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Islamic World News ( 23 Jul 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Trump Tells Imran Khan: PM Modi Asked Me To Help With ‘Disputed’ Kashmir Region

New Age Islam News Bureau

23 Jul 2019

US President Donald Trump meets with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House Monday. (Source: Twitter/Government of Pakistan)


 Trump Tells Imran Khan: PM Modi Asked Me To Help With ‘Disputed’ Kashmir Region

 MEA Denies Trump Claim PM Modi Asked Him To Mediate On Kashmir

 West Bengal: Muslim Hawker Beaten Up For Refusing To Chant Jai Shri Ram

 I Want to Start My Life Anew, Says Freed Man Picked Up By NIA on Terror Charges

 Imran Khan Welcomes Donald Trump's Offer Of Mediation On Kashmir, Says It Won't Be Resolved Bilaterally

 Trump Offers To Mediate Between India and Pakistan on Kashmir

 Can Win the War in Afghanistan In A Week But Don’t Want To Kill 10 Million People: Trump

 Security Fears as 40 Jihadis Who Fled Australia To Join Islamic State Return Home

 China Thanks UAE for Backing Its Xinjiang Policies

 Israeli Investigations into Deaths of Palestinians Often Reach Nowhere



 Trump Tells Imran Khan: PM Modi Asked Me To Help With ‘Disputed’ Kashmir Region

 MEA Denies Trump Claim PM Modi Asked Him To Mediate On Kashmir

 West Bengal: Muslim Hawker Beaten Up For Refusing To Chant Jai Shri Ram

 I Want to Start My Life Anew, Says Freed Man Picked Up By NIA on Terror Charges

 Indian opposition wants Modi to clarify Trump Kashmir claim

 Muslim Lawyer Calls To Take Up Arms; Asks Minorities, Dalits to ‘Sell Property, Buy Guns for Self-Defence' India

 In U-Turn, Shia Cleric Kalbe Kalbe Jawad Takes Back Appeal To Muslims and SC/Sts To Buy Firearms

 NIA Seeks Time to Decide On Supply of Untruncated Chargesheet to 2008 Malegaon Blast Case Accused

 In Muslim-Majority Blitar, Villagers Maintain Interfaith Harmony Brick By Brick

 Four Arrested For Assaulting Muslim Waiter In Aurangabad

 Kashmir a bilateral issue between India, Pakistan; US welcomes them sitting down: State department

 Jammu and Kashmir: Brothers of Rifleman Aurangzeb killed by militants join Territorial Army

 ‘SIMI Meeting’: SC Notice on NIA Plea Challenging Acquittal Of 5 Accused

 Lashkar, Islamic State in plans with Pak army to target Indian assets in Afghanistan

 SC says Vishakha guidelines can’t be applied in religious places, nixes plea



 Imran Khan Welcomes Donald Trump's Offer Of Mediation On Kashmir, Says It Won't Be Resolved Bilaterally

 Pakistan Holds Historic Vote in Former 'Epicenter' of Terror

 Imran Khan a great athlete, a very popular Prime Minister: Donald Trump

 Pakistani intelligence led CIA to Bin Laden: Imran Khan

 Non-Muslims enjoying religious freedom in Pakistan: Ashrafi

 Relations with Pakistan much better today than before, says President Trump in meeting with PM Imran

 Opposition calls PM’s US speech ‘anarchic, provocative’

 Trump accepts PM Imran’s invitation to visit Pakistan, says Qureshi

 Great to have PM Imran at the White House, says Melania Trump

 Pakistan committed to helping US in resolving Afghan issue, Imran tells US senator

 Imran has given charge of Pakistan to IMF: Marriyum


North America

 Trump Offers To Mediate Between India and Pakistan on Kashmir

 Can Win the War in Afghanistan In A Week But Don’t Want To Kill 10 Million People: Trump

 I'm A Muslim U.S Marine, And I'm Staying, To Make America Great Again. Just Not The Trump Way

 This Is the US-Born Jihadi Believed To Have Radicalised Isis Bride Lisa

 US sanctions Chinese oil trader for violating Iran restrictions: Pompeo

 Trump says the ‘report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false’

 UK to deploy 250 troops to Mali for peacekeeping operations

 Trump says US, Pakistan seeking 'tremendous' potential

 Donald Trump says US working with Pakistan's Imran Khan to find way out of Afghan war



 Security Fears as 40 Jihadis Who Fled Australia To Join Islamic State Return Home

 France condemns Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes

 British intelligence fears Gulf crisis could lead to attacks on UK by Iranian terror cells

 German military rejects dozens of candidates over extremist links

 Britain to seek European maritime mission to counter Iran’s ‘piracy’

 Pope Francis envoy tells Syria’s Assad of concern for Idlib’s civilians

 UK: Foreign secretary accuses Iran of 'state piracy'


Southeast Asia

 China Thanks UAE for Backing Its Xinjiang Policies

 Senator wants compulsory pre-wedding course for non-Muslims too

 The face of Indonesia's moderate Islam nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

 Ahok to make splash on TV with Fallon-style talk show



 Israeli Investigations into Deaths of Palestinians Often Reach Nowhere

 Iran 'Ready to Strike' In the West Using Sleeper Terror Cells: Report Claims

 As Conflict with U.S. Grows, Some Iran Hard-liners Suggest Talking to Trump

 Even as Tensions with Iran Rise Over Seized Ship, U.K. Stays ‘Committed’ to Nuclear Deal

 Yemen's Houthi rebels raise nearly $300,000 for Hezbollah

 Iran says it will meet nuclear deal parties on Sunday

 Iran’s ship seizure in Strait of Hormuz not retaliation: Zarif

 Decades-old Saudi-funded hospitals in Yemen treat thousands daily

 Hezbollah: Israel’s demolition of Palestine homes amount to war crime

 Turkey threatens to launch offensive in Syria if no safe zone established


Arab World

 Saudi Prince Sattam bin Khalid Blasts King Salman for Sanctioning Unislamic Freedom

 Egypt Minister of Endowments Warns of ‘Muslim Brotherhood Terrorism’

 Detained Saudi preacher Awad Al-Qarni: Justifier of terror

 Egypt hands out 11 life sentences for joining Daesh

 Arab coalition preventing Houthis from threatening navigation

 Syrian regime, Russian forces kill over 40 civilians in Idlib province: Monitor

 Iraqi forces launch anti-IS operation north of Baghdad

 Saudi Coalition Says it Destroyed Houthi Ballistic Missiles Around Yemeni Capital

 In Siding with Iran, Hezbollah Could Put Lebanon’s Future At Serious Risk

 Egyptian air force kills 20 militants after deadly suicide blast

 Senior MP: Several Israeli Spies Stationed in US-Occupied Bases in Iraq

 Militant rocket attack kills seven civilians in Syria’s Hama



 Islamic Movement In Nigeria Rejects Allegations Of Violence

 17 dead, 28 wounded in Somalia bomb blast: Hospital official

 10 people killed in car bomb blast in Somali capital

 Libyan warplane lands on road in southern Tunisia

 Nigerian security forces clash with Shia protesters

 Nigerian police kill 6 protesters demanding release of Sheikh Zakzaky


South Asia

 Taliban Attack Security Checkpoint and Hospital in Pakistan

 Airstrike kills 28 militants in N. Afghanistan

 Suicide Bombing at University Kills 10 as Violence Surges in Afghanistan

 Cobra Strike Forces kill 4 Taliban militants in Helmand province

 Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties in Faryab clashes

 Khalilzad to visit Afghanistan, Qatar for the talks with the Afghan government and Taliban

 Dozens of Taliban militants killed, detained in Special Forces raids in Logar, Paktika

 Afghan forces kill seven civilians in attack on militants

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Trump tells Imran Khan: PM Modi asked me to help with ‘disputed’ Kashmir region

July 23, 2019

US President Donald Trump Monday offered to mediate in solving the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan during his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. Trump said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked him to help ease tensions between the two neighbouring countries on the “disputed” Kashmir region and that he would love to be a mediator, Reuters reported.



#WATCH Washington DC: Pakistan PM Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump reply to journalists when asked on Kashmir.

Embedded video


11:12 PM - Jul 22, 2019

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In the wake of Trump’s remarks, the Ministry of External Affairs reiterated its stand that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and the that Kashmir continues to be bilateral issue. Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar stated that no such request has been made by PM Modi to US President. It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. “The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally,” he added.

Raveesh Kumar


We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India's consistent position...1/2


11:58 PM - Jul 22, 2019

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In March this year, responding to a query by a journalist, MEA Spokesperson Ravish Kumar had said: “As regards the resolutions on Jammu and Kashmir, our stand is consistent and well known. We reaffirm that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India and is a matter strictly internal to India.”

In Khan’s first meeting with the US president, Trump also said the United States is working with Islamabad to find a way out of the war in Afghanistan.

Trump also held out the possibility of restoring US aid to Pakistan, depending upon what is worked out, and offered assistance to Islamabad in trying to ease strained ties with India.

Responding to Trump’s statement that entailed about an American mediation to Kashmir issue, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah questioned the “undeclared shift in India’s position on third party involvement in Kashmir”. Abdullah also said that personally, he is of the opinion that the US President is “talking out of his hat” in reference to Trump’s comments on PM Modi asking for asking US assistance in solving Kashmir issue.

Omar Abdullah


Is Govt of India going to call @realDonaldTrump a liar or has there been an undeclared shift in India’s position on third party involvement in #Kashmir?


10:41 PM - Jul 22, 2019

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Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala attacked the Modi government for supposed requests to US President to mediate in the Kashmir issue. “India has never accepted third party mediation in Jammu & Kashmir! To ask a foreign power to mediate in J&K by PM Modi is a sacrilegious betrayal of country’s interests. Let PM answer to the Nation!” Surjewala stated.

Khan told Trump there was only one solution for Afghanistan and that a peace deal with the Taliban was closer than it had ever been. He said he hoped in the coming days to be able to urge the Taliban to continue the talks.

Khan, who was accompanied by Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi among others, was greeted by Trump upon his arrival at the White House.

“The Prime Minister of Pakistan is here to showcase his vision of a ‘Naya Pakistan’ and to start a new era of bilateral relations. We have come with a narrative of peace and prosperity in the region,” Qureshi tweeted soon after arriving at the White House.



MEA Denies Trump Claim PM Modi Asked Him To Mediate On Kashmir

by Shubhajit Roy

July 23, 2019

In remarks that angered New Delhi and were quickly denied, US President Donald Trump Monday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to play the role of a mediator on Kashmir, and “if I can help, I would love to be the mediator” between India and Pakistan.

Trump made the remarks in the presence of visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House ahead of their bilateral meeting. Within an hour, the Ministry of External Affairs contradicted the US President’s remarks saying “no such request has been made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

“We have seen @POTUS’s remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India’s consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson for the MEA, tweeted.

The statement by the US President is likely to create a diplomatic and political firestorm given that Parliament is in session. Prime Minister Modi is also likely to travel to the US in September.

At the White House, Imran Khan, responding to a question on Kashmir, said he will be asking Trump’s support to push for dialogue with India.

“He is… It is the most powerful country in the world, the United States. It can play the most important role in bringing peace in the subcontinent. There are over a billion and a quarter people in the subcontinent. They are held hostage to the issue of Kashmir. And I feel the most powerful state, headed by President Trump, can bring the two countries together. From my point, I can tell you — we have tried our best. We made all overtures to India to start dialogue, resolve our differences through dialogue. But, unfortunately, we haven’t made headway as yet. But, I am hoping that President Trump can push this process,” he said.

Raveesh Kumar


We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India's consistent position...1/2


11:58 PM - Jul 22, 2019

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Trump then said: “I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago. We talked about this subject, and he actually said would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator? I said: Where? He said: Kashmir. Because this has been going on for many many years. I was surprised at how long it has been going on.”

At this point, Khan said, “70 years”.

Trump continued: “I think they would like to see it resolved. I think you would like to see it resolved. And If I can help, I would love to be a mediator.”

“It’s impossible that two incredible countries that are very very smart, with very smart leadership can’t solve a problem like that. But if you want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do it,” he said.

Khan then said, “President, I can tell you that right now you will have prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve this issue.”

Trump responded, “It should be resolved. He asked me the same thing. So, I think there is something. So, may be we will speak to him, or I will speak to him and we will see if we can do something… because I have heard so much about Kashmir. Such a beautiful name. It’s supposed to be such a beautiful part of the world. But right now, there are just bombs all over the place. Everywhere you go, you have bombs and it’s a terrible situation and has been going on for many years. If I can do anything to help, let me know.”

This is the first time Trump has claimed that Modi asked him to mediate on Kashmir. The two leaders met in Osaka on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on June 27.



West Bengal: Muslim Hawker Beaten Up For Refusing To Chant Jai Shri Ram

New Age Islam News Bureau

Another incident of beating up of a Muslim youth for not chanting Jai Shri Ram occured in Asansol of West Bengal

 A poor street hawker named Mohammad Rizwan was beaten up by some Hindu miscreants for refusing to chant Jai Shri Ram. He was injured and was admitted to a hospital. Rizwan is the son of a muezzin and sells bedsheets. As usual he was going around in Kala Jharia area of Asansol seeing bedsheets. Some youth of the area caught hold of him and asked his name. When he said that his name was Rizwan, the miscreants forced him to chant Jai Shri Ram. When he refused the boys beat him badly and fled. Rizwan came back to his house in an injured state and told his family members about the incident. Rizwan alleged that the miscreants snatch Rs 4000 from him. Angry people gheraoed the police station and demanded the arrest of the miscreants. According to eye witnesses, the police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the protesters. No arrests have been made so far.


I Want to Start My Life Anew, Says Freed Man Picked Up By NIA on Terror Charges

Arvind Ojha

July 22, 2019

I don't want to say anything. I am satisfied after coming home. I hope my brother comes soon," said Rais Ahmed, a native of Saidpur village in western Uttar Pradesh. Ahmed was arrested on terror charges by National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Earlier this month Rais Ahmed was released from Tihar Jail as the investigating agency was not able to prove the terror charges.

Rais was arrested in December 2018 after NIA conducted raids in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi and arrested 14 suspects of Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam (Movement for War of Islam), a terror group inspired by the Islamic State (IS)

Later on June 21 NIA filed chargesheets against 10 suspects. But the investigating agency did not file chargesheets under terror charges against four accused -- Mohammad Irshad, Rais Ahmed, Jaid Malik and Mohammad Azam.

After spending six months in jail the four finally got bail in early July.

Rais and his elder brother Shahid were arrested from their shop in Amroha. Shahid is still in jail. Their father died after they were arrested on terror charges.

Rais said, "I want to start my life anew. Our shop is closed. I don't want to comment on what happened in the past. I am satisfied that I came back from jail."

"NIA took me from my shop. They also took a car jack and they kept asking me from where I got the jack," he said adding that after he went to jail he came to know that he was arrested on terror charges. When asked NIA said that the jack was used in making rocket launchers.

Rais said he never met Mufti Mohammad Suhail who, according to an NIA press release, "was the amir of pro-IS module, who mobilised funds and procured weapons, ammunition and explosive materials to prepare IEDs etc. with other associates."

On June 21, NIA filed chargesheets against the 10 arrested men under Sections 120B, 121, 121A, 122 of IPC, Sections 17, 18, 18B, 20, 21, 23, 38 and 39 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Sections 4 and 5 of Explosives Substances Act, and Sections 25, 26 and 29 of the Arms Act. Investigation against three more accused continues.

NIA had registered a case on December 20, 2018, against Mufti Mohammad Suhail and others on the allegation that Suhail has formed a pro-IS module with others to commit terror activities and the module is amassing weapons and explosives.

They had named the module Harkat-ul-Harb-e-Islam. The group wanted to establish an Islamic caliphate in India by resorting to large-scale terror attacks in and around National Capital Region. The group carried out reconnaissance of some locations in and around NCR.



Imran Khan welcomes Donald Trump's offer of mediation on Kashmir, says it won't be resolved bilaterally

Jul 23, 2019

WASHINGTON: Buoyed by US President Donald Trump's offer of mediation on Kashmir, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that the contentious issue between the two South Asian neighbours can never be resolved bilaterally.

Khan's statement came hours after Trump offered to be the "mediator" between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue as the two leaders met at the White House where they discussed a host of issues, including the Afghan peace process.

The Indian government has denied Trump's astonishing claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked him to mediate.

Khan, who is on a three-day official visit to the US, welcomed Trump's offer of mediation.

"Bilaterally there will never be (a resolution of the Kashmir dispute)," Khan told Fox News, the favourite channel of president Trump.

"There was one point when there was General (Pervez) Musharraf and Prime Minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee of India when we did get close to the resolution of the Kashmiri issue. But since then we are poles apart and I really feel that India should come on the table; US could play a big part. President Trump certainly can play a big part," Khan said hours after he met Trump at his Oval Office for the first time at the White House.

"We are talking about 1.3 billion people on this earth. Imagine the dividends of peace if somehow that issue could be resolved," Khan said when the Fox news anchor read out the Indian statement that it has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally.

"Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally," India said on Monday, refuting that Prime Minister Modi ever asked for US mediation on Kashmir.

Khan welcomed Trump's remarks, saying "President, I can tell you that, right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve this issue".

Responding to another question, Khan said Pakistan will give up its nuclear weapons if India did so.

"Yes, because nuclear war is not an option. Between Pakistan and India, the idea of nuclear war is actually self-destruction because we have two-and-a-half thousand-mile border.

"I think there's a realisation in the subcontinent that and (if) there was some incident happened last February and we again had tensions at the border... So, there's a realisation and that's why I asked, president Trump that if he could play his role, the US as the most powerful country in the world, the only country that could mediate between Pakistan and India and resolve the only issue is Kashmir," he said.

"The only reason for 70 years that we have not been able to live like civilised neighbours is because of Kashmir," Khan said.

India has not been engaging with Pakistan since an attack on the Air Force base at Pathankot in January of 2016 by Pakistan-based terrorists, maintaining that talks and terror cannot go together.

Early this year, tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26.



Trump offers to mediate between India and Pakistan on Kashmir

22 July 2019

President Donald Trump on Monday offered to mediate the decades-long Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, a move that would signal a shift in long-standing US policy that the issue must be solved bilaterally.

“If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” Trump said at the White House, where he was hosting Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan. “If I can do anything to help, let me know.”



Can win the war in Afghanistan in a week but don’t want to kill 10 million people: Trump

23 Jul 2019

The U.S. President Donald Trump has claimed that he could win the war in Afghanistan in a week and could wipe the country ‘off the face of the earth’ in ten days.

However, he said he did not want to kill ten million people, suggesting that pakistan could play a vital role to ‘help the U.S. out.’

He made the remarks during a press conference with the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the White House.

Calling the war ‘ridiculous’, Trump went on to claim that the fight against Taliban has made the US the world’s ‘policemen.’

He Said “I have plans on Afghanistan that if I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth, would be gone, it would be over. Literally in ten days.”

Meanwhile, the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said “And there is no military solution in Afghanistan, there is no military solution because as Mr. President says if you go out all military there will be millions and millions of people who would die.” He also expressed hopes that they would be able to ask the Taliban in coming days to negotiate with the Afghan government and come to a settlement and political solution.



Security fears as 40 jihadis who fled Australia to join Islamic State return home

20 July 2019

Forty jihadis who fled Australia to join Islamic State have since returned home.

The men pose a 'significant' security concern, government officials told The Sunday Telegraph.

Up to 230 Australians joined extremist groups to fight in Syria and Iraq since 2012.

Among those who have returned from the Middle East are Sydney man Belal Betka, 25, who has pleaded guilty to foreign incursion.

Also returned is Isaak el Matari, 20, who spent nine months in jail in Lebanon for trying to join ISIS.

He was charged earlier this month for allegedly planning terror attacks around Sydney landmarks in the city's CBD.

It comes as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton prepares to push a controversial bill that will ban high security risk individuals from coming back home for up to two years.

If passed, the tough new Counter Terrorism Bill will allow government to delay proceedings of bringing radicalised jihadists back into Australia so officials can fully investigate their security risk.

If allowed to be brought back into the country, certain conditions may be placed, meaning authorities will be aware of their whereabouts, employment and associations. 

While the bill strives to keep Australians safe, there are concerns it may be applied to innocent people.

However, Mr Dutton is adamant the Bill is instrumental in protecting the public as it will ensure all suspect jihadis are closely monitored.

He is hoping the bill will pass through parliament as early as this week but understands that the Labor Party may need more convincing.

'The Labor Party is torn on this issue,' Mr Dutton told The Daily Telegraph.

'Somebody in Labor has to stand up and support this vital law, which will save Australian lives.'

It is believed a further 80 Australians are still overseas in active conflict zones.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs for comment.



China thanks UAE for backing its Xinjiang policies

July 23, 2019

BEIJING: China on Monday thanked the United Arab Emirates for backing its security crackdown in Xinjiang, state media said, as President Xi Jinping played host to Abu Dhabi’s crown prince.

Beijing has come under growing international scrutiny for placing an estimated one million mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in internment camps in the name of counter-terrorism, but Muslim countries have largely refrained from criticising China.

During his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan in Beijing, Xi thanked the UAE for its “valuable support” on Xinjiang and urged the two countries to strengthen cooperation on anti-terrorism, said state-broadcaster CCTV.

In return, Abu Dhabi’s crown prince said the UAE “highly appreciates China’s efforts to protect the rights and interests of ethnic minorities”, according to CCTV’s readout.

