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Islamic World News ( 19 Jan 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Religion revives in Haiti following destruction of Biblical proportions

Islamic extremism a 'common threat' to Christians and Muslims

Indian Minister backs Islamic banking concept of Kerala

MUMBAI: Imam ensured Hindu-Muslim harmony in jail

The truth about Mumbai 26/11 matters: editorial in The Hindu, New Delhi

Aafia Siddiqui faces attempted murder trial in US

Death penalty sought for Indonesian corruption fighter

Pak troops violate ceasefire again, 2nd in 24 hrs

Tony Blair to face Iraq probe on January 29

We have no agenda in Afghanistan except seeing it emerge as a stable and peaceful country: India

The Pakistani and Afghan Taliban: Two heads, same body, says the Economist

Surge in Taliban terror: editorial in Pioneer, New Delhi

Chinese made a bid to hack our computers, says India’s NSA Narayanan

China says India's hacking allegations groundless

'Include all Muslims in BPL, then exclude the well-off'

NC opposes division of J&K

Anchal resurfaces in Srinagar, does volte-face

Violence between Christians, Muslims in Nigeria erupts again; 27 killed in earlier fights

5,000 displaced after church set ablaze in Nigeria

Akshardham and Ayodhya attacks mastermind killed

Plans for Huge Mosque in London Scrapped 

Israel resumes airlifts of Jewish Ethiopians

Terror war put Kashmir issue on back burner: Fazal

Peace body member killed in Mohmand attack

Key HuJI operative held in Hyderabad

Mastermind of Al Qaeda-inspired terror plot jailed to life

US analysts warn of Pak terror attack on India

Af-Pak: No quick exit, says Holbrooke

The convent school boy who turned terror commander

Cold shoulder to Karzai’s offers of peace

Kabul bleeds as Taliban take battle to city’s heart

Pakistani troops fire into India for over an hour

IPC will define honour killing

Pakistan says India dampening peace hope

Pro-settlement soldier dismissed over protest

Four arrested after Iran prosecutor assassinated

UN Afghanistan survey points to huge scale of bribery

40-45 percent drugs sold in Pakistan are spurious

 Two blasts in Balochistan

India to hold wide-ranging strategic talks with US, Israel

Rao Remarks vitriolic, says Pakistan

Canadian gets 12-yr-jail for 'terrorism'

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Religion revives in Haiti following destruction of Biblical proportions


January 19, 2010

Deeply religious Haitians see the hand of God in the destruction of Biblical proportions visited on their benighted country. The quake, religious leaders said on Sunday, is evidence that He wants change.

Exactly what change He wants depends on the faith: Some Christians say it’s a sign that Haitians must deepen their faith, while some Voodoo followers see God’s judgment on corruption among the country’s mostly light-skinned elite.

And then there’s American evangelist Pat Robertson, who said on Wednesday that Haiti had been cursed by a pact he said its slave founders made with the devil two centuries ago to overthrow their French rulers and become the world’s first black republic. The White House called his remarks “stupid.”

As desperate believers gathered to pray on Sunday across the shattered capital, the Rev. Eric Toussaint told a congregation gathered outside the ruined cathedral that the earthquake “is a sign from God, saying that we must recognize his power.” Haitians, he said, “need to reinvent themselves, to find a new path to God.”

Some followers of Voodoo, practised alongside Roman Catholicism by the vast majority of Haitians, said the devastation of key symbols of power was punishment for corrupt leaders who have allowed the mostly light-skinned elite to enrich themselves while the black majority suffers.

“If all of a sudden, in 15 seconds, 20 seconds, all the physical representations of corruption are destroyed, it gives you pause for thought,” said Richard Morse, a renowned Haitian-American musician whose mother was a singer and revered Voodoo priestess. “The Justice Ministry: down. The National Palace: down. The UN headquarters: down.”

Unharmed by the quake was the famed bronze statue, “Le Maron Inconnu” — “the Unknown Escaped Slave” — noted Morse, who owns the Oloffson Hotel featured in Graham Greene’s novel The Comedians.

The destruction of every major Catholic church in the capital, including the 81-year-old cathedral, also was a sign, he said: “When there is all this corruption going on, whose role is it in society to speak out? Isn’t the Church supposed to say something?”


Islamic extremism a 'common threat' to Christians and Muslims

Jan 19, 2010

"Extremist (Islamic) currents, clearly a threat to everyone, Christians and Muslims alike, require a treatment in common," prelates said. Christians and Muslims should work together to counter Islamic extremism, Roman Catholic prelates said Tuesday in a working document released ahead of a synod on the Middle East in October.

"Extremist (Islamic) currents, clearly a threat to everyone, Christians and Muslims alike, require a treatment in common," they said.

Quoting a 2009 pastoral letter to Arab Christians, the working paper said "political Islam... seek(s) to impose an Islamic way of life on... Muslim and non-Muslim alike (and) a return to original Islam."

The letter added: "In pursuit of this goal, some do not hesitate to resort to violence."

"This attitude, though primarily concerning Muslim society, has an impact on the Christian presence in the Middle East," lamented the document containing guidelines for reflection ahead of the October 10-24 synod.

Christians and Muslims "must be seen to be citizens of the same country and homeland, sharing the same language and culture, not to mention the same fortunes and misfortunes of our countries," the paper said.

A number of Middle Eastern churches come under the Catholic umbrella, including Maronites, Chaldeans, Armenians and Copts.

Christians are a small minority across the Middle East apart from Lebanon, the document noted, warning them against "isolating themselves out of fear of others (and) falling into a ghetto mentality".

The 30-page document was compiled by a planning council made up of seven patriarchs from the Catholic Church's Eastern Rite, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Vatican officials and the heads of the Turkish and Iranian bishops conferences.

"Oftentimes, relations can be difficult, mainly because Muslims frequently mix religion and politics, putting Christians in a precarious situation of being considered as non-citizens," the prelates wrote.

"Where we note the rise of fundamentalism in many countries, we also witness the readiness of a great number of Muslims to resist this growing extremism," they said.

"Speaking about and working for peace seems impossible, considering that war and violence are virtually forced upon us" in the Middle East, the prelates wrote.

"The solution to conflicts rests in the hands of the stronger country in its occupying and inflicting wars on another country," they said.

"Violence is in the hands of the strong and weak alike, the latter resorting to whatever violence is within reach in order to be free," they added.


Indian Minister backs Islamic banking concept of Kerala

By A. M. Jigeesh

New Delhi

THE CENTRE has offered a helping hand to Kerala in revoking a stay order by the state high court against setting up of an Islamic bank.

Noting that the court order could hamper investment opportunities in the country, Union minority affairs minister Salman Khurshid said the Centre would coordinate with the state government in dealing with the issue legally.

Speaking at the editors’ conference on social sector issues on Monday, Khurshid backed the concept of Islamic banking.

“ A lot of other countries are snatching investment from Islamic countries,” he said. The country is being deprived of such funds for the lack of an Islamic banking system, Khurshid added.

He said the high court would be informed of the Centre’s stand on the matter. “ I think the finance ministry will deal with the matter,” he told the gathering. He said, if needed, the banking norms should be amended to comply with the Islamic banking system.

Two weeks ago, a division bench of the Kerala High Court had stayed “ all further moves” by the state government- owned Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation ( KSIDC) to set up an Islamic bank in the state. Former union minister Subramanian Swamy had approached the high court complaining that the proposed Islamic bank was against India’s secular credentials and its banking norms.

The Kerala government cleared the project after a feasibility study found that Islamic bank was a viable proposition in Kerala. A company was also registered to take the process forward. The share capital of the proposed bank had been fixed at Rs 1,000 crore.

According to the Islamic banking concept, the bank will not pay any interest to customers. A Sharia board can decide what sort of investments the bank can make. The bank will also have Sharia- compliant banking products.

Profits made out of the investments will be distributed to shareholders.

Convener of National Committee on Islamic Banking H. Abdur Raqeeb had met Khurshid last June on the feasibility of interest- free Islamic banking in India.

“ Islamic banking will be beneficial for the marginalised and the minorities in terms of microfinance.

Major investment from the Gulf countries could also be attracted,” Raqeeb said.

He said if London, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong can become “ hub and house of Islamic Finance & Banking”, Mumbai and Kochi can also follow suit.

Khurshid also said the Centre preferred a cautious approach on the issue of reservation for minorities. “ Our manifesto is clear on this. We will apply Karnataka- Tamil Nadu model, which says backward among Muslims should get reservation, according to their population,” he said.

Mail today New delhi


MUMBAI: Imam ensured Hindu-Muslim harmony in jail

Mateen Hafeez

19 January 2010

MUMBAI: Imam Gulam Yahya Illahi Bakhsh, acquitted of all terror charges in the first case handled by the state anti-terrorism squad, did not sit idle during the four years he spent in prison as an undertrial. It was he who ensured that there was no fight among the Hindus and Muslims there, especially when members of the two communities would offer their daily prayers.

