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Islamic World News ( 13 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Washington: Could CIA attack be handiwork of ISI?

Bangladesh vows not to allow anti-India terror gets $1 bn

Muslim and Sikh boxers fight to overturn beard ban

Pakistan seen becoming more Islamist, anti-US: Report

Islamists Burn, Loot Algerian Church

The 'Allah' spat masks ethnic Malays' feelings of insecurity

Yemen forces 'kill al-Qaeda chief'

Saudi cleric terms joining Al Qaeda un-Islamic

Turkey threatens diplomatic action over Israel 'snub'

Jews against the Muslim minaret ban

Ban on Islam4UK is most popular in Britain

22 convicted for jihadi conspiracy in Gujarat

Soldier who didn’t want to go back to Iraq jailed for angry rap song

Nine dead in Koran protest shooting in Afghanistan: Police

BSF warns Pakistan Rangers of reprisal

Call to resume India-Pakistan talks

UAE meet discusses Afghanistan

Charges expected against Mumbai terror suspect Rana

Kashmir CM Omar in state of denial

Forces gun down Hizb militant in Shopian

Who murdered Prof. Ali-Mohammadi?

Ahmadinejad Slams Saudi Role In Yemen Conflict

Dutch lawmaker tries to avoid hate speech charges

US summons Nigerian terror suspect’s father to testify

Will never cede control of Jerusalem, says Israel

Judges’ unanimity must for death penalty in Saudi

No entry for Arabs: Israeli land grab the height of evil and folly

 ‘Three Indians issued Pak passports’

French lawmaker submits bill to ban Muslim veils

Roles Of Muslim Youths In Developing The Islamic World

Israel considering new military attack on Gaza

Muslim-convert Padilla: Toss out the Terror conviction

Afghan civilian deaths rose 14% in 2009, says UN report

Afghan soil being used for terrorism: ISI chief

Afghan war must not spill over into Pakistan: Qureshi

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Could CIA attack be handiwork of ISI?

13 January, 2010

Washington, Jan. 12: The suicide strike on the key US intelligence base in Afghanistan had hallmarks of an operation carried out by a national intelligence service, a leading US thinktank has said, apparently hinting that it could be the handiwork of Pakistan’s ISI or its rogue elements.

"The hit was by all account a masterful piece of trade craft beyond the known abilities of a group like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan," US thinktank Stratfor said. "The Jordanians penetration of the CIA was less like the product of an insurgency than an operation carried out by a national intelligence service. And this is the most troubling aspect for the US," the think tank said.

The speculation about a possible ISI hand in the suicide attack is being traced back to US and Afghan government sources who said in the analysis of explosives used, it was found they were of standard military grade which points to ISI.

Stratfor deduction comes even as al-Jazeera TV said the Jordanian bomber Khali Abu Mulal al-Balawi was bought to the US base in Khost in eastern Afghanistan by car from across the border in Pakistan. The agency which was one of the TV channels which beamed a footage of Al Balawi alongside Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud said the video showed "there was clearly a link between Pakistani Taliban headed by Hakimullah Mehsud and some of Al Qaeda elements operating in Pakistan. The Arab TV channel said, this video was expected and "everybody in the tribal border areas was told Al Balawi had recorded a message before he went to his mission." —PTI


Bangladesh vows not to allow anti-India terror, gets $1 bn

13 January, 2010

The significant Line of Credit offered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina marked the highest one-time grant by India to any country

New Delhi: Bangladesh on Tuesday promised not to allow its territory to be used for terror against India as they signed three agreements to jointly combat the menace while India announced a one-billion dollar line of credit to that country.

The significant Line of Credit offered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina marked the highest one-time grant by India to any country.

India decided to give 250MW of power to Bangladesh from the central grid while they signed a power-sharing agreement.

New Delhi sought to address Dhaka’s concerns with regard to non-tariff barriers by agreeing to remove these on more items and assured that India will not take any step on Meghalaya-based Tapaimukh dam which would hurt Bangladesh’s interests.

At the wide-ranging talks here between Singh and Hasina, the two sides reached a number of decisions to revive the traditional links of connectivity, which included Akhaura-Agartala railway line.

The discussions covered the entire gamut of bilateral ties, with particular focus on terrorism, security, connectivity, trade and investment, border-related issues and sharing of water and power resources.

During the discussions, Hasina told Singh that her government will not allow Bangladesh to be used for terrorism directed at India, an assurance aimed at addressing a major concern here about North East insurgents taking shelter there.

The two leaders discussed ways in which the countries could cooperate in checking the menace of terrorism.

After the talks, the two sides signed an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, an agreement on transfer of sentenced persons and an agreement on combating international terrorism, organised crime and illicit drug trafficking.

Singh and Hasina noted that terrorism and extremism respect no boundaries and agreed on the need for cooperation between the two countries.

They expressed their commitment to solve all their issues through discussions and decided to put in place a comprehensive framework for cooperation in development.

The Line of Credit has been extended for infrastructure development of Bangladesh, including construction of railway lines and bridges and manufacture of coaches.

Singh told Hasina that India attaches “highest priority” to it ties with Bangladesh and wants to be a partner in its development.

He said the visit was an opportunity for laying foundation for “forward-looking” relationship.

India also agreed to give transit facility to Nepal and Bhutan to Mongla and Chittagong ports. The Rohapur-Singabad transit corridor will also be revived to give access to Nepal.

It was agreed that Ashuganj in Bangladesh and Silghat in India would be port of calls for transportation of over dimensional cargo for a power plant in Tripura.

Later, speaking at the banquet hosted for Hasina, Singh said India was ready to “pursue a bold vision” for its ties with Bangladesh, based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Contending that India seeks to build ”a new future” with Bangladesh, Singh said, “The time has come to chart a new path. Our two peoples want peace, security and prosperity... Your visit will open a new chapter in our relations.

Singh said India “stands ready to be a full and equal partner in the realisation of your vision of social change and economic development for Bangladesh.”

In turn, Hasina said “Bangladesh shall not allow its territory to be used for launching terrorist activities against any country in the neighbourhood or around the world”, seeking to address India’s concerns with regard to North East insurgents taking shelter in her country.

Noting that “serious collaboration” was essential for countering terrorism to ensure sustained peace in the region, she said “I can give you this assurance that Bangladesh is committed to eliminating all forms of terrorism from within its territory.”

She pressed for conclusion of agreements on water sharing of Teesta river and other common rivers in the spirit of 1996 Ganges Water Treaty. On this “very important issue”, she sought Singh’s support.

The two leaders decided to call the ministerial-level meeting under the format of Joint Commission.

Hasina, who came to power in January last and is on her first visit here since then, said with democratic governments in place in both the countries, relations would “no doubt reach a new height”.

She hailed the assurance given by Singh that India would give duty-free access to more Bangladeshi items and remove non-tariff barriers besides improving trade infrastructure on Indian side of the borders.

India and Bangladesh also decided to reactivate the Sabrum-Ramgarh and Taparmukh land borders.

The Akhaura-Agartala railway line will be built by India as a grant. For working out modalities on implementation of the power-sharing MoU, power secretaries of the two countries will meet here tomorrow.

India also decided to give 300 scholarships annually to students from Bangladesh.

Hasina said the agreements signed and decisions taken at their talks were “very significant achievements” which would have favourable impact on people of the two countries.

“What now is required is activation of institutional mechanisms for promoting the two-way trade, removal of avoidable hindrances, initiation of long-pending trade facilitation measures, easy travel of businessmen and creation of mechanisms to settle disputes that may arise from differences on specific trade related issues,” Hasina said.

She invited Singh to undertake a visit to Bangladesh at the earliest possible occasion.

Hasina, whose official three-day visit began today, met President Pratibha Patil, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, external affairs minister S M Krishna, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj before holding wide-ranging talks with Singh.


Muslim and Sikh boxers fight to overturn beard ban

By Catrin Nye

13 January, 2010

Muslim and Sikh groups are challenging a ruling which bans amateur boxers from the ring if they have a beard.

The Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) recently ruled that all fighters had to be clean shaven to allow cuts to the face to be seen.

It came after Mohammed Patel, a 25-year-old bearded Muslim boxer from Bolton, was stopped from competing last January.

At the time, ABAE rules stated only Sikh fighters were exempt, so the Bolton Council of Mosques challenged the ABAE on Mr Patel's behalf.

Inayat Omarji, of Bolton Council of Mosques, is challenging the ban

But the ABAE then ruled all competitors had to be clean shaven, a decision both Muslim and Sikh groups want reversed, particularly as professional fighters have been allowed facial hair for more than 20 years.

Inayat Omarji, Children and Young People's manager at Bolton Council of Mosques, told BBC Asian Network he is fighting on behalf of Mr Patel, who has been left disheartened by the row.

