places,” Jammu-based army spokesperson said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-targets-civilian-areas-in-nowshera-sector-of-rajouri/articleshow/71796581.cms

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Terrorists kill Jammu-based truck driver in Anantnag

Oct 28, 2019

SRINAGAR: Terrorists killed a truck driver while he was loading apples destined for a Delhi fruit mandi on Monday evening. However, unlike in the past, the consignment was not set ablaze.

The slain man, identified as Narayan Dutt from Katra, Jammu, was the sixth trucker to be killed by terrorists since October 15.

Security forces have launched a search operation after cordoning off the area. According to reports, the truck driver was loading his consignment on the national highway at Kanilwan Bijhepara, in Anantnag district of south Kashmir, when he was attacked. He was killed on the spot.

Earlier, on October 24, suspected Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists had gunned down two truck drivers and critically injured a helper at Chittargam Kalan village, in Shopian district of south Kashmir. One of the dead drivers had been identified as Mohammed Illiyas of Alwar, Rajasthan. The injured helper was Jeevan of Hoshiarpur, Punjab. Two of the three trucks that were attacked had been torched. "It's an unfortunate incident. The apple truck drivers had ventured into interior areas without informing the security forces," deputy commissioner M Yasin Chowdary had said then.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/truck-driver-shot-dead-by-terrorists-in-south-kashmir/articleshow/71795735.cms

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Indian banks should exploit untapped potential in Islamic banking: Experts

Oct 28, 2019

Indian and foreign banks should exploit Islamic banking's untapped potential to ensure the financial inclusion of “unbanked” populations excluded by the existing financial system, several experts have said.

Islamic banking is a finance system based on the principles of not charging interest, which is prohibited under Islam.

“Research shows that the Islamic finance sector continues to grow and evolve in size and complexity, with Islamic banking offered in more than 60 countries worldwide. It is an excellent opportunity for Indian/foreign banks to expand their footprint in India by venturing into this largely untapped sector,” said Islamic banking expert Hazik Mohamed.

He said Shariah instruments like bonds (more accurately, sukuk) and funds that are looking at Shariah-compliant investments will be able to meet the needs of Muslim investors from within India and externally from other parts of the world.

Islamic finance, including its interest-free and equity-based banking system, can complement the existing Indian banking and finance system, said Hazik, who has spent the last decade researching financial systems to understand the various types and causes of financial crises.

He is currently developing various solutions to reduce such events by implementing Shariah principles through digital technology.

“As an alternative financial system, Islamic finance will provide Indian consumers (Muslim and non-Muslim alike) an alternative system to meet their banking needs,” Hazik said.

For example, an Islamic investment product is typically asset-backed and has additional Shariah rules to curb it from sub-prime quality and equity-based rather than debt-based, which makes it financially more stable and contractually-vested to limit rogue and speculative behaviours, he explained.

Hazik said Islamic banks show certain advantages over conventional banks.

“Islamic banks' greater resilience to crises and shocks compared to conventional banks are based on empirical data from countries such as Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkey, UAE (GCC) where both types of banks exist,” he said.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has decided to not pursue a proposal for introduction of Islamic banking in the country.

Replying to an RTI query filed by PTI in 2017, the central bank had said the decision was taken after considering "the wider and equal opportunities" available to all citizens to access banking and financial services.

According to Abdur Raqeeb, general secretary of the Indian Centre for Islamic Finance (ICIF), an organisation pushing for Shariah banking in India, Islamic banking has the potential to contribute towards greater financial inclusion besides providing support to small and medium sized enterprises.

If Islamic banking is introduced, he said, the inadequate labour capital ratio for informal sector workers associated with agriculture and manufacturing industries could be resolved through equity finance, which might be a revolution in the Indian agriculture and unorganized sector.

“With improved labour capital ratio, our vulnerable workers associated with agriculture and unorganized sector might be able to compete effectively with the formal sector workers. Thus Islamic banking may financially empower majority of Indian workers,” Raqeeb said.

Asked about roadblocks behind not starting Shariah-based banking in India, he said Islamic banking has unfortunately been misunderstood in India as a religious charitable venture restricted to the country's Muslim community.

“There is a misconception that Islamic banking is beneficial for Muslims only and not for all. In Malaysia, more than 40 per cent of the investors and 60 per cent borrowers are non-Muslims. In Kenya, a predominately non-Muslim country, banks such as Gulf African Bank have indicated that as much as 20 per cent of the customer base is non-Muslim,” Raqeeb said.

According to him, in the Indian stock market, the Jain community more than Muslims has invested in Shariah compliant stocks like Tata Ethical Fund and Taurus Ethical Fund.

“Even the first halal product - IBA cosmetics -- was produced and sold by two Jain sisters in Ahmedabad,” claimed Raqeeb.

“Nomenclature of Islamic banking remains a point of concern for regulators and policy makers. A proper Indian name can be given to terminology of Islamic banking system,” he said, adding that “Participatory Banking” has been recommended by the Reserve Bank of India RBI in technical analysis of its interdepartmental report of 2014.

Referring to the recommendations of the Committee on Financial Sector Reforms (CFSR) headed by Raghuram Rajan, Raqeeb said the RBI and government of India have implemented several suggestions of the panel.

Full report at:

https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/economy/indian-banks-should-exploit-untapped-potential-in-islamic-banking-experts-4579841.html

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Tipu Sultan to be removed from history textbooks? Education minister seeks report

October 29, 2019

Karnataka Minister Suresh Kumar on Monday asked officials to look into the demand of a BJP MLA that the lesson on Tipu Sultan, the controversial 18th-century ruler of erstwhile Mysore Kingdom be removed from history textbooks, and submit a report in three days.

The Primary and secondary Education Minister has written a note to the Managing Director of Karnataka Textbook Society, asking them to invite the MLA, Appachu Ranjan and discuss the matter.

Invite (BJP) MLA Appachu Ranjan for the meeting and discuss the need for the lesson.. to keep it or to remove it, and submit a report to me in three days," Kumar said in the note.

Why did the BJP MLA want the Tipu Sultan lesson to be removed?

Ranjan had last week written to the minister demanding that the lesson on Tipu Sultan be removed.

Speaking to reporters, Ranjan had alleged that Tipu had converted thousands of Christians and Kodavas, to Islam forcibly and that he had run his administration in Persian language, and was not a freedom fighter.

Quoting Ranjan, Kumar in the note says, "The MLA has said that state government in Middle school history textbook has lesson about Tipu Sultan. Without knowing completely about his history it has been inserted as a lesson, so contents of the lesson are not true. He has been just glorified and projected."

"Tipu was anti-Kannada Persian administrator. By teaching history lessons about such a personality to children, it will be like distorting history of the state and the country," the minister, quoting from Ranjan's letter, said.

The MLA has sought removal of the lesson from the textbook and insert lessons that instill the feeling of "patriotism" to the future generation.

How Karnataka's BJP govt stood against Tipu Sultan

Soon after coming to power, the BJP government in Karnataka in July scrapped the birth anniversary celebrations of Tipu Sultan, an annual event the party had been opposing since 2015 when it was launched during the Congress rule.

The BJP and right wing organisations have been strongly opposing Tipu, calling the erstwhile Mysore king a "religious bigot".

Tipu was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort at Srirangapatna against the British forces.

Tipu Sultan, however, is a controversial figure in Kodagu district as Kodavas (Coorgis), a martial race, believe thousands of their men and women were seized and held captive during his occupation and subjected to torture, death and forcible conversion to Islam.

He was also accused of execution of Mandyam Iyengars at the temple town of Melkote in Mandya district on the day of Diwali as they supported the then Maharaja of Mysuru.

However, the scale of such suppression is disputed by several historians, who see Tipu as a secular and modern ruler who took on the might of the British.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/news/story/tipu-sultan-to-be-removed-from-history-textbooks-education-minister-seeks-report-1613649-2019-10-29

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J&K: Rs 45 lakh award for info on five Hizbul militants

October 29, 2019

J&K Police has announced awards worth Rs 45 lakh for information leading to the death or apprehension of five Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Kishtwar and Doda districts in the last two days.

In Kishtwar, it has announced a bounty of Rs 30 lakh on the head of militants Mohammad Amin alias Jehangir Saroori, Riyaz Ahmad alias Hazari and Mudassir Hussain.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/jk-rs-45-lakh-award-for-info-on-five-hizbul-militants-6092182/

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J-K administration orders continuation of officials in UTs of J-K, Ladakh

October 28, 2019

The administration on Monday ordered the continuation of the officers and officials in the two UTs — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — which will come into existence on October 31, an official spokesman said.

The order to this effect was issued by Deputy Secretary to the government, General Administration Department, Mohamrnad Usman Khan.

“In terms of the Section 91 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, every person who, immediately before the appointed day October 31, is holding or discharging the duties of any post or office in connection with the affairs of the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir in any area which on that day falls within one of the successors UT shall continue to hold the same post or office in that successor UT.

“And shall be deemed, on and from that day, to have been duly appointed to the post or office by the government of, or other appropriate authority in, that successor UT,” the spokesman said quoting the order.

He said the order invited the attention of all administrative secretaries, heads of departments, deputy commissioners, other officers and officials serving in Jammu and Kashmir to Section 91 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.

The Act read “9.1 provisions as to continuance of officers in the same post. Every person who, immediately before the appointed day, is holding or discharging the duties of any post or office in connection with the affairs of the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir in any area which on that day falls within one of the success or Union territory shall continue to hold the same post or office in that successor Union territory, and shall be deemed, on and from that day, to have been duly appointed to the post or office by the government of, or other appropriate authority in, that successor Union territory.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/j-k-admin-orders-continuation-of-officials-in-uts-of-j-k-ladakh-6091866/

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan: Islamists Join the Global Protest Fray

By James M. Dorsey

October 29, 2019

Islamist-led protests also threaten to be a fight for the future of the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The country’s Islamists are preparing to march on Islamabad that is scheduled to converge on the Pakistani capital on October 31.

The stakes for both the government and multiple Islamist and opposition parties and groups are high.

Targeting money laundering and terrorism finance

Earlier this month, Pakistan had evaded blacklisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money laundering and terrorism finance watchdog, but only by the skin of its teeth.

Maintaining Pakistan on its grey list since June of last year, FATF warned the South Asian nation that it would be blacklisted if it failed to fully implement an agreed plan to halt the flow of funds to militant groups by February of next year when the watchdog holds its next meeting.

China weighs in on the battle

The warning was reinforced by a statement by FATF’s Chinese president, Xiangmin Liu. China has long shielded Pakistan from blacklisting.

“Pakistan needs to do more and faster. Pakistan’s failure to fulfil FATF global standards is an issue that we take very seriously. If by February 2020, Pakistan doesn’t make significant progress, it will be put on the blacklist.” Mr. Xiangmin said.

Pakistani officials acknowledged that Mr. Xiangmin’s comment underlined the seriousness of their country’s predicament but said it would serve as an incentive to push forward.

That is likely to energize Islamist opposition to Pakistani efforts to comply with FATF demands that would impose strict oversight on their funding and financing of social and cultural activities, including the operation of tens of thousands of religious seminaries.

Pakistan’s reactionaries seek to strike back

A five-party Islamist coalition that demands “true Islamization” and the establishment of Sharia Law, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the 66-year old head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and a former member of parliament, who is organizing the countrywide march.

Mr. Rehman said the march of up to one million people was a declaration of “war” against Mr. Khan’s government. He demanded the government’s resignation.

His protest is likely to secure a degree of support from other major opposition parties like the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

With government efforts to engage the opposition in talks to fend off the march on Islamabad going nowhere, both Pakistani security forces and stick-wielding Islamist volunteers clad in yellow uniform-like garb have been preparing for the march.

Security forces have virtually sealed off Islamabad’s government district. The government is also considering closing roads leading to the capital and banning media coverage.

Pakistani media reported that authorities were also contemplating digging ditches along footpaths leading to Islamabad to prevent protesters from circumventing roadblocks by foot.

The Soros factor

The Islamists were further energized by a controversial meeting last month on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly between Mr. Khan and George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist behind the Open Society Foundation. The foundation was banned in Pakistan in late 2017 as part of a crackdown on non-governmental organizations.

Mr. Soros, a Hungarian-born Jew who survived the Holocaust, and the foundation are globally in the bull’s eye of populist, ultra-nationalist and militant religious opposition to what they term “globalists” and “cosmopolitans.”

The attacks, like in the case of the Islamist coalition in Pakistan as well as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other nationalist and far-right forces, often take on anti-Semitic connotations.

Mr. Orban, who studied on a scholarship provided by Mr. Soros’ philanthropy, has charged the billionaire with secretly plotting to flood Hungary with migrants and destroy it as a nation.

Pakistan and modernity

Mr. Rehman, accusing Mr. Khan of being a “Jewish agent,” was particularly irked by the fact that the prime minister was believed to have asked Mr. Soros to assist in reforming Pakistani Madrassas in a bid to counter radicalization and ensure that the seminaries adopt curricula approved by the ministry of education.

Greater government control of the seminaries would substantially weaken the significant street power of Islamist parties that often fare poorly in elections.

