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Islamic World News ( 1 Feb 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Shaheen Bagh Firing: Shooter Shouts Only Hindus will prevail in this country (Is Desh Main Sirf Hinduon Ki Chalegi), Detained

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 Feb 2020

The man, Kapil Gujjar, fired shots in the air at the protest site in Shaheen Bagh, detained.


• Muslim Board Has Little to Offer Muslim Women Demanding Right to Pray In Mosques

• Indonesia Approved ‘Chemical Castration’ For Child Sex Offenders

• Bangladesh Allows Formal Education in Rohingya Camps to Reduce Risk of Child Trafficking

• Pakistan Needs to Spend Money on People’s Welfare, Says Hoodbhoy

• UNRWA Fears US Middle East Plan Will Spark Violence

• German Report Spells out China Human Rights Abuses against Uighur Muslims

• UNESCO Chief Highlights Importance of History’s Lessons At Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

• Tens of Thousands Of Yemenis Protest Against Trump's 'Deal Of Century'

• Weapons used in Nigeria killings also used by Al Qaeda in Mali — Report



• Shaheen Bagh Firing: Shooter Shouts Only Hindus will prevail in this country (Is Desh Main Sirf Hinduon Ki Chalegi, Detained

• Muslim Board Has Little to Offer Muslim Women Demanding Right to Pray In Mosques

• Anti-CAA Protests: SC Notice To UP Govt on Plea for Quashing Notices for Recovering Damages

• Including Ahmadiyyas would trigger reaction among Indian Muslims: Ravi Shankar Prasad on CAA

• Decision on reservation for Muslims soon: Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik

• Terrorists killed in encounter in Jammu were Pakistanis: J-K Police

• BJP MLA from UP, Sangeet Som, said, ‘Those like Sharjeel Imam should be shot in public’

• 37 politicians who visited Jammu and Kashmir to report on status of government steps

• Pulwama bomber’s cousin held, 3 Jaish men killed in encounter

• Jamia shooter bought gun with cash for clothes

• Terrorists killed in Jammu planned major attack, were prepared for stand-off with police: Officials

• No maulana helped Muslims like Modi did: RSS leader Indresh Kumar


Southeast Asia

• Indonesia Approved ‘Chemical Castration’ For Child Sex Offenders

• Critics of G25 Missing the Historical Contexts Of Islam, Says Grandson Of Late Kelantan Mufti

• NGOs concerned over fate of Palestinians

• Malaysia finds Trump’s Middle East peace deal ‘utterly unacceptable’

• Talks between Thailand, Muslim insurgents to resume in March

• Terror Charges Filed against 2 Malaysians, Indonesian

• PAS’ brand of hudud ‘mediaeval’, says top Muslim scholar

• World must defend Palestinians from US, Israel conspiracy

• Indonesia’s Silence over Xinjiang

• Hong Kong says radical protesters are plotting bombing campaign


South Asia

• Bangladesh Allows Formal Education in Rohingya Camps to Reduce Risk of Child Trafficking

• Airstrike in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province killed civilians

• Two killed in Kabul explosion: Afghan official



• Pakistan Needs to Spend Money on People’s Welfare, Says Hoodbhoy

• Pakistan Mulls Deal With Turkey on Dual Nationality

• Ehsaas Kafaalat launched to empower underprivileged women

• Formation of new bodies annoys PTI’s disgruntled allies

• Boot controversy: Karachi court orders registration of FIR against Faisal Vawda

• Imran Khan incapable to run govt: Marriyum Aurangzeb

• Pakistan’s debt surges by 40pc in 15 months

• Pakistan wants US to quickly clinch deal with Taliban

• JI-led sit-in held against Bahria Town

• Dozen laws to be amended to meet FATF requirements

• Why Pakistan is not joining global forum on cybercrime

• ‘Improved security’: US eases travel advisory for Pakistan

• JUI-F chief to launch another anti-govt movement from Feb 5

• China taking good care of Pakistani students, says FM Wang

• Saudi Arabia deported 0.28m Pakistanis in five years, Senate told


North America

• UNRWA Fears US Middle East Plan Will Spark Violence

• 'Muslim ban should end, not expand': Groups slam Trump travel ban

• First Muslims, Now Africans: Trump Picks a New Scapegoat for His Latest Travel Ban

• Bernie Sanders Endorsed By Muslim Group, Iowa's Sole Muslim State Lawmaker

• Trump’s expanded travel ban targets Nigeria, five other countries

• Pakistan welcomes US easing travel advisory

• New York Times bashes Trump's plan for Israel-Palestine

• Coast Guard officer-terror suspect sentenced for guns, drugs



• German Report Spells out China Human Rights Abuses against Uighur Muslims

• Islamic School Sues Ofsted after Being Failed Over 25 Yr Old Leaflet Promoting Khilafa

• France arrests top Syrian rebel group member on war crimes charges

• Turkey: Greek MEP who ripped Turkish flag to face probe

• Turkey's defense ministry slams Greek lawmaker

• Turkey aims to expand relations with Bulgaria: FM


Arab World

• UNESCO Chief Highlights Importance of History’s Lessons At Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

• Iraqi cleric Al-Sistani condemns use of force, 11 protesters wounded

• Saudi Arabia condemns intervention in domestic affairs of states

• Syrian Kurdish Center Sets Out To Defang 'Cubs of the Caliphate'

• Syria regime on verge of recapturing Idlib highway town

• Saudi Crown Prince discusses cultural initiatives with UNESCO director-general

• Kuwait advises against traveling to China, calls citizens there to leave

• US wants Syria destroyed for not bowing to Israel: Activist

• Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani slams Trump's ‘unjust’ plan for Palestine

• In former Syria rebel stronghold of Maaret Al-Numan, nothing was spared



• Tens of Thousands Of Yemenis Protest Against Trump's 'Deal Of Century'

• Israeli Arabs Fear For Their Future Under Trump Peace Plan

• Rights groups urge EU to sanction Iranian TV for airing prisoners’ confessions

• Turkey will launch military operation if Idlib situation not resolved: Erdogan

• Israel army says ‘wide-scale’ airstrikes launched at Gaza Strip

• Yemen’s Houthi militia in possession of new arms: UN report

• Experts warn against impending Israeli annexation of West Bank settlements

• Cruel sanctions by US on Salehi, AEOI will fail to interrupt Iran's nuclear program

• Iran: US sanctions on nuclear chief imposed 'out of desperation'

• FBI probing possible Israeli role in anti-American hacking

• Erdogan threatens ‘military force’ against Syria



• Weapons used in Nigeria killings also used by Al Qaeda in Mali — Report

• Suspected Islamist militants kill at least 30 in Congo - local officials

• Syrian mercenaries in Libya reportedly desert, flee to Italy

• UN warns world may pay ‘terrible price’ if it fails Sudan

• Three killed in Boko Haram suicide bombing in Nigeria

• Algeria captures man planning suicide attack: defense ministry

• Burkina Faso to Arm Civilians in Fight against Extremists

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau



 Shaheen Bagh Firing: Shooter Shouts Only Hindus will prevail in this country (Is Desh Main Sirf Hinduon Ki Chalegi, Detained

Arvind Ojha

February 1, 2020

The man, Kapil Gujjar, fired shots in the air at the protest site in Shaheen Bagh, detained.


Agunshot has been heard near the site of the anti-CAA protest in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh area. The shooter has been taken into custody.

The firing took place near Jasola red light. No one was injured in the incident.

In a video tweeted by India Today TV reporter Milan Sharma the shooter can be hear saying, "Iss desh mein kisi ki nahin chalegi, sirf Hinduon ki chalegi. (In this country, no one but Hindus alone will prevail)."

Milan Sharma


Another incident of firing this time at Shaheen Bagh. Police took the man into custody. But not before he said - “is desh main sirf hinduon ki chalegi aur kissi ki nahi chalegi”

5:09 PM - Feb 1, 2020

The incident comes two days after a teenager shot at a protester near Jamia Milia Islamia despite a heavy police presence. The boy, who claims to be minor, has been sent to 14-day preventive custody, while Delhi Police runs a test to prove his age.

He had shouted 'ye lo azaadi' as she shot at protesters marching towards Rajghat on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi's death anniversary.



Muslim Board Has Little To Offer Muslim Women Demanding Right To Pray In Mosques

Indian Muslim for Secular Democracy, Press statement (Draft)

February 1, 2020

While welcoming the submission of the All India Muslim Personal Board (AIMPLB) in the Supreme Court that Islam permits Muslim women to pray inside a mosque, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) questions the “howevers” with which its counter-affidavit is laced.

Though it is true that participation in congregational prayers at mosques is not obligatory for women, it is an undisputed fact that during the lifetime of Prophet Mohammed, women were part of mixed gender prayers in Islam’s two holiest mosques: in Mecca and Madina. The practice has since continued through most of the Arab world. Millions of Muslim men and women from across the globe pray together during the annual Haj pilgrimage,

Contrary to this, the doors of over 95% mosques in India (Pakistan and Bangladesh) remain shut for Muslim women. This is the context in which a Muslim couple has petitioned the Supreme Court for women’s right to pray in mosques and in which the AIMPLB seems to be speaking up for women but only apparently so.

To begin with, the AIMPLB contends that issues of faith should be left “to be resolved through the processes of social transformation within the religious faith itself instead of the court seeking resolution through judicial process”. IMSD strongly disagrees. It believes that as custodian-in-chief of the Constitution, the apex court is obliged to uphold women’s right to gender equality and non-discrimination guaranteed under it in all spheres of life.  

Next, the Board states: “A Muslim woman is free to enter a masjid for prayers. It is her choice to exercise her right to avail of such facilities as available”. But what if a woman enters a mosque only to be told by the mutawalli (manager) that in his mosque there is no facility available for woman? To this the AIMPLB says that mosques are managed by mutawallis (administrators) and neither it nor the court “can enter into the arena of detailed arrangements of a religious place”.

What if the mutawalli claims that in his understanding of Islam only men are meant to pray in mosques? To this the counter-affidavit states: “AIMPLB does not want to comment on any contrary religious opinion on this issue”. To women who thus will be kept away from mosques across India on one pretext the Board has this consolation to offer: A woman praying at home earns the same sawaab (religious reward) as her praying in a mosque.

In short, the AIMPLB has nothing except a mere opinion to offer to Muslim women demanding equal access to mosques. And it wants the Supreme Court to stay far away from this matter of faith.  

For further details, please contact:

Javed Anand            Feroze Mithiborwala

Convener                Co-convener

9870402556             7678074545




Indonesia approved ‘chemical castration’ for child sex offenders

30 Jan 2020

President of Indonesia approved ‘castration’ as a punishment for men who are convicted for child sex on Wednesday

Joko Widodo, Indonesian President signed a decree authorizing chemical castration for men who are convicted for sexual child offense crimes, local media reported

The decree also adds that those who are released on parole must wear electronic monitoring devices.

The prison sentence for such convicts has also been extended from 10 to 20 years of jail period.

This new punishment code comes in response to the lasts year’s brutal gang rape and murder of a 14-year old girl by seven teenage boys who were jailed for 10 years each.

Mr. Joko told a news conference at the presidential palace in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital, that he had signed a decree amending the country’s 2002 law on child protection to enable judges to hand down the punishment at their discretion, The New York Times reported

“The inclusion of such an amendment will provide space for the judge to decide severe punishments as a deterrent effect on perpetrators,” Mr. Joko said.

“These crimes have undermined the development of children, and these crimes have disturbed our sense of peace, security and public order,” he said. “So, we will handle it in an extraordinary way.”

Mr. Joko said that “sexual violence against children has increased significantly” in Indonesia, although his government has not provided data to back his assertions. He also increased the jail sentences for child sex offenders to a maximum of 20 years from 10 years.



Bangladesh allows formal education in Rohingya camps to reduce risk of child trafficking

Jan 31, 2020

Some 10,000 Rohingya children in the world’s largest refugee camp will start formal schooling in April, reducing their risk of trafficking and exploitation, officials said on Wednesday.

Bangladesh, which hosts some 900,000 Rohingya who fled persecution and a military crackdown in Buddhist-dominated Myanmar, believes education can protect the young refugees from traffickers’ false promises of work and better lives.

“It will definitely help,” said Mahbub Alam Talukder, the government’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner. “When they start studying the [Myanmar] curriculum, parents will be more serious about sending their children to school...The decision to put more focus on education is a positive change. It will help the Rohingya children in the future.”

United Nations figures show that more than 700,000 Rohingya – 400,000 of them children – arrived in Bangladesh in 2017, in a mass exodus from Myanmar, which regards the Muslim minority as illegal migrants.

Exploitation at camps

Trafficking is on the rise in the sprawling 6,000-acre camps with more than 350 cases identified in 2019, about 15% of which involved children, according to the UN migration agency.

Human rights campaigners say the figure is just a fraction of the actual numbers. According to police records, 529 Rohingya were rescued from trafficking last year in the camps near Cox’s Bazar, some 400km south of the capital, Dhaka.

On Sunday, the police said they rescued 13 Rohingya girls in Dhaka from two suspected traffickers. The children, who had been living in Cox’s Bazar, were promised jobs in Dhaka but instead were going to be trafficked abroad, police said.

Bangladesh had forbidden charities and the UN from giving formal teaching in the camps as it could give the impression that the refugees would be there permanently, raising fears that a generation would miss out on education. This week’s reversal was welcomed by child rights experts.

“[This] will help strengthen their sense of purpose in life, build hope for the future, reduce frustration and despair and thereby reduce associated protection risks,” said UN children’s agency, UNICEF, spokeswoman Yenny Gamming.

“With no hope or access to learning...refugees may take risks. Children and adolescents may be sent out to work or face child marriage or other forms of exploitation and abuse, as their families struggle to cope.”

Hundreds of informal learning centres in the camps officially offer early primary school lessons but it is mostly unstructured learning and playtime, children and parents say.

“Once formal education begins, things will be more orderly and children and parents will be more serious about school,” said Shamima Bibi, a refugee who founded the Rohingya Women’s Education Initiative, which runs several schools in the camps. “They will have hope for their futures and that will deter traffickers.”



Pakistan needs to spend money on people’s welfare, says Hoodbhoy

February 1, 2020

At a session titled ‘the never-ending battle for the Pakistan narrative’ on the inaugural day of the Adab Festival at the Karachi Arts Council on Friday, nuclear scientist and academic Pervez Hoodbhoy said that “we [Pakistan] need to become a normal state”.

Normal countries, he said, worked for the betterment of their citizens; they did not necessarily have an ideology which they fight for. “We too need to become a normal country,” he added.

“Bangladesh – our poor cousin – is doing better than us in economy. They don’t have an ideology like we are believed to have,” he asserted.

Making the formation of Bangladesh a case study, the nuclear scientist questioned the idea of the formation of national identity on the basis of religion. Had religion been a unifying force which could form a national identity, he said, Pakistan would not have been broken into two parts.

For former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar, the division of ‘good Muslims’ and ‘bad Muslims’ had been a haunting problem in Pakistan.

She said the formation of identity should not be on the basis of hatred. A generation was consumed in hatred for countries declared enemies, she added.

“Trying to appease an extremist minority is the worst a state can do,” she asserted. “From my experience,” Rabbani said, “I am telling you that no one can put you in pressure to do what you don’t want to do in your national interest.”

The former foreign minister said she grew up listening to talk “about the importance of the geo-strategic location of Pakistan”. But, she said, it’s time for some introspection; it’s time we reflected that if Pakistan had been successful in achieving the benefits from the significance of its geo-strategic location.

Rabbani advised the rulers to make friends with their neighbours and other countries. “We all love to hate the US, but we all love to be loved by the US,” she commented.

Speaking on the occasion, former Pakistani ambassador to US Najmuddin Shaikh said Pakistan was created out of the fear that the Hindu majority in the subcontinent would impose their will on the Muslims of South Asia.

In his opinion, religion should not be the business of the state, but since the majority of population in Pakistan is Muslim, it is therefore inevitable that the majority’s way of life would prevail in society.

He, however, expressed concerns over “the increasing incidents of religious intolerance” which were tantamount to shattering the vision of the father of the nation, the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who promised to ensure the rights of all citizens – belonging to all casts and creeds – in Pakistan.

He said the rulers were supposed to improve the image of the country so the country could progress and get rid of long-pending problems, one being its placement on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force.

British historian and academic Francis Robinson, who specialises in the history of South Asia and Islam, said countries had had contesting national narratives. To drive his point home, he gave the example of how Brexit created contesting ideas.

“However, these conflicts should not become a reason for bloodshed,” he added. The session was moderated by Syed Khawar Mehdi.



UNRWA Fears US Middle East Plan Will Spark Violence

31 January 2020

The UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees voiced concern on Friday that the US administration’s Middle East peace plan will spark further violence and said it had contingency measures in place to boost protection and assistance in the occupied territories.

Christian Saunders, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), asked about the US plan which would not allow a right of return to Israel, said that this right was “enshrined in international law and various (UN) General Assembly resolutions.”

“We certainly have serious concerns that (the US plan) it will result in an escalation in clashes, violence,” Saunders told a Geneva briefing. “Palestinian refugees also look to us for reassurance in times like this when their rights and safety come under threat.”

UNRWA, which provides critical services to 5.6 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including the West Bank and Gaza, appealed to donors for $1.4 billion this year.



German report spells out China human rights abuses against Uighur Muslims


Naomi Conrad

The human rights situation in China's northwestern Xinjiang region has "markedly worsened" in recent years, according to a confidential document compiled by the German Foreign Ministry that was leaked to DW and its German media partners NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Since late 2016, there has been an "alarming increase" in repressive measures and systematic discrimination in China targeting Uighurs, as well as other Muslim minorities, according to the report.

So far, the German government has been careful when it comes to openly condemning the Chinese internment camps. German industrial giants like Siemens, along with BASF and VW, operate factories in Xinjiang.

The classified report on human rights in China was compiled by the Foreign Ministry in December 2019 as an advisory document for Germany's Federal Office of Migration and Refugees, which decides on asylum claims.

It was based on information provided by human rights organizations, lawyers, Western embassies and international organizations.

'Sexual violence and deaths' in Chinese camps

The Uighur are a Turkic-speaking minority based in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. They are predominantly a Sunni Muslim community, and one of the 55 recognized ethnic minorities in China.

In its assessment of the human rights situation in Xinjiang, the Foreign Ministry said that more than 1 million of the roughly 10 million Uighurs living in Xinjiang are thought to have disappeared into a network of prisons and camps that Chinese authorities have been constructing since late 2016.

Many are held indefinitely. Some are moved to labor camps, and others are allowed to return home under the strict supervision of local authorities, with their freedom of movement strictly curtailed.

According to the report's authors, the Chinese motto of the camps: "transformation through education," is in actuality a "euphemistic term for draconian ideological training courses."

The report also said there are reports of mistreatment, sexual violence and deaths in the internment camps. Uighurs whose relatives live abroad are put under increased surveillance and having contacts abroad can lead to internment and interrogation.

The Chinese authorities claim that the camps are vocational training centers they set up to fight "extremist ideas" and provide Uighurs with "valuable skills." Detainees are said to undergo a rigorous indoctrination process and Mandarin language courses.

Deported to China and 'disappeared'

According to the report, China is pressuring the governments of Egypt, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand to deport Uighurs back to China. There is no information about these peoples' "whereabouts," the report said.

Chinese citizens considered as being what authorities call "subversive" minorities are in danger of disappearing "indefinitely" should they be deported back to China, it continued. These groups include Uighurs and Tibetans.

Due to the ethnic and territorial tensions, Uighur Muslims have long faced cultural and political discrimination in China, which has led to widespread discontent and, at times, violence.

In 2009, riots in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, left more than 140 people dead and hundreds injured, as protesters attacked Chinese residents and burnt buses.

In 2014, a terror attack was carried out on a market in Urumqi, killing 31 people. In response, the Chinese government intensified its surveillance and control of Uighurs.

The German situation report does acknowledge possible links between Uighur separatist factions and the Afghan Taliban and Al Qaeda.

However, under the guise of fighting terrorism, China is seemingly punishing an entire population, targeting the Uighur language, religion and culture and placing them under a tight-knit mesh of constant electronic surveillance.

China, the report says, has placed any Muslim — be it Uighur or other Muslim minority — under a general suspicion of supporting and spreading extremist views.

