New Age Islam
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Islamic World News ( 11 Feb 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

US Denies Visa to Pak's Senate Deputy Chairman


 

New Age Islam News Bureau

 

12 Feb 2017 


Islamic State’s flag. file photo. 

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 Islamic State Burn Dead 15, Including Children, For Fleeing Kirkuk

 33 ISIS Militants Killed, 12 Wounded In Nangarhar Operations

 Wilders: Islam Must Be Driven Out Of the Netherlands

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Pakistan

 US Denies Visa to Pak's Senate Deputy Chairman

 Takfiri Terrorists Open Fire On Shia Businessman In Karachi

 Pakistan Urged To Approach Russia, Iran Over IS Threat in Afghanistan

 Pak Turk Schools Employees in UN Protection after Visa Extensions Turned Down

 Saleem Shahzad’s plea for facilities in jail allowed

 Family of missing activist Samar Abbas petitions IHC for his release

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Arab World

 Islamic State Burn Dead 15, Including Children, For Fleeing Kirkuk

 Security Kill 30 Islamic State Militants in Anbar, Salahuddin

 Security Source: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Already Out of Mosul

 Don't Put the Muslim Brotherhood on the Terrorist List

 Leaks reveal that Egypt sought Israeli permission to handover Red Sea Islands to Saudi

 Police destroy 2 IS trapped vehicles south of Mosul

 Turkish Army's Further Advance Blocked after More Towns Joined Peace with Syrian Army

 Syrian Army Launches Anti-Terrorism Operation at Border with Jordan

 Saudi Arabia and Turkey to bolster diplomatic ties and address key regional issues

 Israel approves 16 demolition orders in Palestinian neighborhood Silwan

 Forget Goat Yoga, Goat Radio Is This Syrian Town’s Answer to Radical Ban on Music

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South Asia

 33 ISIS Militants Killed, 12 Wounded In Nangarhar Operations

 Taliban Suicide Bomber Kills Six In Afghanistan's Helmand

 Top Taliban leader Mawlavi Naqibullah, foreign militants killed in Badakshan

 Deadly car bombing plot foiled in Kunduz city

 Couple killed by Nuristan residents for eloping

 Security and bilateral cooperation on agenda as Ghani visits UAE

 Karzai reacts at alleged civilian deaths in Helmand airstrike, Lashkargah bombing

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Europe

 Wilders: Islam Must Be Driven Out Of the Netherlands

 Islamic State's Syrian Stronghold Should Be Isolated By Spring - UK Minister

 More than a THIRD of Britons AGREE with Donald Trump’s 'Muslim travel ban', says poll

 Swiss vote on citizenship measure after anti-Muslim campaign

 Denmark and Norway remove travel restrictions to Egypt's South Sinai cities

 Aussie comedian lambastes Piers Morgan over Trump's Muslim ban

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Mideast

 President Rouhani Calls for Reviewing Islamic Revolution

 One more Turkish soldier killed, three wounded in northern Syria: Military

 ISIL terror plot against Europe thwarted, Turkey says

 MHP head Bahçeli slams Russian statement on Turkey over ‘friendly fire’ in Syria

 Directorate of Religious Affairs recalls imams accused of spying in Germany

 Kurdistan Islamic Union Sec-Gen heads for Tehran

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India

 Dalai Lama Says Indian Muslims Are Peace-Loving Because Of Their Environment

 Two Jawans Martyred, Four Hizbul Terrorists Killed In J&K's Kulgam

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Southeast Asia

 Muslim/Non-Muslim Organ Donation Not an Issue: Health Ministry

 Thousands Urged To Vote Muslim and Against Christian in Jakarta

 Muslims, Non-Muslims In Malaysia Should Strengthen Harmonious Relationship

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North America

 CIA Files Reveal US Intelligence Used Psychics to Spy on Iran

 US Blocks Palestinian from Leading UN Mission in Libya

 Large group attends Islamic Center session to ask questions, show support

 SNL's Trump heads to The People's Court to fight over the Muslim Ban

 Fatah official: Trump 'declared war on Islam'

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Africa

 Witnesses in Muslim Cleric case shun court

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/us-denies-visa-to-pak-s-senate-deputy-chairman/d/110049

 

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US denies visa to Pak's Senate deputy chairman

PTI | Updated: Feb 12, 2017



Photo: Abdul Ghafoor Haidri.

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Senate deputy chairman and leader of one of the largest Islamic parties was denied a US visa, leading to the cancellation of a two-member delegation's planned visit to New York to attend a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the UN headquarters.

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the deputy chairman and the secretary general of Jamiat Ulema Islam, was scheduled to lead a two-member Senate delegation at IPU meeting being held on February 13 and 14 at the UN.

"The visa of Haidri was put on hold in what can be termed a technical refusal," the Express Tribune reported, quoting its sources.

Senator Lt Gen (retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi - who was to accompany Haidri - was granted a visa just two days before.

The visit of the two senators has now been cancelled on the direction of Pakistan's Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani who had taken notice of the issue.

The move comes days after a US court refused to reinstate+ President Donald Trump's ban on people from seven Muslim- majority countries, which did not include Pakistan.

Trump signed an executive order last month barring citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

Citing official sources, the paper said the Senate Secretariat had applied for official visas for them two weeks ago.

"They said when the Senate Secretariat checked with the US Embassy about the status of Haidri's passport through official channels, it was told that the US authorities would get back to it by Tuesday, clearly meaning that Haidri could not travel to the US to attend the IPU conference," it said.

"It is a technical refusal," a top Senate official said.

Earlier, the Senate Secretariat said that there was a delay in issuance of visa to the deputy chairman and the Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani had taken notice of the issue.

Rabbani issued directives to his secretariat not to entertain any US delegation or diplomat till the issue was resolved.

"No delegation, member of Congress or diplomat of the US will be welcomed by the Senate of Pakistan, Senate Standing Committees and the senators in their official capacity till this issue is resolved," Rabbani had said in a statement issued to media on Saturday.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/us-denies-visa-to-paks-senate-deputy-chairman/articleshow/57108768.cms

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Islamic State Burn Dead 15, Including Children, For Fleeing Kirkuk

By Mohamed Mostafa

Feb 12, 2017

Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants have burned to death 15 civilians, including children, for attempting to escape areas under the extremist group’s control, according to a security source.

“Daesh (Islamic State) militants have burned to death 15 civilians belonging to three families from al-Shajarah village in Hawija (55 km southwest Kirkuk),” a security source told Alsumaria News on Saturday. The group accused the victims of “abandoning the land of the caliphate,” the source added. They were submerged with tar and then set to fire before a crowd the source said.

The victims were bound to central Kirkuk and areas in neighboring Salahuddin province, according to the source. They were captured by IS on a road between al-Riyadh and Hamreen mountains area.

The group threatened citizens in the area they would be burned to death similarly if they try to escape.

Since it took over large parts of Iraq in 2014 to establish a so-called “Islamic Caliphate”, Islamic State tortured and brutally executed hundreds of civilians for either violating its extreme religious rules or trying to escape group-held regions upon the start of security operations seeking to retake those areas.

Data reveal that at least 150.000 civilians fled to central Kirkuk since Islamic State took over southwestern areas.

iraqinews.com/features/islamic-state-burn-dead-15-including-children-fleeing-kirkuk/

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33 ISIS militants killed, 12 wounded in Nangarhar operations

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 12 2017

The loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group suffered heavy casualties in a series of air and ground operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the militants were killed in the past 24 hours in three restive districts of Nangarhar.

A security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said at least 33 loyalists of the terror group were killed during the operations.

The official further added that the operations were conducted in Achin, Rodat, and Kot districts.

According to the official, at least 12 loyalists of the terror group were also wounded and several hideouts of them were destroyed during the operations.

The Afghan security forces also seized several weapons, ammunition, and explosives during the operations, including a number of the Improvised Explosive Device.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the some remote districts of the province have been witnessing instability during the recent years.

Signs of insurgency by ISIS loyalists were seen nearly two years ago in this province, forcing the Afghan security forces to conduct counter-terrorism operations besides the US forces based in Afghanistan conduct regular airstrikes to suppress the insurgency by the terror group.

khaama.com/33-isis-militants-killed-12-wounded-in-nangarhar-operations-02861

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Wilders: Islam Must Be Driven Out Of the Netherlands

Sun, 12/02/2017

Dutch right-wing firebrand Geert Wilders said Sunday that he would support a ban on Islam in the Netherlands.

"Islamic ideology is probably more dangerous than National Socialism," he said in a television interview, referring to the German Nazi regime.

In his first major TV interview in the run-up to elections on 15 March, Wilders advocated a ban on the Koran, which he compared to Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf," and the shutting down of mosques.

Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) is hoping to become the biggest party in the elections, with a possible 20 per cent of the vote, and between 27 and 31 seats, according to polls.

The current largest party, the conservative liberal VVD, is expected to be the PVV's closest rival with an estimated 22 to 26 seats.

The PVV also wants the Netherlands to leave the European Union and to reimpose border controls.

eblnews.com/news/europe/wilders-islam-must-be-driven-out-netherlands-55848

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Pakistan

US denies visa to Pak's Senate deputy chairman

PTI | Updated: Feb 12, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's Senate deputy chairman and leader of one of the largest Islamic parties was denied a US visa, leading to the cancellation of a two-member delegation's planned visit to New York to attend a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the UN headquarters.

Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, the deputy chairman and the secretary general of Jamiat Ulema Islam, was scheduled to lead a two-member Senate delegation at IPU meeting being held on February 13 and 14 at the UN.

"The visa of Haidri was put on hold in what can be termed a technical refusal," the Express Tribune reported, quoting its sources.

Senator Lt Gen (retd) Salahuddin Tirmizi - who was to accompany Haidri - was granted a visa just two days before.

The visit of the two senators has now been cancelled on the direction of Pakistan's Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani who had taken notice of the issue.

The move comes days after a US court refused to reinstate+ President Donald Trump's ban on people from seven Muslim- majority countries, which did not include Pakistan.

Trump signed an executive order last month barring citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

Citing official sources, the paper said the Senate Secretariat had applied for official visas for them two weeks ago.

"They said when the Senate Secretariat checked with the US Embassy about the status of Haidri's passport through official channels, it was told that the US authorities would get back to it by Tuesday, clearly meaning that Haidri could not travel to the US to attend the IPU conference," it said.

"It is a technical refusal," a top Senate official said.

Earlier, the Senate Secretariat said that there was a delay in issuance of visa to the deputy chairman and the Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani had taken notice of the issue.

Rabbani issued directives to his secretariat not to entertain any US delegation or diplomat till the issue was resolved.

"No delegation, member of Congress or diplomat of the US will be welcomed by the Senate of Pakistan, Senate Standing Committees and the senators in their official capacity till this issue is resolved," Rabbani had said in a statement issued to media on Saturday.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/us-denies-visa-to-paks-senate-deputy-chairman/articleshow/57108768.cms

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Takfiri terrorists open fire on Shia businessman in Karachi

February 12, 2017

Terrorists belonging to the banned Deobandi outfit ASWJ opened fire upon a Shia businessman in Malir area of Karachi leaving him seriously wounded on Saturday night.

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Haider Hassan, a local Shia businessman was closing his shop at Imam Bargah Hussaini Sifarat Khana Malir when the notorious takfiri terrorists of banned Deobandi outfit ASWJ (Sipah-e-Sahaba) ambushed him.