The emerging power struggle between Mr. Khan and the Islamists is in many ways an effort by the Islamists to force the military that long supported them to choose between them and the prime minister.

The prime minister and the military

Mr. Khan is believed to have had military support in the electoral campaign that brought the former cricket player to office on a promise to end corruption and improve living standards.

Instead, a persistent economic crisis has forced Mr. Khan to agree to a $6 billion bailout by the IMF that involves stark austerity measures.

The Islamist’s ability to march on Islamabad has some analysts suggesting that they would not be able to do so without at least a military nod.

An awkward moment for Mr. Khan

Whatever the case, the march could not come at a more awkward moment for Mr. Khan.

Mr. Rehman hopes to capitalize on popular discontent as Pakistan struggles to overcome the economic crisis and seems unable to garner substantial international and Muslim support in condemning India’s withdrawal of the disputed area of Kashmir’s autonomy. Earlier this week, police in Islamabad employed water cannons to disperse teachers protesting the fact that they had not been paid for months.

Complicating affairs is the fact that solving the economic crisis, confronting India in the dispute about Kashmir and meeting FATF’s demands are all intertwined.

Conclusion

Militants in Pakistan enjoy a high degree of financial maneuverability because much of the Pakistani economy remains unrecorded. In addition, despite crackdowns, various militant groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Mohammed remain useful proxies in battles over Kashmir.

All of which makes it that much harder for the government to fully comply with FATF’s demands.

That is the murky playground in which Mr. Rehman and his Islamist alliance is seeking to stir the pot.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and an award-winning journalist. [Singapore]

https://www.theglobalist.com/pakistan-islamism-madrassas-imran-khan/

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No one can give assurance for his own life, let alone someone else's, Pak PM Khan on Nawaz Sharif's health

Oct 28, 2019

LAHORE: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said no one can give an assurance on their own life, let alone on someone else's, as he asserted that his government was providing the best possible medical facilities to ailing former premier Nawaz Sharif, according to a media report.

Sharif, 69, who has been in hospital since October 21, had a relapse on Sunday, with his platelet count falling from 45,000 to 20,000. The three-time former Pakistan prime minister also had difficulty in breathing.

Speaking at a function in Nankana Sahib in Punjab province, Prime Minister Khan said the CEO of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, where Sharif is admitted, along with top doctors of the country, have been sent for the treatment of the PML-N leader, the Express Tribune reported.

On a Pakistani court asking for reassurance for Nawaz's life, Khan said, "All human beings can do is try, and it is beyond our capabilities to give assurances of our own lives, let alone someone else's."

On Saturday, the Islamabad high court had granted bail to Sharif in the Al- Azizia corruption case till Tuesday in which he is serving a seven-year imprisonment.

A day earlier, he had also secured bail in the money laundering case from the Lahore High Court. Bail has been granted in both cases on medical grounds.

At the hospital, Sharif has met his mother and daughter Maryam Nawaz.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/no-one-can-give-assurance-for-his-own-life-let-alone-someone-elses-pak-pm-khan-on-nawaz-sharifs-health/articleshow/71794537.cms

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Free speech muzzled in Pakistan: Activist stopped from speaking to media

Oct 28, 2019

NEW DELHI: In another case of free speech being muzzled in Pakistan, a civil right activist in Pakistan protesting against the forced shutdown of a cultural event in Karachi was barred from speaking to media by an official.

The event, Karachi Biennale, was showcasing an exhibition to highlight the extra-judicial killings by Karachi-based police officer Rao Anwar.

Jibran Nasir was giving a press conference in Karachi when an "official" barged in and took away the mics and prevented Nasir from expressing his opinion.

"The moment we mentioned that Intel Officers harassing us since morning is surrounding the Press Conference this man introducing himself as DG Parks barged in threw down mics of media, ripped a mic off my collar and tried to get physical," Nasir tweeted along with a video of the official obstructing his press conference.

The moment we mentioned that Intel Officers harassing us since morning are surrounding the Press Conference this ma… https://t.co/XY3tfHeKJn

— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) 1572189922000

The press conference was a protest against the forced shutdown of Karachi Biennale, a cultural event which was showcasing an exhibition to highlight the extra-judicial killings by a Karachi police officer, Rao Anwar.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/free-speech-muzzled-in-pakistan-activist-stopped-from-speaking-to-media/articleshow/71792922.cms

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China warns member countries not to politicise FATF

October 29, 2019

BEIJING: The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) forum should not be politicised by countries to pursue their agenda, said a top Chinese foreign ministry official on Monday.

“China does not want the FATF to be politicised by any single country. There are some countries which want to include Pakistan in the blacklist. They have political designs which China is against,” said Deputy Director General Yao Wen at the Department of Asian Affairs of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Speaking to a group of Pakistani jou­r­nalists, Mr Yao said China bloc­k­ed attempts to include Pakistan in the blacklist. “We made it clear to the US and India that we cannot do it. It goes beyond the purpose of FATF,” he added.

He said the FATF was meant to support a country to take action against terror financing. “Pakistan was effectively pursuing its National Action Plan and China encouraged it to act against terrorists and strengthen its system.”

Mr Yao said instead of pressuring Pa­k­istan, FATF member countries sho­uld assist Pakistan to improve its system.

Besides China, Turkey and Malaysia also supported Pakistan in the FATF meeting held in October.

The FATF is a global watchdog for money laundering and terrorist financing. On Oct 18, it gave a four-month lifeline to Pakistan and strongly urged Pakistan to complete its action plan by February 2020 and until then the country will remain on the “grey list”, according to a Dawn newspaper report.

The Paris-based FATF reviewed measures taken and progress made by almost 15 countries, including Pakistan, vis-à-vis anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) in its five-day plenary, which con­clu­ded on Oct 18, the report added.

China, India

Mr Yao welcomed the establishment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority by Pakistan and said it would help expedite work on CPEC projects.

About the recent visit of Chinese Pre­sident Xi Jinping to India amid Kashmir tensions, Mr Yao said relations between China and Pakistan were mature enough to handle such visits. “Mutual trust between China and Pakistan is very high while we have a deficit of trust with India since we have so many problems and differences [with them],” he added.

He said Mr Xi conveyed Pakistan’s concerns to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over Kashmir.

“India was told that Pakistan did not want war with it and desired to resolve the Kashmir issue through peaceful means,” he added.

Mr Yao said China had a clear position that Kashmir is a disputed territory and the issue needs to be resolved in accordance with the United Nations Charter and Security Council resolutions.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1513495/china-warns-member-countries-not-to-politicise-fatf

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PM orders steps to save children from sexual abuse

October 29, 2019

LAHORE: Expressing shock over children’s rap and pornography scams surfacing in Kasur and Chunian, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday directed the chief minister and senior officials to engage religious scholars, notables, schoolteachers and parents and offer them proper training and awareness to save children from falling a prey to criminals.

The prime minister was presiding over a series of meetings, including the one on law and order at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

Following a briefing by Punjab Inspector General of Police retired Capt Arif Nawaz, the prime minister stressed that criminals needed to be identified by the community well in time. He said a full-fledged campaign should be launched, besides making coordinated efforts, by the government and the community to control heinous crimes against children.

Mr Khan also ordered a strict action against the mafias involved in different crimes. “I will be standing behind the officials who feel pressurised from influential criminals,” he said.

The IG briefed Mr Khan on measures being taken to control crime, action against mafias involved in heinous and major crimes, change in Thana culture, police officials’ professional training, amendments in existing laws, encouragement to reputed police officers and suggestions to make public aware of criminals.

At a meeting on health sector, the prime minister was briefed on the development projects, progress in Insaf Health Cards, implementation of Medical Teaching Institutions (MTI) Act, improvement in big hospitals emergencies and setting up of a new cardiology facility in the vicinity of the Jinnah Hospital.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1513538/pm-orders-steps-to-save-children-from-sexual-abuse

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PM, Khalilzad say Afghanistan peace in region’s best interest

Oct 29, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan and United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held a meeting on the Afghanistan peace process, wherein they agreed that there was a “need to overcome the difficulties to find an enduring political solution to the Afghan conflict”.

Welcoming Khalilzad, the PM reiterated Pakistan’s steadfast and sincere support to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process launched since last year.

The prime minister stressed that it was important for all sides to take practical steps for the reduction of violence in Afghanistan.

He underscored that it was “equally important to guard against the negative narratives and efforts by any quarter to undermine the progress made so far through painstaking efforts”.

“Achieving sustainable peace and security and ensuring long-term development, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region was in Pakistan’s best national interest,” he stressed.

On Sunday, Khalilzad met with top Afghan officials including President Ashraf Ghani.

“The aim of his visit is clear, to report to President Ghani on his recent visits and meetings in some countries regarding the Afghan peace process,” an official in Ghani’s office said.

This is Khalilzad’s second visit to Pakistan in a month. He visited Islamabad earlier this month and held a meeting with the Afghan delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Khalilzad’s latest trip to the region that also took him to Kabul and Moscow has raised hopes for the resumption of Afghan peace talks.

Talks with the Taliban on a plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in exchange for Taliban security guarantees were halted by Trump last month following the death of a US soldier and 11 other people in a Taliban bomb attack in Kabul.

Khalilzad’s trip is the first since US President Donald Trump called off the talks six weeks ago, amid growing criticism from the US Congress and other politicians on signing a deal with the militants which entailed the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

In return, the Taliban pledged not to allow Afghan soil to be used against any country’s interests.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/10/28/us-envoy-khalilzad-arrives-in-pakistan-to-discuss-afghan-peace-process/

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North America

 

Senior Politician: Trump Using Al-Baghdadi's Death as Token for Election Campaign, US

Oct 28, 2019

"Killing of al-Baghdadi will no doubt be used in Trump's election campaign and these incidents are not accidental because the US uses its agents whenever it wants," Pedram, a former presidential candidate, told FNA on Monday.

"This does not mean the end of the ISIL and the group will remain in different countries, including Afghanistan, as a radical group," he added.

Pedram, meantime, warned of the US attempts to destabilize China's trade path by transferring the ISIL terrorists to Northern Afghanistan and igniting a new war in the region.

He also noted that the ISIL has been created by the Americans, themselves, and said, "The regional states, including Syria, Russia, Iran and Iraq, have played a major role in fighting the ISIL."

Trump claimed on Sunday that Baghdadi died "whimpering and crying" in a raid by US special forces in Northwest Syria.

Baghdadi killed himself during the raid by detonating a suicide vest after fleeing into a dead-end tunnel, Trump said in a televised address from the White House.

He was positively identified by DNA tests 15 minutes after he died, he said. "He was a sick and depraved man and now he's gone."

The Russian military on Sunday questioned the official US account of the military raid that killed al-Baghdadi, saying it was not aware of any US military operations in the region.

In a statement, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the Russian military “does not have reliable information” on a US Special Operations raid in Syria’s Idlib province, adding, “The increasing number of direct participants and countries that allegedly took part in this ‘operation,’ each one giving completely contradictory details, raises legitimate questions and doubts about its existence and especially the level of its success.”

In a statement that followed the raid, Trump thanked Russia for its assistance, as well as Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds.

Russia maintains a major base in Syria at Lattakia. Konashenkov said, however, that the Russian military had observed no strikes by US aircraft in the region.

“Firstly, on Saturday and in recent days no air strikes were made on the Idlib de-escalation zone by US aircraft or the so-called ‘international coalition’ were recorded,” Konashenkov said. “Secondly, we are not aware of any alleged assistance to the passage of American aviation into the airspace of the Idlib de-escalation zone during this operation.”

Konashenkov argued in his statement that Syrian government backed by Russian air power had defeated ISIL, saying that al-Baghdadi’s death “has absolutely no operational significance on the situation in Syria or on the actions of the remaining terrorists in Idlib”.

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980806000801

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US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says US will ramp up economic pressure on Iran

28 October 2019

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that the United States will increase economic pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

“We have executed on a maximum pressure campaign for sanctions. They have worked, they are working, they are cutting off the money,” Mnuchin said during a visit to Israel.

He made the comments to reporters standing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged him to increase pressure on Iran.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/business/2019/10/28/US-Treasury-Secretary-Mnuchin-says-US-will-ramp-up-economic-pressure-on-Iran.html

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Trump using al-Baghdadi’s death to further predatory policy of US imperialism: Scholar

Oct 28, 2019

US President Donald Trump is using Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s purported death to further the predatory policy of American imperialism in the Middle East, says Dennis Etler, an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs.

Talking to reporters at the White House on Sunday, Trump claimed al-Baghdadi blew himself up, dying "like a dog," and "like a coward" after US forces trapped him inside a dead-end tunnel.

"Last night the United States brought the world's number one terrorist leader to justice," Trump said.

He said the Daesh chief detonated his suicide vest while “crying and whimping” during an overnight raid by American special ops forces in Syria.

He said the explosion was so strong that al-Bghdadi’s body was “mutilated” and the tunnel was destroyed but forensics teams were able to identify his remains.

Then a photograph in which Trump and his advisers were said to be monitoring the operation of killing al-Baghdadi was released. However, a former White House photographer puts into question the shooting time of the photo.

