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Islamic World News ( 21 Oct 2017, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Terror Preacher Zakir Naik Back On Indian TV, Venomous Sermons Broadcast In Kashmir on Cable Channels

New Age Islam News Bureau

21 Oct 2017

These Muslim women are poor and illiterate, but with the devotion they display as they create handmade earthen stoves for Chhath, they strengthen the social fabric



 Terror Preacher Zakir Naik Back On Indian TV, Venomous Sermons Broadcast In Kashmir on Cable Channels

 Yemen Rebel Youth Minister Urges Sending Children to War

 How Pakistani Active Extremists Complicate the Fight Against Islamic Extremism?

 Bombings Hit Two Mosques in Afghanistan, 72 Killed

 Trump Falsely Ties British Crime Rise to ‘Radical Islamic Terror’

 35 Egyptian Police Officers Killed In Militant Ambush



 Terror Preacher Zakir Naik Back On Indian TV, Venomous Sermons Broadcast In Kashmir On Cable Channels

 These Muslim Families Keep Making Earthen Stoves for Chhath Devotees

 Taj Mahal A 'Beautiful Graveyard': Haryana Minister

 Why debates on human rights only highlight rights of terrorists, asks Ravi Shankar Prasad

 Kandahar attack: States ‘hosting’ terror sanctuaries must eliminate them, says India



 Yemen Rebel Youth Minister Urges Sending Children to War

 Turkey to Allow Muftis to Conduct Weddings, Sparking Uproar on Left

 Israeli tanks fire into Syria after shell hits Golan

 Houthi militia fails to launch missile from Sanaa, wounds civilians

 Netanyahu lobbies world powers to support Iraqi Kurds’ secession bid

 Israeli settlement activities in West Bank amount to war crimes: PLO official

 10 dead as Saudi warplanes bomb civilian targets in Yemen

 Iran military chief says Daesh on last legs on visit to Aleppo

 Netanyahu says occupied Jordan Valley will remain part of Israel



 How Pakistani Active Extremists Complicate the Fight Against Islamic Extremism?

 Pakistan Committed To Protecting Minority Rights, PM Abbasi Greets Hindus On Diwali

 In Peshawar bypoll, MML cannot display names of any banned group or leader

 'Missing' journalist Zeenat Shahzadi recovered after more than 2 years

 Tide of terrorism ‘reversed’, Pakistan tells D-8


South Asia

 Bombings Hit Two Mosques in Afghanistan, 72 Killed

 Now Suu Kyi’s Name Removed from Oxford College Common Room

 Ashraf Ghani warns states against supporting terrorists

 Rich Rohingya forced to flee despite bribing Myanmar military

 Bangladesh completes biometric registration of 224,000 Rohingya refugees

 No casualties reported in Kabul rocket attack

 No options other than elimination or surrender left for terrorists: Ghani



 Trump Falsely Ties British Crime Rise to ‘Radical Islamic Terror’

 For Austria’s Muslims, country’s hard-right turn signals an ominous direction

 French defense minister: Iran engaged in destabilizing ballistic and regional activities

 Iran nuclear deal vital for strategic stability: Russia


Arab World

 35 Egyptian Police Officers Killed In Militant Ambush

 Gov't Forces Discover Israeli Arms at ISIL Positions in Eastern Syria

 Iraqi forces complete takeover of Kirkuk province after clashing with Kurds

 Saudi Arabia hopes for eradication of terrorism in region after Raqqa victory

 Ayatollah Sistani urges Iraq to protect Kurds amid tensions

 Scores of ISIL Commanders Escape from Syria to Turkey

 Syria Army Utilizing Cutting-Edge Armoured Vehicles in War on Terrorists

 Saudi minister says terror groups will be eliminated just like ISIS

 ANALYSIS: Is Egypt’s religious tourism industry ready for Christian pilgrimages?


Southeast Asia

 Why Conservative Islam Will Continue To Rise in Malaysia, Asean

 'Money, Frustration, Ideology Attracting Youth to Violent Extremism In PH'

 MCA Minister: Putrajaya Won’t Let Racial Extremism Infiltrate National Policies

 Leaders’ political will against extremism under scrutiny

 India to seek Zakir Naik’s extradition from Malaysia, says report


North America

 US Academic Urges Gulen’s Extradition to Turkey

 Quotes Give Incorrect View of Islam, Muslims

 Documentary explores Islamaphobia by darkening a white lady’s skin and giving her a fake nose

 ‘Underwear bomber’ files lawsuit over prison treatment, says Muslims harassed

 Nine months after mosque killings, Quebec Muslims still waiting for promised change

 G7, tech giants agree on plan to block jihadist content online

 Trump projecting Muslim terror threat for political gain: Scholar



 Conflicting Accounts in Niger Ambush Are Subject of Pentagon Investigation

 US drone strike targets al-Shabab after Somalia attack

 Somalia truck bomb death toll jumps to 358 dead

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Terror Preacher Zakir Naik Back On Indian TV, Venomous Sermons Broadcast In Kashmir On Cable Channels

Oct 20, 2017

Srinagar: Terror preacher Zakir Naik is back on Indian television!

As per a video exclusively accessed by Times Now, it has been established that venomous sermons of the absconding Islamic preacher are being broadcast in Kashmir via local TV channels and cable operators.

The video shows the controversial Peace TV broadcasts are back on Kashmir cable television channels in several localities.

The broadcasts are in complete defiance of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry's ban on Peace TV in India.

Zakir Naik on payrolls of Dawood Ibrahim: Iqbal Kaskar

The revelation has raised concerns in Kashmir as the terror preacher continues to radicalise young minds there. Questions are already being asked whether Naik sermons could be behind the continuing unrest in the Valley?

In one of the videos broadcast in Kashmir, Naik can be heard saying, “Islam will master all other faiths... Islam will prevail over Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism.”

The big question before the state government is: in a sensitive state like J&K, how are Zakir Naik's hate speeches being aired unchecked? The state government also needs to explain how nationwide ban on Zakir Naik's speeches is being flouted openly there? Earlier this year, the controversial Islamic preacher was declared a proclaimed offender and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) began the process to attach his assets.

Arrested ISIS suspects confessed they were influenced by Zakir Naik’s speeches: NIA

Naik is being probed by the NIA under terror and money-laundering charges. He fled from India on July 1, 2016 after terrorists in neighbouring Bangladesh claimed that they were inspired by his speeches on waging 'jihad' (a holy war).

According to the 'Middle East Monitor', an online news portal, Naik has already been granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia. However, there has not been any independent verification of this claim so far.

Naik had his passport renewed in January 2016 for 10 years.

The NIA, on November 18, 2016, had registered a criminal case against the controversial preacher at its Mumbai branch under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

His organisation, the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF), was declared an "unlawful association" by the government a day before the NIA registered the case.

Naik is accused of spreading hatred through his provocative speeches, funding terrorists and laundering crores of rupees over the years.



Yemen rebel youth minister urges sending children to war

Oct 21, 2017

SANAA -  The youth minister in war-torn Yemen’s rebel government on Friday proposed suspending school classes for a year and sending pupils and teachers to the front.

Hassan Zaid, minister for youth and sports in an administration set up by Iran-backed Huthi rebels and not internationally recognised, suggested pupils and teachers could be armed.

“Wouldn’t we be able to reinforce the ranks with hundreds of thousands (of fighters) and win the battle?” he wrote on Facebook. Yemen has been devastated by a war between the Huthis, who control the capital Sanaa, and the internationally-recognised government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, backed by a Saudi-led military coalition.

A teachers’ strike in rebel territory, in protest at salaries going unpaid for around a year, delayed the start of the school year by two weeks. When they did open on Sunday, classrooms were largely empty. Social media users responded angrily to the minister’s post. “What if we let the students study and sent the ministers and their bodyguards to the front?” one wrote. “That would give us victory and a prosperous future.”

Zaid criticised those who complained about his proposal.

“People close the schools under the pretext of a strike and when we think about how to take advantage of this situation, they take offence,” he said.

UNICEF estimates 13,146 schools, or 78 percent of all of Yemen’s schools, have been hit by the salary crunch, while nearly 500 schools have been destroyed by the conflict, repurposed as shelters or commandeered by armed factions.

More than 8,650 people have been killed, including over 1,550 children, since the Saudi-led coalition joined the Yemen war in 2015, sparking a humanitarian disaster, according to the United Nations.

Human rights organisations accuse both sides of recruiting child soldiers.



How Pakistani Active Extremists Complicate the Fight Against Islamic Extremism?

Oct 21, 2017

Pakistan: October 20, 2017. (PCP) Reportedly, the Cheif of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Sirajul Haq expressed at the Khatm-e-Nabuwwat (Finality of Prophethood) conference on Wednesday that Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the killer of ex-Governor Salman Taseer had been executed by the Government for expressing his love for Prophet of Islam.

Qadri was hanged to death last year on 29th February.He was hailed as a hero of Islam and now a new trend was being spread in the Muslim youth in Pakistan to follow the Qadri’s execution to get written their names in the list of lovers of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

Salman Taseer was the sitting governor of Punjab when he was assassinated in broad daylight by his own body guard,Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri. He was accused of blasphemy laws after his ardent criticism of the misuse of blasphemy laws against the death convicted a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, to whom he met in jail and who is still languishing in jail.

The chief of Jamaat-e-Islami has put oil on the fire of Islamic extremism by encouraging and instigating Qadri's supporters to follow the example of Qadri's love for Prophet of Islam by killings critics of blasphemy laws.

In the beginning of this year, one of Qadri's supporters, Ali Khan, threatened Sardar Mushtaq Gill, HRD lawyer and head of LEAD, a group who has supported a number of blasphemy accused including Asia Bibi and advocating for repeal of blasphemy laws, via Facebook, in these words, to be saved and now is your turn as here is another Mumtaz Qadri {Bachh...beta ab teri bhi bari ane wali hai....... Mumtaz Qadri hai Ek or yahan}.

Resulantantly, to root out the poison of extremism in Pakistan is going to be as impossible as to repeal the blasphemy laws which sole purpose is to impose death penalty on those who do not have faith in Islamic Prophet Muhammad and in the Islamic faith of finality of Prophethood because it is the faith of majority who consider Pakistan as fortress of Islam.

Pakistan was not originally created in the name of religion because the most of the founding members were secular and progressive in their approach. But later we have seen a gradual transformation towards a fire of radical Islamic state in which for years religious minorities could not escape feelings of suffocation.

These are the Active Extremists powers who are complicating the country's fight against Islamic Extremism and for the repeal of blasphemy laws. The poison of Extremism from Pakistan could not be rooted out until the repeal of the blasphemy laws.



Bombings Hit Two Mosques in Afghanistan, 72 Killed

Oct 20, 2017

At least 72 people, including women and children, have been killed and scores of others injured in two bomb attacks that targeted two Shia mosques in Afghanistan.

The first explosion rocked Imam Zaman mosque in the western district of Dasht-e-Barchi in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Friday as worshipers had gathered for prayers.

A top security official said security forces at the scene had removed at least 39 bodies, but the exact number of casualties was still unknown.

The second blast targeted a mosque in the central province of Ghor, leaving at least 33 people dead, said Iqbal Nezami, a spokesman for the Ghor provincial police.

The attack apparently targeted a local leader, who was among other worshipers.

The targeted official was a top local political and military leader of the Jamiat political party in Ghor, Balkh provincial governor Atta Mohammad Noor said in a statement.

The statement, however, said the local official was killed along with as many as 30 other worshipers.

The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Kabul attack.

Iran condemns deadly attacks in Afghanistan

In a statement issued on Friday night, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi strongly condemned the deadly bombings carried out by "blood-thirsty Takfiri terrorists" in Afghanistan, and offered his condolences to the Afghan government and nation as well as the victims' families.

Such attacks are meant to foment religious strife and undermine Afghanistan's security, Qassemi stated.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will stand by the resilient Afghan government and nation until the complete eradication of violence, terror and insecurity against the wish of some extra-regional powers," the Iranian official added.

Concerns are growing over what appears to be an alarming spread of Shia killings in Afghanistan.

Late last month, a bomber detonated an explosive device outside another Shia mosque in Kabul, killing at least six people. Daesh claimed the attack, which came just ahead of Ashura mourning rituals that mark the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH) and 72 of his companions in 680 AD.

In August, more than 40 Shia Muslims were killed in Kabul when Daesh terrorists attacked a mosque packed with worshipers.

Criticism has grown over Kabul's failure to take proper measures to better protect its Shia Muslim population against terrorist attacks.



Trump Falsely Ties British Crime Rise to ‘Radical Islamic Terror’


OCT. 20, 2017

President Trump inaccurately linked a report of increasing crime in parts of Britain to “radical Islamic terror” in a tweet early Friday.

Just out report: "United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror." Not good, we must keep America safe!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) Oct. 20, 2017

Mr. Trump’s use of quotation marks suggests he is directly citing a passage from a recently released report. The White House did not respond when asked what exactly Mr. Trump was quoting, but the British Office for National Statistics, in a bulletin released on Thursday, estimated a 13 percent increase in “police recorded crime” in England and Wales from June 2016 to June 2017.

First, the United Kingdom also includes Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But more to Mr. Trump’s point, nowhere does the bulletin contain the words “amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.” If Mr. Trump is suggesting that the rise in crime is caused by Islamic terrorism, the report does not support that.

Two terrorists attacks, in London in June and in the northwest English city of Manchester in May, together killed 35 people and involved what the agency called 294 attempted murders. They represented 0.0006 percent of the total 5.2 million crimes during the period covered by the report. Over all, homicides actually decreased 2 percent.

“Violence against persons” — a broad category that includes terrorist attacks as one type of crime — totaled about 1.2 million, a 19 percent rise from the previous year. That was driven by increases in the subcategories of “violence without injury” (21 percent) and “stalking and harassment” (36 percent) as well as a smaller increase in “violence with injury” (10 percent), the statistical agency said.

The agency did not specifically break out terrorism as a subcategory.

Beyond the London and Manchester attacks, the police did not report the ethnicity or religion of the criminal offender, as they generally do not. “So there is no evidence that crimes by Islamic radicals have increased,” said Brian Francis, a statistician who specializes in criminology at Lancaster University.

Mr. Francis said he believed that “a lot of this increase is the police recording more minor violent crimes — assault without injury — which might in the past have been ignored in their figures.”

The statistical agency attributes the 13 percent increase to “a range of factors, including continuing improvements to crime recording and genuine increases in some crime categories, especially in those that are well recorded.”

Even Mr. Trump’s suggestion that there has been an overall increase in British crime is disputed.

The 13 percent increase reflects the rise in crimes recorded by the police, but a national statistical authority determined in 2014 that police figures were unreliable. As a result, the metric of “police-recorded crimes” is no longer an official statistic.

Another yardstick, the Crime Survey for England and Wales, is still considered an official statistic. It shows no change in crimes. As in the United States, crime in England and Wales has steadily declined since the 1990s.

The bulletin cited by Mr. Trump also cautions against relying on a year-to-year change in police reports alone to extrapolate a trend.