Due to targeted firing, he sustained bullet injuries. He was shifted to a hospital for treatment.

It is relevant to add here that the Shia businessman was attacked in a busy area where activists of MQM Haqiqi Afaq group and Pak Sarzameen Party of Mustafa Kamal remain present for their organizational activities.

en.abna24.com/service/centeral-asia-subcontinent/archive/2017/02/12/811130/story.html

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Pakistan urged to approach Russia, Iran over IS threat in Afghanistan

February 12th, 2017

KARACHI: As Russia has convened another meeting on peace in Afghanistan, Pakistan needs to ask Russia and Iran what assistance these countries could offer to counter the growing threat of the militant Islamic State group and other elements in the landlocked country to bring peace and stability in the region, said former foreign secretary Najmuddin A. Shaikh at a session of the 8th Karachi Literature Festival on Saturday.

The session titled ‘Afghanistan-Pakistan: illusions and realities’ had Mr Shaikh, who has served as ambassador to the United States, Iran and West Germany besides working as a special envoy in several other countries, in conversation with journalist and writer Ahmed Rashid, author of five books, including Taliban.

Both Russia and Iran did not want to see IS gain a foothold in Afghanistan, whose over 38 per cent territory at present was controlled by the Afghan Taliban, said the former foreign secretary.

This time Afghanistan, too, has been invited to the meeting being hosted by Moscow in the middle of this month while the Russian foreign secretary has insisted on the inclusion of the Taliban in the dialogue process. At the moot, Pakistan, he said, must also offer its expertise and assistance in bringing peace to Afghanistan. Besides, the impact of instability in Afghanistan, drug trafficking, and Afghan refugees on Pakistan’s economy must be taken into consideration, he added.

Stability in Afghanistan was a precondition for stability and progress in Pakistan, he said. While there was fragmentation in the Taliban with a few disgruntled elements joining IS and other militant groups, the Afghan government had held talks with the Taliban leadership at their Qatar office which was still operational, he said. “Fragmentation in the Taliban can be very dangerous,” he said, adding that the regional powers had a fair idea of its repercussions. In this scenario, he said, the Qatar office could be approached to bring the Taliban to dialogue.

Ahmed Rashid said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) demanded stability in the region. “Our future depends on the success of CPEC,” he said. Although Pakistan’s military establishment was raising a division for the security of the corridor passing through the country, China was well aware of the fact that a political settlement was necessary for long-term stability, he said. Realising the importance of political settlement, the country was interested in playing a role in negotiating peace talks, he said.

However, Mr Shaikh argued, there were elements in Kabul which did not want stability in Afghanistan as the prevailing chaos allowed them to take benefit of poppy cultivation and do narcotics business. Pakistan had suffered huge losses on several fronts because of the elements which were always there to sabotage peace talks, as they had done in July 2015 by spreading media reports about Mullah Omar’s death during the talks with the Taliban, the ex-secretary said.

In reply to a question, he said it was not clear if the US policy on Afghanistan’s security would remain unchanged or the Trump administration would withdraw the huge funds being spent on Afghanistan’s security. The US had already wasted billions of dollars in Afghanistan without success. However, he believed, the withdrawal of such huge funds would lead to chaos.

Mr Rashid said the civilian government in this country remained completely out of the picture as far as foreign policy was concerned. He said there had been no input of the civilian government in foreign policy of Pakistan. He said a fundamental change is required in the thinking of the military that reviewed past policies after the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar. However, he agreed with a questioner that the present government did not seem interested in or capable of making foreign policy. The failure of the government to appoint a foreign minister indicated their lack of seriousness, he said.

But Mr Shaikh disagreed with the opinion that the civilian government’s input had never been sought by the military while making foreign policy and said that the input of the civilian government had always been there.

dawn.com/news/1314241/pakistan-urged-to-approach-russia-iran-over-is-threat-in-afghanistan

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Pak Turk Schools employees in UN protection after visa extensions turned down

February 12th, 2017

As many as 108 Turkish employees of the Pak Turk Schools, along with their families, have been in the United Nations' (UN) protection after Pakistani authorities denied them an extension in their visas to work in the country, DawnNews reported.

Documents available with DawnNews reveal that the individuals had requested the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, that they be resettled in a country other than Turkey after Pakistan ordered to deport them.

The applicants had told UNHCR they feared arrest, coercion and torture by the Erdogan government in Turkey in case the Pakistani government forcibly deported them to Istanbul.

The Pak-Turk schools used to be administered by a foundation linked to Fethullah Gulen, once an ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. However, after an abortive military coup in July 2016, the Turkish leadership blamed Gulen for sponsoring the overthrow attempt, resulting in a global crackdown on the religious and educational network led by him.

The Turkish government, in the wake of the attempted coup, jailed over 120,000 individuals on charges of facilitating rebels.

The Turkish foreign minister had in August asked Pakistan to close the institutions. In the second week of August, the management of the chain removed the Turkish principals of their 28 schools and colleges and also dissolved the board of directors which had representation from Turkish nationals.

When the Turkish faculty's visas expired in September 2016, the Pakistani government said it would not extend them.

The Interior Ministry also rejected an application filed by the affectees pleading for an extension in their visas, asking all affected individuals to leave the country by November 20. The decision was announced two days before Erdogan visited Pakistan in November last year.

However, the Sindh High Court later suspended the deportation order; the high courts of KP, Punjab and Balochistan had followed suit.

A spokesman for the UNHCR confirmed that the affectees will stay in UN protection until November 2017 and that efforts are underway to resettle them in another country.

“We are extremely concerned about our families in Pakistan. We applied for asylum because the Pakistani government can hand us over to the Erdogan administration anytime. We are now under UN protection,” one of the affectees, told DawnNews on Saturday.

He said that because he can no longer work in Pakistan, he had to sell household items to feed his family. “I fear starvation here and persecution in Turkey. My destination has to be a country other than Turkey,” he said.

dawn.com/news/1314167/pak-turk-schools-employees-in-un-protection-after-visa-extensions-turned-down

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Saleem Shahzad’s plea for facilities in jail allowed

February 12, 2017

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court allowed on Saturday an application of former Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Saleem Shahzad seeking better facilities in prison in a case pertaining to providing shelter and treatment to alleged terrorists.

The former petroleum minister, Dr Asim Hussain, the main accused in the case, has been booked for allegedly treating and harbouring suspected terrorists, political militants and gangsters at his hospitals while Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaimkhani, Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar, MQM-P lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui, PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel, Usman Moazzam of Pasban and Saleem Shahzad have been named as co-accused for allegedly asking Dr Asim to treat the alleged criminals.

The applicant, who was arrested shortly after he landed at the Karachi airport from Dubai on Feb 6 and sent to prison on the following day, through his lawyer had moved B-class plea and bail applications.

While allowing the plea, the ATC-II judge directed the jail authorities to provide better facilities to the applicant in prison. The bail application of the suspect would be taken up for hearing on Feb 18.

dawn.com/news/1314245/saleem-shahzads-plea-for-facilities-in-jail-allowed

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Family of missing activist Samar Abbas petitions IHC for his release

February 12, 2017

The family of Samar Abbas, one of the five activists picked up by unidentified individuals early this year, has petitioned the Islamabad High Court to secure his release.

The petition, filed by Samar's brother, Ash'ar Abbas, nominates the IG Islamabad, SSP FIA, intelligence agencies and the interior ministry as respondents in the case.

The family has pleaded that the IHC order Samar's release at the earliest, ensure his safety, and ensure that he is not tortured by his abductors.

Samar was reported missing from the federal capital since January 7, 2016.

Samar's family had lodged an application with the Ramna police station on Jan 14, and an FIR was registered on Jan 15.

An activist based in Karachi who belongs to various forums that have been raising their voice against atrocities committed against minority groups in the country, Samar is also president of the Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan (CPAP).

According to CPAP General Secretary Syed Talib Abbas, Samar had travelled to Islamabad from Karachi on business. “He was continuously in touch with his family, but on Saturday (Jan 7), his mobile phone was switched off. The family has not heard from him since,” he said.

He said Samar, 40, is married and has two children; a boy and a girl.

dawn.com/news/1314164/family-of-missing-activist-samar-abbas-petitions-ihc-for-his-release

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Arab World

Islamic State Burn Dead 15, Including Children, For Fleeing Kirkuk

By Mohamed Mostafa

Feb 12, 2017

Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants have burned to death 15 civilians, including children, for attempting to escape areas under the extremist group’s control, according to a security source.

“Daesh (Islamic State) militants have burned to death 15 civilians belonging to three families from al-Shajarah village in Hawija (55 km southwest Kirkuk),” a security source told Alsumaria News on Saturday. The group accused the victims of “abandoning the land of the caliphate,” the source added. They were submerged with tar and then set to fire before a crowd the source said.

The victims were bound to central Kirkuk and areas in neighboring Salahuddin province, according to the source. They were captured by IS on a road between al-Riyadh and Hamreen mountains area.

The group threatened citizens in the area they would be burned to death similarly if they try to escape.

Since it took over large parts of Iraq in 2014 to establish a so-called “Islamic Caliphate”, Islamic State tortured and brutally executed hundreds of civilians for either violating its extreme religious rules or trying to escape group-held regions upon the start of security operations seeking to retake those areas.

Data reveal that at least 150.000 civilians fled to central Kirkuk since Islamic State took over southwestern areas.

iraqinews.com/features/islamic-state-burn-dead-15-including-children-fleeing-kirkuk/

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Security kill 30 Islamic State militants in Anbar, Salahuddin

Feb 12, 2017

Anbar/ Salahuddin (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi security forces killed 30 Islamic State militants in Salahuddin and Anbar

on Sunday, according to military and municipal officials.

A statement by the Ministry of Defense said troops in Baiji, Salahuddin, foiled two attacks by IS extremists at Sheikh Ali village and Harariyat neighborhood, killing 18 attackers and seizing two vehicles.

Meanwhile, 12 Islamic State militants were killed in a security operation west of Ramadi.

Malallah al-Obeidi, head of al-Baghdadi municipality, told al-Journal news website that security forces, backed by al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popula Mobilization Units), invaded IS defenses in al-Madham, a region at the desert area of al-Baghdadi, killing 12 militants and seizing ammunitions belonging to the group.

Obeidi said Madham is one of the vastest regions in western Anbar’s desert that link IS strongholds in Rawa and Annah, and has been used by IS for commuting between those regions and for staging offensives.

Iraqi security forces and allied militias are actively fighting IS militants who took over several Iraqi cities in 2014 to proclaim a self-styled “Islamic State”. The greatest security effort is now made in Mosul, where the group has lost a half of its strongholds in the city since mid October.

IS still maintains smaller bastions in Anbar and Kirkuk, and has stepped up attacks across the country to make up for its losses in Mosul, its biggest base in Iraq, which made observers believe it will still cause a security threat after the recapture of that city.

iraqinews.com/iraq-war/security-kill-30-islamic-state-militants-anbar-salahuddin/

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Security Source: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Already Out of Mosul

Feb 12, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- A security source in Iraq said ISIL ringleader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is no more in Iraq and has fled to Syria, cutting his contacts with inexperienced commanders that are still in Mosul.

General Abdolkarim Khalaf was quoted as saying by Sky Iraq news channel that al-Baghdadi has fled from the Western parts of Mosul towards the Syrian borders along with a number of senior ISIL commanders.

Khalaf said that al-Baghdadi left Mosul some time ago and has no contacts with the commanders who have remained in Mosul and are mostly inexperienced in war.