Pete Souza, the chief official White House photographer for former presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama, tweeted that the photo released by the White House of Trump in the Situation Room alongside US military top brass monitoring the raid did not match up with the reported time of the raid.

Pete Souza

@PeteSouza

The raid, as reported, took place at 3:30PM Washington time. The photo, as shown in the camera IPTC data, was taken at "17:05:24". https://twitter.com/Scavino45/status/1188451497421561856 …

Dan Scavino Jr.🇺🇸

@Scavino45

View image on Twitter

58.5K

8:35 PM - Oct 27, 2019

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In an interview with Press TV on Monday, Etler, a former professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, said, “The assassination of Daesh kingpin Baghdadi sounds more and more like a ‘just so’ story. Whether the tall tale of his demise as reiterated by Trump actually took place as stated is immaterial. There is and never will be any corroborative evidence of such. It’s merely based on Trump’s word which is notoriously suspect. But, the particulars of Baghdadi’s death are not what’s important, it’s how his purported death is being utilized politically by Trump to further the predatory policy of US imperialism in the Middle East.”

“The US Middle East policy is faced with a conundrum, how to maintain its presence after it has suffered ignominious defeats in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen. In all these cases the US-supported forces, meant to overthrow its adversaries and install regimes of its own liking that support US objectives in the region, including the protection of its surrogates Israel and Saudi Arabia, have failed. Long-term US policy has been to facilitate the projection of Israeli and Saudi power in order to surround and isolate Iran and secure US regional hegemony throughout the Middle East,” he stated.

“This effort has been derailed by the defeat of US proxies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria and the inability to contain the conflict in Yemen which has become an existential threat to Saudi Arabia. This has necessitated a reevaluation of US strategy. It has now shifted from regime change wars to the military occupation of key strategic assets that will impede national reconstruction in the targeted countries and thwart the influence of both China and Russia in those efforts,” he said.

“The aborted US troop withdrawal from Syria must be seen in this light. It was another charade conducted by the charlatan-in-chief, who by a sleight of hand ensconced US troops in Syria's most valuable asset, its oil fields. The betrayal of the Kurds, the acquiescence to Turkish deployments in Syrian territory along the border and the operation against Baghdadi, all serve as a cover for the US deployment of troops in sovereign Syrian territory,” he said.

“No matter what Trump’s rhetoric may be, the US does not need to seize the oil for itself. Nor is it simply to deprive the Islamic State access. The real reason is to maintain a US presence on Syrian territory and prevent the Syrian people from using their own resources to rebuild their country. In true imperialist fashion as far as Trump is concerned the oil is his to allocate as he sees fit. Better to hand the oil fields over to Exxon-Mobil than allow Chinese national oil companies (NOCs) taking the lion’s share of contracts to help Syria develop them,” he noted.

“In addition, Trump has curried favor with Turkey's President Erdogan by sacrificing the Kurds, who are now considered a liability rather than an asset for securing US hegemony in the region,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/28/609805/Trump-using-alBaghdadis-death-for-US-imperialism

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Trump claims impeachment was reason he kept Daesh raid secret

Oct 28, 2019

US President Donald Trump has suggested the impeachment probe launched by Democrats in the House of Representatives contributed to his decision to not inform congressional leaders about Saturday’s raid against Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday he didn’t inform the so-called “Gang of Eight” because the group, including US Representative Adam Schiff, is the “the biggest leaker in Washington.”

Schiff, the Democratic chairing the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, is playing a central role in the impeachment inquiry.

The group includes the top Democrat and Republican in both chambers of Congress and the chairs and ranking members of the Senate and House intelligence committees.

Trump is struggling with an impeachment inquiry focused on his request in a July telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, who is a leading contender for the Democratic presidential nomination to face Trump in the 2020 election.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington did provide notice to Russia and other nations with military forces in Syria to “deconflict” operations.

Trump’s decision not to inform congressional leaders is the latest example of the Trump administration keeping Congress uninformed about White House foreign policy.

The Pentagon said a special operations raid carried out by the US military in the Syrian province of Idlib, which killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi — the leader of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Trump said on Sunday that Baghdadi had died “whimpering and crying” in a raid by US special forces in Syria, fulfilling his top national security goal.

The Joint Special Operations Command carried out the top-secret operation after receiving actionable intelligence, according to US military sources, and two Baghdadi's wives were also killed in the raid.

Critics have blamed the United States for its role in providing support to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and other nations in the region that spread the Takfiri ideology that builds terrorist groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda.

The Idlib operation was conducted only a few weeks after Trump announced that the US would be withdrawing its forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the path for an expected Turkish incursion into the region.

Turkey launched the offensive on October 9 with the aim of purging the northeastern Syrian regions near its border of US-backed Kurdish militants, whom it views as terrorists linked to local autonomy-seeking militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/28/609804/US-President-Donald-Trump-impeachment-probe-Abu-Bakr-alBaghdadi

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US military convoys cross back into Syria from Iraq: Observatory

Oct 28, 2019

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) says several columns of US forces have crossed through the al-Walid border crossing point between Iraq and Syria and been redeployed in bases in north and northeast Syria, in a reversal of President Donald Trump’s earlier order to withdraw all troops from the country.

The Britain-based war monitor  said on Monday that over the past three days more than 500 US soldiers in addition to military and logistical equipment had arrived at a base located on the M4 Motorway, which runs parallel with Syria’s northern border with Turkey and links the town of Tal Tamr to Tal Beydar village in the northeastern province of Hasakah.

The Observatory noted that Sarin Airport has been witnessing the movement of American aircraft landing and the discharge of cargo planes in the past five days.

Two convoys belonging to the US forces, including more than 85 vehicles, trucks and vehicles carrying military and logistical equipment, arrived in Syria via the al-Walid border crossing on Monday, according to SOHR.

The arrival coincided with an intensive flight of military aircraft over the region, bringing to 150 the number of trucks and vehicles that have arrived in the region in four stages since last week.

The observatory also announced that the second convoy of 35 US armored vehicles has entered Syrian territory with air cover as another convoy is expected to enter Syria from Iraq within hours.

The deployment comes as the White House is planning to keep 500 US troops in parts of northeastern Syria to focus on guarding oil fields there and sending more battle tanks to protect them, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

The US business-focused, international daily newspaper reported that American military officials presented the plan to the White House on October 24.

This is while Trump is reportedly expected to change his plan to withdraw all American troops from Syria and approve a new plan to keep a few hundred US troops in eastern Syria in order to help his Kurdish allies retain control of oil fields.

Trump indicated on Thursday his desire to protect these oil fields.

“We will NEVER let a reconstituted ISIS (Daesh) have those fields!” he tweeted.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

The Oil Fields discussed in my speech on Turkey/Kurds yesterday were held by ISIS until the United States took them over with the help of the Kurds. We will NEVER let a reconstituted ISIS have those fields!

73.4K

8:55 PM - Oct 24, 2019

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On October 20, the New York Times, citing a senior Trump administration official, reported that the US president is leaning towards a new Pentagon plan to keep a contingent of Special Operations forces at a few bases in eastern Syria, some near the Iraqi border.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/28/609793/US-military-convoys-cross-back-into-Syria-from-Iraq-Observatory-says

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US ramping up sanctions on Iran with 'specific' Israeli ideas: Mnuchin

Oct 28, 2019

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says Israelis are providing "specific ideas" on how to ramp up pressure on Iran as he insisted that Washington's economic measures against the country, which began last year when Washington pulled out of an international agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program, have worked.

While on a visit to the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories on Monday, Mnuchin said that the Israelis were helping the US how it could make the sanctions on Iran made effective.

“We will continue to ramp up (sanctions), more, more, more ... I just came from a very productive working lunch with your team. They gave us a bunch of very specific ideas that we will be following up,” said Mnuchin while speaking along Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.

Netanyahu, clearly flattered by the remarks, thanked the US government for its anti-Iran policies and said the regime in Tel Aviv wanted to see more pressure piled up on Iran.

“So I want to thank you for what you’ve been doing and encourage you, Steve, to do more - more, a lot more,” said the Israeli prime minister.

Mnuchin claimed that sanctions imposed on Iran had been working despite numerous assertions that Washington and allies have failed to reach their objectives from pressuring Iran economically.

“We have executed on a maximum pressure campaign for sanctions. They have worked, they are working, they are cutting off the money,” Mnuchin said.

The comments came despite reports suggesting that US sanctions have failed to impact Iran’s economy in its entirety while major economic organizations around the world have predicted that Iran would emerge of a crisis caused by the sanctions next year.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/28/609787/US-sanctions-Iran-Mnuchin-Israel-Netanyahu

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Remains of Daesh leader Al-Baghdadi buried at sea

October 28, 2019

WASHINGTON: US authorities have disposed of the remains of Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and have no plans to release photos or videos of his death at this time, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mike Milley, said Monday.

Al-Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest to kill himself as US forces closed in on him, President Donald Trump said on Sunday. "The disposal of his remains has been done and is complete and was handled appropriately," Milley told reporters at a Pentagon briefing.

Seperately, US officials told Reuters that Al-Baghdadi was given a burial at sea and afforded religious rites.

"While clearing the objective, US forces discovered Al-Baghdadi hiding in a tunnel. The assault forces closed in on Al-Baghdadi and ended when he detonated a suicide vest," said Milley.

The extremist's remains were then transported to a secure facility to confirm his identity with forensic DNA testing, Milley said.

"The disposal of his remains has been done, is complete and was handled appropriately," he added.

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was also buried at sea after he was killed by US forces in a similar helicopter raid in Pakistan in 2011.

During the Al-Baghdadi raid, two men were taken captive by US forces during the raid Milley said.

"They're in our custody and they're in a secure facility," Milley added, although he declined to provide more detail on the identity of the captives or how they were connected to Al-Baghdadi.

The US special forces weekend night time raid in northern Syria also killed a significant number of his fighters.

Milley also could not confirm the president's description of Al-Baghdadi as "whimpering and crying" in his final moments.

The officer told reporters he didn't know who Trump's source was for the claim but suspected he had talked "directly to the unit members."

Milley confirmed however some video imagery of the operation would be publicly released after it goes through a declassification process.

While Al-Baghdadi's death has deprived Daesh of its "inspirational leader," the security situation in Syria "remains complex," Defense Secretary Mark Esper told the briefing.

He added that US troops were in position to retain control of key oil fields in northeast Syria.

American forces will remain positioned in the strategic area to deny Daesh "access to those vital resources," and "overwhelming military force" will be used against any group that threatens their safety, Esper added.

Al-Baghdadi's death will not rid the world of terrorism or end Syria's ongoing conflict, but it sends "a message to those who would question America's resolve," he said.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1575621/middle-east

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Mnuchin says US will ramp up pressure on Iran

October 28, 2019

JERUSALEM: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday that the United States will increase economic pressure on Iran over its nuclear program.

“We have executed on a maximum pressure campaign for sanctions. They have worked, they are working, they are cutting off the money,” Mnuchin said during a visit to Israel.

He made the comments to reporters standing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged him to increase pressure on Iran.

“We will continue to ramp up, more, more, more ... I just came from a very productive working lunch with your team. They gave us a bunch of very specific ideas that we will be following up,” Mnuchin said.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1575476/world

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Anti-Daesh coalition to meet in Washington November 14: US

October 28, 2019

WASHINGTON: More than 30 nations fighting the Daesh group will gather in Washington on November 14 in a French-initiated meeting as the United States pulls troops from Syria, a US official said Monday.

Ministers from nations in the coalition against the extremists will “look at the next steps to increase the coalition presence in northeast Syria,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called for an urgent meeting of the coalition after President Donald Trump told Turkey earlier this month that he withdrew some 1,000 troops from northeast Syria.

The US official cast the meeting as a way to seek more support from allies — a key priority for Trump, who often accuses US partners of being free-loaders.

“This is something President Trump has been working on, both to get troops on the ground, airplanes in the air and money flowing to stabilization in that area from our partners and allies who are in the coalition,” the official said.

The official noted pointedly that no European allies have stepped forward to send in troops to replace departing US forces.

The meeting announcement came after Trump on Sunday announced the killing of Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in an attack in Syria led by US Special Forces.

Trump’s withdrawal has nonetheless alarmed European allies fearful of a resurgence of the intensely violent group, especially as Kurdish fighters abandoned by the United States had been guarding Islamic State prisoners.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1575696/world

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Trump considering releasing Baghdadi raid video

Michael Hernandez

28.10.2019

WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday he is weighing releasing to the public video footage of the raid that led to the death of Daesh's former leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Asked about the matter by reporters before departing the White House, Trump said "we're thinking about it."

"We may," he said. "We may take certain parts of it and release it, yes."

Trump announced al-Baghdadi's death Sunday following a special operations mission into northwestern Syria.

The special operations mission included eight helicopters descending on the compound where he had been holed up amid gunfire that Trump said was "immediately terminated" by U.S. gunships.

U.S. forces then unloaded from the helicopters and closed in on the building, blowing a hole in its side out of concern that the main door would be booby-trapped.