The Uighur identify themselves as the original inhabitants of Xinjiang, which they describe as "East Turkistan." Experts say that many of the Turkic-speaking Uighurs feel closer to Central Asian states than China. They demand a separate homeland or at least a greater autonomy for their region.

German leaders stay quiet

Although the German government is evidently aware of China's systematic violation of human rights, German leaders have been mealy-mouthed when addressing the situation publicly.

In November 2019, Chancellor Merkel told the German Parliament that Germany must "of course criticize" when hearing reports of Uighur internment camps, but she did not specify whom.

Last year, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on China to comply with its human rights obligations and has urged Beijing to "clarify its position" on interning Muslim minorities.

In an interview with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, Maas said, "If indeed hundreds of thousands of Uighurs are being detained in camps, then the international community cannot close its eyes."

The situation report also said it will be important to monitor "the growth of an authoritarian state" with a tendency towards "totalitarian structures" under the hand of President Xi Jinping.

The goal of the Communist Party's oppression of civil liberties is preserving its power domestically, along with the entrenchment of Xi Jinping's claim to leadership. This is reflected in the human rights situation in the country, the report said.



UNESCO chief highlights importance of history’s lessons at Saudi Arabia’s AlUla


January 31, 2020

ALULA: UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay on Friday hailed how well Saudi Arabia’s cultural gem of AlUla has been preserved and the lessons future generations can learn from the region’s history.

Speaking at the Hegra Conference of Nobel Prize Laureates, which is being held at the site’s Maraya Hall, Azoulay highlighted the importance of the site in promoting a cultural exchange.

She joined more than 20 Nobel Prize winners and 100 leading thinkers at the forum to discuss global social issues, and offer solutions in areas including education, technology, health care and sustainability.

The UNESCO leader said that she had been impressed by AlUla’s historical diversity and the lessons it offers visitors. “This ensures that heritage is a motive for peace, education and so much more.”

Later, in an interview posted on the conference’s Twitter page, Azoulay said: “AlUla’s diversity left an impression on me, how civilizations have lived here in harmony, and left traces and wisdom for us that we need to listen to.”

Asked what the most pressing issue facing the world today was, Azoulay said: “Right now we have an emergency, first and foremost, it is our relationship with nature. We need to learn how to live with nature in harmony, it’s something that we’ve lost. And that is our challenge.”

She dedicated a message to younger generations: “I would like to say that, first, it is our responsibility to pass (our heritage) on to them and it’s their responsibility to take care of it.”

Azoulay, who has met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during her visit to the Kingdom, is a speaker at the three-day conference which began on Jan. 30.

During her talk, she discussed global issues related to innovation, sustainability, heritage preservation and building a common vision for the future. Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, culture minister and governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, shared a photo of the original transcript signed by Saudi

Arabia’s founder, King Abdul Aziz, that marked the Kingdom as the fourth country to join UNESCO.



Tens of thousands of Yemenis protest against Trump's 'deal of century'

Friday, 31 January 2020

Tens of thousands of Yemenis have taken to the streets in the northern city of Sa'ada, the capital Sana'a and elsewhere protest the so-called "deal of century" unveiled by US President Donald Trump this week.

Yemen's al-Masirah television network said the demonstrators carried banners and slogans Friday, decrying the deal and pledging to support the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation.

The protesters, in a statement, slammed what they described as the treason of certain "hypocritical Arab regimes" - particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - for supporting the plan and betraying the Palestinian cause.

The statement underlined that existing divisions within the Muslim and Arab world have emboldened Tel Aviv and Washington to carry out the measure.

The protesters called on Palestinian factions to unite and overcome existing rifts to liberate Palestine from the Israeli occupation.

The statement reiterated an earlier pledge from the leader of Yaman’s popular Ansarullah movement Abdul-Malik al-Houthi to support the "Palestinian and Lebanese" resistance in any future conflict with the Israeli regime.

Trump unveiled the so-called peace plan alongside Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday.

The so-called deal would, among other contentious terms, enshrine Jerusalem al-Quds as “Israel’s undivided capital” and allow the regime to annex settlements in the occupied West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

The Tuesday announcement of the deal - which all Palestinian groups have unanimously rejected - has aroused a storm of indignation and protest across different countries in the Middle East along with the condemnation of various international organizations.

Iran has denounced Trump’s anti-Palestine Middle East scheme as “the shameful and deceptive plan of the century,” which is “doomed to failure.”

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said “the deal of the century will lead nowhere,” but rather consolidate unity among the Muslim community and muster support for the oppressed Palestinian nation.

Velayati warned of the repercussions of such a plan, including destabilizing the region and violating numerous UN resolutions on the Palestine case.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also lashed out at the US’s so-called peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying the initiative is a “nightmare” both for the region and the world.



Weapons used in Nigeria killings also used by Al Qaeda in Mali — Report

January 30, 2020

Kunle Sanni

A study by a London-based research group has revealed that arms used in the farmers/herders conflict in North-west Nigeria come from the same source as those used by the terror group, Al Qaeda, in Mali and other Sahel countries.

The report, Nigeria’s Herder-Farmer Conflict, conducted by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), focuses its primary findings on Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna States in Nigeria.

Mike Lewis, author of the report and head of investigative arms research for CAR, told Radio France International (RFI) on Wednesday that researchers found the weapons amongst herders to be the same as those used in an attack by an Al Qaeda-aligned group in Mopti, central Mali.

The report also said sophisticated arms are also being smuggled from Turkey into Nigeria.

Mr Lewis said the study tracked weapons such as manufactured shotguns made in 2014 and smuggled by sea through the port of Lagos as well.

“Attackers in different countries are actually using weapons, not just of the same type, but almost certainly from the same batch and that is passed through the same people.

“And what that tells you is that there are very specific sources of illicit weapons that are providing the tools of violence for armed groups and also terrorist groups right across the Sahel,” Mr Lewis said.

“There were assault rifles, for example, that had had their markings scraped off in exactly the same way, and probably with the same tool, and yet we’re finding them literally hundreds or even thousands of kilometres apart,” he added.

More Sources of Weapons

According to the report, CAR researchers traced the origins of the weapons across borders in the Sahel, including from military weapons stockpiles in Côte d’Ivoire and from Libya.

The report also revealed a large number of hand-made firearms in the region, where there was a 35:1 ratio between artisanal weapons and factory-made ones.

”State governments in northern and central Nigeria are trying to capture the illicit small weapons, but the issue of the region awash in small arms remains.

“We also need to get serious about securing the region’s borders, and targeting these kinds of trafficking networks that are moving weapons into the conflict,” Mr Lewis said.

Scores and Cause

“Dry seasons present a harsh spinoff: the scarcity of resources required for farming and cattle husbandry. The impacts of the scarcity are most severe in the country’s semi-arid North.

“A situation that pushes Fulani herdsmen towards the Middle Belt and further south, where farmers already confront the challenge of reduction in the land available for cultivation due to housing and industrial expansion.

“It has also resulted in intense competition between farmers and herdsmen, which is increasingly causing bloody clashes in rural communities.

“But the rising wave of banditry, amid high-profile farmers herdsmen communal clash, has steadily become a major issue of Nigeria’s worsening security crisis in the region. The death count is alarming,” the report said.

According to a 2018 report by the International Crisis Group (ICG), an estimated 300,000 people fled their homes in large-scale displacement and insecurity in parts of Adamawa, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau and Taraba states, a development the group said may hinder farming as well as herding and drive up food prices.

The Inter-communal violence in the region killed more people in 2018 than Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa combined, according to the ICG report.

PREMIUM TIMES last year reported the United Nations saying over 40,000 refugees who were targeted by armed groups in Sokoto, Zamfara, and Katsina states migrated to the neighbouring Niger Republic to seek safety.

While a 2019 report by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said an estimated 7,000 Nigerians died between 2015 and 2019 in the persistent violence between farmers and pastoralists in the middle belt states of Benue and Nasarawa. To address the violence, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) launched operation “Tsaftan Daji” (Clean Forest), to flush out the armed bandits in the North-West. The army also has an ongoing operation in the region.

Various state governments in the North-west, including those of Zamfara, Sokoto, and Katsina, are also negotiating with the armed bandits and have done prisoner swaps with them. The swaps have involved the release of arrested armed bandits in exchange for tens of persons kidnapped by the bandits.





Anti-CAA protests: SC notice to UP govt on plea for quashing notices for recovering damages

Jan 31, 2020

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court agreed to hear a plea seeking quashing of notices sent to alleged protestors by district administration for recovering losses caused by damage to public properties during the anti-CAA agitations in Uttar Pradesh and asked the state to respond to it.

A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and K M Joseph issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea and directed it to file its reply within four weeks.

The apex court was hearing a plea which has alleged that such notices have been sent in Uttar Pradesh in an "arbitrary manner" against a person, who had died six years ago at the age of 94, and also to several others including two who are aged above 90.

The counsel appearing for petitioner Parwaiz Arif Titu said these notices were based on an Allahabad High Court judgement delivered in 2010 which "is in violation of the guidelines" laid down by the top court in a 2009 verdict which was later re-affirmed in a 2018 order.

The lawyer said the state government has appointed additional district magistrate to deal with the process of notices for recovering damages for loss of public property during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act whereas the guidelines laid down by the apex court stipulated that retired judges should deal with it.

"The Supreme Court's judgement is not being followed," the petitioner's counsel said.

At the fag end of hearing, the counsel urged the court to give him liberty to make the Centre as a party in the case.

The bench asked him to file application in this regard.

The plea has sought stay on these notices claiming they have been sent to persons who have not been booked under any penal provisions and no details of FIR or any criminal offences have been made out against them.

"The contradiction is that while the Supreme Court in 2009 put the onus of assessment of damages and recovery from the accused on high courts of every state, whereas the Allahabad High Court had issued guidelines in 2010 judgement that let the state government undertake these processes to recover damages, which has serious implications," said the plea, filed through advocate Nilofar Khan.

"The judicial oversight/judicial security is a sort of safety mechanism against arbitrary action. This means that there is every chance that the ruling party in the state could go after its political opponents or others oppose to it to settle scores," it said.

It also sought a direction to the Uttar Pradesh government to follow the procedure as per the 2009 and 2018 guidelines of the apex court while claiming damages to recover the losses caused to public property during such protests.

The plea sought setting up of an independent judicial inquiry to probe into the incidents which happened during the protests against the amended citizenship act and the National Register of Citizens in Uttar Pradesh, as has been done by the Karnataka High Court.

It claimed that the BJP-led Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh is "moving ahead on the chief minister's promise of avenging loss to public property" by seizing assets of protestors in order to "take revenge for political reasons from one community who is in minority".

The plea further alleged that around 925 persons, who have been arrested so far in connection with the violent protests, may not get bail easily in Uttar Pradesh till they pay up for the losses as they have to be given "conditional bail" only after they deposit the amount.

"The government of Uttar Pradesh and its administration and police are no longer behaving like the arm of a democratic government as it cracked down on protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019/NRC. The police on the instructions of the Uttar Pradesh administration used disproportionate force and denied public accountability," it alleged.



Including Ahmadiyyas would trigger reaction among Indian Muslims: Ravi Shankar Prasad on CAA

January 30, 2020

On giving Indian citizenship to Pakistan's Ahmadiyya community, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said that doing so could trigger a reaction from Indian Muslims. Speaking at India TV's mega conclave Chunav Manch, the Union Minister said that if the members of Pakistan's Ahmadiyya community, who are facing persecution in their own country, are given Indian citizenship, it could lead to a strong reaction from Indian Muslims.

"As far as Ahmadiyyas are concerned, Pakistanis do not consider them as Muslims. How would Indian Muslims react if Ahmadiyya's are granted citizenship under the amended citizenship act,"  Ravishankar Prasad said.

Prasad was addressing the issue of not including Muslim community in the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). "In Pakistan, Sindhi agitation is that of their regional identity. Similarly Baloch agitation is also of Baloch nationalism identity. None of these communities are being persecuted because they are Muslims or follow Islam," Prasad added.

He also tried to clear the air regarding the CAA and NRC. He said that the people are being mislead, they should look at the facts more clearly. "Everyone has a right to criticize the laws made by the government, criticize the party, criticize the home minister but they must also know the facts. CAA does not apply to any Indian citizen. It does not take away anyone's citizenship," he said.

He further added, "Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists have all contributed equally in shaping India into a country that it is. We are absolutely ready to discuss CAA with everyone but with proper means."

The Law Minister said that CAA should be looked not with the prism of law but with a prism of humanity. In support of his argument he said that Sikh community in Afghanistan has diminished over the years.

On the issue of National Population Register (NPR), the law Minister asked, "Can you enter America just like that? You are either a citizen or enter with a visa. If we want to keep a record of our citizens why should that be a problem?"

Ravi Shankar Prasad also addressed the issue of the Shaheen Bagh protests against the amended citizenship act in India. "We respect people's right to protest against the policies of the government, but what is happening in Shaheen Bagh is also not right. People from within Shaheen Bagh have come out and said that those protesting there are outsiders and should be moved. A lot of inconvenience is being caused to the local residents," he said while replying to questions from the guest at Chunav Manch.

Full report at:



Decision on reservation for Muslims soon: Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik

Jan 31, 2020

Mumbai: Maharashtra Minister and Congress leader Aslam Sheikh touched upon the contentious issue of bringing reservation for the Muslim community in the state. He said the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance government in the state will take steps in the regard as it was part of the common minimum programme of the alliance partners.

“MVA government to soon bring Muslim reservation as it was a part of MVA's common minimum programme,” Sheikh was quoted by the news agency ANI as saying.

Maharashtra cabinet minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesperson Nawab Malik, however, stated that a final decision in the regard is yet to be taken. The MLA from Mumbai's Anushakti Nagar further added that all three alliance partners of the MVA including the Shiv Sena had already made the issue a part of the common minimum programme, a decision on it will be taken soon.

“Before 2014, the Congress-NCP government decided on 16 per cent reservation for the Maratha community and 5 per cent for Muslims. At the time of the formation of the state government in 2019, the three parties Shiv Sena, Congress, NCP, in their common minimum programme decided to take a decision in the regard, however, no final decision has been taken till now. But since it’s a part of our CMP, a decision will be taken in this regard,” Malik was heard saying in the video.



Maharashtra Minister and Congress leader Aslam Sheikh: Maharashtra's Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to soon bring Muslim reservation as it was a part of MVA's common minimum programme


6:19 PM - Jan 31, 2020

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The issue of providing reservation for the members of the Muslim community has often gone back and forth in the Maharashtra Assembly in the past few years depending on which government was in power.

Full report at:



Terrorists killed in encounter in Jammu were Pakistanis: J-K Police

Feb 1, 2020

JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir police said that the three Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists killed by security forces on January 31 were Pakistanis, who had recently infiltrated from across the border.

The Jammu and Kashmir police on Friday said that it had recovered Improvised Explosion Devices (IEDs), ready to be used around Nagrota, along with huge quantities of arms, ammunition and communication equipment from the Pakistani terrorists.

"Recovered from 3 slain Pakistan terrorists of JeM on January 31. They had an IED ready to be used around Nagrota through some third person in a few days. They had dumped it at a convenient location on Jammu-Srinagar Highway," the Jammu and Kashmir Police's tweet on Friday read.

The recovery included AK-47 rifles, pistols and armour piercing steel core ammunition which can go through Level 3 protection bulletproof vehicles.

Earlier, Jammu and Kashmir DGP, Dilbagh Singh on Friday had said that the preliminary reports suggested that the terrorists had crossed the International Border (IB) on January 30.

"As per preliminary reports, they all appear to be Pakistani terrorists and belonged to JeM, this group had crossed the International Border (IB) from Dayalachak area last evening and they were on the way to Srinagar," Singh told reporters after the encounter.

The encounter had broken out between the security forces and terrorists during the checking of vehicles near the Ban toll plaza. One security personnel had also received injuries during the encounter.

Full report at:



BJP MLA from UP, Sangeet Som, said, ‘Those like Sharjeel Imam should be shot in public’

Feb 1, 2020

NEW DELHI: A day after a youth opened fire at anti-CAA protesters in Delhi, BJP MLA from UP, Sangeet Som, said on Friday that people like JNU student ‘Sharjeel Imam who want to break India’ should be hanged and shot dead publicly, reports Piyush Rai. “People like Sharjeel Imam who try to divide the country should be hanged publicly and shot dead.

They should not be spared at any cost,” the Sardhana MLA Som said. Earlier, Union minister Anurag Thakur had been censured by the Election Commission for a similar utterance during an election rally in Delhi. Som's remarks came during his visit to Deoband where thousands have been staging protests for the past three days.



37 politicians who visited Jammu and Kashmir to report on status of government steps

Feb 1, 2020

NEW DELHI: All 37 central ministers who visited Jammu and Kashmir as part of the government’s outreach will submit feedback to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the implementation of various development initiatives in the Union Territory, officials said on Friday.

So far, 14 ministers have submitted their assessment on implementation of the welfare schemes to the home ministry, which will be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office for follow-up action. The remaining ministers are expected to turn in their feedback soon, a home ministry functionary said. While the ministers had sent in their detailed reports earlier, PMO officials are said to have sought information to be recorded in a standard proforma, giving out precise details regarding penetration and impact of development and entitlement schemes.

The ministers had visited J&K earlier this month following a directive from PM Modi, who wanted an honest assessment of various welfare schemes being carried out in the newly-created UT.

Among those who visited J&K included law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, sports minister Kiren Rijiju, ministers of state for home G Kishan Reddy and Nityanand Rai, among others. The ministers only spoke about development initiatives and there was no reference to political issues, an official said.

While interacting with local people, the ministers got first hand information about local roads, healthcare facilities, availability of LPG cylinders, power situation, functioning of academic institutions besides other issues.

There will be two sets of feedback — one on the initiatives taken by the UT administration and the other about the central government initiatives, the official said.

Full report at:



Pulwama bomber’s cousin held, 3 Jaish men killed in encounter

Jan 31, 2020

JAMMU/SRINAGAR: An alert police constable helped avert a major tragedy after he noticed terrorists hiding inside a “cavity” in a truck — driven by the Pulwama suicide bomber’s cousin — that was intercepted for a routine check at Bann toll plaza near Nagrota, about 28km from Jammu city, early on Friday.

An encounter ensued after the holed-up infiltrators — “three to four” Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) affiliates from Pakistan who had entered India through the International Border (IB) in Kathua district and were travelling to Kashmir Valley — opened fire at the security forces in which three terrorists were killed and the constable was injured.

Police have arrested the truck driver Sameer Dar, and two of his aides, both suspected JeM overground workers. They are being interrogated. J&K director general of police (DGP) Dilbagh Singh said Sameer is the cousin of Adil Ahmad Dar, the JeM suicide bomber who blew up a CRPF convoy in Lethpora area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on February 14 last year, killing 40 CRPF personnel.

A resident of Pulwama’s Gund Bagh, Sameer had picked up the infiltrators from Dayalachak area in Kathua’s Hiranagar tehsil around 2am and was ferrying them to Srinagar along with a huge quantity of arms and ammunition in his truck loaded with polyvinyl bags. An L-shaped cavity had been created inside the vehicle to house the terrorists, who were heavily armed and had bulletproof vests. “They were all Pakistani terrorists and might have been tasked to carry out a ‘fidayeen’ (suicide) attack. The module was carrying an extra bag and three additional weapons to arm another group already waiting for it,” the DGP said, adding the group had come “fully prepared”.

“The truck was intercepted by a joint team of security personnel around 5am for routine checking. As the security personnel were about to enter it, the holed-up terrorists opened fire, to which our jawans retaliated. A terrorist was killed on the spot while a police constable was injured in the gunfight. Two other terrorists, who fled to a nearby forest area, were later killed in the ensuing encounter,” DGP Singh said.

A huge cache of arms and ammunition — including RDX, a US-made sniper rifle, six AK-47 rifles, four pistols, four smartphones, three wireless radio sets, one satellite phone, medicines and wire cutters — was seized from the slain terrorists. Top commanders of the JeM carry the US-made rifles. One of the terrorists killed on Friday might be a top commander, DGP Singh said.