Yet, the General did not reveal any information about the exact date or destination of Baghdadi's secret travel.

Last month reports also said that the ISIL ringleader has fled to Raqqa in Syria.

A source who called for anonymity dismissed earlier reports claiming that al-Baghdadi is in al-Ba'ajaj town in Western Mosul, and said, "al-Baghdadi is in Raqqa city which has been chosen by the ISIL as its self-proclaimed capital in Syria."

He added that Nineveh province has been besieged from all sides by the Iraqi army and its allies and all border corridors between Syria and Turkey have been closed and al-Baghdadi has not moved to Iraq from Syria since it is impossible.

His remarks came after local sources claimed earlier in January that the convoy of al-Baghdadi and other ISIL ringleaders has been targeted by the air force on its way from Syria to Iraq and the ISIL ringleader has been wounded.

Also, an Iraqi commander said that al-Baghdadi, is believed to be trapped in the Northern Iraqi city of Mosul after his numerous attempts to escape the city, now-besieged by the Iraqi forces failed.

The news was released as contradictory reports have appeared in recent months on the fate of ISIL leader Al-Baghdadi.

Spokesman of Hashd al-Shaabi (the Iraqi volunteer forces) Ahmad al-Assadi said in mid November that the latest information and intel shows that al-Baghdadi is still in Iraq, hiding somewhere outside Mosul.

"The terrorist, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is in a region between the town of Tal Afar (some 54km North-West of Mosul) and the town of al-Baaj (157km to the South-West of Mosul)," al-Assadi was quoted as saying by Iraq's al-Ma'louma news agency.

He also said that the operations of the volunteer forces cover an area 14,000 sq/km around Mosul that includes the towns of al-Hazar, al-Baaj and its surrounding regions towards Tal Afar.

Based on an agreement made earlier, the Iraqi popular forces and Peshmarga Kurdish troops will not be part of the invading forces inside the two cities of Tal Afar and Mosul, while they will help tighten and maintain the siege on the rims of the two cities. Various units of Iraq's armed forces, including the army, police and anti-terrorism troops, lead the assault.

Al-Assadi's statement is the last in a string of reports on the fate of the notorious ISIL leader. During the last several months, many contradictory reports have surfaced the media about the health conditions and location of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

A prominent Iraqi military analyst said in late October that Riyadh and Ankara had hatched plots to transfer al-Baghdadi from Mosul to Libya, but the massive presence of the popular forces and Russian fighter jets along the bordering areas of Iraq and Syria dissuaded them.

"The two countries were working to take al-Baghdadi to Turkey either by moving him through Mosul and Kirkuk to the North or through al-Qa'em and al-Ratba corridor to Deir Ezzur in Syria  and then to Turkey to eventually transfer him to Libya," Safa al-A'asam told al-Ma'louma.

He added that the ISIL concluded that transferring al-Baghdadi through Tal Afar region to Raqqa in Syria is also impossible given the massive presence of Hashd al-Shaabi in the Southern front near Baaj district, South-West of Mosul and Northwest of the province of Nineveh, as well as the numerous flights done by the Russian fighter jets over the Syrian bordering areas with Iraq.

"The ISIL is now working to find a different path through the Iraq-Syria borders to take al-Baghdadi to Turkey and then to Libya or any other countries," al-A'asam said.

The statements came as reports from western Iraq said earlier in October that al-Baghdadi has succumbed to his fatal injuries and died in a region along the border with Syria.

"Al-Baghdadi had been severely wounded in the Al-Anbar battle in Western Iraq last month (September), and his wounds were so lethal that he could not move freely at all," a local Iraqi source told the Arabic service of the Russian Sputnik news agency in mid October.

The source said despite long treatment in Mosul, the general health conditions of the ISIL leader deteriorated due to "a deep abdominal cut, damage to his liver and crippling wounds in his left limbs".

The source said al-Baghdad lost his life in the town of Al-Baaj some 100km (60 miles) West of Mosul near the border with Syria, but his death is concealed to avoid the loss of morale among ISIL ranks who are faced with a tough war in Mosul and Syria these days.

There have been numerous reports on the fate or location of the ISIL leader in the last two years. As the war ravages over the self-proclaimed capital of the terrorist cult, Mosul, in Western Iraq, Arab media sources said earlier this month that al-Baghdadi had fled to Raqqa in Syria before the Iraqi army started its operations in Mosul, but his wife was taken.

According to Iraq's Sumeriya News, local sources in Nineveh quoted defected ISIL leaders as saying last year that al-Baghdadi had managed to escape from Mosul to Raqqa, but one of his wives was arrested.

The defected militants stated that senior members of the terrorist group, called the ISIL police, rebelled against al-Baghdadi and called on his supporters to surrender themselves.

The source did not mention who captured Baghdadi's wife, but his words implied that she had been captured during a mutiny and by those who rebelled against the terror leader.

Another report also in early October claimed that “accurate information” showed Baghdadi’s food had been poisoned by unknown individuals and the food was given to him in Baaj district.

Sumeriya News cited a local source in Northwestern Nineveh province as saying that al-Baghdadi and three of his aides had been transferred to an unknown location under strict measures.

Numerous reports had indicated from September or early October that al-Baghdadi and other top commanders of the terrorist cult started evacuating Mosul in anticipation of the Iraqi army's massive attack to take back the city.

The exact location of al-Baghdadi has been a subject of speculation. However the account on sighting al-Baghdadi has intensified the speculations that the ISIL leader was in Mosul before the start of Iraqi forces' operations to retake the strategic city.

Also reports said in June that al-Baghdadi had been seriously wounded in an airstrike in Western Iraq.

Local sources in Iraq's Nineveh province confirmed that Baghdadi and other leaders in the ISIL were wounded in an air raid on one of the ISIL command headquarters close to the Syrian border.

Baghdadi was seriously wounded by an airstrike on March 18, 2015, that killed the three other men he was travelling with.

He was said to be receiving treatment for spinal injuries after being wounded in that strike.

In mid-May, Iraq's local sources disclosed that al-Baghdadi returned to Iraq from Syria and hid in Nineveh province.

"Al-Baghdadi and a group of ISIL commanders have stealthily returned to Iraq's Nineveh province," the Arabic-language Sumeriya News quoted an unnamed local Iraqi source as saying at the time.

Al-Baghdadi returned to Nineveh province through ISIL-controlled desert roads in Iraq and Syria, added the source.

The source noted that Al-Baghdadi hi in an unknown place in Nineveh province.

The ISIL Leader is running a secret life as his life is at stake more than anyone in the world now. Al-Baghdad's terrorist group is under massive airstrike by the Syrian, Russian and Iraqi Air Forces all throughout the Western Iraq and Eastern Syria.

While reports last year said the ISIL leader was always on the move between Iraq's Mosul and Syria's Raqqa - the self-proclaimed capital of the terrorist group - tips and intel revealed in November that al-Baghdadi had moved from the Syrian city of Albu Kamal to the Iraqi city of Mosul in Nineveh province.

In early March, informed intelligence sources disclosed that the al-Baghdadi had moved from Turkey to Libya to escape the hunt by the Baghdad Intelligence Sharing Center after he was traced down and allegedly targeted a number of times in Iraq and the Syria.

"Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was injured in Syria was sent to Turkey for treatment and from there he was sent to Libya," the Arabic-language media outlets quoted former Egyptian intelligence officer Hesam Kheirullah as saying.

In December, 2015 sources in Libya said al-Baghdadi had arrived in Sirte, the hometown of the slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which is under the control of the Takfiri groups.

Then in October the same year, Iraq's air force bombed his convoy as he was heading to al-Karable to attend a meeting with ISIL commanders. 25 other ISIL militants were killed in the special operation that was the product of the Baghdad Intelligence Sharing Center where the latest intel arrives from Iranian, Russian, Iraqi and Syrian spy agencies round the clock.

The notorious terrorist leader escaped the attempt on his life narrowly, but with fatal injuries. Few hours after the assault, the spokesman of Iraq's joint forces declared that Al-Baghdadi was injured in the Iraqi airstrike on his convoy and was taken away from the scene by his forces.

The terrorist leader was first transferred to Raqqa, where surgeons saved his life but failed to give him a thorough treatment due to a lack of specialized medical equipment.

Sources disclosed a few days later that the ISIL leader had been taken to Turkey for treatment through a series of coordination measures by the CIA.

"The CIA has done the coordination with the Turkish intelligence service (MIT) for transferring al-Baghdadi to Turkey," the Arabic-language al-Manar TV quoted unnamed sources as saying.

The source said that two companions of al-Baghdadi who were also injured in the attack on the ISIL leader's convoy and were captured by the Iraqi forces confirmed that al-Baghdadi had been injured in the attack.

After specialists said al-Baghdadi needed months of recovery, one of his aides was appointed to run the cult until the so-called caliph would return to duty.

Al-Baghdad has, thus far, escaped several attempts on his life, making him suspicious of his team of bodyguards.

"While everyone is looking for him in Iraq and Syria, no one expects him to be in Sirte," the Libyan source told FNA, adding, "If he is to be exposed to danger, Sirte would be the last place on Earth for his life to be endangered as it is the safest Takfiri stronghold in the world."

The Syrian army, the National Defense Forces (NDF), the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Syrian and Russian Air Forces, as well as the Iraqi army and popular forces, Al-Hashed Al-Shaabi, have been conducting large-scale operations in Syria and Iraq to end the ISIL control over swathes of lands in the two countries.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951123001100

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Don't Put the Muslim Brotherhood on the Terrorist List

2FEB 12, 2017

President Donald Trump’s advisers are reviewing a plan to officially designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization. While some members of the group are certainly terrorists, adding it to the official list would be a mistake.

That’s because the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t a single organization so much as a collection of loosely affiliated groups in dozens of countries, each deciding on its own policies and programs. In some places, it is purely focused on social services and humanitarian issues. In others, it is constructively engaged in politics; its Tunisian offshoot, called Ennahda, is central to the coalition now desperately trying to make that country the first true Muslim democracy. In Syria, members are battling against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Some affiliated groups, such as Hamas in Gaza, are revolutionary and violent. But Hamas is already on the U.S. terrorist list, indicating that Washington is capable of dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood on a case-by-case basis. Those chapters and individuals proved to be engaging in terrorism or supporting murderous jihadist groups should be placed on the list, maintained by the State Department, and subject to related sanctions -- freezing money the groups have in the U.S., for instance, or cracking down on front groups that funnel money to terrorists.

The downside of a blanket designation is equally clear. First, it would not likely pass legal muster: The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that the government cannot criminalize affiliations with foreign political movements unless it can prove that money given to them is reaching terrorist groups, and there is no evidence of that for most chapters. In addition, designating the entire group it would undoubtedly inflame anti-Americanism in places where the Muslim Brotherhood is legal and performs valuable public services, such as U.S. allies Jordan and Morocco.

Instead of painting with a broad brush, Trump and Congress should ask the State and Treasury departments to determine which Muslim Brotherhood branches are violent and which could be allies in the fight against extremism. Just as there can be no doubt of the danger extremist groups pose to the U.S., there should be none about the value of moderate groups in joining the fight against terrorism.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View’s editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.

bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-02-12/don-t-put-the-muslim-brotherhood-on-the-terrorist-list

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Leaks reveal that Egypt sought Israeli permission to handover Red Sea Islands to Saudi

Published February 12th, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP/File)Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP/File)

A leaked phone call between Egypt's foreign minister and a senior Israeli official has revealed Egypt had to gain Israeli approval for a controversial transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

The conversation between Sameh Shoukry and Yitzhak Molcho leaked on Friday by anti-regime TV channel Mekameleen shed light on Israel's role in the failed handover of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.