The U.S. president said he "got to watch much of" the raid in real-time from the Situation Room, asserting no U.S. forces were lost in the operation "while a large number of Baghdadi's fighters and companions were killed with him."

Trump said Baghdadi attempted to escape via a tunnel that ultimately was a dead-end, taking three young children with him "to certain death." But as U.S. forces closed in, Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest taking his life and those of the children as the explosion collapsed the tunnel.

DNA tests on the remains confirmed they were of the now deceased terror leader, and the U.S. further took "highly sensitive material and information" from Baghdadi's final compound, and captured a number of fighters who Trump said are currently imprisoned.

Under Baghdadi, Daesh spread over wide segments of Iraq and Syria beginning in 2013, eventually claiming the formation of a "caliphate" in the region as it plotted and carried out gruesome attacks that reached far beyond its main territorial bastion. It further set up local affiliates in other regions as it released heinous execution videos on to the internet.

Baghdadi had been a top target for both the Trump and Obama administrations, and had a $25 million bounty placed on his head.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/trump-considering-releasing-baghdadi-raid-video/1628823

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Europe

 

Anti-Muslim letter sent to mosque in German capital

Erbil Basay

29.10.2019

BERLIN

An anti-Muslim letter was recently sent to a mosque affiliated with the Islamic Federation of Berlin, the organization’s president said Monday.

The letter, which contained abusive language towards Islam, was later brought to the police, Murat Gul told Anadolu Agency.

Gul said an investigation was launched on charges of racism against Muslims.

He said the mosque’s administration decided not to disclose the name of the mosque to prevent it from being further targeted.

"We feel that xenophobia and Muslim hatred have increased in Germany,” he said.

He emphasized that Germany is one of the safest countries, adding that the police should take precautions in order not to prejudice this.

Gul also urged politicians to step up the fight against right-wing extremism in the country.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/anti-muslim-letter-sent-to-mosque-in-german-capital/1629152

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Macron receives Muslim Council amid headscarf debate

28 OCTOBER

PARIS - French President Emmanuel Macron met on Monday with representatives from the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), one of the main Islamic bodies in France, as the debate over headscarves continues to divide the country.

Macron said the topic of the meeting would be "seeing how our compatriots whose religion is Islam can peacefully live their religion, absolutely respecting all the laws of the Republic".

In an interview on RTL, Macron said he doesn't want to "yield to the jumping to conclusions" brought on by the recent reemergence of the decades-old debate between secularism and veiled Muslim women.

CFCM general delegate Abdallah Zekri said that during the meeting he intends to express "the concern of Muslims, and in particular, of Muslim women, with regards to the headscarf, which has become a topic of hysteria brought forward by some politicians on both the right and the left".

"The debate over the headscarf has been going on since 1989; it needs to stop," Zakri said, inviting Macron to "take a position".

In France, the use of religious signs is banned in schools and public offices.

On Tuesday, the French Senate will examine a bill presented by the conservative Les Républicains party that aims to extend the headscarf ban to mothers accompanying children on school trips.

Full report at:

http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/politics/2019/10/28/macron-receives-muslim-council-amid-headscarf-debate_ad086368-863a-4143-9b62-3159c996c57b.html

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Radical associations to be disbanded in overhaul of French Islam

Colin Randall

Oct 28, 2019

France’s president Emmanuel Macron has revealed plans to disband some radical Islamic associations and outlaw “certain practices” in what is seen as a preview of his long-awaited announcement on the organisation of Islam in France.

Mr Macron said he was adopting a low-key approach as he worked to finalise decisions “because we have often failed”. He promised announcements in the coming weeks.

The president told French RTL radio he was determined to combat separatism which he claimed had taken root in some areas, leading to the rejection of the French republic and its distortion “in the name of Islam”.

“In my fight against separatism, against political Islam, I will be intractable,” he said.

On Monday he met leaders of the French Muslim Council (CFCM), a body supported by only some French Muslims and previously seen as liable to be replaced or reformed in his eventual proposals for restructuring Islam. Mr Macron initially promised to announce his conclusions in the first half of 2018 .

The president’s comments coincide with rising concern at perceived threats to France’s deep attachment to principles of secularism.

The interview followed publication of a poll for the Sunday newspaper, Le Journal du Dimanche, showing 78 per cent of those questioned felt secularism was menaced, compared with 58 per cent three years ago. Some 61 per cent even said Islam was incompatible with French values.

More than 70 per cent opposed the wearing of ostentatious religious symbols, though Christian crosses and Jewish kippas as well as Muslim veils were mentioned in the question, and 82 per cent praying in streets. But only 39 per cent judged it the most important issue facing the country, listing health, unemployment, spending power, crime and the environment as greater priorities.

A senior commentator from RTL, Olivier Mazerolle, said radicalism “with its rites, codes and clothing” was causing fear of society being swamped by sharia. "The French want measures to prevent a shift in society towards a complete rejection of Islam that would be an absolute disaster," he added.

In one recent controversy, a Muslim woman wearing a hijab, not covering her face, was publicly humiliated by a far-right politician, Julien Odoul, while accompanying children, including her own son, on a school visit to a Bourgogne Franche-Comté regional council meeting in eastern France.

She initially tried to laugh off his demand that she should remove her hijab but left when her son began crying. She claims another member of Mr Odoul’s party, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, said: “You’ll see. We’ll win.”

Defending his comments, Mr Odoul called the headwear a provocation after the killings by a Muslim convert of four colleagues, three officers and a fellow civilian worker, at the Paris police headquarters on October 3.

Many mainstream political figures condemned the “stigmatisation” of the woman, identified as Fatima E. But Mr Macron’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said the veil was "legal, but not necessarily desirable". The education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer admitted it was not illegal for a volunteer accompanying schoolchildren to wear a headscarf but added: “We do not wish to encourage the phenomenon [which is] contrary to our values."

The president later appeared to contradict them. “The wearing of the veil in the public space is not my business - the wearing of the veil in public services, at school, when we educate our children, that's my business,” he said.

Although the announcement of forthcoming proposals was thin on detail, Mr Macron talked of “prohibitive measures, dissolving some associations … banning certain practices that have become installed and are not in accordance with the laws of the republic". The Elysee Palace did not respond to requests for comment.

Thomas Guenole, a left-wing academic and commentator, told The National it seemed the president was at last preparing his much-delayed announcement.

“But we still don’t know what he plans to do,” said Mr Guenole, who believes the so-called Islamist menace in France has been wildly exaggerated.

Anouar Kbibech, the French Muslim Council’s vice president, said after the meeting with Mr Macron that a special assembly of its religious council on Tuesday would produce a “powerful announcement” dealing with “what Islam says about the veil” and warning signs of religious radicalisation.

A rival body is also pursuing plans for the training and payment of imams with funds from small levies on halal purchases and organising Hajj travel packages.

Hakim El Karoui, a French-Tunisian author, former banker and nephew of a former Tunisian prime minister, Hamed Karoui, created the Muslim Association for a French Islam in January aimed at fighting extremism and uniting French Muslims where other bodies have failed.

Mr Macron has given no clues on whether he has national or local associations in mind when vowing to dissolve radical groups.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/radical-associations-to-be-disbanded-in-overhaul-of-french-islam-1.930069

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Former ultra-right candidate tries to burn French mosque, shoots 2

October 29, 2019

BAYONNE: An 84-year-old former candidate for France’s ultra-right party shot and wounded two men in their 70s yesterday as he attacked a mosque, prompting the government to express “solidarity” with Muslims hours after railing against Islamic “separatism”.

The octogenarian attacked the mosque as two men were preparing it for afternoon prayers, Bayonne mayor Jean-Rene Etchegaray told AFP at the scene.

The man “approached the building by car and threw an incendiary device against the side door of the mosque,” he said.

“The two people came out, he shot at them, hitting one in the neck and the other in the chest and arm. He then fled.”

The victims, aged 74 and 78, were rushed to a nearby hospital with serious injuries, police said.

The man was tracked thanks to his number plate to his home town of Saint-Martin-de-Seignanx, a settlement of some 5,000 people just 16km from Bayonne, a popular tourist destination in France’s Basque country.

A source close to the investigation identified the man as Claude Sinke, and said he had admitted to being the shooter. He had also set fire to a car outside the mosque.

Sinke had stood as a candidate for Marine Le Pen’s National Front in 2015 regional elections, according to the official list.

President Emmanuel Macron said he “firmly condemns” what he termed a “heinous attack,” in a tweet yesterday evening.

“The Republic will never tolerate hatred,” he said.

“Everything will be done to punish the perpetrators and protect our Muslim compatriots. I commit myself to it.”

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, in turn, offered “solidarity and support to the Muslim community”.

Le Pen, for her part, labelled the attack “an unspeakable act”, and said it was “absolutely contrary to the values of our movement.”

Her National Rally said it had not been in contact with Sinke for months and said he was “no longer a member”.

The mosque has been cordoned off for investigations and a bomb squad was sent to Sinke’s home. A team of psychologists was deployed to the mosque and the hospital to provide trauma care for witnesses.

Three weapons

Police told AFP the man had three sub-military grade weapons, which he had declared to investigators.

The incident came just hours after Macron had urged France’s Muslims to step up the fight against “separatism” in the wake of the latest attack by an Islamist radical on French soil, in which a police employee stabbed four colleagues to death earlier this month.

Macron, a centrist whose main political rival at home is Le Pen, has sought to show he is serious in cracking down on Islamic radicalism after that attack.

In a pre-recorded interview with RTL radio broadcast yesterday, the president said he planned to fight, alongside Muslim leaders, against religious sectarianism and resistance among some French Muslims to integrate.

“It is a fact that a form of separatism has taken root in some places in our Republic, in other words a desire to not live together and to not be in the Republic,” he said.

“It is in the name of a religion, namely Islam,” he said before meeting members of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM).

The Oct 3 attack reignited a national debate about secularism, as a politician from Le Pen’s party asked a woman accompanying her son and other children on a school trip to remove her headscarf, describing it as an “Islamist provocation”.

Religion and extremism often get confounded in the ongoing debate as the country seeks to come to terms with a wave of jihadist attacks on its soil since 2015.

Dozens of mosques were targeted by arsonists, but also with firebombs, grenades or even gunfire, after the first in a series of attacks by Islamist radicals – that of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine.

But Muslim sites were intermittently targeted even before then.

In 2007, 148 Muslim headstones in a national military cemetery near Arras were smeared with anti-Islamic slurs and a pig’s head was placed among them.

In March this year, workers building a mosque in the small southwestern town of Bergerac found a pig’s head and animal blood at the entrance to the site – two weeks after a gunman killed 50 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, in a shooting spree at two mosques.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2019/10/29/former-ultra-right-candidate-tries-to-burn-french-mosque-shoots-2/

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Gunman with ‘far-right connections’ opens fire at mosque in Paris

October 28, 2019

PARIS: French police have arrested a man suspected of firing shots at a mosque in Bayonne in the southwest of France on Monday.

Two people, aged 74 and 78, were seriously injured in the shooting at 1420 GMT on Monday as they tried to prevent the attacker from setting fire to the mosque in Bayonne in southwest France, police said, adding the suspected gunman has been arrested.

The man was arrested near his home after the incident that also involved a small explosion, presumably from a petrol can set on fire near the place of worship on Monday afternoon.

The 84-year old man who fired shots and hurt two people at the Bayonne mosque in southern France on Monday had far-right connections, according to a police source.

The shooter also set a car on fire while fleeing the area.

“The suspected assailant was arrested by national police ... my thoughts are with the victims and their family,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said on his Twitter account.

A police source said that the 84-year-old suspect had far-right connections. A separate source familiar with the situation said the man had been a candidate for Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party in 2015.

Full report at:

The police source said a handgun was found in the suspect’s car.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1575591/world

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Terrorist sympathizers in London attack Turkish mayor

Hasan Esen 

28.10.2019

LONDON

Sympathizers of the PKK terror organization in London attacked Seyma Dogucu, the mayor of Istanbul’s Sancaktepe municipality, on Saturday.

Attending a meeting of the International Municipality Association, Dogucu said she encountered anti-Turkey protests by the terrorist sympathizers.

“We could not remain silent against the lies, slander and insults, so we did not. 'You're lying!' I shouted. They attacked us with flagsticks and punches,” Dogucu said.

“There were only two police officers with us, and this was very inadequate,” she added.

“Whatever the conditions, we will continue to shout the truth to the whole world under the leadership of our President by standing upright in the face of injustices against our country, our nation and our President,” she said on Twitter.

On Friday, PKK supporters in Oslo, Norway pelted a Turkish family’s car with stones after noticing a Turkish flag on their vehicle. The family, including their infant child, was on their way home from a demonstration held in support of Turkey’s operation in northern Syria.

Norwegian police used tear gas to disperse the attackers and two suspects were arrested.

Members of several Turkish civil society organizations gathered Friday in front of Turkey’s embassy in Oslo in a show of support for Operation Peace Spring in Syria, with PKK sympathizers attacking participants as they returned home.