He also said the UAE would be willing to “jointly strike against terrorist extremist forces” with China, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a militant group Beijing has accused of attempting to foment Uighur separatism.

The crown prince’s remarks come as Beijing seeks to corral more international support for its controversial policies in the country’s northwest region.

After initially denying the existence of re-education camps, China has been on a public relations blitz to counter the global outcry against what Beijing calls “vocational education centres”.

So far, Beijing has scored multiple successes, with UN ambassadors from 37 countries — including majority Muslim nations Saudi Arabia and Algeria — releasing a letter earlier this month in defence of China’s treatment of Uighurs and other ethnic minorites in Xinjiang.

The letter came after 21 Western nations and Japan co-signed a text denouncing China’s conduct in Xinjiang.



Israeli investigations into deaths of Palestinians often reach nowhere

July 22, 2019

JALAZON REFUGEE CAMP/WEST BANK: Hamedo Fakhouri clearly remembers the moment when the young Palestinian who worked at his neighborhood coffee shop was shot dead.

Israeli troops were lingering after an overnight arrest raid in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem when he noticed the mentally disabled Mohammed Habali limp up the street with his wooden walking stick. Seconds later, he heard gunshots and spun around to see Habali collapse.

“I cannot forget and will not forget how this poor man was killed,” said Fakhouri.

Surveillance videos of the shooting drew outrage from Palestinians and human rights groups. Soon after, the Israeli military launched an investigation.

Witnesses say Habali was killed by Israeli troops. The military has acknowledged its forces opened fire and has not disputed the cause of his death. But seven months later, the investigation into whether soldiers were criminally at fault shows no signs of progress, illustrating what critics say is a disturbing pattern.

The Israeli military has opened investigations into 24 potentially criminal shootings of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip over the past year, The Associated Press has found. Yet none of the cases have yielded convictions or even indictments. In most instances, the army hasn’t interviewed key witnesses or retrieved evidence from the field.

B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights group, grew so frustrated with the system that in 2016 it halted its decades-long practice of assisting military investigations.

“We came to the conclusion as a human rights organization, we’re actually creating more harm than good by cooperating with the system because it is in fact a whitewash mechanism,” said the group’s spokesman, Amit Galutz. The system’s success, he said, “is measured not by its ability to protect victims, but perpetrators.”

In the last eight years, nearly 200 criminal investigations into the shootings of Palestinians have secured just two convictions, according to B’Tselem. One of them, a high-profile case in which a soldier was caught on video fatally shooting a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground, resulted in a reduced sentence of nine months.

Israel says it must regularly carry out military operations in the West Bank to prevent Palestinian attacks and protect Jewish settlements. While acknowledging investigations could be faster and better staffed, Israeli officials say the system is effective, especially in light of the challenging environment in which it operates.

“We didn’t build a robust legal system, one of the best in the world, just to help soldiers escape accountability,” said Maurice Hirsch, a former chief military prosecutor in the West Bank who is now director of legal strategies for Palestinian Media Watch, a group that monitors anti-Israel rhetoric by Palestinians.

The debate could have serious implications. The Palestinians have appealed to the International Criminal Court in The Hague to press war crimes charges against Israel. Although Israel does not recognize the court’s authority, the court can pursue cases if it finds Israel unwilling or unable to carry out justice.

A week after 22-year-old Habali was shot, Palestinian teenager Mahmoud Nakhleh sat chatting with friends outside the hardscrabble West Bank refugee camp of Jalazon. Suddenly, soldiers descended from a hilltop, provoked by a different group of youths slinging stones further down the highway.

Witnesses say Nakhleh and his friends panicked and bolted at the sight of advancing army jeeps. Troops chased them into the camp and opened fire, killing the 18-year-old Nakhleh.

Omar Hameedat, 21, watched the episode unfold from his balcony. “They started shooting spontaneously,” he said, pointing to video he captured on his cellphone. “No clashes, nothing.”

In the months since the killings of Habali and Nakhleh, Israeli authorities have neither interviewed witnesses nor requested footage from them.

Various witnesses, including Hameedat, said they are prepared to cooperate.

In both cases, the army released similar statements, saying troops had responded to “disturbances” in which “dozens of Palestinians hurled stones“— a situation that automatically loosens the rules of engagement.

Deaths in such contexts are typically explained as regrettable accidents, and “usually not the consequence of any criminal decision,” said Eli Baron, Israel’s former deputy military advocate general.

Proving criminal intent is an especially high standard in Gaza, where some 200 Palestinians, most of them unarmed, have been killed in the past year during demonstrations along the border.

Israel, which withdrew its troops from the territory in 2005, says the ruling Hamas militant group uses the protests as a cover to stage attacks and notes that many protesters have tried to break through a separation fence to enter Israel. In response, the military applies the law of armed conflict, giving soldiers more leeway to open fire. This interpretation has been challenged by rights groups and the UN

In a dim living room in Gaza’s Jabaliya refugee camp, Ibrahim Ayyoub recalled the afternoon his 14-year-old son Mohammed was shot through the head by an Israeli sniper.

“Someone who executes a child will never confess to it,” Ayyoub said. “But we have to raise our voice.”

The family filed a complaint to the military through the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which said that in May, over a year after the event, two witnesses were asked to provide basic details to investigators over Skype. They have not heard back since.

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights said the army has not asked for testimony or evidence in more than 50 cases it represents.

The government is obligated under international law to investigate reports of human rights abuses “promptly, thoroughly and in good faith,” said Annyssa Bellal, an expert in international humanitarian law at the Geneva Academy.

A failure to do so could give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction, she said. The court opened a “preliminary investigation” into Israeli practices in 2015, but has not said when it will complete the probe.

Responding to a request for updates on the ongoing investigations, the army said it has launched seven criminal probes in Gaza and 16 in the West Bank over the past year.

Three of the cases were closed following a military police investigation. Another two cases were treated as an internal disciplinary matter and closed at the outset, including the shooting of a 16-year-old who was wounded in the West Bank while handcuffed and blindfolded.

The military also launched an investigation — but not a criminal probe — into the shooting of an AP cameraman who was struck in the leg while wearing a vest marked “PRESS” several hundred meters from the Gaza fence.

In the case of the AP journalist, neither the cameraman, who spent weeks recovering in an Israeli hospital, nor his supervisors were asked to testify. The army also never asked to see video of the shooting.

In its conclusion, the army said “no fire was directed” at the cameraman. It encouraged journalists to “exercise caution” when covering protests.

All of the remaining Gaza investigations, and several in the West Bank, including the deaths of Habali and Nakhleh, remain in the initial stage of military police review. Just two West Bank cases, including a medic killed in clashes at a refugee camp, are in the final stage of review before a recommendation is made on whether to press charges.

In a statement, the army stressed that its investigations are conducted in an “independent and effective manner.” It also said it often faces access and security challenges on the ground, making investigations “complicated and often lengthy.”

“We debrief every bullet,” Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, the head of Israel’s southern command, which is responsible for the Gaza border, told a conference last spring. “But we don’t always have results because of the tough conditions we’re working in.”

Hamas-ruled Gaza is off limits to Israeli investigators. Collecting evidence in Palestinian-administered parts of the West Bank can involve risky late-night operations, or relying on intermediaries who sometimes refuse to cooperate. Investigators can also struggle to get autopsy results due to the Islamic custom of quick burials.

Critics, however, say these obstacles can be overcome with technology like video conferencing, better cooperation with Palestinian security forces and improved training for investigators based on past cases going back to Israel’s 1967 seizure of the West Bank and Gaza.

They say the army has instead created a system that relies almost entirely on one-sided testimony from soldiers in which insufficient evidence becomes a common justification for closed cases.

“The army tends to give the benefit of the doubt to its own soldiers,” said Yuval Shany, a Hebrew University expert on military law.





Indian opposition wants Modi to clarify Trump Kashmir claim

July 23, 2019

NEW DELHI: Opposition leaders are angrily demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi clarify his position in Parliament about President Donald Trump mediating India’s long-running dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in Parliament on Tuesday that Modi made no such request to Trump as the US president had claimed.

Opposition leaders Anand Sharma and D. Raja said India’s position was that Kashmir was a bilateral matter with Pakistan and it will not accept any third-party mediation.

Trump said Modi recently asked him whether he would like to be a mediator or arbitrator on Kashmir. Trump spoke to reporters in Washington before Monday’s meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir, the Himalayan territory they both claim that is divided between them.



Muslim Lawyer Calls To Take Up Arms; Asks Minorities, Dalits To ‘Sell Property, Buy Guns For Self-Defence' India

Jul 22, 2019

New Delhi: In a shocking call to take up arms, a Muslim lawyer has sparked a row by suggesting that members of minority communities and Dalits should apply for firearms licence even if they have to sell their properties and goods to arrange for funds for the licence.

Lawyer Mahmood Pracha has asserted that Muslims, Dalits, and members of the SC and ST community should apply for gun licences to protect themselves following several incidents of mob lynching in the country.

During a press conference, Paracha stated that he would provide legal help to people from minority communities who face any problems while applying for the gun licences.

He said, “We will provide them with legal support if they have a problem filling the form or in procuring the licence. If they access their right to private defence and if the cases are filed against you, in that case, we will help you.”

The lawyer further said, “We only look at the legal aspect. For the SC/ST community, the government is responsible to finance them. However, we would like to request the minorities to sell their precious gold and goods, gather money and apply for the licence.”

Pracha had made the statement on Saturday, stating that a camp would be set up on July 26 to help Muslims and SCs and STs apply for the firearm licences.

However, on Sunday, Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad said that he had asked Pracha to postpone the setting up of the camp in light of the controversy generated by the announcements.

Jawad refuted speculations that arms training would take place at the camp, and said that he had asked the lawyer to wait to see what measures the government takes to bring perpetrators of mob lynching to justice.

The cleric said, “All we want is for them to be safe. They said it on their own that they did so compulsively, as things were getting out of control. (UP CM) Yogi ji and (Prime Minister) Modi ji have also promised action and we've requested for the program to be taken forth. Even if it is not taken forth, they will be able to fill in forms. The media took this by storm claiming things like there will be arms training, camping and all there.”

He further stated that the government should come up with a law on mob lynching. He said, "If the government takes any strict action against mob lynching, then there cannot be anything better than this. The government should be given a chance to act against mob lynching.”

In the last two months, at least three incidents of mob lynching have taken place in Bihar and Jharkhand.

Full report at:



In U-Turn, Shia Cleric Kalbe Kalbe Jawad Takes Back Appeal To Muslims and SC/Sts to Buy Firearms

22nd July 2019

By Namita Bajpai

LUCKNOW: In the eye of a storm for prodding Muslims and SC/STs to apply for arms licences and procure weapons for self-defence, prominent Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad, in a volte-face, urged the government to come up with a strict law against mob lynching.

Issuing a press release, Jawad clarified that his intention was not to give arms training to Muslims, SCs and STs as reported in a section of media. His intention was just to arm the deprived and vulnerable against incidents like mob lynching. The cleric asked advocate Mahmood Pracha to postpone the proposed camp to help Muslims and SC/STs fill application forms for licences in Lucknow on July 26.

"If the government takes strict action against mob lynching, then there cannot be anything better than this. The government should be given a chance to act," he said here on Monday. Jawad, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), had held a press conference along with Pracha on Saturday evening calling upon Muslims and SC/STs to procure arms by applying for licences.

They had even asked the communities to sell off their gold to get the licensed arms to defend themselves from mob lynching. Pracha had floated the idea of holding a camp on July 26 at Bada Imambara in Lucknow to help Muslims and SC/STs fill up application forms for firearm licenses in the light of recent mob lynching incidents and the Sonbhadra firing incident.

“I have requested Pracha to postpone the programme as media quoted us wrongly. It was said that arms training will be given in the camp which was totally wrong. So, now we have asked Pracha to postpone the programme to see whether the government acts against mob lynching incidents or not. We will meet leaders to demand a law against lynching," he said.

Earlier, the Shia cleric had justified his advice to the Muslim community to collect arms by procuring licences by saying that it was allowed in Islam. “Self-defence is a right Islam gives to its followers. Our religion gives permission for defensive jihad, not offensive jihad,” he had said while interacting with media persons recently.

"The camp was about to tell the people how to fill up forms which are needed to apply for licensed weapons. No one will be given weapons training," Jawwad told reporters at a conference here.

Meanwhile, reacting to the Shia cleric's appeal, member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board and Babri Masjid Action Committee convenor, Zafaryab Jilani said the call for procurement of arms licence was logical. “In view of increasing incidents of mob lynching, especially, in villages, I agree with Jawwad Sahab. Even law also has a provision to this effect. But it will have to be seen how far this campaign will be successful,” he said.

Full report at:



NIA seeks time to decide on supply of untruncated chargesheet to 2008 Malegaon blast case accused

Jul 22, 2019

MUMBAI: National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday sought time before the Bombay high court to decide whether a truncated copy alone can be supplied to the accused facing trial in the September 2008 Malegaon blast case.

NIA counsel Sandesh Patil on Monday said the agency will not examine prosecution witnesses whose names were not disclosed in the truncated list supplied to the accused in the on-going trial before a special court in Mumbai. The HC will hear the matter now on August 2.

One of the blast accused Lt Col Prasad Purohit had filed a plea to demanding the list of names of witnesses and an untruncated chargesheet copy. His counsel Shrikant Shivade had submitted that an in-camera trial is a prerequisite to handing over a truncated chargesheet to the accused. He argued that even the 1993 serial bomb blasts case and the 26/11 terror attack case, “where the accused were international terrorists" chargesheet copy was not truncated when supplied to them. He further questioned , “Why deprive the accused a serving Lt Col from the same constitutional privilege."

Full report at:



In Muslim-majority Blitar, villagers maintain interfaith harmony brick by brick

Asip Hasani

July 23, 2019

It was early in the morning when Salamun rushed to Al Falah mosque in Krisik village, Blitar regency, East Java, to make an announcement on kerja bakti (community activity) to local villagers on Saturday. Through the mosque’s loudspeaker, he called on neighbors to come together to build a 32-meter-tall landslide barrier on the slope of a hill where Pura Agung Surya – one of the three grand Hindu temples in the regency – stands. Minutes after Salamun’s announcement, dozens of villagers from Wonorejo hamlet, one of four hamlets in the village, gathered in the mosque yard to depart together to the temple, located about 4 kilometers from the mosque. They were apparently not the only group to participate in the activity, as Salamun and his neighbors were joined by residents of the other three hamlets, most of whom were Muslims and Christians, to help in constr...

Full report at:



Four arrested for assaulting Muslim waiter in Aurangabad

July 22, 2019

At least four persons have been arrested by the police for assaulting a Muslim man in Maharashtra's Aurangabad on Friday. Investigating Officer Madhukar Sawant said the accused will be produced in court on Monday.

According to the police, Imran Ismail Patel, 27, who works at an eatery in Muzaffarnagar locality here, was returning home on his motorcycle shortly after midnight on Friday, when he was stopped by the group of men at the Hudco corner.

Taking away the ignition key of his motorcycle, the group asked him his name, where he was going and hurled abuses at him. The crowd then assaulted him. One of them menacingly raised a stone on his head and ordered him to say "Jai Shri Ram", which a terrified Patel repeated loudly thrice.

Hearing the fracas, some local residents rushed out of their homes. One Ganesh Mandapwale rescued Patel from the clutches of the violent group and even got back his motorcycle keys.

Hours later, Patel lodged a complaint with the Begumpura Police station. The police arrested a history-sheeter G.V. Sonawane on Sunday. A few more arrests were made on Monday morning.

The Aurangabad Police, which beefed up security in and around the minority-dominated globally-renowned tourist centre, have however, tried to play down the incident. The police said that it was not a communal incident and appealed to people not to believe rumours.

Full report at:



Kashmir a bilateral issue between India, Pakistan; US welcomes them sitting down: State department

Jul 23, 2019

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration has launched a damage control exercise after the President's remarks about mediation on Kashmir, with the state department on Tuesday saying it was a "bilateral" issue between India and Pakistan, and the US "welcomes" the two countries "sitting down" for talks.

It also said Pakistan taking "sustained and irreversible" steps against terrorism is key to a successful dialogue with India.

"While Kashmir is a bilateral issue for both parties to discuss, the Trump administration welcomes Pakistan and India sitting down and the United States stands ready to assist," a state department spokesperson told PTI in response to a question if Trump's remarks reflect a change in the country's policy on Kashmir.

India has already rejected Trump's claim that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought his mediation on the Kashmir issue.

Raveesh Kumar


We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India's consistent position...1/2


11:58 PM - Jul 22, 2019

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Raveesh Kumar


• 11h

We have seen @POTUS's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India & Pakistan, on Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by PM @narendramodi to US President. It has been India's consistent position...1/2

Raveesh Kumar


...that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally.2/2


11:58 PM - Jul 22, 2019

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For more than a decade, the US has consistently insisted that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and it is for the two countries to decide on the nature and scope of the dialogue.

"We believe the foundation for any successful dialogue between India and Pakistan is based on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible steps against militants and terrorists on its territory. These actions are in line with Prime Minister (Imran) Khan's stated commitments, and Pakistan's international obligations," the state department spokesperson said.

"We will continue to support efforts that reduce tensions and create an environment conducive for dialogue. This first and foremost means tackling the menace of terrorism. As the President indicated, we stand ready to assist," the spokesperson said in response to a question.

On Monday, Trump stunned India by saying that Prime Minister Modi, during the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, sought his help in resolving the Kashmir issue.

"I was with Prime Minister Modi two weeks ago and we talked about this subject (Kashmir). And he actually said, 'would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?' I said, 'where?' (Modi said) 'Kashmir'," Trump said during his talks with Khan, their first since the latter came to power in August, 2018.

"Because this has been going on for many, many years. I am surprised that how long. It has been going on (for long)," he said, with Khan responding 70 years.

"I think they (Indians) would like to see it resolved. I think you would like to see it resolved. And if I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It should be....we have two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership, (and they) can't solve a problem like that. But if you would want me to mediate or arbitrate, I would be willing to do that," Trump said.

"So all those issues should be resolved. So, he (Modi) has to ask me the same thing. So maybe we'll speak to him. Or I'll speak to him and we'll see if we can do something," Trump said.

Khan welcomed these remarks. "President, I can tell you that, right now, you would have the prayers of over a billion people if you can mediate and resolve this issue," he said.

In New Delhi, The ministry of external affairs was quick to deny that Modi ever asked for a mediation on Kashmir.

"We have seen President Trump's remarks to the press that he is ready to mediate, if requested by India and Pakistan, on the Kashmir issue. No such request has been made by Prime Minister to the US President," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

"It has been India's consistent position that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally. Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross border terrorism. The Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India and Pakistan bilaterally," Kumar said.

In the past two and half years, the Trump administration has gone a step ahead, as compared to his predecessors', in supporting India's fight against terrorism. In the immediate aftermath of the Pulwama terrorist attack, the White House supported India's right to self defense.

Full report at:



Jammu and Kashmir: Brothers of rifleman Aurangzeb killed by militants join Territorial Army

by Arun Sharma

July 23, 2019

A year after his son, Rifleman Aurangzeb, was abducted and later killed by militants in Kashmir, Mohammad Haneef on Monday saw two other sons getting enrolled into the Territorial Army as soldiers at an event in Palma, in the border district of Rajouri.

The siblings, Mohammad Tariq and Mohammad Shabir, were among 100 recruits selected from among 11,000 people who participated in the recruitment rally conducted at Surankote in March this year.

Haneef and wife Raj Begum were present when the brothers donned the olive-green uniform.

Haneef, whose eldest son Mohammad Qasim is also in the Army, said, “I am a proud father today, as two more of my sons have joined the forces. One who is born has to die some day, and what can be bigger than sacrificing your life for your motherland?”

He added, “Even our religion tells us to die for the nation.”

Aurangzeb, a soldier posted with 44 Rashtriya Rifles, was abducted and killed by militants in Shopian district in July 2018 when he was headed home, in adjoining Poonch district, to celebrate Eid with the family. He was awarded the Shaurya Chakra posthumously.

Reacting to his son’s killing, Haneef had said, “I had got him recruited in the Army to serve the nation. A soldier’s job is to kill the enemy or get killed.”

Haneef had also asked other people not to stop sending their children to the Army because otherwise there will be no one left to fight for the country.

Defence Ministry spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand here described the enrolment parade as a unique initiative of 156 Infantry Battalion of Territorial Army (Home & Hearth), Punjab, of Indian Army. Pointing out that most recruits come from humble backgrounds, he said six are graduates, 76 have cleared Class XII, and the rest cleared Class X.

Full report at:



‘SIMI meeting’: SC notice on NIA plea challenging acquittal of 5 accused

by Ananthakrishnan G

July 23, 2019

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice on a plea by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) challenging the acquittal of five men accused of organising a meeting of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in Kerala’s Panayikkulam in August 2006.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India issued the notice on the petition challenging the HC verdict of April 12 this year. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for the NIA.

There were 17 accused in the case, one of them a minor. In November 2015, the NIA court in Kochi convicted five of them —- P A Shaduly, Abdul Razik, Ansar Nadvi, Nizamuddin and Shammas —- and sentenced them to varying degrees of imprisonment. The court acquitted the rest. The case against the minor was separated from the rest.

According to the prosecution, the 17 accused assembled in an auditorium at Panayikulam on August 15, 2006. The secret meeting was arranged by accused 1 to 5 and attended by the others.

