Islamic World News(08 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)
Islamic State Plotted To Attack Saudi Royals during Malaysia Visit



















Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (C) greets supporters as he arrives at the residence of Turkey's consul general in Hamburg, northern Germany, on March 7, 2017. (Photos by AFP)

 

Islamic State Plotted To Attack Saudi Royals during Malaysia Visit

Ujjain Train Blast Marks First IS Attack in India; 10 Injured

Trump’s Travel Ban Not against Muslims: US Officials

Alienated Muslims in Europe Establish Their Own Parties

ISIL Orders Rapid Withdrawal of Forces from Iraq's Mosul to Syria's Raqqa

 

India

Ujjain Train Blast Marks First IS Attack in India; 10 Injured

Islamic State Flag, Railways Map among Items Recovered from Terror Suspect’s Residence

Terrorist linked to Ujjain train blast killed as Lucknow encounter comes to an end

Islamic Prayer Practice Can Cut Lower Back Pain, Boost Elasticity in Joints

More Indian Migrants in Pakistan than In US: Pew Report

Fears of Misuse of Muslim 'Waqf' Property in India as Official Suspended

2 hired by ISI for train blasts had change of heart

NIA issues notice to Zakir Naik, asks him to appear on March 14

China to ‘consider all aspects’ before backing ban on Masood Azhar: Official

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Southeast Asia

Islamic State Plotted To Attack Saudi Royals during Malaysia Visit

Zakir Naik Breaches Penal Code, Interfaith Body Says

Faint ISIS footprint in Thailand’s Deep South

Decried as Muslim ban, will Trump decree pass legal muster?

DAP Councillor Slams Photos Labelling Her ‘Attacker’ Of Islamic Bodies

DAP councillor slams photos labelling her ‘attacker’ of Islamic bodies

Penang councillor lodges report over ‘attack Islam’ posts

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North America

Trump’s Travel Ban Not against Muslims: US Officials

Free Clinics Run By Muslims in US Gaining Popularity

Trump’s revised order still a Muslim Ban, faith groups say

Islam Is Changing Russia Rapidly And Profoundly

What Morocco’s apparent pivot to Sub-Saharan Africa means

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Europe

Alienated Muslims in Europe Establish Their Own Parties

Turkey FM Addresses Supporters from Balcony after Germany Cancels Rally

The Muslim Brotherhood Is Creating a 'Parallel Social Structure' In Sweden

French Study Calls for Replacing Pentecost with Islamic Eid

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Arab World

ISIL Orders Rapid Withdrawal of Forces from Iraq's Mosul to Syria's Raqqa

Top Military, Religious Leaders Defecting Al-Nusra-Led Tahrir Al-Sham Hay'at Coalition

Syrian Army Marching on ISIL Centers East of Newly-Liberated Palmyra

Iraqi forces retake govt HQ, museum in Mosul

Syria forces quietly take up buffer between Kurds, Turks

Saudi interior ministry: ISIS loyalist killed, one other arrested

Iraq, Kurdish group reach deal on Kirkuk oil flow to Turkey: PUK

Iraq calls for Syria’s rejoining Arab League after years of exclusion

Aleppo: Syrian Army Liberates Strategic Town of Al-Khafseh

Iraqi Sources: US Training Special Forces to Assassinate Hashd al-Shaabi Commanders

Iraq FM calls on US to fully remove Muslim travel ban

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Pakistan

Two Soldiers, 5 Terrorists Killed In Swabi Clash

Quran education bill to be passed soon: Baligh

US envoys discuss Pak-Afghan ties, CPEC

No room in country for terrorism: PML-N

Balochistan lawyers to file contempt plea against Nisar

Zardari calls for National Women Empowerment Plan

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South Asia

At Least 2 Dead As Blast, Gunfire Target Military Hospital in Kabul

NATO says standing ready to assist Afghans as deadly attack hits Kabul military hospital

Hekmatyar’s presence in Kabul to have positive impact on security: Dostum

Over 70 artillery rockets landed in Kunar from Pakistan

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Mideast

Turkish PM Says Allies' Choice of Syrian Kurdish YPG as Partner Unfortunate

Two Yemeni children killed in US strike

Iran rejects US moves to seize 9/11 compensation money

Asiri: Iran is behind terrorism, instability in Middle East

Human rights groups condemn Israel entry ban on BDS advocates

Israel simulates destruction of Palestine villages to train troops

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Africa

Libya’s Eastern Parliament Quits UN Peace Deal with Tripoli

4 policemen killed in 'terrorist' attack in western Niger

Fighting between Libyan smugglers kills 22 migrants

 ‘A nightmare:’ UN chief urges help for Somalia hunger crisis

Somalia: President Criticizes New U.S. Travel Ban

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islamic-state-plotted-to-attack-saudi-royals-during-malaysia-visit/d/110332

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Islamic State Plotted To Attack Saudi Royals during Malaysia Visit

March 8, 2017

Suspected militants linked to Islamic State were stopped just short of attacking Saudi royals during King Salman’s recent trip to Malaysia, police said, dealing with a second high-profile plot after a hit squad allegedly led by North Koreans recently staged a brazen killing at the main airport.

“We got them in the nick of time,” Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said.

Three teams of militants had planned attacks on the Saudis, he said, but he declined to give details of their alleged plans. One group comprised four Yemenis, another an Indonesian and a Malaysian, and a third a lone man from an unspecified East Asian nation.

Malaysia, without specifying the targets, said the plotters were arrested between February 21 and 26. Police said two of the men were directed by Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, a Malaysian who joined Islamic State in Syria in 2015, in preparing a car bomb. The Indonesian arrested had previously been deported to Turkey after trying to enter Syria, police said.

Police said the East Asian suspect, believed to have been living in Malaysia on a student visa since 2011, had suspected links to a regional terrorist group that uses Malaysia as a transit point and safe haven.

The Saudi king has been leading an entourage of up to 1,500 people on a monthlong tour of Asia to strengthen ties with a region the kingdom sees as an increasingly valuable economic partner and as a hedge against an unpredictable US government.

Malaysia was the first stop. The monarch travelled on to Indonesia and now is on a weeklong holiday on the resort island of Bali before heading to Japan, China and elsewhere.

A spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The foiled plot against the delegation underscores Islamic State’s ongoing campaign against the Saudi kingdom. The group has called for the downfall of the Saudi monarchy and, since the militant group’s rise in 2014, its loyalists have carried out a score of small-scale attacks in the kingdom.

Islamic State sees Saudi royals as heretics and enemies in part because of their longstanding alliance with the U.S. and the West. The Sunni Muslim terror group has also sought to challenge the Saudi monarch’s role as guardian of Islam’s holiest sites in Mecca and Medina.

In July, a suicide bomber killed four security guards near the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamic State. It was one of three bombings that struck the kingdom within hours of each other on the eve of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

Saudi Arabia has confronted the threat of Islamic extremism before. al-Qaeda turned its wrath against the kingdom in the prior decade, a campaign that was effectively suppressed by Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, the current crown prince.

Prince Mohammed in 2009 narrowly escaped an assassination attempt by an al Qaeda suicide bomber who was posing as a reformed jihadist. The prince was slightly injured.

The alleged plot revealed Tuesday added to a long list of terror plots with connections to Malaysia, a fast-developing Southeast Asian hub for business and transit that has tried to shake a reputation as a haven for terrorists and illicit activity.

In January 2000, Kuala Lumpur was site of an infamous planning meeting for the Sept. 11 attacks of 2001, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation later calling Malaysia “a primary operational launch pad.”

Counterterrorism forces have feared that Islamic State will take root in the region, particularly among the Muslim populations in Indonesia, Malaysia and the southern Philippines. In January 2016, four Indonesian militants with links to Islamic State killed four people in downtown Jakarta. It was the group’s first attack in Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population.

Malaysia recently was the scene of terrorism of a different sort. On Feb. 13, a hit team killed Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, by smearing his face with a lethal VX nerve agent while he was waited in a crowded airport departures hall. Police believe four North Korean suspects in the murder plot escaped to Pyongyang, while three others are said to be in hiding at the North Korean Embassy.

Malaysia has since revoked visa-free travel for North Koreans and the two countries have expelled each other’s ambassadors. Pyongyank is now preventing its Malaysian visitors from leaving North Korea, and Malaysia has imposed the same restrictions on its North Korean tourists.

Yantoultra Ngui, Margherita Stancati contributed to this article

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wall-street-journal/islamic-state-plotted-to-attack-saudi-royals-during-malaysia-visit/news-story/5b78f9ac2f10ca26fc511c1b2003170d

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Ujjain train blast marks first IS attack in India; 10 injured

Mar 7, 2017

INDORE/LUCKNOW/NEW DELHI: In the first-ever strike in India by the so-called Islamic State, a module radicalised by the deadly terrorist organisation triggered a low-intensity blast in a train in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, injuring 10 passengers.

The morning blast on the Bhopal-Ujjain passenger train at Jabri railway station, the first instance of a terror strike by an IS module in India, spurred the Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh police to launch coordinated operations in the two states. Eight members of the group were arrested, while UP's anti-terror squad+ was engaged in an operation in Lucknow to capture its leader Saifulllah.+

Holed in a house in the Thakurganj area of Lucknow, Saifullah fired at the ATS personnel who tried to arrest him, and an encounter was on at the time of going to press.

Sources in central intelligence agencies as well as MP and UP police confirmed that that the module owes allegiance to IS, but were not clear whether the directive to carry out the attack came from an "online handler" of the international terrorist network currently engaged in a grim battle of survival in Iraq and Syria. IS is known for its federated way of functioning where it encourages jihadis loyal to it to select their targets and hit them.

So far, intelligence agencies had been able to nip terror plots by IS-inspired jihadis before they could be executed.

Sources said all the accused have UP links, and on Tuesday morning, one arrest led to another, before the UP ATS caught up with the gang leader Saifullah.

Sources said three of the accused — Danish, Mir Hussain and Atish Muzaffar — were arrested from Pipariya in MP. Two more, Mohammad Faisal and Mohammad Irfan, who are siblings, were nabbed from Jajmau near Kanpur, while another, Alam, was picked up from Etawah in UP.

Another member, suspected to be the courier of the explosive which went off in the train, was injured in the explosion and was arrested from the spot.

Police want to take Saifullah alive, which led to the hours-long gunbattle. Equipped with night-vision devices, police were preparing for a night-long stand-off, and to foil any escape bid by the two heavily armed terrorists.

The operation was expected to carry through the night as Saifullah, accompanied by another armed member of the module kept firing at the police personnel.

A top intelligence official told TOI that the blast in the passenger train was a "trial run" by the module, which was planning major attacks and had made enough preparations for the same. Intelligence agencies who had been trying to locate module members who radicalised themselves by accessing online IS's jihadi propaganda.

In Lucknow, the encounter began after ATS commandos broke into the room where Saifullah had locked himself up. The police action came after specific inputs from the MP ATS.

Police first lobbed chilli grenades and tear gas shells into the premises to smoke out the occupants. However, Saifullah locked himself inside a room and reportedly opened fire at the commandos.

Police sources said the house where Saifullah was holed up belonged to a resident of Malihabad who was currently in the Gulf.

UP ADG (law and order) Daljeet Chaudhary said police were exercising maximum restraint in order to nab the suspect alive. "The commandos were in the process of entering the room by creating a hole in the concrete roof of the room where the suspect is holed up," he told TOI.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh inquired from UP DGP Javeed Ahmed about the operation.

This is for the first time that an attack has been carried out by IS in India, using the recruits radicalized from within the country. Previously, IS had tried to carry out many attacks in Indian cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, through various modules but all such attempts were foiled.

In last one year, NIA and police of various states have arrested about 60 Indian-origin IS recruits before they could carry out attacks. These men were part of at least 6-7 modules, which couldn't carry attacks.

The NIA, government sources said, will be brought into the Ujjain investigation.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ujjain-train-blast-marks-first-is-attack-in-india-10-injured/articleshow/57525973.cms

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Trump’s travel ban not against Muslims: US officials

March 7, 2017

Senior Trump administration officials today defended a revised travel ban that prevents people of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the US, saying the order is not aimed at Muslims but is an effort to safeguard the nation from foreign extremists.

“This is not a Muslim ban in any way, shape or form,” a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call after President Donald Trump signed the revised executive order.

“This is a temporary suspension on the entry of nationals from six countries that have either failed states at this point, or that are state sponsors of terror; that we don’t have the ability to make safe, adequate screening and vetting determinations for nationals under current procedures because of those weaknesses,” said the official, who did not want to be identified.

“There are dozens and hundreds of millions, if not one-point-something billion Muslim individuals — followers of the Islamic faith, who are not subject to this executive order, who are free to come to the United States under our visa and — and admissions regime, the same way that they were a week ago, four weeks ago, four months ago, four years ago for the most part,” the official said.

“Again, this is not in any way targeted as a Muslim ban and we firmly want to make sure that everyone understands that very, very important provision,” the official said.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters at a news conference that Trump concluded that these actions are necessary to protect the US from those who, unfortunately, wish to do harm to the country.

Under the new order there will be a 90-day suspension of travel to the US by nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, during which the Department of State and Homeland Security will conduct a review to determine how it can improve the screening process for foreign nationals seeking to enter the US.

“These governments simply cannot or not adequately supply satisfactory information about their own nationals. In the absence of adequate information from these governments, the President has had to act to protect the security of the American people,” Spicer said.

