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Islamic World News ( 23 Sept 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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White House invites Taliban Sympathizer to Speak at Interfaith Campus Challenge














The U.S. Department of Education and the White House invited a Taliban sympathizer,  Ali Tariq, to speak at PICSCC

 

Indonesian Conservative Islamic Group Says Muslims Cannot Vote For Non-Muslims

Mauritania’s Mufti Says Iran’s Influence ‘Worse than Zionism’

'ISIS' Lone Wolf' Musa, Reveals NIA about Emergence of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh in India

Isis Fighters in Afghanistan Mainly Ex-Pakistani Taliban Members: Gen. Nicholson

 

North America

White House invites Taliban sympathizer to speak at Interfaith Campus Challenge

Clinton's Plan to Stop ISIS: Hunt Down Its Leaders

Obama vetoes bill to let families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia

Foreign hacker who aided Islamic State gets 20 years in US

Muslim Leaders in New Jersey Condemn Bombings 

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Conservative Islamic Group Says Muslims Cannot Vote For Non-Muslims

Indonesia Declares Candidacy for UN Security Council

Resolving the Rohingya issue

Bomb Kills 3 Thai Police Officers in Southern Ambush

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Africa

Mauritania’s Mufti Says Iran’s Influence ‘Worse than Zionism’

15 Boko Haram Terrorists Killed in Nigeria

Islamic Movement in Nigeria strongly condemns illegal attack on Free Zakzaky protest In Abuja

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India

'ISIS' Lone Wolf' Musa, Reveals NIA about Emergence of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh in India

Muslim, Christian and Dalit Minority Groups Demand Ban on 'Cow Vigilantism'

Pigeon with Words Written In Urdu Found In Punjab: Police

BSF Arrests LeT Activist of Pakistan Nationality near Border

Maps of Uri Found On Fidayeens, Army Intensifies Operation to Trace Route

Officials afraid to anger Muslims, deny Durga puja celebration, Birbhum village

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South Asia

Isis Fighters in Afghanistan Mainly Ex-Pakistani Taliban Members: Gen. Nicholson

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar May Nominate For the Afghanistan Presidential Elections

Gen. Dostum welcomes signing of peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami

Feni’s Akash planned terrorist attacks in Bangladesh

Bangladeshi planning terrorist attacks deported

Delivery of 141 weapons to Taliban stopped in Herat city: NDS

Top security officials fired in Uruzgan amid sharp rise in violence

Attack on Salang pass leaves 5 dead, 3 wounded

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Arab World

Hundreds of Militants Lay Down Arms in Damascus

Gun, Suicide Bomb Attacks Kill 12 in Iraq's Tikrit: Police

Iran's Top Security Official Blames West for Spread of Terrorism

ISIL's Offensives Repulsed by Syrian Army, Air Force in Deir Ezzur

Syrian, Russian Warplanes Continue to Bomb Terrorist Centres in Aleppo

Iran Calls for Collective Efforts to Restore Peace, Stability in World

Syrian Official Denies Accusations of Airstrikes against Residential Areas in Aleppo

Russia Rules Out Plan B for Syria

Iran Warns of Yemenis' Dire Situation, Stresses Cutting Support for Terrorists in Syria

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Pakistan

Pakistan to Ask Interpol to Extradite Brahamdagh Bugti: Nisar Ali Khan

Khyber Elders Oppose Fata-KP Merger

Imran wants to destabilise country, claims PML-N

If breaks out, Pakistan-India war may spiral into a world war, warns Khurshid

MQM seeks release of all innocent political prisoners

Pakistan Rangers claim evidence that MQM men are hiding, not missing

Russian troops arrive in Pakistan for first-ever joint drills

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Mideast

AKP Mayors Who Favoured Gülenists Untouched By Probe: CHP

Turkey Calls On Obama to Veto ‘9/11 Bill’

Two security personnel killed in clashes with PKK in Turkey's southeast

Details emerge in story of fugitive coup attempt prime suspect Adil Özsüz

Turkey, US in deadlock over two major issues

Turkish state will look into social media accounts to spot ‘PKK supporters’

Cypriot leaders set to meet UN chief on Sept 25 as part of peace talks

Israeli Forces Detain Palestinians in overnight West Bank Raids

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Europe

Watch Out For Fake Video of 'Muslim Army' At Europe's Borders

Elizabeth I’s Muslim Ties ‘Held off a Catholic Invasion’, Says A NYT Piece

Pope to meet families of Nice attack victims

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/white-house-invites-taliban-sympathizer-to-speak-at-interfaith-campus-challenge/d/108661

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White House Invites Taliban Sympathizer to Speak At Interfaith Campus Challenge

September 23, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education and the White House invited a Taliban sympathizer to speak at PICSCC (President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge). The PICSCC was introduced by President Obama in 2011 to build bridges of understanding across communities by bringing together people from different religious and non-religious backgrounds.

This year, the two-day challenge was held at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. which saw speakers from dozens of countries and various organizations come together and discuss various issues including ways to prevent violence & extremism among youth.

 September 23, the second day of the challenge, a seven-member panel was supposed to discuss how to engage youth in dialogue to counter violent extremism However, one panelist – the only Pakistani on the program – decided to skip the conversation and opted to take part in a discussion on Immigration and Migration instead.

Mr. Ali Tariq got his preliminary education at a religious seminary by the name of Jamia Hanafiah Talim-ul-Islam located in Northern Punjab. He later joined the seminary as a faculty member and taught Arabic and Islamic literature from 2008 to 2015.

The Jamia Hanafiah seminary where Mr. Tariq taught openly supports “Jihad against America” and it’s faculty has rallied in support of “Blasphemy killers”.

In 2011, the Hanfiah seminary staff and locals marched in support of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who shot Pakistani Minister Salman Taseer 28 times for speaking out in support of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. The woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death in 2010 under Pakistan’s controversial Blasphemy laws. At the time, Qadri was assigned to Taseer as his bodyguard, Qadri was hanged earlier this year, while Asia Bibi still languishes in jail.

In 2014, the seminary invited British Islamist Toaha Qureshi to speak at their conference. Qureshi is a trustee of the London’s Stockwell Green Mosque. An investigation earlier this year by the BBC revealed that the Mosque distributed leaflets calling for the killing of Ahmadis, a minority Muslim group which is considered heretic by orthodox clergy.

In April 2015, while Mr. Tariq was still working at the seminary, speakers at Jamia Hanafiah’s annual convention called for ‘Jihad against the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan’ and called on attendees to support their “Afghan Taliban Brothers’. One of the key speakers Molana Kifayatullah said:

“We (Pakistan) made a big mistake by supporting America, when American forces were moving in to kill our Afghan Muslim Taliban brothers, we supported their killers, what would we answer Allah ?, We should have gone to help Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban, We should have fought against the Americans, the Jews and the Christians. They should be ashamed, they supported Americans and Christians.”

The Same cleric, Kifyatullah was arrested by Pakistan’s counter-terrorism department in 2015 for hate speech.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-7-52-30-pmOn May 22nd, the seminary asked it’s facebook followers to watch Tariq’s TV appearance.

Since 2010, Mr. Tariq has also simultaneously worked at the controversial International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) in various roles. Currently, he serves as a Consultant/Editor at the Iqbal Institute for Research & Dialogue(IRD) at the IIUI.

In 2015 Pakistan’s intelligence agencies reported that the university was promoting extremist doctrines and that Jihadis must not be allowed to impose their agenda.

During the program at Gallaudet University, Mr. Tariq refused to answer questions about his links to the seminary and his views on the Ahmadiyya Muslims. After the program, when approached by a Rabwah Times reporter, Tariq said that the decision by the Pakistani constitution to declare the Ahmadis non-Muslim was a “good decision”. When asked about the case of the Christian woman Asia Bibi, Tariq reiterated his stance saying he respected the decision by the authorities to hand her the death penalty.

The United States Commission on International religious Freedom has described Ahmadis as one of the worst persecuted communities in Pakistan.

Source: rabwah.net/white-house-invites-taliban-sympathizer-to-speak-at-interfaith-campus-challenge/

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Indonesian Conservative Islamic Group Says Muslims Cannot Vote For Non-Muslims

SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Muslims are not allowed to vote for non-Muslims in upcoming elections said a decree issued by a group of senior politicians and conservative Islamic groups who met at a mosque in Jakarta on Sept. 18.

The decree forbidding Muslims voting for a ‘non-believer’ was made ahead of next year’s guber­natorial (governor) elections and is being seen as a way to counter the re-election hopes of current governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who is a Christian, and ethnic Chinese Indonesian.

Political analyst and pollster Djayadi Hanan, told The Australian that Indonesia is currently fertile ground for identity politics.

“Ahok is a double minority — he is ethnically Chinese and he is a non-Muslim, and people can be rallied around those issues,” Hanan said.

“According to our surveys, around 45 percent of Jakarta’s Muslims agree Muslims should not be led by non-Muslims,” he said.

More than 80 percent of Jakarta’s voters are Muslims, said the report which added that the decree was spurned by Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah.

Source: eurasiareview.com/24092016-indonesia-conservative-islamic-group-says-muslims-cannot-vote-for-non-muslims/

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Mauritania’s Mufti Says Iran’s Influence ‘Worse than Zionism’

September 23, 2016

Mauritania’s top Muslim cleric called for the African nation to cut all ties with Iran because its Shiite ideology is “as bad and as evil” as Zionism.

“I turned to his excellency the president during the Eid el-Adha sermon last Monday and as you all heard I complained to him,” Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Ould Habib al-Rahman said during a sermon last week.

“Thus, the Safavid Persian Shiitization activities in our country were exposed through the so-called social media YouTube and Facebook.

The propagation of this ideology in our country has been exposed, Allah be praised,” said Rahman.

“These people were exposed both in video and audio as they were describing Abu Bakr, Omar and Aisha [three of the founding figures of Sunni Islam] as ‘hypocrites,’ and publicly cursing them,” he said.

“As I told you, you can see it yourself on YouTube and Facebook. See it for yourselves! Maybe some of you have seen it already,” he continued. Rahman’s comments, made on September 16, were translated on Friday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an NGO monitoring news outlets in the region.

“I believe that his Excellency, the president of the republic, has also seen it. I am certain that after he has seen it for himself, he knows that cursing Abu Bakr, Omar and Aisha is the epitome of terrorism and extremism.

“I am convinced that the president knows that the penetration of this ideology into our society will intensify the fire of sectarianism from which we’re already suffering and which we are trying to stifle,” Rahman said.

“We trust that the president also knows that cutting ties with the Safavid Persian Iranian expansionism is a duty imposed by the Sharia as well as a demand by the republic… I also know that the president knows that this ideology, with the sectarianism that it ignites, is no less dangerous than Zionism and what it wanted to do in our country,” he continued.

“Indeed, Shiites are part of Islam. We do not wish to accuse them of heresy. We Sunnis accuse no one of heresy, but the danger and evil posed by the Shiite ideology to any society it enters is no less than the danger and evil of the Zionist ideology,” Rahman added.

Mauritania, a desert country in Africa, has a population of slightly over 4 million people. The residents are overwhelmingly Sunni. Predominant minorities include several thousand Catholics and a small but influential Sufi minority. Mauritania’s religious laws are strict. Atheism is punishable by death.

Source: timesofisrael.com/mauritanias-mufti-says-irans-influence-worse-than-zionism/

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'ISIS' Lone Wolf' Musa, Reveals NIA about Emergence of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh in India

September 24, 2016

Mohammad Masiuddin was a travelling terrorist till authorities arrested him two months ago.

Better known as Musa, the 25-year-old from West Bengal’s Birbhum district emerged as the face of trans-national, trans-organisational jihad, which is the newest threat to India’s security even as the country fights Pakistan-sponsored terrorism on the western borders.

The man in the National Investigation Agency’s custody had two handlers - ISIS India head Shafi Armar who’s now based in Syria, and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) member Abu Suleman, a Bangladeshi national and a wanted terrorist.

Musa had moved from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu where he worked in a shop, in Tirupur.

Like most ISIS recruits, he too got radicalised online.

With a terror plan in mind, he conducted a recce of the carefully chosen spots in J&K and West Bengal, which were the ISIS targets. Musa reportedly appeared in a YouTube video, raising the ISIS flag in downtown Srinagar.

However, JMB, which is aspiring to set up a Bangladeshi caliphate, has been active in India and has set up base in states like West Bengal, Jharkhand and Assam.

Analysts say growing radicalisation in the neighbouring country has made it a hotbed for ISIS-inspired extremists who could spill over to India or weave alliances to carry out attacks.

Musa is the Indian face of ISIS JMB, an ominous symbol of new kind of terrorism.

He traveled to Kolkata and Srinagar to targets the spots, instructed from Shafi Armar alias Yusuf Al Hindi. He was also asked to attack the foreign nationals from the US, UK, Canada and Israel.

Armar started off as a member of the banned militant outfit Indian Mujahideen.

In early 2009, he fled to Pakistan with a few of its top-ranking members - including Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal.

He later left IM to join ISIS and was involved in recruiting and luring the Indian youth.

Earlier this month, when Musa was interrogated by the NIA and Bangladeshi officials, he told that Abu Suleman was the main handler for JMB.

The world watched as the Rapid Action Bangladesh (RAB) forces dealt with one of the deadliest deadliest terror attacks at a cafe in Dhaka, on July 1.

Indian televangelist Dr Zakir Naik who is now under the home ministry scanner emerged as a key link to the strike, but it was revealed that JMB wing owing allegiance to ISIS was also involved.

Soon after the attack, Suleman, a wanted man in Bangladesh, who was a key suspect, slipped into West Bengal.

He had earlier visited India twice, raising alarm bells in the security establishment.

When Suleman asked Musa to join JMB as a full-time agent, he simply refused, stating: “I have a family.”

In India, Suleman attempted to set up a JMB module with the help of Musa, who was then working in Tirpur.

Musa's journey to the JMB-ISIS module began in June 2015, when he liked a Facebook page of ISIS Bangladesh from the a fake identity in the name of Sabilillah Khan.

He was instantly contacted by Suleman, also known as Jihadi John.

Musa had Rs 60,000 in his bank account, this was the money which he had saved by selling a small property.

He used his entire saving to travel to Bengal and Kashmir. He followed the long route to Srinagar, reaching Jammu by train and then taking a bus.

Musa then visited Kolkata where he reportedly bought a 13-inch machete.

He then boarded the Visva Bharati passenger train from Howrah and left for his hometown in Birbhum.

Acting on specific intelligence by the NIA, he was picked up by GRP and Burdwan police.

Source: dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3804665/ISIS-lone-wolf-Musa-25-arrested-two-months-ago-reveals-NIA-emergence-Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen-Bangladesh-India.html#ixzz4L9R3r9Id

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ISIS Fighters in Afghanistan Mainly Ex-Pakistani Taliban Members: Gen. Nicholson

Sat Sep 24 2016

ISIS AfghanistanThe ISIS loyalists fighting in Afghanistan are mainly ex-Pakistani members and are receiving support from the main group leaders based in Syria, the top US commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson has said.