“Police figures cannot provide a good measure of all crime in society, since we know that a large volume of it never comes to their attention,” John Flatley, the head of the statistical agency, said in the release. “The recent increases in recorded crime need to be seen in the context of the overall decline in crime indicated by the Crime Survey for England and Wales.”

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35 Egyptian police officers killed in militant ambush

October 21, 2017

At least 35 Egyptian police officers were killed in an ambush by militants near the Bahariya oasis in the country's Western Desert, security and medical sources said on Saturday, in a rare flare-up outside the Sinai Peninsula.

The interior ministry said security forces hunting down militants in the region were attacked late Friday on a road to the Bahariya oasis, some 200 kilometres southwest of Cairo.

An official statement said a number of the attackers were killed, but did not give any figures for losses on either side.

According to a source close to the security services, the convoy was hit by rocket fire. The attackers also used explosive devices.

There has not yet been a claim of responsibility. A fake claim in the name of the small extremist group Hasm, reported by multiple local media, spread on social media soon after the attack.

Since the army removed President Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, extremist groups have increased their attacks on the military and police.

Authorities have been fighting the Egyptian branch of the militant Islamic State (IS) group, which has increased its attacks in the north of the Sinai peninsula more than 500km away from the latest violence.

In response to the latest bloodshed Egyptian security forces appeared to step up their operations in the area of the attack.

Two truck drivers heading away from the scene told AFP they had seen heavy deployments of security personnel in the area and that aircraft were carrying out surveillance.

In the face of the latest violence, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Saturday was sticking to a plan to mark the 75th anniversary of the pivotal victory by the Allies in the World War II Battle of El Alamein at a ceremony involving foreign dignitaries on Egypt's Mediterranean coast, his office told AFP.

But the strongman leader cancelled all his other engagements for the day.

String of attacks

The Muslim Brotherhood, once Egypt's largest opposition movement, has long denied involvement in the attacks on the authorities.

Mohamed Morsi was elected as Egypt's first civilian president in 2012, but the army overthrew him a year later following mass protests against the his divisive rule.

Since then, an extensive crackdown on the group has left it in disarray with competing wings that have disagreed on whether to resort to violence, after police bloodily suppressed their protests.

Analysts say a section of the Brotherhood has encouraged armed assaults against the police.

Hasm has claimed multiple attacks since 2016 on police, officials and judges in Cairo. In their statements, none of the militant groups claim any affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hundred of soldiers and police have been killed in the grinding IS insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula in the far northeast of the country.

On October 13, the Egyptian army said six soldiers were killed in a “terrorist” gun and grenade attack on a security post near the North Sinai provincial capital of El-Arish.

IS has maintained a steady war of attrition with sniper attacks and roadside bombings.

But unlike their parent organisation in Iraq and Syria, they have been unable to seize population centres in the peninsula, which borders Israel and Gaza.

In October 2015, IS claimed the bombing of a Russian airliner carrying holidaymakers home from the popular South Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board.





These Muslim families keep making earthen stoves for Chhath devotees

Faryal Rumi

Oct 21, 2017

PATNA: Like every year, Muslim families residing in Adalatganj area of the city are busy making 'mitti ka chullah' for the Chhath devotees, most of them prepare 'prasad' for 'kharna' on new earthen stoves.

The four-day Chhath Puja will begin with 'nahay-khaye' on October 24 and conclude on October 27 with the morning arghya.

Maimoon Khatoon (70) has been selling earthen stoves for the last five decades. She has prepared 300 such chullahs for the devotees and put them under a tree on the roadside at Beerchand Patel Marg. "People not only appreciate our work, but also shell out more money than what it costs. Devotees still use these chullahs to cook 'prasad' for Chhath. One chullah costs between Rs60 and Rs100, depending on its size," she said.

"We start making chullahs after Dussehra and strictly avoid non-vegetarian food, garlic and onion during this period. These chullahs are made with special care and spirituality," Maimoon said and admitted that she makes all the stoves in traditional style with determination and make sure that these are kept off any kind of impurity.

The earthen stoves are made in Adalatganj slum area and transported to the Mithapur, Bailey Road, Serpentine Road, Kankerbagh and Beerchand Patel Marg markets. More than 60 families of Adalatganj have been in this business for many years.

Uresha Khatoon (35) at Mithapur is selling earthen stoves at Rs70, double the price than last year. "Due to heavy rain, we faced difficulty in getting soil from river Punpun. The farmer charged Rs3,000 for per tractor soil and Rs1000 for a sack of hay. Earlier, we used to pay Rs1000 for soil and Rs400 for hay," she said. Generally, she sells steel utensils from door to door.

Zulekha Khatoon not only makes Chhath chullahs but also keep the 'vrat' with utmost devotion. "I started making chullahs at the age of 16 and I also want my child to follow this tradition when he grows up. After two miscarriages, I lost hope for a child. An old Muslim woman, who also observed Chhath vrat, told me to perform all the rituals of this festival. It fulfilled all my wishes. Since then, I celebrate this festival with utmost devotion," she said.

"I never negotiate for price of the chullah. I accept whatever people pay," said Zulekha (46), who sells chullahs at Kankerbagh.

Usna Khatoon displayed all the essential items for Chhath Puja at Kankerbagh. "Apart from chullahs, we also sell mango bark for cooking prasad. It costs Rs90 for 5kg. Earthen pots, brass 'soops' and 'dalas' are also available at our makeshift stall. Generally, I sell cutlery sets," she said.



Taj Mahal a 'beautiful graveyard': Haryana minister

Oct 20, 2017

NEW DELHI: Haryana cabinet minister Anil Vij on Friday said the Taj Mahal was a "khoobsurat kabristan," or a 'beautiful graveyard.'

"Taj Mahal ek khoobsurat kabristan hai. Yahi kaaran hai ki isko ashubh maante huye iska model log apne gharon men nahi rakhte hain (The Taj Mahal is a beautiful graveyard. This is why it is considered inauspicious, and why people don't keep a model of it in their homes)," ANI quoted Vij as saying.

Vij is the latest in a long list of political leaders to jump into the recent controversy surrounding the Mughal monument.

The controversy began with BJP legislator Sangeet Som's comments that the Taj is not representative of Indian culture as it was built by Emperor Shah Jahan, "who wanted to wipe out Hindus".

Som's remarks came under fire from several quarters, including indirectly from Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who said the monument was decidedly Indian.

Full report at:



Why debates on human rights only highlight rights of terrorists, asks Ravi Shankar Prasad

October 20, 2017

Why does the debate on human rights only highlight the rights of terrorists and not the victims, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked at a conference on Friday.

While addressing the Common Wealth Law Ministers’ Conference in the Bahamas, Prasad said in acts of terror, the victims were the biggest sufferers, but debates on human rights only highlighted the rights of the terrorists and the crime’s perpetrators, and not those of the victims.

Later, the meeting adopted in its outcome that “terrorism could have no justification and that acts of terror were the most egregious violation of human rights of victims”. A law ministry release said this was the first time that the conference had adopted an outcome on terrorism.

In the conference, Prasad said India had for long been a victim of the most vicious form of terrorism unleashed from across the border. He also underlined the need for working together to address the concerns on cyber security and data privacy.

Full report at:



Kandahar attack: States ‘hosting’ terror sanctuaries must eliminate them, says India

October 20, 2017

India has expressed grave concern over the spike in terror attacks in Afghanistan and demanded that states “hosting” terrorists and their sanctuaries must eliminate them immediately. Condemning the “barbaric” attack on an army camp in Kandahar province in which 43 soldiers were killed, the Ministry of External Affairs said the recent strikes “demonstrate” that safe havens and support systems continue to be available to terrorists.

“We strongly condemn the barbaric attack today at the Afghan National Army base in Kandahar province,” MEA said in a statement on Thursday. It said India is “gravely” concerned at the escalation of terrorist violence against Afghanistan, despite hopes kindled recently by new strategies as well as efforts to bring peace in the country.

“Coming on the heels of similar tragedies in Paktia and Ghazni, we share the grief of the families of the victims and the suffering of the Afghan people,” the ministry said. In what is being seen as a clear reference to Pakistan, it added, “States hosting the terrorists and their sanctuaries must eliminate them immediately and without distinction.”

These concerns were also highlighted by the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday, the statement said. “The beginning of Afghan-owned and Afghan-led national reconciliation requires an end to violence.” It added, “India expresses solidarity with the people and the Government of Afghanistan in these difficult times.”

In his visit to Kabul earlier this week, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and the top brass of the country’s military establishment. Issues relating to defence and security cooperation were discussed during the meetings.

Full report at:





Turkey to allow muftis to conduct weddings, sparking uproar on left

Oct 21, 2017

Turkey’s parliament approved a law to allow some state-employed religious officials to administer civil marriages, a move opposition parties view as another blow to secularism and women’s rights under President Tayyip Erdogan.

The law, passed late on Thursday, will allow muftis - officials employed by the state’s Religious Affairs Directorate - to perform civil marriages that were previously administered only by municipal officials.

The secularist main opposition Republican Peoples Party (CHP) has vowed to take the law to the Constitutional Court “as soon as possible”, while the leftist pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has also opposed it.

Critics fear the new law could lead to an increase in underage marriages, citing the religious ceremonies practiced in rural areas where brides are sometimes under 18.

“This paves the way for child brides because according to Islam, there is no age limit, a girl who has reached puberty can get married,” CHP Deputy Chairman Ozgur Ozel told Reuters.

Ozel said the law included “constitutional breaches” and disregarded the founding values of the constitutionally secular Turkish republic.

Civil marriage under the age of 18 is illegal in Turkey, although in rural parts of the Sunni Muslim nation of 80 million religious ceremonies are common.

HDP lawmaker Huda Kaya said the law was a “slightly formalized” version of a previous controversial proposal that critics said could allow men accused of sexually abusing girls to avoid punishment if they marry their victims. The proposal was retracted from parliament last year after a public uproar.


“They say this is against secularism. The church does this in the West,” Erdogan said last week.

Erdogan, whose roots are in political Islam, and his ruling AK Party say the law is designed to speed up the officiating of weddings, normally carried out by mayors at municipal offices.

But one CHP lawmaker, Ali Seker, said each state official had on average fewer than one wedding to conduct per day last year, citing official statistics during a debate in parliament.

The law states that the offices of muftis will be given the right to carry out weddings, meaning the religious officials could also appoint Muslim clerics or imams to officiate civil weddings - an authority that has never been granted to non-state employees in modern Turkey.

“This is the act of legalising a social event that is part of Turkey’s traditions. The spirit of the laws must be in harmony with the spirit of social life,” Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul said.

Erdogan has spent his political career fighting to bring religion back into public life in Turkey and has cast himself as the liberator of millions of pious Turks whose rights and welfare were neglected under the secular elite.

Liberal Turks see Erdogan as attempting to roll back the work of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Western-facing founder of modern Turkey.

“This is a clear alternative to secularism. Even bringing this bill on the agenda is igniting a spark against secularism,” said Canan Gullu, chairwoman of the Turkish Women’s Associations Federation, told Reuters.

“No matter what they do, women’s fight will continue, and democracy and secularism will survive.”



Israeli tanks fire into Syria after shell hits Golan

20 October 2017

Israeli tanks fired into Syria on Thursday after a Syrian mortar shell landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

“In response to the projectile that hit Israel earlier today, the Israel Defense Forces targeted the sources of fire in the Syrian Golan Heights,” the Israeli Army said in an English-language statement.

It did not identify the sources of the Syrian fire nor say whether it considered it to be a deliberate attack or unintentional spillover from the Syrian civil war, as in several previous incidents.

It said the mortar shell fell on open ground and caused no injuries.

Speaking shortly afterwards in the Jordan Valley, part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implied that the Syrian shell was a stray but said it was nevertheless unacceptable.

“We do not accept spillovers and if they hit us we return fire -- and it doesn’t take much time,” his office quoted him as saying in Hebrew.

On Monday, Israel carried out an air strike on an anti-aircraft battery in Syria after the battery fired on its planes during surveillance flights over neighboring Lebanon.

Israel has sought to avoid becoming directly involved in the six-year civil war in Syria, though it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes to stop what it calls advanced arms deliveries to Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Full report at:



Houthi militia fails to launch missile from Sanaa, wounds civilians

20 October 2017

Sources in Sanaa said that Houthi militias failed to launch a ballistic missile from Faj Attan to fall in Thahban area north of the capital, while it was mainly targeting the Saudi Arabia territory.

The sources added that the deviated missile was fired from a civilian area on Friday afternoon and fell in a civilian area, wounding many.



Netanyahu lobbies world powers to support Iraqi Kurds’ secession bid

Oct 20, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lobbying world powers to support the independence of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region from the rest of the Iraqi territory, as Kurdish Peshmerga forces are losing ground to Iraqi army forces in the country’s oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk.

Israeli officials, requesting anonymity, said Netanyahu raised the Kurdish plans for independence with German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, and with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

The 67-year-old Chairman of the Likud party also made a reference to the issue in his contacts with French authorities.

An Israeli official, who declined to be named, stated that the Tel Aviv regime has security interests in Kurdistan.

“This (territory) is a foothold. It’s a strategic place. It would be best if someone gave them weaponry, and whatever else, which we cannot give, obviously,” the official said without providing further detail.

Israel has maintained military, intelligence and business ties with Iraqi Kurds since 1960s.

“The issue at present is ... to prevent an attack on the Kurds, extermination of the Kurds and any harm to them, their autonomy and region, something that Turkey and Iran and … other powers in Iraq and part of the Iraqi government want,” Israeli Intelligence Minister, Israel Katz, alleged in an interview with Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM on Friday.

“The prime minister is certainly engaging the United States, Russia, Germany and France to stop the Kurds from being harmed,” Katz said.

On Friday, Iraqi government forces wrested control of a strategic sub-district of Kirkuk province following clashes with Peshmerga forces.

“Iraqi Federal Police and Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces, along with fighters from Popular Mobilization Units – commonly known by the name Hashd al-Sha’abi, have secured Kirkuk’s northern Altun Kupri sub-district,” the Iraqi Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Iraqi Army Captain Jabbar Hasan said Iraqi federal forces had given Peshmerga forces 24 hours to vacate their strongholds in Altunkopru, and withdraw to areas controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Peshmerga forces, however, had rejected the ultimatum, Hasan said.

The referendum on secession of the Kurdistan region was held on September 25 despite strong opposition from the central government in Baghdad, the international community, and Iraq's neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Following the vote, Baghdad imposed a ban on direct international flights to the Kurdish region and called for a halt to its independent crude oil sales.

On October 12, an Iraqi government spokesman said Baghdad had set a series of conditions that the KRG needed to meet before any talks on the resolution of the referendum crisis could start.

“The KRG must first commit to Iraq's unity. The local authorities in the [Kurdistan] region… must accept the sovereign authority of the federal government on… oil exports, [as well as] security and border protection, including land and air entry points,” the unnamed Iraqi official added.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has already demanded the annulment of the referendum.