Spicer explained that after the original executive order, Iraq’s government took steps to increase their cooperation with US immigration authorities and improve their vetting process, leading them to be removed from the list of countries covered by the temporary travel suspension.

http://indianexpress.com/article/world/trumps-travel-ban-not-against-muslims-us-officials-4558233/

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Alienated Muslims in Europe Establish Their Own Parties

07.03.2017

Europe or European territories have 11 political parties founded by Muslims or with mostly Muslim membership.

Parties in France, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Bulgaria, and Greece were founded to counter the rising tide of Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims in Europe.

Austria

Austria’s New Movement for the Future Party (NBZ) was founded by Adnan Dincer to become the voice of minorities in the country.

"There is no party in the country that works to solve the problems of minorities," he said.

On the contrary, other parties in the country have an anti-minority attitude, he added.

"It’s for this reason that our political party was needed. NBZ was established to serve this need," he said.

The Netherlands

The "Denk" (Think) party was formed due to the 2015 expulsion from the Labor Party of two MPs, Tunahan Kuzu and Selcuk Ozturk, for refusing to support Deputy PM Lodewijk Asscher’s integration policy.

The two Dutch MPs of Turkish origin formed a new political party called Denk.

The party also includes other Dutch MPs.

"Our party was founded to make minorities heard in the Netherlands," said party leader Tunahan Kuzu.

France

France’s Turkish-Muslim Equality and Justice Party (PEJ) was formed to defend the rights of Muslims who face discrimination in the country.

The PEJ – founded by a joint Turkish-Muslim initiative – was eliminated in the first round of provincial council elections held in March 2015, but still won thousands of votes in four cities and 10 cantons just two months after its foundation.

PEJ chair Sakir Colak told Anadolu Agency that the party’s aim is to fight injustice and inequality.

"We are not just a Muslim or a Turkish party," he said, adding that they want justice for other foreigners as well.

Two similar French parties are the Union of French Muslim Democrats (UDMF) and Party of the Muslims of France.

Spain

There are two mostly-Muslim parties active in Spain's North African territories of Ceuta and Melilla, both bordering Morocco.

The Coalicion por Melilla party was formed in 1999 in Melilla, and the Coalicion Caballas was formed in 2011 in Ceuta.

Bulgaria

There are three majority-Muslim parties in Bulgaria.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) party was formed in 1990 by Ahmet Dogan.

The Democrats for Responsibility, Freedom and Tolerance (DOST, or “close friend” in Turkish) was founded by Lyutvi Mestan in 2016.

Mestan was expelled from the MRF following a speech defending Turkey and NATO over the November 2015 downing of a Russian warplane along the Turkish-Syrian border.

The People's Party of Freedom and Dignity was also formed by Kazim Dal and Korman Ismalov in 2012.

Greece

The Party of Friendship, Equality and Peace was founded in 1991 by Dr. Sadik Ahmet.

The party has about 6,000 members. Party leader Mustafa Alicavus said its aim is to give minorities a voice.

http://aa.com.tr/en/europe/alienated-muslims-in-europe-establish-their-own-parties/766087

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ISIL Orders Rapid Withdrawal of Forces from Iraq's Mosul to Syria's Raqqa

Mar 07, 2017

The sources said that commander of Jeish al-Khilafeh (army of the Caliphate) have received an order from the ISIL leadership to pull their forces back from Mosul city in and move towards Raqqa.

They added that ISIL's military command in Raqqa has meantime ordered the rest of commanders of the group in Iraq's Nineveh province to gather their forces as soon as possible and move towards Raqqa after setting fire to their command posts and positions. The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made a scheduled trip to the front-lines in the Northern city of Mosul on Tuesday in order to inspect the Iraqi forces battling the ISIL terror organization in the flashpoint city.

Photos of Iraqi prime minister meeting with soldiers from the Iraqi Army and Federal Police were published by local media outlets, Al Masdar reported.

Local media also said the Iraqi prime minister also visited the liberated areas of Mosul.

Abadi’s visit to Mosul marks the first time in nearly three years that any Iraqi Prime Minister has traveled to the Nineveh province located in Northwestern Iraq.

The visit by the Iraqi prime minister came as latest reports said elite Iraqi forces dislodged ISIL militants from the main government buildings in Mosul on Tuesday, their last major city stronghold in Iraq.

Seizing the government complex would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the nearby old city center and mark a symbolic step towards restoring state authority over Mosul, even though the buildings are destroyed and not being used by the ISIL militants.

The battle for Mosul, which started on Oct. 17, will now enter a more complicated phase in the densely populated old city where, the Iraqi military believes, several thousand militants are among the remaining civilian population.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951217001414

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India

 

Islamic State flag, railways map among items recovered from terror suspect’s residence

March 8, 2017

The nearly 12-hour long encounter in Lucknow’s Thakurganj ended in the killing of a suspected Islamic State terrorist belonging to the Khorasan module on Wednesday morning. The suspect was identified as Mohammad Saifurullah, a resident of Kanpur. After all efforts to persuade Saifurullah failed, the Uttar Pradesh Anti Terror Squad, around 2.30 am, stormed into the house he was holed up in and neutralised the suspect. The mopping-up operation saw the ATS recover arms and several rounds of ammunition, among other things from the suspect’s residence.

Eight pistols, 650 rounds of ammunition, 50 fired rounds, explosives materials, Islamic State flag, gold, cash, passports, SIM cards, mobile phones, walkie-talkies and a railway map have been recovered from the Lucknow house where the suspected terrorist was found. The ATS swiftly moved in to nab the suspect after receiving specific inputs from the Telangana Police. While conducting combing operations in the area, the suspect opened fire at the security personnel and locked himself inside the house he was living in.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/islamic-state-flag-terrorist-lucknow-railways-map-train-blast-items-recovered-4559752/

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Terrorist linked to Ujjain train blast killed as Lucknow encounter comes to an end

March 8, 2017

One terrorist was killed as an encounter in Lucknow’s outskirts ended early this morning after almost 12 hours of security operation. The terrorist has been linked with the Bhopal-Ujjain train blast and is said to be responsible for injuring at least 10 people–three are in critical condition– in the IED blast near Jabdi station in Shajapur district of Madhya Pradesh earlier on Tuesday. Additional Director General of Police Daljit Chaudhary also said that earlier reports of two terrorists being holed up inside a building were false.

Also Read: Lucknow encounter: 6 from UP held after train blast, 2 holed up

The suspect killed has been identified as Mohammad Saifurullah alias Ali, a resident of Kanpur. He opened fire at security personnel who were combing the area after receiving a tip-off about the presence of a few suspected terrorists. Subsequently, civilians residing nearby were evacuated from the spot.

Anti Terror Squad IG Assem Arun told news agency ANI that the neutralised terrorist was a member of the ISIS Khorasan module and that the room was being checked for explosives.

Commandos from the paramilitary forces had been rushed to assist the ATS in capturing the terrorist.

Madhya Pradesh police said within hours of the blast, three men were held as they stepped off a bus near Pipariya in Hoshangabad district and their questioning revealed the locations of other suspects in Kanpur and Lucknow. This information was shared with central intelligence agencies which, in turn, alerted Uttar Pradesh police.

The UP police, in a press release, said that three persons were arrested by the Madhya Pradesh Police in Piparia and two of the arrested were from Kanpur, while one is form Aligharh.

Full report at:

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/lucknow-encounter-up-ats-operation-terrorist-linked-to-ujjain-train-blast-killed-as-lucknow-encounter-comes-to-an-end-4559431/

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Islamic Prayer Practice Can Cut Lower Back Pain, Boost Elasticity In Joints

Mar 07, 2017

The complex physical movements of the Muslim prayer ritual can reduce lower back pain if performed regularly and properly, claims a recent research.

The paper was published in the latest issue of the International Journal of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

Five times a day, roughly 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide, bow, kneel, and place their foreheads to the ground in the direction of the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, as part of the Islamic prayer ritual, the Salat.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/health-and-fitness/islamic-prayer-practice-can-cut-lower-back-pain-boost-elasticity-in-joints/story-V2Mft6lTtt942MV8AyB1jI.html

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More Indian migrants in Pakistan than in US: Pew report

Mar 7, 2017

NEW DELHI: More Indian migrants live in Pakistan than in the US, according to a startling new finding by US think tank Pew Research Centre.

Close to half of India's migrants live in just three countries. About 3.5 million Indians live in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is the top destination country for Indian migrants, Pew said. "Over the past two decades, millions of Indians have migrated there to find employment as laborers," it added.

Pakistan has the second-largest number of Indian migrants, with 2 million, and the US has almost another 2 million, Pew said. It didn't offer any analysis for the figures to do with Pakistan.

Curiously, while India is the top source of international migrants, with one-in-twenty migrants worldwide born in India, according to Pew, it is also one of the world's top destinations for international migrants.

"The overwhelming majority of India's immigrants are from neighboring countries such as Bangladesh (3.2 million), Pakistan (1.1 million), Nepal (540,000) and Sri Lanka (160,000)," Pew said.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/more-indian-migrants-in-pakistan-than-in-us-pew-report/articleshow/57519432.cms

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Fears of misuse of Muslim 'waqf' property in India as official suspended

Mar 6, 2017

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India's Maharashtra state has suspended a former head of a Muslim organization in charge of land endowments, amid growing concern that "waqf" land and property set aside for religious or charitable use is being illegally sold on to developers.

The state land department, in an order last week, said Naseem Banu Patel misused her power as chief executive in declaring waqf land endowed for religious or charitable purposes, as non-waqf for sale to a developer.

Patel's mobile phone was switched off. She had stepped down as chief executive but was still an officer on the waqf board. The board's current chief executive, A.R. Qureshi, said he did not wish to comment.

Waqf is an endowment of land or property by a Muslim for a religious, educational or charitable purpose. Under Indian law, it cannot be transferred or sold, and must be used for the community's welfare.

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - India's Maharashtra state has suspended a former head of a Muslim organization in charge of land endowments, amid growing concern that "waqf" land and property set aside for religious or charitable use is being illegally sold on to developers.

The state land department, in an order last week, said Naseem Banu Patel misused her power as chief executive in declaring waqf land endowed for religious or charitable purposes, as non-waqf for sale to a developer.

Patel's mobile phone was switched off. She had stepped down as chief executive but was still an officer on the waqf board. The board's current chief executive, A.R. Qureshi, said he did not wish to comment.

Waqf is an endowment of land or property by a Muslim for a religious, educational or charitable purpose. Under Indian law, it cannot be transferred or sold, and must be used for the community's welfare.

It is estimated that waqf boards in India hold nearly 500,000 registered properties and tracts of land, making them among the top landowners in the country.

Yet several state boards have been accused in recent years of selling waqf land to developers and private buyers for low rates in return for illegal kickbacks as demand for land soars.

"Waqf properties are meant for the welfare of the entire community," said Salim Baig, a social worker who has filed lawsuits against waqf boards.

"A few bad managers are ruining the purpose of these lands, and the entire community is suffering, as a result."

India will have the world's largest Muslim population by 2050, according to a recent forecast by the Pew Research Center.

Yet the community, which makes up about 13 percent of India's population, lags the national average on indicators such as education, employment and political representation.

Maharashtra state last week launched a survey to determine the extent of waqf properties and encroachments.

Full report at:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-landrights-waqf-idUSKBN16D1TN

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2 hired by ISI for train blasts had change of heart

Mar 8, 2017

NEW DELHI: Two Indian "bombers", recruited by ISI conduit Shamshul Hoda to plant explosives in a pressure cooker on a railway track at Ghorasahan in Bihar in October last year, had a change of heart over killing hundreds of innocent passengers.

Arun Ram and Deepak Ram, who were later murdered after Hoda decided that there were unreliable, reached the railway track on the appointed day but turned their backs on what would be an "anti-India" act. The men who were reportedly associated with Maoists in Bihar previously, realised they didn't want to be foot soldiers of an "ideology" plotting the terrorist attacks against India. The National Investigation Agency was able to piece together the details of the dead men's motives after questioning Hoda and his deputy Brij Kishore Giri who are being held in Nepal as well as other accused such as Uma Shankar Patel, Rakesh Yadav and Motilal Paswan in Bihar. NIA is also probing the possibility that the ISI wanted to pass off the attack as the work of Hindu radicals.

"A run Ram (27) and Deepak Ram (18), who had already taken the money from Hoda, felt they may have committed small crimes but baulked at killing train passengers for Pakistan's agencies. They also seemed to have become conscious of their religious identity and demurred, backing out of the plot," said a senior NIA officer. Soon after they were called to Nepal and bumped off.

Officials said this didn't stop ISI from carrying out its plans to attack Indian railways. The main ISI player in the ring - Safi Shaikh alias Chacha - an important handler of ISI's fake Indian currency supply from Dubai, stayed in touch with Hoda and Giri. These two in turn contacted Bihar based Uma Shankar Patel, Gajender Sharma, Rakesh Yadav and Motilal Paswan.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/2-hired-by-isi-for-train-blasts-had-change-of-heart/articleshow/57526447.cms

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NIA issues notice to Zakir Naik, asks him to appear on March 14

Mar 7, 2017

NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today issued notice to controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik asking him to join the investigation at its headquarters in New Delhi on March 14.