General Nicholson who is also the commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan has said there are up to 1,300 ISIS loyalists in Afghanistan.

He said the loyalists of the terror group receive money, guidance, and communications support from the main group in Syria.

General Nicholson further added that the U.S. and Afghan military have killed many IS leaders and members in recent months and that they are in fewer Afghan areas than they previously were.

According to General Nicholson, the terror group loyaliss re currently holding only three to four districts compared to 10 one year ago.

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) launched a major operation in Nangarhar to suppress the activities of ISIS loyalists in mid-July this year.

The US forces also provided support to the Afghan forces during the operation conducted in Kot, Achin and parts of the province where ISIS loyalists were conducting insurgency.

The US forces resumed operations against ISIS loyalists after the Obama administration granted them broader role to combat the terror groups in Afghanistan.

Source: khaama.com/isis-fighters-in-afghanistan-mainly-ex-pakistani-taliban-members-gen-nicholson-01933

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North America

 

White House invites Taliban sympathizer to speak at Interfaith Campus Challenge

September 23, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education and the White House invited a Taliban sympathizer to speak at PICSCC (President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge). The PICSCC was introduced by President Obama in 2011 to build bridges of understanding across communities by bringing together people from different religious and non-religious backgrounds.

This year, the two-day challenge was held at Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. which saw speakers from dozens of countries and various organizations come together and discuss various issues including ways to prevent violence & extremism among youth.  September 23, the second day of the challenge, a seven-member panel was supposed to discuss how to engage youth in dialogue to counter violent extremism However, one panelist – the only Pakistani on the program – decided to skip the conversation and opted to take part in a discussion on Immigration and Migration instead.

Mr. Ali Tariq got his preliminary education at a religious seminary by the name of Jamia Hanafiah Talim-ul-Islam located in Northern Punjab. He later joined the seminary as a faculty member and taught Arabic and Islamic literature from 2008 to 2015.

The Jamia Hanafiah seminary where Mr. Tariq taught openly supports “Jihad against America” and it’s faculty has rallied in support of “Blasphemy killers”.

In 2011, the Hanfiah seminary staff and locals marched in support of Mumtaz Qadri, the man who shot Pakistani Minister Salman Taseer 28 times for speaking out in support of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy. The woman, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death in 2010 under Pakistan’s controversial Blasphemy laws. At the time, Qadri was assigned to Taseer as his bodyguard, Qadri was hanged earlier this year, while Asia Bibi still languishes in jail.

In 2014, the seminary invited British Islamist Toaha Qureshi to speak at their conference. Qureshi is a trustee of the London’s Stockwell Green Mosque. An investigation earlier this year by the BBC revealed that the Mosque distributed leaflets calling for the killing of Ahmadis, a minority Muslim group which is considered heretic by orthodox clergy.

In April 2015, while Mr. Tariq was still working at the seminary, speakers at Jamia Hanafiah’s annual convention called for ‘Jihad against the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan’ and called on attendees to support their “Afghan Taliban Brothers’. One of the key speakers Molana Kifayatullah said:

“We (Pakistan) made a big mistake by supporting America, when American forces were moving in to kill our Afghan Muslim Taliban brothers, we supported their killers, what would we answer Allah ?, We should have gone to help Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban, We should have fought against the Americans, the Jews and the Christians. They should be ashamed, they supported Americans and Christians.”

The Same cleric, Kifyatullah was arrested by Pakistan’s counter-terrorism department in 2015 for hate speech.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-7-52-30-pmOn May 22nd, the seminary asked it’s facebook followers to watch Tariq’s TV appearance.

Since 2010, Mr. Tariq has also simultaneously worked at the controversial International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) in various roles. Currently, he serves as a Consultant/Editor at the Iqbal Institute for Research & Dialogue(IRD) at the IIUI.

In 2015 Pakistan’s intelligence agencies reported that the university was promoting extremist doctrines and that Jihadis must not be allowed to impose their agenda.

During the program at Gallaudet University, Mr. Tariq refused to answer questions about his links to the seminary and his views on the Ahmadiyya Muslims. After the program, when approached by a Rabwah Times reporter, Tariq said that the decision by the Pakistani constitution to declare the Ahmadis non-Muslim was a “good decision”. When asked about the case of the Christian woman Asia Bibi, Tariq reiterated his stance saying he respected the decision by the authorities to hand her the death penalty.

The United States Commission on International religious Freedom has described Ahmadis as one of the worst persecuted communities in Pakistan.

Source: rabwah.net/white-house-invites-taliban-sympathizer-to-speak-at-interfaith-campus-challenge/

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Clinton's Plan To Stop ISIS: Hunt Down Its Leaders

Sep 24, 2016

Hillary Clinton would focus on eliminating the leadership of ISIS, including its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, if she won the White House, The Guardian reported on Friday.

“She really would put a concerted focus on that, really going after him in particular,” said senior Clinton foreign policy adviser Laura Rosenberger.

The push to go after the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria comes after Clinton promised to provide "significant resources" for her proposed "intelligence surge" in the region.

The surge would likely include an expansion of intelligence assets and new forms of intelligence sharing with European powers, the report said.

However, Clinton has not extensively commented on her policy plan.

According to The Guardian, the Clinton campaign is discussing various aspects of the intelligence surge in an effort to establish framework for the program that includes “balancing acts” between privacy and security.

“In essence, they want to do more of the same and tweak it around edges instead of taking a step back and asking: ‘What are you getting for your money and can we be doing things ultimately differently and better?’” said Pat Eddington, an intelligence aide to former Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.).

Clinton's effort to establish intelligence sharing mechanisms with Europe was also lauded by Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security, who called it “a logical evolution” in foreign policy.

Source: origin-nyi.thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/297461-report-clintons-core-strategy-is-to-go-after-islamic-state

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Obama vetoes bill to let families of 9/11 victims sue Saudi Arabia

September 24, 2016

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama rejected a bill Friday that would have allowed the families of 9/11 victims to sue the government of Saudi Arabia, arguing it undermined national security and setting up the possibility Congress may override his veto for the first time in his presidency.

Obama's move escalates the fight over an emotional issue that has overlapped with the campaign debate over terrorism and the Middle East.

The bill had sailed through both chambers of Congress with bipartisan support, clearing the final hurdle just days before the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

The president said the bill, which doesn't refer specifically to Saudi Arabia, could backfire by opening up the US government and its officials to lawsuits by anyone accusing the US of supporting terrorism, rightly or wrongly.

"I have deep sympathy for the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001," Obama wrote to the Senate in a veto message about the bill, the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.

But, he said, "the JASTA would be detrimental to US national interests more broadly."

Congress is determined to try to overturn the veto, which requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate. Previous attempts to overturn Obama's vetoes have all been unsuccessful.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said an override would pass in the Republican-controlled House. Yet the Senate would be the greater challenge.

After furious lobbying to try to peel off supporters, the White House said Friday it was unclear whether enough had defected to avert an override.

With lawmakers eager to return home to campaign, a vote could come early next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office said the Senate would vote "as soon as practicable in this work period".

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Senate's No. 3 Democrat and a traditional Obama ally, came out swinging against Obama while predicting lawmakers would reverse it "swiftly and soundly".

"The families of the victims of 9/11 deserve their day in court, and justice for those families shouldn't be thrown overboard because of diplomatic concerns," Schumer said.

A coalition of 9/11 victims' families, meanwhile, said they were "outraged and dismayed".

In a response circulated by their lawyers, the families insisted the bill would deter terrorism, "no matter how much the Saudi lobbying and propaganda machine may argue otherwise".

Though the concept of sovereign immunity generally shields governments from lawsuits, the bill creates an exception that allows foreign governments to be held responsible if they support a terrorist attack that kills US citizens on American soil.

Opponents say that's a slippery slope considering that the US is frequently accused by its foes of supporting terrorism.

Full report at:dawn.com/news/1285828/obama-vetoes-bill-to-let-families-of-911-victims-sue-saudi-arabia

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Foreign hacker who aided Islamic State gets 20 years in US

Sep 24, 2016

ALEXANDRIA: A computer hacker who helped the Islamic State by providing names of more than 1,000 US government and military workers as potential targets was sentenced on Friday to 20 years in prison.

The sentence was much higher than the 6-year term sought by defense lawyers, who argued that their client, Ardit Ferizi, meant no real harm and is not a true supporter of the Islamic State.

"He was a nonsensical, misguided teenager who did not know what he was doing," said public defender Elizabeth Mullin. "He has never embraced ISIL's ideology."

Ferizi, 20, a native of Kosovo who was arrested last year in Malaysia, is the first person convicted in the US of both computer hacking and terrorism charges. He admitted hacking a private company and pulling out the names, email passwords and phone numbers of about 1,300 people with .gov and .mil addresses. The Islamic State published the names with a threat to attack.

At Friday's sentencing hearing, Ferizi struggled to explain why he did it, when asked directly by US District judge Leonie Brinkema for an explanation. He said that it all happened very quickly.

"I feel so bad for what I did," he said in Albanian-accented English. "I am very sorry for what I did, making people feel scared."

Prosecutors asked for the maximum sentence of 25 years.

"The defendant's conduct has indefinitely put the lives of 1,300 military members and government workers at risk," said sssistant US attorney Brandon Van Grack.

He disputed the idea that Ferizi's crime was a whim. Before turning over the names to the "Islamic State Hacking Division" las year, he operated a website devoted to propagating the Islamic State's propaganda. In online conversations, Ferizi defended the Islamic State, and when he gave the 1,300 identities to the Islamic State, he knew he was putting them in would-be terrorists' crosshairs, Van Grack said.

"This was a hit list. The point was to find these individuals and hit them, to 'strike at their necks,"' Van Grack said, mimicking the language the Islamic state used when it published the names.

Van Grack quoted a letter from one of the victims, who said she has an easily identifiable name and is now nervous when she interacts with Muslims, something she feels guilty about. And Van Grack cited another terror case in northern Virginia, in which the defendant, Haris Qamar, allegedly used a hit list, similar to the one that Ferizi created, to stake out the homes of two neighbors in the town of Burke.

Mullin countered that nobody on the list has actually been harmed, and said that much of the information Ferizi helped disseminate was publicly available anyway.

Court papers describe a difficult life for Ferizi, who was nominally raised as a Muslim and was just 4 years old when NATO airstrikes forced Serbian forces to withdraw from the territory, which subsequently became independent. Ferizi's uncle was murdered and his father was kidnapped during the war, according to letters written by Ferizi's family.

As a teenager, Ferizi got in trouble for hacking into Kosovar government databases, but he avoided jail. Ferizi went to Malaysia to study cybersecurity, but continued his hacking activities and developed worsening mental health problems, defense lawyers said.

He met an Islamic State recruiter over the internet while he was trying to expose online pedophiles, his lawyers said.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Foreign-hacker-who-aided-Islamic-State-gets-20-years-in-US/articleshow/54493530.cms

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MUSLIM LEADERS IN NEW JERSEY CONDEMN BOMBINGS 

23 SEP 2016  

The recent bombing attempts in New York have given Donald Trump a reason to strengthen his stand against immigrants, Americans to be more suspicious of Muslims, and for the Muslims themselves, to once again be the victims of general mistrust. The attempts at bombings on Saturday and Sunday, by Ahmad Rahami, which left 29 injured in Manhattan has once again left a scar on the Muslim community in America. The Muslims of the city of Elizabeth held a gathering to condemn the acts and to once again tell the world that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Muslim Leaders in New Jersey Condemn Bombings TWEET THIS The Muslim religious leaders of New Jersey gathered on Tuesday outside the City Hall to denounce acts of radicalism. Condemning the terrorists, who they say are acting against the ordinances of the Quran, the leaders pledged their full support to the law enforcement agencies to fight against terrorism and to bring peace back to city. The Muslims in New Jersey have called for gatherings and press conferences a number of times in the to past to clarify their stand against the ISIS. However, they have also noted that the individuals, like Rahami, who perpetrate such crimes are often those who have been estranged from religion. Research has also found that most of those who join terror outfits like the ISIS are Muslims who have not been practicing their faith correctly or have not even read the Quran. As such, the New Jersey Muslims have expressed their disappointment that the whole community is being looked on suspiciously for acts committed by individual Muslims who in reality are not even connected with the community at large. However, the hostile reception they receive from non-Muslims compel them to answer for the crimes committed by these individuals. This time, the community quoted a verse from the Quran, which says, “Whoever kills a person, it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” Through this, the community hopes that non-Muslims will realize that the Quran does not condone acts of violence and killing, as is often believed by people. The community leaders have urged non-Muslims to remember that they have always lived together, and even grown up together peacefully. By urging them to remember this, they expressed their hope that Americans will not hold all Muslims responsible for radical fanaticism.

Source: worldreligionnews.com/religion-news/islam/muslim-leaders-in-new-jersey-condemn-bombings

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Southeast Asia

Indonesian Conservative Islamic Group Says Muslims Cannot Vote For Non-Muslims

SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Muslims are not allowed to vote for non-Muslims in upcoming elections said a decree issued by a group of senior politicians and conservative Islamic groups who met at a mosque in Jakarta on Sept. 18.

The decree forbidding Muslims voting for a ‘non-believer’ was made ahead of next year’s guber­natorial (governor) elections and is being seen as a way to counter the re-election hopes of current governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who is a Christian, and ethnic Chinese Indonesian.

Political analyst and pollster Djayadi Hanan, told The Australian that Indonesia is currently fertile ground for identity politics.

“Ahok is a double minority — he is ethnically Chinese and he is a non-Muslim, and people can be rallied around those issues,” Hanan said.

“According to our surveys, around 45 percent of Jakarta’s Muslims agree Muslims should not be led by non-Muslims,” he said.

More than 80 percent of Jakarta’s voters are Muslims, said the report which added that the decree was spurned by Indonesia’s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah.

Source: eurasiareview.com/24092016-indonesia-conservative-islamic-group-says-muslims-cannot-vote-for-non-muslims/

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Indonesia Declares Candidacy for UN Security Council

Sep 24, 2016

Indonesia announced Friday its candidacy for membership on the U.N. Security Council, saying its commitment and contribution to the world's body make it a true partner for world peace.

In a speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla said the United Nations needs reforms to make it stronger and more relevant to 21st century challenges and realities. Among the issues it was facing, he cited irregular migration resulting from conflict in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and other places, along with climate change, unregulated fishing and cybercrime.

Kalla noted Indonesia's steady commitment to increase its peacekeeping force to 4,000 personnel by 2019 and its efforts to fight terrorism both regional and globally. As the world's most populous Muslim nation and its third-largest democracy, Indonesia sees Islam modernity and women empowerment as going hand in hand with the promotion of democracy, tolerance, pluralism and peace, he said.

Selections of the new non-permanent Security Council members in 2019-2020 will be made in mid-2019. Other Asia-Pacific candidates are India and Vietnam.