The accused, claimed the probe agency, brought pamphlets containing anti-national, seditious and inflammatory writings with intent to bring hatred and contempt against the Government of India. Two of the accused “addressed the audience and advocated for cession of Kashmir through Jihad and for bringing back Muslim rule in India”. The books and pamphlets brought by accused 1 to 5 were publications of SIMI, the prosecution alleged, adding that the meeting “was convened by the accused with intent to cause disaffection towards Government of India, to conduct Jihad for cession of Kashmir from India and to bring back Muslim rule in India”. They were charged with sedition under Section 124A and other offences under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Acquitting them, the HC disagreed with the agency’s charge that their speech amounted to sedition.

After citing case laws on the matter and discussing the charges, the HC ruled that “taking into consideration all these facts and principles evolved in appreciating a case under Section 124A, we do not think that the statements aforesaid even if read as a whole was intended to create any hatred or contempt or disaffection towards the Government of India. Nothing has been stated against the Government of India. Of course, it is stated that certain laws like TADA and NSA are oppressive and Muslims are tortured. It is also stated that the persons who are doing Jihad in Kashmir are gunned down by Indian military and all persons have to fight against the same. It might be true that it may trench upon making a malicious speech. But in so far as the speech does not create any hatred or contempt to Government of India, nor does it excite any disaffection, the provisions u/s 124A cannot be invoked.”

Full report at:



Lashkar, Islamic State in plans with Pak army to target Indian assets in Afghanistan

Shishir Gupta and Rezaul H Laskar

Jul 23, 2019

The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is working closely with Islamic State in Afghanistan and has drawn up plans with the Pakistan Army to target Indian and US assets and interests in the war-torn country, people familiar with developments said on Monday.

During a recent meeting between LeT operatives and a team of Pakistan Army and the country’s spy agency Inter- Services Intelligence in Jaba area of Dangam district in Kunar province, the terror group was directed to attack Indian and US assets, the people, including intelligence officials and diplomats in New Delhi and Washington, said on condition of anonymity. LeT commanders were tasked to carry out different types of attacks, including with suicide bombers sent from Pakistan, they added. The move comes at a time when Pakistan is under intense pressure from the US and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to crack down on LeT and other groups such as Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). LeT founder Hafiz Saeed was recently arrested on terror financing charges.

This also coincides with reports by the Pentagon and a UN panel about the presence of hundreds of LeT cadres in Afghanistan. The Pentagon report put the number of LeT operatives at 300, while the UN report said 500 fighters are active in Kunar and Nangarhar provinces alone.

“LeT’s presence in Afghanistan has been observed to be steadily on the rise. According to recent inputs, Hafiz Saeed’s son Talha Saeed is taking more interest in operational affairs in Afghanistan,” said an official who didn’t want to be named. The information on LeTactivities has been shared with the US and Afghanistan.

The reasons for LeT focusing on Afghanistan are strategic rather than ideological, including the creation of safe havens for its fighters and a belief the Taliban are in a commanding position, the people said. With its fighters easily crossing the porous border, LeT wants to take credit for an “Islamic victory” in Afghanistan and has been increasing its presence in Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan, they said.

The presence of LeT fighters has also been reported in Badakhshan, Laghman, Kabul, Ghazni, Wardak, Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Kandahar and Helmand provinces and it maintains good relations with IS, the people said. The IS has provided tacit support for LeT to increase its presence, they added. While the LeT has so far avoided carrying out direct attacks in Afghanistan, it coordinates with al-Qaeda and Taliban in attacks on foreign and Afghan forces. The UN panel had also reported the LeT was a key provider of fighters, weapons and finance for the Taliban and Haqqani Network.

Several madrassas in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar are supporting the LeT in Afghanistan, including Ganj Madrassa, which helps recruit cadres, Jamia Ashrafia, Hazrat Bilal Madrassa, Markaz Khyber, which is headed by local JuD leader Qari Nouman, Markaz Al-Madina.

The JeM, which has traditionally had strong ties with the Afghan Taliban, has also stepped up its operations in Afghanistan and its cadres are fighting under the leadership of the Taliban, the people said. These cadres include a significant number of battle-hardened JeM militants and suicide bombers from Pakistan’s Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, they said.

The JeM leadership also conducts its own operations in Afghanistan that are directed from a base in Peshawar, the people said.

Full report at:



SC says Vishakha guidelines can’t be applied in religious places, nixes plea

Jul 23, 2019

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to entertain a petition demanding application of Vishakha guidelines on sexual harassment at workplaces to places of worship.

Dismissing the petition, a bench led by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said,” the guidelines are meant for cases of sexual harassment at work places and cannot be extended to places of religious worship”.

The petition filed by one advocate Maneesh Pathak had sought that Vishakha guidelines against sexual harassment at workplace should be made applicable to ashrams, madrasas and Catholic institutions.

Arguing the matter before the court senior advocate RK Khanna tried to impress on the court the necessity of enforcing the Vishakha guidelines in places of worship because in the past these places had seen a spurt of sexual harassment cases. But the court was unmoved by the argument said, “if such incidents are taking place the aggrieved parties have recourse to filing FIRs.”

The apex court had in, 1997, in the Vishakha case, laid down guidelines to be followed by employers to prevent or deter acts of sexual harassments against women at workplace.

Full report at:





Pakistan Holds Historic Vote in Former 'Epicenter' of Terror

By Ayaz Gul

July 20, 2019

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan organized its first ever provincial elections Saturday in a northwestern region along the mountainous border with Afghanistan that until a few years ago was condemned as the “epicenter” of international terrorism.

Pakistani officials said the elections in the seven districts of what were formerly known as the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) are central to steps the government has taken to supplement regional and global efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan and counter violent extremism.

Pakistani election officials said some 2.8 million registered voters were to choose from 285 candidates for 16 seats in the legislative assembly of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

The contestants, including two women, represented major mainstream political parties. The election was held under tight security and no incidents of violence were reported.

The historic vote came on a day when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan left for the United States for his first meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday, where the two leaders will discuss counterterrorism measures among a range of other issues.

A landmark constitutional amendment pushed through the parliament last year paved the ground for the tribal territory to be merged in the adjoining KP province to bring it into the national mainstream.

Until last year, the lawless border regions of FATA were federally administered through a set of British colonial laws that were not applicable to the rest of Pakistan, and residents could vote only in the national assembly, lower house of the parliament. FATA anti-terror campaign

Civilian and military leaders in Pakistan hailed Saturday’s democratic process as testimony that years-long security operations have rid most of the ex-FATA of militant groups, including al-Qaida and fighters loyal to the Taliban waging a deadly insurgency against U.S.-led intentional forces on the Afghan side of the porous border.

Islamabad has been for years accused by American and Afghan officials of harboring training camps and sanctuaries for the Taliban. Pakistani officials have consistently denied those charges.

The anti-terrorism Pakistan army offensives, backed by airpower, over the years had displaced several million residents of FATA, although officials say 95% of them have since been rehabilitated.

A government document shared with VOA claimed the operations killed more than 15,000 militants and captured another 5,000. The remnants have fled and taken refuge in “ungoverned” border regions of Afghanistan, it added.

It was not possible to ascertain the veracity of the data through independent sources because conflict zones in FATA had remained inaccessible for journalists and aid workers during military operations.

In recent months, however, the military has organized media trips to showcase infrastructure development, particularly in North Waziristan, which Pakistani officials say was the final battleground in their bid to clear FATA of terror.

The retaliatory terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in FATA districts and elsewhere in the country also killed thousands of Pakistanis, including about 8,000 military personnel, according to Pakistani officials.

The violence, which stemmed from Pakistan’s participation in the U.S. “war on terror," also has inflicted direct and indirect losses to the national economy totaling more than $200 billion, according to government estimates.

Foreign critics also had been referring to FATA as the “most dangerous place”on the globe, and the U.S. repeatedly called for Pakistan to dismantle the terrorism infrastructure.

“This most dangerous spot on the map may well be the source of another 9/11 type of attack on the Western world or its surrogates in the region,” concluded the Center for Strategic and International Studies in a 2009 study on FATA..

Border security and reconstruction

The Pakistani army is currently building a robust fence and new posts along most of the 2,600-kilometer Afghan border to deter militant infiltration in either direction. The massive border management project is expected to be completed by the end of 2020. “With fencing of Pak-Afghan border, cross border movement of terrorists, drugs and smugglers has reduced to almost 5% of what was happening before,” according to a Pakistani government document shared with VOA.

The ensuing reconstruction effort has established roads, bridges and telecommunication networks, schools, health facilities and markets.

The key infrastructure was previously almost non-existent in many FATA districts. Pakistani officials cited a lack a government authority in the region for decades, saying it long served as a “transit zone for Jihadi groups where they had established a de-facto government.”

The military lately, however, has faced allegations of abuses from a newly emerged group in FATA, known as Pakistan Tahafuz Movement or PTM. But both army and government officials deny the charges, alleging that some of the PTM leaders are being supported by Afghan and Indian spy agencies in their bid to undermine Pakistan’s counterterrorism gains. 

Prime Minister Imran Khan's nearly one-year-old government takes credit for arranging an ongoing peace dialogue between the U.S. and the Taliban aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.

During recent trips to FATA districts, Khan has announced new projects and allocated substantial funds for the development of the regions, hoping they will become a commercial and transit trade hub between Pakistan and Afghanistan if peace eventually returns to the neighboring country.



Imran Khan a great athlete, a very popular Prime Minister: Donald Trump

Jul 23, 2019

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump in his maiden meeting Monday with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan described him as a great athlete and a very popular prime minister, and jokingly said that he would help him get re elected.

"It's my great honour to have the very popular and, by the way, great athlete -- one of the greatest -- but very popular Prime Minister of Pakistan," Trump said while welcoming Khan to the Oval Office of the White House.

This was Khan's first visit to the US after being elected as the prime minister of Pakistan last year. Khan is currently on a three-day official visit to the US at the invitation of Trump.

During the more than 40 minutes meeting, the two leaders spent time with the media -- responding to a volley of questions. The mood and atmosphere in the Oval Office was quite comfortable.

Khan appeared to be at ease and confident answering questions. Former PM Nawaz Sharif read from prepared statements during his two joint media appearances with the then US President Barack Obama.

During the unusually lengthy question and answer session with the media, wherein they gave almost all the Pakistani journalists present an opportunity to ask questions - the two leaders appeared to have forged a good chemistry instantly, laughing and joking several times.

"We should be doing tremendous business together. So, I look forward to it," Trump said as he concluded his welcome remarks for the visiting Pakistani leaders who was seated next to him in a deep navy blue sherwani.

"Inshallah," Khan said, adding that he has been looking forward to this meeting since he assumed office as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

Trump described it as a "very important meeting".

"I think the potential with Pakistan and likewise, the opposite way, I think we have not even come close to meeting it. There is tremendous potential between our country and Pakistan," he said.

In fact, in response to a question, Trump said that he would love to visit Pakistan, but he has not received an invitation yet. "Well, I can't say that yet because, so far, he has not extended me an invitation," he said amidst laughter.

"And after today's meeting, maybe he won't. But I have a feeling he might. Yes, I'd love to go Pakistan at the right time," he said.

In lighter vein, Trump said that he likes reporters from Pakistan, "better than" Americans. There was another moment of laughter in the room when Trump did not agree with Khan when he said that he is experiencing unprecedented criticism from his Pakistani media.

"When you say 'unprecedented,' it can't --Wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. There's no way you're treated worse than I am (by the US media)," Trump said amidst laughter.

In response to another question, Trump said he would help Khan in his reelection.

Full report at:



Pakistani intelligence led CIA to Bin Laden: Imran Khan

Jul 23, 2019

WASHINGTON: Pakistan's main spy agency provided the US with a lead that helped them find and kill Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday.

Pakistan has until now officially denied having any knowledge of the terror chief until he was shot dead in a night time raid by US special forces on May 2, 2011, an incident that was a major national embarrassment and caused ties between the two countries to plummet.

Khan, who is visiting Washington on his first official trip, made his claim in an interview with Fox News when he was asked whether his country would release a jailed doctor whose fake immunization drive helped the US track and kill the terror chief in 2011.

"This is a very emotive issue, because Shakeel Afridi in Pakistan is considered a spy," he told host Bret Baier, referring to the doctor.

"We in Pakistan always felt that we were an ally of the US and if we had been given the information about Osama Bin Laden, we should have taken him out."

Baier then asked if Khan understood the skepticism around the Inter Services Intelligence agency (ISI) for leaking key information, to which Khan replied:

"And yet it was ISI that gave the information which led to the location of Osama Bin Laden.

"If you ask CIA it was ISI which gave the initial location through the phone connection."

It was not immediately clear what Khan was referring to and he did not provide more detail.

Though Pakistan officially denies knowing that Bin Laden was living on its territory, Asad Durrani, a former spymaster, told Al Jazeera in 2015 that the ISI probably knew where he was hiding and hoped to use him as a bargaining chip before he was killed.

The Al-Qaeda chief was tracked down after a 10-year manhunt to Abbottabad, a garrison town north of Islamabad where Pakistan's military academy is headquartered, sparking allegations authorities were colluding with the terror group.

A leaked Pakistani government report in 2013 said Bin Laden arrived in Pakistan in the spring or summer of 2002 -after the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan - and settled in Abbottabad in August 2005.

The report, which coined the term "governance implosion syndrome" to explain the extent of official failures to detect him, said he was once stopped for speeding and enjoyed wearing a cowboy hat.

Full report at:



Non-Muslims enjoying religious freedom in Pakistan: Ashrafi

July 23, 2019

LAHORE: Chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council and Muttahida Ulema Board Allama Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi has said that all non-Muslim communities are enjoying equal rights and religious freedom in Pakistan and no one will be allowed to spread hatred on the name of religion in the country.

He was addressing a press conference after a consultative meeting with religious scholars from various schools of thought at the Lahore Press Club on Monday.

He said the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan guarantees rights to every Muslim and non-Muslim citizen and minorities were fully protected in the country.

He said the Ulema during the meeting condemned the propaganda from enemies of Pakistan at the time of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s US tour regarding alleged exploitation of Qadiyanis and termed it baseless.

He said Pakistani nation would safeguard the Islamic clauses and especially Muslim’s faith on Khatm-e-Nabuwwat at every cost.

To a question, he told that Qadiyanis were a non-Muslim minority under Pakistani constitution and no power could abolish this Islamic clause regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwwat.

To another query, he replied that Muttahida Ulema Board Punjab launched a massive action against hatred religious publishing material and speeches besides recommending 50 books to seize. He added that no one would be allowed to spread hatred among the religious communities in the country.

He said Qadiyanis were non-Muslims under the law and they should stop propagating against Pakistan and introduce themselves according to their religion freely.

Full report at:



Relations with Pakistan much better today than before, says President Trump in meeting with PM Imran

July 22, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the White House on Monday for his first one-on-one meeting with US President Donald Trump.

He was received by President Trump, who greeted him with a handshake and a pat on the arm.

The two waved to PTI supporters gathered outside the White House before heading inside for their meeting.

In televised remarks from inside the Oval Office, President Trump noted that the US is working with Pakistan to leave Afghanistan, saying that he does not want the US to be "a policeman" in the region.

"Pakistan is helping us a lot now on Afghanistan," he said, adding that relations with the country are much better now than before.

In wide-ranging remarks, he also offered to intercede to improve strained relations between Pakistan and India, and further said that aid to Islamabad could be restored depending on the kind of understanding reached between the two leaders.

To a question asking him about his own unfavourable views about Pakistan in the past, Trump said: "I don't think Pakistan respected the United States [in the past]. I don't think Pakistan respected its [the United States'] presidents. I think Pakistan could have done a tremendous amount with respect to Afghanistan: they didn't do it — another blame game because they were dealing with the wrong presidents — who knows?

"I think they could have help us a lot in the past, but it doesn't matter [now]. We have a new leader, he is going be a great leader of Pakistan. We have a sort of new leader here [...] but now I think Pakistan could have done a lot [in the past] but it choose not to just because they didn't respect US leadership," he said.

"We were paying $1.3 billion as aid for many years but the problem was that Pakistan — it was before you [PM Imran] — was not doing anything for us. They were really, I think, subversive.

"To be honest, we have a better relationship with Pakistan right now than we did when we were paying that money. But all of that can come back depending on what we work out [...] and I think at the end of this, the end of very short time, we can have a very great relationship with Pakistan.

"It is a great country, they are very great people. I have many friends from Pakistan [...] they are great people, smart, tough — they are tough, there is no question about that. They are like him [pointing to PM Imran], they are tough," said Trump.

Kashmir mediation

The US president also offered to mediate the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan. “If I can help, I would love to be a mediator,” Trump said.

"If I can do anything to help, let me know," he said, to which PM Imran said that if Trump would, he would "have the prayers of more than a billion people".

The premier said the US, being the most powerful country in the world, can play the most important role in bringing peace to the subcontinent.

"There are over a billion and quarter people in the subcontinent, they are held hostage to the issue of Kashmir, and I feel that only the most powerful state, headed by President Trump, can bring the two countries together.

"From my point, I can tell you we have tried our best, we have made all overtures to India to start a dialogue, resolve our differences through dialogue, but unfortunately we haven't made headways as yet. But I am hoping that President Trump would push this process," said Prime Minister Imran.

In response, Trump revealed that India had also asked him to mediate.

"I was with Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi two weeks ago. We talked about the subject and he actually said, 'Would you like to be a mediator or arbitrator?'. I said where, he said Kashmir, because it has been going on for many, many years.

"I was surprised to know how long it has been going on. I think they would like to see it resolved, you [Pakistan] would like to see it resolve [...] and if I can help, I would love to become a mediator," said Trump.

"I have heard so much about Kashmir; it's a beautiful place."

India's Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, however, shortly after the remarks by Trump denied that any such request had been made by Modi.

Peace in Afghanistan

President Trump said that he could win the war in Afghanistan in a week, but that he doesn't want to kill millions of people and wipe Afghanistan “off the face of the earth”.

Prime Minister Imran told reporters that there was only one solution for Afghanistan and remarked that a peace deal with the Taliban was closer than it had ever been.

"This is the closest we have ever come," he said, agreeing that a military 'solution' to the Afghan war would result in a catastrophic loss of lives.

He said he hoped that in the coming days, "we will be able to urge the Taliban to talk with the Afghan government and come to a political solution", a point that was promptly appreciated by Trump — who again noted that Pakistan had helped tremendously in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Imran also highlighted Pakistan's own sacrifices in the so-called 'War on Terror', reminding Trump that Pakistan had lost 70,000 people and billions of dollars due to the conflict.

"I think Pakistan is going to do a lot [with respect to Afghanistan]. I really do. I think Pakistan is going to make a big difference," said Trump.

"I think Pakistan is going to save millions of lives in Afghanistan because I really believe they can, they have a power that other nations don't have with respect to Afghanistan and I would say, as of the moment, they are working very hard and very nicely."


President Trump also said that the US is willing to invest in Pakistan and sees great trade opportunities there. He also talked about expanding trade "10, 20 times".

The US leader stressed that not enough opportunities had been explored between the two countries, indicating that both sides would be see more trade with each other.

In reply to a question on whether he would ever go to Pakistan, which he at one point described as a "wonderful country", Trump joked that while he had yet to be invited by PM Imran, he would "love to" visit one day.

While the two leaders spoke to the media, the senior military leadership, including Chief of Armed Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, arrived at the White House for delegation-level talks.

The premier later met First Lady Melania Trump.

Both sides then held a working lunch to discuss matters of mutual interest.

High hopes

Ahead of the meeting, US Senator Lindsey Graham, who by some accounts has been instrumental in arranging the meeting, tweeted the following:

"Great meeting with the PM of Pakistan, Imran Khan.

"In my opinion he and his government represent the best opportunity in decades to have a beneficial strategic relationship the US. This will help us secure Afghanistan and the region long-term."

"Tremendous business opportunities exist between Pakistan and the US through a free trade agreement tied to our mutual security interests," he continued in a subsequent tweet.

"It’s also our best chance in decades to reset the relationship between the US and Pakistan.

Full report at:



Opposition calls PM’s US speech ‘anarchic, provocative’

Amir Wasim

July 23, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties on Monday lambasted Prime Minister Imran Khan over his speech in the US and termed it “provocative, anarchic and full of venom”.

A number of senior leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), including Maryam Nawaz and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, responded to the prime minister’s speech through their social media accounts, press statements and even news conferences and described Mr Khan’s latest diatribe against their top leadership on foreign soil an act of bringing disrepute to the country.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while addressing a community event at Washington’s Capital One Arena on Sunday, had stated that the problem in Pakistan was that when political leaders were asked for answers, they said that political revenge was being taken. While referring to political leaders in the country, the premier had said they had just one purpose — they wanted him to offer them a deal.

Responding to Mr Khan’s speech, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari tweeted that it seemed the prime minister had not come down from his container, saying that Mr Khan had become a ruler but not a leader.

“Pity, even when representing our country abroad (the) selected PM can’t get off his container. Imran is a ruler not a leader. Pakistan needs a leader who speaks for all Pakistanis not just himself. If government does opposition and opposition does opposition then who’s left to run the country?” asked Mr Bhutto-Zardari.

Later, in a statement released to the media, the PPP chairman condemned media censorship by the government of the rally of PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz and said it was proof that “Imran Khan is a selected PM and his government is a selected government”.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said the party which staged a sit-in in front of parliament for 126 days was not able to tolerate a single rally of opposition which proved that Mr Khan was unable to listen to any voice of dissent.