"Mohammed was actually very upset," said Mr Omarji.

"He said 'I was that upset, I trained for it, I did all my diets and everything and when I heard I went straight into the takeaway and got myself a big doner kebab'.

"That is a big thing because when a young lad actually starts boxing, he has to have... mental and physical fitness... he was really, really down.

"It has raised the awareness of different people who have different religious commitments, cultural commitments.

"And in this day and age, they have to accept and work with the different communities."

'Petty go'

Dr Indarjit Singh, director of the Network of Sikh Organisations said: "I was astounded that they should make a ruling that is so insensitive, knowing that it will disadvantage at least one religious community.

"It's such a petty go at the beard. It's a sport and it has some risks but the hair does not really in any way increase those risks.

"It's a perverse retrograde step that should be challenged."

But the ABAE's national child protection and equity manager, Barry Jones, said the rule was there to protect boxers.

"The ruling has come from our international governing body - the International Amateur Boxing Association. It has nothing to do with race, only health and safety.

"Our medical commission have deemed that facial hair can cause abrasions to opponents faces... and most importantly doctors say clean shaven athletes allow them to see cuts during the fight.

"Cuts aren't allowed in amateur, Olympic-style, boxing. We are completely different to the professional circuit."

Mr Jones conceded the previous ruling, that Sikh boxers were the exception to the rule, had been a mistake.

Lennox Lewis and Shannon Briggs in the ring during their title fight in Atlantic city, 1998

Professional boxers are allowed to wear beards in the ring

"That was five or six years ago, by a different board at the Boxing Council of England and was an error of judgement in my opinion. They didn't consider the implications.

"It's not been a matter of concern before and we have hundreds of Sikhs and Muslims in the sport - that includes of course Amir Khan and Prince Naseem Hamed.

"It's the way it is, it's not unusual for a boxer to be told to shave right up until weigh-in time."

But it is a different matter for professional boxers.

Fighters can be asked to trim facial hair if a beard is considered too bushy by the referee, but the British Boxing Board of Control said a complete ban was overturned because of the diversity of religions involved in the sport.

'Underground' boxing

At Bolton Lads and Girls Club, Mohammed Patel's fellow amateur boxers are training as usual.

One boxer, Liam, from Bolton said: "If I wanted to do boxing that much I would shave my beard off and do the boxing.

Sheryar, a young Muslim, also from Bolton, said: "We have beards so we can't fight, that's not a good reason for it.

"You can't destroy someone's career because of his beard."

The club's boxing manager Phil Marsh said he was worried that if beards were banned from amateur boxing competitions then young Sikh and Muslim men could get in to unofficial, unregulated boxing circuits.

"There needs to be an outlet for Muslim young men that wear beards in terms of how they box competitively.

"We've got so many young people that will want to box competitively and it's finding that nice route and not driving it underground to any of the unlicensed boxing that's going on at the minute."


Pakistan seen becoming more Islamist, anti-US: Report

13 January, 2010

LONDON: Pakistan is likely to become a more Islamist state and increasingly anti-American in the coming years, complicating US efforts to win its support against Islamist militants, a report released on Tuesday said.

The report, which looks at Pakistan over a one-to-three year time horizon, rules out the possibility of a Taliban takeover or of it becoming the world's first nuclear-armed failed state.

"Rather than an Islamist takeover, you should look at a subtle power shift from a secular pro-Western society to an Islamist anti-American one," said Jonathan Paris, who produced the report for the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank.

Paris forecasts that Pakistan is most likely to "muddle through", with its army continuing to play a powerful role behind the scenes in setting foreign and security policy. "Speculation of a Taliban takeover dramatically overestimates the willingness of the political and military elites to surrender power to the Taliban," says the report, the result of months of research on the outlook for Pakistan.

Paris, who also works for the Atlantic Council of the United States, nonetheless sees Pakistan slipping away from the west at a time when Washington needs its support in Afghanistan.

"US and UK leverage over Pakistan is not growing. It is decreasing. Pakistani society is moving toward anti-Americanism and toward more sharia law," he says.

The rising influence of Islamist political parties and of militant groups in its Punjab province will slowly transform Pakistan by exploiting local grievances, including over the economy and the slow and often corrupt legal system. "The danger for the army, and for Pakistan generally, is not Talibanisation but Islamisation from Punjab-based militants and their allies," the report says.


Islamist political parties -- which thrive on anti-American rhetoric -- would not become dominant, but would raise pressure on the government to reject public cooperation with Washington and make it harder to crack down on Islamist militant groups.

"The religious parties have generally been opposed to any police or military action taken against any group which is nominally religious..." the report says. Such a shift would have implications for relations with India, which wants Pakistan to dismantle militant groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the attack on Mumbai in 2008.

Paris, whose research background was originally in the Middle East, also said he saw a risk of militant organisations fragmenting into smaller and sometimes more extreme splinter groups -- a pattern already seen among Palestinian groups. This would make them harder to control and raise the risk of militants launching attacks not ordered by their leaders.

At the same time, Islamist organisations were expanding operations in welfare and education, making it politically difficult for the state to close them down.

But the report dismisses fears any Afghan Taliban success would encourage the Pakistani Taliban to "march on Islamabad". It says the Afghan Taliban may be neither defeated nor victorious, "and that what may emerge is a de facto partition of Afghanistan with a nominal central government in Kabul."

The Afghan Taliban would then be tied up fighting non-Pashtun rivals in a revived Northern Alliance, leaving Pakistan alone.

"Falling South Asian dominoes may be a chimera." In this scenario, Pakistan would probably try to return to its earlier strategy of containing and even accepting the presence of the Pakistani Taliban in its tribal areas, resorting to force only if suicide bombings in its major cities continued.


Islamists Burn, Loot Algerian Church

13 January, 2010

ALGIERS, ALGERIA (BosNewsLife)-- Islamists burned and looted a Protestant church in northern Algeria in anattack that was fueled by attacks against Christians elsewhere in the Muslim and Arab world, church officials said Monday, January 11.

The Pentecostal oriented Tafat Church, which is located in an apartment block in the city of Tizi Ouzou some 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of the capital Algiers, was reportedly ransacked and set ablaze onSaturday night, January 9.

"They even attacked the cross of Jesus, which was torn and burned," church pastor Mustapha Krireche toldAlgerian media.

The independent El Watan daily published a photo of a smoldering pile of pulpits and desksthat had been brought outside for destruction. Looters also set fire to a pile of Bibles and religious textbooks, Christians aid.

Krireche accused authorities of "inaction", and suggested that police refused to intervene, forcingworshipers to flee. "We've filed five complaints with the security services" he said. "If authorities want todissolve our association, they should do so through the courts," El Watan quoted the pastor as saying.

Some 300 Pentecostal practitioners in the area used the apartment because authoritiesrefused to provide them with another venue, church officials said.


The head of the Algerian Protestant Church association, Mustapha Krim, suggested that the attackerswere encouraged by recent anti-Christian violence in predominantly Muslim Egypt and Malaysia. "It was fueled bywhat just happened in Egypt," where six people, were killed in a church shooting during Christmas celebrations, Krimtold The Associated Press news agency.

In Malaysia, at least nine churches have also been recently burned down amid violence against the country's Christian minority. "Islamist intolerance considers there is no room for Christian religious practicesin Algeria," Krim added.

This weekend's violence came after dozens of Muslims formed a human chain last month outside the recently opened worship siteof the Tafat congregation. "Here is the land of Islam, go pray somewhere else!" demonstrators shouted, as Christianstried to enter to celebrate Christmas on December 26, reported El Watan.

Christians said church pastor Krireche also received death threats.Algeria allows the practice of other faiths , but only in authorized venues. Churches and rights groups say there has been a crackdown on Christian converts in this mainly Muslim nationsince 2006, when a controversial law was passed demanding non-Muslim congregations seek permits from regional authorities.


Under the controversial legislation Algerians can also be fined up to 1 million dinars (about $14,000)and sentenced to five years in prison for printing, storing or distributing materials intended to convert Muslimsaway from Islam.

The state-appointed Higher Islamic Council has defended the measures saying especially Protestant evangelicals"are secretly trying to divide Algerians to colonize the country."

Small Protestant groups have been accused of proselytizing, or trying to convert Muslims to Christianity,which is illegal in Algeria. Several Protestants were prosecuted last year for illegally carrying Bibles orallegedly converting people to Christianity and "illegal" worship.

Krim said the Algerian Protestant Association was officially registered in 2003 and is tolerated by authorities,but often turned down by the Ministry of Religious Affairs when it files requests for houses of worship.There has been international pressure on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to allow more religious freedom in his country.

Copyright 2008 BosNewsLife. All rights reserved.


