Islamic World News(14 Jun 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)
AIMIM President, Asaduddin Owaisi Condemns Newly Married Girl’s Relative Attacking Her Husband Imtiyaz, Says ‘In Islam, Woman Can Marry Man Of Her Choice’








AIMIM President, Asaduddin Owaisi Condemns Newly Married Girl’s Relative Attacking Her Husband Imtiyaz, Says ‘In Islam, Woman Can Marry Man Of Her Choice’

In A First, India Takes U Turn On Palestinian Policy, Supports Israel

Associated Press Praises Caliphate-Seeking ‘Islamists’ in Indonesia for Charitable Work

Never Mind Interpol, Malaysia Can Decide Whether to Extradite Zakir Naik

Want Peace With India... To Spend On Fighting Poverty, Not Arms: Imran Khan

US Forces, Affiliated Militants Steal Historical Artifacts in Raqqa

Reintegrating ISIS Militants and Families Is A Global Problem

OIC Urges Moldova to Cancel Decision to Move Israeli Embassy from Tel Aviv to Al-Quds

Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt Call for a Cease-Fire in Libya

Islamic State in Afghanistan Aims To Attack US, General Says

Belgium Takes Back Six Orphaned Daesh Children: SDF

 

India

AIMIM President, Asaduddin Owaisi Condemns SR Nagar Incident, Says ‘In Islam, Woman Can Marry Man of Her Choice’

Pakistan Needs To Create a Terror-Free Atmosphere: Modi Tells Xi

Indian police raid Islamic State cell with links to Sri Lanka bombing mastermind

In A First, India Takes U Turn On Palestinian Policy, Supports Israel

How Is NDA's Muslim-Only Scholarship Scheme Different From Congress' 'Appeasement Politics', Questions AAP

Encounter breaks out between terrorists, security forces in Pulwama

Militants kill five Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir attack

Modi in Bishkek: PM, Imran Khan sit across dinner table, don’t talk to each other

Terror suspect with links to IS sent to judicial custody in Kochi

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Southeast Asia

Associated Press Praises Caliphate-Seeking ‘Islamists’ in Indonesia for Charitable Work

Never Mind Interpol, Malaysia Can Decide Whether to Extradite Zakir Naik

Man Charged With Insulting Islam, Prophet Muhammad, Changes Plea To Guilty

Malaysia steps up security as Rohingya land on Thai beach

UN counter-terror Czar visits China’s Xinjiang

Central Kalimantan Police Arrest Several Suspects Planning Suicide Bombing in Jakarta

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Pakistan

Want Peace With India... To Spend On Fighting Poverty, Not Arms: Imran Khan

Pakistan extends airspace ban along its eastern border with India till June 28

Imran Khan will be thrown out of stadium by spectators: Nawaz Sharif

Opposition team asks NA speaker to issue Zardari’s production order

Lawyers defiant as SJC take up references against judges today

PM Imran holds 'informal discussion' with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Kyrgyzstan

Senate body concerned by Pakistan’s growing Chinese debts

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Arab World

US Forces, Affiliated Militants Steal Historical Artifacts in Raqqa

Reintegrating ISIS Militants and Families Is A Global Problem

ISIS carries out rare attack in Shingal region

Iraqi paramilitary fighters kill two Islamic State militants in Salahuddin

Iraqis Remember Isis Massacres Five Years Later

Tankers Are Attacked in Mideast, and U.S. Says Video Shows Iran Was Involved

Egyptian court sentences 296 to prison on terror charges

Terrorist Groups Oppose Russian-Turkish Ceasefire in Idlib Province

Saudi vice Defence minister slams Iran’s ‘reckless escalation’ in backing terrorist groups

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Mideast

OIC Urges Moldova to Cancel Decision to Move Israeli Embassy from Tel Aviv to Al-Quds

Top U.S. Counterterror Official Nathan Sales Heading To Turkey For Talks Amid Tensions

Survivors of Houthi missile attack describe moment explosion ripped through Abha airport

Saudi Arabia’s air Defence forces shot down five Houthi drones aimed at Asir region

Mortar Fire Breaks Syria Cease-Fire Negotiated by Russia and Turkey

Saudi Warns Iran Over Yemeni Rebel Airport Attack

Rocket fired from Gaza hits building in Israel

Yemen drones target Saudi's Abha airport for second time in a week

Arab coalition hits Houthi targets after Abha airport attack

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Africa

Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt Call for a Cease-Fire in Libya

4 Al-Shabaab fighters dead after IEDs blow up prematurely

Cameroon Says 88 People Killed in Suspected Boko Haram Attack

Sudan’s military rulers say they thwarted several coup attempts

Sudan’s military council head meets senior US diplomat in Khartoum

Sudan charges ousted leader al-Bashir with corruption

No peace talks before seizing Libyan capital: Haftar allies

Sudan military rulers admit dispersing Khartoum sit-in

Sudan’s former President Bashir charged with corruption

Libya: Renewed clashes rock southern Tripoli

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North America

Islamic State in Afghanistan Aims To Attack US, General Says

Trump says neither Iran nor US are ready to make a deal

Pompeo blames Iran for tanker attacks in Sea of Oman

US: No interest in engaging in new Mideast conflict

Turkish Defence minister calls US letter 'improper'

US sanctions Iraqi firm for trafficking weapons to Iran-backed militias

US budget doesn’t contain aid for Pakistan Army

US Seeks Pakistan’s Support In Afghanistan, But Urges Caution On India

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Europe

Belgium Takes Back Six Orphaned Daesh Children: SDF

Christchurch Mosque Attack Defendant Pleads Not Guilty

Sajid Javid says he was shut out of Donald Trump state banquet

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's Germany visit highlights global role for Year of Tolerance

French Imam Leads 40 Muslim Educators in Visit to Knesset

Pope Says He Wants to Visit Iraq In 2020

Marine Le Pen Goes To Trial over Tweets on ISIS Atrocities

UAE, Germany Underline Commitment to Fighting Terrorism

Hezbollah European Drug Trade Revealed

UK warns Iran over ‘deeply unwise’ attacks on oil tankers

Austria to shut Saudi-funded Centre in Vienna

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South Asia

NDS Special Forces Seize Massive Cache of Weapons, Munitions of Taliban In Kabul

Will Fight To The Last Drop Of Blood against Terrorists Backed By Our Neighbours: Gen. Amarkhel

Suicide bomber kills 9 in eastern Afghanistan

Roadside bomb kills 6 civilians in southern Afghanistan

Suicide bomber kills 11 in Afghanistan

Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties in Farah clash

Taliban’s shadow district chief among dozens killed in Zabul clash

8 foreign terrorists killed, wounded as Afghan forces target Lashkar-e-Taiba compound

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau


URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/aimim-president,-asaduddin-owaisi-condemns-newly-married-girl’s-relative-attacking-her-husband-imtiyaz,-says-‘in-islam,-woman-can-marry-man-of-her-choice’/d/118884



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AIMIM President, Asaduddin Owaisi Condemns SR Nagar Incident, Says ‘In Islam, Woman Can Marry Man of Her Choice’

Jun 13, 2019

Hyderabad: Mr. Asaduddin Owaisi, President of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) condemned an incident which took place at SR Nagar area last week. He said that in Islam, both man and woman can choose their spouse.

It may be mentioned that a 21-year-old youth, Imtiyaz was in a relationship with a girl. Later, the couple got married against the wishes of the girl’s family.

Angry over the couple’s decision, girl’s relative attacked Imtiyaz in broad daylight.

Condemning the incident, Mr. Owaisi predicted that the girl will never visit her parent’s house due to the attack.

During the address, Mr. Owaisi said, “I am also a father but I can only suggest”.

https://www.siasat.com/news/asaduddin-owaisi-condemns-sr-incident-says-islam-woman-can-marry-man-her-choice-1510750/

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In A First, India Takes U Turn On Palestinian Policy, Supports Israel

Jun 14, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: In first at United Nations, India takes a step back from its decades-old position on the two-state theory and vote against a resolution to recognize Palestinian NGO called Shahed, signaling that India might have a new partner.

According to reports, India voted in favour of a decision introduced by Israel in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that “overwhelmingly rejected” Shahed’s request to obtain observer status at UN institutions.

Though India voted last week, it came to light on Tuesday when Maya Kadosh, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in India, had tweeted, “Thank you #India for standing with @IsraelinUN and rejecting the request of terrorist organization “Shahed” to obtain the status of an observer in #UN. Together we will continue to act against terrorist organizations that intend to harm.”

A day after, Israeli PM Netanyahu thanked PM Modi for pro-Israel vote. He tweeted: “Thank you @NarendraModi, thank you India, for your support and for standing with Israel at the UN.”

The Palestinian non-governmental organisation lost its bid to join the ECOSOC by a 28-15 tally (28 in favour and 15 against, with five abstentions).

Successive Indian governments made the country a strong ally of the Palestinian cause by opposing the Zionist state. Under PM Modi, however, India has tilted in Israel’s favour marking an unprecedented step in relations between the two countries.

https://www.siasat.com/news/first-india-takes-u-turn-palestinian-policy-supports-israel-1511944/

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Associated Press Praises Caliphate-Seeking ‘Islamists’ in Indonesia for Charitable Work

12 Jun 2019

Some caliphate-seeking “Islamists” in the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, are the “first” to step up to the plate and provide assistance during natural disasters on the largest island nation in the world, the Associated Press (AP) celebrated this week.

AP praised a “hardline Islamic group notorious for vigilante violence” — the “Islamic Defenders Front” — for being the “first” group to provide help in the absence of government assistance and international aid organizations when an earthquake and tsunami struck the provincial capital of Palu in Indonesia in September 2018.

Some experts have linked the front to terrorist activities, particularly against Christians and other religious minorities in the country.

The front is not the only Islamist group that has taken up charitable work in Indonesia. Other Islamic groups, including the caliphate-seeking Hizbut Tahrir, “have embraced charitable work, filling a void left by the government and mainstream Muslim organizations,” AP added.

For years, particularly in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, U.S. authorities have connected several Islamic charities to terrorist activities.

Lionizing the Islamic front’s alleged humanitarian activities throughout the article, the AP noted near the end that the group has targeted Christians, adding that Indonesian authorities charged its leader, Rizieq Shihab, with pornography-linked crimes a few years ago. In June 2018, the Jakarta Post reported that law enforcement dropped the probe into Shihab.

AP reported:

The front’s rising political clout was evident in 2016-17, when it mobilized hundreds of thousands to protest the Christian governor of the capital, Jakarta. The governor, an ally of President Joko Widodo, was defeated and imprisoned for blasphemy.

There have been other setbacks. Front leader Rizieq Shihab fled to Saudi Arabia in 2017 to avoid arrest on what he said were fabricated pornography charges. An online petition calling for the government to deny legal status to the front has half a million signatures.

Indonesia’s Interior Ministry accused the Islamic group of being involved in “dirty practices,” the wire agency revealed.

A spokesman for the ministry suggested to AP that the front is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, noting that “under law, organizations involved in social or humanitarian work should not be a guise for political activities.”

Maman Suryadi Abdurrahman, the head of the front’s military arm known as the Islamic Defender Troops militia, told AP:

Our goal is to make Indonesia, in which Islam is the majority religion of the people, to be religious and clean from immorality. We want an Islamist country, not an Islamic state, because a religious country will prevent the nation from suffering social injustice. …We’ve tried to improve our image. We’ve changed the ways of our demonstrations to be more persuasive and peaceful.

Although it claims to have “moderated its methods,” the front aggressively combats what it considers “community diseases” such as prostitution, homosexuality, and the celebration of Western holidays, claiming that it does so at the behest of local communities, AP reported, adding:

Since its inception two decades ago, the front has pushed for Islamic law to govern the lives of Indonesia’s 230 million Muslims, aiming to correct what it sees as the errors of Indonesia’s 1945 constitution that established a secular state and religious freedom.

