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Islamic World News ( 17 Jul 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Twin Blasts Hit Market In Northeast Nigeria, ‘Nearly 50 Killed’

New Age Islam News Bureau

17 Jul 2015

Southern Resistance fighters look as smoke rises from the site of a Saudi-led air strike on a position of Houthi fighters in Yemen's southern port city of Aden July 16, 2015.




 Twin blasts hit market in northeast Nigeria, ‘nearly 50 killed’

 13 killed in three blasts in northeast Nigeria: medics

 Libyan commander killed as offensive against Islamists stalls



South Asia

 Taliban executes mosque Imam in Faryab province

 Drone strike kill 10 Haqqani network militants in Wardak

 Explosion kills 4 children in Wardak province

 Afghan president says talks with Taliban are solution to strife

 Hundreds of Afghans who grew up in UK face mass deportation

 NATO commander Gen. Campbell greets Afghan people on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr



Arab World

 Six Muslim Brotherhood supporters killed in clashes in Cairo

 Hamas chief and Saudi king hold rare meeting: Hamas source

 Noose tightens around thousands caught in Iraq's Anbar offensive

 Air strikes against Islamic State in Anbar

 Egypt ISIS Affiliate Claims Destruction of Naval Vessel

 Islamic State group claims bombing near Saudi prison

 Syria’s opposition plans to replace Syrian pound with Turkish lira

 Iran should use nuclear deal to help economy, not for regional 'adventures': Saudi minister




 Yemen's exiled government says Aden 'liberated' as clashes continue

 Ministry report confirms links between Turkey’s bribery scandal key figure Zarrab and Iran’s Zanjani

 Exiled Iranian Opposition Leader Says Iran Will Cheat on Nuclear Deal to Build Bomb




 Punjab bans Zakat, Fitrana collection by banned outfits

 Pakistan paramilitary raids headquarters of political party MQM

 Sindh govt extends Rangers stay in Karachi for a year



North America

 Chattanooga Mosque Where Gunman Worshiped Mourns Marines

 4 Marines Murdered in 'Act of Domestic Terrorism'

 Investigators seek motive behind Tennessee shooting rampage

 Kerry’s next worry — how to remove Saudis’ misgivings

 CAIR Condemns Killing of Marines in Tennessee, Offers Condolences




 Europe Divided along Former Iron Curtain over Nuclear Power

 Islamic State ordered failed attack on France

 British pilots took part in anti-Isis bombing campaign in Syria




 Drones to monitor 'Alvida Namaaz' in UP

 Harsul violence: Muslims want to return, but don’t have faith in police

 Ex-Indian SC Judge, Justice Markandey Katju Urges Better Hindu-Muslim Ties

 Prohibitory orders imposed in Muzaffarnagar



South Asia

 Fears Grow Over Islamic State’s Influence in Southeast Asia

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau






Twin Blasts Hit Market In Northeast Nigeria, ‘Nearly 50 Killed’

17 Jul 2015

Twin blasts have rocked a market in the northeast Nigerian city of Gombe, leaving 30 people dead, witnesses said.

"I have 30 bodies in bags and I am sure there are more out there," said a Red Cross official, who was involved in the evacuation and wanted to remain anonymous.

An official from the National Emergency Management Agency also confirmed that the attacks had taken place and many people were hurt.

Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege, reporting from the capital Abuja, quoted witnesses as saying that "there was an incredible amount of panic" at the market following the attack.

She also reported that at least two suicide bombers were involved in the attack.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blasts, which went off around 16:30 GMT, but they bore the hallmarks of attacks by Boko Haram.

The armed group have killed thousands in a six-year insurgency in the country's northeast.

The area was crowded with customers doing some last-minute shopping on the eve of the Eid festival marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"I was about 70 metres from the scene" when the first blast struck, Badamasi Amin, a local trader, told AFP.

"I and many other people rushed to assist the victims. While we were trying to attend to the wounded, another blast happened outside a china shop just opposite the footwear shop.

"Several people were killed and many more were injured," he added.

Ali Nasiru, another trader, said he saw "people lying lifeless on the ground".

"Traders and shoppers helped in evacuating the victims to the hospital," he said. "I can't say how many people were affected but there are many."

Gombe state neighbours the states of Borno, Yobo and Adamawa, which have been most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency that has killed more than 15,000 people in Nigeria since 2009.

Gombe's market and bus station have in recent months been targeted by bomb and suicide attacks.

President Muhammadu Buhari has made crushing the armed group his top priority, but hundreds have been killed in bombings and shootings since he was inaugurated on May 29.

Buhari is set to travel to the United States, where he is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama on Monday.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies



13 killed in three blasts in northeast Nigeria: medics

AFP — Juy 17, 2015

KANO: Thirteen people were killed in a triple attack in the northeastern Nigerian city of Damaturu on Friday, medics said.

Two people were killed in twin explosions that rocked the city before a third moments later near a mosque that left another 11 dead, the latest attacks in the region where Boko Haram Islamists are waging an insurgency.

“For now we have 13 dead bodies brought to the hospital,” a medical source who wished to remain anonymous told AFP.

The blasts all took place near the site where prayers for Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, were due to be held.

“The first blast went off around 7:15 am while security volunteers who had come earlier than worshippers were waiting for the worshippers so they could assist in crowd control. Two were killed and three were injured." He added: “While we were attending to the victims we heard another blast about 500 metres away.

"I didn't go there because I was occupied with the first victims but I heard that one person was injured.“

Local resident Dahiru Nguru said he was home preparing for the Eid festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when he received a call from a friend who works as a security volunteer.

“He informed me of the two blasts: one at the Eid prayer ground and the second one nearby. At least two people were killed and three people were injured,” Nguru said.

The blasts come as Nigeria's new president Muhammadu Buhari prepares to fly to Washington to meet his US counterpart Barack Obama on Monday.

Nigeria is facing an uptick in violence from the jihadist group Boko Haram, and Buhari who came to power in late May is expected to push for US help to tackle the insurgency.

The fight against Boko Haram will top the agenda when Nigeria's new President Muhammadu Buhari meets Barack Obama in Washington on Monday.



Libyan commander killed as offensive against Islamists stalls


Islamic State militants said they killed a Libyan army commander in the eastern city of Benghazi on Wednesday, as a pro-government offensive against the Islamists appeared to stall.

Forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognized government have been fighting Islamist groups in the country's second-largest city for over a year, part of a wider struggle since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown and killed in 2011.

Army forces backed by armed residents have regained some of the territory in Benghazi lost last year. But critics say their air strikes and artillery have pounded parts of Benghazi into rubble without gaining much ground.

New clashes erupted on Wednesday in the Lithi district, a stronghold of militant Islamists. During the fighting, Salem al-Naili, the commander of a special forces brigade, and another soldier were killed, army officials said. Four more soldiers were wounded.

Islamic State, which has expanded in Libya by exploiting a vacuum as two governments vie for control, claimed responsibility on social media for Naili's killing.

Islamic State and other militant groups have been getting support from groups in Tunisia, Algeria, Chad, Nigeria and Sudan, a top army commander told reporters after meeting with senior commanders in Marj town east of Benghazi.

Asked when the Benghazi battle would be finished, the commander, Khalifa Haftar, said: "I cannot give a date but it will be very soon."

U.N. Special Envoy Bernardino Leon disputed that. "In Benghazi, clashes ... continue with neither side making significant gains," he told the U.N Security Council.

The fighting for Benghazi highlights the chaos in Libya, where armed groups back two governments vying for control. The official prime minister has been based in the east since the capital, Tripoli, was seized by a rival group which set up its own government.

Both sides command loose coalitions of former anti-Gaddafi rebels. After Gaddafi's ouster, the various factions split along political, regional and tribal lines.

Islamic State has exploited the chaos by taking over several towns, executing foreigners and launching attacks against embassies in Tripoli.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Larry King)



South Asia


Taliban executes mosque Imam in Faryab province

By KHAAMA PRESS - Thu Jul 16 2015

The Taliban militants have executed a Mullah Imam of a mosque after he allegedly spoke against the group’s movements and rejecting their jihad as false.

According to local security officials, the Imam was executed early on Thursday morning shortly after he was abducted by the militants.

Deputy provincial police chief Karim Khrosh said the Imam was serving in Bukhari village mosque and was abducted late on Wednesday night.

He said the Imam was identified as Mullah Abdul Satar who had spoken against the Taliban group last Friday.

In the meantime, the district administrative chief Mohammad Saleh Saleh said at least two militants raided the Imam’s house late on Wednesday night and executed him around 1 km away from his residence.

Saleh said Muallah Satar was previously serving in Badghesi village mosque which is under the control of the Taliban militants and had recently shifted to Bukhari village mosque.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the incident so far.



Drone strike kill 10 Haqqani network militants in Wardak

By MIRWAIS ADEEL - Thu Jul 16 2015

At least ten militants of the Haqqani terrorist network were killed in a drone strike in central Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan.

According to the local government officials, the airstrike was carried out early on Thursday morning targeting a gathering of the militants in Torkhel area.

The provincial governor spokesman Ataullah Khogyani confirmed that the militants killed in the air raid belonged to Haqqani terrorist network.

In the meantime, a security official said a commander of the militants was also among those killed in the airstrike.

The official further added that the militants had key role in a deadly attack on Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces check post in Jalrez district two weeks ago.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Wardak is among the relatively volatile provinces where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in a number of its districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.



Explosion kills 4 children in Wardak province

By MIRWAIS ADEEL - Thu Jul 16 2015

Explosion kills children in Wardak At least four children were killed in an explosion in central Maidan wardak province of Afghanistan on Thursday morning, local officials said.

The incident took place in Syedabad district after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) planted near a residential house went off.

The provincial government media office also issued a statement confirming the incident took place around 10:00 am local time.

The statement further added that the incident took place while the children were playing in the area.

No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Taliban militants frequently use Improvised Explosive Device (IED) as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces which normally lead to civilian casualties.

The commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission in Afghanistan Gen. John F. Campbell said last week the Taliban militants cause 90 percent of civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

Gen. Campbell told reporters “Taliban, you know, I think the UN has said have caused 70 percent of the civilian casualties, my records shows its close to 90 percent that are caused by the Taliban.”

He called the attacks, specifically Vehicle-borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) attacks as indiscriminate despite the group vowed not to go after the civilian targets.

The remarks by Gen. Campbell were followed by a UN report earlier this year which stated at least 521 civilian casualties were recorded from January 1 to March, mainly due to ground engagements between Pro-Government Forces and Anti-Government Elements.

The report also added that Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are identified to be the second major cause of the civilian casualties in the report.



Afghan president says talks with Taliban are solution to strife

July 17, 2015

The Afghan president said Friday that negotiations with the Taliban are the only way to "end the bloodshed" and bring peace to the country.

But even as Ashraf Ghani spoke, a bomb ripped through a mosque compound in northern Balkh province after prayers for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which follows the fasting month of Ramadan.

Sarajuddin Abid, the district governor of Sholgara where the explosion happened, said first reports indicate two people were killed and 12 were wounded in the blast.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ghani, who spoke at the presidential palace in the capital, Kabul, has made peace talks with the Taliban a priority for since he was elected president last year. This was his first Eid message to the nation.