The injured constable, Bhom Raj, who had discovered the cavity, was admitted to the Jammu government medical college with a bullet wound on his right arm. Raj, who is a constable with Nagrota police station and deployed for checking at the Bann toll plaza, said he was unarmed and couldn’t retaliate. “When we intercepted the truck, the driver and two others in the front seat told us they are carrying medicine and other items to Kashmir. But we were not satisfied,” he said.

The security personnel asked the driver and two others to remove the cover and open the truck door. Raj said, “I started checking and saw a blanket and shoes near the gate. When I peeped inside, I grew suspicious thinking why are the blanket and shoes inside a truck loaded with white bags?” As soon as the cover was removed, the hiding terrorists opened fire at the security forces. “The forces retaliated and gunned down a terrorist, while the others jumped down into a gorge and disappeared into the dense forest area,” Raj said.

All schools and colleges were ordered to be shut in nearby Udhampur district as a precautionary measure after the encounter. The Jammu-Srinagar highway was closed and the entire forest belt was cordoned off. The security personnel were still conducting a search operation in the area till the filing of this report. “Three terrorists have been gunned down in the operation but searches are on in the forest area as per our inputs, they were four in number,” said a senior police officer.

Full report at:



Jamia shooter bought gun with cash for clothes

February 1, 2020

The 17-year-old, who shot at a Jamia student during an anti-CAA protest Thursday, had been given Rs 10,000 by his parents to get clothes stitched for a relative’s wedding, but he spent the money on buying a country-made pistol from a 19-year-old who stays in his village in Gautam Buddha Nagar district. This came to light during his initial questioning by police.

On Friday, the youth was produced before a Juvenile Justice Board and sent to 14-day protective custody.

The questioning also revealed how round-the-clock consumption of hateful content on social media and WhatsApp over the past eight months sent the 17-year-old down a path of anger, culminating in Thursday’s shooting.

An officer familiar with the investigation told The Indian Express that around two years ago, the youth came in touch with some people online, and they would discuss how their religion was under threat. “He would closely follow their posts and stream their videos, and was active on WhatsApp groups critical of the current anti-CAA protests, especially in Shaheen Bagh and Jamia,” the officer said.

Police said Thursday was only the second time the youth had visited Delhi. “He told police he came to Delhi after boarding a roadways bus, which dropped him at Kalindi Kunj. The last time he came to Delhi was when he was seven years old,” the officer said.

Police said he described himself as “real nationalist”. “He told police he was upset with the murders of Chandan Gupta, who was killed during violence in Kasganj in 2018, and the self-proclaimed working president of Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha Kamlesh Tiwari in 2019. For the past eight months, he had been constantly watching social media post by self-proclaimed members of fringe Hindu groups,” an officer said.

He is also learnt to have told police that he can “die for his religion”, that he had “done his job”, and that “they deserved it”.

After he was apprehended, the youth was first taken to New Friends Colony police station, and then to Greater Kailash police station. Later in the evening, he was handed to the Crime Branch, where he was questioned in the presence of counsellors.

According to sources, while speaking to police, he also referred to a video posted by actor Ajaz Khan who was later arrested from Mumbai last year, and the recent speech by JNU PhD student Sharjeel Imam. Police said they have urged for the formation of a medical panel to conduct a bone ossification test to verify his age.

Meanwhile, the Jamia Chief Proctor Friday handed police a red backpack, allegedly belonging to the juvenile. Chief Proctor Waseem Ahmad Khan said the bag contained a register and a certificate in which the shooter’s name was written.

Among the belongings, there were several loose papers, including one which had “Mandir wahi banayenge” written with a pencil, and two flags drawn on the top right corner of the page, it is learnt. “A boy gave the bag to our guard yesterday. We don’t know who that person is. We thought it was a student’s bag and that they would come to receive it. When they didn’t, I thought we should check what’s inside the bag,” said Khan.

“It contained a register which had class notes and the name of the shooter, along with three-four other names. There was also a book on accountancy and some papers. We have handed over everything. There was also a certificate of participation in which his name was written,” he said.

Khan said there were photos of two-three other people, and a wallet. He said there was no ID card. The bag is also learnt to have contained a blue tie and a pen.

Meanwhile, the Jamia Teachers’ Association Friday condemned the shooting and blamed MoS (Finance) Anurag Thakur for it. At a poll rally Monday, Thakur had chanted “Desh ke gaddaron ko” and the crowd had completed the slogan with “goli maaro saalon ko”.

Full report at:



Terrorists killed in Jammu planned major attack, were prepared for stand-off with police: Officials

Shishir Gupta

Feb 01, 2020

The three terrorists killed by the Jammu and Kashmir Police at a toll plaza in Nagrota (near Jammu), were prepared for a stand-off with the police, officials said on Friday.

Pakistan-manufactured morphine injection, IEDs and armour piercing bullets are among the recovery made by the police, which directly links these terrorists to Pakistan, the officials further said. The three terrorists belong to Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

The police had also recovered AK-47 rifles, magazines and grenades from the slain terrorists on Friday. Three detonators, RDX, six Chinese grenades and Rs 32,000 cash have also been recovered.

The three terrorists, said the police, sneaked into India through trucks. They were able to infiltrate through the rivers and other water bodies which flow between India and Pakistan, said the police. The terrorists then boarded a truck and were headed towards Srinagar when they were intercepted by the police at the Ban toll plaza during a security check at 5 am, they added.

The terrorists opened fire when they were caught by the police, leaving one cop injured. All three were shot dead by the police in the gunfight which ensued at the toll plaza.

“One terrorist was killed in the morning. Two others have been neutralised in the adjoining forest area. Their bodies are being brought up to the road,” J&K director general of police Dilbagh Singh told HT.

The police also said that they have arrested three people including truck driver Sameer Dar, who was ferrying the armed terrorists to Srinagar from Dayalachak in Hiranagar area of Kathua district.

Dar is the cousin brother of Aadil Dar, the suicide bomber, who rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy in Pulwama on Jammu-Srinagar highway on February 14 last year in which 40 personnel were killed.

The officials suspect that the terrorists might have planned to carry out attack at vital installations as well as security camps along the nearly 300-km highway as they were carrying wire cutters and bulletproof jackets.

This was the first terror attack in Jammu since Article 370, which granted special status to the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, was revoked on August 5 last year.

Full report at:



No maulana helped Muslims like Modi did: RSS leader Indresh Kumar

Feb 1, 2020

Dehradun: While speaking at an event held to spread awareness regarding the Citizenship Ammendment Act (CAA), Indresh Kumar, head of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Muslim wing, said that the amendment doesn’t threaten citizenship of any Muslim and that the community must not get misguided by “Jamia professors”.

The seminar, held at Dehradun Municipal Corporation’s town hall on Friday, was attended by several people from the minority community. Kumar, who spoke for over 40 minutes, accused the Congress and other Left parties of inciting violence in the name of the Act.

“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014, some people claimed that Muslim colonies will be destroyed and they will be deprived of jobs and other facilities. Today, six years have passed and nothing bad has happened to Muslims. In fact, Muslims were given gas connection and other facilities. No maulana has ever helped Muslims like Modi has. The fear being spread in the name of CAA is ridiculous and wrong,” said Kumar.

During his speech, the right-wing leader explained the citizenship procedure followed in the counrty. “In India, citizenship is given on the basis of 11+1 rule, which means that a person has to stay as a refugee for 11 years and then on the basis of a report, he/she gets the citizenship in the 12th year. Hundreds of people have been given citizenship on the basis of this law. India has always given citizenship to the needy. Irani Muslims and Parsis, Balochs of Pakistan, Tibetans, and Sindhis, and people from other persecuted communities have been given asylum in the country. People from any religion can still apply for Indian citizenship under this 11+1 rule,” added Kumar.

Kumar also pointed out the atrocities being committed on minorities in Pakistan, saying “Minorities in Pakistan are treated as second class citizens.” He stressed that people from persecuted Muslim sects like Ahmadiyya, Shia, and others, can also apply for Indian citizenship. “The incumbent government is the only one working for minorities. Congress didn’t do anything for the upliftment of minorities in the past 70 years,” said Kumar.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Critics of G25 missing the historical contexts of Islam, says grandson of late Kelantan mufti

Sean Augustin

February 1, 2020

SHAH ALAM: A former academic who has written extensively on contemporary Muslim issues in Malaysia has defended a recent report on Islamic administration commissioned by the G25 movement, after it came under attack from conservative groups for its stand against anti-apostasy laws.

Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Hassan, who is part of G25 which brings together former senior Muslim civil servants to promote moderation, said critics failed to understand the non-theological nature of the report.

“They are implying, through their criticisms, that the book is attacking Islam and its laws. They fail to see the theme of the book,” Nik Abdul Aziz, who comes from a long line of traditional Muslim scholars in Kelantan, told FMT in a recent interview.

The 200-page report launched on Jan 11 – “Administration of Matters Pertaining to Islam” – evaluates the authorities’ handling of Muslim affairs through various laws and agencies.

But its criticism over the application of apostasy laws under state shariah enactments drew strong reaction from some quarters, including PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang who labeled G25 a “dangerous” organisation and its members as ignorant of Islam.

Nik Aziz, who has written papers and books on the history of Islamic scholarship in the Malay region, said the comments were irresponsible as G25 members also comprised of individuals exposed to the works of major Islamic scholars from all parts of the world.

“So to say that we are not Quran-literate is totally wrong and very unfair,” said Nik Aziz, the grandson of the late Wan Musa Abdul Samad, one of the Malay world’s most prominent authorities on Islam, and who served as the mufti of Kelantan between 1909 and 1916.

Although considered a traditionalist, Mufti Wan Musa was well known for his reformist views on Islam, and was considered among an early group of progressive ulama.

Nik Aziz said although he was not an ulama himself, he was offended by Hadi’s remarks.

“To say that I am totally ignorant of the Quran, I feel very hurt,” he said.

Nik Aziz said the stand on apostasy is just one part of the larger issues and problems in the administation of Islam in Malaysia over the decades as detailed in the G25 report.

He said many critics of G25 seemed to have no appreciation of Islam’s historical accommodation of diverse views, leading them to resort to name-calling over differences of opinions.

He said the debate on apostasy in Malaysia suffers from an ignorance about the early history of Islam.

He cited as example Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria’s argument that apostasy is a serious crime because the first Muslim caliph Abu Bakr had waged war against those who renounced their faith.

Nik Aziz said such an argument ignores historical contexts.

“Technically, you are clouding the minds of your fellow Muslims, which is ironically what we were accused of.”

He said the caliph’s action was aimed at those who refused to pay tithe to the state of Medina then, an act considered as treason.

“It is in this context that Caliph Abu Bakr had to resort to stern action,” said Nik Aziz, a former lecturer in Islamic history at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

In its report, G25 said implementing apostasy laws under the shariah poses constitutional and bureaucratic problems.

It also said punishing Muslims who leave their faith was against the spirit of Islam of freedom of choice, adding that the topic is still a matter of debate among Muslim jurists.

“Thus, a Muslim may choose to leave Islam. It is not a right as such, but a person exercising their choice. Leaving Islam is something that is regrettable. A Muslim who wants to exercise that choice should be persuaded to remain within the fold.

“However, if he persists to forsake Islam, it is between him and God. There is no earthly punishment provided in the Quran,” said the report.

Nik Aziz said there is a need to put into perspective instances of apostasy in Malaysia in order to gauge whether it warrants punishment.

He said government statistics showed that the bulk of those who left Islam were converts.

“If there is no implication to the state, then let it be. We cannot stop them, especially if they are adamant about leaving the faith after counselling them.”

He said G25 was not questioning the theological stand that apostasy is a grave sin.

But he said forcing people to remain their faith is counter-productive in efforts to promote Islam.

He said a nominally Muslim person could end up sabotaging the faith.

“It’s like retaining a football player who has no interest in playing for a club. He could cost the team the game.”



NGOs concerned over fate of Palestinians

February 1, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: A coalition of 34 Malaysian non-governmental organisations yesterday expressed grave concern over the future of the Palestinian people following United States President Donald Trump’s announcement of the Middle East Peace Plan recently.

Expressing solidarity with Palestinians, the group called for a concerted effort by the international community to stop the proposed deal — dubbed as “Deal of the Century” — from being implemented.

“We urged the United Nations to call an emergency meeting or summon the Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the outrageous plan.

“The Malaysian government also should push for the UN to convene this emergency meeting as soon as possible to reject this deal,” said Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisations (Mapim) president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, speaking on behalf of the coalition.

The group urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Arab League, the Non-Aligned Movement and other international forums to convene and pass a declaration of dismissal of the plan.

The coalition said the deal was the most outrageous violation of the rights of the Palestinians and had ignored all agreements based on a two-state solution.

“What is in store for the Palestinians from this so-called Deal of the Century?

“Simply, it is meant to assign the century-old legitimate struggle of the Palestinians for the rights to their homeland, rights of sovereignty and the rights of return to the bin of history, to be forgotten and erased completely from memory,” he said.

He criticised some Arab states for hailing the deal and advocating the US-Israeli agenda to further erode the Palestinian rights instead of standing with them.

Organised under the Save al-Quds Campaign, the event was attended by 13 representatives of NGOs, including Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCARE), Malaysian Women Coalition for al-Quds and Palestine (MWCQP), Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) and Muslim Care Malaysia.

Full report at:



Malaysia finds Trump’s Middle East peace deal ‘utterly unacceptable’

01 Feb 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government finds the proposed peace deal for Israel and Palestine as announced by US President Donald Trump to be “utterly unacceptable”.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said it had carefully studied the proposal.

“The proposal is heavily one-sided, seeking to reward Israel as the occupier at the expense of occupied Palestine and her people.

“It is clearly unfair to the Palestinians and will only perpetuate the injustices they have long endured. Malaysia believes that the Palestinians have every right to reject it, ” it said, adding that Malaysia was standing by its position that the creation of an independent Palestine through the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, was the only viable solution to the conflict.

In Seremban, Umno wants the government to reject and condemn the Middle East peace plan proposed by Trump which, among others, keeps Jerusalem under total Israeli control.

Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, turning the Jordan Valley as well as all illegal settlements in Palestine as Israeli territory was not only unfair to Palestinians but also in violation of international law.

“The plan which was designed by Jared Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law cum adviser for Middle East, is actually a plan for Israel and not a peace plan for Israel and Palestine, ” he said, adding that the plan was designed without the agreement or the involvement of the Palestinian authorities.

“The so-called peace plan neither respects nor takes into account the rights, claims and the interests of the Palestinians who were chased out of their land and suppressed by the Israelis, ” he said in a statement.

Palestine has also rejected the plan with its leader Mahmoud Abbas describing it as “the slap of the century”.

Trump who announced details of the peace plan on Tuesday had described the blueprint as a “historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state”.

Under the proposed plan, Israel will among others cede around 70% of the disputed territory in the West Bank to Palestinians but will double its existing territory overall.

The sovereign capital of the state of Palestine would be on the outskirts of the city of “East Jerusalem”.

Mohamad said Umno would remain steadfast in its stand that there could not be any trade-offs when it came to Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley, illegal settlements on Palestinian territory or the right of Palestinian refugees to return to what was once their homeland.

“In fact, Umno will never recognise the existence of Israel and will forever consider it as an intruder and a terrorist for snatching the rights, sovereignty and the interest of Palestinians, ” he said.

Bernama reported that a coalition of 34 local groups have expressed grave concern on the future of the Palestinian people and are calling for a concerted effort by the international community to stop the proposed deal from materialising.

“We urged the United Nations (UN) to call for an emergency meeting or summon the Security Council to pass a resolution condemning the outrageous plan.

“The Malaysian government also should push for the UN to convene this emergency meeting as soon as possible to reject this deal, ” said Malaysian Consultative Council for Islamic Organisations president Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid.

Full report at:



Talks between Thailand, Muslim insurgents to resume in March

January 31, 2020

BANGKOK: Talks will resume in early March between representatives of the Thai government and the main insurgent group fighting for independence in the country largely Muslim-Malay south, the head of the government team on Friday.

The conflict in the Malay-speaking region of predominantly Buddhist Thailand has flared on and off since the area was annexed by the Thais in 1909, with the latest round that started in 2004 killing some 7,000.

Kuala Lumpur last week hosted a meeting between Thai officials and envoys of the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), which observers say controls the majority of fighters on the ground and which pulled out of peace talks in 2014.

General Wanlop Rugsanaoh, the head of the Thai dialogue team, said he was cautiously optimistic following the Malaysia talks.

“The first session was a meeting for trust-building … and now it will be about the proposals from both sides,” Wanlop told reporters. “This (next meeting) will take place round early March.”

The general said the talk will only be between his team and the BRN for now with mediation from Malaysia. The process would gradually bring in other insurgent and civil society groups, he said.

Full report at:



Terror Charges Filed against 2 Malaysians, Indonesian


Authorities charged an Indonesian and two Malaysians on Friday, accusing them of possessing terrorism-related items and being involved in extremist activities by using a popular electronic messaging platform to gather support for the Islamic State group, an official said.

The Indonesian, identified as a 30-year-old construction worker named Irwanzir, was charged at the Sessions Court in Penang state, according to the official who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case with the media.

“Irwanzir intended to open a military training camp here for IS and has picked the jungles at Batu Gajah and Ipoh in Perak state as the location,” the BenarNews source said, using the acronym for Islamic State.

IS, which once proclaimed a self-styled “caliphate” across parts of Syria and Iraq, was largely defeated in 2019 when its last stronghold in the region fell and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed during a night-time raid by U.S. special forces in northwest Syria.

The Indonesian, a native of Aceh province who goes by the alias Abu Ali or Iskandar, was arrested on Jan. 6. Authorities filed immigration-related charges against him for overstaying his visa and for possessing items linked to IS.

If found guilty, Irwanzir faces up to seven years in prison and fines.

The Indonesian man also tried to influence members of a group on the online messaging platform WhatsApp to join him in a “holy war” in his homeland, said the official, who did not elaborate.

It was not immediately clear if Irwanzir was represented by a lawyer on Friday. Sessions Court judge Norsalha Hamzah set March 5 for the defendant’s next court hearing.

Two Malaysians charged in Perak

Also on Friday in Perak, about 161 km (101 miles) southeast of Penang, authorities filed separate terror-related charges against two Malaysians – a masseur and an a driver of a taxi-hailing app.

Wan Amirul Azlan Jalaludin, 35, and Mohamad Ayub Musa, 36, are members of Iwanzir’s pro-IS group on WhatsApp, the official also told BenarNews.

The two men, who were not represented by lawyers on Friday, face allegations of pledging their allegiance to IS, a criminal offense they allegedly committed in Batu Gajah, a town in Perak.

They were charged separately before Ipoh Sessions Court Judge Azman Abu Hassan, who denied bail for both and set March 20 for the next hearing.

Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation of 33 million people, experienced its first terror attack on June 26, 2016, when a grenade blast injured eight patrons at the Movida nightclub in Puchong town near Kuala Lumpur. Authorities blamed that attack on Islamic State.

Full report at:



PAS’ brand of hudud ‘mediaeval’, says top Muslim scholar

1 Feb 2020

PAS’ Islamic criminal laws are mediaeval and ill-suited for 21st century Malaysia, said renown Muslim scholar Prof Mohammad Hashim Kamali.

Hashim, who recently published a study on Islamic law, said PAS blindly lifted from a 12th century code of rules used in the Middle East and imposed them on Muslims in Kelantan and Terengganu.



World must defend Palestinians from US, Israel conspiracy

January 31, 2020

President of the United States of America, from Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organization.

We are registering our strong and vehement condemnation and protest against your so called Peace Plan (Deal of the Century) unveiled by you with your accomplice, indicted Benjamin Natanyahu.

Your absurd plan does not indicate any signs of a peace plan at all, instead a declaration of war against the Palestinians.

It is, to us, an attack on peace in the most direct manner, making all the peace plan that has failed since the last 7 decades as nothing compared to your plan of devastation.

Everything about the plan is farcical.

Your peace plan is clearly a conspiracy, designed by Israel, devoid of any justice for the Palestinians and you play the role as the announcer.

You are trying to deceive the world with a pompous name, the "Deal of the Century". This should be renamed as Injustice of the Century .

Your drafter, Jared Kushner, your son in law, who is a fanatic Zionist supporter of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land has one premise in the plan, that is punishing the victims and rewarding the aggressors.