Acknowledging that the Islamist non-governmental group (NGO) is “often dismissed as a fringe group,” the American news wire agency noted that the organization had gained political ground in recent times amid “the growth of orthodox Middle Eastern Islam in Indonesia.”

AP pointed out that the Islamic Defenders Front maintains a “military-like command structure” and presence in 23 (about 70 percent) of Indonesia’s 34 provinces.

The NGO reportedly originates in the capital of Jakarta and is made up of elements of Indonesia’s military after the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998. It was reportedly formed to combat pro-democracy activists and liberalism.

The Islamic front came into prominence by participating in protection rackets and violent vigilantism.

Abdurrahman boasts that the NGO has about one million members. However, AP learned from researchers that the group’s membership is much smaller and likely stands in the tens of thousands.

https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2019/06/12/ap-praises-caliphate-seeking-islamists-in-indonesia-for-charitable-work/

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Never Mind Interpol, Malaysia Can Decide Whether To Extradite Zakir Naik

“India has extradition arrangements with many nations. In the past, there have been numerous cases of successful extradition to India. The fairness of the Indian justice system has never been in question,” Kumar said.

Zakir, a certified medical doctor, has been living in Malaysia since 2016, having fled India amid accusations that he had helped radicalise a group of teenagers who carried out a terror attack on a cafe in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, which killed 22 people.

India’s National Investigation Agency accuses the preacher, who founded the Islamic Research Foundation and the satellite television channel Peace TV, of using his speeches and lectures to encourage terrorism. Though Zakir denies the claims, both the foundation and the TV channel have been banned in India.

The agency revoked Zakir’s passport in 2017 after he failed to appear when summoned to cooperate in their investigation.

In a separate case, Zakir faced an allegation that the Islamic International School he was running did not have the relevant government permits. The Maharashtra state school education department threatened to shut the school, which was subsequently taken over by a trust belonging to a local lawmaker, Abu Azmi.

Preacher faces hate charges in India, but is welcome in Malaysia

A year later, the agency seized five properties in Mumbai belonging to the fugitive cleric and he has since been banned from giving public talks in Bangladesh, Canada and the UK, in addition to India.

Among Zakir’s controversial opinions are that apostates and LGBT people should be executed by the state, that thieves’ hands should be chopped off and that the September 11 attacks were “an inside job”. One of Naik’s YouTube videos shows him saying that if Osama bin Laden “is terrorising America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, I am with him”.

Zakir, who won Saudi Arabia’s 2015 King Faisal International Prize for services to Islam, told The Week magazine in May that he was ready to return to India if the Supreme Court gave an assurance he would not be arrested before any conviction.

“Before the BJP government came, you could speak against the government, and at least 80 per cent of the times you would get justice. Today, the chances are 10-20 per cent,” he said.

Under Malaysia’s extradition treaty with India, it is required to return fugitives unless they would be punished or prosecuted on the basis of their race, religion or political opinion. Mahathir told local media on Monday that Zakir – who has permanent residency in Malaysia – felt he was “not going to get a fair trial”. Malaysia is yet to respond to the official request for extradition, though some critics have suggested the Mahathir administration is loathe to comply with the request as it fears alienating Malay-Muslim voters.

India’s Enforcement Directorate is preparing to obtain a non-bailable arrest warrant against Zakir from a Mumbai court on June 19. If this is secured, it will then ask Interpol to issue a red notice, which would require members including Malaysia to help in the India-born cleric’s arrest.

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/regional/2019/06/13/who-is-zakir-naik-the-islamic-televangelist-indias-chasing-and-malaysias-loathe-to-give-up/

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Want peace with India... to spend on fighting poverty, not arms: Imran Khan

Jun 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Even as India declared yet again that Pakistan had failed to create the right conditions for a dialogue between the two countries, Pakistan PM Imran Khan reiterated his stance of a dialogue with New Delhi, saying his country hopes to spend more on human development than on purchasing arms .

In an interview with Russian news agency, Sputnik, ahead of leaving Islamabad for Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Bishkek, Khan said Pakistan believed that progress comes with peace and was willing to pursue all options - including international mediation – to resolve issues with India.

Khan's remarks came hours before the banquet by Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, which he attended along with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. In the absence of any formal dialogue, sources said, nothing more than a handshake or a quick exchange of pleasantries was expected.

"Pakistan is looking for any kind of mediation because it believes progress comes with peace. When you have tensions with your neighbours, it detracts from resources that could be spent on human beings. They end up getting spent on unproductive things like arms," the Pak PM said.

"And so we believe in peace with all the neighbours, especially with India ... It is my belief that the money should be spent on getting people out of poverty. And our emphasis should be peace, resolving our differences through dialogue."

Elaborating on Islamabad's efforts for peace with New Delhi, Khan said Pakistan has repeatedly conveyed its willingness to talk.

"There is no way two nuclear-armed countries should think of resolving differences through military means. ...Now that the (Indian) elections are over we hope that the Indian leadership will grasp this opportunity... let's resolve all our differences through dialogue.”

"We hope now that current PM [Narendra Modi] has one big mandate, we hope that he will use this mandate to develop a better relationship and bring peace in the subcontinent."

He further stated that peace among India and Pakistan was entirely dependent on the issue of Kashmir. "The only difference, if we resolve that there will be peace in the subcontinent, that's Kashmir. Unfortunately, Kashmir can only be resolved if the people of Kashmir are given the right of self-determination, which was guaranteed to them by the United Nations in 1945."

"This use of force by the Indian government to subdue has backfired. The more force there has been used, the more the people of Kashmir have turned against the Indian government, the more radicalisation has come in the young people of Kashmir. And it is a future source of destabilisation of the continent. That's why it is very important to resolve the Kashmir issue."

Asked whether he finds his participation in the SCO helpful for improving relations with India, Khan said: "The SCO provide all member-countries fresh outlets to develop relationship with one another. And that means, of course, India as well."

At the moment, the PM said his country's bilateral relationship with India is, probably, at its lowest point. "And, yes, it will be an opportunity to speak to the Indian leadership during this SCO conference," he added .

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/want-peace-with-india-to-spend-on-fighting-poverty-not-arms-imran/articleshow/69780323.cms

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US Forces, Affiliated Militants Steal Historical Artifacts in Raqqa

Jun 13, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Khabour news website reported on Thursday that a convoy of SDF forces along with several US military vehicles arrived in the historical castle of Saffeyn in the Eastern parts of the town of al-Akirshi in Southeastern Raqqa, adding that they carried out drilling operations to discover artifacts.

The SDF has so far stolen a large number of historical artifacts in regions under their occupation in Eastern Euphrates to supply their financial resources.

Meantime, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that over 120 trucks carrying military and logistical equipment were sent by the US-led coalition from Northern Iraq to the SDF-occupied regions through Simalka corridor.

It added that over 1,220 trucks carrying military and logistical equipment were sent for the SDF in Eastern Syria after declaration of the end of the ISIL rule in Eastern Euphrates.

Relevant reports said on Monday that the terrorist groups had ruined, stolen and smuggled millions of antiques in Syria in the past 8 years.

Manager of Syria's museum and historical monuments Mahmoud Hamoud told the Arabic-language website of Sputnik that the terrorists had stolen and smuggled at least one million pieces of antiques to regions outside the country, specially Turkey, Jordan and the occupied Palestine.

He added that at least 10,000 historical sites have been destroyed in the extensive excavation operations by the terrorist groups in Syria.

Hamoud also said that the occupying Turkish forces play an important role in the destruction and looting of antiques in different parts of the lands occupied by them, including Jandaris.

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980323000503

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Reintegrating ISIS militants and families is a global problem

06/12/19

With the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in war-battered Iraq and Syria, governments around the world — including the United States — are struggling with a new challenge from the terrorist group: What to do about thousands of family members of dead or captured ISIS fighters?

Thousands of women from around the world — America, Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and beyond — traveled to Iraq and Syria at the height of ISIS's power, marrying into its ranks and bearing children. Others were taken as captives from Kurdish, Yazidi, Christian and other Iraqi and Syrian religious-minority communities overrun by IS and eventually absorbed into the terrorist organization, in one form or another.

Many of those women want to return to their home countries, along with their children, since the IS "caliphate" is no more, and Iraq and Syria are not eager to accept them as citizens. Whether or how they can be reintegrated is an incredibly difficult issue, with enormous potential security implications, especially for Central Asia nations that face their own ethnic, religious, political and security issues.

Uzbekistan recently announced the repatriation of 156 IS survivors, mostly women and children who had been living in parts of Syria controlled by Islamist groups. Another 300 Uzbeks still stranded in the Syrian desert may soon follow them home, and the presidential administration said they would be “provided good housing and employment.”

The governments of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have announced the return of their own expatriates who had joined extremist groups. 

The Central Asian governments are taking the bit between their teeth, as opposed to European governments that have been accused of “outsourcing” the trial and punishment of terrorism suspects from their countries. (Early this year, the U.S. quietly repatriated two small groups of women and children from Syria.)

The reintegration of IS supporters will be a challenge, but it also is an opportunity to stanch future radical recruitments and to develop Islamic education that reflects the experiences and sensibilities of Central Asia, built on the region’s intellectual tradition which produced foundational work in astronomy and medicine. 

One observer claimed the welcome given to the family members was a “considerable softening” of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s 2017 declaration that Uzbeks involved in fighting in Iraq and Syria would be stripped of their citizenship. Actually, what Tashkent is doing is consistent with Mirziyoyev’s remarks in June 2017 that drew a distinction between “delusioned persons” and people with blood on their hands: “There is no point of talking to them and expostulating them.”

The reintegration process, if successful, will have immediate, long-term payoffs. The adults will probably undergo extensive debriefing to collect intelligence and to determine the extent of their culpability in IS crimes. In the longer term, the reintegration of the women and, most importantly, their children will be a hallmark of the government’s effort. Success could make radical recruiters’ jobs a lot harder when the youngsters they are pitching in late-night chat rooms know first-hand that their country shows mercy to those who return to the “straight path.”

Secular Uzbekistan can create a successful reintegration effort — one that could be a model for other nations — with the ready collaboration of imams, the government and civil society, as it won’t have to deprogram citizens who received a state-sponsored education in intolerance, as in the Palestinian territory or Pakistan. That said, Svante Cornell has pointed out that the Soviet legacy of atheism left many in Central Asia with no strongly rooted religious tradition to form a counterweight to extremism.

The repatriation of the IS families has now moved the discussion of de-radicalization from the theoretical to the practical and the public.

The legacy of Soviet atheism, the lack of religious education and the threat of increased online recruitment that will accompany the government’s loosening of restrictions on the internet present the government an opportunity to make its own religions tradition, free of any Middle Eastern entanglements. And the leadership likely remembers the Soviet Union’s efforts to control Islam in the interest of revolutionary socialism, further encouraging it to revitalize its organic resources, such as establishing a Centre for Islamic Civilization in Tashkent to train qualified imam-khatibs. Training imams locally will ensure they know local languages and customs and, most importantly, that the local community knows them.

To make this happen, the Uzbek government may apply more “manual control” than some advocates of religious freedom are comfortable with, so it will have to spend some time explaining what it is doing and why.

In 2017, Uzbekistan found itself a target of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, accused of limiting the rights of all religious groups, attempting to control religious activity and censoring religious materials. The U.S. State Department followed up by designating Uzbekistan a "country of particular concern" (CPC).