PML-N’s vice president Maryam Nawaz through her social media account on Twitter stated that the prime minister had to do a public meeting in the US because “owing to the havoc he has played with the people of Pakistan, for him to come out in public and face the simmering wrath and rage in Pakistan may not be possible”.

She also questioned the logic of spending millions of dollars on the “event”. She said the Pakistanis should ask “the selected” that what conditions he had accepted before going to the US.

Reacting over Mr Khan’s statement that he would remove TV and air-conditioner from her father’s room in jail, she said such an action could be “detrimental” to Mr Sharif’s health as the doctor said that perspiration in this humid weather could affect his kidneys.

Meanwhile, speaking at a news conference at National Press Club, PML-N leaders Ahsan Iqbal, Marriyum Aurangzeb and Musadik Malik also hit out at the prime minister, saying that it was a pity that even in Washington Mr Khan was only thinking about Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Iqbal said the “selected PM” had delivered the same speech in Washington, which he had been delivering for the past many months as he had nothing more to say. He said the prime minister was damaging the country’s image by declaring it a corrupt country. He said Mr Khan was making speech like an NGO leader doing advocacy.

“On a foreign visit, you should be a representative of Pakistan. He delivered a speech which a politician does while standing at Mochi Gate,” he said.

Mr Iqbal advised Mr Khan to think about the country, instead of Nawaz Sharif. He said it was ironic that Nawaz Sharif remained under discussion for most of the time even during the cabinet meetings. He said the government’s policies were now becoming a “security risk” for the country.

Similarly, speaking at a news conference in Lahore, PPP’s Punjab president Qamar Zaman Kaira said the nation expected that the prime minister would represent the nation in the US and draw the attention of the Americans towards the sacrifices Pakistan was offering in the war on terror, but he continued hurling threats at political rivals in his speech to the Pakistan diaspora.

Mr Kaira said the prime minister was speaking as a superintendent of a prison when he talked of withdrawing certain facilities being availed by some incarcerated politicians.

Full report at:



Trump accepts PM Imran’s invitation to visit Pakistan, says Qureshi

July 23, 2019

WASHINGTON D.C.: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday disclosed that US President Donald Trump has accepted the invitation extended to him by Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Pakistan.

Qureshi, who is currently accompanying Prime Minister Imran Khan on his three-day maiden visit to the US, was addressing a press conference in Washington, where he said that the matters pertaining to President Trump’s visit will soon be agreed upon.

He further said the meeting between Prime Minister Imran and President Trump demonstrated joint resolve to promote peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Qureshi observed the meeting also conveyed a commitment to promoting peace in South Asia and US President Trump has expressed his facilitation role in resolving the Kashmir issue.

“Delegation-level talks were also held between the two countries and Trump said we are going to have a very good relationship with Pakistan,” he said.

Full report at:



Great to have PM Imran at the White House, says Melania Trump

July 23, 2019

Following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, US First Lady Melania Trump expressed happiness at hosting the premier.

She tweeted pictures of the American first couple with the Pakistani premier, saying “Great to have Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI of Pakistan at the @WhiteHouse today!”

Melania Trump


Great to have Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI of Pakistan at the @WhiteHouse today!

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter


23:55 - 22 Jul 2019

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Earlier, in his maiden visit to the US, PM Imran held a one-on-one meeting with the US president in which mattersof mutual interest were discussed between both sides.

Full report at:



Pakistan committed to helping US in resolving Afghan issue, Imran tells US senator

July 23, 2019

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that Pakistan desired peace in Afghanistan and was fully committed to working with the United States in achieving a political settlement in the war ravaged country.

He was talking to US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who called on him at the Pakistan House here.

Graham, also the head of the US Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a press statement, “has been the most vocal and active supporter of refreshing US-Pakistan bilateral ties in the interest of regional peace and security”.

In the Graham-Khan meeting, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Foreign Secretary Sohail Mehmood, and Pakistani Ambassador to the US Dr Asad Majeed Khan were present.

The PM and Senator Graham discussed bilateral relations and the regional situation. Imran appreciated Senator Graham’s efforts and support for strengthening Pakistan-US relations and apprised the senator of his government’s development and economic priorities.

He said Pakistan desired a broad based relationship with the United States that safeguarded the two countries’ interests and promoted win-win cooperation in areas ranging from the economy to trade and investment to energy and education.

Senator Graham agreed with Imran that sustained and high-level engagement between Pakistan and the United States were to the two countries’ mutual advantage. He appreciated Pakistan’s support for the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

Full report at:



Imran has given charge of Pakistan to IMF: Marriyum

July 23, 2019

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Monday that Prime Minister Imran Khan has handed over charge of Pakistan to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The PML-N spokesperson was also critical of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s address to overseas Pakistanis in Washington DC.

“The prime minister should tell overseas Pakistanis that roti, business, employment and freedom of speech are all shut in Pakistan. He should also tell them about Pakistan being handed over to the IMF,” Aurangzeb said.

Marriyum Aurangzeb further said the prime minister should have also spoken on the rising inflation and lowering investment in the country.

The IMF’s Executive Board on July 3 had approved a three-year bailout package worth $6 billion to Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan during his three-day visit to the US met with officials from the IMF.

Pakistan needs to mobilize domestic tax revenue to ensure funds for social and development programs while reducing debt, the acting director of the IMF said after the meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The two officials discussed recent economic developments and implementation of Pakistan’s IMF-supported economic reforms, which are aimed at stabilizing the economy, strengthening institutions and paving the way for sustainable and balanced growth, David Lipton said in a statement.

Khan’s government faces mounting pressure as rising prices and tough austerity policies under Pakistan’s latest bailout from the IMF are squeezing the middle class that helped carry it to power.

Full report at:



North America


I'm A Muslim U.S Marine, And I'm Staying, To Make America Great Again. Just Not The Trump Way

Mansoor Shams

ON 7/22/19

It's a few years ago. I'm in the midst of heavy traffic in Baltimore City, and out of nowhere, a man walks in front of my car, forcing me to suddenly break. Naturally, I honk my horn. Without any hesitation, he responds "Go back to your country." And it doesn't stop there - to make it clear I didn't belong he hurls a plastic bottle my way, hitting my windshield.

Although racism, xenophobia and bigotry were nothing new to America, I had always felt that our nation was moving in the right direction; that slowly, but surely, we were mending our ways. Always, that is, until President Trump got elected to the highest office of the land.

It's 2016. My eldest son is at his middle school, when a fellow student states, in passing: "I guess this is goodbye, no offense, but see you later man." My son is left processing as to exactly what this was supposed to mean, considering he had been born in America.

And now it's 2019, and the President of our United States tells a press conference: "If you're not happy in the U.S., you're complaining all the time, very simply, you can leave, you can leave right now—come back if you want, don't come back if you want, its ok to, but if you're not happy here you can leave."

I entered the United States at the age of six and became a U.S. citizen a few years later. At 18, I decided to embark on a journey very few Americans (including those born here) experience—the kind of journey where you take your most treasured gift, life, and put it on the line. I signed up for U.S. Armed Forces and became a United States Marine.

Yes, I was an immigrant, yes, I had tan skin and black hair, and yes, I was a Muslim by faith but nevertheless I was, and am, a proud American. At least that's what I always thought. And just in case you're wondering about the whole Muslim American U.S. Marine thing, loyalty to your country of residence was a part of my Islamic faith, according to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. In fact, it was very Muslim of me to become a US Marine. Contrary to popular belief, there was zero conflict of interest between my Islamic faith and my US Constitution. So I served proudly and honorably.

Yet as I reflect on today's state of America, I begin to wonder. Did the America I always thought to be my America ever think the same of me? Was I as much American to my fellow Americans as everyone was to me? Did my service even really mean anything? Was "thank you for your service" just a bunch of talk that had little meaning for those Americans who seemingly can't get past a man born with tan skin, black hair, or who happened to choose Islam as his faith? And was my sense of internal pride, patriotism all an illusion? These are the questions creep up more and more often in my mind – questions I can't help but ask myself, but also questions I now put before my fellow Americans. Meanwhile, the President later tweeted, "those tweets were NOT Racist. I don't have a Racist bone in my body..."

Okay, sure. Maybe we got it all wrong. Maybe we read too much into tweets and comments. Or maybe our interpretation of the President's words was fused by internal bias. Fine, benefit of doubt given! Maybe I was wrong.

And then it had happened again. At a rally in North Carolina, the President doubled down on his rhetoric. This time there was no internal bias or misreading. His own supporters were confirming exactly what many of us had already been thinking. "Send her back," they chanted, referring to Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. The President stood silent. Not a word out of his mouth to tell his followers to stop.

I couldn't believe what I was witnessing. Americans were telling another American, and not just any American—a U.S. Congresswoman—to go back to where she came from. She hadn't been accepted. To them she wasn't American.



This Is the US-Born Jihadi Believed To Have Radicalised Isis Bride Lisa

By Norma Costello


This is the man who is believed to have radicalised Dundalk Isis bride Lisa Smith in the months before she travelled to Isis terror capital Raqqa.

John Georgelas, 35, a Greek/American convert to Islam, climbed the Isis ranks to become one of the most high-profile foreign Isis members and is described by some as ‘the Isis Goebbels’.

Georgelas produced English-language propaganda for Isis on the terror organisation’s English language publications Dabiq and Rumiyah and organised material for Isis’s radio station.

Known by his kunya — or Arabic name — ‘Yaya Abu Hassan’, Ms Smith spoke to the American convert via Facebook before travelling to the Islamic State in autumn 2015.

From Ayn Issa refugee camp in northern Syria — where this reporter travelled on assignment with RTE — Ms Smith admitted knowing the US jihadi well and said FBI agents had travelled to the camp to quiz her on the most high-profile American in Isis.

Ms Smith previously told that she was radicalised online by an American, and that she lived with a Syrian family after leaving the madaffa (women’s guest house), which she described as a ‘house full of chickens’.

During that interview she failed to mention that she had also lived with the high-profile US jihadi.

Speaking in the past fortnight during a series of interviews for RTE, Ms Smith explained further details of her radicalisation: ‘After spending time in a madaffa, I stayed with a guy called Abu Hasan who I knew before from Facebook. He invited me to come and stay with him and I stayed with him for three months. We got on well online. He was very nice to me, so I went and spent time with the family,’ she said.

Ms Smith claimed she did not know the prominent role her host played in Isis and said he was mainly reclusive.

‘When we lived with him he had a room and he used to go in and lock

the door. Maybe he’d come out for food or to talk to us for 10 minutes. I heard he was connected to senior people after I left Isis territory. To me, he was just a knowledgeable guy on Facebook. He knew a lot about religion,’ she said.

Abu Hasan guided her to Isis, Ms Smith said, and told her she was practising Islam incorrectly.

‘He contacted me and asked me how I was. “What did I follow?” He told me everything I knew about Islam I should erase it and start again. He wasn’t extreme — he said music wasn’t haram [forbidden],’ she said.

She said he was excited by her military background and insisted she could come to ‘help’ the caliphate.

‘He told me it would be good for me to come and help out but I couldn’t remember my Toet (test of elementary training),’ she said.

Unlike Ms Smith, Georgelas was well-known to US counter terrorism and was sentenced to three years in 2006 for accessing passwords and planning to attack the website of a pro-Israeli lobby.

Lisa Smith lived with Georgelas for less than a year after he divorced his British wife Tania, who fled Syria after three weeks in the country in 2013.

Georgelas remarried a Syrian woman and it was with this wife and their children that Ms Smith stayed.

Speaking previously to from Syria, Ms Smith described how she decided to travel to Isis-run territory.

‘My first husband, this Tunisian, he was so mad at me because I was saying, “Oh, look, there’s a caliphate. We must give our pledge because in Islam it’s the first caliphate in over 1,000 years.” But we were shocked at the same time. We were looking at some videos and we were just like, “Oh my God, who are these people? These people are crazy.”

‘Because they’re killing people, you see. The videos, we wouldn’t associate ourselves with it but when I heard the caliphate was announced, I said to him, “We must go now because there’s a caliphate.” And he was, “No, no, no, you’re not going.” And he’s screaming at me, “These people are bad, bad, people. You’re not going — we’re not going.” And he was so angry and I said, “Okay, we won’t go.”

‘I went back to Ireland and I stayed there for a while. In Ireland, I spoke to a few people on the internet and I asked them, “You know is this legit? What happens if we don’t go to the caliphate?” Because I want to go back to Tunisia to my husband. He had got a house there and he wanted us to live there and start a family. So I was like, “Do I go back to Tunisia or do I go here, you know?” So this guy I was speaking to [on the internet] he was very strong.”’

Asked at that stage if the man was Irish or based in Ireland at that stage, she said: ‘No, no, he was American or something on the internet.’

He said the caliphate was legitimate and that Ms Smith owed her allegiance to it and, if she didn’t go, she’d go to ‘hell fire’.

‘He said, “You’d go to the hell fire,” because you’d die a death of ignorance and that will lead you into the hell fire. I just was like, “Oh my God, what am I going to do?” I was so scared. And they were saying to me, “With your history, you might be good. You might be able to help people…” I was like, “What would I know, I can’t even remember my own Toet [test of elementary training] or my gun or anything” but he just said, “You must go and if you don’t, you’re a sinner. On judgement day you’ll be judged.”

‘And then I was sitting in my house [in Ireland], going, “Will I go? Will I not go? Will I go? Will I not go?” I must have sat for three months thinking. I was so confused, talking to these people all the time and them saying, “You have to go, and then every time I said “Look at these Islamists — they’re killing people,” he’d [Georgelas] say to me, “No, no this is wrong. They’re Photoshopping everything. They’re telling lies.” Then they showed me videos of Raqqa, [people] eating icecream…

‘And they tell you everything is so normal. They don’t tell you that you’ll be sitting there and next minute a bomb will fall on your house — the next day you could be dead. They just say, “It’s great here, it’s okay. It’s the life — it’s the Islamic State.”’

Ms Smith’s Muslim friend told the Dundalk woman had been radicalised by a man on Facebook.

‘She [Smith] went on Facebook and said: “Here’s a picture of me in my hijab,” the woman said.

‘Some young Muslim women do that and, if their page is open and people can see it publicly, the marriage proposals start flooding in. That’s what they do. They say, “You’re so beautiful – are you married?” “Come live with me — you’ll have this life with me in this country.” “I love you.”

‘All this c**p starts and, if you’re bombarded with that and you’re not previously getting this type of attention, that’s a powerful thing for a vulnerable woman. If you’re not clever enough to recognise it, you get sucked into it. That’s what happened to her.

‘It wouldn’t just be men. A lot of girls would message too and would convince her to leave Tunisia and brainwash her to think her husband wasn’t a “real Muslim” because he wasn’t out fighting. They made her feel like she had to be a part of something.’

She warned her friend about the man she was talking to on Facebook in 2012, after Ms Smith started displaying a negative attitude towards non Muslim people: ‘She [Smith] was talking to a man, a married man. She said there was nothing romantic going on. It wasn’t romantically inappropriate… but he was getting into her head.

Full report at:



US sanctions Chinese oil trader for violating Iran restrictions: Pompeo

22 July 2019

The United States is placing a leading Chinese oil importer on its sanctions blacklist for trading in Iranian crude, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday.

“As part of that maximum pressure campaign, I am announcing that the United States is imposing sanctions on the Chinese entity Zhuhai Zhenrong and its chief executive Youmin Li, Pompeo said in a speech.

“They violated US law by accepting crude oil,” he said.

Pompeo also took time during his keynote address at Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention to criticize the nuclear deal between Iran and several world powers.

Full report at:



Trump says the ‘report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false’

22 July 2019

US President Donald Trump says Iran’s claim that it arrested 17 Iranian nationals recruited by the CIA to spy on the country’s nuclear and military sites is “totally false.”

Iran said Monday the arrests were made in recent months and some of the individuals have been sentenced to death.

Trump tweeted that there is “zero truth” to the claim.

Donald J. Trump


The Report of Iran capturing CIA spies is totally false. Zero truth. Just more lies and propaganda (like their shot down drone) put out by a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do. Their Economy is dead, and will get much worse. Iran is a total mess!


6:38 PM - Jul 22, 2019

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US-Iran relations have spiraled downward and tensions have spiked in the Arabian Gulf. Iran’s economy is suffering from crippling economic sanctions imposed after Trump last year pulled the US out of Iran’s nuclear accord with world powers.

He says Iran is a “total mess” and that the government is failing and doesn’t know what to do.

Full report at:



UK to deploy 250 troops to Mali for peacekeeping operations

22 July 2019

Britain is to send 250 troops to the West African nation of Mali next year as part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, the defense ministry said on Monday.

“In one of the world’s poorest and most fragile regions it is right that we support some of world’s most vulnerable people and prioritize our humanitarian and security efforts in the Sahel,” defense minister Penny Mordaunt said.

Full report at:



Trump says US, Pakistan seeking 'tremendous' potential

Michael Hernandez  



The U.S. and Pakistan are seeking to meet the "tremendous potential" in their bilateral ties, President Donald Trump said Monday.

"We haven't met the potential of either country," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office while hosting Pakistani Premier Imran Khan. "I think the potential with Pakistan, and likewise the opposite way, we haven't come close to meeting it."

Khan is in Washington for his first visit to the U.S. since becoming prime minister in August 2018. 

 "To be honest, I think we have a better relationship with Pakistan right now than we did when we were paying that money,” said Trump, referring to the roughly $1 billion in security assistance to Pakistan he cut off last year, blaming Islamabad for not doing enough to fight extremism.

 “But all of that can come back depending on what we work out," he said. "We are working on things that are very, very important."

Khan said he will be asking the U.S. president to help establish peace with India, noting the subcontinent's people "are held hostage to the issue of Kashmir".

"Only the most powerful state, headed by President Trump, can bring the two countries together," said Khan. "We have made all overtures to India to start dialogue, resolve our differences through dialogue, but unfortunately we haven't made headway as yet."

Trump expressed a willingness to take up the herculean task, saying Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked him to mediate.

"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator. It’s impossible to believe two incredible countries that are very, very smart with very smart leadership can’t solve a problem like that," Trump said.

India, however, denied Modi made the overture and quickly rejected any role for the U.S. in the talks, citing its policy "that all outstanding issues with Pakistan are discussed only bilaterally".

"Any engagement with Pakistan would require an end to cross-border terrorism. The Shimla Agreement & the Lahore Declaration provide the basis to resolve all issues between India & Pakistan bilaterally," Raveesh Kumar, the spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs, said on Twitter.

Kashmir has been contested by India and Pakistan since 1947 when each country seized portions of the territory. Both countries claim the Himalayan territory in full.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, Pakistan and India have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

- Trump-Khan meeting

 The two leaders met to discuss how both nations could work together to bring peace, stability and economic prosperity to South Asia, according to a White House statement.

"The President and Prime Minister discussed the threat that terrorism presents to regional stability and discussed ways in which Pakistan can support a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Afghanistan," said the statement. 

 "Trump acknowledged initial steps that Pakistan has taken to facilitate Afghan peace efforts. He also affirmed Prime Minister Khan’s stated commitment to take action against militants and terrorists," it said.

Trump and Khan agreed that economic engagement between the two countries would foster development in Pakistan as well as investment and jobs in the U.S.

"Both leaders concurred that such engagement would also contribute to peace and prosperity in the wider South Asia region," it said.

Full report at:



Donald Trump says US working with Pakistan's Imran Khan to find way out of Afghan war

Joyce Karam

July 22, 2019

US President Donald Trump met Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Washington on Monday to work together on a way to end America's troop presence in Afghanistan.

Mr Khan was escorted by Mr Trump to the White House, where they were scheduled to meet for two hours.

Before their meeting, Mr Trump said the agenda for the talks involved Afghanistan, and security and trade ties with Pakistan.

US trade with Pakistan reached an all-time high in 2018, exceeding $6.6 billion (Dh24.24bn), US government numbers show.

Mr Trump appeared defiant in his remarks on the conflict in Afghanistan.

“I could win that war in a week," he said. "I don’t want to kill 10 million people. Afghanistan could be wiped off the face of the Earth.

“I don’t want to go that route. I have a plan that could win that war in a very short period of time.”

Mr Trump said there was the possibility of restoring US aid to Pakistan, depending on what was worked out, and offered assistance to Islamabad in easing strained ties with India.

"If I can help, I would love to be a mediator," he said. "If I can do anything to help, let me know."

The White House visit is meant to smooth tensions and deal with complex problems facing both nations.

The Trump administration wants Islamabad to use its influence with the Taliban for a ceasefire in neighbouring Afghanistan, advance the peace process and create stability so America's involvement could be ended or substantially reduced.

Pakistan, which is suffering economically, wants to broaden the relationship in the hope of securing more investment, trade and possibly restore the US aid cut by Mr Trump.

Mr Khan tried to embellish the strained relations between the two countries and struck a soft tone in addressing the US president, with whom he shares an unconventional political rise.

Both have relied on persona and nationalistic populist tones in rallying support, and both come from non-political backgrounds. Mr Khan is a former Pakistani cricket captain and Mr Trump a former property mogul.

The Pakistani leader asked Mr Trump to help resolve the Kashmir dispute with India, and that he would have “Pakistanis' prayers” if he succeeded in that goal.

US officials were looking to press Pakistan mainly on the peace process in Afghanistan, counter-terrorism and ties with China.