Source: abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/indonesia-declares-candidacy-security-council-42322883

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Resolving the Rohingya issue

24 SEPTEMBER 2016

NEW YORK: Helping Rohingya refugees is not just about providing them with a place to stay, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. Malaysia may be able to host them temporarily but Zahid said a more comprehensive plan was needed to resolve their problems and it needs the help from their home country - Myanmar, designated host country, Asean as well as the United Nations. Zahid said however he has full confidence in the UN High Commissioner of Refugees Filippo Grandi in dealing with the displaced Muslim minority community from Myanmar despite the many setbacks particularly in financial matters. Zahid and Grandi met on the sidelines in the on going 71st United Nations General Assembly on Thursday. “On out part together with Asean, an international conference is being mooted for all 10 member countries of the bloc to sit together and discuss to find a solution for the community,” he said. Zahid said the conference to be organised by the Institute of Public Security and a religious based party will also involve non governmental organisations that has dealt with the Rohingyas before. Among the issues to be discussed would be the reason why many designated countries were reluctant to accept them. “Some countries there are many of the refugees and that they were being selective, preferring only professionals, skilled or semi skilled workers. “This is where we can probably discuss how we could train them and improve their marketability in designated host countries,” he said. Zahid stressed Myanmar would also be invited so that their opinion could be included in the process of resolving the issue.

Source: nst.com.my/news/2016/09/175613/resolving-rohingya-issue

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Bomb Kills 3 Thai Police Officers in Southern Ambush

September 23, 2016

Three Thai policemen were killed and two wounded on Friday in a bomb and gun attack in the southern province of Yala where Muslim separatists have been waging a simmering insurgency against the state.

The attack came just over a month after a series of bombs in three of Thailand's main tourist towns killed four people and wounding dozens and raised fears the insurgents were expanding their fight to tourist targets.

Police were traveling in two pick-up trucks when the first vehicle was blown up by a road-side bomb, police Lieutenant Colonel Chamnan Bhutpakdee told Reuters.

Insurgents then opened fire on the second vehicle, wounding two officers, Chamnan said. One of them was in critical condition.

Yala, along with Pattani and Narathiwat, are Muslim-majority provinces in mostly Buddhist Thailand's deep south.

Insurgency has plagued the ethnic Malay region for decades but it intensified in 2004. Since then, more than 6,500 people have been killed, according to the Deep South Watch monitoring group.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) think-tank warned in a report this week that the August attacks showed "a clear shift, and apparent decision to expand the conflict" that has been largely confined to the three southern-most provinces.

Talks with the insurgents began in 2013 under then Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra but stalled after the military overthrew her government in 2014.

But early this month, another round was held in Malaysia between a separatist umbrella group and the Thai government but achieved no breakthrough.

The ICG said the government was only interested in a "semblance of dialogue" and opposed any devolution of power while the insurgents had not put forward a platform for talks.

The result was stalemate that neither side felt sufficient urgency to overcome, even after last month's bombs highlighted the militants' capacity to inflict damage to lives and the economy, it said.

Thailand has proposed building a wall along its 640 km (398 mile) southern border to stop the insurgents slipping back and forth into Malaysia, which analysts say they use as a safe area to plan attacks.

Source: voanews.com/a/thailand-yala-attack/3522202.html

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Africa

Mauritania’s mufti says Iran’s influence ‘worse than Zionism’

September 23, 2016

Mauritania’s top Muslim cleric called for the African nation to cut all ties with Iran because its Shiite ideology is “as bad and as evil” as Zionism.

“I turned to his excellency the president during the Eid el-Adha sermon last Monday and as you all heard I complained to him,” Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Ould Habib al-Rahman said during a sermon last week.

“Thus, the Safavid Persian Shiitization activities in our country were exposed through the so-called social media YouTube and Facebook.

The propagation of this ideology in our country has been exposed, Allah be praised,” said Rahman.

“These people were exposed both in video and audio as they were describing Abu Bakr, Omar and Aisha [three of the founding figures of Sunni Islam] as ‘hypocrites,’ and publicly cursing them,” he said.

“As I told you, you can see it yourself on YouTube and Facebook. See it for yourselves! Maybe some of you have seen it already,” he continued. Rahman’s comments, made on September 16, were translated on Friday by the Middle East Media Research Institute, an NGO monitoring news outlets in the region.

“I believe that his excellency, the president of the republic, has also seen it. I am certain that after he has seen it for himself, he knows that cursing Abu Bakr, Omar and Aisha is the epitome of terrorism and extremism.

“I am convinced that the president knows that the penetration of this ideology into our society will intensify the fire of sectarianism from which we’re already suffering and which we are trying to stifle,” Rahman said.

“We trust that the president also knows that cutting ties with the Safavid Persian Iranian expansionism is a duty imposed by the Sharia as well as a demand by the republic… I also know that the president knows that this ideology, with the sectarianism that it ignites, is no less dangerous than Zionism and what it wanted to do in our country,” he continued.

“Indeed, Shiites are part of Islam. We do not wish to accuse them of heresy. We Sunnis accuse no one of heresy, but the danger and evil posed by the Shiite ideology to any society it enters is no less than the danger and evil of the Zionist ideology,” Rahman added.

Mauritania, a desert country in Africa, has a population of slightly over 4 million people. The residents are overwhelmingly Sunni. Predominant minorities include several thousand Catholics and a small but influential Sufi minority. Mauritania’s religious laws are strict. Atheism is punishable by death.

Source: timesofisrael.com/mauritanias-mufti-says-irans-influence-worse-than-zionism/

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15 Boko Haram Terrorists Killed in Nigeria

September 23, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Army said it killed Fifteen militants and lost two soldiers in a fierce battle between its troops and Boko Haram terrorists in Abadam village in Borno.

In a statement issued by Col. Sani Usman, acting Director Army Public Relations in Abuja, the army, however said it lost two soldiers during the fight, Vanguard reported.

Usman said the terrorists launched attacked on troops of Operation Lafiya Dole and Multinational Task Force on Thursday, which lasted for two hours.

He said while many of the militants escaped with gunshot wound, four soldiers also sustained injuries.

“The bodies of our late colleagues and the wounded have since been evacuated," the colonel said, adding that “the troops have continued mop up and clearance operations of the remnants of the terrorists and have also intensified vigilance and high level of alertness."

He said items recovered from the terrorists include a gun truck, one 60mm Mortar tube, seven 60mm mortar bomb, a General Purpose Machine (GPMG), three damaged AK 47 Rifle and four bandoliers of anti-aircraft rounds of ammunition.

Boko Haram, just like ISIL, is considered to be one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world. According to the Global Terrorism Index, the Takfiri group has actually killed more people than ISIL, murdering more than 6,000 people just last year.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000696

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Islamic Movement in Nigeria strongly condemns illegal attack on Free Zakzaky protest In Abuja

September 24, 2016

On Thursday 22/09/16, thousands of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) converged in Abuja to protest the continued illegal detention of our Leader Shaikh Ibraheem Yaqoub Zakzaky, who remains to be unjustifiably be held without charges and access to appropriate medical care.

Firstly, the Nigerian army had mounted make-shift road blocks seeking to prevent people from entering Abuja for the protest march. About a hundred arrests were made, including of women and children and taken to military barracks. The thousands who had managed to enter Abuja for the peaceful march were crudely attacked by the Nigerian Police, who physically attempted to prevent the march for no just cause. They fired tear gas and live bullets as well to disrupt the peaceful march. Consequently, scores were injured and many more were arrested and are being detained.

IMN has relentlessly carried out peaceful protests across the country, Abuja inclusive to press for the release of Shaikh Zakzaky and all those in illegal detention with him, since the brutal clampdown on the IMN in December last year. Why this obnoxious attempt to further trample on the rights of the people even after the assurance given by IGP some weeks ago that the constitutional rights of Nigerians to peaceful protest is guaranteed is baffling.

Our rights to freely move is inalienable and we wish to remind the Nigerian security agents of the fundamental rights of people to assemble peacefully and demonstrate without any official harassment. If at all they are in doubt or have forgotten, they should consult their lawyers since Nigerian courts have upheld this position.

We would also like to remind the general public of what Justice Muhammad JCA said in his contribution to a judgement involving a case of seeking police permit for any peaceful protest. The honourable Judge had this to say: "In present day Nigeria, clearly police permit has outlived its usefulness.  Certainly, in a democracy, it is the right of citizens to conduct peaceful processions, rallies or demonstrations without seeking and obtaining permission from anybody. It is a right guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution as amended and any law that attempts to curtail such rights is null and void and of no consequence."

The peaceful protest march today was aimed at drawing public attention to the plight of our innocent Leader, his wife, and hundreds of other IMN members that have remained unjustifiably in detention for more than nine months. The mental and the psychological agony to which millions of IMN members have been subjected to is phenomenal.

It is with the authoritative pronouncement of the Court of Appeal on the fundamental right of Nigerians to freedom of assembly and expression through peaceful rallies and protests that we continue to exercise our rights even in the face of state-sponsored brutality against us.

The Federal Government needs to be called to order to restrain the police and other security agencies from further harassing or intimidating Free Zakzaky protests. The President should realise that democracy allows alternative views, dissent, protest, marches, rallies and demonstrations.

Hence, rally or placard carrying demonstration is a form of expression of views on current issues affecting both the government and the governed alike in a sovereign State. It is a trend recognised and deeply entrenched in the system of governance in civilised countries. It is both primitive and retrogressive to forcefully disrupt peaceful agitations such as ours.

We therefore call on the international community, as a matter of urgency, to impose sanctions, travel bans and freezing of foreign accounts of top political, military and security men who have featured prominently on the blatant rights abuse of their citizens such as the Zaria massacre of December 2015, characterised by extra-judicial killings of thousand and more lives, arbitrary arrests, detention incommunicado without charges, denial of legal and medical access, abductions and mass graves.

As a first step, the international community should also put pressure on the government to speedily release Shaikh Zakzaky for urgent medical attention.

Source: en.abna24.com/service/africa/archive/2016/09/24/781077/story.html

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India

'ISIS' Lone Wolf' Musa, Reveals NIA about Emergence of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh in India

September 24, 2016

Mohammad Masiuddin was a travelling terrorist till authorities arrested him two months ago.

Better known as Musa, the 25-year-old from West Bengal’s Birbhum district emerged as the face of trans-national, trans-organisational jihad, which is the newest threat to India’s security even as the country fights Pakistan-sponsored terrorism on the western borders.

The man in the National Investigation Agency’s custody had two handlers - ISIS India head Shafi Armar who’s now based in Syria, and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) member Abu Suleman, a Bangladeshi national and a wanted terrorist.

Musa had moved from West Bengal to Tamil Nadu where he worked in a shop, in Tirupur.

Like most ISIS recruits, he too got radicalised online.

With a terror plan in mind, he conducted a recce of the carefully chosen spots in J&K and West Bengal, which were the ISIS targets. Musa reportedly appeared in a YouTube video, raising the ISIS flag in downtown Srinagar.

However, JMB, which is aspiring to set up a Bangladeshi caliphate, has been active in India and has set up base in states like West Bengal, Jharkhand and Assam.

Analysts say growing radicalisation in the neighbouring country has made it a hotbed for ISIS-inspired extremists who could spill over to India or weave alliances to carry out attacks.

Musa is the Indian face of ISIS JMB, an ominous symbol of new kind of terrorism.

He traveled to Kolkata and Srinagar to targets the spots, instructed from Shafi Armar alias Yusuf Al Hindi. He was also asked to attack the foreign nationals from the US, UK, Canada and Israel.

Armar started off as a member of the banned militant outfit Indian Mujahideen.

In early 2009, he fled to Pakistan with a few of its top-ranking members - including Riyaz and Iqbal Bhatkal.

He later left IM to join ISIS and was involved in recruiting and luring the Indian youth.

Earlier this month, when Musa was interrogated by the NIA and Bangladeshi officials, he told that Abu Suleman was the main handler for JMB.

The world watched as the Rapid Action Bangladesh (RAB) forces dealt with one of the deadliest deadliest terror attacks at a cafe in Dhaka, on July 1.

Indian televangelist Dr Zakir Naik who is now under the home ministry scanner emerged as a key link to the strike, but it was revealed that JMB wing owing allegiance to ISIS was also involved.

Soon after the attack, Suleman, a wanted man in Bangladesh, who was a key suspect, slipped into West Bengal.

He had earlier visited India twice, raising alarm bells in the security establishment.

When Suleman asked Musa to join JMB as a full-time agent, he simply refused, stating: “I have a family.”

In India, Suleman attempted to set up a JMB module with the help of Musa, who was then working in Tirpur.

Musa's journey to the JMB-ISIS module began in June 2015, when he liked a Facebook page of ISIS Bangladesh from the a fake identity in the name of Sabilillah Khan.

He was instantly contacted by Suleman, also known as Jihadi John.

Musa had Rs 60,000 in his bank account, this was the money which he had saved by selling a small property.

He used his entire saving to travel to Bengal and Kashmir. He followed the long route to Srinagar, reaching Jammu by train and then taking a bus.

Musa then visited Kolkata where he reportedly bought a 13-inch machete.

He then boarded the Visva Bharati passenger train from Howrah and left for his hometown in Birbhum.

Acting on specific intelligence by the NIA, he was picked up by GRP and Burdwan police.

Source: dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-3804665/ISIS-lone-wolf-Musa-25-arrested-two-months-ago-reveals-NIA-emergence-Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen-Bangladesh-India.html#ixzz4L9R3r9Id

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Muslim, Christian and Dalit Minority Groups Demand Ban on 'Cow Vigilantism'

Sep 23, 2016

NEW DELHI: Several Muslim, Christian and Dalit organizations on Friday staged a protest at the Jantar Mantar here, demanding a ban on "cow vigilantism" and sought passage of the Communal Violence Bill.

The protesters also submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee, urging him to play his role in defending the constitutional rights of the people "who are increasingly being persecuted" allegedly under the NDA government at the Centre.

"We demand the cow vigilantism be banned and people be allowed to eat the food of their choice," All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat president Navaid Hamid said.

"A commission should be formed to report whether the recent events are part of organised crimes orchestrated by parties to polarize votes for political mileage and to suggest proper mechanism to prevent deterioration of democratic system by overuse of polarization tactics leading to vast loss of lives and properties and displacement of people from their cozy homes," Jamat-e-Islami Hind vice-president Nusrat Ali said.

Maulana Abdul Hameed, General Secretary of Jamiatul Ulama Hind, demanded that judicial inquiry be initiated in major cases that occurred in Dadri, Dingerhedi, Paida village of Bijnore and the killing of youth allegedly by cow vigilantes in Ahmedabad.

"The Communal Violence Bill should be made a law as soon as possible so that communal forces should be suitably dealt with for maintaining peace and law and order in the country," he said.

The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill, 2005, seeks to empower the government to prevent and control communal violence, provide for speedy investigation and trial of offences and rehabilitate victims of such violence.

The protesters also demanded that due compensation should be paid by governments concerned to the victims and their families and a standard method be evolved for equal compensation to people across the communities and proper rules be devised for immediate relief to affected families.