The commission was rebutted by Central Asia scholars who pointed out that Uzbekistan’s rules “help protect secular Muslims, women, and minorities from religious coercion” and that its recommendations will punish a country that observes strict separation of church and state, has refused to designate Islam as a formal state religion, and maintains secular laws and courts — in contrast with major non-NATO allies of the United States, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In 2018, the State Department declined to designate Uzbekistan a CPC for restrictions on religious freedom, in recognition of “substantial changes” made by the country.

That State Department decision will give Tashkent some breathing room as it pursues its de-radicalization project, which Mirziyoyev said starts with an emphasis of the spiritual welfare of youth, and labeled a whole-of-society effort when he recalled that “One child has seven parent-neighbors.”

Uzbekistan and its Central Asian neighbors have the means and opportunity to apply the tools of jobs, religious education and community involvement to rescue wayward adults and give their innocent children a chance for a real life — the rebuke the terrorists fear most.

https://thehill.com/opinion/international/447826-reintegrating-isis-militants-and-families-a-global-problem

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OIC urges Moldova to cancel decision to move Israeli embassy from Tel Aviv to al-Quds

Jun 13, 2019

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has condemned Moldova’s decision to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, urging officials in the Eastern European country to rescind their plan.

The 57-member organization, in a statement released on Thursday, called on the government of Moldova to “reverse this decision and respect its legal and political obligations under international law and resolutions.”

It also urged Moldova to adopt positions that support the chances of establishing peace on the basis of the so-called two-state solution, and promotion of security and stability in the Middle East region and across the world.

“This illegal move constitutes a violation of Security Council and the UN General Assembly resolutions on al-Quds, which affirm the rejection of any measures that would prejudice the historical, legal and political situation of the occupied city of al-Quds,” the OIC stated.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Foreign Ministry have, in two separate statements, condemned Moldova’s decision, describing it as a blatant violation of international law.

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said in a statement Moldova must be treated as a “rogue state” for being complicit in Israeli crimes.

“The PLO Executive Committee strongly condemns Moldova's unlawful decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied al-Quds. This is an act of unreserved hostility against the Palestinian people and their rights as well as the letter and spirit of international law, the United Nations Charter, and relevant UN resolutions,” added Ashrawi.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said former Moldovan prime minister Pavel Filip’s decision came shortly before the fall of his government, and was meant to gain the support of the United States and Israel in the face of the other parties that have agreed to form a new government in the country.

Filip “has implicated his country in a violation of international law and the UN Charter to keep rule in his hand or to win American and Israeli support,” the ministry said in a statement.

Announcing the embassy move on Tuesday, Filip said the decision was “a long overdue commitment to support our allies" and that he wanted it to be respected “regardless of what happens after the snap elections.”

The decision came after a political crisis in the small former Soviet state, which on Sunday saw the Constitutional Court revoke President Igor Dodon's powers and appoint Filip as interim president. He then swiftly dissolved the country's parliament and called a snap election to be held in September.

Moldova, which declared independence from the Soviet Union on August 27, 1991, has been no stranger to political crises and turmoil. It has had eight prime ministers in the last six years.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/06/13/598441/OIC-urges-Moldova-not-to-move-Israeli-embassy-from-Tel-Aviv-to-alQuds

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Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt call for a cease-fire in Libya

June 13, 2019

TUNIS: Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt have expressed their “deep concern” over the chaotic situation in Libya and called for an immediate cease-fire in the country.

The foreign affairs ministers of the three countries, all neighboring Libya, held a meeting on Wednesday in Tunisia’s capital Tunis.

In a statement released overnight, they denounced “the continuous flow of weapons” and the “influx of foreign terrorist fighters” in Libya.

They agreed to strengthen their cooperation in the fight against terrorism in the region.

Earlier this week, the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged all countries to implement an arms embargo against Libya, saying illegal weapons transfers by land, sea and air are fueling the fighting in the oil-rich country.

Libya was plunged into chaos following the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed Muammar Qaddafi.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1510376/middle-east

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Islamic State in Afghanistan aims to attack US, general says

By Robert Burns 

June 12, 2019

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Islamic State group in Afghanistan is a “very worrisome” threat to the United States, and U.S. counterterrorism efforts have yet to shrink its extremist ambitions, a senior American general said Wednesday.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie said IS would be hard pressed, however, to carry out an attack on the U.S. homeland because it is under strong military pressure.

“ISIS in Afghanistan certainly has aspirations to attack the United States,” McKenzie said. “It is our clear judgment that as long as we maintain pressure on them it will be hard for them to do that.”

McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command with responsibility for managing American military operations across the greater Middle East, spoke in Germany with reporters returning home with him from an eight-day trip that took him to Qatar, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. He also spent two days aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier in the North Arabian Sea.

He stopped at Germany’s Ramstein air base to refuel his airplane before flying to his headquarters in Florida.

Earlier this week, the Associated Press cited U.S. and Afghan security officials In reporting that the Islamic State group in Afghanistan is expanding its footprint, recruiting new fighters and plotting attacks on the United States and other Western countries.

McKenzie, a veteran of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, said he believes IS in Afghanistan has not expanded its capabilities but remains a big problem.

“They are very worrisome to us” in their strongholds in eastern Afghanistan, he said, adding that combat operations have failed to reduce the group’s fighting ranks. Others have said they are thought to number in the thousands.

The Islamic State affiliate appeared in Afghanistan shortly after the group’s core fighters swept across Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2014, carving out a self-styled Islamic empire in both countries. The Afghanistan affiliate refers to itself as the Khorasan Province, a name applied to parts of Afghanistan, Iran and central Asia in the Middle Ages.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan are combatting the Islamic State group separately from their mission of advising and assisting Afghan Defence forces in their battle against the Taliban.

The Taliban and IS are sharply divided over ideology and tactics, with the Taliban largely confining their attacks to government targets and Afghan and international security forces. The Taliban and IS have fought each other on a number of occasions, and the Taliban are still the larger and more imposing force.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/islamic-state-in-afghanistan-aims-to-attack-us-general-says/2019/06/12/07b4e45c-8d76-11e9-b6f4-033356502dce_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cef74267aae3

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Belgium takes back six orphaned Daesh children: SDF

June 14, 2019

BEIRUT: Belgium has taken back six orphaned children of Daesh members from Syria, the US-backed militia which is holding thousands of militants and their family members said late on Thursday.

“This must be extended to men and women in our camps and prison, not only children,” Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said on Twitter, announcing Belgium’s move.

The SDF controls the quarter of Syria east of the Euphrates river after driving back Daesh in a series of advances from 2015 that culminated in March with the group’s defeat at its last territorial enclave in Baghouz, near the Iraqi border.

However, it says it is unable to indefinitely hold the thousands of Daesh fighters and members and their families who surrendered during its offensive.

Many of those in custody or held at overcrowded displacement camps in northeast Syria are foreigners, and many remain unrepentant supporters of violent jihad.

Daesh members also brought a large number of children into their zone of control or bore babies who are now orphaned, destitute or even stateless, and whose future is uncertain.

The SDF has warned that keeping them in northeast Syria where there is no long-term political settlement to underpin its control of the area is a security risk, and has called for help in managing a humanitarian crisis in the displacement camps.

Western countries have so far been unwilling to take back their citizens who went to Syria to join Daesh — seeing them as a security risk if they return home but knowing they may be unable to prosecute them.

The United States, France and the Netherlands have each repatriated a small number of women or children from northeast Syria, but many others remain there.

The SDF has also handed over numerous Daesh militants to Iraq, which is putting many former militants on trial and executing some of them.

An Iraqi court sentenced a Belgian man, Bilal Al-Marchohi, 23, to death by hanging in March for being part of Daesh. Pictures on his phone showed him posing with weapons and cradling his infant son.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1510666/middle-east

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India

 

Pakistan needs to create a terror-free atmosphere: Modi tells Xi

Jun 14, 2019

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told President Xi Jinping that Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free from terror and take concrete action to end the scourge but does see Islamabad doing it at this stage.

This was conveyed by Modi to Xi during their brief meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting here even as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived here for participating in the grouping’s meeting.

“There was a brief discussion on Pakistan. We have a consistent position with respect to Pakistan. The Prime Minister recalled that he has made efforts and these efforts have been derailed. Pakistan is an all-w

“He has informed the Chinese President that Pakistan needs to create an atmosphere free of terror and at this stage, we do not see this happening. We expect it to take concrete action,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters here when he was asked whether terrorism sponsored from Pakistan that was spoiling the situation in the region came up at the meeting.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have spiralled following the deadly February 14 Pulwama terror attack. New Delhi has remained rooted in its stand, saying that terror and talks with Islamabad cannot go together.

During the meeting, Modi noted that strategic communication between the two sides improved which had led to long-pending issues being resolved such as the opening of a Bank of China branch in India and the listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist.

“The two leaders had a warm and cordial discussion on a range of subjects. Xi Jinping congratulated the Prime Minister for his victory in the general elections and said it was reflective of the aspirations and trust that the people had placed on the Prime Minister. Both leaders reviewed the bilateral ties and noted a new momentum in this bilateral relationship since the Wuhan summit in last April,”

“The Prime Minister noted what had improved between two sides is strategic communication and in that context, we have been able to resolve long pending issues like the opening of Bank of China branch in India and the issue related to the listing of Masood Azhar,” he said.

In May, the United Nations (UN) designated Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ after China blacklisted him by lifting its technical hold.

In the past, China had stalled India’s proposal to enlist Azhar as a ‘global terrorist’ at least four times in the last 10 years, the latest being in March this year. Beijing had previously blocked New Delhi’s bid three times — in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

On his first visit for a multilateral forum meeting after reelection, Modi met Jinping on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in which both the sides discussed ways to further strengthen bilateral relations.

“Your birthday falls on June 15. On behalf of the people of India, I give my best wishes to you. After election results, I received your message and you congratulated me again. I am obliged. Together, we can move forward and work with each other in various areas in the coming days,” Modi said in his opening remarks.

Later, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted, “Building on the momentum of high-level exchanges, PM @narendramodi had a warm meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Leaders discussed all aspects of enriching our bilateral relations & recognised the positive role of strategic communication in deepening our partnership.”

This is the first bilateral meeting between Modi and Xi this year.

https://www.siasat.com/news/pakistan-needs-create-terror-free-atmosphere-modi-tells-xi-1511818/

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Indian police raid Islamic State cell with links to Sri Lanka bombing mastermind

JUNE 12, 2019

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Indian police raided seven locations in the southern city of Coimbatore on Wednesday in pursuit of a suspected Islamic State cell with links to the suicide bombers who killed over 250 people in Sri Lanka in April, officials said.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said it was questioning seven men from Coimbatore, aged between 26 and 38, on suspicion of propagating Islamic State ideology to recruit people for carrying out attacks in southern India.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings in neighbouring Sri Lanka and has been looking to bolster its presence in the sub-continent after being driven out of its self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Last month Islamic State claimed the establishment of a “province” in India after a clash between jihadists and security forces in the contested, northern Kashmir region.

“We had recently registered a fresh case against a new ISIS module in Coimbatore,” an NIA official told Reuters, using another name for Islamic State, explaining Wednesday’s raids during which a number of electronic devices were also seized.

The main accused in the case, Mohammed Azarudeen, had been Facebook friends with Zahran Hashim, the suspected mastermind of Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings, NIA said in a statement.

Hashim, a radical preacher, led the National Tawheed Jamaath, one of the two local Islamist groups that were involved in the synchronised blasts in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, and two other towns.

The NIA, India’s federal agency responsible for fighting militant groups, has conducted multiple searches in southern India this year in connection with a case concerning 15 people who apparently left the country to join Islamic State in 2016.