It is believed Naik is staying in Saudi Arabia to evade arrest after perpetrators of the Dhaka terror strike last year claimed they were inspired by him. The 51-year-old preacher has been booked along with unnamed officials of his Islamic Research Foundation for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion. He's also been accused of indulging in acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony beside various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) today questioned Naik's sister in connection with a money laundering probe against him and others.

Officials said Naik's sister Nailah Noorani met the Investigating Officer of the case at the agency's office here during which her statement was recorded under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

They said the agency wanted to grill Noorani about the alleged fund transactions in her account and the firms associated with her.

The central probe agency had registered a criminal case against Naik and others last December after taking cognizance of an NIA complaint filed under the UAPA.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/nia-issues-notice-to-zakir-naik-asks-him-to-appear-on-march-14/articleshow/57519129.cms

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China to ‘consider all aspects’ before backing ban on Masood Azhar: Official

Mar 07, 2017

A Communist Party of China official said on Tuesday that Beijing was “considering and investigating” India’s proposal to get Pakistan-based terrorist leader Masood Azhar listed on the UN terror catalogue.

Ma Xiangwu, however, said China had to look into all aspects of backing the move “considering whether if we were to support this decision will it grow into a bigger problem for China”.

He didn’t elaborate any further while speaking to IANS on the margins of the 19th Asian Security Conference at the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA).

India has been seeking to blacklist Azhar, the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, after Pakistani terrorists attacked the airbase at Pathankot in Punjab on January 2 last year, killing seven Indian security personnel.

China has blocked the move at the United Nations, apparently not to harm its strong ties with Pakistan.

The Chinese official, however, acknowledged that terror camps in Pakistan were a matter of concern for China because Taliban was training members of the Uighur militant group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

“In Taliban sanctuary, there is a China camp which has around 320 Uighur terrorists,” Ma said, acknowledging that Islamabad has been cooperating with Beijing in its fight against the separatist group that China blames for violent unrest in its far western region of Xinjiang.

The group fights for an independent state and has bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Ma said Pakistan had been repatriating Uighur militants and “will repatriate all these terrorists”.

Full report at:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/china-considering-and-investigating-india-s-proposal-to-ban-jaish-chief-masood-azhar/story-3KycNHRx7WNACptMz4gpHI.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Zakir Naik breaches Penal Code, interfaith body says

March 8, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 ― An interfaith body has joined the Opposition towards Indian preacher Dr Zakir Naik, claiming today the televangelist of committing several offences in the Penal Code by provoking non-Muslims.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) said it is disappointed that authorities have allegedly ignored warnings against Dr Zakir, and called for his visa to be withdrawn.

“Purported teachers of religion that are sponsored even by State authorities that has a tendency to incite hatred, odium and contempt on the practices, rituals and food of other religio-ethnic groups is totally unacceptable.

“It threatens to the way of life of all peace loving people and our mutual co-existence we have enjoyed for decades in our beloved nation,” the group said in a statement here.

MCCBCHST said Dr Zakir has contravened Sections 298 in the Penal Code that deals with “deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person”, and 298A on causing “disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will” on grounds of religion.

The offences are punishable by jail between two and five years.

“The Council supports freedom of speech and expression but any discourse touching on religion and beliefs should be subject to the parameters set forth in the Penal Code generally and more specifically to the bar of public reason and civility,” it said.

Last week, a group of 19 human rights activists filed a civil suit against the Malaysian government, accusing it of failing to protect the country from Salafist preacher Dr Zakir.

The suit, among others, sought a government declaration that Dr Zakir was a threat to national security, called for a ban to prevent him from entering the country, and for him to be arrested and deported immediately.

The group, comprising plaintiffs from different religious and ethnic backgrounds, said Dr Zakir was an “undesirable person” and “a preacher of hate” who was currently roaming free in Malaysia.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/zakir-naik-breaches-penal-code-interfaith-body-says

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Faint ISIS footprint in Thailand’s deep south

MARCH 8, 2017

Since Southeast Asian Muslims began to join Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014, there have been no credible reports that ethnic Malay Muslims from the insurgency prone region of southernmost Thailand have joined forces with the global jihadist group.

That appeared to change when Malaysian police said on February 7 that one of six alleged ISIS members arrested for possessing bomb-making materials in Malaysia’s northern Kelantan state bordering on southern Thailand in late January was a member of the separatist group Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), the main insurgent group fighting Thai security forces in the region.

Malay Muslims from Thailand’s southernmost provinces of Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala, known as the “deep south,” share an ethno-religious connection with the majority of Southeast Asia’s ISIS-linked jihadists, who hail mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia. But BRN is known to shun ISIS’ brand of Salifi jihadism, including its ambition to establish a global Islamic caliphate, and is driven instead by a desire for self-determination and liberation from Thai rule.

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According to two security sources familiar with the situation, Thai authorities alerted their Malaysian counterparts over a year ago that the ISIS suspect, 40-year-old Uzman Jeh-umong, a Thai national, was hiding in Malaysia’s Kelantan state. Since his capture in February, Malaysia has so far refused Thailand’s request for his extradition, Thai authorities say. Sources close to the separatist movement, meanwhile, claim the ISIS suspect has been released.

Thai and Malaysian security officials have a long conflicted history over the handling of Malay Muslim separatists who use Malaysia as a sanctuary and operational planning ground. Thai authorities often gripe that their Malaysian counterparts, especially those across the border in Kelantan, where Malays speak a dialect nearly identical to the one spoken on the Thai side, consistently ignore Thai calls to crack down on separatists in their territory.

Thai_Insurgency

Malaysian authorities have been tight-lipped on the recent alleged ISIS-related arrests. Nor have they revealed details to the media about Uzman or the other five detainees, who Thai authorities believe are all BRN insurgents, but not tied with ISIS.

They claim instead that Uzman is a leader of Runda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK), BRN’s commando units, in the southern town of Yala and four districts of adjacent Songkhla province. At the same time several sources suggested that with the rising number of ISIS recruits in predominantly Muslim Malaysia it is possible that some ethnic Malay separatists from Thailand may have communicated with Malaysian ISIS members.

Malaysia has intensified counter-terrorism efforts to stop ISIS from making deeper inroads in the country. On March 5, Malaysian authorities revealed that seven men, including an Indonesian, were arrested in late February for being involved in ISIS-inspired terrorist activities.

Thai sources suggest that certain Malaysian authorities may be prone to play up ISIS’ threat to divert public attention from the corruption scandal that has rocked Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government. Najib has been accused of siphoning more than US$1 billion from a state-run development company into his personal bank accounts. Najib has denied any wrongdoing.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks about the threat of terrorism during the opening ceremony of the 26th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 27, 2015. Malaysia is hosting the summit from April 26 to 27, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. REUTERS/Olivia Harris - RTX1AE77 Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks about the threat of terrorism in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: Reuters/Olivia Harris

While some BRN members are known to have personal ties to pan-Islamist groups, the insurgent movement has blocked outside terror groups, including the Indonesia-based Jemaah Islamiyah, from establishing bases or launching attacks from their controlled areas. JI was responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia that claimed more than 200 victims, mostly Western tourists, and bombing attacks on international hotels in Jakarta.

That’s partly why security sources believe BRN, which to date has avoided the anti-Western ideology and rhetoric of other radical Islamic regional groups, would still likely rebuff any ISIS requests to establish a presence and recruit from the restive region. “It’s their conflict,” said one retired Thai general with experience in the region. “They don’t want other groups involved.”

Still, there have been rumors circulating among some locals that a handful of Malay Muslims from Thailand’s southernmost region have traveled to Syria to fight for ISIS and that Malaysian ISIS members have used Thailand as a transit point on their way to Syria or Iraq.

Thai deputy police chief Sriwara Rangsipramanakul publicly confirmed in November an Australian intelligence report that claimed Thais had provided financial support to ISIS and that over 100,000 Thailand-based Facebook users had visited ISIS-related online communities last year. A day later, Sriwara retracted his statement, saying the information came from Australian, not Thai, sources and that there was no ISIS movement in Thailand.

Separatist graffiti is seen on a road near Pattani June 6, 2014, one of three southernmost provinces of Thailand where government troops have fought Muslim insurgents since 2004. The war has killed more than 6,000 people. The Thai military closed Media Selatan and thousands of other radio stations when it seized power in a May 22 coup. Many journalists and activists in southern Thailand fear the military will use the coup to roll back on their hard-won freedoms. Graffiti reads "Hey Siamese - bring back our rights" Picture taken June 6, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew RC Marshall (THAILAND - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3UBRU Separatist graffiti on a road near Pattani says: “Hey Siamese – bring back our rights,” referring to Thailand’s former name Siam. Photo: Reuters/Andrew RC Marshall

Other Thai authorities acknowledge that monitoring of social media traffic shows some ideological support for ISIS in the conflict-ridden minority region, where some 7,000 people have been killed in violent incidents since 2004. However, they say there is still no evidence to indicate that Malay Muslims from Thailand have joined or collaborated with ISIS.

Videos and photographs found on the computers and phones of suspected BRN separatists since the conflict escalated in 2004 have shown that some draw inspiration from pan-Islamist groups.

There are also concerns that passport forgery networks active in Thailand have produced fake travel documents for Southeast Asian jihadis headed to fight in Syria and Iraq, according to one Thai official who requested anonymity.

Thai authorities would clearly prefer that BRN has no association whatsoever with ISIS. That’s because any proven links would bring unwanted Western government scrutiny of the Thai military’s handling of the southern conflict.

Wayward authorities in the region have long been accused of rights abuses against insurgent suspects and using the conflict as cover for illicit activities like fuel and human smuggling.

A cage made of barbed wire and bamboo sticks that Malaysian police said was used to hold migrants is seen at the abandoned human trafficking camp in the jungle close the Thailand border at Bukit Wang Burma in northern Malaysia May 26, 2015. Malaysian police forensic teams, digging with hoes and shovels, began the grim task on Tuesday of exhuming the bodies of dozens of suspected victims of human traffickers found buried around jungle camps near the Thai border. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX1EKMD A cage made of barbed wire and bamboo used to hold migrants in the jungle close to Thailand’s border at Bukit Wang Burma in Malaysia. Photo: Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Analysts and diplomats believe that if Bangkok continues to balk at a formal negotiation process that works toward autonomy for the region, then a younger generation of separatist hardliners could be tempted to join or work with ISIS, raising the risk of large-scale terror attacks on Thai tourist areas. Although BRN insurgents carried out bombings in areas popular with foreign tourists in 2015 and 2016, the attacks did not cause mass casualties.

Full report at:

http://www.atimes.com/article/faint-footprint-thailands-deep-south/

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Decried as Muslim ban, will Trump decree pass legal muster?

March 8, 2017

WASHINGTON: The American Civil Liberties Union and others are already lining up to challenge President Donald Trump’s revised ban on refugees and travelers from six mainly Muslim countries.

But can they succeed in overturning a measure that was deliberately crafted to remove the red flags raised by US courts? That may be more difficult.

This time there is unlikely to be a backdrop of airport chaos and mass detentions to help lawyers make the case that people’s rights are being trampled.

The White House has rolled out a process that aims to avoid a repeat of the confusion caused by its first travel ban, which was imposed with no notice and little preparation one week into Trump’s presidency.

The new order suspends US entry for all refugees for 120 days, and the issuing of new visas for nationals of Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for 90 days.

Although similar to the first travel ban, it has been changed in significant ways to pass muster with the courts.

For one, the new restrictions don’t go into effect until March 16, giving travelers 10 days to prepare for the changes.

Crucially, the new order exempts permanent US residents and visa holders, and allows for waivers on a case-by-case basis. It also drops Iraq from the list countries targeted by the ban.

The administration’s strategy appears designed to address the kind of situations that ignited public outrage and made the travel ban politically radioactive.

There was the case of an Iranian baby who could not travel for specialized medical treatment in the United States. That could now be dealt with using a waiver.

Foreign students and Silicon Valley executives were stranded abroad, and entire families were detained at airports. As long as they have visas, they should no longer face that risk under the new rules.

Muslim ban?

The federal judge who blocked the first ban was persuaded by the argument of two state attorneys general that it was causing “irreparable harm.” It’s less clear those arguments would prevail the next time around.

“We are carefully reviewing the new executive order to determine its impacts on Washington State and our next legal steps,” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Monday.

He said he was still concerned, but needed two or three days to decide on next steps.

The next wave of legal challenges will have to directly confront the question of whether the immigration order constitutes a Muslim ban, an issue that the courts have so far set aside.

“While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project, said Trump “has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people.”

The administration has tried to make it harder to prove religious discrimination by stripping out language that would have given preference to religious minorities once refugees are allowed in again.

Critics had said the preference benefitting Christians underscored that the ban was directed at Muslims.

“I believe the new order will withstand legal challenges as it’s drafted in a fashion as to not be a religious ban, but a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican who often criticizes the White House.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2017/03/08/decried-as-muslim-ban-will-trump-decree-pass-legal-muster/

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DAP councillor slams photos labelling her ‘attacker’ of Islamic bodies

BY OPALYN MOK

March 8, 2017

GEORGE TOWN, March 8 — A Muslim DAP city councillor has lodged a police report yesterday over images spread on social media labelling her an “attacker” of Islamic institutions.

Syerleena Abdul Rashid said today an image of her taking her oath as a councillor were doctored to say she had pledged to “attack” Islamic institutions, especially the federal Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), on behalf of DAP.

She said the photo was shared on Facebook by an account named “Johny Wick”.