"The negotiations are the solution, the way and this is what our nation wants, to end the bloodshed," Ghani said.

He also thanked Mullah Mohammad Omar, the reclusive Afghan Taliban leader, for endorsing the peace talks, which came after several informal contacts between the Taliban and Afghan government representatives, and said it was important the Taliban "want to join the political process."

Earlier in July, neighbouring Pakistan hosted the first face-to-face Kabul-Taliban talks, supervised by U.S. and Chinese representatives. The meeting was said to have made progress, with the two sides agreeing to work on confidence-building measures and hold more such meetings after Ramadan.

In the wake of the departure of NATO combat forces at the end of last year, the Taliban have stepped up attacks on Afghan troops, which are now in charge of security in the country, and are also targeting government officials.

Ousted from power in Afghanistan by the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, the Taliban soon regrouped as an insurgency battling NATO troops and Afghan security forces. After the war began, Mullah Omar went into hiding and has not been seen in public since. The United States has offered a reward of $10 million for information leading to his capture.

Though the Taliban are divided among rival factions, Mullah Omar continues to enjoy the loyalty of many local figures. In the wake of the departure of NATO combat forces at the end of last year, the Taliban have stepped up attacks on Afghan troops, which are now in charge of security in the country.

Some of the Afghan fighters have also recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press



Hundreds of Afghans who grew up in UK face mass deportation

By KHAAMA PRESS - Jul 16 2015

The United Kingdom is planning to deport hundreds of Afghan children who grew up there after escaping violence and persecution in Afghanistan.

The mass deportation plan by United Kingdom comes as an average of 100 Afghans a year are now being sent back to their country of their birth despite many having not lived there for years.

The mass deportation of Afghans is implemented in line with Britain’s immigration policies as their “leave to remain” is automatically cancelled when they are 18 and they are in line for deportation.

The United Kingdom government bound by international law, is unable to send unaccompanied asylum-seeking children back their country of origin. Instead it issues temporary leave to remain, which lasts until six months after their 17th birthday.

Those deported have mostly spent their formative years in Britain living with foster parents, taking GCSEs and A-levels, and having little or no contact with the country of their birth, The Independent reported on Thursday citing findings of their Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

According to the report, majority of the Afghans who have already been deported no longer know where their families live, having gone years without contact.

The deportees also face threats amid ongoing violence in the country due to their westernized mannerisms and accents which expose them to the militant groups.

Some of those who have deported told the Bureau they have been left homeless, chased by the Taliban, kidnapped, ransomed and beaten.

An Afghan-Australian man was tortured and executed after he was singled out by the Taliban militants as soon as he to country from Australia last year.

The 56-year-old Syed Habib Musawi was initially tortured and then executed by Taliban militants while he was on his way from southeastern Ghazni province to capital Kabul.

Grew up in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan, Musawi immigrated to Australia by boat in 2000 and recently visited Afghanistan to meet with the relatives.

In the meantime, the 23-year-old Abdul who has been trapped in a legal limbo as he is unable to work or go to university told The Independent “Nobody explained [temporary leave] to me, I was like ‘OK I’m going to live here forever’, things were normal for a long time, then I turned 18 and everything changed.”

Abdul, who fled Afghanistan aged 15,Abdul, who fled Afghanistan aged 15, says “They told me I would be deported. They locked me up. It was like a prison. Every time they said I was going back, I started to think about what it would be like when the plane landed. I thought people will be looking for me.

“It would be so dangerous to return, people are still looking for me. Now when I speak my language I use a lot of English, because I’ve forgotten words, so I would be found easily,” he said, adding that “I have made friends and a future for myself here, but all that taken could be away from me.”



NATO commander Gen. Campbell greets Afghan people on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr

By KHAAMA PRESS - Fri Jul 17 2015

The NATO-led Resolute Support (RS) mission commander General John F. Campbell greeted the Afghan people on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr.

Gen. Campbell issued the following statement as the Afghan people celebrate Eid:

“To the noble people of Afghanistan, Salam-U-Alaikum. Eid Taan Mubarak!

On behalf of the more than 40 allied and partner nations serving here as part of the Resolute Support mission, I want to take the opportunity to congratulate you, your families, and the noble people of Afghanistan as you celebrate the Eid al-Fitr.

During these holy days, I would like to once again assure you that we will continue our friendship and our long-lasting partnership with the Afghan people. This has been a tough fighting season, and we remain proud to support your resilient and courageous security forces. I ask that you continue to support them and their families.

I hope that with the blessing of Allah, this great and beautiful nation will enjoy the stability, peace and prosperity it so richly deserves – not just during this period of Eid, but throughout the entire year.

Once again, Eid Mubarak.”

The Supreme Court of Afghanistan confirmed Friday 17th July as the first day of Eid al-Fitr following the sighting of Eid-ul-Fitr moon in Saudi Arabia.

Eid al-Fitr is celebrated in the first day of the month of Shawal, which follows Ramadan in the Islamic calendar.



Arab World


Six Muslim Brotherhood supporters killed in clashes in Cairo


Six supporters of Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood were killed in clashes with police near the Giza pyramids in Cairo on Friday, security sources said, as Egyptians marked the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Security forces intervened and arrested 15 armed Brotherhood members, the state news agency MENA quoted an Interior Ministry source as saying. Twenty Brotherhood members were arrested in Egypt's second city Alexandria, MENA said.

The violence erupted in several different locations in the Giza area, the sources said. A Health ministry official confirmed the deaths.

The Egyptian army toppled President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

Security forces then cracked down on Brotherhood supporters, killing hundreds in street protests and arresting thousands of others. Top Brotherhood leaders were sentenced to death in mass trials.

The measures, widely criticized by human rights groups, weakened Egypt's oldest Islamist movement, which had said it would return to power through street protests. Instead, demonstrations have largely faded.

The Brotherhood, declared a terrorist group by authorities, says it is committed to peaceful activism.

Islamist lawyers close to the Brotherhood and Western diplomats say young members frustrated by imprisoned old guard leaders and what they call widespread repression are resorting to small-scale violence like homemade bombs.

While President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has neutralized the movement, a militant insurgent group affiliated with Islamic State jihadists are seen as a major security threat from their strongholds in North Sinai.

Recently renamed Sinai Province, the group said on Thursday it fired a rocket at an Egyptian naval vessel in the Mediterranean Sea near the coast of Israel and the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptian military said in a statement that a coastguard launch had exchanged shots with "terrorist elements", causing the vessel to catch fire. It said there was no loss of life.

Such incidents at sea are rare, though Egypt is battling an increasingly brazen Islamist insurgency in the Sinai that lies between Israel, the Gaza Strip and the Suez Canal.

Aside from insecurity in the Sinai, officials are also concerned by militants thriving in the chaos of Libya, which shares a long porous border with Egypt.

(Additional reporting by Cairo bureau; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Tom Heneghan)



Hamas chief and Saudi king hold rare meeting: Hamas source

DUBAI,  Jul 17, 2015

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and other top officials from the Palestinian militant group met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and senior Saudi leaders on Friday, a Hamas source said, in the first meeting between the two sides for years.

The meeting brought together top members of Hamas political wing with the Saudi king, crown prince and defense minister in a possible rapprochement between the conservative United States-allied kingdom and the traditionally Iran-allied party.

"The delegation discussed Palestinian unity and the political situation in the region. This meeting will hopefully develop relations between Hamas and Saudi Arabia," the source told Reuters.

Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007 after fighting a brief and bloody civil war with Palestinian rivals in Fatah and has fought three wars with Israel, which it has vowed to destroy.

The group was jolted by civil war and rivalries in the wake of the Arab Spring in 2011 and relations with Iran soured over its refusal that year to back Tehran's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in his war against mainly Islamist rebels.

Much of Hamas's senior leadership decamped to Qatar, but the tiny gas-rich state was under pressure from fellow Gulf Arab countries to reduce its support for Islamist groups.

Relations between Hamas and Saudi Arabia have improved since Salman assumed the Saudi throne in January and the kingdom has taken on a newly assertive posture in the region.

Saudi Arabia has led an Arab military intervention in Yemen and is fiercely opposed to what it views as Iranian encroachment in the Arab world, despite a deal agreed this week between Tehran and world powers over its disputed nuclear program.

(Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Tom Heneghan)



Noose tightens around thousands caught in Iraq's Anbar offensive

July 17, 2015

Baghdad/Erbil: As Iraqi forces prepare to try to recapture the city of Falluja, tens of thousands of civilians find themselves trapped between Islamic State militants ready to use them as human shields and a government suspicious of their loyalties.

With the jihadists coercing them to stay, and a government blockade and shelling closing exit routes and cutting off supplies, there is "a vice, a noose around the neck of the population", Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Iraq, told Reuters.

Iraq`s Shi`ite Muslim-led government on Monday announced the start of operations to "liberate Anbar", the province west of Baghdad whose Sunni Muslim cities and towns along the Euphrates have since last year become strongholds of Islamic State.

"Since military operations began, it has become impossible to leave," said one 42-year-old teacher.

"They (Islamic State) have planted bombs at the entrance and exits to the city and on the main roads to prevent security forces entering or citizens leaving."

Communication with those still inside Falluja is increasingly difficult. The teacher was afraid to let his name be used, and his comments were relayed to Reuters by a friend.

Baghdad`s last military push against Islamic State, to retake Tikrit in April, came after most citizens had fled.

Leaders of the Shi`ite militias fighting alongside Iraq`s army say Falluja`s civilians will be evacuated before the final push, but, in a climate of fear, residents are not confident.

This week, hundreds of fighters who said they had come from Syria and the northern Iraqi city of Mosul paraded through Falluja, said the teacher, whose account of Islamic State`s tight control was echoed by other sources. Preachers in mosques were warning people not to cooperate with security forces and, after prayers, Islamists were delivering "jihadist lectures".


Hisham al-Hashemi, an Iraqi security analyst, said Islamic State had this week confiscated the identity papers of up to 50,000 people to stop them leaving, and that it was extremely difficult to escape either Falluja, seized by Islamic State early last year, or nearby Ramadi.

The teacher said the Islamists, who have declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, were in effect holding the population hostage to "attract the sympathy of jihadists worldwide" when the government assault came.

A 49-year-old taxi driver inside the city said fruit, meat and vegetables were becoming harder to find since roads into the city were blocked. Umm Asma, a housewife, said she was rationing food to her family in case there was a long siege.

Some people are still managing to make perilous escapes from Falluja, however; Reuters spoke to four families who said they had left this week.

Ahmed Abdul-Rahman, a 48-year-old taxi driver, said he had run the gauntlet of heavy bombardment when he found an exit north of the city to bring out his wife and two children three days earlier.

"We still can’t believe that we have left Falluja," he said. "We have left everything behind: the car, the house and the furniture."

The outskirts of Falluja are at least spared air strikes by a U.S.-led coalition, because the government forces advancing on the city are mostly Iranian-backed Shi`ite "Hashid Shaabi" militias, which Washington is reluctant to support.