In late April, the NIA arrested a 29-year-old man from the southern state of Kerala for suspected involvement in a planned suicide attack.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-india-security/indian-police-raid-islamic-state-cell-with-links-to-sri-lanka-bombing-mastermind-idUKKCN1TD1UY

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In a first, India takes U turn on Palestinian policy, supports Israel

Jun 14, 2019

UNITED NATIONS: In first at United Nations, India takes a step back from its decades-old position on the two-state theory and vote against a resolution to recognize Palestinian NGO called Shahed, signaling that India might have a new partner.

According to reports, India voted in favour of a decision introduced by Israel in the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) that “overwhelmingly rejected” Shahed’s request to obtain observer status at UN institutions.

Though India voted last week, it came to light on Tuesday when Maya Kadosh, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in India, had tweeted, “Thank you #India for standing with @IsraelinUN and rejecting the request of terrorist organization “Shahed” to obtain the status of an observer in #UN. Together we will continue to act against terrorist organizations that intend to harm.”

A day after, Israeli PM Netanyahu thanked PM Modi for pro-Israel vote. He tweeted: “Thank you @NarendraModi, thank you India, for your support and for standing with Israel at the UN.”

The Palestinian non-governmental organisation lost its bid to join the ECOSOC by a 28-15 tally (28 in favour and 15 against, with five abstentions).

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/first-india-takes-u-turn-palestinian-policy-supports-israel-1511944/

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How is NDA's Muslim-only scholarship scheme different from Congress' 'appeasement politics', questions AAP

June 13, 2019

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Thursday criticized the scholarship scheme for Muslim students announced by the NDA government questioning as to how the scheme was different from the "appeasement politics" that BJP accused Congress of indulging in.

"The Muslim scholarship is being publicized by the government with great fanfare. AAP welcomes the fact that the NDA government's attention has been drawn to Muslim students. But the question is - why discriminate between students on religious grounds? How is this different from the same appeasement politics that BJP used to accuse the Congress of indulging in?" AAP leader Sanjay Singh said while addressing a press conference.

Singh demanded that all students, regardless of the community they belong to should be given scholarships for education.

"Such schemes should not be on religious grounds alone," he said.

"We all remember the kind of language used by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his party and its leaders in the run-up to the election against minorities in the country. The sharp distinction between then and now is clearly visible to the people of the country. The BJP's hypocrisy on the issue stands exposed," Singh added.

Full report at:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/how-is-nda-s-muslim-only-scholarship-scheme-different-from-congress-appeasement-politics-questions-aap-119061301188_1.html

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Encounter breaks out between terrorists, security forces in Pulwama

Jun 14, 2019

SRINAGAR: An encounter broke out between terrorists and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Friday morning, police said.

Security forces have launched a cordon and search operation in Brobunduna area of Awantipora in the district in south Kashmir after receiving intelligence input about presence of terrorists in the area, a police official said.

As the forces were conducting searches in the area, the terrorists fired upon them and the forces retaliated, the official said.

He said exchange of firing was going on.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/encounter-breaks-out-between-terrorists-security-forces-in-pulwama/articleshow/69783461.cms

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Militants kill five Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir attack

JUNE 12, 2019

SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) - Militants killed five Indian paramilitary police on Wednesday in an attack on security forces deployed in a Kashmiri town, a senior police officer said.

Three paramilitaries, a local policeman and a woman bystander were wounded, and one militant was killed when the police returned fire, he said.

The attack in Anantnag town was claimed by Al Umar Mujahideen, an Islamist militant group based in Kashmir. It was the deadliest in Indian Kashmir since February, when a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden car into a bus, killing 40 paramilitary police.

That bombing raised tensions between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan, part of whose border runs through the disputed, Muslim-majority region.

Separately on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet agreed to extend direct federal rule over the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Himalayan region has been being directly governed by New Delhi since 2018, after Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) quit a regional coalition and called for federal authorities to take control.

Kashmir is claimed in its entirety by Pakistan, and Indian forces have struggled to quell a revolt there for decades.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-kashmir-attacks/militants-kill-five-indian-paramilitary-police-in-kashmir-attack-idUSKCN1TD28J

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Modi in Bishkek: PM, Imran Khan sit across dinner table, don’t talk to each other

by Shubhajit Roy

June 14, 2019

Here for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan sat across the table at a dinner at the Frunze restaurant, but there was no exchange of pleasantries.

“Koi dua-salaam nahin hua (there was no exchange of pleasantries),” a source told The Indian Express, after the dinner. At the gala concert after the dinner at the Kyrgyz National Philharmonic, the two leaders sat in the front row, but were separated by at least seven leaders in between.

This was different from what had happened two years ago with then Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. In June 2017, more than 17 months after Modi met Sharif in Lahore, the two had met in the leaders’ lounge at the opera house in Astana where they had gone for the SCO summit to watch a cultural performance — just like today.

There, they had exchanged greetings and since it was the first occasion when the two leaders came across each other after Sharif’s surgery, Modi had enquired about his health, his mother and family.

Before landing in Bishkek, Khan told Russian news agency Sputnik that Pakistan’s relationship with India is probably at its “lowest point”, and hoped Modi will use his “big mandate” to resolve all differences, including the Kashmir issue.

Underlining that the SCO countries provide these fresh outlets and developing relationship with other countries, he said, “And that means, of course, India as well because at the moment our bilateral relationship with India is, probably, at its lowest point. And, yes, it will be an opportunity to speak to the Indian leadership during this SCO conference.” There is no bilateral meeting scheduled Friday as well.

Referring to Modi’s re-election, Khan told Sputnik, “But we hope now that the current Prime Minister has one big mandate, we hope that he will use this mandate to develop better relationship and bring peace in the subcontinent.”

On whether he is ready to sit down with Modi at the table, Khan said, “Well, we have already indicated to India that after the elections. We actually tried before the elections, but unfortunately we felt that before the elections Prime Minister Modi’s party was building up this hysteria, unfortunately, anti-Pakistan feeling among its people, appealing to its right-wing Hindu nationalists, and so there was no chance of peace before the elections.”

“Now that the elections are over, we hope that the Indian leadership will now grasp this opportunity, avail this opportunity that Pakistan is offering — that let’s resolve all our differences through dialogue. In fact, that is the only way of resolving our differences.

There is no way two nuclear-armed countries should think of resolving the differences through military means. It is madness. So we hope that now we can progress, use dialogue to resolve our differences.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/modi-in-bishkek-pm-imran-sit-across-dinner-table-dont-talk-to-each-other-5779721/

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Terror suspect with links to IS sent to judicial custody in Kochi

Jun 13, 2019

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Kochi on Thursday remanded Mohamed Azarudeen (32), to two weeks judicial custody. Azarudeen was arrested from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday for alleged links with terror outfit Islamic State.

The NIA said he was the leader of the module and maintained a Facebook page “KhilafaGFX” to attract youngsters to the Islamic State ideology. The NIA is also questioning five of his associates and raids continued for the second day today in various parts of Tamil Nadu.

In the remand report, NIA said Azarudeen was a key operative of the terror outfit and had planned attacks in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. “He has been a Facebook friend of Sri Lankan suicide bomber Zahran Hashim and other members of the module have also been sharing radical content attributed to Hashim over social media,” the NIA said. They were also in touch with Riyas Abubacker, an alleged suicide bomber, who was arrested from Palakkad (Kerala), a week after the Easter bombings in Lanka, it said.

According to the police, all six including Azarudeen were into various trades ranging from jewellery to running a travel agency to selling honey but they were held together by their radical ideology. Following NIA raids, the Tamil Nadu police also searched some of their premises.

While Azarudeen, a resident of Ukkadam in Coimbatore, owns a travel agency, Y Sheikh Hidayathulla (38), also of the locality, is into the sale and marketing of honey. A Saddam Hussain (26), of Podannur, is a partner in a jewellery shop and so is Akram Jindha (26) of the same area. Ibrahim Shahin Shah (28) is into the perfume business and M Abubacker (29) of Kuniyamuthur works at a marriage hall.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/terror-suspect-with-links-to-is-sent-to-judicial-custody-in-kochi/story-jLQw6fZTT2iB5gsgOL2h4O.html

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Southeast Asia

 

Man Charged With Insulting Islam, Prophet Muhammad, Changes Plea To Guilty

13 June 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, June 13 — A man who previously claimed trial to two counts of insulting Prophet Muhammad, Islam and PAS president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, on Facebook, changed his plea to guilty, in the Sessions Court here today.

Danny Antoni, 28, entered the plea after the charge against him was read again before Judge MM Edwin Paramjothy during mention of the case today.

The court then fixed July 17 for sentence hearing.

On the first count Danny was charged with using the Facebook account of Danny A’antonio Jr, to post an insulting statement against Prophet Muhammad and Islam which could threaten harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims at 1.21am on January 9.

The charge, under Section 298A (1) (a) of the Penal Code, provides for a maximum jail term of five years, upon conviction.

He was also charged with committing the same offence against PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang at the same place, date and time.

The charge framed under Section 233 (1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 punishable under Section 233(3) provides for a maximum fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment of up to one year or both, upon conviction.

Both postings were read at the Cyber Crime and Multimedia Investigation Division, Commercial Crime Investigation Department, Bukit Aman Police headquarters, Menara KPJ here at 10am on March 4.

Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Muhamad Asyaraf Md Kamal urged for a severe sentence taking into account the seriousness of the offence.

Counsel P. Rajsurian representing Danny appealed for a concurrent jail sentence from the date his client’s arrest and to take into consideration that the accused is the sole breadwinner. — Bernama

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/06/13/man-charged-with-insulting-islam-prophet-muhammad-hadi-awang-changes-plea-t/1761842

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Malaysia steps up security as Rohingya land on Thai beach

June 14, 2019

MALAYSIA STEPPED up security measures along its border with Thailand after a group of 65 Rohingya landed in southern Satun province this week on their way to the predominantly Muslim neighbouring country.

Malaysian maritime police, custom officials and border guards were seen patrolling along the border yesterday. Malaysia has been the prime destination for Rohingya people, and as of April, 24,720 refugees have been given shelter in the country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said. Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday ordered an investigation after a boat carrying 65 ethnic Rohingya and five Myanmar men swept ashore at Satun. Deputy Government spokesman Lt-General Weerachon Sukondhapatipak said Prayut wants an investigation into who was behind the landing of the vessel at Koh Rawi in Tambon Koh Sarai of Satun’s Muang district.

The premier has also called on public health agencies to provide the immigrants with health check-ups as per humanitarian principles and also to prevent the spread of any contagious diseases they may be carrying, he added. Searching for accomplices National Police inspector-general Pol General Suchat Theerasawat, who surveyed the boat’s route by helicopter, said police were searching for more accomplices. Thai boat captain Sangkhom Paphan, 49, and five Myanmar nationals have so far been charged with bringing illegal immigrants into the country. Police are also checking to see if they are part of a human-trafficking ring.  Suchat said the 65 Rohingya people were being screened by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry to see if they are human-trafficking victims. Officials are looking for an interpreter to help interview the refugees, he said.  A high-ranked official source said that the system of trafficking Rohingya has changed. Now, the refugees currently in Malaysia contact a trafficking ring in Myanmar directly to bring their relatives to a third country by boat, car or train. The traffickers then hire Thais to transport the refugees through Thailand to their destination, the source said.  The source added that this change took place after Lt-General Manas Kongpan was arrested in 2015 along with Pajjuban Angchotephan, the |former president of the Satun Provincial Administrative Organisation, and Padang |Besar Municipality’s former mayor, Banjong Pongphon.  Manas and Pajjuban were jailed for 20 years each and Banjong for 10 years in May. Manas was linked to the 2015 discovery of a mass grave in a jungle in the southern border province, where traffickers had hidden their victims’ remains. Most of the victims were ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Bangladesh has sheltered 900,000 Royingya refugees, 740,000 of whom fled from violence in Rakhine State since August 2017.  Dhaka and Nay Pyi Taw have signed a pact to repatriate, but the plan has been on hold since November as the refugees have resisted due to fear for their safety.  Asean leaders are expected to discuss the Rakhine crisis during a summit in Bangkok later this month in order to seek a solution to help facilitate the repatriation.

https://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30371063

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UN counter-terror czar visits China’s Xinjiang

June 14, 2019

NEW YORK: The UN’s counter-terrorism czar is on a visit this week to China’s Xinjiang region, where Beijing insists one million Uighurs and other Muslims are detained because of a terrorist threat, UN sources and rights activists said Thursday.