Full report at:



Israeli settlement activities in West Bank amount to war crimes: PLO official

Oct 20, 2017

A senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has strongly condemned Israel’s plans to build nearly 3,000 more housing units in the occupied West Bank, stressing that the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies in Palestinian territories amount to war crimes.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO’s Executive Committee, said on Friday that Israel’s settlement activities are illegal under international law, and amount to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Israel is deliberately working to enhance its extremist Jewish settler population and to superimpose ‘Greater Israel’ on all of historic Palestine. Undoubtedly, it is bent on annexing the entire city of Jerusalem al-Quds, systematically wiping out the Palestinian presence and continuity on Palestinian soil, and destroying the territorial and demographic contiguity of the future Palestinian state,” she added.

The top PLO official further noted that the plans by the Israeli Civil Administration’s High Planning Committee for 2,615 housing units are “in blatant disregard of the requirements for the two-state solution. [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu along with his extremist and racist coalition continue to persist with their egregious policies of colonial settler expansionism.”

Ashrawi then called on the international community to “intervene immediately, and force Israel to put an end to its unlawful unilateralism and acts of land theft and colonialism once and for all.”

Since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump in January, the regime in Tel Aviv has stepped up its construction of settler units on occupied Palestinian land in a blatant violation of international law.

Less than a month before Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

Trump backtracked on Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” earlier this year, saying he would support any solution favored by both sides.

Full report at:



10 dead as Saudi warplanes bomb civilian targets in Yemen

Oct 20, 2017

Saudi warplanes have bombed residential areas in the Sa’ada and Hajjah provinces of Yemen, killing at least 10 civilians, including an entire family.

The Saudi air raids, which targeted the city of Ghamr in Sa’ada on Friday, left six civilians dead, while four others, all members of the same family, lost their lives in similar attacks in the Abs city of Hajjah.

Both provinces are located in northwestern Yemen and have shared borders with Saudi Arabia. 

In another incident, a civilian was killed due to Saudi shelling in the city of Mawza in Ta’izz Province, the al-Masirah television network reported.

In retaliation, Yemeni snipers shot dead three Saudi soldiers in the kingdom’s Asir region. They also fired a Zelzal-1 (earthquake-1) missile toward Saudi forces at the border with Saudi Arabia were they had congregated.  

In early May, al-Masirah reported that Yemeni sharpshooters had managed to fatally injure as many as 64 Saudi troops in April alone.

A report by Reuters published in April last year said that at least 400 Saudi soldiers had been killed in cross-border fire since the start of the Saudi war against Yemen in March 2015.

The Riyadh regime has maintained a policy of ambiguity regarding its casualties in the war on Yemen. Senior military officials have said that they would not release such information until after the war.

Over the past two and a half years, Yemen has been under heavy airstrikes by Saudi Arabia’s warplanes as part of a brutal war against the Arabian Peninsula country in an attempt to crush the popular Houthi Ansarullah movement and reinstall the former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

More than 12,000 people have been killed since the onset of the campaign, and much of the country’s infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and factories, has been ravaged.

Ansarullah fighters, backed by the Yemeni army and popular forces, have been defending the country against the US-backed Saudi aggression.

The Saudi war has also triggered a deadly cholera epidemic across Yemen.

Full report at:



Iran military chief says Daesh on last legs on visit to Aleppo

Oct 20, 2017

The Iranian military chief has praised successful counter-terrorism operations during a visit to a frontline position near the Syrian city of Aleppo, saying the terrorists are taking their last breath in the country.

“The life of terrorist groups is coming to an end,” said Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri during a meeting with military advisors and armed forces involved in battles against terrorists in Syria, ISNA reported.

The senior military official further described “unity” and “exemplary coordination” among the Syrian army and its allied forces as the key factors behind the “successive” gains they have made against the terrorists.

Baqeri further expressed hope that the Syrian forces and allied fighters will continue to hold the upper hand in the fight against the Takfiri militants.

Since his arrival in Syria on Wednesday, the Iranian general has held talks with senior Syrian military officials.

On Thursday, he also met with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, where the two sides exchanged views on the battles against terrorism.

Iran, along with Russia, has a military advisory mission in Syria aimed at strengthening its army on the battlefield against terrorism. Moscow has also been providing air cover to Syria’s ground offensives. Syrian forces are also receiving assistance from fighters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement.

Full report at:



Netanyahu says occupied Jordan Valley will remain part of Israel

Oct 20, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the regime will never abandon settlements in the Jordan Valley, defying international criticisms of Tel Aviv’s land grab policies.

“The Jordan Valley will always remain a part of Israel. We will continue to settle it, invest in infrastructure and tourism,” Netanyahu said during a speech at a ceremony marking 50 years of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and Jordan Valley area.

Over most of its length, the valley forms the border between Jordan to the east, and Israeli-occupied territories and the West Bank to the west. Tel Aviv occupied the region during the Six Day War in 1976, and quickly began building settlements there.

Netanyahu further describe the Jordan Valley as “a strategic defensive belt” for Israel, saying the regime will never evacuate the settlements it has build in the occupied area “because they are of utmost security importance to Israel.”

The comments came on the same day that anti-settlement monitoring group Peace Now released a new report, noting that plans for 6,742 settler units have been advanced in Palestinian territories in the West Bank this year.

Comparatively, 2,629 homes were approved in 2016 and 1,982 in 2015. Notably, some of the newly-approved settlements would be deep in the occupied West Bank.

In addition to this year’s settlement construction, another approximately 3,000 settler units have been approved by Israel for construction in the West Bank.

At the construction site of the new Amihai settlement in the West Bank, the Israeli minister for military affairs, Avigdor Lieberman, underscored Israel’s resolute intention to expand settlements on Wednesday, and praised the unprecedented number of construction permits issued by officials in Tel Aviv.  

“First of all, we are at the Amihai site; look around at the work that is happening here... The time has come to tell the truth. We are working at a pace that we have not seen since the year 2000,” Lieberman said.

He explained that, to date in 2017, tenders had been issued for 3,000 new homes, and plans had been advanced for a total of 7,500 new homes. “Thank God, we have gotten to the kind of numbers we have not seen for a very long time.”

Europeans condemn Israeli land grab

Israel has been under fire by the entire international community, including its own allies, for continued construction on occupied land, which is forbidden under international law.

On Thursday, the EU in a statement called the settlement expansion “illegal under international law” and “detrimental to ongoing efforts towards meaningful peace talks.”

France also issued a strongly-worded statement against Israel’s plan for the construction of 3000 housing units in al-Khalil (Hebron) calling on Israel “to reverse this decision and to respect their international obligations.”

“The uninterrupted pursuit of the policy of colonization, confirmed by these new projects, only adds to the tensions on the ground and undermines the prospects for a just and lasting peace based on the two-State solution,” the statement added.

International law views the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds as occupied territories and considers all Israeli settlement-building activity there as illegal. Nevertheless, roughly 500,000 Israelis now live in more than 100 settlements built on these territories since 1967.

The German Foreign Ministry also called on Israel to refrain from more land grab, saying “settlements are not the only obstacle to a two-state solution” and denies the Palestinians “the ability to fully exercise their political rights.”

EU demands compensation from Israel

In another development, eight EU countries have prepared a letter to Israeli officials for compensation, demanding more than $35,000 from Israel due to the confiscation of solar panels they had installed in Bedouin Palestinian communities as well as the demolition of mobile structures they had built to serve as classrooms for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

The official protest letter, described by Israeli newspaper Haaretz as “the first of its kind,” is reportedly set to be delivered to senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials within a few days.

Over the last few years, Israel has several times demolished structures built for Palestinians by European NGOs with funding from the European Union.

Full report at:





Pakistan committed to protecting minority rights, PM Abbasi greets Hindus on Diwali

Oct 20, 2017

As Pakistan’s Hindus celebrated Diwali, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said in a message that his government is committed to protecting the rights of minorities and promoting a society free from any discrimination.

“The government of Pakistan is committed to the welfare of the minorities and safeguarding their fundamental rights,” Abbasi said in his Diwali message. He called on religious leaders to play their role in promoting interfaith harmony.

“I sincerely wish that may the festival of lights bring happiness and peace in the lives of all those who are celebrating this day,” he said in the message on Thursday while extending greetings to Hindus across Pakistan and abroad.

Abbasi said, “Let us never forget that no religion teaches hatred and violence. Indeed, every religion stands for promoting peace, harmony and love for humanity…We remain committed to promote a society free from any discrimination based on caste or creed.”

A majority of Pakistan’s Hindu minority lives in southern Sindh province, where a holiday was declared for the community. Most Hindus celebrated the day with visits to mandirs, which were specially illuminated for the occasion.

Mazars too were busy as many Hindus pray at these graves of saints alongside Muslims on special days.

Member of parliament Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, who is patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council, told the media that Hindus across Pakistan had celebrated Diwali “without any tensions”.

At the same time, he said he had written to the prime minister about incidents of Hindu women being kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam. The other issue that was highlighted, he said, was the Hindu Marriage Act that has been passed by the Senate but still has some loopholes for the conversion of Hindus to Islam.



In Peshawar bypoll, MML cannot display names of any banned group or leader


Oct 21, 2017

Liaquat Ali Khan, the independent candidate that MML has nominated in Peshawar, says he is patriot with a strong belief in the ideology of Pakistan.

The Milli Muslim League (MML) is still an unregistered political party, but it is taking part in its second electoral contest for a National Assembly seat.

The by-election for NA-4 Peshawar on October 26 is keenly awaited even though the winner will get to sit in the National Assembly for not more than six months when fresh polls will be organized. The outcome will provide an indicator to the political trends prior to the general election next year because all the major parties have fielded candidates.

Besides the MML, another newly formed Islamic party, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan set up in memory of Mumtaz Qadri who shot dead Punjab Governor Salman Taseer for allegedly committing blasphemy, is also contesting. Both fought the by-election for NA-120 Lahore, which was won by deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, and performed surprisingly better than the mainstream Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).

The rejection of its application for registration by the Election Commission of Pakistan may have dampened MML’s spirits, but this hasn’t stopped it from entering the electoral contest in the rural Peshawar constituency and backing an independent candidate, Liaquat Ali Khan.

But Khan is independent only in name as the MML cannot own him as its candidate until the party is registered and awarded an election symbol. Khan was an office-bearer of the outlawed Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), having headed its Mardan region chapter. He is also vice-president for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of the Milli Yakjehti Council, an alliance of religio-political groups representing various Muslim sects.

The JuD, and by extension the MML, traditionally enjoys some backing in Punjab, the province to which its leaders Hafiz Saeed and Saifullah Khalid belong. But its support base in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is narrow.

Though it stands no chance of victory, the party cadres are running a spirited election campaign in parts of the provincial capital, Peshawar, and scores of villages falling in NA-4. The male and female party workers go door-to-door to seek votes. Contacts have been established with leading religious scholars to seek their endorsement for the MML candidate.

The MML President Saifullah Khalid and other leaders have visited Peshawar to organize the election campaign. The JuD founder Hafiz Saeed has not visited to campaign because the government placed him under house arrest in early 2017.

In the NA-120 by-election in Lahore, the MML was able to display banners and signboards with Hafiz Saeed’s pictures. The situation is different this time as the MML has been barred from displaying the name of any outlawed organization or its leaders. The Election Commission has been particularly tough in implementing the code of conduct for candidates and parties. The MML had displayed big banners and signboards on the main roads in the constituency in violation of the size allowed by the Election Commission and these had to be removed.

On the Ring Road in Peshawar and further on the Kohat Road, rows and rows of banners and billboards of MML candidate hanging from electricity poles are unmissable. Bearded and wearing a white cap, the candidate’s pictures dominate the billboards. “Our politics – service and humanity” is inscribed on the banners and billboards. His election symbol is a “thermos” and his full name Alhaj Liaquat Ali Khan means he has performed Hajj in Saudi Arabia more than once.

But the 40-year old Khan has a Master’s degree in Islamiyat from University of Peshawar, and has released a progressive manifesto to appeal to all kinds of voters. He promises that he will promote girls’ education and provide healthcare facilities to women. His campaign team is organizing free medical camps to treat patients in every union council. Claiming that elected lawmakers did nothing for the electorate in the past, he is focusing on attracting voters dissatisfied with other parties. Khan has ambitious plans to persuade female voters to cast their vote and ensure a higher turnout in the by-election.

Maintaining that his party’s politics is different than other parties, Khan argues that they are not indulging in any blame-game and are patriots with a strong belief in the ideology of Pakistan.

Full report at:



'Missing' journalist Zeenat Shahzadi recovered after more than 2 years

October 20, 2017

Zeenat Shahzadi, the journalist who went missing in Lahore in 2015, has been recovered by security forces, officials said on Friday.

Retired Justice Javed Iqbal, head of the missing persons commission, confirmed Shahzadi's return while speaking to BBC Urdu. She was recovered on Wednesday night from near the Pak-Afghan border, Iqbal said.

The newly appointed National Accountability Bureau chief said that some non-state actors and enemy agencies had kidnapped her and she was recovered from them, adding that tribal elders in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa played an important role in her recovery.

Shahzadi's family has yet to issue a statement.

Shahzadi, who raised her voice for disappearance of victims, went missing in August 2015 while on the trail of an Indian citizen Hamid Ansari reported to have been caught by Pakistani agencies. She had filed an application with the Supreme Court’s Human Rights Cell on behalf of Fauzia Ansari, Hamid's mother.

Read: Any hope for Hamid & Zeenat?

According to one version, Hamid was pursuing a Pakistani woman whom he had befriended on the Internet.

The application was accepted and forwarded to the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances.

A few months later, news surfaced in a section of the media, saying that Hamid had been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on charges of espionage. According to some rights campaigners, Hamid has served his sentence and ought to be set free now.

Human rights activist Hina Jillani, in a 2016 interview with BBC Urdu, alleged that Shahzadi had once told her family that she had been "forcibly taken away by security agencies", detained for four hours and questioned about Hamid.

Full report at:



Tide of terrorism ‘reversed’, Pakistan tells D-8

OCTOBER 21, 2017

ISTANBUL: Pakistan on Friday told the D-8 that through a comprehensive strategy and unwavering resolve, the country has successfully turned the tide against terrorism, as it sought enhanced trade and economic partnerships with member states through stronger rail, road, air and sea links, a win-win for all.

“We faced unrelenting terrorism emanating from instability in our neighbourhood and the environment in the region and beyond. However, as a result of a comprehensive strategy and unwavering resolve, Pakistan has successfully turned the tide,” Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said while addressing the opening session of 9th D-8 Summit being hosted by Turkey in Istanbul.

“Improved security has led to economic recovery. Pakistan’s economy has recorded a significant revival in the past four years.

Over this time, we have focused on upgrading our communications and energy infrastructure, and enhancing regional connectivity,” the prime minister said. “Connectivity-led growth is a good example of South-South cooperation. We seek similar partnerships with D-8 member states – through road and rail routes, where possible, but also through stronger air and sea connections.”