The 'Allah' spat masks ethnic Malays' feelings of insecurity

By Kevin Brown

January 13 2010

A black joke is doing the rounds in Malaysia about the governing party and the fire bombing of several churches, mostly Protestant, in reaction to a court decision to allow the use of the word Allah for the Christian God by the country's Catholic Herald newspaper.

The United Malays National Organisation, the incarnation of ethnic Malay political ascendancy, is Malaysia's most successful institution, in power in one guise or another since independence in 1959. So, goes the joke, it can't have been Umno that organised the attacks, because it would have hit the right churches, and all the bombs would have gone off.

No one really thinks Umno had anything to do with the bombings, which have been mercifully inept. Many of the bombs have not exploded and, although one church was gutted, no one has been hurt. Najib Razak, prime minister and Umno leader, has denied accusations of his party's involvement made on some websites.

Most likely, the bombings are the work of a tiny and disorganised minority. But they have shocked Malaysians because the country's disparate ethnic groups (53 per cent Malay, 26 per cent Chinese, 8 per cent Indian and 12 per cent indigenous people) have rubbed along together peacefully since a series of murderous riots in 1969. Islam accounts for about 60 per cent of the population, including all the Malays, who are constitutionally required to be Muslims. About 35 per cent of the population, all non-Malays, are Buddhist, Christian or Hindu.

The roots of the conflict lie in an Umno decision three years ago when, as part of a licensing regime through which the government controls the mainstream media, but not the internet, the home minister barred the Herald from using the Arabic word Allah to describe the Christian God. The government contends this was to prevent confusion among Muslims. Critics say it had more to do with shoring up Umno's core vote by signalling its willingness to defend Malay political and religious rights.

In any event, the Herald went to court, and on New Year's eve won a High Court judgment that the ban was unconstitutional. The newspaper argued that the word had been used for decades by Malay-speaking indigenous Christians in Malaysian Borneo - now the states of Sabah and Sarawak - for whom there was no other suitable word. It had been used for centuries by Christians in largely Muslim countries such as Syria and Egypt.

After an angry reaction from some Muslims, the High Court stayed its own order, pending a hearing by the Supreme Court, which is expected to take heat out of the spat by backing the government. Yet that will not resolve the underlying issue, which is the sense of insecurity felt by many ethnic Malays in the face of economic reforms and political changes that are undermining their sense of natural dominance.

The reforms, intended to put more vigour into the slow-growing economy, have begun to dismantle a system of positive discrimination in favour of ethnic Malays, while sweeping opposition gains in the 2008 general election have raised the possibility of a government from which Umno might be excluded, depriving Malays of their institutionally dominant role.

The three-party opposition coalition of a multi-ethnic liberal party, a Chinese-based social democratic party and a mildly Islamist party, has largely backed the Herald, potentially increasing its attraction to both moderate Malays and other ethnic groups, and undermining the Malay community's sense of ethnic and religious solidarity.

Some liberals point to the High Court's initial willingness to challenge the government as a sign of welcome independence in the judiciary. Even optimists, though, have to accept that Malaysia has yet to face up to issues that will challenge Malay institutional dominance every bit as much as the current controversy. These include the status of Malay as the national language, and constitutions that prevent non-Malays becoming chief ministers of some states.

With some help from the Supreme Court, the conflict will probably fade. But Malaysia may face a long period of adjustment to a more prominent role for its minority ethnic and religious groups. With luck, Malaysians will continue to be able to joke about it.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2010.


Yemen forces 'kill al-Qaeda chief'

13 January, 2010

The alleged leader of an al-Qaeda cell in Yemen has been killed in an exchange of fire with security forces, according to a provincial governor.

Abdullah Mehdar is said to have been the leader of an al-Qaeda group in the province of Shabwa, 375 miles (600km) east of the capital, Sanaa.

Reports said four other members of the same cell had been arrested.

In another incident, two soldiers were reportedly killed in an ambush near Ataq, the provincial capital.

The governor of Shabwa, Ali Hassan al-Ahmadi, said: "Abdullah Mehdar was killed last night by security forces, which had besieged the house he hid in."

Under pressure

Security officials said Yemeni forces had surrounded the house, in a mountainous region, and exchanged fire with some 20 militants inside.

The remaining militants escaped. The Spanish news agency, EFE, said one member of the security forces had been killed in the operation.

It quoted local news agencies saying the dead militant had been one of the top al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen.

But a local tribal leader told Associated Press news agency Mehdar and the arrested men were not "active members" of al-Qaeda.

"They were young men who went astray, but I don't think they were really members of al-Qaeda," Sheik Atiq Baadha said.

He said local leaders could have handed over the men if they had been approached, and warned that sympathy for al-Qaeda could increase if government forces continued with their current tactics.

On Tuesday, Yemen's foreign minister renewed a call for dialogue with al-Qaeda militants, provided they downed weapons and renounced violence.

But, he added, if they refused, government forces would continue to pursue them.

The spotlight was turned on Yemen after the Yemen-based group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula said it had carried out a failed bomb attack on a US-bound airliner on 25 December.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama said he had "no intention" of sending US troops to Yemen or Somalia to combat militant groups in those countries.

Analysts say al-Qaeda militants have been moving to Yemen after coming under pressure in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and following a crackdown in Saudi Arabia.

Last week, Yemeni officials said another local al-Qaeda leader and two other militants had been arrested after being injured in a raid 25 miles (40km) north of Sanaa.


Saudi cleric terms joining Al Qaeda un-Islamic

Wednesday, 13 Jan, 2010

RIYADH: A senior Saudi cleric said that joining Al Qaeda is forbidden by Islam, a newspaper reported on Tuesday, as concerns grow about the strength of militant group in neighbouring Yemen.

“Affiliation with the so-called Al Qaeda group is Haram”, or banned under Islamic teachings, Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obeikan, a top religious scholar and an adviser in the court of King Abdullah, told Okaz newspaper.

Obeikan reiterated the official Saudi view that Al Qaeda’s ideology was one of forbidden “Takfirism”, which accuses others of apostasy to justify murdering them.

Anyone who joins Al Qaeda “belongs to a group that has adopted Takfir thinking”, he said.

The statement came as Riyadh steps up efforts to dissuade Saudis from joining the Yemen-based Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) led by Yemeni and Saudi radical Muslims.

AQAP is believed to be behind the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a US airliner.

It has also attempted several plots against the Saudi government, including a botched assassination bid last August on the country’s top internal security official, Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

The government plans a conference of religious scholars on Takfir ideology, as it seeks to define Takfirism as extremist and un-Islamic. —AFP


Turkey threatens diplomatic action over Israel 'snub'

13 January, 2010

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon meeting Turkish Ambassador Ahmet Oguz Celikkol, captioned "the height of humiliation" in Israeli newspaper Israel HayomOne newspaper captioned the picture "the height of humiliation"

Turkey has said it will recall its ambassador unless a row over his treatment by Israel's deputy foreign minister is rapidly resolved.

The dispute comes after the deputy minister, Danny Ayalon, summoned the ambassador, Oguz Celikkolits, to rebuke him over a TV series.

He then ensured the ambassador was seated on a lower chair and removed the Turkish flag from the table.

In an attempt to defuse the row, Mr Ayalon said disrespect "is not my way".

He said in future he would behave "in a diplomatically acceptable manner".

But Turkey has demanded a formal apology from Israel.

"Unless they make up for it by this evening, our ambassador will return on the first plane tomorrow," President Abdullah Gul was quoted as saying by the NTV news channel.

'Repeated provocation'

Footage of Mr Ayalon urging journalists to make clear the ambassador was seated on a low sofa, while the Israeli officials were in much higher chairs, has been widely broadcast by the Israeli media.

He is also heard pointing out in Hebrew that "there is only one flag" and "we are not smiling". In an interview with Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday, Mr Ayalon was unapologetic.

"In terms of the diplomatic tactics available, this was the minimum that was warranted given the repeated provocation by political and other players in Turkey," he said, according to Reuters.

One Israeli newspaper marked the height difference on the photo, and captioned it "the height of humiliation".

The meeting with Mr Celikkol had been called to discuss the fictional television series Valley of the Wolves, popular in Turkey.

It depicts Israeli intelligence operatives kidnapping babies and converting them to Judaism.

Last October Israel complained over another Turkish series, which depicted Israeli soldiers killing Palestinians. In one clip, an Israeli soldier shoots dead a smiling young girl at close range.

The row comes ahead of a planned visit by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak to Turkey on Sunday.

Rocket fire

BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus says Israel is alarmed by what it sees as Turkey's increasing efforts to develop closer ties in the Arab world, which "inevitably raise questions about Ankara's long-standing and once close relationship with Israel".

Turkey has long been an ally of Israel, but relations have deteriorated as Ankara has repeatedly criticised Israel for its offensive in Gaza a year ago.