Other organisations which participated in the protest include Lokraj Sanghtan, Dalit Federation AMOD, All India Shia Council and Students Islamic Organisation of India.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Minority-groups-demand-ban-on-cow-vigilantism/articleshow/54484366.cms

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Pigeon with Words Written In Urdu Found In Punjab: Police

September 24, 2016

Chandigarh: A white pigeon, apparently from across the border, with “some words written in Urdu” has been found in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur district, police said on Friday.

Naresh Kumar, a resident of Motla village in the district, had yesterday spotted the bird at his house. He noticed something written on its wings in Urdu and brought it to the notice of police, which took the bird into custody today.

The pigeon is suspected to have flown into the Indian Territory from Pakistan. The avian was “inspected” by the sleuths of security agencies and an X-ray scan was also conducted on it.

“Police found some numerical digits stamped on the bird’s wings. We are trying to ascertain if it is a mobile number and if the pigeon came from Pakistan,” said DSP, Mukerian, Bhupinder Singh.

“There is a stamp and something written in Urdu on its wings. Besides, an eleven-digit number was also found on its body,” SHO, Mukerian, Jaswinderpal Singh said.

“We got the writing translated…Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday is written on the pigeon’s body,” he said.

Officials from the state intelligence and the Army also inspected the bird, police said.

Last year, a pigeon with some words written in Urdu was found by villagers in the Bamial sector of Pathankot district, which is just a few kilometres away from the Indo-Pak border.

Also, there were reports that some miscreants have hurled petrol bombs at three places in the city, escalating tension in the city, police said.

However, with additional police force from nearby Tirupur, police are keeping strict vigil to bring the situation under control, they said.

Source: siasat.com/news/pigeon-words-written-urdu-found-punjab-police-1027063/

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BSF Arrests LeT Activist of Pakistan Nationality Near Border

September 24, 2016

Jammu: In a major catch, BSF troops on Friday arrested near the International Border a Pakistani national and said he was an activist of Pakistan-based Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) terror outfit.

“In the wee hours today, alert bordermen in Pragwal Sector of Akhnoor area of Jammu district apprehended a young Pakistani national who crossed over the International Border (IB) and was trying to negotiate border fence to infiltrate into Indian Territory,” DIG BSF Jammu Frontier Dharminder Pareek told PTI.

Qayum was in possession of one dual SIM Nokia mobile phone, the BSF officer said.

“On further questioning by BSF sleuths, Qayum revealed that in 2004, he underwent ‘Daura-e-Aam’ militant training with LeT outfit at Mansera training camp in Muzaffarabad in PoK,” Pareek said.

Thereafter he has actively worked for LeT and remained associated with distribution of Jihadi literature and magazines like ‘Gajwa’ and ‘Jarar’ as well as collection of funds for LeT, the BSF DIG said.

Qayum has collected Rs 50 lakh of Pakistan currency and handed it over to LeT ‘amir’ namely Mujahid Bhatt of Sialkot area, DIG said.

“Qayum was found to be well aware of all various terrorist organization based in Pakistan and their leaders including Hafiz Sayeed, (Hizbul Mujahideen chief) Syed Sallauddin and also separatist leaders of Kashmir — Syed A S Geelani, Asiya Andrabi, Yasin Malik etc,” he said.

Source: siasat.com/news/bsf-arrests-let-activist-pakistan-nationality-near-border-1027051/

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Maps Of Uri Found On Fidayeens, Army Intensifies Operation To Trace Route

September 24, 2016

URI: Two maps denoting landmarks and general topography of Uri – including the army base – were found on the bodies of the four fidayeen terrorists who attacked the camp on Sunday.

The maps showed various places of Uri, including the Brigade Headquarters and other installations in the town, about 75 km north of Srinagar. The place is strategically important in view of the power project operated by National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC).

The maps will be studied as part of inquiry which is being handled by the National Investigating Agency (NIA).

Army, official sources said, have intensified its operation in the area to identify the route taken by the terrorists. It has also contacted the heads of 12 villages located above the Brigade headquarters to ascertain if they could throw some light on the infiltration, the sources said, before adding that this was a part of domination drill being conducted by the army along the Line of Control (LoC).

Initial investigations showed the fidayeens had infiltrated 12 to 18 hours before the strike. Also, the post mortem revealed that they had shaved the hair on their bodies – a trait of fidayeens- hours before the attack.

Investigators suspect that the terrorist would have passed by Charunda-Gollalhan access. Charunda village is on the LoC. Gollalhan, another village, is situated next to the Brigade headquarters.

The army is also conducting operations in various villages, especially along the LoC, to ascertain whether the terrorists had taken shelter there before reaching the army camp at Uri.

Both villages have a combined household of 603 and a population of less than 4,000.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police has handed to NIA the call details and internet data usage of all active cellphones and broadband connections in Uri town for the period of 24 hours prior to daring attack on the army base, the sources said.

The NIA team, which arrived in Uri on Tuesday, today finished the documentation process which includes seizure of the arms, ammunition and other articles.

The NIA along with technical experts from other security agencies have also been trying to retrieve data from the Global Positioning System (GPS) that have been found on the terrorists.

The NIA team would prepare a dossier and may make a formal request to Pakistan once the identity of the four terrorists is ascertained.

The army has also instituted an inquiry into the attack with preliminary investigation suggesting the terrorists had entered the area at least a day before mounting the attack.

The inquiry besides ascertaining lapses, if any, would also suggest measures to prevent such attacks in the future as Pakistani-based groups were indulging more in “shallow infiltration”, which means that terrorists strike the first available installation after crossing the LoC.

As many as 18 soldiers were killed in Uri in one of the worst attacks on the army in two decades.

Source: siasat.com/news/maps-uri-found-fidayeens-army-intensifies-operation-trace-route-1026961/

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Officials afraid to anger Muslims, deny Durga puja celebration, Birbhum village

September 24, 2016

It's been the fourth consecutive year when 300-odd households in a village in West Bengal's Birbhum district are running from pillar to post seeking permission from the district administration just to organise a Durga puja in their village.

In the past three years, they were denied a go-ahead by the local administration following objections by a few Muslim families in the village.

The incident came to light at Kanglapahari village under Nalhati police station in the district, a Hindu-dominated village located near Bengal-Jharkhand border under Rampurhat sub-division.

The organisers knocked the doors of the district administration and submitted their plea to the office of the district magistrate, police superintendent, sub-divisional officer (SDO) and sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Rampurhat and Block Development Officer (BDO) of Nalhati-I on September 1. But no response have come so far.

REPEATEDLY DENIED PERMISSION TO PUJA COMMITTEE

All the district administrative machinery repeatedly denied permission to the puja committee, Kanglapahari Durga Mandir Committee, following objections by about 25 Muslim families in the village. In the past three years, the local administration, panchayat and Nalhati police jointly prevented puja organisers from hosting the puja on the grounds of law and order issues.

"I don't know about the matter. I have not received anything as of now. Once I get it, I will definitely consider the matter," Birbhum SP N Sudheer Kumar told Mail Today on phone. The appeal was first submitted to the offices of the DM and SP on September 1 this year, and again followed up on September 23.

"On Friday too, we went to the SP and DM's office to submit our second appeal. But there was no positive development," said Chandan Sau of Kanglapahari Durga Mandir Committee. Sau said that since they have not been able to organise the annual festivity in their village, all women and children have to travel three to eight kilometres to celebrate the occasion in nearby villages.

Also Read: Kolkata's Durga Puja pandals to get an audio-visual, Shakespearean twist

 DURGA IDOLS LIE HALF DONE

"A piece of land has already been donated by a villager, Mohanlal Sau, to construct a mud temple in the village where the puja can be organised peacefully. We don't have to erect any pandal (marquee) as we have put up a mud structure with whatever little amount we could manage. Like the last three years, this year too we started constructing the Durga idol, which is now lying half-done.

DONT WANT TO ANGER MUSLIMS

District officials are not responding as they don't want to antagonise the Muslims," Sau said. When quizzed, Birbhum DM P Mohangandhi tactfully sidestepped the question. He said: "The formal procedure is to submit the appeal to the SDO and he's the person to issue the necessary permission depending on the law and order situation.

" Dhruba Saha, a local resident, who took up the matter with the local administration, said that a petition had also been filed in Calcutta High Court and there is a hearing on Monday. Sources in the district Trinamool Congress said that police and other district officials have already held meetings at all block levels and finalised on the number of pujas that will be held across Birbhum this year. Thus, there is no question of allowing any new puja anywhere in the district.

Source: indiatoday.intoday.in/story/officials-anger-muslims-durga-puja-celebration-denied-birbhum-village/1/772205.html

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South Asia

ISIS fighters in Afghanistan mainly ex-Pakistani Taliban members: Gen. Nicholson

Sat Sep 24 2016

ISIS AfghanistanThe ISIS loyalists fighting in Afghanistan are mainly ex-Pakistani members and are receiving support from the main group leaders based in Syria, the top US commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson has said.

General Nicholson who is also the commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan has said there are up to 1,300 ISIS loyalists in Afghanistan.

He said the loyalists of the terror group receive money, guidance, and communications support from the main group in Syria.

General Nicholson further added that the U.S. and Afghan military have killed many IS leaders and members in recent months and that they are in fewer Afghan areas than they previously were.

According to General Nicholson, the terror group loyaliss re currently holding only three to four districts compared to 10 one year ago.

The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) launched a major operation in Nangarhar to suppress the activities of ISIS loyalists in mid-July this year.

The US forces also provided support to the Afghan forces during the operation conducted in Kot, Achin and parts of the province where ISIS loyalists were conducting insurgency.

The US forces resumed operations against ISIS loyalists after the Obama administration granted them broader role to combat the terror groups in Afghanistan.

Source: khaama.com/isis-fighters-in-afghanistan-mainly-ex-pakistani-taliban-members-gen-nicholson-01933

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Gulbuddin Hekmatyar May Nominate For the Afghanistan Presidential Elections

Sat Sep 24 2016

The leader of Hezb-e-Islami party Gulbuddin Hekmatyar may nominate for the presidential elections scheduled to be organized in 2019 as a draft peace agreement was signed between the Afghan government and the party last week.

A top leader of the party Qazi Hakim has indicated that Hekmatyar could stand in the next presidential elections.

“Although it is premature to say anything now, I do not rule out the possibility of Hekmatyar becoming a presidential candidate,” Hakim quoted in a report by The Express Tribune said.

He said Hezb-e-Islami would take active part n next parliamentary elections of Afghanistan.

The signing of the draft peace agreement between the Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami was widely welcomed by the government officials and prominent political figures.

The draft peace agreement is expected to be signed by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar in the near future.

The agreement was signed after almost six months of negotiations between the Afghan High Peace Council and delegation of Hezb-e-Islami.

Hekmatyar formally endorsed the elections in 2014 and called on his supporters to take active part in the elections.

“Convey to Hizb-e-Islami members to take part in the provincial councils’ elections and support those candidates who are either related to us or have a positive view about the party,” Hekmatyar said in a letter.

He also added “Hizb-e-Islami is not directly taking part in the elections due to the presence of occupation forces but will exercise the right of vote to get those candidates elected who are close to our party and ideology.”

Source: khaama.com/gulbuddin-hekmatyar-may-nominate-for-the-presidential-elections-01934

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Gen. Dostum welcomes signing of peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami

Sat Sep 24 2016

The First Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum has welcomed the signing of the draft peace agreement between the Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami party led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Gen. Dostum made the remarks during a visit to northern Balkh province as he was on his way to Shebarghan city.

He met with the commander of the foreign forces based in north of Afghanistan to discuss the security situation of the north.

The First Vice President said he welcomes any agreement that leads to peace and stability in the country as he called on the party to lay down arms and pursue politicial activities.

The draft peace agreement between Afghan government and Hezb-e-Islami party was signed during a ceremony organized in a compound of Afghanistan High Peace Council on Thursday.

The Afghan National Security Adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar signed the agreement on behalf of the Afghan government while Mohammad Amin Karim signed the agreement on behalf of the delegation of Hezb-e-Islami.

The Afghanistan High Peace Council chief Pir Syed Ahmad Gilani and the High Peace Council deputy chief Ata-ur-Rehman were also present during the signing of the agreement.

The agreement was signed today after almost six months of continued negotiations between the Afghan High Peace Council and the delegation of Hezb-e-Islami.

Source: khaama.com/gen-dostum-welcomes-signing-of-peace-agreement-with-hezb-e-islami-01929

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Feni’s Akash planned terrorist attacks in Bangladesh

September 23, 2016

Malaysian police have said that the Bangladeshi expatriate who they arrested last month and later deported used to meet his countrymen at his restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and plan terrorist attacks.

Peyar Ahmed Akash, 37, of Feni used his restaurant Rasana Bilash in Bukit Bintang as a meeting place for terrorists, Malaysian Star Online website reported yesterday quoting a police source.

A former Shibir leader and brother-in-law of Feni district unit Jamaat-e-Islami Abu Yusuf, Akash was arrested a decade ago in Bangladesh for arms trading. He later left the country securing bail with the help of Yusuf.

“The country’s [Malaysian] authorities believe that the suspected person used to plan for terrorist attack in Bangladesh. And he also used to meet his countrymen for that reason,” the source said.

Akash was arrested in Kuala Lumpur on August 19 for smuggling weapons for an international terror group and deported to Bangladesh on September 2. The following day, DB police handed him over to Dagonbhuiyan police. Jamaat leader Yusuf again managed the police to provide Akash extra facilities while in custody.

Also read: Bangladeshi held in Malaysia for terror link deported

On September 4, he was shown arrested in the arms case as an absconder and sent to jail through the District Joint Sessions Judge’s Court. The court has so far recorded depositions of 14 out of the 19 witnesses.

RAB arrested him for selling off four AK47 rifles – stolen from the 10-truck arms seized on September 18, 2005 – to Delwar alias Azrail Delwar, a listed terrorist linked to Islami Chhatra Shibir.

‘Andaleeb is innocent’

The Malaysian newspaper also said that at his restaurant Akash had met with Andaleeb Ahmed, who Star Online claims was involved in the July 1 Gulshan terror attack by New JMB that killed 23 people including 17 foreigners. The attack was later claimed by Islamic State.

The government, however, maintains that there is no organisational base of IS in Bangladesh, and that the attacks were carried out by a faction of banned militant group Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

Andaleeb was linked to Monash University in Malaysia. He stayed in Kuala Lumpur from 2012 to 2015 and later in Istanbul. His father Ashraf Uddin Ahmed Chunnu said that Andaleeb returned to Dhaka on December 21, 2015.

“He has no link to militancy. He has been assisting in my business since then,” Chunnu told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

He said that Andaleeb was a classmate of Nibras Ahmed, one of the five terrorists who attacked the Gulshan restaurant, at Monash University. Nibras was killed in a commando operation on July 2.

Nibras IslamAfter the Gulshan attack, law enforcers found that several Bangladeshi youths linked to Monash University had joined local militant groups.

Investigators say a yet unidentified “big brother” used to meet with the Bangladeshi students at Monash University and motivate them towards extremism. Identity of the “big brother” could not be known.

Several top militants have fled to Malaysia in the recent months after law enforcers launched crackdown. Moreover, detectives say financiers and patronisers of some militant groups are currently staying in Malaysia.