Your office in the White House, with the advice of your close friend, Netanyahu, unashamedly acted to permanently deprive the Palestinians of their participation in the negotiations - and deprive them of their land, liberty and dignity.

You have disgracefully failed to accept the root causes of the protracted conflict in Palestine, and now you have repackaged them and presented them as a permanent solution.

We cannot but conclude that your 80 pages document depicts a devilish plan of wiping out the Palestinian rights.

We condemn strongly that now you have declared to legalise the illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian lands, and to recognise as part of Israel.

And to add to your even more satanic plan, Israel's illegal annexation of occupied Jerusalem, you have recognised as the capital of Israel and Israel alone.

The injustice is clear as day. You have finalised that the question of Palestinian refugees and their inalienable right of return and compensation, which are now totally denied.

Your plan does not resolve the problem of violent, repressive and inhumane Israeli control over the Palestinians, but your plan has placed the Palestinians at the mercy of Israel's security forces.

We demand that any plan must refer to the United Nations Security Council resolution 242, which requires Israel to return to its 1967 borders (or to their approximate, according to past US initiatives).

We know too well that Israel's apartheid system in Palestine, under your plan will now be prolonged with a provisional Palestinian "state", one which will have no sovereignty or independence.

This is a glaringly an insult to Palestinian injury.

We will not ignore that you have initiated a list of devilish steps:

• Closed down the office of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Washington

• Suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority

• Transferred the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

• Repealed US recognition of the refugee issue by suspending all funding to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

We are stating that you have failed to act deliberatively, fairly or altruistically. You have shown to the world how a president in the midst of an impeachment trial can work closely with an indicted prime minister.

You and your closest ally, Netanyahu, are working hard to be-relected and trying to garner the votes of evangelical Christians and the support of rich radical Zionists like Sheldon Adelson.

You have reflected opportunism, populism and cynicism all wrapped in one deal, and now you degraded US credibility on the international scene.

This plan is a clear farce with blatant lies, obvious complicity, offensive deceit to ensure Israeli supremacy and Arab support.

We express ou

r position to reject your manipulation of some cynical Arab regimes to support and finance your plan.

We see your plan will find its way to the dustbin of history.

We belief that subservient Arab dictators who support your plan will eventually fall but the people will endure, and the Palestinian resistance will be more stronger.

We reiterate that we will persist in supporting and stand in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom. We will mobilize this strong protest against your plan with every level of the community in Malaysia, legislators and institutional leaders. We are registering that our support to the Palestinian cause will be echoed to all Malaysians and the South East Asian region, irrespective of creed and race.


Mohd Azmi Abdul Hamid, President Malaysia Consultative Council of Islamic Organization

Endorsed by:

1. Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad, Parti Amanah Negara.

2. Datuk Seri Ahmad Awang, Chair Alliance of World Masjid in Defence of Al Aqsa

3. Datuk Wira Abdul Ghani Samsudin, Chair Secretariate for the Ulama Assembly of Asia

4. Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman, MP and Chair of Isra Foundation Malaysia, PAS

5. Syed Syekh Al Atas, Chair of SEJAGAT Malaysia

6. Dr Syarif Abu Shammalah, Director Al Quds Foundation

Muslim Imran, Director Palestine Cultural Organization Malaysia

7. Agus Sudarmaji, Al Aqsa Working Group, Indonesia

8. Datuk Tahir Khan, Chair Pakistan Community

9. Jamal Abdul Nasir, Chair Association of Justice and Development, Cambodia

10. Dr Arifin Thaipratan, secretary-general Coordinating Committee Humanitary Network Sheikhul Islam, Thailand

11. Datin Aminah Zakaria, Chair SALIMAH Malaysia

12. Badaruddin Dawam, Chair of PEDULI Malaysia

13. Shamsul Kamal Idris, Secretary Association for Muslim Minority Affairs, Malaysia

14. Sabarudin, Chair Inspirasi Muhibbah India Muslim, Malaysia

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the New Straits Times



Indonesia’s Silence over Xinjiang

January 31, 2020

If human rights violations of this scope and scale were taking place in Europe or the United States, one would expect Muslim-majority countries, including Indonesia, to have erupted in protest. But so far, there has been little to no response. Why? Because these abuses are taking place in China.

Since 2014, the Chinese government has imposed a harsh “Strike Hard Campaign” in Xinjiang, in the northwest region of China, to “eradicate the ideological viruses” of “Islamic extremism” from the Turkic Muslim population. This campaign dramatically escalates Beijing’s longstanding conflation of Uyghur and other Muslims’ distinct cultural, linguistic, and religious identity with political disloyalty or “separatism”. The Chinese government considers a wide variety of religious behaviour to be “extremist”—such as giving babies certain religious names such as Medina, or wearing a veil.

Over the past two years, rights activists, journalists and academics have revealed the suffering of Xinjiang’s Muslims, who are being forced to shed their ethnic and religious identity. They are being transformed, through mass arbitrary detention in “political education” camps and other measures, into a new people loyal only to the Chinese Communist Party.

Over the past two years, rights activists, journalists and academics have revealed the suffering of Xinjiang’s Muslims, who are being forced to shed their ethnic and religious identity.

Despite overwhelming evidence from satellite imagery, official documents, and policing apps that demonstrate severe repression in Xinjiang, the Chinese government claims that these are malicious and false allegations. It lamely contends that people there are “voluntarily” attending “training centres,” that they have now “graduated,” and that that everyone in Xinjiang enjoys religious freedom.

The Chinese government has made an apparent bid to win the support of governments, religious figures, and civil society groups in Muslim-majority nations, including Indonesia, for its policies in Xinjiang. The relationships Chinese authorities have cultivated over the years in Indonesia—including through donations and other financial support, according to a December Wall Street Journal report—have proved useful.

The Chinese government invited top clerics from Nahdlatul Ulama, the Muhammadiyah, the Indonesian Ulama Council, and some Islamic political parties to China and Xinjiang on guided tours of the camps, following which many of the invitees sang the praises of the Chinese government for its version of what is happening in Xinjiang. Many also criticised “American media” or “Western organisations” for mischaracterising problems there. In the meantime, the Indonesian government has largely stayed silent on Xinjiang, insisting it is a domestic matter for the Chinese authorities.

Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah responded to the Wall Street Journal allegations that China manipulated them to ensure their silence by issuing a strongly worded statement on Xinjiang, calling on the Chinese government to “stop all violations of human rights especially against the Uyghur community, under whatever pretext.”

Last week, the Jakarta-based Narasi TV aired a ground-breaking investigative report on Xinjiang. Using satellite imagery, it showed how the Chinese government had manipulated those guided tours by removing barbed wires and other incriminating evidence prior to the visits, and by showing the Indonesian delegations only limited sections of Xinjiang’s political education camps.

Meanwhile, some Muslim and other nongovernmental groups, including the militant Islamic Defenders Front, expressed strong concerns. In December, there were protests against China’s treatment of Muslims outside China’s embassy in Jakarta. But many of these groups have also rallied against Indonesia’s religious minorities such as Christians and Ahmadiyya, so their actions seem more self-interested than principled.

Indonesia—which has played a positive role in the Rohingya refugee crisis—has shown its commitment to promoting rights elsewhere in the region. It should do no less for China’s Muslims.

The Indonesian government, along with the Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah, should speak out against China’s treatment of Xinjiang’s Muslims and call for a fact-finding mission to the region, as the United Nations high commissioner for human rights has urged. They should demand information and the release of wrongfully detained Islamic scholars Hebibulla Tohti and Mohammed Salih Hajim, and Salih’s family members and associates. Some media reported Salih’s death in 2018, but a close family member says he is still alive. Such steps would be most effective if taken with other Muslim-majority countries, such as Malaysia, or members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Full report at:



Hong Kong says radical protesters are plotting bombing campaign

February 1, 2020

The Hong Kong government has privately warned diplomats it is bracing for a bombing campaign by radical pro-democracy protesters as the territory enters its 10th month of demonstrations.

Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, has told at least one western diplomat that bombings are likely and that her administration was on high alert following police seizures of homemade bombs and materials as well as other weapons in recent months.

Her concerns have been repeated by John Lee, Hong Kong’s security secretary, and Chris Tang, commissioner of the Hong Kong police, in meetings with western diplomats. They have warned of expected attacks using improvised explosive devices, guns and homemade bombs.

A sustained bombing campaign targeting police and the Beijing-backed government would be a dangerous escalation for a protest movement that began with enormous peaceful marches but has grown increasingly confrontational.

Police on Tuesday said they had found three IEDs within 48 hours, including a homemade bomb that exploded in a toilet at Caritas Medical Centre. No one was hurt in the blast, which damaged a toilet cubicle. The city’s security bureau said the IEDs were related to protests against perceived inaction by the government over the new coronavirus outbreak.

“Despite three different locations and three different types of devices, all had the potential to cause serious injury or death,” said Alick McWhirter, Hong Kong police’s senior bomb disposal officer.

Police said they were still investigating the motive for the hospital attack and whether it was linked to the protests. No one has been arrested.

In interviews with the Financial Times late last year, a handful of individuals active in the protest movement admitted they were planning more serious attacks on police.

“We’ve been trying to figure out how to make a bomb since Molotovs don’t really hurt the police enough,” one protester, who asked not to be identified, told the FT.

“We have a very large group of around 50 people and we have consensus that we should try to plant a bomb.”

Hong Kong is suffering its worst political crisis since its handover from the UK to China in 1997, sparked by an attempt to introduce legislation that would have allowed people to be extradited to the mainland.

Demonstrators’ demands have widened to include an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality and universal suffrage, with opinion polls showing increased public support for the use of violence in protests.

“We are at the cusp of a modest insurgency, basically an extreme breakout like the Real IRA or the INLA,” said Steve Vickers, a former head of the colonial era Royal Hong Kong Police’s criminal intelligence bureau who now runs a risk consultancy. He was referring to the Real Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army, paramilitary groups that were active at the height of Northern Ireland’s sectarian violence.

“It stems from deep frustration and what they see as lack of progress,” said Mr Vickers.

He added that as the protest movement lost momentum, a fringe element of hardcore protesters was becoming increasingly radicalised.

Hong Kong police last week arrested four people who they alleged were plotting to cause “injury and chaos”.

Three men and one woman, who were detained for “conspiracy to manufacture explosives” and “conspiracy to wound with intent”, were arrested in relation to the discovery of a plot to build remote-controlled bombs last month. Police also seized knives and imitation guns.

The discovery followed a series of raids in recent months that have yielded petrol bombs, other radio-controlled IEDs, a Glock pistol, bullets and an AR-15 rifle. A search of a warehouse building in July found 2kg of powerful explosive TATP.

Ms Lam’s office said it did not comment on speculative reports.

The Hong Kong police said: “Police have not given such message of expected bomb attacks to any foreign diplomat or consulate.”

Full report at:



South Asia


Airstrike in Afghanistan’s Kunduz province killed civilians

31 Jan 2020

An airstrike in northern Kunduz province have left civilian casualties on Thursday afternoon, residents claimed.

The families and relatives of the victims carried the dead bodies from Dasht-e-Archi district to the Kunduz city in front of the governor’s office, demanding justice.

Ghulam Rabbani a former commander of Hezb-i-Islami and seven members of his family were killed in an airstrike yesterday afternoon, a member of Hezb-i-Islami told Tolonews.

The family was in a car on their way to Dasht-e-Archi coming from Imam Sahib district of Kunduz.

Nilofar Ayoubi, a social media activist and one of the relatives of the victims living in Kabul tweeted that 7 members of her family have been killed in the US airstrike.

Seven members of our family including my two uncles and their spouses, a grandson of them, my uncle’s son-in-law and another close relatives of us were killed in a US airstrike, Nilofar tweeted.

Nilofar Ayoubi


امروز در حمله طیاره امریکا بر یک موتر ملکی در شهر چهاردره کندز ۷ عضو خانواده ما شهید شدند. در میان شهدا ۲کاکایم با خانم هایشان و یک نواسه ۱ ساله، یک داماد کاکایم و یکی دیگر از اقارب نزدیک ما میباشد. گناهشان این بود که خانوادگی داشتن به تشیع جنازه یکی از فامیل ها میرفتند.


3:52 PM - Jan 31, 2020

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A US Force spokesperson had said early on Friday morning that an airstrike in Dasht-e-Archi killed 3 Taliban militants.

We are aware of the reports of civilian casualties reported to have occurred in Dasht-e-Archi district or Imam Sahib district in Kunduz province on January 30, 2020. We are looking into these reports and will provide more information when it becomes available”, A US Force spokesperson said.

Afghanistan Defense Ministry has said the civilian casualties in Kunduz will be investigated.

According to the reports, at least 800 civilians have been killed in 2019 airstrikes.



Two killed in Kabul explosion: Afghan official

31 January 2020

Afghan officials say two militants pushing a handcart were killed Friday in western Kabul when explosives in the cart detonated accidentally. A civilian was wounded.

The Ministry of Interior spokesman Nasrat Rahimi says investigators have not been able to link the bombers to any active militant group in the Afghan capital.

Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said after the explosion that the explosives were hidden in a handcart.

Faramarz said police are not speculating on who was responsible. They had no additional details.





Pakistan mulls deal with Turkey on dual nationality

February 1, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said a plan is under consideration to sign an agreement with Turkey regarding providing dual nationality to the citizens of two countries.

This came during a meeting between Interior Minister retired Brigadier Ijaz Shah and Turkish Ambassador to Islamabad Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul on Thursday, according to a statement issued by the Interior Ministry.

According to the statement, the Turkish ambassador on behalf of his government proposed that both the countries should sign an agreement regarding providing dual nationality to the citizens.

“In response to this, the minister said that the draft is under consideration and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is on board with us, we hope to reach a mutual conclusion soon,” it added.

Shah also welcomed the mutual training programmes and upgrading of equipment of law enforcing agencies with Turkey.

“The Minister for Interior welcomed the initiative of introducing a patrolling force in collaboration with ICT Police on the model of Dolphin force introduced in Lahore,” the statement said.

The ambassador and minister also mutually agreed on the continuity of the training programmes being held to improve the capacity of the workforce.

Yurdakul also informed the minister that the Turkish president is scheduled to visit Pakistan soon.

Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu is also expected to visit Pakistan in February and he will meet Shah to discuss bilateral matters, the statement said.

Pakistan’s interior minister was also informed that the Turkish Consulate that is under construction in the southern city of Karachi is the largest one in the world by Turkey.

Interior Minister Shah also extended condolences to the ambassador over the losses due to recent earthquake.



Ehsaas Kafaalat launched to empower underprivileged women

February 1, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday formally launched the Ehsaas Kafaalat Programme to financially empower a total of seven million most-deserving women across the country in three phases.

Addressing the launch ceremony, the prime minister said that the government is taking steps to make Pakistan a welfare state on the pattern of state of Medina.

He said that the social welfare programmes of the incumbent government will transform Pakistan into a country where social equality prevails.

The prime minister said no society can develop where the elite prospers at the expense of the poor. He said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has so far given health cards to six million families who can now avail the medical treatment of up to Rs720,000.

PM Imran said that loans being given under Ehsaas programme will promote entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises of the country.

He said that around Rs200 billion have been earmarked for Ehsaas programme to help uplift the weaker segments of society.

The prime minister said that under the new programme, opening bank accounts of women will help stop the theft of their money and also enable them to purchase essential items from Utility Stores Corporation outlets. He also appreciated giving smartphones to programme recipients that will open a whole new world for them and their families.

He said that new programs of Ehsaas will be coming soon, under which other social welfare measures will be given to poor people. He said that stunted growth and malnutrition are two major issues facing poor people.

The prime minister appreciated the hard work of Special Assistant on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Dr Sania Nishtar and her efforts for developing a proper system to distribute the money among the most deserving people of the country.

He also distributed kafaalat cards among the deserving women.

Earlier, Dr Nishtar said that under the programme, deserving women will be given cash stipends of Rs2,000 per month.

She said that identifying the deserving persons was a big task as the data of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) was 10 years old. She said that the government used the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) records and surveys to identify the persons who really deserve so that unscrupulous elements do not take advantage of the scheme. She said that the process of desk registration of deserving persons has been started at the Tehsil level.

She also said that agreements have now been made with two banks to open biometric ATMs to facilitate the receiving of money under Ehsaas Kafaalat programme.

Full report at:



Formation of new bodies annoys PTI’s disgruntled allies

Amjad Mahmood

February 01, 2020

LAHORE: The prime minister’s decision of forming two new committees for negotiating with coalition partners has not only irked the allies but has also given credence to reports that all is not well in the ruling Pakis­tan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Opposition parties are trying to widen the cracks in the ruling coalition by offering the government allies share in provincial set-ups. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has reiterated his offer to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) “to work together” for resolving issues of Karachi.

PM Imran Khan had on Thursday nominated Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood to hold talks with disgruntled Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) leaders, and named Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Firdaus Shamim Naqvi and Haleem Adil Sheikh for engaging the MQM.

Earlier, PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, federal Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak and the PM’s advisor on accountability Shehzad Akbar were negotiating with the MQM and the Q-League, which had been demanding one more slot in the federal cabinet and empowering the ministers earlier held by them both at Centre and in Punjab, as per promise made at the time of government formation.

Imran asks KP CM to give another chance to sacked ministers

Tariq Bashir Cheema, the lone PML-Q representative in the federal cabinet, skipped Thursday’s cabinet meeting. He was said to be in Saudi Arabia to perform Umra. While the MQM’s minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was also missing.

Senior PML-Q leader and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi used the occasion of his meeting with a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Society here on Friday to express his reservations over the change in the committee.

“We can’t comprehend [the logic behind] the new committee. One committee is formed after another,” he said, adding negotiations with the first committee was leading to improvement in the (disputed) affairs that a new panel had come to fore.

Advising the government to not take its allies as sautan (a relation based on jealously between two wives of one man), he said one (type of) committee was formed while another was pooled, a reference to a form of pooling of fixed amount of money each month and giving it to one of the committee members. And that “our number has not yet come for getting this committee (the pooled money).”

Quoting Punjabi Sufi poet Baba Bulleh Shah’s verse “agly taun na pichlly taun, mein sadqay jawaan vichley taun” (neither the first nor the last, I’m fond of the middle one), he said they had joined hands with the PTI with sincerity and wished that the (incumbent) government should work and complete its term.

“We realise that we won’t escape the loss if the government is hurt,” he emphasised.

Parvez Elahi’s son MNA Moonis Elahi used social media to express his reservations over PM Khan’s decision. “We were making excellent progress with the earlier committee comprising of @JahangirKTareen @PervezKhattakPK and @ShahzadArbab1. Why is @pti out to self sabotage itself??” he said in his tweet.

The MNA had expressed his satisfaction after talks with the Tareen-led committee, which promised empowering the MML-Q ministers besides giving it a share in administrative powers in Gujrat, Chakwal and Bahawalpur districts where the Chaudhrys of Gujrat have strong political base. Hints were also given about giving them another slot in the federal cabinet.

The separation of Mr Tareen from the dialogue process speaks volumes about his abrupt departure for abroad. In the past he had always been playing the role of a trouble shooter for the ruling PTI.

On the other hand, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has repeated his offer for the MQM to work together to resolve Karachi’s problems, saying the party should focus on the issues of Karachi instead of ministries. The incumbent federal government didn’t have the guts to take along its allies, he added.

But Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui rejected the offer saying the PPP government in Sindh had the resources and powers to resolve issues of Karachi on its own and replace them (the MQM) as representatives of Karachi.

Meanwhile, seeing pressure by the allies, PM Khan has decided to put his own party in order. In his meeting with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in Islamabad on Friday, he has reportedly asked the latter to mend relations with three former cabinet colleagues — Atif Khan, Shahram Tarakai and Shakeel Ahmed — sacked last week for “plotting” against the CM.

Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai met the prime minister three days ago to clear “misunderstandings”.

Full report at:



Boot controversy: Karachi court orders registration of FIR against Faisal Vawda

Naeem Sahoutara

January 31, 2020

A sessions judge in Karachi on Friday directed the Station House Officer (SHO) of Mithadar Police Station to record the statement of a PPP leader under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code and register an FIR against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf federal minister, Faisal Vawda, if a cognisable offence was made out.