The prime minister said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will further put Pakistan’s economy on an upward trajectory. “We are also working on energy connectivity projects. Pakistan’s integration into the Eurasian Belt and Road network will provide a firm foundation for Pakistan’s rapid economic development,” he said

“As we gather here to renew our collective pledge to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, we must also take stock of the progress made so far on trade and economic partnership goals we set for ourselves. This summit is a good opportunity for us to identify and remove the impediments in the way of achieving the organisation’s objectives,” the prime minister said.

He said 20 years ago, a shared vision motivated the leaders of member countries to establish this organisation to promote cooperation in the key areas of agriculture, industry, SMEs, trade, transportation, energy and tourism. “However, the progress achieved so far falls short of our expectations … necessitating measures to accelerate momentum for stronger partnership,” he added.

The prime minister pointed towards the stagnation of intra D-8 trade, after an initial increase, adding, the apprehension is that the target of US $ 500 billion in 2018, envisaged in the 2008 Kuala Lumpur Summit Roadmap, might remain elusive. “It is, therefore, important for us to fully implement various instruments and agreements aimed at facilitating trade amongst member states, especially those related to preferential trade, small and medium enterprises, customs, simplification of visa matters and civil aviation. This would certainly pave the way for substantial increase intra D-8 trade,” he added.

The prime minister said sectoral meetings at the ministerial level have already chalked out the roadmaps. “Now is the time to start implementation. There may be challenges, but there are also opportunities like never before,” he said. “While it is imperative for the governments of member countries to facilitate trade and investment by adopting the necessary legal framework for investment protection and creating an enabling environment for business in their respective countries, it is the private sector that can make the best use of emerging opportunities for trade and joint ventures. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that we also actively promote entrepreneurship in our countries,” he added.

Later at a joint news conference along with his Turkish counterpart Binali Yildirim, Prime Minister Abbasi said Pakistan wanted to further strengthen relations with Turkey in diverse fields. He said both the countries have exemplary friendly ties. “Turkey’s enemies are Pakistan’s enemies … and Pakistan’s enemies are Turkey’s enemies.”

The prime minister lauded Turkey’s contribution for the socio-economic development of Pakistan.

Full report at:



South Asia


Now Suu Kyi’s name removed from Oxford college common room

October 20, 2017

Undergraduates at the Oxford college where Aung San Suu Kyi studied have voted to remove the leader of Myanmar’s name from the title of their junior common room.

The students at St Hugh’s college took the decision over Myanmar's de facto leader Suu Kyi’s response to the Rohingya crisis, according to a report published in The Guardian.

In a vote on Thursday evening, students at St Hugh’s college at the University of Oxford resolved to eliminate the name of the 1991 Nobel peace laureate from the Aung San Suu Kyi junior common room with immediate effect, says the report.

The motion criticised the “silence and complicity” in her apparent defence of the country’s treatment of its Rohingya Muslim minority, who have suffered ethnic cleansing and violent attacks by Myanmar’s military forces.

The communal violence has torn through the Rakhine state of Myanmar since Muslim minority Rohingya militants staged deadly attacks on police posts on August 25.

An army-led fightback has left scores dead and sent more than half a million Rohingya fleeing the mainly Buddhist country into neighbouring Bangladesh.

The United Nations describes the situation as "ethnic cleansing".

Earlier in last month, the same Oxford University college had taken down a portrait of the Myanmar leader, a decision that followed widespread criticism of her over the Rohingya crisis.

The portrait, which was on display in the main entrance of St Hugh's College, has been placed in storage and was replaced on September 28 with a new painting gifted by Japanese artist Yoshihiro Takada.

Full report at:



Ashraf Ghani warns states against supporting terrorists

Oct 21, 2017

According to Tolo News, President Ashraf Ghani at a gathering on Friday said Afghanistan has been a main victim of terrorism and that the countries which seek their interests in the existence of terrorist groups will be isolated.

According to him, terrorist groups and their supporters are under heavy pressure from the international community and the Afghan government.

“These networks must not have any place in this century. The people and countries that see their interests in existence of terrorist groups should realize that they are isolating themselves,” he told the Sixth Silk Road Mayors Forum in Kabul.

He said terrorists have been defeated on the battlegrounds and that the groups are going towards isolation.

He pointed out to recent attacks in the country and said there is no power in the world which will defeat Afghans.

“There is no power in the world who will be able to defeat us. You will never be able to harm our national unity and you will never be able to ban our women.

You will never be able steal the future from our children,” he said.

The remarks come after the Chinese government strongly condemned the recent Taliban attacks in different parts of the country that caused severe casualties.

"The Chinese side is deeply shocked at the heavy casualties caused by the related attack in Afghanistan and strongly condemn the incident,” Lu Kang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said this week.

Full report at:



Rich Rohingya forced to flee despite bribing Myanmar military

October 20, 2017

When thousands of Rohingya fled the violent persecution inflicted by the Myanmar security forces in the northern region of Rakhine state, some families bribed the military and the local influentials so they wouldn’t have to leave home.

In the end, even that could not save them from the military’s wrath, and they rich ones were also forced to flee to Bangladesh, leaving everything behind.

Abdur Gafur, 42, is one of the well-off Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh in September, escaping the military atrocities in his homeland.

“When the crackdown began, some of my family members paid off the military and the local big shots so they could live in their own home,” Gafur said. “But as the situation is escalating, that technique is no longer working. They [the well-off people], too, are being forced to leave Myanmar with the hundreds of thousands of others and flee to Bangladesh.”

Back home, Gafur’s family owns several multistorey buildings. Amid the growing fear that the Myanmar military would abduct and abuse his nieces, he fled to Bangladesh with the girls, leaving his brother and their father behind to take care of their assets. Later, his brother, too, was forced to flee home.

“My brother could kept on living in Rakhine,” Gafur told the Bangla Tribune. “He is now hiding in the jungle. It will take him some time to reach the border and cross over to Bangladesh.”

There are a number of well-off Rohingya families now waiting to be able to cross over to Bangladesh. Many of them own vast areas of land, money, small businesses and even factories in Rakhine.

The families with money paid a hefty amount of bribe to the army, police and local influentials since the crackdown began in August. Despite the heavy bribery, the security forces have raided their houses and businesses and robbed most of their assets.

“Some families moved toward the city area to survive, but that did not work out either. Eventually, they were forced to flee to Bangladesh,” Gafur said.

The security forces also make frequent rounds of the Rohingya villages to make lists of young girls.

“They visit our villages and enlist the names of young girls. During each round, they come and collect the girls and take them away. Most of those girls ever come back. Their mutilated bodies are found later,” Gafur said.

Azharul Haq, 44, fled his home in Rashidhang area of Rakhine with his wife and a group of children.

“Only one of these children are mine; the others are my nephews and nieces,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.

“I managed to make it here in Cox’s Bazar, by my brother stayed behind to look after our mobile phone shop, hoping that the situation would get better some day and we would be able to go back home,” he added.

However, a few days after he arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Azhar learnt that their shop had been attacked. “It wasn’t burnt down, but they [the military] took away the mobile handsets.”

Zohar used to be the chairman of his local government council in Rakhine. To escape the violence, he had to flee Rakhine and take refuge in a shanty inside one of the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

“I never thought I would see the day when I would have to live like a refugee, forced to abandon my ancestral home,” he told the Bangla Tribune.

It is evident that Zohar comes from power and money; his appearance and attitude makes him stand out among the ordinary Rohingya refugees.

“The rich from our village tried to escape the violence by moving to the city, but that did not work in the end. Now they are contacting us to find a way out of Rakhine and into Bangladesh. They just lost everything. No one could do anything,” said a dejected Zohar.

As of October 17, 2017 around 582,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh since the latest military crackdown began in Rakhine in August, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Full report at:



Bangladesh completes biometric registration of 224,000 Rohingya refugees

October 21, 2017

Bangladesh has completed biometric registration of 224,000 Rohingya refugees who have crossed the border to escape persecution in neighbouring Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

Department of Immigration and Passport’s Director General Maj Gen Md Masud Rezwan said that about 12,000 to 13,000 Rohingya are being registered every day at 100 booths in six biometric registration centres at Ukhiya and Teknaf.

This will not only allow the administration to identify the Rohingya if they attempt to get national identity cards, driving licenses or passports but also help Bangladesh repatriate them, he said.

The registration process started on September 12.

“At the current pace, it will be possible to bring all the Rohingya under biometric registration in a month,” he claimed on Friday evening after visiting biometric centres at Kutupalang and Balukhali camps.

“We are increasing the number of booths to speed up the process. Such an enriched database will help bring more discipline in relief distribution work  too,” Maj Gen Masud said.

Cox’s Bazar Assistant Commissioner and Executive Magistrate Lutfor Rahman told Dhaka Tribune that the refugees were getting registered willingly.

“This identification will allow their repatriation once this issue is resolved,” said Rajib Chowdhury, deputy general manager of Tiger IT team which is providing technical support in the project.

“The expectation has been raised with the example of how Germany registered the Syrian refugees to ensure everyone is identified,” he added.

According to UNHCR, 582,000 Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh since August 25. Forty percent of them have settled in three camps – Kutupalong, Balukhali and Leda areas.

Intelligence agencies said that the previously displaced Rohingya conveyed messages to their relatives in Myanmar about ‘better’ options in Bangladesh which may have contributed to the fresh influx that continues.

International Organization for Migration Director General William Lacy Swing said Rohingya numbers would probably reach a million before the flow of people stopped.

Full report at:



No casualties reported in Kabul rocket attack

Oct 21 2017

Several rockets were fired on Kabul city earlier this morning with the security officials saying the attack has not incurred any casualties to the civilians or military personnel.

The incident took place at around 6am local time after three rockets fired from an unknown location landed in the vicinity close to Shash Darak diplomatic area of the city.

A spokesman for Kabul Police Basir Mujahid confirmed the incident and said only one rocket landed in the city.

He said the attack did not cause any casualties or damage to the properties.

No individual or group has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

This comes as a deadly attack rocked Kabul city late on Friday evening after a suicide bomber targeted a mosque in the city.

The incident took place in the vicinity of the 13th police district of the city after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives among the people in a mosque, Imam Zaman mosque in Dasht-e-Barchi area in West of Kabul.

Full report at:



No options other than elimination or surrender left for terrorists: Ghani

Oct 20 2017

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in reaction to the recent wave of deadly attacks has said that no option is left for the terrorist groups other their elimination or surrender.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, quoted President Ghani in a statement as saying “The criminal groups linked to the outsiders, in the latest terrorist wave of attacks, targeted various parts of the country. After committing crimes and acts of savagery against humanity in Ghazni and Paktia, the terrorists once again martyred some Afghans and security personnel in Maiwand district of Kandahar.”

The statement further added that the groups which have been involved in crimes, terror, and murders, are currently on the verge of destruction and elimination.

President Ghani says on the other hand the government of national unity and the Afghan people stand along the Afghan security forces and will use all their force to fight against the crimes of the terrorist groups.

He said the terror groups are being wiped out from the communities and are currently having no other option other than surrendering or being eliminated.

According to President Ghani, for this reason, the terrorist groups have once again opted not to refrain from any act of savagery.

He said the Afghan security forces continue to defend from the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country with their blood and their bravery will be written in golden scripts in the history of the country.

Full report at:





For Austria’s Muslims, country’s hard-right turn signals an ominous direction

By Griff Witte and Luisa Beck

October 20, 2017

BERLIN —  A little over a century ago, the ancestors of modern Austrians were at the vanguard of religious liberty in Europe, giving their small Muslim community the same rights as Christians or Jews.

Today, the much larger and rapidly growing Muslim population of Austria sees their country again setting the tone in Europe — but this time in a far more ominous direction.

In Sunday’s election, well over half the country’s voters chose parties that defined themselves by their hard-line stances on immigration, integration and multiculturalism.

The third-place finisher, the Freedom Party, campaigned on the proposition that Islam is incompatible with Austrian values and an existential threat to Europe.

The leader of the vote-topping People’s Party and Austria’s likely next chancellor, 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz, doesn’t go that far. But he’s mimicked much of the Freedom Party’s rhetoric, lashing out at Muslim kindergartens, calling for rescued migrants to be sent back to Africa and promising sharply reduced benefits for newcomers.

Early exit polls of Austria's Oct. 15 election, suggest Sebastian Kurz, will take his party into a very narrow majority — positioning himself as the next chancellor. The 31-year old conservative is known for his pledge to take the country into a more hard line stance against the influx of refugees and migrants. (Reuters)

Together, the two parties are expected to form a coalition government that leaders of the Austrian Muslim community see as a nightmare come true.

“This election result is something we feared,” said Ramazan Demir, a Vienna-based imam and a leader of the Islamic Religious Community in Austria, an umbrella group. “During the campaign we saw how populists created panic. Austrians voted for them for that reason.”

The Austrian results reflected anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment that has been rising across Europe in recent years. But it has been especially pronounced in Austria, a country that hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers transited at the height of the European refugee crisis. Tens of thousands — many of them Muslims fleeing war in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan — settled in the central European nation.

The newcomers added to a fast-growing Muslim community that represented just 4 percent of Austria’s population as of 2001, but has now expanded to 8 percent — or 700,000 people.

Austria was long known for its relative openness to Muslims — an outgrowth, analysts say, of a 1912 law that gave Islam official status in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and that remains on the books today, long after the empire’s collapse.

In the 1960s and 1970s, guest workers were recruited to Austria from Turkey and the Balkans. The country also welcomed significant numbers of Balkan refugees in the 1990s.

But attitudes have hardened in recent years, with widespread perceptions that newcomers haven’t adequately integrated. Terrorist attacks in Europe — and the departure of some 300 Austrian Muslims to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State — have heightened concerns. Politicians have picked up on the fears, and exacerbated them.

“They did their politics on the backs of Muslims,” said Demir, who is Turkish-born. “There’s never been this much Islamophobia in Austria.”

Peter Hajek, an expert on Austrian public opinion, said that after initially welcoming refugees in 2015, voters grew jaded and came to see the newcomers less as legitimate asylum seekers than as economic migrants. They also began to regard Muslims in general as suspect.

“They do not really differentiate between Muslims and Islamic extremists,” he said. “Nearly every Muslim seems to be dangerous.”

Kurz, more than any other mainstream politician, managed to capitalize on those sentiments.

On the campaign trail, he boasted that as foreign minister he had stopped the flow of asylum seekers along the Balkans route by closing Austrian borders. He has promised to force Europe to do the same with the central Mediterranean route, the main path by which migrants reach the continent today.

Domestically, Kurz has championed changes to the country’s laws for Muslims, including a prohibition on foreign donations for Islamic institutions and a ban on women wearing full-face veils.

He also caused a storm of controversy by commissioning a study on Islamic kindergartens, which have equal weight under Austrian law with other religious-based schools. The study found that the schools contribute to “a parallel society,” and Kurz frequently cited the findings on the campaign trail.

But the study’s methodology was widely questioned by academics, and Austrian media reported that Kurz’s ministry had changed the findings to make them more politically advantageous.