“The purpose of the visit is to press for concrete co-operation from Pakistan to advance the Afghanistan peace process and to encourage Pakistan to deepen and sustain its recent effort to crackdown on militants and terrorists within its territory,” a US official said before the meeting.

The US has been engaged in rounds of peace talks with the Taliban to try to end America's longest war. But security challenges and terror attacks by the militants have impeded plans.

The State Department's official for South and Central Asian affairs, Alice Wells recently told Congress that Washington was hoping to “secure Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace process”.

Ms Wells said the administration expected Pakistan to continue to play a constructive role in reconciliation efforts, and to do more in counter-terrorism efforts.

“Pakistan must sustain these measures and expand on them, including by prosecuting terrorist leaders," she said.

"The reality is that terrorist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad will continue to pose a grave risk to international peace as long as they are able to operate freely in Pakistan."

As a signal to Washington, Pakistani authorities last week arrested US designated terrorist Hafez Saeed, whose militant group was behind the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

Mr Trump welcomed the move but the US appears to be looking for more before it considers resuming any of the $800 million in aid to Islamabad, which it cut last year.

Also on the agenda was China’s rising influence in Pakistan, with Beijing pledging to invest $60bn there.

Accompanying Mr Khan on his US visit are his Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi, trade adviser Razzak Dawood and finance adviser Hafeez Pasha.

Full report at:





France condemns Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes

22 July 2019

France condemned a move by Israel on Monday to demolish Palestinian homes near Jerusalem, saying the destruction set a “dangerous precedent” and violated international law.

“France condemns the demolition by the Israeli army of several buildings in the area of Wadi al Hummus, in the southeast of Jerusalem,” a statement from the French foreign ministry said.

“These demolitions have taken place for the first time in an area controlled by the Palestinian authority under the Oslo Accords. They represent a dangerous precedent, which poses a direct threat to the two-state solution,” it added.



British intelligence fears Gulf crisis could lead to attacks on UK by Iranian terror cells

July 22, 2019

LONDON: The UK could come under attack from Iranian-backed terror cells if the ongoing Gulf crisis worsens and relations between London and Tehran continue to deteriorate, intelligence sources have said.

Senior intelligence officers in the UK now rank the Islamic Republic only behind Russia and China as the severest threat to the national security of the UK, a Daily Telegraph report on Monday said.

Tensions between Britain and Iran have heightened following the seizure of UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz last week, raising concerns of top intelligence bodies in Britain.

According to MI5 and MI6, Iran is funding a network of terror cells across the European continent — including in the UK — and, depending on how the Gulf crisis plays out, could give the green light for attacks to be carried out.

A counter-terror operation in 2015 against a Hezbollah-linked cell found the group had been stockpiling tons of explosives on the outskirts of London, something first disclosed by the Telegraph in June, and described as “proper organized terrorism.”

A source told the newspaper: “Iran has Hezbollah operatives in position to carry out a terrorist attack in the event of a conflict. That is the nature of the domestic threat Iran poses to the UK.”

MI5 and Metropolitan Police said they were confident that the 2015 raids had “severely disrupted” Iranian terror activity in the UK, but that cells still existed on the European mainland.

The report also disclosed that Iran had been blamed for a series of cyberattacks on the UK, including hacking of politician’s and peers personal information, on the Post Office as well as local government bodies and private sector companies in 2018.

The UK government has sent a letter of protest to the UN Security Council over the seizure of the tankers in “Omani waters when it was interrupted by Iranian forces,” which it says is an “illegal interference by Iran.”

Full report at:



German military rejects dozens of candidates over extremist links


Germany's armed forces, the Bundeswehr, has rejected 63 candidates over the past two years due to their apparent links to extremism, the Funke Media Group reported on Sunday.

Funke's newspapers cited a response from the Defense Ministry to a parliamentary inquiry from left-wing parties.

It revealed that the applicants included 21 neo-Nazis and so-called Reichsbürger (Reich citizens), 12 Islamists, two left-wing extremists and several people convicted in the past of violent offenses.

Reichsbürger members reject the authority of the German state and refuse to pay taxes, fines and social security contributions.

Read more: German court backs Bundeswehr decision to dismiss far-right janitor

Additional scrutiny was put on two other applicants over their membership of the Identitarian Movement — also classified as a right-wing extremist group.

The report revealed that 43,775 new recruits were checked by the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD) between July 2017 and June 2019. The applications of 1,173 men and women were subsequently looked at more closely.

Far-right terror plot foiled

The increased security measures followed what authorities believe was a neo-Nazi terrorist plot within the Bundeswehr to assassinate senior government figures and lay the blame for the murders on asylum-seekers.

Read more: German military lacks equipment and recruits, says damning report

Military authorities said they wanted to prevent extremists from receiving weapons-training in the army that could later be used to carry out individual acts of violence at home or abroad.

The Left party parliamentarian Ulla Jelpke welcomed the additional scrutiny but questioned why long-serving soldiers were not subject to the same checks.

The German military has been rocked by several other scandals involving enlistees' links to right-wing extremist groups that almost forced the resignation of then-Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

In April 2017, the army admitted it was investigating 275 suspected cases of right-wing extremism within its ranks.

Full report at:



Britain to seek European maritime mission to counter Iran’s ‘piracy’

22 July 2019

Britain will seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel in what London said was an act of “state piracy”.

“Under international law, Iran had no right to obstruct the ship’s passage - let alone board her. It was therefore an act of state piracy,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told parliament.

“We will now seek to put together a European-led maritime protection mission to support safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region,” Hunt said. He said he would discuss how this would complement US proposals in the area.

After the seizure of the Stena Impero on Friday, Britain will now ask all British-flagged ships to give the government notice of intentions to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, Hunt said.

Full report at:



Pope Francis envoy tells Syria’s Assad of concern for Idlib’s civilians

22 July 2019

Pope Francis’s envoy told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a meeting on Monday of the Pope’s concerns for the humanitarian situation in northwest Syria, a Vatican spokesman said in a statement.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson gave Assad a letter in which the pontiff expressed “deep concern” over the situation in Syria, and especially for the civilian population in Idlib province

Full report at:



UK: Foreign secretary accuses Iran of 'state piracy'

Muhammad Mussa



Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday accused Iran of state piracy for illegally detaining a British ship in the Persian Gulf, urging it to release the vessel and its crew immediately.

Hunt argued that Iran had breached international law as well as the freedom of navigation by blocking the Stena Impero’s access to the Strait of Hormuz and illegally boarding and detaining the vessel and its crews.

“Let us be absolutely clear, under international law Iran had no right to obstruct the ship’s passage, let alone board her, it was therefore an act of state piracy in which the House will have no hesitation in condemning,” Hunt said in a statement to the House of Commons.

“Even more worryingly, this incident was a flagrant breach of the principle of free navigation on which the global trading system and world economy ultimately depends. I therefore urge Iran to release the Stena Impero and her crew and observe the rules that safeguard commercial shipping and benefit Iran as much as any other country,” he added.

Hunt said that Iran has presented the situation as a “tit-for-tat” incident following the detaining of the Grace 1 Iranian oil tanker by the royal navy in Gibraltar. However, he said, unlike the Stena Impero, the Grace 1 had breached EU sanctions by transporting oil to Syria and thus the government of Gibraltar was implementing EU law.

Hunt said as the British oil tanker was in Omani territorial waters and abiding by international maritime law, there could be no comparison between Iran’s illegal seizure of a vessel inside international shipping lanes and the enforcement of EU sanctions against an Iranian tanker inside the waters of Gibraltar, a British overseas territory.

Hunt said that since the July 4 detention of the Grace 1, the U.K. government has made strenuous efforts to resolve the tanker crisis, including speaking to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on July 13 to ensure its release if there were guarantees it would abide by EU law and not transport oil to entities listed on EU sanctions.

“Instead of responding constructively, Iran chose to seize the Stena Impero, so we must now take the appropriate action to support the safe passage of vessels through the Strait of Hormuz,” Hunt added.

Further action

On what further action the government was taking, Hunt said the Department for Transport has raised the threat level to 3 for all British commercial shipping in the region and that the U.K. along with other nations is seeking to build a European-led maritime mission to support the passage of all commercial shipping in the region.

This new mission, according to Hunt, will not be a part of the U.S.’ “maximum pressure policy” on Iran, as the U.K. wishes to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement but nonetheless has dispatched a second warship to the world’s busiest shipping lane and has advised all British ships to navigate with extra caution.

On Friday, the Stena Impero was seized by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. According to Hunt, the tanker was surrounded by four vessels and a helicopter and was rerouted into Iranian waters. Although the ship is U.K. owned, none of the 23 crew members are British.

A second ship, the Mesdar, which is Liberian flagged but managed by a British company, was surrounded by 10 speed boats and is believed to have been escorted into Iranian waters but Hunt has said the ship’s location is unclear

Last week, a British warship prevented three Iranian navy vessels from obstructing the course of a British tanker exiting the Persian Gulf. The government accused Iran of breaching international law as the tanker was not in Iranian waters.

Moreover, Britain dispatched a second warship to the Persian Gulf to support U.K. forces in the region and to ensure the safety of British commercial ships.

Royal navy marines and commandos boarded the Syria-bound Iranian oil tanker on 4 July in Gibraltar, preventing the vessel from entering the Mediterranean.

Iran has demanded the release of its crew and vessel, accusing the royal navy of piracy, and has threatened London with retaliatory measures, rhetoric that is raising tensions between the two nations in a region already inflamed with war and brinkmanship with the West.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Senator wants compulsory pre-wedding course for non-Muslims too

Predeep Nambiar

July 23, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: A senator has proposed that a marriage course be made compulsory for non-Muslims wishing to tie the knot, saying it would help address the rising number of divorces.

Aknan Ehtook (PH-PPBM), the sole representative for the Siamese community in the Dewan Negara, said non-Muslim couples were currently learning by mistakes.

“Mistakes in a marriage may range from small ones with no adverse effect, to those which could lead to an ugly divorce,” he told Dewan Negara yesterday.

He said couples should be taught about their rights, duties and responsibilities in a marriage.

Aknan said the government-funded course “SmartStart” through select NGOs was “virtually inexistent” because it was voluntary.

He urged the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry to make pre-wedding courses compulsory for all, and not only for Muslims.

He said HIV tests should be also made mandatory for couples planning to get married.

In response, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said the government does not plan to make pre-wedding courses compulsory for non-Muslims.

But she said said the National Registration Department would encourage couples registering their marriage to enrol for the SmartStart course.



The face of Indonesia's moderate Islam nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize


Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Indonesia's greatest scholars support the candidacy of Nahdlatul Ulama (Nu) and Muhammadiyah - the two major moderate Islamic organizations in Indonesia - for the Nobel Peace Prize, stating that the two groups play a key role in the  promotion of religious tolerance.

The well-known Catholic philosopher and priest Fr.  Franz Magnis-Suseno (photo 2) acknowledges that the two institutions have helped shape the face of Indonesian Islam.  "This is completely different from what extremists are trying to portray," he says.  Two days ago, Fr.  Magnis-Suseno was among the participants in the conference "Challenging Islamic Extremism in Indonesia" .  The event took place in Oslo (Norway) and was organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia and the Peace Research Institute (Prio), an institution based in the Norwegian capital.

The priest adds that both groups, established before independence, had a fundamental role in the construction of the nation.  "It is thanks to them that Indonesian Islam has remained moderate;  that Indonesians enjoy internal peace;  that Indonesia is an important stabilizing factor in Southeast Asia and the world, "he says.

Participants in the Oslo seminar included dozens of academics, ambassadors, government officials, representatives of Norwegian civil organizations, as well as the chairman of the executive committee of Nu, Marsudi Syuhud, and general secretary Muhammadiyah, Abdul Mu'ti.  The event was facilitated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (Csis) of Jakarta and by the Wahid Institute.

Full report at:'s-moderate-Islam-nominated-for-the-Nobel-Peace-Prize--47356.html



Ahok to make splash on TV with Fallon-style talk show

July 22, 2019

Former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has recently expressed interest in hosting his own talk show on television as part of his long-term plan following his contentious political career.

Speaking to a group of people at a private gathering that has since been recorded as a video and posted on YouTube, Basuki said he had envisioned the show to consist of several segments per episode.

“I’d love to host a show on [Jakarta-based private news channel] Metro TV, which would probably consist of eight or 12 segments. The first segment must be stand-up comedy,” he said in the video posted on his official YouTube channel, Panggil Saya BTP (Call Me BTP), on Sunday.

He went on to say that every segment in his forthcoming television show would be titled after his own initials, BTP. The stand-up comedy segment would be called "Bicara Tanpa Pikir" (Mindless Banter), while the talk show segment would be titled "Berita Terkini Populer" (Popular Latest News).

Basuki entertained the idea that he would model his upcoming talk show after popular American late-night talk show The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

“Have you watched Jimmy Fallon’s show? I will also wear a suit to look a little bit cooler. I’m now working on looking less chubby,” he said jokingly, adding that he would donate a percentage of the show’s profits to social causes.

Basuki was released from prison earlier this year after serving nearly two years.

He was convicted of blasphemy following a speech he made in the Thousand Islands regency in September 2016 that referred to Al-Maidah verse 51 in the Quran. Ahok said the verse -- believed to ban Muslims from choosing a non-muslim leader -- had been used by politicians to manipulate people into voting against him.

Full report at:





Iran 'Ready To Strike' In The West Using Sleeper Terror Cells: Report Claims

Zak Doffman

July 23, 2019

With tensions between Iran and Britain escalating over the seizure of the Stena Impero tanker, the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph reported on Monday (July 22) that British intelligence agencies "believe Iran has organized and funded sleeper terror cells across Europe including the U.K. and could greenlight attacks in response to a conflict in the Gulf."

The claims refer to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi'a group that has been designated as a terrorist organization—in whole or part—by much of the West. In June, the same newspaper reported that a devastating cache of explosives, linked to Hezbollah, had been discovered in London by security agencies back in 2015. The three tons of ammonium nitrate was "more than was used in the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people." Hezbollah is sponsored by Iran, and back in 2015, the U.K. had just signed on to the Iranian nuclear deal. Nothing was made public at the time.

Iran seizing a British oil tanker was always going to test London's patience and restraint, but thus far the primary response to the incident has been interplay in the media. As I've written before, the media plays a part beyond reporting events. Its anticipated response to events is part of the "enemy's" planning process. The western media cycle is predictable, manageable, the thirst for the drip-drip of ever new headlines. And that also links to population interference through the abuse of social media platforms.

This is the hybrid warfare we now face, cyber and physical, military and civilian, direct and indirect. And on that last point, cue proxies. Iran has already mobilized its sphere of influence in the Middle East—attacks on Saudi targets will come to mind, and now speculation inevitably turns to sponsored terrorist groups operating in the West.

The capture of a British tanker by Iran's military arguably justifies a military response—but conflict is no longer that simple. Iranian quasi-state media carried footage of Iran's flag being raised above the tanker in Bandar Abbas. "Make no mistake," Iran's foreign minister warned the U.K. by Twitter on Sunday (July 21). "Having failed to lure Donald Trump into War of the Century... John Bolton is turning his venom against the U.K. in hopes of dragging it into a quagmire. Only prudence and foresight can thwart such ploys." Also on Sunday, Iranian media reported that Teheran's U.K. ambassador had warned Britain "against provocation over the seized tanker, as reports emerged that the British government is considering freezing Iranian assets and may take other measures as well in a standoff between the two countries."

The Daily Telegraph quoted an unnamed intelligence source saying that "Iran has Hezbollah operatives in position to carry out a terrorist attack in the event of a conflict. That is the nature of the domestic threat Iran poses to the U.K." There is clearly a serious and multifaceted terrorist threat in the U.K., as elsewhere. But, thus far, there has been no spillover from the latest Middle East conflict beyond the region.

In both the physical and cyber domains, Iran can hit non-military targets (directly or through proxies) in retaliation (or preemptively) for U.S. axis action in the more conventional sphere. Physically, Iranian action is more akin to insurgency. And in the cyber domain, as I reported over the weekend, Iran understands that retaliation against the U.S. (or U.K.) might be akin to throwing rocks at a tank, but it can hit the vast and under-protected Western corporate sector at will. An Iranian cyber attack hit high-profile U.K. targets late last year, and two weeks after U.S. Cyber Command hit Iran's command and control structure in the aftermath of the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone, came its warning that an Iranian-led hack was targeting the millions of unpatched Microsoft Outlook systems."

In the physical domain, Iran's proxies in the Middle East have been mobilized for some time now—the mobilization of sleeper terror cells is in effect no different. The escalating conflict is multidimensional—cyber and physical, military and civilian. As we watch and wait to see what happens thousands of miles from home, the conflict is neither that simple nor that contained. The threat of proxy terrorist activity on Western soil is the physical manifestation of the same equation we have already seen in the cybersphere.

Also this week, Britain anoints a new prime minister, likely Boris Johnson, who is expected to be closer to the U.S. administration than his predecessor Theresa May—although Johnson has said that Britain will not support a fullscale conflict with Iran. Over the weekend, the U.S. president signaled his own support for Johnson, telling reporters he anticipated a strong relationship between them. On Iran, though, Johnson has poor form. He badly misstepped as foreign secretary back in 2017, when he haphazardly stated that British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was in Iran to teach journalism, rather than on vacation. Zaghari-Ratcliffe remains imprisoned in Teheran.

On the other side of British politics sits Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain's left-leaning Labour Party. Corbyn has railed against the "demonisation" of Iran and has even presented Teheran-friendly propaganda on the country's Press TV. Back in 2009, Corbyn described Hezbollah as his "friends" and invited the group (along with Hamas) to speak at an event in Parliament.



As Conflict With U.S. Grows, Some Iran Hard-liners Suggest Talking to Trump

By Farnaz Fassihi

July 19, 2019

Iran’s most revered Revolutionary Guards commander says talking with President Trump would be admitting defeat. The country’s supreme leader has ruled out any dealings with Washington.

But now, in a surprising split among Iranian hard-liners, some are expressing a different opinion: It’s time to sit down and resolve 40 years of animosity with the United States, by talking directly to Mr. Trump.

And the most striking voice in that contrarian group is former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, largely known in the West for his anti-American bombast, Holocaust denial, and suspiciously lopsided victory in a disputed vote a decade ago that set off Iran’s worst political convulsions since the Islamic revolution.

“Mr. Trump is a man of action,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a lengthy telephone interview with The New York Times. “He is a businessman and therefore he is capable of calculating cost-benefits and making a decision. We say to him, let’s calculate the long-term cost-benefit of our two nations and not be shortsighted.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s remarks are among several signals from different ends of Iran’s political spectrum that Iranian officials want to talk.

Those signals reveal a fracture with the hard-liners led by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which has seized or harassed foreign ships in the Persian Gulf — including at least one British-registered tanker impounded on Friday — and raised the risk of a slide into armed conflict.

The risk was further punctuated by Mr. Trump’s assertion on Thursday that American naval forces in the region had downed an Iranian drone, which the Iranians have denied. “We hope for their sake they don’t do anything foolish,” Mr. Trump said Friday.

(Mr. Ahmadinejad, who spoke before the Americans first reported their claim about the drone, said through an aide on Friday that it had not changed his view that both sides should talk.)

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran, who had previously insisted there could be no negotiations with the United States unless it rejoined the nuclear agreement Mr. Trump abandoned last year, said Thursday he was willing to meet with American senators to discuss possible ways out of the nuclear crisis. For the first time, Mr. Zarif floated modest steps that Tehran would be willing to take in return for the simultaneous lifting of sanctions Mr. Trump reimposed.

Within the rivalries that pervade Iran’s political hierarchy, the American-educated Mr. Zarif is a big contrast to Mr. Ahmadinejad, who as president pushed Mr. Zarif out of government. Yet both are now seeking ways to communicate with the Trump administration.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s self-aggrandizing demagogy in some ways makes him Iran’s version of Mr. Trump, in the view of some Iranians.

But he still commands a following in the country of 80 million, mostly among low-income people who associate his tenure with better economic times and cash subsidies from the government.

He also has a seat on the elite Expediency Council, a body appointed by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, to supervise the work of elected officials.

While he was disqualified from running for president again two years ago, he still travels around the country making speeches and writing open letters criticizing the government and the judiciary.

Unlike other hard-liners, he dares to criticize the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for its influence over Iran’s economy and the power it gives Mr. Khamenei, who has sole authority to direct the vast paramilitary force.

“Ahmadinejad is shaking things up by boldly talking about all the issues that everyone knows but nobody dares talk about publicly, and be willing to pay the cost,” said Roozbeh Mirebrahimi, an Iranian political analyst based in New York.

Lately he has become the most high-profile hard-line figure to advocate the unorthodox view of talking with Mr. Trump.

In The Times interview, which lasted more than an hour, Mr. Ahmadinejad said that Tehran and Washington should directly resolve the litany of disputes that began with the 1979 revolution, the seizure of the United States Embassy, the taking of American hostages, the mutual accusations of regional meddling and all the rest.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said Iran should scrap the approach of enlisting Europe and other intermediaries to influence Mr. Trump over his hostility to the 2015 nuclear agreement. This would be possible, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, if Mr. Trump first eased some of his “maximum pressure” tactics, most notably the onerous sanctions he reimposed after having abandoned the agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, between Iran and the big powers.