Vladimir Voronkov, the under-secretary-general for counter-terrorism, is the highest level UN official to visit Xinjiang, which activists have described as an open-air prison, deprived of religious freedom.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed that Voronkov, a Russian diplomat, was on an official visit to China, but did not provide details of his itinerary.

Haq stressed that the UN counter-terrorism office works to ensure that measures used to fight terror respect human rights.

Beijing argues that internment camps in Xinjiang are “vocational training centres” to steer people away from extremism and reintegrate them, in a region plagued by violence blamed on Uighur separatists or Islamists.

Voronkov’s visit to Xinjiang, first reported by Foreign Policy magazine, drew sharp criticism from rights activists.

“The UN allowing its counterterrorism chief to go to Xinjiang risks confirming China’s false narrative that this is a counterterrorism issue, not a question of massive human rights abuses,” Louis Charbonneau, the UN director for Human Rights Watch, told AFP.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet asked Beijing in December for permission to carry out a fact-finding mission in Xinjiang but has been left waiting.

Earlier on Thursday, China’s new ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Chen Xu, said the UN high commissioner for human rights would pay a visit when “we can find a time which is convenient to both sides.”

China has insisted that the fate of the estimated one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims is an internal matter.

At the request of the United States and other Western countries, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in May raised the plight of the Uighurs during his visit to China.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2019/06/14/un-counter-terror-czar-visits-chinas-xinjiang/

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Central Kalimantan Police Arrest Several Suspects Planning Suicide Bombing in Jakarta

JUNE 13, 2019

Jakarta. Police detained 34 people in Central Kalimantan on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in plans to carry out a suicide bomb attack in Jakarta, an official said.

Several items, including bomb-making material, were seized during the arrests in two separate locations.

Fifteen people, including four women and five children, were arrested in Palangkaraya, the provincial capital, and the remainder in Gunung Mas district. At least two, identified by the initials T., alias Tomi, and A., are fugitive members of Islamic State-affiliated Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD).

Among the four women arrested in Palangkaraya is the third wife of Abu Hamzah Hussain, a JAD member arrested in Sibolga, North Sumatra, in March. One of his wives denotated a bomb, killing herself and her two children, when police tried to arrest her at their home.

"They were in so-called uslah, or exile, while preparing [for their next operation]. They conducted training, which, based on reports, included archery, and gathered funds through farming activities and illegally mining for gold," Central Kalimantan Police spokesman Chief Comr. Hendra Rochmawan told Metro TV on Wednesday.

Gunung Mas is known for its rich gold deposits and many illegal mines are found in the district.

Hendra said the terror suspects are residents of Aceh and Sulawesi and were invited by one of the two suspects, identified as Anshari. Those from Aceh were part of a JAD group that managed to escape raids by the National Police's elite counterterrorism unit, Detachment 88, in the Gunung Salak area at the end of 2018.

"They were ready to depart for Jakarta, just waiting for a command, because they had sufficient training and funds," the police spokesman said.

"From the information we have gathered, they wanted to conduct an 'action against the democratic system' in Jakarta," Hendra added.

Police previously uncovered a plot by JAD members to use the rally by supporters of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto against the result of the 2019 election as a cover to launch attacks, mostly targeting police officers.

The rally in front of the offices of the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) in Central Jakarta on May 21 ended in a riot, which continued in the following days. Nine protesters were killed in the riots, but the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) said the bullets found in victims' bodies were different from those issued to police.

Hendra said the women who were arrested are the radicalized wives of terror suspects. Police are evaluating the children to determine whether they have also been affected by the terror group's doctrines.

Full report at:

https://jakartaglobe.id/context/central-kalimantan-police-arrest-several-suspects-planning-suicide-bombing-in-jakarta

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Pakistan

 

Pakistan extends airspace ban along its eastern border with India till June 28

Jun 13, 2019

LAHORE: Pakistan on Thursday extended its airspace ban along its eastern border with India for the third time till June 28, according to a notice issued by the country's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Pakistan fully closed its airspace on February 26 after the Indian Air Force struck a Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) terrorist training camp in Balakot.

Since then, it has only opened two routes, both of them pass through southern Pakistan, of the total 11. Pakistan's civil aviation authority is expected to review the situation on June 15.

The IAF announced on May 31 that all temporary restrictions imposed on Indian airspace post the Balakot airstrike have been removed.

The CAA notice issued to airmen (NOTAM) on Thursday says: "Pakistani airspace will be closed until June 28 along its eastern border with India. The Panjgoor airspace will remain open for overflying transit flights from the western side as Air India had already been using that airspace."

A Pakistan government official told PTI that since there has been no official communication between the two countries regarding opening of their airspace for each other the "status quo" will prevail.

"See if some development takes place at the government's level in this respect before June 28," he said.

On Wednesday Pakistan gave a special permission to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's VVIP flight to use its airspace for his official trip to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

However Modi's flight avoided flying over Pakistan. Earlier, Pakistan had allowed India's (former) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to fly directly though Pakistani airspace to participate in the meeting of SCO foreign ministers in Bishkek on May 21.

Pakistan earlier had indicated that it may lift the airspace ban along its eastern border with India imposed on February 27 to reciprocate India's decision to remove all restrictions on all air routes in the Indian airspace.

As a result of the ban, foreign carriers using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan.

The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia. The flights from Europe and the US flying in and out of New Delhi have been the worst hit.

Since Pakistan's airspace closure, the airfare on many routes have gone up significantly, including Delhi-Kabul, Delhi-Moscow, Delhi-Tehran and Delhi-Astana.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-extends-airspace-ban-along-its-eastern-border-with-india-till-june-28/articleshow/69776443.cms

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Imran Khan will be thrown out of stadium by spectators: Nawaz Sharif

June 13, 2019

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif on Thursday accused Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan of indulging in corruption and targetting his opponents for political benefits, claiming that the cricketer-turned-politician will be "thrown out of the stadium by spectators."

"Imran Khan is a player who will soon be thrown out of the stadium by spectators. His Bani Gala residence is in the midst of corruption. He should be ashamed of himself," Geo News quoted Sharif as saying while speaking to reporters at Kot Lakhpat prison here.

The former Pakistan prime minister called Khan "incompetent" and claimed that his "downfall is imminent."

"We (PML-N) came into power through the public's mandate and they (PTI) do not have that. I am neither a seer nor a fortune teller. But I know that Imran Khan's downfall is imminent. Imran Khan is incompetent and to hide his incompetence, he is blaming the previous government. His incompetence has brought the country to the edge of destruction," Sharif said.

He alleged that the ruling government was putting people behind the bars without any proof.

Chiding the Khan-led dispensation over the IMF deal, Sharif said, "We had said goodbye to the IMF and now they are bowing down in front of them. PML-N had left full coffers, built motorways and took steps to control inflation. Imran Khan had said he would commit suicide if he ever went to IMF. But he did not do so and the nation is suffering."

"During our tenure, the dollar was in control and our exports were increasing. If Imran Khan was not the selected prime minister then the country would not be in this condition. He has disheartened the nation in just 10 months," he added.

His comments came after former Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari and Punjab Opposition leader Hamza Shahbaz were arrested in cases related to money laundering and corruption earlier this week.

In a late night address to the nation, Khan on Tuesday had said that he will form a high-powered commission to investigate graft and the rise of Pakistan's debts in the last one decade, at a time when the country is grappling to overcome a severe financial crisis.

Full report at:

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/imran-khan-will-be-thrown-out-of-stadium-by-spectators-nawaz-sharif-119061300823_1.html

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Opposition team asks NA speaker to issue Zardari’s production order

Amir Wasim

June 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A three-member opposition delegation on Thursday called on National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser at the latter’s official residence to make a formal demand for issuance of production orders for four arrested MNAs, including former president Asif Ali Zardari, to allow them to attend the ongoing budget session.

The opposition members — Syed Khursheed Shah and Senator Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) — urged the speaker to issue the production order for Mr Zardari so that he could represent the people of his Nawabshah constituency during the debate on the federal budget.

Later, an official handout was issued by the National Assembly Secretariat quoting Speaker Asad Qaiser as saying that he was cognisant of his responsibilities and was playing his constitutional role.

The speaker said that he was the custodian of the house and all the members were being treated with equality. He said the PPP and the PML-N members had requested him to issue the production order for Mr Zardari.

The speaker said that he had told the opposition members that he had solicited legal advice from legal experts; therefore, a decision in this regard would be taken after receipt of the advice in question.

The official handout stated that on the directives of the speaker, the National Assembly Secretariat had sought a legal opinion from the Ministry of Law and Justice on the request of the PPP for issuance of Mr Zardari’s production order.

Talking to reporters after meeting Mr Qaiser, PPP’s Khursheed Shah said the speaker had sought some more time to consider their request and had promised that he would play his parliamentary role.

When asked if they had only raised the issue of production order for Mr Zardari, Mr Shah said the PPP had already asked the speaker through a letter to issue the production orders for the two MNAs from the erstwhile Federally Admin­i­­stered Tribal Areas, Moh­sin Dawar and Ali Wazir, who were in jail on charges of attacking an army post in North Waziristan last month.

Similarly, he said, the speaker should issue the production order for the PML-N MNA from Lahore, Khawaja Saad Rafique.

Mr Shah said a speaker was not a part of the government and was considered to be a custodian of the house.

Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani said he believed that the speaker realised that the members from tribal areas, Lahore and Nawabshah should be allowed to represent their constituents who were being taxed in the budget.

In response to a question, Mr Rabbani said he stood by his earlier statement that there was a need for an intra-institutional dialogue in the country presently facing a “crisis of state”, besides the crises of economy and national security.

A PPP delegation had also visited the residence of the speaker on Wednesday evening, but they could not meet him as he was in his hometown of Swabi.

Medical check-up

Mr Zardari, who is under custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on an 11-day physical remand, was taken to the Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) for a medical check-up on Thursday evening.

A NAB team took the former president to the hospital from Islamabad and his computed tomography (CT) angiography and other tests were conducted under the supervision of retired Major General Azhar Mehmood Kia­­ni, the director of the RIC.

A senior doctor of the RIC told Dawn that the routine check-up of Mr Zardari was done to evaluate his health condition. He said the initial report verified that the former president was suffering from cardiac disease.

He said the former president was kept in the hospital for a few hours under observation after CT angiography.

Later, NAB issued a statement, saying that two medical boards had been examining Mr Zardari on a daily basis.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1488118/opposition-team-asks-na-speaker-to-issue-zardaris-production-order

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Lawyers defiant as SJC take up references against judges today

June 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD/Karachi: As all eyes are on the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) which will take up on Friday (today) the references against two superior court judges, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Aman­ullah Kanrarni renewed his commitment to burn copies of the references outside the Supreme Court and lawyers, barring a part of the legal fraternity, announced observing strike across the country on the call of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC).

The five-member SJC comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh and Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmed Seth will commence hearing of the references at 2pm against Justice Qazi Faez Isa of the Supreme Court and Jus­tice Karim Khan Agha of the SHC for allegedly possessing properties in the United Kingdom.