"The ARE [Arab Republic of Egypt] will not agree to any amendment to the agreement without the prior, formal consent of the GOI [Government of Israel]," Shoukry said in the alleged recording, in which only the Egyptian Foreign Minister's voice can be heard.

"So there is a completion of the process from the trilateral perspective for you [Israel] and us [Egypt] and they [Saudi Arabia], and then as soon as the court proceeding is finished," Shoukry said, referring to a court case over the legality of the transfer deal.

Shoukry added that he wanted to finalise issues before the legal proceedings regarding the agreement finished.

Last month, Egypt's high administrative court upheld a ruling voiding the handover of the two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia in a deal that had sparked protests in Egypt.

The government had appealed against a lower court ruling in June that found the controversial border demarcation agreement was illegal.

The agreement, announced in April, and signed during a visit by Saudi King Salman, caused public uproar and protests by Egyptians who said the islands belonged to Cairo.

The controversy has become a source of tension with Saudi Arabia – which has provided billions of dollars of aid to Egypt – reportedly including oil deliveries, direct investment, and deposits in the central bank to shore up Egypt's depleted currency reserves.

Last month, an Egyptian diplomat told The New Arab that the Egyptian and Saudi governments had to gain the approval of Israel and the United States before pushing ahead with the transfer.

The audio recording is the latest in series of embarrassing leaks from within the inner circle of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In February 2015, Mekameleen released a recording of Sisi telling advisers to demand funds from Gulf states because "they have money like rice."

albawaba.com/news/leaks-reveal-egypt-sought-israeli-permission-handover-red-sea-islands-saudi-936598

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Police destroy 2 IS trapped vehicles south of Mosul

by  Mohamed Mostafa

Feb 12, 2017, 10:24 am

Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi police forces destroyed a booby-trapped car and bulldozer belonging to Islamic State extremists south of Mosul, the police service said as preparations continue to invade the group’s western strongholds.

Federal Police chief Shaker Jawdat said Sunday forces hit the two tractors with kornet rockets after police drones had detected them in Lazaka, south of the city.

Iraqi government forces, backed by troops and advisers from a U.S.-led coalition and popular militias, are currently preparing for a ground invasion of western Mosul to clear that region from Islamic State militants who took over the city in 2014. Security operations since mid October have managed to recapture the eastern section of the city after killing more than 3000 militants.

The recapture of Mosul would represent the harshest blow to Islamic State’s influence in Iraqi as the city was previously designated as the capital of the group’s declared “Islamic Caliphate”.

Officials from Iraq’s military and the international coalition have predicted that western Mosul could be liberated within six months. But the United Nations has voiced fears for the fate of 750.000 civilians trapped under the group in that region, and had estimated potential refugees resulting from military efforts in the city by one million people.

iraqinews.com/iraq-war/army-detonates-2-islamic-state-dozers-south-mosul/

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Turkish Army's Further Advance Blocked after More Towns Joined Peace with Syrian Army

Feb 12, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Sources in Syria's Northern Aleppo province said that the further advance of the Turkish soldiers and Ankara-backed militants of the Euphrates Shield Operation has grown impossible after a number of militant-held towns and villages in the region signed peace agreements with the Syrian Army.

The sources said that the Syrian army has concluded peace agreement with militants in six key villages including Tal Rifat, Minag and surrounding villages with the cooperation of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria.

They added that based on the agreement government bodies and institutions will resume operation in the towns and villages of Northern Aleppo to start rendering services to people.

The sources underlined that after more towns endorsed peace with Syrian government, the army has actually closed off the path of the Turkish army and its allied militant groups for any further advances in the region.

On Thursday, militants in more towns in Northern Aleppo laid down arms and endorsed the peace agreement with Damascus.

Representatives in several towns in Northern Aleppo inked peace agreements with the Syrian Army, pledging to protect security in the Northern territories of the province. 

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951124000769

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Syrian Army Launches Anti-Terrorism Operation at Border with Jordan

Feb 12, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Informed Syrian sources disclosed that the Syrian Army has launched a fresh operation to push terrorists out of a key border crossing in Dara'a province with the cooperation of Jordan.

The sources said that the army men, assisted by Amman, have launched their operation to drive out terrorist groups from al-Nasib border crossing in Southern Syrian.

Chief of Staff of the Jordanian Army Mahmoud Farihat disclosed on December 30 that his country has been contacting and cooperating with the Syrian government via an officer over war on terrorism.

In the meantime, media sources affiliated to terrorist groups informed that military operation of Syria and Russia to take back control over al-Nasib passage and border strip with Jordan has kicked off, while eight terrorist groups affiliated to the Free Syrian Army in the provinces of Dara'a and Quneitra announced that they have established a new coalition named 'The South Forces'.

The Arabic language al-Quds al-Arabi daily had disclosed that head of Syria's National Security Council has traveled to several Arab states in the last few months, including four recent trips to Amman.

Jordan's stances have changed significantly toward Syria. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safdi, in a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, underscored war on terrorism, ceasefire in Syria and security cooperation.

Yet, a top government official in Dara'a said last month that Jordan's borders were open to terrorists who smuggled arms and new recruits into Syria despite the national reconciliation plan being implemented in the Southern province of Dara'a.

"106-km-long borders of Syria with Jordan is still open to terrorists' infiltration and smuggling of weapons while Jordan has relations with our Zionist enemy that is the arch foe of the resistance front, specially Syria," Dara'a Governor-General Mohammad Khalid al-Hanous said.

He further added that Jordan as dark record of supporting terrorists, specially in the years of war in Syria, that was no secret to anyone.

Al-Hanous went on to say that the heavy defeat the terrorists experienced in the South Tornado Battle that had received wide support and aid from Jordan's al-Mouk Operation Room and other state sponsors of terrorism would prevent similar attacks.  

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951123000991

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Saudi Arabia and Turkey to bolster diplomatic ties and address key regional issues

Published February 12th, 2017

Saudi Arabia and Turkey are two influential regional heavyweights and are seeking to bolster bilateral relations in various fields, according to the kingdom's new ambassador in Ankara.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency on Sunday, Walid Abdul Karim el-Khereiji said the leaders of both Saudi Arabia and Turkey were cooperating to defuse conflicts in the Middle East.

The interview comes on the eve of a scheduled visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia on Monday as part of a regional tour that also includes Bahrain and Qatar.

El-Khereiji said Riyadh and Ankara share identical views regarding various regional issues, especially war-torn Syria and Iraq.

Syria fell into civil war in 2011 when the Bashar al-Assad regime suppressed pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.

Iraq has also been struggling to oust Daesh group, which captured vast swathes of territory in the country's north and west in 2014.

"Saudi Arabia and Turkey are keen on cooperating together to defuse Middle East crises," the Saudi envoy said.

Exemplary ties

El-Khereiji said the volume of the Saudi-Turkish trade exchange has jumped to $5.8 billion.

"The number of Saudi tourists in Turkey has grown to around 250,000 per year," he said.

The ambassador said a 2015 visit by Saudi King Salman to Turkey to attend a G-20 summit has ushered in a new era of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

"Economic cooperation between the kingdom and Turkey has been steadily growing since the two countries signed a bilateral cooperation agreement in 1973," he said.

Last year, Riyadh and Ankara signed four agreements in the cultural and media fields during a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Nayef to Turkey.

"The convention of the Turkish-Saudi Coordination Council in Ankara in recent days was another proof that bilateral relations were growing," he said.

The council convened last week under the foreign ministers of both countries to discuss ways of enhancing bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

"The council seeks to boost trade relations between the two states," he said, noting that both capitals were also seeking to cooperate in the field of energy.

"While the kingdom has great potentials in this field, Turkey enjoys a strategic location and both countries are seeking to benefit from this," he said.

In 2016, Saudi Arabia and Turkey conducted four joint military drills.

"There is an increasing cooperation between the two sides in the military and defense field," he said, citing a recent visit by Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik to Riyadh.

"The visit signifies that the two countries are keen on coordinating regarding security and stability in the region," he said.

By Nasser Hajjaj

albawaba.com/news/saudi-arabia-and-turkey-bolster-diplomatic-ties-and-address-key-regional-issues-936568

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Israel approves 16 demolition orders in Palestinian neighborhood Silwan

Published February 12th, 2017

Israeli authorities entered the al-Bustan area of Silwan in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday afternoon and delivered at least 16 demolition notices to several Palestinian families.

A spokesman of a Silwan-based committee formed to fight demolitions, Fakhri Abu Diab, told Ma'an that inspectors from Israel's Jerusalem municipality stormed al-Bustan under military protection and delivered demolition notices.

At least 16 Palestinian homes received the orders, Abu Diab said, where at least 118 individuals reside. The families of al-Ruweidi, al-Qadi, Shaloudi, al-Abbasi, and Hamdan were all reported to have received the orders.

"The occupation is seeking to implement its settlement plans in Jerusalem, including the construction of King David's Park on the ruins of al-Bustan south of Al-Aqsa Mosque," Abu Diab said. "The municipality has been delivering demolition notices from time to time to exert pressure on the residents to coerce them into either leaving the area or accepting the plans of the Israeli occupation."

Majd Gheith, who works with the Silwan-based watchdog Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said that Jerusalem municipality inspectors also took photos of several Palestinian buildings in al-Bustan, Ein al-Luzah, and Wadi Hilweh areas on Friday. He added that inspectors had also delivered a demolition order to the al-Qarain family demanding the demolition of a storehouse made of bricks and tin sheets.

A spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality was not immediately available for comment on the demolition warrants issued in al-Bustan.

Also on Friday, Israeli settlers occupied several Palestinian-owned properties in Silwan.

The residents of al-Bustan have been embroiled in a decades-long battle that began in the 1970s after the Israeli government embarked on a plan to build a national park in the area, with the city's master plan defining the area as an open space where construction was prohibited, according to Israeli rights group B'Tselem.

Due to the designation, residents have long faced great difficulties contending with demolition orders issued against the homes that were built there without permits -- mostly in the 1980s -- due to the increasing population in Silwan.

The municipality began issuing demolition orders and indictments to homes in al-Bustan in 2005 as part of the Israeli authorities' plan to establish the Jewish site "King David's Garden" in Silwan and around the "Holy Basin," which includes many Christian and Muslim holy sites.

In 2009 the municipality announced its intention to demolish 88 homes in al-Bustan, which would result in the displacement of some 1,500 people.

After the residents' appeals to the plan were rejected, the Jerusalem Municipality proposed that they voluntarily relocate to another Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina, in northern East Jerusalem, but the residents refused.

In early 2010, the municipality filed a new plan which included a tourist park called "King's Valley" or "King's Garden" in al-Bustan, that called for the demolition of structures in the neighborhood's western part -- at least 22 -- while structures in the eastern part of al-Bustan -- about 66 -- would receive retroactive approval along with increased building rights.

The municipal plan was approved by the local committee in June 2010 and awaits approval from the district committee, B'Tselem said in 2014.

Despite the freeze on plans since 2010, Israeli forces have regularly raided al-Bustan and issued demolition orders to residents.

In December, locals said that Israeli authorities delivered 13 demolition notices to families in al-Bustan. However, a spokesperson for the Jerusalem municipality rejected the claims at the time, saying that they were "patently false."