PPP’s Advocate Qadir Khan Mandokhail had approached the court, pleading it to direct the police to register an FIR against Vawda for using non-parliamentary language against the PPP and PML-N leadership and violating the sanctity of the armed forces.

During the hearing on Friday, Additional Sessions Judge (South) Ghulam Murtaza Baloch passed these directives while disposing of an application filed by Mandokhail under Section 22-A of the CrPC. The PPP leader had approached the court against the Mithadar SHO for allegedly not entertaining his application to register a case against the PTI leader.

At the outset, the South Superintendent of Police (SP) filed a report in compliance with the court’s order, claiming that the applicant had not approached him for the registration of the case and requested the judge to direct Advocate Mandokhail to approach the relevant police station so that his grievance may be addressed.

In his application, Mandokhail submitted that the federal minister, Faisal Vawda, had used non-parliamentary language against the PPP and PML-N leadership during a talk show on a private television channel on Jan 14, where he also put a boot on the table on-camera, as he criticised the opposition parties for having voted in favour of a proposed law tabled in the parliament regarding the extension in tenure of the army chief.

The applicant stated that the PTI leader’s allegation that the PPP voted in the favor of extension in the army chief’s tenure was baseless, but Vawda tried to portray that the army was behind such political activities and the opposition parties supported the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2020 under pressure.

He argued that the PTI leader violated the sanctity of the armed forces as well as the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Act, thus he had approached the Mithadar police for registering a case against him. The police officials had, however, refused to entertain his plea.

The applicant alleged that Faisal Vawda, who he claimed is a US national, was deliberately trying to defame the country. He contended that the PTI leader has committed violation of the Rules 3(1), 4, 5, 3 and 17 of the Pemra Act, adding that the prime minister himself had banned the party leader for two weeks from giving statements in the media, which itself was an admission of the commissioning of Vawda’s offence.

The applicant pleaded to direct the police to lodge a case against Vawda under Section 121-A (a conspiracy to commit offences punishable by Section 121, which pertains to waging or attempting to wage war or abetting waging of war against Pakistan) and 140 (wearing garb or carrying token used by soldier, sailor or airman) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Full report at:



Imran Khan incapable to run govt: Marriyum Aurangzeb

February 01, 2020

LAHORE - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb has on Friday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is not capable to run the government and to serve the people.The PML-N leader said in her statement that Imran Khan is known for U-turns and incompetence, and challenged the premier to tell the people that flour and sugar crises were created to provide benefits to Khusro Bakhtiar and Jahangir Tareen. She declared the flour crisis as robbery by the incumbent government. Wheat production was exaggerated by 20 percent to make money by exporting it. The profiteers also took subsidy of $ 150 per ton from the federal government, she added. “People were looted in Punjab with the help of some notorious and corrupt flour mills, food department and ‘ATMs.’



Pakistan’s debt surges by 40pc in 15 months

Khaleeq Kiani

February 01, 2020

ISLAMABAD: With around 40 per cent increase in Pakistan’s public debt and liabilities in 15 months, the government on Friday conceded major violations of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act (FRDLA) for massively exceeding debt acquisition limits.

In its debt policy statement laid before the parliament, the ministry of finance noted that total debt and liabilities that stood at Rs29.879 trillion at the end of the fiscal year 2018 crossed Rs41.489tr at the end of Septem­ber 2019, showing an increase of Rs11.6tr or 39pc.

At the end of the fiscal year 2019, the total debt and liabilities were reported to have increased by about 35pc or Rs10.344tr to touch Rs40.223tr.

Ramsha Jahangir

The report said the FRDLA required that the federal government take measures to reduce federal fiscal deficit and maintain total public debt within prudent limits thereof. As such, it was required to limit the federal fiscal deficit excluding foreign grants to 4pc of gross domestic product during the three years, beginning from the financial year 2018-19 and maintaining it at a maximum of three and a half per cent of the GDP thereafter.

“The federal fiscal deficit (excluding grants) was recorded at Rs3,635 billion or 9.4pc of GDP during FY 2018-19, thus, remaining higher than the threshold of four per cent,” said the debt policy statement.

In a statement laid before parliament, finance ministry admits to debt limit violations

The ministry, however, justified this due to a series of factors, most of them emanating from its policies. It said the one-off factors, which were not expected to carry over into FY 2019-20, contributed around 2.25pc of the GDP towards federal fiscal deficit. These included delay in renewing telecom licences, delay in sale of envisaged state assets and weaker than anticipated tax amnesty proceeds contributed around 1pc of the GDP. A shortfall in the transfer of State Bank profits contributed an additional 0.5pc of the GDP.

Profit of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) witnessed a steep decline during FY 2018-19 as the SBP incurred heavy exchange rate losses on its external liabilities. Payments of accrued interest on account of re-profiling of the SBP borrowing at end June 2019 also contributed 0.75pc of GDP in federal deficit.

In addition, the finance ministry said some other factors were beyond the control of the fiscal authorities, which contributed to higher than budgeted federal fiscal deficit during FY2018-19. These included a sharp rise in domestic interest rates and exchange rate depreciation (that escalated the debt servicing burden), legal constraints on the revenue side and an overall slowdown in the economy resulted in lower than budgeted revenue collection.

The policy statement said the law also required the government to ensure that within a period of two financial years, beginning from the fiscal year 2016-17, the total public debt shall be reduced to 60pc of the estimated GDP by end June 2018.

“However, total public debt to GDP ratio reached 72.1pc while total debt of the government to GDP ratio was 66.5pc. Total public debt and total debt of the government as percentage of GDP stood at 84.8pc and 76.6pc, respectively at end June 2019, thus, increasing further during the FY 2018-19,” the finance ministry conceded.

Apart from fiscal deficit, it said, unprecedented revaluation loss on account of currency depreciation and build-up of liquidity buffer contributed significantly towards the increase in debt to GDP ratio during FY 2018-19.

The ministry also put on the record that total debt and liabilities increased by 86.3pc of GDP at the end of FY18 to 94.3pc of GDP at the end of September 2019. It said the government’s domestic debt increased by Rs6.234tr or 38pc in 15 months (end-June 2018 to end-September 2019). It said the government domestic debt that stood at Rs16.416tr at end-June 2018 increased to Rs20.73tr by end-June 2019 and reached Rs22.65tr at end-September 2019.

Government’s external debt during the 15-month period also increased by 36pc or Rs2.8tr to Rs10.598tr from Rs7.796tr. External liabilities on the other hand increased by 160pc to Rs1.6tr by end of September 2019 from Rs622bn in June 2018.

The finance ministry, however, said it fulfilled the limit on new sovereign guarantees. It said the law required the government not to issue new guarantees for any amount exceeding 2pc of GDP in any financial year and “during FY2018-19, the government issued new guarantees including rollovers amounting to Rs489 billion or 1.3 percent of GDP”.

Pakistan’s External Debt and Liabilities (EDL) represent debt and liabilities of public as well as the private sector. The EDL part that falls under government domain is the debt which is serviced out of consolidated fund and owed to International Monetary Fund (IMF) whereas remaining includes liabilities of central bank, debt of public sector entities, private sector and banks.

“EDL was recorded at $106.3 billion by end June 2019, registering an increase of $11.1bn compared to an increase of $11.8bn recorded a year earlier. One half of the increase in EDL was due to rise in SBP liabilities in the form of deposits placed by bilateral partners (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar),” the ministry said, adding “these deposits only provide balance of payments support, add to foreign currency reserves and do not come as an extra resource in the budget”.

Full report at:



Pakistan wants US to quickly clinch deal with Taliban

Baqir Sajjad Syed

February 01, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday cautioned the United States that a historic opportunity to end conflict in Afghanistan could be lost if Washington did not act fast to clinch a deal with the Taliban.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, while talking to Dawn after a meeting with US special envoy for Afghan peace and reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, said that “spoilers could exploit the status quo if it prolongs”.

About his conversation, he said: “I emphasised that there is no military solution to the conflict and if a political solution has to be achi­ev­ed then the progress made towards a political settlement [in talks between the US and Taliban over the past year] needs to be consolidated. It should not be lost.”

Ambassador Khalilzad, according to the Fore­ign Office, updated Mr Qureshi on developments in negotiations with the Taliban and other related issues.

The US and Taliban had a couple of weeks ago resumed their contacts in Doha, whi­ch some observers describe as informal, after a pause in their negotiations following the Bagram attack by the insurgent group in December.

Both sides claimed progress in their latest discussion. Spokesman for Taliban political office Suhail Shaheen had, meanwhile, said the two sides talked about the ceremony for the signing of the agreement. The deal, however, remains elusive.

The Taliban reportedly offered reduction in violence, but the United States did not seem satisfied with its scope. Details of Taliban offer are not known publicly, but some media reports claimed that the Taliban were ready for a ceasefire for a brief period to allow for signing of the deal.

The content of the agreement had almost been agreed earlier in September when US President Donald Trump abruptly ended engagement with the Taliban after the Kabul attack. Currently, the discussion is on the conditions under which the agreement would be signed.

Mr Qureshi said that a lot now depends on whether or not reduction in violence happens. “This is the main challenge or a pre-requisite” for the signing of the accord, he added.

“It is an important stage, we have to wait and see what happens,” Mr Qureshi remarked. He asserted that it was a “historic opportunity”, which should not be allowed to drift away.

It is feared that the longer the US-Taliban negotiations prolong, the greater would be the risk of the process getting derailed. A single major attack in Afghanistan against US forces can bring all progress towards an agreement to naught. Crash of a US military plane in Ghazni this week renewed those concerns.

The Foreign Office, meanwhile, in a statement said that Mr Qureshi assured Mr Khalilzad that Pakistan, which played a key role in facilitating the Afghan peace process, would continue its efforts for a positive outcome.

Ambassador Khalilzad later visited GHQ for a meeting with Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa.

“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, including overall regional security situation and ongoing Afghanistan reconciliation process, were discussed. Mr Khalilzad thanked Pakistan for facilitating the process towards the mutual objective of peace in the region,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said.

US travel advisory

Pakistan has termed the update in the US travel advisory, which has acknow­ledged that “Pakistan’s security environment has improved”, a step in the right direction.

The FO said in statement that Pakistan had made resolute efforts to enhance security throughout the country. “Significant improvement in the security environment has led the United Nations to re-designate Islamabad as a family station for its personnel. Recently, the United Kingdom, while acknowledging the measures taken by Pakistan, has revised its travel advisory which is a welcome development. The positive decisions by Portugal and Norway with regard to their travel advisories for Pakistan also reflect the confidence of these European governments in Pakistan’s security environment.”

Pakistan has also been declared as one of the “Best Holiday Destinations for 2020” by the award-winning travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler.

Full report at:



JI-led sit-in held against Bahria Town

Imran Ayub

February 01, 2020

KARACHI: A large number of people who booked properties in Bahria Town Karachi (BTK) staged a protest sit-in outside the company’s office on Tariq Road on Friday demanding justice and “true utilisation” of their hard-earned money.

The protest was organised by the Jamaat-i-Islami, which launched a campaign against Bahria Town and announced that it would hold a protest demonstration outside the CM House on Feb 9.

The protesters, including women and children, were holding placards and chanting slogans against the real estate giant.

They asked the federal and provincial authorities to play their due role to resolve the issues, which had put the huge investment of middle and upper-middle class at stake.

Addressing the protesters, JI’s city chief Hafiz Naeemur Rahman questioned the claims of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government that it won the election on the slogans of its anti-corruption narrative.

He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had never said a single word against Bahria Town’s malpractices and real estate tycoon Malik Riaz.

“This is an organised fraud where the allottees are not being given possession of their properties while those who have been promised refund are denied payments,” he said.

“Those who have become qualified to get possession of their plots after all payments are now being asked to pay an additional over 30 per cent amount. This is against the actual contract of the deal. But the biggest mystery is that you would not find the state and its institutions bothered. A company is behaving like a state within the state and no one dares to question it,” he said.

He said the people of this country were more worried about the fast vanishing role of the state in such times as they had nowhere to go for their grievances and anyone who designed a “smart scheme” to extort money from the citizens of this country could easily do that with strong connections.

“The people are left with no choice but to take to the streets,” he said. “Our protest is against Bahria Town for its exploitation but at the same time we are protesting against the government of Pakistan and the government of Sindh for remaining absent from the scene.

Full report at:



Dozen laws to be amended to meet FATF requirements

Khaleeq Kiani

February 01, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday decided to introduce major amendments to at least a dozen of its laws over the next six months to remain in continuous compliance with requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The decision was taken at a meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC) — the country’s highest body on money laundering and matters related to the FATF — presided over by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

The meeting was also attended by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, who heads the National FATF Coordination Committee of civil and security institutions, Communications Minister Murad Saeed and heads of relevant ministries and national institutions, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Finance.

The meeting finalised a plan for compliance with FATF standards by June 2020 and targets were set for further legislation and procedural upgradations by various agencies and institutions.

It was agreed that about 12-13 laws and sub-ordinate legislations would have to be amended by June this year to complete the overall legal framework in line with the standards of the FATF. On the basis of this legal framework, Pakistan’s performance would be judged, also to be supported by the International Monetary Fund, for full compliance in the next plenary of the FATF in October.

Anti-Money Laundering and Foreign Exchange Regulation Act cleared by Senate committee

This will be in addition to the Anti-Money Laundering and Foreign Exchange Regulation Act which was cleared by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance on Friday and would now formally go through the customary passage by parliament.

Informed sources said the top in the list of new legislations would be the Anti-Terrorism Act that was already pending with parliament, followed by the Mutual Legal Assistance Act for exchange of legal cooperation among various countries.

The sources said the United Nations (Security Council) Act of 1948 would be fully adopted by Pakistan in its updated form under which punishment for terrorist entities and individuals proscribed by the UNSC would be enhanced to Rs200 million and 10-year rigorous imprisonment from its existing fine of just Rs1 million. The Criminal Procedure Code would also be amended to meet international standards.

Also, the Companies Act of 1984 would be amended to provide enabling provisions for compliance with FATF standards.

In addition, a number of sub-ordinate legislations would be upgraded to enable the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and other federal and provincial agencies to cover the activities of their respective areas.

The meeting also decided that about 20,000 remaining non-profit or non-governmental organisations would be further scrutinised over a period of one year —with a target of screening of 25 per cent NPOs each quarter — in coordination with the federal and provincial agencies and regulators. This will lead to creation of a national registry of all the NPOs and NGOs operating in any of the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan or the federal territory. As such, only the scrutinised NPOs and NGOs would then be allowed to raise public funds or collect donations etc.

The updated laws would also empower the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the SECP and Ministry of Finance to regulate chartered accountants and related professions, Pakistan Post and National Savings under a supervisory board.

The meeting was told that consultants funded by the World Bank had provided enabling rules for sectoral regulators which would have real time interface to trigger any suspicious transactions or activities and report to the Financial Monitoring Unit.

These laws would provide enabling legal framework to bring all the unregulated sectors of economy under a proper regulatory framework in line with FATF standards. The FBR would be legally empowered to be a regulator for real estate sector, gems and jewellery, diamonds and precious stones.

Likewise, the Ministry of Law and the Pakistan Bar Council would be legally empowered to play the role of regulator for lawyers, legal advisers and law firms. Similarly, chartered accountants, cost and management accountants, financial consultants and all those relating to accounts groups would come under the regulatory domain of the SECP.

An official statement said the meeting was informed about the steps taken by various civil and security agencies to check money laundering and positive outcome achieved so far. An official told Dawn that Dr Shaikh also apprised the meeting of his interactions with world’s leading financial institutions and leaders during his recent visit to Davos who were appreciative of Pakistan’s robust progress over a short period of time.

Full report at:



Why Pakistan is not joining global forum on cybercrime

February 01, 2020

LAHORE: The Ministry of Interior on Friday informed the Lahore High Court that Pakistan had not signed so far the Budapest Convention on cybercrime due to reservations shown by intelligence agencies.

In a written reply filed in a case against the availability of hate material on social media against the judiciary, the ministry stated that a meeting for signing the convention was held on Jan 22 last.

However, it said, the agencies did not support the proposal pointing out that Israel was also a signatory to it and Pakistan did not recognise Israel as a state.

Moreover, it said, India was seriously thinking of signing the Budapest Convention due to which Pakistan needed to be very careful for opting such possibilities.

The ministry stated that a committee had been constituted comprising all stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to go clause by clause of all sections of the convention.

In a separate reply, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also told the court that the Budapest Convention was highly intrusive and would compromise our data. It said many countries outside Europe, including China, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, were of the opinion that the convention was a regional initiative by the EU and severely compromised data sovereignty.

The reply said another convention on cybercrime under the auspices of the UN was being deliberated at and Pakistan had supported the idea at the UN General Assembly.

The ministry further stated that Pakistan had so far signed Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) agreements with Sri Lanka (2006), Uzbekistan (2007), China (2010) and Kazakhstan (2001).

Chief Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh adjourned hearing and sought further arguments from the petitioner’s counsel in light of the replies by the ministries.

Meanwhile, the chief justice also sought a reply from the Punjab government about leak of an official letter on social media about security for Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmad.

Full report at:



‘Improved security’: US eases travel advisory for Pakistan

February 1, 2020

The United States has eased travel advisory for Pakistan while acknowledging that the security environment in the country has significantly improved.

“Pakistan has noted the update in the US Travel Advisory, which has acknowledged that Pakistan’s security environment has improved,” said the Foreign Office in a statement.

“This is a step in the right direction,” it added.

According to the statement, Pakistan has made resolute efforts to enhance security throughout the country.

Significant improvement in the security environment has led the United Nations to re-designate Islamabad as a family station for its personnel, it added.

Recently, the United Kingdom, while acknowledging the measures taken by Pakistan, also revised its advisory.

The positive decisions by Portugal and Norway with regard to their travel advisories for Pakistan also reflected the confidence of the European governments in the security environment.

Pakistan has also been declared as one of the “Best Holiday Destinations for 2020” by an award-winning travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, it added.

The FO said: “With Pakistan’s liberal visa regime and conducive environment for tourism, we are confident that larger number of tourists from all over the world would be travelling to Pakistan.”

Full report at:



JUI-F chief to launch another anti-govt movement from Feb 5

February 1, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman  on Friday announced  to launch another movement against the incumbent government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from February 5.

The JUI-F has finalised the schedule of the campaign after consultation with five opposition parties that include Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, National Party, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUP), Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees and Qaumi Watan Party.

JUI-F sources said that joint conventions will be held in Lahore and Islamabad on February 9 and February 15 respectively. On February 23, the convention will be organized in Karachi and on March 1, it will be held in Peshawar.

Full report at:



China taking good care of Pakistani students, says FM Wang

February 1, 2020

ISLAMABAD: State Councillor and Foreign Minister of China Wang Yi Friday assured Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that the Pakistani students in China are being treated by the authorities “like our own” children and that the Chinese government was doing everything to ensure the safety, health and well-being of Pakistani students.

Wang Yi made these remarks during a telephonic conversation with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi Friday lauded the relentless efforts undertaken by China for the containment of coronavirus and underscored that the government and the people of Pakistan stood firmly behind China in its resolute and momentous efforts to deal with the virus.

Foreign Minister conveyed his condolences on the loss of precious lives due to the outbreak of Coronavirus in China.

On behalf of the government of Pakistan, the foreign minister extended the offer of sending a field hospital to China, as well as sending a group of doctors to assist China in the recovery efforts.

Foreign Minister also hoped that the Chinese people under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will overcome the enormous challenge and emerge stronger in its aftermath.

He also thanked the Chinese authorities who have taken immense pains to help the Pakistani students in Wuhan and hoped that Beijing will continue to take the best possible measures for the protection of Pakistani nationals in China.

State Councilor Wang Yi, on behalf of Premier Li Keqiang, conveyed a special message of gratitude to Prime Minister Imran Khan, underlining that Pakistan had shown tremendous support and solidarity with the Chinese people at this difficult time when they were fighting against the spread of coronavirus.

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia deported 0.28m Pakistanis in five years, Senate told

February 1, 2020

Saudi Arabia has deported a total of 285,980 Pakistanis from the Kingdom during the past five years due to expired visas, performing Hajj without permission, being involved in the narcotics trade, overstaying in Saudi Arabia after arriving on an Umrah visa, quarrelling and other offences.

