Islamic World News(02 Nov 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)
Maulana Samiul Haq assassinated at Rawalpindi residence
















Photo: Shiite members wounded in the clash.(Photo: Islamic Movement of Nigeria)

 

Nigeria: Shiites - Govt, Please Let's Not Breed Another Boko Haram

Two in five Americans say Islam 'is incompatible with US values'

Leave for India or convert to Islam’: Afghanistan’s Sikhs weigh future after IS terror attack

Russian trolls stoked UK hatred of Islam after terrorist attacksh

Africa

Nigeria: Shiites - Govt, Please Let's Not Breed Another Boko Haram

Islamic militant attacks up overall, but ISIS incidents down in Africa

Who is Abdullah al-Darsi the new Libyan intelligence chief?

Boko Haram militants kill 16 in raids on villages in northeast Nigeria

Nigeria: Ahmadiyya Seeks Unity Among Humanity

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North America

Two in five Americans say Islam 'is incompatible with US values'

Men convicted of plotting to bomb Muslim refugees blame Trump rhetoric and Russian bots

Alberta Human Rights Commission seeks to appeal Muslim school prayer spat at Supreme Court

Report: US losing ground to militants in Afghanistan despite long occupation

Fresh onslaught on Riyadh over Khashoggi's murder threatens US ties: Saudi prince

US urges return of Khashoggi's remains to family

US media covers Turkey's Khashoggi statement

US midterm results could constrain Trump’s Middle East agenda

Killing of Jamal Khashoggi is like killing all of humanity says former Saudi ambassador to US

Republicans more likely to view Muslim Americans negatively, study finds

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India

Leave for India or convert to Islam’: Afghanistan’s Sikhs weigh future after IS terror attack

Masood Azhar confirms death of nephew in Kashmir

Terrorists gun down BJP's J&K unit secy, brother in Jammu

Left-wing extremists, radicals biggest threats, says former Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra

ISI terror module busted in Patiala; arrested man ‘planned attack during festive season’

Muslim youth are fleeing this UP village after police book 200 under terror law

If not in India, will Ram temple be built in Pakistan?’

NIA takes over probe into plot to kill HMK founder

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Europe

Russian trolls stoked UK hatred of Islam after terrorist attacksh

It's impossible to renegotiate nuclear deal: Iran’s UK ambassador

UK 'hand in glove' with Saudi Arabia’s 'despicable regime': Academic

Fresh Israeli attacks on Syria deepen crisis with Russia: Report

Rouhani asks Europe to cooperate with Iran to counter US unilateralism

Assad scolds Europe as Polish delegation visits Syria

French ‘Daesh mothers’ held in Syria face terrible choice

Germany hardening line on Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi

UK politicians are emboldening the nation's Islamophobes

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Pakistan

Islamist radicals defy Imran, choke Pakistan over blasphemy acquittal

Khadim Rizvi says he will continue his ‘peaceful struggle’

Imran Khan gives stern warning to Islamists

Imran Khan lands in Beijing on four-day visit, to hold talks with Xi Jinping

DG ISPR says army has nothing to do with Asia case, urges protesters to take legal route

Brother says Aasia won’t be safe in Pakistan

Process of appointing new US envoy begins’

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South Asia

Re-election of Sheikh Hasina imperative for counter-terror narrative in South Asia

Thakurgaon Jamaat ameer arrested over sabotage case

Bangladesh PM to have unprecedented talks with opposition before poll

Taliban realizes they cannot win militarily’, says Gen. Miller

Foreigners among 68 militants killed, wounded in Afghan, U.S. forces operations

UN officials blast Bangladesh-Myanmar deal on Rohingya

Afghan govt. control over country has slipped: US group

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Southeast Asia

China rapidly expanding internment camps for Muslims, report says

Islamic State finds safe haven in the Philippines

Mahathir makes last regional peace effort in Southern Thailand

Terror groups that continue to target the Philippines and its ASEAN neighbors

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Arab World

Terrorists' Provocative Acts in Demilitarized Zone Continue despite Turkey's Threats

Egyptian Authorities Detain Daughter of Senior Muslim Brotherhood Leader

Hasaka: Kurdish Forces' Commander Defects

US-Made Arms Found at ISIL Bases in Deir Ezzur

Civilians Attack SDF Positions in Raqqa as Tensions Hike

Kurdish Forces Stop Operations in Deir Ezzur after US Backtracks, Turkey Intensifies Attacks

US Sends Military Convoy to Kurdish-Occupied Regions in Hasaka amid Turkey's Intensified Attacks

Ankara-Backed Militants Plundering Natural Resources, Artifacts in Afrin

Syrian Army Repulses Terrorists' Heavy Offensive in Demilitarized Zone

Turkish Daily: US Sends Arms to ISIL in Return for Syria's Artifacts

Kurdish Forces Killed in Tensions with Turkey at Syrian Borders

Russia: News about Khashoggi’s death inflated by political machinations

Extremists kill four regime fighters in Syria’s Idlib

Aoun says Lebanon gov’t row ‘not easy’, signals differences with Hezbollah

Attempt to smuggle fugitives wanted for terrorism charges foiled in Bahrain

Israeli delegation in Riyadh as Netanyahu asks US to back MBS

Russia says Nusra terrorists seek to wreck buffer zone deal in Syria’s Idlib

Iraq’s Salahuddin provincial governor survives assassination attempt

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Mideast

Trump, Erdogan discuss Syria in phone call

Gaza protest leaders want calmer Friday demo amid truce talks

Trump and Erdogan discuss northern Syria, says Turkish presidency

Arab Coalition destroys Houthi ballistic missile sites in Sanaa

Yemen’s government welcomes efforts to establish peace

Israel to approve plan to build new settlement in al-Khalil

Turkey wants Saudi Arabia to disclose whereabouts of Khashoggi's body: Justice minister

Mossad false flags only encourage Iran to boost ties with world: Zarif

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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Maulana Samiul Haq assassinated at Rawalpindi residence

November 02, 2018

Chief of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam, Maulana Samiul Haq has been assassinated at his residence in Rawalpindi, his son has confirmed.

Hamidul Haq, the son of the JUI-S chief, said his father was stabbed to death while he was resting in his room. Maulana Sami was a heart patient, Hamid said.

"His driver Haqqani had gone out. On his return, he saw that Maulana Sami was lying in his bed in a pool of bed. He was no longer alive," Hamid said.

He was the head of the Darul Uloom Haqqania seminary in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Akora Khattak.

Haq's body is being shifted to District Headquarters Hospital, TV reports said.

The news of his death comes at a sensitive time, with religio-political parties out on the streets protesting the Supreme Court's acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, in a blasphemy case.

He had been aligned with the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf for the July 25 election.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's party had sought to work closely with him to implement various reforms and mainstream madrassah education.

This is a developing story that is being updated as the situation evolves. Initial reports in the media can sometimes be inaccurate. We will strive to ensure timeliness and accuracy by relying on credible sources such as concerned, qualified authorities and our staff reporters.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1443118/maulana-samiul-haq-assassinated-at-rawalpindi-residence

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Nigeria: Shiites - Govt, Please Let's Not Breed Another Boko Haram

2 NOVEMBER 2018

By Jonathan Nda-Isaiah

The federal capital territory was under siege during the week. Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria were everywhere observing their annual walk and at the same time protesting the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakky. As usual, the walk turned violent when they ran into a military convoy along Zuba road.

Depending on the side you choose to believe, the military said the members were trying to steal their weapons, while the shitte members claim the military started the provocation.

Abuja, which is regarded as one of the safest cities in Nigeria was held hostage in the last few days by the shitte members. The high handedness of our security agencies towards the protesters is bearing an uncanny semblance to the way our security forces handled the leader of the Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf.

When I saw the military using live bullets, I knew we are heading for serious trouble in this country.

If you recall, the Boko Haram sect was a little known group in the North East preaching their own brand of Islam. The extra judicial killing of Mohammed Yusuf led to radicalise action of the group. What's the end result of that -the economy of the North has been dragged back to the stone ages. We have lost over a 100, 000 persons to insurgency, schools and hospitals destroyed and millions displaced from their homes.

Our security forces are following the same path with the Shittes group. It's like they are not trained to handle protests. What happened to rubber bullets, hot water sprays and tear gas to disperse unruly protesters? We need to do away with always inviting the military to quell civil unrest; that's the primary duty of the police. The country is so militarised that the Armed Forces are carrying out operations in almost every state in the country.

At the same time, the Shitte group should stop attacking our security forces, as that is an invitation to anarchy. Nobody has the right to attack or try to disarm a soldier or policeman. The resort to self-help by the group will only aggravate the situation.

I have also been contending on this page that the federal government should release el-Zakzaky. Since the court had previously granted him bail, he should just be released. President Muhammadu Buhari's assertion that national security should take precedence over the rule of law does not conform here.

The government should release him on bail immediately and let his trial run its course. The continuous detention of the Shitte leader is radicalising the group the more. They will continue to protest and more lives will be lost and at the end of the day, we will not achieve anything. If he dies in detention, we will have another Boko Haram in our arms. We cannot afford another insurgent group right now.

Kaduna Riots: Not Again

The federal capital territory was under siege during the week. Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria were everywhere observing their annual walk and at the same time protesting the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakky. As usual, the walk turned violent when they ran into a military convoy along Zuba road.

Depending on the side you choose to believe, the military said the members were trying to steal their weapons, while the shitte members claim the military started the provocation.

Abuja, which is regarded as one of the safest cities in Nigeria was held hostage in the last few days by the shitte members. The high handedness of our security agencies towards the protesters is bearing an uncanny semblance to the way our security forces handled the leader of the Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf.

When I saw the military using live bullets, I knew we are heading for serious trouble in this country.

If you recall, the Boko Haram sect was a little known group in the North East preaching their own brand of Islam. The extra judicial killing of Mohammed Yusuf led to radicalise action of the group. What's the end result of that -the economy of the North has been dragged back to the stone ages. We have lost over a 100, 000 persons to insurgency, schools and hospitals destroyed and millions displaced from their homes.

Our security forces are following the same path with the Shittes group. It's like they are not trained to handle protests. What happened to rubber bullets, hot water sprays and tear gas to disperse unruly protesters? We need to do away with always inviting the military to quell civil unrest; that's the primary duty of the police. The country is so militarised that the Armed Forces are carrying out operations in almost every state in the country.

At the same time, the Shitte group should stop attacking our security forces, as that is an invitation to anarchy. Nobody has the right to attack or try to disarm a soldier or policeman. The resort to self-help by the group will only aggravate the situation.

I have also been contending on this page that the federal government should release el-Zakzaky. Since the court had previously granted him bail, he should just be released. President Muhammadu Buhari's assertion that national security should take precedence over the rule of law does not conform here.

The government should release him on bail immediately and let his trial run its course. The continuous detention of the Shitte leader is radicalising the group the more. They will continue to protest and more lives will be lost and at the end of the day, we will not achieve anything. If he dies in detention, we will have another Boko Haram in our arms. We cannot afford another insurgent group right now.

On Afenifere's Suspension Of Omisore

On Tuesday, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, announced the suspension of the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the last governorship election in Osun State and member of the group, Senator Iyiola Omisore, for one year.

Omisore was alleged to have aligned with the All Progressives Congress (APC) to win the run-off election in the Ife South and North local government areas of Osun State. His action was said to have gone against the position of his party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Afenifere.

When I read the suspension, I had a good laugh. I thought Afenifere was a pan Yoruba group whose mandate is to protect the Yoruba race. The group openly aligning with another party is a recipe for disaster. There are Yoruba people playing prominent roles in all the political parties. Acting as if it is a branch of the PDP is not good for the image of the organisation. The group should know that all Nigerian politicians put their interest first before national interest. You will not blame Omisore for going to where his bread will be buttered.

https://allafrica.com/stories/201811020098.html

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Two in five Americans say Islam 'is incompatible with US values'

by Shafik Mandhai 

November 2, 2018

Washington, DC - A large proportion of non-Muslim Americans think Islam is incompatible with American values, research by the New America foundation and the American Muslim Initiative found.

According to the findings announced on Thursday, 56 percent of Americans believed Islam was compatible with American values and 42 percent said it was not. About 60 percent believed US Muslims were as patriotic as others, while 38 percent they were not.

The study said that although a big majority of Americans - 74 percent - accepted there was "a lot" of bigotry against Muslims existed, 56 percent said they were concerned about extremism spreading within the Muslim community.

Researchers found that Republicans were more likely to hold negative perceptions of Muslims and Islam, with 71 percent saying Islam was incompatible with American values. About 56 percent of Republicans also admitted they would be concerned if a mosque was built in their neighbourhood.

A slight majority of Republicans disagreed with the statement that having more than 100 Muslim candidates in the midterm elections was a positive thing.

Robert McKenzie, a senior fellow at the New America foundation and one of the authors of the study, said there were a number of factors that contributed the shaping of anti-Muslim sentiment, and that they were not limited to the political right.

"Hillary Clinton, when talking about violent extremism talked about Muslims being on the frontlines, what does that say about Muslim communities?" He said, adding: "I know she didn't mean that in a derogatory way but if Muslims are at the frontlines, what does that suggest is happening at the local level in the US?"

The survey also found that just below half of Americans actually knew a Muslim. McKenzie cautioned, however, against correlating knowing a Muslim personally with a more positive perspective on Muslims.

Rising hatred

Rabiah Ahmed, an American Muslim media relations specialist, told Al Jazeera rising Islamophobia had consequences beyond the Muslim community.

"I think Islamophobia is not just a Muslim problem but an American problem, so it needs to be addressed by all sectors of society," she said.

Ahmed argued that Muslims could not afford to not engage with other communities, and had a duty to "plug information gaps" to dispel negative ideas about the community.

However, she also said politicians, segments of the media, and religious leaders from other communities had played a role in stoking anti-Muslim bigotry.

"Fears of Muslims comes from the acts of extremists (and) it comes from the Islamophobia industry, a very well connected, very well funded industry, which makes it their mission to try to marginalise and disenfranchise American Muslims.

"Just as Muslims have a responsibility to lean in, other faith based communities also need to lean in. So when they see their priest preaching divisive rhetoric about Islam, they need to stop that."

The New America foundation report comes amid a notable rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric in US political discourse and within the media.

Last month, a report by Muslim Advocates found 80 instances of "clear anti-Muslim rhetoric" by candidates running for political office.

That included unfounded claims that Muslims were plotting to establish Islamic law in the US.

US President Donald Trump also used anti-Islam rhetoric in his election campaign, and has introduced executive orders targeting Muslims, such as his infamous ban on Muslims from several predominantly Muslim countries entering the US.

Zainab Arain from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said people with anti-Muslim views were found at the very highest levels of government.

"There are people who were formerly part of the Trump administration, who are well known anti-Muslim bigots," she said, adding: "You have people who are currently in the administration, who are closely connected to the established anti-Muslim hate groups."

Rising anti-Muslim bigotry also comes amid a rise in hatred targeting other religious and ethnic minorities.

Within the last week, there has been a spate of far-right violence in the US, with a foiled pipe bomb campaign targeting anti-Trump politicians and media outlets, a racially motivated shooting of two African-Americans in Kentucky, and the mass killing of 11 Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Walter Ruby of the Greater Washington Muslim-Jewish Forum said that while anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism were unique in their characteristics and causes, there were some shared reasons for their recent rise.

"Many people who hate Muslims, hate Jews as well," he said, adding: "I absolutely think the rhetoric that's come from President Trump and others has contributed."

"I don't want to entirely blame Trump but this movement of hate has coalesced around him, which he certainly helped orchestrate.

"It's become a very dangerous situation."

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/americans-islam-incompatible-values-181101185805274.html

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Leave for India or convert to Islam’: Afghanistan’s Sikhs weigh future after IS terror attack

Jul 03, 2018

Many among Afghanistan’s dwindling Sikh minority are considering leaving for neighbouring India, after a suicide bombing in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday killed at least 13 members of the community.

The victims of the attack claimed by militant group Islamic State included Avtar Singh Khalsa, the only Sikh candidate in parliamentary elections this October, and Rawail Singh, a prominent community activist.

“I am clear that we cannot live here anymore,” said Tejvir Singh, 35, whose uncle was killed in the blast.

“Our religious practices will not be tolerated by the Islamic terrorists. We are Afghans. The government recognises us, but terrorists target us because we are not Muslims,” added Singh, the secretary of a national panel of Hindus and Sikhs.

The Sikh community now numbers fewer than 300 families in Afghanistan, which has only two gurdwaras, or places of worship, one each in Jalalabad and Kabul, the capital, Singh added.

Although almost entirely a Muslim country, Afghanistan was home to as many as 250,000 Sikhs and Hindus before a devastating civil war in the 1990s.

Even a decade ago, the US State Department said in a report, about 3,000 Sikhs and Hindus still lived there.

Despite official political representation and freedom of worship, many face prejudice and harassment as well as violence from militant Islamist groups, prompting thousands to move to India, their spiritual homeland.

Following the Jalalabad attack, some Sikhs have sought shelter at the city’s Indian consulate.

“We are left with two choices: to leave for India or to convert to Islam,” said Baldev Singh, who owns a book- and textile shop in Jalalabad.

India has issued long-term visas to members of Afghanistan’s Sikh and Hindu communities.

“They can all live in India without any limitation,” said Vinay Kumar, India’s ambassador to Afghanistan. “The final call has to be taken by them. We are here to assist them.”

Kumar, who was in the Indian capital, New Delhi, to discuss the security situation, said the government was helping organise the last rites of Sikhs killed in the blast.

‘We are not leaving’

But other Sikhs, with land or businesses and no ties to India, say they do not plan to leave, as Afghanistan remains their country. India has offered to take the dead bodies, but at least nine were cremated according to Sikh rites in Jalalabad.

“We are not cowards,” said Sandeep Singh, a Sikh shopkeeper in Kabul. “Afghanistan is our country and we are not leaving anywhere.”

The attack targeted “Afghanistan’s multicultural fabric”, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday. He is expected to hold a meeting to discuss the security threats to Indian and religious minorities.

India, a longstanding ally of Afghanistan, has invested in several large development projects, but heightened security risks have prompted its companies to cut back operations.

The two countries’ officials have not been able to free seven Indian engineers kidnapped in May in the northern province of Baghlan.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/leave-for-india-or-convert-to-islam-afghanistan-s-sikhs-weigh-future-after-is-terror-attack/story-h0zjux0u25AVZlLsTfNUxM.html

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Russian trolls stoked UK hatred of Islam after terrorist attacksh

Jamie Prentis

November 1, 2018

Fuelling Islamophobia and provoking religious divisions were the main focus of Russian Twitter accounts targeting the UK, research has found.

The internet trolls came to the fore in 2017 when three separate terror attacks hit the UK, with posts on Islam retweeted 25 times more often than other previous messages.

When Twitter released the data of 3,841 accounts linked to the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency in October, initial investigations found a significant amount of pro-Leave Brexit-related messages.

However, further studies by the Demos think-tank in London of 83,000 UK-related tweets has shown that posts about Islam gained greater traction online.

Observers say Russia's actions were part of a ploy to sow discord in the west.

The most visible account, @TEN_GOP, shared 109 tweets related to the UK, 60 per cent of which talked about Islam.

It was a Twitter account falsely claiming to be run by the US Republican party in Tennessee, but in fact operated by a Russian state operative, according to Demos

“In our estimation, the ‘big guns’ focused on Islam more,” it said. Overall, in the top ten most noticeable accounts, 43.9 percent of their 428 Tweets were related to Islam.

Visibility was measured by multiplying the number of tweets the account sent by the number of retweets those messages received on average.

“Influence operations captured in this data show attempts to falsely amplify other news sources and to take part in conversations around Islam, and rarely show attempts to spread ‘fake news’ or influence at an electoral level,” the paper said.

“Sharia NO-GO areas in BRITAIN. Citizens blocked from their own suburbs. Only #Trump can stop this here!” said one post, which was retweeted 319 times. Others, also widely shared, accused Muslim refugees of being behind sexual assaults and acid attacks.

“London is the first victim of Islamization! Will America be the next? #WorldRefugeeDay #NeverHillary,” said another. The prevalence of messages supportive of Donald Trump were part of a wider trend among the 9 million tweets posted by the Russian trolls. In contrast, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, came under fierce attack from the Russian trolls as the UK was hit by a trio of devastating terror attacks in mid-2017. He was accused of sympathising with extremists with one tweet aimed at Mr Khan being shared nearly 14,000 times.