There is, however, air support for the Iraqi army forces advancing on the provincial capital Ramadi, from where thousands fled in April and May as Islamic State seized the city.

There are no precise figures for the remaining populations in either city. Hashemi said Falluja still had around half its pre-crisis population of 370,000. Other estimates suggest far fewer remain.


But even those who safely make it out of Iraq`s Sunni heartland, where Islamic State has in part been able to tap into long-standing resentment of the Shi`ite-led authorities in Baghdad, complain that they are met with suspicion in the capital.

"All roads were closed off, as if we are enemies of the government," said Saad Jaber, a 41-year-old who said he had been forced to stay with his brother in a town south of Falluja because he could not get to Baghdad.

"The government was supposed to reward us and help us because we managed to escape from Daesh (Islamic State)," he said. "It`s not our fault that the government is weak and unable to defend us."

Authorities in Baghdad, which has suffered repeated waves of car bombings claimed by Islamic State, are wary of admitting a flood of displaced Sunni civilians, fearing that militants could slip in with them.

That led to many thousands of people being blocked at a bridge across the Euphrates in intense heat earlier this summer.

While much of the focus has been on the two main Anbar cities closest to the capital, towns farther up the Euphrates valley nearer to Syria are ever more isolated and finding it harder to get food, Grande said.

Haditha, one of the few government-held towns in Anbar, is increasingly cut off by Islamic State fighters. "We have reports that food prices are increasing to the point where families can`t afford basic commodities," U.N. coordinator Grande said.

But just as the United Nations prepares for "what is likely to be a very difficult summer" of humanitarian crisis across Anbar, she said it was running desperately short of money.

"Seventy-seven front-line health clinics are closing or dramatically scaling back," she said.

Even if security forces are successful in Ramadi and Falluja, they will face further battles - and run into millions more civilians - on the way to recapturing their ultimate northern target, Mosul, Iraq`s second city.

"Many towns will be impacted," Grande said. Already the situation is desperate, and it is getting much, much, much worse."



Air strikes against Islamic State in Anbar

 July 16, 2015

Iraq says it carried out air strikes on Islamic State targets in Anbar Province in Iraq, killing fighters and destroying command centers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

 Iraq said on Thursday (July 16) that its military jets carried out "effective and destructive" air strikes on Islamic State militants in Anbar province. A statement released by the Ministry of Defense said army aviation aircraft struck militants in Husaiba al-Sharqiya, in the outskirts of Khalidiya town and outskirts of Ramadi city in the Western Sunni heartland province of Anbar. "A large number of terrorists were killed and a number of Daesh mobile control and command centers and car bomb factories were burned and destroyed," the statement said referring to Islamic State in its Arabic acronym. A video footage dated on July 15 showed buildings believed to belong to the militants of the Islamic State hit then exploding and engulfed in black smoke. Iraq's Shi'ite Muslim-led government on Monday (July 13) announced the start of operations to "liberate Anbar", the province west of Baghdad whose Sunni Muslim cities and towns along the Euphrates have since last year become strongholds of Islamic State. The sprawling Sunni Muslim province extends hundreds of kilometers west of Baghdad. Many of the towns and cities that line the banks of the Euphrates, snaking down from the Syrian border, are Islamic State strongholds. Islamic State's capture of Ramadi two months ago marked the biggest defeat for the Baghdad government since the militants swept through the north of the country last June and declared a caliphate in parts of Syria and Iraq straddling the border.



Egypt ISIS Affiliate Claims Destruction of Naval Vessel


CAIRO — A militant group affiliated with the Islamic State said it destroyed an Egyptian naval vessel on Thursday, posting photographs on social media of a missile exploding in a ball of fire as it slammed into the vessel.

An Egyptian military spokesman said that the crew of the unnamed ship “exchanged fire” with militants off the coast of the northern Sinai Peninsula, causing a fire on board that did not result in any fatalities.

But the militant group, which calls itself Sinai Province, claimed that the missile was guided and had killed everyone on board.

It was at least the fourth unusually bold militant assault since late June, when Egypt’s top prosecutor was killed by a car bomb that detonated near his convoy. Each new attack has chipped away at claims by the government to have gained the upper hand over an insurgency that began after the military deposed President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in July 2013.

A military vehicle moved last week amid homes destroyed by Egyptian security forces in Rafah, an area of Sinai that is a stronghold of Ansar Beit al-Maqdis.Militant Group in Egypt Vows Loyalty to ISISNOV. 10, 2014

Smoke rising in Egypt's Northern Sinai on Wednesday as seen from the border of the southern Gaza Strip with Egypt.Jihadist Attacks on Egypt Grow FiercerJULY 1, 2015

Security officials inspected the site of an explosion outside the Italian Consulate on Saturday. It was the first bombing of a foreign diplomatic mission since an insurgency began two years ago.ISIS Claims Responsibility for Blast at Italian Consulate in CairoJULY 11, 2015

The attack on Thursday appeared to be the first on a naval vessel claimed by Sinai Province, which declared its affiliation last year with the Islamic State. Photographs disseminated on social media sites by the group showed what appeared to be a missile trailed by smoke approaching the vessel, and then an explosion as it hit the ship.

Both Sinai Province and the military said the ship had been north of Rafah, in the northern Sinai Peninsula, when it was fired upon. The conflicting versions of how the attack unfolded were impossible to reconcile.

The Egyptian authorities have at times tightly controlled the release of information about assaults on their security personnel. In November, for example, an unknown militant group attacked another navy ship, but details of the episode remain murky, with many questions still unanswered.

The State Department released some details on the November attack in its 2014 Country Reports on Terrorism, saying that after assailants hijacked the ship on Nov. 12, and Egyptian military aircraft “engaged the attackers, destroying the boat and killing the crew.”

A witness to the attack on Thursday, Nabil Abu Ouda, who lives in the Gaza Strip, said he heard an explosion and saw a “big gunboat on fire.” Three boats sped toward the ship and put out the blaze before towing it away, he said.

Unnamed security officials told The Associated Press that crew members jumped off the ship to escape a fire on board, and that a number were injured by the smoke and flames.

Egypt’s military and security services have struggled to adapt as the pace of spectacular attacks has quickened in recent weeks. The militants have showed their continued ability to acquire advanced weapons, and experts say the sophistication of the most recent assaults may also be evidence that they have begun coordinating their tactics with Islamic State operatives.

The killing of the prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, in a neighborhood near the Cairo airport on June 29, was the first time the militants had assassinated a senior Egyptian government official. Two days later, jihadists in Sinai launched their most ambitious attack on the military, killing at least 21 soldiers while briefly occupying a town.

A car bomb in Cairo on Saturday killed one person and destroyed part of the Italian Consulate, in the first major bombing of a foreign diplomatic mission since the start of the insurgency.

As it has in the past, the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has responded to the attacks by stepping up its military operations in Sinai — an approach that critics say does little to alter fundamental problems with its counterinsurgency strategy.

The military said it killed more than 200 militants since the attack by Sinai Province in early July. But the offensive had also killed at least 16 civilians, deepening the sense of “collective punishment” that has hampered efforts by the military to win support among local residents, according to Sherif Mohy El Deen, a counterterrorism and human rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in Cairo.

“Every day, you say you have eliminated the terrorists,” Mr. Mohy El Deen said, echoing the frequent government pronouncements. “But you have gone from targeting them to defending against them.”

On Thursday, in a sign the government was beginning to acknowledge flaws in its approach, the authorities announced the dismissal of the senior Interior Ministry official responsible for security in Cairo, according to Al-Ahram, a state newspaper.

Merna Thomas contributed reporting from Cairo, and Majd Al Waheidi from Gaza.



Islamic State group claims bombing near Saudi prison


A car bomb exploded at a checkpoint near Saudi Arabia's highest security prison on Thursday, killing the driver and wounding two security officials, the interior ministry said, in an attack claimed by Islamic State.

State television said the driver was a teenager on the run after killing his uncle. He triggered the blast after officers surrounded his vehicle south of the capital, Riyadh.

The use of an explosive so close to a prison holding hundreds of Islamist detainees will stoke fears of a growing threat of militancy in the world's top oil exporter.

State news agency SPA named the bomber as Abdullah Fahd Abdullah al-Rashed. It said he was born in 1997 and had never travelled outside of the kingdom.

SPA named the dead uncle as Rashid Ibrahim al Safyan, adding that Safyan had been a colonel, without elaborating.

In a statement posted online, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the killing of the slain officer and the attack, celebrating it a "double operation."

"The Muslim prisoners in Ha'er and everywhere should know that we won't tire and we won't rest until we end their detention, God willing," the statement said.

The Islamic State group has called on supporters to carry out attacks in the kingdom and killed 25 people in two suicide bombings at Shi'ite Muslim mosques in the country's east in May.

"While security officers were manning one of the security checkpoints on Ha'er Road in Riyadh, they directed the driver of a suspected car to stop. The driver initiated an explosion which led to his death," the ministry said in a statement.

The road runs south from Riyadh to Ha'er prison, home to 1,375 detainees who were mainly convicted of militant crimes, its director told Reuters during a visit there this month.

The Ekhbariya state TV station, citing unidentified sources, said the teenage driver had killed his uncle that afternoon, and then ran off with his car.

The driver tried to drive bypass the checkpoint, then set off an explosive as security forces tried to surround him, it added.

The detention of thousands of Saudi Islamists accused or convicted of militancy over the past decade has angered many conservative Sunni Muslims in the kingdom, prompting some rare protests from 2011-13.

Two Saudis linked to a suicide bombing in Kuwait last month took part in those protests, local media reported at the time. (REUTERS)



Syria’s opposition plans to replace Syrian pound with Turkish lira

ALEPPO, Syria — The Syrian opposition forces and institutions in the north are investigating whether the Turkish lira could substitute the Syrian pound, which has been drastically dropping in value since the start of the war in early 2011. The Syrian pound is still the main currency in the opposition-controlled areas, despite it having been three years since the Bashar al-Assad regime lost control of these areas.

Mohammed al-KhatiebPosted July 15, 2015

In the eastern part of the country that is under the control of the opposition in Aleppo, one rarely sees products priced in foreign currencies. Food items such as bread and vegetables as well as fuel and clothing are priced in Syrian pounds; electronic devices such as imported mobile phones and computers are priced in US dollars.

At the end of each day, traders convert their money from the Syrian pound to foreign currencies in order not to lose out. Alaa, a seller of fuel in Bab al-Nairab, told Al-Monitor, “I don’t keep large sums of Syrian pounds. [The Syrian pound] is volatile and unstable.”

The Syrian pound has been witnessing sudden price fluctuations against foreign currencies, in light of the rapidly changing political and military events. Before the protests in March 2011 that demanded the departure of Assad, $1 was worth 46 Syrian pounds. But according to the Central Bank of Syria, $1 was worth 240 Syrian pounds on July 9. The exchange rate of the dollar on the black market in Aleppo is currently around 298 Syrian pounds.

The Committee for Replacing the Currency is now working in opposition-controlled areas in the north — Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Latakia — to realize the replacement of the Syrian pound with the Turkish lira in the daily dealings of the population.

