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Islamic World News ( 12 May 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Trilateral Moot of Clerics Terms Suicide Bombings in Afghanistan Contrary To Islamic Principles

New Age Islam News Bureau

12 May 2018

A Contingent of Women Policeon duty outside the Lal Masjid alliliaed Madrasa in G-6 on Friday-- White Star



 Trilateral Moot of Clerics Terms Suicide Bombings in Afghanistan Contrary To Islamic Principles

 Lal Masjid Cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz not allowed to Lead Friday Prayers

 Iraq Election 2018: Voting Starts in First Poll since ISIS Defeat

 Patna Peace Mission Promotes Communal Harmony through Street Plays

 American Jewish Community Honours ‘Righteous Muslims’


South Asia

 Trilateral Moot of Clerics Terms Suicide Bombings in Afghanistan Contrary To Islamic Principles

 ISIS Militants Kill 9 of Their Own Comrades In Nangarhar Province

 Taliban kill over 30 police in western Afghanistan

 12 militants killed in Special Forces raids in Laghman

 Meth Trade Forges Unlikely Link between Rohingya, Myanmar

 ‘Only one Bangladeshi migrant deported this year’



 Lal Masjid Cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz not allowed to Lead Friday Prayers

 Hindu MP Pleads CJ, COAS to Take Notice of Blasphemous Images

 Ulema to defeat foreign agents in polls: JI chief

 Facebook blocks post in Pakistan 'based on local law'

 Websites, social media pages depicting Imran as Hindu deity blocked

 CJP tells Balochistan govt to compensate Church attack affectees


Arab World

 Iraq Election 2018: Voting Starts in First Poll since ISIS Defeat

 ‘Throw Iranians Out’: Israel Minister Lieberman to Syria’s Assad

 Russian Fighter Jets Pound Terrorist Centres in Northwestern Syria

 Third Group of Terrorists, Family Members to Leave Homs, Hama Provinces Soon

 Syrian Army Discovers Terrorists' Tunnel Network in Southern Damascus

 US-Backed SDF Advances against ISIL in Eastern Syria

 Saudi Arabia intercepts ballistic missile launched by Houthi militias towards Jazan



 Patna Peace Mission Promotes Communal Harmony through Street Plays

 Panel Finds Fault with Police over Dalit-Muslim Clash, Outsiders Were Involved

 'Let Jihadis Announce Ceasefire First': BJP National Secretary

 Ahead of Sheikh Hasina’s Visit, India Holds Talks with Myanmar on Rohingya

 Jammu youth dies in Pakistan firing on LoC

 Trial concludes in Bodh Gaya serial bomb blast case

 India makes Rohingya stand clear to Myanmar: Want their safe, speedy, sustainable return


North America

 American Jewish Community Honours ‘Righteous Muslims’

 White House Slams Iran for ‘Reckless Actions’ Against Israel, Saudi Arabia

 Trump to Address Jerusalem Embassy Opening By Video

 Republican Activists to Hold Convention at Minnesota Mosque

 Five high-ranking ISIL terrorists captured says Trump


Southeast Asia

 Indonesia's Hizbut Tahrir Debate Rages on Amid Election Fever

 A Big PAS Vote Bank in the ‘Moral Constituency’

 PAS proposes Muslim-led unity government in Perak

 Islamic militant, officer killed after Indonesia prison riot

 Trump congratulates Malaysia’s Mahathir on historic electoral victory

 Malaysia's new PM says monarch agrees to pardon opposition icon Anwar



 Protesters in Jordan, Turkey, and Indonesia Rally against US Embassy Move To Al-Quds

 40 Houthis killed in intense fighting in Yemen’s Hodeidah

 World diplomats skip US embassy opening ceremony in Jerusalem al-Quds: Report

 Houthi militias seize money belonging to Yemen’s slain ex-president Saleh

 Iranians rally to condemn 'imbecile Trump's insane move'

 Israeli forces kill one Palestinian, injure 170 in Gaza

 Turkey ‘concerned’ by UAE's military build-up on Yemen’s Socotra

 Yemeni army advances in the western coast of Hodeidah



 First Mosque Opens on Outer Hebrides in Time for Ramadan

 Russia, Germany remain committed to Iran nuclear deal: Kremlin

 UK, EU partners 'firmly committed' to Iran deal: May tells Trump



 Deadly Attack on South African Mosque Has ‘Hallmarks of Islamic State'

 In An Unprecedented Incident, ‘Extremists’ Attack Worshippers in S. Africa

 US, Somali raid on al-Shabaab seizes 3 commanders: Officials

 Police hunt 'armed, highly trained' al Shabaab fighter from Kitui

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Trilateral moot of clerics terms suicide bombings in Afghanistan contrary to Islamic principles

Tahir Khan

MAY 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: All parties to the Afghan conflict were on Friday urged to join peace talks.

Further, the trilateral conference of religious scholars from Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan termed suicide attacks against the principles of Islam.

The conference attended by clerics from Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan underway in Bogor, Indonesia, also appreciated and supported the offer of Afghan government, as announced by President Ashraf Ghani during the Kabul Peace Process in February for peace and reconciliation in the war-torn country.

A declaration adopted at the day-long conference appreciated regional countries, Islamic world and the international community for expressing their full support for peace in Afghanistan. A copy of the declaration available with Daily Times read, “We take note of conducive environment for peace in Afghanistan and call upon all sides to join direct peace talks, as peaceful deliberation is enshrined in the Holy Qur’an.”

The declaration stressed on resolution of all conflicts and disputes among Muslims in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah.

“As one family of the Ummah, we support an inclusive peace process and stand ready to contribute constructively to the process, while recognising various efforts and peace offers to find viable solutions for peace in Afghanistan,” the declaration said.

The conference reiterated its commitment to help nurturing peace in Afghanistan and the Muslim world. It said that for decades, ‘our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan have suffered from long and arduous trials and tribulations. Despite all hardships, they never lost hope in their struggle for peace. They continue to demonstrate the best quality of human resilience and nobility as a strong nation and faithful Muslims’.

It also declared support to Paigham-e-Pakistan, Afghan declarations, and other peace initiatives undertaken by the ulema from across the Islamic world.

The declaration said that the ulema of the Islamic Ummah, especially from countries like Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, having a deeper understanding of the difficult challenges facing the Muslim countries, could play an active role in promoting peace and solidarity in the Muslim world, especially in Afghanistan.

The conference reaffirmed that that violence and terrorism cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality, civilisation, or ethnic group, as violent extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations including violence against civilians and suicide attacks, was against the holy principles of Islam.

“We support an inclusive peace process and stand ready to contribute constructively to the process, while recognizing various efforts and peace offers to find viable solutions for peace in Afghanistan,” it said.

The conference supported the important role of ulema of Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Pakistan in promoting peace, harmony and brotherhood among the Ummah in the light of Islamic teachings based on Qur’an and Sunnah.

“The ulema of the Islamic Ummah, especially from countries like Indonesia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, having a deeper understanding of the difficult challenges facing the Muslim countries, can play an active role in promoting peace and solidarity in the Muslim world, especially in Afghanistan,” the participants said.

“We conclude by presenting our highest appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Indonesia for its sincere support to initiate a process of cooperation amongst the ulema of the three countries and the Islamic world” the declaration concluded.

Meanwhile, the Taliban insurgents rejected the conference and said that the participants should have condemned the foreign invasion if they were sincere about peaceful resolution of the conflict.

“We believe that such meetings will neither weaken the struggle of Afghans against the invading Americans nor will harm its legitimacy in accordance with Sharia,” a Taliban commentary on the Indonesian conference said.

A controversy erupted when Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news agency quoted Maulana Anwarul Haq, who was among the 15-member Pakistani delegation, as urging the Taliban to “stop fighting and join peace process.”

Haq is the deputy chief of madrassa Haqqani Akora Khattak and a brother of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Sami chief Maulana Samiul Haq.

Later in the day, a spokesman for the Haqqania madrassa dismissed the remarks as false and said Anwarul Haq did not talk to the Afghan news agency. Samiul Haq and his religious school has long been publicly supporting the Afghan Taliban’s fight against the foreign forces.



Lal Masjid Cleric, Maulana Abdul Aziz not allowed to Lead Friday Prayers

Kalbe Ali

May 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The capital administration held five rounds of discussions with deposed cleric of Lal Masjid Maulana Abdul Aziz and did not allow him to lead Friday prayers and deliver the weekly sermon in the mosque.

The last round of talks between the administration and the cleric started on Friday morning and concluded less than an hour before the prayers.

Scores of women clad in black Burqas with some of them carrying sticks gazed down at the streets from the windows and rooftops of the new Jamia Hafsa in G-7/3-4 as women police commandos wearing black uniform roamed in the street below in defensive gears. A large number of male students were also seen at the G-7 seminary and around Lal Masjid. Not only a heavy contingent of police was deployed around Lal Masjid but Rangers were also posted around the female seminary and at the ends of adjoining streets.

Shuhada Foundation of Lal Masjid had announced on May 8 that Maulana Aziz would lead the Friday prayers and deliver a sermon on May 11 after a gap of over three years.

Soon afterwards, officers of the local administration started discussions with the cleric in the new Jamia Hafsa and the final round concluded at around 12 noon on Friday.

The officials told the media that the maulana had agreed not to visit the mosque.

One of the ICT officials said the cleric insisted that it was his right to deliver a sermon at Lal Masjid.

“His plan was that he would go to the mosque in the form of a procession along with a few vehicles loaded with women students but we did not yield to any pressure,” the official added. “We told him that even the new Jamia Hafsa has been built illegally over a natural stream so why not clear it first as a dutiful citizen.”

As Maulana Aziz did not go to Lal Masjid, the Friday prayers were led by Amir Siddique, the deputy cleric.

The government deposed Maulana Aziz from the state-owned Lal Masjid after he delivered a controversial sermon on December 19, 2014, defending the perpetrators of the Army Public School Peshawar attack, calling it a reactionary move by terrorists.

During that sermon, he also targeted political leaders belonging to the Shia school of thought.

“This campaign against me is a conspiracy hatched by Amin Shaheedi and Faisal Raza Abidi but I warn that they are testing our patience,” Maulana Aziz had stated in that Friday sermon.

He also warned the state apparatus of dire consequences in case he was arrested or killed. After the prayers on December 19, 2014, he left Lal Masjid in a procession of seminary students.

Some students of Jamia Hafsa later released a video message to the leader of international terror group, ISIS, inviting him to Pakistan to establish a Sharia compliant state in the country.

As the government maintained its strict posture against Maulana Aziz in the following years, he made several attempts in 2017 to get hold of the microphone at Lal Masjid that were foiled by the government.

In February 2017, Lal Masjid tried image building efforts and announced its disassociation from outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan faction Jamaatul Ahrar after the terror group launched strikes in Pakistan and named them Abdul Rasheed Ghazi operation. Ghazi was the brother of Maulana Aziz who was killed in the military operation on Lal Masjid in 2007.

In March 2017, the cleric announced to hold a conference in Lal Masjid against blasphemous content on the social media but the government did not allow it.

Maulana Aziz also announced to hold the 10th anniversary of Lal Masjid operation by Shuhada Foundation last year.

The local administration on June 23 imposed a ban on all political and religious activities by Lal Masjid’s Shuhada Foundation, declaring it an ‘unregistered entity’.

In August 2017, the relatives of the deposed Lal Masjid cleric were stopped from holding a press conference by the ICT administration on the basis that mosques should not be politicised. The Islamabad police closed off the main entrance to the mosque before the press conference was scheduled to be held.



Iraq Election 2018: Voting starts in first poll since ISIS defeat

12 May 2018

Iraqis vote Saturday in the first parliamentary election since the country declared victory over ISIS. The balloting is expected to be a referendum on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s tenure and his pledge to be more inclusive of Iraq’s Sunni minority.

Entrenched corruption, the influence of Iran and the future of US forces currently in Iraq are other issues that have dominated the run-up to the election. There are 329 seats at stake, with nearly 7,000 candidates from dozens of different political alliances.

Few foresee a dramatic government shake-up, however. The most powerful alliances expected to win the most seats are headed by the same parties that have dominated Iraqi politics since 2003.



Patna Peace Mission promotes communal harmony through street plays

May 12, 2018

By Matters India Reporter

Patna: Student cultural activists of Patna Peace Mission staged the fourth round of street plays in three schools of Patna, capital of Bihar state, to promote communal harmony.