On another Facebook page called “Darul Ehsan Leaks”, with 17,000 followers, a picture of her and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng with the same wordings were shared.

“I believe this was posted after my commentary piece criticising Jakim was published,” the DAP Wanita’s assistant publicity secretary told a press conference at the Penang DAP headquarters here.

Syerleena said her commentary was only to remind Malaysians not to condone hatred, and to tell Jakim to be more responsible especially with reports of “hate-filled” sermons in mosques recently.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/dap-councillor-slams-photos-labelling-her-attacker-of-islamic-bodies

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DAP councillor slams photos labelling her ‘attacker’ of Islamic bodies

BY OPALYN MOK

March 8, 2017

GEORGE TOWN, March 8 — A Muslim DAP city councillor has lodged a police report yesterday over images spread on social media labelling her an “attacker” of Islamic institutions.

Syerleena Abdul Rashid said today an image of her taking her oath as a councillor were doctored to say she had pledged to “attack” Islamic institutions, especially the federal Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), on behalf of DAP.

She said the photo was shared on Facebook by an account named “Johny Wick”.

On another Facebook page called “Darul Ehsan Leaks”, with 17,000 followers, a picture of her and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng with the same wordings were shared.

“I believe this was posted after my commentary piece criticising Jakim was published,” the DAP Wanita’s assistant publicity secretary told a press conference at the Penang DAP headquarters here.

Full report at:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/dap-councillor-slams-photos-labelling-her-attacker-of-islamic-bodies

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Penang councillor lodges report over ‘attack Islam’ posts

Predeep Nambiar

March 8, 2017

GEORGE TOWN: A DAP city councillor in Penang has lodged a police report over a banner labelling her as “an attacker of the Islamic institution” which appeared on two separate Facebook posts recently.

Syerleena Abdul Rashid, who is the DAP Wanita’s assistant publicity secretary, said the banner materialised after she wrote a comment piece critical of the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and its “negative rhetoric” in sermons.

It was uploaded in posts by “Johny Wick”, a private account in the social networking website, and another by a page called “Darul Ehsan Leaks” which has about 17,000-odd followers.

Johny Wick posted Syerleena’s picture at her oath-taking ceremony as a councillor in the Penang Island City Council, accompanied with the words “saya bersumpah akan serang Institusi Islam khususnya Jakim demi DAP” (I swear I will attack Islamic institutions, especially Jakim, for the sake of DAP.)

The other post by Darul Ehsan Leaks featured a collage comprising Syerleena’s picture and that of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, with the same words on attacking “Islamic institutions”.

“What was said in these pictures is not true and is slanderous,” Syerleena said after lodging the report at the George Town district police headquarters here.

“My opinion piece only sought to remind Malaysians that Islam is a beautiful religion and one that should not condone hatred,” Syerleena said in a press conference at Penang DAP’s headquarters here today.

She said there were many reports of sermons in mosques being “hijacked by hate-filled rhetoric” and Jakim should be more responsible over the messages being delivered.

“For years, we have heard reports of sermons that single out women and demonise those who are not afraid to speak out against misogyny perpetuated by overzealous bigots.

“This type of negative messaging needs to stop,” she added.

Meanwhile, Amanah Youth deputy chief Saiful Azwan Abdul Malik said it was obvious that DAP’s detractors were trying to paint the party as anti-Islam, thereby proving they had run out of ideas.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/03/08/penang-councillor-lodges-report-over-attack-islam-posts/

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North America

 

Free clinics run by muslims in US gaining popularity

Mar 8, 2017

WASHINGTON: Hundreds of Christian hospitals and clinics run across the United States named after Christ and crosses and mercy, but joining them now are about 25 free clinics nationwide run primarily by Muslims.

Some of these hospitals and clinics, like the Al-Shifa Clinic in San Bernardino, Calif, or the Muslim Community Center Medical Clinic in Silver Spring, Md, have been around for years and there a few others which have opened within the past year at a time when the Muslim religion is under siege, a report in Washington Post said.

According to the American Muslim Health Professionals’ task force on health affordability, these hospitals and clinics, mainly run by Muslims, do not get any government funding and treat anyone regarding of their religion.

The report mentioned a mosque in Northern Virginia, which was bustling at the weekend with people, including women, old men and children, including those from countries whose citizens have been banned from travelling to the United States in a move President Trump says is aimed at keeping the potential terrorists away.

“When you walk into the mosque’s offices, you see a large mural with Arabic writing translated into English: “Peace Be Upon You,” the report said. As with other Muslim-run hospitals and clinics, medical service at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society’s branch in Virginia’s city of Chantilly is free.

The ADAMS Compassionate Healthcare Network has been open for nearly three years and has treated hundreds of patients, including refugees, day laborers and military veterans, the report said.

Full report at:

http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2017/03/08/free-clinics-run-by-muslims-in-us-gaining-popularity/

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Trump’s revised order still a Muslim Ban, faith groups say

Mar 8, 2017

WASHINGTON - A wide spectrum of American religious organizations and leaders came forward Monday to denounce President Donald Trump’s revised executive order on immigration as “discriminatory and unconstitutional.”

After an initial version of the order, issued Jan. 27, resulted in confusion, protests and numerous legal challenges, the Trump administration was forced to issue a new, significantly scaled back travel ban.

The new version makes it clear that people with dual nationality, green cards, and current visas aren’t affected by the ban. It also strikes Iraq off a list of Muslim-majority countries from which some nationals will be barred from the US for 90 days. Religious minorities will no longer be prioritized for admission and Syrian refugees are no longer barred indefinitely although they will still be affected by a blanket ban on refugee resettlement that will last for 120 days. The new order still cuts the refugee resettlement programme in half, capping it at 50,000. The ban will go reportedly go into effect on March 16.

Faith-based organizations representing Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, and other interfaith activists responded to the new order on Monday with many saying that the order was still a Muslim ban in disguise.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, called the order a “Muslim Ban 2.0.”

Khizr cancels Toronto talk

citing 'travel privileges' review

The father of a fallen US army captain who made headlines during the American election campaign for taking on Republican candidate Donald Trump has cancelled a speech he was set to deliver in Toronto, Canada, after being notified that his travel privileges are under review, according to media reports. Khizr Khan, an American of Pakistani origin who famously offered up his copy of the US Constitution to the billionaire presidential hopeful who vowed to implement a ban on Muslims entering the US, was scheduled to speak at a luncheon hosted by Ramsay Talks, a Toronto-based speaker series hosted by Bob Ramsay, on Tuesday.

But on Monday, organizers of the luncheon issued a statement saying that Khan would not be travelling to Toronto. "Late Sunday evening Khizr Khan, an American citizen for over 30 years, was notified that his travel privileges are being reviewed," Julia McDowell of Ramsay Inc. was quoted as saying. The statement goes on to quote Khan, saying he offered his sincere apologies for the cancellation. "This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad. I have not been given any reason as to why," the statement quotes Khan as saying.

The circumstances of the reported travel review aren't clear. Neither Khan nor Ramsay Inc. would provide specifics about what the review entailed or say more about the "turn of events." Asked who issued the notice of review to Khan, Bob Ramsay told CBC News, "I don't know exactly who it was, but I do know for sure that it was American."

In a statement, US Customs and Border Protection said it does not contact travellers in advance of their travel out of the United States.

"With respect to Global Entry or trusted traveller membership, CBP's engagement is about the status of membership in the program, not any particular travel itself," the statement said, adding that any US citizen with a passport can travel without trusted traveller status.

The agency would not comment on Khan's claim, citing privacy considerations.

According to its events page, Khan's Ramsay Talk was to focus on what could be done about "the appalling turn of events in Washington - so that we don't all end up sacrificing everything."

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-Mar-2017/trump-s-revised-order-still-a-muslim-ban-faith-groups-say

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Islam Is Changing Russia Rapidly And Profoundly

MARCH 8, 2017

Last week, Muslim morals police began patrolling the streets of Moscow to warn the faithful against violating the norms of their religion (eadaily.com/ru/news/2017/03/06/shariatskiy-patrul-v-moskve-radikalizaciya-musulman-po-evropeyski), just one of the ways in which “Islam is changing Russia” rapidly and radically.

In an essay for Warsaw’s Dzennik newspaper, Michał Potocki catalogues this and other ways in which Islam is now transforming the Russian Federation in profound and unexpected ways

Among his findings:

There are now three million Muslims in the Russian capital, one in every four of its residents even though the Russian government continues to insist that there are fewer than 300,000 and allows only four mosques to function in the city proper.

Moscow’s Muslims commit far fewer crimes per capita than other residents do. They form 25 percent of the population but make up only three percent of the police lists.

Seven of Russia’s non-Russian republics – Ingushetia, Chechnya, Daghestan, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia – have Muslim majorities, and two others Bashkortostan and Tatarstan are approaching that figure.

Muslim nationalities are growing 60 to 90 times faster than the all-Russian average, with Chechens increasing by 1.82 percent a year, for example, while the all-Russian figure is only 0.02 percent.

Full report at:

http://www.eurasiareview.com/08032017-islam-is-changing-russia-rapidly-and-profoundly-oped/

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What Morocco’s apparent pivot to Sub-Saharan Africa means

March 7, 2017

For decades, Morocco’s foreign and economic policies have focused on Europe. But now, the kingdom is increasingly looking south. On January 30, Morocco was re-admitted into the African Union. And it wasted no time in applying for full membership in the Economic Community of West African States, a 15-member bloc with a combined GDP of $735bn (Dh2.6tn).

The roots of Morocco’s pivot to western Africa hark back to the early Trans-Saharan trade. The kingdom also has linguistic and religious commonalities with the region with which it now seeks closer ties. Morocco shares a common language with eight francophone members of the economic community, as well as an ancient Sufi tradition with Muslim-majority countries in West Africa. These links may facilitate Morocco’s co-operation with bloc members at the political and security levels.

Since his accession to the throne in 1999, King Mohammed VI has emphasised stronger economic links with the region, signalling a long-term economic strategy towards sub-Saharan Africa by undertaking an annual diplomatic tour of Africa, and signing multiple bilateral agreements across the continent. The early stage of this strategy involved developing a series of public partnerships in infrastructure-related areas, such as electricity, sanitation, and telecommunications. Rabat also gave its backing to private investments in sub-Saharan Africa through pro-active economic diplomacy and treaties to avoid double taxation with eight West and Central African states.

These policies helped increase trade and foreign direct investment between Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, from 1999 to 2014, trade flows have seen an average annual growth rate of 14.7 per cent. Meanwhile, Morocco’s foreign direct investments in sub-Saharan Africa has represented about 63 per cent of the kingdom’s total outward direct investment between 2008 and 2013. The past 15 years have also seen Moroccan banks expand their continental network to 11 sub-Saharan African countries, making Morocco a prominent financial hub in the region.

However, despite this, there are several impediments to the kingdom’s regional trade relations. Also, Morocco believes its ties with the sub-Saharan Africa remain far below potential. Indeed, sub-Saharan Africa represents only 2.7 per cent of Morocco’s total trade flow, and, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the country is only ranked 45th on the list of the region’s trade partners.

Such disappointing results are due to various internal and external factors, such as the lack of efficient transport infrastructure throughout the region, Morocco’s insufficient diversification of its export production, and the country’s incomplete adaptation to sub-Saharan African demand. The absence of an effective and comprehensive legal framework, and the persistently high level of protectionism among sub-Saharan countries are also to blame. Moreover, Morocco has to reckon with strong international competitors increasingly attracted to fast-growing African markets.

A willingness to address these issues has recently led Morocco to enter the third phase of its African economic strategy, which is to enhance deeper regional integration in West and Central Africa. Morocco’s Economic Community of West African States application can, therefore, also be understood as an attempt to consolidate its sub-Saharan economic policy in a changing global context characterised by Europe’s economic sluggishness, energy insecurity and political instability.

Meanwhile, Rabat’s moves on the economic front also seem to be influenced by geopolitical and security concerns. The kingdom sees the resurgence of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb – in Mali and the broader Sahel region – as a serious challenge that warrants greater, multilateral security collaboration with West African countries. Membership of the economic community will also give Morocco an important framework to expand its diplomatic and security interests in Africa.

For Morocco, the Polisario Front, an armed group that seeks independence from Rabat in Western Sahara, remains a key national issue. Through membership of the economic community, the kingdom seeks to counter-balance the influence of countries that back Polisario in other African institutions such as the AU and its Peace and Security Council.

Morocco’s recent moves towards the continent may indicate that it is no longer willing to let the Western Sahara conflict define its Africa policy. Instead, Rabat is trying to gradually consolidate its narrative on the conflict through multilateral security and economic regional co-operation.

Full report at:

http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/what-moroccos-apparent-pivot-to-sub-saharan-africa-means

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Europe

 

Turkey FM addresses supporters from balcony after Germany cancels rally

Mar 8, 2017

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has been forced to address supporters from the balcony of Turkish consul's residence in Hamburg after Germany cancels a rally he was to address.

Earlier on Tuesday, German authorities cited safety regulations and annulled a Hamburg event where Cavusoglu was supposed to deliver a speech aimed at gathering support for an April constitutional reform referendum.

After the rally was canceled, some 200 of Cavusoglu’s supporters gathered outside the consul’s home, where he criticized the German government's democracy. "Please, don't give us lessons in human rights and democracy," he said.

The Turkish foreign minister made the remarks amid a spat between Ankara and Berlin over Germany’s cancellation of events aimed at drumming up support for the referendum.