After the Westminster attack in March last year, 815 messages related to Islam and the UK were sent and retweeted 32,501 times.

In May, following the Manchester bombing, 156 tweets went out and were shared 5,674 times. Only a couple of weeks later after the London Bridge stabbings, 445 tweets were posted by the Russian accounts with 60,324 retweets.

“7 more dead in London because of climate change. Oh wait, nope, it's Islamic terrorism again. #LondonAttacks,” said one tweet shared nearly 3000 times.

It is unclear why the accounts were less active during the Manchester bombing, despite significantly more casualties.

While the state-operated accounts were active from 2011, they focused on topics such as fitness until about 2016 when they had built up enough followers, the report said.

They gained a degree of visibility after the Brexit vote but the scale of Russian troll operations hit a peak after the 2017 attacks, researchers found.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/russian-trolls-stoked-uk-hatred-of-islam-after-terrorist-attacks-1.787056

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Africa

 

Islamic militant attacks up overall, but ISIS incidents down in Africa

November 1, 2018

STUTTGART, Germany — Attacks by Islamic militants in Africa increased slightly in 2017, with violent incidents from groups in western Africa spiking and Islamic State actions waning, according to a new report.

In Africa’s Sahel region — a swath of territory that includes several western African countries in the greater Sahara — violent events linked to militant Islamist groups tripled during the past 12 months, according to a report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies.

The center, a U.S. Defense Department-affiliated think tank that tracks attacks in Africa, reported 377 violent episodes in the Sahel and 895 fatalities during a 12-month period that ended Sept. 30. Most of the incidents were concentrated in Mali.

“Expansion of violent events linked to an array of militant Islamist groups in the Sahel highlights the growing scope of security challenges facing this region,” the report said.

The U.S. military is building a new drone base in Niger to better monitor militant groups and U.S. troops also serve as advisers to local forces in the region. The dangers were brought into focus when four American soldiers were killed in an October 2017 ambush by Islamic militants near Niger’s border with Mali.

The overall escalation in the Sahel was attributed to a coalition of militant groups operating under the Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wal Muslimin, a newly formed al-Qaida-linked umbrella organization, the ACSS report said.

Another organization in the Sahel — Abu Walid al Sahrawi’s Islamic State in the Greater Sahara — was linked to roughly a quarter of all violent events involving militant Islamist groups in the Sahel in the past year. There also are signs of collaboration between the Al-Qaida and ISIS affiliates, the report said.

Across Africa, there were 2,919 violent events linked to Islamist groups during the past 12 months, compared to 2,767 from the previous year.

Meanwhile, ISIS-linked attacks declined by 17 percent overall in Africa with 281 violent events and 1,371 fatalities. ISIS’s main area of operation in Africa is in Egypt, with more than 80 percent of attacks occurring in that country’s Sinai Peninsula, the report said.

ISIS has sought to establish a foothold in Africa during the past few years and has attracted the U.S. military’s attention in the process. In 2016, ISIS fighters were in control of Libya’s coastal city of Sirte, but an offensive by Libyan forces backed by U.S. air power dislodged the group. U.S. Africa Command conducted about 500 strikes during the four-month campaign in Libya.

AFRICOM still carries out occasional strikes in Libya, but the main American military effort in Africa now is centered in Somalia, home to Africa’s most active militant group, al-Shabab.

Al-Shabab was linked to 1,562 violent events over the past 12 months, roughly equivalent to the number of incidents reported over the previous year, ACSS reported.

“This represents 54 percent of the total reported violent events associated with militant Islamist groups in Africa,” the report said.

An October bombing in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu, which killed about 600 people, was responsible for most of the Shabab-linked civilian fatalities.

During the past two years, AFRICOM has ratcheted up the pressure on al-Shabab, conducting regular airstrikes against the group.

U.S. special operations forces operate as front-line advisors to Somali troops involved in the fight against the militants.

https://www.stripes.com/news/islamic-militant-attacks-up-overall-but-isis-incidents-down-in-africa-1.554575

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Who is Abdullah al-Darsi the new Libyan intelligence chief?

1 November 2018

The chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord, Fayez al-Sarraj, named Abdullah al-Darsi as the new Libyan intelligence chief, replacing Abdul Qader al-Tuhami.

The designation of Darsi indicates a new close relationship between Saraj and the parliament, which had suggested Darsi for the position back in 2015, after it had sacked Salem al-Hassi who is considered part of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

Darsi, who is originally from eastern Libya and is known to lean towards the parliament’s rule, was a representative for the interior ministry in the temporary government, before he was dismissed from that position in 2013, only to be elected for the same position the following year, after forming the new government.

Darsi was also part of the political scene by being the head of a party known as “Reform Rally”.

He was also involved in the National Transitional Council during the revolution that overthrew the late colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2018/11/01/Who-is-the-new-head-of-Libyan-intelligence-.html

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Boko Haram militants kill 16 in raids on villages in northeast Nigeria

Nov 1, 2018

At least 16 civilians have been killed and several others injured after suspected Boko Haram terrorists staged multiple attacks on villages in northeastern Nigeria.

Militants in seven trucks attacked Bulaburin and Kofa villages as well as a camp in a village outside the Borno state capital of Maiduguri late on Wednesday, residents said Thursday.

"The terrorists attacked and completely burnt Bulaburin and Kofa villages and burnt half the Dalori two IDP (internally displaced persons) camp," said militia leader Babakura Kolo.

In the village of Kofa, local residents counted five bodies burned inside the remains of their house.

A village chief in nearby Dalori said one person had been killed. Two residents of Bulaburin said nine people had died there.

Nigeria's military said in a statement one civilian was found dead after militants had ransacked Dalori's market, setting buildings ablaze and fleeing when soldiers approached. 

Dalori, which is about 15 kilometers from Maiduguri, houses about 50,000 people in makeshift camps.

In January 2016, at least 85 people were killed when militants stormed and torched the Dalori village and tried to gain access to the camps.

Despite the Nigerian government's statements since late 2015 that Boko Haram had largely been defeated, militants are still able to attack throughout much of the northeast.

In recent months, Boko Haram has carried out major attacks on military targets, killing dozens.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, a former general, came to power in 2015 on a platform to stamp out the Boko Haram militancy, but the militants continue to stage attacks targeting both civilians and military targets.

Since 2009, the Boko Haram militancy has left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million others homeless.

The United Nations warned late last year that areas affected by the Boko Haram militancy face a humanitarian crisis.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578749/Nigeria-Borno-Maiduguri-Bulaburin-Kofa--Dalori

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Nigeria: Ahmadiyya Seeks Unity Among Humanity

2 NOVEMBER 2018

By Shakirah Adunola

The World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad has inaugurated a new mosque the 'Baitul Aafiyat' (House of Security) Mosque in Philadelphia, United States of America (USA) This was part of his activities for the tour of the country.

Ahmad said the mosque, "would prove a beacon of light and hope to all peace-loving people" The inauguration of the Mosque, which is the first purpose-built mosque in Philadelphia, was attended by over 175 dignitaries and guests attended the evening reception held in the new mosque.

The highlight of the event was the keynote address delivered by the group head during which he spoke of the true objectives of mosques and stated that freedom of belief is a core tenet of Islamic teachings.

During his address, Ahmad emphasised the importance of fostering unity and tolerance within society.

"Irrespective of differences of race, religion or social background, we are united as human beings and so it is vital that we interact with other people, rather than isolating ourselves or only mingling with members of our own particular community. For the advancement and evolution of society, and to foster an atmosphere of peace and togetherness, respectful discourse and discussion between people and amongst different communities is vital", he said.

Ahmad added: "It is frequently alleged that Muslims do not respect other religions or their religious figures, nothing could be further from the truth. We firmly believe in the truth of all the prophets and believe they were sent to draw mankind towards God Almighty and to teach morality and to establish universal human values such as freedom of conscience, justice and human sympathy. Given this, how could it be possible for us to disrespect or dishonour other religions or their followers? Hence, we Ahmadi Muslims are sincere in our claim that we do not hate anyone."

He said that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community was ever ready to extend a hand of friendship to others.

He cited the example of Ahmadi Muslims living in Philadelphia who immediately offered their support to members of the Jewish community following an attack at a nearby Jewish cemetery.

"We seek no reward or gratitude for such things because we are merely following what our religion has taught us, which is to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of other faiths and beliefs in their times of need or distress. We champion the right of all people to live their lives free from discrimination.

"Pluralism and broad-mindedness", having always been core tenets of Islam and referred to the government and covenant established by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) in the religiously diverse city of Medina where everyone was able to freely practice their faith.

"Every individual should have the right to choose whatever path he or she wishes to walk upon. Belief is, and should always remain, a matter for one's heart and one's mind. At the same time, Islam teaches that, irrespective of differences of religion or belief, every citizen has a duty to remain peaceful and to ensure that he or she does not take any action that threatens the well-being of society."

While explaining the true objective of mosques, he said that the primary objective is for Muslims to join together and worship the One God. He added that a Mosque's major objective is to function as "a centre for serving mankind.

"Our Mosques increase our determination to spread peace and to cultivate bonds of brotherhood and mutual affection with people from all walks of life and to eliminate all forms of hatred, bigotry and division from society.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/201811020141.html

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North America

 

Men convicted of plotting to bomb Muslim refugees blame Trump rhetoric and Russian bots

November 2, 2018

Three men are blaming Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric and Russian propaganda for inspiring a plot to kill Somali refugees in Kansas.

The men, Patrick Stein, Curtis Allen and Gavin Wright, who referred to themselves as “The Crusaders,” planned to bomb an apartment complex housing many Muslim Somali refugees and its mosque about two years ago.

The FBI thwarted their plot after an eight month investigation. The men were arrested in October 2016. In April, the federal jury found them guilty, thus convicting them of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against  civil rights. They face a maximum life sentence in prison.

Their attorneys are now fighting for a lighter sentence by asking the US District Court in Kansas to consider the “backdrop” to the bomb plot: President Trump.

“The court cannot ignore the circumstances of one of the most rhetorically mould-breaking, violent, awful, hateful and contentious presidential elections in modern history, driven in large measure by the rhetorical China shop bull who is now our president,” the sentencing memo read. “Trump’s brand of rough-and-tumble verbal pummelling heightened the rhetorical stakes for people of all political persuasions.”

The attorneys cited a Pew Research Centre study that revealed Mr Trump’s presidential win resulted in an exponential increase of anti-Muslim violence. They also referred to several of the president’s tweets, including one where Mr Trump – void of any evidence – claimed the migrant caravan marching towards the US contained “criminals” and “unknown Middle Easterners”.

“As long as the White House with impunity calls Islam ‘a dangerous threat’, and paints average Americans as ‘victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in Jihad,’ a mixed signal gets sent,” the memo added.

The White House did not respond to The Independent’s request for comment.

The attorneys argued that although Mr Trump is a “speaker with the best bully pulpit in the world,” he is “never sanctioned for spreading fear and advocating harm.” They also attempted to make the case that a harsh sentence would not discourage other potential right-wing extremists from carrying out similar bias-motivated attacks.

“As long as the Executive Branch condemns Islam and commends and encourages violence against would-be enemies, then a sentence imposed by the Judicial Branch does little to deter people generally from engaging in such conduct, if they believe they are protecting their countries from enemies identified by their own Commander in Chief,” the attorneys wrote in the memo.

But as The Root pointed out, the purpose for harsh sentences is to punish criminals for the crimes they are convicted of doing – not to dissuade others from committing the crimes. Instead of life in prison, the attorneys are asking for a drastically lesser sentence: 15 years for Mr Stein, 10 years with each count served at the same time for Mr Allen, and time already served for Mr Wright.

In their own sentencing memo, federal prosecutors argued that a life sentence was “appropriate” for the three ex-militia men since their goal for the attack was more than just committing mass murder. They wanted to “incite other groups to ‘wake up’ and commit other acts of violence against Muslims, against landlords who rent to Muslims, and against the US government, and to spread the hateful message that Muslims should be, in the words of Defendant Stein, ‘eradicated’ from the United States.”

Mr Stein, Wright and Allen will be sentenced later this month.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/kansas-bomb-muslims-somalia-refugees-trump-russian-bots-stein-allen-wright-a8612896.html

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Alberta Human Rights Commission seeks to appeal Muslim school prayer spat at Supreme Court

October 30, 2018

CALGARY — The Alberta Human Rights Commission is hoping the Supreme Court will hear its appeal in the case of two Calgary Muslim students who were not allowed to pray at a non-denominational private school.

Sarmad Amir and Naman Siddiqui, who were in Grade 9 and 10 at Webber Academy in 2011, told the human rights commission that praying is mandatory in their Sunni religion. They said the school told them their praying, which requires bowing and kneeling, was too obvious and went against the academy’s non-denominational nature.

The human rights tribunal ruled the school’s policy was too rigid and it could have accommodated the students without violating its secular status.

That decision was upheld by the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. The school then took the matter to the Alberta Court of Appeal.

It overturned the commission’s original decision ordering the school to pay a $26,000 fine for discriminatory behaviour and said another hearing was required because Webber Academy raised new issues under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Webber Academy president Neil Webber said Monday the human rights commission is seeking leave to appeal the decision.

“We should know I think by Christmas whether or not they have been successful. It took them quite a while to make the decision,” said Webber.

“We doubt that they will be successful. My information from our lawyer and also from a former member of the Supreme Court is that roughly 90 per cent of applications for leave … are turned down.”

No one at the Alberta Human Rights Commission immediately responded to a request for comment.

Webber said he hopes to preserve the secular nature of the school, which has about 1,000 students. He said the school has always made it clear to incoming students and their parents there is no space in the school for praying. It has received only two requests for prayer space in its 22 years of operations and both were denied.

He said even if the Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal, the matter is far from over.

Full report at:

https://nationalpost.com/news/religion/alberta-human-rights-commission-seeks-to-appeal-muslim-school-prayer-spat-at-supreme-court

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Report: US losing ground to militants in Afghanistan despite long occupation

Nov 1, 2018

Over 17 years into the longest war in America's history, the US administration's own investigators shed new light on Washington's failures in the invasion of Afghanistan, where, they say, the government has lost about half of the country's soil to militants and failed to choke off their primary funding source -- the narcotics smuggling.

In its quarterly report for the US Congress released late Wednesday, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said the dire situation in Afghanistan is only deteriorating despite the presence of thousands of American boots on the ground there.

The Pentagon watchdog's report further said the local Taliban militant -- which has been the main target of the US's so-called war on terror -- "now controls more territory than at any time since 2001," when Washington and its allies first invaded the country.

Only 55.5 percent of Afghan districts remain under the control or influence of the Kabul government, the lowest such figure since SIGAR began tracking district control in November 2015, according to the report.

US spending on smuggling goes to waste

SIGAR's report further examined the notorious drug industry in Afghanistan, which the Taliban have long profited from to finance their bloody militancy in the country that is reported to be producing about 85 percent of the world’s opium.

Poppy production in Afghanistan saw a spike in 2017 and is now four times higher than in 2002.

“Afghanistan’s narcotics industry helps finance the insurgency, supports criminal networks, fosters public corruption, and undermines the Afghan state,” said John Sopko, SIGAR's chief.

“The last few months saw several discouraging developments," said the report of the broader situation gripping the country.

SIGAR's report did not cover the month of October, but it acknowledged more recent grim setbacks then, including a militant attack targeting the top US commander in the country and key police and intelligence officials in Kandahar Province.

General Scott Miller survived the attack but the province’s intelligence chief and police chief were both killed as the country was preparing for key parliamentary elections.

Drought adds to Afghans' misery

Meanwhile, the sufferings of war-stricken Afghans have only doubled, with a drought having displaced "about 275,000 people in 2018—52,000 more than the ongoing conflict had displaced over the period."

According to UN figures, some 2.2 million people were affected by the drought in May.

The water shortage has also put wheat production at risk in a country where agriculture employs about 40 percent of the population.

There are around 14,000 US troops and some allies' troops still in Afghanistan.

Last year, US President Donald Trump decided for the American military to stay in Afghanistan and announced a new strategy for continuing the campaign against Taliban there -- in what became the only US foreign policy issue on which US Trump has delivered a lengthy personal delineation of policy and goals.

A year on, however, the US seems to be no closer to quelling the Taliban militancy and stabilizing the country, which has also been grappling with yet another serious security threat -- the Daesh terror group's emergence and expansion.

Daesh and Taliban have been taking turns over the past months to launch bloody attacks against Afghan civilians, security forces and foreign troops.

Now faced with its failure to achieve the goals of the war, the US is seeking to foster peace talks with a stronger Taliban to get out of the war.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578748/US-Afghanistan-Taliban

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Fresh onslaught on Riyadh over Khashoggi's murder threatens US ties: Saudi prince

Nov 1, 2018

Former Saudi intelligence chief, to whom Jamal Khashoggi once served as an adviser, has warned against an outcry in the US over the murder of the dissident Saudi journalist, saying that the “onslaught” against Riyadh poses a threat to the “strategic partnership” between the two sides.

Prince Turki bin Faisal made the remarks during an address to the 27th annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference in Washington on Wednesday.

He denounced attacks on Saudi Arabia in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate on October 2.

“The tragic and unjustified” slaying of Khashoggi “is the theme of today’s onslaught and demonization of Saudi Arabia in the same fashion as the previous crises. The intensity and gleefulness of it is equally unfair,” he said. “Subjecting our relationship to this issue is not healthy at all.”

Turki also noted that Saudi Arabia’s “strategic relationship” with the US had survived crises for more than 70 years.

“Nowadays, this relationship is once again threatened,” he said, adding, however, that the bilateral ties are “too big to fail."

The Saudi prince further claimed that the kingdom is committed to bringing to justice those responsible for Khashoggi’s death “and whoever else failed to uphold the law.”

Khashoggi, an outspoken critic of Saudi Crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, entered the consulate in Istanbul to get the papers needed for his marriage, but never left the building.

After weeks of denials of any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi Arabia eventually acknowledged that he had been killed in a “premeditated” operation.

Turkey’s chief prosecutor said Khashoggi had been strangled upon his arrival at the Saudi mission and then dismembered.

Faisal’s comments come as US Congress has stepped up pressure on President Donald Trump to punish the Riyadh regime for the murder, which is widely believed to have been ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Several US lawmakers have called for sanctions against the kingdom, while others want Washington to stop its nuclear talks with Saudi Arabia.

However, Trump – who stands accused inside the US and abroad of seeking to cover up the crime – appears to be reluctant to pose any risk to billions of dollars worth of arms deals and investments in the kingdom.

The Trump administration has courted the Saudis as they seek to build tens of billions of dollars worth of nuclear power facilities. The US has also been the major provider of weapons to the Saudi regime amid its bloody war on Yemen.

Trump says doesn’t feel ‘betrayed’ by Saudis

In fresh comments on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump said he does not feel “betrayed” by the Saudis over Khashoggi’s death but “maybe they’ve betrayed themselves.”

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578717/Saudi-Arabia-Turki-bin-Faisal-Khashoggi

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US urges return of Khashoggi's remains to family

01.11.2018

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON

The remains of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi should be located and returned to his family for burial as soon as possible, the U.S. said Thursday.

State Department spokesman Robert Palladino told reporters Washington will "hold accountable not only those who executed the murder, but also those who led, were involved and were connected to it."

Khashoggi has been missing since Oct. 2 when he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. After offer varying explanations for his disappearance, Saudi Arabia acknowledged he was killed in the diplomatic facility, but sought to shift the blame for his slaying on a "rogue operation."

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-urges-return-of-khashoggis-remains-to-family/1300461

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US media covers Turkey's Khashoggi statement

01.11.2018

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON

American media has highlighted the mystery of the whereabouts of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's body, who was killed inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, according to the prosecutor's office.

Turkish prosecutors noted authorities from both countries had come to a mutual agreement on carrying out a thorough investigation, revealing all details and bring the offenders and plotters to justice.

"Victim Jamal Khashoggi was strangled to death -- in a premeditated way -- soon after he entered the Istanbul Consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Oct. 2, 2018 for wedding procedures," the Istanbul Prosecutor's Office said in a statement. "His body was disposed of after being dismembered following his death by suffocation - again, in line with the plans."

As part of the agreement, Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mujeb, along with a delegation, went to Turkey on Oct. 28 and visited the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office on Oct. 29.

The U.S. press highlighted Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Irfan Fidan's investigation on the murder, highlighting the question of where Khashoggi's body was.