The plays, staged during May 10-11, highlighted the multi-religious heritage of India where world’s major religions have flourished over the centuries. Four major religions in the world were founded or evolved in India.

Though respect for each others’ religions and traditions has been a characteristic of Indian society, violence in the name of religion has erupted more frequently in the last three years due to religious nationalism under some Hindu fundamentalist forces, said Hasan Imam, cultural activist and playwright.

The nukkad natak (street play), Ek saadhe, sab sadhe (If one is controlled, all can be controlled) was written and directed by Imam, director of Prerana (inspiration) and Janwadi Sanskritik Morcha (People’s Cultural Front). It was staged by six members of Prerana, all college students.

The play highlighted that the freedom of India was won with the united efforts of men and women who belonged to different religions, cultures and languages. Today that hard won freedom is being destroyed by some politicians and fundamentalists who polarize people based on their religious identity, to promote only the majority religion, said Imam.

Introducing the theme, sarva dharma sama bhav (Equal respect to all religions), the ideal given by Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of India, Jesuit Father Jose Kalapura, organizer of the program and coordinator of Patna Peace Mission, quoted media reports to note that 822 communal riots occurred in India in 2017, an increase from the earlier years. He urged the students to hold on to this ideal to maintain the unity and integrity of India.

The students took a pledge to uphold the religious diversity and harmony of India, to celebrate the festivals of different religions, to respect each other’s religion in order to build a strong India.

The shows were put up in Patna’s Loyola High School, St. John’s Academy and St. Mary’s High School, for students of grades six to ten. Altogether some 3,000 students watched the plays in the two days.

Kiran Tripathi, teacher at Loyola High School, was all prise for the message and script of the play. All the words used in the play are very apt and convey pointed message in a short period of 20 minutes, said Kiran, a playwright and scholar herself.

Yusul Gazali, a ninth grader of Loyola School, appreciated the play saying, we leaarned how fundamentalists create communal riots among innocent children.

Devaditta, Vishwajit, Priya and Shashwat of the same school also appreciated the play and pledged to maintain communal harmony and brotherhood among students. Montfort Brother Sateesh Don, Principal of Loyola School, said he ensures inter-religious prayers during school assemblies to foster religious harmony.

Muskan Kumari, a girl student of St. Mary’s School, said she was unaware how people with vicious minds poison the innocent minds of children through anti-communal propaganda.

Abhishek Kumar of St. John’s Academy said students should learn more about the religion of others along with their own. Father John Britto, Principal of St. John’s Academy said the school chose a logo with symbols of nine world religions, to remind our students that all religions are to be respected and all religions are meant the followers to lead to the one God.

Sacred Heart Sister Reeta, principal of St. Mary’s School, said we encourage inspiring cultural activities in our school to communicate human values, beyond the text books.

The Patna Peace Mission, a forum for promoting communal harmony among students, is a project of the Jesuit Mission for Inter-religious Dialogue, said Father Kalapura.

The Peace Mission has staged 36 shows in 25 schools in Bihar, covering some 30,000 students since early last year, he added.



American Jewish Community Honours ‘Righteous Muslims’

By Rabbi Allen S. Maller

May 11, 2018

The Conference of Presidents, an umbrella organization that represents over fifty US Jewish organizations, hosted Mohammed al-Issa, the secretary general of the Saudi-based Muslim World League, as the featured guest.

During his keynote speech, Al-Issa discussed the state of Jewish-Muslim relations and highlighted the importance of Holocaust education in the Muslim world.

In January, Al-Issa wrote a letter to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in which he publicly acknowledged the tragedy of the Holocaust, “an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.” He also asserted that “true Islam” opposed the Nazi genocide.

The Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents said: “In the presence of many leaders of the American Jewish and Muslim communities, Dr. Al-Issa joined us as we commemorated and paid tribute to the immensely important, but too little known, acts of human decency and kindness of people in many majority Muslim countries during the Holocaust that enabled Jews to survive the horrors of the Nazi drive to exterminate them.”

Mimouna highlights Muslim-Jewish camaraderie

The Conference of Presidents also honored Laziza Dalil, Vice President and Co-founder of the Moroccan-based Muslim student movement, Association Mimouna, which promotes Jewish heritage in Morocco and Muslim-Jewish dialogue.

The Moroccan Jewish festival of Mimouna, a 24-hour food-centered celebration, begins one week after Passover ends. This commemorates how, for many centuries, Moroccan Jewish homes would empty their cupboards of leavened bread and flour during the week of Passover and give the flour to their non-Jewish neighbors.

After the holy week, Jewish families would receive their grain from their Muslim neighbors, who were trusted with preserving the food, due to their own careful maintenance of halal dietary restrictions.

Most older North African Jews remember the age-old “Mimouna” tradition. At the end of Passover, when Muslims came to Jewish homes to return the flour, they were always invited to stay for a few hours and enjoy the soon-to-be-baked treats.

Thus, Jewish homes were filled with neighbors, friends, and family exchanging traditional Arabic blessings of good luck and success while awaiting the laden trays of delicious Mimouna baked goods. The celebration was often also repeated the next day, with even more pastries and neighborly exchange.

Prior to the rise of secular political nationalism in the 19th century and the rise of politicized Zionism and Islam in the 20th century, Jewish-Muslim relations were usually characterized by neighborliness and amity, as the North African Jewish celebration of Mimouna shows.

The Association Mimouna co-founder concluded her statement by telling the audience of her group’s hope to preserve Jewish heritage in Morocco and announcing the first Holocaust education curriculum for Moroccan students.


South Asia


ISIS militants kill 9 of their own comrades in Nangarhar province

May 12 2018

At least five militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group were killed by their own comrades in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the militants were killed during infighting in the restive Achin district.

In the meantime, the provincial government said at least fifteen ISIS militants were killed during the operations in Haska Mina district.

The statement further added that the operations were conducted in the vicinity of Kham Miran area during the operations involving airstrike.

According to the provincial government, the operations were launched shortly after the ISIS militants launched a coordinated attack on the security posts.

The anti-government armed militants and terrorist groups including ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces until recent years as fewer terrorist related incidents were reported from the province since the fall of the Taliban regime.

However, the Taliban and ISIS militants along with the other militants have been attempting to expand foothold in this province during the recent years.



Taliban kill over 30 police in western Afghanistan

May 11, 2018

More than 30 policemen have been killed in separate assaults by Taliban in Afghanistan’s western province of Farah, officials say.

Farid Bakhtawar, head of the provincial council, said on Friday that Taliban militants had attacked a police base overnight in Balabuluk district, killing at least 23 policemen and injuring three others.

The militants also killed 11 policemen and seized a large quantity of weapons and equipment in a separate attack in Farah city, the official added.

The remote and sparsely populated province of Farah, which borders Iran, has been a key battleground for the militants for months, with heavy fighting in Balabuluk.

The region covers major smuggling routes into Iran from the Taliban heartland of Helmand province, the hub of Afghan opium production.

In past weeks, the Afghan capital has seen an increase in violence after Taliban announced the beginning of their annual spring offensive. Fighting is expected to pick up further once the opium harvest is completed in the coming weeks.

Violence has also increased around voter registration centers set up ahead of the country’s long-delayed legislative elections that are due in October.

Full report at:



12 militants killed in Special Forces raids in Laghman

May 11 2018

At least twelve militants were killed during the operations of the Afghan army Commandos and the Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), Special Forces in eastern Laghman province of Afghanistan.

According to a statement released by the governor’s office in Laghman, the operation was conducted late on Wednesday night in the vicinity of Alingar district.

The statement further added that the operation resulted into the killing of at least five militants, including two key militant figures that were sent to the area to inspect the insurgency activities of the militants.

The provincial government also added that a suspect was also arrested during the operation and a weapons depot was eliminated.

In the meantime, the Afghan army commandos conducted operations in Qasaba and Salingar areas of the district and as a result at least seven militants have been killed, the statement added.

The statement also added that a commander of the militants identified as Mohibullah also famous as Khyber was among those killed.

Full report at:



Meth Trade Forges Unlikely Link between Rohingya, Myanmar

May 12, 2018

Aidan JONES, Sam JAHAN, Hla Hla HTAY   -   Huge quantities of meth are seeding unrest inside Bangladesh's refugee camps, as jobless Rohingya turn drug runners for a criminal chain that stretches back to Myanmar - and the soldiers who drove them out.

The little red methamphetamine pills, better known as 'yaba', that have got Southeast Asia high for decades are pouring westwards from Myanmar. Rohingya refugees are moving them across Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district, which hosts around one million of their stateless Muslim minority. And drug money is bringing new problems to an already traumatised refugee community.

Bangladesh authorities warn shootings, extortion and kidnappings linked to drug disputes are on the rise, adding another layer of complexity and danger to life in the seething camps.

"Many young men are falling into the drug lords' trap," says Abdus Salam, a Rohingya community leader in the Shamlapur refugee camp. "It's very easy to exploit refugees."

Over 100 Rohingya have been arrested on drug charges since last August, when a vicious crackdown by Myanmar's army expelled the Muslim minority into Bangladesh in huge numbers. Drug seizures in Cox's Bazar are skyrocketing, as organised crime gangs recruit from the vast pool of cheap and expendable labour.

On March 15, 1.8 million tablets were dumped along the Cox's shore by spooked traffickers. Days later, a further 900,000 were found abandoned in boats. But a lot more are getting into Bangladesh undetected, according to the country's Department of Narcotics Control, which estimates 250-300 million pills will be popped this year.

Drug money is also blurring dividing lines in unexpected ways, as ethnic Rakhine Buddhists - who loathe the Rohingya and helped force them out - elbow their way into the trafficking racket into Bangladesh.

With the price of a yaba pill tripling to $3-$3.5 in Bangladesh "no one cares who is Buddhist or Rohingya", explains Bangladesh Border Guard commander Lieutenant Colonel Asadud Zaman Chowdhury. Nearly all of Bangladesh's yaba arrives from Myanmar across the Naf river, which last year was packed with boatloads of fleeing Rohingya, their exit framed by dark billows of smoke from torched villages.

Now, the boats also ferry pills, made in the meth labs of eastern Myanmar.

They arrive around Teknaf, where locals say the trickle-down of narco profits can be seen in the souped-up motorbikes and lavish homes that stand out in an otherwise scruffy district.

A single main road runs from Teknaf north to Cox's Bazar City.

It is peppered with checkpoints, but still the poorest locals and increasing numbers of Rohingya take the daily risk of muling drugs.

On a recent Friday AFP witnessed two seizures within an hour along the road.

The first was of 12,000 of the vanilla-scented pills, found stuffed under a seat on an abandoned bus, which was aptly named the 'Nil Enterprise.'

Shortly afterwards, a woman travelling with her young daughter was arrested with drugs stashed inside pouches of tamarind. She could be jailed for up to two years. On the other side of the border, the identities of those at the pinnacle of the Rakhine drug pyramid remain elusive, but lower down the chain, officials, local businessmen and soldiers have all been caught.

On Monday an army private was arrested at a checkpoint in Myanmar's Maungdaw district with 200,000 tablets - a subsequent search led to a stash house with 1.6 million pills packed in bags ready for transit.

On October 1, 2017, while Rakhine was still white-hot with violence, a pair of soldiers was detained in Maungdaw town - a few kilometres from the Naf river - with nearly two million yaba pills worth around $2.8 million locally.

Big pay days are also stirring unlikely alliances.

Speculation is mounting that Rakhine and Rohingya militant groups, both fighting Myanmar's state for different reasons, are collaborating over drugs. "They are involved in trafficking together to buy weapons," a Myanmar drug police source told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Trapped in poverty and unlikely to return to Myanmar any time soon, Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar are using drug money to claw their way from penury.

"I got involved in this business five years ago after meeting a powerful local man," a Rohingya mule-turned-dealer told AFP, requesting anonymity as he feared reprisals.

The money got his family out of the refugee camp to an apartment in Cox's Bazar city.

"If I don't do it, someone else will," he added.

But where the drugs flow, violence follows.

Anwara Begum pushes her finger through a hole in a t-shirt made by the bullet that killed her son, Hossein Ali, in a squalid lane of the Nayapara camp near Teknaf.

Police linked the killing to drugs and a notorious thug in the camp with alleged ties to a Rohingya militant group.