On April 16, Turkey will hold a referendum aimed at abolishing the office of the prime minister and giving more executive powers to the currently largely ceremonial position of the president.

"We want to say to our German friends, please, stop these bad practices," said Cavusoglu. "Germany should not intervene in our elections and our referendum," he added.

"They are blocking 'yes' voters and supporting 'no' voters in our referendum," he stressed.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel rejected Cavusoglu's claims, stressing that "In our legal system, local authorities are generally in charge of security issues.”

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of reverting to Nazism after it canceled several rallies. A remark that the German Chancellery described as “absolutely unacceptable.”

Apart from Germany, the Netherlands has also introduced a ban on pro-Erdogan rallies. Recently, Austria called on all European Union countries to enforce a ban on any pro-Erdogan campaigning ahead of the Turkish referendum.

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/08/513442/turkey-germany-rally-cavusoglu-rally

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The Muslim Brotherhood Is Creating A 'Parallel Social Structure' In Sweden

8 March 2017

The Muslim Brotherhood is creating a 'parallel social structure' in Sweden with the help of 'political elites' who foster a culture of silence, a damning government report has found.

The document claims that the Brotherhood is building a 'parallel society' within the Scandinavian country, which can help the Islamist group to achieve its ends.

Founded in 1826, the Muslim Brotherhood aims to organise Muslims politically in order to create a global, Sunni Islamic Caliphate.

The group is arguably the largest Islamist organisation in the world and has in the past been linked to mainstream Islamic institutions, including to the Muslim Council of Britain.

The organisation has been accused of fostering links to militants and is classed as a terrorist organisation by the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The research focused on Muslim Brotherhood members both in Egypt and in Europe.

Publication of the damning document about the group has sparked a row in Sweden, with critics labelling the report 'conspiratorial' and claiming it misrepresents Islam.

The report, which was published on Friday, was commissioned by Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), which is part of the country's Ministry of Defence.

The paper's authors claim the Brotherhood is working to increase the number of practising Muslims in Sweden, which they say encourages tension with the secular society and puts community cohesion in jeopardy.

The authors also claim the organisation is targeting political parties, NGOs, academic institutions and other civil society organisations.

'Islamists aim to build a parallel social structure competing with the rest of the Swedish society the values of its citizens. In this sense, MB's activists pose a long-term challenge in terms of the country's social cohesion', the report says.

The document, edited by Magnus Norell, claims that as migration to the country increases, so the problems will intensify.

'Migration from Africa and the Middle East is likely to continue in coming years, both in form of relatives and refugees', it says.

'Given that MB's goal is to increase the number of practising Muslims in Swedish or European territory, there is a great likelihood that a 'tug of war' will occur between the majority community and the Islamic community with the MB's encouragement.'

The report further claims that those who criticise the group run the risk of being branded racist or Islamophobic.

Full report at:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4289770/Muslim-Brotherhood-creating-parallel-society-Sweden.html

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French study calls for replacing Pentecost with Islamic Eid

March 07, 2017

France’s main think tank published a report in February calling for the replacement of Easter and Pentecost with Islamic and Jewish alternatives.

(VERO BEACH, FLA) On Wednesday February 22nd, 2017 French think-tank Terra Nova published a report titled “The Emancipation of Islam in France” calling.

Terra Nova, which New York based think-tank Gatestone Institute labeled as “France’s main think tank that provides ideas to the governing Socialist Party,” suggested in the report that French authorities should replace two Christian holidays — Easter and Pentecost — with an Islamic holiday and, to be ecumenical, a Jewish holiday.

"In order to treat all the denominations equally, it should include two important new holidays, Yom Kippur and Eid el Kebir, with the removal of two Mondays that do not correspond to particular solemnity,” Alain Christnacht and Marc-Olivier Padis wrote in the study.

The Gatestone Institute commented that this move would see Catholic Easter and Christian Pentecost sacrificed “to keep the ever-elusive multicultural peace.”

Upon review the Episcopal Conference of France rejected Terra Nova's proposal, but the Union of Islamic Organizations of France — known for close association with the Muslim Brotherhood — endorsed it and called for the inclusion of the Islamic holidays of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.

The Observatory of Secularism, an organization created by French President François Hollande to coordinate secularist policies,  previously endorsed this idea as early as 2013, adding they would like to eliminate further Christian holidays to make way for the Islamic, Jewish and secular holidays.

“France must replace two Christian holidays to make way for the Yom Kippur and Eid," Observatory of Secularism member Dounia Bouzar was quoted by France24 as saying in September of 2013.

Full report at:

http://www.trunews.com/article/french-study-calls-for-replacing-pentecost-with-islamic-eid

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Arab World

 

Top Military, Religious Leaders Defecting Al-Nusra-Led Tahrir Al-Sham Hay'at Coalition

Mar 07, 2017

The sources said that after the vast defection of Ahrar al-Sham's commanders to Tahrir al-Sham in recent weeks, now the top Mufti (religious leader) of Tahrir al-Sham, Abdul Halim Atwan, announced his defection from the Hay'at and declared that joining the Hay'at "is Haram (religiously forbidden)".

They added that Abdul Razaq al-Mahdi, one of the most important Muftis of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at has also cut off ties with the collation over clashes between Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham.

The sources went on to say that Head of the political bureau of Nouralddeen al-Zinki Yaser Ibrahim al-Yusuf and politburo member Haji Mustafa that had previously joined Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at have also both defected the Hay'at over intensified crisis.

Local sources in Northwestern Syria, meantime, said that clashes have intensified between Tahrir al-Sham's terrorists and Ahrar al-Sham in Idlib province, after the former struck several positions of the latter, adding Ahrar al-Sham also laid siege on a spinning factory that was recently captured by Tahrar al-Sham Hay'at's forces.

Late in January, the Al-Nusra Front (Fatah al-Sham Front) and several militant groups declared forming a new coalition under the name of Tahrir Al-Sham Hay'at to narrow down widening rifts amongst their commanders and members.

The Al-Nusra Front, Nouralddeen al-Zinki Movement, Jeish al-Sonah, Jabhat Ansaraldeen and Liwa al-Haq announced that they would act under a united coalition named the Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at.

The five merged terrorist groups act under the command of Abu Jaber Hashem al-Sheikh, who was one of the commanders of Ahrar al-Sham. The new coalition led by al-Sheikh is now fighting against Ahrar al-Sham, a rival terrorist group operating mainly in Northwestern Syria.

Al-Sheikh resigned from his post in Ahrar al-Sham after he was appointed as the commander of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at.

A number of Ahrar al-Sham's commanders, including the groups' spokesman Abu Yusuf al-Mohajer, Hesam Salameh and Abu al-Fatah al-Farqali Mesri also joined the new coalition.

Terrorist groups' websites claimed that Al-Nusra Commander Abu Mohammad al-Joulani will be the top commander of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at.

Ahrar al-Sham rejected its affiliation to the new coalition, but websites close to the terrorist groups have disclosed that Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Sham, Jeish al-Izzah, Turkistani party and Liwa al-Tamkin will soon start a new front called Tahrir al-Syria Front.

Nusra terrorists have been attacking positions of other terrorist rivals across Northwestern Syria.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951217001327

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Syrian Army Marching on ISIL Centers East of Newly-Liberated Palmyra

Mar 07, 2017

The army men engaged in an intense battle with ISIL and seized full control over Ameriyeh settlement and Palmyra prison.

The army soldiers purged the regions near the Palmyra airport and deployed troops in an area only 21km away from Arak oilfield.

In the meantime, military sources said that the army forces are now advancing against ISIL East of Palmyra airport towards the regions of Bayareh Mohammad Batmaan and Bayareh Ham'ah al-Motlaq, adding that the government forces are just 10km away from the silos.   

Media sources disclosed earlier today that the Russian military experts have trained a large number of Special Forces of the Syrian Army known as ISIL Hunters to fight against terrorists in Eastern Homs and in the Western territories of the newly-liberated Palmyra (Tadmur) city.

The Arabic language al-Watan daily reported that the Russian forces kicked off training a large number of the army's special forces called ISIL Hunters to maintain security to government facilities, ammunition depots and airbases in desert regions.

The daily added that ISIL Hunters played a significant role in the liberation of Palmyra from terrorists.

The ISIL Hunters were trained by the Russian Special Forces in Lattakia, the daily said, adding that they are experts in guarding government facilities in desert regions, arms and ammunition depots and military airports and fight against terrorists in oil and gas fields.

In the meantime, Russia has kicked off training 100 pilots of the Syrian Air Force on the new models of Mig fighter jets, al-Watan went on to say.

Damascus and Kremlin both declared on Thursday that the Syrian Army, backed by the Russian Air Force, took back the key city of Palmyra from the ISIL terrorist group.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov stated that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to the commander-in-chief, President Vladimir Putin, that the historic city of Palmyra in Homs province was liberated.

Hours after Moscow declared the liberation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Homs province, the General Command of the Syrian Army also confirmed the report.

The Syrian army forces broke the ISIL defense lines in Palmyra on Wednesday night and entered the ancient city after liberating the Palmyra Triangle and Castle, cutting off the ISIL supply routes towards the historic city.

According to reports, the ISIL terrorists evacuated most parts of the city on Thursday after planting bombs in its houses and roads.

ISIL kicked off a large-scale operation on December 8 with thousands of forces in Homs province to take control of Palmyra that was liberated by the Syrian Army in March 2016.

The ISIL took control over some energy fields and strategic heights and approached Palmyra.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951217001224

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Iraqi forces retake govt HQ, museum in Mosul

Mar 8, 2017

MOSUL - Iraqi forces said Tuesday they had seized the main government offices in Mosul and its famed museum as they made steady progress in their battle to retake the city's west from militants.

News of the advances came on the third day of a renewed offensive against the Islamic State group in west Mosul - the largest remaining urban stronghold in the "caliphate" declared by the militants in 2014.

Supported by the US-led coalition bombing IS in Iraq and Syria, Iraqi forces began their push against west Mosul on February 19. The advance slowed during several days of bad weather but was renewed on Sunday.

Recent advances have brought government troops and police closer to Mosul's densely populated Old City, where hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to still be trapped under IS rule. Iraq's Joint Operations Command said in a statement that federal police and the elite Rapid Response unit had been able to "liberate" the headquarters for the Nineveh provincial government. They also seized control of the Al-Hurriyah bridgehead, it said, in a step towards potentially relinking west Mosul with the city's east, which government forces seized from the militants earlier in the offensive.

All the bridges crossing the Tigris in Mosul have been damaged or destroyed, and Iraqi forces would either have to repair them or install floating bridges to reconnect the two banks of the river, which divides the city.

Officers said Tuesday that security forces had also managed to recapture the Mosul museum, where the militants destroyed priceless artefacts, releasing a video of their rampage in February 2015.

The video showed militants at the museum knocking statues off their plinths and smashing them to pieces. In another scene a jackhammer was used to deface a large Assyrian winged bull at an archaeological site in the city.

The militants' attacks on ancient heritage in Iraq and Syria have sparked widespread international outrage and fears for some of the world's most important archaeological sites.

The museum was on a police list released Tuesday of sites recently recaptured from IS, which also included Mosul's central bank building, which the militants looted along with other banks in 2014, seizing tens of millions of dollars.

Other sites recaptured during the last few days include the provincial police headquarters, the courts complex and the water and electricity directorates.

The recent fighting in west Mosul has forced more than 50,000 people to flee their homes, according to the International Organization for Migration.

But the number who have fled is still just a fraction of the 750,000 people who are believed to have stayed on in west Mosul under IS rule.

Emerging from the chaos of the civil war in neighbouring Syria, IS seized control of large parts of Syria and Iraq in mid-2014, declaring its Islamic "caliphate" and committing widespread atrocities.

The US-led coalition launched air strikes against the militants in both countries several months later and has backed both Iraqi forces and fighters in Syria battling IS.

The militants have been pushed from most of the territory they once seized but remain in control of key bastions including west Mosul and the caliphate's de facto Syrian capital Raqa.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-Mar-2017/iraqi-forces-retake-govt-hq-museum-in-mosul

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Syria forces quietly take up buffer between Kurds, Turks

7 March 2017

US-backed Syrian fighters have turned over several villages in the country’s north to government forces under a deal to avoid conflict with Turkey, a spokesman told AFP on Tuesday.

The Manbij Military Council, part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, announced the planned handover last week.

“Some villages and points on the western side of the town of Al-Areima have been handed over to the border guards of the Syrian regime,” Manbij Military Council spokesman Sherfan Darwish told AFP.

He said the handover was carried out “with the goal of curbing Turkey’s expansion and its occupation of Syrian territory, and to... prevent the shedding of civilian blood.”

He declined to give further details but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said the handover had happened on Monday and involved fewer than 10 villages.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman described the handover as “for show.”

“Members of the Manbij Military Council simply put on army clothes and raised the Syrian flag to avoid friction with the Turks,” he told AFP.

There was no mention in Syrian state media of the handover to government forces.

The Manbij Military Council, part of the Kurdish-Arab SDF, first announced the handover last week, marking the first time that US-supported fighters had proposed ceding territory to regime forces.

The Council said the deal had been agreed with Russia to “protect the line dividing the Manbij Military Council and the areas under the control of the Turkish army and Euphrates Shield.”