Silwan is one of many Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem that has seen an influx of Israeli settlers at the cost of home demolitions and the eviction of Palestinian families. The area has also come under heightened presence of Israeli military forces in recent months.

Silwan residents -- like most Palestinians in Jerusalem -- have long engaged in efforts to prevent their displacement by the Israeli government, which has aimed to establish a Jewish majority since Israel first illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967.

albawaba.com/news/israel-approves-16-demolition-orders-palestinian-neighborhood-silwan-936510

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Forget Goat Yoga, Goat Radio Is This Syrian Town’s Answer to Radical Ban on Music

Published February 12th, 2017

When Raed Fares, the manager of Radio Fresh FM in Syria's Idlib province, was ordered by radical Islamists to stop airing music, he racked his brain for a way that would spare him the wrath of the militants while keeping his station on the air.

"I wanted to protect my station and I did not want to anger anyone," Fares told dpa by phone.

"So I came up with the solution: instead of music I used sounds of animals and birds," he said.

Radio Fresh broadcasts a song's lyrics but not its music.

The music is replaced by different animal noises depending on the time of day: chirping birds in the morning, baaing sheep and bleating goats in the afternoon, croaking frogs and clicking cockroaches at night.

Fares, a 44-year-old native of Idlib, said he sees the funny animal noises as a form of "resistance" to the militants' harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

Idlib, in north-western Syria, is mostly ruled by Islamist extremists, including the al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Sham Front, previously known as al-Nusra Front.

When the militants arrived Fares was warned that he had to stop airing music and women's voices or face punishment.

The threats first came from the Islamic State extremist militia that once had the upper hand in Idlib. Later, Fatah al-Sham took over and put him on notice.

"They do not like us because we simply criticize everybody," Farees said of the news and talk show programmes that also air on the station.

"I was attacked five times. Luckily, I am still alive," he said, laughing.

The most serious attack took place about three years ago when Daesh gunmen shot at him while he was on his way home. Two bullets hit him in the shoulder and one in the lung.

Living in an area like Idlib where there are dozens of Islamic factions is "difficult" because of the "laws they issue every day, Fares said.

"We had to change music that we used in our news bulletins due to their rules. We replaced music with the chimes of London's Big Ben clock. And as we live in a war-torn country, we now use sounds of exploding shells and the whistling of shells being fired," Fares added.

"We end our news bulletin with sounds of heartbeats."

Radio Fresh FM hit the airwaves in June 2013, more than two years after the start of the pro-democracy uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hardliners also ordered Fares to replace the 28 female workers on his radio with men.

"I did not fire them. We came up with the idea of changing their voices through a computer programme that makes them sound like men," he said.

"They now sound more like robots."

By Weedah Hamzah

albawaba.com/editorchoice/forget-goat-yoga-goat-radio-syrian-town’s-answer-radical-ban-music-936428

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South Asia

33 ISIS militants killed, 12 wounded in Nangarhar operations

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 12 2017

The loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group suffered heavy casualties in a series of air and ground operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials, the militants were killed in the past 24 hours in three restive districts of Nangarhar.

A security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said at least 33 loyalists of the terror group were killed during the operations.

The official further added that the operations were conducted in Achin, Rodat, and Kot districts.

According to the official, at least 12 loyalists of the terror group were also wounded and several hideouts of them were destroyed during the operations.

The Afghan security forces also seized several weapons, ammunition, and explosives during the operations, including a number of the Improvised Explosive Device.

The anti-government armed militant groups including the ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively calm provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the some remote districts of the province have been witnessing instability during the recent years.

Signs of insurgency by ISIS loyalists were seen nearly two years ago in this province, forcing the Afghan security forces to conduct counter-terrorism operations besides the US forces based in Afghanistan conduct regular airstrikes to suppress the insurgency by the terror group.

khaama.com/33-isis-militants-killed-12-wounded-in-nangarhar-operations-02861

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Taliban suicide bomber kills six in Afghanistan's Helmand

February 12th, 2017

At least six people were killed Saturday when a Taliban bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into Afghan soldiers who had queued outside a bank in southern Helmand province to collect their salaries, officials said.

Nearly two dozen others, including women and children, were wounded in the explosion in the capital Lashkar Gah, many of them critically.

The Taliban, who control vast swathes of the opium-ravaged province and have repeatedly threatened to seize Lashkar Gah, claimed responsibility for the bombing, calling it revenge for recent US airstrikes in the volatile district of Sangin.

“A suicide car bomber killed six people, including five soldiers, and 21 others were wounded,” Helmand police chief Agha Noor Kentoz told AFP.

Omar Zhwak, the provincial governor's spokesman, confirmed the casualties from the bombing, which upturned military vehicles and left the area strewn with charred debris.

The Italian-run Emergency hospital in Lashkar Gah said it had received at least 12 people, including a woman and a child.

The Taliban ruled out civilian casualties in a statement on their website, claiming that 21 Afghan army soldiers had been killed. The insurgents are known to exaggerate battlefield claims.

The attack comes after the US military this week stepped up airstrikes in Sangin as fierce fighting with the Taliban raised fears that the key district could fall to the insurgents.

Nato on Friday said it was looking into local media reports of nearly a dozen civilian casualties from the strikes.

“While supporting and defending Afghan troops, the US conducted airstrikes in Sangin district,” the coalition said in a statement.

“We're aware of the allegations of civilian casualties, and take every allegation very seriously. We'll work with our Afghan partners to review all related material.” For years Helmand was the centrepiece of the Western military intervention in Afghanistan only for it to slip deeper into a quagmire of instability.

The Taliban effectively control or contest 10 of the 14 districts in Helmand, the deadliest province for British and US troops over the past decade and blighted by a huge opium harvest that helps fund the insurgency.

Lashkar Gah — one of the last government-held enclaves — also risks falling to the Taliban's repeated ferocious assaults. The intensified fighting in the province last year forced thousands of people to flee to Lashkar Gah from neighbouring districts.

The Pentagon said last month it will deploy some 300 US Marines this spring to Helmand.

Nato officially ended its combat mission in December 2014, but the Marines will return to train and advise Afghan soldiers and police officers fighting the Taliban, said US Central Command.

The decision was welcomed by the Afghan government ahead of what is expected to be another fierce spring fighting season.

dawn.com/news/1314176/taliban-suicide-bomber-kills-six-in-afghanistans-helmand

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Top Taliban leader Mawlavi Naqibullah, foreign militants killed in Badakshan

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 12 2017

A top leader of the Taliban group was along with severa local and foreign insurgents in northeastern Badakshan province of Afghanistan.

According to the local security officials in Badakhshan, the militants were killed during the counter-terrorism operations in Jurm district.

The commander of the 20th Pamir Brigade, General Ghulam Hazrat Karimi, said Mawlavi Naqibullah was among eleven insurgents killed during the operations.

Gen. Karimi further added that four foreign insurgents were among those killed.

He said at least fourteen militants also sustained injuries during the operations conducted Farghamero and Aab Raghak villages in the past 24 hours.

According to Gen. Karimi, the Afghan security forces and local residents of the two villages did not suffer any casualties during the operations.

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

Badakshan is among the relatively calm provinces in northeastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militants have increased their insurgency activities in some remote districts of the province during the recent years.

The insurgents including Taliban and foreign militants often carry out coordinated attacks on government compounds and Security posts in the volatile districts where they are operational.

khaama.com/top-taliban-leader-mawlavi-naqibullah-foreign-militants-killed-in-badakshan-02864

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Deadly car bombing plot foiled in Kunduz city

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 12 2017

The Afghan security forces have foiled a deadly car bombing plot in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said the Taliban insurgents were looking to detonate a Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) in the 3rd police district of the city.

According to MoI, the attack plot was foiled by the Afghan police forces and the car bomb was defused, extracting 220 kg of explosives from the vehicle.

MoI further added that the Taliban insurgents were looking to carry out the attack to cover the deadly casualties the group’s fighters suffered during the recent operations.

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

Kunduz is among the relatively volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in a number of its districts.

The group launched numerous attack on Kudnuz city and managed to partially take control of the strategic Kunduz city last year.

However, the Taliban attack was repulsed although violence and clashes are still reported from some parts of the province as the Afghan forces are busy conducting clearance operations in the vicinity of Kunduz and its other districts.

khaama.com/deadly-car-bombing-plot-foiled-in-kunduz-city-02863

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Couple killed by Nuristan residents for eloping

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 12 2017

A young man was lynched together with a married woman by the local residents in eastern Nuristan province of Afghanistan for eloping and taking shelter in a government shelter house.

According to the local officials, the couple was arrested by the police forces and was being kept inside the shelter house when dozens of people stormed into the compound and brutally murdered them.

Provincial governor Hafiz Abdul Qayum confirmed that scores of people stormed the shelter house in Wama district and started clash with the police forces.

He said a delegation has been sent to the area to investigate the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Qayum further added that the couple was shot dead by the angry mob after they were brutally beaten.

Local officials in Nuristan are saying that lynching and execution of the couple is one of the rarest incident involving honor killing in this province.

This comes as the rate of violence against women is dramatically on the rise across the country, involving domestic violence, honor killings, and execution of the women by the anti-government armed militant groups.

The Taliban insurgents killed a pregnant woman and young girl in northeastern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan in the latest attack on women.

khaama.com/married-couple-killed-by-nuristan-residents-for-eloping-02862

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Security and bilateral cooperation on agenda as Ghani visits UAE

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 12 2017

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani left for UAE, leading a delegation of high level government officials, to meet with the country’s officials.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said President Ghani will hold talks on bilateral cooperation expansion and security related issues with the senior UAE officials.

According to a statement by ARG Palace, President Ghani is visiting the country on an official invitation of the UAE officials.

He will also convey the condolences of the Afghan government and people to UAE officials regarding the tragic Kandahar incident.

At least five UAE diplomats were killed along with a number of high level Afghan government officials in an explosion in government’s guesthouse in Kandahar province last month.

The UAE Ambassador to Afghanistan also sustained injuries in the attack together with the Kandahar governor Humayoun Azizi.

No group including the Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility behind the deadly attack.

In the meantime, the Office of the President, said the National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Intelligence Chief Masoom Stanikzai, the head of the presidential office administrative affairs Abdul Salam Rahimi, and President’s advisor Ajmal Ghani are accompanying the President during his visit to UAE.

khaama.com/security-and-bilateral-cooperation-on-agenda-as-ghani-visits-uae-02860

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Karzai reacts at alleged civilian deaths in Helmand airstrike, Lashkargah bombing

By KHAAMA PRESS - Sun Feb 12 2017

The former Afghan President Hamid Karzai reacted at the alleged civilian deaths in Helmand airstrike conducted by the US forces.

Karzai in a Twitter post said “I condemn in strongest terms foreign airstrikes that killed people in Sangin and terrorist attack that killed people in Lashkargah.”

The former President further added that he shares the deep pain of suffering families.

The NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM) confirmed the US airstrike against the militants in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

“While supporting and defending Afghan troops, the U.S. conducted airstrikes in Sangin District, Helmand over the last 24 hours,” the alliance said in a statement.

Brig. Gen. Charles Cleveland quoted in the statement, said “We’re aware of the allegations of civilian casualties, and take every allegation very seriously.”

He said “We’ll work with our Afghan partners to review all related material.”