Another Monash University student Tausif Hossain, killed in a raid in Narayanganj on August 27, was a friend of Nibras. Both ran away from home on the same day – February 3 this year.

Two others – Abdul Aziz and Foysal Rashid Khan – who reportedly had close links to Nibras have also gone missing.

Banned militant outfit Ansarullah Bangla Team leaders Tamim Al Adnani and Redwanul Azad Rana are also believed to be hiding in Malaysia at the moment.

Source: dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/crime/2016/09/23/report-fenis-akash-planned-terrorist-attacks-bangladesh/

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Bangladeshi planning terrorist attacks deported

September 24, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Business Times (IBT), quoting the Straits Times Singapore, said that a Bangladeshi taken into Malaysian police custody was planning attacks in his country.

According to a source, the suspect had regular meetings with his countrymen at his restaurant and has been involved in smuggling AK-47 rifles into Bangladesh.

The suspect, 37, a businessman, has a cafe along Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. It’s here, it’s said, the suspect met with Andaleeb Ahmed, the terrorist involved in an attack on the Holey Artisan Cafe in Dhaka in July.

The attack in Dhaka killed 22 people.

The IBT reported Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar giving an update on recent arrests including the Bangladeshi.

Four suspects, including the Bangladeshi, were arrested by the Bukit Aman Counter Terrorism Division between August 2 and September 17.

The four arrests are part of the 240 militants held by Malaysian police since February 2013.

The Bangladeshi was arrested on August 19, placed on Interpol’s Red Notice Alert, and deported on September 2.

The three others arrested with the Bangladeshi were a Nepalese businessmen, 38; a Moroccan man, 26; and a Malaysian man, 34.

The Nepalese, who owned entertainment outlets and a hotel, was arrested on August 19 and deported on September 2. “We believe that he was responsible for falsifying documents to facilitate the travel of terrorists,” said Khalid.

The Nepalese also charged his countrymen between RM250 and RM1,300 for documents to return home.

Police suspect the Moroccan, a welder, is an Islamic State (IS) member detained by Turkish police for attempting to enter Syria. Apparently, he made his way to Malaysia after he was released in May this year.

The Malaysian in custody was the driver of a businessman with links to militant Mohamad Wanndy Mohamad Jedi.

Khalid believes the Malaysian in custody has been promoting IS through Facebook.

Source: freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2016/09/24/bangladeshi-planning-terrorist-attacks-deported/

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Delivery of 141 weapons to Taliban stopped in Herat city: NDS

Sat Sep 24 2016

The delivery of at least 141 different types of weapons to the Taliban insurgents in western Herat province was stopped by the Afghan intelligence operatives.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the weapons were loaded professionally in a truck and the group was looking to deliver them to its fighters in Herat province.

According to a statement by NDS, the cache included at least 51 Ak-47 assault rifles, 19 automatic weapon, 71 pistols and various other types of ammunition and explosives.

NDS further added that the truck was seized by the Afghan intelligence operatives from the vicinity of 11th police district of Herat city.

The Afghan intelligence also added that two suspects were arrested in connection to the transportation of the weapons and are in custody of the NDS for further investigation.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Herat is among the relatively peaceful provinces in west of Afghanistan but the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in a number of its remote districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Source: khaama.com/delivery-of-141-weapons-to-taliban-stopped-in-herat-city-nds-01932

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Top security officials fired in Uruzgan amid sharp rise in violence

Sat Sep 24 2016

The provincial police chief of southern Uruzgan province Mohammad Wais Samimi and provincial security chief Abdul Qawi were dismissed from his post after a steep rise in violence in the province.

According to the local government officials, Abdul Qawi has been summoned to Kabul and Syed Saqib has been appointed to replace Abdul Qawi as the new police chief of the province.

Abdul Qawi served as provincial police chief of Uruzgan for a period of 6 months and insists he had major achievements during the period.

But the local officials as well as the provincial council officials have said the security situation of the province deteriorated due to mismanagement of Abdul Qawi.

The securty situation of Uruzgan province sharply deteriorated earlier this month after the Taliban militants launched a coordinated attack.

The attack by the Taliban put the key provincial capital on the brink of collapse as the group was close to take its control.

Additional forces were deployed to Uruzgan to push back the Taliban offensive and the provincial police chief of Kandahar General Abdul Raziq visited the province to coordinate operations against the group.

Source: khaama.com/top-security-officials-fired-in-uruzgan-amid-sharp-rise-in-violence-01931

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Attack on Salang pass leaves 5 dead, 3 wounded

Sat Sep 24 2016

The Taliban militants attacked Salang pass, a key tunnel pass that connects capital Kabul with the northern provinces.

Security sources confirmed the militants launched the attack on northern part of Salang by targeting a vehicle of the security personnel.

The sources further added that five  people were killed and three others were wounded during the clash between the militants and the Afghan forces.

According to the officials, an officer serving in Pul-e-Charkhi prison of Kabul was targeted as he was travelling with his family members.

The officer has been identified as Najmuddin Anadarabi who was killed along with two men and two women in the attack.

This is the second time the Taliban militants have launched an attack on Salang pass within the past two months.

The group launched a similar attack on security check posts in the area late in July this year but the attack was repulsed by the Afghan security forces.

The Taliban insurgents are normally launching attack on the pass from Parwan province which is among the relatively volatile provinces in the north.

The group launched a similar attack that led to the blockage of Salang tunnel pass over a year ago.

The attack was launched on Southern part of Salang pass late in July last year which triggered gun battle between the Afghan security forces and the assailants.

Source: khaama.com/taliban-militants-have-reportedly-attacked-salang-pass-01930

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Arab World

Hundreds of Militants Lay Down Arms in Damascus

September 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Hundreds of militants stationed in Damascus countryside surrendered themselves and their weapons to the Syrian authorities to return to normal life as the soldiers of President Bashar al-Assad continue to recapture more regions across the country.

Nearly 250 militants were pardoned after surrendering to the government troops in the framework of the third phase of al-Qadam neighborhood reconciliation.

In a press statement from al-Qadam area, Damascus Countryside Governor Alaa Munir Ibrahim said that those who have surrendered have been pardoned and will return to their normal lives, adding that a large number of militants are to be pardoned in al-Qadam area as well as Qudsaya, al-Hameh, Wadi Barada and al-Tal areas in coming days following the amnesty decree no.15 which offers the opportunity to those who want to be normal citizens again.

Meanwhile, nearly 600 militants were pardoned in Sweida during a national event attended by official, popular and religious figures at the Sweida Branch building of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party while a sum of 130 militants from Homs Province were also pardoned after they turned themselves in to authorities on Wednesday in accordance with the amnesty decree No.15 for 2016.

The Syrian President has offered an amnesty to militants who lay down arms, insisting that the amnesty has been virtually in effect in Syria since day one of the terrorist war in the country.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000180

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Gun, suicide bomb attacks kill 12 in Iraq's Tikrit: police

September 24, 2016

MARRA: Militants killed 12 people in a shooting and a suicide bombing Saturday in the northern city of Tikrit, which was recaptured from the Islamic State group last year, police said.

Tikrit was seized by IS in June 2014, but the city has largely been spared attacks that have plagued other parts of the country since its recapture.

Militants shot dead four police at a checkpoint on the west side of the city, then continued north and detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at another checkpoint, killing eight more people, a police colonel and lieutenant colonel said.

The attacks also wounded a total of 23 people, according to the officers.

Tikrit, located 160 kilometres north of Baghdad, was the second city to fall to IS in 2014 as the militants swept through large areas north and west of the capital.

It was also the first city to be recaptured by Iraqi forces, which are now preparing for a push on Mosul, the last IS-held city in the country.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285834/gun-suicide-bomb-attacks-kill-12-in-iraqs-tikrit-police

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Iran's Top Security Official Blames West for Spread of Terrorism

September 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani blasted the western countries for continuing their supports for the terrorist groups in the region.

"The measures taken by the West to counter the true Islamic teachings are to blame for the spread of terrorism throughout the world," Shamkhani said on Saturday.

He went on to say that the West’s historic mistakes, namely the use of terrorism as a means and support for deviant ideologies to counter the genuine and revolutionary Islamic ideology as well as double standard policies in the fight against terrorism, have led to the perilous status quo.

In relevant remarks in May, Undersecretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Reza Seifollahi blasted certain western countries for creating and supporting the terrorist groups in a bid to discredit Islam and Muslims.

"There is no relation between terrorist groups and Islam," Seifollahi said, addressing a meeting of high-ranking security officials in Grozny, Chechnya.

He called on the world countries to join hands to fight terrorist groups throughout the world.

Also in May, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan lashed out at Washington and Tel Aviv for supporting the terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.

“What is happening in Syria and Iraq today is a deep-rooted US-Zionist conspiracy that has triggered war in the Muslim territories,” Brigadier General Dehqan told reporters at the time.

The Iranian defense Minister reiterated that the Takfiri terrorists have tainted the image of Islam, and said, “Takfiri terrorists are not affiliated to Islam in terms of faith and conduct and their approach is reprehensible.”

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000512

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ISIL's Offensives Repulsed by Syrian Army, Air Force in Deir Ezzur

September 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Army troops, backed up by the country's fighter jets, repelled ISIL's unprecedentedly tough attacks on Deir Ezzur airbase and pushed them back from the battlefield under heavy fire and bombardments.

ISIL terrorists launched large-scale attacks on government positions from al-Thardah mountain in the Southern countryside of Deir Ezzur towards airbase.

ISIL used several bomb-laden suicide cars and its missile units shelled government positions heavily, but the army troops managed to destroy the suicide cars before reaching their positions.

The Syrian army later called for aerial coverage, and the Syrian warplanes targeted ISIL's positions and vehicles.

Scores of ISIL members were killed or wounded and their armored vehicles were destroyed in the failed attacks.

The Syrian fighter jet further bombed ISIL's positions near al-Thardah mountain and the 137th regiment.   

On Friday, Syrian warplanes bombed heavily ISIL's sites in the Southern side of the Euphrates River in Deir Ezzur province, slowing down the terrorist group's movements in the region.

The Syrian Army aircraft pounded ISIL's bases near the village of al-Mura'yeh on the Western side of Deir Ezzur, grounding the terrorists in their strongholds.

Also, ISIL's gatherings near al-Thardah mountain on the Southern side of Deir Ezzur were smashed by the Syrian jets.

Three tanks, seven machinegun-equipped vehicles and two armored vehicles of the ISIL were destroyed in the air raid.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000566

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Syrian, Russian Warplanes Continue to Bomb Terrorist Centers in Aleppo

September 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian and Russian warplanes continued to target terrorist groups' concentration centers in at least seven districts of Aleppo city, paving the way for the ground troops to raid militants' positions.

Syrian and Russian fighter jets, for the second day in a row, pounded terrorists' strongholds in Sheikh Saeed, al-Sakri, al-Ameriyeh, al-Kelaseh, Bustan al-Qasr and the Old Aleppo, while the Syrian Army's artillery units shelled militants' positions heavily in the same districts.

"Positions of Fatah al-Sham (the newly formed al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group previously known as the al-Nusra Front) in al-Rashedeen district in Western part of Aleppo city came under the heavy bombardments of the Syrian and Russian fighter jets," army sources said.

"This is a collective operation. Air and artillery units' attacks are only parts of a large-scale operation against terrorists in Eastern districts of Aleppo city, which will last for several days to push the militants back from the city," the sources underlined.

Other sources in Northern Aleppo said that the Syrian army soldiers have advanced against terrorist near Handarat camp.

On Friday, Syrian and Russian fighter jets carried out at least 30 combat flights over terrorists' positions in different parts of Aleppo, inflicting major losses and heavy casualties on the militants.

"Syrian and Russian jets targeted terrorists' sites and defense lines in the districts of al-Kelaseh, al-Ma'adi, al-Zabdiyeh, al-Halak, al-Sakhour, Sheikh Khazar, Karam al-Tahan, al-Mashhad, al-Mowaselat, Old Aleppo, al-Ansari al-Sharghi, al-Marjeh and the road connecting al-Bab to Qaterchi, leaving scores of fighters dead or wounded," opposition sources said.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000687

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Iran Calls for Collective Efforts to Restore Peace, Stability in World

September 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif underlined that sustainable development in the world can only be achieved after prevalence of peace and stability.

"Peace and stability are the preludes to understanding and realization of sustainable development," Zarif said, addressing the Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Economic Cooperation of Organization (ECO) held in New York on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The full text of Zarif's speech at the ECO ministerial meeting follows:

Mr. Secretary-General,

Distinguished Colleagues,

Let me begin by thanking all of you for participating in this Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the Economic Cooperation Organization on the sidelines of the 71st UNGA. I also wish to register my appreciation to H.E. Mr. Halil Ibrahim Akcha and ECO Secretariat for their efforts and for organizing this session.

While ECO has been successful in forging a range of cooperation frameworks, we are still away from realization of the objectives of our Organization. With your permission, I would briefly highlight a number of relevant issues to the Organization which require greater attention by the Member States:

First, our overlapping membership in other regional arrangements should only enhance our relations with and within ECO. It is evident that cooperation within ECO needs to bring meaningful benefits to all Member States, who should reciprocate by providing support to the Organization.

Secondly, there is a need to explore, and remain open to, needed regulatory, institutional, budgetary and other adjustments within the Organization. Reform is a common responsibility of the Membership and Secretariat, which customarily entails mandates given by the Council of Ministers. Any reform process shall be built on the experiences of the last two decades with a view to enabling ECO to respond to the needs and requirements of the Member States and the Region as a whole.

Thirdly, the Secretariat initiated the formulation of a new ECO Vision for the period 2016-2025, based on the deliberations of the Member States during the 25th and 26th RPC Meetings. We are still in the process of considering the draft document and later finalizing recommendations for the ECO Vision 2016-2025. In this regard, I would like to appreciate the readiness of our brother country, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, to host the Ministerial Meeting of Planning and Development on 24 October 2016 in Kabul on ECO Vision-2025. I hope this meeting will result in the development and implementation of strategies in the next decade in such areas as energy, transport and transit, trade, management of region’s resources, human development, environment, and natural disaster risk reduction, in line with the context of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” as a universal roadmap.

Lastly, there is a strong interdependence between peace and development. Peace and stability are essential for realizing the genuine goals of sustainable development and welfare of our countries and peoples. We should recommit ourselves to continue supporting the national, regional and global efforts to achieve lasting peace, stability and prosperity in our region.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000697

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Syrian Official Denies Accusations of Airstrikes against Residential Areas in Aleppo

September 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- A Damascus official refuted the media reports claiming that Syrian warplanes have lunched airstrikes on civilian targets in Eastern Aleppo.

The Syria army denied media reports about alleged airstrikes on civilian targets in Eastern Aleppo that killed dozens of people.

"The Syrian Air Force did not attack any civilian target or infrastructure that could be used by civilians," Brigadier General Samir Suleiman, the head of the Syrian Army information department, said, adding, "We attack only military targets and large groups of terrorists conducting thorough reconnaissance prior to the strikes."