The victim's family deny the drug link, saying Hossein was killed over a festering dispute between families.

Regardless of the motive, his murder - and a spate of kidnappings - has electrified the Rohingya camp grapevine with fear and rumour.

Full report at:



‘Only one Bangladeshi migrant deported this year’

MAY 11, 2018

Right-wing organisations demand the identification of illegal migrants

Opposing the offering of namaz in the open spaces in the Millennium City, the right-wing organisations have argued that a majority of the Muslims in the city are illegal Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingyas.

In contrary to this, the Gurugram police have identified and deported only one Bangladeshi migrant during its periodic special drives this year so far.

“The Gurugram police carry out special drives against illegal Bangladeshis at regular intervals every year. So far, we have identified only one illegal Bangladeshi this year and deported him,” said Gurugram police spokesperson Ravinder Kumar.

The right-wing organisations have been blaming the swelling Muslim population in the Gurugram over the past few years to the increasing population of illegal Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingyas.

Mr. Kumar, however, said that there was no confirmed information on the presence of Rohingyas in Gurugram.

One of the major demands of the right-wing organisations in their nine-point charter to the district administration has been identification of these illegal migrants.

‘False propaganda’

Reacting to it, Indian Islamic Research Centre president Matlood Ahmed said that the fact that only one Bangladeshi has been deported so far this year proves that the right-wing organisations are carrying out a false propaganda against the Muslims in the city.

He said that the most of the migrant Muslim population to Gurugram are involved in menial jobs such as domestic workers, rickshaw pullers and construction workers.

A majority of them are from Malda, Murshidabad and 24 Parganas, he said, adding that being residents of districts bordering Bangladesh, these Muslims are not well-conversant with Urdu and speak Bengali.

Ishraq Thameem, a Muslim resident of Gurugram involved with the community, said that the migrant Muslim population in Gurugram comprised the Bengali natives of Malda, Murshidabad and Nadia districts, Muslims from neighbouring areas like Mewat, Nuh, Faridabad, Alwar. They are engaged in some type of skilled work, he added.

‘Religious needs’

The others include Muslims of a different literate and social level, educated and aware and maulavis, and huffaaz who have come here drawn by the religious needs of these people.

Sanyukt Hindu Sangharsh Samiti Executive Committee Rajiv Mittal, however, said that it was the failure of the police administration to identify only one Bangladesh so far and they need to work harder.

Muslims of a different literate and social level, educated and aware and maulavis, and huffaaz who have come here drawn by the religious needs of these people.

A senior police officer, who has earlier worked at Gurugram’s FRRO Branch, said that drives against illegal migrants were carried out on regular basis, but without much success.

“The maximum number of illegal migrants identified in a single year was a 100-odd a few years ago,” said the officer.

Full report at:





Hindu MP pleads CJ, COAS to take notice of blasphemous images

Atif Khan

May 12, 2018

Islamabad - Pakistan People’s Party MNA Ramesh Lal has pleaded the Chief Justice and Army Chief to take notice of the blasphemous images in which PTI chief Imran Khan has been portrayed as Hindu god, Lord Shiva.

“It is blasphemy and it has hurt the religious sentiments of hundreds of thousands of Hindus residing in Pakistan. I, through Daily The Nation, appeal to Chief Justice of Pakistan and Army Chief to take notice of the matter,” Ramesh Lal said.

He showed his displeasure over the pace of investigation. “We raised the matter in the parliament on May 11 but after passage of one month situation is still the same”, he added.

After the appearance of Imran Khan's photograph as Lord Shiva last month, the Parliament ordered the Federal Investigation Agency to probe the matter.

According to officials, the page was run by two people and the name of one is Shahid Mehmood and it was being operated from Saudi Arabia.

The members of PTI, when blamed for blasphemy, passed the buck on supporters of rival Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of circulating the offensive photograph on the social media site.

The page, titled “We Love Nawaz Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and PML(N)”, where the picture appeared was allegedly run by the supporters of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his party PML-N.

PPP's leader Ramesh Lal accused the ruling party of hurting the religious sentiments of the Hindus, which, according to him was against the Constitution of the country.

On the complaint of MNAs Ramesh Lal and Lal Chand Malhi, the matter was referred to a sub-committee on the government assurances.

During the last meeting, the officials told the committee that the picture of Imran Khan as Lord Shiva has been removed from the social media but it was not true, we showed it to the DG FIA later, it was up and running, Lal said. He said he believes religion preaches tolerance and he himself respects all religions and holy people. It is a very serious matter, we are hurt and the case must be tried in the Anti-terrorism court, Ramesh Lal said.

PPP lawmaker expressed his dismay over the Ministry of Information for making a false statement during the last meeting that the blasphemous social media page had been removed from the web.

In the meeting of sub-committee on the government assurance on Friday, officials from related ministries informed that they initiated the process of blocking the controversial pages by writing to head offices of the social media company. They said the pages would be blocked in due course of time. But the complainant wanted more than just verbal assurances.

“It is not that simple. Certain people have committed a blasphemy and had hurt the sentiments of Hindus. They must be dealt seriously that others in future refrain from doing any such activity which could result in hurting the sentiments of anyone,” Ramesh Lal demanded. “We have very peacefully tackled the matter and have not opted for any protest but it falls in the category of terrorism, we demand an immediate action,” the lawmaker added.



Ulema to defeat foreign agents in polls: JI chief

May 12, 2018

KALAT: Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Senator Sirajul Haq has said that in the forthcoming elections, the custodians of the mosque will defeat the agents of London and Washington and enforce the blessed system of Khilafat in the country.

“If Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal comes to power in the Centre and the provinces, it will carry out true accountability,” said the JI chief while addressing a huge public meeting in Kalat district on Friday.

Haq said that the MMA public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan on May 13 would be the biggest gathering in the country’s history.

He said, “Under the Islamic system of government, nobody will die of hunger, no child will remain illiterate, every sick person will get medical facility and every young man will get a job.”

The JI chief said that the Islamic system was not the system given by any Maulvi or Pir, adding that the Islamic system meant the sovereignty of Allah Almighty and enforcement of the Shariah given by the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

“Under the Islamic system, all decisions will be made in accordance with the teachings of the Quran and the Ahadith of the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” he added.

He said that with the enforcement of the Islamic system, Pakistan would not need to seek loans, and would instead be in a position to advance loans to others.

Haq said that the problems, including poverty, price spiral, unemployment and uncertainty, were all due to the corruption of the rulers.

He said that had a God-fearing leadership been in office, the chief justice of Pakistan would not have to visit hospitals to check the health system or take on pain to stop adulteration in milk and medicines.

The JI chief said that the MMA was pitted against the corrupt elite and those who were saleable commodity. However, he said, that these people could not face the MMA.

He said that Balochistan was full of mineral resources but there was massive unemployment and poverty in the province only due to the corruption of the political leadership.

Taking over the podium, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri said, “The MMA’s opponents have full support of the US and India while the MMA has the support of Allah Almighty.”

Full report at:



Facebook blocks post in Pakistan 'based on local law'

May 11, 2018

Social media giant Facebook blocked for Pakistan users a 2017 post by linking to a story on veteran politician Javed Hashmi criticising the judiciary.

"Due to legal restrictions in your country, we've limited access to your post on Facebook," the platform shared in an automated message. The post is still accessible via VPN in the country.

The company shared that it has made the content unavailable "based on local law" in an action that is usually taken after requests from state institutions under non-transparent agreements - a fact that media and human rights organisations have criticised in the past.

Facebook did not clarify what law the post had violated, nor did it specify where the request had originated from.

Under fire for privacy concerns, hate speech and its role in 'influencing' the American elections, this form of censorship under directions by governments is nothing new for Facebook. The platform, with over 1.9 billion users across the globe, has controversially restricted access to content.

The website's censorship policies also led to many user accounts being blocked or deleted in 2016 for posts criticising India following the killing of Kashmir’s young ‘freedom fighter’ Burhan Wani.

Under increasing pressure

According to a transparency report issued by Facebook, the Pakistani government sent 1,050 requests for data to Facebook between January and June 2017, compared to only 719 during the same period in the preceding year.

It also said that 177 pieces of content were restricted from viewership in the country on requests forwarded by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for violating "local laws prohibiting blasphemy and condemnation of the country's independence".

Facebook had also found itself directly in the line of fire last year when an Islamabad High Court (IHC) judge, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, and then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar had threatened to completely ban the social network if it did not act to remove all blasphemous content on its platform.

Why block this post?

Facebook's blockage of's post for Pakistan users does not seem to have been triggered by concerns over blasphemy however.

The story dealt with a politician engaging with an emergent theme in Pakistan's politics: judicial activism.

Read the article: 'Pakistan has never seen a crisis worse than the one it is in today': Javed Hashmi

As criticism of what some see as an 'overactive judiciary' heats up, the higher courts have started taking up more high-profile contempt cases than ever.

One former senator, Nehal Hashmi, was recently handed a prison term after being found to have violated prevalent contempt laws. Likewise, a man in Multan has been handed an 18-year prison sentence for throwing a shoe at a judge.

Meanwhile, television channels have been told to tune out politicians' speeches if they veer towards contempt, and the broadcast media regulator has found itself in the cross hairs of the higher courts for not doing enough.

Upcoming elections

With the Cambridge Analytica scandal still looming large, Facebook had said regarding elections in Pakistan that it would take steps to "curb outside election interference".

However, with its current censorship policy in place, removal of content through non-transparent mechanisms — as in the removal of's post — may cut users off from information that is vital to making informed voting decisions.

Reproduced below is the complete article whose Facebook post has been blocked from viewership in Pakistan

'Pakistan has never seen a crisis worse than the one it is in today': Javed Hashmi

Never in the country's history has Pakistan faced a worse crisis than the one it faces today, former PML-N leader Javed Hashmi said in a characteristically well-timed press conference on Monday.

The press conference was called by him to share insights on Pakistan's political and constitutional struggles, his own struggles for democracy and his brief stint with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

"This is a land that works without a constitution," Hashmi said at the start of the presser hosted in Islamabad.

Criticising the manner in which the 1956 and 1973 constitutions were formulated, he said the "civil and military powers alter the constitution at will". He added that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto ran the country into a state of emergency.

"Then came Ziaul Haq, who himself was the constitution," he said.

"We could not become a nation which respects its constitution," he said, claiming that the country has never seen a worse crisis in its 70-year history than the one it sees today.

'Supreme Court caused more destruction than anybody else'

Talking about the role of the Supreme Court, Hashmi said: "The Supreme Court has caused more destruction in the country than any other institution."

He alleged that the court had allowed former president and military dictator Pervez Musharraf to change the constitution, although he had "broken" the Constitution twice.

However, he clarified that he was not criticising incumbent Supreme Court justices. "I know that if I say anything about the current SC, it will amount to contempt of court," he noted.

"The current chief justice [of Pakistan] publicly kissed my hand, how can I say something against him?" Hashmi asked.

He said many SC judges swore to get plots but again clarified that he was not talking about the current judges, who he said, were saints.

'Did not want to end Imran's politics'

Revealing more details of him quitting PTI two years ago, Hashmi said his decision to resign was a "suicide attack" on Imran's party.

"Had I not resigned, it would have been the last day of the parliament," he said, revealing that the PML-N had also suggested he make a forward bloc within PTI.

"Had I done that, I could have received the prime minister's protocol," he claimed.

He said he refused to make the forward bloc and that he was sure PML-N realises now it would not have been a good move.

"I had the backing of 15 PTI MNAs but I did not want to finish Imran Khan's politics," the veteran politician claimed.

'Army chief did not want nuclear tests in 1998'

Javed Hashmi, who was the minister of health in the second Sharif government, claimed that the then army chief had not wanted Pakistan to conduct its nuclear tests in 1998, adding that Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan — the architect of the country's nuclear programme — was a witness to this.

He also claimed that Musharraf had created the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to target one political party and that the politicians will have to continue facing the bureau if they failed to create another institution for real accountability.

Full report at:



Websites, social media pages depicting Imran as Hindu deity blocked

Kashif Abbasi

May 12, 2018

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel was on Friday told that most websites and pages on social media which contained a picture depicting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan as Lord Shiva, have been blocked.

During a meeting of a sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Government Assurances, which was chaired by MNA Dr Fouzia Hameed, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials said the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) identified 17 websites which contained the picture and blocked most of them.