The Washington Post carried the headline, "Prosecutor says Khashoggi was strangled and dismembered, but fate of body still a mystery,” in which is said the prosecutor laid out the most detailed description of how Khashoggi was killed.

"But the new information did not address the question that has bedeviled investigators and been the subject of furious speculation: What happened to Khashoggi’s remains?" it wrote.

The report revealed that a senior Turkish official was working on the theory that Khashoggi's body was melted with acid, somewhere around the residence of the consulate or ambassador.

The New York Times said the killing of Khashoggi "has significantly raised tensions between Saudi Arabia and Turkey. "

"Western intelligence analysts and Turkish officials have maintained that the operation could not have been carried out without the consent of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia," it wrote.

Bin Salman had sent al-Mujeb to Istanbul, but Fidan's statement said the talks were not concrete.

The Wall Street Journal carried a headline, "Turkish Prosecutors Criticize Lack of Saudi Clarity on Fate of Journalist’s Body," after the statement.

It said "talks in Istanbul fail to solve mystery of what happened to remains of Jamal Khashoggi after he was killed at consulate."

"The Saudi prosecutor, who invited Istanbul prosecutors to Riyadh to cooperate on the probe, also appeared to distance himself from comments that the killing had been premeditated," the Journal added.

Saudi authorities initially said the body was given to "a local operator," a claim later denied by al-Mujeb.

CNN said the Turkish prosecutor's statement is the "clearest yet from the Turkish authorities about" the fate of slain journalist, whose remains have not yet been found.

Another channel broadcasting in the U.S., ABC News, said a Turkish prosecutor publicly confirmed for the first time that Khashoggi was strangled and his body was dismembered.

It said the Turkish authorities have asked the Saudis where they disposed of Khashoggi's body but have gotten no response.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-media-covers-turkeys-khashoggi-statement/1300388

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US midterm results could constrain Trump’s Middle East agenda

Joyce Karam

November 2, 2018

With polls and election projections predicting a Republican loss of majority in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday, the Trump administration is bracing for pressure from Democrats that could affect its Middle East policy agenda.

Democratic control of the House for the first time since 2010 could unleash investigations, subpoenas and endless hearings over the administration’s performance, including its record and policy trajectory in the Middle East. Former US officials and experts who spoke to The National named Yemen, the Middle East peace process and policy towards Iran as the top three areas where Democrats could apply extra legislative scrutiny and oversight over the White House.

The change of party leadership in the House will also bring change at key committees that deal with Middle East policy. Democratic replacements to head these panels include congressman Adam Smith for the House Armed Services Committee, Eliot Engel for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Adam Schiff, a particularly fierce critic of Donald Trump, for the Intelligence Committee.

The passing of the gavel could complicate Mr Trump’s agenda in curbing Iran or pressuring the Palestinians ahead of rolling out the US peace plan. The president will have to depend on Congressional help “to roll back Iran’s nuclear programme, maintain a US military presence in Syria, effectively pressure and incentivise the Palestinians to come back to the negotiation table, and to keep the newly troubled relationship with Saudi Arabia on track”, said Daniel Shapiro of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Mr Shapiro, who was ambassador to Israel under Barack Obama, said a Democratic House “will almost certainly demand an end to support for the Saudi campaign in Yemen and restoration of some Palestinian assistance programmes”. A Democratic majority could also be reluctant to help the administration pressure European allies to scrap the Iran deal, he said.

Mr Trump would have to “build bipartisan support in Congress for controversial foreign policy initiatives”, he said.

But Matthew Brodsky, a senior fellow at the Security Studies Group, did not see the limitations as having a crippling effect on Mr Trump’s Middle East policy.

“The constitution gives the executive branch and the president wide latitude to conduct foreign policy so that the US can be nimble and respond to challenges abroad,” he told The National.

Mr Brodsky acknowledged, however, that the Democrats could pursue budget constraints and upping the ante on Saudi Arabia, especially in limiting the US role in Yemen. The secretaries of state and defence, Mike Pompeo and James Mattis, both called for a cessation of hostilities in the war earlier this week.

Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced a bill in Congress calling for a withdrawal of the US support role in Yemen. But although House Democrats can censure the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, "they can’t stop the refuelling and ammunition delivery” from the US, said Barak Barfi of the New America foundation.

And while Democrats “cannot hold up nominees for presidential appointments in the Defence and State Departments, they have some arrows in their quiver”, he told The National.

Those include “subpoena power and the ability to hold hearings on controversial aspects of the administration’s policies, such as pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal”, Mr Barfi said.

Those arrows are on the minds of senior Trump officials. Bloomberg, Vanity Fair and CNN have all reported this week that senior US officials could leave their positions if the Democrats win the House. Some of the names that are reportedly expected to jump ship and exit the government are Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/the-americas/us-midterm-results-could-constrain-trump-s-middle-east-agenda-1.787231

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Killing of Jamal Khashoggi is like killing all of humanity says former Saudi ambassador to US

November 1, 2018

Quoting a Quranic verse, Prince Turki Al Faisal said that taking an innocent life is like killing all of humanity when speaking about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate last month.

Giving an address at the 27th Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference at the National Council on US-Arab Relations on Wednesday, the former Saudi ambassador to the US discussed the murder of the former government insider turned self-exiled critic of the kingdom as well as the close relationship between Riyadh and Washington.

Although he pointed to challenges – such as the oil crisis in the 1970s or the “tragic day” of 9/11 – he said the two countries' relationship was “thicker than water”.

However, he said that in the wake of the killing of Khashoggi there had been an “onslaught and demonisation of Saudi Arabia” with “intensity and gleefulness … [that is] unfair and malicious.

“Subjecting our relationship to this issue is not healthy at all. Saudi Arabia is committed to bringing to justice those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s murder and anybody else who failed in upholding the law. Justice will run its course," he said.

Khashoggi had worked with Prince Turki as a media adviser between 2003 and 2007 when he was an ambassador in London and then Washington.

Saudi public prosecutor Saud Al Mojeb, who has overseen the investigation into the murder, visited Istanbul this week to discuss the case with his Turkish counterpart.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman publicly denounced the murder as "repulsive" and officials have said it was an unsanctioned killing carried out by security officials without the knowledge of the country’s leaders.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir confirmed on Saturday that six people had been dismissed as part of the Saudi investigation.

However, on Wednesday evening top Turkish prosecutor Irfan Fidan said Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and his body was dismembered before it was removed.

The US has called for a thorough explanation for the killing and senators triggered an investigation that could lead to sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 on Saudi nationals involved in the death.

“From this podium I have said many times that our relationship is too big to fail, I believe it will survive this crisis," Prince Turki said.

He described the kingdom as the “centre of the Islamic world to which 1.5 billion worshipers turn to pray five times a day”. He said the kingdom plays an important role working with the US to end conflict across the Middle East. “The kingdom provides more than 4 per cent, per capita in aid to poor and developing nations. Only yesterday the kingdom forgave $6bn of debt to those poor countries. We are an asset to our friends, not a burden," Prince Turki said.

However, he also had a warning for those he said had “banded” around the word values to damage the Saudi-US relationship.

“One value that we hold dearly is attributed to the prophet Jesus … which says that ‘people in glass houses should not throw stones'," he said.

“Countries that have tortured and incarcerated innocent people and that launched a war that killed many thousands of people based on fabricated information should be humble in their regard to others and countries that have persecuted and disappeared journalist and other individuals should not pose as champions of free speech," Prince Turki warned.

He said that over the years, Saudi Arabia’s close relationship with the US had cost it dearly in its image across the Arab world. “We bore that cost because we believed in the value of our friendship,” he said.

The other value that Saudi Arabia upholds is the idea from the Quran that “the killing of an innocent person is like the killing of all of humanity … the killing of Jamal Khashoggi is like killing all of humanity”, the former ambassador said.

But he also asked why there was not similar outrage at the deaths of young people in Gaza, where nearly 200 people have been killed and more than 17,000 wounded in six months of demonstrations against Israeli policy.

“Innocent, unarmed Palestinian children are slaughtered every day by the Israeli army … and yet I do not see the same media frenzy and demand to bring the perpetrators, and whoever ordered them to kill those children, to justice," he said.

“While reforming and transforming, our fight against the forces of darkness continues,” Prince Turki said. “We stand up to the hegemonic ambitions of the Iranian leadership which, as we are witnessing in Denmark’s actions, never ceases to export its terrorist activities.”

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/killing-of-jamal-khashoggi-is-like-killing-all-of-humanity-says-former-saudi-ambassador-to-us-1.786888

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Republicans more likely to view Muslim Americans negatively, study finds

1 Nov 2018

While most non-Muslims in the US are accepting of Muslim Americans, Republicans are far more likely to have potentially negative views about them, according to data released Thursday.

New America, a thinktank working with the American Muslim Institution, conducted 1,165 interviews in four metropolitan areas prior to the 6 November midterm elections.

Perceptions of Muslims in America are especially prescient in advance of an election cycle that has highlighted racial, religious and economic divides. Donald Trump has capitalized on anti-Muslim sentiment to rally segments of his base which oppose immigration – most flagrantly with his travel ban from several majority Muslim nations.

Trump also recently referred to a US-bound caravan of migrants as an “invasion” – making flimsy, unproved claims that “Middle Easterners” were among them.

The results provide mixed signals into these perceptions.

“Political ideology” – to be specific, describing oneself as a Republican – “is the strongest indicator of negative attitudes toward Muslim Americans”, according to these researchers.

Seventy-one percent of self-described Republicans agreed they don’t believe Islam is compatible with American values, compared to an overall 42%.

Sixty percent agreed with the idea that Muslim Americans weren’t as patriotic as non-Muslim Americans, compared to 38% generally.

Fifty-six per cent of Republicans surveyed agreed they’d be concerned if a mosque or Islamic center were constructed in their neighborhood, compared to an overall level of 33%.

And slightly more than half – 53% – disagree that the influx of Muslim candidates for public office is positive for America, compared to 31% of the entire response pool.

But overall 85% of non-Muslim Americans agreed “diversity is a good thing for America”, the survey found.

About the same amount “believe their fellow Muslim citizens contribute positively to the US economy and to society”.

Some 66% of participants also told surveyors that it’s a “positive sign of progress for our country that over 100 Muslim Americans ran for public office in the 2018 election cycle”.

The same pool of respondents nonetheless expressed concerns about Muslims’ place in America.

About 60% said Muslim Americans were equally patriotic to non-Muslim Americans – meaning some 40% did not, surveyors said.

More than 50% said they were concerned about the spread of Islamic extremism in America.

Despite the professed support of diversity, about one third of survey-takers reported “feeling uncomfortable when they see Muslim Americans wearing a veil”.

The same amount of participants also agreed they “would be concerned if a mosque or Islamic center was built in their neighborhood, and believe Muslims should be subject to extra security screenings at airports”.

Non-Muslim Americans, when pressed to offer a guess, said they believe 60% of Muslim Americans want to assimilate with American society “or have respect for American laws” – meaning a “significant minority [is] assumed to lack these feelings”, surveyors claimed.

Non-Muslim Americans also overestimate the number of Muslim Americans in the US, data shows.

While non-Muslim Americans think 16% of the populace is Muslim, only about 1% of the US population actually identifies with the religion.

The belief is especially prominent among respondents with “less income, less education and who consume no news”, surveyors said.

The survey, which was conducted before a an antisemitic gunman killed 11 worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, also found that few Americans thought there was a lot of antisemitic discrimination.

Seventy-one per cent of non-Muslim Americans surveyed agreed Muslim Americans endured a lot of discrimination – at nearly the same levels experienced by African American and transgender individuals.

Relative to other minority groups, only one-third agree there is a lot of discrimination against Jews in America,” the survey found.

Full report at:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/01/new-america-study-report-republicans-muslims-trump-midterms

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India

 

Masood Azhar confirms death of nephew in Kashmir

Nov 01, 2018

Lahore: Masood Azhar, Jaish-e-Muhammad chief, and Kandahar hijacking mastermind, has confirmed the killing of his nephew, Usman Ibrahim by the Indian security forces in an encounter in Jammu and Kashmir’s Tral.

Azhar himself has confirmed this in an audio recording as he has asked the Kashmiris to stand against India and launch an offensive.

In the audio clip, Azhar said, “My beloved nephew Usman Ibrahim and a Kashmiri fighter, Shaukat Ahmed have sacrificed their lives. A large number of people gathered to pay tribute to Shaukat Ahmad and still Indians claim that Kashmir is an integral part of India? They should feel ashamed.”

Jaish-e-Muhammad militant Usman Ibrahim is the second nephew of Azhar to be killed in Kashmir in a span of less than a year.

Azhar while praising the “sacrifice” of his nephew said, “18-year old Usman Ibrahim has sacrificed his life at this young age. Usman’s visit to Kashmir is not illegal, but India’s entry into Kashmir’s territory is illegal.”

He asked the Kashmiris to unite against India and launch a jihad. “Kashmiri youth, isn’t Usman’s sacrifice not enough to make you stand. Dying a life of a slave is against any Muslim. India has given you an option to live as a slave and die as an oppressed. You must handover both things to them and get ready to sacrifice themselves. How long will you stand alone? You must stand together and get India uprooted,” he added.

Azhar’s audio message confirms Pakistan’s ongoing acts of cross-border terrorism against India. It also highlights the fact that Pakistan-based terrorist outfits continue to send armed terrorists to Jammu and Kashmir with an aim to kill innocents in Jammu and Kashmir, the very people that Islamabad professes to support.

https://www.siasat.com/news/masood-azhar-confirms-death-nephew-kashmir-1426866/

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Terrorists gun down BJP's J&K unit secy, brother in Jammu

Nov 2, 2018

JAMMU/SRINAGAR: Terrorists gunned down BJP's Jammu and Kashmir unit secretary Anil Parihar and his brother in Kishtwar town of Jammu division on Thursday evening when they were returning home from work.

Curfew was imposed as a preventive measure to deal with any communal situation in the town.

Police sources said Parihar and his brother Ajeet, a State Forest Corporation employee, were attacked by the gunmen around 8.30pm at Tapal Gali, not far away from their residence. They were returning from their shop in the nearby market when they were attacked, SSP Kishtwar Rajinder Gupta said. Parihar used to run a newspaper agency from the shop. "They sustained bullet injuries in the heads and were taken to district hospital Kishtwar where doctors declared them brought dead," said a source, adding that the attackers were lying in wait.

Curfew was imposed by the administration in the Muslim-majority town soon after the killings. BJP workers staged protests in the district after the attack. When contacted, divisional commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma, confirmed that it was a subversive attack. He said it is premature to say anything in this regard till the investigation is complete.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/terrorists-gun-down-bjps-jk-unit-secy-brother-in-jammu/articleshow/66469058.cms

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Left-wing extremists, radicals biggest threats, says former Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra

November 2, 2018

Cyber crimes, radical groups killing people on the name of religion and saving cows and left-wing extremism (LWE) are among the biggest security threats the country is facing today. This was stated by former Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra at the first K P S Gill memorial lecture organised by Punjab police at Indian School of Business on Thursday.

Vohra said that the radical groups are using the cyber space to sabotage the country’s security and spreading terror. “The cyber crime is the new ‘non-military’ challenge to the country’s security,” he said.

He mentioned that while he was the governor of Jammu and Kashmir, he came across a case when a man in Andhra Pradesh contacted two Kashmiri youths through internet and prepared them to become militants.

Vohra added killing people in the name of cow slaughter has affected businesses in the recent past,” he said.

About the militancy problem in Kashmir, Vohra said that Pakistan, encouraged with its efforts of spreading militancy in Punjab, shifted its focus to Jammu and Kashmir where it started the proxy war in 1989.

“The situation in Kashmir is worsening since 2012. We are managing the war in the state on a day-to-day basis, but nowhere near to stop it. The enemy keeps changing the tactics and the armed forces are capable of giving it a befitting reply,” Vohra said, replying to a question regarding killing of Indian army personnel by snipers.

Giving his suggestions to strengthen the security in the country, Vohra said that there is a need of a pan-India network.

Vohra also said that less budget for police is the problem in strengthening the forces across the country. “Jammu and Kashmir government spends only 0.01 per cent of the total budget. Political interference is also a big reason,” Vohra said.

Vohra later replied to the queries of the police officers present in the lecture.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/chandigarh-left-wing-extremists-radicals-biggest-threats-says-former-jammu-and-kashmir-governor-n-n-vohra-5430211/

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ISI terror module busted in Patiala; arrested man ‘planned attack during festive season’

Nov 02, 2018

A Pakistan-Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) terror module was busted with the arrest of Shabnamdeep Singh, 24, of Samana sub-division, from Lahori Gate in Patiala on Thursday morning, Punjab police said.

A hand grenade, a pistol, letter pads belonging to a banned terror organisation and a motorcycle have been recovered from him.

“Shabnamdeep planned to attack police stations and crowded places in the ongoing festive season,” DGP Suresh Arora said, in a release. He has been sent to police custody till November 5. “He is associated with the Khalistan Gadar Force, a terrorist organisation, and was also running operations for the Sikhs for Justice (SFJ),” said Patiala SSP Mandeep Singh Sidhu.

“During interrogation, the accused confessed that he planned to target Patiala’s Inter-state Bus Terminal (ISBT) and nearby locations,” the SSP added. He added that a team under DSP (detective) Sukhminder Singh Chauhan and Samana Counter-Intelligence Agency (CIA) in-charge, Vijay Kumar, had been formed to carry out the arrest.

DGP Arora added, “With this arrest, police have blown up the cover over the ISI’s nexus with Gurpatwant Singh Pannu’s SFJ, which is running the Sikh Referendum-2020 campaign. With ISI backing, SFJ had launched a conspiracy to spread mayhem in the state. Shabnamdeep, alias Maninder Lahoria, alias Billa, had been out on bail for a petty crime in Rajasthan.”

“Javed Khan Wazir, who we suspect is a Pakistan intelligence officer, contacted Shabnamdeep from Pakistan in July. He was also introduced to a Pakistani Sikh named Gopal Singh Chawla, former general secretary of the Pakistani Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. Khan had tasked Shabnamdeep with targeted killings and promised him Rs 10 lakh for each such killing,” Arora added.

“In October, the Pakistan-based handler of Shabnamdeep asked him to buy a new phone and install a new messaging application. On October 24, his operatives delivered him a sophisticated pistol and grenade,” the DGP continued.

‘Set several liquor vends on fire’

The DGP said SFJ operative Nihal and other Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) incited him to indulge in arson of liquor vends. “Shabnamdeep and his accomplices set liquor vends and shacks, along with a house, on fire last month. The videos were sent to his handlers. He purchased a motorcycle and a new mobile phone with funds transferred to him by Nihal,” a police source added.

Police sources added Shabnamdeep was in contact with Sukhraj Singh of Nagoke village in Tarn Taran, who was also involved in the burning of liquor vends and the propagation of Referendum 2020. “Sukhraj contacted Shabnamdeep for delivery of weapons to carry out targeted killings. Recently, Amritsar police had arrested Sukhraj,” the state police chief added.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/isi-terror-module-busted-in-patiala-arrested-man-planned-attack-during-festive-season/story-AfpH0PKiuJAJTjS2ew4LlI.html

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Muslim youth are fleeing this UP village after police book 200 under terror law

by Manish Sahu

November 2, 2018

Most of the youths in the Muslim-dominated village of Khair in Bahraich district bordering Nepal have fled fearing arrest, after the police booked close to 200 people of the community under UAPA in connection with a clash on October 20.

The clash took place while a procession for Durga idol immersion was passing through the village. One Ashish Kumar Shukla, a local resident who was part of the procession, got an FIR lodged at Baundi police station against 80 named (all Muslims) and 100-200 unnamed people. It alleged that the accused — armed with pistols, bombs and swords — attacked the procession and 50-60 unidentified people were injured.

The police have arrested 19 people from Khair and claimed to have identified 52 others. Police officials, however, now claim the UAPA was invoked wrongly, and that they will drop it from the FIR.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) is a central law that is usually invoked on acts posing threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

Heavy police force including PAC has been deployed in Khair, and shops are closed. The village bears a deserted look, with most of the houses locked. The other houses are inhabited by the elderly, women and children. Many who have stayed back allege harassment by the police.