On July 9, Al-Monitor attended an economic seminar held by the Committee for Replacing the Currency in Aleppo. According to the seminar organizers, the committee is a civil initiative sponsored by the Association of Syrian Economists and is not affiliated with any official or political party related to the opposition.

Starting Aug. 1, the committee will be taking practical steps to gradually move Syrians to use the Turkish lira in collaboration with opposition institutions, such as the Local Council of Aleppo City, the Sharia Court, the Executive Office of the Free Lawyers of Aleppo and the Union of Media Professionals.

Essential items such as bread and fuel will be priced in Turkish lira under the supervision of an oversight committee. The salaries of the employees in opposition institutions will be paid in Turkish lira, and traders and manufacturers will be encouraged to price their goods in Turkish lira.

On the sidelines of the seminar, Al-Monitor met with Ammar Saqar, the committee’s official who is responsible for communication with the military factions. He said, “So far, most of the opposition military factions have agreed to the plan. This will be formally announced later. We are waiting for [some factions] to finish studying the plan.”

Saqar told Al-Monitor when asked whether using Syrian pounds will be banned in opposition areas in northern Syria, “The project is introduced in stages and currently we will not compel the citizens [to cooperate]. But [they should switch currency] voluntarily to serve the public interest and to fight the regime economically. When we get to an advanced stage, we may [compel the citizens to stop using] the Syrian pound if that does not harm the citizens.”

In addition to placing economic pressure on the regime, the Association of Syrian Economists believes that replacing the Syrian pound for the Turkish lira will achieve positive results on the economy in the opposition-controlled areas. The most prominent of those results would be reducing and stabilizing commodity prices and encouraging commercial and industrial investment, which will be helped by the market’s stability.

In this context, Anas al-Halabi, a member of the association, told Al-Monitor, “If we switch to a stable currency, commodity prices will drop in our areas because traders are now increasing prices by a certain margin to ensure no losses in the event the Syrian pound drops. Once we transition to a stable currency, this margin will disappear.”

However, the Turkish lira is not completely stable. For instance, following the Turkish parliamentary elections, $1 traded for 2.75 Turkish lira on July 9, while on May 15, it traded for 2.57 Turkish lira.

Halabi said that this will not have a major impact because most goods being sold in the north of Syria are imported from Turkey. He said the Turkish lira was chosen as an alternative to the Syrian pound because “Turkey is a neighbor of Syria, and this makes the Turkish currency plentiful. In addition, it is easy to secure the metal currency pieces [cents], which are necessary for daily transactions. For instance, a kilogram [2.2 pounds] of tomatoes is 50 Syrian pounds, which is equivalent to 50 Turkish cents, or $0.16.”

Halabi denied that the currency switch was made under pressure from the Turkish government or political parties. “The project is a purely civilian project and temporary. It aims to protect the value of the traded currency. … Until now, we have not communicated with the Turkish government on this matter. But we recently formed a committee to communicate with the Turkish government to see their reaction in this regard,” he said.

As seminar organizers in Aleppo confirm that Turkey is not involved in the currency switch project, no official statement or position has been made by Turkey in this regard. This step coincides with talks about a possible Turkish intervention in the Syrian territories to establish a buffer zone, which would bolster Ankara’s position.



Iran should use nuclear deal to help economy, not for regional 'adventures': Saudi minister

WASHINGTON,  Jul 16, 2015

Iran should use a nuclear deal agreed this week with six world powers to improve its economy, and not to pursue "adventures" in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said on Thursday.

"We hope that ... if the deal is implemented that the Iranians will use this deal in order to improve the economic situation in Iran and to improve the lot of its people ... and not use it for adventures in the region," Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said during a photo opportunity with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

"If Iran should try to cause mischief in the region, we're committed to confront it resolutely," he said.

Jubeir's remarks were the first public comments on the nuclear agreement by a senior Saudi official.

They reflect Riyadh's concerns that Iran will use an estimated $100 billion in funds unfrozen by sanctions relief to boost its armed proxies throughout the Arab world.

The agreement, announced on Tuesday, puts strict limits on Iran's nuclear programs in return for the lifting of nuclear related sanctions on Tehran.

Jubeir did not explicitly endorse the deal, or reject it, but stressed the importance of inspections to verify Iran is complying and the "snapback" of sanctions if it is found to be cheating.

Kerry said he would brief members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council in Doha, Qatar on Aug. 3.

(Reporting by Warren Strobel and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Bernadette Baum)





Yemen's exiled government says Aden 'liberated' as clashes continue


The vice president of Yemen's exiled government in Riyadh said on Friday that the southern port city of Aden was now under the control of Saudi-backed fighters after days of battles with the country's dominant Houthi militia.

Residents and local fighters said they now control about ninety percent of the city, but low-level clashes were continuing in the Tawahi district in the west of the city to sweep the Houthis from one of their last redoubts.

"We congratulate the people of Aden and the Republic of Yemen as a whole for what has been achieved in the last two days ... The government announces the liberation of Aden province," Khaled Bahah said on his official Facebook page.

Aden has been a focus of fighting since the Houthis first laid siege to it in March when it was home to the government which subsequently fled to Saudi Arabia.

Once one of the world's busiest ports, Aden sits near the Bab al-Mandab shipping lane, a major energy gateway for Europe, Asia and the United States via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

Exiled president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi praised the fighters and the Arab alliance, promising that the gains in Aden were the start of a drive to take back the country.

"We will soon achieve a glorious victory in Yemen, our beloved country, in its entirety ... the victory in Aden will be the key to saving our cause," Hadi said in a televised speech.

More than three months of air strikes by the Saudi-led Arab coalition and a civil war has killed at least 3,500 people and rendered more than 20 million of its 25 million residents in need of some form of humanitarian aid.


Ali Al-Ahmedi, spokesman for the local fighters in Aden, told Reuters that dozens of Houthi fighters had surrendered themselves to the militiamen as they lost ground.

The advances began on Tuesday when local fighters seized the city's international airport, followed by the main sea port the next day, then one district after another.

Fighters and eyewitnesses say the Aden offensive was backed up by donations of heavy weapons by the Arab alliance including around 100 armored vehicles by the United Arab Emirates.

Dozens have been killed on both sides in the clashes since the beginning of the week, medics said.

On Thursday, several ministers and top intelligence officials from the exiled government touched down in Aden for the first time since the start of the war, in a move local officials said was aimed making it a base to revive the shattered Yemeni state.

The Shi'ite Muslim Houthis seized the capital, Sanaa, in September and pushed into Yemen's south and east in March and April in what they say is a revolution against a corrupt government and hardline Sunni Muslim militants.

Their spread has been aided by most of Yemen's army, which remains loyal to former strongman President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was ousted in Arab Spring protests in 2011.

In a statement on his official twitter page, Saleh said Yemen would continue to resist the Saudi-backed campaign.

"We will thwart one of the most dangerous conspiracies yet against our people ... no matter how long the aggression continues and the aggressors go to far in their war of extermination, no matter how long it lasts it will end in failure," Saleh wrote.

Fighters said they were advancing toward the Anad air base 60 km (40 miles) north of Aden with backing from air strikes.

Nevertheless, on the Muslim feasting holiday of Eid, food and basic supplies were being blocked at Houthi checkpoints on the city's outskirts, residents said.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Ghobari; Writing by Noah Browning; Editing by Louise Ireland and Giles Elgood)



Ministry report confirms links between Turkey’s bribery scandal key figure Zarrab and Iran’s Zanjani

July 16, 2015

A report by the Ministry of Customs and Trade indicates that companies owned by Reza Zarrab, who was the prime suspect in the sweeping December 2013 corruption allegations, transferred money and gold to companies run by jailed Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani, according to a report in the Hürriyet daily on Thursday.

The ministry's report was prepared 11 months ago but no actions were taken regarding its findings, according to Hürriyet, which recently obtained access to the report. It claims that a firm owned by Zarrab transferred TL 5.1 million to a Zanjani company on one transaction in 2012, in addition to sending 942 kilograms of gold on a separate transaction in the same year.

Zarrab, an Iranian businessman with Turkish citizenship, was the primary suspect in major graft allegations that went public in December 2013, targeting Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials and close associates. Zarrab is alleged to have bribed Cabinet ministers to aid in the facilitation of a “gold for gas” scheme where Turkey traded gold for natural gas in order to subvert sanctions. The corruption investigations were subsequently dropped while the prosectuors who oversaw the investigations were discharged from their positions.

There has been much speculation that Zanjani is the mastermind behind Zarrab's operation, although the latter rejected these claims in an interview from earlier this year. Zarrab denied that Zanjani was his boss and said he had warned the Iranian authorities that Zanjani was untrustworthy.

“Zanjani was never my boss. I don't know how this story was fabricated. I'm a merchant and do my business transparently. Iran gives away billions of euros to a man [Zencani] and now cannot recoup it, whereas I had warned Iran [authorities] that he was not an honest man and that he would swindle them,” he said.

In the 22nd general meeting of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (TIM), which was held last month and attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan along with several Cabinet ministers, Zarrab, the chairman of Volgam Gida, was given the “export champion” award in the jewelry sector.

Zarrab's award was delivered by Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekçi and TIM President Mehmet Büyükeksi. A picture showing Kurtulmus, Zeybekçi and Büyükeksi holding the award to give Zarrab has spread across social media sites, sparking strong criticism both from intellectuals and politicians.



Exiled Iranian Opposition Leader Says Iran Will Cheat on Nuclear Deal to Build Bomb

JULY 16, 2015

The leader of an Iranian parliament in exile, told London-based Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday that Tehran will ultimately cheat on its agreement with world powers negotiated in Vienna this week to build a nuclear weapon.

Maryam Rajavi, President elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, added that the agreement will open the door to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and will provide the regime in Tehran with a renewed opportunity to expand its financing of terrorists in Yemen, Syria and elsewhere.

According to Rajavi, an exile who lives in Paris, Iran’s ruling clerical establishment considers its nuclear program to be one of three pillars that will ensure the continuity of the control it established over Iran with the 1979 revolution. The other two pillars are suppression of domestic dissent and the exportation of terrorism regionally and internationally, Rajavi said.

She called on the international community to stand by the Iranian people and help them to remove the Tehran regime, noting that “the correct policy” for the West, “is to back the Iranian people and the Iranian resistance in order to remove the regime.”

She continued, saying that “capitulations by the West to the clerical establishment” are “in the opposite direction of history.”

Rajavi also called on the international community to challenge Iran’s attempts to interfere in the affairs of other countries in the Middle East, saying that without such an international stance, any country in the region will be able to demand the same concessions the West made with Iran, and a nuclear arms race will ensue.

She also warned that Iran will likely use funds from the sanctions relief granted in Tuesday’s deal to further its sponsorship and exportation of terrorism in the region, rather than to address the needs of the Iranian people.

Rajavi advised that the “monetary influx that will flow into the pockets of the regime must be subjected to strict supervision by the United Nations to ensure that it is spent on the Iranian people’s essential needs, otherwise the regime will spend this money on its policy of exporting terrorism and religious extremism to Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.”