Rights groups say about 1,400 Palestinians died during the operation, which Israel said had been aimed at ending rocket fire by Hamas.

Thirteen Israelis died during the violence.


Jews against the Muslim minaret ban

By Julian Kossoff World

January 13th, 2010

Lies, damned lies and statistics, they say – is the same true of the ubiquitous poll?

In the last week, a Sunday Telegraph poll showed that days after the “Curry House” plot, support for Labour had counter-intuitively rallied, keeping alive hope for Gordon Brown and his past-its-sell-by-date government.

The there was a BBC poll that suddenly gave hope that the roll call of dead of British troops in Afghanistan is not in vain. Of more than 1,500 Afghans questioned, 70 per cent said they believed Afghanistan was going in the right direction and 69 per cent believed the Taliban posed the biggest danger to the country.

Also defying logic was an Israeli poll which showed the Jews would oppose a Swiss-style minaret ban.

The expectation would be that might higher percentage of a people dug in on the frontline of jihadi terror, at war with some of the most demented forms of militant Islam, would want revenge against the symbols of Islam than 57.5 percent of well-fed burghers from the cantons.

Yet Israelis have proven more tolerant then the Swiss or, for that matter, the British, of whom 37 per cent said they would vote to ban minarets in the UK.

Most intriguingly, the poll, by Jerusalem-based KEEVOON Research, for the US-based Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, found that opposition to a minaret ban is strongest among religious and Right-leaning Jews.

Overall, respondents opposed such a measure by 43 to 28 per cent, with 29 per cent undecided. But respondents who considered themselves “national-religious” opposed such a ban by 72 to 16 per cent, with 55 per cent saying they were “strongly opposed”.

The ultra-Orthodox opposed the measure by 53 to 21 per cent, with declining opposition among secular (42 to 29) and “traditional” (36 to 31) Jews.

These Jews, capable so self-righteousness and intolerance on many other issues, demonstrated that “there is a definite correlation between religious observance and tolerance towards Islam,” according to Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.

“The fact that less than one third of all Israelis support banning minarets indicates that from the Israeli point of view, there is room for respectful coexistence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs when it is based on religion and not politics,” he said.

Basically, Israelis have the insight to realise that it is people, not buildings, that can be dangerous. Indeed, Jewish communal leaders in Switzerland, UK and US have also spoken out against the minaret ban.

Blocking the construction of minarets or mosques will do nothing to stop wild-eyed fanatics, who will just pray and plot in backroom mosques, but it will antagonise and insult law-abiding Muslim taxpayers who have every right to practise their religion in self-defined places of worship.

Mosques should be built, and they should be built well. Muslim architecture, with its luscious domes and elegant minarets, can be a beautiful, uplifting addition to any neighbourhood.

Eventually, every major European city with a significant Muslim prescence should have a “centrepiece” mosque, just as many cities, including Rome, Budapest, Berlin and St Petersburg (London is a noticeable exception), already have a “Great synagogue”. They will better places for it.


Ban on Islam4UK is most popular in Britain

13 January, 2010

The British Social Attitudes Survey shows that the British don't like Muslims much, and don't really believe in free speech at all.

Banning Islam4UK is about the most popular thing any politician could do right now, as the British Social Attitudes survey makes clear. This authoritative survey of public opinion has already been in the news for the level of hostility and suspicion it reveals towards Muslims. But the opposition to free speech for "religious extremists" is very much greater.

Only 6% of the British population would "definitely" allow such people to hold public meetings, and only 7% would definitely allow them to publish books. There are clear majorities to prevent both activities – 70% against public meetings and 57% against the publication of extremist books.

This makes odd reading in the face of continuing propaganda about how freedom of speech is one of the core values we defend against Islamists. But the survey's conclusions go on to show that there is clear evidence of the unpopularity of Muslims in Britain today. While there are some people who dislike all religions, and all zealotry, they are far outnumbered by the people who dislike Muslims in particular. As David Voas and Rodney Ling write

far more people respond unfavourably to Muslims than to others. Second – and this is the crucial point – very few people are negative about any other group on its own. Of the people who feel cool towards Buddhists, 83 per cent are likewise cool towards Muslims. Of people who are neutral or positive about Muslims, a mere four per cent are negative about Buddhists. The same pattern can be seen when comparing attitudes to Muslims and Jews.

some of the antipathy towards Muslims comes from people with a generalised dislike of anyone different. [but] a larger subset of the population – about a fifth – responds negatively only to Muslims. [and] relatively few people feel unfavourable towards any other religious or ethnic group on its own.

Dislike of Muslims in the survey is clearly related to the belief that religious diversity is harming Britain; something that 45% of the population believe. Among the irreligious these proportions are reversed. 52% think Britain is "deeply divided along religious lines". And further to point up the question of what religions are felt to be dangerously diverse, one half of the sample were asked whether whether they would object to the construction of a large mosque: 55% would; the other half were asked how they would feel about the construction of a large church in their neighbourhood: 15% would object.

Of course, the take-away message from almost all large surveys of public opinion is that democracy is a completely crazy idea. A huge amount depends on the framing of questions: one example from this survey is that, 42% think that people "should not be allowed" to wear veils, turbans, or crucifixes; apparently this means wearing them anywhere. But if they are asked the more limited and concrete question of whether such symbols should be borne by people who work with the general public, the number wanting them banned drops to 30%. Bundling veils, turbans, and crucifixes up together as symbolic of "religion" flies in the face of the earlier answers about Islam. I find it impossible to believe that there is any significant hostility to Sikh bus conductors for their turbans, or that crucifixes (by their nature almost always invisible) and even headscarves produce the same reactions as a veil would.

But making all due allowances for the vagueness and perversity of public opinion, there still seems to be a solid lump of malignity towards Muslims revealed by this. Of course, the only person as pleased by the results as Alan Johnson will be Anjem Choudhary himself. All adolescent boys want to chant, like Millwall fans "No one likes us; we don't care" and now they have figures on their side. Incidentally, the proportion prepared to admit to disliking black people is only 10%. Does that mean racism is less respectable, or less widespread?


22 convicted for jihadi conspiracy in Gujarat

Rathin Das

A designated Special Court on Tuesday convicted 22 accused in a ‘jihadi’ conspiracy busted in the State in 2003. Special Judge Jyotsna Yagnik sentenced 22, while 22 others were acquitted.

The 44 accused in the conspiracy case had been arrested in 2003 by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) from Hyderabad, Mumbai and different parts of Ahmedabad city. Of the 22 convicted, as many as 18 have been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment while three have been punished with a nine-year jail term.

Another culprit was awarded three years’ imprisonment for conspiring towards an act of jihad which could not be carried out.

The jihadi conspiracy was reportedly hatched to avenge the 2002 killings of Muslims during the post-Godhra riots. Since no one was killed, as the conspiracy could not be implemented, nobody was sentenced to death, according to Ibrahim Sheikh, advocate of the accused.

The punishments given are for hatching the conspiracy, the advocate explained. The convicted have decided to challenge their convictions in high court.


Soldier who didn’t want to go back to Iraq jailed for angry rap song

13 January 2010

SAVANNAH (GEORGIA): Angry that the military planned to send him back to Iraq past his date to leave the defence forces, a Fort Stewart soldier

recorded a hip-hop song that blasts the army and describes going on a shooting spree, an act that led his commanders to decide that the soldier posed a threat to his unit.

The infantry soldier, Spc Marc Hall, has been jailed on criminal charges in Liberty County, Georgia, for the past month for a song and other statements that one of his lawyers insists were simply a form of protest.

“They’re saying it’s a threat. We’re saying it’s a fantasy,” said Jim Klimaski, a Washington civilian attorney who has talked to Hall about the case. “He’s mad, but he’s not stupid. He’s not violent.”

Charges filed against Hall of Coward, South Carolina, on December 17, a week after he was jailed, say his threats weren’t just confined to his rap recording. The charging document said he also told soldiers he would “go on a rampage” and that he “was planning on shooting the brigade and battalion commanders.”

Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin Larson said on Monday that commanders were being extra cautious after the recent shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, where an army psychiatrist was charged with murdering 13 in November. On the recording, Hall raps about opening fire with his military-issue M-4 rifle.


Nine dead in Koran protest shooting in Afghanistan: Police

13 January 2010

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: Nine people were killed when shooting broke out during a mass demonstration in a provincial Afghan town over the alleged burning of a Koran by foreign troops, police said Wednesday.

The violence erupted on Tuesday in the Garmsir district of the southern province of Helmand over rumours that NATO-led forces had defiled a copy of the Muslim holy book during a military operation, local residents and police said.

"Eight protesters were killed when the protesters attacked national security officials in Garmsir," deputy provincial police chief Khamal Dinkhan said.