The issue was referred to the sub-committee by the main committee on the complaint of MNAs Ramesh Lal and Lal Chand Malhi. Both the lawmakers attended the sub-committee’s meeting and expressed satisfaction over the progress made in the case.

The committee was told that after getting court orders- as required in order to get user data from Facebook management, the FIA had forwarded a request to the social media site for getting information on the users who spread the picture in question.

Facebook management had earlier refused FIA’s request for providing user details, saying they will not entertain the request without formal legal process.

“Court order through the competent court as required by Facebook authority has been obtained and forwarded to Facebook authorities. Moreover, action against the alleged Facebook profile/page will be taken after receiving of IP and subscriber details from the Facebook authority, USA,” reads FIA’s working paper which was presented before the committee.

The document mentions the name of the Facebook page on which the post was first shared and the investigating agency said the post and related comments have since been removed from the profile, which was pro PML-N.

The investigating agency said that the user seems to have been using a proxy and that the real IP could not be identified.

Talking to Dawn, MNA Dr Hameed said the FIA should resolve the issue in a week and that website which had also published the said picture have been blocked while two people involved have also been identified, according to the FIA.

She said depicting anyone as Lord Shiva is religious terrorism.

“FIRs should be registered against those involved,” she added.

Talking to Dawn, MNA Lal said Lord Shiva is a Hindu god and to show him as a politician is blasphemy. He expressed satisfaction over the progress made by the PTA and FIA in the case so far.

Full report at:



CJP tells Balochistan govt to compensate Church attack affectees

May 12, 2018

QUETTA: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Friday bound the Balochistan government to pay compensation in three days to affectees of attack at Bethel Memorial Methodist Church, Quetta.

The federal and provincial governments had announced monetary compensation for the victims of the attack after at least nine people and 30 others were injured in a suicide attack on the church in December 2017, however, the money still has not been paid yet.

Following the reports of non-payment of money, the Supreme Court (SC) had asked taken a suo motu notice last week.

At the hearing on Friday, a two-member bench of the SC directed the District Compensation Committee to release payments “to the entitled persons within three days”.

CJP Nisar was told that legal heirs of the victims had not submitted their succession certificates. He then directed the Quetta deputy commissioner to immediately transfer the undistributed funds to the account of the Quetta sessions judge and set a one-month deadline to the determine the deceased’s legal heirs.

Expressing dismay at the delay in disbursement of funds, CJP Nisar noted that committee members Quetta Additional District Commissioner Naseebullah Kakar,, Assistant Commissioner Babraq Khan, Police Surgeon Ali Mardan and SSP Investigation Jawwad Ahmed were “not able to offer any plausible reason for the delay”.

The committee members were also issued noticed where they were asked to explain why a case of misconduct should not be filed against them and why they should not be held liable to pay markup to the people for the period they deprived them of money.

Justice Nisar also observed that the Council of Islamic Ideology’s (CII) decision to refer to the members of the Christian community as “Masihi” instead of “Esai” has not been implemented by the government.

Full report at:



Arab World


‘Throw Iranians out’: Israel minister Lieberman to Syria’s Assad

11 May 2018

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to expel Iranian forces from his country, after Israeli air strikes hit alleged Iranian targets in Syria.

“I shall take advantage of this opportunity to send a message to Assad: throw the Iranians out,” a defense ministry statement quoted Lieberman as saying during a visit to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

“They are not helping you,” he said. “They only do harm and their presence brings only damage and problems.”

Israel claims it struck dozens of Iranian targets inside Syria early on Thursday in response to a salvo of rockets fired by Iranian forces into the occupied Golan Heights.

Red line

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran had “crossed a red line” and that Israel’s bombardment against targets in Syria “was a consequence”.

Israel carried out the raids after it said Iran’s Al-Quds force fired 20 rockets, either Fajr or Grad type, at its forces in the Golan.

It has long warned it will not accept Iran entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria, where the Islamic Republic backs Assad’s regime in the country’s seven-year civil war.

It has been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that have killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged those raids.

The Jewish state says it has conducted dozens of operations in Syria to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to Iran-backed Hezbollah, another key foe of Israel.

Israel had been preparing itself for weeks for possible Iranian retaliation.



Russian Fighter Jets Pound Terrorist Centres in Northwestern Syria

May 11, 2018

The Russian warplanes bombed terrorists' positions heavily, specifically the positions of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) near the towns of Naqir and Maar Zita in Southern Idlib.

According to pro-opposition accounts, the fighter jets were using bunker buster high explosive bombs to target Tahrir Al-Sham's bases.

Field sources said last week that the Russian jets reportedly bombed the militant-held towns in Jisr Al-Shughour region in Western Idlib near the border with Turkey and nearby al-Ghaab Plain, which is partially under the control of militant groups.

According to a military source in nearby Lattakia, the warplanes have been heavily targeting areas under the control of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at and the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) in the provinces of Idlib and Hama.

Full report at:



Third Group of Terrorists, Family Members to Leave Homs, Hama Provinces Soon

May 11, 2018

A number of buses carrying hundreds of terrorists and their family members that rejected the Syrian Army's peace offer are preparing to exit Northern Homs and Southern Hama.

The terrorists and their family members will be dispatched to al-Rastan Bridge after which they will be transported to Northern Syria.

Media sources reported on Thursday that militants in four villages in Northern Homs handed over their weapons to the relevant officials and ended battle against the Syrian army.

Syria's Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that the terrorists stationed in the villages of Ezzeddin, Deir Foul, Ein Hossein and al-Ameriyeh in Northern Homs near Southwest of the town of Salamiyeh joined the Syrian army's peace plan in Northern Homs and Southern Hama.

It added that Salamiyeh will be protected from the militants' missile and artillery fire after the four villages joined the peace plan.

Full report at:



Syrian Army Discovers Terrorists' Tunnel Network in Southern Damascus

May 11, 2018

The sources said that the tunnel was uncovered by the army men inside the Madaniyah district in Hajar al-Aswad region in the Southern part of Damascus province .

The tunnel is known as the “The Gate of the Two Ghoutas as it was built to link Eastern Ghouta to Western Ghouta.

The tunnel itself is nearly 1 km long and goes under the Damascus-Dara’a Highway.

Despite constructing most of the tunnel, they were never able to finish the project because they eventually lost Darayya and other West Ghouta towns.

In a similar development on Tuesday, the army discovered huge quantities of weapons and ammunition storage in the former rebel bastion town of Jobar, East of the capital.

The arms and ammunition were hidden underneath a building.

Full report at:



US-Backed SDF Advances against ISIL in Eastern Syria

May 11, 2018

The SDF managed to advance a dozen kilometers against ISIL in Eastern Deir Ezzur, putting them within the striking distance in Hajin region.

“The distance between ISIL and us is roughly 200 meters,” said Haval Bahoz, an SDF fighter.

A militant-affiliated website reported on Tuesday that tens of militants defected the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) only one week after the SDF alleged fresh attacks on ISIL's positions in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur.

Smart news website reported that sixty gunmen of al-Shoaytat Tribe defected the SDF and retreated from contact lines with ISIL in the villages and settlements of Granij, al-Bahra, Jubb al-Bahra and Hajin.

It further said that the defection was a result of discrimination between Araba and Kurds among the SDF ranks, adding that the defected gunmen handed over their arms and ammunition and vowed not to take part in any military operation led by the SDF.

Full report at:



Saudi Arabia intercepts ballistic missile launched by Houthi militias towards Jazan

11 May 2018

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia intercepted Friday a ballistic missile launched by Houthi militias in the direction of Jazan, according to the coalition battling them in neighboring Yemen.

Saudi Arabia’s air defenses intercepted the ballistic missile that was launched by Houthi militias from Yemen’s Saadah governorate. The missile was fired at Jazan but was intercepted.

Coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki said that the missile was fired towards Jazan in Saudi Arabia and aimed to target areas populated by civilians.

Earlier on in the week, two ballistic missiles were fired at the Saudi capital Riyadh.

Full report at:





Panel Finds Fault with Police over Dalit-Muslim Clash, Outsiders Were Involved

MAY 12, 2018

‘Incident could have been averted had they been alert’

Outsiders were involved in the clash between Muslims and Dalits in Bomminaickanpatti village near Theni [on May 5], and an alert police force would have prevented the clash, L. Murugan, vice-chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, said here on Friday.

He made the remarks while addressing media persons ahead of a review meeting with officials of the Coimbatore Corporation.

The police, who had [received] inputs regarding the possibility of clashes breaking out, could have prevented the violence, had they not acted indifferently, he said.

The commission wants the State government to replace the investigation officer with an official in the rank of an Additional Superintendent of Police, as the police have thus far arrested only six of the 20 accused.

“The government should immediately disburse compensation to the affected Dalits,” Mr. Murugan added.

He claimed that the government had disconnected the supply of power and water to the Dalit families, and that the commission had to intervene to restore the connections.

Title deeds

Mr. Murugan said the commission had directed the State government to expedite the process of providing free title deeds to members of Scheduled Caste communities. It had also held a meeting with the Chief Secretary in this regard. But citing the high cost of land, the government had told the commission that it was finding it difficult to implement the scheme.

The commission directed the Coimbatore Corporation to ensure that conservancy workers employed on a contractual basis were paid ₹350 a day as promised and provided with safety gear like gloves and boots, and that their ATM cards were not in the illegal possession of usurious money lenders.

It also asked the Corporation to expedite the construction of new dwelling units for the workers, as their houses were in a dilapidated state.

To a query on the death of Anitha, a student from Ariyalur, Mr. Murugan said the commission's inquiry was on, and he would be able to comment only after it concluded.



'Let Jihadis Announce Ceasefire First': BJP National Secretary

May 12, 2018

NEW DELHI: Two days after the PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu & Kashmir asked the Centre to initiate a unilateral "ceasefire" against terrorists starting from the month of Ramzan till the Amarnath yatra, BJP washed its hands of it.

Disapproving of the recommendation and objecting particularly to the word "ceasefire", BJP national secretary Ram Madhav, also the party's Kashmir minder, told TOI in an interview, "If by ceasefire the suggestion is to cease operations by forces against terrorists, that is not going to happen until terrorists stop terror activities. Since Ramzan is a holy month for Muslims, terrorists should announce a unilateral ceasefire. If they stop killing ordinary civilians and attacking forces, operations against them will automatically stop."

To begin with, Madhav said, BJP had not agreed to the suggestion of unilateral "ceasefire" which was made at the all-party meeting headed by CM Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar. "Moreover, there was no formal proposal or recommendation made to the Centre," he pointed out.

Mufti had claimed that both the ruling coalition and the opposition in J&K were unanimously in favour of suspending counter-insurgency operations against terrorists, starting from mid-May till ending August, for the sake of providing "relief to people" during the period of their religious obligations and festivals.

Full report at:



Ahead of Sheikh Hasina’s visit, India holds talks with Myanmar on Rohingya

May 11, 2018

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday held talks with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi as she wrapped up her two-day visit to the neighbouring state.

The Rohingya refugees’ crisis and situation in Rakhine State from where they had been evicted last August featured prominently in talks along with boundary and border security and India’s development assistance to Myanmar.

In the official statement, India referred to Rohingya refugees as “displaced persons”.

Swaraj in her talks with Suu Kyi reiterated “India’s readiness and commitment to helping the Government of Myanmar in addressing issues related to Rakhine State”.

“The first major project is the construction of prefabricated housing in Rakhine State to meet the needs of displaced persons. The minister also underlined the need for safe, speedy and sustainable return of displaced persons to Rakhine State,” said the official MEA statement.

The bilateral talks come just days ahead of the upcoming India visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on May 25 and 26.

In the presence of PM Narendra Modi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Hasina will inaugurate the newly constructed Bangladesh Bhawan Tagore Museum in Shantiniketan, the birth place of Rabindranath Tagore.

She will also receive an honorary doctorate from Kazi Nazrul University in Asansol, the university named after the rebel poet and national poet of Bangladesh Kazi Nazrul Islam.

Bangladesh, where some 7,00,000 Rohingya refugees are camped in dire conditions, has been urging India to leverage with Myanmar to facilitate early and safe repatriation of the Rohingya.

The matter was prominently discussed during Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s first official visit to Dhaka in April.