Launched on Oct. 9, Operation Peace Spring aims to eliminate terrorist YPG/PKK elements from northern Syria east of the Euphrates River in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

On Oct. 22, Ankara and Moscow reached a deal under which YPG/PKK terrorists will pull back 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) south of Turkey’s border with Syria within 150 hours and security forces from Turkey and Russia will mount joint patrols there.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/terrorist-sympathizers-in-london-attack-turkish-mayor/1628149

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia working for promotion of ‘true image of Islam’

October 29, 2019

Saudi Arabia and Albania on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in the field of Islamic work.

The signing ceremony was attended by Albanian and Saudi officials. The MoU aims to promote Islam, its merits and its position on contemporary issues by exchanging research, books and scientific publications in different languages, holding scientific seminars and training courses, organizing joint exhibitions and programs, and exchanging experiences.

Saudi Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh received an Albanian delegation in his office in Riyadh.

He said his ministry “is cooperating with the concerned authorities in all countries of the world, given the Kingdom’s leading role in serving Islam and Muslims to promote the true image of Islam, which is a religion of tolerance and moderation that rejects extremism, violence and terrorism.”

He added: “The Kingdom, led by King Salman, is witnessing a major transformation in all areas, including Islamic affairs, protecting platforms and controlling call activities so that they are according to the Holy Qur’an and in accordance with the principles of moderation and rejection of extremism.”

Al-Asheikh added: “The Kingdom has suffered a lot from terrorism and terrorists, fueled by Iran … There are many groups acting under their (Tehran’s) guidance and in accordance with their plans.”

He said: “The terrorist group of the Muslim Brotherhood … turned into an evil tool in their (Iran’s) hands in order to spread strife and unrest in the Kingdom. However, their plan failed thanks to God Almighty and the wise Saudi leadership, which managed to counter these evil plans and defeat this group and those behind it.”

The Albanian delegation praised the MoU, Saudi services provided to pilgrims and visitors, and projects implemented by the Saudi government to serve Islam and Muslims everywhere. The delegation thanked the king and crown prince for Saudi support for Muslims in Albania.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1575731/saudi-arabia

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Iraqi intelligence shared ISIS leader's location with US-led coalition: report

BY ZACK BUDRYK

10/27/19

Iraqi intelligence gave ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's location to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the terror group ahead of a raid in which he is believed to have died, an official told Reuters.

An Iraqi intelligence official told the news service that agents discovered documents at a secret location in the western deserts of Iraq that identified Baghdadi’s location after arresting an Iraqi man and woman believed to be close to the ISIS leader.

“We have been constantly coordinating with the CIA, providing valuable information that the Iraqi National Intelligence Service has on Baghdadi’s movements and place of hiding,” the official said. “This cooperation was successful and achieved the ultimate goal of killing Baghdadi.”

Baghdadi’s death in Syria has yet to be officially confirmed, but President Trump is scheduled to make a “major statement” Sunday morning.

Full report at:

https://thehill.com/policy/international/middle-east-north-africa/467615-iraqi-intelligence-learned-of-isis-leaders

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Baghdadi given burial at sea, afforded religious rites

October 29, 2019

The United States has given the remains of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi a burial at sea and afforded him religious rites according to Islamic custom after he was killed in a US commando raid in Syria on Saturday, three officials told Reuters. Baghdadi, an Iraqi jihadist who rose from obscurity to declare himself "caliph" of all Muslims as the leader of Islamic State, died by detonating a suicide vest after fleeing into a dead-end tunnel as elite US special forces closed in, according to the US government.

The US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not disclose where the ritual was performed or how long it lasted. Two officials said they believed his remains were delivered to the sea from an aircraft.

US Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon news briefing on Monday that the US military disposed ofBaghdadi's remains "appropriately, in accordance with our (standard operating procedures) and in accordance with the law of armed conflict."

Given the gruesome nature of Baghdadi's death, it was unlikely the US military followed as complete a process as it did after Navy SEALs killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in a 2011 raid into Pakistan. Bin Laden was killed by a gunshot wound to the head, according to the US government.

In the case of bin Laden, his body was transported to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. It was washed before being covered in a white sheet, and religious remarks translated into Arabic were read over bin Laden's corpse.

Bin Laden's burial at sea triggered mixed reactions, with a prominent imam saying the United States violated Islamic custom by not burying bin Laden on land, a move seen as a US attempt to prevent his resting place from becoming a shrine for extremist followers.

In the United States, some questioned why the man responsible for the Sept 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people was laid to rest with such respect.

Milley did not enter into details about any of Baghdadi's last rites. Milley said that before the disposal of his remains, they had been transported to a secure facility to confirm his identity with forensic DNA testing.

"It's been done and is complete," Milley said.

VIDEO OF KILLING?

Trump said on Monday he may declassify and release part of the video taken on Saturday of the raid. The video is believed to include aerial footage and possibly footage from cameras mounted on the soldiers who stormed Baghdadi's compound.

"We're thinking about it. We may," Trump told reporters before flying to Chicago. "We may take certain parts of it and release it."

But Milley declined to comment on whether he had video from inside the compound, which he described as a place where Baghdadi had been staying "on a consistent basis."

"I'm not going to classify the video -- what we do have, what we don't have, at this time. I've seen a lot," Milley said.

"And I'll wait until everything is appropriately declassified here in the coming days."

Trump said on Sunday that Baghdadi had died "whimpering and crying" in the raid.

Milley did not confirm that account, saying he presumed it came from Trump's direct conversations with members of the elite unit that conducted the operation. Milley had not yet spoken with them, he said.

He confirmed the US military had taken into its custody two adult male Islamic State suspects but Milley declined to talk about intelligence collected from the site.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/29/baghdadi-given-burial-at-sea-afforded-religious-rites.html

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Iraqi military declares curfew in Baghdad: State TV

28 October 2019

Iraq has declared a curfew in the capital Baghdad from midnight to 6 a.m. local time “until further notice,” state television quoted the Baghdad Operations Commander as saying on Monday.

Hundreds of protesters remained in Baghdad’s central Tahrir Square and other provinces on Monday, the fourth day in a renewed wave of anti-government demonstrations that saw over 200 people killed this month.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/28/Iraqi-military-declares-curfew-in-Baghdad-state-TV.html

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US threatens ‘military force’ against ‘any group’ challenging occupation of Syria oil fields

Oct 29, 2019

The Pentagon has threatened that American forces deployed around Syrian oil fields will use “military force” against any party that may seek to challenge Washington’s control of those sites, even if it is Syrian government forces or their Russian allies.

Speaking at a news briefing on Monday, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper referred to “multiple state and non-state” forces vying for control of Syrian territory and resources.

The US military announced last week that it was reinforcing its position in Syria with additional assets, including mechanized forces, on a mission claimed to be aimed at preventing Syrian oil fields from falling to remnants of the Takfiri Daesh terror group in Syria, reversing President Donald Trump’s promise of a full military withdrawal from the Arab state.

Speaking about the mission, Esper said Washington “will retain control of oil fields in northeast Syria,” which provided the bulk of Daesh’s income at the height of its terror campaign. The Takfiri outfit has, however, collapsed after it lost all the territories it had captured in 2014 in Syria and Iraq.

“US troops will remain positioned in this strategic area to deny ISIS (Daesh) access those vital resources. And we will respond with overwhelming military force against any group that threatens the safety of our forces there,” he added.

Asked whether the US mission included keeping oil fields out of Syrian or Russian control, Esper replied, “The short answer is, yes, it presently does.”

He added that the American deployment will allow the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to use the oil revenues to fund its militants, who Washington calls allies in the so-called fight against Daesh.

“We want to make sure that SDF does have access to resources in order to guard the prisons, in order to arm their own troops, in order to assist us with the defeat-ISIS mission,” he said.

The Pentagon chief further confirmed that American forces in Syria would remain in “close contact” with Kurdish-backed militants.

The claims come just weeks after Washington shocked the entire world by abruptly abandoning their longtime Kurdish allies in northeastern Syrian and announcing a troop pullout in the face of a Turkish offensive against the Kurds.

The Kurdish militants called Washington’s move “backstabbing” and quickly reached out to the Damascus government for support against the Turkish military.

Esper further said, “Turkey continues to bear responsibility for the consequences of their unwarranted incursion, which has brought further instability to the region,” he pointed out.

The defense secretary was speaking days after Washington claimed that it had killed Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during a raid in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province.

While detailing the military operation that Washington says led to Baghdadi’s death, Trump said American troops would remain in Syria to “secure” oil reserves and even put up “a hell of a fight” against any force that tried to take them.

“We’re keeping the oil,” he said. “I’ve always said that — keep the oil. We want to keep the oil, $45 million a month. Keep the oil. We’ve secured the oil.”

“We should be able to take some also, and what I intend to do, perhaps, is make a deal with an ExxonMobil or one of our great companies to go in there and do it properly,” he added.

Legal experts, however, say if US forces or firms take any oil without the consent of Syria’s legal government, that would amount to pillaging, a technical term meaning theft during wartime. Pillaging is illegal under both US and international law. It is explicitly prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov has blasted Washington’s oilfield operation as “state-sponsored banditry,” saying the US was stationing its troops in northeastern Syria to pave the way for smugglers to pillage Syrian resources.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/29/609831/Pentagon-Mark-Esper-Syria-oil

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Iraqi parliament passes measures to meet anti-govt. protesters' demands

Oct 28, 2019

The Iraqi parliament has taken steps, including changing the country’s Constitution and ending official perks, in order to meet the demands of anti-government protesters and prevent growing violence in the country

More than 200 Iraqi lawmakers attended the Monday parliamentary session to discuss the measures, which include revoking privileges for the three political heads - the president, the prime minister, and the parliament speaker - and several senior politicians.

The parliamentarians also voted to dissolve irregular provincial councils and form a commission to draw up a list of changes and submit them to lawmakers within four month.

The government has also pledged to address the demonstrators' demands by delivering a package of economic and political reforms.

Sadr urges early elections under UN supervision

Meanwhile, the leader of the Sadrist movement in Iraq's Parliament, Muqtada al-Sadr, has called for early elections in Iraq under the supervision of the United Nations and a new electoral body.

Sadr said in a tweet, "Brother, Adel Abdul Mahdi has to come under the dome of parliament to announce early elections and under the supervision of the United Nations with legal periods that don’t last for long."

"During this period, all necessary measures will be taken to change the electoral commission and its law and present it to the people," he said.

Iraqi protesters are angry over the country’s economic conditions and what they see as corruption.

Earlier in the day, the army said it will impose an overnight curfew in Baghdad until further notice, as renewed anti-government protests entered a fourth day.

The curfew hours are from midnight to 6 a.m. local time until further notice, state television quoted the Baghdad Operations Commander as saying on Monday.

The curfew came after students and schoolchildren joined protests in Baghdad and cities in southern Iraq, defying the education minister who had warned them against partaking in the unrest.

Anti-government protests made a return in Iraq on Friday, as thousands of people once again took to the streets to vent their anger over corruption and less than optimal living conditions.

The protests soon turned deadly as armed elements opened fire on both protesters and security guards. Iraqi security agents have so far arrested a few gunmen and the country's elite Counter -Terrorism Force has been deployed to the streets to prevent damage to sensitive centers.

So far, at least 67 Iraqis have been killed and hundreds more wounded in the second bout of unrest targeting Abdul-Mahdi's government.

More than 150 people, including security forces, were killed when the protests first erupted earlier this month.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/28/609820/Iraq-parliament-measures-protesters-demands

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Golan will remain integral part of Syria: Ambassador Ja’afari

Oct 28, 2019

Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari says the occupied Golan Heights will always remain an integral part of Syria despite attempts by the White House and Tel Aviv to distort the reality.

Addressing a UN Security Council session on Monday, the Syrian diplomat said Damascus reserved the right to re-establish control over the mountainous plateau.

“Liberating Golan and restoring it to the 1967 line, through all means which are guaranteed by the international law, will remain a priority for Syria,” he said.

The Israeli regime has long been pushing for the US recognition of Tel Aviv’s ‘sovereignty’ claims over the territory, which, as the Syrian ambassador mentioned, was seized in 1967.

On March 25, US President Donald Trump signed a decree that suited the Israeli interest regarding Golan. The signing took place at the start of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

Trump’s move came over a year after he recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Palestinian city.

The United Nations has time and again stressed Syria’s sovereignty over the heights.

Back in December 2018, the majority of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging the Israeli regime to withdraw from Golan.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/28/609811/Syria-Golan-Israel-Jaafari

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Indian PM Narendra Modi: ‘We value the Kingdom’s vital role’

October 29, 2019

On the occasion of his visit to Saudi Arabia, his second in three years, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Arab News that the two countries have been working together within the G20 to reduce inequality and promote sustainable development.

Modi said with the signing of an agreement on a Strategic Partnership Council, already robust and deep bilateral ties in various fields will only strengthen further.

Saying stable oil prices are crucial for the growth of the global economy, he praised the Kingdom’s role as an important and reliable source of India’s energy requirements.

Q You met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on many previous occasions on the sidelines of G20 meetings, and during his historic visit to New Delhi last year. Can you tell us about the excellent chemistry that exists between you and him?