Punjab bans Zakat, Fitra collection by banned outfits


LAHORE: The Punjab apex committee decided on Thursday to ‘completely ban’ collection of Zakat and Fitra by banned outfits.

It was the sixth meeting of the committee and it continued for more than three and a half hours with Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the chair.

Corps Commander Lahore Lt Gen Naveed Zaman, Home Minister Shuja Khanzada, Director General Punjab Rangers Maj Gen Umer Farooq Barki, General Officer Commanding 10-Div Maj Gen Sardar Tariq Aman, chief secretary, Inspector General of Punjab Police, home secretary and senior civil and military officers attended the meeting.

The meeting decided to impose complete ban on the collection of Zakat and Fitrana by the banned organisations and monitor and control their other activities.

Analysts say that such decisions taken in the past had remained unimplemented.

The meeting decided to take more effective steps for the implementation of the National Action Plan. The committee expressed determination for elimination of terrorism, extremism and sectarianism.

It was also decided that indiscriminate crackdown would be carried out against terrorists and facilitators of extremists as well as those providing them financial assistance.

The meeting was told that consignment of electronic devices had reached here from abroad. These devices would be attached to the ankles of those included in the Fourth Schedule of the anti-terrorism law. The devices are being tested and law-enforcement agencies personnel are being trained how to use it.

The committee was told that some biometric machines had reached which would be used for checking particulars of citizens during operations, particularly in Afghan settlements.

The chief minister said the government had taken effective measures for the elimination of terrorism. He said a counter-terrorism force had been set up in the province and it had been imparted modern training.

He said the ban on wall-chalking, use of loudspeakers, provocative speeches and publication and distribution of hate literature was being strictly implemented and punishments had been increased for these offences through legislation.

Lt Gen Zaman pledged to continue indiscriminate action against terrorists, their facilitators and those providing them financial assistance.

The meeting expressed satisfaction over the measures taken in the province under the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism and the performance of Punjab government and law-enforcement agencies during recent operations against terrorists and their facilitators was appreciated.

Shahbaz Sharif said that NAP reflected the national determination for eradication of terrorism.

He said that federal and provincial governments were taking action under the NAP with complete coordination.

He said successful operation of Pakistan Army against terrorists was continuing with full force and the enemies of the country were being brought to justice through the Zarb-i-Azb military operation.

He said that besides officers and jawans of Pakistan Army, police, security institutions, all segments of society, including children, had rendered sacrifices in the war against terrorism.

Earlier, the corps commander met the chief minister and discussed professional matters and the steps taken under the NAP.



Pakistan paramilitary raids headquarters of political party MQM

Friday, July 17, 2015

Karachi: Paramilitary forces raided the headquarters of a powerful Karachi political party and arrested two members on Friday, officials said, in a sign of deepening tensions between the army and politicians controlling the biggest and richest city.

Many fear the showdown may threaten the stability of the financial hub that generates half of government revenue and is home to 20 million people, or upset the delicate balance between the fledgling civilian government and the powerful military, which has a history of coups.

The paramilitary Sindh Rangers, which fall under military command, said they raided the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) because the party had been making hate speech.

The MQM, Pakistan`s fourth largest party, traditionally represents the descendents of Urdu-speakers who migrated from India after the creation of Pakistan in 1947. It was involved in bloody factional battles in Karachi in the 1990s and now holds the majority of the city`s legislative seats.

"Those apprehended tonight ... have been arranging and facilitating hate speeches against peace of Karachi," Director General Sindh Rangers, Major General Bilal Akbar tweeted.

MQM`s leader Altaf Hussain, who lives in exile in London, has repeatedly accused the military of targeting his party in long, rambling speeches. Hundreds of party workers have been arrested in a crackdown aimed at criminals and militants.

"Workers should be mentally prepared for more such raids; we will see how many workers are arrested," Hussain said in a broadcasted telephone address after the raid.

British authorities are currently investigating Hussain for money laundering. They are also seeking to question MQM members over the murder of a dissident MQM activist in London.

Two MQM members - a former provincial legislator and the chair of the decision-making central committee in Karachi - were detained in Friday`s raid for "hate speech".

"More arrests will be made in the near future," Rangers spokesman Major Sibtain Rizvi said in a statement.

Party spokesman Farooq Sattar condemned the raid to party members who gathered to protest afterward.

"MQM is the only political party whose head office is being raided by Rangers," he told the crowd.

Friday`s arrests follow a raid on the same address on March 11, when authorities said dozens of weapons were recovered and a suspect wanted for the murder of a journalist detained. The MQM said the weapons were planted and the suspect smuggled in.

Police officials privately accuse the MQM of operating like a mafia to maintain its tight control on power. But the party has always strongly denied being involved in violence.



Sindh govt extends Rangers stay in Karachi for a year

IMTIAZ ALI July 17, 2015

KARACHI: The Sindh government on Friday has extended the Rangers stay by one year to help police and civil administration in Karachi, Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah's spokesperson said.

The spokesman added that the paramilitary force's tenure for helping the police and civil administration will expire on July 19 and Chief Minister Sindh Qaim Ali Shah has further extended the stay for a year starting July 20.

The deployment of Pakistan Rangers Sindh in Karachi is requisitioned under Article 147 of the Constitution and under clause 1 of subsection 3 of section 4 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, authorising Rangers to prevent the commission of terrorist acts and scheduled offences in notified areas.

While the Sindh government has been granting extension in the duration of Rangers' policing powers via notifications from the home department every three months since 2010, this time around a standoff between the paramilitary force and the Sindh government had led the chief minister to mull other options.

Previously, Qaim Ali Shah stressed that following the passage of the 18th constitutional amendment, the matter of extension was to be decided by the provincial legislature, giving rise to uncertainty on what course of action, if any, will be taken to continue the paramilitary force's operations in Sindh.

"After the 18th amendment to the Constitution, the Sindh government is bound to seek concurrence from the provincial Assembly before allowing the Rangers to continue its operation," Shah had said. "The ways and means to give them another extension would be explored, but we have to talk to them [Rangers] first."

"But this time there is a bottleneck about giving them extension as after the passage of the 18th amendment to the Constitution, the Sindh government cannot extend their stay. We have to take it to the assembly for approval," he had said.

Recently, the provincial government had extended the Rangers’ stay in Karachi by one month. Sources in the Chief Minister’s House had told Dawn that Qaim Ali Shah had given the approval after a phone call from PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari from Dubai.

Take a look: With 30-day police powers, Rangers see no time frame for Karachi operation

Former president Asif Zardari, in his phone call, had told the chief minister that better civil-military relations were in the larger interest of the nation and, therefore, was a need to strengthen them further.

He had recalled the restoration of law and order in Karachi after the launch of an operation by the paramilitary force. After the phone call, the chief minister went into a huddle with senior officials of the provincial government at 11.15pm.

Besides the home minister, the meeting was attended by the chief secretary, the home secretary and the principal secretary to the chief minister. After the consultations, a request was made to the federal interior ministry for an extension of the Rangers stay in Karachi by one month.



North America


Chattanooga Mosque Where Gunman Worshiped Mourns Marines


CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — In the past two or three months, Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, the man accused of killing four Marines here Thursday, had begun showing up fairly regularly at Friday Prayer at the Islamic Society of Greater Chattanooga, a large mosque and cultural center, said Dr. Azhar S. Sheikh, a founding member of the center’s board.

Dr. Sheikh, a practitioner of internal medicine originally from Pakistan, said he knew the family of Mr. Abdulazeez, 24, calling them “very upstanding people.” He said they had regularly worshiped at the three-year-old center on the east side of Chattanooga, near a number of suburban-style commercial developments and neighborhoods, and at an older mosque before that one.

A booking photo, taken in April and released by the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee, shows a man identified as Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez.Tennessee Gunman Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez: ‘Life Is Short and Bitter’JULY 16, 2015

He said that he thought the young man, who also died Thursday, had stopped attending services because he had moved away from the area, and assumed that Mr. Abdulazeez was attending again because he was back in town and staying with his parents. He said Mr. Abdulazeez had shown no signs of extremism.

The president offered condolences to the families of the victims, and said the government’s response would be “thorough and prompt.” By AP on Publish Date July 16, 2015.

On Thursday night, the mosque was in mourning for the Marines Mr. Abdulazeez is accused of killing. To honour them, Dr. Sheikh said, the centre had cancelled the Eid al-Fitr celebration planned for Friday, signifying the end of Ramadan. About 1,000 people normally attend.

But Dr. Sheikh, interviewed in the center’s near-empty parking lot Thursday night, said it would have been wrong to celebrate this year. “We have canceled out of respect and remembrance for our fallen Marines,” he said.

Dr. Sheikh said he had “minimal interactions” with Mr. Abdulazeez upon his return, and “didn’t notice anything different in his demeanor.” He said that the center’s leaders had met with F.B.I. officials and offered their “full support” to the investigation.

The mosque and center, he said, normally draw about 200 or 300 people for Friday Prayer, and serve a diverse community with roots in Pakistan, Africa, India, the Middle East and the United States.

The bellicose interpretations of jihad, he said, were not preached at the mosque, and he said that parents were sensitive to the way that the Islamic State and other radical groups had used the Internet to entice and recruit young American and European Muslims to violent causes.

“We certainly do not want to be part of that demented ideology,” he said. “That is not the message we preach here. What people do on the Internet or the World Wide Web or in their own homes, we can’t control that.”



4 Marines Murdered in 'Act of Domestic Terrorism'

Thursday, 16 Jul 2015

A gunman of Middle Eastern descent killed four U.S. Marines and wounded another in a shooting at a Navy reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Thursday, before being fatally shot in an attack officials called a brazen, brutal act of domestic terrorism.ties said.

The FBI identified the gunman as 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez of Hixon, Tennessee, just a few miles from Chatanooga. He is believed to have been born in Kuwait, and it wass unclear whether he was a U.S. or Kuwaiti citizen, according to an official speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Law enforcement officials said they were investigating whether he was inspired by Islamic State (ISIS) or a similar group. ISIS had threatened to step up violence in the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ends on Friday.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist groups, said that Abdulazeez blogged on Monday that "life is short and bitter" and Muslims should not miss an opportunity to "submit to Allah." Reuters could not independently verify the blog postings.

The New York Times, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, reported that his father had been under investigation several years ago over possible ties to a foreign terrorist organization and had been on a terrorist watch list.

The father was later removed from that list and the investigation did not reveal any information about his son, the Times said.

Officials said the four Marines who were slain died when shots were fired in a Navy reserve centre in the city. The wounded Marine was hit by gunfire fired at an Armed Forces recruiting centre not far away, a source told Reuters.

The gunman was reported dead after the shootings at a U.S. military recruiting center and a  Naval reserve base. A police officer also was hit by gunfire, authorities and local media said.

Bill Killian, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Tennessee, said the deadly incidents were being investigated as an "act of domestic terrorism."

CBS News reported the gunman was dead a couple of hours after the shootings began, quoting police sources. In a tweet, the Chattanooga Police Department said that the situation was over and that details would be forthcoming.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press is reporting that four Marines were killed. NBC News affiliate WRBC in Chattanooga earlier reported that the four Marines were shot and have since confirmed their deaths on their live broadcast.