The shooting of the protesters occurred after an Afghan national guardsman was killed by gunfire "from the demonstrators' side," he said.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement on Tuesday that its troops had shot dead an "insurgent sniper" who had shot an Afghan official in the Garmsir area.

But a spokesman for the force said there was no information to back up claims of civilian deaths in the incident, adding that investigations with Afghan security officials were under way.

A doctor at the emergency hospital in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that more than 10 people had been brought in "with gunshot wounds to the stomach, head and legs".

"Two of them are in serious condition," he said.

The incident occurred when more than 1,000 Afghan villagers gathered in Garmsir to protest over the alleged burning of a Koran during a NATO operation on Monday, local residents and police said.

"During today's (Tuesday's) protest an insurgent sniper shot an Afghan official who was within FOB (Forward Operating Base) Delhi in Garmsir district," ISAF said in a statement.

"ISAF service members identified the insurgent sniper, shot and killed him. There were no other injuries or shots fired," it said.


BSF warns Pakistan Rangers of reprisal

Praveen Swami

Rangers claim to have no control over jihadists targeting Punjab

NEW DELHI: After a series of rocket attacks in Punjab, the Border Security Force has warned that future incidents of hostile fire could invite calibre-for-calibre retaliation across the India-Pakistan border.

BSF Deputy Inspector-General of Police Mohammad Aqil informed his Pakistani counterpart, Colonel Mohammad Kamran, of India’s decision at a flag meeting held at Attari in Punjab on Monday.

Pakistan’s border police, the Rangers, claimed that the attack was carried out by non-state actors over whom they had no control, government sources told The Hindu. However, the sources said, the BSF responded that it was the Rangers’ responsibility to prevent hostile actions — and India would be left with no option but to retaliate if it failed to do so.

India’s warnings came days after rockets were fired across the border late on the night of January 8, hitting fields around the villages of Attari, More and Atalgarh. A fourth shell landed on the BSF’s Border Observation Post at Kangarh, but failed to detonate.

The attackers fired 122-mm rockets, likely from improvised platforms fabricated using metal plates and the jacks used to replace truck tyres. BSF sources said the attacks had likely been preceded by reconnaissance carried out by Pakistani nationals despatched across the border.

In July 2009, suspected jihadists fired four 107-mm improvised rocket-assisted mortar shells across the border. Three landed in India, while one exploded near a Rangers post facing the village of Pul Kanjari. In September 2009, 107-mm shells hit fields around the villages of Atalgarh, More, Rattan Kalan and Attari.

Each of the attacks, BSF ballistics experts believe, came from near the village of Gopal Singh Wala, which lies along an anti-tank ditch running along the border. The headquarters of the Satluj Wing of the Pakistan Rangers is located just a km from Gopal Singh Wala.

Following the September attack, Pakistani media sources said the head of the Gopal Singh Wala mosque was detained by the police on suspicion of having harboured jihadists.

Mohammad Khalilullah, a Tehreek-e-Taliban leader held by the Lahore police in December 2009, told the Pakistani authorities that the jihadist group had been planning to attack the flag-lowering ceremony at Wagah, which draws hundreds of visitors. Khalilullah was arrested from a safe house at Manawan, near the border.


Call to resume India-Pakistan talks

13 January, 2010

NEW DELHI: The three-day India-Pakistan conference of civil society activists to frame a roadmap to peace ended here on Tuesday with a draft declaration calling for resumption of the composite dialogue and undertaking confidence building measures, including resolution of the Siachen dispute.

The meet attracted the participation of Indian and Pakistani civil society activists from several areas including, theatre, media and academics, besides former service personnel and diplomats. The event was organised after a long hiatus with the intention to kick-start the peace process which was halted following the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008.

Apart from securing a consensus on the draft declaration, the activists also resolved to take measures that would ensure greater people to people contact. For instance, it was decided to collect 200 signatures from Parliamentarians in India and a good number of their Pakistani counterparts seeking a visa on arrival scheme for children and senior citizens.

Speakers at the afternoon session on media and culture and later at the concluding session urged Indian diplomats and intelligence agency personnel to learn humility. They also spoke against the large scale and often indiscriminate arrests of fishermen and felt Track –II dialogue had been reduced to being the “handmaiden” of the government. People engaged in Track-II talks had hardly any independence and dialogue depended on the will of the government.

Some speakers also wanted the next conference not to take up as many issues as was the case this time, while some wondered if it was time to form an action group that would pursue sentiments expressed at the meet.

For the second successive day the conference saw commotion. But this time the differences were within the peace activist community, unlike on Monday when uninvited Kashmiri Pandit migrants protested and tried to disrupt Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik’s address.

Pakistani theatre personality Madeeha Gauhar registered her protest on the decision by the organisers not to allow a performance by her theatre troupe Ajoka on the plea of paucity of time. Ms. Gauhar had ensured visas for her entire troupe when assured that it will be allowed to stage a performance here. Jailed repeatedly for staging anti-establishment dramas and participating in human rights protests, Ms. Gauhar set up Ajoka in 1983 when oppression by military dictatorship was at its peak. The aim was to promote a secular, humane, just and egalitarian society. The first play was performed outdoor in Lahore in defiance of strict censorship laws.

Joint mechanism

Full report at:


UAE meet discusses Afghanistan

Atul Aneja

DUBAI: Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and host United Arab Emirates (UAE) along with representatives of 40 countries, the European Union and the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, held a major brainstorming session in Abu Dhabi.

The special envoy of the United States to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke also participated in the deliberations. The meet took place ahead of a major international conference, scheduled in London at the month-end. That will be followed by a high-level meeting in Kabul in April.

Speaking to the media, Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Rangin Dadfar Spanta said the focus of the discussions on Tuesday was economic and social development of Afghanistan within the framework of regional cooperation.


Charges expected against Mumbai terror suspect Rana


US prosecutors are expected to file charges against Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen, for alleged involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack and a scheme to attack a Danish newspaper, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Citing people familiar with the matter, the leading US financial daily said Wednesday it wasn't clear what charges the indictment would contain. But federal prosecutors alleged in the complaint filed last October that Rana knew of the Mumbai attacks in advance.

Rana has already been accused of plotting with Pakistani American terror suspect David Headley and Pakistani militants to attack the offices of the newspaper Jyllands Posten which in 2005 published satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Rana in October, and the government faces a Thursday deadline to file an indictment.

Investigators homed in on Rana's alleged involvement after Headley began cooperating with investigators following his October arrest, the Journal said citing people familiar with the matter.

Prosecutors allege Headley travelled to Mumbai to scout locations targeted in the attack, which killed more than 160 people. Court documents introduced in Rana's case alleged he was in Mumbai and travelled to Dubai five days before the attack.

Government affidavits filed in the Rana and Headley cases portrayed Rana, 49, as deeply involved in discussing possible attack targets with Pakistani militants.

Attorneys for both men, who are in federal custody in Chicago, have denied all charges. Patrick Blegen, representing Rana, has argued his client should be freed on bond. "Rana categorically denies involvement in the tragic events in Mumbai of November 2008," Blegen said in November.

In early 2008, federal prosecutors said, Rana and Headley began to communicate via multiple email accounts, with Headley sending some messages from Pakistan.

Rana arranged a number of Headley's trips abroad, including to Pakistan and Denmark, federal prosecutors said. Headley sometimes portrayed himself to border agents as an employee of Rana's immigration firm.

In November 2008, federal prosecutors said, Rana met in Dubai with a former Pakistani military officer, nicknamed Pasha, whom US prosecutors have charged with conspiracy in the plot against the Danish newspaper. In September 2009, Rana and Headley appeared to discuss how Rana learned from Pasha about the Mumbai plot, according to translations of the conversations wiretapped by the government and cited by US prosecutors.

In December, Blegen told a federal judge that prosecutors took the conversation out of context and Rana didn't know about the Mumbai attacks before they occurred.


Kashmir CM Omar in state of denial

Mohit Kandhari

13 January, 2010

Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is apparently living in a state of denial over the prevailing security situation in the State. On Tuesday, when Defence Minister AK Antony arrived here to review the security situation and chaired a unified command meeting, Omar informed the meeting that “Year 2010 has begun on a positive note.”

His surprising statement comes in the wake of four major counter-terrorist operations by security forces to neutralise eight militants between January 1 and 12 this year. The encounter with militants in Lal Chowk area on January 6 lasted 22 hours and a day later in Pulwama, it continued for 17 hours.

In another operation in Reasi district of Jammu region, terrorists — holed up inside a mosque — attacked security forces by lobbing grenades and used human shields to save their lives. However, they were chased away and killed at the end of the five hour long operation.

In the same period, four attempts of infiltration through the border were foiled by alert BSF jawans on Jammu frontier. On one occasion, the Pakistani Army violated the ceasefire agreement, which resulted in the death of one BSF jawan.