Attorney General Anwar Mansoor, who had received a notice from the SJC to appear as a prosecutor, will try to convince the council to begin formal proceedings in the matter. If the council is convinced by his arguments, it will issue notices to the judges, asking them to furnish replies to the allegations levelled against them, or it may decide to drop the proceedings.

It may be recalled that the Karachi Bar Association has already cancelled the membership of Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan and Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem.

Read: Reference against judges

Like different lawyer bodies, senior government functionaries also decided at a meeting to watch the entire proceedings of the council from a distance and not to interfere in any manner rather accept whatever decision the SJC takes about the fate of the two judges.

While renewing his pledge to protest, but in a peaceful manner, against the SJC proceedings on the premises of the Supreme Court building, SCBA president Kanrani told the media that the council was a subordinate institution to the apex court which had on July 20, 2007, thrown out a reference instituted by then military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf against former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on misconduct.

A 13-judge SC bench by a majority of 10 to three had held the reference illegal filed with mala fide intention. Therefore, Mr Kanrani said, the SJC did not need to examine the current references rather drop the proceedings in line with the SC majority verdict.

He said, “we will offer thanksgiving pray­ers on Friday in case of good news”. He said lawyers would hold a countrywide protest on the call of the PBC and not appear in courts. Mr Kanrani rejected a perception that there was a division among the lawyers, saying that every individual had an independent mind and thinking and a joint strategy would be decided after the SJC proceedings.

His secretary Azmatullah Chaudhry believed that no protest should be held on the SC premises and lawyers should be allowed to participate in the proceedings, though provincial bar councils and associations could observe protest at their respective places. He was of the view that lawyers should have confidence in the SJC which should be allowed to complete its constitutional task without any fear or pressure.

Former SCBA president Ali Ahmed Kurd termed the SJC a weak body, subordinate to the apex court. About the cancellation of membership of Law Minister Farogh Naseem by the PBC, he said that morally the minister had left with nothing since the highest body of lawyers had thrown him out of their fold. He wondered why the SJC instantly initiated the references against the two judges when it was seized with around 300 references.

Senior counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan also decided not to attend the court proceedings on Friday to honour the PBC call. He said the leadership of lawyers was in safe hands and they were doing fine to protest against the filing of the references.

Private reference

Meanwhile, a private reference against Justice Isa was filed in the SJC by Advocate Waheed Shahzad Butt under Article 209 of the Constitution for allegedly violating the code of conduct for judges by writing two letters to President Dr Arif Alvi. The reference pleaded that the judge had committed a gross misconduct by writing the letters and then allegedly sharing it with the media, thus liable to be removed on the recommendations of the SJC.

“By choosing a public forum for voicing his personal and subjective views and opinions, the judge has denounced the judiciary of this country as a whole, targeted the chief executive (prime minister) of the country and used offensive language to criticise the matter,” the reference alleged.

Former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry also entered a caveat before the SJC by asking the council not to entertain rather reject the reference against Justice Isa by holding it against the constitutional provisions and being false, untrue and without substance.

The communication by Justice Chaudhry also asked the SJC to suggest appropriate action against the president and the prime minister as provided under Rule 14 of the Supreme Judicial Council Procedure of Inquiry 2005. He said the prime minister and the president, as per the requirements of their oath under Articles 42 and 91(5) of the Constitution were bound not to communicate or reveal to any person any matter which would be brought under their consideration or become known to them except as may be required for the discharge of their duties.

But in the instant case, before commencement of the proceedings by the SJC on the reference, the contents along with a few documents were made public, due to which the judge as well as the judiciary as a whole had been scandalised.

The caveat stated that the prime minister had not complied with the constitutional provisions as well as the apex court judgement in the 2006 Mustafa Impex case since without discussing and seeking approval of the cabinet, the reference was forwarded to the president. Therefore, the reference was unwarranted and thus not maintainable before the SJC, he stated.

SBC backs strike

The Sindh Bar Council (SBC) said that in solidarity with the PBC and the SCBA, it requested all bar associations of Sindh to observe a complete boycott of courts on Friday in protest against the references filed against Justice Faez Isa Justice K.K. Agha. In a statement, the SBC said it condemned the mala fide attempts allegedly made by the government to create an impression of division in the legal fraternity by promising posts and benefits to a handful of opportunists and warned that any lawyer working against the independence of the judiciary would face cancelation of licence.

At a joint press conference held on the premises of the City Courts in Karachi, office-bearers of the SCBA, SBC and the Karachi Bar Association unanimously announced that a complete boycott of the legal proceedings would be observed in the superior and subordinate judiciary in the city and the rest of the province on Friday in protest against the filing of references against Justice Isa and Justice K.K. Agha.

They also reiterated their resolve to stand by the honest judges and the PBC in its struggle for the independence of the judiciary. However, they clarified that the legal fraternity had no other agenda except for standing up for the independence of the judiciary.

SCBA vice president Salahuddin Gandapur, former National Judicial Commission member Mehmoodul Hasan, SBC member Ghulam Rasool Soho and Hanif Kashmiri also spoke.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1488078/lawyers-defiant-as-sjc-takes-up-references-against-judges-today

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PM Imran holds 'informal discussion' with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Kyrgyzstan

June 13, 2019

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday had an 'informal' talk with Russian President Vladmir Putin after reaching Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to represent Pakistan at the 19th Meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

Earlier in the day, in an interview with Sputnik News, the premier had expressed his hope to meet Russian President Putin on the sidelines of the summit.

"I think this will just be an informal meeting on the sides of the SCO conference. I already met him briefly during my visit to China, where there was a conference by Chinese President Xi. So I met him, but this time I hope to have an informal chat with him. I already met the prime minister of Russia in China on my first visit," Sputnik News had quoted PM Imran as saying.

The prime minister also had a cordial meeting with the Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Sharipovich Jeenbekov on the sidelines of the SCO summit, a statement released by the Prime Minister Office said.

According to Radio Pakistan Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov had extended the invitation to Prime Minister Imran to attend the two-day summit.

The prime minister congratulated the Kyrgyz president on hosting the summit, who in turn "appreciated Pakistan's role in the SCO", the statement added.

The two countries agreed to strengthen land and air connectivity between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan.

"The two leaders also reviewed bilateral relations and agreed to comprehensively upgrade mutual cooperation in diverse fields," according to the statement.

Furthermore, both leaders also agreed to a "joint ministerial commission and bilateral political consultations soon".

It was also decided that Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan must enhance people-to-people contact and boost tourism through visa-friendly regimes.

PM Imran extended an invitation to the Kyrgyz President to visit Pakistan.

Earlier upon his arrival, Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev and health minister Kosmosbek Sarievich Cholponbaev received the premier, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) shared on social media.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Special Assistant to PM on Youth Affairs Mohammad Usman Dar are accompanying the premier on this trip.

The prime minister is set to address two sessions of the meeting. Leaders of SCO Members and observer states, as well as, representatives of important international organisations will attend the meeting.

Prime Minister Imran is expected to conduct meetings with other participating leaders as well on the sidelines of the event.

It is expected that a number of decisions will be approved by the leaders attending the meeting, besides signing of agreements to intensify cooperation in diverse fields.

Since becoming an SCO member in 2017, Pakistan has been actively participating in various SCO events, including ones involving foreign affairs, defence, national security, economy and trade, science and innovation, youth and women empowerment, tourism and media.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1487956/pm-imran-holds-informal-discussion-with-russian-president-vladmir-putin-in-kyrgyzstan

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Senate body concerned by Pakistan’s growing Chinese debts

Jamal Shahid

June 14, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary committee on Thursday observed that China is charging only 2 to 2.5pc on government-to-government loans with a repayment term that goes into a long tenure.

“Sovereign guarantees are also only required on government projects. There are currently 21 ongoing projects worth $19 billion,” PPP Senator Sherry Rehman informed the Senate Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The special committee met for details on CPEC financing and debt uptake besides the benefits of the project for the Gwadar Port City.

While the committee showed concerns about Pakistan’s growing debts to China under CPEC, the members conveyed apprehensions of provinces that have arisen as a result of the capacity and coordination deficit of the current government.

Ms Rehman informed the members that China was still concerned about the current government’s seriousness about CPEC projects and to take it forward.

Secretary Planning and Development Zafar Hasan briefed the members on the $49 billion CPEC. He said repayment of infrastructure development would start in 2021. The total cost of the phase two of Thakot to Havelian section of Karakuram Highway was $1.3 billion.

Minister for Planning Khusro Bakhtyar conceded that Balochistan had been neglected under CPEC.

“However, the government is now focused on Balochistan starting with the installation of a Rs17 billion electricity grid besides developing highways, small dams and the Rs80 billion Kachi Canal. The government has given top priority to development of Balochistan before moving on to the erstwhile Fata and southern Punjab which have also been neglected in the past,” Mr Bakhtyar said.

Similarly, he added, the western corridor of Balochistan had been neglected.

The members were also informed that under CPEC Gwadar was being transformed into an oil city while encouraging foreign investors to inject money into different projects.

Industrial development and modernisation of agriculture practices were all included in CPEC. Rejuvenation of industrial development and stimulating the agriculture sector besides other projects will generate 400,000 direct and indirect jobs.

However, the committee was displeased with the planning of the $1bn fast track project which included advancements in health, education, water supply and poverty alleviation throughout the country. The committee will invite chief secretaries of all provinces for their feedback on these projects.

Planning and Development Department officials explained that Pakistan had also taken up the relocation of Chinese export-focused light manufacturer and consumer products industry to add to exports.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1488046/senate-body-concerned-by-pakistans-growing-chinese-debts

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Arab World

 

ISIS carries out rare attack in Shingal region

June 13-2019

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Islamic State on Wednesday claimed responsibility for an attack against the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) in Sinjar, an armed group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The semi-official Islamic State media outlet, Amaq, claimed itsfighters ambushed a “military unit of the PKK” on Tuesday and then detonated a car bomb against a group of PKK forces near the al-Jazira complex in the vicinity of Sinjar (Shingal) mountain.

The terror group claimed it also targeted a house and detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that targeted a YBS vehicle.

Following the incident, the YBS deployed more forces to the area, prompting Islamic State fighters to withdraw, but not before they set-off another car bomb.

Local media said the Islamic State fighters attacked a YBS position near the village of Hellus in Madiwan town at around 5:45 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

The attack was carried out with four bomb-laden vehicles.

However, the local media reported that the attack was repelled, and the car bomb was destroyed before it reached its target.

The attack comes after wildfires plagued farmlands in Shingal, including the destruction of 79 mass graves that contain the remains of Yezidis (Ezidis) who suffered genocide in August 2014 at the hands of the terror group.

In late May, Islamic State-run magazine Naba claimed responsibility for fires in Syria and Iraq and said the goal was to hit the “farms of the apostates.”

On Wednesday, the YBS said it carried out operations in coordination with the Iraqi army against the Islamic State in the area.

Islamic State fighters fled toward the al-Ba’aj district of Mosul, south of Shingal, where the terrorists have some local support.

According to Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a scholar who studies militant groups, Tuesday morning’s incident was not the first time the terrorist group has claimed responsibility for operations in the Shingal area.

“It’s not surprising. They have some local support, and they also had local support when they moved into the area in [August] 2014,” Tamimi said. 

In April, Islamic State members launched an assault on the Iraqi village of Madfa’, which is part of Ba’aj, near the Syrian border.

According to Hayrî Demir, the editor-in-chief of EzidiPress, it was unexpected of the Islamic State to launch such an attack in its present situation.

Demir said many Ezidis believe local Sunni tribes who are direct members of the terror group or provide shelter for its fighters were behind the attack.

“After the attacks in Ba’aj, however, the Ezidi fighters, as well as the Iraqi troops, expected such an attack and were, therefore, prepared differently than usual,” he stated. “The attack could, therefore, be repulsed.”