Reuters claimed in a report on Friday, citing local militant sources, that airstrikes allegedly delivered by Syrian aircraft in Eastern outskirts of Aleppo killed over 90 people.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000220

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Russia Rules Out Plan B for Syria

September 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia has never had a so-called Plan B for Syria as Moscow categorically rules out a military solution to the Syrian crisis.

Russia has never had a so-called Plan B for Syria as Moscow categorically rules out a military solution to the Syrian crisis, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, Sputnik reported.

"We don't have any Plan B because we are convinced that there is no military solution to this crisis," Lavrov said at a news conference following his address to the UN General Assembly.

"We never mentioned Plan B. It was mentioned by our partners, mentioned and then denied. But I trust [US State Secretary] John Kerry when he says that he is convinced there is no military solution, and this is absolutely our position as well," he stressed.

Syria has been mired in bloody war since March 2011, with government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fighting numerous terrorist groups.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000601

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Iran Warns of Yemenis' Dire Situation, Stresses Cutting Support for Terrorists in Syria

September 24, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Iran to the United Nations Gholamhossein Dehqani warned of the Yemeni people's dire situation amid Saudi Arabia's intensified attacks, and underlined the necessity for stopping support for the terrorist groups in Syria.

Addressing a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly conference in New York, Dehqani blasted the Riyadh-led coalition for launching massive airstrikes against the Yemeni schools, hospitals and residential areas.

"Continued military interference in Yemen and losing hope for peace merely benefits the extremists and the terrorist groups," he said.

Elsewhere, Dehqani underscored the necessity for ending support for the terrorists to terminate the five-year war in Syria, and said, "Today, terrorism and extremism are the biggest challenges of the Middle-East and the Syrian people are their first victims."

In relevant remarks on Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi condemned the Riyadh government's continued airstrikes on Yemen's residential areas and the killing of a large number of the country's civilians.

“Unfortunately, indifference of countries and international communities and continued sale of various kinds of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia, has made the regime more stubborn to escalate attacks on the oppressed and defenseless people of Yemen to continue their uninterrupted aggressions,” Qassemi said.

Qassemi also strongly criticized certain Western countries' silence towards the massacre of the Yemeni people and continued sale of destructive military arms to Saudi Arabia.

The Qassemi's condemnation came after at least nine civilians, including women and children, lost their lives when Saudi military aircraft launched an airstrike against a residential area in Yemen’s mountainous Northwestern province of Sa’ada.

An informed source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Saudi fighter jets bombarded a residential building in the Razih district of the province on Thursday, leaving nine people dead.

Another six civilians sustained injuries in the attack.

Later on Thursday, the Saudi aircraft pounded the village of al-Hadab in the Sirwah district of Yemen’s Central province of Ma’rib, though no reports about casualties and the extent of damage caused were available.

The aerial assault came shortly after Saudi warplanes struck Souq al-Hanoud area in the al-Hawak district of Yemen’s Western and coastal province of al-Hudayda late on Wednesday.

Nearly 50 civilians were killed and scores more injured in the attack.

With the latest fatalities, the Saudi air raids have killed almost 60 Yemeni civilians since Wednesday.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000402

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Pakistan

Pakistan to Ask Interpol to Extradite Brahamdagh Bugti: Interior Minister

September 24, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that Islamabad has decided to write to Interpol for the extradition of Baloch separatist leader, Brahamdagh Bugti, who is now seeking political asylum in India after Switzerland turned down his request for further refuge.

“The Federal Investigation Agency will send a formal reference to Interpol within the next few days for the extradition of Brahamdagh Bugti,” the Express Tribune quoted Khan as saying at the headquarters of the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) yesterday.

Nisar’s statement comes days after Baloch Republican Party (BRP) chief Bugti, visited the Indian consulate in Geneva to inquire about the process of seeking asylum in India.

Bugti’s application seeking political asylum in India has been received by the Indian Home Ministry which is examining it.

Bugti, the grandson of Nawab Akbar Bugti, a Baloch nationalist leader killed by the Pakistani army in 2006, has been living in exile in Switzerland. Islamabad has always blamed India for helping Bugti flee to Geneva in 2010 via Afghanistan.

Commenting on the move, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that Bugti’s request for asylum in India, was indicative of New Delhi’s involvement in terrorism in Balochistan.

“Their [Indians’] feelings about Brahamdagh Bugti and their invitation to him unmistakably establish who is behind terrorism (in Balochistan),” Nisar said.

“The government is doing its homework. In the next few days, we will be writing to Interpol about this person through the FIA [Federal Investigation Agency]. We will be sending a formal reference to Interpol, asking for his extradition to Pakistan,” he added.

Nisar also accused India of blaming Pakistan for the Uri attack without any concrete evidence.

“The Indians don’t have any evidence, so what sort of investigation can Pakistan carry out? They have blamed us just to defame Pakistan,” he asserted.

At least 18 Indian army personnel were killed in a dastardly terror attack on an army base camp in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district on Sunday.

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-ask-interpol-extradite-brahamdagh-bugti-nisar-ali-khan-1026905/

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Khyber elders oppose Fata-KP merger

September 24, 2016

PESHAWAR: Opposing the proposed merger of the Federal Administered Tribal Areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a group of elders from Khyber Agency on Friday urged the government to form an independent Fata legislative council to decide the future of the tribal region.

Haji Bazar Gul Afridi, a tribal elder and central president of the Khyber Union, a public welfare body in Khyber Agency, told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club that the merger of Fata with KP was unacceptable to tribal people.

He said the proposed legislative council should be formed to legislate on the tribal region’s future in line with the local social, political and traditions.

Accompanied by the organisation’s office-bearers and tribal elders, including Murad Sakhi, Gul Maan Shah, Haji Zarghoon Shah, Maskeen Shah, Gul Nazar, Shah Nawaz and Dr Syed Anwar, Mr. Haji Bazar said the Fata reforms proposed by a government committee went against tribal customs and traditions.

He said legislation and policies on Fata should be made in light of local traditions and customs.

The elder also called for abolition of Frontier Crimes Regulation and said the unlimited powers of the political agents should be reduced to overcome injustices.

He also opposed the extension of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and high courts to Fata saying local residents knew very well how to resolve their issues through a jirga system.

“We want constitutional protection of our traditional tribal jirga, and customs,” he said, adding that the people won’t accept any decision creating new problems and complications for them.

Mr. Haji Bazar said all disputes in Fata could be resolved through traditional tribal jirga system only.

He said keeping in view the damages caused by the prolonged war against terrorism in Fata, the region should be included in the next National Finance Commission Award, while a Rs100 billion financial package should be announced for it.

The elder called for the immediate rehabilitation and reconstruction of educational and health facilities in Fata.

He said mega development projects should be initiated in Fata, while local body elections should be held in all tribal agencies for the effective resolution of civic issues.

Mr. Haji Bazar said Rs2 million and Rs1 million should be announced as compensation for the completely destroyed houses and partially damaged ones.

He called upon the government to exempt tribal region from all kind of taxes and completely abolish the Customs Act.

The elder also demanded Fata’s ‘due’ share in the multibillion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project for development.

Another speaker, Murad Sakhi, said Fata people had immensely suffered due to the prolonged war against terrorism and imposition of the black law, FCR.

He alleged that the government had received funds worth of billion of rupees in the name of Fata from different donor organisations and countries but it didn’t utilise them properly to bring development to the tribal region.

He said only the proposed independent Fata legislative council could ensure socioeconomic change in Fata through legislation.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285798/khyber-elders-oppose-fata-kp-merger

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Imran wants to destablilise country, claims PML-N

September 24, 2016

MINGORA: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa PML-N president Pir Sabir Shah has said that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan wants to destabilise the country by blocking the way of progress and development, but the nation would not allow him to do so.

He was addressing his party’s workers convention at Damghar area of Kabal tehsil in Swat on Friday.

Condemning the PTI chief’s anti-government stance, he said that Imran Khan should not block the way of development in the country, but rather appreciate and cooperate with the federal government’s positive policies.

“Imran Khan defamed Pakistan by promoting dance culture in the country,” he said.

The PML-N leader claimed that due to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision and policies Pakistan was on the track of development where several motorways were under construction along with other development projects.

“This country needs Nawaz Sharif for our better future. CPEC is the historical project for the country’s development,” he said.

He claimed that PML-N would sweep the 2018 general elections as the country needed Mr Sharif and his team for long-term development. Mr Shah said that India was living in fool’s paradise and it could never subdue Pakistan.

He said that Pakistan was an atomic power and its forces were capable of tackling every challenge.

PML-N MPAs Arbab Wasim and Sobia Khan and its Swat general secretary Umar Farooq and other activists were also present on the occasion.

CLERKS THREATEN PROTEST: Office-bearers of the All Pakistan Clerks Association (APCA) and All Government Employees Coordination Council (AGECC) have threatened to hold protest against the unfavourable attitude of PTI MPA and special assistant to KP chief minister, Dr Amjad Ali.

Speaking at a press conference at Swat Press Club on Friday, Mohammad Aslam Khan, the central president of APCA, said that if Dr Amjad did not stop his revengeful behaviour against the government employees, including clerical staff, they would stage a sit-in in front of the provincial assembly after shutting all the offices.

He claimed that the inquiry report on the construction of government primary school, Chongai, was in favour of the contractor and department, but Dr Amjad transferred sub-engineer Shafiq Shinwari to Karak in the case.

He said that a clerk, Mushtaq Ahmad, was also invited to face a committee at Peshawar where he was harassed.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285742/imran-wants-to-destablilise-country-claims-pml-n

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If breaks out, Pakistan-India war may spiral into a world war, warns Khurshid

September 24, 2016

SUKKUR: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah has warned that a full-scale war between Pakistan and India, if takes place, is bound to turn into a third world war and cause a huge loss of life and massive destruction in the region.

Speaking to the media at his residence here on Friday, Mr Shah ruled out possibility of a war between the two countries observing that [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi was not expected to commit a blunder that could lead to a war.

Commenting on the war hysteria let loose by the Indian media over the past few days, the opposition leader said: “India cannot cause any harm to Pakistan, which is strong enough to counter adventurism that may be resorted to by a foreign power”.

He, however, expressed his concern over heightening tension between the two nuclear powers of Asia and provocative statements of warmongers being blown out of proportion by the Indian media.

“A war is not going to take place but, God forbid, if it is triggered, it may engulf other countries and turn into another world war,” he said. Mr Shah said that if the Modi government tried to impose a war on Pakistan, the entire Pakistani nation would stand behind its armed forces in giving her a befitting reply.

He observed that Pakistan had always been working for peace in the region and other parts of the world but had also been prepared to defend its territorial and ideological boundaries. “If India wants to test our capability to defend our motherland, she can do so any time only to disappoint herself,” he said. He said he did no believe the Modi government would make a mistake that was bound to embarrass it.

Mr Shah was of the view that New Delhi was pursuing a particular anti-Pakistan agenda and there was talk in India about a ‘limited war’ to contain what the Indian government and media termed “Pakistan-sponsored acts of terrorism”. “The entire world is convinced that Pakistan has long been a victim of terrorism and its forces are engaged in combating terrorism. If a so-called ‘limited war’ is resorted to on any pretext relating to this international phenomenon, then it must be kept in mind that it would not remain limited to embattled parties or a particular area,” said the senior politician.

The opposition leader explained that a war, howsoever limited, was bound to involve other countries. It would definitely put the entire region under threat and spread to other regions as well, he added.

Mr Shah noted that the Pakistan Army had almost eliminated terrorists, their networks and their hideouts from the country through its ‘Zarb-i-Azb’ operation.

Kashmir issue

The opposition leader said that Pakistan had adopted a principled stand on the issue of Kashmir and pursuing a peaceful solution to the dispute with India. He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif speaking at the ongoing UN General Assembly session again highlighted the issue and pleaded Pakistan’s case in an impressive manner. He appreciated the prime minister’s speech but expressed the view that he [Mr Sharif] should also have raised the issue of Indian nefarious designs against Pakistan at the world forum.

“He should have talked about India’s interference in Balochistan, Modi government’s support for Brahamdagh Bugti and Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing’s (RAW’s) anti-Pakistan activities. He must have unmasked India’s real face and exposed her nefarious designs,” he said.

The opposition leader also repeated the complaint that the prime minister would not take the parliament into confidence on national and international issues. “He ought to discuss Kashmir, terrorism, foreign interference and other such issues with parliamentarians and seek their advice before the UN General Assembly session,” he said.

MQM and Altaf Hussain

In reply to a question about the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s internal rift and leadership crisis, Syed Khurshid Shah said that Dr Farooq Sattar-led parliamentarians and their party colleagues had now succeeded in convincing the masses that they had really dissociated themselves from the party founder, Altaf Hussain, and his fellows sitting in London [MQM secretariat]. “The MQM-Pakistan comprises patriotic people and its voters and supporters are also true Pakistanis,” Mr Shah observed, and said that their position be understood and they be allowed to continue with their political activities now after they had parted ways with their founder leader, Altaf Hussain.

He said: “Altaf Hussain has actually lost his senses. What is a point in trying a person, who has started speaking and acting like an insane one, for treason?”

Khurshid Shah said it was the the MQM-London [group] that had been working for RAW.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285654/if-breaks-out-pakistan-india-war-may-spiral-into-a-world-war-warns-khurshid

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MQM seeks release of all innocent political prisoners

September 24, 2016

KARACHI: The Muttahida Qaumi Movement on Friday appealed to the Sindh government to get all “innocent political prisoners”, including city mayor Waseem Akhtar, released in the larger interest of the country.

The MQM on its part took some bold decisions in the larger interest of this country, the government, too, should take big decisions to release all innocent political workers who had been in prison, said Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan while elaborating the point of order of his colleague Rauf Siddiqui regarding release of political prisoners.

Mr Siddiqui, who himself was brought to the assembly from the prison to attend the session, drew attention of Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani towards hardships of the prisoners. The lawmaker said he had been handed over two letters by the prisoners. One of them was addressed to the chief minister and the other to the Sindh Assembly Speaker with the request to get them relief. He said criminals should certainly be punished but innocent political prisoners such as Kanwar Naveed Jamil, Waseem Akhtar, Sheeraz Waheed, Qamar Mansoor ought to be released for the sake of justice.

Mr Hassan said innocent people must be released from prisons at the earliest as it was a serious and sensitive issue. The apprehensions of the families of arrested political workers could only be dispelled when they would reach home, he added.

After his speech, Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who had called the house to order at 10.15am, adjourned the session till Monday.

Mr Hassan later told the media that the demand for the resignation of all MQM lawmakers was unconstitutional as they had mandate from the people. He said they would resign only if desired by their electorates.

In reply to a question, he said 35 of their 50 lawmakers attended a meeting of the parliamentary party while their 11 colleagues were abroad and one lawmaker Sheeraz Waheed was in the prison. The three other lawmakers after switching their loyalty to another party had resigned from the assembly seats. But their resignations were yet to reach the election commission. Similarly, the resignation of MPA Erum Azeem Farooqui had not been received so far, he added. He said the party’s top priority was to get the innocent workers released. For this purpose, he said, they would take up the issue with the law enforcement agencies, the chief minister and prime minister. Providing financial support to the families of the slain workers of the party was equally important, he said. Besides, he added, the party would also strive to get 135 missing activists recovered.