This was disclosed in a list submitted by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Qureshi in Senate.

According to the official APP news agency, the numbers were presented in the Senate in response to a query from a senator. According to the list, 285,980 Pakistanis were deported from Riyadh and Jeddah between 2015 and 2019. Of these, 61,076 people were sent back from Riyadh and 224,904 from Jeddah.

Full report at:



North America


'Muslim ban should end, not expand': Groups slam Trump travel ban

February 1, 2020

Immigrant advocates and rights groups on Friday slammed the expansion of US President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban, saying it weaponises "immigration law to advance [the administration's] xenophobic agenda".

The expanded version of the travel ban targets prospective immigrants from six additional countries: Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sudan and Tanzania.

Under the proclamation, which will take effect on February 21, the US will suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters on Friday. The visas affected are distinct from non-immigrant visitor visas, which will not be impacted by the ban, Wolf said.

The US government will stop issuing "diversity visas" to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania, Wolf said. The visas - which Trump has criticised in the past - are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Rights groups decried Friday's announcement, saying the "Trump administration continues to push white supremacist and exclusionary policies that discriminate on the basis of faith, national origin, and immigration status".

"From scapegoating Muslims with the Muslim Ban to now expanding the same restrictions to other immigrant communities of colour, the Trump administration continues to weaponize immigration law in order to advance its xenophobic agenda," said Javeria Jamil, a state lawyer at the National Security & Civil Rights of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said the "Muslim ban should be ended, not expanded".

"President Trump is doubling down on his signature anti-Muslim policy - and using the ban as a way to put even more of his prejudices into practice by excluding more communities of colour," Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said in a statement. "Families, universities, and businesses in the United States are paying an ever-higher price for President Trump's ignorance and racism."

'White nationalist agenda'

The original travel ban - issued during Trump's first week in office in January 2017 - barred nearly all immigrants and travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations. It caused widespread outrage and chaos at airports across the US. The policy was revised amid court challenges, but the US Supreme Court ultimately upheld it in June 2018.

The existing version of the ban includes the Muslim-majority nations of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. North Korea and Venezuela also face visa restrictions, but those measures affect relatively few travellers.

Restrictions under the current travel ban will remain in place.

Wolf added the six new countries failed to meet US security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions. The problems Wolf cited ranged from subpar passport technology to a failure to sufficiently exchange information on "terrorism" suspects and criminals.

"These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful," Wolf said, "but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out."

But rights advocates and community leaders said the administration is "fulfilling a white national agenda".

"We continue to be outraged by this Administration's actions to ban immigrants seeking a better life in the United States," said Linda Sarsour, executive director of MPower Change.  "Trump is fulfilling a white nationalist agenda on the backs of Muslim and African communities and we will not stand for it. All of our families deserve to be together."

Patrice Lawrence, the co-director of UndocuBlack Network, said the ban shows US "has a real problem with Blackness and any proximity to it".

"The reasons keep changing about why it is that the Trump administration wants to keep Black and brown people out. And that's because there is no honest reason, except for racism and xenophobia.  Behind these bans and visa sanctions are real people with real families - facing the pain and uncertainty that family separation brings," Lawrence said in a statement.

UndocuBlack Network


The reasons keep changing about why it is that the Trump administration wants to keep Black and brown people out. And that's because there is no honest reason, except for racism and xenophobia. #AfricanBan #NoMuslimBanEver

Read our full statement here:

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Protests against the ban are expected this weekend.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives announced earlier this week that the chamber will soon take up legislation that would repeal the travel ban and limit the president from imposing future restrictions based on religion.



First Muslims, Now Africans: Trump Picks a New Scapegoat for His Latest Travel Ban

Noah Lanard

February 1, 2020

Three years and one impeachment after his first travel ban, President Donald Trump is issuing another. On Friday, the Trump administration announced it will block immigrants from six additional countries. This time, rather than Muslims, most of his targets are Africans.

The new proclamation, which Trump was scheduled to sign this afternoon, will affect Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania. A Department of Homeland Security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Friday that the nations were selected based on deficiencies in their ability to share information about their citizens and uphold US security standards.

After calling for a Muslim ban while he ran for president, Trump singled out seven Muslim-majority nations in his initial travel ban. Now Trump is blocking mostly African countries, after repeatedly pursuing policies that would disproportionately hurt black immigrants. With the Senate preparing to acquit Trump without calling witnesses, the White House is returning to the unsupported attacks on immigrants that it hopes will propel the president’s reelection campaign.

In theory, the plan is about protecting the United States from security threats, not demographics. Yet the new ban will only block people coming to the United States on the immigrant visas that provide a path to citizenship and will still allow people from these countries to come on tourist and business visas. In the 2018 fiscal year, the State Department issued about 12,400 immigrant visas to people covered by the new proclamation, which will take effect next month.

“Trump is doubling down on his signature anti-Muslim policy,” Omar Jadwat, the director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement, “and using the ban as a way to put even more of his prejudices into practice by excluding more communities of color.”

Data from the libertarian Cato Institute shows that nobody from the four African nations included in the expanded travel ban killed anyone in the United States in an act of terrorism between 1975 and 2016, the time period the organization studied. (As the Atlantic has reported, two people from Kyrgyzstan were the only ones from the new travel ban countries charged with terrorism.)

In including Nigeria, Trump is going after one of America’s largest sources of immigration from Africa. There were 375,000 Nigerian immigrants in the United States in 2018, significantly more than any other nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Nigerians received 13,952 green cards in the 2018 fiscal year, more than any other African nation.

With the blessing of the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices, the Trump administration will soon begin denying green cards to poor and working-class immigrants deemed likely to use modest amounts of government assistance. The policy is most likely to impact immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Trump has also tried to end the Diversity Visa lottery, which provides green cards to immigrants from countries whose citizens are underrepresented in the United States. Africans are the biggest beneficiaries of the program.

The president has defended these moves by arguing that he wants more high-skilled immigrants. Nigerians are among America’s best-educated immigrants. In 2017, 61 percent held a bachelor’s degree or higher, nearly twice the rate for the US native-born population and for the foreign-born population as a whole. Fifty-four percent worked in the arts, business, management, and sciences, compared to 39 percent of the native-born.

Trump’s views about Nigerians, however, appear to be shaped by gut-level racism, not data. At an Oval Office meeting in 2017, Trump reviewed a list provided by Stephen Miller, the senior White House policy adviser with a long record of trying to bring white nationalism into the American mainstream. It showed how many people from different countries had come to the United States on visas.

Full report at:



Bernie Sanders Endorsed By Muslim Group, Iowa's Sole Muslim State Lawmaker

February 1, 2020

The national board of the Muslim Caucus of America as well Iowa state Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad announced their endorsements of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for the 2020 presidential election.

“What you have here is an individual who stands up for what is just and what is right. Bernie Sanders has shown that he is willing to stand up for everyone and not just because of political expediency or financial expediency, but because it is the right thing to do,” said Abdul-Samad, who is the only Muslim representative in the Iowa House. 

The endorsement came as presidential candidates gear up for the 2020 Iowa caucuses Monday. The first voter polls show Sanders in the lead, with former Vice President Joe Biden and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg closely behind.

“I am honored to receive the Muslim Caucus of America’s endorsement,” Sanders said in a statement. “Muslim Americans for generations have been part of the fabric of our American family. While Donald Trump has attempted to demonize the Muslim community, our movement is working to bring Muslims and people of all backgrounds together to create an economy, justice system and political system that are rooted in human rights for all.”

Abdul-Samad, who has served in the Iowa House for 14 years and sits on the advisory committee of the Muslim Caucus of America, said Sanders’s willingness to “go against the tribe” to “stand up for justice” were among the traits that earned his and the caucus’s endorsement.

“For decades, Senator Sanders has been consistent in fighting for progressive policies and has demonstrated in word and in action the need to care for all Americans regardless of race, creed, or class. His passion has ignited a whole generation committed to disrupting corruption, inequality, and all forms of racial injustice,” said the organization’s statement.

Muslim Caucus of America, which was founded in 2017 and focuses on American Muslim political organizing, added it was “refreshing to see many of the 2020 Presidential hopefuls engage with the American Muslim constituency in an inclusive manner and not as an afterthought.”

Sanders has also been a top contender among Muslim Americans, many of whom say the senator has consistently visited and acknowledged the community when other presidential candidates largely overlooked them. 

Alongside former candidate Julián Castro, Sanders spoke at the Islamic Society of North America’s annual conference in Houston last September. The annual conference was the largest gathering ever of Muslim Americans in the U.S.

There are more than 1,000 active Muslim volunteers across the country supporting Sanders’s bid for the Democratic nomination, including activist leader Linda Sarsour and former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, according to Sanders’ campaign organization.

On Capitol Hill, Sanders has also received endorsements from Muslim Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). He’s also been backed by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.

Full report at:



Trump’s expanded travel ban targets Nigeria, five other countries

1 February 2020

US President Donald Trump will issue an expanded version of his travel ban on Friday that targets prospective immigrants from Nigeria and five other countries, US officials said, a move that could affect thousands of people and reignite debate over whether the policy is discriminatory.

Of the six countries added to the ban, four are African nations, leading to outcry from critics that the administration is bolstering a policy they claim was originally designed to target Muslim-majority nations.

The United States will suspend the issuance of visas that can lead to permanent residency for nationals of Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said during a call with reporters on Friday.

The visas affected are distinct from non-immigrant visitor visas, which will not be impacted by the ban, Wolf said.

The US government also will stop issuing “diversity visas” to nationals of Sudan and Tanzania, Wolf said. The visas - which Trump has criticized in the past - are available by lottery for applicants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

Wolf said the six countries failed to meet US security and information-sharing standards, which necessitated the new restrictions. The problems Wolf cited ranged from sub-par passport technology to a failure to sufficiently exchange information on terrorism suspects and criminals.

“These countries, for the most part, want to be helpful,” Wolf said, “but for a variety of different reasons simply failed to meet those minimum requirements that we laid out.”

The original travel ban - issued during Trump’s first week in office in January 2017 - barred nearly all immigrants and travelers from seven countries with majority Muslim populations. The policy was revised amid court challenges, but the US Supreme Court ultimately upheld it in June 2018.

Trump has made cracking down on immigration a focus of his 2020 re-election campaign and is expected to press the issue in the months ahead. His travel ban policy is popular with Republican supporters.

The existing version of the ban includes the Muslim-majority nations of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. North Korea and Venezuela also face visa bars, but those measures affect relatively few travelers. Those restrictions will remain in place.

The new travel ban will take effect on Feb. 22, according to a DHS official who briefed reporters later on Friday. 

Most visas from Nigeria

Immigrant rights groups and Democratic lawmakers said the expanded ban stemmed from prejudice against non-white immigrants. Congressman Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado and son of Eritrean refugees, told reporters on Friday that the updated ban unfairly singled out allied African nations.

“It is un-American to discriminate against immigrants solely because of where they come from or how they pray,” Neguse said.

In 2015, during Trump’s campaign for president, he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

Three of the nations included in the updated ban - Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria and Sudan - have majority Muslim populations. Eritrea and Tanzania have sizable Muslim minorities.

Of the new countries hit with visa restrictions, Nigeria sends the most immigrants to the United States. The US State Department issued approximately 7,900 immigrant visas to Nigerians in fiscal year 2018, which began October 1, 2017.

Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, said he was “disappointed” by the decision. The US State Department will host meetings in Washington on Monday and Tuesday with Nigeria’s foreign minister and other Nigerian officials and business leaders.

The administration said the new ban was narrowly tailored.

Investor visas, which lead to green cards, will also be barred. But the restrictions will not apply to skilled foreign workers entering the United States on H-1B visas, the DHS official said. Such visas are temporary, but can lead to permanent status in the United States.

Immigrants already in the United States, or who have approved visas will be exempt from the ban, the official said. People with pending visa requests - some of whom have waited years - will be barred.

All applicants will be able to apply for a waiver, a process already in place under Trump’s existing ban. But a federal lawsuit challenging the administration claims the waiver process is opaque and difficult to navigate.

The visa restrictions will not apply to refugees, according to the official. Trump’s administration has separately capped the number of refugees allowed into the United States at 18,000 for the 2020 fiscal year, the lowest level in decades.

Full report at:



Pakistan welcomes US easing travel advisory

Islamuddin Sajid 



Pakistan on Friday welcomed the U.S. step to ease its travel advisory for the country, the Foreign Ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said it is a step in the right direction and termed it “acknowledgement of improved security environment” in Pakistan.

"Pakistan has made resolute efforts to enhance security throughout the country. Significant improvement in the security environment has led the United Nations to redesignate Islamabad as a family station for its personnel," the Ministry said.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of State said that security environment in Pakistan improved since 2014, after Pakistani security forces undertook concerted counter-terrorist and counter-militant operations.

However, the U.S. government advised its citizen not to travel to southwestern Balochistan and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, including former tribal areas of Pakistan, due to risk of terror attacks and kidnapping.

Earlier, the U.K. also revised its travel advisory for Britons to visit northern areas of Pakistan.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the Portugal and Norway also updated their travel advisories for Pakistan which reflect the confidence of these European governments in Pakistan’s security environment

Recently, Pakistan was declared as one of the “Best Holiday Destinations for 2020” by a U.S. travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, the ministry said.

Full report at:



New York Times bashes Trump's plan for Israel-Palestine

Michael Hernandez  



The New York Times editorial board has come out strongly against U.S. President Donald Trump's proposal to end the Israel-Palestine conflict, calling it the most difficult plan presented thus far "to take seriously."

Trump formally rolled out his plan on Tuesday as he faces a bitter impeachment battle, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is also facing charges in three separate graft cases ahead of nationwide elections March 2.

"From all appearances, the 'deal of the century,' as it was touted, seemed nothing more than a cynical attempt at a diversion by two politicians in trouble, a sop to their right-wing bases as each leader vies for re-election — Mr. Netanyahu in early March, Mr. Trump in November," the editorial board wrote using Trump's nickname for the plan.

While Trump announced the plan side-by-side with Netanyahu, there was no Palestinian official on-hand at the White House ceremony.

The plan, the board wrote, would be nearly impossible for even the "the most pragmatic and exhausted" of Palestinians to accept.

"It takes only a glance at the map of the proposed Palestinian “state,” and at some details of the plan, to see that it would not be much of a state at all," the board wrote, which further called the state "a patchwork of ethnic islands, purportedly to be connected by bridges, roads and tunnels, all subject to security requirements, as defined by Israel."

"It would be, in other words, quite like what exists already."

Trump's "vision" unilaterally annuls previous UN resolutions on the Palestinian issue and has drawn criticism for giving Israel almost everything it has sought while giving Palestinian demands short shrift.

In addition to recognizing the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel's "undivided capital," Trump's plan ticks off a series of check-list items long-sought by Israel right-wingers, including U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over illegal settlement communities constructed in the occupied West Bank and the annexation of the Jordan Valley, which runs along the entirety of the territory's eastern flank.

International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem as "occupied territories" and considers all Israeli settlement-building activity there illegal.

"For all its careful deliberations of the details, the plan hardly seems to hold out any real hope for meaningful Palestinian sovereignty or real improvement in their people’s condition," the Times' board wrote.

Full report at:



Coast Guard officer-terror suspect sentenced for guns, drugs

February 1, 2020

GREENBELT, Md. (AP) — A Coast Guard lieutenant accused by prosecutors of being a domestic terrorist intent on committing politically motivated killings inspired by a far-right mass murderer was sentenced Friday to more than 13 years in prison for firearms and drug offenses.

Christopher Hasson, 50, had faced a maximum prison sentence of 31 years at sentencing by U.S. District Judge George Hazel. The severity of Hasson’s sentence hinged on two starkly divergent explanations for the cache of weapons seized from his Maryland home and the disturbing material found on his computer at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington.

Hazel, who sentenced Hasson to 160 months, said he believes the officer was preparing to carry out a “mass casualty assault as a way to act out his white nationalist views.”

“The need to protect the public is of paramount importance,” the judge said.

Hasson, in his first public comments since his arrest, said he has never harmed anybody in his life and wasn’t planning to hurt anyone “in any way, shape or form.” But he apologized to his family, his colleagues and to the public, saying he knew his actions alarmed many people.

“I am embarrassed by these things and sorry for the pain they have caused,” he said.

“Any semblance of hate, bigotry or advocacy of violence has no place in our Coast Guard,” said Adm. Karl Schultz, the guard’s commandant, in an emailed news release. “This includes involvement with white supremacist or extremist groups of any type. This behavior is incompatible with the Coast Guard’s Core Values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty.”

He said Hasson is being “involuntarily separated” from the Coast Guard without “any rights, benefits and retirement pay, which he may have otherwise been entitled.”

Federal prosecutors recommended a 25-year prison sentence. They have called Hasson a domestic terrorist and self-described white nationalist, intent on carrying out mass killings. But they filed no terrorism-related charges against him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Windom said Hasson intended to “strike a blow to the American government in hopes of subjugating, intimidating it.”

Defense attorneys urged Hazel to spare Hasson from prison and sentence him to jail time served since his February 2019 arrest. Hasson’s lawyers accused Justice Department prosecutors of fabricating a bogus narrative that the married father of two grown children was planning a terrorist attack.

“Mr Hasson has been punished enough,” said one of his lawyers, Liz Oyer. “His reputation has been permanently wrecked, His career is over.”

The judge said the sentence isn’t designed to strike a larger blow against hate in the U.S., where he said the seeds of white supremacist ideology “have grown and produced dangerous fruit” over generations.

Hasson’s case is among a recent string of FBI domestic terrorism investigations. Over the past few months, agents have arrested several people, mostly young men, linked to violent neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups called Atomwaffen Division and The Base. Three men accused of being members of The Base were arrested in Maryland and Delaware on Jan. 16 after a hidden camera captured two of them discussing how violence at a gun rights rally in Virginia could start a civil war.

Prosecutors haven’t linked Hasson to any particular extremist group, but said he has been a “closet skinhead” his entire adult life.

Hasson pleaded guilty in October to possessing unregistered and unserialized silencers, being a drug addict in possession of firearms and illegal possession of tramadol, an opioid painkiller.

In September, Hazel refused to dismiss Hasson’s gun charges.

In an earlier court filing, prosecutors said Hasson “intends to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.” They also said Hasson drafted a June 2017 email in which he said he was “dreaming of a way to kill almost every last person on the earth.”

“Start with biological attacks followed by attack on food supply,” he wrote.

Prosecutors said Hasson appeared to be planning attacks inspired by the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian far-right terrorist who killed 77 people in a 2011 bomb-and-shooting rampage.

Prosecutors also claimed Hasson drew up what appeared to be a computer spreadsheet hit list naming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic presidential hopefuls, including Elizabeth Warren. He also mentioned several network TV journalists, including MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Joe Scarborough and CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Van Jones.

In February 2018, Hasson searched online whether Supreme Court justices are “protected,” two weeks before he searched for the home addresses of two Supreme Court justices, according to Windom.

Hazel said Hasson’s searches for the home addresses of Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan was evidence that the Coast Guard officer was in the process of plotting an attack.

“I can’t wrap my mind around that being anything beyond targeting,” the judge said.

When investigators searched Hasson’s basement apartment in Silver Spring, Maryland, they found 15 guns, including seven rifles, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

In a 2017 letter he apparently wrote to a neo-Nazi leader, Hasson identified himself as a white nationalist for over 30 years and “advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland,” according to prosecutors. Hasson’s online history showed searches that included the phrases “how to bring down the us government,” “most liberal fed judges usa” and “how to rid the us of jews,” prosecutors said.

A defense witness, Stephen Hart is an expert in violence risk assessment. Hart testified that he examined the evidence cited by prosecutors and rejected their theory that Hasson intended to carry out an attack.

Defense lawyers dispute that their client has any “sincerely held” extremist, racist or white nationalist views. They described him as an avid firearms collector and disaster “prepper” who stockpiles survivalist gear for “doomsday-type scenarios.”

Hasson worked at Coast Guard headquarters on a program to acquire advanced new cutters for the agency. He remained on active duty pending the outcome of the criminal case.

Full report at:





Islamic school sues Ofsted after being failed over 25 yr old leaflet promoting Khilafa

February 1, 2020

A Birmingham Islamic school has mounted a legal challenge against education watchdog Ofsted after it was failed following the discovery in the library of a 25-year-old leaflet about an Islamic conference promoting Khilafa.