Meanwhile, India and Myanmar also signed seven agreements/MoUs today including on land border crossing, restoration and preservation of earthquake damaged pagodas in Bagan, assistance to the Joint Ceasefire Monitoring Committee, training of Myanmar Foreign Service officers and setting up Industrial Training Centre (ITC) at Monywa.

“The agreement on land border crossing is a landmark in bilateral relations between the two countries as it will enable people from both countries to cross the land border with passport and visa, including for accessing health and education services, pilgrimage and tourism. The MoU on restoration of pagodas at Bagan underlines the enduring cultural and historical links between the two countries,” said the MEA.

Full report at:



Jammu youth dies in Pakistan firing on LoC

Sanjay Khajuria

May 12, 2018

A youth from Jammu died when Pakistani troops resorted to small arms firing in violation of the truce agreement on the LoC in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir late on Thursday night. Mohammad Ikhlaq, the victim, was attending a marriage function in the area. When Ikhlaq came out of the marriage venue after the function, stray bullets hit him, killing him on the spot, sources said, adding that a case has been registered.



Trial concludes in Bodh Gaya serial bomb blast case

Debashish Karmakar

May 11, 2018

PATNA: The special court of National Investigating Agency (NIA) in Patna concluded the trial in the Bodh Gaya serial blast case on Friday. Special court judge Manoj Kumar Sinha has fixed May 25 to pronounce if the five accused who faced trial in the case were guilty or not.

Special NIA public prosecutor Lallan Prasad Sinha, who was assisted by counsel Sanjay Kumar in the case, said once the court decides who all accused are guilty in the case, date would be finalised for pronouncing quantum of punishment.

The serial bombing happened within the one kilometre radius of the Bodh Gaya temple on July 7, 2013.

According to the NIA chargesheet, Umer Siddiqui (39), Azaharuddin Qureshi (25), Imtiyaz Ansari alias Alam (35), Haider Ali alias Abdullah (30), Mujibullah Ansari (28), Numan Ansari (30), Tariq Ansari (28) and a juvenile were made accused in the case. Except the juvenile and Tariq, rest were facing trial before the special court.

Tariq had died while activating a bomb inside a bathroom in Patna junction premises for the Gandhi Maidan serial bombing that took place on October 27, 2013. All six accused in Bodh Gaya blast were also involved in the Gandhi Maidan blast.

Altogether 13 improvised explosive devices (IED) were planted, of which ten exploded in the Bodh Gaya blast. Four IEDs exploded on the temple site including one near Bodhi tree while six exploded in the one kilometre radius. Five persons, including two Buddhist monks, were injured in the serial explosions.

Full report at:



India makes Rohingya stand clear to Myanmar: Want their safe, speedy, sustainable return

by Shubhajit Roy

May 12, 2018

WITH BANGLADESH leaning on India for support on the Rohingya issue, New Delhi has moved a step forward and, for the first time, called for “safe, speedy and sustainable” return of the refugees to Rakhine State in Myanmar.

This assumes significance since Bangladesh is expected to go for elections later this year, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina are scheduled to meet in Shantiniketan in West Bengal later this month.

India’s new and more robust position was conveyed to Myanmar’s top leadership by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during her two-day visit to Myanmar that concluded on Friday. During her visit, Swaraj met Myanmar’s President U Win Myint and State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi.

In an official statement on Swaraj’s visit, the Ministry of External Affairs said, “The External Affairs Minister also reiterated India’s readiness and commitment to helping the Government of Myanmar (GOM) in addressing issues related to Rakhine State. She welcomed GOM’s continued commitment to implementing the Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations and noted that, under the aegis of the bilateral Rakhine State Development Programme, India was already in the implementation stages of various projects that would respond to the needs of different sections of the Rakhine State population.”

“The first major project is the construction of prefabricated housing in Rakhine State to meet the needs of displaced persons. The Minister also underlined the need for safe, speedy and sustainable return of displaced persons to Rakhine State,” it said.

This has been the most emphatic statement by the Indian government on the Rohingya refugees since last September, and represents a nuanced evolution in India’s position. This is also a sharp, but gradual shift from what Prime Minister Modi had said last year. During his visit to Myanmar in September last year, Modi had referred to the “extremist violence in Rakhine State” in his prepared statement after a bilateral meeting with Suu Kyi. “We are partners in your concerns over the loss of lives of security forces and innocent people due to the extremist violence in Rakhine State,” he had said.

A joint statement issued on September 6 said, “India condemned the recent terrorist attacks in northern Rakhine State, wherein several members of the Myanmar security forces lost their lives.” That was perceived to be unsympathetic to the Rohingya refugees, which was condemned by many and prompted Bangladesh to raise the issue with the Indian government at various levels.

On September 9, New Delhi issued a statement in which it said, “India remains deeply concerned about the situation in Rakhine State in Myanmar and the outflow of refugees from that region.” Subsequently, Swaraj discussed the issue with Hasina on their flight to New York, and again on the sidelines of the UNGA meeting. On December 20, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar visited Myanmar and talked about the objective of restoration of normalcy in Rakhine State and “enable the return of displaced persons”. He had, under a pact, proposed a project to build prefabricated housing in Rakhine State so as to meet the immediate needs of “returning people”.

An estimated 7,00,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine State since the military crackdown, resulting in a major crisis in neighbouring Bangladesh. The UN and US have said the violence against Rohingya amounted to ethnic cleansing. Besides, the Rohingya issue, seven agreements/MOUs were signed during Swaraj’s visit, including an agreement on Land Border Crossing.

Full report at:



North America


White House slams Iran for ‘reckless actions’ against Israel, Saudi Arabia

12 May 2018

The White House on Friday slammed Iran for its “reckless actions” that it warned pose a “severe threat” to stability in Middle East.

The statement came after Iranian forces in Syria were accused by Israel of launching some 20 missiles into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, prompting Israeli strikes against positions held by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) inside Syria.

The White House said that Iran “pours resources into exporting destabilizing influence throughout the Middle East, even as the Iranian people are victims of a struggling economy.”

“Already this week, the IRGC has fired rockets at Israeli citizens, and Iran’s proxies in Yemen have launched a ballistic missile at Riyadh.

“These actions are further proof that the Iranian regime’s reckless actions pose a severe threat to regional peace and security.

“It is time for responsible nations to bring pressure on Iran to change this dangerous behavior.”

Iran is backing the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war. The Houthis are battling a Saudi-led coalition that supports Yemen’s government.

Trump, May condemn Iran rocket attacks

US President Donald Trump spoke by phone on Friday with British Prime Minister Theresa May and the two leaders condemned Iran's rocket attacks on Israel from Syria, the White House said in a statement.

"Both leaders condemned the Iranian regime’s provocative rocket attacks from Syria against Israeli citizens," the statement said.

"The leaders discussed how best to address Iran’s destabilizing behavior," it said.



Trump to address Jerusalem embassy opening by video

11 May 2018

President Donald Trump will address around 800 US and Israeli dignitaries at the ceremonial opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem by video on Monday, the US ambassador said.

It was not immediately clear from Ambassador David Friedman comment, on a call with reporters, whether Trump would speak via a live videolink or a pre-recorded address.

The ambassador said staff at the Tel Aviv mission had just marked its last day as an embassy and some of them would turn up for work on Monday at the Jerusalem embassy, which would host an opening ceremony later that day.

“People will be coming back to work as the embassy branch of the Jerusalem embassy, and I think we’re all very happy and excited to be participating in such a historic event,” Friedman said.

“People have been working literally around the clock in getting ready for our opening dedication ceremony on Monday. We’ll be ready.”

Friedman said around 800 people were expected for the ceremony, he added, explaining that in addition to the previously announced US presidential delegation, a “healthy number” of American lawmakers were also set to attend.

“The president, from my side of things, will be addressing the audience by video,” he said.

But he stressed the event will be a bilateral US-Israeli celebration, downplaying reports that very few if any diplomats from other countries that have not recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would attend.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will lead the delegation that will include Trump’s daughter Ivanka, her husband and senior White House aide Jared Kushner, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The US decision to move the embassy and to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital raised concern in many capitals, and outrage in some, that Washington is pre-judging the result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Trump has been criticized for handing his ally Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a political victory without insisting on any Israeli concessions that might mollify Palestinians and help revive the moribund peace process.

But Friedman insisted that the embassy decision had been taken purely in the US national interest.

“The Israelis are obviously desirous of this, and they’ve requested this, and they’re very happy by it,” he said.

Full report at:



Republican activists to hold convention at Minnesota mosque

May 11, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) - A small group of Republican activists is holding an annual convention at a Minnesota mosque, an unusual setting for a party with an uneasy relationship with Islam. It started with two guys talking to each other.

Abdulahi Farah runs programs at Dar al-Farooq mosque, which was damaged by an explosive device that caused no injuries last summer, in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington. Zavier Bicott is chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota. The two men met through a civic initiative called One Bloomington, and Bicott said he’d love to have an event at the mosque.

Farah welcomed the idea, but it stirred up controversy on social media. But Bicott tells Minnesota Public Radio that he’s gotten more support than criticism. Bicott, who said he didn’t vote for President Donald Trump, disagrees with some of his fellow Republicans who fear Muslims are threatening the Constitution and want to implement sharia law.

“And I just say, ‘I’m a libertarian, I am pretty liberty-minded. I would be there to defend the Constitution with you if something like that happened,’” Bicott said. “But they’re like, ‘It’s coming, inch by inch!’ I just agree to disagree with them.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 13 percent of Muslims identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, compared with 66 percent who lean Democrat. Abdi Mohamed, a 24-year-old Somali-American and Republican from Woodbury, said he appreciates Bicott’s decision.

“It’s a way of reaching out to Muslims who are culturally conservative and can benefit from conservative policies,” said Mohamed, adding that Bicott “and many others want to expand the conservative and libertarian message to all.”

Asked to comment on the controversy, Jennifer Carhanan, chairwoman of the Minnesota GOP, said her party “is an open, inclusive and optimistic party” with “no religious test to participate.”

Bicott said he believes the Republican Party is a good fit for Minnesota Muslims because of its conservative values and push for limited government. He said Republicans need to reach out to other communities, or the party will die.

Full report at:



Five high-ranking ISIL terrorists captured says Trump

11 May 2018

The United States President Donald Trump on Thursday announced that five "most wanted" ISIL leaders have been captured in Iraq.

"Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS just captured!," Trump wrote on his official Twitter account, after the Iraqi state television on Wednesday said the country's intelligence agency lured the ISIL terrorists into crossing Syria and arrested them.

Col. Ryan Dillon, the U.S.-led Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve’s (CJTF-OIR) spokesman also mentioned the arrest of five ISIL leaders in his Twitter post.

"Iraq captures 5 key ISIL leaders during Operation Round up. The arrest is a significant blow to ISIL...," he said, adding: “CJTF-OIR is committed to lasting defeat of ISIL and setting conditions for stabilization."

On Wednesday, the Iraqi state television announced the capturing of the high ranking ISIL terrorists and published their photographs and identity cards.

Iraqi security sources, who wished to remain anonymous due to restrictions on speaking to the media, said the terror group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is hiding somewhere at the Iraq-Syria border.

Last December, officials in Baghdad declared that ISIL's military presence in Iraq had been all but dismantled over operations backed by the U.S.-led International Alliance.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Indonesia's Hizbut Tahrir Debate Rages on Amid Election Fever

By Erin Cook

May 12, 2018

Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), forcibly disbanded last year by the Indonesian government, has had its day in court, and it has not ended well. While the challenge was swiftly turfed by the Jakarta State Administrative Court on Monday, citing the group’s incompatibility with Pancasila, Indonesia’s founding ideology, the debate rages on.

When it was initially founded in the 1950s, HTI had its hands in several parts of the Islamic world, with an ideology seeking a transnational caliphate practicing Sharia law and uniting Muslim-majority states. But the influence of the group has since largely waned across the world relatively speaking, and it is banned in much of Europe and the Arab states.

Indonesia had until last year largely quietly tolerated the organization, and there were a number of mass demonstrations and events over the last two decades. HTI is suspected of having been linked to varying degrees to terror group Jemaah Islamiyah in the 2000s and then again to the Indonesian arm of Islamic State via Bahrun Naim, the mastermind behind the 2006 Thamrin attack in Central Jakarta.