Mr Hassan said the MQM had taken a major decision and would like that the authorities not only welcome this but also judge matters concerning Muttahida workers on merit to fill the political vacuum. “Our decision is the decision of the Muhajir nation,” he added.

Earlier, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah requested Speaker Durrani that if the report on the Karachi Mass Transit Authority Bill 2014 by the standing committee was not presented in the assembly by Monday, the minutes of the standing committee meetings be taken for consideration. He said work to provide modern transport system to the metropolis had been pending for want of Karachi Mass Transit Authority. The chief minister expressed these views when Sindh Transport Minister Nasir Hussain Shah drew attention of the house towards inordinate delay in submitting its report on the bill by the standing committee.

In response to the call attention notice of PTI lawmaker Khurram Sherzaman, the chief minister informed the house that the culprits hiding in a bank near the press club on the occasion of Aug 22, 2016 were arrested. The consideration of the report on The Zulfikarabad Development Authority (Amendment ) Bill and the presentation of the report on Jinnah-Sindh Medical University Bill were deferred till Monday and for two weeks, respectively, on the request of the minister for parliamentary affairs. Similarly, the the report of standing committee on higher and technical education was presented but its consideration was deferred till Monday.

Four other notices on the agenda were regarding inoperative garbage vehicles in Karachi Central, non-payment of prize money to the winners in Quaid-i-Azam International Games, incomplete construction of stadium in Orangi Town and setting up of Sindh Medical Authority under the Sindh National Health Act.

Source: dawn.com/news/1285661/mqm-seeks-release-of-all-innocent-political-prisoners

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Pakistan Rangers claim evidence that MQM men are hiding, not missing

September 24, 2016

Karachi [Pakistan]: The Pakistan Rangers has said that instances of activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) “willingly disappearing” should not be counted as cases of “missing persons” as it claimed to have found evidence suggesting that MQM founder Altaf Hussain had asked his workers to go into hiding.

The paramilitary force shared its finding with the Senate Standing Committee’s Functional Committee on Human Rights, led by its chairperson Nasreen Jalil, who expressed surprise and resentment over the absence of the provincial police chief and the Rangers director general from the meeting, reports Dawn.

Several questions mostly related to the Karachi operation against criminals were put forth by the committee.

On being asked by a member of the committee on the issue of missing persons, Colonel Qaiser Khattak of the Rangers said that disappearance of every person could not be put under that account. His explanation referred to a recent video of the MQM founder suggesting to his workers to go into hiding to avoid arrest.

He, however, said that the findings of an investigation into the custodial death of an MQM worker and coordinator to the party’s leader Dr. Farooq Sattar could not be shared because the process was still on.

Source: siasat.com/news/pakistan-rangers-claim-evidence-mqm-men-hiding-not-missing-1026933/

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Russian troops arrive in Pakistan for first-ever joint drills

September 24, 2016

Islamabad: A Russian ground forces contingent on Friday arrived in Pakistan to participate in the first-ever joint military exercises starting from Saturday, reflecting growing military ties between the two former Cold War rivals.

“A contingent of Russian ground forces arrived in Pakistan for first ever Pak-Russian joint exercise,” army spokesman Lt-Gen Asim Bajwa said.

The Russian troops will be in the country for two weeks from September 24 to October 10.

About 200 troops from the two countries will take part in the two-week long military drills called as ‘Friendship 2016’, which have been termed as a sign of growing military ties between the former rivals of Cold war era.

The move comes amidst increasing defence ties between Moscow and Islamabad as the latter was also thinking to buy advanced Russian warplanes.

The joint drill is seen as another step in growing military-to-military cooperation, indicating a steady growth in bilateral relationship between the two countries, whose ties had been marred by Cold War rivalry for decades, local media reports said.

Pakistan decided to broaden its foreign policy options after its relations with the US deteriorated following secret CIA raid in Abbottabad that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

Its relations with the US were soured recently when US lawmakers blocked funds for the sale of eight Lockheed Martin Corporation’s F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan.

Pakistan decided to look at alternative sources to purchase the aircraft including from Jordan.

Over the last 15 months, the chiefs of Pakistan’s Army, Navy and Air Force travelled to Russia. The flurry of high- level exchanges between the two nations resulted in the signing of a deal for the sale of four MI-35 attack helicopters to Islamabad.

The formal agreement, which was signed in Moscow in August 2015, was considered a major policy shift on part of Russia in the wake of growing strategic partnership between the US and India.

Islamabad is eager to improve its ties with Moscow to diversify its options in the event of any stalemate in ties with Washington, according to the Express Tribune.

After securing a deal of MI-35 helicopters, Pakistan is also exploring options to buy Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, it said. For this purpose, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman visited Moscow in July.

Source: siasat.com/news/russian-troops-arrive-pakistan-first-ever-joint-drills-1026795/

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Mideast

AKP mayors who favored Gülenists untouched by probe: CHP

September 23, 2016

The leader of Turkey’s main opposition party has criticized the government for not touching politics and politicians as part of the ongoing probe in the aftermath of the July 15 failed coup attempt, including mayors who provided enormous financial support to the Gülenist network.

“The cost of the coup has been passed on to academics who signed a peace declaration, to teachers registered in trade unions, to the rank and file and to the business world, but not to politics. Politics and politicians are not in any way paying the cost, although they are the most responsible for this coup [attempt],” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told daily Hürriyet in an interview on Sept. 23.

Kılıçdaroğlu went further, arguing that no action had been taken against mayors who provided a significant amount of financial gains to the Gülenist organization. “You are dismissing civil servants, seizing the assets of businessmen, but you don’t touch [mayors]. The real perpetrators are left unpunished. This is the main problem,” he said. Kılıçdaroğlu did not name which mayors he was referring to.

The CHP leader also made important evaluations on the ongoing cross-border operation into Syria, as he suggested it would take around seven to eight years for the Turkish army to leave the country, adding that this duration could even increase if it goes further south as announced by the government.

“We support the Turkish Armed Forces’ [TSK] fight against ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and its efforts to protect our borders. But we are against going further south and interfering in Syria’s internal affairs. In any case, it will take seven to eight years for our army to get out of its current position in Syria. A graver picture will appear if it goes further south,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Turkey launched Operation Euphrates Shield a month ago along with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to clear Turkey’s border of ISIL jihadists. After pushing ISIL from Jarablus and al-Rai, Turkey announced that it was next targeting al-Bab, a strategic town 30 kilometers from the Turkish border. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said Turkey was eyeing the creation of a 5,000-square-kilometer safe zone inside Syria.

“What point should the Turkish army go to? Where should it stop? These are issues military experts need to address. They should introduce options and politicians should give the final decision. But it does not work like this in our case,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“Yes, the final decision must be given by the political will, but the army should explain the positive and negative points of it to the politicians. I don’t know if these [points] are being sufficiently explained to politicians,” he said.

Cross-border ops ‘won’t fix army’s broken image’

On claims that the army’s broken image due to the July 15 failed coup attempt could be fixed thanks to its Syria offensive, Kılıçdaroğlu said: “The way to correct the TSK’s image is not Syria. It’s true that the army suffers from a tarnished image. But this is because of the Balyoz and Ergenekon processes.” 

Balyoz and Ergenekon were two major cases in which hundreds of high-ranking military officers were imprisoned on charges of attempting a coup against the government in the late 2000s. All convicted military personnel were later acquitted and released from prison after it was proven that fake evidence and documents believed to have been prepared by Gülenists were used to charge the personnel.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/akp-mayors-who-favored-gulenists-untouched-by-probe-chp-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104202&NewsCatID=338

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Turkey calls on Obama to veto ‘9/11 bill’

September 23, 2016

The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Sept. 23 called for U.S. President Barack Obama to prevent the “Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act” from becoming law, saying it contradicts international law and the principles of the U.N. Charter, particularly regarding the sovereignty and equality of states.

The bill, which passed in the U.S. Congress, is “not only incompliant with the law but is also the product of a distorted approach that could hamper international cooperation against terrorism,” read the statement.

The controversial bill, also known as the “9/11 bill,” would allow U.S. courts to hold foreign governments responsible it they were found to have played a role in funding or assisting attacks.

The bill aims to narrow the scope of the legal doctrine of foreign sovereign immunity and passed the U.S. Senate with no opposition in May before unanimously passing the House of Representatives in September. While it does not mention the 9/11 attacks or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the practical effect of the bill will be to allow a longstanding federal civil lawsuit against Saudi Arabia by the victims, families and other interests that were injured or damaged in the 9/11 attacks to proceed.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry stressed that Ankara continued to stand with the victims of terrorism and firmly argued that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations should be countered “without double standards and discrimination.”

“In this context, Turkey calls upon the president of the United States to prevent the bill from becoming law and invites all its allies and partners to take insightful and useful steps with a view to enhancing international cooperation and solidarity,” said the statement.

In its capacity as the chair of the Summit of the Organization of Islamic States (OIC), the Foreign Ministry particularly drew attention to the OIC on this matter.

Approached by the Hürriyet Daily News, Foreign Ministry officials recalled an OIC statement which warned passing the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act would “disrupt international relations, threatens to plunge the world economy into a depression, weakens the necessary alliances that promote peace and security around the world and compromises the war on terrorism.”

“If the ‘9/11 bill’ was to become law, it would remove the benefits of centuries-old laws and international norms that promote the comity of nations and plunge the world, one nation or region at a time, into chaos as each nation could pass reciprocal laws in retaliation that would weaken the protections that sovereignty and presumption against extraterritoriality legally provides to all people, of all nations,” the OIC Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Madani earlier said in a written statement.

The Obama Administration objects against the bill saying, if passed, it could destroy their alliance with Saudi Arabia. The White House has said the bill could expose Americans overseas to legal risks.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-calls-on-obama-to-veto-911-bill-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104182&NewsCatID=510

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Two security personnel killed in clashes with PKK in Turkey's southeast

September 24, 2016

One soldier and one village guard were killed on Sept. 24 during clashes with PKK militants in the rurals of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır and Şırnak, Doğan News Agency has reported.

Security forces engaged in an armed clash with PKK militants in the Çavunur region as a part of the ongoing operations conducted in the Lice, Hazro and Kocaköy districts.

One soldier was killed and another was wounded in the clash. The wounded soldier was transferred to Selahaddin Eyyubi State hospital.

In addition, one PKK militant was also killed in clashes.

An air-supported operation has been ongoing in the region to apprehend PKK militants.

Meanwhile, PKK militants opened fire on security forces in Şırnak. One village guard was killed in the initial fire.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/two-security-personnel-killed-in-clashes-with-pkk-in-turkeys-southeast.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104220&NewsCatID=341

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Details emerge in story of fugitive coup attempt prime suspect Adil Özsüz

September 24, 2016

Daily Hürriyet has accessed details shedding light on events concerning the prime suspect of the July 15 coup attempt, Adil Öksüz, and the Akıncı military base from which the coup attempt was orchestrated.

Documents show that Öksüz, who was detained after the coup attempt but who was released shortly after and then disappeared, was among the three civilians captured along with 26 soldiers near the base trying to flee. 

After being taken to a gendarmerie station for interrogation, Öksüz was taken to a men’s restroom upon his request and was later subjected to body search along with 28 other suspects. While the suspects’ belongings were taken in by gendarmerie officers, no further actions other than identity checks were taken before they were sent to police.

A gendarmerie officer who used the same restroom as Öksüz found a device that Özsüz admitted to being the owner of, claiming to have dropped it while being searched. 

Upon the arrival of the police at the Kazan gendarmerie station, to which the suspects were initially brought, 18 people - not including Öksüz - were sent to the Ankara Anti-Terrorism Bureau while the rest remained in the gendarmerie station to be taken to the bureau later.

While the 18 suspects who arrived first at the police station were all arrested, no vehicle came to the gendarmerie station to pick up the remaining 11 people including Öksüz. Meanwhile, that remaining 11 all agreed to plead guilty to soldiers rather than the police. 

Öksüz was later taken to the Sincan Public Prosecutor’s Office, as part of a group of 98 suspects, after which their interrogation began.

It is reported that no information was presented either to the prosecutors or to the judge demanding the arrest of the suspects, and the dossier only contained a report mistakenly saying that all 98 suspects were soldiers.

The fact that Öksüz was a civilian was only discovered by prosecutors during his testimony. His release came after he appeared before the judge, who released him on probation after finding that no other evidence had been collected against Öksüz.

Öksüz disappeared after being released and is still on the run.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/details-emerge-in-story-of-fugitive-coup-attempt-prime-suspect-adil-ozsuz.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104216&NewsCatID=509

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Turkey, US in deadlock over two major issues

September 23, 2016

Turkey and the United States have become ensconced in a deadlock over two major issues, Turkey’s demand for the extradition of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom the government accuses of staging the failed July 15 coup, and the approach to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Criticizing the U.S. for not extraditing Gülen to Turkey despite evidence allegedly proving his role in the coup attempt that killed more than 250 people, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said they had previously extradited terrorists the U.S. had wanted from Turkey. 

“The U.S. said ‘catch 10 terrorists and send them [to us],’ and we caught nine of them and handed them [to the U.S.]. It’s the same thing. We want the head of such an [terrorist] organization. We are strategic partners; we are together in NATO but they say that the court needs to reach a decision. We cannot wait. [The crime] has been committed in [our country]; let us make the decision,” Erdoğan told Bloomberg News’ John Micklethwait in an interview in New York that aired on Sept. 22.

Erdoğan, who is attending meetings at the United Nations, also accused the United States of supplying more weapons to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People’s Protection Unit (YPG), in northern Syria this week.

“Three days ago America dropped two plane loads of weapons in Kobane for these terror groups,” he said during an address at a Turkish-American Cultural Society event in New York, adding that he had raised the issue on Sept. 21 with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who said he had no knowledge of the arms drop.

The U.S. and Turkey differ on the designation of the PYD and YPG, and thus the cooperation to be conducted with them.

While the U.S. sees the PYD and YPG as major strategic partners in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, Turkey regards them as terror organizations, accusing them of being offshoots of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK is designated as a terror organization by the U.S. and the European Union.

U.S. had air-dropped weapons to the Syrian Kurdish fighters in the largely Kurdish town of Kobane in 2014. Erdoğan said half of those arms were seized by ISIL fighters.

“If you think you can finish off Daesh with the YPG and PYD, you cannot, because they are terrorist groups, too,” Erdoğan said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.

Late last month, Turkey launched the Euphrates Shield military operation in northern Syria alongside the Free Syrian Army (FSA) that has taken control of Jarablus and al-Rai in northern Syria. 

While Erdoğan declared al-Bab to be the next target in the operation, he also said Turkey was willing to support the anti-ISIL coalition in a possible operation to liberate Raqqa, ISIL’s de facto capital.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Sept. 22 that the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in which the PYD play a leading role, will take the lead in ousting ISIL from Raqqa.