Euphrates Shield is the name of the operation Turkey launched inside Syria last August targeting the Islamic State group and the SDF, which is dominated by Kurdish fighters that Ankara sees as “terrorists”.

The handover plan was announced after Euphrates Shield forces attacked several villages under SDF control east of the town of Al-Bab last week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that the operation’s next target would be Manbij -- a former ISIS bastion that is now under SDF control.

On Monday, Ankara stepped back from that threat, saying it would not act without cooperation from Russia and the United States.

The profusion of forces operating in Syria has led to a deeply complex battlefield and tensions between different parties.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/07/Syria-forces-quietly-take-up-buffer-between-Kurds-Turks.html

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Iraq, Kurdish group reach deal on Kirkuk oil flow to Turkey: PUK

Mar 8, 2017

An agreement between the central government in Baghdad and a Kurdish party, which had recently disrupted oil flow from the northern Iraqi region of Kirkuk to Turkey, has enabled the resumption of the process.

Kosrat Rasul, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) that controls Kirkuk’s oil fields, said his group has reached a deal with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Under the agreement, crude will continue flowing from the region through a pipeline to a Turkish export terminal on the Mediterranean en route to global markets.

Last week, PUK forces stormed the state-run North Oil Company (NOC) in Kirkuk, which resulted in briefly stopping oil exports in an effort to force Baghdad to meet its demand for a share of  the revenue.

Aala Talabani, a key PUK lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament, said local authorities were unhappy that neither Baghdad nor the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was prepared to build a local refinery “so that the people of the province can have a share of the petrodollars.”

The Kurdish group also called for the 2016 Kirkuk oil sharing deal between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region “to be canceled within a week.”

However, Rasul said that Tuesday’s “agreement ended the problem and there is no deadline anymore” to shut the pipeline, without providing further details.

The huge Kirkuk oil field can pump around 150,000 barrels per day and has been exporting the output to global markets via Turkey.

Also on Wednesday, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said the country had added a processing unit to the Kirkuk oil refinery, increasing the plant’s capacity by 10,000 barrels per day.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/08/513485/Iraq-Kurdistan-Kirkul-Turkey

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Iraq calls for Syria’s rejoining Arab League after years of exclusion

Mar 7, 2017

The Iraqi foreign minister has called on the Arab League (AL) to end its suspension of Syria’s membership in the 22-member pan-Arab body, stressing that Arabs should reach a consensus on resolving the Syria crisis.

Speaking in an address to a meeting of AL foreign ministers in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Tuesday, Ibrahim al-Ja’afari said that Syria’s absence from the Arab League could not be tolerated anymore.

AL does not only represent Arab governments, but also Arab nations and thus should bring an end to the Syria conflict, Ja’afari added in remarks broadcast live on state-run Iraqi TV.

Any weakening of an Arab country is tantamount to the weakening of all Arabs, he said, emphasizing that if Arabs cannot unite on Syria, they can at least agree on settling the crisis there.

AL suspended Syria's membership in November 2011, citing alleged Damascus’s crackdown on opposition protests. Syria's envoy to the group denounced the move as "illegal and a violation of the organization’s charter.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/07/513407/Iraq-Syria-Arab-League

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Iraq FM calls on US to fully remove Muslim travel ban

Mar 8, 2017

Iraq, which has been excluded from a revised US travel ban, decries the prohibition in its entirety, calling on Washington to respect the dignity of the six other Muslim-majority states and remove them from the blacklist.

Back in January, US President Donald Trump ordered an entry ban on citizens of Iraq as well as Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The order was met with massive domestic and international backlash before being blocked through legal proceedings at a federal court. On Monday, however, Trump signed a new executive order affecting the nationals of all those countries except Iraq.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ja’afari reacted to the new measure during an Arab League ministerial meeting in Cairo on Tuesday.

“It is a right decision [to exclude Iraq] but I expect the US government to lift the ban on the other six countries,” he said. “These nations should have been entitled to dignity and sovereignty and their people should have been respected. Democratic countries are supposed to open up to them,” he added.

The US took Iraq off the list after Baghdad started sharing certain data on individuals with Washington, and accommodated a Washington-ordered visa vetting regime.

Other reactions

Also criticizing the executive order were Somalia, Sudan and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/08/513465/Iraq-US-Trump

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Pakistan

 

Two soldiers, 5 terrorists killed in Swabi clash

March 08, 2017

PESHAWAR - Security forces on Tuesday morning killed five terrorists while two security personnel including a captain were also martyred during an intelligence-based operation in district Swabi.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, security forces carried out the intelligence-based raid as part of the ongoing operation Raddul Fassad in Malikabad village on a tip-off about the presence of militants in a compound.

The militants opened fire on the security forces, killing Captain Junaid and Sepoy Amjid on the spot. In the exchange of fire, five terrorists were also killed. The security forces besieged the compound before the firing took place with the terrorist hiding in the compound, the ISPR said.

Of the five slain terrorists, three were identified as Majid alias Khalid, a resident of Menai, tehsil Topi, Yousaf alias Chota Khalid, a resident of Malikabad and Jawad, a resident of Malakand.

The two other terrorists, whose identity could not be ascertained, were presumably Afghan nationals. It has been learnt that the terrorists were planning to target educational institutions and judicial complexes.

The security forces have launched Raddul Fassad against militants throughout the country after a sudden rise in terror incidents. Several militants have so far been killed and arrested during the operation.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said that the sacrifices of our security personnel will not go in vain. According to ISPRE, the army chief said that the terrorists will be brought to justice at all costs.

http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Mar-2017/two-soldiers-5-terrorists-killed-in-swabi-clash

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Quran education bill to be passed soon: Baligh

March 08, 2017

Islamabad - The Minister of State for Federal Education and Professional Training, Muhammad Baligh ur Rehman said on Tuesday that soon a bill of compulsory Quran education at schools will be passed from the parliament as it is one of the prime focus of ministry.

The minister was addressing a two-day international conference on ‘Role of Islamic Universities in Teaching of Arabic to Non-Native speakers’ at Islamic International University (IIUI).

The minister said inclusion of teaching of Quran with Nazra and translation in the curriculum at different level of school education is the prime focus of the ministry.

“Soon a bill of compulsory Quran education at schools will be passed from the house parliament,” he said.

“The government is also speedily working to prepare a comprehensive national curriculum with the help of provinces,” the minister said.

The minister added that curriculum will be designed in line with the contemporary needs by focusing on character building, civic sense and national unity.

The conference was organised by the Faculty of Arabic of the university faculty members presented around 50 papers to explore ways of promotion of Arabic language.

The minister maintained that Islam was complete code of life and government was focused on providing contemporary education to youth integrated with teachings of Islam.

Talking about the improvements in the higher education, the minister furthered that government, in terms of grants to universities through Higher Education Commission (HEC), has increased the funding from Rs 41 billion to Rs 91 billion.

The minister also hailed the IIUI and its services, and said that it has always shown presence of foreign students at its campuses which were a distinction, while he also termed IIUI as the most vital institution which can play pivotal role in promotion of education.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/islamabad/08-Mar-2017/quran-education-bill-to-be-passed-soon-baligh

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US envoys discuss Pak-Afghan ties, CPEC

March 08, 2017

ISLAMABAD - US diplomats serving in different countries in an unusual congregation here the other day discussed various global and regional changes taking place with a special focus on Pakistan, diplomatic sources informed The Nation. The sources told this scribe, that various US envoys serving at Dhaka, New Delhi, Beijing, Moscow and Kabul including the host ambassador assembled in a sitting to discuss the situation in Pakistan in particular. During the meeting the current rapidly deteriorating Pakistan-Afghanistan ties remained at the top of the agenda. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its regional and future importance also came under discussion. The participants of the meeting also discussed the growing Indian influence inside Afghanistan and clash of Pak-India interests inside the war-torn country.

Full report at:

–Anwer Abbas is a correspondent for Waqt News

http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Mar-2017/us-envoys-discuss-pak-afghan-ties-cpec

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No room in country for terrorism: PML-N

March 08, 2017

SUKKUR - Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) Sukkur chapter Dilwar Khan and Shahzad Aasi on Tuesday said that there was no room in the country for those involved in killing innocent people in the name of sectarianism and terrorism.  In their joint statement they said that the country was facing big challenges which the PML-N government had the capacity to overcome through effective policies.

They said that the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had succeeded in destroying the network of terrorists and the world had acknowledged that Pakistan was sincere in its efforts to eradicate terrorism.

They said that the country's economy was improving and measures taken were being praised by international economic institutions adding that the present government had taken a number of steps to overcome the electricity and gas crises that country was facing in the past.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/08-Mar-2017/no-room-in-country-for-terrorism-pml-n

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Balochistan lawyers to file contempt plea against Nisar

08-Mar-17

ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan's legal fraternity on Tuesday requested the Supreme Court to start contempt of court proceedings against Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan over his contemptuous remarks against Quetta Inquiry Commission (QIC).

The commission was formed to probe the tragic incident at Civil Hospital Quetta that claimed 73 lives.

The Balochistan Bar Council and Balochistan High Court Bar Association submitted that they would, nevertheless, file a separate contempt application against the minister under Article 204 read with Section 3 and 4 of Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.

Hamid Khan filed a 17-page reply to the objections raised by the Interior Ministry.

"Since such contemptuous act has been done none other than Minister of Interior himself, therefore, it is requested that he may kindly be proceeded against by this Hon'able Court to explain his position and held for contempt of court," the reply stated, adding that nevertheless a separate contempt application under Article 204 would also be filed.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/08-Mar-17/balochistan-lawyers-to-file-contempt-plea-against-nisar

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Saudi interior ministry: ISIS loyalist killed, one other arrested

8 March 2017

The Saudi interior ministry on Wednesday reported that an ISIS loyalist was killed by security forces, while one other arrested in Riyadh.

A ministry spokesperson said that the incident happened on Tuesday at 6pm when a security patrol was inspecting an apartment in the al-Rayan neighborhood in the Saudi capital.

One of the people occupying the apartment was suspected as being an ISIS loyalist and had been reported to authorities.

“Security forces were met with resistance when they attempted to arrest the suspect which led to his death,” the spokesperson said, adding that no other people were harmed during the operation.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/08/Saudi-interior-ministry-ISIS-loyalist-killed-one-other-arrested.html

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Iraq, Kurdish group reach deal on Kirkuk oil flow to Turkey: PUK

Mar 8, 2017

An agreement between the central government in Baghdad and a Kurdish party, which had recently disrupted oil flow from the northern Iraqi region of Kirkuk to Turkey, has enabled the resumption of the process.

Kosrat Rasul, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) that controls Kirkuk’s oil fields, said his group has reached a deal with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Under the agreement, crude will continue flowing from the region through a pipeline to a Turkish export terminal on the Mediterranean en route to global markets.

Last week, PUK forces stormed the state-run North Oil Company (NOC) in Kirkuk, which resulted in briefly stopping oil exports in an effort to force Baghdad to meet its demand for a share of  the revenue.

Aala Talabani, a key PUK lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament, said local authorities were unhappy that neither Baghdad nor the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was prepared to build a local refinery “so that the people of the province can have a share of the petrodollars.”

The Kurdish group also called for the 2016 Kirkuk oil sharing deal between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region “to be canceled within a week.”

However, Rasul said that Tuesday’s “agreement ended the problem and there is no deadline anymore” to shut the pipeline, without providing further details.

The huge Kirkuk oil field can pump around 150,000 barrels per day and has been exporting the output to global markets via Turkey.

Also on Wednesday, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said the country had added a processing unit to the Kirkuk oil refinery, increasing the plant’s capacity by 10,000 barrels per day.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/08/513485/Iraq-Kurdistan-Kirkul-Turkey

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Syria forces quietly take up buffer between Kurds, Turks

07 Mar 2017

AFP

Manbij, Syria: US-backed Syrian fighters have turned over several villages in the country's north to government forces under a deal to avoid conflict with Turkey, a spokesman told AFP on Tuesday.

The Manbij Military Council, part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, announced the planned handover last week.

"Some villages and points on the western side of the town of Al-Areima have been handed over to the border guards of the Syrian regime," Manbij Military Council spokesman Sherfan Darwish told AFP.

He said the handover was carried out "with the goal of curbing Turkey's expansion and its occupation of Syrian territory, and to... prevent the shedding of civilian blood."

He declined to give further details but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor of the war, said the handover had happened on Monday and involved fewer than 10 villages.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman described the handover as "for show."

"Members of the Manbij Military Council simply put on army clothes and raised the Syrian flag to avoid friction with the Turks," he told AFP.

There was no mention in Syrian state media of the handover to government forces.

The Manbij Military Council, part of the Kurdish-Arab SDF, first announced the handover last week, marking the first time that US-supported fighters had proposed ceding territory to regime forces.

The Council said the deal had been agreed with Russia to "protect the line dividing the Manbij Military Council and the areas under the control of the Turkish army and Euphrates Shield."

Euphrates Shield is the name of the operation Turkey launched inside Syria last August targeting the Islamic State group and the SDF, which is dominated by Kurdish fighters that Ankara sees as "terrorists".

The handover plan was announced after Euphrates Shield forces attacked several villages under SDF control east of the town of Al-Bab last week.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that the operation's next target would be Manbij -- a former IS bastion that is now under SDF control.

But on Monday, Ankara stepped back from that threat, saying it would not act without cooperation from Russia and the United States.

The profusion of forces operating in Syria has led to a deeply complex battlefield and tensions between different parties.