Bakhsh was released from jail on Sunday afternoon, a little more than four years after he entered prison (on January 13, 2006), after a Sewree fast-track court acquitted him of terror charges.

“When I was taken to jail, they first kept me in an isolated cell called ‘anda’ cell meant for hardened criminals and terrorists. Later, they shifted me to a barrack where most of the inmates were accused of murder. There were Hindus, Muslims and Christians in the barrack. But there was some problem as the timings for Hindu prayers and the namaz clashed,’’ he recounted. “When I requested my Hindu brothers to time their prayers just before or after the namaz, they readily agreed. Everything went off smoothly after that,’’ he added.

“Even in the cell, I continued leading namaz. I was happy that I was an imam even though I was in jail,’’ said Bakhsh, who has been leading namaz at various mosques in the city for around 24 years.

According to Bakhsh, he got a lot of emotional support from Hindu inmates during his days in prison. “There were times when I was completely shattered but several Hindu inmates would sit next to me and console me. They said I would be released if I had not done anything wrong,’’ a tearful Bakhsh said.


The truth about Mumbai 26/11 matters: editorial in The Hindu, New Delhi

Jan 19, 2010

For over a year, the bodies of nine men have been lying in a mortuary next to Mumbai’s Sir Jamshetjee Jejeebhoy Hospital — just a short walk from the buildings and streets where they killed 166 women, men, and children on November 26, 2008. The bodies are a ghoulish reminder that the whole truth about who was responsible for the horrors of that night is still elusive. Pakistani investigators, dossiers they submitted to India make clear, have been unable to establish the identity of the men who controlled the assault team, using satellite phones and voice-over-internet protocol connections — one of whom, an investigation by this newspaper revealed last week, was probably an Indian. Key suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commanders Sajid Mir and Muzammil Bhat, are still at large. We do not know who selected the facilities to be attacked, although evidence gathered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation suggests the targets were identified well before Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley was despatched to garner the videotape to familiarise the members of the assault-team with their targets. We do not know why the attack was delayed beyond September 2008, when the Central Intelligence Agency first passed on warnings to India of an imminent attack. We do not even know the names of seven of the nine men whose bodies lie in the morgue.

There are many reasons why we must have answers to these questions. Justice for the victims, of course, is the first reason. But there is also a larger issue. India-Pakistan dialogue ought not to be held hostage to the fate of the Mumbai investigation, yet unless New Delhi is persuaded that Islamabad is serious about acting against terrorist groups targeting India from its soil, the odds are that any dialogue will be scarred by suspicion. Further, the process is likely to be undermined by future terrorist attacks. Pakistani investigators have had in their custody for a year three men they say played a key role in planning the attacks — Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, his deputy Mazhar Iqbal, and electronics expert Abdul Wajid. Yet they do not seem to have discovered that Headley had carried out reconnaissance in Mumbai and was in the process of planning further strikes in New Delhi and Pune. Investigations by journalists suggest that Lashkar camps are up and running in Pakistan. All this has fuelled suspicion that such jihadist groups enjoy the support not just of rogue elements in the state, but of the institution of Pakistan’s armed forces. India must do all it can to initiate meaningful dialogue and thus strengthen democratic forces in Pakistan. But any peace process will rest on sand unless Pakistan finds the will and the resolve to act against the enemies of peace operating from its soil.


Aafia Siddiqui faces attempted murder trial in US


A Pakistani woman, alleged by US authorities to have links to al-Qaeda, is set to stand trial in New York on attempted murder charges.

Aafia Siddiqui, 37, is charged with shooting at FBI agents while being detained in Afghanistan in 2008.

Prosecutors say Ms Siddiqui picked up a rifle while she was waiting to be questioned in a police compound in Ghazni and fired towards US agents.

Ms Siddiqui, who was shot during the incident, insists she is innocent.

Her lawyers dispute the prosecution's version of events and say she never touched a gun.

In 2004 the US named her one of its most-wanted al-Qaeda fugitives, but she has never been charged for any specific terror plots.

Courtroom outburst

She has refused to work with her defence lawyers and argued that she would not get a fair trial if there were Jewish people on the jury.

Last week, she was removed from the courtroom by the judge after shouting out: "I had nothing to do with 9/11".

In July 2009, a judge ruled that Ms Siddiqui was mentally fit to stand trial.

Her lawyers had said that she had suffered from hallucinations during her period in pre-trial detention.

Supporters say that she vanished between 2003 and 2008 and that she was held in US-linked detention centres during that time.

In 2008, she was initially detained in Afghanistan after being discovered with notes referring to what authorities say was a "mass casualty attack".

Science graduate

The youngest of three children of a British-trained doctor, Ms Siddiqui went to school in Karachi.

She continued her education in the US, graduating with a biology degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she became heavily involved in on-campus Islamic activities.

Although her family denies this, Ms Siddiqui is said to have married a nephew of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, one of the self-confessed orchestrators of the 2001 attacks on the US.


Death penalty sought for Indonesian corruption fighter


Prosecutors in Indonesia have demanded the death penalty for the former head of the country's anti-corruption agency in his murder trial.

Antasari Azhar has been charged with ordering the murder of wealthy businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen over a love triangle with a female golf caddy.

Mr Azhar has said he is innocent and the case is retaliation for his work unveiling corruption among officials.

The agency has managed to put a number of Indonesia's elite behind bars.

Sex, lies and golf

Prosecutors in the Zulkarnaen case say Antasari Azhar and two accomplices organised his murder after a game of golf in Jakarta in March last year.

They say Mr Azhar was romantically linked with Nasrudin Zulkarnaen's third wife, a 22-year-old golf caddy, and ordered his murder when Mr Zulkarnaen tried to blackmail him.

Chief prosecutor Cirus Sinaga called for the death penalty for all three defendants.

The trial has been called the "sex, lies and golf scandal" in Indonesia, says the BBC's Karishma Vaswani in Jakarta.

Mr Azhar said he would present his defence at the next court session on 28 January. A verdict is expected early in February.

Mr Azhar was head of the country's anti-corruption commission, or KPK, until he was suspended on his arrest last May.

As Indonesia's top corruption fighter, he oversaw a number of successful investigations into government officials.

Reducing the country's widespread corruption was a key promise of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's re-election campaign last year.

Corruption is seen as a major impediment to foreign investment in Indonesia and is a major source of discontent among ordinary Indonesians.

Two other members of the KPK were exonerated of abuse of power last year after evidence emerged of a plot among police officials to frame them.


Pak troops violate ceasefire again, 2nd in 24 hrs

19 January 2010

JAMMU: In yet another ceasefire violation along the Line of Control (LoC) and the second in 24 hours, Pakistani troops on Tuesday fired light and medium machine guns at an Indian border post in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

There was cross-border firing from LMGs and MMGs on the Sabzian Forward Defence Location along the LoC this afternoon, a senior army officer of the 16 Corps told PTI. However, there were no casualties or injuries to anyone on the Indian side.

Infiltration attempts from Pakistan and ceasefire violations have been on the rise in recent months with such incidents happening at regular intervals.

Firing was going on intermittently from the Pakistan side and troops guarding the border have retaliated, the officer said.

The reports also said two mortars were fired from Pakistan, which exploded away from the border post.

"There was no casualty on our side in the firing from across the border", the officer said.

It appears that the firing is aimed at giving cover to infiltrating militants, he said, adding that the troops along the border are alert and vigilant to foil any fresh infiltration bids.

Pakistani troops fired 5 rockets and opened small arms firing last night on the forward Kranti post along the LoC in Krishnagati sub-sector of Poonch. BSF troops yesterday foiled two infiltration bids by militants along the Indo-Pak border in Jammu region.

Troops have further intensified patrolling and are keeping a close watch on the movement despite the thick fog along the LoC.

Security forces are on high alert in the run-up to Republic Day with additional deployment of personnel at vital installations.


Tony Blair to face Iraq probe on January 29

Hasan Suroor

LONDON: The former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will appear before the Iraq inquiry commission on January 29 to answer questions about his controversial decision to support the Iraq invasion, especially the allegation that he misled Parliament and the country by distorting intelligence about the “threat” from Saddam Hussein to justify the invasion.

Mr. Blair is expected to face some uncomfortable questions over claims that he committed Britain’s support to the U.S.-led invasion months before a formal decision was taken.

Alastair Campbell, who was his chief of communications at the time, told the inquiry last week that he assured the then U.S. President George W. Bush in 2002 that he would support any military attack on Iraq if diplomatic efforts to “disarm” Saddam Hussein failed.

The assurance was given in private letters that Mr. Blair wrote to Mr. Bush.