Many Sunni Arab tribes to the south of Shingal have begun to slowly return to the area after the Iran-backed Shia-dominated Hashd al-Shaabi, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), took control of the region in 2017.

Pari Ibrahim, the founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF), told Kurdistan 24 that the Islamic State attacks began in May, and “will continue because they could represent a new weapon [for] ISIS to gain power.”

More importantly, she said the Islamic State’s ideology remains undefeated.

“We Ezidis believe they [ISIS] are not finished with the genocide they started,” Ibrahim said. “The eradication of our people is still on their minds and will continue.”

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/15be5a2c-66ee-4b89-8d1d-d7164ec327e4

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Iraqi paramilitary fighters kill two Islamic State militants in Salahuddin

by  Mohammed Ebraheem

Jun 12, 2019

Salahuddin (IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi paramilitary Hashd Shaabi fighters killed on Wednesday two members of the Islamic State militant group in Salahuddin province.

The two terrorists, identified as Abdullah Mohamed al-Jabouri and Bassam Mohamed al-Jabouri, were plotting to carry out terrorist attacks against civilians in al-Shirqat town in Salahuddin, according to a statement by the pro-government fighters.

The operation, according to the statement, was carried out based on intelligence information.

Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq.

Full report at:

https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/iraqi-paramilitary-fighters-kill-two-islamic-state-militants-in-salahuddin/

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Iraqis Remember Isis Massacres Five Years Later

By Seth J. Frantzman  

JUNE 12, 2019

The shocking takeover of a large part of central and western Iraq by Islamic State in 2014 haunts people today across the country.

With fires burning in Sinjar, an area ISIS targeted in August 2014 and the scene of its genocide of the Yazidi minority, people can’t help but remember that five years after ISIS blitzkrieged its way into Mosul, it is still a threat. Questions also remain about how the Iraqi army failed to stop the advance and whether the enemy will return.

On Twitter local photographer and academic Ali Y. Al-Baroodi tweeted a photo of Mosul on June 10, 2014, when ISIS had attacked Iraq’s second largest city. He recalled the first morning under ISIS control. “The battle was still raging, the army did not fight. High ranking commanders were the first to flee.” Soldiers were left aimless, without orders or clarify of what to do.

Mosul is a large city that sits bestride the Tigris river.

On the western side is the old part of the city with its warren of alleys and also the airport. On the eastern side, what locals call the left bank, is the more modern suburbs, the ancient ruins of Mosul, the five-star hotels and the university.

This city had been famous for its merchants and also for local support for Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. But after the US invasion of 2003 the city was rocket by terror attacks, rising to daily bombings and shootings. The reaction of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the years before ISIS was a crackdown.

ISIS found support when it arrived, but no one expected it to conquer the city so swiftly. Instead the Iraqi army seemed to evaporate, abandoning thousands of vehicles across Iraq, and towed artillery, weapons, and other items that would help ISIS in its quest to take over Iraq.

Mosul residents didn’t know what to expect. Some fled the ISIS surge and then returning, hoping it wouldn’t be so bad. Instead ISIS began a systematic crushing of dissent, expelling Christians from the city, and preparing for the speech ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would give in early July 2014, declaring a “caliphate.” Baghdadi spoke at the al-Nuri mosque, overlooked by the Hadba, or leaning humpbacked minaret. In 2017 the mosque would be destroyed when the last battle against ISIS took place in the city.

As ISIS was conquering Mosul with one column of fighters it also struck at Camp Speicher north of Baghdad. There it captured more than 1,700 mostly Shi’ite air force cadets. In several days of mass murder it slaughtered and filmed the deaths of the young men. ISIS bragged on social media about its crime.

Most of the world remained silent. “Camp Speicher Massacre remains one of the most horrific yet under-reported tragedies in armed conflict history,” tweeted journalist Rasha Al-Aqeedi on Wednesday. “A combination of rampant sectarianism against Shia, grudges of the old regime, mismanagement of the security apparatus and other ills that much reflected Iraq.”

ISIS crimes five years ago were largely ignored abroad. Kenneth Roth, head of Human Rights Watch, tweeted on June 12, 2014 that “ISIS in Iraq reportedly tried not to alienate local population, unlike PM Maliki and his violent sectarian repression.” Executing 1,700 people would seem to be a form of alienation in retrospect.

Across Iraq today fires are smouldering, many of them allegedly set by ISIS. The group has settled in for a “war of attrition” and has been carrying out bombings, sniper attacks and starting fires. It is hard to keep track of the numerous security incidents that stretch from Sinjar to villages like Hamam al-Alil south of Mosul to Diyala and other provinces north of Baghdad.

Even as Iraq must face a continued threat there are families looking for loved ones lost in 2014. This includes men from Camp Speicher who were never found and more than 3,000 missing Yazidis kidnapped by ISIS in August 2014.

Full report at:

https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iraqis-remember-ISIS-massacres-five-years-later-592256

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Tankers Are Attacked in Mideast, and U.S. Says Video Shows Iran Was Involved

June 13, 2019

LONDON — Explosions crippled two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday in what the United States called “unprovoked attacks” by Iran, raising alarms about immediate security and potential military conflict in a vital passageway for a third of the world’s petroleum.

Iran called the accusations part of a campaign of American disinformation and “warmongering.”

The explosions forced the crews of both vessels to evacuate and left at least one ablaze, and hours later the causes were still under investigation. Yet the backdrop of steeply rising threats between President Trump and Iranian leaders gave the stricken ships a grave significance even before the facts became clear.

By afternoon, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that American intelligence agencies had concluded Tehran was behind the disabling of both ships. He pointed to the weapons used, the expertise and resources required and the similarity to other recent attacks attributed to Iran.

The most compelling evidence to support Mr. Pompeo’s claim was video footage released Thursday night by the United States Central Command. A military spokesman, Capt. Bill Urban, said the video showed an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps patrol boat pulling up alongside the Kokuka Courageous, one of the stricken ships, several hours after the initial explosion, and removing an unexploded limpet mine in broad daylight.

Also on Thursday night, the United States military released two photographs of the ship’s hull, showing damage and what it said was likely the unexploded mine.

“Taken as a whole, these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to international peace and security,” Mr. Pompeo told a news conference in Washington.

Senior American officials had already blamed Iran for similar attacks last month against four tankers on the same waterway. Iranian officials, who denied any involvement in those attacks, also rejected assertions they were behind the events on Thursday and said Iran had been framed.

“Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter. Mr. Pompeo, firing back at his news conference, said Mr. Zarif “may think this is funny, but no one else in the world does.”

The Kokuka Courageous was about 20 miles off the Iranian coast when it transmitted an emergency call for help after an initial explosion. When the crew surveyed the damage from the first explosion, they saw a second unexploded mine attached to the hull and evacuated the ship, according to the American officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive intelligence matter.

The confrontation also played out at the United Nations in a meeting of the Security Council, where the acting United States ambassador, Jonathan Cohen, told other members that Iran was behind the attacks. Iran’s United Nations mission issued a statement afterward denouncing the “inflammatory remarks” by the American representative, calling them part of “another Iranophobic campaign” of disinformation.

“The U.S. and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots as well as false flag operations in the region,” the Iranian statement said.

Earlier Thursday, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, expressed “deep concern” that the new episode might lead to a military escalation.

[Read more about the narrow waterway that is the world’s most important oil route.]

Besides its importance as a petroleum highway, the Persian Gulf also divides bitter and heavily armed rivals, with Iran on one side and the American-backed Arab monarchies of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates on the other.

The two sides have fought for years through surrogate forces in neighboring countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Bahrain. Saudi and Emirati forces have been battling directly for more than four years to roll back a takeover of Yemen by a faction aligned with Iran.

Anxieties over the shared dependence on the vulnerable Persian Gulf shipping lanes have always been central to their animosities, and a commitment to guaranteeing the flow of oil through the same channels is behind the substantial American military presence in the region.

Iranian officials on Thursday suggested the new attacks might be the product of an elaborate conspiracy by their enemies, seemingly pointing to American allies like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates or Israel, which have long urged Washington to take a more muscular approach to Iran.

But many analysts said there was a growing consensus in the West that Iran had been behind last month’s attacks, which took place near the port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates. And they argued that Iran appeared to be seeking to demonstrate it could imperil the world’s oil markets, but without leaving the kind of fingerprints that could trigger American military retaliation.

“As long as there is significant ambiguity the attacks won’t produce a casus belli,” or cause for war, said Jack Watling, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “But Iran is demonstrating its capabilities. It is saying, ‘We can impose a cost on our adversaries in this confrontation, and it will be high.’”

Crude oil prices rose more than 3 percent in response to the crippling of the two ships on Thursday, indirectly boosting Iran’s revenue as an oil producer.

The initial White House response on Thursday was measured. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Trump had been briefed and that the “U.S. government is providing assistance and will continue to assess the situation.”

It was only a few hours later that Mr. Pompeo publicly blamed Iran.

The escalation came against the backdrop of a visit to Iran by the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who was hoping to de-escalate tensions between Tehran and Washington and avert any “accidental clashes.”

Mr. Abe was carrying a note from Mr. Trump to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, who rebuffed the overture. “I do not see Trump as worthy of any message exchange, and I do not have any reply for him, now or in future,” Mr. Khamenei said Thursday after meeting with Mr. Abe, according to the ayatollah’s website.

The animosity between Washington and Tehran began rising a year ago after President Trump withdrew the United States from a 2015 deal with international powers that limited Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for eased economic sanctions on the country of 80 million people.

Then, laying out sweeping demands for Iran to alter its policies toward the region, Mr. Trump in April ratcheted up the pressure by imposing severe sanctions aimed at cutting off Iran’s exports of oil, the lifeblood of the now-struggling Iranian economy. He also designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, a part of the military, as a terrorist group.

In May, citing unspecified warnings of imminent Iranian attacks on American allies or interests, the Trump administration announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf as a deterrent.

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter last month. “Never threaten the United States again!”

Michio Yube, top Centre, the director of Kokuka Sangyo, speaking to the news media in Tokyo on Thursday after one of the company’s ships was attacked near the Strait of Hormuz.

Iranian leaders, in response, have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, a potential Persian Gulf chokepoint. After complying with the nuclear pact for a year even after the American withdrawal, Iran has also raised the possibility of breaching the accord by taking initial steps to expand its supply of enriched uranium.

Some Iranian allies around the region have stepped up their attacks on allies of Washington, fueling fears of a wider conflict. The Houthi faction in Yemen, which is backed by Iran, has launched attacks on Saudi oil pipelines and other targets, and this week a Houthi missile hit the arrivals hall of a Saudi airport, injuring 26 people, according to Saudi news reports.

The attacks in May on the four tankers near Fujairah were relatively minor, causing only limited damage to the hulls. An international investigation presented to the United Nations later concluded that the damage was done by divers deployed from small “fast boats” who had placed limpet mines against the hulls.

On a visit to the United Arab Emirates about two weeks ago, John R. Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, said Iran was “almost certainly” responsible. A few days later, Mr. Pompeo called the attacks “efforts by the Iranians to raise the price of crude oil.”

The explosions that disabled the tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday were far more severe.

Both took place around dawn, with distress calls at 6:12 a.m. and 7 a.m., according to a statement from the United States Fifth Fleet, which said the U.S.S. Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer, was “rendering assistance.”

A Norwegian company that owns one of the ships, the Front Altair, confirmed that it was on fire. The crews of both vessels — about 23 in one and 21 in the other — were evacuated in lifeboats.

The owners and operators of both vessels described the incidents as deliberate attacks.