Washington said on Monday it had sent additional troops into Manbij to deter rival powers from targeting each other rather than IS.

"This is obviously a really complicated situation," said Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis.

Full report at:

https://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/article/07/03/2017/Syria-forces-quietly-take-up-buffer-between-Kurds,-Turks

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Saudi interior ministry: ISIS loyalist killed, one other arrested

8 March 2017

The Saudi interior ministry on Wednesday reported that an ISIS loyalist was killed by security forces, while one other arrested in Riyadh.

A ministry spokesperson said that the incident happened on Tuesday at 6pm when a security patrol was inspecting an apartment in the al-Rayan neighborhood in the Saudi capital.

One of the people occupying the apartment was suspected as being an ISIS loyalist and had been reported to authorities.

“Security forces were met with resistance when they attempted to arrest the suspect which led to his death,” the spokesperson said, adding that no other people were harmed during the operation.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/08/Saudi-interior-ministry-ISIS-loyalist-killed-one-other-arrested.html

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Iraq, Kurdish group reach deal on Kirkuk oil flow to Turkey: PUK

Mar 8, 2017

An agreement between the central government in Baghdad and a Kurdish party, which had recently disrupted oil flow from the northern Iraqi region of Kirkuk to Turkey, has enabled the resumption of the process.

Kosrat Rasul, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) that controls Kirkuk’s oil fields, said his group has reached a deal with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

Under the agreement, crude will continue flowing from the region through a pipeline to a Turkish export terminal on the Mediterranean en route to global markets.

Last week, PUK forces stormed the state-run North Oil Company (NOC) in Kirkuk, which resulted in briefly stopping oil exports in an effort to force Baghdad to meet its demand for a share of  the revenue.

Aala Talabani, a key PUK lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament, said local authorities were unhappy that neither Baghdad nor the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was prepared to build a local refinery “so that the people of the province can have a share of the petrodollars.”

The Kurdish group also called for the 2016 Kirkuk oil sharing deal between Baghdad and the Kurdistan region “to be canceled within a week.”

However, Rasul said that Tuesday’s “agreement ended the problem and there is no deadline anymore” to shut the pipeline, without providing further details.

The huge Kirkuk oil field can pump around 150,000 barrels per day and has been exporting the output to global markets via Turkey.

Also on Wednesday, Iraqi Oil Minister Jabar al-Luaibi said the country had added a processing unit to the Kirkuk oil refinery, increasing the plant’s capacity by 10,000 barrels per day.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/08/513485/Iraq-Kurdistan-Kirkul-Turkey

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Aleppo: Syrian Army Liberates Strategic Town of Al-Khafseh

Mar 08, 2017

The Syrian troops freed the town after heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorists and inflicting heavy tolls on them.

A military source said that the army first retook control of the Western and Northern villages near the town, including Kharbat al-Shabab, Ma'aradha al-Kabirah and Dakhira towns, and then heavily pounded the ISIL positions inside al-Khafseh with missiles and artillery fire.

According to the source, street clashes with the terrorists started after the army's missile and artillery attacks.

He added that the remaining ISIL members fled towards Maskanah region and the adjacent areas from the South after the army won back control of the town.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian army soldiers continued to advance against ISIL in vast areas in Eastern Aleppo and captured territories only 2km away from the facilities pumping water to Aleppo city.

The army troops stormed ISIL's positions and drove the terrorists out of the towns of Qasr al-Ahmar, Abajeh, Jubb al-Qahwa and the farms of al-Ebadeh, Abajeh and Abu Tineh, deploying forces at positions only 3km away from al-Khafseh town and 2km away from Water Pumping Facilities near Lake Assad.

On Monday, the army men pushed back ISIL terrorists from more strongholds and deployed in a region only 7km away from al-Khafseh town and 6km from the main water pumping facilities close to Lake Assad.

Aleppo city's water pumping facilities are located South of al-Khafseh town.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951218000349

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Iraqi Sources: US Training Special Forces to Assassinate Hashd al-Shaabi Commanders

Mar 07, 2017

The Arabic website of Skypress quoted the sources as saying that the US forces have trained nearly 400 elite Iraqi forces and formed the Tiger Unit with 50 of them to assassinate Hashd al-Shaabi commanders, specially those who are opposed to the US army's presence in Iraq.

"These forces have been trained by the US intelligence officers and technical engineers to find the location of all commanders too," they added.

The report came after Commander of Asa'eb al-Haq Movement affiliated to Iraqi popular forces of Hashd al-Shaabi said last month that the US forces have been trying hard to evacuate ISIL commanders from the besieged city of Tal Afar West of Mosul.

After photos surfaced in the media displaying US forces assisting ISIL terrorists, Javad al-Talaybawi said that the Americans are planning to take ISIL commanders away from Tal Afar that is under the Iraqi forces' siege.

In the meantime, member of Iraqi Parliament's Security and Defense Commission Iskandar Watut called for a probe into photos and footages displaying US planes airdropping aid packages over ISIL-held regions.

Watut further added that we have witnessed several times that US planes dropped packages of food stuff, arms and other necessary items over ISIL-held regions, and called on Iraq's air defense to watch out the US-led coalition planes.

Eyewitnesses disclosed in February that the US military planes helped the ISIL terrorists in Tal Afar region West of Mosul.

"We saw several packages dropped out of a US army aircraft in the surrounding areas of the city of Tal Afar in Western Nineveh province and six people also came out of a US plane in the ISIL-controlled areas," the Arabic-language media quoted a number of eyewitnesses as saying.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951217000538

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Iraq FM calls on US to fully remove Muslim travel ban

Mar 8, 2017

Iraq, which has been excluded from a revised US travel ban, decries the prohibition in its entirety, calling on Washington to respect the dignity of the six other Muslim-majority states and remove them from the blacklist.

Back in January, US President Donald Trump ordered an entry ban on citizens of Iraq as well as Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The order was met with massive domestic and international backlash before being blocked through legal proceedings at a federal court. On Monday, however, Trump signed a new executive order affecting the nationals of all those countries except Iraq.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Ja’afari reacted to the new measure during an Arab League ministerial meeting in Cairo on Tuesday.

“It is a right decision [to exclude Iraq] but I expect the US government to lift the ban on the other six countries,” he said. “These nations should have been entitled to dignity and sovereignty and their people should have been respected. Democratic countries are supposed to open up to them,” he added.

The US took Iraq off the list after Baghdad started sharing certain data on individuals with Washington, and accommodated a Washington-ordered visa vetting regime.

Other reactions

Also criticizing the executive order were Somalia, Sudan and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/08/513465/Iraq-US-Trump

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Pakistan

 

Two soldiers, 5 terrorists killed in Swabi clash

March 08, 2017

PESHAWAR - Security forces on Tuesday morning killed five terrorists while two security personnel including a captain were also martyred during an intelligence-based operation in district Swabi.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations, security forces carried out the intelligence-based raid as part of the ongoing operation Raddul Fassad in Malikabad village on a tip-off about the presence of militants in a compound.

The militants opened fire on the security forces, killing Captain Junaid and Sepoy Amjid on the spot. In the exchange of fire, five terrorists were also killed. The security forces besieged the compound before the firing took place with the terrorist hiding in the compound, the ISPR said.

Of the five slain terrorists, three were identified as Majid alias Khalid, a resident of Menai, tehsil Topi, Yousaf alias Chota Khalid, a resident of Malikabad and Jawad, a resident of Malakand.

The two other terrorists, whose identity could not be ascertained, were presumably Afghan nationals. It has been learnt that the terrorists were planning to target educational institutions and judicial complexes.

The security forces have launched Raddul Fassad against militants throughout the country after a sudden rise in terror incidents. Several militants have so far been killed and arrested during the operation.

Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said that the sacrifices of our security personnel will not go in vain. According to ISPRE, the army chief said that the terrorists will be brought to justice at all costs.

http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Mar-2017/two-soldiers-5-terrorists-killed-in-swabi-clash

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US envoys discuss Pak-Afghan ties, CPEC

March 08, 2017

ISLAMABAD - US diplomats serving in different countries in an unusual congregation here the other day discussed various global and regional changes taking place with a special focus on Pakistan, diplomatic sources informed The Nation. The sources told this scribe, that various US envoys serving at Dhaka, New Delhi, Beijing, Moscow and Kabul including the host ambassador assembled in a sitting to discuss the situation in Pakistan in particular. During the meeting the current rapidly deteriorating Pakistan-Afghanistan ties remained at the top of the agenda. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its regional and future importance also came under discussion. The participants of the meeting also discussed the growing Indian influence inside Afghanistan and clash of Pak-India interests inside the war-torn country. The sources mentioned that the growing Pak-Russia ties were also subject of the discussion during the unusual US diplomatic congregation. Pakistan’s importance and aspects of its regional security were also discussed by the participants.  The US Embassy Spokesperson, Fleur Cowan, when contacted, confirmed the meeting, adding that “it was an internal working-level annual meeting to foster professional development.”

–Anwer Abbas is a correspondent for Waqt News

http://nation.com.pk/national/08-Mar-2017/us-envoys-discuss-pak-afghan-ties-cpec

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No room in country for terrorism: PML-N

March 08, 2017

SUKKUR - Leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz (PML-N) Sukkur chapter Dilwar Khan and Shahzad Aasi on Tuesday said that there was no room in the country for those involved in killing innocent people in the name of sectarianism and terrorism.  In their joint statement they said that the country was facing big challenges which the PML-N government had the capacity to overcome through effective policies.

They said that the government of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had succeeded in destroying the network of terrorists and the world had acknowledged that Pakistan was sincere in its efforts to eradicate terrorism.

They said that the country's economy was improving and measures taken were being praised by international economic institutions adding that the present government had taken a number of steps to overcome the electricity and gas crises that country was facing in the past.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/karachi/08-Mar-2017/no-room-in-country-for-terrorism-pml-n

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Balochistan lawyers to file contempt plea against Nisar

08-Mar-17

ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan's legal fraternity on Tuesday requested the Supreme Court to start contempt of court proceedings against Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan over his contemptuous remarks against Quetta Inquiry Commission (QIC).

The commission was formed to probe the tragic incident at Civil Hospital Quetta that claimed 73 lives.

The Balochistan Bar Council and Balochistan High Court Bar Association submitted that they would, nevertheless, file a separate contempt application against the minister under Article 204 read with Section 3 and 4 of Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003.

Hamid Khan filed a 17-page reply to the objections raised by the Interior Ministry.

"Since such contemptuous act has been done none other than Minister of Interior himself, therefore, it is requested that he may kindly be proceeded against by this Hon'able Court to explain his position and held for contempt of court," the reply stated, adding that nevertheless a separate contempt application under Article 204 would also be filed.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/08-Mar-17/balochistan-lawyers-to-file-contempt-plea-against-nisar

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Zardari calls for National Women Empowerment Plan

08-Mar-17

ISLAMABAD: On the eve of International Women's Day, former president Asif Ali Zardari called for devising a National Women Empowerment Plan as well as strengthening the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) for the emancipation of women and ending discrimination against them.

In a message on the occasion, he said that equal rights for women is a most basic human right and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) will never allow the perpetuation of discrimination against women or their exploitation in the name of ideology.

"Our leader, Benazir Bhutto, led from the front the fight of women to break the glass ceiling," he said, adding, "The party assures the women of Pakistan of our full support in their struggle against all forms of exploitation and discrimination."

He believed the struggle for gender equality, ending discrimination and exploitation, and giving a voice to women will make Pakistan more tolerant, harmonious and secure. "We salute and express gratitude to the brave and courageous men and women engaged in this struggle," he affirmed.

"On this occasion I call for the formulation of a National Women Empowerment Plan. I also call for strengthening the NCSW to enable it to play its role effectively in protecting and promoting the rights of women," he stated

Over two decades ago, Pakistan ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and is required to submit to the UN during this year the periodic report on its implementation. "It would be most appropriate if the year 2017 is made the year for the formulation of the National Women Empowerment Plan," he said.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/islamabad/08-Mar-17/zardari-calls-for--national-women-empowerment-plan-

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Mideast

 

Turkish PM says allies' choice of Syrian Kurdish YPG as partner unfortunate

Mar 8, 2017

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday it was unfortunate that some of Turkey's allies had chosen the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia as a partner in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.

Yildirim's comments, at a news conference, were made as the military chiefs of Turkey, the United States and Russia met in the southern Turkish province of Antalya to discuss regional security, notably in Syria and Iraq.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/07-Mar-2017/turkish-pm-says-allies-choice-of-syrian-kurdish-ypg-as-partner-unfortunate

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Two Yemeni children killed in US strike

Mar 8, 2017

ADEN - Two children, aged 10 and 12, were killed in a suspected US air strike targeting al-Qaeda in central Yemen, a provincial official said on Tuesday. The children had been tending a herd of goats on a mountain outside the village of Yakla, in Baida province, when the strike hit on Sunday, the official said. There was no immediate comment from the Pentagon. The United States has conducted more than 40 strikes against Al-Qaeda in Yemen since stepping up its air war against the militants on Thursday.

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-Mar-2017/two-yemeni-children-killed-in-us-strike

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Iran rejects US moves to seize 9/11 compensation money

Mar 8, 2017

TEHRAN: Iran said Tuesday it was "completely unfair" for US lawyers to try to seize its overseas assets as compensation for the victims of Sept. 11, 2001.