“Yes, that was the tenor,” said Mr. Campbell when asked if he was aware that Mr. Blair gave such an assurance.

Mr. Campbell’s remarks confirmed that Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush had agreed on a military solution while in public they were claiming that no decision had been taken.

Sir Christopher Meyer, then British Ambassador to Washington, said in his evidence Mr. Blair appeared to have made up his mind about regime change in Iraq after a private meeting with Mr. Bush at his Crawford ranch in early 2002.

It has emerged that Jack Straw, who was Foreign Secretary, warned Mr. Blair in a “secret and personal” letter in March 2002 — one full year before the invasion — that any military attack would be illegal.


We have no agenda in Afghanistan except seeing it emerge as a stable and peaceful country: India

Sandeep Dikshit

U.S. Special Envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke (centre), and U.S. Ambassador Timothy J. Roemer (left) with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI: India on Monday told the United States that it had no agenda in Afghanistan except seeing it emerge as a stable and peaceful country.

To this end, India would continue to work in Afghanistan on development projects but with no geo-political ambitions, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told the visiting U.S. Special Envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, here.

Mr. Holbrooke was also told about India’s involvement in infrastructure building in Afghanistan.

The U.S. Special Envoy said he was looking forward to the international conference on Afghanistan, scheduled for January 28 in London, and expected a positive contribution from India.

He also informed Mr. Krishna of two preparatory meets scheduled in Turkey with India participating in one of them. Mr. Krishna is scheduled to attend the London meeting.

Mr. Holbrooke briefed the Minister on the steps taken by the U.S. in Afghanistan and the content of his talks in Islamabad and Kabul.

Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Mr. Krishna indicated India’s keenness to see the situation stabilise in Afghanistan but professed disinterestedness on other issues of tactical military importance.

Emerging from the talks, Mr. Holbrooke said India was a “tremendously important participant in the search for peace and stability not only in south Asia but throughout the vast region that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Pacific.”

He reiterated the U.S.’ expectation of “more action” from Pakistan in routing the Taliban from its bases on the Afghan-Pakistan border despite being encouraged by its battle with the militants in the Swat Valley.

The main subject of his talks with the Pakistani leadership during his ongoing three-nation visit was the spread of the Taliban in the North West Frontier Province. Mr. Holbroke did not think Monday’s attack in Kabul was surprising “since they are desperate people.”

He said:

“They are ruthless and the people who are doing this will certainly not survive this attack nor will they succeed, but we can expect this sort of thing on a regular basis.

“That is what Taliban are. They are part of extremist groups operating in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan and they do these desperate things all the time and India knows all this.”


The Pakistani And Afghan Taliban: Two heads, same body, says The Economist

19 January 2010

Signs of solidarity between the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban

THE suicide-blast by a jihadist triple-agent in Afghanistan on December 30th, that killed seven American spies and one Jordanian, was a calamity for the CIA. Yet the effect may be felt most keenly in Pakistan. A video released on January 9th (see picture) appeared to show the bomber, a Jordanian doctor named Humam Khalil Abu Malil al-Balawi, delivering his farewell message beside the chief of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud.

It was probably filmed in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region, 16km (10 miles) from Khost, where Mr Balawi blew himself up inside an American army base. He had gone there, under the aegis of Jordan’s main intelligence agency, to meet a high-level CIA delegation that expected him to provide information on al-Qaeda fugitives. Many are believed to be in North Waziristan, as is Mr Mehsud, who fled his former headquarters in nearby South Waziristan after the Pakistani army attacked it in October. North Waziristan is largely controlled by other Pakistani and Afghan militants, including Jalaluddin Haqqani, an Afghan jihadist and former ally of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), who runs a cross-border fief which also includes Khost.

For Mr Mehsud, who took over the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban last year after Baitullah Mehsud was killed by an American drone attack, the video is an obvious boost. Appalled by its methods—including a suicide-bombing spree that claimed some 1,300 lives last year—many once-sympathetic Pakistanis have turned against the group. This has emboldened the army to launch a series of crushing offensives against it, most recently in South Waziristan. By associating himself with the jihad in Afghanistan, about which Pakistanis feel more ambivalent, Mr Mehsud may hope to restore his image. Speaking confident English, in the video Dr al-Balawi links his impending martyrdom to the killing of Baitullah Mehsud, as “the first of the revenge operations against the Americans and their drone teams outside the Pakistani borders”.

Full report at:  The Economist, London


Surge in Taliban terror: A Pioneer editorial, New Delhi

Jan 19, 2010

US still won’t accept Pakistani duplicity

Monday’s daring attack in the heart of Kabul by the Taliban once again underscores the fact that the war in Afghanistan is far from going according to plan. The Taliban have claimed that 20 of its fidayeen were involved in the strike which took place in a high-security zone in the Afghan capital that includes several important Government buildings as well as the presidential palace, and the city’s only luxury five-star hotel, Serena. The attack took place around the time several Cabinet Ministers were being administered the oath of office, a fact some say is no coincidence. It’s also noteworthy that the incident comes 10 days before a key conference on Afghanistan in London. The deadly strike demonstrates that the Taliban are still very much capable of launching suicide attacks in the centre of Kabul in spite of the heavy security presence comprising Afghan and international security forces. It is clear that Monday’s attack was carried out as much to inflict a psychological wound on the Afghan Government and the troops of the International Security Assistance Force as to spread terror through the killing of innocent civilians. The message that the Taliban are trying to send out is: We are not going anywhere.

The situation in Afghanistan shows no sign of improving in the near future. US President Barack Obama might have announced an increase in the number of combat troops to provide a much-needed boost to the war effort. But the ground situation has hardly changed over the last few months. US Special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke is reported to have said on his latest visit to Kabul that peace and stability in Afghanistan are not possible without the support of Pakistan. What this essentially means is that the US is yet to grasp the fact that Pakistan is part of the problem and not the solution. It is no secret that an unstable Afghanistan serves Pakistan’s interest; Islamabad wants the US to accept the installation of a proxy Taliban regime to restore stability, as that alone would mean regaining strategic depth. Given Pakistan’s ‘assets’ in Afghanistan, as long as Kabul remains crippled, Islamabad will have to be appeased for any initiative to succeed. The Obama Administration had held out the promise of a new, pragmatic approach to the AfPak region when it had assumed charge. But that is now fast unravelling. As a result, Islamabad has been able to successfully carry out its duplicitous policy: Feign action against terrorists while asking for more US aid. Unless and until stricter action is taken against Pakistan for its complicity in Talibani terrorism, nothing will come out of Mr Obama’s promised surge. The US is chasing a chimera.


Chinese made a bid to hack our computers, says Narayanan

19 January 2010T

NEW DELHI: Chinese hackers made a concerted attempt to penetrate into "sensitive" Indian offices on December 15, 2009, the day several US firms

handling defence contracts complained of cyber attacks by the Chinese. Revealing this to British daily `The Times', outgoing NSA M K Narayanan also said that this was not the first attempt by the Chinese to hack into the systems of important government offices.

Narayanan said his own office was among the government departments targeted on December 15 and that the attack came in the form of an e-mail with a PDF attachment containing a 'Trojan' virus which allows a hacker to access a computer remotely and download or delete files. Narayanan said in the interview that the virus was detected and officials were told not to log on until it was eliminated.

"People seem to be fairly sure it was the Chinese. It is difficult to find the exact source but this is the main suspicion. It seems well founded," he told `The Times'. He added that India was cooperating with the US and Britain to strengthen its cyber defences.

The Chinese government had denied any role in the attacks, with a foreign ministry spokeswoman saying that hacking in whatever form was prohibited by law in China.

Narayanan, however, said that even though he expected China to be an increasingly high security priority for India, the main threat still came from militants based in Pakistan.

Narayanan, who is slated to take over as governor of West Bengal, also expressed displeasure with Britain for not being able to call Pakistan's bluff. He said Islamabad had done nothing to dismantle militant groups since the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, and criticised Britain for accepting its excuse that such groups were beyond its control. "The British are still blinkered on this. We believe Pakistan's policy of using terror as a policy weapon remains," Narayanan said, adding India is anxious to prevent an attack from Pakistan during the Commonwealth Games in October. "From Pakistan's point of view, it's important to disrupt the Games so you can claim that India is not a safe place," Narayanan said.


China says India's hacking allegations groundless

19 January 2010

BEIJING: China dismissed as "groundless" India's charge that Chinese hackers had attempted to break into sensitive Indian government computers, a week after American internet giant Google levelled a similar allegation against it.

"I can say that these accusations are groundless," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters when asked to comment on National Security Adviser M K Narayanan's reported comments that Chinese hackers may be involved in a December 15 attempt to penetrate Indian government computers, including that of his office.

"The Chinese government is firmly against hacking activities and will deal with relevant cases in accordance with the law," Ma said.