Officials in Chattanooga would not confirm the branch of service of the victims because family members have not been notified.

The gunman,  seen driving an open-top Ford Mustang, first went to the joint military recruiting centre in a strip mall and sprayed it with gunfire, riddling the glass facade with bullet holes, before hitting the Navy facility.

"Everybody was at a standstill and as soon as he pulled away everyone scrambled trying to make sure everyone was OK," said Erica Wright, who works two doors down from the center.

"We've got an officer down," Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke told reporters, calling it a "very terrible situation."

The Times Free Press is reporting that the officer is in stable condition.

A witness at a glass company near the Navy center said the area was on lockdown, with the shooting there starting at about 11 a.m.

"We have heard multiple shots fired," said Marilyn Hutcheson of Binswanger Glass installation and repair service.

The emergency department at Erlanger Medical Center, a major hospital in the southeastern Tennessee city, was also on lockdown, hospital spokeswoman Susan Sawyer said.

Local media reports said the shooter appeared to be firing from an automobile. A photo of the recruiting center broadcast on cable TV news station CNN showed its entrance riddled with bullet holes.

Federal authorities were also on the scene, local news reports said. The Tennessee Highway Patrol also assisted local law enforcement, said spokesman John Harmon.

Chattanooga State Community College, near where shots were heard, advised on its website: "Everyone stay inside, close doors."

A witness at a glass company near the Navy center said the area was on lockdown, with the shooting there starting at about 11 a.m.

"We have heard multiple shots fired," said Marilyn Hutcheson of Binswanger Glass installation and repair service.

The emergency department at Erlanger Medical Center, a major hospital in the southeastern Tennessee city, was also on lockdown, hospital spokeswoman Susan Sawyer said.

Local media reports said the shooter appeared to be firing from an automobile. A photo of the recruiting center broadcast on cable TV news station CNN showed its entrance riddled with bullet holes.

Federal authorities were also on the scene, local news reports said.

Chattanooga State Community College, near where shots were heard, advised on its website: "Everyone stay inside, close doors."

Chattanooga police said in a tweet Thursday afternoon that the active shooter situation was over, though there was no word on what had happened to the suspect or suspects.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Investigators seek motive behind Tennessee shooting rampage


Investigators on Friday sought to determine what led a 24-year-old gunman to open fire at two military offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee, killing four Marines in an attack officials said could be an act of domestic terrorism.

Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, identified as the shooter by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was shot to death in the rampage that also injured three people, including a sailor who was critically wounded.

The attack comes at a time when U.S. military and law enforcement authorities are increasingly concerned about the threat "lone wolves" pose to domestic targets.

The suspect, seen driving an open-top Ford Mustang, first went to a joint military recruiting center in a strip mall and sprayed it with gunfire, riddling the glass facade with bullet holes.

"Everybody was at a standstill and as soon as he pulled away everyone scrambled, trying to make sure everyone was OK," said Erica Wright, who works two doors down from the center.

The gunman then drove off to a Naval Reserve Center about 6 miles (10 km) away, fatally shooting the four Marines before being shot and killed in a firefight with police.

Three others were wounded in the attacks, including a police officer reported to be in stable condition and a Marine. The shootings began around 10:45 a.m. (1445 GMT) and ended about 30 minutes later.

NBC News reported that Abdulazeez was a naturalized American who was born in Kuwait. U.S. law enforcement officials said they were investigating whether he was inspired by Islamic State or a similar group.

Islamic State had threatened to step up violence in the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ends on Friday evening.

The extremist group, also known as ISIS and ISIL, claimed responsibility when a gunman in Tunisia opened fire at a popular tourist hotel and killed 37 people in June. On the same day, there was an attack in France and a suicide bombing in Kuwait.

At a news conference late Thursday, Edward Reinhold, special agent in charge of the FBI's Knoxville, Tennessee, division, said investigators had found nothing that tied the suspect to an international terrorist organization.

Nobody else had been taken into custody, he said.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks extremist groups, said that Abdulazeez blogged on Monday that "life is short and bitter" and Muslims should not miss an opportunity to "submit to Allah." Reuters could not independently verify the blog postings.

The New York Times, citing unnamed law enforcement officials, reported that his father had been under investigation several years ago, over possible ties to a foreign terrorist organization. His name was later removed from a terror watch list.

According to a resume believed to have been posted online by Abdulazeez, he attended high school in a Chattanooga suburb and graduated from the University of Tennessee with an engineering degree.

"I remember him being very creative. He was a very light-minded kind of individual. All his videos were always very unique and entertaining," said Greg Raymond, 28, who worked with Abdulazeez on a high school television program.

"He was a really calm, smart and cool person who joked around. Like me, he wasn’t very popular so we always kind of got along. He seemed like a really normal guy," Raymond said.

Mary Winter, president of the Colonial Shores Neighborhood Association, said she had known Abdulazeez and his family for more than 10 years and was stunned.

"He never caused any trouble," she said. "We can't believe that this happened."


President Barack Obama offered his condolences to the victims' families and said officials would be prompt and thorough in getting answers on the shootings.

"It is a heartbreaking circumstance for these individuals who have served our country with great valor to be killed in this fashion," he said in a statement from the Oval Office.

The Department of Homeland Security was stepping up security at certain federal facilities and supporting the FBI investigation, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement.

Media in Chattanooga, a city of about 173,000 people along the Tennessee River in the southeast of the state, said memorial services for the victims would be held in various churches.

The Department of Defense will decide whether to release the names of the victims, federal officials said.

An autopsy will determine how Abdulazeez died.

The attack drew condemnation from Islamic groups.

"We condemn this horrific attack in the strongest terms possible," said Nihad Awad, national director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

There have been other attacks on U.S. military personnel in the United States.

In 2009, former U.S. Army major Nidal Hasan fatally shot 13 people at Fort Hood in Texas. He said he targeted unarmed soldiers preparing for deployment in retaliation for U.S. wars in the Muslim world.

And in May, two gunmen opened fire with assault rifles at a heavily guarded Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad. Both men were shot to death by responding authorities.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Eric Johnson in Seattle, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, David Bailey in Minneapolis, Frank McGurty and Katie Reiley in New York, Emily Stephenson, Julia Edwards, Lindsay Dunsmuir, Doina Chiacu and David Alexander in Washington, Dan Whitcomb and Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Writing by Jon Herskovitz and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Clarence Fernandez)



Kerry’s next worry — how to remove Saudis’ misgivings

ROBERT FISK, July 17, 2015

PRINCE Mohamed bin Salman’s “Operation Decisive Storm” doesn’t look very decisive today. Three months after the Saudi defence minister unleashed his America-made bombers against Iran’s Shia friends in Yemen, the best his own allies in the country can do is tramp on to the apron of Aden’s wrecked airport and proclaim a little victory.

With well over 3,000 dead, half of them civilians, Prince Mohamed’s warriors of the air seem to be having as little effect on his Houthi enemies as America’s are having on the self-styled Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.

And now while Prince Mohamed’s father – King Salman of Saudi Arabia – observes the gloomy stalemate in his son’s battle against Iran’s proxies, the monarch has to take a call from Barack Obama so that the US President can assure the king that he has nothing to worry about America’s new nuclear deal with the very same Iranians who support the Houthis.

Did the two also talk about the Saudi quagmire in Yemen? Or was this left discreetly – and wisely – to one side?

Ignored these past few days is how central Secretary of State John Kerry has been to both mutually antagonistic projects. The American hero of Vienna, in the eyes of the Western world, is currently the man who spent 18 days persuading the Iranians to give up their nuclear dreams.

Yet it was the same John Kerry who made a conference call to the Saudis and their Gulf allies in March after Prince Mohamed gave him three hours’ warning of the Saudi blitz on Yemen.

John Kerry, in the words of a State Department official, “commended the work of the [Arab] coalition taking military action against the Houthis” and noted Washington’s “intelligence-sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support for strikes against Houthi targets…”

As if this wasn’t enough, a lady from the National Security Council added that “we are establishing a joint planning cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate US military and intelligence support”.

The US may have liked to fudge all this at the time by agreeing with the Saudis that “political negotiations” remained the best way to resolve the Yemen crisis – the old Arab (and American) policy of “bomb now, talk later” – but it is inconceivable that Washington’s new relations with Iran are not going to interrupt America’s supposedly wholehearted support for the grim adventure that King Salman and his son embarked upon almost three months ago.

In its new post-Vienna role as proud peace-dealer of the Middle East, Iran will most certainly urge Washington to smother Saudi ambitions in Yemen and prevent further civilian casualties from Saudi air raids. The king may even be tempted to go along with this – not least because Pakistan long ago declined to send its own soldiers into the Yemen inferno.

For lighter relief, we might turn to another conflict, cartoons. An Iranian cartoon competition on the Yemen war produced a sketch of the Saudi flag – it bears a sword – in which the sword flies off the flag and turns into a fighter-bomber. A Saudi newspaper has now printed a cartoon of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, turning on his post-sanctions oil spigot, from which spew thousands of dollars – all greedily consumed by a creature labelled “terrorism”. It could have appeared in any Israeli daily. Indeed, perhaps it will.



CAIR Condemns Killing of Marines in Tennessee, Offers Condolences


(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/16/2015) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today condemned a deadly attack in Tennessee that left four Marines dead.

In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:

"We condemn this horrific attack in the strongest terms possible. Such inexcusable acts of violence must be repudiated by Americans of all faiths and backgrounds. The American Muslim community stands shoulder to shoulder with our fellow citizens in offering condolences to the loved ones of those killed and injured and in rejecting anyone who would harm our nation's safety and security. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families impacted by this tragedy."

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.





Europe Divided along Former Iron Curtain over Nuclear Power

17 Jul 2015

TEMELIN NUCLEAR PLANT, Czech Republic (AP) — A quarter-century after the collapse of communism, Central Europe faces a new divide: irreconcilable visions of nuclear power that pit nations once on the opposite sides of the Iron Curtain against one another.

Germany and Austria, stalwarts of the rich West, have long decided to go strictly nuclear free, while new EU members of the East — hungry for energy to fuel economic growth — are avidly increasingly reliance on nuclear power.

The Czech government's decision last month to launch a vast, long-term expansion of nuclear power production has deepened the divide. Part of the plan is to build a new nuclear reactor near the border with Austria, outraging the wealthier Alpine nation.

"This concept gives an idea about from what we will produce electricity in the year of 2040," Czech Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek told The Associated Press. "That is about 50 percent from nuclear energy and 25 percent from renewable resources. It's a clear message how we want to reach a low carbon economy."

Slovakia and Hungary, former communist EU nations, have also been building new nuclear reactors, and Poland is considering launching its own nuclear energy program. These countries see atomic energy as a cheap and clean way to power the economy — and say it's unfair for rich EU countries to tell them what to do.

Things look different on the other side of the border. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government decided to phase out nuclear energy by 2022 following the disaster at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant. Austria abandoned nuclear energy after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear explosion. Both say the risk of a nuclear catastrophe outweighs the efficiency and clean energy dividends that nuclear can bring.