In 2012, a New York judge ordered Iran to pay $7 billion in damages to the families and estates of victims from the 2001 attacks, arguing the country had aided Al-Qaeda by allowing the group's members to travel through its territory.

Since Iran rejects the accusation and refuses to pay the money, the lawyers are now trying to access $1.6 billion of Iranian money frozen in a Luxembourg bank, according to a report in The New York Times on Monday.

"Some opponents of the Islamic republic of Iran ... have tried to broaden a US domestic law – which is completely unfair and baseless – to apply outside America," said deputy foreign minister Majid Takht Ravanchi, according to the IRNA news agency.

Billions of dollars in Iranian assets were frozen in the US and Europe as part of efforts to push Tehran into a nuclear deal with world powers, which was finally signed in July 2015.

Some of Iran's assets remain frozen despite the deal, in part due to ongoing compensation cases – not just for the 2001 attacks but also the bombing of a U.S. Marines barracks in Lebanon in 1983 that killed 241 American personnel.

"Iran's frozen money in Luxembourg belongs to the period before the (nuclear) negotiations and Iran's (central bank) lawyers are engaged in consultations to obtain it," said Ravanchi.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/07-Mar-2017/iran-rejects-us-moves-to-seize-9-11-compensation-money

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Asiri: Iran is behind terrorism, instability in Middle East

8 March 2017

Arab coalition spokesman Ahmed Asiri says Iran is the reason behind terrorism and instability in the Middle East.

During a seminar organized by the Saudi embassy in Norway, Asiri called on Iran to admit that it supports and funds the Lebanese Party Hezbollah and acknowledge that by establishing Shiite militias in Yemen - the Houthi militia - it’s attempting to create a model that resembles Hezbollah on the southern borders of Saudi Arabia.

He added that the international community was aware that Hezbollah was one of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the region, as it smuggles weapons and drugs across the world to fund its activity in Lebanon and Syria.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2017/03/08/Asiri-Iran-is-behind-terrorism-instability-in-Middle-East.html

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Human rights groups condemn Israel entry ban on BDS advocates

Mar 8, 2017

Human rights groups have censured the Israeli regime’s recent law, which bans supporters of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement from entering the occupied territories.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) described the law as “blatantly anti-democratic.”

“We are not sure what was the need for the new law, apart from saying Israel does not want BDS supporters here. This law violates the most basic tenets of democracy,” the statement read.

On Monday, the Israeli parliament (Knesset) passed an anti-boycott bill following a 46-28 vote. The legislation, which had passed a first reading in the Israeli parliament in mid-January, denies entry permits and temporary residency permits to anyone who has publicly called for a boycott of Israel or represents an organization that has called for such a boycott.

The statement further said, “This law is expected to pose a particularly serious blow to countless Palestinian families living in Israel and in East Jerusalem (al-Quds), whose members hold a temporary residency status or a temporary military-issued permit. These individuals will now be vulnerable to a revocation of their status and permits based upon their political opinions.”

The two groups had sent a letter to the Knesset prior to the adoption of the controversial law, urging the chamber to vote against the bill.

In a similar stance, Israeli rights group B’Tselem also criticized the ban, with its executive director, Hagai el-Ad, saying “border control should not be used as thought control.”

Also reacting to the law was Israeli NGO Peace Now, which denounced the restrictive measure as undemocratic.

The law “will not prevent boycott but rather, deteriorate Israel’s international standing and lead Israel towards international isolation,” the organization said.

The BDS movement was initiated in 2005 by over 170 Palestinian organizations that were pushing for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/08/513466/Human-rights-groups-slam-Israel-ban-BDS-supporters

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Israel simulates destruction of Palestine villages to train troops

Mar 8, 2017

Israel is using simulated villages to train its forces to destroy Palestinian homes and deal with ensuing protests, says a report.  

On Tuesday, the Middle East Monitor website published footage originally broadcasted on Israel’s Channel 2 that showed Israeli soldiers practicing facing protesters, raiding and demolishing homes in fake Palestinian villages. 

According to the report, these drills have been going on for about a week in order to ready soldiers “to face Palestinian protesters while demolishing houses in Palestinian villages.” 

The occupied West Bank has seen an unprecedented rise in the demolition of Palestinian homes this year, with the number of buildings destroyed in the first half of 2016 standing well beyond the total number of demolitions carried out in all of 2015.

According to a United Nations report, Israel has made over 1,383 Palestinians homeless since January as a result of demolitions in the occupied territories, compared to 688 Palestinians internally displaced during the entire 2015.

Since the beginning of the year, at least 168 Palestinian homes have been destroyed, displacing 276 people.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/08/513441/israel-palestine-footage-simulation-demolition

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Africa

 

Libya’s eastern parliament quits UN peace deal with Tripoli

8 March 2017

Libya’s eastern parliament voted Tuesday to withdraw its support for a United Nations peace deal and Government of National Accord, an escalation in the fractured country’s split that stokes concerns recent violence could intensify.

Abdullah Ablaihig, spokesman for the Tobruk-based, internationally recognized House of Representatives, said the body voted to annul its previous acceptance of a presidential council and the UN-backed government currently led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli.

The decision comes as Libya’s rival power centers are sliding closer to open conflict, with breakaway militias backed by western Libyan factions seizing oil terminals from the east’s strongman general, whose forces have vowed to take them back.

The Tobruk body called on all Libyan parties to condemn militias that occupied the two key terminals in what it described as “terrorist attacks,” saying it was suspending its participation in peace talks until they did so.

The militias, which oppose the parliament, say they intend to take the eastern city of Benghazi and drive Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter from the area. Hifter’s army is allied to the parliament, while the Tripoli government opposes him.

“The GNA unity government is not legitimate any more, as well as its presidential council and anything to do with this entity,” Ablaihig said, urging the international community to lift an embargo on weapons sales to the Libyan army under Hifter.

His forces have deployed more troops in preparation of a counterattack to drive out the militias, known as the Benghazi Defense Brigades, which are comprised of Islamic militants and former rebels recently defeated by Hifter’s forces in Benghazi, Libya’ second largest city. They are also joined by militiamen from the western city of Misrata, and a day earlier announced their intentions from there.

Later in the day, the Tripoli government said that the oil terminals had been abandoned by the Benghazi Defense Brigades and that its forces were moving to occupy the facilities. It denied it had any relationship with the Brigades, saying they were involved in a separate fight with Benghazi that should be negotiated peacefully.

“We officially took control of the oil terminals,” Brig. Gen. Mohamed Algosri told The Associated Press. “Now the forces will be formed and deploy to the oil terminals momentarily.”

The Italian Embassy tweeted its support for the move, describing the deployment as “a step in the right direction” that should end the fighting.

Troops under the command of Hifter who were driven out of the oil facilities said they had redeployed to the east around the town of Brega and had been fighting skirmishes in recent days as they attempted to reconnoiter the opposing lines under air support.

An official at nearby Ajdabiya hospital said seven more of Hifter’s troops were killed in fighting near Ras Lanuf on Tuesday, bringing that side’s total losses to 39 killed over the past four days.

Libya descended into chaos with its 2011 civil war, which ended with the killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi and led to the current split.

Western ambassadors have condemned the escalation of violence and called for an immediate cease-fire. Egypt on Tuesday condemned the seizing of the oil installations more singularly, saying that “elements linked to Al-Qaeda” were involved in the attack, which it said posed “serious risks” for Libya.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2017/03/08/Libya-s-eastern-parliament-quits-UN-peace-deal-with-Tripoli.html

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4 policemen killed in 'terrorist' attack in western Niger

Mar 6, 2017

An attack on a police post west of Niger has left at least four officers dead.

A security source said Monday that the attack, which took place a day earlier, struck Wanzarbe, a town located in the western region of Tillaberi.

“The provisional toll is four police officers killed in a clear terrorist attack on Sunday night," said the source, adding that the assault targeted a police station.

The government of Niger on Saturday declared a state of emergency in Tillaberi and other areas near the country’s border with Mali and Burkina Faso.

Tillaberi and neighboring Tahoua region have witnessed several deadly attacks by militants from MUJAO, a terror outfit mainly operating in West Africa region. Most of those attacks have targeted army posts and refugee camps, including a late February assault in Ouallam, Tillaberi, which killed 16 soldiers and wounded 18 others.

Last October, a daring attack on a refugee camp in Tahoua also left 22 soldiers dead.

Officials say at least 43 people were killed in militant attacks in Tillaberi and Tahoua between October 2016 and February this year.

Niger is a northern neighbor to Nigeria, where the Boko Haram Takfiri terror group launched bloody militancy against the government seven years ago.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/06/513274/Niger-terror-attack-Boko-Haram-

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Fighting between Libyan smugglers kills 22 migrants

Mar 8, 2017

GENEVA - Fighting between rival people-smuggling gangs on Libya’s Mediterranean coast has killed 22 people, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.

The dead were thought to be migrants rather than smugglers because they were sub-Saharan Africans, IOM spokesman Joel Millman said. More than 100 people were wounded, he told a news briefing in Geneva, citing information from colleagues in Libya.

The latest deaths come in addition to the 140 bodies found on Libyan beaches so far this year, while there have been 477 deaths at sea on the route from Libya.

So far this year 15,760 migrants have arrived in Italy, up from 9,101 in the same period of 2016, while almost 3,000 migrants have been rescued at sea and brought back to Libya, Millman said.

The number of migrants setting off for Italy by boat from Africa has risen more than 50 percent so far this year, after half a million people arrived during the past three years.

Italy is promising to send more migrants who do not qualify for asylum back home, either by force or with their consent.

“This is creating all kinds of activity in the smuggling industry, and apparently that activity has reached the level of violent shootouts that left 22 killed in the last couple of days,” Millman said.

He also said 62 Syrians also showed up among migrants arriving in Italy. Syrian refugees have mainly gone to Europe via Turkey and Greece, a route which was effectively blocked last year by a deal between the European Union and Turkey. Fewer than 200 Syrians made the trip from Libya to Italy last year.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/08-Mar-2017/fighting-between-libyan-smugglers-kills-22-migrants

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‘A nightmare:’ UN chief urges help for Somalia hunger crisis

MARCH 7, 2017

BAIDOA, Somalia (AP) — Visibly shocked by the suffering of malnourished Somalis and cholera victims during an emergency visit, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday urged international support to alleviate Somalia’s worsening hunger crisis.

“Every single person we have seen is a personal story of tremendous suffering. There is no way to describe it,” Guterres said after seeing skeletal men, women and children in a cholera ward in Baidoa, 243 kilometers (151 miles) northwest of the capital, Mogadishu.

Somalia’s prolonged drought has caused widespread hunger, and the shortage of clean water has resulted in cholera.

On his first field trip since becoming the U.N. chief, Guterres said Somalia’s famine crisis requires a massive response. He said 6 million people, or almost half of the country’s population, need assistance.

“People are dying. The world must act now to stop this,” he tweeted on his arrival in this Horn of Africa nation.

“We need to make as much noise as possible,” Guterres said. “Conflict, drought, climate change, disease, cholera. The combination is a nightmare.”

In Baidoa’s cholera wards, adults and children had sunken eyes and protruding ribs. Because of the cholera-induced diarrhea, medical workers sprayed the wards with chlorine to disinfect the areas.

Guterres also visited a camp with hundreds of families displaced by the drought and Somalia’s battle against the Islamic extremists of al-Shabab. He saw hungry families seeking shelter under flimsy plastic.

“I have nothing. This is not a shelter, we barely get any food here and we have no protection. It’s not safe, I am suffering,” said 34-year-old Deira Mohamed Nor, with her 10-month-old baby girl Dahiro Ishaak Hussein, who is sick with malaria. Nor said she recently lost one of her children to diarrhea.

Guterres said he was moved by the misery.

“It makes me feel extremely unhappy with the fact that in today’s world, with the … the richness that exists, that these things are still possible. It is unbelievable,” Guterres said. He wore personal protection armor and was surrounded by African Union peacekeepers and bodyguards to protect against possible suicide bombings and attacks by the extremists who plague Somalia.

Somalia is part of a massive $4 billion aid appeal launched last month for four nations suffering from conflict and hunger. The others are Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan, where famine already has been declared in two counties.

Somalia over the weekend announced its first death toll since declaring a national disaster last week, saying 110 people had died in a 48-hour period in a single region.

Meeting the U.N. chief, Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said: “My first priority is to address this drought crisis, and my main priority is to make an appeal to the international community to help us.”

Somalia is one of the six Muslim-majority countries affected by the revised travel ban ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump. Mohamed took Guterres’ visit as an opportunity to speak out against it.

“Definitely we will prefer to see that this travel ban should be lifted and, of course, we have to communicate with the U.S. government because as everyone knows we have a large Somali community in the United States who I’m sure have contributed to the U.S. economy,” said Mohamed, in response to press questions. He himself has dual Somali-U.S. citizenship.

Full report at:

http://q13fox.com/2017/03/07/a-nightmare-un-chief-urges-help-for-somalia-hunger-crisis/

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Somalia: President Criticizes New U.S. Travel Ban

7 MARCH 2017

Somalia's new president is criticizing the revised U.S. travel ban, telling journalists that "definitely" he would prefer it be lifted and reminding the United States that it has a large Somali community.

The revised ban temporarily bars new visas for citizens of six predominantly Muslim countries including Somalia, but Iraq is no longer on the list.

Full report at:

http://allafrica.com/stories/201703080092.html

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