He also claimed that China itself was the "biggest victim" of hacking activities.

Narayanan told The Times of London that his office and other government departments were targeted on December 15, the same date when Google reported cyber attacks originating from China. He said the attack came in the form of an e-mail with a PDF attachment containing 'Trojan' virus which allows a hacker to access a computer remotely and download or delete files.

"People seem to be fairly sure it was the Chinese. It is difficult to find the exact source but this is the main suspicion. It seems well founded," he was quoted as saying.

Google had last week threatened to shut down its operations in China after uncovering hacking attempts into e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.


'Include all Muslims in BPL, then exclude the well-off'


Jan 19, 2010

New Delhi : In a move that could stir the political pot, the Rural Development Ministry, under Congress leader C P Joshi, has proposed “automatic inclusion” of Muslims in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) list of families along with Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

Aware of the political sensitivities involved, the Ministry plans to replace the word “Muslim” with “Minority” to pre-empt opposition, especially from BJP-ruled states.

Inaugurating a conference of Social Editors, Rural Development Minister Joshi said that to simplify the process and ensure that vulnerable sections are not left out from the BPL list, his department favoured automatic “inclusion” and “exclusion”.

It has been proposed, he said, that SCs, STs and minorities be automatically included in the BPL list and then well-off families excluded on basis of Income Tax returns, land records etc.

And certain categories will be “automatically” excluded from the BPL list: families with double of a district’s average irrigated land, those with a four or three-wheel motor vehicle or mechanized farm equipment, a government or private sector employee earning a salary above Rs 10,000 per month.

Joshi justified automatic inclusion citing that “SCs, STs and Minorities together form less than 37% of the population” — less than the BPL population pegged by the S C Saxena and Suresh Tendulkar committee reports released recently.

“There is a feeling that vulnerable sections are being excluded from the BPL list due to competitive politics. We are trying to address the problem”, Joshi said. He, however, said that his Ministry was waiting for the NSSO survey to decide the mode to be adopted for the new BPL survey.

Joshi’s proposal goes beyond what the Saxena committee report — it was appointed by the Rural Development Ministry — recommended. While it said that weightage should be given to certain social groups, including Muslims, it did not favour automatic inclusion. According to the Saxena report, SCs/STs would get three points and Most Backward Castes (MBC) two points. The Saxena report said that Muslims and OBCs be given one point each.

Automatic inclusion of Muslims in the BPL list could be the first major attempt by the Congress-led UPA government to woo the vote bank that roughly constitutes 18% of the country’s population. The decision could be significant given that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar go to state polls in 2012 and 2010 respectively, states where the Congress is desperately trying to get a foothold.

Inclusion and exclusion from the BPL list is a big issue in villages, particularly in the Hindi heartland, since benefits of most Central and state-sponsored welfare schemes like Indira Awas Yojna, old age pension are decided on the basis of the list.


NC opposes division of J&K

Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: The ruling National Conference on Monday vehemently opposed the division of the State, rejecting the demand for Union Territory status to Ladakh and Statehood for Jammu.

Senior NC leader and Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar told a party convention here: “We [NC] will never allow the division of the State. Those making such demands should know that it is not possible as the people of all the three regions have made sacrifices for the unity of the State.”

Referring to the stand taken by NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, Mr. Sagar said “the great leader gave everything for ensuring the unity of the State.”

The NC had representation in all three regions and it was because of its policy that people backed “our party in all regions.”

He urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to initiate Nagaland-type talks with militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir. “New Delhi held talks with the gun-wielding youth of Nagaland, there should be no problem in doing the same in Kashmir,” he said.

Mr. Sagar claimed that the NC had started the process by persuading five top Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commanders for talks in July 2000. “Unfortunately, the process could not be taken forward,” he said.

Reiterating the NC’s demand for greater autonomy, he said the then BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government committed a mistake by rejecting the proposal. “What is the difference now? The same thing has been recommended by a Working Group set up by none other than the Prime Minister. Its recommendations have made some people uncomfortable but that will not change the reality.”

He appealed to Dr. Singh to take immediate steps for implementing the recommendations made by Justice Saghir Ahmad.

“Best solution”

“We believe autonomy is the best solution to the vexed Kashmir issue. It should be granted so that peace could prevail in all three regions of the State.”


Anchal Resurfaces In Srinagar, Does Volte-Face

Mohit Kandhari | Jammu

Blames Jammu parties for ‘exploiting’ her situation

Anchal Sharma nee Amina Yousaf, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances from her in-laws’ house in Jammu, resurfaced in Srinagar on late Saturday evening and made a sudden U-turn by changing her previous statement. This was exactly opposite to what she had stated on camera in front of the Additional Deputy Commissioner in Srinagar, heading a magisterial probe to ascertain the truth behind the mysterious death of her husband Rajneesh Sharma, a Jammu-based businessman.

Standing in front of a Srinagar court and flanked by her family members, Anchal accused certain political parties of exploiting her situation. The widow sang a different tune when she had faced Additional DC Mohd Akbar Ganai on October 21, 2009 in Jammu along with five other family members of Rajneesh, including his mother, sister and brother, to record their statements.

In her recorded statement, Anchal had reportedly described in detail the degree of torture Rajneesh went through after marrying her till he died under mysterious circumstances in Srinagar police custody on October 5, 2009.

If Anchal was under duress, as she claimed during her interaction with media in Srinagar outside the lower court, she was at liberty to tell the truth to the Additional DC instead of recording graphic picture of torture.

Though the probe report is yet to be submitted to the State Government, the chronology of events in the highly sensitive case raised a series of questions and pointed to a sinister design to bury the truth behind the alleged custodial killing of Rajneesh.

On Saturday, when Anchal was produced before the judge in the lower court, she introduced herself as Amina Yousaf, daughter of Mohd Yousaf Marazi, without showing any remorse.

Before marrying Rajneesh on August 21, 2009 she had converted to Hinduism against the wishes of her parents.

After Rajneesh’s death on October 5, 2009, she went public and pointed accusing fingers against her father and two brothers for their direct involvement behind the alleged custodial killing of her husband.

Everywhere she went, she held a black shirt of Rajneesh close to her chest and blamed her family members for the cold-blooded murder of Rajneesh.

She even presented herself on numerous TV channels and narrated her ordeal after marrying Rajneesh and subsequent police torture which Rajneesh had to suffer for marrying her.

Dissatisfied with the pace of the investigations in the case, she demanded a thorough CBI probe and even went to the apex court seeking severe punishment for the alleged killers of her husband.

Coming out of the court, Anchal Sharma during her brief interaction with the mediapersons, raised many eyebrows as she accused political parties in Jammu for exploiting her sentiments.

She even levelled allegations that she was not willing to convert to Hindusim but was forced to do so by Rajneesh. In her previous statements before media, she had contested these allegations of her parents and countered the same by admitting that she was having an affair with Rajneesh for a long time and she decided to marry him by embracing Hinduism as per own choice.

In one of her statements, she had even stated: “If Rajneesh would have converted to Islam then my father would have garlanded him with marigold flowers and danced at the wedding reception.”

“Rajneesh was killed because he had the courage to marry a Muslim,” she told mediapersons and others who called on her to share her grief in Jammu.

Meanwhile, in Jammu, the family members of Rajneesh are gearing up to fight the long battle ahead in the court of law to seek justice for their loved one, who allegedly died of torture in the Ram Munshi Bagh police station.

Elder brother of Rajneesh,Pawan said that three family members Anchal, his mother Raj Rani and he himself had moved the Apex court seeking justice for Rajneesh.

Even in the absence of Anchal, “we are going to follow up the case and take it to its logical conclusion”. “My soul will not rest till i get justice for the alleged custodial killing of my brother”, he said.

Ironically, the State Government which had ordered a magisterial probe after the mysterious death of Rajneesh is yet to receive the final report in the matter. The Government delayed the probe to buy time till the sensitive case died its natural death in the public memory and now when it has taken a sudden twist the State Government it seems is working overtime to come up with the facts of the case in the form of the magisterial probe.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Mohd Akbar Ganai told The Pioneer that he is ready with his report but is yet to submit the same to the state government.

He said since he was awaiting medical opinion of the board of doctors constituted after the second post mortem was ordered by Jammu Deputy Commissioner MK Dwivedi to pacify the public anger. He said before that he was not in a position to complete his inquiry.

On the other hand the State Government is also working towards drafting its reply to be filed in the apex court in the next hearing scheduled to take place on January 25.


Violence between Christians, Muslims in Nigeria erupts again; 27 killed in earlier fights

By Ahmed Saka

JOS, Nigeria — Religious violence between Christians and Muslims erupted again Tuesday in Nigeria, as security forces issued a 24-hour curfew for the city of Jos where rioters have burned homes and killed at least 27 people.