Kurz has consistently denied that charge, and his aides bristle at the notion that he’s simply copied the language and policies of the far-right. But they don’t deny that he’s responding to a genuine discomfort in Austrian society with multiculturalism.

“Most European populations don’t want to become half-Afghan or half-Syrian or half-African,” said a Kurz adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for the record. “And you have to accept it. If you don’t, we’ll go to the extreme far right.”

But that’s where some fear the country may be headed — and the fears are hardly limited to Muslims. After the vote, the European Jewish Congress called on Kurz not to pick the Freedom Party, which was founded by a former SS officer, as his coalition partner.

“Europe in general and Austria in particular should know all too well where acceptance of populist and pernicious ideologies leads,” the group said.

But the overall reaction from European leaders was muted — a stark contrast to 2000, when inclusion of the Freedom Party in an Austrian government triggered sanctions from fellow E.U. members.

Muslim leaders in Austria, too, have been restrained in their public responses. There have been no major protests, and few sustained appeals for Kurz to choose a more centrist governing partner than the Freedom Party, which is led by Heinz-Christian Strache, a onetime neo-Nazi youth activist.

“For us, appealing to Kurz not to form a coalition with Strache doesn’t even make sense because they’re the same,” Demir said.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t profound concerns.

Omar al-Rawi, a Vienna city council member and one of the country’s most prominent Muslim politicians, said his chief worry is that Austria is looking more like its former partner in empire, Hungary. There, prime minister Viktor Orban has made xenophobia and E.U.-bashing central to his agenda.

“We don’t want an Orbanization” of Austria,” said al-Rawi, who was born in Baghdad and has lived in Austria for nearly four decades. “Our city, our nation in general, it’s a beautiful place to live. Unfortunately, the climate is becoming rougher.”



French defense minister: Iran engaged in destabilizing ballistic and regional activities

20 October 2017

France wants to take action to tackle Iran’s missile program and “destabilizing” behavior, but believes scrapping the 2015 nuclear deal would help hardliners and be a step towards future war, France's defense minister said on Friday.

“We need the JCPOA. Scrapping it would be a gift to Iran’s hardiners, and a first step towards future wars,” Florence Parly said in a speech at a Washington think tank, referring to the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“But we should also be very serious about the destabilizing ballistic and regional activities. We are working on it.”



Iran nuclear deal vital for strategic stability: Russia

Oct 21, 2017

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned against breaking up the Iran nuclear agreement with world powers, saying it is "vital for strategic stability."

Speaking at an international non-proliferation conference in Moscow on Friday, Lavrov said any unilateral changes to the 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), "could bury this agreement, which is vital for strategic stability and nuclear non-proliferation."

Lavrov described any prospect of returning to the pre-JCPOA situation as “impossible,” saying, “Restoring the UN Security Council sanctions [on Iran] is out of the question.”

The Russian foreign minister rejected the need for further inspection of Iran’s nuclear sites beyond the JCPOA requirements, noting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “performs regular checks and confirms their [Iran’s] strict fulfillment of obligations.”

Touching on US demands for renegotiating the JCPOA, Lavrov stated that any changes to the deal would require the approval of all the parties to the accord, including Iran.

The comments came a week after US President Donald Trump refused to formally certify that Iran is complying with the deal, and warned that he might ultimately terminate the agreement.

While Trump did not pull Washington out of the nuclear deal, he gave the US Congress 60 days to decide whether to reimpose economic sanctions against Tehran that were lifted under the pact. Reimposing sanctions would put the US at odds with other signatories to the accord, including the European Union, which has sharply criticized Washington's decision about the deal.

This is while all other signatories -- Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China -- have stressed their full commitment to the JCPOA.

Iran has vehemently rejected the possibility of renegotiation, warning that any hostile action against the accord will jeopardize regional and global peace and security.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi (pictured below), who is visiting Moscow on top of a diplomatic delegation to discuss the implementation of the JCPOA, told journalists on Friday that Tehran would not abandon the nuclear deal before any other party.

Araqchi also rejected any need to increase the level of inspections of the Iranian nuclear sites, adding, “The deal, as well as its protocols, was clear in terms of checks and monitoring [of Iran’s nuclear sites], all measures were agreed upon.”

France calls for 'united voice' on Iran deal

Full report at:

During the meeting, the EU leaders reaffirmed the bloc’s support for the JCPOA.



Arab World


Gov't Forces Discover Israeli Arms at ISIL Positions in Eastern Syria

Oct 20, 2017

The Arabic-language Elam al-Harbi quoted a commander of the army as saying that the Syrian army soldiers discovered a large volume of heavy and semi-heavy arms and ammunition, a part of them made in Israel, while carrying out mop-up operation in regions that were under terrorists' occupation in the newly-freed town of al-Mayadeen.

"The army had also previously found Israeli weapons at captured ISIL positions several time," the sources said, adding that the last case was a couple of days ago when the army men discovered different weapons, including Israeli cannons, a large number of bullets and telecommunication systems in Jubb al-Jarah region in Eastern Homs. 

Field sources said on Monday that a large volume of arms and munitions was seized by the army men while carrying out mop-up operation across regions that were previously under terrorists' occupation in the provinces of Hama and Homs.

The sources said that the seized arms and ammunitions were mainly made in Israel.

The Syrian state news agency reported in May that the army's engineering units found a large number of B10, US-made (light anti-tank weapon) LAW, Cobra, Katyusha and RPG missiles and rockets in their cleansing operation in one of the positons of the terrorists in al-Wa'er district North-West of Homs city.

In the meantime, the army men discovered a large volume of Israeli bombs, mortars, missile launchers, protection masks, sniper rifles, binoculars and other munitions in the terrorists' position in al-Wa'er.



Iraqi forces complete takeover of Kirkuk province after clashing with Kurds

20 October 2017

Iraqi forces took control on Friday of the last district in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk still in the hands of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters following a three-hour battle, security sources said.

The district of Altun Kupri, or Perde in Kurdish, lies on the road between the city of Kirkuk - which fell to Iraqi forces on Monday - and Erbil, capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq that voted in a referendum last month to secede from Iraq against Baghdad’s wishes.

A force made up of US-trained Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service units, Iranian-backed Popular Mobilisation and Federal Police began their advance on Altun Kupri at 7:30 am, said an Iraqi military spokesman.

“Details will be communicated later,” the spokesman said in a short posting on social media.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew from the town of Altun Kupri, located on the Zab river, after battling the advancing Iraqi troops with machine guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades, security sources said.

It was not immediately clear whether there had been any casualties in the fighting.

The Iraqi forces have advanced into Kirkuk province largely unopposed as most Peshmerga forces withdrew without a fight.

The fighting at Altun Kupri marked only the second instance of significant violent resistance by the Kurds in Kirkuk province since Monday.

Altun Kopri marks the admnistrative limit between Kirkuk and Erbil. It belongs administratively to the Kirkuk province.

Iraqi forces are seeking to reestablish Baghdad’s authority over territory captured by the Kurdish Peshmerga outside the official boundaries of the Kurdistan region in the course of the war on Islamic State militants.

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia hopes for eradication of terrorism in region after Raqqa victory

21 October 2017

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expressed its happiness and pleasure after the liberation of the Syrian city of Raqqa from the grip of ISIS terrorists.

In a statement on Saturday, a Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official considered the purification of Raqqa from ISIS as an important step in the fight against terrorism.

The official expressed the Kingdom's hope that this step will entail the eradication of terrorism and extremism in Syria, Iraq and the region as a whole.



Ayatollah Sistani urges Iraq to protect Kurds amid tensions

Oct 20, 2017

Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has called on the government to protect the Kurdish population in the north amid rising tensions between Baghdad and Iraq’s secessionist Kurds.

Sistani’s call was issued at the Friday prayer in the holy city of Karbala by one of his representatives, Reuters reported.

According to Iraq’s Alforat News Agency, Sistani called the presence of the Iraqi forces in Kirkuk a victory for all Iraqis.

He also warned against any retaliatory moves, and urged Kurdish leaders to cooperate with the federal government on the basis of Iraqi law.

The cleric stated that the country’s Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens had to move shoulder to shoulder towards resolving standing problems.

Earlier in the day, security said Iraqi forces took control of the last district in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, which was still in the hands of Kurdish Peshmerga militants following a three-hour battle.

Forces partaking in the operation to recapture Altun Kupri comprised Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service units, Shia-dominated Popular Mobilization Unites and the Federal Police.

The Peshmergas withdrew from the district after battling the advancing Iraqi troops with machineguns, mortars, and rocket propelled grenades, security sources said, according to the agency.

The district, known as Perde in Kurdish, lies on the road between the city of Kirkuk, the province’s capital, which had been returned to government control on Monday, and Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in the country’s north.

Kurdish forces had been holding parts of Iraqi territory since 2014, when the Takfiri terror group of Daesh began an offensive across Iraq. The Kurds joined the fight and began overrunning territory in the process.

The Baghdad government had long insisted that the Kurds pull out of the territories they had overrun. But the Kurdish militants had refused.

The oil-rich Kirkuk Province, which lies only partly within Kurdistan’s borders, voted in a September 25 referendum on Kurdistan’s separation from Iraq.

The referendum was held despite strong opposition from the central government in Baghdad, the international community, and Iraq’s neighboring countries, especially Turkey and Iran.

Ayatollah Sistani had also voiced opposition to the referendum. He had warned against the unfavorable repercussions of separation and division in the Iraqi nation, stressing that this would pave the way for foreign interference in the affairs of the country.

Full report at:



Scores of ISIL Commanders Escape from Syria to Turkey

Oct 20, 2017

"According to documents and proofs, a number of Syrian and non-Syrian ISIL commanders have escaped to Turkey in recent days and weeks," the SOHR wrote on its website.

SOHR further added that ISIL commanders have been evacuated from battlefields in Raqqa and Deir Ezzur provinces to the regions that are under the control of the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northern and Northeastern Aleppo that border Turkey.

"ISIL commanders have paid $20,000 up to 30,000 dollars each to leave the provinces of Homs, Deir Ezzur and Raqqa for Turkey via the regions that are under the control of Ankara-backed militants," the SOHR said, adding that the human traffickers have moved the ISIL commanders to the borders with Turkey via checkpoints in Northeastern Aleppo, handing them over to Turkish traffickers.

Hundreds of ISIL members, including the local commanders of the group, have escaped to Hasaka province, SOHR said, adding that some of these commanders have been hidden in Hasaka and some of them have moved to Turkey.

The SOHR said that according to documents, ISIL's members and commanders that left Eastern Homs to the regions that are under the control of the Euphrates Shield Operation in Northeastern Aleppo have been taken to Turkey by human traffickers.

Full report at:



Syria Army Utilizing Cutting-Edge Armoured Vehicles in War on Terrorists

Oct 20, 2017

The Russian-language state-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily reported that the T-72A tanks equipped with the unique TZM-T munition resupply vehicles, are capable of resupplying TOS-1A launchers, known as Solntsepyok or Heavy Flame, with missiles.

The TZM-T is also capable of carrying 24 unguided missiles that can be fired by TOS-1A launchers.

The paper said that the missiles are delivered by strong arm of the TZM-1 to be mounded on the TOS-1A launchers.

TZM-T can also carry 5.45 mm caliber machineguns with three crews equipped with Kalashnikov machineguns and anti-tank grenades. 

The Arabic-language website of Russia's state news agency, Sputnik, reported on Friday that the army was using the Russia-manufactured BRM-1 K in war on ISIL terrorists in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur.

Sputnik added that the BRM-1 K vehicle was a modern model of BMP-1.

The BRM-1 K has a turret equipped with recognizing instruments with two seats, the news agency said, adding, the vehicle can recognize ground objects.

Full report at:



Saudi minister says terror groups will be eliminated just like ISIS

20 October 2017

Saudi Minister of State for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan said on Thursday that just like ISIS was defeated, other terrorist organizations and parties will be eliminated as well.

“Just like ISIS was eliminated, its brothers will be eliminated too, God willing,” he wrote on Twitter.

He also slammed parties with evil schemes and wrote: “Speak with all your energy and mobilize all your plans, silence will fall soon and terrorism and (those behind it) will meet their inevitable fate.”



ANALYSIS: Is Egypt’s religious tourism industry ready for Christian pilgrimages?

21 October 2017

Tourism in Egypt has been hit by successive blows that have driven several countries to warn their citizens of traveling there and have even led some, including Russia, to take strict measures towards the implementation of such warnings.

Pope Francis’s visit to Cairo in April, which went without incident, unlike many anticipated, inspired a new way out of the impasse.

Aside from beaches and historic landmarks, religious tourism would attract a different crowd and that was how the revival plan started to take shape.

The most significant step taken towards making this plan materialize was the flying of the Egyptian minister of tourism to Rome where he got the pope’s official blessing for the Holy Family’s trip to Egypt, thus putting the 25 sites by the which the family—Jesus Christ, Virgin Mary, and Joseph—passed on the global Christian pilgrimage map.

While this development seems to herald a new era in Egyptian tourism, it still brings back the same old concerns about general safety together with new ones about receiving large numbers of Christians in a country that is not exactly devoid of sectarian tension.

Ishak Ibrahim, head of the Religious Freedom Unit at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, argued that it is not possible to promote Christian pilgrimage in a country where Christians are marginalized. “We can’t be that detached from reality and that is why promoting Christian pilgrimage has to be accompanied by serious steps towards acknowledging Christian presence,” he said.

Ibrahim cited the example of text books that do not focus at all on Coptic history or the role of Copts in Egyptian civilization which, in turn, does not promote cultural diversity. “Pilgrims are not going to visit sites in a country whose citizens have no respect for their religion,” he added. Former deacon at the Coptic Orthodox Church Beshoy Sami agreed with Ibrahim and said that dealing with sectarian sentiments among Egyptians is the only ways Christian pilgrimage can succeed in Egypt. “The state has to stop solving Muslim-Christian clashes customary reconciliation sessions rather than the law and the people need to stop viewing Christians as inferior,” he said. “Some countries are not even aware that there are Christians in Egypt.”

Priest murder

Melbourne-based Coptic journalist Ashraf Helmi expected the recent murder in Cairo of Egyptian priest Samaan Shehata to have a negative impact on Christian pilgrimage trips, especially that the state did not handle the situation in the right way and only referred to the murderer as mentally ill. “Added to this is the number of religious edicts from extremist preachers who incite people against Christians and teach them intolerance,” he said in a statement. Helmi warned that Shehata’s murder might, in fact, lead many European countries to ask their citizens not to go to Egypt in general and for religious trips in particular.

In fact, journalist Mayada Seif sees the attack on Shehata as a reaction to announcement of starting Christian pilgrimage to Egypt. “It is like a message to the world that Christians who come to Egypt will be killed because Egypt is only for Muslims,” she wrote.

Journalist Osama Salama notes that the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism expects to receive two to three million Christian pilgrims annually and wonders how prepared the state is for such numbers. “The minister of tourism said a film will be made about the holy sites in Egypt to be marketed across the world and pamphlets in many languages are to be printed about those sites. But then what? Is this enough?” he wrote. Salama listed a number of problems that might make pilgrimage trips a failure. “Most of the sites in the journey of the Holy Family are in a deplorable state and need a lot of maintenance.