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A controversial presidential decree signed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in July last year gave him the authority to disband groups that challenge “national unity and the existence of the Indonesian nation.” The decree followed months of religious- and racially-charged violence in the capital amid a heated gubernatorial campaign, and prompted scores of criticism when HTI was the first target. HTI bills itself as a nonviolent movement seeking the establishment of a caliphate via peaceful methods, and the ban was widely criticized as a power grab by the president and an abandonment of due process.

“The move just shows an arbitrary action aimed at disbanding Hizbut Tahrir. [HTI] is a legal religious organization and has been spreading its messages peacefully, in an orderly manner, in accordance with the law,” HTI spokesman Ismail Yusanto told media at the time, vowing to fight on.

Mass demonstrations outside the court Monday proved what many commentators suspected last year – it may be easy to strike out an organization through a decree, but it takes a lot more to kill an ideology. Indeed, with a membership base believed to be in the tens of thousands by one count, forcing HTI onto the defensive may yet prove to be an egregious mistake. Speaking to The Guardian shortly after the ruling, Todd Elliott, a political analyst at Concord Consulting, said HTI had been seen as a soft target by the government, which was keen to stamp out burgeoning radical and extremist groups amid the mayhem of the election.

This could have been a misstep, Elliott said, and by targeting a group which is strictly nonviolent it could force the radicalism of members who feel under siege by a government who does not care that HTI had played by the rules.

While HTI is still only exploring legal and political avenues – and this at this stage there is no reason to suspect anything more than that – it is clear this defeat is not seen as the end by members.

“If we accept, that means accepting injustice, that we allow injustice and we accept that preaching our ideals is wrong. Are you willing to let the teachings of Islam be blamed?” Yusanto told CNN Indonesia.

HTI has secured support from at least one political party, with the National Mandate Party (PAN), reiterating its stance that the decree is “arbitrary” and goes beyond the scope of the government. PAN argues, as did many independent observers and political activists last year, that the decree opens up the possibility for the government to disband other groups and organizations with which it disagrees.

Partai Bulan Bintang (PBB), or Crescent Star Party, has gone one step further, with chairman Yusril Ihza Mahendra inviting former HTI members to join the party and run as candidates. PBB has become the favored party among Islamic hardliners off the back of its vocal rhetoric opposing the Jokowi government and this decree in particular. Speaking to local investigative journalism outlet Tirto, Yusanto was coy to outline the exact relationship between HTI and PBB, but noted that a HTI endorsement would be a vote-winner for the party ahead of next year’s elections.

With so far only HTI to be disbanded under the decree and a torrent of criticisms opened up for the Jokowi government, the question remains – has it been worth it? Disabling a loud but toothless organization has forced members to push its ideology through other avenues. Becoming a legitimate political threat could prove far more destabilizing to Pancasila and Indonesia than a vocal contingent at rallies.



A big PAS vote bank in the ‘moral constituency’

Predeep Nambia

May 12, 2018

GEORGE TOWN: A political analyst says the unexpected PAS victories in 18 parliamentary seats at the recent general election was a sign of an increased “moral constituency” among Malay voters.

Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, director of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies, said many pollsters had not factored in the “moral constituency” among Malays when presenting their results or making forecasts on the election outcome.

“Pollsters and analysts might have left out the ‘moral constituency’ factor, simply because these are the Malays who are not the noisy, complaining lot. This group of people will only appear in massive numbers at PAS public rallies or when they supported Bersih in the past,” Shamsul told FMT.

Shamsul said the “moral constituency” can be divided into three groups – PAS hardcore members, PAS sympathisers and those who view secular parties as “unclean”.

* Hardcore PAS members – not as huge in number as Umno, hence the prediction that PAS could only win seven parliamentary seats.

* PAS sympathisers – not registered members; young urban middle-class professionals with no interest in politics, mostly science-based educated (academicians, doctors, engineers, IT professionals), will vote for PAS.

“Some are young rural graduates of agama (religious) schools, or religious schools in western countries, Middle East, India and Indonesia.

They live in a comfortable middle-class segment, with some even owning Islamic schools, colleges and even kindergartens.

“This group also comprises Muslim-preneurs, such as owners of small-medium enterprises, selling Islamic products including aphrodisiacs (tongkat ali and kacip fatimah) and muslimah attire.

“It’s a quiet circle. But they have money to donate to PAS. In fact, it is reported that a PAS Youth division in Kedah makes money from running Taski, an Islamic kindergarten.”

* those who reject the “unclean” BN and PH – a large circle of pious people whose final objective in life is simply to obtain ‘spiritual nirvana’ or ‘masuk syurga’ in the afterlife; to them, BN and PH are unclean, while PAS is the safe spiritual choice.

Full report at:



PAS proposes Muslim-led unity government in Perak

May 11, 2018

PETALING JAYA: PAS has proposed a “unity government” of all parties that won seats in Perak’s state assembly, in order to break a stalemate after Wednesday’s general election.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said under such an arrangement, there would be no opposition parties in the Perak assembly.

The menteri besar and the majority of the Executive Council must be Muslims, he said.

“PAS offers to form a unity government (government without opposition) that consists of all political parties (PAS, Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional) with the condition that the unity government is led by a Muslim agreed to by the majority of the Muslim assemblymen,” he said.

He said the party’s central committee decided on the offer at a special meeting today.

Pakatan Harapan is two seats short of a majority in the 59-member assembly. Barisan Nasional secured 27 seats and PAS three.

Full report at:



Islamic militant, officer killed after Indonesia prison riot

May 11, 2018

A suspected Islamic militant fatally stabbed a police officer at a police detention center near Indonesia's capital before being shot and killed by another officer, police said Friday.

The attack occurred late Thursday at the headquarters of the elite Mobile Brigade police in Depok, on Jakarta's southern outskirts, hours after 155 Islamic militant prisoners who earlier took over the headquarters and killed five officers surrendered to police, said National Police spokesman Setyo Wasisto.

He said the 23-year-old attacker used a hidden knife to stab an officer who was questioning him about why he was near the headquarters.

Police had searched the attacker and found no weapons before he was questioned, "but it turned out he was hiding a knife inside his underwear," Wasisto said. A forensic test showed the knife contained a poison.

He said other officers rushed to help when they heard screams and ordered the attacker to surrender, fired warning shots, and then shot him to death as he attempted to stab a female officer.

Separately on Thursday, the police counter-terrorism squad arrested four suspected militants in Bekasi, just outside Jakarta, after receiving information they planned to attack the Mobile Brigade headquarters to support fellow militants following the clash at the headquarters' prison.

Wasisto said police shot two of the militants who tried to grab a gun and strangle the officers. The two were injured and taken to a hospital.

He said the men were members of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, a network of about two dozen Indonesian extremist groups formed in 2015 that pledges allegiance to Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The network, which Washington designated a terrorist group last year, has been implicated in a number of attacks in Indonesia over the past year.

Full report at:



Trump congratulates Malaysia’s Mahathir on historic electoral victory

May 11, 2018

US President Donald Trump has congratulated Mahathir Mohamad of Malaysia on his electoral victory, with the White House saying America is looking forward to working closely with it to address common international and regional challenges.

Mahathir’s alliance crushed the long-ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in a shocking defeat, toppling the corruption-riddled regime’s six-decade stranglehold on power.

The 92-year-old Mahathir, who had retired in 2003 as premier but made a comeback in a bid to oust the coalition he once headed, was sworn on Thursday, becoming the world’s oldest elected leader.

“President Donald J Trump congratulates Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on his having been sworn in today as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia. The President also congratulates all Malaysians on their participation in a competitive and peaceful election campaign,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement on Thursday.

She said the United States–Malaysia relationship is rooted in longstanding and strong people-to-people ties, shared democratic values and commercial relations.

Sanders said the US looks forward to continuing to work closely with Malaysia to further strengthen the partnership between the two countries and to address common international and regional challenges.

Earlier State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert congratulated the people of Malaysia on their participation in a “hard-fought” election campaign.

“Malaysians from all parties, states and backgrounds engaged the electoral process in large numbers peacefully and with great enthusiasm,” she said.

Full report at:



Malaysia's new PM says monarch agrees to pardon opposition icon Anwar

May 11, 2018

Newly-elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has announced that Malaysia's monarch has expressed willingness to grant a full pardon to imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

"The (king) has indicated he is willing to pardon Datuk Sri Anwar immediately," Mahathir declared on Friday during a press conference just a day after the 92-year-old was sworn in following his upset win over Najib Razak and the country’s long-ruling coalition.

"We will begin the... proper process of obtaining a pardon for Datuk Sri Anwar," he further underlined, making clear that "this means a full pardon.”

“He should be released immediately when he is pardoned," added Mahathir, who has pledged to eventually step down and hand over the premiership to Anwar following his release from prison.

Mahathir and Anwar, two former allies that fell out during the 1998 Asian financial crisis, formed a coalition to challenge the re-election of Najib and oust his ruling coalition from power. Anwar had been jailed on charges of sodomy and corruption and, cannot assume any office until he is pardoned and released.

The new prime minister also stated at the news conference that he would announce a 10-member cabinet on Saturday, including key ministers for ministries of finance, defense and home affairs.

Mahathir's reconciliation with Anwar has been regarded as one of the most remarkable aspects of a thrilling election contest.

Anwar used to be a senior government figure and considered Mahathir's heir apparent until he was sacked in 1998 over political differences. He was subsequently jailed on charges of sodomy and abuse of power in a case broadly criticized as politically motivated.

Full report at:





Protesters in Jordan, Turkey, and Indonesia Rally against US Embassy Move To Al-Quds

May 12, 2018

Thousands of protesters in Jordan, Turkey and Indonesia have staged rallies to condemn the US decision to relocate its Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds.

In Jordan, a crowd of nearly 7,000 staged a rally in the Jordan Valley area on Friday to voice solidarity with Palestinian protesters.

In the Turkish city of Istanbul, several thousand people protested against the relocation of the US embassy to al-Quds, holding Palestinian and Turkish flags and carrying signs reading “Palestine belongs to the Palestinians” and “al-Quds belongs to Muslims.”

In Indonesia, nearly 5,000 protesters staged a demonstration in the capital city of Jakarta and unfurled Indonesian and Palestinian flags.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has no diplomatic ties with Israel and has long supported Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

Diplomats from many countries have reportedly declined to attend a reception ceremony for the embassy relocation ceremony in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds in a show of anger at President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital. The reception ceremony is scheduled to be held a day before the official relocation on Monday.

Last December, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s so-called capital and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds, breaking with decades of American policy.

His decision infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as a mediator in the so-called Middle East peace process. It also sparked outrage across the Muslim world and even among Washington's Arab allies.

On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli capital.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are expected to hold massive protests along the fence between the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories on the day of the US embassy relocation. The rally, which will cap several weeks of deadly protests in the coastal enclave, coincides with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), when Israel was created in 1948.

At least 52 unarmed Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli live fire since the protests began on March 30.

The Israeli regime has faced international criticism over its use of live fire, with the United Nations and the European Union calling for an independent investigation. Tel Aviv has rejected the call.



40 Houthis killed in intense fighting in Yemen’s Hodeidah

11 May 2018

Reports from Yemen said 40 Houthis were killed on Friday morning during intense fighting on the western coast of al-Hodeidah city west of the country.

Among the casualties was  Mohammed Abdul Rehman al-Shahaar, a Houthi leader.

The intense fighting erupted on Friday between Houthi militias on one hand and joint forces from labor and resistance brigades in Tahama and other forces led by brigadier Tariq Saleh, the son of slain ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh, according to Yemeni sources.

Yemen’s National Army forces, supported by Arab coalition launched intense attack on Houthi militias in wide parts of al-Jarahi and Tahita directorates, inflicting significant material and human losses.

Beseiged enclaves

Meanwhile, military sources are expecting the Houthi militias to surrender in the rest of their besieged enclaves in al-Amri, Qahboub, Wazyia that are parts of Mount Habshi and Maqbna.

Full report at:



World diplomats skip US embassy opening ceremony in Jerusalem al-Quds: Report

May 11, 2018

Many countries have reportedly declined to attend the US embassy relocation ceremony in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds in a show of anger at President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s "capital".

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that only 30 out of 86 foreign envoys serving in Israel had accepted Tel Aviv’s invitation to the Sunday reception. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had invited the entire foreign diplomatic corps to the event.

Israel's Hadashot TV news said many European envoys, including those from the United Kingdom, France and Germany, boycotted the May 14 event.