Security forces ordered everyone to remain indoors after police and soldiers' efforts to contain the violence with roadblocks and searches apparently failed. An Associated Press reporter could see smoke rising from the north side of Jos and hear the sounds of gunshots echoing along the streets.

Sani Mudi, a spokesman for the local imam, said that the fighting lasted about two hours Tuesday morning. Mudi said he saw police moving about the area with soldiers from where he was hiding inside his home.

"We could hear gunshots all over the area," Mudi said.

Mohammed Larema, a local police spokesman, said security forces had brought the fighting to a halt.

"The situation is under control right now," Larema said, as shouting radio traffic could be heard in the background.

However, the state government called for additional military units to enter the city. A major general for a Nigerian armoured division toured part of Jos on Tuesday to see what would be needed.

"The situation is bad and the federal government is yet to deploy the troops requested," said Gregory Yenlong, a state spokesman.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Ibrahim Yakubu Lame, issued a statement Tuesday blaming the violence on "some highly placed individuals in the society who were exploiting the ignorance and poverty of the people to cause mayhem in the name of religion."

While religious violence does happen in Nigeria, it normally has its roots in local issues, rather than influence from international extremist groups.

Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has a history of community violence that has made elections difficult to organize. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people and Muslim-Christian battles killed up to 700 people in 2004.

The city is situated in Nigeria's "middle belt," where dozens of ethnic groups mingle in a band of fertile and hotly contested land separating the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south.

More than 300 residents died during a similar uprising in 2008.

Rioting began Sunday in the city after Muslim youths set a Catholic church ablaze. Witnesses said rioters armed with knives, homemade firearms and stones attacked passers-by and fought with security forces, leaving bodies in the street and stacked in local mosques.

Calm returned to the city Monday, but police refused to offer any casualty count. Sani Mudi, a spokesman for the local imam, has said 22 people died Sunday and more than 300 people were wounded in the fighting. Five others died Monday from their wounds, Mudi said.

A local Red Cross officials has said 5,000 people have been displaced by the rioting.

Associated Press Writer Jon Gambrell contributed to this report from Lagos, Nigeria.

Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.


5,000 displaced after church set ablaze in Nigeria

Jan 19, 2010

Angry Muslim youths set a church filled with worshippers ablaze in northern Nigeria, starting a riot that killed at least 10 people and wounded 69 others in the latest religious violence in the region, officials said on Monday. Angry Muslim youths set a church filled with worshippers ablaze in northern Nigeria, starting a riot that killed at least 10 people and wounded 69 others in the latest religious violence in the region, officials said on Monday.

About 5,000 people lost their homes as rioters also burned mosques and homes in Jos, a city that saw more than 300 residents killed during a similar uprising in 2008, said local Red Cross official Auwal Muhammad Madobi. He said he had no information about deaths and police officials declined to offer a count of the dead. An Associated Press reporter saw the bodies of 10 dead youths, marked with bullet holes and machete wounds, at a local hospital on Monday. On Sunday, witnesses told reporters they saw 10 bodies at a mosque in the city.

It was unclear if the bodies in the hospital were the same ones seen in the mosque. The rioting began on Sunday, when the youths attacked St Michael Catholic Church, said Gregory Yenlong, a State government spokesman. Yenlong said he didn't know why the young men set the blaze. "That's what's being investigated," he said. Kabiru Mohammed, a Muslim resident who lost his home in the 2008 violence, told reporters on Monday that after he recently started to rebuild his house, local Christian youths surrounded it and demanded that he stop construction.

"They said the area now belongs to them," Mohammed said. The youths attacked, killing two labourers working on the home, Mohammed said. Ahmed Garba, a Muslim lawyer, said he escaped being lynched by a group of Christian youths armed with bows and arrows, knives, stones and locally made firearms. He watched as they attacked and stabbed three people.


Akshardham and Ayodhya attacks mastermind killed

Jan 19, 2010

THE MASTERMIND behind the terrorist attacks at the Akshardham and Ayodhya temples was shot dead on Sunday. Abu Dawood Khan was killed by the army in a fierce gunbattle in the Narol forest area in the border district of Poonch, the police said.

Dawood, a Jaish- e- Mohammad ( JeM) commander, was a Pakistani national. He had planned the terror attacks at the Akshardham temple in Gujarat on September 25, 2002, and at the makeshift Ram temple in Ayodhya on July 5, 2005.

Twenty- nine people lost their lives in the Akshardham attack. Three Central Reserve Police Force personnel guarding the temple suffered serious injuries. In Ayodhya, however, all the five terrorists who rammed their jeep into the temple complex were shot dead in an exchange of fire.

Abu’s killing has dealt a severe blow to terrorists in general and the JeM in particular.

SSP ( Poonch) Manmohan Singh said Abu motivated the terrorists to carry out the attack on the Ram temple at the site of the Babri Masjid.

Singh said Abu was trapped by the army in a dense forest in Mendhar. “ The police, along with troops of the 39 Rashtriya Rifles, carried out the operation. There were two other terrorists with Abu.

They, however, escaped.

Efforts are on to nab them.” SP, operations ( Poonch), Javed Iqbal, who coordinated the operations, said the terrorists were heavily armed with AK- 56 rifles and grenades.

“ The area was cordoned off and, during search operations, contact was established on the wireless with the terrorists.

They were asked to surrender. In response, they opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed a grenade towards the troops, triggering a fierce encounter.” Iqbal said Abu was active in the region for the past about 10 years and was involved in major terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir.

Abu was a resident of Dabowal in Pakistan and was coordinating activities of all militants of Jaish outfits in the area. He was also involved in luring youth into militancy and carried out a series of subversive activities, including killings and explosions in Poonch district.

An AK- 56 rifle with three magazines, one wireless set, a mobile telephone, five identity cards of different agencies, a currency note of Rs 1,000 denomination and three of Rs 500 denomination were recovered from the encounter spot.

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Plans for Huge Mosque in London Scrapped

Jan 19, 2010

Plans to build a giant mosque, with a capacity of 12,000 worshippers, near London's 2012 Olympic stadium have apparently been scrapped, reports AFP (via al-Arabia). It looks like a case of the right thing happening for the wrong reasons — at least the wrong publicly stated reasons.

Authorities in London say the group behind the project failed to file the necessary paperwork on time.  But the real problem — whether they'd like to admit it or not — is that the group behind the project, Jamaat al-Tabligh (sometimes it's written as Tablighi Jamaat), is an Islamist promoter of the idea that Muslims should engage in voluntary apartheid:  building their own insular, parallel enclaves in the West as a preliminary step to spreading sharia and Islamicizing the wider society. Moreover, though such groups — the Muslim Brotherhood is the best example — are often regarded as "peaceful" by apologists, they are gateways to violent jihad.

The bottom line here is positive. Until there is a mainstream Islam that champions Western values of tolerance, freedom of conscience, equal rights, etc., Western societies should oppose the ongoing jihad to create and spread Islamist enclaves.  I have my doubts that such a mainstream Islam will develop — I'm not sure it would be widely enough recognized by Muslims as "Islam." In the meantime, however, it's important to say that this is our position. Telling people that they didn't get all the forms filed on time just embitters them and shows a government to be craven and arbitrary. We have principles to be proud of, and we should say so — with the incidental benefit that saying "no" to the Islamists is the only real way to help Muslim reformers.


Israel resumes airlifts of Jewish Ethiopians

Jan 19, 2010

Israel has restarted an immigration scheme for Ethiopians of Jewish descent after halting it for more than year.Eighty-one new immigrants arrived on a flight from Ethiopia to Tel Aviv early on Tuesday morning.

It is the first flight since August 2008, when Israel said it planned to end the immigration scheme.

The Falash Mura community converted to Christianity under pressure in the 19th Century. Some 8,000 still in Ethiopia want to emigrate to Israel.

The scheme was halted in 2008 after the arrival of the last of some 20,000 people the Israeli government agreed to allow entry in 2003.

But campaigners have continued to press for those still waiting - many in poor conditions in transit camps - to be allowed into Israel.

Israeli officials have been checking their cases individually, a process which has proven difficult in the past because of histories of intermarriage with Ethiopia's Christian majority, and a lack of records.

The Jewish Agency, which facilitates the immigration, said the 81 were the first of 600 people who had already been determined to be eligible to come to Israel.

It said it expects another 2,000 people to be allowed to come to Israel within the next year.

Ethiopia's last remaining Jewish community, the Falash Mura trace their roots to the biblical King Solomon.

But they are not eligible to enter Israel under the Law of Return, which guarantees a place in the country for every Jew, because they have largely been unable to prove they are Jewish.

Ethiopian Jews who kept their faith throughout centuries of adversity were flown to Israel by the thousands in the 1980s and early 1990s.