Time for change

The tree in whose shadow Virgin Mary sat in Cairo, for example, is totally neglected and the area surrounding it is filthy.” Salama cited other issues such as lack of good accommodation in most of the governorates where the sites are located as well the unpaved roads leading to them, which leads to a lot of accidents. “As for trains going to these areas, they are notorious for never leaving or arriving on time in addition to occasional breakdowns and accidents.”

For Salama, it is also not wise to start receiving pilgrims without training a team of tour guides that can accompany them and who should be knowledgeable about this historical era. “Most guides we have are trained in ancient Egyptian history and those won’t be fit for such a job.”

Economic expert Medhat Nafea is more optimistic for he does not believe that lack of hotels is an obstacle since it is a different type of tourism. “The spiritual nature of pilgrimages allows for a simple and rather primitive atmosphere where luxury accommodation is not needed,” he wrote.

While admitting that turmoil in North Sinai can be a problem, Nafea argues that this is bound to change soon. “With the Palestinian reconciliation and the rapprochement with Hamas, normalcy is expected to be gradually restored to Sinai, which makes it safe for pilgrims to visit sits of the Holy Family journey there.”

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Why conservative Islam will continue to rise in Malaysia, Asean

October 20, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: First there was the United States; then came China. Now, Saudi Arabia is trying to peddle its influence in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

The entry of Saudi Arabia, especially the pushing of its Islamic agenda, is likely to affect Asean and the relationships within the grouping, according to an analysis in The Diplomat.

Written by Naishad Kai-ren, the article says Saudi Arabia’s influence peddling will deepen the cultural divide and raise difficult questions about Asean unity and security.

It says while Saudi funds will be good for the economies of Malaysia and Indonesia, it will also provide the energy for the growing Islamic conservatism in the region to continue.

When King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia embarked on a month-long trip to Asia in February this year, he visited China, Japan, and three Muslim-majority countries in Southeast Asia – Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

“It might have been easier to corral investments from other Southeast Asian markets like Thailand or Singapore; that the King chose to skip those destinations illuminates the fact that this trip was organised with more than just economic motivations in mind.”

Saudi Arabia has long seen itself as the leader of the Islamic world, but since the ascendance of a theocratic Iranian government in 1979, that position has consistently been challenged.

With the Obama administration’s conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran and the P5+1 countries (the UN Security Council’s five permanent members – China, France,Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus Germany), the threat of a resurgent Iran has been looming large in the Saudi psyche, the article says.

“The King’s February trip was undoubtedly a means of cementing the desert kingdom’s leadership status before Iran is fully reintegrated into the world order. While Southeast Asian Muslims are predominantly Sunni and thus unlikely to come under Iranian influence, making a big show of its leadership and influence across the world will go some way in securing Saudi Arabia’s stature.

“And what better way of cementing one’s leadership of the Islamic world than by backing leaders who have made a concerted effort to court Muslim voters and further Islam as a way of life in their countries?”

The article notes that while Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah introduced shariah law in Brunei in 2014, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak has been “aggressively courting the Islamic vote since the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) corruption scandal broke”.

When the bill to enhance the punishments under shariah law in Kelantan was introduced, Najib supported it “in a clear attempt to woo hardline Muslim voters”.

In December 2016, Najib led a boisterous rally in Kuala Lumpur, expressing solidarity with the persecuted Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar.

The article says Saudi money offers Malaysia and Indonesia another alternative to dependency on China for investment and funding.

“In the midst of the 1MDB scandal, Malaysia received a generous injection of Saudi money during the King’s visit, with seven memoranda of understanding worth more than US$2 billion concluded in a range of sectors.”

This may open the floodgates of investment from other Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East.

“In engaging with Southeast Asia, Saudi Arabia is primarily acting in its own self-interest, to preserve its leadership of the Islamic world and grow trade ties. However, this commitment has plenty of ramifications for the region. For Indonesia and Malaysia, it offers them the ability to regain some autonomy in their security and geopolitical decisions.”

Saying both countries have been quiet on the South China Sea conflict, the article in The Diplomat suggests this is partly because of their lopsided economic dependence on China.

In Malaysia’ case, it says, China has become its top trading partner and source of foreign direct investment.

“Furthermore, China has demonstrated extreme generosity in helping to bail out the heavily-in-debt 1MDB, spending over US$4 billion to acquire an energy company and property project in 1MDB’s portfolio. In the absence of other willing financiers, Najib seems to have decided that silence on territorial issues is a small price to pay for political survival.”

The article predicts that, in the long run, if a deeper shared sense of Islamic identity is cultivated by Malaysia and Indonesia, and if they are able to transcend historical grievances, the relationship between the two nations could fundamentally change to one grounded in religion, offering fraternity and support in regional forums and the international arena.

“What this augurs for Asean, however, is quite a different question. While it may give Asean a realistic opportunity to address difficult issues like the South China Sea as a bloc, it also seems to signal the entrance of yet another power broker in the region.

“Saudi Arabia’s cultural and religious influence will continue to shape the trajectories of Southeast Asian nations, both those with Muslim majorities and otherwise.”

Saying the reach of existing Saudi cultural influence in both countries should not be underestimated, the article notes that a 2016 New York Times report concluded that Saudi teachings have “shifted the religious culture in a markedly conservative direction” in Southeast Asia.

The article cites the recent case of a launderette in Johor, Malaysia, declaring that it would only serve Muslim customers, as proof of the increasing conservative Islamisation.

It says Najib’s diatribe against Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi was one window into how Asean leaders have had to respond to this cultural development.

“If religiously-driven voters are to serve as a key part of Najib’s base, he will likely continue to position himself as a defender of Muslims across the region, awakening a heretofore dormant force in Southeast Asian relations that will outlive his tenure.

“This will probably cause significant tensions with countries where sizable Muslim minorities are present, including Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. These countries are already on edge after a spate of recent attacks and foiled terrorist plans, and they will certainly advocate for the Muslim-majority countries to embrace a more moderate brand of Islam.”

The article says Najib’s diatribe was bizarre given Asean’s steadfast adherence to the principle of non-interference in other member states’ affairs. Asean’s founders, it notes, were explicit in their insistence that each state should be given the latitude to govern as they saw fit, stemming from a desire to send a message to the then-superpowers, the Soviet Union and the US, that sovereignty was sacrosanct.

Najib’s action, the article in The Diplomat says, sets a dangerous precedent.



'Money, frustration, ideology attracting youth to violent extremism in PH'

Oct 20 2017

MANILA - Philippine officials are looking at protecting the youth, seen as easy converts via indoctrination, and are vulnerable to the lure of quick money, from violent extremism where episodes such as the Marawi City siege draw inspiration from.

"Of course, we are worried about that. We noticed this. The regional government has noticed this. It is creeping, it wasn't sudden. Some of the elements of violent extremism and terrorism have been present already before in ARMM [Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao] and in some surrounding areas," said Atty Laisa Alamia, ARMM regional governor executive secretary, in a conversation with international journalists on September 22 in the ARMM office in Cotabato City.

At the time, the Marawi battles were still raging. Alamia was asked about what possibly fuels the recruitment of young people into violent extremism.

"All of the elements and the poverty level... although it has been decreasing in the past years, but still it is high. All of these ingredients are present and ripe for a terrorist organization like the ones who are in Syria to actually come in and take advantage of the situation. All they have to do is bring money. It is not purely ideological," Alamia said.

Alamia was referring to ties reported between extremist elements in the southern Philippines, and in southeast Asia, who have allegedly been inspired by or were responding to calls from the Islamic State or ISIS.

Violent extremism recruitment in the southern Philippines has seen southeast Asian fighters traveling there. These fighters have also traveled to southern Thailand, and to Rakhine in Myanmar. This has been worrying Malaysia and Indonesia, an academic said last month, echoing US officials' information that ISIS recruitment for fighters in the Philippines continues.

Indonesian and Malaysian fighters were in Marawi, local security officials have been saying. After the fall of Marawi siege masterminds, the military said they chased a Malaysian terrorist, Mahmud bin Ahmad, who possibly funded the siege of the city.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said Ahmad was killed.


Radicalization used to be a matter of livelihood for the young recruits of violent extremism, Alamia said, as they "get a lot of money" by joining.

"Some of those who were arrested from other areas in the ARMM, like in Maguindanao, in Zamboanga City, in Zamboanga del Sur, the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police were able to arrest some young men who were going to, who were headed to Marawi. They said they were paid this amount, and they were promised this particular amount, it's huge, and that they will be trained in Lanao del Sur to fight the ISIS," she said.

The recruits did not know that they would be brought to Marawi to be with the ISIS-inspired groups and were fooled into believing that they would be earning much.

"Most of them, and sadly it's [joining extremists] because of lack of opportunities, lack of education also. Because they are poor, because their level of understanding and education is very low, so they are easily fooled by these groups who are in it for the money," Alamia said.

ARMM is home to about 3.8 million Filipinos (2015 census), more than half of whom are poor. Those with basic reading and writing skills constituted 86.1 percent of the population, lower than the national average of 96.5 percent. There were 86 government doctors, or one doctor for every 40,867 individuals, double the ideal doctor-to-20,000-individual-ratio.

But it is not just poverty driving people to extremism. Some get recruited out of frustration. Alamia cited the case of the Maute clan members harboring grievances, then recruiting.

The Maute brothers Omar and Abdullah, along with the Abu Sayyaf’s Isnilon Hapilon, were believed to have hatched the Marawi City siege. They were killed in the Philippine forces’ five-month campaign to regain control of the city.

"The ones that they (Mautes) have recruited, we have information that some of them were children of former MILF [Moro Islamic Liberation Front] members, combatants or commanders. And they used money. I think that's a primary force that attracts them. It’s the money."

That orphaned families of former fighters would pick up the cause as revenge resurfaced recently with the deaths of Maute and Hapilon. Experts warned about retaliation, especially from their kin.

The battle for the youth's attention has been a contest on narratives, too.

Amir Mawallil, director of the Office on Bangsamoro Youth Affairs in ARMM, said his office has been trying to provide counter-narratives.

"We try to convince more young people to go back to the discussion on the peace process because one of the reasons we feel is there are frustrations on the part of these young people on how the government approaches the peace process. What we try to make them realize is to tell them that this is the legitimate struggle that we should be pursuing and not the radical one," Mawallil said, in reference to the national peace effort.

Pending in Congress is a proposed law creating a new autonomous Bangsamoro region in the southern Philippines. The new region is among the structural cures eyed by government and former Moro separatists to ensure delivery of basic social service to areas that will constitute the new homeland.

The Defense department and the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process both recognize the need to curtail avenues for violent extremism recruitment among the youth.

''It's not about the physical reconstruction of Marawi but it's on the psycho-social effect on the people of Marawi; how these people will accept what happened to them, what's happening to them now, and what will happen in the future. So our focus now is on preventing, especially the youth, in trying to understand what's the real reason why they are suffering these days,'' said Undersecretary for Defense Operations Cesar Yano, who is concurrently executive director of the Task Force Bangon Marawi. He made this statement to foreign journalists September 18, a full month before President Duterte's declaration of Marawi's liberation.

Yano said the government is counting on Muslim religious leaders in enlightening their flock about what happened in Marawi.

''That is highly considered by the Philippine government, engaging their religious leaders as well as their traditional leaders... They resolve problems among themselves through their traditional leaders. But we also have the local government leaders who are elected by the people," Yano said.

On the part of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, Undersecretary Diosita Andot said they been reaching out to Bangsamoro youth so that they can "influence their counterparts from other parts of the area" and convince them against involvement with radical or extremist ideologies.

"For instance, we have the youth organizing themselves to put up a small economic project in their communities to generate livelihood and employment because we see that one of the reasons why the youth are attracted as well to this new ideology is because they don't have anything else to do in communities that are really isolated and where government services are hard to reach," Andot said.

As in the case of the ARMM, the OPAPP has gotten wind of local terrorist groups paying young recruits salaries.

"They are also given support for their families. For a poor family, for a young man or woman who do not have job or have not been educated, this is a very attractive option for them," Andot said.

Full report at:



MCA minister: Putrajaya won’t let racial extremism infiltrate national policies

October 21, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 — The Barisan Nasional government will not allow racial extremism become part of its policies, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.

Liow, who is also MCA president, said the consensus by the BN government was to bar racial extremism from being introduced into the Cabinet and its policies, and to prohibit any extremist leader from speaking on behalf of the government.

“This country cannot be divided into two, this country can’t be separated to Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera, just like the issue of the Muslim laundrette, this has already become a racial segregation policy. This point, we have already gone all-out to censure it,” he was quoted saying by local daily Sin Chew Daily, stressing the importance of having leaders from the ethnic Chinese community such as MCA’s Datuk Chong Sin Woon working in the federal administration.

A Muslim-only laundrette in Johor recently apologised and changed its policy that was deemed discriminatory, while another laundrette in Perlis said it had not intended to be discriminatory and subsequently decided to change its marketing strategy by covering up its Muslim-only sign.

Liow was speaking at the Malaysia Chinese Youth Summit 2017, where he reportedly gave his assurance as MCA president that the political party would not compromise if BN were to push Malaysia towards Islamic theocracy.

When asked regarding Umno and PAS’s possible partnership for the 14th general election, Liow reportedly said his political party could stop the country from becoming a theocratic state if it had the local ethnic Chinese community’s backing.

Full report at:



Leaders’ political will against extremism under scrutiny

October 21, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s hard-earned racial harmony and diversity could be compromised if its leaders continue to keep mum over acts of religious extremism or if ill-intentioned politicians continue sowing discord among the people, a political commentator warned in Sin Chew Daily today.

Chong Lip Teck, who writes for the Chinese daily, said the real issue behind the recent spate of extremist incidents was whether the country’s leaders have the political will and power of execution to deal with such cases.

He said the people will use it as a yardstick to gauge the competency of the relevant authorities.

He said the home ministry, police and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) took action on preacher Zamihan Mat Zin, who had allegedly insulted non-Muslims for lacking hygiene in defending a laundrette’s Muslim-only customer policy, only after the Conference of Rulers issued a statement expressing concern over the situation.

“Even though the government has repeatedly emphasised moderation, whenever a controversial racial or religious issue pops up, these people are slow in defending the cause of moderation as well as the country’s diversity,” he said.

“The issues of the beer festival and the Muslim-only launderette have sadly reflected the submission to conservatism by the authorities, be it the Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan governments.

“This was particularly visible in the Muslim-only launderette issue, where the authorities came out with a remarkably toned-down response only after the Johor Sultan had spoken up,” he said in a commentary republished by The Straits Times.

Chong said moderation, tolerance and accommodation had been an integral part of the Malaysian people’s day-to-day interactions.

Irrespective of race and religion, they had been respecting and accepting one another while politicians and the “little Napoleons” in government departments kept sowing discord.

“In any democratic country, an ineffective government machinery does not augur well for the continued progress of society.