However, the provincial officials, said Saturday that the militants were targeted in Sangin airstrikes as they were planning a large attack on the district following their major defeat nearly two weeks ago.

In the meantime, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said Saturday that the mission is looking into reports of civilian casualties in Sangin Helamnd from airstrikes conducted on Thursday night.

khaama.com/karzai-reacts-at-alleged-civilian-deaths-in-helmand-airstrike-lashkargah-bombing-02865

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Europe

Wilders: Islam Must Be Driven Out Of the Netherlands

Sun, 12/02/2017

Dutch right-wing firebrand Geert Wilders said Sunday that he would support a ban on Islam in the Netherlands.

"Islamic ideology is probably more dangerous than National Socialism," he said in a television interview, referring to the German Nazi regime.

In his first major TV interview in the run-up to elections on 15 March, Wilders advocated a ban on the Koran, which he compared to Adolf Hitler's book "Mein Kampf," and the shutting down of mosques.

Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) is hoping to become the biggest party in the elections, with a possible 20 per cent of the vote, and between 27 and 31 seats, according to polls.

The current largest party, the conservative liberal VVD, is expected to be the PVV's closest rival with an estimated 22 to 26 seats.

The PVV also wants the Netherlands to leave the European Union and to reimpose border controls.

eblnews.com/news/europe/wilders-islam-must-be-driven-out-netherlands-55848

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Islamic State's Syrian Stronghold Should Be Isolated By Spring - UK Minister

Feb 12, 2017

Western-backed Syrian forces should isolate Islamic State's de facto capital in Syria "by the spring" before an offensive on the city itself, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Saturday.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, which includes the powerful Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, launched the campaign on Raqqa in November.

It announced this month the start of a new phase in the offensive, aiming to complete its encirclement of the city and cut off the road to the militants' stronghold in Deir al-Zor, southeast of Raqqa.

"I hope that isolation will be completed by the spring and then operations to liberate Raqqa itself can begin thereafter," Fallon told reporters in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region in northern Iraq.

Islamic State is fighting hard to preserve its foothold in Syria as it loses ground in Iraq.

U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces last month dislodged the militants from the eastern side of Mosul, their last city stronghold in Iraq, and are preparing an offensive on the parts of the city that lie west of the Tigris river.

"Raqqa is a much smaller city than Mosul but will clearly be defended very vigorously by Daesh and that means the operation to liberate Raqqa has to be very carefully prepared, as the operation for Mosul was," Fallon said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State."Once Raqqa is liberated after Mosul, we will see the beginning of the end of this terrible caliphate," he said. Islamic State declared the caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

Britain is part of the U.S-led coalition supporting forces battling Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria.

North Korea tests ballistic missile; U.S. to avoid escalation

Seven killed in militant battle in Kashmir

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin; Writing by Maher Chmaytelli in Baghdad; Editing by Alison Williams)

in.reuters.com/article/mideast-crisis-britain-iraq-idINKBN15R04G?rpc=401&

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More than a THIRD of Britons AGREE with Donald Trump’s 'Muslim travel ban', says poll

Feb 12, 2017

President Trump's executive order banned travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries

The executive order, which effectively prohibits travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, received a 33 per cent approval rating in a ComRes survey.

The order also put a temporary stop to the US refugee programme and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees.

The President claimed the measures were part of his plans for tougher security screening for future visitors to the US.

While the ComRes poll found more than half of people polled would not like to see a similar move in the UK, 29 per cent said they would in fact support it.

The poll was conducted for The Independent and Sunday Mirror. ComRes interviewed 2,021 people.

The Republican president’s original order was suspended by a Federal court, on grounds that “no one is above the law, not even the president” - a decision upheld by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Trump reacted to the suspension by announcing his intention to create a new executive order on immigration within days.

He told reporters on Air Force One that a new order would have very few changes, and indicated that it may be signed as early as Monday or Tuesday.

The poll figures also come off the back of comments by Commons Speaker John Bercow, who refused to allow President Trump to address both houses of Parliament during a planned state visit.

The decision was backed by more than 45 per cent of those surveyed by ComRes.

Mr Trump is expected to visit the UK in June, where he will attend a banquet hosted by the Queen.

Speaker of the House of Commons John BercowPA

Commons Speaker John Bercow says he will not allow Donald Trump to address Parliament

Mr Bercow’s statement, in which he accused the US President of ‘sexism and racism’, caused a political storm and saw his position as Speaker of the House come under threat.

The former Tory MP could now face a vote of no confidence, with reports suggesting almost 150 MPs could back the motion.

express.co.uk/news/uk/766300/More-than-a-THIRD-of-Britons-AGREE-with-Donald-Trump-s-Muslim-travel-ban-says-poll

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Swiss vote on citizenship measure after anti-Muslim campaign

12 FEB 2017

The widely-distributed poster urging voters to reject "uncontrolled citizenship." (Komitee Gegen Erleichterte Einbuergerung)

Switzerland votes Sunday on whether to make it easier for third generation immigrants to become citizens, after a campaign tainted by anti-Muslim messages and charges of religious prejudice.

The government as well as most lawmakers and political parties support the proposal that would allow the grandchildren of immigrants to skip several steps in the lengthy process of securing a Swiss passport.

But the outcome of the referendum, the latest in Switzerland's direct democracy system, has been clouded by the far right nationalist Swiss People's Party (SVP), which put issues of Islam and national identity at the centre of the debate.

sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/02/12/swiss-vote-citizenship-measure-after-anti-muslim-campaign

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Denmark and Norway remove travel restrictions to Egypt's South Sinai cities

February 12th, 2017

Denmark and Norway announced they have removed travel warnings to Egypt’s South Sinai cities of Sharm El-Shiekh, Dahab and Saint Catherine, state news agency MENA reported on Friday.

A statement by the Danish Embassy in Cairo said it had decided, along with other North European countries, to remove its travel warnings to South Sinai, effective from Thursday 9 February.

"Denmark is no longer warning its nationals of travelling to major touristic destinations in Egypt including Cairo, Alexandria, the Red Sea, Luxor, Aswan and South Sinai," a Danish embassy statement said according to the agency.

The number of the Danish tourists that visited Egypt reached 100,000 in 2009, according to the latest statistics by Egypt's State Information Service.

More than 40,000 Norwegian tourists visit Egypt annually, according to the figures.

A number of European airlines and governments introduced restrictions on flights to Sharm El-Sheikh over security concerns after a Russian passenger jet crashed in Sinai in 2015, killing 224 people, most of whom were holidaymakers.

Russia suspended passenger flights to Egypt shortly after the crash. Negotiations to resume flights have been taking place since the original suspension decision.

Last Month, the German transportation ministry removed a restriction on German airlines—imposed in the wake of a Russian plane crash, which required them to fly at a minimum altitude of 26,000 feet above South Sinai.

albawaba.com/business/denmark-norway-travel-restrictions-flight-ban-egypt%27s-south-sinai-cities-sharm-936524

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Aussie comedian lambastes Piers Morgan over Trump's Muslim ban

12th, 2017

Australian comedian Jim Jefferies has lashed out at Piers Morgan in an expletive-laden war of words on US television after the British TV personality suggested there was no Muslim ban.

Jefferies and Morgan both appeared on Bill Maher's 'Real Time' panel show this weekend to discuss the week's political news.

Things became heated between the pair when talk turned to US President Donald Trump's controversial immigration ban.

"There is no Muslim ban," Morgan said at one point, to gasps and jeers from members of the panel and studio audience.

Unable to contain his frustration, Jefferies interjected.

"Oh f---- off… there's a f---ing Muslim ban," he said. "There's a Muslim ban."

To which Morgan moved to clarify his point.

"I'm not talking about the hysteria, I'm talking about 85 percent of the world's Muslims are allowed into the country," he said.

Morgan's unwillingness to back down on the subject appeared to spur on the stand-up comedian, prompting a conversation comparing Mr Trump to a sinister political comparison.

"This is what you do Piers, you say 'he hasn't done this, he hasn't done that, he's not going to do all these things', give him a f---ing chance mate," Jefferies offered.

"Hitler didn't kill the Jews on the first day, he worked up to it."

As the crowd erupted into cheers, Morgan appeared to have found his second wind.

"See, that is the exact ridiculous hysterical, over the top nonsense," he said.

"He's not the new Hitler… You're losing your audience… You're sounding unpleasant."

However, it would seem Jefferies would have the final say, rebutting Morgan on his claims by turning towards the audience and posing the question: "I am losing my audience?"

Amid a wall of sound worth of cheers from the crowd, Jefferies flipped the now silent Morgan "the bird".

As part of his US election campaign, Mr Trump promised to stop Muslims from entering the US.

However, after the new President issued a controversial executive order on immigration just days after taking office last month it was blocked by the courts.

A US federal appeals court refused to reinstate Mr Trump’s immigration ban on Thursday, prompting the President to Tweet “SEE YOU IN COURT”.

9news.com.au/world/2017/02/12/15/31/aussie-comedian-lambastes-piers-morgan-over-trumps-muslim-ban#iIoYm3x3G7OOjVB6.99

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Mideast

President Rouhani calls for reviewing Islamic Revolution

Tehran, Feb 12, IRNA

President Hassan Rouhani has called on the Islamic and human sciences scholars to review the phenomenon of 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

President Rouhani calls for reviewing Islamic Revolution

“Thirty-eight years have passed since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and I still want to ask the Islamic and human sciences scholars to look back and review the Islamic Revolution,” President Rouhani said, addressing the closing ceremony for the 8th Farabi International Festival in the Iranian capital on Sunday.

“We need to analyze the Islamic Revolution of 1979 to see how it happened during an era dominated by two [East and West] blocs and at a time of the Cold War, and to see how it was achieved by a nation which tended not to rely on either of the two blocs.

We should closely look at how late leader of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini as a religious leader, philosopher, lecturer and ethical scholar, managed to lead the revolution towards victory.

Rouhani said that the Islamic Revolution in Iran owes its victory to the leadership of Imam Khomeini.

“I want to raise an important issue,” the President said.

“Had it not been Imam Khomeini’s deep understanding of the Iranian people and his acumen about social nature and social psychology of the country, the revolution would not have embraced victory,” he said.

irna.ir/en/News/82427138/

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One more Turkish soldier killed, three wounded in northern Syria: Military

February/12/2017

One Turkish soldier was killed and three were wounded in northern Syria on Feb. 12 during clashes with Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants as a part of the ongoing Euphrates Shield operation, the Turkish Armed Forces has announced.

hurriyetdailynews.com/one-moreturkish-soldier-killed-three-wounded-in-northern-syria-military.aspx?pageID=238&nID=109634&NewsCatID=352

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ISIL terror plot against Europe thwarted, Turkey says

February/12/2017

ISIL terror plot against Europe thwarted, Turkey says

A Turkish court has arrested two Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) suspects allegedly planning to carry out a “sensational” attack in Europe, a judicial source has stated.       

Lebanese-origin Danish citizen Mahamad Laban and Iraqi-origin Swiss citizen Mohammed Tofik Saleh were initially detained by Adana police in the Seyhan district earlier this month, the source said.

Following a 10-day interrogation, the suspects were brought in front of an Adana court on Feb. 10 and sent back into custody, the source added.       

Laban, 45, and Saleh, 34, traveled to Syria via Turkey in 2014 to join the jihadist group, according to the Adana police department.       

The suspects initially told inspectors that they traveled to Syria from Europe to provide humanitarian aid, but after a wider investigation police found that they had taken intensive arms and explosive training over the last three months.       