The last mass immigration was in 1991, when Israel organised a dramatic airlift of 15,000 people who had fled fighting at the end of Ethiopia's civil war.

Correspondents say Ethiopian immigrants remain one of the poorest sections of Israeli society.


Terror war put Kashmir issue on back burner: Fazal

January 19, 2010

MULTAN: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F)’s leader Molana Fazal-ur-Rehman said Tuesday that due importance was not given to the resolutions and recommendations made by the parliament.

We are asking the government to take guidance from the parliament instead of the GHQ, Fazal told newsmen at Multan Industrial Estate.

While terming Pakistan’s foreign policy controversial, he said war against terror and importance given to the north west-border has put the Kashmir issue on the back burner and this has benefited India.

He said Kashmir conference will be called on next month in which leadership of Azad and occupied Kashmir will be invited.

He said independent judiciary does not mean being uncontrollable


Peace body member killed in Mohmand attack

January 19, 2010

GHALLANAI: A member of Baizai peace committee was killed and another sustained injuries when militants attacked the Dag checkpoint in the borderland of Mohmand Agency’s Baizai subdivision early Monday.

Official sources said that a group of militants attacked the Dag checkpoint set up

by armed volunteers of Bai-zai peace committee at midnight. The members of peace committee and security forces promptly returned the fire with light and heavy weapons and targeted suspected hideouts of militants in the area.

The sources said that one member of peace committee identified as Ahmed Din was killed and another namely Maqsood sustained injuries in the ensuing firing. The militants later fled the scene.

The peace committee members claimed that they had also killed several militants in the clash, but that could not be confirmed by independent sources.

Meanwhile, the body of a tribesman was found in Shawa Farsh area of Safi subdivision. The sources said that unidentified persons had kidnapped the man identified as Umar Jan of Lakaro area a few days ago and then shot him dead. His body was thrown in Shawa Farsh area.


Key HuJI operative held in Hyderabad

19 January 2010

HYDERABAD: In what authorities are dubbing a prize catch, Hyderabad police have nabbed Shaik Abdul Khaja alias Amjad, said to be

Lashkar-e-Taiba's south India commander and also a key Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (HuJI) operative. Police said that the man linked to Mohammed Abdul Shahid Bilal, the key suspect in the May 2007 Mecca Masjid bombing, was arrested on Monday from Hyderabad city limits.

Hyderabad police commissioner B Prasada Rao told reporters that Khaja, 27, was a resident of Moosaram Bagh and has been absconding since 2005. He was arrested by an SIT team of the city police at Afzalgunj, he said.

But questions swirled about the arrest. While Hyderabad police claimed credit on Monday, Tamil Nadu police had said a day earlier that a joint team of officers drawn from TN, AP, West Bengal police as well as central security agencies had arrested Khaja in Chennai on a tip-off from a HuJi activist arrested earlier in Kolkata. AP police denied there was any joint action involving cops from other states.

Prasada Rao said Khaja was known in his family circles as Pappu and was in Hyderabad for a recce for a terror attack. At the time of the arrest, he had in his possession $348; Saudi riyal 313; UAE dirham 225; Pakistani rupees 28,640 and Bangladesh taka 348, he said.

According to sources, Khaja was a close friend of Mohammed Abdul Shahid Bilal, a primary suspect in the Mecca Masjid blast. Khaja and Bilal, whose parents hailed from Nalgonda district, lived in the same locality. The two got involved in a dispute with BJP activist Babji who was trying to install a Ganesh idol in front of Madina mosque in the locality in 2003, and were booked in an attempt to murder case and sent to prison. When they came out on bail, the duo reportedly escaped to Saudi Arabia.

Bilal and Khaja, cops in Hyderabad claimed, underwent terror training in Pakistan. Khaja was made LeT south India chief when Bilal was killed in Karachi on August 31, 2007.

Commissioner Rao said Khaja was being guided by the ISI and recruiting youth for various terror outfits including LeT and HuJI.

The two, cops claimed, recruited several youths from Hyderabad, like Raziuddin Naser, son of Maulana Naseeruddin, and Najiullah Aqeel, grandson of Shaik Mahaboob Ali, founder of Darsgah-e-Jihad wa Shahadat (DJS). Khaja is also linked to Abdul Rehman Hussain, an absconding accused based in Karachi, Abdul Bari alias Abu Hamza, Farhatullah Ghori alias Abu Sufiyan, Rafeeq, Mukthadir, all Hyderabadis who owe their allegiance to LeT and JeM.

Khaja's mother Lateefa Begum told TOI that her son had been working in SaudiArabia for several years and was in contact with the family over the internet on a regular basis. She said she became suspicious about his whereabouts fivedays ago when he stopped surfacing on the net.

Khaja, the eldest among his siblings, is a graduate. He has one sister and two brothers--Shaikh Abdul Khader, who lives in Saudi Arabia, and Shaikh Abdul Kaleem.


Mastermind of Al Qaeda-inspired terror plot jailed to life


January 19, 2010

The mastermind of a failed Al Qaeda-inspired homegrown terror plot to "cripple" Canada by setting off truck bombs in front of the country's main stock exchange, a military base and even Parliament House has been sentenced to life.

Zakaria Amara, who planned a series of bomb attacks intended to "cripple" Canada, bowed his head as Justice Bruce Durno issued the verdict yesterday on what he called an "exceptional" case.

24-year-old Jordanian-born Canadian citizen Amara had pleaded guilty in October to co-leading a militant group dubbed as the "Toronto 18", consist of 18 Muslims, mostly of Pakistani origin. The targets included a military base also.

"The offences have left a permanent scar in this area. Had the bombs exploded, that scar would have been even more severe," Judge Durno said.

Amara will be eligible for parole in  six-and-a-half years. He pleaded guilty late last year to leading the 2006 bomb plot that targeted the Toronto Stock Exchange, a downtown CSIS site and a military base between Toronto and Ottawa.

Employed as a gas station attendant, Amara organised a terrorist training camp at a rural property north of Toronto and urged recruits to aid his planned jihad.

Months later, the terrorist group splintered, and a breakaway faction began to talk of storming the Parliament.

Amara's plan involved packing three rented U-Haul trucks with explosives -- made with metal chips to cause more deaths -- and detonating them at the three targets on a mid-November morning in 2006.


US analysts warn of Pak terror attack on India

Anirudh Bhattacharyya

January 19, 2010

A leading American think tank has warned that as the Al Qaeda comes under pressure in its havens along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, it may attempt to counter that by masterminding major terrorist strikes against India.

The Council on Foreign Relations’ Center for Preventive Action said in its Contingency Planning Memorandum: “India faces the real prospect of another major terrorist attack by Pakistan-based terrorist organisations in the near future.”

It said that the chance of another Mumbai-type attack was “undeniable” given that terrorist outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed were “most capable and motivated to carry out attacks in India”. The report is by CFR’s Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia, Daniel Markey.


Af-Pak: No quick exit, says Holbrooke

Shubhajit Roy

Jan 19, 2010

New Delhi : In his first visit to India since the unveiling of US President Barack Obama’s new Af-Pak strategy in December, Special envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan Richard C Holbrooke met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday and discussed Washington’s strategy on “managing a smooth transition” in Kabul.

Holbrooke, who also met External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, PM’s Special envoy S K Lambah and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, is learnt to have reassured New Delhi that Washington was not on the lookout for a quick exit from the region.

There has been considerable unease in New Delhi over the region being left in the lurch in view of the US’s 2011 exit plan. Holbrooke was also “appreciative of India’s civilian cooperation and economic assistance” to the Afghan government in rebuilding Afghanistan.

On the issue of the recent UK proposal of a regional forum for Afghanistan —- where Pakistan has objected to India’s participation —— Holbrooke reportedly emphasised India’s essential role in constituting any such body.

The Indian leadership, sources said, maintained that New Delhi would like to keep the engagement with Afghanistan strictly “bilateral”, although it would work with the international community in Afghanistan.

While India will continue to support Afghanistan in the development sectors, it will not be the lead player in the security set-up. New Delhi, so far, has restricted itself to training the Afghanistan National Security Force which performs the functions of the Police as well as Army.

Holbrooke, after his meeting with the External Affairs Minister, said that Pakistan would have to take “more actions” to curb the activities of the extremist groups which operate from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

He said that Monday’s attack in Kabul, which claimed more than a dozen lives, was the handiwork of those who are a “part of extremist groups operating in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan and they do these desperate things all the time and India knows all this.”

Holbrooke stressed that India had a “tremendously important” participation in the stability in the region. He also said that the spread of Taliban in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) areas was the “main subject” of discussion with the Pakistani leadership during his visit there.


The convent school boy who turned terror commander

Praveen Swami

Police arrest terror suspect Mohammad Abdul Khwaja in Hyderabad on Monday.