"It is a little strange to invite us to celebrate an event that we opposed and condemned. The Americans were more clever and knew in advance not to invite us to save themselves from embarrassment," the network quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

The event, which will take place a day before the official relocation ceremony, will be attended by US President Donald Trump's daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and other US officials.

Haaretz reported this week that the Israeli foreign ministry did not invite most of the Israeli opposition lawmakers to the reception.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat on Monday called on foreign dignitaries in Israel and around the world to "boycott the inauguration ceremony... lest they lend legitimacy to an illegal decision and to continued Israeli policies of occupation, colonization and annexation."

“Those who attend the ceremony will thus be sending an ominous message, a message that they encourage flagrant violations of international law and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people,” said Erekat.

Last December, Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s so-called capital and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, breaking with decades of American policy.

His decision infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as a mediator in the so-called Middle East peace process. It also sparked outrage across the Muslim world and even among Washington's Arab allies.

On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital.”

Palestinians to storm Israel-Gaza fence

Yahya Sinwar, the political chief of the Palestinian resistance movement  Hamas, said Thursday he hopes to see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians storm the fence between the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories during protests next week that will coincide with the US embassy move to Jerusalem al-Quds.

“What’s the problem with hundreds of thousands breaking through a fence that is not a border?”asked Sinwar, who hoped Israel forces would not shoot at “peaceful” protests.

However, he warned that the protests risked spiraling out of control, saying “the Gaza Strip is like a hungry tiger that has been starved and left in a cage for 11 years.”

The coastal enclave is under Israeli land, air and sea blockade since 2007. Sinwar said now the tiger is on the loose, and nobody knows what it will do.

On Wednesday, Sinwar said the mass anti-occupation rallies will be “decisive,” vowing that he and other top officials were “ready to die” in a campaign to end Israel’s decade-old siege of the territory.

Senior Palestinian official Ahmad Majdalani said Tuesday that May 14 "will be a huge, popular day of rage everywhere."

"Our people will express their rejection of relocating the embassy to occupied al-Quds,” he was quoted by the Voice of Palestine, the official Palestinian Authority radio station.

Monday’s demonstration will cap six weeks of protests along the Gaza fence and coincide with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), when Israel was created in 1948.

At least 52 unarmed Palestinian protesters have been killed by Israeli live fire since protests began on March 30.

Full report at:



Houthi militias seize money belonging to Yemen’s slain ex-president Saleh

11 May 2018

Houthi militias have reportedly seized the money which was found with Yemen’s slain ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Saba news agency, which is controlled by Houthis in Sana’a, reported that Mahdi al-Mashat, head of the so-called Supreme Political Council of Houthi, directed to hand over the money to the Central Bank of Yemen.

On the other hand, the Mouwazaa directorate in Taiz was liberated Thursday without any use of force after the Houthi militias fled the area. They reportedly left the area as supplies were running out for its personnel in the al-Burh region in Maqbna directorate.

Beseiged enclaves

Military sources are expecting the Houthi militias to surrender in the rest of their besieged enclaves in al-Amri, Qahboub, Wazyia that are parts of Mount Habshi and Maqbna.

In another development, it has been reported that the fall of the last strongholds of the militias on the west coast of Taiz is guaranteed, as a result of the tightening control of Yemen's legitimate authority on al-Burh region.

Full report at:



Iranians rally to condemn 'imbecile Trump's insane move'

May 11, 2018

Iranians have taken to the streets across the country to vent their anger at the US over its withdrawal from a 2015 nuclear deal and President Donald Trump's incendiary rhetoric against Tehran.

Protesters in Tehran and other cities on Friday carried placards which read, "Mr Trump, you are talking nonsense," echoing Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei's remarks on Wednesday.

A group of students gathered outside the former US embassy in Tehran, where they burned American flags and chanted slogans against the US and the occupying regime of Israel after emerging from Friday prayers in Tehran.

"Death to America", "Death to Israel" and "We fight, we die, but we do not accept any compromise," the protesters chanted.

They issued a statement in which they reiterated their loyalty to the Islamic Republic and its anti-imperialist ideals and denounced Trump's decision to leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"The imbecile Trump's pretexts and insane move following a psychological war and breach of promise and unilateral pullout from the JCPOA and his idiotic remarks against the powerful Iran revealed again the imperialistic nature of the criminal American leaders," they said.

"With God's help, we will stand up and resist until the full destruction of the enemies of Islam and the oppressed nations of the world, especially the world-gobbling America," they said.

The show of unity came following Trump’s pullout from the JCPOA, and his announcement that the US would reimpose nuclear sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Tehran Friday Prayers leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said, "In his speech, Trump told at least 10 lies against our nation and made insults and accusations."

"The answer to all that nonsense is what this great nation has always been saying: 'America is dead wrong' and 'Mr Trump, you are talking nonsense'," he added.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran was ready to restart its nuclear program on an "industrial scale" in the wake of Trump's decision to abandon the nuclear deal with Tehran.

In a statement, Zarif said he would embark on a round of international diplomacy to try and save the deal. At the same time, the country would make preparations to restart its program of nuclear enrichment, he said.

Zarif accused Trump of "ignorance and folly" and said American foreign policy had "dragged the Middle East into chaos."

He said Iran would attempt to save the nuclear deal through negotiations with the European nations who were co-signatories to the deal. Zarif will meet with his counterparts from Germany, France and the UK in Brussels on Tuesday.

Zarif accused the US and its allies of fomenting unrest in the Middle East, "turning our region into a powder keg through their sale of hundreds of billions of dollars of useless advanced weaponry."

Ayatollah Khatami vowed Iran would turn "Tel Aviv and Haifa to dust" if attacked by Israel.

Full report at:



Israeli forces kill one Palestinian, injure 170 in Gaza

May 11, 2018

Israeli forces have once more opened fire on Palestinians taking part in anti-occupation protests along the border between the besieged Gaza Strip and occupied territories, leaving a man dead and at least 170 others wounded.

The slain man identified as the 40-year-old Jabr Salem Abu Mustafa was protesting east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Friday, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported.

Palestinian medical workers said seven of those wounded were critically injured, including a 16-year-old teen who was shot in the face.

Friday’s killings raised to 53 the death toll of unarmed Palestinian protesters who have lost their lives by Israeli forces’ live fire since protests began along the Gaza border on March 30. The Israeli regime has faced international criticism over its use of live fire.

The Palestinian rallies, known as the “Great March of Return,” will last until May 15, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), when Israel was created. Every year on May 15, Palestinians all over the world hold demonstrations to commemorate the day, which marks the anniversary of the forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland by Israelis in 1948.

According to witnesses, Israeli troops used a drone to down flaming kites that demonstrators flew over the border in a bid to torch bushes and distract snipers.

Citing data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, the aid charity Save the Children reported on Friday that at least 250 Gazan children had been shot with live ammunition during the protests, among around 700 children wounded overall.

During the Friday protests, senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Palestinians on Monday and Tuesday, when the mass protests are due to climax, will stand "as one man to tell the American president and Israel that al-Quds is Arab, Islamic, no one will change its identity."

Last December, US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s so-called capital and relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, breaking with decades of American policy.

His decision infuriated the Palestinians, who declared that Washington could no longer play a role as a mediator in the so-called Middle East peace process. It also sparked outrage across the Muslim world and even among Washington's Arab allies.

On December 21, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution that calls on the US to withdraw its controversial recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as the Israeli “capital.”

Also on Friday, Haniyeh noted “What the Palestinian resistance has in the Gaza Strip is terrifying for Israel", referring to the Palestinian resistance’s steadfastness in the face of Israeli wars and siege and its decision not to give up its arms, but to develop it.

Israel has launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal sliver, the last of which began in early July 2014. The military aggression, which ended on August 26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also wounded in the war.  

Full report at:



Turkey ‘concerned’ by UAE's military build-up on Yemen’s Socotra

May 11, 2018

Turkey has voiced concern over the recent developments in Yemen’s Socotra after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) deployed forces to the island, saying they pose a threat to the country’s sovereignty.

Earlier this month, the UAE deployed some 300 soldiers, along with tanks and artillery, to Socotra amid widening divisions with the Riyadh-sponsored forces loyal to the former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

"We are closely following the recent developments in Yemen's Socotra Island," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday, without explicitly referring to the UAE.

"We are concerned about these developments that pose a new threat to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Yemen," the ministry added.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are key members of a coalition that has been waging a deadly war on Yemen since March 2015 in support of Hadi and against the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The war has killed and injured over 600,000 civilians, according to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights. The Saudi-led aggression triggered what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

"We think that Yemen... cannot afford new problems and disputes," said the Turkish ministry.

It also urged "all relevant actors" to "avoid steps that would further complicate the solution" of the crisis.

The UAE deployment came amid widening divisions between forces loyal to the UAE and those supporting the former Yemeni president. Both camps are based in southern Yemen and mostly in Aden as the capital Sana’a still remains under the control of the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Hadi's loyalists have accused the UAE of abandoning an initial cause of fighting the Houthis, saying Emirati forces are instead providing support to those seeking a separation of Yemen's southern territories from the north of the country.

Reports have suggested that the UAE has been actively cementing its presence in Socotra since the very beginning of the Saudi-led campaign against Yemen in March 2015.

Socotra, located near Somalia in the Gulf of Aden, is protected by the United Nations cultural agency UNESCO as a world heritage site, meaning that even the Yemeni government is not allowed to interfere in the natural habitats and places of natural beauty in the area.

Some say the UAE is seeking to illegally exploit the natural resources of the island and turn the place into a tourism hub.

Full report at:



Yemeni army advances in the western coast of Hodeidah

May 12, 2018

DUBAI: The Yemeni army continued its advance in the western coast of Hodeidah province and liberated several positions from the grip of the militias on Saturday, Saudi state-news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported.

According to the Yemeni Army’s official website, “September Net,” the army was able to liberate many villages in the Hodeidah province and continued to advance toward the Hima Al-Tahta after clashes with Houthis.

Field sources were quoted saying that the fighting resulted in the killing of the militia leader Mohammed Abdul Rahman Al-Shahari and eight of his companions.

Full report at:





First mosque opens on Outer Hebrides in time for Ramadan

11 May 2018

The first mosque in the Outer Hebrides has opened before the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan next week, after a herculean effort by supporters in the UK and worldwide.

Members of the tiny Muslim population of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis invited local people of all faiths and none to celebrate the mosque’s opening after Friday prayers. Food set out on tables included celebratory cakes provided by the Hebridean Biscuit Company and a box of samosas sent from Leeds.

Aihtsham Rashid, a builder from Leeds who spearheaded a crowdfunding appeal and organised contractors and tradesmen to build the mosque, said it was a historic day.

“I’m overwhelmed and very, very emotional,” he said. “People have come from all over the island to be here today. The local community is over the moon.”

The derelict building that houses the mosque was after thousands of pounds was raised, mainly in small donations from around the world.

The mosque has separate areas for men and women to worship, space for meetings, and a small mortuary for preparing bodies for burial.

Stornoway’s Muslim population comprises a few dozen people, their number bolstered in the past couple of years by the arrival of a small number of Syrian families fleeing the civil war.

Muslims have lived on the Isle of Lewis since the 1950s, some working as travelling salespeople. Without a mosque, prayers were held in people’s living rooms or rented halls, and the bodies of the dead were washed in garages. It could be several days before an imam could come from the mainland to say funeral prayers.

After the community bought the derelict building in Stornoway, planning permission to turn it into a mosque was granted last summer. But progress was slow until Rashid intervened, using his construction industry contacts in Leeds to bring in expertise and materials.

People on the island have been mostly supportive of the project, although one breakaway Christian sect said it was a “most unwelcome development” and denounced Islam in general.

Ramadan is expected to begin on Tuesday or Wednesday. Muslims fast between dawn and sunset during the holy month, which is immediately followed by the festival of Eid al-Fitr.



Russia, Germany remain committed to Iran nuclear deal: Kremlin

May 11, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have reaffirmed their commitment to preserving a 2015 landmark nuclear agreement despite the US move to pull out of it, the Kremlin says.

The Russian and German leaders held a telephone conversation on Friday, few days after US President Donald Trump defied protests and last-minute lobbying by his European partners and unilaterally decided to withdraw from the historic nuclear accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and impose new sanctions on Tehran.

"I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal," Trump said Tuesday in a televised address from the White House. “This was a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made.”