Police also confiscated digital materials from Laban, including several pictures showing military camouflage and Kalashnikov rifles believed to have been taken with ISIL militants in Syria.    

The interrogation also revealed that Saleh traveled to Turkey with his wife, Fatime, and two daughters in 2014. The family then crossed into Syria but Fatime returned to Sweden and filed a legal complaint with the authorities, saying her husband had traveled to Syria to join ISIL.

hurriyetdailynews.com/isil-terror-plot-against-europe-thwarted-turkey-says.aspx?pageID=238&nID=109633&NewsCatID=509

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MHP head Bahçeli slams Russian statement on Turkey over ‘friendly fire’ in Syria

February/12/2017

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) head Devlet Bahçeli on Feb. 12 slammed a Russian statement on the “friendly fire” in Syria’s al-Bab on Feb. 10 that led to the deaths of three Turkish soldiers, describing it as a “shame.”

“A bomb was dropped from a warplane belonging to Russia and hit a building housing our soldiers. Russia announced that this incident was an accident, but confusing messages from Russia disturbed all of us and made our martyrs turn in their graves. The [Turkish] General Staff statement refuted the Russians’ arguments. The fact that Russia is distorting the incident and trying to burden the Turkish Armed Forces with responsibility lacks goodwill and is ethically problematic,” Bahçeli said at his party’s meeting in the Central Anatolian province of Konya.

“Russia martyrs our soldiers, then it gives a pardon, and then it blames the Turkish military. This is a shame,” he added.

On Feb. 10, Moscow stated that the air strikes were launched based on coordinates provided by the Turkish military, a claim that was later denied by the Turkish General Staff.

The Turkish military announced that its elements had been present at the same location for around 10 days and coordinates had been handed to the Russian Armed Forces attaché in Ankara.

hurriyetdailynews.com/mhp-head-bahceli-slams-russian-statement-on-turkey-over-friendly-fire-in-syria.aspx?pageID=238&nID=109635&NewsCatID=338

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Directorate of Religious Affairs recalls imams accused of spying in Germany

February/10/2017

Directorate of Religious Affairs recalls imams accused of spying in Germany

Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) announced on Feb. 10 the recall and discharge of Turkish imams who were accusing of spying by Germany.

The Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DİTİB) made the statement about the incident following a visit to Turkey by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Feb. 2, saying they did not accept the accusations of spying but that they decided to take some measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“The Directorate of Religious Affairs chose to discharge religious officials [imams] from their duties in Germany following necessary examinations and assessments after determining that they had exceeded their power,” it said.

The directorate also said they had made the decision to avoid damaging relations that have been continuing for 40 years between Turkey and Germany and to prevent the growth of a negative perception among the public toward the directorate and its officials.  

Germany’s chief prosecutor had launched an investigation into possible spying by Turkish clerics in the country, with the country’s domestic spy agency chief saying they “would not tolerate” Turkish intelligence operations within its borders.

Turkey allegedly asked Muslim imams that were sent to DİTİB, Germany’s largest association of mosques, to provide information about followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who the Turkish government accuses of orchestrating the failed coup attempt.

Mehmet Görmez, the head of the Diyanet, told German news outlets on Jan. 20 that it was “devoid of reason to name the efforts of religious workers or DİTİB to try to safeguard Muslims from the wrong thoughts of organizations like FETÖ and Daesh [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - ISIL] as espionage.”

In December 2016, Turkey recalled the religious affairs attaché of the Turkish Embassy in The Hague, Yusuf Acar, after Dutch authorities accused him of gathering intelligence for the Gülen movement.

hurriyetdailynews.com/-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=109614&NewsCatID=351

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Kurdistan Islamic Union Sec-Gen heads for Tehran

Feb 12

IRNA – The Secretary-General of Kurdistan Islamic Union Salahaddin Muhammad Bahaaddin Sadiq heading a delegation left for Tehran to negotiate with Iranian officials on the latest developments in Iraq.

Kurdistan Islamic Union Sec-Gen heads for Tehran

A high-profile delegation accompany Muhammad Bahaaddin in this trip, the Director of the party's Political Bureau Hadi Ali said.

“Iran maintains crucial status in the regional developments and of Iraq and the trip is being taken in line with holding meetings and negotiating with Iran’s officials,” one of the active members of the union said.

irna.ir/en/News/82427407/

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India

Dalai Lama says Indian Muslims are peace-loving because of their environment

February 12, 2017

Dalai Lama also called for a more inclusive society where different religions cohabit with mutual respect to one another

Tibet leader and a global icon Dalai Lama, while addressing a gathering on Saturday, said that Indian Muslims were more peaceful than their counterparts because they were involved in a more culturally diverse society.

At the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy, Dalai Lama said, “The cultural heritage of the country or region plays a big role. For example, unlike the Muslims in China or other neighbours, those from India are peaceful and harmoniously co-exist with people of other faiths. It is the same religion but culture makes the difference.”

Dalai Lama also called for a more inclusive society where different religions cohabit with mutual respect to one another. “For example, in places like the Middle East, people have no contact with other religions. It is only when different religions mingle that tolerance becomes part of the ethos and people of different faiths live in harmony,” he said.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate said that compassion was extremely important and that humanity should always come first before everything else.

The event was attended by 139 IPS probationers and 15 officer trainees from Bhutan, Madives and Nepal.

newsx.com/national/55653-dalai-lama-says-indian-muslims-are-peace-loving-because-of-their-environment

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Two jawans martyred, four Hizbul terrorists killed in J&K's Kulgam

TNN & Agencies | Updated: Feb 12, 2017, 02.21 PM IST

Kulgam encounter: Four terrorists killed, two jawans martyredKulgam encounter: Four terrori...

NEW DELHI: Two army jawans were martyred and four Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists were killed in a gunbattle between security forces and terrorists in Kulgam in south Kashmir on Sunday.

Acting on a tip-off by police about the presence of a large number of terrorists, army cordoned off Frisal village in Kulgam , 60 km from Srinagar. An encounter is currently underway. As per intelligence inputs, the terrorists were hiding inside a house in the area.

In a joint operation, the army, police and para-military forces performed a thorough search of all the houses in the area. While searching the suspected house, the personnel from One Rashtriya Rifles located a false ceiling where the terrorists were hiding.

On being spotted, the ultras opened fire on them, leading to a gunfight which lasted several hours. Four terrorists of the banned Hizbul Mujahideen outfit were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire, while three others managed to escape into the nearby jungles. Hunt is on to nab them, sources said.

Five soldiers were also injured and two of them succumbed to their injuries before they could be evacuated for treatment. Three jawans were airlifted to Army's 92 base hospital in Srinagar and their condition was stated to be stable.

Director General of Police S P Vaid said that security forces had achieved a major success by gunning down four militants.

"However, it's unfortunate that two soldiers were martyred and son of the house owner got caught in the cross-fire and succumbed to his injuries," he added.

Four weapons have also been recovered from the scene of the gunbattle, a police official said.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/two-jawans-martyred-in-jks-kulgam-encounter-underway/articleshow/57106291.cms

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Southeast Asia

Muslim/non-Muslim organ donation not an issue: Health Ministry

BY THARANYA ARUMUGAM - 12 FEBRUARY 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The allocation and distribution of human organs in the country is based solely on clinical judgement, with no consideration of factors such as the race, religion, background or social status of donors.

“This means, of course, that there is the possibility that organs donated by non-Muslims have been given to Muslims and vice-versa, which is similar in the case of blood donation and transfusion,” Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement today.

The Health Ministry is responding to a viral online video in which an organ donor questions whether organs donated by non-Muslims are considered “halal” and if the public should be concerned over the halal status of organs being transplanted.

The donor made the video following reports that authorities had seized brushes of various types made from pig bristles in a nationwide crackdown.

Dr Noor Hisham said the National Fatwa Council had, in fact, issued a fatwa in 1970, requiring organ donation by members of the Muslim community.

“Many religious experts, including the mufti, had clarified this matter and explained that it is not an ‘issue’ if a Muslim receives organs and blood from a non-Muslim and vice versa.

“The ministry highly appreciates the willingness of many Malaysians who have registered as organ donors and who have donated blood.

“The ministry (invites) more people to become registered organ donors at dermaorgan.gov.my/,” he added.

Dr Noor Hisham said that generally, Malaysians’ awareness on the importance of organ donation has increased, with more than 350,000 having pledged themselves as organ donors so far.

Meanwhile, long-time organ donors can apply for a new card to replace their old ones via fb.com/dermaorgan or Twitter @dermaorgan.

youtube.com/watch?v=R5RaDPBobj4&feature=youtu.be for more comments on the issue of organ donation between Muslims and non-Muslims.

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Thousands Urged To Vote Muslim And Against Christian In Jakarta

Reuters 12 February 2017

Thousands of Indonesians gathered on Saturday at a mosque in central Jakarta, where religious leaders urged them to support a Muslim candidate during next week's contentious election to select the capital's governor.

Millions of Jakarta residents head to the polls on Wednesday to pick the next governor of the sprawling city, in a contest analysts say has shaped as a proxy fight ahead of a presidential election in 2019.

The call comes after two similar protests where thousands of hardline Muslim groups march against Jakarta's incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population but recognizes six religions and is home to hundreds of ethnic groups and adherents of traditional beliefs.

In Jakarta, the Christian and ethnic Chinese incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, faces two Muslim contenders - Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, the son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and former education minister Anies Baswedan.

Purnama is in the extraordinary situation of campaigning for election while he is on trial for blasphemy, making weekly court appearances to defend himself against charges of insulting the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

"On February 15, we are happy to vote for a Muslim leader," one speaker, Maulana Kamal Yusuf, told a crowd of men and women in white robes who had poured into the vast Istiqlal mosque from the early hours for mass prayers.

"Jakarta will be led by a Muslim leader who submits to the will of Allah," he added, urging his listeners to choose Yudhoyono or Baswedan. "Jakarta will be a religious city."

Security around the mosque was tight, with armed military and police officers standing guard.

Saturday is the last day before a 'quiet period' in which candidates and their supporters are barred from canvassing for votes.

Yusuf also asked his audience to support Habib Rizieq, the head of hardline Muslim group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), who has been reported to the police for allegedly insulting the state ideology, Pancasila, and state symbols.

The allegations against Rizieq "go against justice," a senior official of the group has previously said.

Muslim groups led by FPI have held rallies demanding that Purnama be jailed for the alleged insult, a sensitive topic in a country where the population of 250 million is mostly Muslim and Chinese-Indonesians officially make up just over 1 percent.

One of the biggest rallies in November last year was attended by hundreds of thousands.

christiantoday.com/article/thousands.urged.to.vote.muslim.and.against.christian.in.jakarta/104631.htm

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Muslims, Non-Muslims In Malaysia Should Strengthen Harmonious Relationship

Feb 12

KANGAR, Feb 12 (Bernama) -- The Raja Muda of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail has called on Muslims and non-Muslims in Malaysia to further strengthen their harmonious relationship towards building a sustainable nation.

In that context, he advised all communities to continue to learn about and appreciate each other's culture and customs.

"Islam is a religion of mercy for all humanity. The dignity and glory of man lies in his obedience to Allah. The Chinese community may feel Islam is not close with them," said Tuanku Syed Faizuddin.

He said, however, that Islam did not forbid any cultures or customs as long as it did not go against the principles of Islam such as those with elements of idolatry, superstition and those which destroyed morals.