NEW DELHI: Ever since 2005, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the headquarters of Hyderabad’s counter-terrorism police headquarters, Mohammad Abdul Khwaja’s face has stared out from most-wanted posters across the country.

From Khwaja’s interrogation, investigators could find answers to questions which have eluded them for years.

On Monday, police in Hyderabad finally held the man they knew by the aliases Amjad and Saif — the fruit of an elaborate, Intelligence Bureau-led deception operation that led Khwaja to believe he was returning home from Karachi to help sympathisers mount a major new operation.

But Khwaja’s story will, perhaps, prove most important for the light it could cast on just what drove the radicalisation of the dozens of young people who joined the Indian jihadist movement after 2002.

Born in 1983, Khwaja grew up in a conservative, lower middle-class home in Hyderabad’s Sanat Nagar area. His father, Mohammad Umar, was a follower of the Ahl-i-Sunnat wal’Jamaat — a Barelvi organisation that works to defend folk Islam against neoconservative assault.

Like many of those who would play a key role in the Indian jihadist movement, Khwaja received a secular education, schooling at the St. Anne’s Convent High School before earning a Bachelor’s degree in commerce from the Anwar-ul-Uloom Degree College — a prestigious institution which has served the community for over a century.

Some of his contemporaries in the jihadist movement emerged from the same institution — among them, top Lashkar commander Mohammad Shahid, also known as Bilal — but there is little evidence they were involved with Islamist groups as students.

Having finished his studies, Khwaja set up a small cellphone business — a first step towards the middle-class life his parents had prepared him for.

By the account of his friends, his outrage at the 2002 communal carnage in Gujarat led him to abandon that path and immerse himself in the Islamist movement in Hyderabad.

Key among his ideological mentors was Ibrahim Ali Junaid, a Unani medicine student and Islamist activist arrested on terrorism charges in 2007 — and acquitted last year.

Full report at:


Cold shoulder to Karzai’s offers of peace

by Dr Hussain Yasa

THE BRAZEN attack by Taliban militants in the heart of Kabul, close to the presidential palace where 14 ministers were being sworn in, speaks volumes about their attitude to offers of reconciliation.

Hours after the attack, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attacks. He said 20 armed militants, including some with suicide vests, had entered Kabul to target the presidential palace and other government buildings in the heart of the capital.

The attacks, which triggered more than three hours of fierce gunfights between security forces and the militants outside several ministries and inside a shopping mall were well- coordinated and fierce.

The incident sends negative signals to President Hamid Karzai, who will present a new scheme for reconciliation with and reintegration of the Taliban at a conference in London ten days later.

Karzai had earlier urged the UN to remove Taliban leaders from its blacklist as a political incentive to encourage insurgents to return to normal life.

But Monday’s attacks, simply by their spread, can be seen as a cold shoulder to these offers.

They merely evinced the terrorist group’s determination to continue to challenge the Afghan government and presence of international forces in the country.

President Karzai has repeatedly called on the Taliban to lay down arms but the militants have responded in the same pattern — carrying out gruesome attacks on key government institutions.

Monday’s assault was also testimony to the militants’ growing attempts to challenge the security forces even as the US and NATO allies begin sending 37,000 more troops to the country.

Meanwhile, Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, condemned the Taliban attackers as “ ruthless”. “ They are desperate people; they are ruthless. The people who are doing this certainly will not survive the attack, nor will they succeed. But we can expect this sort of things on a regular basis,” he said.

It was the biggest assault on the capital since the October 28 attack last year when gunmen stormed a guest house used by UN staff, killing at least 11 people.

Taliban appears to have established strong ties with the al- Qaeda and extremist outlaws operating in the region and continue to stymie trade and economic development.

The recent waves of suicide bombings and deadly attacks in Karachi and north- west Pakistan send out ominous signals that the Islamist militants will continue to push their agenda for violence.

(The writer is based in Kabul and is the chairman of the Afghanistan Group of Newspapers)

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Kabul bleeds as Taliban take battle to city’s heart

By Mohammad Zaki Shahamat in Kabul

THE HEART of Kabul witnessed coordinated attacks by Taliban gunmen and suicide bombers on Monday, claiming 10 lives and injuring many others. The attacks began in the morning after some Taliban gunmen entered Froshgah-e Buzurg-e Afghan, a busy shopping mall, and a cinema hall in the heart of Kabul and forced people out. An hour later, attacks spread across the city centre.

According to reports from The Daily Outlook Afghanistan, at least 10 people, including seven insurgents have been killed and about 30 wounded in the attacks involving rockets, bombs and gunfire. Three civilians, including a child and a policeman are dead. Residents heard several blasts and gunshots from battles between the militants and Afghan security forces through the day.

In a televised briefing, a defence ministry spokesman said one suicide bomber was killed in Faroshgah, which is near the Presidential Palace. Two others were shot dead inside Ariana Cinema, neighbouring the ministry of finance and justice and another in front of the newly built Gulbahar Business Centre.

One assailant blew himself up inside an ambulance.

This is the latest in a series of increasingly brazen attacks on Kabul by the Taliban militants.

Monday’s attacks erupted close to the Kabul Serena Hotel, home to foreign delegates and members of foreign diplomatic missions in Kabul and several key government offices.

Around 2 pm local time, another explosion took place at a market on Nadar Pakhtun Avenue.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the security situation in Kabul had returned to normal.

Officials in Kabul said Karzai will unveil his strategy for peace and reconciliation with the Taliban in London on January 28.

The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, who is currently visiting India, said more attacks by the Taliban were expected.

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Pakistani troops fire into India for over an hour


Pakistani troops fired at an Indian border post in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district for over an hour on Monday night, an army officer said here. There were no casualties.

The Pakistani troops from Kaddu post fired at Kranti post on the Indian side, the officer said, adding that the firing was unprovoked. "They fired with machine guns and rockets for over an hour on our position," a brigadier general of the Indian Army's 16 Corps said Tuesday.

Pointing out that this was yet another violation of the November 2003 ceasefire agreement between the two countries, the officer said the Indian side retaliated to the firing.

He added that the Indian side was yet to ascertain the reason for the firing which could be "cover fire to infiltrators or some other reason. But the matter shall be taken up with Pakistan in a serious way".

Infiltration attempts from Pakistan and firing across the border have been on the rise in recent months. The Border Security Force (BSF) has foiled about a dozen infiltration attempts this year near Jammu.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of BSF J.B. Sangwan said that the infiltration focus from the border near Jammu "signifies that militants were planning strikes in and around Jammu. We are on alert to foil such attempts."

Security forces are anyway on high alert in the run-up to Republic Day, with additional deployment at vulnerable places.


IPC will define honour killing

New Delhi

Oct. 12: The minister of state for home, Mr Ajay Maken, on Monday said that honour killings are a matter of concern for the government and appropriate steps need to be taken by the states to curb such incidents.

The CPI(M) politburo member, Ms Brinda Karat, who met Mr Maken in North Block on Monday, demanded that a definition should be coined for ‘’honour killing’’ under the Indian Penal Code.

Mr Maken said that such crimes are already being dealt with under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and investigated and prosecuted as offences under the IPC/CrPC.

However, he said there is a need to sensitise law enforcement agencies as well as create awareness in the communities to check such crimes.

The home ministry, which recently issued guidelines to states on trafficking of women and children, is bringing fresh changes to include the cases of “missing children’’ in the country. Mr Maken said that the home ministry has suggested the involvement of gram panchayats as well as NGOs in tackling cases related to missing children.

“The trend of inter-state trafficking of children is worrisome. Currently, the matter is only being tackled at the local police level. We want to involve the gram panchayats as well as NGOs to maintain a record of such missing children,” Mr Maken said.

Mr Maken said that the Centre is working in close coordination with the various states and UTs and has intensified measures against human trafficking.

Mr Maken informed that the home ministry along with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime will be organising a workshop for training all stake holders against human trafficking by the end of this year.

The home ministry intends to organise similar workshops for stake holders from Saarc countries in line with government’s offer of conducting programmes for capacity building.


Pakistan says India dampening peace hope

19 Jan, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Foreign Office accused India on Monday of dampening peace prospects in the region by continuing its ‘vicious’ propaganda campaign against Pakistan.

“Indian foreign secretary’s vitriolic remarks against Pakistan yet again reveal that the Indian government persists in its propaganda campaign that only vitiates the atmosphere, darkens the horizon and dampens hopes for peace and tranquillity in South Asia,” said Foreign Office Spokesman Mr Abdul Basit.

He was reacting to Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Raos television interview, in which she accused Pakistan of failing to dismantle the terror infrastructure carrying out attacks inside India.

“All the events you have seen over the last few days basically point to the basic and undeniable fact that the infrastructure of terrorism which operates out of Pakistan and territory under Pakistan control has not been dismantled and it continues to be directed against the Indian people,” Ms Rao had said, asking Pakistan “to do more” to address Indian concerns.