A Since my first visit to the Kingdom in 2016, I have personally witnessed a remarkable growth in our bilateral relations. I have met His Royal Highness (HRH) Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman five times. I recall with warmth my previous meetings with him, and look forward to meeting him again during this visit.

I am confident that under the leadership of His Majesty King Salman and HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, bilateral relations between India and Saudi Arabia will only grow stronger.

Q India and Saudi Arabia signed the Riyadh Declaration in 2010 and called it “Toward a New Era in Strategic Partnership.” What has been the progress since then?

A “Neighborhood First” continues to be the guiding vision for my government’s foreign policy. India’s relations with Saudi Arabia are one of the most important bilateral relationships in our extended neighborhood.

The visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, as the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, to India in 2014, my visit to Riyadh in April 2016, and the state visit of HRH Mohammed bin Salman earlier this year in February have further consolidated this special relationship.

During this visit to Saudi Arabia, we are going to sign an agreement on a Strategic Partnership Council, which will begin a new era of cooperation across sectors. Our ties across various dimensions such as trade, investment, security and defense cooperation are robust and deep, and will only strengthen further.

Q Going by media reports, there seems to have been considerable cooperation and coordination between the two countries on security issues. Are you satisfied with the level of cooperation?

A I believe that Asian powers like India and Saudi Arabia share similar security concerns in their neighborhood. In that respect, I am happy that our cooperation, particularly in the field of counterterrorism, security and strategic issues, is progressing very well. My national security adviser just visited Riyadh for a very productive visit.

We have a Joint Committee on Defense Cooperation that holds regular meetings. We have identified a number of areas of mutual interest and cooperation in the field of defense and security. We are also in the process of entering into agreements on security cooperation, collaboration in defense industries, and also agreed to hold a comprehensive security dialogue mechanism between the two countries.

Q The Middle East, or West Asia as the region is known in India, is in turmoil. It is going through one of its worst phases of conflict and violence. What constructive role can India play in reducing tensions in the region?

A We believe that a balanced approach is required to resolve the conflicts, while respecting the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in each other’s internal matters.

India shares excellent bilateral relations with all the countries in the region, and a very large Indian diaspora, numbering over 8 million, resides in the region. A dialogue process that encourages the participation of all stakeholders is important to bring peace and security to this very important region.

Q India and Saudi Arabia are members of the G20. How do you view the global economic outlook?

A The global economic outlook is strongly dependent on the path chartered by the large developing countries such as India. As I mentioned in my speech at the UN General Assembly in September, we sincerely believe that we need collective efforts, for the growth of all, with everyone’s trust.

Economic uncertainty is an offshoot of unbalanced multilateral trade systems. Within the G20, India and Saudi Arabia have been working together to reduce inequality and promote sustainable development. I am happy to note that Saudi Arabia will be hosting the G20 Summit next year and India will host it in 2022, which is also the 75th anniversary of our independence.

Q Western economies are still sluggish. In such a bleak scenario, what can Asian countries, including Saudi Arabia and India, do to mitigate the effects of the global economic downturn?

A India has undertaken many reforms to create a business-friendly environment, and to ensure that we remain a major driver of global growth and stability. Our reforms for ease of doing business and introducing investor-friendly initiatives have contributed to improving our position in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index from 142 in 2014 to 63 in 2019.

A number of major flagship initiatives, like Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, Swatchh Bharat, Smart Cities and Startup India, are offering a lot of opportunities to foreign investors. Similarly, I am happy to note that Saudi Arabia too has embarked upon a reform program as part of their Vision 2030.

Q Saudi Arabia is a leading supplier of oil to India. Low prices are good news for India, and Saudi Arabia wants to retain its market share. How can the two countries integrate these two aspects for a mutually beneficial, long-term energy relationship?

A India imports around 18 percent of its crude oil from the Kingdom, making it the second-largest source of crude oil for us. From a purely buyer-seller relationship, we are now moving toward a closer strategic partnership that will include Saudi investments in downstream oil and gas projects.

We value the Kingdom’s vital role as an important and reliable source of our energy requirements. We believe that stable oil prices are crucial for the growth of the global economy, particularly for developing countries. Saudi Aramco is participating in a major refinery and petrochemical project on India’s west coast. We are also looking forward to the participation of Aramco in India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves.

Q India is building smart cities and Saudi Arabia has considerable experience, having successfully built smart cities in Yanbu, Jubail and Rabigh. Would you be willing to invite Saudis to help with those massive smart city projects announced by your government?

A One of the major areas of cooperation between India and Saudi Arabia is in investments in our infrastructure projects. During his visit to India in February 2019, the crown prince had indicated an intent to invest in excess of $100 billion in India across various sectors.

We welcome greater Saudi investments in our infrastructure projects, including the Smart Cities program. We also welcome Saudi interest in investing in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.

Q Which areas, other than energy, can and should India and Saudi Arabia cooperate in? Are there any specific proposals?

A I am happy to share with you that during my visit this time, India and Saudi Arabia plan to enter into agreements in various areas, including defense, security, renewable energy etc.

Other major initiatives include the proposal to launch the RuPay card in the Kingdom, which will facilitate payments and remittances by the Indian diaspora; integration of the e-Migrate and e-Thawtheeq portals, which will facilitate the process of migration of Indian labor into the Kingdom; and an agreement on training diplomats in our respective academies.

India is known for its world-class capacity-building centers, and there are many initiatives to provide training to the Saudi youth in different fields. We are also discussing mutual cooperation in the field of space research.

Q What is your message to the Indian diaspora in Saudi Arabia?

A Nearly 2.6 million Indians have made Saudi Arabia their second home, contributing to its growth and development. Many Indians also visit the Kingdom every year for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, and for business purposes.

My message to my fellow citizens is that your country is proud of the place that you have made for yourself in the Kingdom, and your hard work and commitment have helped to generate a lot of goodwill for the overall bilateral relationship.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1575756/saudi-arabia

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Security increased at Daesh prisons after leader’s death

October 28, 2019

BEIRUT: Syrian Kurdish forces said Monday they are increasing security at prisons and detention facilities holding tens of thousands of Daesh militants and supporters, including foreigners, following the death of the extremist group’s leader in a US military raid.

The heightened security also comes as Kurdish forces said they are continuing operations to hunt down Daesh leaders in Syria. Hours after the raid that killed Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria, another attack based on Kurdish intelligence killed one of his aides and possible successors, Kurdish forces said.

If confirmed, the death of Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir would be another blow to Daesh. US officials had no immediate comment.

Forces from the Kurdish-led internal security agency were “on high alert” after Al-Baghdadi’s death in anticipation of possible riots or attacks on the prisons and camps for displaced people in northeastern Syria where Daesh members or supporters are located, an official with the agency said.

One of the camps is home to 70,000 people, most of them relatives of the extremists. More than 10,000 prisoners, including 2,000 foreigners, are held in detention facilities in northeastern Syria.

Fear of chaos already was running high over the fate of those detained after this month’s Turkish military invasion of northeastern Syria, which ushered in major troop changes in the area. Turkey moved troops into areas along the border, while Syrian border guards were deployed in others.

Kurdish officials had said they needed to divert fighters and logistics to the front line to ward off the Turkish offensive. A shaky cease-fire is in place and an agreement to redeploy Kurdish forces away from the borders.

Security forces have been able to secure the prisons, according to another official with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

News of Al-Baghdadi’s death had not yet been formally announced to those in the camps on Monday, but many of them have telephones and news has most likely reached them.

President Donald Trump announced Al-Baghdadi’s death in a nationally televised address from the White House on Sunday, saying he exploded his suicide vest while being pursued by US troops.

His death left Daesh without an obvious leader — a major setback for a terror organization that in March was forced by US and Kurdish forces out of the last portion of its self-declared “caliphate,” which once spanned parts of Iraq and Syria.

Later Sunday, Mazloum Abdi, the commander of the Syrian Kurdish-led forces, said his group’s intelligence cooperated with the US military to target Al-MuHajjir in a village near Jarablus in northwestern Syria. It was part of ongoing operations to hunt down Daesh leaders, Abdi said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported Al-MuHajjir’s death, saying he was traveling in a convoy made up of an oil tanker and a sedan. The bodies of those killed were badly burned and it wasn’t immediately clear how Al-MuHajjir’s identity was confirmed.

The US raid that killed Al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of Daesh who presided over its global jihad and became one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists, took place just before midnight Saturday in Syria’s Idlib province.

It was a milestone in the fight against Daesh, which brutalized thousands of people in Syria and Iraq and sought to direct a global campaign from a self-declared “caliphate.” A military campaign by US and allied forces led to the recapture of the territory the group held, but its violent ideology has continued to inspire attacks.

Syrian Kurdish forces spokesman Mustafa Bali said his fighters believe Al-MuHajjir was in Jarablus to facilitate Al-Baghdadi’s travel to the area, which is administered by Turkey-backed fighters.

“More (IS figures) remain hiding in the area,” Bali said Sunday.

Little is known about Al-MuHajjir, who assumed the role of a spokesman after his predecessor was killed in a 2016 airstrike. Al-MuHajjir is a nom-de-guerre that indicates he is a foreigner, and he also was believed to be a possible successor to Al-Baghdadi.

Trump’s decision to pull back US troops from northeastern Syria raised a storm of bipartisan criticism in Washington, including statements that the move could help IS regain strength after its territorial losses. It also was viewed as an abandonment of the only US ally in Syria, the Kurdish-led forces, who fought Daesh for years with the US-led coalition.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1575596/middle-east

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South Asia

 

Afghan, US forces kill over 80 Taliban fighters, officials say

27 Oct 2019

More than 80 Taliban fighters have been killed in air raids by Afghan and US forces in Afghanistan's Kandahar and Faryab provinces in the past 24 hours, officials said.

Abdul Kareem, the police chief in the northern Faryab province, said on Sunday that a group of Taliban fighters carried out an assault on security checkpoints in the Pashtunkot district on Saturday night and were targeted by air raids by the Afghan Air Force.

He told Anadolu Agency that at least 53 Taliban fighters were killed and 11 wounded.

In the southern Kandahar province, US forces conducted air raids in Maruf and Shah Wali Kot districts, killing 33 Taliban fighters and injuring eight others, a statement by the provincial police headquarters said.

The Taliban. meanwhile, claimed to have hit a US convoy in Kandahar in an improvised explosive device attack.

Qari Yosuf, the group's spokesman, said an armoured vehicle was completely destroyed and all on board were killed.

The US forces in Afghanistan have not commented on the incident.

The Taliban now controls nearly half of Afghanistan and have been relentless in their near-daily attacks targeting Afghan security forces, attacks that often inflict heavy casualties.

It has stepped up a campaign of suicide bombings in recent years as Washington tries to pull its forces out.

On Sunday, an Afghan politician confirmed that US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, for the first time since talks between the US and the Taliban collapsed last month.

Sayed Hamid Gailani, leader of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, posted on his Twitter account late on Saturday that he met Khalilzad and his team in Kabul to discuss the country's recent presidential elections and peace efforts.

Speaking on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press, an Afghan official also confirmed on Sunday that President Ashraf Ghani met Khalilzad.

Khalilzad's visit to Kabul follows a meeting in Moscow he held with representatives of China, Russia and Pakistan, over restarting peace talks to end Afghanistan's 18-year-old war.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/10/afghan-forces-kill-80-taliban-fighters-officials-191027103220070.html

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Taliban key commander among 5 killed in Afghan district

2019-10-27

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- A Taliban key commander Mullah Yasin was among five militants who have been killed in Khan Abad district of northern Afghanistan's Kunduz province, said an army spokesman Abdul Ghafar Nuristani on Sunday.

Units of special forces, according to the official, launched operations in parts of the restive district late on Saturday, killing the five armed insurgents.

Death of notorious Mullah Yasin, said the official, was a major blow to the Taliban militants in Kunduz province.

According to Nuristani, security forces have also liberated several villages from the clutches of militants in the wake of Mullah Yasin's elimination in the troubled district.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/27/c_138506917.htm

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Airstrikes kill 31 Taliban and ISIS militants in 6 provinces

28 Oct 2019

A series of airstrikes killed 31 Taliban and ISIS Khurasan militants in six provinces of Afghanistan in the past 24 hours.

The military officials said Monday airstrikes in Deh Bala and Achin districts of Nangarhar province killed 12 militants of ISIS Khurasan group.

The officials further added an airstrike in Pashtun Kot district of Faryab killed 6 militants of the Taliban group.

Furthermore, airstrikes in Nahr-e Saraj and Lashkar Gah districts of Helmand killed 5 Taliban militants and destroyed a small cache of weapons, the officials said.

Another airstrike in Giro district of Ghazni killed a Taliban militant and destroyed a cache of weapons, the officials said, adding that a similar airstrike killed another Taliban militant in Sayyid Karam district of Paktiya.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-31-taliban-and-isis-militants-in-6-provinces-04289/

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Airstrikes kill 52 Taliban militants in 5 provinces

29 Oct 2019

A series of airstrikes killed at least 52 Taliban militants in five provinces of Afghanistan in the past 24 hours, the military officials said.