"We are convinced that (nuclear) is not a viable option to combat climate change," Andreas Molin, head of nuclear department at Austria's Agriculture Ministry told The AP. "There are many reasons for that but certainly nuclear safety is the first one."

The Czech Republic already relies on six nuclear reactors — two 1,000-megawatt reactors in Temelin, on the border with Austria, and four 440-megawatt reactors in the Dukovany plant — for a third of its total electricity. According to two blueprints ratified in May and June, the Czech Republic will be producing 46-58 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors by 2040, making it one of Europe's most nuclear-dependent nations.

Mladek said to ensure the Czech Republic's energy independence and security it is necessary to immediately begin preparations to build one more reactor at Temelin and another at Dukovany, with an option to build yet another reactor at each plant. Another option, to increase use of natural gas, was rejected because it would increase the country's energy dependency on Russia, he said.

The Temelin plant was at the heart of the dispute from the beginning. Located 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Austria's northern border, the plant was long a source of friction between the two neighboring countries. Construction of the Soviet-designed plant began in 1980 and was upgraded by technology provided by the U.S. firm Westinghouse in the 1990s.

Amid bitter protests from Austrian and German governments, and numerous border blockades by anti-nuclear activists, Czech and Austrian leaders crafted a compromise designed to allow the project to go ahead in 2001. But the plant remained controversial because of frequent glitches following its opening, mostly in the non-nuclear parts. The Czechs insist it is safe.

The plant was also the subject of a nationwide Austrian petition — signed by nearly a million Austrians — that called for blocking Czech entry to the European Union unless the plant was shuttered.

Austrian Environment Minister Andra Rupprechter has already threatened to take legal action to challenge Temelin's expansion, but the Czechs are determined to go forward.

Local environmentalists condemned the plan and some economists followed the suit, noting it lacks crucial details on financing.

"It's currently unrealistic to build a nuclear plant without any subsidies or a state help," said Michal Snobr, energy analyst at J&T Bank. "It's so financially demanding that it could ruin the plant's builder and it could also significantly burden the taxpayers and electricity consumers."

Mladek acknowledged his government is unlikely to approve any subsidies. But he voiced confidence that the dominant power company CEZ, in which the government has a controlling majority, could afford the project.

Associated Press video journalist Philipp-Moritz Jenne in Vienna contributed.

© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Islamic State ordered failed attack on France

July 17, 2015

Paris: A thwarted attack on military targets in France attempted by three suspects currently in detention followed an order made by a Syria-based member of Islamic State, French prosecutors said in a statement on Friday.

It said the three suspects were now being investigated on charges of preparing a terrorist act.

French authorities said this week they had arrested individuals suspected of preparing an attack in January 2016 involving the beheading of a senior military official in the south of France.




British pilots took part in anti-Isis bombing campaign in Syria

Josh Halliday, Ewen MacAskill and Frances Perraudin

Friday 17 July 2015 09

British pilots have carried out air strikes in Syria, marking a significant expansion of the UK’s role in the campaign against Islamic State.

The UK pilots were embedded with coalition forces, including the US and Canada, and the number involved is understood to have been in single figures.

Details of British personnel’s involvement in strikes by allied nations’ forces were revealed by a freedom of information request from the pressure group Reprieve.

The House of Commons voted against military action in Syria in 2013 and parliamentary authorisation has so far only been given to UK air strikes against Isis in neighbouring Iraq.

But David Cameron and the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, made clear they were considering extending the military air campaign to Syria in the wake of the Tunisian beach massacre on 26 June, which claimed 30 British victims among the 38 dead.

They have indicated that they would seek MPs’ approval for an extension of air strikes into Syria, but no vote is expected before the autumn.

The revelation is likely to infuriate MPs who voted against the military intervention. John Baron, the Tory MP for Basildon and Billericay and a member of the foreign affairs select committee, called for the immediate end to UK military strikes in Syria and urged Fallon to explain himself to parliament.

“What this does show is at the very minimum an insensitivity to parliament’s will,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Let’s be absolutely clear about this. We voted in 2013, when parliament had been recalled from recess, that there should be no British military intervention in Syria. We were told that No 10 had got the message and that any future intervention would be subject to a vote.

“Here we are learning that we have British military personnel engaged in air strikes, so I hope the government takes the earliest opportunity to come to parliament and explain its position because I think a number of colleagues will ask questions.”

This month Fallon said there was an “illogicality” about targeting Isis assets in Iraq but not in Syria. Downing Street has said more “thought and deliberation” are needed before putting the issue to a vote in the Commons.

The US and UK have been embedding personnel in each other’s forces since the 1950s. The frequency has grown in recent years as Nato has encouraged increased “interoperability” – making command structures, communications, equipment and other areas as compatible as possible. Forces from various nations serve on one another’s ships, planes and tanks and embedded with allied infantry.

Since the US-led coalition against Isis began a year ago, the UK has had about 1,000 personnel engaged, the bulk of them in air strikes against Iraq from the British base in Cyprus, and the rest trainers and advisers in Baghdad and Kurdish northern Iraq.

About 20 UK personnel have been embedded with US and Canadian forces, who, unlike the UK, conduct strikes against Syria. Of those, three British navy pilots, thought to have been embedded with the US, have been engaged in strikes against targets in Syria in recent months.

The Ministry of Defence said any personnel embedded in foreign nations’ forces were effectively operating as troops of that country.

It said in a statement: “The UK is contributing to the anti-Isil [Isis] coalition air campaign against Isil targets in Syria through the provision of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

“Isil poses a direct threat to the UK and to countries around the world. The UK is not conducting air strikes in Syria. But we have a longstanding embed programme with allies, where small numbers of UK personnel act under the command of host nations.

“That has been the case in Syria, although there are currently no pilots operating in this region. When embedded, UK personnel are effectively operating as foreign troops.”

Jennifer Gibson, of Reprieve, said the discovery made the current debate over UK involvement in air strikes in Syria “somewhat obsolete”. She said: “It is alarming that parliament and the public have been kept in the dark about this for so long.

“Yet more worrying is the fact that the UK seems to have turned over its personnel to the US wholesale, without the slightest idea as to what they are actually doing, and whether it is legal.

“We need an open and honest debate about UK involvement in Iraq and Syria. We can’t have that, though, until the UK comes clean about what actions its personnel are already undertaking.”

A Labour spokesperson said ministers needed to be clear about the extent of the UK’s involvement in any military action in Syria. They said Labour would be asking the MoD to make a statement on the subject to MPs in parliament on Monday.

“The programme to embed personnel with allies is extremely valuable to the development of our armed forces but the government needs to be transparent about the role they play,” the spokesperson said.

One of Labour’s leadership hopefuls, Andy Burnham, said he would not rule out giving his backing to British airstrikes in Syria in future, but that it was important that “the will of parliament must override and be upheld at all times”.

Speaking on Sky News, Burnham said the government needed to “proceed cautiously and responsibly”. He said it should learn the lessons of the past where Britain staged military intervention “without perhaps the right evidence and the right justification”.

Tim Farron, the new leader of the Liberal Democrats, said the UK air strikes in Syria would “play into the hands” of Islamist militants waging jihad in the wartorn country and neighbouring Iraq.

He told Sky News on Friday morning: “My sense is that here, in the Isis-occupied territories of Syria and Iraq, for the UK and the US to be seen to be directly involved – particularly in Syria – just plays into the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists who abuse Islam and indeed murder so many Muslims and so many other people in and around their territories. Let’s not play into their hands.”

Farron, who replaced Nick Clegg as Lib Dem leader on Thursday, added that British military strikes in Syria were “done with our name therefore should be done with our approval” and that western countries should be much more cautious about launching military interventions after Tony Blair’s “outrageous” war in Iraq.





Drones To Monitor 'Alvida Namaaz' In UP

Friday, July 17, 2015

Lucknow: The 'Alvida Namaaz' at major Uttar Pradesh mosques on Friday will be closely watched with the help of drones and CCTV cameras, an official said. Police is also keeping a tab on social media posts.

The Local Intelligence Units (LIU) have been alerted.

At least 16 ASPs (Assistant Superintendent of Police), over 3,000 police personnel, 16 companies of the PAC and four companies of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) have been deployed.

Since the old city in the state capital in the past has witnessed sectarian violence, extra security will man vantage positions. Special vigil is also being maintained in western districts, a home department official said. IANS



Harsul violence: Muslims want to return, but don’t have faith in police

by Rashmi Rajput

Harshul Jul 17, 2015

In the remote village of Thanapada, nearly seven km from Harsul, one of the minarets of the local Sunni Jama Masjid is now a watch tower with youths keeping an eye on the hillocks surrounding the mosque. On Thursday, a little after the afternoon azaan, a youth runs down the stairway, shouting. Policemen outside take positions, some tear gas shells are lobbed and it’s not long before a tense silence returns.

Two days have passed since violence broke out in Harsul, about 30 km from Trimbakeshwar where the Kumbh is underway. But the area is still simmering. Twenty-odd Muslim men have taken refuge in the mosque. Their wives and children are among the 125-odd families which fled to Nashik after the violence.

Toufik Shaikh (31) is among the ones who has taken shelter in the mosque. “They ransacked my home, stole a refrigerator and a television. We found faeces in sacks of grains,” he said. Toufik’s family is now at a community hall in Nashik that’s turned into a refuge for these villagers. He doesn’t think he will see them this Eid.