Mr Basit rejected the allegation of state-sponsored terrorism and asked India to examine its own track record.

“Pakistan invites India to a deep introspection of its own policies and conduct, notably in Jammu and Kashmir as elsewhere.”India, he said, ”sadly remains out of tune with the realities of today”.

Reiterating Pakistans dedication to peace in the region, the spokesman said: “It remains committed to a vision for peace and prosperity for the region based on a cooperative endeavour of all regional states.”—Staff Reporter


Pro-settlement soldier dismissed over protest

Jan 19, 2010

The soldier held a sign at his swearing -in ceremony saying his battalion would refuse orders to evacuate Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank.

The dismissal came after the soldier, who has yet to be named, refused to say he would not repeat the action. This is the first dismissal of its kind, media reports said, though other soldiers are being disciplined.

The protest was held in October 2009 at the investiture of hundreds of soldiers at the Western Wall, one of Judaism's most important religious sites.

A group of soldiers held similar banners at the event. As well as the dismissal, another soldier tried over the incident will be removed from combat service. Both soldiers were also sentenced to 30 days in military jail.

In a statement, Col Gadi Agmon, head of the IDF Recruitment Centre said: "This soldier raised a sign with a political message and, in so doing, violated military orders. As such, the head of the Recruitment Centre decided that the soldier would be released from IDF service due to his grave conduct."

Most Jewish Israeli men and women do military service and a growing number of religious Jewish soldiers are choosing to serve in Israel's combat units. Some religious soldiers join the military straight from centres for Jewish study, known as yeshivas.

Full report at:


Four arrested after Iran prosecutor assassinated

Jan 19, 2010

Four people have been arrested after an Iranian state prosecutor was shot dead outside his home in northern Iran.

Vali Hajgholizadeh, who reports say had a reputation for fighting corruption, was killed in the town of Khoy near the Turkish border.

Local officials said a Kurdish separatist group had claimed responsibility for the killing.

The region has been the scene of frequent clashes with Kurdish groups who want to establish their own state.

Two gunmen opened fire on Mr Hajgholizadeh outside his house late on Monday, and he died of his wounds in hospital.

The Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), a Kurdish militant group based in Iraqi Kurdistan claimed it carried out the attack, local government official Fakhrali Nikbakht told the Mehr News agency.

Four men were arrested on Tuesday, but no details have been given about their identities.

The Iranian state Press TV station reported Mr Hajgholizadeh had received death threats in the last few days.

A spokesman for the regional governor paid tribute to Mr Hajgholizadeh, saying he "had a brilliant record in battling land grabbing, moral corruption, and counter-revolutionaries".

PJAK was formed in 2004 and is affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).


UN Afghanistan survey points to huge scale of bribery

Jan 19, 2010

Afghans paid $2.5bn (£1.5bn) in bribes over the past 12 months, or the equivalent of almost one quarter of legitimate GDP, a UN report suggests. Surveying 7,600 people, it found nearly 60% more concerned about corruption than insecurity or unemployment.

More than half the population had to pay at least one bribe to a public official last year, the report adds.

The findings contrast sharply with a recent BBC survey in which the economy appeared to top Afghan concerns.

The survey commissioned by the BBC and other broadcasters in December suggested that fewer Afghans (14%) saw corruption as the biggest problem than the economy (34%) and security situation (32%).

According to the UN survey, bribes averaged $160 (£98) in contrast to an average Afghan annual income of $425.

Bribes were most often paid to police, judges and politicians but members of international organisations and NGOs were also seen as corrupt, the survey said.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said corruption was contributing to drug-trafficking and terrorism in Afghanistan.

The UNODC said its report, Corruption in Afghanistan, was based on interviews with 7,600 people in 12 provincial capitals and more than 1,600 villages around Afghanistan.

The BBC survey, which was also nationwide, was based on a smaller number of people (1,534).

Explicit demands

According to the UN survey, 59% of Afghans said their daily experience of public dishonesty was a bigger concern than insecurity (54%) or unemployment (52%).

In 56% of cases, the request for illicit payment was an explicit demand by the bribe-taker, it said.

Full report at:


40-45 percent drugs sold in Pakistan are spurious

19 January 2010

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistani government admitted that 40-45 percent of the drugs being sold in the country were spurious.

Speaking on a motion tabled in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said no one would be allowed to play with lives of masses and not only would strict legislation be enacted but it would be implemented at all cost.

The motion, tabled by Shireen Arshad Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), demanded that the government take steps to stop the sale of spurious medicines around the country.

After a debate, the house unanimously approved the motion, reported Online news agency.

Participating in the debate, members charged that drug inspectors and the provincial and federal health departments had failed to take strict measures against quacks and sellers of fake medicines.

Spurious medicines are being sold openly, they said, adding that licenses of those involved in selling of uncertified drugs should be cancelled.

Due to inadequate health facilities, they said, quacks were also proliferating.

They also demanded that the government prevent the smuggling of drugs from Bangladesh.

National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza, in her remarks, directed its standing committee on health to review the bills against selling of spurious medicines and take corrective action where required.


Two blasts in Balochistan

19 Jan, 2010

KHUZDAR, Jan 18: A blast took place near the office of the Communication and Works Department on Monday, slightly damaging its wall.

The explosive device placed near the office building shattered windowpanes but didn’t cause any casualty, sources said.


India to hold wide-ranging strategic talks with US, Israel

19 January 2010

NEW DELHI: India's already expansive strategic-military ties with US and Israel are set to get another fillip, with American secretary of defence

Robert Gates and Israeli Navy chief Vice-Admiral Eliezer Marom slated to hold wide-ranging talks here over the next few days.

The discussions will range from regional security issues, especially with violence showing no signs of abating in the Af-Pak region, and its implications for India to counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing.

Gates has meetings lined up with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, defence minister A K Antony and foreign minister S M Krishna, among others, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We will, of course, reiterate to the Obama administration that, even after 26/11, Pakistan is not doing enough to crack down on terrorism emanating from its soil against India,'' said an official. Gates, incidentally, will arrive here after quick trips to Kabul and Islamabad.

The Israeli Navy chief, in turn, will hold discussions with Antony and the three Service chiefs, among others, apart from visiting the South-Western Army Command at Jaipur and the Western Naval Command at Mumbai during his visit starting Tuesday.

Both US and Israel are eager to sell more and more military hardware and software to India. India, for instance, is already moving towards inking its largest-ever defence deal with US to acquire 10 C-17 Globemaster-III giant strategic airlift aircraft, each of which comes for over a whopping $220 million, as reported by TOI earlier.

This will overtake the $2.1 billion contract for eight Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft inked last year, which in turn came after the $962 million deal for six C-130J `Super Hercules' planes in 2007.

Full report at: US-Israel/articleshow/5474033.cms


Rao Remarks vitriolic, says Pakistan

Nirupama Subramanian

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Monday described Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s remarks in a television interview as “vitriolic” and damaging to the prospects of peace between the two countries.

The Foreign Ministry said in a release that the remarks showed that New Delhi was persisting with a propaganda campaign against Pakistan “that only vitiates the atmosphere, darkens the horizon and dampens hopes for peace and tranquillity in South Asia.”

The release said Pakistan “firmly rejects the assertions of state-sponsored terrorism and invites India to a deep introspection of its own policies and conduct, notably in Jammu and Kashmir as elsewhere.”

The Foreign Ministry said that while India “sadly remains out of tune with the realities of today,” Pakistan was “committed to a vision for peace and prosperity” in the region.


Canadian gets 12-yr-jail for 'terrorism'

19 January 2010

OTTAWA: A young Canadian man was sentenced on Monday to 12 years in prison for his role in a foiled 2006 bomb plot by Islamic extremists aimed at provoking a Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Saad Gaya, 21, had pleaded guilty to the "terrorism" charges in September.

He is one of 18 alleged plotters arrested during a police sting operation in 2006 and charged with participating in a "terrorist" group and attempting to "cause an explosion."

Specifically, the group aimed to "acquire explosive substances and cause an explosion or explosions for religiously-inspired political purposes," said court documents.

They allegedly sought to purchase three tonnes of the bomb-making ingredient ammonium nitrate from undercover police officers, to target the Toronto Stock Exchange, Canada's spy agency headquarters and a military base.

Gaya's motivation "was to pressure Canada into withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the religious aspect being to protect a Muslim country from attack," said prosecutors.

His lawyer Paul Slansky told reporters: "Terrorism is a terrible and heinous crime but not everyone that commits a heinous and evil crime is themselves evil.

"I do believe that he was a misguided youth who made some seriously erroneous mistakes in deciding to trust these people who were themselves misguided," he added.

Gaya was sentenced under Canada's anti-terrorism act.

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