Kremlin quoted a statement issued following the call as saying that Putin and Merkel discussed the situation around the nuclear deal "following the unilateral withdrawal of the US."

"The importance of preserving the deal from a point of view of international and regional stability was highlighted," read the statement.

During a Thursday press conference with his visiting German counterpart, Heiko Maas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced the pullout by the US of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal as a “significant” violation of a United Nations resolution that endorsed the international document back then.

“We are seriously concerned about the decision of the US administration to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, thereby committing a significant violation of Security Council resolution 2231,” Lavrov said.

The German chancellor also said on Thursday that Europe can no longer rely on the United States for protection, urging European Union member states to take the bloc’s destiny in their own hands.

“It is no longer such that the United States simply protects us, but Europe must take its destiny in its own hands, that's the task of the future,” the German leader said at an award ceremony in Aachen, a German resort city near the border with Belgium, where French President Emmanuel Macron received the prestigious Charlemagne Prize for his efforts in boosting EU integration and cohesion.

The Kremlin further noted that the Russian and German leaders also discussed the latest developments in Syria as well as Merkel's planned working visit to Russia next week.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- plus Germany reached the JCPOA in July 2015 after long negotiations.

According to the JCPOA, reached under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

A Kremlin aide said on Friday that the Russian president plans to meet Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Russia's Black Sea city of Sochi on Monday to discuss the US exit from the Iran nuclear deal.

Yuri Ushakov added that Russia was working closely with Iran to prevent it from making any decision to quit the JCPOA and noted that Moscow sees the deal as vital for global stability.

"We really hope this won't happen. Honestly, we are working with Iran in favor of it not leaving," the Kremlin aide said.

EU determined to preserve Iran nuclear deal: Mogherini

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the 28-nation bloc is determined to make sure the Iran nuclear agreement is respected despite the US president's decision to abandon it.

"Our determination is to keep this agreement in place. Obviously we need the only country that can unilaterally destroy this agreement to stay committed, which is Iran," Mogherini said while addressing the State of the Union conference organized by the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

She emphasized that she has been reassured about Iran's intentions by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's remarks.

She criticized Trump's decision and said the US cannot undo the agreement by pulling out.

"This deal is not a bilateral treaty. It's a UN Security Council Resolution and it belongs to the entire world," the senior EU official added.

Mogherini is scheduled to chair talks between Iran's foreign minister and his British, French and German counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the US withdrawal from the JCPOA.

Mogherini will host the talks between the so-called E3 powers and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, her office said in a statement on Friday.

Erdogan, Putin say US 'wrong' to abandon JCPOA

In a telephone conversation on Thursday evening, the Russian president and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan also agreed that it was "wrong" for the United States to abandon the Iran nuclear deal.

Erdogan and Putin described Trump's decision as "wrong" and emphasized that the nuclear agreement "was a diplomatic success which actually should be protected", a Turkish presidential source said.

In a statement, the Kremlin also said that the two strongmen "emphasized that the safeguarding of the JCPOA is very important for international and regional security as well as the nuclear non-proliferation regime."

It added that the two leaders "confirmed their determination" to continue to cooperate with the other signatories to the agreement.

Turkey: US withdrawal from JCPOA 'opportunity' for Ankara

Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said on Friday that the United States' pullout from the JCPOA was an "opportunity" for Ankara, stressing that there would be no-let up in trade with Iran.

"I see it like this, this is an opportunity for Turkey. I will continue to trade with Iran," Zeybekci told state news agency Anadolu.

However, he added that in case of possible UN decisions vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear activities and other issues, "of course" Turkey's trade would continue "complying with them."

He slammed Trump's unilateral decision and said, "I don't see anything big to worry about at this stage."

The Turkish minister emphasized that other countries, including EU members, were not of the same opinion as the US president.

In a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart on Thursday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted Washington for breaking yet another promise to the world community by leaving the 2015 multinational nuclear deal with Iran, calling for efforts to confront the US “unilateralism.”

Rouhani said, “The Americans should know that they cannot just pull out of their international agreements comfortably and without paying any price.”

Europe cannot submit to US decisions: France

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday that European states have come to realize that they cannot submit to American decisions.

Speaking at a news conference with his Dutch counterpart Wopke Hoekstra in Paris, Le Maire added that Paris and its European allies are drawing up plans to submit proposals to the European Commission aimed at strengthening Europe's capacity to defend its economic interests.

"There is a realization among all European states what we cannot keep going in the direction we are headed today whereby we submit to American decisions," the French minister said in response to a question about Europe's response to US sanctions on Iran.

He said Europe needed to toughen rules dating back to 1996, adding: "France, together with other European partners, hopes to present proposals to the European Commission which go in this sense."

The US Treasury Department said in a statement on its website Thursday that it imposed fresh sanctions on several Iranian individuals and entities in the wake of President Trump's decision to withdraw Washington from the nuclear deal.

Full report at:



UK, EU partners 'firmly committed' to Iran deal: May tells Trump

May 11, 2018

British Prime Minister Theresa May has told US President Donald Trump that the UK and its EU partners will remain "firmly committed" to the Iran nuclear deal.

"The prime minister reiterated the government’s position on the Iran nuclear deal, noting that we and our European partners remain firmly committed to ensuring the deal is upheld," Downing Street announced in a statement following May's phone conversation with Trump on Friday.

The British premier discussed the potential impact of US sanctions on the companies currently operating in Iran and the two sides agreed to hold further talks over the issue, the statement added.

Earlier on the day, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also reaffirmed their commitment to preserving the 2015 landmark nuclear agreement despite the US move to pull out of it.

The German chancellor had said a day before that Europe can no longer rely on the United States for protection, urging European Union member states to take the bloc’s destiny in their own hands.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire repeated a similar position on Friday, saying that European states have come to realize that they cannot submit to American decisions.

Speaking at a news conference in Paris on Friday, Le Maire added that Paris and its European allies are drawing up plans to submit proposals to the European Commission aimed at strengthening Europe's capacity to defend its economic interests.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has reaffirmed the 28-nation bloc's determination to make sure the Iran nuclear agreement is respected despite the US president's decision to abandon it.

Mogherini is scheduled to chair talks between Iran's foreign minister and his British, French and German counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the US withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The diplomatic campaign for keeping the nuclear agreement in place comes a few days after Trump defied protests and last-minute lobbying by his European partners and unilaterally decided to withdraw from the historic nuclear accord and impose new sanctions on Tehran.

According to Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov, the Russian president plans to meet Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Russia's Black Sea city of Sochi on Monday to discuss the US exit from the Iran nuclear deal.

Ushakov noted that Russia was working closely with Iran to prevent it from making any decision to quit the JCPOA and noted that Moscow sees the deal as vital for global stability.

Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia -- plus Germany reached the JCPOA in July 2015 after long negotiations.

Under the JCPOA, reached under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, Iran undertook to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions imposed against Tehran.

After the announcement of Trump's position on the JCPOA, the US Treasury said in a statement on its website Thursday that it imposed fresh sanctions on several Iranian individuals and entities.

Full report at:





Deadly attack on South African mosque has ‘hallmarks of Islamic State'

11 May 2018

South African police searching for three men who stabbed worshippers at a mosque near Durban have said the attackers’ motive was unknown but “elements of extremism” were involved.

One Muslim leader said the mosque was targeted because it was a Shia place of worship that had received previous threats, exposing deep tension between the Shia and Sunni population.

The assailants killed one man by slitting his throat and critically injured two others after midday prayers on Thursday at the mosque in Verulam, a town on the outskirts of Durban.

“There are elements of extremism,” said Simphiwe Mhlongo, a spokesman for the Hawks police unit. “It shows hatred towards the worshippers.”

A local Islamic leader, Aftab Haider, said Shias in South Africa had been subjected to a prolonged hate campaign. He said the attack may be connected to the Sunni extremist group Islamic State.

“There has been a huge organised hate campaign in different mosques, radio stations and on social media against the Shia community. There have been threats at this mosque before, but not in the weeks leading up to this incident,” Haider said.

“It has all the hallmarks of the Isis style of operations in Iraq and Syria.”

The assailants, who also set off a petrol bomb inside the mosque, escaped in a car. Emergency services found the victims lying in the forecourt.

“These people were not robbers. They did not want phones, they did not want laptops or money,” said Ali Nchinyane, who was stabbed in the abdomen. “They came to the gate saying they want to perform prayers. They prayed and afterwards they wanted to kill.

“One of the suspects told me: ‘I will kill you’. If I did not fight, I would have been dead,” Nchinyane added, saying he used a martial arts weapon to defend himself.

Mhlongo said: “Law enforcement forces are [looking for the assailants], including private security, local detectives and police.”

The incident appeared to be unprecedented in South Africa, where about 1.5% of the 55million population is Muslim. The country prides itself on religious acceptance.

The parliament’s police committee condemned the attack. “A mosque is a religious institution, and South Africa’s constitution guarantees and protects the right to religious practices,” its chair, Francois Beukman, said.

“We want our communities to live in harmony, practising their religions without fear.”



In an unprecedented incident, ‘extremists’ attack worshippers in S. Africa

11 May 2018

A man hunt has been lunched by South Africa police Friday, after three men attacked and stabbed worshippers at a mosque outside Durban, on Thursday, in what is considered an unprecedented incident in the country where about 1.5 percent of the country’s 55 million population is Muslim.

A spokesman for the city’s police said the motive of the attack is still unknown but “elements of extremism” were involved.

The attackers killed one worshipper, reported to be an imam, and seriously injured two others after midday prayers on Thursday at a mosque in Verulam town, on the outskirts of the eastern port city.

It has been reported that the assailants, who also set off a petrol bomb inside the Shia mosque, escaped in a car after the attack.

The blood-soaked victims were found lying in the forecourt of the mosque by emergency services.

A knife was left on the ground, but police declined to confirm earlier reports that the attackers had carried guns.

South Africa prides itself on religious tolerance and has little record of violence related to religion.

The South African parliament’s police committee condemned the attack.

Full report at:



US, Somali raid on al-Shabaab seizes 3 commanders: Officials


Somali intelligence officials say US and Somali commandos have seized three men thought to be commanders with the al-Shabaab extremist group during a deadly raid in a village in Lower Shabelle region.

Five people thought to be banana farmers were killed in the raid late on Wednesday and several others were captured, says Moalim Ahmed Nur, a traditional elder in the village.

A Somali intelligence official says the forces targeted a key hideout and coordination centre for the Somalia-based al-Shabaab. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The US Africa Command has not commented on the raid.



Police hunt 'armed, highly trained' al Shabaab fighter from Kitui

May. 11, 2018

Police are searching for an "armed and dangerous" terror suspect from Kitui County amid tightened operations to avert possible attacks.

In a statement on Friday, Spokesman Charles Owino said Anthony Munyasya alias Abdalla is a "highly trained" al Shabaab operative who has been fighting for the militants in Somalia since 2014.

“He was recently deployed to the country as part of operatives who were to conduct an attack in Nairobi in February,” he said.

The Spokesman added that Abdalla is a close associate of Abdimajit Hassan, a man facing terror charges.

Owino said Hassan had been planning to stage an attack in Nairobi, using a vehicle laden with improvised explosive devices, before police found him and the vehicle in Merti, Isiolo on January 15.

He said the man was a habitual offender who burned a church in Kitui with accomplices.

“They were arrested and charged with arson but Abdalla jumped bail and sneaked to Somalia."

Police suspect Abdalla is hiding in the country in readiness for Ramadhan attacks.

“We call upon police to be alert and vigilant. Anybody with information should report it to police immediately,” Owino said and assured confidentiality.

On Monday, police arrested a couple in Eastleigh on suspicion that they were al Shabaab's financiers and logistical operatives.

Yassin Abdille Hussein aka Abu Sumeiya and his wife Fartun Mohammed Guleid are believed to be accomplices of a key operative in Mandera named Abdiweli Mohamed Guleid alias Abdiweli Kamaure.

Kamaure was the mastermind of the November 22, 2014 Mandera bus attack in which militants killed 28 people at Arabiya near the border with Somalia.

More on this: Cops arrest couple linked to al Shabaab

On Tuesday, police issued an alert on possible terror attacks during the month of Ramadhan.

They said they had credible intelligence that the Somali-based terror group and affiliates such as ISIS and al Qaeda have asked their members to stage attacks during the fasting period for Muslims.

Full report at:




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