Omar said, “2009 was a better year for us in terms of the overall security environment and 2010, I believe, has begun on a positive note, contrary to what the media would like to project.”

However, the Chief Minister also noted, “Renewed attempts by our neighbour to facilitate infiltration — particularly under the cover of fire — along the Line of Control and the international border is a major concern for all of us.”

Antony was briefed by senior Army, BSF and State police officials on the overall security situation. In his address to the unified command, Antony said, “The situation in Kashmir is stabilising and on the whole, towards the end of 2009, the violence level has reduced. Now, we can look forward with confidence.”

Full report at:


Forces gun down Hizb militant in Shopian

Khursheed Wani

Security forces shot dead a Hizbul Mujahideen militant in Keller pocket of south Kashmir’s Shopian district on Tuesday while a former militant died in mysterious blast in frontier district Kupwara triggering protests in the area.

Sources said that a group of militants had gathered in Abhama village in Keller pocket of south Kashmir to strategise against the security forces. The police received a tip-off from the area and cordoned off the village on Monday evening to track down the militants.

Sources said that when the residential house, where the militants were meeting was cordoned off, it triggered a gunfight that continued throughout the night.

In the gunbattle, local militant Riyaz Ahmad Deedar was killed. Sources said that his associates fled from the scene of encounter during the night. However, a senior police officer said that a single militant was involved in the encounter and was killed in the prolonged operation.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of the slain militant after his body was handed over to his family members.

Meanwhile, people in large numbers came out to protest in Kalaroos pocket of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district against the mysterious death of a former militant. Locals said that the deceased, Muhammad Lateef Malik, had left his home to present before the court his previous involvement in militant activities. He did not return till late in the night when a vehicle stopped outside his house followed by a deafening blast.

Malik’s body was found near the damaged vehicle, eyewitnesses said. The locals blamed the security forces for eliminating Malik, but the security forces maintained that he was killed by separatist militants.

The killing triggered massive protests in the area. The agitators refused to bury the body until the deputy commissioner assured them that an investigation would be carried out in the killing.


Who murdered Prof. Ali-Mohammadi?


13 Jan 2010

Dr. Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, a professor of physics at the University of Tehran, was assassinated in front of his home in northern Tehran on Tuesday. Reports indicate that a motorcycle parked next to his car held a bomb that was set off by a remote control device. There are, however, other reports suggesting that the motorcycle had been there for the past three days.

State media, including the Islamic Republic News Agency and Fars immediately declared that Professor Ali-Mohammadi was a nuclear physicist and a supporter of Velayat-e Faghih [guardianship of the Islamic jurist, represented by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], and blamed Israel, the United States, and "their lackeys" for orchestrating the assassination. However, friends, colleagues, former and current students quickly refuted the charge, stating that the professor's views had changed fundamentally, and that he was a supporter of the reformists.

Who was Ali-Mohammadi?

Masoud Ali-Mohammadi was born on August 24, 1959. He was admitted to Shiraz University in southern Iran in the fall of 1978 and majored in physics. In 1985, he was admitted to a graduate program in physics at Sharif University of Technology, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in Iran. After receiving his M.S. degree in physics, he was admitted to the doctoral program in physics. In 1992 Sharif University granted its first Ph.D. degree in physics to Dr. Ali-Mohammadi. He then joined the faculty of the University of Tehran as an assistant professor in physics and was eventually promoted to full professor there. He was the deputy chair of the faculty of science for research, a committee member of the Faculty of Sciences, and a member of the academic promotion team of the University of Tehran. Last July, he was one of Iran's two representatives to the Synchrotron Radiation Center for Research and Applied Science in the Middle East in Jordan.

Professor Ali-Mohammadi's general area of research was theoretical and mathematical physics, but his areas of interest were very broad and varied. According to Dr. Hesamoddin Arfaei, his Ph.D. thesis adviser at Sharif University, Professor Ali- Mohammadi's research included particle physics; he taught classical and quantum physics.

Professor Ali-Mohammadi wrote several books and authored 80 scientific papers published in recognized science journals. He also participated in a summer school program in high energy physics at the International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy. For four years he was also a non-resident research fellow at the Institute for Physics and Mathematics in Tehran.

Full report at:


Ahmadinejad Slams Saudi Role In Yemen Conflict

January 13, 2010

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- Iran's president has lashed out at Saudi Arabia over its role in Yemen's conflict with Shi'ite rebels, saying it should try to foster peace rather than use weapons against fellow Muslims.

The comments by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad were the strongest criticism yet by predominantly Shi'ite Muslim Iran of mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia over Riyadh's involvement in the Yemen conflict.

"We were expecting that Saudi Arabian officials act like a mentor and make peace between brothers, not that they themselves enter the war and use bombs ... and machineguns against Muslims," Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech.

"If only a small part of the weapons of Saudi Arabia were used in favour of Gaza and against the Zionist regime (Israel), today there would be no sign of the Zionist regime in the region," he said on state television.

Ahmadinejad said Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil producer and a U.S. ally, used crude oil income to buy weapons which are then used to "kill brothers" and create sedition.

Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West, also said he believed the United States, Britain and Israel were behind the Yemen conflict, aiming to "set the whole region on fire" in a bid to dominate the Middle East.

"I hope that my Yemeni brothers sit down and talk and negotiate and solve the problems," he said.

Yemen, the Arab world's poorest nation, came to the foreground of U.S.-led efforts to battle militancy after a Yemen-based wing of Al-Qaeda said it was behind a failed December 25 plot to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner.

The government of veteran ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh is also embroiled in a war with rebels of the Shi'ite Zaidi sect in northern provinces, a conflict that drew in Saudi Arabia after a cross-border rebel raid in November.

Yemen has accused clerics in Iran of backing the rebels and Iranian media have attacked Saudi Arabia for joining the war against the rebels.


Dutch lawmaker tries to avoid hate speech charges


Jan. 13, 2010

AMSTERDAM — Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders asked judges on Wednesday to drop or reduce charges against him of criminal incitement, arguing that his anti-Islam message falls within the boundaries of freedom of speech.

Wilders, one of the country's most popular politicians, is due to go on trial in March for allegedly insulting Muslims as a group and inciting hatred and discrimination against them.

After the closed pretrial hearing at Amsterdam District Court, Wilders said the session was "the first day of a political trial."

Charges against Wilders stem from his 2008 short film "Fitna," which offended many Muslims by juxtaposing Quranic verses against images of terrorism by Islamic radicals.

He also has called for banning the Quran in the Netherlands, closing borders to immigrants, and taxing clothing commonly worn by Muslims, such as headscarves, because they "pollute" the Dutch landscape.

Wilders' lawyer, Bram Moszkowicz, said he had petitioned judges to at least drop the charge of insulting Muslims as a group, which he said had little chance of winning a conviction. Moszkowicz cited a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that found insulting a religion is not the same as insulting followers of that religion, and not punishable under hate-speech laws.

A ruling on the petition is expected by Thursday.

Muslims make up about six percent of the Dutch population after a wave of immigration in the 1980s and 1990s, and immigration-related issues have dominated Dutch politics since the turn of the century.

Wilders' opposition Freedom Party has grown quickly and now rivals the country's biggest in popularity polls.

Immigrant, Muslim and anti-racism groups have long sought Wilders' prosecution, saying his remarks go beyond being offensive and worsen ethnic tensions in the Netherlands, a country once noted for tolerance.


US summons Nigerian terror suspect’s father to testify

S Rajagopalan | Washington

The father of Umar Faouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian facing trial for his bid to blow up a US airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day, has been invited to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Dr Umaru Mutallab, a prominent former Nigerian banker, had warned the US authorities weeks ahead about his son turning a radical and his extremist connections, but the American intelligence and security agencies failed to connect the dots, leading to a near-catastrophe.

Stating that Mutallab had acted ‘in a heroic fashion’ by alerting US authorities about his son’s whereabouts and activities, committee chairman John Kerry said: “We would like to afford (Mutallab) the opportunity to discuss his experience with his son and to provide his recommendations on the process by which he worked with US authorities.”

The committee was still to hear from Mutallab about his willingness to testify before the powerful Congressional panel. A report quoting a source close to the family said Mutallab was likely to testify in order to “set the record straight” and also present Nigeria in a positive light.

Many Nigerians, including the government, have taken exception to the US action of lumping the country with the likes of Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan that are associated with rampant terrorism. Washington had last week announced that US-bound travellers from 14 countries, including Nigeria, will be subjected to rigorous screening procedures.

“Congress is wrestling with the specific questions of the Christmas Day bombing plot and the broader questions of how Yemen has become a touchstone for radicalisation,” a committee spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a new opinion poll held out some comfort for the Obama Administration with the finding that, despite the bungling in dealing with the Abdulmutallab episode, most Americans remain confident about its ability to protect the country from terrorism.