Last month, the Better Beer Festival scheduled on Oct 6 and 7 was disallowed by the authorities following opposition by PAS and Muslim hardliners. Subsequently, the Klang Municipal Council permitted the organisers of the Centro German F&B Party to hold their event on Oct 12 and 13, but disallowed them from using the word “Oktoberfest”.

Also, late last month, two laundrette operators, in Muar and Kangar, were criticised by various quarters after they were reported to have enforced the Muslim-only policy.

On Sept 27, the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, reprimanded the owner of the Muar laundrette, telling him to operate his business in Afghanistan if he wanted to continue with such a policy.

On Oct 10, the Conference of Rulers condemned the controversies including that of the Muslims-only laundrettes, saying such acts went “beyond all acceptable standards of decency”.

They said these actions risked the harmony within Malaysia’s multi-religious and multiracial society, and that the damaging implications of such acts became more severe when they were erroneously associated with or committed in the name of Islam.

On Oct 11, Zamihan, who is Persatuan Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah (Aswaja) president, was arrested and remanded for two days for investigations into a talk he gave at a mosque in Shah Alam on Oct 8 in which he apparently supported the laundrette operators.

Full report at:



India to seek Zakir Naik’s extradition from Malaysia, says report

October 21, 2017

PETALING JAYA: India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has submitted a detailed investigation report on the alleged terror activities of fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in New Delhi.

The Times of India (TOI) reported today that the agency has sought prosecution sanction from the ministry against Naik, who fled India and who has been given permanent resident status by Malaysia.

It said this was a step towards seeking his extradition from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia where he has been known to be residing.

Naik was last seen on Sept 29 participating in Friday prayers at the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque in Putrajaya. Photographs of him among the congregation were uploaded on Facebook and spread via social media

Citing sources, the news daily said the ministry was informed that the investigation against Naik was complete and his role in radicalising Indian Muslim youth to join “jihad” (religious battle) had been backed by strong evidence.

It said there was also proof gathered on his alleged spreading of enmity between religious groups, disturbing communal harmony and attempting forced conversions through his NGO called the Islamic Research Foundation (IRF).

The sources said the prosecution sanction had been sought under Section 18 of India’s Unlawful Activities Prevention Act which relates to terror conspiracy, Sections 10 and 13 of the same act which deal with being a member of an unlawful outfit, and Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code which deals with inciting communal hatred.

TOI reported that NIA will file its charge-sheet against Naik, his associates and IRF, as soon as MHA gives prosecution sanction.

“This would then be used to send a formal extradition request to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, where he is said to be living and travelling frequently,” it said.

It said the NIA’s investigations revealed he had radicalised and influenced several Muslim youngsters towards jihadi activities through his speeches.

The youngsters had then joined violent extremist organisations and planned terror attacks in India, it added.

Full report at:



North America


US academic urges Gulen’s extradition to Turkey

20 October 2017

U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, who leads the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) -- the group behind last year’s defeated coup attempt -- should be extradited to Turkey, a U.S. academic said Wednesday.

Abraham R. Wagner, wrote in an opinion piece for daily Washington Times: “It is time for Fethullah Gulen to go home to face the music and the justice he so richly deserves.”

The senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism at Columbia Law School, Columbia University added that the media had failed to highlight the FETO leader’s “history of corruption and radicalism”.

 “Gulen’s actual record deserves the utmost scrutiny, and should not be overshadowed by the unfolding diplomatic intrigue,” he said.

“In the United States, Gulen has received hundreds of millions in American taxpayer dollars to fund his vast network of charter schools, which have been under state-level and federal investigations for alleged, yet dire financial malfeasance in Texas, Louisiana, Illinois, Ohio and elsewhere,” Wagner added.

“The curriculum and administration of Gulen schools are also suspect, with former teachers attesting to being fired and immediately replaced by new arrivals from Turkey -- predominantly young men, with no English or teaching skills. ”

Wagner also touched upon the July 15 defeated coup attempt in Turkey last year that martyred 250 people and left over 2,200 others injured.

According to Turkey, the defeated coup attempt was masterminded by Gulen and staged by his FETO network, which has infiltrated almost all government institutions including police, judiciary and the military.

“Mounting evidence seems to substantiate this and, at least, warrant Mr. Gulen’s extradition for trial in Turkey,” Wagner added.

He also cited a previous statement from the former National Security Adviser and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn who had said: "From Turkey’s point of view Washington is harboring Turkey's Osama bin Laden.”

Wagner said that despite all of the allegations and evidence against him, Gulen was “still free to do as he will[s] and has yet to be extradited despite Turkey’s continued requests”.

He urged U.S. administration to consider the wealth of evidence collected by the FBI, state law enforcement agencies and Turkish authorities “against this treacherous man” and to consider his extradition to Turkey.

“The calculus of whether to extradite Mr. Gulen to Turkey should also consider that Turkey is an indispensable friend and ally of the United States and a fellow NATO member in a very volatile part of the world,” Wagner said.



Quotes Give Incorrect View of Islam, Muslims

Oct 21, 2017

We write this to take exception to the letter published Oct. 4 in the New Castle News, titled “America not the place for Muslims.”

The writer obviously considered himself an expert on the text of Islam’s Holy Book, the Koran (sic). He quotes verses from Al-Qu’ran without any historical or contextual knowledge, and concludes that Muslims do not belong in America.

The Bible contains many verses of extreme violence, but does this disparage the whole of Christianity? Of course not. The writer can neither translate nor explain properly the verses he quoted. These verses were allowances from God for the early Muslims to defend themselves against the relentless onslaught of horrors served upon them by their enemies and idol worshippers. Without those allowances, Muslims would have perished.

The writer fails to mention any of the 156 verses of mercy in the Qu’ran (2:182, 7:51, 12:92, 23:118) or the 65 verses of peace (2:182, 4:90, 6:127, 8:61, 49:9) or the 93 verses of love (2:195, 3:31, 4:36, 19:96).

Briefly, Islam teaches the worship of One God and it accepts the prophecies of Moses and Jesus and others mentioned in the scriptures. There are 7 million American Muslims, half of whom are U.S.-born. We are educated, middle-class citizens who work in every profession. America is our home, and we’re not going anywhere.

Muslims have been here for a very long time. Dr. Barry Fell, an American historian, discovered the ruins of Muslim schools in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Indiana dating back to 700 to 800 C.E. In 1492, Columbus had two captains for the Pinta and the Nina who were Muslim. Columbus and others later discovered ruins of Mosques and minarets with inscriptions of Qu’ranic verses in Cuba, Mexico, Texas and Nevada. We can go on and on, but suffice to say, Islam was here even before there was a U.S.A. There are more than 500 places in the U.S. today with clearly Islamic names: Mecca, Indiana; Medina in New York, Ohio and Texas; Toledo, Ohio; Mahomet, Illinois; Islamorada, Florida; etc.

One has to ask what is the value of writing such unlearnéd and negative material, filled with hatred and bigotry. Christianity forbids hate. Muslims are not an enemy; hate is. It is ironic that he writes at a time when hundreds were killed and maimed by Stephen Paddock, a Christian man in Las Vegas, causing the worst case of domestic terrorism in our history. Alas, it is not called terrorism, just because it’s not committed by a Muslim.

We would be remiss if we did not also take exception to the decision of the editorial board of the New Castle News to publish the letter. Of course, it is everyone’s right to express one’s opinion, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

This is a given. But it is also the right of a privately owned paper to choose the material in publishes, especially in a time when we are trying to unite the country, not fracture it. This is not the first time the paper has published disparaging letters about Islam and Muslims, but enough is enough. Imagine if the paper were to publish disparaging letters about Jews or Judaism. We think it would never happen. Why Muslims, then?

We depend on the propriety of the editorial board to chose material that advances the benefits and comity of its readers, not sowing the seeds of divisiveness and inter-religious warfare.

Full report at:



Documentary explores Islamaphobia by darkening a white lady’s skin and giving her a fake nose

By Amanda Erickson

October 20, 2017

There are nearly 3 million Muslims in the United Kingdom. But when Channel 4 wanted to produce a documentary about Islamophobia in the country, they decided to follow around a white lady.

In a new documentary called “My Week as a Muslim,” the station dressed a white woman as a Pakistani Muslim — complete with makeup to darken her skin, a prosthetic nose and hjiab — then sent her into the world to understand firsthand “what it's like to be a Muslim in Britain today and challenge some of the assumptions and prejudices that different communities in the U.K. have about each other.”

The woman, Katie Freeman, is a 44-year-old National Health Service health-care assistant. She lives in a predominantly white area in northwest England. Before she started, Freeman said she had never spent any time with Muslims. And she admitted to holding some intolerant views. Driving through a Muslim neighborhood, she said, "you see them and think they're going to blow something up." At another point, she remarks, "you wouldn’t even think this was England."

But once she donned her Muslim attire, Freeman said she began to see things differently. She was shouted at while walking down the street, and heckled while passing her local pub. One man called her a “f---ing Muslim.” When the Manchester terrorist attack occurred two days into the shoot, Freeman wanted to back out. But she stayed after host Saima Alvi explained “this is what I face every day.”

“It makes me ashamed to live here,” Freeman said afterward. “I was raging and fuming inside. But I also felt vulnerable. What harm was I doing?”

Alvi, a Pakistani Muslim, said that Freeman experienced just a glimpse of the prejudice and threats she faces down each day. “It's very humiliating that I am pigeonholed, or put in the same box as a terrorist,” she said. Freeman’s experience is “what I face every day. This is me for life.”

Fozia Khan, the documentary’s executive producer, said she hoped his experiment would change minds and make people more tolerant. “We saw divided communities, people living side by side but not mixing,” Khan said. “We wanted to do something bold, a kind of social experiment: to take someone with no exposure to the Muslim community and give her a really authentic experience. The transformation in her appearance was important for that.”

Not everyone sees it that way. After a trailer aired this week, the response was swift, and nasty.

Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell Mama, an organization that monitors anti-Muslim abuse and attacks, called the show “absolutely shocking” and “a complete catastrophe.”

“Just think for one second if that was done against the Jewish community. There would be legitimate accusations of anti-Semitism, which would be correct and clear,” he told the Guardian. “So why is this okay for the Muslim community, in the desire to reach what I think is a laudable objective? They could have simply taken a secret camera and got Muslim women to record things that happen to them every day. But they tried to maximize their audience by putting a twist on it, a twist that has badly backfired."

Full report at:



‘Underwear bomber’ files lawsuit over prison treatment, says Muslims harassed

October 20, 2017

The infamous “underwear bomber” who nearly killed 289 people on an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day 2009 has filed a lawsuit over his treatment in prison.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was convicted in 2012 for an attempted terror attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, which involved detonating explosives in his pants. The Nigerian, whose bomb fortunately malfunctioned, now says in a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that his rights in a Colorado Supermax facility are being trampled.

“The [Special Administrative Measures] imposed on Mr. Abdulmutallab prohibit him from having any communication whatsoever with more than 7.5 billion people, the vast majority of people on the planet,” his complaint reads, CBS News reported Friday.

Abdulmutallab claims that stints in solitary confinement and other measures “severely restrict his ability to practice religion” with fellow Muslims.

The inmate also claims that white supremacists regularly “harass Muslim inmates” in part of the facility known as H-unit.

Full report at:



Nine months after mosque killings, Quebec Muslims still waiting for promised change

Graeme Hamilton

October 20, 2017

MONTREAL — After a gunman killed six worshippers inside a Quebec City mosque in January, the outpouring of support for the Muslim community was immediate. The attack would be “a turning point” in the strained relationship between Quebec and its Muslim minority, Premier Philippe Couillard promised.

“Let us think about Quebecers of the Muslim faith, our fellow citizens,” Couillard said at a vigil the night after the attack. “It must be said again: We are all Quebecers. The whole world is watching us.”

But the ensuing nine months have seriously undercut Couillard’s message of inclusiveness, and Muslim leaders are left wondering when the promised change will come.

On Wednesday, the Liberal majority passed into law Bill 62, which singles out the small number of Muslim women who wear face-covering niqabs or burkas and bans them from receiving government services, right down to a bus ride or a library card.

“Rather than facilitating inclusion, this legislation excludes citizens from the public sphere, it reinforces the marginalization of Canadian Muslims, and it risks emboldening those seeking to sow division and hatred between Canadians,” Eve Torres of the National Council of Canadian Muslims said in reaction.

On the same day, the government significantly diluted a consultation into systemic racism that had been sought by Muslims and other Quebec minorities to examine barriers they face in employment, health care and the justice system. The backtrack came after opposition parties complained the exercise would amount to putting Quebecers “on trial” for racism.

And in Quebec City, the provincial politicians who had such inspiring messages in the aftermath of the Jan. 29 shootings fell silent as the nearby town of St-Apollinaire held a divisive referendum last July on permitting the region’s first Muslim cemetery. The cemetery project was defeated.

In the meantime, the Islamic Cultural Centre where Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti were shot while praying continues to receive hateful messages, as it did before the attack.

In July, a package arrived at the mosque containing a copy of the Qur’an, its cover slashed where the name of Allah was written in Arabic. The package also held a photo of a pig sty with the message that Muslims could bury their dead there. Nerves were further rattled in August when a car belonging to the mosque’s president was set on fire in his driveway. Last month, police arrested two suspects in what they said was a hate crime targeting Muslims.

In an interview this week, the cultural centre’s vice-president and co-founder, Boufeldja Benabdallah, said he is “very, very disappointed” with the nature of the political debate since the shootings. “They came to see us, they sympathized with us, but there was not any big change,” he said.

Instead of analyzing what is preventing Muslim immigrants from getting hired, said Benabdallah, the politicians seem obsessed with the hijab, the niqab and the burkini.

“Stop talking only about the veil, the veil, the veil and move onto questions of substance,” he said.

Haroun Bouazzi’s hope that the bloodshed would provoke a shift among the political class was dashed.

“The politicians are continuing with the old debate that has been going on in Quebec for the last 10 years. The debate is still how many rights should we take away from religious minorities, not how to get equality for them,” said Bouazzi, co-president of the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec.

At a funeral service for the six victims, imam Hassan Guillet called their accused killer, Alexandre Bissonnette, a victim, postulating that his mind had been infected by the discourse around Muslims. “Day after day, week after week, month after month, certain politicians unfortunately, and certain reporters unfortunately, and certain media were poisoning our atmosphere,” Guillet said.

Guillet said this week that there has been an improvement in how Quebec politicians and media discuss the Muslim community. “The media are more inclined to call,” he said. “Before the 29th of January they were talking about us, but they were not talking to us.” But more needs to be done. “We don’t want another manipulated person to fall victim to hate,” he said.

Muslim leaders are alarmed by the rise of an anti-immigrant far-right fringe in Quebec City that claims to be defending Quebec heritage. Members of one such group, La Meute, were active in the campaign against the Muslim cemetery.

Guillet said the “silent majority” that opposes racism can no longer stand on the sidelines as it did during the cemetery debate. “We have to stop being silent. We have to be more and more vocal,” he said.