The officials further added an airstrike in Shinkai district of Zabul province killed at least 30 Taliban militants.

The security forces conducted an airstrike in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar which killed 12 Taliban militants, the officials said.

Airstrikes in Gizab district of Daykundi province killed 6 Taliban militants, the officials said, adding that another airstrike in Aab Band district of Ghazni killed 3 Taliban militants and destroyed a cache of weapons.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-52-taliban-militants-in-5-provinces-04292/

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U.S. envoy for Afghan peace, Pakistani Prime Minister discuss Afghan peace process

29 Oct 2019

The U.S. envoy for Afghan peace Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan held talks on Afghan peace process during a meeting in Islamabad on Monday.

Prime Minister Khan told Ambassador Khalilzad that Pakistan remained ready to do everything possible in its capacity for an early conclusion of a peace deal between the U.S. and Taliban, according to local media reports.

Reiterating Pakistan’s steadfast and sincere support to the Afghan peace, Prime Minister Khan said it was important for all sides to take practical steps for reduction of violence in Afghanistan.

“Achieving sustainable peace and security and ensuring long-term development, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region is in Pakistan’s best national interest,” Prime Minister Khan was quoted in a report by Dawn News.

This is the second time Ambassador Khalilzad is visiting Pakistan in a month as efforts are underway to revive peace talks between the U.S. and Taliban.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/u-s-envoy-for-afghan-peace-pakistani-prime-minister-discuss-afghan-peace-process-04291/

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Special Forces kill, detain 30 Taliban militants in Nangarhar and Kunduz provinces

29 Oct 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 22 Taliban militants during the operations in Nangarhar and Kunduz provinces.

The military officials said Tuesday the Special Forces also arrested at least 8 Taliban militants during the same operations.

The officials further added that the Special Forces killed 11 of the militants in Sherzad district of Nangarhar province where they also arrested 8 militants.

The Special Forces also destroyed a cache of weapons during the same operation, the officials added.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/special-forces-kill-detain-30-taliban-militants-in-nangarhar-and-kunduz-provinces-04290/

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Southeast Asia

 

Minister says will defend athletes’ right to wear what they want

29 Oct 2019

BY AZRIL ANNUAR

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — The Youth and Sports Ministry will not control athletes' choice of acceptable sportswear, Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman said today.

Malaysia's youngest minister told the Dewan Rakyat during Question Time that whether Muslim athletes preferred Shariah-compliant attire was an individual choice and his ministry would support their decision either way.

"We allow them to wear Shariah-compliant sportswear because, in the end, their contribution to the country is tremendous.

“That's why we will support them no matter what they wish to wear," Syed Saddiq said in his reply to Setiu MP (PAS) Shaharizukirnain Abd Kadir.

He added that many professional athletes who train six to seven days a week using the wrong or even less comfortable sportswear could expose them to harm.

He pointed out that national gymnast Farah Ann Hadi's training required her to go through complex gymnastic manoeuvres, including being tossed high into the air while twisting and turning, in which the slightest mistake could result in severe and possibly life-threatening injuries.

In his supplementary question, the PAS lawmaker pressed the minister to say what was stopping the government from encouraging Muslim athletes to wear Shariah-compliant attire.

However, Syed Saddiq maintained his position.

"We are aware that there are Shariah-compliant sportswear. The athletes are aware of it too and they have the right to choose. We will advise them without forcing them. This is a matter of performance and the athletes and association knows what is best for them.

"We will discuss such matters with them but we will not force them and we are confident that Malaysians will continue to support our athletes and defend their right to wear normal sports attire or a Shariah-compliant sports attire," said Syed Saddiq.

At the same time, he also told the Lower House that he plans on bringing the issue of Shariah-compliant sportswear to the International Olympics Committee (IOC).

Syed Saddiq said he was aware that there are incidents abroad where Shariah-compliant Muslim athletes were discriminated against, not allowed to compete or had their victory and achievements snatched from them on attire technicalities.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/29/minister-says-will-defend-athletes-right-to-wear-what-they-want/1804744

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Sarawak CM says must be fair to all because he is Muslim

29 Oct 2019

BY SULOK TAWIE

KUCHING, Oct 29 — Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg stressed today that as a Muslim, it is incumbent upon him to be fair to the people of various races and religions in the state.

“When we are fair, we will be more blessed,” he said in his address to the state Islamic agencies before the closed-door dialogue session started.

He said there must be peaceful co-existence in Sarawak as opposed to fighting aimlessly over religion and race.

“Because our state is peaceful, we are blessed as our reserves have increased. Just wait for the state budget,” the chief minister said, referring to the state budget 2020 he will table on November 4.

“When the state is peaceful, the people can earn their own living. When the state is in chaos, how do the people can earn their own living?” he asked.

He said peace meant the state government could provide infrastructure to the people.

The chief minister assured the Malays that the state government will safeguard and protect their interests.

He said that Sarawak was fortunate because religion and race is not a problem here and that ties among the people of various religious and racial backgrounds has remained strong.

Abang Johari said the state’s economy was moving in the right direction, with foreign investors still arriving.

He claimed the same was not true of the Malaysian economy, which he said was in crisis.

He added the ringgit’s value against the US dollar has fallen.

“We don’t even know where the direction of the Malaysian economy is heading to now,” he said.

Abang Johari said the state government will build boats for the coast guards that will be formed later.

He said the coast guards will patrol the waters off Sarawak to ensure the safety of local fishermen.

He added he has approved RM72 million for the creation of artificial reefs that will be planted near the 1,000km shores from Tanjung Dato in the southern tip to Lawas in the northern tip of Sarawak.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/29/sarawak-cm-says-must-be-fair-to-all-because-he-is-muslim/1804782

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Malaysia's leader decided by top Pakatan Harapan body: PM Mahathir

Oct 29, 2019

ASHGABAT (Turkmenistan) • Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has reiterated that only the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council can determine who is prime minister, Bernama news agency reported.

Tun Dr Mahathir said the suggestion by opposition MPs that he remains prime minister until the next general election was only their opinion.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysias-leader-decided-by-top-ph-body-mahathir

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Mass group disperses 'caliphate' lecture planned by former HTI members in NTT

October 28, 2019

Djemi Amnifu

A mass organization in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), has broken up a lecture session planned by former members of the disbanded Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI). The lecture, which was supposed to take place in Tuak Daun Merah subdistrict, Oebobo district, on Saturday, was prevented from taking place by members of a group calling themselves Laskar Timor Indonesia (LTI). The LTI alleged the meeting was an attempt to promote the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. “The HTI has been disbanded but the members still like to spread their caliphate ideology so we had to prevent the event from taking place,” LTI leader and priest Ady Ndiy said. According to Ady, former HTI members issued invitations for university students to attend the lecture. The invitations, he claimed, were not only extended to Muslim students but also to non-Muslims, including Christians who form t...

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/28/mass-group-disperses-caliphate-lecture-planned-by-former-hti-members-in-ntt.html

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Indonesia Seeks Preferential Trade Deal With 'Old Friend' Morocco

BY NUR YASMIN

OCTOBER 28, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia and Morocco signed four agreements on Monday to strengthen bilateral cooperation on industry, maritime affairs and fisheries, counterterrorism and the exchange of financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terror financing.

Indonesia also sought to accelerate discussions on a preferential trade agreement during the meeting between Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.

"In our negotiation, I conveyed that, firstly, it is important to immediately start discussions on a preferential trade agreement, which will remove trade barriers between the two countries. We expect the negotiations to start before the end of the year," Retno said after the meeting at her office in Jakarta.

She said Indonesia wants to boost trade with the North African country, which currently includes textiles, footwear, electronics, home appliances, rubber and furniture.

"I also mentioned Indonesia's willingness to supply palm oil, tea, coffee and any other commodities Morocco may need from us," she said.

Indonesia and Morocco established diplomatic relations 60 years ago.

"Morocco is Indonesia's old friend and a key partner in the North Africa region," Retno said.

Retno also invited Morocco to participate in the Halal Summit in Indonesia next year.

She said the halal industry covered a wide range of sectors, from food and medicine to cosmetics and banking, and that it has huge potential, having been valued at $2.1 trillion in 2017 and estimated to grow to $3 trillion by 2023.

Retno said Indonesian state-owned enterprises and private companies are ready to participate in infrastructure development projects in Morocco and form partnerships in the pharmaceutical industry.

On broader regional issues, Indonesia asked Morocco to promote dialogue through the United Nations to settle the territorial dispute in West Sahara.

Retno said Indonesia and Morocco could also play important roles to ensure peace in the Middle East.

"As two Muslim nations, we share a commitment to promote the nature of Islam, which is moderate, tolerant and graceful to all the living things," Retno said.

She was accompanied by newly appointed Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo, Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) head Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin, and National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Suhardi Alius.

Moroccan Ambassador Ouadia Benabdellah, who also attended the meeting, said the two countries shared a common outlook on the promotion of a peaceful form of Islam, while they also continued to pursue stronger bilateral ties.

Full report at:

https://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesia-seeks-preferential-trade-deal-with-old-friend-morocco

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Mideast

 

Iran Looms Over Race to Lead U.N. Nuclear Agency

By Laurence Norman

Oct. 27, 2019

The United Nations’ atomic agency is seeking a new leader in an increasingly tight competition overshadowed by Iran’s nuclear activities.

On Monday, members of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board will try to pick a new director general from a field recently narrowed to two candidates. They are unlikely to succeed, diplomats say, in part because of disagreements over the agency’s approach to Iran.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/iran-looms-over-race-to-lead-u-n-nuclear-agency-11572197016

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Gunmen blow up oil pipeline in southeastern Yemen

2019-10-27

ADEN, Yemen, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Unidentified gunmen early on Sunday blew up a pipeline for transporting crude oil to an exporting port in Yemen's southeastern province of Shabwa, a government official told Xinhua.

The explosion, which occurred for the second time in less than a month, targeted the crude oil pipeline in Rawdah district in the east of Shabwa, the local government official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier this month, a similar attack targeted the same pipeline which is occasionally detonated by gunmen linked to the al-Qaida terrorist group or anti-government tribesmen.

Late last year, the Saudi-backed Yemeni government resumed exporting operations of oil from fields in Shabwa following years of unrest that forced oil companies in the province to stop their operations.

No groups have so far claimed responsibility for the pipeline blast, but previous similar attacks in the region were claimed by al-Qaida militants.

Shabwa boasts five sectors of crude oil production, which produce about 15,000 barrels per day.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/27/c_138507466.htm

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Gaza Terrorist Groups Raise Alert Level Amid Fears Of Israeli Operations

October 27, 2019

Terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip have raised their alert level due to fears of Israeli operations against them, said a source in the groups to the Lebanese, Hezbollah-affiliated Al Akhbar newspaper.

One of the reasons for raising the alert level was an increase in the intensity of reconnaissance flights over Gaza and the presence of manned spy planes at high altitudes over the area.The terrorist groups fear that Israel may break the calm by carrying out indirect assassinations of terrorist leaders or by destroying military facilities.

Full report at:

https://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Gaza-terrorist-groups-raise-alert-level-amid-fears-of-Israeli-operations-605919

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Turkey detains 20 foreigners seen tied to ISIS: Anadolu

28 October 2019

Turkish authorities on Monday detained 20 foreign nationals with suspected links to ISIS, state-owned Anadolu Agency reported.

The detentions come a day after President Donald Trump announced that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid by US special forces in northwest Syria, near the Turkish border.

Domestic operations against people with suspected links to ISIS are common in Turkey and it was not immediately clear whether Monday’s detentions were related to Baghdadi’s death.

Anadolu said authorities had identified 20 foreign nationals with links to ISIS, who had entered Turkey illegally.

It said the suspects had been detained in dawn raids in the capital Ankara and that they would be handed to immigration authorities for deportation after processing by security officials.

ISIS has carried out atrocities against religious minorities and attacks on five continents in the name of an ultra-fanatic version of Islam that horrified mainstream Muslims.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/28/Turkey-detains-20-foreigners-seen-tied-to-ISIS-Anadolu.html

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Saudi Arabia's detention of Palestinians unacceptable: Hamas official

Oct 28, 2019

A member of the politburo of the Palestinian Hamas resistance movement has lambasted the detention of dozens of Palestinians in prisons across Saudi Arabia as “unacceptable,” saying the campaign of arrests continues unabated and that no dramatic progress has been made in this regard despite contacts with Saudi officials.

“The Saudi arrest campaign cannot be understood or accepted. These are Palestinians, who love their country and their cause just like all Palestinians living in diaspora. We hope that they will be released immediately,” Husam Badran said in an exclusive interview with the Palestinian Arabic-language Quds Press news agency on Monday.

On October 21, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Arabic-language Shehab news agency in an exclusive interview that Palestinians currently being held at prisons and detention centers in Saudi Arabia are exposed to various forms of torture and cruel methods of interrogation.

“Unfortunately, there is a harsh investigation procedure against the detainees, some of whom are subjected to various forms of torture. Interrogators of different nationalities are questioning them,” he said.