“There was a clash between Muslims and Hindus, but police registered FIR only against us. No FIR was lodged against people in the procession who engaged in brick-batting and attacked our houses and shops. Police are harassing us,” alleges 63-year-old Jaituna. “All youths left home after the police started raiding our houses. Those who were found were arrested. My sons Ramzan Ali (30) and Nankau (28) are in jail,” says Jaituna, who is left with two daughters-in-law and 10 grandchildren.

Those who have fled include former village head Mohammad Rasheed (45) and head cleric of Jama Masjid at Khair Bazaar, Hafiz Abdul Bari (43). “Rasheed’s family too has left. Police broke their doors and windows when women and children were inside,” says Mohammad Hasan, a neighbour.

Farmer Karamatullah (55) says, “When the procession reached near Jama Masjid, some persons in the procession threw gulal on Muslims on the roadside. The latter objected, and a heated argument took place. But people intervened and the matter was resolved. Then some members in the procession again threw gulal inside the masjid, which led to an altercation. Both groups clashed.”

Jagdish Kumar Jaiswal of the same village has another version: “People of another community attacked the procession without any provocation.”

Village head Sarita Verma’s husband Hari Narayan Verma says, “The village has 65 per cent Muslim population. I do not know if the attack was planned.”

Additional Superintendent of Police, Bahraich, Ravindra Kumar Singh, says, “So far, 71 Muslim youths have been identified as being involved in the clash. It was confirmed after scanning eight videos from locals. So far, 19 accused have been arrested.”

On why there is no FIR against the other group (Hindus), he said, “We have no evidence that two groups clashed. In the videos, people in the procession are only seen chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and not being involved in violence.”

He adds that UAPA had been wrongly been invoked, and they are probing how this happened. “We are now invoking Criminal Law Amendment Act,” he says.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/uttar-pradesh-200-booked-under-terror-law-muslim-youths-flee-village-5430299/

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‘If not in India, will Ram temple be built in Pakistan?’

Nov 2, 2018

BENGALURU: Senior Congress MLA and former Karnataka minister R Roshan Baig on Thursday supported the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya.

“If a Ram temple is not constructed in India, will it be built in Pakistan?” he said, adding that Muslims respect the sentiments of their Hindu brothers and were not opposed to the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

The BJP has been looking to politicise the issue to reap its benefits in elections to five states and with an eye on the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the Congress legislator said. “When the matter is before court, they are talking about an ordinance because they know the people are unhappy with inflation, effects of GST, demonetisation and unemployment,” he said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/if-not-in-india-will-ram-temple-be-built-in-pakistan/articleshow/66469890.cms

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NIA takes over probe into plot to kill HMK founder

Nov 2, 2018

Coimbatore: The National Investigation Agency (NIA), New Delhi, has taken over the investigation into the plot to murder Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) founder Arjun Sampath by seven Muslim youths.

The city police arrested the youths a month ago and was investigating the case.

According to sources, the NIA registered a case against the youths on October 29 and filed an FIR under sections 143 and 120 (B) of the Indian Penal Code, and sections 15,16,18,20 and 38 (ii) of the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act, 1967.

The NIA took up the case after it came to light during investigation that one of the arrested youths had links with the Islamic State. The case details will be handed over to the NIA by the Variety Hall Road police soon.

On September 2, 2018, R Ashik, 25, of Thirumal Street, NH Road, Coimbatore, S Ismail, 25, of Tindivanam in Villuppuram district, S Samsuddeen, 20, of Pallavaram, S Salavudeen, 25, of Chennai, and I Jaffar Sadiq Ali, 29, of Vyasarpadi in Chennai, were arrested by the Variety Hall Road police for plotting to murder HMK founder Arjun Sampath and Sakthi Sena Organization leader Anbu Mari.

One of the arrested youths, Ismail, was the secret member of Islamic State. Ismail was running a waste paper mart. An ardent follower of Islam, Ismail used to share information related to Islamic State on his Facebook pages - ‘Permanent Travel’ (Niranthara payanam) and ‘A Muslim Without Fear’.

He had also pasted a sticker reading ‘State of India and Jammu & Kashmir’ on his motorcycle and had sent the snap to his friends.

Based on Ashik’s confession, Faizal Rahman of GM Nagar and Sahul Hameed alias Anwar, 23, were also arrested by the city police. All of them are currently lodged at the Coimbatore central prison.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/nia-takes-over-probe-into-plot-to-kill-hmk-founder/articleshow/66468258.cms

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Europe

 

It's impossible to renegotiate nuclear deal: Iran’s UK ambassador

Nov 1, 2018

Speaking at the famous Oxford Union debating society, Iran’s ambassador to the UK has revealed the extensive efforts made by European nations to counter anti-Iran US sanctions.

Ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad addressed Oxford students on the topic of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal.

Explaining Iran’s current position on the JCPOA, he said: “The aspiration that we have with the European Union, Britain, France and Germany, China and Russia, is that we keep the Iran Nuclear Deal alive and give time to the U.S. to rethink and revise its position.”

However, he emphasized that any idea of changing or renegotiating the nuclear deal would be “impossible” because if one word is changed other aspects of the deal will either be changed or compromised.

Ambassador Baeidinejad played a leading role in the negotiation process from 2013-15 and has since worked to protect the deal from US attempts to undermine it.

The ambassador admitted that “we have a total loss of confidence” in negotiating with the US after their withdrawal from the JCPOA, but added that “we are trying very hard with European countries, with China and Russia, to find mechanisms that this deal could (still) be effectively implemented.”

The Iran Nuclear Deal is a preliminary framework agreement reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and a group of world powers known as the P5+1. The group included the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the United States, Britain, Russia, France, and China, plus Germany and the EU.

The deal was agreed under President Barack Obama, but once Donald Trump took power in 2017 the US withdrew from the JCPOA and is due to enforce new sanctions on Iran with the aim of stopping Iran from trading.

The ambassador said, “There will be pressure against some countries, particularly European countries, and economic and trade institutions from attempting to enter into working with Iran, there will probably be some risks.”

However, he said that he remains sure that there is “total determination” by European countries and other world partners to find “practical solutions” so that the deal will be kept alive.

When asked if the UK has remained independent from the US's hostile position towards the deal, the ambassador said: “Let me confess that we were not really optimistic that (the UK) can keep their position independent but they have remained so, they have tried to be independent and we have seen that they are making real efforts to convince the US that this is not a good policy.”

In the past, the UK has been criticized for adhering to US foreign policy positions without hesitation, but Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal has created an unprecedented divide between the UK, the EU and the US.

The US sanctioning Iran alone without the backing of the United Nations and the European Union is also unprecedented, but the pressure applied by Trump has already forced several major business giants to pull out of Iran, such as the French oil giant Total and US aerospace company Boeing.

However, many other countries are expected to defy US pressure and continue to trade with Iran by setting up new trading platforms to protect significant business transactions and continue buying Iranian crude oil.

With less than 100 hours remaining until the next wave of US sanctions, India, the second largest importer of Iranian oil behind China, has forced the US to provide a sanctions waiver allowing them to continue purchasing Iranian crude.

Ahead of the new set of restrictions, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has said Washington expects all oil purchases from Iran to “go to zero,” but added that the government would “consider waivers where appropriate.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578746/Irans-UK-ambassador-It-is-impossible-to-renegotiate-nuclear-deal

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UK 'hand in glove' with Saudi Arabia’s 'despicable regime': Academic

Nov 1, 2018

The British government is working “hand in glove” with Saudi Arabia’s “despicable regime” by supporting its war crimes and human rights violations in the Middle East,” says an academic and political commentator in London.

Saudi Arabia spends hundreds of millions of pounds in the UK annually to fund TV channels in order to spread its Wahhabi ideology and encourage terrorism and conflicts in the region, Rodney Shakespeare told Press TV on Wednesday.

A UK-based anti-Iran television channel is being funded through a secretive offshore entity and a company whose director is a Saudi Arabian businessman with close links to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, British media have revealed.

A source has told the Guardian newspaper that the Saudi prince, who is also known as MBS and is likely responsible for the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is the force behind Iran International.

The source told the Guardian that Saud al-Qahtani, who served as media adviser to MBS and was among several senior officials removed in connection with Khashoggi’s murder, was involved in the funding of Iran International.

“This is a disgusting use of Saudi money and its happening in the UK and that is because the UK has a disgusting government which is supporting Saudi Arabia in is occupation of Bahrain…and we are supporting the massacre in Yemen,” Shakespeare said.

“The whole thing represents money being used by television stations” to buy public relations and broadcast their “dirty propaganda to hide the nasty reality, which is the UK government, is hand in glove with the most despicable regime in the world,” he added.

Volant Media, the company that runs Iran International, has a director named Adel Abdulkarim, who is a Saudi national. He has had a long working relationship with well-connected Saudi executives, some of who have links to the Saudi ruling family.

The disclosures contradict the channel’s claim that it has editorial independence, and come at a time of growing fears about a number of Saudi-linked stations operating across London.

Iran International emerged abruptly on the London media scene last year, with many of its 100 or so employees receiving generous salaries, often double what rivals paid, but has been elusive about its source of funding, according to the Guardian.

According to one source, Saudi Arabia gave $250 million (£197 million) in funding to help the launch of Iran International, which runs no commercial advertising.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578712/UK-Saudi-Iran-TV-channels-Iran-International-Rodney-Shakespeare

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Fresh Israeli attacks on Syria deepen crisis with Russia: Report

Nov 2, 2018

Israel's alleged new attacks against Syria after one that led to the downing of a Russian surveillance jet over the Arab country have plunged ties between Tel Aviv and Moscow to a new low, Israeli sources say.

In September, Israeli fighter jets attacking the Syrian government’s positions in Latakia used a Russian Il-76 plane flying over the area as shield and took cover behind it, a maneuver that misled the Syrian air defenses to shoot down the plane and kill all the 15 Russian officers aboard.

The incident prompted Moscow to speed up the delivery of its advanced S-300 air defense systems to Damascus, a game-changing development that forced Israeli commanders to rethink their plans for future airstrikes.

Earlier this week, however, an unnamed senior Israeli military official revealed to the media that while Tel Aviv had to work with Moscow to improve "deconfliction" of its missions, the airstrikes never stopped.

"The IDF have attacked in Syria, including after the downing of the Russian plane. Military coordination with the Russians continues as before," said the source.

On Thursday, Israeli media reported that Russian officials were outraged by the new Israeli attacks and personal ties between Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu had been severed as a result.

The reports, citing more unnamed sources within the Israeli military, further noted that the Kremlin was also rejecting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to schedule a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the S-300 deployment.

Social media observers monitoring Israeli raids against Syria allege that the latest attack took place more than a month ago.

According to some experts, the Israeli attacks were aimed at testing the Russian response.

The reports stated that the recent attack was carried out in daylight, and the Russians were warned beforehand.

Apparently, Russia blasted the move through the Russian-Israeli military liaison system but stopped short of making the attack public.

'Warning to hotheads'

On Wednesday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said Moscow was preparing the S-300s for use in Syria.

"This system is a warning to all the hotheads in the region," he warned, without explicitly naming Israel.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/02/578777/ISrael-Russia-Syria-plane-downing-Latakia-S300

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Rouhani asks Europe to cooperate with Iran to counter US unilateralism

Nov 1, 2018

President Hassan Rouhani has warned about the dangers posed by Washington’s unilateralism to the world, urging European countries to work with Iran to counter the US.

In a Thursday opinion piece published by the Financial Times, Rouhani lashed out at Washington for its foreign policy over the past two years, saying that the US administration’s policies have emerged as a new and complicated problem for the world.

He took a jab at the US for “complicity in the daily atrocities in Yemen,” for the “humiliation and gradual perishing of the great nation of Palestine,” and for the support it offers to such criminal groups as Daesh, saying such policies have exacerbated the problems in the region.

“More broadly, US President Donald Trump’s approach to matters of trade, international treaties and the humiliating manner in which he treats even America’s allies, illustrates how US foreign policy has posed new challenges to the global order,” he said.

“In brief, the US administration’s policies of unilateralism, racial discrimination, Islamophobia, and the undermining of important international treaties, including the Paris Climate Accord, are fundamentally incompatible with multilateralism and other socio-political norms valued by Europe,” the president added.

Rouhani pointed to the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal as the other critical matter aggravating transatlantic relations.

“Unfortunately, the US, through raising unfounded claims and in complete disregard for its international obligations, has abandoned the nuclear agreement and imposed extraterritorial and unilateral sanctions on Iran and, by extension, other countries,” he said, blasting the US for threatening others who seek to abide by a UN Security Council resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal.

Rouhani praised the “valuable” support expressed by the remaining JCPOA parties since Trump’s withdrawal, but at the same time noted that the European parties as well as Russia and China still need to “present and implement their final proposed package of measures to compensate for and mitigate the effects of America’s newest unilateral and extraterritorial sanctions before they are imposed.”

“The nuclear deal demonstrated that Iran is committed to reason and dialogue,” he said, adding that it can only survive if the Iranian people can witness and enjoy the benefits it promised.

“In today’s tumultuous world, the only way to overcome difficulties is through concerted international efforts based on mutual interests, and not the short-sighted demands of one or a few states,” the Iranian chief executive noted, adding that “unilateralism is fatal, while multilateralism is the only appropriate, inexpensive and effective course of action.”

“Europe’s tradition of multilateralism positions it well to play an important role in reinforcing peace and stability in line with its identity and interests. Iran believes in multilateralism and is prepared to join other peace-loving nations in this path,” Rouhani noted.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578768/Rouhani-Europe-Trump-unilateralism

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Assad scolds Europe as Polish delegation visits Syria

Nov 1, 2018

President Bashar al-Assad has urged European countries to come and take a closer look at the developments in his country as their approaches to Syria are totally “divorced from reality.”

“One of the biggest mistakes made by many European countries is separation from reality,” Assad said in a Thursday meeting with a Polish delegation visiting the Arab country.

He hailed the European delegation’s visit to Damascus and said making such visits to gain a closer knowledge is the most important step for foreign governments to build a correct and realistic policy.

According to Assad, such visits help foreign states adopt positions and stances, which serve the interests of their people and contribute to their protection, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

He briefed the Polish delegation on the war, which Syrians have been facing for more than seven years, and explained that the tools of the conflict have ranged from terrorism, direct aggression, and economic sanctions to attempts to intervene in the country’s internal affairs and imposing isolation and siege.

The Syrian president also welcomed the Polish delegation’s idea of establishing a joint parliamentary committee and expansion of bilateral cultural exchanges, stressing that Damascus is open to any efforts that will build good relations between people.

In turn, the Polish delegation headed by MP Pavel Skutitsky stressed that the main purpose of their visit to Syria was to take a closer look at the latest developments.

They said the war and the achievements made by Syria against terrorist organizations have contributed to staving off terrorism that could have been transported to the neighboring countries and to Europe later.

They also expressed hope that the Syrian state would fully eradicate terrorism and regain control over all of its territory.

The European delegation’s visit to Syria came a couple of days after the Arab country strongly denounced sanctions imposed on it by the European Union, saying the bans were harming the Syrian people.

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja'afari told a Security Council session on Monday that foreign-backed Takfiri terrorists and the sanctions imposed by the US and the EU were inflicting suffering on the Syrian people.

On May 28, the EU extended its restrictive measures against the Damascus government until June 1, 2019.

The sanctions currently in place against Syria include an oil embargo, restrictions on certain investments and a freeze of the assets of the Syrian central bank held in the EU. 

The EU bans are also in place on dozens of companies linked to the government of President Assad.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578754/Assad-Syria-crisis-Europe-reality-poland

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French ‘Daesh mothers’ held in Syria face terrible choice

November 02, 2018

PARIS: For dozens of French women detained in Syria, an impossible choice looms: Keeping their children in a war zone, or sending them home knowing they might never see each other again.

Like other Western nations which experienced an extremist exodus to Iraq or Syria, France is grappling with how to handle citizens left in the war zone following heavy losses for Daesh.

Last week, France announced plans to start repatriating an estimated 150 children, many of them being held alongside their mothers by Kurdish forces in Syria following Daesh defeats.

But French officials made clear that the mothers themselves will not be welcomed home.

A few days ago, Nadine — her name has been changed — got a phone call from her daughter-in-law in a Kurdish camp.

The young mother was in tears. “Do I have to abandon my children in order for them to go back to France?” she sobbed.

Nadim Houry, a senior Human Rights Watch official who regularly visits the Kurdish camps, said France’s announcement would “bring an end to an unbearable situation.”

There are no schools or activities for children in the camps, where poor hygiene causes regular bouts of diarrhea, vomiting and skin infections. Lawyers for the mothers, pushing for the whole families to be repatriated, have complained for months of “deplorable” conditions in the camps.

“My daughter-in-law gets sick a lot, like her children,” Nadine said. “She only weighs 45 kg.”

Reluctant to bring extremists back onto home soil, France has so far insisted its captured nationals must go on trial locally.

Some 260 adults and 80 minors have already returned to France from Syria or Iraq, and earlier this year French authorities estimated that more than 700 adults and 500 children were still in the war zone.

Several French adults have already been tried in Iraq and their children repatriated.

But in Syria, most of the remaining French nationals are being held in northern Syria in territory which, while under Kurdish control, does not constitute an internationally recognized state.

Kurdish forces have repeatedly insisted they will not try foreign prisoners and have called on the extremists’ home countries to repatriate them.

Houry said the idea that France could leave the Kurds to put its nationals on trial was “a fiction” that it was maintaining in a bid to avoid public alarm at a wave of impending terrorist returns.

Lawyers for the mothers, meanwhile, say it is a travesty that a country which touts itself as a beacon of human rights would separate parents from children and leave its citizens in a war zone.

William Bourdon, a lawyer for several of the women, insisted that “the vast majority have had no combat or active role in Daesh and have a right to a fair trial, which can only take place in France.”

Nadine began sobbing at the thought of the choice facing her daughter-in-law.

“Having to give away your children without knowing whether or not you’re going to see them again one day, or who will be looking after them — can you imagine doing that to someone?” Nadine said in a phone call.

“My daughter-in-law is still breastfeeding the youngest, just eight months old. It’s an unspeakable cruelty.”

Houry predicted that many of the mothers will refuse to separate from their children — an assessment shared by relatives in France.

“It’s their comfort, their only reason for living,” said one resident in northern France, whose sister is still in Syria.

“My daughter-in-law will not give up her little one like that, not even knowing what’s going to become of herself,” said Sarah, a pseudonym.

Sarah’s son and his wife set off for Syria in 2016 and were arrested a year ago by the Kurds.

The mother and son are both in a camp, fending off illness and chasing away mice from their tent, Sarah said.

Like the families, child psychologist Serge Hefez believes separating the children from their parents can only bring more harm.

“Keeping a link with a parent, even if it’s visits in prison, is essential for a child,” he said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1397806/middle-east

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Germany hardening line on Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi

02.11.2018

By Ayhan Simsek

BERLIN

Germany is still waiting for a transparent and credible investigation from Saudi Arabia into the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and is ready to take action in light of new findings, a government spokesman has said.

The spokesman, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that Germany was increasingly concerned over the case as many questions remained unanswered almost a month after Khashoggi's disappearance.

“We are now following very closely whether Saudi Arabia is endeavoring to ensure transparency in the clarification of the case and to hold to account those responsible. In light of this development, we are ready to take appropriate action with our international partners,” he said, referring to widespread calls for sanctions against Riyadh.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman last week and called for a rapid, transparent and credible investigation, stressing that all those responsible must be held accountable.

“This appeal to Saudi Arabia remains valid. Saudi Arabia has committed itself to this in several public statements and must now be measured by these statements,” the spokesman said.

The German government has also praised Turkey’s efforts to unravel the truth since Khashoggi's disappearance.

“The work of the Turkish authorities has played a major role in the investigation of the case to date. The federal government supports all efforts to clarify this case completely,” he stressed.

Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, was killed on Oct. 2 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

After weeks of denying involvement, the Kingdom admitted last week that Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate but claimed that the Saudi royal family had no prior knowledge of a plot to murder him.

So far, 18 people, including security officers, have been arrested in Saudi Arabia in connection with the murder.

On Wednesday, Turkish prosecutors announced their preliminary findings, saying Khashoggi was strangled to death in a premeditated killing soon after he entered the Saudi consulate.

The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office said Khashoggi's body had been disposed of after being dismembered.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-hardening-line-on-saudi-arabia-and-khashoggi/1300604

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UK politicians are emboldening the nation's Islamophobes

1 November, 2018

Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) is upon us once more, and sadly it comes with new figures which highlight that the conditions of Muslims is getting worse in the UK.