“World peace, economy and culture would greatly benefit from us working together,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. “The U.S. wants to address wider issues than the J.C.P.O.A. The issues at stake are more important and wider than whether the J.C.P.O.A. should live or die. We need to have a fundamental discussion.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad said he had written three letters to Mr. Trump: in February 2017 to congratulate him on his election; in June 2018 after Mr. Trump had exited the nuclear deal; and last month as the forces of both countries were facing off in the Persian Gulf.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said he sent all three letters, which offered long philosophical musings and governing advice, via mail to the care of the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, via message to Mr. Trump’s Twitter account and to a White House email address. The Swiss Embassy looks after American interests in Iran in the absence of direct diplomatic ties.

It was unclear if Mr. Trump ever received the letters. White House officials said they needed more information about precisely how and when they were sent but pointed out that Mr. Ahmadinejad could not have directly messaged them via Twitter because Mr. Trump does not follow him. The Swiss Embassy in Tehran declined through a spokesman to comment.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said he had not been reprimanded for attempting to correspond with Mr. Trump and that Mr. Khamenei can change his mind and approve negotiations with Washington if the administration shifts its approach. He pointed out that Mr. Khamenei, who has the final word on Iran’s relations with the United States, had allowed nuclear talks with the Americans under President Barack Obama.

The timing of the messages of both Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Zarif were notable: The Trump administration has sent several signals in recent days that it wants to begin talks with Iran with “no preconditions.”

And for the first time since Mr. Trump abandoned the nuclear agreement, both sides are talking about the need to negotiate, even if each has set out unilateral demands that the other must meet.

There is no guarantee, of course, that both sides will find a way. Mr. Khamenei has described Mr. Trump as an evil trickster and has prohibited talks with him under any circumstances. And Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the elite Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards who is rumored to be a future president, has said that talking to Washington would be like surrender.

Mr. Ahmadinejad conceded that for talks to happen, in his view, the United States would need to soften its approach.

“If you choke the throat of anyone in the world and say come and talk it won’t be valid,” he said. “Negotiations must take place in calmer, more respectful conditions so they can be long lasting.”

In the past few weeks Iranian media have reported that besides Mr. Ahmadinejad, at least three prominent conservatives have advocated talks with the United States, underscoring the divisions in Iran’s hierarchy.

Brig. Gen. Hossein Alaei, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards joint forces and founder of its navy, said, “We must use the mechanism of negotiations and should not set aside talking.” He also criticized the decision not to sit down with Mr. Trump when he offered talks without preconditions.

Mojtaba Zonnour, a conservative cleric and head of Parliament’s national security committee, said that the “Islamic Republic is not running away from talks and the path to talking remains open,” but that it should take place within the framework of the Iran nuclear deal.

Mohammad Reza Bahonar, a prominent leader of a conservative political party, said the Islamic Republic had learned in its 40-year history how to turn “maximum threat from the enemy” into “opportunity.”

“In the current ping-pong situation between Islamic Republic and Trump’s craziness, intermediaries have entered and we’ve had some serious discussions and prepared several scenarios,” Mr. Bahonar said of the potential for negotiations.

In trying to present himself as a political alternative for Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad tried in The Times interview to walk back some of his comments and policies that are considered incendiary in the West.

On Israel’s right to exist and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said that he would accept whatever Palestinians decide in a free election.

On the brutal crackdowns by his government on protesters and dissidents contesting his re-election in 2009, Mr. Ahmadinejad denounced the clashes and tensions but said that the other side should have accepted the vote. He contended it was not his decision to place his political adversaries, the opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi under house arrest.

Some Iran political analysts say Mr. Ahmadinejad’s eagerness to talk with a Western news organization shows that Iranian leaders are pursuing several policies simultaneously to see which one works in their standoff with the United States: escalating tensions, decreasing nuclear commitments and exploring diplomatic routes.

Full report at:



Even as Tensions With Iran Rise Over Seized Ship, U.K. Stays ‘Committed’ to Nuclear Deal

By David D. Kirkpatrick

July 22, 2019

LONDON — Britain took new steps on Monday to distance itself from the Trump administration’s escalating confrontation with Iran, even while pushing for the release of an oil tanker seized by Tehran three days earlier.

British efforts to bolster maritime security in the Persian Gulf “will not be part of the U.S. maximum pressure policy on Iran,” Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said after an emergency cabinet meeting about the tanker.

Mr. Hunt’s pointed statement was the first indication that a broad disagreement over Iran still persists between the two allies despite the Iranian seizure of the British-flagged tanker on Friday.

On the American side of the divide, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted on Monday that both the British and American disputes with Iran arose from the same essential cause: the fundamental character of the Iranian government.

“This is a bad regime,” Mr. Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.

Iranian officials have said the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps seized the tanker, the Stena Impero, for various infractions like polluting, but also as retaliation for the British impounding of an Iranian tanker off the coast of Gibraltar two weeks ago. Britain said it had detained the ship on suspicion of violating a European Union embargo on the delivery of oil to Syria.

Many analysts and some former British diplomats had wondered if the tanker “tit for tat,” as Mr. Hunt called it, would push Britain into closer collaboration with the Trump administration in its own showdown with Iran.

Last year, President Trump withdrew from a 2015 accord that the United States, Britain and other international powers had reached with Iran to trade relief from economic sanctions for limits on its nuclear program. In May, the administration hit Iran with sweeping new sanctions in an attempt to force it to negotiate a new and more restrictive agreement.

Iran has called the new sanctions “economic warfare,” and since May it has begun calibrated steps to restart its nuclear program, exceeding limits on uranium enrichment imposed by the 2015 deal.

At the same time, Iran has taken steps like the seizure of the tanker that have reminded the international powers of the country’s ability to threaten the flow of shipping out of the Persian Gulf through the narrow Strait of Hormuz. The channel accounts for a fifth of the world’s oil supply, a quarter of the liquefied natural gas, and a half a trillion a dollars in trade every year.

Britain has so far joined France, Germany and the European Union in trying preserve the 2015 deal in defiance of Mr. Trump. Any hope of success would almost certainly be doomed if Britain were to react to the seizure by joining the United States in re-imposing sanctions.

But Mr. Hunt, the foreign secretary, instead reaffirmed the depth of the government’s disagreement with the Trump administration despite Britain’s own rising tensions with Iran over the tankers. “We remain committed to preserving the Iran nuclear agreement,” he said.

In the government’s most substantial response yet to the seizure, Mr. Hunt said that Britain was now dispatching additional warships to the Persian Gulf while working in concert with European allies to better guard commercial traffic.

“If Iran continues on this dangerous path, they must accept the price will be a larger Western military presence in the waters along their coastline,” Mr. Hunt warned. He described the new maritime security effort as “European-led.”

Although the United States has said it intends to lead its own multilateral maritime security operation in the Gulf, Mr. Hunt said only that he would talk to Washington “later this week” about how “to complement this with recent U.S. proposals.”

Britain is now deploying its Navy “with a heavy heart,” Mr. Hunt said, “because the focus of our diplomacy has been on de-escalating tensions, in the hope that such changes would not be necessary.”

Iran, for its part, released photographs indicating that the 23 crew members of the seized tanker were in good health.

But the broader overtones of the conflict with Washington continued as Iran also announced that it had arrested 17 Iranian citizens on charges of spying for the United States.

The Iranian announcement, which did not include the names of those arrested or offer any evidence of spying, drew a swift denial from the White House.

“Zero Truth. Just more lies and propaganda,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter, calling Iran “a Religious Regime that is Badly Failing and has no idea what to do.”

Mr. Pompeo, in his interview with Fox News, was equally dismissive. “The Iranian regime has a long history of lying,” he said, casting blame on its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

 “It is part of the nature of the ayatollah to lie to the world,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Sidestepping the chronology of American actions and Iranian responses, Mr. Pompeo asserted that what Iran is doing “isn’t because of the American sanctions.”

“This is because the theocracy, the leadership in Iran, their revolutionary zeal to conduct terror around the world for now four decades continues,” he said.

In contrast to more conciliatory statements occasionally made by Mr. Trump himself, Mr. Pompeo appeared to leave little room for negotiations with the current Iranian leadership. “I am ultimately convinced,” he said, “that the Iranian people will get the leadership behavior that they so richly deserve.”

Mr. Pompeo also disclaimed any American responsibility for the captured British tanker. “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships,” he said.

In a new conference to announce the arrest of the 17 unnamed spies, an Iranian counterterrorism official said they had been recruited and trained by the C.I.A.

A running battle to root out American spies is a staple of the news media in Iran, and its English-language Press TV recently broadcast a documentary about what it called a successful “mole hunt” for C.I.A. agents.

The Iranian intelligence minister, Mahmoud Alavi, claimed in the documentary that the spy hunt had resulted in the C.I.A. “crumbling like a house of cards,” according to a report by the BBC monitoring service.

Iranian television this year also broadcast a fictional series, titled “Gando,” about the exploits of heroic counterintelligence agents battling a villainous American spy who is undercover as a journalist.

The director and producer have said that the villain is modeled on Jason Rezaian, a reporter for the Washington Post who spent 18 months in an Iranian prison on charges of espionage, which he and American officials denied.

Full report at:



Yemen's Houthi rebels raise nearly $300,000 for Hezbollah

Lizzie Porter

July 22, 2019

Houthi rebels in Yemen have announced that they have raised nearly $300,000 in the latest stage of their campaign for Hezbollah.

In a video published on Saturday, the director general of Houthi radio station Sam FM posed with wads of cash as the team celebrated raising 74,010,000 Yemeni riyals (Dh1.1 million, or $296,000) for the Lebanese militants.

“From Yemen the faith to Lebanon’s resistance, salute to the well-being of Yemen," they yell.

"Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews.”

Lizzie Porterلِيزي بورتر


Yemeni Houthi Radio Sam FM publishes video at end of 3rd phase of fundraising campaign for Lebanese Hezbollah. They shout: “From Yemen’s faith to Lebanon’s Resistance! God is great! Death to America! Death to Israel”

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The funds would “support, aid and assist the resistance in Lebanon", said a statement published by Sam FM alongside the video.

The donations for Hezbollah from the third stage of the “Live for the good of Yemen” campaign add to about $200,000 raised this year and in 2018 for the Houthis’ general military spending in Yemen, according to documents seen by The National.

If the Houthis’ self-reported figures are accurate, it means more than half of the fund raised by the Iran-backed rebels has gone to Tehran’s Lebanese proxy. The National could not independently verify the fundraising claims.

Hezbollah has come under increasing pressure from US sanctions, and in March its secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, called on support for the group as it launched campaigns to raise funds in Lebanon.

Iran-backed Hezbollah is proscribed as a terrorist organisation by the GCC, the US and the UK, and is widely believed to be providing training and advice to the rebels in Yemen.

Houthis view their support to Hezbollah now as a sign of support and payback to Hezbollah,” said Fatima Alasrar, a senior policy analyst at the Arabia Foundation in Washington.

It is a clear message of solidarity. The Houthis are basically saying, 'You can count on us to support you'.”

Sam FM defended the amount raised for Hezbollah as Yemen suffers widespread poverty, starvation and frequent cholera outbreaks.

This is what Yemeni donors prefer of their own will, despite the siege and the cutting-off of their salaries,” a source at the station told The National.

But Afrah Nasser, chief editor of Sanaa Review website, said the Houthis sometimes took "donations" for their military action from Yemenis without their knowledge.

Houthis have masterfully milked the population under their control with unbelievable taxation and many times forcibly deducted money from businessmen, and through corrupt methods,” Ms Nasser said.

The main method, though, has been mobilising the population into buying this idea to donate for the ‘military effort’, meaning to the Houthi army. And many people do donate many times without realising it.

"For instance, the Houthis force mobile telecommunications companies to deduct 10 per cent of a purchase of a Sim card or internet unit card.

"So if you want to refill your mobile and you buy a card worth $10, automatically, 10 per cent will be deducted and you will receive an auto reply saying, ‘Thank you, you donated to the military effort’.”

Aid organisations raised concerns over large sums of cash apparently being shipped out of Yemen, as humanitarian support falls short.

UN tracking report shows only about a third of Yemen’s $4 billion funding needs are met.

Muna Luqman


At the time when families are starving in #Yemen and parents are forced to watch their children die of malnutrition #Houthis divert the humanitarian aid, stealing everything in sight and send the money to #Hezbollah …

Lizzie Porterلِيزي بورتر


Yemeni Houthi Radio Sam FM publishes video at end of 3rd phase of fundraising campaign for Lebanese Hezbollah. They shout: “From Yemen’s faith to Lebanon’s Resistance! God is great! Death to America! Death to Israel”

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Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi “will deliver the proceeds of the campaign to Hassan Nasrallah, on behalf of the campaign's management and all those involved", Sam FM said.

Hezbollah’s media office was not able to confirm if that meant the Houthi leader would travel to Lebanon to deliver the cash.

The ties between Hezbollah and the Houthis run deep, analysts say.

Hezbollah supports the Houthis on its media platforms.

Affiliated messaging apps provide regular military updates while its press office provides round-ups of Yemen-related humanitarian and security news.

The Houthi-affiliated Al Masirah television station is based in a Hezbollah-dominated southern suburb of Beirut.

Many important analysts still refuse to see the links between the two groups, despite the evidence and disruptive impact it has on the sociocultural Yemeni environment,” Ms Alasrar of Arabia Foundation said.

Full report at:



Iran says it will meet nuclear deal parties on Sunday

23 July 2019

Iran said it will attend a meeting in Vienna on Sunday of diplomats from countries still party to the 2015 nuclear deal, as they try to salvage the landmark agreement.

The hard-won deal has been threatened with collapse since the United States withdrew from it last year and reimposed biting sanctions against Iran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign.

“It was agreed to convene an extraordinary meeting of the JCPOA joint commission in Vienna on July 28,” Iran’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday, using the acronym for the deal’s formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The meeting would be held at the level of deputy ministers and political directors, it said in an English-language statement.

It was requested by the European parties to discuss the “new situation”, the statement added, referring to Iran’s reduced nuclear commitments under the deal in response to the US withdrawal.

Iran said on May 8 it would disregard certain limits of the deal as long as the remaining parties -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia -- fail to do more to mitigate the impact of the US sanctions, especially to sell its oil.

Tehran has also threatened to take further measures.

It has since exceeded limits the deal had set on its enriched uranium and heavy water stockpiles, as well as passing a cap the deal had imposed on its uranium enrichment.

The 4.5 percent enrichment level it reached is well below the more than 90 percent required for a nuclear warhead.

Full report at:



Iran’s ship seizure in Strait of Hormuz not retaliation: Zarif

22 July 2019

Iran took measures against a ship in the Strait of Hormuz to implement international law, not in retaliation to actions by Britain, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday in Nicaragua, where he met with his local counterpart.

The Iran military seized the Stena Impero ship in the Strait of Hormuz on Friday in what appeared to be an act of retaliation for the British capture of an Iranian tanker two weeks earlier.

After the seizure of the Stena Impero on Friday, Britain will now ask all British-flagged ships to give the government notice of intentions to pass through the Strait of Hormuz, Foreign Secretary Jeremy said.



Decades-old Saudi-funded hospitals in Yemen treat thousands daily

22 July 2019

Saudi-funded hospitals in Yemen’s Hajjah and Saada are fully supported by the Kingdom as it “strives to help those in need in all regions of Yemen,” according to Mohamed al-Jabir, the Saudi ambassador to Yemen.

“Al-Salam Hospital in Saada and the Saudi Hospital in Hajjah are operating with Saudi support to: Salaries, operation and maintenance, materials and medical equipment to support our brothers in Yemen,” said al-Jabir, who is also the supervisor of the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen, in a tweet.

The average number of daily visitors in al-Salam Hospital is 3,000, according to the official Saudi Hospitals in Yemen (SHY) website.

“Since Saudi Arabia established al-Salam Hospital in Saada in 1982, it has fully and regularly funded and supported this vital medical facility in all its operations and staffed it with qualified personnel. The Kingdom strives to help those in need in all regions of Yemen,” he added.

The Saudi Hospital in Hajjah has over 295 employees and a capacity of 150 beds, while the Saudi al-Salam Hospital in Saada has 284 employees and a capacity of 170 beds, the SHY website says.

Both hospitals offer treatment services in various departments, including outpatient, inpatient, emergency, and operations.

Doctors Without Borders

According to Medecins Sans Frontieres International (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders, the neonatal unit in al-Salam Hospital admits around 80 newborn babies each month.

“Unfortunately here in our neonatal unit, we have quite a high mortality rate,” said Jane Hancock, an MSF nurse, in a video posted on MSF’s Twitter account.

“There is actually no other facility in the area for people to go to,” Hancock added.

“We take very extreme low birthweight babies and extremely premature babies,” Hancock said, adding that most patients “don’t just come from down the street, they come from hours away.”

MSF International


Our colleague, Jane Hancock, explains some of the challenges mothers and babies face trying to survive in #Yemen, a country at war.

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Al-Jabir said that the Kingdom “deeply appreciates and supports the work of international agencies such as MSF in caring for the health and wellbeing of children and all people in Saada as in every other region of Yemen experiencing serious needs.”

Over two billion dollars for Yemen

As of June 2019, the Kingdom has donated over two billion dollars in 361 projects in Yemen, according to the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), with a focus on health and food security.

Over $500 million were donated in 68 projects related to food security, and over $400 million in 154 health-related projects. Donations were also made for humanitarian and emergency relief coordination and for water, sanitation, and hygiene projects.

محمد ال جابر


The Kingdom through @KSRelief and in cooperation with @WHO continue to support the health of Yemeni people with no discrimination even in areas controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi Militias. …

WHO Yemen


Al Jumhori hospital in Hajja is supported by WHO. It was provided with a lifesaving Oxygen station. The station covers 8 hospitals in Hajja governorate & works around the clock to produce 40 oxygen cylinders a day- saving the lives of people in #Yemen.

Thanks to @KSRelief

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Earlier in June, the Yemeni health minister said that KSRelief is the largest financier for the health sector and medical needs in Yemen, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

In April, Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged $200 million to the “Imdaad” initiative to support the people of Yemen, according to Dr. Abdullah al-Rabeeah, the supervisor general of KSRelief.

Full report at:



Hezbollah: Israel’s demolition of Palestine homes amount to war crime

Jul 23, 2019

Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah has condemned as a “war crime” the Israeli regime’s demolition of Palestinian homes on the outskirts of the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds, saying such demolitions are the outcome of anti-Palestine plots hatched by the US and its Arab allies.

In a Monday statement, Hezbollah said Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes in the village of Sur Baher is aimed at expelling the Palestinians from their land and expanding the settlements built on occupied land.

The Lebanese resistance movement further criticized certain Persian Gulf littoral states for rushing towards normalization with Israel.

It said a US-led conference held in Bahrain last month to rally support for US President Donald Trump’s controversial proposal for “peace” between the Israeli regime and Palestinians amounts to the normalization of Arab ties with the Tel Aviv regime.

The statement also denounced a first ever public meeting between Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifah and his Israeli counterpart Israel Katz in Washington last week, saying it is further proof of Arab normalization with Israel.

The Lebanese resistance movement expressed “disgust” at attempts to harm the “Palestinian cause,” saying the measures are intended to cover up Israeli crimes against Palestinians in East Jerusalem al-Quds.

International condemnations are pouring in following the Israeli demolition of scores of Palestinian homes in the village of Sur Baher.

World body slams Israel

The United Nations expressed sadness over the demolitions, saying “Israel’s policy of destroying Palestinian property is not compatible with its obligations under international humanitarian law.”

Meanwhile, the Arab League described the move as “the worst episode of Israel's crimes against the Palestinian people for decades.”

The Arab League assistant secretary general for Palestine and occupied Arab territories, Said Abu Ali, called on the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice to hold “Israel accountable for its crimes and put an end to its violations of Palestinians’ rights.”

Full report at:



Turkey threatens to launch offensive in Syria if no safe zone established

Jul 22, 2019

Turkey has threatened to launch an offensive in Syria if a US-planned safe zone is not established in the northern parts of the Arab country.

"If the safe zone is not established and threats towards our country continue, we will launch the operation in the east of the Euphrates," Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with broadcaster TGRT Haber on Monday.

Turkey has been in talks with the US over the establishment of a militant-free safe zone across its border in northern Syria.

Washington revised plans for a total pullout of troops from Syria by saying in February that in total between 800 and 1,500 foreign troops would be sent on a mission to police northeastern Syria in the near future, around 400 of them American.

This is deemed as a reversal of promises by President Donald Trump to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from the Arab country once Washington's alleged fight against terrorism ends.

However, Turkey suspects the US and allies are helping the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) forces based in east of the Euphrates river to establish a permanent foothold in the region. Ankara views the armed Kurds in northeastern Syria as an extension of the outlawed Kurdish militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Cavusoglu said on Monday that talks with the US have slowed down, adding that his country had told Washington that it should not use the fighting in Syria's province of Idlib as a pretext for deserting the proposed safe zone further east.

He also expressed his hope that an agreement will be reached after talks on Monday with the visiting US special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey.

"The Americans sent Jeffrey and said there were new proposals in the talks that will start today. We hope an agreement can be reached on this. Concrete steps are needed on this now."

Full report at:



Arab World


Saudi Prince Sattam bin Khalid Blasts King Salman for Sanctioning Unislamic Freedom

Jul 22, 2019

Prince Sattam bin Khalid bin Nasser al-Saud wrote on his twitter page that the Saudi king has issued a decree which says that only the board of grand muftis can issue fatwa and their fatwas should come into practice.