Benabdallah, though disappointed by the politicians, is heartened by what he sees in the streets of the city he has called home since immigrating from Algeria 48 years ago. He recounted an incident this week when he was at a gas station with a Muslim friend when a Québécois stranger came over to shake their hands.

Full report at:



G7, tech giants agree on plan to block jihadist content online

Oct 21, 2017

G7 countries and tech giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter on Friday agreed to work together to block the dissemination of Islamist extremism over the internet.

"These are the first steps towards a great alliance in the name of freedom," Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti said after a two-day meeting with his Group of Seven counterparts, stressing the importance of the internet for extremist "recruitment, training and radicalisation."

Officials said the accord aimed at removing jihadist content from the web within two hours of being posted.

"Our enemies are moving at the speed of a tweet and we need to counter them just as quickly," acting US Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke said.

While acknowledging progress had been made, Britain's Home Secretary Amber Rudd insisted "companies need to go further and faster to not only take down extremist content but also stop it being uploaded in the first place".

The meeting on the Italian island of Ischia off Naples also focused on ways to tackle one of the West's biggest security threats -- jihadist fighters fleeing Syria -- as the European Union promised to help close a migration route considered a potential back door for terrorists.

Tens of thousands of citizens from Western countries travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for the Islamic State group between 2014 and 2016, including some who then returned home and staged attacks that claimed dozens of lives.

Minniti warned last week that fighters planning revenge attacks following the collapse of the IS stronghold in Raqa could hitch lifts back to Europe on migrant boats from Libya.

The United States and Italy signed an agreement on the sidelines of the G7 meeting to share their fingerprint databases in a bid to root out potential extremists posing as asylum seekers.

The "technical understanding" aims "to ascertain whether (migrants, asylum seekers or refugees) are noted criminal suspects or terrorists", Minniti's office said.


Earlier, EU President Donald Tusk promised the bloc would fork out more funds to help shut down the perilous crossing from Libya to Italy -- a popular path for migrants who hope to journey on to Europe.

The EU would offer "stronger support for Italy's work with the Libyan authorities", and there was "a real chance of closing the central Mediterranean route", he said.

Italy has played a major role in training Libya's coastguard to stop human trafficking in its territorial waters, as well as making controversial deals with Libyan militias to stop migrants from setting off.

Minniti said the G7 ministers had discussed how to go about "de-radicalising" citizens returning from the IS frontline, to prevent them becoming security risks in jails.

The ministers had also brainstormed on how to tackle the legal headache of prosecuting returnees, amid questions over what sort of evidence, collected by whom, could be used in a domestic court.

The US and Britain called for more to be done on aviation safety, particularly through the sharing of passenger data.

'Malware of terror'

The Group of Seven --- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US -- said it had also called on the web giants to work with their smaller partners to bolster the anti-extremism shield.

"IS took to the technology world like a fish to water," Minniti said, adding that it was time to unleash the antidote to its "malware of terror".

Rudd said the UK government would do its part by changing the law so that those accessing and viewing extremist material on the web could face up to 15 years behind bars.

But Julian Richards, security specialist at BUCSIS (Buckingham University Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies), said the rest of the G7 was unlikely to get behind her on that front.

Full report at:



Trump projecting Muslim terror threat for political gain: Scholar

Oct 20, 2017

An American scholar says unscrupulous leaders like US President Donald Trump use scare tactics, such as highlighting a Muslim terror threat, to terrorize their population into obedience and for political gain. 

“They want to take away people’s rights, they want to take away people’s money. This is what Donald Trump has done,” said Kevin Barrett, an author and political commentator in Madison, Wisconsin.

Dr. Barrett, a founding member of the Scientific Panel for the Investigation of 9/11, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday after Trump blamed a rise in crime in the UK on what he calls “radical Islamic terror,” but presented no evidence to support his claim.

"Just out report: 'United Kingdom crime rises 13% annually amid spread of Radical Islamic terror.' Not good, we must keep America safe!" Trump tweeted.

“Donald Trump is an international embarrassment to all of us here in the United States. Everybody is wondering just what crazy thing he will say next. One of the most recent crazy things he has said is that a rising crime rate in Britain is the fault of ‘radical Muslim terrorists,’” Dr. Barrett said.

“One hardly knows where to start when talking about a statement this nonsensical, but I guess we could begin by pointing out that unscrupulous leaders typically try to terrorize their population into obedience by bringing up bogeymen, by scare tactics, telling them they have to be afraid of somebody,” he stated.

“May people are afraid of crime, and with some reason. There are parts of the world where one should be afraid of crime. Terrorism likewise does threaten certain parts of the world, but in the West you are vastly more likely to be killed by lightning or drowning in your bathtub then to be killed or even injured by any kind of terrorists. And terrorism ascribed to Muslims constitutes six percent of all terrorism in the United States, according to the FBI, and less than one percent of terrorism in Europe, according to Interpol,” he noted.

'Gladio B false flag terror program'

“So there is no terrorist threat in the West statistically, unless you consider lightning a very dangerous threat. And there is especially no radical Muslim terror threat in the West. The false impression that there is such a threat has been fostered by the Gladio B false flag terror program which has killed the minuscule number of people and perhaps pretended to kill crisis actor in a number of events very carefully orchestrated by Deep State operatives, who have staged events such as 9/11, the Paris attack, Charlie Hebdo, and November 2015. I have written and edited many books on these,” the scholar said. 

“So this false image of a Muslim terror threat has been used by authoritarian leaders for political gain,” he observed.

“He wants to steal Americans’ money to build ten times as many as nuclear weapons as he has now. And he wants to assume ever greater dictatorial powers. To do that he will likely stage another 9/11 false flag event,” the analyst said. 

“Meanwhile, he is spewing his nonsensical propaganda about the supposed danger of radical Islamic terrorists. Obviously Islam and its political dimension have nothing to do with crime rates. Crime is crime and religion is something very, very different," he said. 

"And there may be problems with obscurantist versions of various religions, but they have nothing to do with crime rates. In fact the most radical extreme Muslims, Salafi (takfiri) idiots are not normally criminals,” he stated.

Full report at:





Conflicting Accounts in Niger Ambush Are Subject of Pentagon Investigation


OCT. 20, 2017

The Pentagon is trying to determine whether American forces involved in a deadly ambush in Niger this month diverted from their routine patrol to embark on an unapproved mission, military officials said on Friday.

The questions have come up because the American and Nigerien soldiers on the patrol have given conflicting accounts about whether they were simply ambushed or were attacked after trying to chase Islamic insurgents, according to military officials from both countries.

The episode has engulfed the White House in crisis and prompted demands from members of Congress for answers about what the soldiers were doing before the attack on Oct. 4.

In interviews with both the Defense Department and The New York Times, Nigerien military officials said that a lightly armed convoy of about 50 Nigerien and American soldiers gave chase to Islamic insurgents on motorcycles until the men crossed the border into Mali, then returned later to ambush the troops.

American service members, by contrast, insisted that they did not chase the insurgents but simply “noticed” them in the vicinity of the village of Tongo Tongo, Defense Department officials said. It was not until the troops interviewed village leaders and were on their way to their base, by the American account, that the insurgents ambushed the convoy, overwhelming them.

The inconsistencies are at the heart of why the Pentagon has not been forthcoming with details about what happened in Niger, according to American military officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation. Four Americans were killed in the attack, including three Green Berets, as well as four Nigerien soldiers. Two Americans and six Nigeriens were wounded.

The contradictions added to the major questions emerging about the attack: Had the soldiers acted beyond their planned mission without first gaining approval? And if they were given permission, who granted it?

Military officials have said that the troops were on a reconnaissance patrol, which means they almost certainly were out to collect information on the Qaeda and Islamic State groups operating in the area; the American military has a list of Islamic State leaders they are targeting. For that mission, the commander of the American team would have needed approval from at least one or two higher levels — a subcommand in Chad and a task force commander in Germany, where the United States Africa Command is based.

Once in the field, if the team wanted to change the mission to pursue a suspected Qaeda or Islamic State leader, the team leader would need to conduct a risk assessment and call for permission from his higher headquarters, according to current and former senior officials at the Africa Command who described how its soldiers conduct operations.

The team would not have had “carte blanche to do whatever” it wanted, said Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc, who until June commanded Special Operations forces on the continent.

Military officials said that the team members might have believed they were facing only a low risk of threats, which could have created a false sense of security that led them to go out with inadequate support.

Beyond the question of what, exactly, the soldiers were doing in that remote border region of Niger to begin with was that of whether Defense Department officials have been forthcoming about the mission.

Under the existing authorities, American ground forces are not allowed to conduct unilateral direct-action operations in Niger or most other countries in Africa, and the Pentagon continued to insist that it was not involved in combat operations there.

“Our missions are advise and assist,” Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. told reporters on Thursday. “We’re not directly involved in combat operations.” He added: “We’re not involved in direct-action missions with partner forces.”

But if the American troops were giving chase to suspected Islamic insurgents to the Malian border, that would most likely qualify as a direct-action mission, military experts said.

What both American and Nigerien troops agree upon, officials from both nations said, is that on Oct. 4, what was supposed to be a routine patrol of a hostile border area in Niger crisscrossed by bands of armed terrorist groups — at least one of them loyal to the Islamic State — went wrong.

The soldiers had heard reports that a leader of the militant group had been coming from Mali to resupply on fuel and food at Tongo Tongo, whose villagers are seen as sympathetic to the extremists. The troops were anxious to follow up.

Suddenly, on the scrubby desert horizon, men on motorbikes appeared — a sign of likely terrorist activity. Motorbikes are the vehicle of choice of insurgent groups operating in the area, allowing them to easily navigate the harsh terrain, especially now, the end of the muddy rainy season. To crack down, the government of Niger recently banned the bikes in the area.

The American and Nigerien accounts differ on the next point: According to Nigerien officials, the convoy, described as a light patrol, pursued the men on motorcycles until they crossed into Mali. The 50 or so soldiers in the Nigerien-led convoy turned back and headed to Tongo Tongo to question village officials.

According to the American service members, they just saw the men on motorcycles nearby, but did not go after them, said Defense Department officials familiar with their version of events.

Both accounts then converge again, a Defense Department official said. The village chief in Tongo Tongo seemed to be stalling the service members, and military officials now believe he was allowing time for insurgents to assemble.

Eventually, after talking to the village chief, the troops got into their vehicles to return to their base, a two-hour drive. But less than five minutes after they drove out of the village, the convoy was ambushed by a group that outnumbered them two to one.

About 100 armed insurgents, many of whom were on motorbikes — two or three people a bike — as well as others in about 10 sport utility vehicles, surrounded the convoy. They were armed with heavy weapons, including antiaircraft weaponry as well as rocket-propelled grenades, according to a Nigerien official.

Soldiers in the joint patrol were riding in military vehicles as well as civilian Land Cruisers from the American Embassy. The firefight lasted two to three hours, the Nigerien official said, until a response unit from the military base arrived for reinforcements. French helicopters arrived to evacuate the dead and wounded as well as other soldiers.

Two or three vehicles in the convoy were destroyed in the firefight — most of the dead were in those vehicles. Part of the convoy became separated when at least one of the Land Cruisers became stuck in the mud. Sgt. La David T. Johnson, who died in the ambush, was in that vehicle, along with Nigerien soldiers who also died.

The village chief is in custody, the Nigerien official said. A few others are also in custody being questioned by intelligence officials. The F.B.I. is investigating the attack, an American law enforcement official said.

Both American and Nigerien military officials believe the insurgents were most likely affiliated with Adnan Abou Walid al-Sahraoui, who operates a group that has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State. They have yet to confirm that.

More than two weeks after the ambush, its repercussions showed no signs of abating. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters on Thursday that he might subpoena the Defense Department for answers. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis traveled to Capitol Hill on Friday to meet with Mr. McCain as well as another member of the committee, Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.

The United States counterterrorism fight is “morphing” to places like Africa, Mr. Graham said after meeting with Mr. Mattis, adding that “we don’t want the next 9/11 to come from Niger.”

Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Adam Goldman contributed reporting.

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US drone strike targets al-Shabab after Somalia attack

Oct 21, 2017

The US military said on Friday it carried out a drone strike this week against al-Shabab in Somalia, shortly after the extremist group was blamed for the country's deadliest attack.

The strike occurred on Monday about 35 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, the US Africa Command told The Associated Press. The US said it was still assessing the results.

Saturday's truck bombing in Mogadishu killed more than 300 peopleand wounded nearly 400 others, leaving scores missing.

Al-Shabab has not commented on the bombing, which Somali intelligence officials say was meant to target Mogadishu's heavily fortified international airport.

Several countries have embassies there.

The US has stepped up its military involvement in the Horn of Africa nation since President Donald Trump approved expanded military operations against the group early this year.

The US has carried out at least 19 drone strikes in Somalia since January, according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which tracks US drone strikes in a number of countries.

Earlier this week, a Pentagon spokesman said the United States has about 400 troops in Somalia and “we're not going to speculate” about sending more.

In April, the US announced it was sending dozens of regular troops to Somalia in the largest such deployment to the country in roughly two decades.

The US said it was for logistics training of Somalia's army. At the time, the US said about 40 troops were taking part.

Full report at:



Somalia truck bomb death toll jumps to 358 dead

21 October 2017

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s deadliest ever attack, a truck bomb in the capital Mogadishu, has now killed 358 people with 228 more injured, the government said late Friday, a major jump in the fatality toll.

A truck packed with explosives blew up in Hodan on October 14, destroying some 20 buildings in the bustling commercial district, leaving scores of victims burned beyond recognition.

Several experts told AFP the truck was probably carrying at least 500 kilos (1,100 pounds) of explosives.

“The latest number of casualties 642 (358 dead, 228 injured, 56 missing). 122 injured ppl flown to Turkey, Sudan & Kenya,” Somali Minister of Information Abdirahman Osman tweeted.

The figures mark a sharp increase in the toll, which earlier this week was put at 276 dead and 300 wounded.

The attack has overwhelmed Somalia’s fragile health system, and allies from the US, Qatar, Turkey and Kenya have sent planeloads of medical supplies as well as doctors, with all except the US also evacuating some of the wounded.

Death tolls are notoriously difficult to establish in Mogadishu, with families often quickly taking victims away to be buried.

There has been no immediate claim of responsibility, but Al-Shabab, a militant group aligned with Al-Qaeda, carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally-backed government.

The group has a history of not claiming attacks whose scale provokes massive public outrage.

Already more than 100 unidentified people have been buried who were burned beyond recognition.

While the rapid burial is partly due to Islamic culture, the Somali government also has no proper morgue nor the capability to carry out forensic tests to identify the victims.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed vowed Wednesday to step up the war against Al-Shabab, saying that the attack showed “that we have not done enough to stop Shabab.”

“If we don’t respond to this now, the time will surely come when pieces of flesh from all of us are being picked up off the ground. We need to stand up together and fight Al-Shabab who continue massacring our people,” he said.

However it was unclear what Farmajo — who came into office eight months ago also vowing to eliminate Al-Shabab — planned to do to stop the militants from carrying out such attacks.

Full report at:




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