Abu Zuhri added, “There are about 60 Palestinian detainees (in Saudi jails), and some of them are the sons or supporters of Hamas. Some of them have even lived more than three decades in the kingdom and greatly contributed to the construction of the country.”

He further noted that Hamas has made great efforts, either through contacts with a number of countries or Saudi officials, to secure the release of the Palestinian inmates but all to no avail.

The senior Palestinian official stressed that his movement is closely monitoring the cases of Palestinian prisoners being held in Saudi Arabia.

On September 14, Hamas called on Saudi authorities to immediately release its senior official Muhammad al-Khudari, who has been living in the kingdom for over 30 years.

Khudari represented Hamas between mid-1990s and 2003 in Saudi Arabia.

He has held other important positions in the Palestinian resistance movement as well.

Back on June 3, Lebanese Arabic-language daily newspaper al-Akhbar, citing informed sources who requested anonymity, reported that Saudi officials had been holding dozens of Saudi nationals and Palestinian expatriates in detention for months over affiliation to Hamas.

The report added that the most prominent figure among those arrested was Dr. Khudari.

Al-Akhbar went on to say that the campaign of arrests coincided with the closure and tight control of bank accounts, and a ban on sending any money from Saudi Arabia to the Gaza Strip.

Over the past two years, Saudi authorities have deported more than 100 Palestinians from the kingdom, mostly on charges of supporting Hamas financially, politically or through social networking sites.

The Riyadh regime has imposed strict control over Palestinian funds in Saudi Arabia since the end of 2017.

All remittances of Palestinian expatriates are being tightly controlled, under the pretext that these funds could be diverted indirectly and through other countries to Hamas.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/28/609803/Detention-of-Palestinians-in-Saudi-Arabia-unacceptable-arrests-continue-unabated-Hamas-official

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Africa

 

How the death of ISIS leader Baghdadi affects Boko Haram in Nigeria

Oct 29, 2019

The fugitive leader of the Islamic State (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is dead.

al-Baghdadi detonated his suicide vest in north-west Syria after fleeing into a tunnel, chased by US military dogs, according to United States President Donald Trump.

Trump said al-Baghdadi was "whimpering and crying and screaming", while being chased by the military dogs.

Baghdadi took his own life and those of three of his children by igniting his suicide vest. Afterwards, the tunnel he had fled into, collapsed.

Trump says no US personnel were killed but one of the dogs was left seriously injured in the explosion.

Baghdadi was a ruthless, skilled, strategic, organised and ruthless battlefield tactician.

The Nigeria based Boko Haram faction, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), has long pledged allegiance to the Syria based IS.

Will Baghdadi’s death weaken ISWAP in any way, shape or form?

Pulse explains in the following paragraphs…

Who is ISWAP’s leader and how do they operate?

ISWAP is led by 25-year-old Abu Musab al-Barnawi--a bare knuckled fighter who parted ways with the depraved Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in 2016, over operational direction.

ISWAP prefers attacking military bases and taking on armed soldiers on the battlefield, while Shekau’s Boko Haram prefers abducting school kids and expatriates, while sending child suicide bombers to detonate explosives in markets and communities. 

ISWAP’s modus operandi has mirrored that of IS in recent times, however. 

Like IS, ISWAP prefers confronting armies. These days, like IS, ISWAP stages hit-and-run operations and suicide attacks--much like Shekau’s Boko Haram.

Inspired by IS ideology, ISWAP has resorted to guerrilla tactics mounted by sleeper cells.

As IS grew in notoriety and brutality, so did the Nigeria based ISWAP.

So, now what?

Even though ISWAP has been inspired by IS and IS has always lauded ISWAP for its dastardly operations in Nigeria, it remains unclear if IS provides any kind of support in equipment and cash to ISWAP.

The extent of this support also remains unclear.

A brief history of al-Baghdadi

Baghdadi was born near Samarra, north of Baghdad, in 1971.

He served as a cleric in a mosque in Baghdad around the time of the US-led invasion in 2003, writes the BBC.

“Some believe he was already a jihadist during the rule of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Others suggest he was radicalised during the time he was held at Camp Bucca, a US facility in southern Iraq where many al-Qaeda commanders were detained,” the BBC adds.

Baghdadi rose to prominence in 2014, when he announced the creation of a "caliphate" in areas of Iraq and Syria.

On Baghdadi’s watch, IS carried out multiple atrocities that resulted in thousands of deaths.

https://www.pulse.ng/news/local/boko-haram-how-isis-leader-baghdadis-death-affects-nigeria/hq0x9fk

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US AFRICOM says it eliminated 25% of ISIS militants in Libya

October 26, 2019

US Africa Command Director of Public Affairs Colonel Chris Karns said four airstrikes this year had killed 25% of the ISIS terrorists remaining in Libya, "where ISIS forces had been gathering in camps and recruiting new fighters."

In an interview with Voice of America, Karns said the US wanted to make sure that threat did not grow, adding that the US would continue to monitor the situation to prevent Libya from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

"Since US forces were relocated in April, we’ve continued to watch and monitor the situation in Libya. Our concern was that with the civil war, these terrorist groups, in particular ISIS, would look to leverage this opportunity to grow, to recruit, to train and create additional chaos in a situation that is already chaotic." Karns explained.

He indicated that when the opportunity presented itself — and this was through careful observation by US forces — there were instances where US forces saw a regeneration of the ISIS capability as they were gathering in camps, where they were doing some of the basic training and starting to do some of the recruiting.

"So we wanted to make sure that threat did not grow. And consequently, airstrikes were conducted. Four this year." He remarked.

The Colonel that ISIS militants' number is under 150 as 43 ISIS fighters have been taken out of Libya permanently.

Full report at:

https://www.libyaobserver.ly/news/us-africom-says-it-eliminated-25-isis-militants-libya

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Renewed Boko Haram attacks displaced 140,000 persons in 2019 – UN

October 26, 2019

Abdulkareem Haruna

At least 140,000 persons have been displaced by the resurgence of Boko Haram activity this year in Borno State, the United Nations Undersecretary-General, Mark Lowcock, has said.

Mr Lowcock, who coordinates UN’s Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, visited Nigeria this week on an official visit that took him to Maiduguri, the base of Boko Haram insurgency, from where he carried out an assessment of the situation in the North-east.

He spoke via a statement issued by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-OCHA).

Commendations, concerns

Mr Lowcock recognised the efforts Nigerian authorities and other bodies have made “between 2016 and 2018″, to regain control of areas previously ravaged by the insurgents,” that assisted more than two million displaced people to return home.

“But renewed violence, most of it perpetrated by Boko Haram insurgents, has sparked an upsurge in forced displacement in Borno, with more than 140,000 people forced to move this year alone,” he said.

“Many farmers have missed multiple planting seasons and more than three million people are food insecure.”

He said he had “over the past year” have “watched with growing concern the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Borno.”

Mr Lowcock said a ten-year conflict and violence committed by Boko Haram and other non-state armed groups had destroyed communities in Borno.

“In my visits to Borno on September 2017 and October 2018, I met many of the ordinary people who have been the victims of this crisis,” he recalled.

“More than seven million people currently need humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.”

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The UN official acknowledged that though “military and security measures against the insurgents are a crucial and valid part of the response led by the Nigerian authorities, such action needs to be proportionate and avert amplifying to the hardship of civilians, huge numbers of whom have suffered terribly as a result of the actions of the terrorists and insurgents.”

He added that military action alone “will not solve this problem.”

“It is therefore extremely important that the Nigerian Government, including through institutions like the North-east Development Commission, is also implementing wider measures to address the root causes of the crisis, relieve humanitarian suffering, and promote stabilization, recovery, and development.

“I strongly support these measures.”

He said he had during a visit this week been able to review the situation with senior officials in the Nigerian Government, as well as the military and other authorities in Borno and NGOs.

“With everyone I have met, I have agreed that NGOs – through their rich networks and capacity to reach people, and their expertise and experience in operating at the community level – have a very important role to play.”

‘Full compliance’

Mr Lowcock said all the humanitarian organisations working in Nigeria with funding from the international community must “operate in full compliance with international standards, including counter-terrorism related conditions, national laws, and humanitarian principles.”

He added that maintaining such standards was not only perfunctory but practical prerequisite for funding from the major donors.

“And it is important to recognise that all the international NGOs working in the North-east are authorised to do so through the government registration process and local approvals from the relevant authorities,” he added.

The Nigerian government has continuously claimed that the Boko Haram insurgents have been ‘degraded’ or ‘technically defeated’ but they still carry out sporadic attacks on military formations and civilian targets.

The military has also denied claims that the insurgents have increased deadly attacks that have claimed the lives of hundreds this year alone.

The current Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Olusegun Adeniyi, blamed the inability of troops to end Boko Haram on lack of “army aviation.”

Full report at:

https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/359580-renewed-boko-haram-attacks-displaced-140000-persons-in-2019-un.html

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Al Qaeda-linked group reappears in Nigeria

BY CALEB WEISS

October 27, 2019

Following several years of inactivity, the al Qaeda-linked Jamaat al Ansar al Muslimeen fi Bilad al Sudan, better known as Ansaru, has reappeared online.

A new photo of the group was released today by the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), a clearinghouse for propaganda of al Qaeda’s global network. GIMF also announced a new media outlet for Ansaru, Al Yaqut Media Center.

A Telegram channel, ostensibly ran by members of Ansaru, also reposted the photo, giving further credence to the veracity of the picture.

The photo details three members of Ansaru, presumably in northern Nigeria, and features a famous Hadith [saying of the Prophet Muhammad] about the importance of ribat [frontline fortifications in the defense of Islam]. The same photo above was also released in Arabic and Hausa.

While the photo itself offers little information, the release and creation of a new media outlet is meant to demonstrate Ansaru’s continued existence and presence inside Nigeria. This attempted resurgence has been hinted at in al Qaeda’s propaganda in the past.

For instance, in 2017, Al Risalah Magazine, a former publication released by al Qaeda-linked jihadists in Syria, released an article penned by Usama al Ansari. Ansari, who was described as Ansaru’s emir, heavily criticized Abubakar Shekau, offered a detailed history of the group, and spoke highly of al Qaeda’s men around the world in the piece.

That article was the first sign of life for the group in almost two years at the time.

Prior to the magazine article, the last Ansaru publications were in early 2015. In January and February of that year, two videos were released by the jihadist group with the aim of distancing itself from the actions of Abubakar Shekau and his Boko Haram.

In the videos and aforementioned magazine article, Ansaru’s leaders closely stuck to al Qaeda’s guidelines for jihad. This was not surprising as the history of the group is closely tied to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Two of Ansaru’s founders and leaders were trained by AQIM’s men in Mali. In some instances, Ansaru’s men even took part in al Qaeda’s operations in the Sahel and further claimed attacks inside Nigeria in defense of AQIM in Mali.

And in 2013, Khalid al Barnawi, the former leader of Ansaru, referred to Ayman al Zawahiri as “our good emir” and praised al Qaeda’s branches around the world.

After Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in March 2015, Ansaru has widely been regarded as al Qaeda’s franchise in Nigeria.

However, following fierce competition with Boko Haram, and later the Islamic State West Africa, and the arrest of Barnawi in 2016, Ansaru was severely weakened and largely relegated to a state of dormancy.

It is unclear how successful Ansaru would be in an attempted resurgence inside Nigeria. It is possible that the ascendency of jihadist violence in the Sahel could provide Ansaru the capacity to reconstitute its forces.

Weakening security situations elsewhere in Nigeria, such as in Zamfara state, could also potentially be exploited by the jihadist group to regain strength.

The weakening of Islamic State West Africa and/or Shekau’s Jamaat Ahl al Sunnah [Boko Haram’s official name] could also provide an opening for Ansaru. But all of this remains to be seen.

Full report at:

https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2019/10/al-qaeda-linked-group-reappears-in-nigeria.php

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Nigeria: 38 Aid Workers Killed in Boko Haram Conflict

28 OCTOBER 2019

CAJ News Agency (Johannesburg)

By Emeka Okonkwo

Abuja — The Boko Haram has killed 38 United Nations (UN) and non-governmental organisation (NGO) workers in Nigeria since 2011.

Ten of the victims have been killed in the past 18 months.

Six more are missing.

Mark Lowcock, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, disclosed the figures in an update of the situation in northeast Nigeria.

The area is under siege from the Boko Haram, an Islamist group involved in a violent campaign to overthrow the Nigerian government.

Over 30 000 people have been killed while more than three million others displaced during the conflict that began ten years ago.

"Ten years of conflict and violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and other non-state armed groups have devastated communities," Lowcock lamented.

More than 7 million people currently need humanitarian assistance in the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe.

Lowcock expressed concern that more than 140 000 people forced to move this year alone because of renewed violence.

The Nigerian military has meanwhile been accused of violating the rights of civilians during the crackdown against the Boko Haram militants.

"Military action needs to be proportionate and avoid adding to the plight of civilians, huge numbers of whom have suffered terribly as a result of the actions of the terrorists and insurgents," Lowcock said.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/201910290015.html

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