He added that everyday a new fatwa is issued while most of those who issue them are "idiots and not specialists".

"We will likely hear soon a fatwa which says wine is halal," Sattam said.

Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority announced 2019 as the “Year of Entertainment” in the kingdom. With a $64 billion budget granted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the plan comes complete with a social media platform and an app — Enjoy_Saudi — and aims to "transform the Kingdom into one of the top ten international entertainment destinations".

The same week, Amnesty International published new reports of systematic torture and sexual abuse of numerous female activists currently being held in Saudi prisons. Most of the women are now in their ninth month of detention, where they’ve been held without charges or legal representation. Evidence linked the women’s mistreatment to Saud al-Qahtani, a former top adviser to bin Salman who has been implicated in the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.



Egypt Minister of Endowments Warns of ‘Muslim Brotherhood Terrorism’

22 July, 2019

Egyptian Minister of Endowments Mohammed Mokhtar Jomaa warned of the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood, officially classified as a terrorist group since November 2014.

Egypt accuses the group of stoking chaos and violence in the country following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, but the group usually denies the accusation.

The minister reiterated his rejection of the Brotherhood and its rhetoric, pointing out in a statement that the group’s slogan is “either to rule or kill and destroy.”

Morsi ruled the country for a year before his ouster, after which he was imprisoned. He died while standing trial in June this year.

Jomaa said members of the Brotherhood claim they are “God's chosen group”, noting that since its establishment, the terrorist organization has been threatening Egypt. It is driven by its treasonous collaboration with enemies of the Arab world and its belief that its authority can only be built on the ruins of its nations.

He called for “complete vigilance and hard work to uproot extremism”.

Hundreds of Brotherhood leaders and supporters are being tried in Egypt in cases mostly linked to violence.

On Sunday, an Egyptian military court adjourned to July 29 the trial of 304 defendants in the Hasm movement case, involving the attempted assassination of the assistant attorney general. Defendants include former minister and member of the Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau Mohammed Ali Bishr.

Investigations revealed that the suspects received intelligence support from Qatar and Turkey, in agreement with Brotherhood fugitive leaders, to attack the police and armed forces and obstruct state institutions.

In another case, the criminal court of Cairo adjourned to August 4 the trial of 11 defendants, including Brotherhood fugitive leaders in Turkey, suspected in the assassination attempt of the Alexandria security director.

Full report at:



Detained Saudi preacher Awad Al-Qarni: Justifier of terror

July 23, 2019

For years detained Saudi cleric Awad Al-Qarni, this week’s preacher of hate, used TV interviews to glorify terrorism, spread conspiracy theories and launch tirades against the West.

His radical views and dogmatic interpretation of religion was criticized in the Saudi press, on social media and by scholars.

But that did not shake his many firm convictions, one of which was that the fight against terrorism was “fabricated” by the West to colonize the East and destroy its way of life.

Born in 1957 and raised in Balqarn governorate in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern Asir region, Al-Qarni went on to serve as a professor at Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University.

There, long before the emergence of social media, he managed to misguide a large number of followers with his politically charged rhetoric delivered via mosque sermons and after-school programs for youths in the city of Abha.

“Despite the West’s claims of peace since the founding of the League of Nations, and subsequently the UN, the Security Council and organizations everywhere, humanity hasn’t suffered from war, destruction, colonialism, enslavement, confiscation of wealth, intervention in the affairs of nations and peoples, control over their capabilities and wealth, and the overthrow of their regimes and governments, as they suffered in the time of the domination of the West and the time of the Security Council,” Al-Qarni told the anchor of the program “Al-Malaf” on Al-Majd satellite TV channel in January 2017.


The “war on terror”

• “It is one of the tools of the West through which it establishes a new era of colonialism, domination, exploitation and enslavement of peoples as much as it can, without a doubt.”

• “We’re living the biggest lie history has ever known. Many Third World leaders understood these facts and talked about them. Many realized them but few talked about them, like (Nelson) Mandela, (Fidel) Castro, Ahmadu Bello in Nigeria and King Faisal. Therefore, they were assassinated or there were attempts to assassinate them, or they became prisoners or fugitives.”


• “It’s in the West’s interest for (terrorism) to continue. This terrorism doesn’t pose an existential threat to the West and its countries. Three-thousand Americans were killed in a certain operation. All the accumulated evidence proves that the operation was premeditated, fabricated and calculated. ... In a nutshell, it’s in the West’s interest for terrorism to continue in Islamic countries so it can exploit and utilize it.”


• “One of the ideas that has plagued the nation ... is an intellectual doctrine that seeks to destroy everything that is inherited, eliminate everything that is old and revolt against ethics, values and beliefs. This doctrine is called by its preachers and servants of its idols modernism.”

In Al-Qarni’s view, the war on terror is “one of the tools of the West through which it establishes a new era of colonialism, domination, exploitation and enslavement of peoples as much as it can, without a doubt.”

Qainan Al-Ghamdi, a Saudi political analyst, told Arab News that Al-Qarni’s arguments reflect the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose followers believe that the “West will stop meddling in the affairs of the Middle East only when it’s burned by terrorism.

“They’re certain that any campaign against terrorism threatens their plans and projects.”

That is why these preachers of hate instigated young men to go to warzones in the Middle East, Al-Ghamdi said.

“They did all that they could, through persuasion and offers of financial support, to get young men to travel to warzones and get themselves killed,” he added.

“They think that through this process, the region will end up being only for (the Brotherhood’s followers), so they can achieve their goal of seizing political power.”

Al-Qarni’s vehement opposition to the anti-terror campaign is unsurprising given that he considers Western culture and thought as racist, and based on the rejection or enslavement of the other.

“It runs in their (Westerners’) blood, no matter how they try to deny it. There’s no doubt that there are a number of thinkers, philosophers, reformers and some social strata who tried to be human … But the mainstream of Western thought and culture, represented or served by politicians who try to win them over, is a racist and exclusionary thought that seeks to eliminate others,” the detained cleric said.

“Their dealings with the Red Indians, the indigenous peoples of Australia and New Zealand, the African and Muslim peoples are clear.”

In his 1998 book “Modernism in the Balance of Islam: Islamic Perspectives in Literary Modernism,” Al-Qarni identifies modernity as an imminent threat to Muslims.

“One of the ideas that has plagued the nation … is the intellectual doctrine that seeks to destroy everything that is inherited, eliminate everything that is old and revolt against ethics, values and beliefs,” he wrote.

This doctrine, he said, is called “modernism by its preachers and servants.”

From Al-Qarni’s perspective, “modernism” is an idea that creates great and irreparable damage, and should therefore be resisted.

“Modernism is a subversive idea. The modernists present a destructive vision of the lives of people that includes all its aspects,” he wrote.

“The term ‘modernism’ is an invasion that must be confronted. The basis of modernism is reason and rationality that reject everything that the mind does not perceive.”

As a corollary, Al-Qarni said, modern literary works could lead mankind to believe in falsehoods that aim to destroy Islamic teachings.

Three years after his polemic against modernity was published, Al-Qaeda carried out the Sept. 11 attacks against the US, which left nearly 3,000 people dead and 6,000 injured, and caused damage estimated at $10 billion.

Al-Qarni said the attacks were “fabricated” — the West was exploiting terrorism in Islamic countries for its interest.

In another interview on Al-Majd TV, the detained Al-Qarni declared that the West wanted terrorism to remain, especially because “it doesn’t threaten” Western countries.

“It’s in the West’s interest for (terrorism) to continue. This terrorism doesn’t pose an existential threat to the West and its countries,” he said.

“Three-thousand Americans were killed in a certain operation (9/11). All the accumulated evidence proves that the operation was premeditated, fabricated and calculated.”

Al-Qarni asserted that it was not he who was making the claim. “Noam Chomsky said this, and recently a Western scientific engineering institute said the (twin) towers were toppled by a controlled explosion,” Al-Qarni said, falsely attributing the conspiracy theory to the American linguist and social critic.

“It’s in the West’s interest for terrorism to continue in Islamic countries so it can exploit and utilize it.”

Al-Ghamdi said such views are unsurprising given that Al-Qarni believes that acts of violent extremism by Muslims, whether in Saudi Arabia or abroad, are not really terrorism.

“Al-Qarni is of the view that terrorist attacks inside the Kingdom are a way for them to claim their ‘right’ to establish control over the country. Power is their goal,” he said.

Al-Ghamdi added that Al-Qarni’s antipathy toward the Saudi legal system, among other institutions, is rooted in the Brotherhood’s political philosophy.

“Even though they don’t publicly say it, followers of the Brotherhood don’t recognize the Saudi judiciary,” Al-Ghamdi said.

“Their deviant thoughts and hate-filled views are in sharp contrast to our country’s fair and unbiased laws and regulations.”

In March 2017, Al-Qarni was fined SR100,000 ($27,000) and banned from writing by Riyadh’s Specialized Criminal Court, which handles terrorism cases.

He was convicted for spreading content on Twitter that “could jeopardize public order and provoke public opinion.” However, his political commentary became even more outrageous and provocative.

In September 2017, along with fellow hate preachers Salman Al-Odah and Ali Al-Omari, Al-Qarni was arrested.

Full report at:



Egypt hands out 11 life sentences for joining Daesh

July 22, 2019

CAIRO: An Egyptian court has sentenced 11 people to life in prison on charges of joining the Daesh group in Syria and Iraq.

Giza criminal court on Monday says the defendants all traveled abroad to fight for Daesh and receive military training.

Two other defendants got 15-year sentences, and another was given three years for the same charges. These include possessing weapons and plotting attacks against security forces and state institutions.

The verdicts can be appealed, and the court has dropped the charges against another defendant.

Egypt is battling its own Daesh-led insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. That fight intensified in 2013 after the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president.

Full report at:



Arab coalition preventing Houthis from threatening navigation

July 22, 2019

RIYADH: The Arab coalition fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen said on Monday it is continuing its duty to prevent the Iranian-backed Houthi militia from threatening international shipping.

However, speaking at a weekly press conference in Riyadh, spokesperson Col. Turki Al-Maliki also said the threat of international navigation is the responsibility of the international community

Col. Al-Maliki added that 16 permits have been issued to secure the passage of ships heading to the port of Hodeidah.

He also said that the Houthi militia continues to obstruct the arrival of humanitarian aid and violates international humanitarian law by targeting civilians and civilian sites, which have escalated to war crimes.

“The coalition is protecting the Yemeni citizens at the request of the legitimate government in Yemen and we will continue to provide assistance to the Yemeni people,” Al-Maliki added.

Full report at:



Syrian regime, Russian forces kill over 40 civilians in Idlib province: Monitor

July 22, 2019

MAARET AL-NUMAN/SYRIA: Regime and Russian airstrikes killed 43 people in northwest Syria on Monday, most of them in a crowded market, a war monitor said, in the latest violence to plague the opposition bastion.

In Maaret Al-Numan in Idlib province, men drenched in blood were carried away by residents and rescue workers, who used mattresses as makeshift stretchers, an AFP photographer said.

He saw the corpse of one man sprawled on the ground near a motorcycle, rubble surrounding his lifeless body.

With his eyes closed and his face covered in dust, another man clutched the arms of two people helping him out of the bombed area, the photographer added.

Thirty five civilians and two unidentified people were killed in raids that hit the vegetable market and surrounding areas in Maaret Al-Numan, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which blamed the airstrikes on regime ally Russia.

Moscow, however, denied it was responsible, calling the reports “fake.”

“The Russian air force was not carrying out any missions in this part of Syria,” said a Defense Ministry statement.

More than 100 other people were wounded, according to the monitor, which said many of those injured were in a critical condition and people trapped under rubble.

The White Helmets rescue group said one of its volunteers was killed during the raids, raising the number of rescue workers killed since April to at least 6.

The opposition-run Idlib region, home to some 3 million people, is supposed to be protected by a months-old international truce deal, but it has come under increased bombardment by the Syrian regime and its ally Russia since late April.

The spike in violence has killed more than 650 civilians and damaged or knocked out of service two dozen health facilities.

More than 330,000 people have fled violence in the area over the past three months, according to the UN. In the Idlib town of Saraqib, another six civilians were killed in regime airstrikes on Monday, the Observatory said.

Meanwhile, retaliatory rocket fire by opposition groups killed seven civilians in the northern countryside of Hama province, state-run SANA news agency said.

Russia and opposition backer Turkey brokered an agreement in September seeking to stave off an all-out regime assault on Idlib, but the deal was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw from a planned buffer zone.

The Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham group in January extended its control over the region, which spans most of Idlib province as well as slivers of the adjacent provinces of Latakia, Hama, and Aleppo.

On Sunday, airstrikes on Idlib killed 18 people, including a young citizen journalist.

Anas Al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets who also contributed to AFP. He was killed in Russian airstrikes in his hometown of Khan Sheikhun, rescuers and the Observatory said.

The Idlib region “has fast become one of most dangerous places in the world for civilians and aid workers today; a crisis within a crisis,” said David Swanson of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

“This violence must stop and it must stop now,” he told AFP.

In Damascus, President Bashar Assad on Monday received two Vatican cardinals who handed him a letter from Pope Francis expressing “deep concern for the humanitarian situation in Syria, especially the dramatic conditions of the civilian population in Idlib.”

Regime forces have been locked in battle with opposition fighters on the edges of the Idlib region but have failed to secure significant advances.

According to Sam Heller, an analyst at the International Crisis Group think-tank (ICG), the violence is likely to continue until “Russia and Turkey reach an agreement to calm” the frontline.

In the meantime, “each side will try to put pressure on the other through their Syrian partners on the ground” or “directly, (as) with the Russian bombing of parts of Idlib,” he added.

Full report at:



Iraqi forces launch anti-IS operation north of Baghdad

July 20

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s military said Saturday its troops in partnership with security agencies and paramilitary forces launched the second phase of an operation aimed at clearing remnants of the Islamic State group from north of Baghdad and surrounding areas.

This is the second phase of the operation dubbed “Will to Victory,” which started two weeks earlier and targeted the area along the border with Syria. The military said the new target area is north of Baghdad and in the Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces.

Although Iraq declared victory against IS in July 2017, the extremists have turned into an insurgency and continue to carry out deadly attacks in the country.

The military said Iraqi troops, Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces, the federal police and others are taking part in the operation supported by the Iraqis and the U.S-led international coalition.

On Saturday, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited the operation room alongside the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Earlier this month, the Iraqi government moved to place the Iranian-backed militias under the command of the armed forces. The move was believed to be an attempt to curb the powerful militias, particularly amid rising tension between Iran and the U.S., the power brokers in Iraq.

Full report at:



Saudi Coalition Says it Destroyed Houthi Ballistic Missiles Around Yemeni Capital

By Edward Yeranian

July 20, 2019

CAIRO - Saudi-coalition spokesman Col. Turki al Maliki says that coalition fighter jets took out at least five Houthi air defense sites around the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, early Saturday. Amateur video showed a number of explosions rocking Sanaa, overnight.

Amateur video broadcast by Arab media showed a series of explosions around the Yemeni capital Sana'a, early Saturday, followed by loud percussive explosions.

Saudi-owned media, quoting coalition spokesman Turki al Maliki, indicated that at least five Houthi air defense sites were bombed by Saudi warplanes. Maliki claimed that a number of Houthi ballistic missiles were destroyed in the air attacks.

The Saudi-owned Asharqalawsat newspaper quoted Maliki as saying the "operation [overnight] targeted the Houthis air defense capabilities, as well as their ability to launch aggressive attacks." Maliki went on to say the coalition raids "conformed with international human rights law."

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, tells VOA that he doesn't think the Saudi air raids are going to have much effect on the ongoing war or the Houthis military capabilities:

"This is not the first time the Saudis announced launching attacks on missile sites in Yemen," he said. "It happened in the past and it's highly unlikely that such attacks are going to have any tangible effects on the Houthi war effort."

Khashan stressed that most of the Houthis' attacks on Saudi territory in recent weeks have been launched "using drones, rather than by firing ballistic missiles."

The Houthis military spokesman, Gen. Yahya Saree, claimed Saturday that his group had launched a retaliatory drone attack Saturday, which "destroyed several radar [sites] and other military equipment at the King Khaled airbase in southern Saudi Arabia." Saudi-owned al Arabiya TV countered that the drone was shot down near Abha and "hit no targets."

Full report at:



In siding with Iran, Hezbollah could put Lebanon’s future at serious risk


TUNIS - While Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu have been quick to use the Gulf’s escalating tensions to rattle sabres, analysts downplayed the likelihood that the exchange of threats would develop into full-scale conflict in the immediate future.

That the situation across the Gulf is tense cannot be denied. Iran claimed to have seized the British oil tanker Stena Impero as it navigated the Strait of Hormuz on July 19, an apparent retaliation against the British impounding of the Iranian vessel Grace 1 in early July. It was the second possible seizure of a foreign vessel by Iranian forces after the UAE-registered Riah was intercepted July 14 in the Gulf.

Adding to an already febrile mix was the downing of an Iranian drone by a US vessel in the strait the day before  the Stena Imperio’s interception, an incident denied by Tehran.

Ratcheting tensions up further has been the deployment of a third British warship to the region, ostensibly to replace the frigate HMS Montrose but unlikely to be viewed in Tehran as anything but Western provocation.

Nasrallah, speaking July 12 on Al-Manar TV, said: “Are we going to sit back and watch? Iran won’t be alone in the war, that is clear.”

He threatened Israel with all-out attack by Iran and its proxies in the region, breaking down the nature of the threatened action and potential targets.

Nasrallah’s comments drew a predictably bellicose response from Netanyahu, who used a cabinet meeting July 14 to threaten to deal Hezbollah “and Lebanon a crushing military blow,” irrespective of the large portions of Lebanese society opposed to Hezbollah and its allies.

Analysts downplayed the risks of the verbal exchange.

“I think Nasrallah’s rhetoric here is entirely standard, expected and aligns with how Hezbollah talks about itself and its relationship to Iran,” said Emily Hawthorne, senior Middle East and North Africa analyst at risk consultancy Stratfor.

“That said, Hezbollah is a very potent weapon of Iran’s, should Iran choose to deploy it. However, we are far from that stage in a potential conflict between the US and Iran and I don’t think there’s a near-term risk of Hezbollah deployments.”

Reports in May, confirmed by the US State Department, indicated the withdrawal of Hezbollah’s forces from Syria where they had deployed in significant numbers since 2012.

The United States claimed this was evidence that US sanctions were beginning to affect Iran’s ability to sustain Hezbollah’s presence in Syria. Nasrallah confirmed the pullback on July 12, attributing it to changing circumstances in Syria.

“Hezbollah’s drawdown in Syria is related more to the dynamics of the Syrian conflict winding down,” Hawthorne said, “as well as the reality of how Israel has been able to effectively target Hezbollah assets in Syria.”

Hezbollah’s fighters return from Syria a far more potent military force than when they left.

“Hezbollah’s experience fighting in the Syrian conflict has given it training and practice that has made it a more capable fighting force should a conflict arise in which it (is) deployed,” Hawthorne said.

Hezbollah’s posturing jeopardises significant sections of Lebanon as well as loans and aid packages that help maintain Lebanon’s faltering economy.

In March, concluding a visit to Lebanon, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used a news conference to issue a stark choice to policymakers in Beirut: contain Hezbollah or risk the loss of US aid and face potentially devastating sanctions. Last year, the United States provided Lebanon with approximately $800 million in aid.

With its economy faltering and ratings agency Moody’s downgrading Lebanon’s credit worthiness in June, it is aid Beirut can ill afford to lose.

However, Hezbollah remains relatively secure.

“There is no real risk of political censure in Lebanon,” Hawthorne said, “so long as Hezbollah allies hold the presidency (as they currently do) and so long as Hezbollah has a strong political and security position in the country.

Full report at:



Egyptian air force kills 20 militants after deadly suicide blast

July 20, 2019

Egyptian officials say that at least 20 militants have been killed in an air strike in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula.

The air force hit more than 100 mountainous hideouts used by the militants near the city of El Arish and the small town of Bir Al Abd late of Friday.

The strikes came after a suicide bombing killed a soldier and a civilian on Thursday in the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid. ISIS said a militant named Abu Omar El Seedy had detonated his explosive-laden vest near a military checkpoint at dawn on Thursday.

Egyptian security officials had said the bomber targeted an armoured vehicle near the local market of Sheikh Zuweid. They added that as well as the soldier and a civilian, three other soldiers were wounded.

A day earlier, militants beheaded four people and kidnapped a fifth in Bir Al Abd after accusing them of co-operating with the security services.

A group tied to ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The military has been battling a bloody insurgency in the remote desert peninsular for several years but in 2018, the government announced a massive offensive aimed at destroying the extremists. The move has degraded the ability of the tribal and extremist groups to launch attacks into the rest of the country, but they still pose a deadly threat.

The militants regularly carry out hit and run attacks on security checkpoints. Due to the remote, rugged landscape, it can take too long for air support units or reinforcements to arrive. In previous attacks, entire units stationed at desert bases have been overrun.

The hardline groups have regularly targeted tourists and Christians.

ISIS has vowed to go after Egypt’s Christians, in part as punishment for the church’s support of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi who, as defence minister, led the military’s 2013 intervention to remove an Islamist president amid mass protests against his one-year divisive rule.

The attacks against Christians have led to tighter security for places of worship and church-linked facilities, like metal detectors at their street gates and armed guards.