“They and others associated with them will be the force that envelops and collapses ISIL’s control over Raqqa,” Carter said at the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

“At the same time, I emphasize, and the chairman [U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford] already stressed this, we’re working with the Turks also, the Turkish military, our good ally, very strongly,” he added.

Washington has maintained that the SDF is an effective partner in the anti-ISIL fight, a claim reiterated during the Sept. 22 testimony.

“They [PYD/YPG] are our most effective partner on the ground. It’s very difficult as you know, managing a relationship between our support for the Syrian Democratic Forces and our Turkish allies,” said Dunford, who was testifying alongside Carter at the Senate. 

“If we would reinforce the Syrian Democratic Forces’ current capabilities, that will increase the prospects of our success in Raqqa,” he added.

Asked if he supports “arming the Kurds more in Syria,” Carter responded by saying, “I support whatever is required to help them move in the direction of Raqqa.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, who accompanied Erdoğan during his visit to New York, said Biden had admitted that Ankara provided “concrete evidence” about Gülen being the mastermind of the coup attempt in Turkey.

“We have enough information, documents and proof that show Gülen is the leader of this terror group that tried to make a coup,” Bozdağ said.

“Mr. Biden also agreed and stated that there was concrete evidence,” he added.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-us-in-deadlock-over-two-major-issues.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104181&NewsCatID=338

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Turkish state will look into social media accounts to spot ‘PKK supporters’

September 23, 2016

Public workers with suspected links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) will be dismissed, Labor and Social Policies Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu has announced.

Statements they share on Twitter will also be evaluated as a criterion in order to determine if they are linked to the outlawed group, he said.

“We will be attempting to conclude our efforts during the next week,” Müezzinoğlu told journalists, adding that the ministry had data on the suspected personnel.

“We are evaluating the criteria. We have information, such as memberships, social media accounts and conversations that were determined. We are working on the ones who support it, but it’s not in its final form. A person is in public service, but when you look at his Twitter account, you see that he supports the PKK’s struggle,” he said.

Thousands of public employees were dismissed and suspended over their suspected links to the Gülen movement after the failed July 15 coup, believed to have been masterminded by the followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen.

A total of 785 people have been dismissed from the Labor and Social Policies Ministry while 319 are being investigated, Müezzinoğlu said, adding that a total of 383 people had returned to their jobs.

The minister also commented on comments by the Education and Science Workers’ Union (Eğitim-Sen) on teachers who were suspended over their suspected links to the PKK, saying the union’s reactions were “inappropriate.”

“I don’t find it appropriate for the unions to boil over with rage. [The teachers are] channeling the state’s opportunities to the PKK. If any of our unions accept this as normal, then we don’t find the stance of that union correct,” he added.

Müezzinoğlu also commented on statements from a Sakarya deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regarding infiltrations into the party.

“It would be naïve to say FETÖ [the Gülen movement] didn’t infiltrate into the AKP,” Sakarya lawmaker Ayhan Sefer Üstün said, prompting a rejection from Müezzinoğlu.

“FETÖ didn’t seek a place for itself in the areas where heavy works, such as party efforts, take place. It doesn’t send its resources to these places,” Müezzinoğlu told journalists.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-state-will-look-into-social-media-accounts-to-spot-pkk-supporters.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104198&NewsCatID=338

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Cypriot leaders set to meet UN chief on Sept 25 as part of peace talks

September 23, 2016

The two leaders on either side of Cyprus are set to meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 25 on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, as part of efforts to solve the decades-long conflict on the divided Mediterranean island.

Coming after an eight-legged marathon of meetings in Nicosia under the auspices of U.N. Special Advisor on Cyprus Espen Barth Eide, Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades will meet Ban in New York, where the two leaders held excessive diplomatic meetings with other heads of states.

The half-century-old Cyprus problem erupted after the island was granted independence from Britain in 1960, soon followed by an outbreak of inter-communal clashes in 1963. The island was ethnically divided between a Greek south and a Turkish north when the Turkish military intervened in 1974 under the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee after diplomacy failed to end unrest on the island and a coup on the island aimed at unification with Greece.

Efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict were relaunched after previously failed peace talks were opened once again in May 2015 following the election of Akıncı as the new president of Turkish Cyprus.

Speaking after meeting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Sept. 22, Akıncı said the U.S. was continuing to show its “utmost attention” to the process of solving the Cyprus conflict.

Akıncı also met with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson, and he is set to meet Ban in a one-on-one meeting on Sept. 24.

Anastasiades, who met Ban on Sept. 18, also met Biden and Steinmeier, as well as U.S. President Barack Obama, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 22, Anastasiades said that despite differences, the “ambitious goal” of reaching a peace deal within 2016 was still “achievable.”

“I do believe that this ambitious goal is achievable,” he said, despite differences on several issues relating to governance, European Union membership, economy, property, territory, security and guarantees.

“This year, following a series of frequent meetings between the two leaders, I have pleasure in informing you that progress has been achieved on important aspects of the ‘Cyprus problem,’” Anastasiades added.

The Greek Cypriot leader said he aimed at reaching a solution that creates a “win-win situation for all Cypriots” and addresses the expectations, sensitivities and concerns of both Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

In a Sept. 15 interview with Turkish Cypriot journalists, Akıncı had stressed that a peace deal was in reach within 90 days if both sides of the divided Mediterranean island were willing and decisive about the issue.

Source: hurriyetdailynews.com/cypriot-leaders-set-to-meet-un-chief-on-sept-25-as-part-of-peace-talks-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=104203&NewsCatID=359

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Israeli Forces Detain Palestinians in overnight West Bank Raids

September 23, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli forces detained at least nine Palestinians during overnight raids across the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that two Palestinians were detained in the city of Bethlehem, while five others were detained in the neighboring al-Duheisha refugee camp, Ma'an News Agency reported.

They added that two more Palestinians were detained in the village of Beit Awwa, in the Southern West Bank district of Hebron.

According to Addameer, 7,000 Palestinians were held in Israeli prisons as of August. The group estimates that 40 percent of Palestinian men have been detained by Israel at some point in their lives.

Source: en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950703000641

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Europe

Watch out for fake video of 'Muslim army' at Europe's borders

September 24, 2016

A lot of false information - especially false photos - circulates on popular social media accounts. One of the most recent examples is a post on September 10 from an American Twitter user who shared a video showing trains jam-packed with people, some even sitting on the roof, and claimed that it depicted the failure of world leaders to halt the advance of the “Muslim army” on Europe.

During the 30-second video clip, you see trains bursting with passengers. Different camera angles reveal people who are stuffed like sardines inside the carriages as well as scores clinging to the roof. Large crowds are also clamouring next to the trains.

Bruce Porter, the man who posted the photo on Twitter, wrote this caption:

Porter’s tweet appears to be referring to the large number of refugees, notably from the war-torn countries Syria and Iraq, who are seeking asylum in Europe.

On his Twitter account, Porter describes himself as an entrepreneur, athlete and globetrotter. A quick scroll through his tweets reveals that he hates Hillary Clinton, loves Donald Trump and that he is convinced that Muslim people are destroying Europe and will soon threaten the United States as well. His xenophobic views have so far earned him 59,900 followers -- no small number on Twitter. His tweet from September 10 was retweeted more than 1,200 times.

However, in reality, the video doesn’t show what Porter claims it does. The video wasn’t filmed on Europe’s borders… it was actually filmed in Bangladesh. This was first pointed out by a Twitter user who replied to Porter’s tweet. This user shared a longer video, which contained the footage that Porter had shared.

The introduction to this longer video explains that the scene was caught on camera in a train station in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, during Eid celebrations, when many people leave the city to celebrate the holiday with their families. The video was posted on YouTube in September 2015, during Eid. That said, this doesn’t prove that the video was actually filmed then.

But while we can’t be certain of the date this footage was taken, it is easy to see that it wasn’t filmed in Europe. Check out the signs: the writing on them does not use Latin or Cyrillic letters, which are the alphabets used in Europe. It is Bengali script, which is used in Bangladesh.

Source: observers.france24.com/en/20160923-fake-video-muslim-army-europe-borders

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Elizabeth I’s Muslim Ties ‘Held off a Catholic Invasion’, Says A NYT Piece

Friday, 23 Sep 2016

How did Elizabeth I manage to avoid invasion by the Catholic Philip II of Spain? According to Professor Jerry Brotton of Queen Mary’s, London, “Elizabeth’s Islamic policy held off a Catholic invasion”. Prof Brotton made this claim in a recent article for the New York Times. Like his new book, it places him in a recent scholarly movement which – quite understandably – aims to depart from Eurocentric historical narratives. But unfortunately, the claim about “Elizabeth’s Islamic policy” is not merely simplistic but manifestly erroneous. The historical facts just don’t support it.

England’s ties with the Muslim Ottoman Empire did indeed make an impact on military events but in a very different way. They must be studied within the wider background of diplomatic and military developments elsewhere in Europe, the Mediterranean and even the Middle East.

In the second half of the sixteenth century, the Mediterranean saw a period of open warfare followed by a period of truces and relative calm. Before 1571, the Ottoman Empire and Spain (and its Italian allies) were locked in a bitter struggle for naval domination. Despite the famous Christian victory at Lepanto in October 1571, neither side was able to secure a decisive victory; nor so in 1580, the King of Spain and the Sultan concluded the first of a series of truces. For the next two decades, the Mediterranean was divided into a Spanish-dominated west and Ottoman-dominated east. After the mid-1570s, the King of Spain and the Ottoman Sultan thus largely disengaged from one another and turned their eyes away from the Mediterranean. They focused their bellicose energies instead against adversaries who were identified as greater threats.

For Philip II of Spain, the heretical Protestants in Northern Europe came to dominate all other issues: the Calvinist rebels in the Netherlands, their English allies, and the Protestants in France posed a danger to the Catholic Church and Philip’s own authority.

Similarly, the primary threat for the Sunni Ottoman Sultan became the Shiite Safavid dynasty in Persia (modern-day Iran). As Shiites, the Safavids challenged the theological legitimacy of the Sultan in the Islamic world and threatened the Ottoman heartlands in Anatolia. The Ottomans initiated a conflict against the Safavids in 1578 (until 1590) and the rivalry between both Muslim dynasties continued into the seventeenth century. Both the superpowers of the age had effectively decided that the enemies within their faith represented a great threat than the infidel.

It is therefore hard to see how the ties Elizabeth forged with the Ottoman played any role in “holding off a Catholic invasion”. Indeed, in this respect her strategy could be seen as having been a singular failure. When the Armada sailed against England in 1588, it comprised a number of ships that were redeployed from Mediterranean squadrons due to the absence of an Ottoman threat. The galleass La Girona, which sank off Country Antrim with tremendous loss of life in October 1588, was just one of these redeployed galleys and galleasses that were more suited to naval warfare in the Mediterranean than the North Atlantic.

The Ottoman Sultan and his officials may well have welcomed English envoys and trade links and made pleasing diplomatic noises. But they offered no real military help. Diplomatic relations in early modern Europe and the Mediterranean were often moulded by a brutal realpolitik in which expediency trumped religious loyalties: my enemy’s enemy was my friend, whether or not he was an infidel. Elizabeth wasn’t the first European monarch to seek a Muslim ally (the French Kings had previously sought Ottoman help against the Habsburgs); she wasn’t the last, either (even Philip III of Spain would later seek to cultivate relations with the Safavids to counter any Ottoman threat).

Elizabeth survived the Armada through a combination of skilful English seamanship, poor Spanish leadership and luck. But the war did not end in 1588, and Philip did not abandon his plans to attack the British Isles. Philip II’s failure to invade and conquer England or defeat Protestantism in northwestern Europe was certainly not caused by Ottoman interference but by diplomatic and military overreach in northern Europe. What inhibited Philip, much more than the Ottomans, was the worrying possibility of a Protestant victory in the civil war in France. Through his Catholic alliances, Philip found himself dragged into an all-out war with the ex-Protestant King Henry IV of France between 1595 and 1598.

Eventually, Philip went bankrupt, thanks to the combined weight of war against an alliance of the Dutch, the English and Henry IV. It is therefore ironic that after 1588 Elizabeth had the French and the Catholic King of France, rather than the Ottomans, to thank for thwarting Philip’s plans to unseat her.

Inaccuracies and legends, some of them derived from Protestant propaganda, continue to colour our perception of the reign of Elizabeth and her relations with Philip II of Spain. The notion that “Elizabeth’s Islamic policy held off a Catholic invasion” is just another error that we can do without.

Source: catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2016/09/23/elizabeth-is-muslim-ties-held-off-a-catholic-invasion-says-a-new-york-times-piece-its-a-myth/

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Pope to meet families of Nice attack victims

Sept 21, 2016

ROME (AFP) - Pope Francis will on Saturday (Sept 24) hold a multi-faith meeting of grieving relatives and survivors of an attack in France in July when a terrorist ploughed his truck into a crowd in Nice.

The pope, who this week denounced violence in the name of religion - declaring "there is no God of war" - will meet with 180 people who were wounded, or left traumatised or bereaved by the July 14 Bastille Day attack which claimed 86 lives.

Members of 58 families will be flown in especially from the French Rivera resort city of Nice.

They will be joined in Rome by 150 others who are travelling from France by car and a delegation from a French regional interreligious group, including the Catholic bishop of Nice and Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox and Protestant representatives.

Last month the Argentine pontiff met with French President Francois Hollande to offer his support and condolences to a country which has been rocked by a series of deadly attacks since early 2015.

While speaking out against violent acts carried out in the name of any god, Francis this week reminded the West that there were parts of the world being flattened by fighting.

Speaking in the Italian town of Assisi on Tuesday he said, "We are frightened... by some terrorist acts", but "this is nothing compared to what is happening in those countries, in those lands where day and night bombs fall."

Vincent Delhommel Desmarest, who runs a restaurant on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice where the attack happened, said he has been on sick leave ever since and now sees a psychologist three times a week.

"I don't sleep at night. The whole scene of the lorry moving, the mutilated bodies, decapitated, the entrails," he said.

The 49-year-old restaurateur has decided to create a local association to support the victims of that awful night.

French police on Tuesday arrested eight associates of Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a 31-year-old Tunisian, who rammed a 19-tonne truck through a crowd of more than 30,000 people gathered on the seafront Promenade des Anglais in Nice on July 14 before police shot him dead.

A total of 434 people were injured in the attack.

Nice's deputy mayor Christian Estrosi, who is making the trip to Rome, stressed that the papal audience would be "without any distinction between the religions".

A third of those who died in the Nice attack were of the Muslim faith, said Imam Boubekeur Bekri, vice-president of the Southeast France regional Muslim council, who will also be attending the meeting.

Bekri hailed the pope's "intense humanism", expressed through his visit to mainly Muslim refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos.

Maurice Niddam, president of the Jewish community in Nice, is not accompanying the Jewish victims of the attack, but he similarly praised a pope "open to all faiths".

Source: straitstimes.com/world/europe/pope-to-meet-families-of-nice-attack-victims

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