Harsul violence, Police public clash, Arun Patil, Harsul, violence, Mumbai newsCops say youth died due to drowning, inquest report says signs of ‘struggle’Harsul violence, Police public clash, Arun Patil, Harsul, violence, Mumbai newsHarsul tense again after second day of violenceKumbh mela, Kumbh mela preparations, Mumbai Kumbh mela, Mumbai traffic police, Highway patrolling, Mumbai latest newsUnrest Near Nashik: One killed in police firing after mobs clash in HarsulBallabhgarh riots, Ballabhgarh communal violence, ballabhgarh panchayat, Atali village muslims, ballabhgarh violence, Atali village riots, Atali village communal tension, Communal violence, Atali, Muslims Ballabhgarh, Ballabhgarh clashes, Ballabhgarh communal violence, Indian express, haryana news, india newsIn riot-torn Ballabhgarh, two panchayats separated by a thick wall of distrustCommunal Tension, Ballabhgarh, Muslim village, Houses burnt, Atali village riots, Atali village communal tension, Communal violence, Atali, Local newsBallabhgarh Communal Tension: Fear rules village after axe attack on Muslim farmerM_Id_371156_MuslimMuslims vanish as Buddhist attacks approach Myanmar's biggest cityHarsul violence, Police public clash, Arun Patil, Harsul, violence, Mumbai newsCops say youth died due to drowning, inquest report says signs of ‘struggle’Harsul violence, Police public clash, Arun Patil, Harsul, violence, Mumbai newsHarsul tense again after second day of violenceKumbh mela, Kumbh mela preparations, Mumbai Kumbh mela, Mumbai traffic police, Highway patrolling, Mumbai latest newsUnrest Near Nashik: One killed in police firing after mobs clash in HarsulBallabhgarh riots, Ballabhgarh communal violence, ballabhgarh panchayat, Atali village muslims, ballabhgarh violence, Atali village riots, Atali village communal tension, Communal violence, Atali, Muslims Ballabhgarh, Ballabhgarh clashes, Ballabhgarh communal violence, Indian express, haryana news, india newsIn riot-torn Ballabhgarh, two panchayats separated by a thick wall of distrustCommunal Tension, Ballabhgarh, Muslim village, Houses burnt, Atali village riots, Atali village communal tension, Communal violence, Atali, Local newsBallabhgarh Communal Tension: Fear rules village after axe attack on Muslim farmerM_Id_371156_MuslimMuslims vanish as Buddhist attacks approach Myanmar's biggest cityHarsul violence, Police public clash, Arun Patil, Harsul, violence, Mumbai newsCops say youth died due to drowning, inquest report says signs of ‘struggle’Harsul violence, Police public clash, Arun Patil, Harsul, violence, Mumbai newsHarsul tense again after second day of violenceKumbh mela, Kumbh mela preparations, Mumbai Kumbh mela, Mumbai traffic police, Highway patrolling, Mumbai latest newsUnrest Near Nashik: One killed in police firing after mobs clash in HarsulBallabhgarh riots, Ballabhgarh communal violence, ballabhgarh panchayat, Atali village muslims, ballabhgarh violence, Atali village riots, Atali village communal tension, Communal violence, Atali, Muslims Ballabhgarh, Ballabhgarh clashes, Ballabhgarh communal violence, Indian express, haryana news, india newsIn riot-torn Ballabhgarh, two panchayats separated by a thick wall of distrustCommunal Tension, Ballabhgarh, Muslim village, Houses burnt, Atali village riots, Atali village communal tension, Communal violence, Atali, Local newsBallabhgarh Communal Tension: Fear rules village after axe attack on Muslim farmerM_Id_371156_MuslimMuslims vanish as Buddhist attacks approach Myanmar's biggest city

The mood in the community hall is equally desolate. Abu Saeed Jagirdar (35), whose shops were set ablaze in the violence, said, “We want to return to Harsul but we don’t have faith in the police”.

Back in Paripada, the village of 22-year-old Bhagirath Choudhari whose death sparked the violence, villagers gathered around his hut Thursday to express condolences. The youth had recently bagged a teaching job and returned home. He was scheduled to report to work on July 16. On July 7, he and his grandfather went to graze cattle.

While his grandfather returned, he did not. Hours later, his body was fished out of a well in the field of Rizwan Sheikh, their neighbour. The family believes that Bhagirath, who they said was a good swimmer, could not have drowned. They suspect he was killed and thrown into the well.

His uncle, Devdas Choudhari, said, “His neck was swollen, it looked like somebody had throttled him. There was a cut on his lower lip and abrasions near his ears.”



Ex-Indian SC Judge, Justice Markandey Katju Urges Better Hindu-Muslim Ties


SARATOGA, Calif. July 16, 2015 – About 60 Hindus and Muslim Indian Americans gathered at the home of Cavium Networks founder Syed Ali and Shaista Ali July 4 to observe Roza – the Islamic fast – during Ramadan.

“This represents a token of respect towards the goal of solidarity,” retired Indian Supreme Court Justice Markandey Katju – who envisioned the event – told India-West. “Today, most Hindus are communal, and most Muslims are communal but this hatred is not natural. It was artificially generated by the British in their attempts to divide and conquer,” stated Katju, noting that before the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 – which resulted in the governing of India by the British Raj – Hindus and Muslims shared a cordial relationship, free of religious intolerance.

“An antidote has to be taken to neutralize the effects of this poison,” stated Katju, adding that he has also called upon Muslims to observe a one-day fast before the Hindu celebration of Navratri, in an attempt to create harmony between divided communities. “We are creating history here,” he said, urging Hindus around the world to participate in Rozas during the month-long Ramadan.

Hindu-Muslim relationships have become further strained under new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, Katju emphatically told India-West, noting that Modi has deep ties to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which – he alleged – was virulently anti-Muslim. “The Bharatiya Janata Party is creating communal hatred, and Modi has been a key organizer,” said Katju, noting the 2013 attacks between Hindus and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar, which resulted in 62 deaths.

Katju – who formerly served as Chief Justice of the Madras High Court and the Delhi High Court before he was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2006 – also noted that little has been done to stem the vandalizing of Christian churches in India.

“Certain elements are saying ‘all Muslims are terrorists. A small one percent of Muslim fanatics have disparaged the entire Muslim community,” he said, adding, “I am a disciple of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: I believe that most people are good by nature.”

Rousseau, an 18th century French philosopher, believed that people were innately good, but their interactions with civilization could turn the gentlest of men into beasts. Society forces men to compare themselves to one another, creating unnatural competitiveness and other evil traits.

Katju said he sees religious intolerance even amongst India’s youth and predicted it would take at least a couple of decades before communal harmony is the norm throughout the country.

Fremont, Calif., resident Santosh Addagulla attended the Roza at the Alis’ home. “Religious harmony plays a pivotal role in the all-round development of our country at large,” Addagulla, who helped to organize the Roza with Sathya Bathula and Prabhat Sharma, told India-West in an e-mail.

“It so happened that Justice Katju a few weeks back had proposed to me and a few friends that he observes Roza every year one day in the holy month of Ramadan — though he is an atheist — to show solidarity towards Muslims and requested us to do so too,” said Addagulla.

“He also requested Muslims to observe fast for one day during Navratri, which will only enhance the brotherhood and religious harmony in the country,” he said.

Shaista Ali has founded the non-profit organization, “We Are One,” which aims to promote religious harmony through secular philanthropic activities.

An Iftaar dinner followed the Roza.



Prohibitory orders imposed in Muzaffarnagar

July 15, 2015 - 11:31

Muzaffarnagar: Prohibitory orders were clamped in the district here to maintain law and order situation in view of the coming Eid festival and Kawad yatra.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPc has been issued prohibiting assembly of more than four people in a public place or carrying fire arms and other weapons with immediate effect, Additional District Magistrate Indermani Tripati said today.

Kawad Yatra will begin from August 1.

The order will remain in force till September 13.   PTI



South Asia


Fears Grow over Islamic State’s Influence in Southeast Asia


July 17, 2015

JAKARTA, Indonesia—Support for Islamic State is quickly growing among Muslim extremists in Southeast Asia, and authorities worry they don’t have enough legal tools to keep them from spreading fundamentalist beliefs at home—or staging terror attacks.

Experts say the risk is highest in Indonesia. This nation of 255 million has the world’s largest Muslim population and a history of terror bombings carried out by an earlier generation of militants who trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Authorities and analysts say hundreds of Indonesians, including entire families, have gone to Syria and Iraq to live in Islamic State territory and support its cause.

This is a striking change from what happened in Afghanistan, when mostly single males went to fight. Some of today’s volunteers aren’t necessarily fighters but professionals with specialized skills who have traveled to the Middle East with their wives and children to build new lives. “They have no intention of ever coming back,” said Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict. “They are going to live and work in an Islamic State.”

Authorities worry that even those with no intention of leaving the radical Sunni group’s self-declared caliphate pose a threat by further inspiring hard-liners back home.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that Islamic State is Indonesia’s biggest international concern, and that it comes up in every discussion he has with other leaders. “When we have a meeting with a president or prime minister from another country, always they say that now the number one issue is ISIS,” he said. “Indonesia (is) also the same.”

Indonesia antiterrorism officials worry about how Islamic State might inspire militants at home and what veterans of the conflict might do if they ultimately return.

Indonesian Muslim hard-liners waved an Islamic State flag during rally against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in central Java island in 2013. Authorities are worried about the spread of Islamic State's influence in Indonesia. ENLARGE

Indonesian Muslim hard-liners waved an Islamic State flag during rally against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in central Java island in 2013. Authorities are worried about the spread of Islamic State's influence in Indonesia. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Arief Dharmawan, deputy head of Indonesia’s National Counter-Terrorism Agency, said the organization first began warning in 2013 that Islamic State “would become a new international phenomenon and outshine al Qaeda.” He said the agency has urged the government to enact stronger laws to prosecute suspected terrorists before there is a repeat of the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

After the Bali bombing, authorities succeeded in rolling back the country’s terrorist networks. The last major terror attack was the 2009 bombing of the Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta. But unlike the bombers of the previous generation, who painstakingly planned their attacks for months and years, terrorists inspired by Islamic State today often work quickly and independently to launch attacks, authorities say.

Indonesia’s antiterror agency is seeking greater legal powers for authorities to prosecute militants in the country for supporting Islamic State and those who go abroad to train and fight.

“I see it just like a cloudy day,” Mr. Dharmawan said. “When it’s cloudy, it tends to rain…Hopefully we don’t have to wait (for something) like the Bali bomb.”

But a proactive law enforcement approach faces challenges. The U.S. State Department last month noted that while nearby Malaysia has managed to disrupt terrorist plots before they are carried out—police have so far detained over 120 people for alleged Islamic State connections under new antiterror laws—it hasn’t done so well in prosecuting alleged perpetrators. In another antiterror move, Malaysia has recently adopted stricter detention laws that allow authorities to hold suspects for up to two years without trial.

Meanwhile, the risks are steadily building, experts say. Islamic State has formed a combat unit of fighters from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei, Mr. Dharmawan said. Ms. Jones, a leading expert on terrorism, said most of the contingent is Indonesian and that many casualties occurred this year when it was sent up against battle-hardened Kurdish fighters in Iraq. Two Indonesians killed in the fighting had served long prison sentences for their part in bombings in Bali and Jakarta, she said.

The potential for spillover in Indonesia from the conflict in Syria and Iraq grew clearer in February when a small bomb exploded in a shopping mall in Depok, near Jakarta. No one was hurt, but authorities said the device contained chlorine gas, a substance often used by Islamic State bombmakers. Police say they are investigating whether Islamic State supporters were responsible for another small bomb that exploded in a Jakarta shopping mall restroom on July 9, also without hurting anyone.

Indonesian officials say Islamic State supporters now have a presence in nearly half of Indonesia’s 33 provinces. Among them are two Indonesian commercial airline pilots whose postings on Facebook indicated that they may have traveled to Syria, according to a report issued in March by the Australian Federal Police and was first posted online by the Intercept website. Authorities are alarmed by the possibility that pilots who embrace militant Islam could launch attacks similar to the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

The two pilots are now in Indonesia and are no longer flying commercially, an Indonesian police official said without elaborating.

Longtime Indonesian militants also have sworn allegiance to Islamic State, including radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of the Bali bombers, and Santoso, one of Indonesia’s most wanted terrorists, who leads a militant group in the rugged Poso region of Sulawesi island.

A big problem is that, like other governments, Indonesia has trouble tracking citizens who travel to Syria and Iraq, Mr. Dharmawan said.

“The consequence of not knowing exactly who joins ISIS is that we don’t know how many of them have returned to Indonesia,” he said.