However, Christians are not the only community to be targeted by attacks. In November 2017, 305 worshippers were murdered and another 128 wounded during Friday prayers at a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai, one of the worst terror attacks in recent Egyptian history.

Full report at:



Senior MP: Several Israeli Spies Stationed in US-Occupied Bases in Iraq

Jul 22, 2019

Karim al-Mohammadawi told the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website on Monday that several Israeli spies are stationed in the US bases in Iraq's Western provinces.

He added that the recent attack by Israeli F-35 fighter jets against Hashd al-Shaabi in Amerli region of Salahuddin province was conducted based on precise intelligence provided by Israeli spies in Iraq.

Elsewhere, Al-Mohammadawi said that Washington does not allow the Iraqi government to access advanced weapons in a bid to Iraq under the hegemony of the US forces.

Lebanese media outlets had reported on Sunday that the positions of Hashd al-Shaabi in Salahuddin province were attacked on Friday by an Israeli fighter jet.

The Arabic-language al-Ahd news website quoted informed security sources as saying that Hashd al-Shaabi positions were targeted by three Israeli Harop missiles, 'Loitering Munition', which weight 23kg, are mounted on a flying object and explode when hitting the target.

It added that these warheads can be controlled remotely and their range is 1,000km.

"Only Israel is in possession of this type of weapons in the Middle-East," al-Ahd reported.

Informed security sources told al-Ahd that the Israeli F-16 fighter jets infiltrated into Southeastern al-Ratbah in al-Anbar province over the Baghdad-Amman and Baghdad-Damascus international road and fired the warheads.

Earlier reports said that an unmanned drone had on Friday bombed a base operating by Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq with sources saying two people were wounded.

“The Al-Shuhada base of the Hashed al-Shaabi in the Amerli region was hit at dawn… by an unidentified drone, wounding two people,” the Iraqi military said in a statement on Friday.

Meantime, a spokesman for Iraq's Hashd al-Shaabi forces dismissed media claims that the Iranian military advisors had been killed in a recent drone attack against Amerli base, located in the Tuz Khurmatu district of Northern Iraq’s Salahuddin province.

"Opposite to what the biased media said, no advisors or IRGC (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) forces have been killed," Ali al-Hosseini was quoted by the Arabic-language Baghdad al-Youm news website as saying on Saturday.

Also, the Arabic-language al-Etejah news channel quoted special sources in Nineveh province as saying that before the Friday attack against the Hashd al-Shaabi base in Amerli, a US spy plane conducted reconnaissance operations against the Hashd al-Shaabi and Iraqi army forces in the region.

The source said that the spy plane carried out reconnaissance operations over Sanjar mountain and the Southern areas of the region.

Full report at:



Militant rocket attack kills seven civilians in Syria’s Hama

Jul 22, 2019

At least seven civilians, including two children, have lost their lives in a rocket attack by foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants against a residential district in Syria’s west-central province of Hama.

Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that terrorists positioned in the de-escalation zone of the neighboring province of Idlib fired several rockets at Na'ur Jurin village on Monday afternoon.

One of the projectiles struck a vehicle, leaving seven people dead. A number of civilians sustained injuries as well.

The rockets also caused substantial damage to public property and several houses in the targeted area.

Separately, four people suffered wounds of different severity after several rockets launched by Takfiri terrorists struck areas in al-Suqaylabiyah city.

An unnamed medical source at al-Suqaylabiyah Hospital said the quartet were admitted with shrapnel injuries, and that they had received the necessary treatment.

Meanwhile, one civilian was killed when an improvised explosive device planted in a car went off in al-Qadam neighborhood in the southern part of the capital, Damascus.

SANA said the IED explosion claimed the life of the driver, causing damage to nearby houses and shops.

Full report at:





Islamic Movement in Nigeria rejects allegations of violence

Jul 22, 2019

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has dismissed claims of violence raised against the movement, holding President Muhammadu Buhari responsible for the Zaria massacre.

Buhari was behind the Nigerian army's massacre of Shia Muslims supporting Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky in the northern city of Zaria in 2015, a spokesman for IMN, Muktar Aabdulrahman Auwal, told reporters at an event on Sunday.

The spokesman called for the release of the prominent cleric, who has been in custody since 2015, following the deadly crackdown on his supporters.

He criticized the Buhari government for ignoring a court order to release Zakzaky, adding that the IMN will continue protests until the movement’s leader is set free and those responsible for the Zaria massacre are brought to justice. 

“We wish to state as follows: that the protests on the streets of Abuja are as a result of the government’s disregard to the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, the Federal High Court Abuja, which freed the leader of the Movement from an illegal detention insinuated by the government as Protective Custody,” he said.

The spokesman insisted that the IMN was a peaceful group, rejecting the allegation of violence.

Meanwhile, the presidential spokesman, on Friday, urged members of the movement to halt further street protests and await the outcome of a judicial decision on their leader’s fate.

“As far as this country’s Ministry of Justice is concerned, the case involving El-Zakzaky is no longer in its domain. The Federal Government no more has hands in the matter and, to that extent, the government at the centre can be said to be clear of any alleged violation of court orders as being trumpeted every day,” Garba Shehu said, adding, “These rallies and street dances ostensibly to openly insult the President and other leaders, threatening bloodshed will lead nowhere.”

Shehu told Zakzaky supporters to respect the rights of other citizens, warning them to cease their protests.

Zakzaky supporters believe the Buhari government ordered the bloody 2015 Zaria massacre.

“It is not possible to exonerate President Muhammadu Buhari from the genocide perpetrated by the Nigerian Army under his command as Commander-in-Chief, where over 1000 unarmed members of the Movement including men, women and children were killed on 12th-14th of December 2015,” IMN reiterated in a statement.

The IMN also accuses the Buhari government of concocting fresh court cases against the movement’s leader, who is debilitated by illness, to coax the movement into the use of violence.

“We therefore call on the Nigerian government to stop deceiving the public by trying to paint itself as Saint in a place its actions are worse than those of the Devil.”



17 dead, 28 wounded in Somalia bomb blast: Hospital official

22 July 2019

The death toll from a car bombing in Mogadishu on Monday climbed to 17, hospital officials said, with more than two dozen wounded in the explosion claimed by al-Shabaab militants.

“The bodies of 17 people killed in the blast were taken to the hospital mortuary while 28 others were admitted for various wounds,” said Mohamed Yusuf, the director of Medina Hospital, the main trauma facility in the Somali capital.



10 people killed in car bomb blast in Somali capital

Mohammed Dhaysane 



At least 10 people were killed and several others wounded, when a car bomb blast targeted a security checkpoint, in Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday morning, local media reported.

“The explosion took place at KM4 area in Mogadishu” Goobjoog News, a local radio and TV station reported after the attack.

Talking to Anadolu Agency, Aamin Ambulance Service Chief Abdukadir Aden confirmed the attack. But did not confirm the number of casualties caused by the car bomb blast.

An eyewitness Ahmed Ali Hassan, 31, told Anadolu Agency that the car, hit the security checkpoint on the road, leading to Adan Adde international airport in Mogadishu.

“I was at my shop, close to the checkpoint, I saw a car parking near the checkpoint and then minutes later it exploded. I saw dead people laying on the ground,” Hassan said.

Full report at:



Libyan warplane lands on road in southern Tunisia

22 July 2019

A Libyan warplane landed on Monday on a road in the southern Tunisian town of Beni Khadash, witnesses and local media said.

The state news agency TAP said the plane had made an emergency landing, and that the pilot, the sole occupant, had been arrested by the military units that surrounded the area.

Witnesses said the plane had landed on a road and been surrounded by civilian vehicles stopping to watch.

Full report at:



Nigerian security forces clash with Shia protesters

Abu 'Adnan 


A senior police officer was killed and three other people injured Monday in clashes between security forces and thousands of Shia protesters in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja.

Deputy Police Commissioner Usman Umar was shot and later died of his injuries in a hospital, police spokesman Frank Mba said in a statement.

Two assistant superintendents of police and a staff member of Channels Television sustained serious injuries and are receiving treatment, the statement added.

It said the protesters also torched the office of emergency responders.

"The police have arrested 54 suspects in connection with the incidents. The suspects are undergoing interrogation and will be arraigned in court as soon as possible," the statement said.

In a counter statement, the Shia protesters said claims that they were carrying arms were not true, insisting they have chosen the path of peace.

The group said at least 11 Shias were killed in the bedlam.

"We strongly dispute the claim by the police that the protesters shot at them, because throughout our processions, we have not been carrying any arms right from 2015 to date," said Ibrahim Musa, a spokesman for the Shia.

"It was also the police who shot at the reporter of Channels TV, another indication that many innocent people were shot at by the police, including some of their own.

"In this era of social media, the brutality displayed by the police today has been captured, with some pictures showing the police setting up bonfires, and there are videos that captured the police carting away their victims," he added.

The Shia have stepped up their protests in the capital over the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, since 2015.

Full report at:



Nigerian police kill 6 protesters demanding release of Sheikh Zakzaky

Jul 22, 2019

Nigerian security forces have killed at least six protesters who were demanding the immediate release of the senior Muslim figure Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, who has been locked up in a government jail since 2015.

The deadly clashes were occurred in capital Abuja on Monday when security forces attacked a group of pro-Zakzaky peaceful protesters and opened fire on them using live bullets.

Reports, citing eyewitnesses, said at least one of the victims was an underage boy, adding that a large number of others sustained varying injuries in the brutal police raid.

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), led by Sheikh Zakzaky, was the organizer behind the protest rally, the latest in a series of demonstration for the release of the top Shia cleric.

Zakzaky, now 66, has been in detention since December 2015 after his residence in the city of Zaria was raided by Nigeria’s forces, during which he was beaten and lost vision in his left eye.

During the brutal arrest, three of his sons were also killed, his wife sustained serious wounds, and more than 300 of his followers were killed.

Zakzaky was charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace, and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty, vehemently rejecting all accusations brought up against him.

Recent reports said that his health has been deteriorating, but prison authorities have prevented him from getting much-needed treatment.

Earlier this month, Zakzaky's son said after visiting him that he had been shocked by his father’s worsening medical condition, stressing that he needed to be immediately hospitalized as “large and dangerous quantities of lead and cadmium have been found in his blood.”

He added that Nigerian authorities had not taken any action so far and that they intended to murder his father.

Full report at:



South Asia


Taliban Attack Security Checkpoint and Hospital in Pakistan

By Salman Masood

July 21, 2019

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — At least nine people were killed and at least 30 others wounded on Sunday in Taliban attacks on a security checkpoint and a hospital in northwestern Pakistan, breaking a lull in militant violence in the country, officials said.

A spokesman for the Taliban said the attacks — by gunmen on motorbikes and a suicide bomber — had been carried out to avenge the killing of one of its militants last month in the district of Dera Ismail Khan. A senior police official said the suicide attacker had been female, but the Taliban later released a photograph of a longhaired man whom the group identified as the bomber.

The two-pronged attack on Sunday took place in the same district, Dera Ismail Khan, which is in the province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. In the first attack, two police officers at a security checkpoint in the town of Kotla Saidan were shot dead.

The assailants escaped after the shooting, and the security forces cordoned off the area to search for them.

Shortly after the bodies of the two officers were taken to the hospital, an explosion ripped through the emergency and trauma center there, killing four other police officers and three civilians. The suicide bomber detonated about seven kilograms of explosives near an entrance to the hospital, according to a preliminary police investigation.

Salim Riaz Khan, the police chief of Dera Ismail Khan, said that initial inquiries suggested that the suicide attacker had been a woman, but another security official said that the bomber had been a young boy with long hair, a common look for most Taliban militants.

Only a few suicide bombings have been carried out by women in the long history of militant violence in the country.

The blast heavily damaged the entrance of the hospital, and the emergency department shut down afterward. Those injured in the second attack were shifted to a military hospital in the district.

On June 23, counterterrorism police officials killed a militant fighter during a raid at his compound in Dera Ismail Khan. He had been wanted by the police in more than a dozen cases of killings and kidnapping for ransom.

Militant violence has ravaged Pakistan for years, especially in the northwestern regions, where the Taliban have a strong presence, but the attacks have declined in recent years. Sporadic violence still takes place, however.

Follow Salman Masood on Twitter: @salmanmasood.

Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud contributed reporting.



Airstrike kills 28 militants in N. Afghanistan


MAIMANA, Afghanistan, July 21 (Xinhua) -- At least 28 Taliban militants have been killed following an airstrike in Afghanistan's northern Faryab province, a military source said on Sunday.

"Based on a confirmed tip-off, an Afghan Air Force A-29 aircraft targeted a Taliban hideout in Bilchiragh district, Faryab province on Saturday evening, leaving 28 armed Taliban killed," Hanif Rezai, spokesman of army Corps 209 Shaheen based in the region, told Xinhua.

The targeted militants were meeting for planning attacks against security forces.

Violence has escalated in the previously peaceful northern region over a past few years as Afghan security forces push against the militants in the south and east regions.

Full report at:



Suicide Bombing at University Kills 10 as Violence Surges in Afghanistan

By David Zucchino and Fahim Abed

July 19, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan — As law students waited outside Kabul University to take fourth-year exams shortly after daybreak on Friday, a suicide bomber drove up and detonated an explosive device, killing 10 people and wounding 33.

The bombing was the latest in an aggressive series of attacks by insurgents in the 10 days since American and Taliban negotiators suspended peace talks in Doha, Qatar, that were aimed at reaching a political settlement and a cease-fire in the 18-year-old war.

The Interior Ministry blamed the Taliban for Friday’s attack, which killed students and a traffic officer. A Taliban spokesman denied that the group was involved in the bombing, although it has claimed responsibility for many recent attacks.

In a burst of violence noteworthy even by Afghan standards, the Taliban have launched a number of sophisticated attacks aimed at government security forces and compounds, in some cases killing and maiming civilians.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in an interview on Friday that “the enemy’s raids on civilian Afghans and their killing of civilians are forcing us to aggressively target their strong and secured centers, which are in the cities.”

Since the peace talks began last fall, both sides have escalated operations, in part to increase leverage in negotiations. From Tuesday through Thursday alone, the Ministry of Defense claimed to have conducted hundreds of combat operations and dozens of airstrikes, killing more than 200 militants.

But the audacity of the Taliban attacks has been notable since the latest round of peace talks was suspended on July 9. Insurgents killed an American Special Forces soldier in combat on July 13, the Pentagon said.

Smoke rising at the scene of a car bomb blast that targeted police headquarters in Kandahar.

And in the past four days, according to provincial and military officials, the Taliban killed an Afghan Army brigade commander in an insider attack in eastern Afghanistan; assassinated a senior bodyguard of President Ashraf Ghani; and killed up to 35 elite Afghan commandos in a nighttime raid in western Afghanistan, according to local officials who said at least 30 Taliban were also killed.

Haroun Mir, a security analyst in Kabul, said the Taliban have sought to undercut government authority and convince their own fighters they are winning the war, all while maintaining pressure on the United States to withdraw its troops.

“They are showing their capacity to undermine government functions anywhere in the country and thus not allow it to protect major population centers,” Mr. Mir said.

The Taliban, Mr. Mir added, were also concerned about the morale of their fighters and commanders. “They are under tremendous pressure by relentless military operations by both U.S. and Afghan forces,” he said.

Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said the latest insurgent attacks are a continuation of an intensified campaign that began this spring. The Taliban, he said, have sought to overwhelm what he called “overstretched” Afghan security forces.

“The Taliban has all the leverage it needs as the U.S. has signaled it is desperate for a peace agreement and President Trump said he wants to end the war in Afghanistan,” Mr. Roggio said in an email.

Atiqullah Amarkhel, a retired Afghan Army general and military analyst in Kabul, said the recent attacks made a mockery of a July 9 declaration in Doha to reduce civilian casualties. After two days of informal talks between Taliban and Afghan representatives, the two sides pledged to “minimize civilian casualties to zero” and protect hospitals and schools.

“In Doha, the Taliban said they won’t attack civilians, but that was just words,” Mr. Amarkhel said. “They keep attacking civilians — anytime, anywhere.”

A man received treatment last week after a suicide attack at a wedding in Nangarhar Province.

The recent insurgent attacks have seemed rapid-fire and well-planned. On Thursday, Taliban suicide bombers exploded a vehicle at a police headquarters in Kandahar, penetrating the base and triggering a firefight. Local officials said two police officers and nine civilians were killed, and 89 people were wounded. Eight Taliban were also killed, the Kandahar police chief said.

Last Saturday, two Taliban gunmen took over a hotel in Qala-i-Nau, the capital of Badghis Province in northwestern Afghanistan. In the ensuing siege, two government security agents and two police officers were killed, local officials said.

On July 12, a boy detonated a suicide vest at a wedding party in eastern Afghanistan, killing eight civilians — including a child — and the commander of a local pro-government militia. No group took responsibility.

And on July 11, local officials said three farmers who had refused to pay taxes to the Taliban in Sar-i-Pul Province were killed by the militants, who also burned their crops.

The fighting has ensnared civilians in other ways. On Wednesday, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said the Taliban had forced the agency to close 42 health facilities in Taliban-controlled areas of Wardak Province, cutting off care for thousands. The clinics reopened on Friday, according to the ministry of health.

The government had conducted its own raid on a Swedish Committee clinic in Wardak this month, searching for a Taliban official and prompting the militants to close all the clinics in reprisal.

The government has also acknowledged killing civilians in certain cases. On July 9, the day the Doha talks were suspended, local officials reported that seven civilians died when their home was struck by an Afghan airstrike in Baghlan Province in northern Afghanistan.

A Defense Ministry statement confirmed the civilian deaths and said an investigation had begun. “Avoiding civilian casualties,” it said, “is a priority.”

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Cobra Strike Forces kill 4 Taliban militants in Helmand province

22 Jul 2019

The Cobra Strikes of the Afghan Special Forces killed 4 Taliban militants during an operation in southern Helmand province.

The Special Operations Corps in a statement said the Cobra Strike Forces conducted the operation in Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand.

The statement further added that the Special Forces killed 4 Taliban militants during the operation.

Furthermore, the Special Operations Corps said the Special Forces also destroyed a vehicle, a motorcycle and 4 improvised explosive devices during the same operation.



Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties in Faryab clashes

22 Jul 2019

The security forces inflicted heavy casualties on Taliban militants during separate clashes which took place in three districts of Faryab.

The 209th Shaheen Corps in a statement said the security forces clashed with Taliban in Sherin Tagab, Qaisar and KOhistan districts of Faryab.

The statement further added t4aht the security forces killed 16 Taliban militants during the clashes and wounded 23 others.

Furthermore, the 209th Shaheen Corps said an Afghan soldier also lost his life during the clashes and two others sustained injuries.

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Khalilzad to visit Afghanistan, Qatar for the talks with the Afghan government and Taliban

23 Jul 2019

The U.S. envoy for Afghan peace Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad will travel to Afghanistan and Qatar for the talks with the government and Taliban representatives.

The State Department in a statement said “Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will travel to Afghanistan and Qatar from July 22 – August 1, as part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that ends the conflict in Afghanistan.”

The statement further added “In Kabul, Special Representative Khalilzad will consult closely with the Afghan government on next steps in the peace process, including identifying a national negotiating team that can participate in intra-Afghan negotiations.”

Furthermore, the State Department said Ambassador Khalilzad will also engage representatives of civil society, including peace advocates and women’s rights groups, to further encourage broad participation in the peace process.

The Statement Department also added that Ambassador Khalilzad will resume talks with the Taliban in Doha.

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Dozens of Taliban militants killed, detained in Special Forces raids in Logar, Paktika

23 Jul 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed or detained dozens of Taliban militants during separate raids conducted in Logar and Paktika.

The informed military sources said Tuesday that the Special Forces killed 27 Taliban militants during the operation in Pul-e Alam district of Logar.

The sources further added that the Special Forces also arrested 5 Taliban militants during the same raid.

Furthermore, the sources said the Special Forces killed 4 Taliban militants during a raid in Sharan district of Paktika.

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Afghan forces kill seven civilians in attack on militants

July 22, 2019

KABUL: Afghan government forces mistakenly killed seven civilians, including children, in an attack on militants south of the capital, a provincial official said on Monday, the latest victims of a war undiminished by peace talks.

Government forces, have been facing Taliban attacks across much of the country, and have responded with air strikes aimed at killing insurgent leaders, even as US and Afghan representatives have been negotiating with the militants in Qatar.

The seven civilians, including women and children, were killed in Logar province, just south of Kabul, on Sunday night said Hasib Stanekzai, a member of Logar’s provincial council. Six people were wounded, he said.

Provincial police confirmed the attack on militants by government forces but said they were investigating the casualties.

“According to our initial information a number of militants were killed or wounded, but local people gathered in the area, claiming that a house belonging to a Kuchi family had been bombed, causing civilian casualties,” said Shahpor Ahmadzai, a spokesman for Logar police.

Kuchi are nomadic herders, but some now live in permanent settlements.

Ahmadzai, who said police were investigating, also said foreign forces were involved in the attack on the militants. Officials with Afghanistan’s NATO force were not immediately available to confirm or deny their involvement in the operation.

Afghan forces, backed by US advisers, have in recent months stepped up their air strikes and raids to the highest levels since 2014.

The latest phase of Afghanistan’s war — which began when US-backed forces the overthrew the Taliban following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States — has intensified despite the most sustained peace talks of the war.

The United Nations has repeatedly expressed concern about civilian casualties, which reached their highest level last year since detailed accounting began nearly a decade ago.

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