Ofsted rated Birchfield Independent Girls’ School in Aston as “inadequate” after inspectors found the leaflet about the 1994 conference which was organised by Islamic political group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The school had been predicted to get a rating of “good” until the discovery during the second day of the inspection.

Khilafa (Islamic state) is a normative concept in mainstream Islam but has been fiercely attacked by the government and mainstream media.

Birchfield said it had been a victim of Ofsted’s “draconian and inconsistent inspection practices” against faith-based independent schools.

Birchfield Independent Girls’ School

In a statement, the school said: “We are deeply disappointed with the judgements in our recent Ofsted report. They in no way reflect the paramount importance that we place on safeguarding, nor the evidence base collected by inspectors. Our pupils are safe, well cared for and our school has robust systems in place to safeguard our pupils.

“The leaflet identified has no place in our teachings, curriculum or ethos. We work hard to promote fundamental British values and the rule of law at our school. Our pupils are well equipped to combat radicalisation and inspectors were able to verify this as part of the inspection process.

“Our library has been vetted to ensure all materials are appropriate and in line with fundamental British values. Any newly added material is vetted before it is included in the library and senior staff and the librarian on a regular basis make checks.

“Additionally, pupils’ access to the library is always supervised and the room is under lock and key when not used. The room was given to the inspectors as a base during the inspection period. Subsequently we were unable to carry out our regular due diligence on the days of the inspection and the leaflet highlighted was found on day 2 of the inspection.

“Sadly, we are not the only faith based independent school to fall victim to Ofsted’s draconian and inconsistent inspection practices. It remains a growing and dissatisfactory issue which must be addressed. It is simply unacceptable for Ofsted to undermine all of the hard work put in by staff and pupils when coming to wholly inaccurate judgements of schools. We continue to challenge the decision making which led to our inspection judgements and await Ofsted’s legal response.”

“Seriously inflammatory leaflet”

Following the inspection in November inspectors rated the quality of education as “good” but said the leadership and management were “inadequate.” It added that the school does not meet independent school standards.

Inspectors said: “A seriously inflammatory leaflet that encourages radicalisation was found on the bookshelf in the school library during the inspection. Leaders have not made sure that pupils are protected from this type of material. This means that pupils are not safe. None of the school leaders could explain how the leaflet got there.”

Regarding the leaflet, Ofsted said: “It states, for example: ‘Today we find that the sons and daughters of Islam are under continuous attack by the forces of non-Islam’. It promotes the Khaleefah which is defined as: ‘The total rulership of Muslims over the world.’

“The leaflet is an advertisement for a meeting held in Wembley stadium that advertised the Islamic State in 1994. A web-based search of the meeting could lead pupils to views promoting the proposed supremacy of Muslims in the world. Leaders could not explain how the leaflet came to be there or why it was not spotted and removed by school staff.”

However, the inspection team also found that these sentiments did not reflect the views of pupils and that they are encouraged to accept differences and to value diversity.

“Pupils are happy in this school,” Ofsted said. “Pupils and staff work well together and there is a good level of mutual respect. Despite the unacceptable literature found, pupils are taught to accept everyone, whoever they are…

“Every pupil does her best. The teachers help all the pupils to make progress. The broad curriculum is often delivered in fun and interesting ways. This promotes pupils’ learning. They do well as a result. Pupils behave well because that is what staff expect. Any bullying incidents are dealt with quickly and effectively…

“Leaders have improved the delivery of the curriculum since the previous inspection. Consequently, the school is now providing a good quality of education.”

A spokesperson for Ofsted said: “Our inspection handbook makes it clear that a setting will be rated inadequate if it is considered that safeguarding is ineffective.”



France arrests top Syrian rebel group member on war crimes charges

January 31, 2020

PARIS: A senior member of Syrian rebel group Jaish Al-Islam has been arrested in France and charged with war crimes and torture, a judicial source told AFP on Friday.

The man, born in 1988, a former spokesman of the group, was in France on an Erasmus student visa and detained in the southern city of Marseille.

He appeared before an investigating magistrate in Paris who charged him with torture, war crimes and complicity in forced disappearances, said the source.

Jaish Al-Islam is one of several hard-line militant groups opposing the Damascus regime that have emerged during the Syrian civil war.

It has fought against Daesh but also been accused by rights groups of abuses.



Turkey: Greek MEP who ripped Turkish flag to face probe

Ismet Karakas and Serdar Acil 


A Greek parliamentarian who ripped apart a Turkish flag on the floor of the European Parliament will face a criminal investigation in Turkey, Turkish prosecutors announced Friday.

Prosecutors in the capital Ankara said Ioannis Lagos, a far-right Greek MEP, will be investigated for insulting the sovereignty of the state under Article 300 of the Turkish Criminal Code.

During an EP debate Wednesday over a large number of migrants on Greek islands, Lagos blamed Turkey for the “stream of migrants coming into” his country and “getting away with whatever it likes.”

He then tore a Turkish flag made of paper into pieces and balled up the scraps, throwing them to the floor.

Lagos is one of the most prominent figures of the far-right racist Golden Dawn party.

In 2019 he was found guilty of attacking an Athens community center which was hosting asylum-seekers.

Lagos’ action has been condemned by Turkey’s foreign minister and the ruling party as well as the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Full report at:



Turkey's defense ministry slams Greek lawmaker

Yildiz Nevin Gundogmus  


Turkey's Defense Ministry posted a video on social media Thursday in response to the tearing up of a Turkish flag by a Greek lawmaker in the European Parliament.

“We will continue to convey how noble and strong of our flag is to the desperate, spoiled children in the European Parliament who attack our flag with their dirty hands,” the ministry said in a post on its Twitter account.

The video shows Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar visiting military bases around Turkey. It is accompanied by the song “Here is the Flag” praising the flag.

Addressing the European Parliament on Wednesday, independent Greek member Ioannis Lagos tore up a paper Turkish flag after blaming Turkey for illegal migration flows into Greece.

Lagos is one of the most prominent figures of the far-right racist Golden Dawn party.

Full report at:



Turkey aims to expand relations with Bulgaria: FM

Nazli Yuzbasioglu  


Turkey wishes to expand its friendly relations with Bulgaria in all areas, Turkey’s foreign minister said Thursday.

“I brought our president’s greetings to our people. We want to strengthen our friendly relations with Bulgaria in all areas. Our citizens are also our strongest support in this regard,” said Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Full report at:



Arab World


Iraqi cleric Al-Sistani condemns use of force, 11 protesters wounded

January 31, 2020

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s most powerful religious figure Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani reiterated Friday his condemnation of the use of force against anti-government protesters as the mass movement enters a critical juncture and political blocs tussle over naming a new premier.

Meanwhile, influential and radical cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr called for his followers to return to the street, one week after he withdrew support for anti-government demonstrators camped out in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

Al-Sistani’s comments came as unrest continued in Baghdad’s Khilani and Wathba squares, where at least 11 demonstrators were wounded Friday by security forces firing tear gas canisters to disperse crowds, according to security and medical officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The area has become a flash point in the recent escalation staged by demonstrators to refocus public attention on the demands of the four-month protest movement after a US airstrike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad monopolized Iraqi politics.

Protesters called for 1 million Iraqis to take to the streets Friday to revitalize demonstrations and pressure the government to implement a reform agenda after Al-Sadr withdrew his followers from the street last week. Al-Sadr’s pullout was followed by a security crackdown on protest camps. Tents were burned and at least four protesters were killed in Baghdad and Iraq’s south.

But on Friday, Al-Sadr issued a statement calling on his followers to “renew” the demonstrations and return to the street, amid deadlock over the naming of a new prime minister. He said large demonstrations were necessary to pressure political elites to form a new “non-controversial” government and hold early elections.

A second statement from Al-Sadr said the call was “effective immediately” and he called on protesters to head to Tahrir Square, epicenter of the anti-government protest movement.

Al-Sadr is the head of political bloc Saeroon, which won the most seats in Iraq’s 2018 federal election.

Al-Sadr’s departure last week had created clear divisions between his followers and other anti-government protesters in the square.

“All those who are already in protest squares are your brothers,” Al-Sadr’s statement said. “Never be divided in slogans, sayings or deeds.”

Al-Sistani reaffirmed his condemnation of the use of violence against demonstrators in his weekly sermon, delivered in the holy city of Karbala through a representative. Al-Sistani’s opinion holds sway over many Iraqis and elites.

His stances have often sided with the protesters who first took to the streets Oct. 1 to decry rampant government corruption, poor services and unemployment. Though their demands are varied, most want snap elections, reforms and a change of political leadership.

In his sermon he condemned, “the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators, the assassinations and kidnappings of some of them,” and “categorically refused” attempts by security forces to break up peaceful sit-ins using violence and force.”

Al-Sistani also reiterated calls on political blocs to name a new prime minister and form a new government “as soon as possible,” to avoid political crisis and instability.

Outgoing Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned in December under pressure from protesters. Negotiations among divided political factions have come to a deadlock. President Barham Saleh has given parties until Saturday to name a candidate or would do so himself.



Saudi Arabia condemns intervention in domestic affairs of states

February 01, 2020

RIYAHD: The Kingdom condemns intervention in the domestic affairs of states and support for terrorist forces and armed militias that target the region’s states and undermine their institutions, the Saudi Press Agency reported the speaker of the Shoura Council saying.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Asheikh was addressing the 15th session of the Conference of the Federation of  Member States of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

The conference declared its commitment to the fundamental principles of the OIC, especially with regard to not intervening with the domestic affairs of others, respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states, and peacefully settling differences through dialogue.

The Ouagadougou Declaration also emphasized its determination to continue the positive and effective contributions to the work of the UN and its specialized agencies, including the establishment of world peace and regional security as well as respecting human rights and state sovereignty.

The declaration stressed the international community’s responsibility to resolve the conflict in the Middle East by enabling Palestinians to exercise their legitimate rights and establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, in addition to creating conditions for the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland in accordance with the relevant international legitimacy resolutions.

Al-Asheikh said Palestine was the Kingdom’s primary cause and commanded the greatest attention in its foreign policies.

The speaker said that the humanitarian situation in Yemen required a serious stand from the international community to put an end to the tragedy, as the Houthi militia continued to deviate from the internationally recognized government in Yemen in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2216 and continued to impede the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Full report at:



Syrian Kurdish center sets out to defang 'cubs of the caliphate'

Amberin Zaman

January 31, 2020

A boy is hunched on a bunk bed, his small fingers deftly stringing macrame beads. The result is a heart-shaped key ring. On it is inscribed the word “Love.”

Nearby a pair of boys are playing Monopoly. In a communal kitchen one boy flips pancakes; others watch National Geographic TV or mill around the courtyard exchanging jokes.

Egyptians, Bosnians, French and Pakistanis. They are from across the globe, united by a dark past in which they might have been beheading people or blowing themselves up.

They are alleged “cubs of the caliphate," the child soldiers of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS). The Kurdish-led autonomous administration in northeast Syria, which lost thousands of men and women in the fight against the jihadis, are now trying to “rehabilitate” around 130 boys currently housed in this low red-brick building with arches, which locals say once served as a madrassa, or Islamic school, built by the Turco-Persian Ghaznavi sheikhs.

“This one is among the most dangerous,” said Sarah Musa, a young Kurdish woman who runs the Houri Center east of the city the Kurds call Qamishlo but which is better known as Qamishli. A short boy with light brown skin and large green eyes walks into Musa’s office. He sits down next to a reporter. Throughout the interview his face remains emotionless, his body rigid and responses robotic. His name is Hassan. He is 16. He looks around 12. “I don’t care about birthdays,” he said.

He is from Deir ez-Zor. He moved with his parents, three brothers and three sisters in 2014 to Raqqa, where his father became an executioner for IS. “I am Daesh,” he told Al-Monitor, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. “I was trained to fight. I was told I would go to paradise. I still believe in Allah. But I no longer pray. I saw Yazidi women in my uncle’s house.” His uncle was apparently a relatively big fish in the caliphate.

Musa said a now-deleted YouTube posting showed Hassan holding a decapitated head. “When Hassan first came here, the other children were very scared of him. He is highly intelligent and clearly received intensive training. He keeps to himself. He watches the others but never participates in their games.”

Hassan’s father is dead. His mother lives in Tabqa but has not visited him since he was brought here in 2017 and sentenced to seven years for terrorist activity by a juvenile court. Had Hassan beheaded anyone? “No, I never beheaded anybody. Beheading isn’t a part of Islam. It wasn’t a good life. I wish I could go back to my normal life, the period before Daesh.”

But can he? That is the question that Noura Hasso, the resident educator, grapples with daily as she teaches the children “how to behave well and to respect yourself.” And if so, what then?

Foreign governments are squeamish about taking the children back, not least because of the public backlash. This month, Norway’s coalition government collapsed when a right-wing party withdrew over the decision to let in an “IS bride” and her two children.

When mothers and/or their children are taken back, it's on an ad hoc basis and not because of a policy enshrined in law.

Western governments are in any case often too happy to write then off, claiming they cannot be “de-radicalized.” But experts say this type of framing is very much part of the problem. Leanne Erdberg, director of countering violent extremism at the US Institute for Peace, believes the concept of de-radicalization, which sets the bar impossibly high, should be cast aside in favor of disengagement” from violence.

“If governments think that these people must de-radicalize — renounce their beliefs — that seems pretty impossible,” Erdberg told Al-Monitor in emailed comments. “Disengagement, instead, is about leaving violent behavior and group identity. And we have seen people leave all sorts of groups — gangs, cults, mafia organizations, abusive families, militias, and even terrorist groups. By talking about disengagement, governments can see practical ways to address — at least some — of the individuals and enact policies that allow opportunities to reject violence.”

For Syrians such as Hassan, disengagement is critical. He has four more years to left to serve and when he turns 18 he will be forced to move to a prison for adults, where any “of the good done here will vanish,” Hasso said. “The children are both criminals and victims. They are highly traumatized. They experience difficulty breathing. They get headaches and become confused. They love to smoke.”

The children whose ages range from 11 to 18 receive daily mathematics, biology and history lessons, among others. They are also taught “Ahlak” or ethics and to treat women as equals.

The language of education is Arabic.

Hasso says some of the children have shown signs of adapting. “The boys, especially newcomers, would avoid looking at me because I am a woman and uncovered.” On a recent afternoon, no such prudery was on display as dozens of the boys came into direct visual contact with a woman reporter. Some even smiled and allowed themselves to be hugged.

Rola Khatib, a prominent reporter for Dubai-based Al Arabiya television, recalled that the first time she interviewed the children at Houri in April 2019, many were hostile. A Syrian boy said he had been planning “to execute” her. “I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say so I just laughed,” Khatib told Al-Monitor. On her second visit a few months ago many recognized her and came up to her. “They were very friendly, like normal kids,” she said.

Hassan, who was also interviewed by Khatib, acknowledged, “My ideas about women changed here. I would like to marry and settle in Tabqa.”

Mia Bloom, a professor at Georgia State University and the author of the newly published “Small Arms: Children and Terrorism,” told Al-Monitor, “All the children are absolutely salvageable partly because they don’t internalize an ideology until they grow older.” Bloom continued in a telephone interview, “We have to ascertain what the children saw and what they were forced to do and also consider what might have been done to them. Because at least in some instances IS took advantage of the children sexually, even of the Shia boys.”

“Its not just the Yazidi girls who were enslaved or married off at the age of 7 and 8. Some of the boys were trained be executioners at the age of 4. The really young ones can be salvaged because they can forget.”

The real problem lies with “the tweens,” boys aged 11 and 12 “who who don’t have a lot of good memories from before the conflict and all they can remember of their childhood is this,” Bloom said.

Hamza  — who was 10 years old when he traveled with his parents, three brothers and two sisters, from Dagestan to Syria in 2015 — fits the profile. Now he said all he wanted was “to go back to my Babushka [granny] and to school.” His father died in battle in Mosul. His mother remarried. Then her second husband died in a coalition airstrike. Hamza was captured with his mother and siblings by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Baghouz. He was separated from them and put in the back of a truck “and taken to the Americans.”

“They fingerprinted me and told me I would be prosecuted and then returned to my mother. I never was,” Hamza said. The teen, who is accused of having undergone “terrorist training,” has a chunk of shrapnel lodged in his stomach, which along with his age is what probably aroused suspicion. The wound is open and he is in urgent need of surgery. “He needs to be operated in either Damascus or Iraqi Kurdistan,” said Musa, “But there is nothing we can do.”

It's unclear what the criteria, if any exists, for bringing boys to Houri is. The center can accommodate no more than a 100 or so at a time. An untold number of boys, many of them severely wounded and malnourished, are being held elsewhere in northeastern Syria, often in appalling conditions.

The UN and other international organization operating in Syria steer clear of establishments such as Huri for fear of upsetting the central government in Damascus, which does not recognize the autonomous administration. With no external support, Syrian Kurdish authorities are overwhelmed. Turkey’s October incursion, displacing tens of thousands of civilians, made matters worse.

In October, Human Rights Watch quoted a 16-year-old being held a a center for unaccompanied boys who said SDF and US forces “appeared to decide at random which boys to imprison and which to send to the camps or centers.”

The boy told the New York-based rights group, “One American twice put me in a line to go to jail. But another American cursed him and said, ‘Why are you putting him back? The boy is small.’”

Musa insists that the boys are all here “for a reason” — in other words, they were involved in violence. But it is hard to believe that all of them were. Omar Fariz Abbadi, the bashful 12-year-old Egyptian who made the macrame heart, was brought here in March 2018 after the fall of IS’ last stronghold in Baghouz. His father died in a coalition airstrike in Deir ez-Zor. His mother and 6-year-old sister are living in Roj camp, where IS families are interned. Life in the caliphate was hard, “always airstrikes and no food, only bread,” Omar said.

“I did nothing bad, ever,” he insisted with a pleading look. “I want to be a dentist.”

Sulay Su, a 16-year-old Trinidadian who was helping make the pancakes, was lured along with his mother to Syria by an evil stepfather. The gun runner claimed he was taking them to Saudi Arabia for a holiday. Musa, trading fist bumps with the boy, said, “He is one of our best students.” Su’s story was splashed across the UK daily The Daily Telegraph in August, which depicted a hapless victim of criminally irresponsible parents. His sister Sarah Lee’s appeals to the Trinidadian government to bring him back have fallen on deaf ears.

“A child that has bad enough luck to have been born under ISIS is tainted for life,” said Bloom.

Full report at:



Syria regime on verge of recapturing Idlib highway town

31 January 2020

Syrian regime forces were poised on Friday to retake the opposition-held town of Saraqeb in the country’s northwest where battles this week killed more than 400 combatants, a monitor said.

Russian-backed regime forces have pressed with a double-pronged push in the Idlib region, home to some three million people, half of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country.

Slowly chipping away from the south and northeast, they have shrunk Syria’s last major opposition bastion to just over half of Idlib province and slivers of neighboring Aleppo and Latakia.

On Friday, regime forces battled extremists and militant opposition factions on the edges of Saraqeb, which has been nearly deserted following two weeks of heightened bombardment, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The clashes were within 2 kilometers (1 mile) of the town which lies on the coveted M5 highway that connects the Syrian capital Damascus to second city Aleppo, said the Britain-based Observatory.

Saraqeb also sits at the junction of the M4, which runs west-to-east across Idlib, linking the coastal regime stronghold of Latakia to Aleppo, once Syria’s industrial hub.

Both highways are coveted by the regime as it seeks to revive a moribund economy after nine years of war.

Second strategic town

If Saraqeb falls in the hands of the government, it would be the second strategic town in Idlib province to be recaptured by government troops this week.

On Wednesday, militants and extremists pulled out of Maarat al-Numan, which also lies on the M5.

Some 50 kilometers of the M5 remain outside regime control, mostly in the western countryside of Aleppo province, which neighbors Idlib, according to the Observatory.

Militants and extremists have been locked in fierce battles with regime forces in western Aleppo since mid-January, in the largest escalation there since 2016.

The fighting in Idlib and in western Aleppo over the past week has killed 205 pro-government fighters and 220 anti-regime combatants, the Observatory said.