About two-thirds of people surveyed said they have a moderate or great deal of confidence in the administration’s ability to protect the people from future terrorist attacks, while 35 per cent said they do not have much confidence or no confidence at all in the Obama dispensation.

However, a majority of the people (57 per cent) supported the Republican line that the Nigerian suspect should be subjected to a military style trial, instead of civilian criminal courts giving the accused far greater latitude.

Full report at:


Will never cede control of Jerusalem, says Israel

13 January, 2010

In a jolt to efforts to renew stalled peace talks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Tel Aviv will never cede control of united Jerusalem nor retreat to 1967 borders, the two core issues plaguing the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

“The Prime Minister has not changed his declared stance and insists in all his political talks that united Jerusalem will remain under Israeli sovereignty in any peace agreement, and that Israel’s defence borders will not be paved back to the 1967 lines,” a statement from the PMO said.

The statement comes in the wake of Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit’s remark in Cairo last week that Netanyahu was ready to discuss making “Arab Jerusalem” the capital of a Palestinian State.

Palestinians consider Jerusalem to be the Capital of their future independent State under a peace agreement and some Israeli leaders have in the past indicated that the division of the Holy city is inevitable for peace.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem, that is home to sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the 1967 War.


Judges’ unanimity must for death penalty in Saudi

13 January, 2010

Dubai, in a landmark move, Saudi Arabia’a legislature has approved a decision to make a unanimous agreement of judges mandatory to award a death sentence. The Shura Council passed a legislation to make an amendment in the Criminal Procedure Law by which death sentence shall be carried out with a unanimous decision, instead of the existing practice of majority vote, Al Riyadh, Arabic daily reported.

According to the report, an overwhelming majority of 92 members voted in favour of the new amendment, while a few members opp-osed it. As per the amendment, capital punishment shall be executed only with a unanimous decision of judges. At present, death sentence can be awarded wi-th a decision of the majority of the judges hearing a case.

The amendment also says that any verdict issued by a lower court awarding death sentence or severing of hands or similar capital punishments shall not be executed without a verdict of the Supreme Court upholding it, and the court decision shall be with a unanimous decision. The Shura Council will conclude voting on the remaining clauses of the draft judicial laws after listening to the viewpoints of the subcommittees for Islamic, judicial and human rights. —AP


No entry for Arabs: Israeli land grab the height of evil and folly

By Avirama Golan, Haaretz

Anyone observing Israel these days - and the hazing to which the Turkish ambassador was subjected is only the latest example - sees the neighborhood bully. Anyone who cares about self-preservation will stay away from this hard-hearted, dull-witted madman whose sole guiding principle is "national honor" - or in other words, sowing strife and dissension that undermines the state's interests.

Yet this bull-in-a-china-shop behavior toward other countries is dwarfed by the mad frenzy at home. Ever since they were sworn in, the cabinet and Knesset have been competing over which will make life harder for the state's Arab citizens. And the climax of this frenzy was reached over land.

The land grabs that both the executive and the legislature have been perpetrating are the height of evil and folly. Evil, because all the new laws and reforms are explicitly intended to deny Arabs the self-evident civil right of buying a plot of land and residing on it. And folly, because it seems there isn't one politician who does not yearn to humiliate and inflame the Arab public.

For one brief moment, financially well-off Arabs deluded themselves into thinking that the land reform would benefit them. After all, the government had decided to open up the real estate market, to liberate lands from the Israel Lands Administration's governmental clutches and replace this stranglehold with a free market. Therefore, anyone who had a bit of ready cash would be able to buy land anywhere he pleased.

The government undoubtedly found this hilarious. For in the same breath, it decided - via Amendment 7 to the law, passed last August - that of the 13 members of the ILA's governing council, six would be representatives of the Jewish National Fund. It thereby gave these representatives, who have an interest in preventing Arabs from buying land, the ability to do so. Via this amendment, the government also reserved the right to increase its own representation on the council. And finally, it concluded a land swap with the JNF under which the latter would cede land in high-demand areas in the center of the country (where, despite all the hysterical warnings about "millionaires from the Gulf states taking over Gush Dan," not a single Arab has even tried to buy). In exchange it would get control over the Negev and the Galilee.

This new arrangement makes an already problematic situation even worse. Those same lands that the state expropriated from Arabs in the past for "public use," and which were then added to the vast land reserves it controls, are now being privatized, meaning they are being sold to the highest bidder. As long as he's a Jew, of course. Granted, you won't find a sign anywhere saying "no entry for Arabs," but aside from that, all the rules of the Wild West are in force.

Full report at:


‘Three Indians issued Pak passports’


13 January, 2010

A Pakistani court has been told that three Indian citizens, including a man linked to the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai, were issued Pakistani passports by the country’s consulate in the US city of Houston more than a decade ago.

"As per information provided by the American FBI, Aziz Moosa and two other Indian citizens were issued Pakistani passports," Pakistani consul general in Huston, Aqil Nadeem, told the accountability court’s Judge Wamiq Javed in Rawalpindi on Monday.

Aqil Nadeem, the present consul general, appeared before the court as a witness in the case of former consul general Ghulam Rasool Baloch, who, as per the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) allegations, misused his authority by issuing fake passports to some people in connivance with a travel agent, Imran Lalpuri. According to information provided to NAB by the US’ FBI, Moosa was issued a Pakistani passport in the name of Syed Nazar Ali, Saleem Ali in the name of Karim Ali and Abdul Sadiq in the name of Sultan Abdullah.

An American passport bearing the name Syed Nazar Ali was found after the 1993 bomb blasts in Mumbai and probe revealed the man was actually an Indian national named Aziz Moosa. Subsequent investigations showed that several passports had been issued by the Pakistani consulate in Houston, including one issued to Moosa.

A series of 13 bomb blasts in Mumbai on March 12, 1993 had killed 257 people. The attacks were coordinated by underworld mob boss Dawood Ibrahim with help from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

In March 2008, Pakistan’s foreign ministry referred to the NAB a report received from the FBI that about 300 passports had been issued by the consulate in Houston against fake or incomplete documents. NAB then filed a case against former consul general Ghulam Rasool Baloch, assistant consul general Mohammed Naeem and travel agent Imran Lalpuri for issuing passports to Indian citizens Aziz Moosa, Salim Ali and Abdul Sadiq.


French lawmaker submits bill to ban Muslim veils

13 January, 2010

 (AP) — PARIS - A French lawmaker from President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative party has formally proposed legislation to bar Muslim women from appearing in public wearing veils that hide their faces.

The bill by lawmaker Jean-Francois Cope, who heads the UMP party in the National Assembly, has sparked criticism from some of his political allies.

Labor Minister Laurent Wauquiez has accused Cope of using the debate over veils for self-promotion. The president of the lower house of parliament, Bernard Accoyer, called Cope's move Tuesday premature.

Only a tiny minority of Muslim women in France wear the extreme covering-which is not required by Islam. Authorities worry that such dress may be a gateway to extremism and say it amounts to an insult to women.

© 2010 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


Roles Of Muslim Youths In Developing The Islamic World

Written by Azaraimy HH

13 January 2010

Bandar Seri Begawan - In the history of the Islamic world, those who propagated the Islamic teachings more often were those in the youth age groups.

Pehin Orang Kaya Paduka Seri Utama Dato Paduka Seri Setia Haji Awang Salim bin Haji Besar, the Syariah High Court Judge, explained the roles of Muslim youths in the Islamic world while speaking during the Southeast Asian Islamic Youth Conference.

The conference, which was officially opened by His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, attracted youths from various sectors including youth associations, academic institutions and Muslim youths from the Asean region.

Around 10 working papers will be deliberated throughout the four-day conference which will be held until January 14. He was deliberating in length on the theme of the conference "Unification of Islamic Youths Generates Excellence" as the main working paper.

The Syariah High Court Judge said Prophet Muhammad PBUH himself was 40 years old when he first received the divine revelation from Allah the Almighty (40 years being the age of completeness in the age of youth maturity).

Earlier in his opening remarks, Pehin Dato Paduka Seri Setia Awang Haji Salim said in the context of Brunei Darussalam, the youth age group is between 15 and 40.

Sayyidina Abu Bakar and Sayyidina Usman (companions of Prophet Muhammad PBUH) were much younger than the prophet, stated Pehin Dato Paduka Seri Setia Awang Haji Salim. Sayyidina Umar was just 27 years old when he embraced Islam, whereas Sayyidina Ali, another of his close companion, embraced the Islamic faith at a much younger age.

Other friends of the Prophet Muhammad, including Abdullah bin Mas'ud, Said bin Zaid, Abdul Rahman bin Auf, Bilal bin Rabah, Mus'ab bin Umair Radhiallahu Anhum and many others, were all within the youth age group when they embraced Islam.