He was addressing the Chinese Mulsim community at a state-level Chinese New Year celebration organised by the Perlis Islamic Religious and Malay Customs council here, last night.

Raja Puan Muda Perlis Tuanku Hajah Lailatul Shahreen Akashah Khalil was also present.

-- BERNAMA

bernama.com/bernama/v8/ge/newsgeneral.php?id=1328446

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North America

CIA Files Reveal US Intelligence Used Psychics To Spy On Iran

Feb 12, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Declassified CIA documents reveal that US intelligence has gone as far as using supposedly telepathic individuals to gather intelligence, including the hostage situation during the takeover of US embassy in Iran.

If you haven't purchased yourself a cap made of tinfoil, it might be the right time to do so, as the CIA's dabbling with the paranormal is now official. According to a batch of declassified CIA documents, the US intelligence agency used a team of psychics to gather intelligence about operations without being physically present at any of them, sputnik reported.

According to the documents, the program was established in 1975. It involved hundreds of candidates who either claimed psychic powers or were somehow determined to possess them. Of several hundred candidates, only six were chosen to take part in further operations.

For several years, the program, codenamed "Grill Flame," was more about research and accumulating theory behind the paranormal abilities. But its star turn came in 1979, when Grill Flame was brought in to help search for a missing US Navy plane.

The operation was a success, as the psychics were able to pinpoint the location of the plane with an error margin of about 15 miles. Jimmy Carter, US president at the time, dropped a hint about this program in an interview he gave 12 years after the incident.

"We had a plane go down in the Central African Republic — a twin-engine plane, small plane. And we couldn't find it," he said, even with satellite photography. "So the director of the CIA came and told me that he had contacted a woman in California that claimed to have supernatural capabilities. And she went in a trance, and she wrote down latitudes and longitudes, and we sent our satellite over that latitude and longitude, and there was the plane."

However, subsequent operations seem to have less success. One of the worst failures was the Iranian US embassy hostage situation the same year. According to the documents, the telepaths repeatedly failed to provide accurate information throughout the whole situation — starting from initial stages of conflict and up until the hostages were separated and scattered across the country. The locations they guessed at were sometimes hundreds of miles wide of the mark.

Interestingly, while the Iranian operation was a failure for Grill Flame, the program continued for 14 years. It changed names and changed supervisors, but it survived. Even now the debate surrounding the program is quite intense.

"The psychics were just as good as other human intelligence sources," said Edwin May, a physicist who worked with Grill Flame. "And, unfortunately, they were just as bad. Human beings are notoriously horrible at second World War-type spying, standing out there with binoculars, counting tanks. There are all kinds of biases that can creep in."

May oversaw parapsychology research for government intelligence agencies for 20 years.

"Mostly at the beginning, we were doing foreign assessment — that is, what the other side was doing," May told reporters. "We'd get a report that China or Russia was experimenting with psychics who claimed to be able to do this or that, and our job was to judge whether this was possibly true and if so, what threat was it to us."

"The psychics were able to tell, in some cases, where the hostages were moved to. They were able to see the degree of their health," he said. "If you can sit in Fort Meade and describe the health of hostages who are going to be released, so that the right doctors can be on hand, that's very helpful."

There might be one possible explanation to why the program survived so long.

"The stuff that the CIA has declassified is garbage," one of the Grill Flame psychics, Joseph McMoneagle, said in an interview. "They haven't declassified any of the stuff that worked."

The program was officially shut down in 1995, after an outside audit commissioned by the CIA concluded that "remote viewing reports failed to produce the concrete, specific information valued in intelligence reporting."

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951124000701

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US blocks Palestinian from leading UN mission in Libya

February 12th, 2017

THE United States on Friday blocked the appointment of the former Palestinian prime minister to lead the UN political mission in Libya, saying it was acting to support its ally Israel.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Trump administration “was disappointed” to see that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had sent a letter to the Security Council indicating his intention to appoint Salam Fayyad, who served as the Palestinian Authority’s prime minister from 2007-2013, as the next UN special representative to Libya.

“For too long the UN has been unfairly biased in favour of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said.

Palestine is a non-member observer state at the United Nations and its independence has been recognised by 137 of the 193 UN member nations. But Haley said the United States doesn’t currently recognise a Palestinian state “or support the signal” Fayyad’s appointment would send within the United Nations.

UN diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, said Fayyad is well-respected for his work in reforming the Palestinian Authority and spurring its economy and had the support of 14 other Security Council members to succeed Martin Kobler in the Libya job.

Despite opposition to Fayyad, Haley indicated that the Trump administration wants to see an end to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “We encourage the two sides to come together directly on a solution,” she said.

Haley’s statement came ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s scheduled meeting at the White House with President Donald Trump on Feb 15, and was welcomed by Israelis.

“This is the beginning of a new era at the UN, an era where the US stands firmly behind Israel against any and all attempts to harm the Jewish State,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon said of the US decision to block Fayyad’s appointment.

“The new administration proved once again that it stands firmly alongside the state of Israel in the international arena and in the UN in particular.” The new US ambassador made clear that “going forward, the United States will act, not just talk, in support of our allies.”

But Trump also indicated in comments to an Israeli newspaper on Friday that there might be some difficult discussions with Netanyahu next week on Israel’s settlement expansion. The US leader was quoted as saying that Israel’s settlement expansion in land claimed by the Palestinians does not advance peace.

dawn.com/news/1314304/us-blocks-palestinian-from-leading-un-mission-in-libya

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Large group attends Islamic Center session to ask questions, show support

Feb 12, 2017

More than 100 people packed into the Islamic Center of Omaha for a monthly public presentation

OMAHA, Neb. —The Islamic Center of Omaha is a place of worship, but it's also a place of education and acceptance.

The mosque opens its doors to members of the public every second and fourth Saturday of the month to invite questions about Islam. A presentation on the fundamentals of the religion are followed by an open question-and-answer session.

"If you don't like us, we want to talk to you, why don't you like us, tell us what issues you have with us and let's talk about it," Islamic Center board member, Rana Jafar, said.

The Center has been doing these sessions for two years, board members say, but Saturday was the largest crowd they've seen yet.

"We've had people email us, phone us, I've had strangers on the street say, 'it's okay, we've got your back,'" Jafar said, "and it's really emotional."

More than 100 people- many first-timers- attended Saturday's event to learn more about the Islamic faith.

"The biggest surprise was how similar Islam is to the Christian faiths that I'm more familiar with," attendee Leanne Prewitt said.

Some say they were there simply to show support.

"As a Christian I have respect for all faiths, and I'm very concerned about the Islamophobia that exists in our country," attendee Diane Greenfield said.

During the question-and-answer portion, Greenfield told the presenter, "some of my Christian friends want to annihilate Muslims."

Michael McCart showed up with his three children.

"I wanted to teach the kids that with so many different religions, that we all strive for the same purpose," McCart said.

Islamic Center members fielded questions ranging from women's head-wear to how to help fight prejudice in the community.

"What can we do as adults to make sure that your students and your children are feeling safe in schools?" a woman who said she was a school administrator asked.

The open conversation often led to words of encouragement and thanks.

"To have a community that's potentially under attack, to just be so open and so willing to have any stranger, any single person, every religion, just come in and learn shows the true nature of this religion," Prewitt said.

Jafar says she and fellow Muslims feel that anti-Muslim rhetoric has risen over the last few months, but that it's been present since the September 11 attacks. She says Saturday's conversation gives her hope.

"The only thing we can do is hope to educate and to show actually this is what Islam is like, this is what Muslims are like, we're not the exception to the rule," Jafar said, "and hopefully those misconceptions can float away."

For more information on the monthly presentations, visit the Islamic Center of Omaha's website.

ketv.com/article/large-group-attends-islamic-center-session-to-ask-questions-show-support/8733483

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SNL's Trump heads to The People's Court to fight over the Muslim Ban

BY RORY CASHIN

The writers and performers of Saturday Night Live must be over the moon with the free and apparently limitless material being provided to them by President Trump.

While the rest of the world watches Twitter in a state of perpetual anxiety - or as the judge in the skit puts it, "I want one day without a CNN alert that scares the hell out of me!" - the people at SNL are having their biggest ratings bump since Tina Fey was performing as Sarah Palin.

Earlier this week, when his so-called Muslim Ban was rejected by courts, Trump then tweeted "I WILL SEE YOU IN COURT!", and this is him following on that promise, taking the federal judges on to the TV court-show.

joe.co.uk/entertainment/snls-trump-heads-to-the-peoples-court-to-fight-over-the-muslim-ban/112491

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Fatah official: Trump 'declared war on Islam'

12/02/17

Nabil Shaath, a member of the Fatah Central Committee, blasted U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday, stating that Trump had “declared war on Islam”.

Speaking in an interview with the Hamas-affiliated Palestine newspaper, Shaath said that so far there have been no contacts between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

He further stated that Trump declares openly that he is an ally of Israel, wishes to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, does not intend to criticize the “settlements”, and instead sees them as a right of Israelis.

As such, said Shaath, Trump declared war against Islam and Muslims in the world and conducts himself in a threatening manner with the Palestinian people, while at the same time supporting, or at least not being critical of Israel’s “aggressive approach”.

Shaath called on the PA to focus on creating a united front with Trump’s opponents in the U.S. and the world, since Trump is a businessman and if international forces were to act against him, he may change his policy.

"We support peace on condition that Netanyahu and his soldiers and murderers and settlements will leave our land," said Shaath, adding that the PA is not afraid of American threats to turn to the International Court in The Hague.

PA officials have in recent weeks taken exception to Trump’s actions vis-à-vis Israel, particularly with his campaign promise to move the embassy to Jerusalem.

PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas recently promised a “political and diplomatic response” if Trump moves the embassy to Jerusalem.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary General Saeb Erekat has been critical of the proposed embassy move as well.

Erekat recently threatened yet again that the PLO would immediately revoke its recognition of the state of Israel if the United States moved its embassy in the country to Jerusalem, even though the PLO has never changed its charter which states that Israel has no right to exist – despite its promise to do so as part of the Oslo Accords.

Erekat was also vocal in his criticism of the Trump administration’s apparent silence following Israel’s approval of 2,500 housing units in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

Several weeks ago, he published a video in which he demanded that the Trump administration respond to the construction.

Despite Shaath’s comments that there has been no contact between the PA and the Trump administration, reports this week indicated that PA intelligence chief Majed Faraj met with U.S. security officials in Washington.

israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/224804

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Africa

Witnesses in Muslim Cleric case shun court

The Independent  February 12, 2017s

Hearing of the case in which Tabliq leader Sheikh Yunus Kamoga and 13 others are accused of murdering Muslim Clerics Sheikh Hassan Kirya and Mustapha Bahiga on Feb.06 flopped after witnesses failed to appear as earlier asked by court.

Justices of the International Crimes Division Ezikiel Muhanguzi, Percy Tuhaise and Jane Kiggundu had ordered state prosecution to produce atleast two witnesses in each of the court sittings. However State Atttorney Linno Anguzu said they couldn’t fulfill this order as five of their remaining witnesses’ lives have been threatened and they were therefore considering filing an application for protection of the witnesses. But, defense counsel Mac Dusman Kabega requested court for time to consult with his clients about the application before it’s heard by court.

independent.co.ug/witnesses-muslim-cleric-case-shun-court/

 

URL: https://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/us-denies-visa-to-pak-s-senate-deputy-chairman/d/110049

 

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