A Syrian military commander who asked not to be named said that the push in the two provinces aims to secure key highways and corner rebels and extremists in a shrinking pocket in central Idlib.

Regime forces near Sarqeb are pushing north, while those in Aleppo are moving towards them from the south, he told AFP during a government-organized tour of Maarat al-Numan on Thursday.

The Idlib region is dominated by extremists of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance, led by a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

Damascus which controls more than 70 per cent of Syria has repeatedly vowed to reclaim the entire country, including Idlib.

Full report at:



Saudi Crown Prince discusses cultural initiatives with UNESCO director-general

31 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the director-general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) discussed the Kingdom’s upcoming cultural initiatives and programs in a meeting on Thursday, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The Crown Prince and Director-General Audrey Azoulay reviewed the plans and discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the country and the organization.

The meeting was in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan, the sweeping set of programs and reforms announced in 2016 which are set to liberalize the economy and reduce dependence on oil revenues, as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Full report at:



Kuwait advises against traveling to China, calls citizens there to leave

1 February 2020

Kuwait’s ministry of foreign affairs advised its citizens against traveling to China and called upon Kuwaiti citizens currently in China to quickly leave amid fears from the coronavirus outbreak, the state news agency said, citing a ministry statement on Friday.

The statement also called on Kuwaiti citizens to keep away from other countries in which the virus appeared.



US wants Syria destroyed for not bowing to Israel: Activist

31 January 2020

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has successfully managed to prevent his country from disintegration since foreign-backed militancy broke out there, says an American activist.

Ken O’Keefe, a peace activist and former US marine in Denver, told Press TV’s "The Debate" on Thursday the United States as well as its regional allies want Syria destroyed for not submitting to Israel.

The Syrian army is currently in the midst of a major operation to flush out remaining pockets of terrorist-held land in the Idlib region, with an army spokesman saying many villages and towns have been purged of terrorists.

“No one who has any integrity would say that if Bashar al-Assad was gone, then that country would not be as bad as Iraq if not worse, it is because of Bashar al-Assad that this country has incompletely disintegrated… That man is keeping that country together and God loves the Syrian people as well who are standing behind the man who they know if he falls it’s going to be worse than what it is,” O’Keefe told Press TV on Thursday.

“He’s got very difficult challenges ahead of him, but I believe that this man not only has the integrity but also the wisdom to do it the right way and I know for a fact that the Syrian people like the Palestinian people will never give up, die if you must but never give up and never bow to those who wish to continue the enslavement of humanity,” he added.

The former US marine went on to say that “Syria is the country that has not bowed yet, they want to destroy Syria because America is the little weeping boy to the Jewish state of Israel, that‘s a fact and they want to destroy Syria.”

Foreign-backed militancy, supported by the United States and many of its Western and regional allies, erupted in Syria in 2011.

Idlib and nearby areas of Hama, Aleppo and Latakiya provinces are threatened by the Jabhat al-Nusra and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorist groups.

Idlib remains the only large area in the hands of terrorists after the Syrian military managed to undo militant gains across the country and bring almost all of Syrian soil back under government control.

On August 5 last year, the Syrian army announced the start of an offensive against foreign-sponsored militants in Idlib — the last major stronghold of militants in Syria — after they failed to honor a ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey and continued to target civilian neighborhoods.

Under an agreement reached in Sochi, Russia, in 2018, all militants in the demilitarized zone that surrounds Idlib and also parts of the provinces of Aleppo and Hama had been obliged to pull out heavy arms by October 15 that year.

Syrian authorities have opened three humanitarian corridors for civilians from areas controlled by foreign-sponsored militants in the northwestern provinces of Aleppo and Idlib to leave and move to government-controlled parts of the country.

The Syrian army, backed by Russian air cover, has already regained almost all territories once controlled by terrorists, except portions of Aleppo and large swaths of Idlib, which are still held by foreign-backed militants.

Seth Manzel, a US veteran from Washington, was the other panelist invited to the show and underlined the significance of the Syrian army and its allied forces in making gains west of the city of Aleppo.

“Everyone was kind of living in harmony there in Syria prior to western intervention through funding these groups and hopefully people can return to their homes and people can get back to normal life in that area,” he said.

Manzel also denounced as “completely unfounded” the presence of Turkish troops in Syria, saying Turkey has “no right” to be in the Arab country at all and that, “The sooner Turkey leaves Syria, the better off everyone will be.”

Turkish army forces and militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), who enjoy Ankara’s patronage, on October 9 launched a cross-border offensive into northeastern Syria in a declared attempt to clear members of the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militant group, from border areas.

Ankara regards the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militant group, which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in the Anatolian country since 1984.

Ankara is seeking the establishment of a 32-kilometer “safe zone” in northeastern Syria. Turkey says it wants the area to be used for the relocation of two million Syrian refugees living in Turkey.

Full report at:



Iraq's Ayatollah Sistani slams Trump's ‘unjust’ plan for Palestine

31 January 2020

Iraq's prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has condemned US President Donald Trump’s so-called deal of the century on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, stating that the “unjust” initiative seeks to legitimize further occupation of Palestinian territories by the Israeli regime.

“The (Iraqi Shia) religious authority severely censures the recently-unveiled unjust plan, which is meant to give legitimacy to further occupation of usurped Palestinian lands,” Ayatollah Sistani said in a statement read out by his representative Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalaei during a sermon in the holy city of Karbala on Friday.

“The religious authority reiterates its support for the oppressed Palestinian people in line with their rights to regain their occupied lands, and establish an independent state. It calls on Arabs, Muslims and all freedom-loving people worldwide to back the (Palestinian) cause.”

Jordanian monarch voices support for Palestinian nation

Meanwhile, Jordan's King Abdullah II has voiced the country's full support to the Palestinians in their efforts to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

Speaking in a telephone conversation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday, the Jordanian monarch said Amman is standing alongside the Palestinian people and their just cause in the face of all challenges on the path to attain self-determination.

For his part, Abbas thanked Jordan’s support for the Palestinian cause and nation, emphasizing that such positions reflect the deep-seated and fraternal relations between Palestinians and Jordanians.

Mass protest in Jordan against 'deal of century'

Additionally, thousands of Jordanians took part in a demonstration in the capital Amman to protest against Trump’s plan.

The demonstrators converged outside Grand Husseini Mosque after Friday prayers in condemnation of the so-called deal of century, and described the initiative as in favor of the Israeli regime and a bid to kill the Palestinian cause.

They waved national Jordanian and Palestinian flags, and burned the Israeli flag in protest.

The protesters also called for the formation of a popular front to confront the so-called deal of the century.

Turkey will never recognize US Mideast plan: Erdogan

Separately, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will never recognize and accept the US so-called peace plan.

“This plan is aimed at the annexation of occupied Palestine territories,” Erdogan said during a meeting of provincial heads of his ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party in the capital Ankara on Friday.

He underscored that Jerusalem al-Quds is a “red line” for Turkey, and the Israeli-occupied sacred city is the key to world peace as it has been for thousands of years.

On Tuesday, Trump unveiled his so-called deal of the century, negotiated with Israel but without the Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders, who severed all ties with Washington in late 2017 after Trump controversially recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the capital of the Israeli regime, immediately rejected the plan, with President Abbas saying it “belongs to the dustbin of history.”

Thousands of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip poured out onto the street in immediate condemnation of the plan.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani condemned Trump's so-called 'peace plan' for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as 'the most despicable plan of the century.'

"Enough of these foolish attempts," Rouhani wrote on his Twitter account on Wednesday.

"The Most Despicable Plan of the Century," he added.

Hassan Rouhani


Enough of these foolish attempts. The Most Despicable Plan of the Century.#DespicablePlan


11:48 PM - Jan 29, 2020

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Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani also referred to Trump's deal as a dangerous plan for the West Asia region which, describing it as a ploy devised to make up for the failures of the United States and the Israeli regime.

"We have to try to make all Muslim countries united against this illegal and inhuman agreement," Larijani said while speaking in a phone conversation with Syrian Parliament Speaker Hammouda Sabbagh on Wednesday.

"In fact, this deal and treasonous conspiracy is designed to fulfill the wishes of the Israeli regime in the region," Larijani noted, adding that despite the claims of the US officials, the plan has nothing to do with the interests of the Palestinian people.  

The Palestinian president has said "a thousand no's" to the plan.

"After the nonsense that we heard today, we say a thousand no's to the deal of the century," Abbas said at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered.

He said the Palestinians remain committed to ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a state with its capital in east Jerusalem.

"We will not kneel and we will not surrender," Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians would resist the plan through "peaceful, popular means".

Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement has called the plan a “deal of shame,” said it was a very dangerous step which would have negative consequences on the region's future.

Full report at:



In former Syria rebel stronghold of Maaret Al-Numan, nothing was spared

January 31, 2020

MAARET AL-NUMAN, Syria: Once the throbbing heart of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, Maaret Al-Numan is an eerie ghost town where few buildings have been spared by nine years of war.

Following a major ground offensive, the Syrian army captured the town in the northwestern province of Idlib on Wednesday, a key prize in its push to reconquer the country’s last rebel enclave.

A day after government forces moved into the deserted town and set up their first checkpoints there since 2012, the landscape was one of desolation.

Maaret Al-Numan, home to around 150,000 people four months ago, is now a field of levelled or gutted buildings, where shops’ iron shutters are riddled with bullet holes and shrapnel scars.

The only people left in the once-bustling town are a handful of soldiers taking up positions on the rubble-littered streets.

Majed Marahesh, 27, remembers the day he first visited Maaret Al-Numan 13 years ago with his classmates and teacher. Now he has traded his schoolbooks for a rifle.

“I remember its beauty and refinement,” he tells AFP. “I remember the mosaics in its museum. I am back 13 years later but it’s not the town I knew.”

Maaret Al-Numan is nestled in a UNESCO-listed region of ancient villages and its mosaics museum had achieved international renown.

The museum, housed in an Ottoman-era caravanserai, was seriously damaged in a government barrel bomb attack in 2015.

“Many antiquities have been stolen,” Marahesh says, looking at the devastation around him. “There was a lot of damage to the museum.”

Among the museum’s most prized works is a depiction of the birth and life of Hercules, according to former Syrian antiquities director Maamoun Abdul Karim.

As the conflict escalated, volunteers did their best to preserve the Roman and Byzantine-era mosaics from air strikes and shelling, including by heaping sandbags against them.

Some of the mosaics have survived but the museum needs to be rebuilt.

After waves of air strikes prepared the ground for the Syrian ground offensive, the army faced limited resistance as it closed in on Maaret Al-Numan last week.

The extremist and rebel forces that controlled the town eventually pulled back to regroup in some of the other towns in their ever-shrinking Idlib bastion, home to around three million people.

Full report at:





Suspected Islamist militants kill at least 30 in Congo - local officials

Sammy Mupfuni

JANUARY 30, 2020

GOMA (Reuters) - Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 30 people overnight in attacks on villages in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, local officials and civil society leaders said on Wednesday.

Four villages were raided by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, in the west of Beni territory, which has seen a surge of violence since Oct. 30, when the army launched an large-scale offensive against the rebels.

Local administrator Richard Kivanzanga said 32 people had been killed in the attacks to the west of the city of Oicha.

Among the victims was an Anglican pastor in the village of Eringeti, said Omar Kavota from local rights group CEPADHO.

“The victim had the misfortune to pass them on his way to the field with his wife,” Kavota said in a statement.

In December, President Felix Tshisekedi said he had sent 22,000 troops to fight the ADF, including special forces, and that they had succeeded in dismantling nearly all of the ADF’s bases.

Attacks have eased in January, but in total at least 265 people have been killed since November, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, a research initiative that maps unrest in Congo’s restive east, where the ADF has been operating for more than two decades.

Several previous ADF attacks have been claimed by Islamic State, although researchers and analysts say there is a lack of hard evidence linking the two groups.

The United States imposed sanctions on the leader of the ADF and five others in December for perpetrating serious human rights abuses including mass rape, torture and killings.



Syrian mercenaries in Libya reportedly desert, flee to Italy

31 January 2020

Reports have emerged recently that a number of the Syrian mercenaries fighting in Libya on behalf of Turkey have already deserted their ranks and fled to Italy, according to a report in the French daily Le Monde, which quoted French intelligence sources.

French President Emmanuel Macron had accused Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday of breaking promises made at the Berlin conference on Libya after Turkish warships and Syrian fighters arrived in the north African country to fight against Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar in early January.

A French military source also said on Thursday, that France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier spotted a Turkish frigate escorting a cargo ship this week delivering armored vehicles to the Libyan capital Tripoli in defiance of a UN embargo, AFP reported.

There are allegedly plans to send an additional 6,000 troops, according to reports from mercenaries.

LNA spokesman Major General Ahmed Al-Mismari said mercenaries sent by Turkey “do not believe that they will be returning to Turkey or Syria, so trying to get to Europe is the most logical option for them.”

In a press conference the day before the January 19 Berlin conference that any party from Libya did not participate in, al-Mismari asked Erdogan: “Do you know that in the last 48 hours, over 41 Syrian terrorists went to Italy through ports in Libya?”

The mercenaries’ arrival comes months after Haftar launched his military attack on Tripoli in April and equipment and fighters are in short supply. While Haftar’s army, the Libyan National Army has several foreign backers, its rival in Tripoli, the Government National Accord (GNA), only has one foreign military backer – Turkey.

While initially reluctant to put boots on the ground in Libya, Turkish parliamentarians passed a bill in early January to send troops in support of the GNA.

The mercenaries are seen to be loyal to Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria, but some fought with anti-Assad opposition groups in Syria. Others fought for the regime, and yet others were civilians before entering Libya. The mercenaries are part of a larger Turkish-backed Syrian militia, the Sultan Murad Division, which recently has been accused of human rights abuses.

Full report at:



UN warns world may pay ‘terrible price’ if it fails Sudan

February 01, 2020

KHARTOUM: A top UN official has warned that the international community would “pay a terrible price” if it fails to help rebuild Sudan’s dilapidated economy as the African country transitions to civilian rule.

“The story of Sudan in year 2020 is not the story of the previous government,” UN Development Programme (UNDP) administrator Achim Steiner told AFP in an interview during his visit to Sudan this week.

“It is the story in which waiting for too long to actually step in and support this (development) process may have a terrible price.”

More than a year after the start of a nationwide protest movement that led to the ouster of longtime ruler Omar Bashir last April, Sudan faces a series of challenges driven by an economic crisis.

Years of recession were a key trigger for the protest movement against the fomer president’s 30-year-old regime.

Months after he was ousted, the economy remains burdened with foreign debt of more than $60 billion, inflation of about 60 percent, soaring unemployment and chronic shortage of fuel and foreign currency.

But these challenges are exactly the opportunity for the international community to step in and help Sudan, said Steiner, the first UNDP chief to ever visit the northeast African country.

“Here is a country in which the youth, and particularly the women, have not only managed to pull off a peaceful revolution in large part, but they actually have an agenda to build a developmental state,” Steiner said.

“The international community must recognize how unusual and how extraordinarily helpful this is in a region that is otherwise providing more and more worrying news about political instability and about extremism.”

Sudanese officials say there has been a lackluster response from the international community to the country’s reform process led by new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, a well-respected economist.

Most blame Washington’s continued blacklisting of Sudan as a “state sponsor of terrorism,” which makes international banking cumbersome and keeps overseas investors away.

In October 2017, Washington lifted its 20-year-old trade embargo imposed on Sudan, but kept the country on the terrorism blacklist along with Iran, Syria and North Korea.

Removing Sudan from the blacklist is likely to take time, with Washington seeking assurances that Bashir’s regime is being fully dismantled.

Steiner said that for many, Sudan’s blacklisting was no longer a crucial issue and he urged the US Congress to expedite the delisting.

He said the international community was taking Sudan “a little bit for granted.”

“We are in danger of forgetting that Sudan ... is actually a story that is more hopeful than it has been for 30 years. And are we missing an opportunity to actually lean in and support it?” said Steiner.

“We as UNDP ... are certainly committed to increase our engagement. This is a win-win proposition.”

Global financial institutions demand that Sudan launch widespread reforms to revive its economy, including cutting subsidies, which according to Steiner, should be done gradually.

“Our role and that of the World Bank, the IMF ... is to come up with wiser and smarter advice than simply saying to Sudan ‘Well, you are failing in your reform if you don’t do x or y’,” he said.

Steiner lauded the new authorities for engaging in talks with rebel groups for ending conflicts in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan — regions riven by fighting under Bashir.

Over the years, hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions displaced in fighting between Bashir’s forces and rebels in these regions.

Steiner said it was up to the Sudanese people to decide what kind of society they now wanted, but they needed the help of the international community to build that society.

Full report at:



Three killed in Boko Haram suicide bombing in Nigeria

January 31, 2020

KANO, Nigeria: A girl detonated a bomb, killing three boys at an Islamic seminary in northeast Nigeria in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, a local militia and residents said Friday.

The girl, aged around 12, detonated the device late Thursday when open-air classes were on in Muna Dalti, on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

She walked up to the group of boys who were just ending their lessons and “blew herself up in their midst,” Mohammed Bola, head of the militia in the area, told AFP.

“She killed three boys and injured four others,” Bola said about the attack which happened around 1900 GMT.

Moments earlier, another young girl stormed into a house in the area and detonated her explosives, injuring one person, said resident Salisu Mohammed.

“The house was totally destroyed. Luckily, no one was killed as the occupants of the house were outside chatting with neighbors,” he said.

The two bombers sneaked into the area together but split to attack different targets, Bola said.

The scene of the bombings, a popular night time venue for residents, has been repeatedly targeted by suicide attacks blamed on Boko Haram.

The militant group is notorious for suicide attacks on civilian targets including schools, mosques and motor parks.

In April, three people were killed and 33 injured in twin suicide blasts among a crowd in Muna Dalti which houses a sprawling camp for thousands displaced by the militia violence.

Another faction affiliated to the Daesh group focuses on military targets, although it has recently been blamed for attacks on civilians.

The decade-long violence has killed 35,000 people in northeast Nigeria and displaced around two million from their homes, creating a dire humanitarian crisis.

Full report at:



Algeria captures man planning suicide attack: defense ministry

JANUARY 30, 2020

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria’s army has captured a man planning a suicide attack targeting peaceful anti-government protest marches in the capital, the defense ministry said on Thursday.

The man, named by the ministry only as Bachir R, was arrested in the Birtouta district of Algiers on Wednesday with an explosive belt, it said in a statement, without providing further details.

Algerians have been staging weekly mass protests each Friday for nearly a year to demand the departure of the ruling elite despite promises by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to carry out political reforms.

The demonstrators rejected a presidential vote in December that led to the election of Tebboune as the successor to Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was forced to resign in April last year after ruling for 20 years.

Tebboune has promised to meet some of the protesters’ demands, including by amending Algeria’s constitution to give a greater role to the government and parliament.

Full report at:



Burkina Faso to Arm Civilians in Fight against Extremists

January 30, 2020

Burkina Faso’s parliament has approved legislation permitting the military to use civilian volunteers in the fight against Islamic extremism. The decision shows just how much help soldiers need in dealing with attacks across the West African country.

Burkina Faso’s military has been criticized for killings carried out during its fight against militants. Observers warn that arming civilians with little training could lead to more claims of human rights abuses.

Defense Minister Cheriff Sy said earlier this month that all volunteers would receive two weeks of training. The training would include subjects like how to use weapons and discipline.

Sy said, “We want to prevent these volunteers from becoming militias.”

Volunteers must be 18 years old. Sy said they will face what he calls a “moral investigation” before being permitted to serve. Volunteers will receive extra money once their service is completed. He added that health benefits would be paid to those who are wounded while on duty.

Burkina Faso’s military receives training and assistance from France and the United States. However, it has struggled to contain the spread of militant groups.

Sy said the use of civilian volunteers would permit the military to do more against extremists.

For years, Burkina Faso did not face the kind of Islamic extremism that affected neighboring Niger and Mali. A 2013 French-led military campaign removed extremists from power in several major towns.

In January 2016, militants attacked a popular café in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou. The attack killed at least 30 people. The following year, 18 people were killed at a Turkish restaurant in the capital.

The United Nations reports that deaths from attacks have increased sharply in the last few years, from about 80 in 2016 to over 1,800 in 2019.

Full report at:




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