The unity of youths in the Islamic world is the pulse that was built upon by the Daulah Islamiyyah, Madinah, that centuries later had led to the establishment of an empire - othmaniah (ottoman)," he said.

Full report at:


Israel considering new military attack on Gaza

13 Jan 2010

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad says Israel is mounting a fierce media campaign against the resistance before an intended military aggression on the Gaza Strip.

Islamic Jihad spokesman, Davoud Shihab, in a statement on Monday called on the Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza to coordinate their positions to confront the threats should they be translated to the ground.

Shihab also criticized some Arab media outlets for repeatedly backing Israeli propaganda and portraying Gaza as a hotbed of terrorism. He commented that such reports cripple solidarity with the Palestinian people and their right to resist the Israeli occupation.

He urged all media outlets, journalists and politicians to confront Israeli propaganda and focus on the active role of the Palestinian resistance in defending its land and people against the Israeli war machine.

Gazans are still struggling to resume ordinary life months after Operation Cast Lead which resulted in the death of over 1,500 Palestinians and the injury of about 5,450 people in the impoverished coastal sliver.

After USD 1.6 billion damage to Gaza's economy during the three weeks of relentless Israeli bombardment this past January, Palestinians in the Strip strive to survive under a siege that prevents any imports and exports. According to statistics, the unemployment rate stands at 44% in the war-wreaked enclave.

Meanwhile, a United Nations inquiry led by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone details Israeli actions "amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity," during Israel's winter offensive against Hamas-ruled Gaza.

The 575-page report by Goldstone and three other investigators asserts seven incidents in which Palestinian civilians were shot while leaving their homes, trying to run for safety or waving white flags. The report says Israel targeted a mosque at prayer time, killing 15 people, and shelled a Gaza City home where soldiers had forced Palestinian civilians to assemble. These attacks constituted war crimes, the report says.

The probe also found that Israel violated international humanitarian law in several ways. Dozens of Palestinian policemen were killed at the start of the Gaza onslaught when Israel bombed their stations. The security agents were not involved in hostilities and should have been treated as civilians. Additionally, the Palestinians were forced to walk ahead of Israeli soldiers as they searched civilian neighborhoods.

International human rights groups have previously spelled out such flagrant offenses against the Palestinians in Gaza.


Muslim-convert Padilla: Toss out the Terror conviction

By Greg Bluestein

ATLANTA — Convicted terrorism plotter Jose Padilla's attorneys asked an appeals court on Tuesday to throw out his conviction, arguing that he was the victim of "outrageous governmental conduct."

Padilla gained notoriety when he was accused in 2002 of plotting to blow up a radioactive "dirty bomb," though those claims were eventually dropped. He was later convicted along with two others in an unrelated terrorism plot.

Padilla's lawyer told the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that his client should have been granted an evidentiary hearing before the 2007 trial that would have proved he was being mistreated by the government.

Lawyers for Padilla and his coconspirators also argued that a federal judge made a series of errors that helped lead the jury toward a guilty conviction.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, contended that Padilla's prison sentence of more than 17 years was too lenient.

Padilla and co-conspirators Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi were convicted in 2007 after a three-month trial in which prosecutors said they sent money, recruits and supplies to Islamic extremist groups.

Padilla, a U.S. citizen and Muslim convert, had been arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on suspicion of plotting to set off a radioactive "dirty bomb," and then held for 3 1/2 years as an enemy combatant without charge.

Amid legal challenges to his detention, the Justice Department in late 2005 added Padilla to the separate Miami terror support case involving Hassoun and Jayyousi. The dirty bomb allegations were dropped.

In court filings and during arguments Tuesday, Padilla's attorney Michael Caruso contended there should have been an evidentiary hearing before the trial that would have proven he is the victim of "outrageous governmental conduct." He said his client was mistreated and tortured on a Navy brig, charges that federal officials have repeatedly denied.

"There can be no dispute that we have that here - extremely prolonged isolation, psychological and physical abuse, prolonged interrogation," said Caruso. "We have conduct that shocks the conscience."

Full report at: Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.


Afghan civilian deaths rose 14% in 2009, says UN report

13 January, 2010

Civilians are suffering most in the conflict

The number of Afghan civilians killed in violence in 2009 was higher than in any year since the Taliban were ousted in 2001, a United Nations report says.

Civilian casualties rose by 14% in 2009 compared with 2008, the UN Mission in Afghanistan (Unama) reported.

It said the "vast majority" of the more than 2,400 civilian deaths had been caused by Taliban attacks.

Earlier this week, a report in Pakistan said that more than 3,000 civilians there had died in violence in 2009.

A third of those deaths were the result of suicide attacks in a year which saw a 45% increase in incidents related to terrorism, the report by the think-tank Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies said.

Overall violence-related deaths in Pakistan last year, including military operations against insurgents, increased to more than 12,500, the report said.

'Reducing risk'

The Unama report said 2,412 civilians had been killed in Afghanistan in 2009 compared with 2,118 in 2008.

US soldier on patrol in Afghanistan

The US is eager to win over civilian support on the ground

"The intensification and spread of the armed conflict in Afghanistan continued to take a heavy toll on civilians throughout 2009," the report said.

Civilian casualties are a sensitive subject in Afghanistan, with foreign forces frequently accused of killing non-combatants in airstrikes.

The UN report said that deaths attributed to allied forces dropped by nearly 30% in 2009 - a statistic which correspondents say will be welcomed by the US military.

In recent months it has made repeated assurances to the Afghan government that it will lower civilian casualties as part of its goal of gaining support on the ground among Afghan people.

"This decrease reflects measures taken by international military forces to conduct operations in a manner that reduces the risk posed to civilians," the Unama report said.

But it said that violence throughout 2009 had been unrelenting, defying the usual winter lull.

Correspondents say that there is now concern that casualties will further rise once Nato and the US deploy 37,000 more troops to try to stabilise the country.

The UN report says that because the Taliban insurgency escalated and spread from southern provinces where it began, the year 2009 was also the deadliest for foreign forces fighting the Taliban.

It said that previously stable areas, such as Kunduz province and elsewhere in the north-east, had witnessed increasing insecurity.

'Worst in recent times'

Full report at:


Afghan soil being used for terrorism: ISI chief

13 Jan, 2010

KARACHI, Jan 12: Director General of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha said on Tuesday that Afghan soil was being used for terrorist activities in Pakistan, adding that there could be no peace in Pakistan unless infiltration from Afghan border was stopped.

Gen Pasha’s statement came against the backdrop of increased US pressure to launch a parallel operation in North Waziristan.

According to DawnNews, the ISI chief, who was briefing the parliamentary committee on national security, said the drug mafia in Afghanistan was supporting terrorists who were creating unrest in Pakistan.

According to sources, members of the committee were of the opinion that the Pak-Afghan border should be fenced and cross-border movement should be closely monitored. The members also stressed the need for enhancing security along the border.

After the meeting, Raza Rabbani told reporters that the members condemned the measures for screening Pakistani citizens at US airports.


Afghan war must not spill over into Pakistan: Qureshi

13 Jan, 2010

ABU DHABI: The war against Taliban militants in Afghanistan must be fought inside the country itself and not spill over into Pakistan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Tuesday.

“The Afghan war has to be fought within Afghanistan. The challenges within Afghanistan cannot be resolved in Pakistan,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a Meeting of Special Representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan, held in Abu Dhabi.

“The challenge that we have in Pakistan is being faced very bravely and very courageously by the people of Pakistan,” he said. “On our side of the border, Pakistan is capable of looking after the problem.”

Pakistan faces Taliban insurgents and militants who have killed over 2,900 people since July, 2007. The insurgents are fighting to impose a version of Islamic Sharia and also oppose Islamabad’s alliance with the United States in the eight-year war against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

In his address to the conference, Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said both diplomatic and military methods were needed to bring stability to his country.

“We seek ... in addition to military means, peaceful solutions to our security challenge,” Mr Spanta said.

“Afghanistan is fully committed to pave the way for a return to normal life by all Afghans who are ready to surrender arms and abide by the Afghan constitution,” he said.

On the sidelines of the forum, Mr Spanta said the US troop surge in Afghanistan must be part of a broader strategy, including development and strengthening state institutions if it is to succeed.

“Political reconciliation, reintegration (of ex-fighters), capacity-building of civilian institutions, improvement of governance and structures inside Afghanistan are very important for a forward movement or for stability and peace in Afghanistan,” he said.

Egypt’s Deputy Foreign Minister Wafa Baseem expressed similar sentiment.

“We do believe that military measures could be needed sometimes,” she said. “But (in) the long run, they are not the only solution, or the solution ... to a conflict, especially in Afghanistan.”

Full report at:

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