According to government data, over 8,300 incidents of hate crime in England and Wales between April 2017 and March 2018 were motivated by religion.

It may come as no surprise that over half of the abuse recorded, was directed towards Muslims or those perceived to be Muslim. This represents a 40 percent hike in religious hate crime.

Furthermore, hate crime overall has risen by 17 percent over the year, and of the more than 94,000 cases recorded, 75 percent were race-related. Given the racialisation of Muslims, this places an entire community and those who are perceived to belong to it, within two highly targeted categories.

The general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain responded to the recent data, stating that "No longer can the government sit back and watch as the far-right rises, Islamophobia is mainstreamed and vulnerable Muslim communities are attacked."

The reality is, the daily onslaught on Muslims in headlines, trade unions, academic reports and personal accounts, predates the report by far. Not only has the government sat back and watched this happen, it has also been an active participant in perpetuating Islamophobia.

When the likes of Home Secretary Sajid Javid tweets comments that homogenise an entire group, he is dog-whistling to the far-right.

The Home Office - in its usual attempts to downplay the rise of the very racism which it largely peddles through its policies - has 'suggested' that the alarming rise in numbers could be due to their improved monitoring of hate crime.

This is particularly disingenuous, given that their own research demonstrates that following terror attacks like those in Manchester and London, anti-Muslim abuse tends to rise because racists feel emboldened by the national rhetoric that blames the entire Muslim community and Islam for the atrocities.

Let's not forget, for example, the attack on Muslims outside Finsbury Park mosque by far-right inspired Darren Osborne, who attempted to mow down worshipers in his van.

The incident led to the death of Makram Ali and left a dozen people injured. Osborne's suicide note indicated he was 'taking revenge' for terrorism, apparently on any random Muslim he could find. The message is clear: All Muslims are the same, they are all dangerous, and should all be punished.

Read more: How do white Muslims experience Islamophobia?

In fact, since the attack, the mosque has received hate-filled letters with deeply Islamophobic content. One threateningly announced: "There are thousands of other Darren Osbornes and it's just a matter of time," further illustrating that while one man may have received due punishment, anti-Muslim views are still roaming freely and confidently.

Another letter stated that the perpetrator's actions were "just the beginning, we will kill you all".

The chief executive of the Muslim Welfare House (an extension of Finsbury Park Mosque), Toufik Kacimi, said that the June attack had traumatised the community and left many too afraid to leave their homes.

This abusive harassment of the Mosque only serves to confirm the fears of local mosque-goers - as well as the wider Muslim community - that they have good reason to be worried of such crimes happening again.

In the court proceedings following the attack, it became clear that material shared by Tommy Robinson and far right groups had served as motivation for Darren Osborne who, in the words of the Judge was said to have held an "ideology of hate towards Muslims".

The very people inspiring such horrific acts can today be seen gaining rising popularity and wealth. As Tommy Robinson (Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) was released on bail after facing charges of being in contempt of court, thousands rallied and cheered him on, with many waving the UKIP flag outside the Old Bailey in London.

The Guardian reported that a former assistant to Robinson stated that since his arrest, he has had a "massive payday".

The popularity of his hateful ideologies has reached US shores, too. Congress members have invited him to speak in Washington where, during the tour it, is estimated he could make up to $1.3 million in donations.

Just a few weeks ago, the DFLA (Democratic Football Lads Alliance) also marched confidently in London against "returning jihadists", "thousands of AWOL migrants", "rape gangs and groomers", and "veterans treated like traitors".

Over 1,500 people attended, many were chanting "Whose streets? Our streets!" The demonstration was a horrifying display of the rise of the far right in the UK, complete with sieg heiling and Nazi paraphernalia.

But Islamophobia is not just the purview of far right groups and isolated racists; the right wing establishment also plays its part.

The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill is yet another institutionalised form of anti-Muslim oppression which will make travel, education and work more difficult for so many. The proposals include arrest for visiting certain 'high risk' - read, 'Muslim majority' - countries, or viewing sensitive online content. This legitimises and strengthens a culture of suspicion towards Muslims and - by extension - all racialised people.

In fact, it's this very climate of fear, stoked by politicians and media outlets, and institutionalised through laws and harmful police practices, that lay the foundation for the rise of more radical street-fighting thugs.

Our country's institutions normalise racism towards Muslims, and mark them out as dangerous and separate from society. They whip up a sense of danger and fear towards an entire community.

It is then, considerably easier for Robinson and his clique to mobilise to 'fight radicalisation' and target Muslims across the UK. The government does it also, but Robinson promises to do it better, and more rapidly.

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque summarised the current situation for Muslims, when I asked him whether he felt that the attack on the mosque was an isolated incident, or symptomatic of wider problems across UK institutions:

"We have seen the misconception about our religion in the media and how they systematically try to normalise it in the eyes of the British public, even by some of the politicians for political gain and tactics. And this, no doubt, made Islamophobia worse and leads to many nasty attacks on institutions like ours or even individuals - especially Muslim women who are the most vulnerable and easy targets."

The ease with which attacks on legal rights, free speech, or assumptions of innocence by the state have been accepted because they were first carried out against Muslim communities has been frightening, and is a further reminder of the deeply ingrained Islamophobia across society.

IAM is a time to reassess, a time to realise that things are actually getting worse despite the misguided idea that hate crimes and racism are something of the past.

But it is also a time to pledge to take action and fight back. Together, we can celebrate Islam and reiterate our right to practice our religion freely. We must also name our oppressors, call out the institutions that target us, and organise alongside others in the student, trade union and anti-racist movements.

Full report at:

https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/2018/11/1/uk-politicians-are-emboldening-the-nations-islamophobes

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Pakistan

 

Islamist radicals defy Imran, choke Pakistan over blasphemy acquittal

Nov 2, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Outraged by the Supreme Court's acquittal of a Christian woman in a blasphemy case, Pakistani Islamist protesters paralyzed life across the country for a second day on Thursday by blocking roads in all major cities, smashing vehicles and forcing shopkeepers and traders to shut their businesses.

The apex court on Tuesday freed Asia Bibi, a mother of four, who had been living on death row since 2010. She was the first woman sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws.

Incidentally, the whereabouts of Asia Bibi and her family were unclear on Thursday. But speculation is rife that she and her family will leave Pakistan due to threat to their lives.

Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), a far-right party that emerged after the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer who had defended Bibi, was at the forefront of the countrywide protests on Thursday.

Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the TLP chief and the main force behind the protests, called for the assassination of the chief justice who acquitted Bibi. "The chief justice and two others deserve to be killed," Muhammad Afzal Qadri, a TLP co-founder, told a protest rally in Lahore.

"Either their security guards, their drivers, or their chefs should kill them," he said threatening to block roads across the country until the judges were removed from their posts. Qadri also called for the ouster of Khan's new government and urged army officers to stand up against the military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Due to the ongoing violent protests, train services remained suspended from Lahore to other cities on Thursday. All important roads in Lahore, were blocked by Islamists.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/islamist-radicals-defy-imran-choke-pakistan-over-blasphemy-acquittal/articleshow/66469661.cms

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Khadim Rizvi says he will continue his ‘peaceful struggle’

November 2, 2018

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Rizvi said Thursday that his party is not linked with the miscreants, adding that he will continue his peaceful struggle.

Taking to Twitter, the firebrand cleric said, “TLP has no connection with the miscreants, trying to disrupt peace. We’re a peaceful organisation and determined to continue peaceful struggle.”

The Labbaik chief called on the federal government to put a check on the miscreants. “It’s the responsibility of the government to check those miscreants,” he said. “Our workers are not involved in any activity to harm our own country.”

Rizvi claimed that none of his workers is indulged in spreading violence in the country.

The far-right religious cleric has made it clear that TLP’s countrywide protests will not end until he gives the call.

Earlier, he commented on the Supreme Court’s verdict to acquit Aasiya Bibi in the blasphemy case. “Had Asia been punished under 295 C, the Islamophobes and neo-imperialists would have been silenced once for all. Unfortunately, government has not shown courage to displease secular-capitalist nexus,” he said.

While PM Imran Khan had warned of stern action against those challenging the state’s writ, State Minister for Interior Shehryar Afridi said Thursday the government was in talks with the religio-political parties protesting against Aasiya Bibi’s acquittal. The nation would soon hear good news, he added.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/11/01/khadim-rizvi-says-he-will-continue-his-peaceful-struggle/

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Imran Khan gives stern warning to Islamists

Nov 1, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s stern warning to the Islamist hardliners over their agitation following the Supreme Court’s acquittal of a Christian woman Asia Bibi in a blasphemy case, drew sharp censure from the opposition parties while the country erupted in violent protests on Thursday.

In a televised address to the nation late on Wednesday, Khan warned religious extremists against inciting people, claiming that they were doing disservice to Islam. “Only anti-state elements can threaten to kill judges or start a revolt in the army. They are only trying to strengthen their vote bank,” Khan said, warning the religious fundamentalists not to push the state to a point where it had no option but to take action against them.

Khan’s ultimatum to the Islamist fanatics assumes significance because it is a departure from his pre-election rhetoric that was aimed at mollycoddling Taliban and its likes. It also runs counter to the image of Pakistan which so far has been known to show lack of tolerance and empathy for its religious and gender minorities.

However, Pakistan’s opposition criticized Prime Minister Khan for his toughness against fundamentalists. Syed Khurshed Shah, a senior PPP leader and former leader of opposition in NA strongly condemned Khan’s speech, stating that his tone was aggressive. “There was violence in his tone. You cannot bring peace with this tone,” he said.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, Khawaja Saad Rafique, agreed with Shah over the PM’s tone, saying: “We believe that Imran Khan's body language and tone was aggressive during his address.”

Today, you (PM Khan) are saying that blocking roads is not an appropriate action but yesterday, you were giving calls to the people to block roads and lock down cities,” Rafique said. “The religious card which had been used by the PTI against the previous PML-N government was now being used against it,” he added without elaborating his party’s stance on the top court’s decision of freeing Aasia Bibi.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari took Khan to task for being absent from the national assembly and for not ensuring the country that substantial measures had been taken to maintain law and order. “What steps are being taken to protect our judges? What steps are being taken to protect Aasia Bibi? There is no one here to answer our questions, he said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imran-khan-gives-stern-warning-to-islamists/articleshow/66464811.cms

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Imran Khan lands in Beijing on four-day visit, to hold talks with Xi Jinping

November 2, 2018

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan landed in Beijing Friday morning on a four-day visit. His first visit to China since taking over as PM, Khan is expected to hold bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang today. The two countries are expected to sign several pacts.

Khan’s visit comes at a time when the country is in a financial crisis and is seeking emergency aid of $8 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Khan is likely to seek funds from China to avoid going to the IMF. China has already agreed to invest over $60 billion in Pakistan under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to build roads, ports, power plants and industrial parks.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan landed in Beijing Friday morning on a four-day visit. His first visit to China since taking over as PM, Khan is expected to hold bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang today. The two countries are expected to sign several pacts.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/pakistan/imran-khan-lands-in-beijing-for-four-day-visit-to-hold-talks-with-xi-jinping-5430471/

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DG ISPR says army has nothing to do with Asia case, urges protesters to take legal route

November 02, 2018

Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor on Friday said that Asia Bibi was acquitted by the courts and added that the army had nothing to with her case.

Speaking to PTVNews, the DG ISPR advised religio-political parties protesting against the Supreme Court judgement on Asia Bibi's appeal to seek a legal solution to their grievances. He referred to a review petition, filed by Qari Muhammad Salaam, and said that they should wait for the courts to decide the matter.

"Unfortunately, the army is dragged into every matter," he said when asked about anti-military statements issued by protesters. "This is a legal matter and it is sad that negative statements are being issued against the army."

"We are tolerating a lot," he added and pointed out their were certain limitations imposed by the Constitution and action can be taken in case of violation.

He urged the protesters not to divert the army's attention to other matters since the forces are fighting to defeat terrorism.

"The armed forces, along with the rest of the country, have fought a war that we are about to win," said Maj Gen Ghafoor. "Our goal is long-lasting peace. We have established peace and we are headed towards stability but there is still a lot left to do," he said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1443073/dg-ispr-says-army-has-nothing-to-do-with-asia-case-urges-protesters-to-take-legal-route

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Brother says Aasia won’t be safe in Pakistan

November 02, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman acquitted after eight years on death row for blasphemy, plans to leave Pakistan, her family said on Thursday.

The development followed a landmark move by the Supreme Court on Wednesday that overturned the 2010 conviction against her.

Aasia remained at an undisclosed location on Thursday where the 54-year-old mother of five was being held for security reasons, awaiting her formal release, her brother, James Masih said.

He said Aasia simply would not be safe in Pakistan. “She has no other option and she will leave the country soon,” he said. Masih would not disclose the country of her destination but both France and Spain have offered asylum.

Aasia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, had returned from Britain with their children in mid-October and was waiting for her to join them, the brother added.

The family is in hiding for fear of attacks by those angry at the court’s ruling, and still waiting to be reunited with Aasia.

“You know my two youngest daughters were below age of 10 when their mother went away ... They don’t remember spending much time with her,” Ashiq said.

The family has four daughters and one son, he said. “We are thankful to the court that it decided the case considering us human beings instead of any discrimination on the base of faith or religion.” He said Aasia, who is about 50, has not been released from prison pending arrangements for her safety.

“She can’t be safe here,” brother-in-law Nadeem said. “You know what’s going on outside. We want things to settle down before we go ahead for her release.”

With Aasia soon to be free, her family is struggling to make plans. They would prefer to leave the country to be safe, but there are plans in place.

“We haven’t got any contact yet either from Pakistani authorities or anyone from outside,” Nadeem said.

Yet, Ashiq Masih said he would be sad to be forced to leave his homeland. “We’re also part of Pakistan,” he said. “This is our country. We love it.”

Lawyer Saiful Mulook

After saving condemned Christian Aasia Bibi from the gallows, her lawyer says he is facing the wrath of extremists — and wonders who will save him.

But despite the threats against him, Saiful Mulook says he regrets nothing, and will continue his legal fight against intolerance.

“The verdict has shown that the poor, the minorities and the lowest segments of society can get justice in this country despite its shortcomings,” he said after the verdict. “This is the biggest and happiest day of my life.”

Mulook said he feels he is now a sitting duck with no security or escape plan. “I think I have absolutely no safety. No security and I am the easiest target... anybody can kill me,” he said.

The defence of Aasia was just the latest in a long line of controversial cases taken up by the barrister.

In 2011, Mulook was the lead prosecutor against Mumtaz Qadri over the assassination of Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

Qadri — one of Taseer’s bodyguards — gunned down his boss in broad daylight, citing the governor’s calls for reform of the blasphemy laws as his motive.

Mulook said he took on the case as others cowered, fearing reprisals from extremists. His prosecution resulted in the conviction and subsequent execution of Qadri.

Mulook says his life has not been the same since; he rarely socialises, lives in a constant state of hyper-vigilance and has been inundated with threats.

If you conduct such cases you should be ready for the results and the consequences,” the greying 62-year-old explains.

But Mulook said the risks have been worth the reward.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1443017/brother-says-aasia-wont-be-safe-in-pakistan

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Process of appointing new US envoy begins’

November 02, 2018

WASHINGTON: Pakistan has started the process for the appointment of a new ambassador in Washington, the second in less than six months, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters in Islamabad last week that the government was sending a new envoy to Washington to replace Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, who was appointed by the previous government. The proposed replacement, Dr Asad Majeed Khan, is a career diplomat currently serving as ambassador to Japan.

The embassy received Dr Khan’s agrément days after the announcement and on Friday forwarded it to the US State Department.

Although the department usually takes more than a month to approve an agrément, Mr Siddiqui’s papers were approved within weeks.

Mr Siddiqui also got his accreditation in a record time. He arrived in Washington on May 28 and presented his credentials to President Donald Trump on June 22.

Dr Khan, who would be Pakistan’s 29th Ambassador to the United States, is not new to Washington. He served as Pakistan’s Charge d’Affaires ad interim to the United States from May 2013 to January 2014 and as Deputy Chief of Mission from March 2012 to September 2015.

Welcoming his nomination, a former Pakistani ambassador, Senator Sherry Rehman, said she “strongly cheered” this development. “He held the job for six months after I had resigned and even while I was serving, (he was) a stellar, upright and smart diplomat, able to move with the times and challenges,” she tweeted.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1443011/process-of-appointing-new-us-envoy-begins

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South Asia

 

Re-election of Sheikh Hasina imperative for counter-terror narrative in South Asia

NOV 01, 2018

NEW DELHI: Sheikh Hasina's return to power in next elections later this year will be critical to continue success Bangladesh has achieved against terrorism and extremism in the past decade.

In its unremitting effort against terrorist formations in Bangladesh since the Holey Artisan

cafe attack, over 100 terrorists have been killed and over 1500 arrested across the country.

In fact Sheikh Hasina's government has hardened its resolve to eradicate terrorism from Bangladesh after the Holey Artisan cafe attack. It has demonstrated the efficacy of determined and relentless action against terrorist formations over the past year and more, officials and experts pointed out.

Prime Minister Hasina has emphasised that Bangladesh does not and will allow its territory to be used by any terrorist, terrorist group or entity against any state or people including India. Her re-election therefore is important for India's stability and prevent Bangladesh from once again becoming a hub of ISI activities, counter-terror experts point out.

Bangladesh strongly condemns terrorism and violent extremism in all forms.

In line with its zero-tolerance policy against terrorism and violent extremism, Bangladesh does not and will not allow its territory to be used by any terrorist individual, group and entity against any state or people, according to senior Bangladesh officials.  India has praised Hasina's zero tolerance policy towards the terrorism, saying it was an inspiration for all. Bangladesh joined hands to fight the forces of instability and terrorism.

The spread of radicals and extremists led by Jamaat-e-Islami posed a 'grave threat' not just to India and Bangladesh, but to the entire region. India has expressed determination to stand by the Bangladeshi people in the country's fight against terrorism.

“We have excellent cooperation between our security agencies that ensure that peace, security and development for our people and for the region remains central to our engagement,” according to an Indian official.

Bangladesh has launched a crackdown against terror financing. Investigations into the financial operations of terrorist groups and Jamaat-e-Islami have exposed their Pak links. Jamaat has been accused of promoting political Islam in Bangladesh with support from ISI and their participation in government between 2001-06 was among the worst periods in Bangladesh political history when terror groups were active plotting against Opposition and India.

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/re-election-of-sheikh-hasina-imperative-for-counter-terror-narrative-in-south-asia/articleshow/66460275.cms

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Thakurgaon Jamaat ameer arrested over sabotage case

November 2nd, 2018

An arrest warrant was issued against him from the court

The Jamaat-e-Islami ameer of Thakurgaon district has been arrested over a case of sabotage.

Police arrested Maulana Abdul Hakim from his Hazipara residence on Thursday, as an arrest warrant was issued against him from the court.

Thakurgaon Sadar police station OC Mostafizur Rahman has confirmed the news.

“The Jamaat leader was sent to jail after he was arrested,” said OC Mostafizur.

Full report at:

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2018/11/02/thakurgaon-jamaat-amir-arrested-over-sabotage-case

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Bangladesh PM to have unprecedented talks with opposition before poll

01 Nov 2018

DHAKA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will sit down to unprecedented talks with the opposition on Thursday to discuss installing a caretaker government ahead of December's election, a key demand of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

The BNP, in disarray after the jailing of its chief, former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, on corruption charges, stayed away from the last parliamentary election in 2014 when that demand was not met.

That election was marred by widespread violence that killed hundreds of people and disrupted the impoverished South Asian country's economic mainstay, the US$30 billion-a-year export-driven garment industry.

BNP Secretary-General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the formation of an interim government was necessary to ensure a "level playing field".

"We will also ask for the release of our chief Khaleda Zia and demand the deployment of the army to ensure smooth voting," Alamgir told Reuters.

Alamgir said the party still hoped Khaleda, whose jail term was doubled to 10 years on Tuesday, a day after she was jailed in another graft case for seven years, would be released and be able to lead the opposition coalition of 20 parties, the National United Front.

They had not lined up an alternative candidate for prime minister, he added.

The attorney-general has ruled out her taking part in the election.

Hasina and Khaleda, who between them have ruled Bangladesh for decades, are bitter rivals and the BNP says its leader has been jailed on trumped up charges to keep her out of politics.

The government and Hasina's Awami League deny the accusation and say the courts are independent.

Anisul Huq, minister for law, justice and parliamentary affairs, declined to comment on the agenda for the talks.

Mohammad Abdur Rashid, the executive director of the Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies in Dhaka, said the meeting had raised hopes of a comparatively peaceful election for Bangladesh, which has attracted international attention for hosting tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees from neighbouring Myanmar.

"People don't want anarchism like in the previous election," Rashid told Reuters.

Outgoing U.S. Ambassador Marcia Bernicat on Tuesday called the meeting a positive development.

Full report at:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/bangladesh-pm-to-have-unprecedented-talks-with-opposition-before-poll-10887872

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Taliban realizes they cannot win militarily’, says Gen. Miller

Nov 01 2018

The Commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and U.S. forces in Afghanistan Gen. Scott Miller has said the conflict in Afghanistan could only be ended through a political solution, emphasizing that the Taliban also realizes that they cannot win militarily.

In an exclusive interview with NBC News Gen. Miller said he recognizes that the solution in Afghanistan will be political, not military.

“This is not going to be won militarily,” Miller said. “This is going to a political solution.”

“My assessment is the Taliban also realizes they cannot win militarily. So if you realize you can’t win militarily at some point, fighting is just, people start asking why. So you do not necessarily wait us out, but I think now is the time to start working through the political piece of this conflict.”

However, he said “We are more in an offensive mindset and don’t wait for the Taliban to come and hit [us].”

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-realizes-they-cannot-win-militarily-says-gen-miller-02664/

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Foreigners among 68 militants killed, wounded in Afghan, U.S. forces operations

Nov 01 2018

At least sixty eight militants including two foreign militants hailing originally from Pakistan have been killed or wounded during the separate operations of the Afghan and U.S. forces in southeastern Ghazni and Paktia provinces.

The 203rd Thunder Corps of the Afghan Military in the Southeast in a statement said at least 16 militants including two Pakistanis were killed during the operations of the Afghan forces in Waghez district of Ghazni.

The statement further added that the Afghan Air Force also carried out airstrikes in Maidanak, Perugi, Shap, Dargari, Qala Kohna, Nasratabad, Mullah Hussain, and Laiq areas along the Highway No. 1 in Ghazni, leaving at least 39 militants dead and 8 others wounded.

According to 203rd Thunder Corps, the U.S. forces also carried out airstrikes in Choni area in the outskirts of Paktia’s capital, leaving at least 3 militants dead while a motorcycle of the militants was destroyed.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/foreigners-among-68-militants-killed-wounded-in-afghan-u-s-forces-operations-02661/

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UN officials blast Bangladesh-Myanmar deal on Rohingya

Nov 1, 2018

United Nations officials have blasted a repatriation deal struck between the governments in Bangladesh and Myanmar over the return of Rohingya Muslim refugees, saying that conditions in the northwestern state of Rakhine are “not yet conducive” for their returns.

The two sides agreed in January to complete a voluntary repatriation of the refugees over a two-year period. The repatriation, however, was delayed due to a lack of preparation as well as protests staged by Rohingya refugees against the plan to send them back to Myanmar while conditions were not safe for their return.

Bangladesh and Myanmar government officials announced this week they had struck a “very concrete” repatriation deal for the return of the 720,000 Rohingya refugees who fled a brutal state-sponsored military crackdown in August 2017 and crossed into Bangladesh, where they live in overcrowded camps with limited access to food, medicine and education.

The repatriation would begin with 2,000 returnees in “mid-November.”

In reaction to the announcement, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, however, said the bilateral agreement had taken the UN high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) by surprise.

“To be clear… UNHCR, which is in lead on the issues of refugees, was not consulted on this matter,” Dujarric said at a Wednesday daily press briefing given by the secretary general’s office.

“For UNHCR, the conditions in Rakhine state are not yet conducive for a return to Myanmar,” Dujarric noted. “And, at the same time, we’re seeing Rohingya refugees continue to arrive from Rakhine state into [Bangladesh], which should give you an indication of the situation on the ground.”

The United Nations refugee agency also said it would not assist with such refugee returns because the Rakhine state was “unsafe” for the persecuted Muslim minority group.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been living for more than a year in cramped refugee camps in Cox's Bazar district in southeastern Bangladesh after fleeing violence in Rakhine state at the hands of the Myanmar military.

WFP voices 'extreme concerns' about Rohingya return

World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley said on Wednesday that there were "extreme concerns" about the return of Rohingya Muslims from their camps in Cox's Bazar to Rakhine state in Myanmar.

Beasley had a day earlier visited the Kutupalong camps and spoken to families about the prospect of returning to their homes in Rakhine.

"But I can say very clearly, from the people that I've talked to inside the camps, I think many do want to go back when it's safe -- will that day ever come? I don't know. I know if I were in their shoes, I'd have some extreme concerns about going back and we heard that from people all over the camp," he said.

"There are some people who don't want to go back, under any circumstances. These are the decisions that each individual will be having to make, based on the information that is available," Beasley added.

Last year, extremist Buddhist monks rushed to help Myanmar’s military, when it intensified its crackdown campaign against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.

The campaign – which the UN described as the textbook example of ethnic cleansing campaign – has seen mass killings, torture, and gang rape of Rohingya Muslim as well as arson attacks against their homes and farms in Rakhine.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578730/UN-Myanmar-Bangladesh-repatriation-deal-Rakhine

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Afghan govt. control over country has slipped: US group

Nov 1, 2018

The Kabul government control over Afghanistan has slipped in recent months as local security forces have suffered record-level casualties without making tangible progress against the Taliban militant group, a United States government watchdog says.

Numbers recently provided by the Resolute Support Mission (RSM), a US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan, revealed that during the last quarter of the current year, the Afghan government managed to control or influence only 226 of the country’s 407 districts, that is 55.5 percent of the total Afghan territory only.

The US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which compiled the data, said in a report on Thursday that the RSM figure marked a slight drop of 0.7 percent compared to the same period the previous year. It is the lowest level since SIGAR commenced tracking district control in November 2015.

The watchdog’s report added that of the remaining districts, 49 were under militant control or influence, which makes some 12 percent, adding that the balance — 132 districts — were considered “contested” between the central government in Kabul and the Taliban or other militant outfits, including the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

According to the report, in terms of the Afghan population itself — some 35 million people — Kabul controls or influences 65.2 percent, the same amount as last year.

“From the period of May 1 to the most current data as of October 1, 2018, the average number of casualties the (Afghan forces) suffered is the greatest it has ever been during like periods,” SGAR quoted RSM as saying.

Earlier this week, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that more than 1,000 “Afghan lads” had been killed or wounded in August and September only.

SIGAR further said in its report that data also showed that the Afghan forces “made minimal or no progress in pressuring the Taliban over the quarter.”

The US, along with a number of fellow-NATO members, invaded Afghanistan in 2001, toppling a Taliban regime in control of most of the country at the time, but it has failed to restore security in the country plagued by militancy and terrorism.

The administration of US President Donald Trump is now negotiating with the Taliban group, excluding the Kabul government.

Over 8,000 people lost their lives or were wounded in Afghanistan between January and September this year, with the country on track to be deadlier than Syria in 2018.

Kabul blames the Taliban militant group for the bulk of the deaths.

According to the iCasualties website, 3,555 US-led troops, including 2,414 American soldiers, have been killed since the onset of the aggression on Afghanistan some 17 years ago, following the 9/11 terror attacks.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578724/Afghanistan-gobUS-Taliban-Daesh

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Southeast Asia

 

China rapidly expanding internment camps for Muslims, report says

November 2, 2018

China is rapidly expanding the size and scope of detainment camps in the country’s western region, according to reports, where hundreds of thousands of Muslims are being held in what are described as indoctrination centers.

Satellite imagery of the area over the Xinjiang region shows not just 28 separate detention camps - apparently part of a huge Chinese government program to better control the sizeable Muslim population in the area – but continued expansion of those detainment centers.

Details of the satellite imagery, released this week, shows the total camp area grew more than 400 percent since 2016. Most of the expansion occurred this year, according to the research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, which conducts research for the Australian military.

ABC News conducted an investigation into the camps and used the institute’s research.

The expansion of the camps coincides with heightened criticism of the indoctrination centers by former detainees and their relatives. International media reports have also stepped up coverage of the issue.

Human Rights Watch China Director Sophie Richardson called the images and report a significant addition to the growing body of evidence about the suppression campaign against Muslims.

“It’s contributed critical new facts that show the Chinese government is carrying out a massive human rights violation in the Xinjiang zone,” Richardson told Fox News. “It’s a critical link between showing the physical infrastructure and connecting it to the abuses taking place inside these facilities.”

Richardson said the Chinese government “considers the distinct religion, language, culture, education and traditional practices of this community to be a political threat.”

The satellite imagery shows prison-like facilities, complete with high fencing and watchtowers. The report described them as “punitive in nature and more akin to prison camps than what the Chinese authorities call ‘transformation through education centres.’”

An estimated 14 million Chinese citizens, most of them members of Muslim ethnic groups, live in Xinjiang. Tensions have flared between the Chinese government and the Uighurs, one of China’s most prominent minority groups, who seek to establish greater autonomy.

The Chinese government will not say how many people are being detained in the camps. Reports put the number in the hundreds of thousands, while some believe there could be as many as a million being detained.

Some relatives of those being held, who can speak freely outside China, say detainees have died in the camps, or shortly after they were let out.

Chinese officials have refuted reports of a mass detention system aimed at subjugation, instead saying that the camps were vocational schools that would combat the violence in the area. A Foreign Ministry spokesman refused to comment on the report about the expansion of the camps.

The images come as a United Nations panel is scheduled to discuss China’s human rights record in Geneva next week. The topic of the camps has been more intensely discussed in international circles, even before the report of the satellite images.

British diplomats went to the Xinjiang area in August and determined reports about the camps were “broadly accurate,” according to a Wall Street Journal report.

“The Chinese state has changed the facts on the ground in Xinjiang so dramatically that it has allowed little time for other countries to meaningfully react,” said the institute report. The researchers analyzed satellite images, construction-tender documents and information from officials, activists and others, the Journal said.

https://www.foxnews.com/world/new-satellite-images-show-chinas-expansion-of-internment-camps-holding-mainly-muslims

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Islamic State finds safe haven in the Philippines

By BONG S SARMIENTO

NOVEMBER 1, 2018

Despite Islamic State’s failure last year to establish a caliphate in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, foreign militants continue to flock to the island of Mindanao, waiting in the wings to strike anew.

Security analysts and military officials say at least 100 foreign terrorist fighters are now holed up with a range of local armed groups that have pledged their allegiance to Islamic State.

Filipino troops needed five months to flush out Islamic State-allied Maute and Abu Sayyaf fighters from their positions in Marawi, which one year later has yet to rise from the ashes of the urban war that left its core in ruins.

Rommel Banlaoi, chair of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, claims in an interview with Asia Times that Islamic State foreign fighters are now streaming into Mindanao and that the situation is “getting worse.”

His claim is based on information he collected over several months from state security agencies. “The entry of FTFs (foreign terrorist fighters) to the Philippines continues despite the liberation of Marawi,” Banlaoi told the Asia Times on October 30.

He also says that at least 60 have been identified by state agents through their aliases, while nearly 30 others are unidentified.

The figure is significantly higher than the 48 foreign fighters that the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ intelligence unit said were operating in Mindanao as of January 2018.

A repeat of last year’s months-long siege would be disastrous for the Philippines and the wider region. The urban war left some 1,100 individuals dead, mostly Islamist gunmen, including 32 foreign fighters, according to the Philippine military.

Over 350,000 civilians were displaced by the war that began on May 23 last year, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to place all of Mindanao under rights-curbing martial law. The order will remain in effect until the end of this year.

Duterte, the country’s first president from Mindanao who claims to have meranaw (Marawi residents refer to themselves as such) roots, declared the liberation of Marawi on October 17, 2017.

More than one year on, though, some 70,000 civilians have yet to return to Marawi’s 250-hectare ground zero, a restriction that has fed local anger and resentment in evacuation centers that have emerged as militant recruitment grounds.

Foreign Islamic State fighters often pose as tourists, students overstaying their visas, foreign workers or economic migrants, and at least 10 of them have been arrested since the start of this year, Banlaoi said.

Foreign Islamic State fighters have recently arrived in Mindanao from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Morocco, Spain, France, Tunisia, Iraq, Somali, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, he says, based on government monitoring of the movements.

Most are coming from neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia, using Mindanao’s maritime backdoor through the seas of Sulu and Celebes, known as the Sulawesi Sea in Indonesia.

The Malaysian terror suspects usually enter the southern Philippines through the province of Tawi-Tawi from the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo Island, while the Indonesians tend to come through the provinces of Davao Occidental and Sarangani from North Sulawesi.

The three neighboring nations share broad maritime borders in what is considered the second busiest shipping trade route in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“The FTFs regard Mindanao as the new land of jihad, safe haven and alternative home base,” Banlaoi said. “They join local groups to wage jihad in the Philippines on behalf of the Islamic State.”

The foreign Islamic State fighters are luring local militants with the promise of an East Asian Wilaya, or Islamic province, after the failure to establish one in Mindanao after their defeat in Marawi, Banlaoi said.

The Abu Sayyaf Group based in Basilan and Sulu, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters based in Maguindanao, the Ansar Al-Khilafa Philippines based in Sarangani, and the Abu Dar Group in Lanao del Sur, a remnant of the Maute Group, are all coddling the foreign fighters, he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Gerry Besana, spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Western Mindanao Command, said Islamic State continues to inspire local Muslim armed groups despite their military defeat last year at Marawi.

He also said that foreigners who pledge allegiance to the Islamic State continue to join local Islamic militant groups, confirming Banlaoi’s assessment.

“Some of these foreign terrorists are coming in through our porous borders,” Besana said, referring to the Sulu and Sulawesi seas that the Philippines shares with Malaysia and Indonesia.

The military official said the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have intensified joint navy patrols in border waters in a multilateral cooperation to fight terror threats.

While acknowledging that security forces alone can not detect foreign terrorist fighters because of the nation’s long coastlines and rugged jungles in Mindanao, the official called on the public to report suspicious foreigners to authorities for verification of their identities.

Local militant groups have instead provided sanctuary to foreign terrorists in the past. That includes well-known Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, alias “Marwan,” a bomb-making expert who was killed in Maguindanao province’s Mamasapano town in January 2015.

Marwan was given safe haven by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, a Islamic militant group which has recently declared its allegiance to Islamic State and is accused of orchestrating recent bombings in the region.

Besana said foreign terrorist fighters are arriving in Mindanao because of Islamic State’s “waning influence in the Middle East and in other parts of the world.”

Full report at:

http://www.atimes.com/article/islamic-state-finds-safe-haven-in-the-philippines/

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Mahathir makes last regional peace effort in Southern Thailand

01 Nov 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: During his years of retirement from 2003 to May 2018, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad spent his time building mosques and an orphanage in Muslim-majority provinces in southern Thailand.

“There was one mosque which he built from scratch and an undisclosed number that was assisted financially, also an orphanage home where he built three blocks of accommodation to house some 100 students,” an official from the Prime Minister’s office told Channel NewsAsia.

With his return to power following a stunning election victory last May, Mahathir, 93, is again finding himself involved in southern Thailand. This time, he is attempting to revive stalled peace talks in the region where a long-running insurgency in the provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani has killed 7,000 people since 2004.

“Southern Thailand is very close to his heart. He sees the peace talks as his last regional peace effort,” Kadir Jasin, media adviser to Mahathir, told Channel NewsAsia.

During Mahathir’s official visit to Thailand last week, he pledged to “help in whatever way possible” to end the violence.

BRINGING BRN, THE LARGEST INSURGENT GROUP, BACK TO THE NEGOTIATING TABLE

Observers, however, are not optimistic that peace will come anytime soon in Thailand’s deep south as the largest insurgent group there, Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), has stayed out of the talks.

“The prospects are very slim. The BRN has said that it will continue to sit out of the talks, which it has done since October 2016,” said Professor Zachary Abuza of the National War College of Washington DC.

The peace talks are held between the Thai government and Mara Pattani, an umbrella grouping of insurgents which previously included BRN.

As the largest insurgent group, BRN controls nearly all the combatants on the ground and has the strongest military capacity. Although it has refused to return to the talks, some BRN members have joined Mara Pattani of their own accord.

One of the biggest challenges for Thailand is to bring BRN back to the negotiating table.

BRN wants independent international organisations to be observers in the peace talks as one of the conditions for returning to negotiations.

“The biggest obstacle that seems difficult to overcome is the call for international observers,” said Rungrawee Chalermsripinyorat, an independent analyst monitoring southern Thailand’s conflict.

“The Thai government fears that such a step (international observers) would lead to further internationalisation of this conflict, which may open the door to secession,” she added.

The Thai military has often cited East Timor as an example where the United Nations’ involvement led to the territory breaking away from Indonesia in 1999, Rungrawee said.

But she pointed out that several countries have successfully ended conflicts via peace processes without resulting in separation. “Take for example Aceh in Indonesia and southern Philippines,” she said. 

Some observers believe that with Malaysia and Thailand undergoing a leadership transition, this blunts the effectiveness of the talks.

“I’m not optimistic. An election will be held soon in Thailand and it’s not clear what a new government in Bangkok would look like,” said Don Pathan, a security and development consultant based in southern Thailand.

“In Kuala Lumpur, Mahathir and Abdul Rahim Noor (the former Inspector-General of Police who is Malaysia’s new facilitator for the peace talks) have about 18 months before the PM-in-waiting, Anwar Ibrahim, takes over.”

Mahathir has said that he would step down after two years and hand over power to Anwar.

Add to that, Mara Pattani, the umbrella grouping which is party to the peace talks, has said that it would only negotiate when a democratic government is in place following the general election which is widely expected to be held in February next year.

The military has been running Thailand since a May 2014 coup that ousted the civilian government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. It has promised to hold a general election but has repeatedly pushed back the date.

“The Thai junta is unwilling to make even the most minimal of concessions; they have shown little interest or will in negotiating in good faith. Their idea of "peace" is that the rebels lay down their weapons without having to address any of their core grievances,” added Prof Abuza.

Southern Thailand’s Muslim-majority provinces are seeking greater autonomy and freedom.

DECLINE IN VIOLENT INCIDENTS IN 2018

According to Prof Abuza, the violence in southern Thailand has abated this year. In 2009, over 430 people were killed and some 800 were wounded. In the first 10 months of 2018, 61 people have been killed and 130 wounded.

“The attacks are fewer (but) they are extremely intense,” said independent analyst Pathan. “As long as the insurgents exist, Thailand can’t claim victory.”

He pointed out that Islamist groups like Jemaah Islamiyah had tried in the past to exploit the insurgency by recruiting militants, but they came out empty handed. “The conflict in Thailand’s far South is an ethno-nationalist one and the banner has always been Patani Malay nationalism,” said Pathan.

But there is another concern: That the conflict in southern Thailand is providing IS militants in Malaysia with a source for weapons.

“The Malaysian government has been concerned that weapons have cascaded out of southern Thailand into the hands of IS militants (in Malaysia),” said Prof Abuza.

Full report at:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/southern-thailand-insurgency-mahathir-peace-talks-10887796

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Terror groups that continue to target the Philippines and its ASEAN neighbors

1 November 2018

A year after the Philippine military finished off at least 800 ISIS-inspired militants in the Islamic city of Marawi, four terror groups continue to remain a security threat for the Southern Philippines region, particularly the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and its ASEAN neighbors.

Military authorities identify four terror groups – Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Maute Group, the Ansar al-Khilafa and the Abu Sayyaf group operating in the islands – as existing security threat to the region.

With this growing threat, the Philippine Police and the Philippine Army in the ARMM region this week signed a working agreement during a meeting at Camp Siongco, Maguindanao province, to secure areas from vulnerable attacks by terror groups who pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Major General Cirilito Sobejana of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and General Graciano Mijares of the Police Regional Office of ARMM represented the Army and Police organizations respectively to sign the collaborative security agreement.

The collaboration is part of the government strategy to eliminate all forms of terrorism particularly in the southern Philippines to comply with the President’s order. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this year directed the military to “destroy and kill” extremists who described them as supporters of “bankrupt” ideology.

Abu Sayyaf group

Of the four terror groups, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) remains the most potent security threat not only to the Philippines but to neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam. The ASG is presently holding 10 captives – a Dutch national, a Vietnamese and eight Filipinos in Sulu. The group also remains a maritime threat known for abducting sailors from Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Despite the death of its leader Isnilon Hapilon, in the infamous Marawi battle last year, the militant group easily re-established itself again. Close to a hundred Abu Sayyaf fighters this week killed three marine soldiers in the on-going battle in the island province of Sulu. The ASG was established in the 1990s by mercenaries assigned in Afghanistan and evolved to become Southeast Asia’s most feared terror group.

Moreover, the Philippine military also identified the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as another security threat since the militant organization boasts to have 5,000 armed fighters. The BIFF fighters were mostly members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a separatist movement, who accepted the Philippine government offer of self-autonomy.

Rejecting the MILF’s decision, the BIFF defected from the MILF and in 2010 the latter declared the BIFF a “lost command.” While the MILF and the Philippine government are talking peace to end the Mindanao armed conflict, the BIFF continues to exchange firefight hostilities with Philippine security forces.

MILF guerillas

In Lanao Sur, Omar Maute was responsible for the establishment of the Islamic State of Lanao or locally known the Maute Militant Group, a radical group, whose leaders were formerly MILF guerrillas.

While the Maute group claims to have hundreds of armed fighters, it dwindled to 30 members but military intelligence reports claimed, the group is actively recruiting more young people through social media after it suffered a heavy defeat in the Marawi battle last year.

Another militant group to watch is the Ansar Khalifa or Ansar al-Khilafah that was established in August 2014. The group is known for its viral video where its leaders pledged allegiance to ISIS.

The militant group made headlines when Philippine security authorities held them responsible for the 2016 Davao City bombing. Two of its members were arrested when they reportedly planted a bomb in a trash bin adjacent to the US embassy in Manila.

While these militant organizations continue to pose threat to the Philippines, the military wonders why some natives in Muslim Mindanao continue to support ISIS and joining these organizations. Lt. Col Gerry Besana, told journalists, that despite the militant groups’ failure to hold territory in Marawi, the militant ideology continues to entice local sympathizers.

Rommel Banlaoi, a counter-terrorism research expert in the Philippines, told local journalists, that militant fighters from Indonesia and Malaysia were also reportedly moving to the Southern Philippines to support local militant organizations.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2018/11/01/Terror-groups-that-continue-to-target-the-Philippines-and-its-ASEAN-neighbors.html

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Arab World

 

Terrorists' Provocative Acts in Demilitarized Zone Continue despite Turkey's Threats

Nov 01, 2018

Media activists reported on Wednesday that a Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) Commander, namely Abu Malik al-Tali, and commander of Jonud al-Sham Muslim al-Shishani along with a number of Chechnian terrorists have kicked off patrolling operations in contact lines with the Syrian army in Northern Lattakia.

They added that the Chechnian terrorists and Tahrir al-Sham militants have not withdrawn from the demilitarized zone at all after the Sochi agreement was inked between Ankara and Moscow.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had warned last Tuesday that his country would intervene militarily if the militants in Idlib oppose the Sochi agreement.

Meantime, a senior Syrian military source revealed that the country's army would possibly start military operations against the terrorists in the weapons-free zone as the latter continues deployment in the region.

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency quoted the source as saying on Tuesday that given Turkey's failure to implement its undertakings based on the Sochi agreement with Russia, the Syrian army will kick off military operations against the terrorists in the demilitarized zone if they continue attacks against the army positions.

He added that Northern Hama has in recent days witnessed attacks by the terrorist groups, specially Horras al-Din, against the Syrian army near the region under the supervision of Turkey near the town of Murak, noting that Jeish al-Izza militants have also sent military equipment from Southern Idlib to al-Latamineh front in Northern Hama.

The source said that the Syrian army has responded to the terrorists' offensives in demilitarized zone so far, adding that the army will launch massive military operations in the region if they continue.

Meantime, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that the terrorists are stationed in the arms-free zone from Northeastern Lattakia to Hama, Idlib and Northwestern Aleppo, adding that the army has targeted the moves by Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at terrorist group in the village of al-Janabereh and al-Latamineh in Northern Hama with artillery fire, inflicting heavy tolls on them.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000106

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Egyptian Authorities Detain Daughter of Senior Muslim Brotherhood Leader

November 01, 2018

CAIRO —

Egyptian security forces have detained the daughter of former presidential candidate and senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shater, family members and two security sources said on Thursday.

Aisha al-Shater was one of six women arrested overnight. They also included Huda Abd al-Moneim, a lawyer and member of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The Interior Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

Shater’s apartment was raided at around 11 p.m. (2100 GMT) on Wednesday, and she and her husband were taken to an unknown location, her sister Hafsa said.

“We don’t know why they took her,” she said, adding that no reasons were given for the arrest. “We are not involved in any political work.”

Khairat al-Shater, a former deputy leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, has been in jail since July 2013 after the army led by general-turned-president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi ousted the country's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, following mass protests against his one-year rule.

Morsi was propelled into the presidential campaign in 2012 when Khairat al-Shater was disqualified on the grounds of a past criminal conviction.

Abd al-Moneim, who was detained at around 1 a.m. on Thursday, was banned from travelling abroad five years ago after speaking at a conference in Europe about the violence used by security forces in 2013 on demonstrators protesting against Morsi’s overthrow, her daughter Gihad Badawy said.

No arrest warrant was presented and no reason was given for her arrest, she said.

“We worry about her health. She had a blood clot in her leg ... they wouldn’t let her take her medicine,” Badawy said.

The Brotherhood won Egypt’s first free elections after the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

President Sissi, who as army chief deposed Morsi, has since overseen a crackdown on his opponents in which hundreds of Brotherhood supporters, including Morsi and Shater, have been jailed.

Full report at:

https://www.voanews.com/a/egyptian-authorities-detain-daughter-of-senior-muslim-brotherhood-leader/4638676.html

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Hasaka: Kurdish Forces' Commander Defects

Nov 01, 2018

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted local sources in the town of Ra'as al-Ain in Western Hasaka near the borders with Turkey as saying that the commander, who has been named as Shiyar, has defected the militia group.

The paper added that the Turkish border guards provided security for Shiyar and transferred him on a vehicle to Turkey via the village of Tal Halaf.

The sources said that the Kurdish militants chased the car, but were forced to leave the region after they came under intense fire by the Turkish slodiers.

Tensions between the Kurds and Turkish army have heightened in Northern Syria.

Ankara has issued several warnings in the last one week about an impending assault on the Kurdish militias in Northeastern Syria.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the National Liberation Front (NFL) terrorist group as saying on Monday that while implementation of the Sochi agreement to create a demilitarized zone in Northern Syria has come to a halt, Ankara ordered its allied militants in Idlib and Northern and Western Aleppo to get ready for a major assault on the Kurds in Northern Syria.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000456

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US-Made Arms Found at ISIL Bases in Deir Ezzur

Nov 01, 2018

The army troops found several ISIL arms caches during their purging operations in al-Mayadeen region in Eastern Deir Ezzur on Thursday.

Military sources said the Syrian army forces have discovered 450,000 rounds of US-made machine-gun bullets among the weapons and equipment.

Despite Washington's attempts to deny its role in supporting the terrorist groups in Syria, the army regularly finds US-made weapons in militants' strongholds.

In a relevant development last Saturday, the Syrian army discovered a large volume of US and Israeli arms, ammunition and medicines in clean-up operation in the newly-freed Quneitra province.

The army's engineering units carried out clean-up operations in the villages of Bariqah, Ba'ar Ajam, Rasm Sanad in Southern and Western Quneitra province and found a large volume of arms and ammunitions and other military equipment.

Cannons, mortar launchers, anti-tank missiles, drones, the US-made missiles and Israeli arms and noise-making devices were among the discovered equipment.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000469

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Civilians Attack SDF Positions in Raqqa as Tensions Hike

Nov 01, 2018

The sources said on Thursday that the civilians attacked the checkpoint in al-Qatar street of Northern Raqqa city after two people were killed by the SDF's gunfire.

They added that tensions between the two sides have sorely increased, noting that the Kurdish forces fired at people to disperse them, wounding 5.

Also, reports said unknown assailants attacked an SDF patrolling vehicle in al-Saqiyeh district of Raqqa city with grenades, adding that two militants were injured in the incident.

The SDF has in recent days launched forced recruitment operations against the youth in different parts of Raqqa, including Tal Abyadh and Mazra'at al-Rashid.

Media reports said in October that tens of families had fled refugee camps run by the US-backed SDF in Raqqa province and headed towards Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

Syria's state-run al-Watan daily reported that over 40 families, settled in the refugee camps West of Raqqa city that is under SDF's control, have left for Aleppo and Idlib provinces.

It further said that the refugees' flee is due to the SDF's pressure on the camps' residents to force them to join the SDF and also dire living conditions.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000436

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Kurdish Forces Stop Operations in Deir Ezzur after US Backtracks, Turkey Intensifies Attacks

Nov 01, 2018

Field sources in Eastern Syria reported on Wednesday that the SDF had retreated from its strongholds near the town of al-Baqouz near the Syrian-Iraqi borders in Southeastern Deir Ezzur towards the US base in al-Tanak oil field.

Meantime, the SDF announced in a statement that they have stopped operations against the ISIL in Eastern Euphrates temporarily after the Turkish army intensified attacks against the Kurds in Northern Syria.

They claimed that Turkey's attacks in Northern Syria and the ISIL offensives in Hajin region in Southeastern Deir Ezzur were coordinated, adding that they "will stop their anti-ISIL operations for a long time".

The SDF withdrew from the borders with Iraq after the US fighter jets did not support them in recent attacks by the ISIL against their positions in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.

Meantime, the Turkish army launched artillery attacks on Kurdish positions at the bordering areas of Raqqa and Aleppo, leaving several SDF forces dead and wounded.

Local sources in Eastern Syria had disclosed last week that the US forces' backup for ISIL had enabled the terrorists to recapture the entire lands they had lost to the SDF in Eastern Deir Ezzur in the last 2 months.

The Arabic-language website of RT quoted the sources as disclosing that in complete absence of the US-led coalition forces to support the Washington-backed SDF to counter ISIL's heavy offensive, the terrorists managed to recapture the small but key towns of al-Sousah and al-Baqouz in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000151

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US Sends Military Convoy to Kurdish-Occupied Regions in Hasaka amid Turkey's Intensified Attacks

Nov 01, 2018

Sources affiliated to the Kurdish forces reported on Wednesday that a big military convoy, consisting of a large number of advanced US-made weapons and equipment, was sent from the bordering passageway of Simalka to the town of Qamishli near the borders between Hasaka and Turkey.

They added that the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are due to use the weapons in battles against Turkey's invasion of Eastern Euphrates.

The Turkish army had on Wednesday targeted Kobani region in Aleppo and Tal Abyadh region in Northern Raqqa at the borders with Syria.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the National Liberation Front (NFL) terrorist group as saying on Monday that while implementation of the Sochi agreement to create a demilitarized zone in Northern Syria has come to a halt, Ankara ordered its allied militants in Idlib and Northern and Western Aleppo to get ready for a major assault on the Kurds in Northern Syria.

It added that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan grew disappointed at Washington's promises on the Manbij agreement, and Ankara decided to engage in clashes with the Kurds in Eastern Euphrates.

Meantime, local and Kurdish sources in Ein al-Arab (Kobani) in Eastern Euphrates reported that Turkey intends to gain full control over the region to later advance to other regions controlled by the Kurds in Eastern Euphrates.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000179

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Ankara-Backed Militants Plundering Natural Resources, Artifacts in Afrin

Nov 01, 2018

The Kurdish-language Hawar News reported on Thursday that Ferqat al-Hamzeh, Sultan Murad, Faylaq al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham and other terrorist groups in Afrin have cut the forest trees in the villages and jungles.

It added that a large number of the trees have been sent to Turkey, while several other cargoes have been sold to the Syrian dealers.

The terrorists also cut off and stole olive trees in different parts of Afrin after harvesting them.

According to the report, militants have started imposing their rule over new regions in Afrin, including Tal Haloubiyeh in Shara region and a hill between the village of Marateh and Bablit in Central Afrin, starting measures to extract artifacts and crops.

Turkey-backed militants have intensified plundering historical artifact in occupied Afrin region.

A media outlet reported in October that the militants were also putting children under custody in Northwestern Aleppo to force their family to pay for their release.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported that Ankara-backed militias had started excavation operations in Tal Haloubiyeh after looting historical artifacts in Qala Nabi Houri in Afrin.

It further said that Turkey-backed militants have conducted excavation operations in Tal Andara, Tal Jandaris and other historical sites in Akbas square and Albikaseh region in Rajou, adding that the under-excavation sites are on the verge of complete destruction.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000318

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Syrian Army Repulses Terrorists' Heavy Offensive in Demilitarized Zone

Nov 01, 2018

The Syrian army troops engaged in fierce clashes with Tahrir al-Sham and Horras al-Din militants who had launched heavy attacks from the demilitarized zone on army positions in Tal Sukriyeh-Abu Qamis region in West of Abu al-Zohour, killing and wounding several terrorists and forcing others to withdraw.

Meantime, the army attacked the terrorists' positions with artillery fire, a military source said, adding that a group of Tahrir al-Sham terrorists were also entrapped and killed in the army's booby trap in Tal Sukriyeh.

Tahrir al-Sham and its allies have not yet withdrawn from their positions in the arms-free zone declared under the Sochi agreement between Ankara and Moscow.

A senior Syrian military source revealed on Tuesday that the country's army was likely to start military operations against the terrorists in the weapons-free zone as the latter continued deployment in the region.

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency quoted the source as saying that given Turkey's failure to implement its undertakings based on the Sochi agreement with Russia, the Syrian army will kick off military operations against the terrorists in the demilitarized zone if they continue attacks against the army positions.

He added that Northern Hama has in recent days witnessed attacks by the terrorist groups, specially Horras al-Din, against the Syrian army near the region under the supervision of Turkey near the town of Murak, noting that Jeish al-Izza militants have also sent military equipment from Southern Idlib to al-Latamineh front in Northern Hama.

The source said that the Syrian army has responded to the terrorists' offensives in demilitarized zone so far, adding that the army will launch massive military operations in the region if they continue.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000345

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Turkish Daily: US Sends Arms to ISIL in Return for Syria's Artifacts

Nov 01, 2018

The Turkish-language website of Yeni Safak, quoting sources, reported on Wednesday that the US troops have been directly delivering material and technical assistance to terrorists in the town of al-Mansourah, which is located in the Northern Syrian province of Raqqah.

A large cache of US-made weapons, specifically shells and ammunition, was also dispatched to the al-Tanf border crossing with Jordan, which lies at the ultra-strategic intersection of the Syrian, Iraqi, and Jordanian borders, it added.

The US, which has a military base in Tanf, is believed to be regularly training terrorists in the area.

The report also said that a US-backed group comprising ethnic Kurds and Arabs have been delivering weapons and material for the US forces.

The sources said that the weapons worth billions of dollars, adding that the ISIL has received the weapons by giving the Americans a large amount of stolen gold and antiques from Syria and Iraq.

It also disclosed that the US commanders in Syria have seized a large number of these antiques for themselves, adding that the ISIL advance in Palmyra in Homs province was also made with the help of the US weapons.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000094

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Kurdish Forces Killed in Tensions with Turkey at Syrian Borders

Nov 01, 2018

Field sources in Northern Aleppo reported on Thursday that the Turkish forces have targeted the villages of Kour Ali, Salim and Ashmeh in Western Ein al-Arab (Koubani) at the borders with Turkey with tanks and artillery fire, killing 4 and wounding 6 Kurdish forces.

Also, Hawar News reported that the Kurdish forces attacked the Turkish army positions at the borders with Syria, destroying one of their military vehicles near the village of Salim.

It added that tensions have increased between the two sides at the borders, noting that the Turkish army launched heavy offensive on the villages of Salib Qaran, Tal Fandar, Sousak and Yabeseh near the town of Tal Abyadh at the borders with Turkey in Raqqa province.

Meantime, the Kurds sent a military cargo of forces, weapons and military equipment from Ra'as al-Ein in Northwestern Hasaka to Tal Abyadh in Northern Raqqa.

Field sources reported on Wednesday that the Kurdish militia had gone on alert in Hasaka province at the border with Turkey after Ankara forces intensified attacks on Kurdish positions in more regions in Northern Syria.

The sources said that the Turkish army's mortar units pounded the Kurdish militias' positions in a border-crossing near the town of Tal Abyadh in Northern Raqqa.

They further said that an SDF gunman was killed and another one war injured in the attack.

In the meantime, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) kept forces on alert in the town of Ra'as al-Ein in Northwestern Hasaka at the border with Turkey.

Ankara has several times in the last week threatened the Kurds of military operation.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper quoted sources close to the National Liberation Front (NFL) terrorist group as saying on Monday that while implementation of the Sochi agreement to create a demilitarized zone in Northern Syria has come to a halt, Ankara ordered its allied militants in Idlib and Northern and Western Aleppo to get ready for a major assault on the Kurds in Northern Syria.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970810000075

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Russia: News about Khashoggi’s death inflated by political machinations

1 November 2018

The Russian Foreign Ministry commented on the news that Moscow knew what happened to the dead Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and provided information to Turkey, saying that the issue was exaggerated by a huge amount of intrigues and fabrications.

“Our country has announced from the first day that it is necessary to take one step: to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news conference on Thursday.

In response to a request to comment on social networking sites and some media outlets that Russian intelligence knew what had happened and provided information to Turkish intelligence, she  said: “It is frightening that this tragedy is magnified with so much political machinations and fabrications that we see today”.

Zakharova stressed that there were “a huge number of leaks” about the circumstances of the killing of the Saudi journalist despite the lack of official data on the issue.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/11/01/Russia-News-about-Khashoggi-s-death-inflated-by-political-machinations.html

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Extremists kill four regime fighters in Syria’s Idlib

1 November 2018

Extremists on Thursday killed four pro-regime fighters in Idlib province, the rebel stronghold where Russia and Turkey have agreed to set up a buffer zone, a monitor said.

The northwestern province is the last major area still outside regime control, after a string of ferocious assaults this year put most of the country back in government hands.

Regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey agreed to establish the buffer zone in September.

It was due to come into force in mid-October but some clauses of the plan have been delayed, as repeated clashes erupted between extremists, rebels and government forces.

At dawn on Thursday, extremists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a faction led by former Al-Qaeda fighters, attacked a government position in the east of the province, said the Britain based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Four regime fighters were killed in the assault, and a member of HTS also died,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

“There is an ongoing exchange of artillery fire between the two parties” in land that is part of the planned demilitarized zone, he added.

The agreement between Russia and Turkey to create the buffer zone was aimed at staving off a government military assault on the province.

As set out under the deal, rebel groups announced they had withdrawn heavy artillery from the zone, but extremists including HTS refused to leave the area.

Artillery fire by regime forces killed at least seven civilians in Idlib on Friday last week, the Observatory said.

Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem expressed dissatisfaction this week with the implementation of the agreement, and criticized Turkey for shortcomings.

“Terrorists are still present in this sector with their heavy weapons,” he was quoted as saying by the official SANA news agency on Monday, referring to the buffer zone.

“This indicates that Turkey does not want to respect its obligations,” he added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/11/01/Extremists-kill-four-regime-fighters-in-Syria-s-Idlib-.html

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Aoun says Lebanon gov’t row ‘not easy’, signals differences with Hezbollah

1 November 2018

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday the differences blocking a deal over a new national unity government were “not easy” and signaled he was at odds with his ally Hezbollah over the last outstanding issue.

Five months since an election, prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri has been unable to clinch a deal on the new government because of the competing demands of rival parties for cabinet seats that are parceled out along sectarian lines.

A deal seemed close on Monday when a row over Christian representation was settled with the anti-Hezbollah Christian Lebanese Forces ceding ground to Aoun and his Free Patriotic Movement, which is allied to Hezbollah.

But Hezbollah, a powerful armed group backed by Iran, is pressing its demand for one of its Sunni allies to be given a portfolio in the 30-seat cabinet to reflect gains they made in the May 6 parliamentary election.

Aoun, in a televised interview, said obstacles “are being created that are not proper and not justified”.

Addressing the demand of the Hezbollah-backed Sunnis, he said: “This matter caused the delay, and this delay is a type of political tactic that is hurting our big strategy.”

Aoun said the Hezbollah-backed Sunnis amounted to “individuals, not a bloc” and had gathered together “recently” to make their demand for a cabinet post.

Hariri, Lebanon’s main Sunni leader, has ruled out ceding one of his cabinet seats to the Hezbollah-allied Sunnis.

Another possible way out of the problem would be for Aoun to name one of the Hezbollah allies among a group of ministers allocated to him. But Aoun gave no indication he was willing to do so in the interview marking the second anniversary of his becoming president - a post reserved for a Maronite Christian.

Aoun said he wanted a strong prime minister, and not to weaken Hariri.

Western-backed Hariri lost more than a third of his seats in the parliamentary election, many of them to the Hezbollah allies.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/11/01/Aoun-says-Lebanon-gov-t-row-not-easy-signals-differences-with-Hezbollah.html

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Attempt to smuggle fugitives wanted for terrorism charges foiled in Bahrain

2 November 2018

An attempt to smuggle six fugitives wanted on terrorism charges out of Bahrain by boat was foiled, the Bahraini ministry of interior announced on Thursday night.

The boat was equipped to carry the fugitives and sail out from the Samaheej coast, a statement by the ministry read.

Investigations revealed that one of the arrestees was in contact with another fugitive from a terrorist cell based in Iran, who organized the smuggling operation. Investigations also led to identifying and arresting some individuals suspected of sheltering and assisting the six fugitives, the ministry added.

The General Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Forensic Science in Bahrain has taken legal proceedings to refer the fugitives to the public prosecution.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/11/02/Attempt-to-smuggle-six-wanted-fugitives-foiled-in-Bahrain.html

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Israeli delegation in Riyadh as Netanyahu asks US to back MBS

Nov 1, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has met with a delegation of pro-Israeli advocates in Riyadh amid reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the US to keep supporting the young prince against international criticism.

In a new sign of growing ties between Riyadh and Tel Aviv, bin Salman hosted a group of Evangelical Christians in Riyadh on Thursday, Israeli media reported.

Leading the group was Joel C. Rosenberg, a dual US-Israeli author and activist who runs the Jashua Fund pro-Israeli charity. Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem al-Quds, was also among the participants of the meeting.

The two sides discussed a wide range of topics including Israel, Palestine and Saudi Arabia’s relations with the US.

“We were pleased by the invitation extended to us more than two months ago by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the delegation said in a statement. "Without question, this is a season of tremendous change in the Middle East, and therefore we have been grateful for the opportunity to meet in-person with key Arab leaders to understand their goals and to ask direct questions.”

The delegation held separate meetings with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir as well as the kingdom’s ministers of education and Islamic affairs.

Interestingly, they also met the heads of Saudi Arabia’s so-called Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) and the Muslim World League.

The meetings came shortly after The Washington Post revealed in a report earlier in the day that Netanyahu has asked US President Donald Trump to continue supporting MBS despite accusations that he ordered a hit job on anti-Riyadh journalist Jamal Khashoggi last month.

The Israeli PM had asked top US officials recently not to abandon their support for bin Salman over the killing of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s Istanbul, according to multiple reports.

According to The Washington Post, Netanyahu has specifically told the White House that the crown prince is a key strategic partner and a linchpin of the US-Israeli front against Iran's regional influence.

Saudi Arabia does not officially recognize Israel and has no formal ties with the regime. However, the two sides have been widely reported to have cooperated secretly for years.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578773/Saudi-Arabia-bin-Salman-Israel-evangelical-delegation-Riyadh-Palestine

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Russia says Nusra terrorists seek to wreck buffer zone deal in Syria’s Idlib

Nov 1, 2018

Russia says Takfiri terrorists in Syria’s Idlib province are striving to wreck a Russian-Turkish initiative to establish a demilitarized zone in the flashpoint militant-held region.

“There are still Nusra terrorists in Idlib who are not stopping their attempts to wreck the implementation of the memorandum that was agreed between Russia and Turkey,” Interfax news agency quoted Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying during a news briefing in the capital Moscow on Thursday.

Some 60 percent of the northwestern province, home to three million people, is said to be controlled by members of the so-called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, which is a coalition of different factions of terror outfits, largely composed of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front.

Zakharova added that terrorists were continuing to shell Syrian government troops in the south of the province and to the northwest of Hama province.

Under the deal, which was forged in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi in September following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, all armed opposition groups in the demilitarized zone, which surrounds Idlib and also parts of the adjacent provinces of Aleppo and Hama, were supposed to pull out heavy arms by October 10, and Takfiri groups had to withdraw by October 15.

The Hayat Tahrir al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group has yet to announce its stance on the buffer zone deal.

Russia, which has been carrying out anti-terror airstrikes in Syria since 2015, says a buffer zone would help stop attacks from Idlib-based militants on Syrian army positions and Russia's military bases in the flashpoint region.

Last month, Russia said that almost 88,000 foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists had been killed in the Syria ever since Moscow launched its counter-terrorism airstrikes against militant redoubts in the Arab country.

Separately, a US-led military coalition has also been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578759/Syria-Russia-Idlib-Nusra-terrorists-buffer-zone-US

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Iraq’s Salahuddin provincial governor survives assassination attempt

Nov 1, 2018

The governor of Iraq’s central province of Salahuddin has escaped a roadside bomb explosion unhurt as government forces and allied fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units are engaged in joint operations to cleanse the country of the last remnants of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Mohammed Khalil al-Bazi from Salahuddin Operations Command said the blast ripped through the convoy of Ammar Jabr Khalil al-Jabouri north of the oil-rich city of Baiji, located some 210 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad, on Thursday.

Bazi said the explosion wounded two bodyguards of the governor and badly damaged a vehicle in the motorcade.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but some local news outlets suggest it was carried out by Daesh.

On August 8, 2016, former Iraqi defense minister Khaled al-Obeidi's convoy came under sniper fire but he was unharmed.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC), said the attack took place in the western outskirts of Baiji.

“The minister is well and safe,” Rasool said, adding that a guard had been slightly injured in the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assassination attempt.

Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters kill 11 Daesh remnants in western Iraq

Meanwhile, pro-government Iraqi fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, have killed nearly a dozen Daesh militants in the country’s troubled western province of Anbar.

Hashd al-Sha’abi commander Safa al-Sa’adi said the voluntary fighters and army forces, backed by air force fighter jets, carried out a cleanup operation on the outskirts of Tharthar town, situated 120 kilometers north of Baghdad, killing 11 terrorists and destroying an amount of weapons and explosive materials.

Sa’adi added that the slain Takfiris were planning to carry out a bombing attack in Tharthar.

Three Daesh militants, including senior commander, killed in Diyala

Separately, three Daesh militants, including a high-ranking commander, have been killed during a security operation in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala.

“Security forces launched a security operation, under the directives of Diyala Police Chief Major General Faisal al-Abadi, to pursue Daesh cells near Qarah Tabbah district,” Arabic-language Mawazin news agency quoted the spokesman for Diyala Police, Colonel Ghalib al-Attiya, as saying.

On June 30, former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, pledged to hunt down Daesh militants across Iraq after a series of attacks and abductions carried out by the terrorist group.

“We will chase the remaining cells of terrorism in their hideouts and we will kill them, we will chase them everywhere, in the mountains and the desert,” Abadi said.

Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the Arab country on December 9, 2017.

On July 10 that year, the Iraqi prime minister had formally declared victory over Daesh extremists in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in the conflict-ridden Arab country.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578747/Iraqs-Salahuddin-provincial-governor-survives-assassination-attempt

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Mideast

 

Trump, Erdogan discuss Syria in phone call

November 02, 2018

Ankara - US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Syrian conflict during a phone call on Thursday, the Turkish presidency said in a statement. The statement was released not long after it was announced that Turkish and American troops had begun conducting joint patrols in the northern Syrian city of Manbij.

The leaders discussed the cooperation agreement in Manbij, which is held by a US-backed Kurdish militia that Turkey deems a terrorist group, the statement said. They also spoke of Idlib, the last major area in Syria still outside the control of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, where a demilitarised zone has been planned.

The presidents agreed to maintain “close contact” and maintained their “determination” to “further strengthen bilateral relations”, according to the statement. Washington’s support of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

has strained already tense relations between NATO allies Turkey and the US.

Ankara considers the YPG to be a “terrorist offshoot” of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody insurgency in Turkey since 1984 with the goal of forming an independent Kurdish state.

To ease ties, the countries agreed to a road map in June that included the YPG withdrawing from Manbij and establishing the joint patrols in the city.

However Turkey has repeatedly threatened a new offensive in northern Syria and has shelled YPG positions there in the past couple of days.

The US-led coalition against IS said on Thursday it was working to “de-escalate” fighting between Turkey and the Kurdish militia.

https://nation.com.pk/02-Nov-2018/trump-erdogan-discuss-syria-in-phone-call

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Gaza protest leaders want calmer Friday demo amid truce talks

1 November 2018

Gaza protest leaders are calling for calmer border demonstrations Friday to give a chance to efforts to reach a long-term truce with Israel after months of deadly unrest, a source in the organizing committee said.

However, previous such hopes for a deal have been dashed since protests and clashes along the border between Israel and the blockaded Gaza Strip began on March 30.

It was not clear if demonstrators would heed calls for calm.

Egypt and UN officials have been engaged in indirect talks between Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, and Israel.

An Egyptian delegation was in Gaza on Thursday for further discussions.

“Friday’s events will be quiet,” an official from the committee in charge of organizing the marches told AFP Thursday, on condition of anonymity.

The committee is technically independent from Hamas, but includes representatives allied to the Islamist movement.

The official said the agreement to quieten the border Friday “will give an opportunity for the success of the Egyptian efforts to (achieve) calm and lift the siege.”

Protests would still go ahead, he said, but demonstrators would be encouraged not to approach the fence too closely, burn tires or send balloons equipped with incendiary devices across the border.

Seven Palestinians died in renewed clashes along the border last Friday.

Since often violent protests began on March 30, at least 218 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

One Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Demonstrators are calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to the homes their families fled or were expelled from in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel and which are now inside the Jewish state.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/11/01/Gaza-protest-leaders-want-calmer-Friday-demo-amid-truce-talks.html

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Trump and Erdogan discuss northern Syria, says Turkish presidency

1 November 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump discussed Manbij and Idlib in northern Syria in a call on Thursday and stressed their determination to strengthen ties, Erdogan’s office said.

Turkish and US forces began joint patrols on Thursday in the Manbij region, a source of friction in recent years after Kurdish forces took part of the area in a US-backed offensive to drive out ISIS extremist group in 2016.

“Our President and US President Trump stressed their determination to take constructive steps towards strengthening US-Turkey bilateral relations further,” the statement said, while also referring to developments in Syria’s Idlib region.

Turkey, which has long backed militants seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and Russia, Assad’s principal foreign ally, brokered a deal in September to create a demilitarised zone in Idlib.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/11/01/Trump-and-Erdogan-discuss-northern-Syria-says-Turkish-presidency.html

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Arab Coalition destroys Houthi ballistic missile sites in Sanaa

2 November 2018

The Arab Coalition in Yemen carried out a number of military operations in the al-Dulaimi air base in Sanaa, which was being used by Houthi militias to launch drone and ballistic missile attacks, Coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki said on Friday.

The airbase is located near Sanaa International Airport, but aviation at the airport and international aid efforts were not affected, Maliki added.

The operation targeted launching and storage sites of ballistic missiles, ground control stations for drones, and assembly and support sites for the air base in Sanaa.

Maliki pointed out that the operation came after a precise intelligence process to monitor the activities of the Houthi militias with the aim of destroying and neutralizing such capabilities that threaten regional and international security.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/11/02/Arab-Coalition-destroys-Houthi-ballistic-missile-sites-in-Sanaa.html

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Yemen’s government welcomes efforts to establish peace

1 November 2018

The Yemeni legitimate government on Thursday welcomed all efforts to bring peace to Yemen.

The government said in a statement: “The statements made by a number of countries during the past few days, which urge the importance of pushing efforts to reach a political solution, according to the three agreed terms, are consistent with the desire of the political leadership headed by President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and his government for peace and an end to the suffering of the Yemeni people as a result of the coup of the Iranian Houthi militias.”

The statement which was carried by the state-run SABA news agency further added that in this context the Yemeni government support the efforts of the UN special envoy Martin Griffiths.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called on Tuesday for an end to the Yemen war. Full story

The government added: “The government of Yemen is ready to immediately launch talks on the process of confidence-building, primarily the release of all detainees and prisoners, as well as those who have been abducted or subject to enforced disappearance, strengthening the capabilities of the Central Bank of Yemen, which is internationally recognized, and forcing the Houthis to transfer state revenues in their areas of control to the Central Bank to enable it to control the financial and economic situation and the payment of salaries of civil servants.”

It also added: “Confidence-building measures include the opening of airports in accordance with the steps and procedures to ensure safety and ensure the United Nations control of the Hodeidah port in order that the provisions of the relevant international resolutions related to access to prohibited weapons and ballistic missiles smuggled from Iran to the Houthi militias and to humanitarian aid, lifting the blockade on civilians in Taiz, ensuring non-aggression and preventing theft from the warehouses of international organizations, as happened with the World Food Program warehouses in Hodeidah.”

Previous talks broke down in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait between the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and the Houthi militias failed to lead to a deal.

The government emphasizes the three agreed political solutions. It also stresses that the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference and the draft of the new Yemeni constitution have clearly defined the new state, which the Yemenis agree to, a federal state that is far from central in accordance with the principles of justice, equal citizenship and good governance.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/11/01/Yemen-s-government-welcomes-efforts-to-establish-peace.html

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Israel to approve plan to build new settlement in al-Khalil

Nov 1, 2018

Israeli minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman reportedly plans to approve the construction of a new settlement in the Old City of al-Khalil (Hebron), south of the occupied West Bank.

The new settlement is to be established in an old Palestinian vegetables market in the Old City, Israeli news outlets reported on Thursday.

Located in the center of al-Khalil -- one of the largest cities in the occupied West Bank -- the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, known as H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994.

The approval will come a few weeks after the Israeli regime approved plans for the construction of 31 new settler units in the occupied West Bank.

Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group that monitors settlement activity in the West Bank, said last month that the units will be built in al-Khalil, located 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Jerusalem al-Quds.

“For the first time in more than 20 years, Hebron will have a new Jewish neighborhood where a military camp once stood,” Lieberman said on October 14.

The establishment of the new settlements comes in grave contravention of international law and a United Nations Security Council resolution against the Tel Aviv regime’s land grab policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

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

Earlier on Thursday morning, Israeli bulldozers razed lands and uprooted olive trees in Palestinian lands adjacent to the Israeli illegal settlement of Avnei Hefetz in the northern occupied West Bank district of Tulkarem, Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.

The Avnei Hefetz settlement was built on Palestinian-owned lands of the villages and towns of Shufa, Kafr al-Labad and Kafa.

Activist Tahsin Hamed reported that Israeli bulldozers razed Palestinian-owned lands in the Shufa village in southeastern Tulkatem, in preparation for settlement expansion.

Hamed pointed out that the village is currently wall-to-wall with the settlement and is continuously facing land-razing for the expansion of the Avnei Hefetz settlement.

Back on October 11, the Israeli forces had bulldozed two more Palestinian houses in al-Halawa neighborhood in the south of al-Khalil.

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

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578743/Israel-Palestine-settlement-Hebron

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Turkey wants Saudi Arabia to disclose whereabouts of Khashoggi's body: Justice minister

Nov 1, 2018

Turkey says it wants Saudi authorities to disclose the whereabouts of the body of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Arab kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul last month, stressing that Ankara expects Riyadh’s full cooperation in the ongoing investigation into the shocking case.

“We are looking for answers to the question of where the body is,” said Turkey's Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul in a press conference on Thursday, stressing that no cover-up should be included in the Saudi narrative.

“This case cannot be covered up, and we are expecting close cooperation from Saudi authorities on the investigation we are conducting transparently and meticulously,” the justice minister noted.

Khashoggi, 59, an outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had been living in self-imposed exile in the United States since 2017, when Saudi authorities launched a massive crackdown on dissent.

He was seeking to secure documentation for his forthcoming marriage when he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, but never came out despite Riyadh’s initial claim that he exited the mission less than an hour after completing his paperwork.

The kingdom, however, later admitted that the journo had been murdered in the consulate during an interrogation by rouge operatives that had gone wrong after diplomatic pressure grew tremendously on Riyadh to give an account on the mysterious fate of its national. However, Saudi Arabia said that it did not know the whereabouts of the journo’s body, which is widely believed to be dismembered.

Gul’s comments came just a day after the office of Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Irfan Fidan said in a statement that ill-fated Khashoggi was strangled upon his arrival in the Saudi diplomatic mission in Istanbul, then his body was dismembered and destroyed in a “premeditated” murder. The remarks bolstered Turkish investigators’ line of thought that the journo’s remains could have been disposed of at the nearby consul general’s house, dissolved in acid or dumped in a well on the property.

The statement issued after Fidan said his meeting with Saudi Public Prosecutor Saud al-Mojeb, held earlier in the week in Istanbul, had produced “no concrete results” on the murder of Khashoggi as his counterpart had not shared any information, including the testimonies of the 18 people arrested in the Arab kingdom, over the case.

The justice minister further said that Ankara wanted Riyadh to reveal who gave the orders for a 15-member alleged “hit squad” that Turkish authorities said were sent to kill the journalist. “Our expectation is for these questions to be answered swiftly,” Gul stressed.

Asked whether Fidan planned to visit Saudi Arabia as part of the ongoing probe into the case, Gul said that it was “likely not happening because the incident occurred in Turkey.”

“Without Turkey's questions answered, I think it is not right to enter into a new stage,” he added.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578751/Turkey-Saudi-Arabia-Khashoggi-body-Gul

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Mossad false flags only encourage Iran to boost ties with world: Zarif

Nov 1, 2018

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says the Israeli spy agency’s “false flags” will fail to hurt Tehran’s ties with the world, apparently referring to Mossad’s role in a diplomatic row between Iran and Denmark.

In a tweet from Pakistan on Wednesday, Zarif said, “Mossad’s perverse & stubborn planting of false flags (more on this later) only strengthens our resolve to engage constructively with the world.”

The top Iranian diplomat -- who was in Islamabad following his trilateral talks in Istanbul with his Azeri and Turkish opposite numbers -- further praised Iran’s “solid relations” with its neighbors.

“Solid relations w/neighbors our priority,” Zarif said in the tweet, which also carried photos of his meetings in Turkey and Pakistan.

The tweet comes amid a diplomatic standoff between Tehran and Copenhagen over the latter’s claims that Iran had tried to carry out an assassination plot on Danish soil, an allegation Tehran has sharply rejected.

Swedish security police also said a Norwegian citizen of Iranian descent had been arrested on October 21 in connection with the alleged plot and extradited to Denmark.

Denmark recalled its ambassador from Tehran and said that it was consulting with other European countries about how to respond. Tehran also summoned the Danish ambassador to Tehran to voice its protest.

Israeli media later revealed that Mossad had provided Denmark with “intelligence” concerning the alleged plot by Tehran.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also quick to “congratulate” the Danish government on the arrest.

Tehran has dismissed Denmark’s claims as “rash, politicized,” with Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi saying Wednesday that “invisible hands” were at work to damage Iran’s ties with Europe at the time when the two sides are closely cooperating to save the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal following the US’s pullout.

Qassemi also said such reports are the continuation of conspiracies hatched by known enemies who are against growing Iran-Europe relations at the current sensitive juncture.

In a similar claim back in June, the Israeli spy agency said it had helped “foil” an alleged Iranian bomb attack on a meeting of the terrorist Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) in Paris. An Iranian diplomat, based in Austria, was arrested in Germany on the false charges of being linked to the suspected attack.

'Israel, US in unison to kill Iran deal'

Expanding on its tweet, Zarif on Thursday listed a series of concurrent measures taken by the United States and Israel against Iran proves that the US administration and the Israeli regime are acting in union to terminate the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

In another tweet, the Iranian foreign minister called into question the possibility of mere coincidence between anti-Iran measures taken by the US and Israel, noting that such measures were aimed to “kill the JCPOA.”

Zarif’s talks in Pakistan

In Islamabad, Zarif sat down with new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He held talks with Pakistani officials about the fate of the Iranian forces who were abducted by Pakistan-based terrorists near the two countries' joint border earlier in October.

Terrorists with the so-called Jaish ul-Adl terrorist group abducted 12 Iranian forces in the southeastern province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and spirited them away into neighboring Pakistan.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/01/578693/Iran-Mossad-Denmark

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