The Front Altair, registered in the Marshall Islands, was chartered by the CPC Corporation, the Taiwanese oil company, to carry naphtha, a petroleum product, from the Emirati port of Ruwais to Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The Kokuka Courageous was carrying methanol, headed from the Saudi port of Al Jubail to Singapore. Yutaka Katada, the president of the ship’s operator, Kokuka Sangyo, told a news conference that its Filipino crew had abandoned ship in lifeboats after what he described as two attacks three hours apart.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/13/world/middleeast/oil-tanker-attack-gulf-oman.html

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Egyptian court sentences 296 to prison on terror charges

Jun 14, 2019

CAIRO – An Egyptian military court has sentenced 32 people to life in prison on terror charges including plotting to assassinate President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

The court in Cairo Wednesday said the defendants attempted the president's assassination twice, including when he was on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 2014.

The court also sentenced 264 other defendants, to three to 15 years in prison, all on terror charges, including militant attacks in the Sinai. Two were acquitted, and one defendant died during the trail, while a minor was referred another court.

Nearly half of the defendants were tried in absentia. The verdict can be appealed.

Full report at:

https://www.foxnews.com/world/egyptian-court-sentences-296-to-prison-on-terror-charges

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Terrorist Groups Oppose Russian-Turkish Ceasefire in Idlib Province

Jun 13, 2019

The Arabic-language website of RT quoted Head of the Russian Centre for the Reconciliation of Conflicting Parties in Syria Victor Koochiching as saying on Wednesday night that a ceasefire was established since midnight of June 12 in all parts of Idlib province under the supervision of Moscow and Ankara.

He added that the terrorist groups have targeted the two towns of Mahradeh and Souran in Hama since the declaration of ceasefire in the region.

Meantime, some dissident sources said that the ceasefire will last for three days.

Also, the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported that terrorist groups have launched several offensives against the towns of Qamhaneh, al-Majdal and al-Shir and the nearby areas in Northern Hama, adding that the Syrian army has targeted their positions in response.

Meantime, Spokesman of the so-called National Liberation Front terrorist group, which is affiliated to Ankara, Naji Mostafa dismissed any ceasefire in Northern Syria, saying that it is a unilateral move by Damascus and Moscow. Also, Spokesman of Jeish al-Izza terrorist group Mostafa Ma'arati rejected any ceasefire in Northern Syria.

The Syrian army on Wednesday repelled the massive attacks by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and other terrorist groups in al-Hamamiat and Karnaz regions as well as the towns of Sheikh Hadid and al-Qasabiyeh in Northwestern Hama and Southern Idlib, inflicting heavy tolls and damages on the militants.

Relevant reports said on Wednesday that Turkey had ordered the terrorist groups stationed in Northern Syria to continue fighting the Syrian army and keep their positions until the 2019 G20 Osaka summit in Japan later this month in a bid to find a pressure leverage to stop the army's military operations.

Al-Watan newspaper quoted dissident sources close to the Ankara-backed terrorists in Idlib as saying on Wednesday that the Turkish officers deployed in regions under the supervision of Ankara in Idlib province have ordered the terrorist commanders in Northern Hama, Southern Idlib and Northeastern Lattakia to launch preemptive attacks against the army-controlled areas and prevent the Syrian army forces' advance.

They added that Turkey insists on improvement of battlefield and military conditions of the so-called National Liberation Front, Jeish al-Izza and Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay'at terrorists in Hama, Idlib and Lattakia, noting that Ankara seeks to use the G20 summit in Osaka to meet his Russian and US counterparts and pressure them to prevent the Syrian army's military operations.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980323000259

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Saudi vice Defence minister slams Iran’s ‘reckless escalation’ in backing terrorist groups

June 13, 2019

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Defence slammed the Iranian regime for “spreading chaos” in the Middle East by backing terrorist organisations such as Yemen’s Houthi militia.

“For 40 years, the Iranian regime has been spreading chaos, death and destruction, by sponsoring and financing terrorist organizations including the Houthis,” Prince Khalid bin Salman said in a post on his Twitter account.

Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان

@kbsalsaud

Replying to @kbsalsaud

For 40 years, the Iranian regime has been spreading chaos, death and destruction, by sponsoring and financing terrorist organizations including the Houthis.

363

4:14 AM - Jun 13, 2019

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The newly appointed minister’s comments came a day after the Iran-backed Houthi militia attacked Abha International Airport in the southwestern province of Asir. The attack injured 26 people, including three women and two children.

“The targeting of Abha Airport by Iranian-backed Houthi militia and injuring innocent civilians of various nationalities, is a continuation of their immoral and criminal behavior that is in line with the malign behavior of their patrons,” the Prince said. Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان

@kbsalsaud

The targeting of Abha Airport by Iranian-backed Houthi militia and injuring innocent civilians of various nationalities, is a continuation of their immoral and criminal behavior that is in line with the malign behavior of their patrons. I pray for a quick recovery for the wounded

1,703

4:14 AM - Jun 13, 2019

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The minister blamed the Iranian regime as the only party in the region that pursues “reckless escalation through the use of ballistic missiles and drones to target civilian installations and civilians.”

Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان

@kbsalsaud

Replying to @kbsalsaud

The Iranian regime is the only party in the region that has been pursuing reckless escalation, through the use of ballistic missiles and uavs to directly target civilian installations and innocent civilians.

782

4:14 AM - Jun 13, 2019

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He concluded by saying that the continuation of the Iranian regime’s “aggression and reckless escalation, whether directly or through its militias, will result in grave consequences.”

“The international community must carry out its responsibility to avoid this outcome,” he added.

Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان

@kbsalsaud

Replying to @kbsalsaud

The continuation of the Iranian regime’s aggression and reckless escalation, whether directly or through its militias will result in grave consequences. The international community must carry out it's responsibility to avoid this outcome.

875

4:14 AM - Jun 13, 2019

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1510296/saudi-arabia

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Mideast

 

Top U.S. counterterror official Nathan Sales heading to Turkey for talks amid tensions

June 12, 2019

The State Department’s top counterterrorism official is heading to Turkey to discuss future U.S cooperation with Ankara, days after the Pentagon threatened to cut the NATO ally out of a key weapons program.

State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Amb. Nathan Sales has been in talks with his Turkish counterparts on regional terrorism issues since Monday. The talks are focused on repatriation and prosecution of captured Islamic State and al Qaeda terrorists, border security and “countering the Kurdistan Workers Party” or PKK according to a department statement.

The visit comes days after Pentagon officials terminated training programs for Turkish pilots aboard the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Defence Department officials made the move in protest of Ankara’s plans to buy the Russian S-400 missile system, which the U.S. and other European allies fear could compromise NATO’s Defences.

Turkey has said it is determined to proceed with the Russian purchase, saying it turned to Moscow following Washington’s refusal to sell its Patriot missile system.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jun/12/nathan-sales-heading-turkey-amid-tensions/

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Survivors of Houthi missile attack describe moment explosion ripped through Abha airport

June 13, 2019

ABHA: As Nadia Assiri waited inside a regional Saudi Arabian airport for her sister to arrive from the capital Riyadh, an explosion threw her to the floor and ignited a fire.

Nearby, shrapnel tore through the arm and leg of another woman, Indian-national Um Karim, when a missile hit the arrivals hall of Abha airport where she had been sitting in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a night flight.

"While we were sitting we heard a noise and then saw fire and the blast threw me far," said Assiri, a 33-year-old Saudi.

Um Karim's son-in-law said that the explosion shook the car as the family came to pick her up. "I was scared there would be a second blast," he told Reuters.

The Houthis said a cruise missile strike destroyed the control tower.

The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is locked in a war with the Arab coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack. The coalition said 26 people were hurt, including Saudi, Yemeni and Indian nationals.

The Coalition responded on Thursday with air strikes around the Houthi-held Yemeni capital Sanaa that it said targeted the group's military assets.

The Saudi airport that was struck, Abha, is about 200 km (125 miles) north of the border with Yemen. When media visited the airport on Thursday, it smelled of fresh paint. The flat bitumen roof of the arrivals hall had been patched up, but scorch marks could be seen.

The Houthis, who control Yemen's capital and the territory where most of the population lives, have for years targeted Saudi cities and infrastructure with drones and missiles, most of which have been intercepted by Saudi defence systems.

The strike on a civilian target inside Saudi Arabia came at a time of elevated tensions in the region between Iran and Gulf Arab allies of the United States.

"The fact that civilians have been injured (in Abha) puts additional pressure on the Saudis to respond to this attack. This just adds more fuel to the fire," said Jean-Marc Rickli, a defence expert at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.

On Wednesday, the coalition said evidence indicated that Iran's Revolutionary Guards had supplied the Houthis with the weapon used in the Abha attack. The spokesman for the Arab coalition said on Thursday the fact the missiles were not intercepted did not mean there was a failure in Saudi defences.

Last month the Houthis claimed responsibility for an armed drone strike on two oil-pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, the first time they had struck the kingdom's oil infrastructure.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1510471/saudi-arabia

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Saudi Arabia’s air Defence forces shot down five Houthi drones aimed at Asir region

June 14, 2019

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia's air Defence forces shot down five drones launched by Houthi terrorists against targets in the Kingdom's southern border region of Asir, a spokesman of the Arab Coalition supporting Yemen's legitimate government said early Friday.

Colonel Turki Al-Maliki said in a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) that the drones were targeted at Abha international airport and the city of Khamis Mushayt on Thursday night.

"Air traffic and airspace at Abha International Airport are operating normally, and there is no delay in flights and passenger traffic," Al-Maliki said.

He said that "the Houthi terrorist militia is trying to target civilian facilities in desperate and repeated attempts, without achieving any of their irresponsible and hostile objectives."

"These drones were exposed and dropped. We stress on our legitimate right to take appropriate deterrence measures, with such hostile acts and in conformity with international humanitarian law and its customary rules," he said.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1510641/saudi-arabia

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Mortar Fire Breaks Syria Cease-Fire Negotiated by Russia and Turkey

By Vivian Yee

June 13, 2019

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A cease-fire negotiated between Syrian rebels and government forces in the country’s war-battered northwest was on shaky ground after intermittent bombing and shelling resumed overnight Thursday in Idlib Province, the country’s last piece of rebel-held territory.

Russia and Turkey, two of the dominant foreign powers in the area, had negotiated the cease-fire between the groups. It took effect on Wednesday, and was aimed at ending more than six weeks of fighting, bombing and shelling as the Syrian government moved to reclaim parts of the northwest.

But amid sporadic breaches of the agreement, the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, told reporters on Thursday that “it is not possible” to call it a “full cease-fire right now.”

“Russia and Iran as guarantor countries should put pressure” on the Syrian government “for the attacks to stop,” Mr. Cavusoglu added. “They should fulfill their responsibilities.”

The terms of the cease-fire remained unclear, and neither Turkey nor Russia said how long it was supposed to last.

Syrian residents of Idlib and the surrounding countryside said the airstrikes and shelling that had hounded them day and night had quieted considerably. But shelling on the neighboring Hama area breached the cease-fire overnight Thursday, residents said. Airstrikes also resumed around the area of Jabal al Zawiya, civilians and activists said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the Britain-based war monitor, said that pro-government airstrikes on Idlib and Hama, which destroyed many hospitals, schools and homes in the pro-government offensive, had declined overnight Thursday. But it counted about 55 airstrikes between early Thursday morning and the early afternoon, as well as artillery shelling that killed four people.

Despite the announced cease-fire, a doctor at one hospital, Omar Ibrahim, said the hospital was continuing to receive people wounded by airstrikes on Thursday.

“It is calmer compared to the past few days,” he said, “but still too early to say how long it’ll last.”

On Thursday morning, the Turkish Defence Ministry said Syrian government forces had attacked a Turkish military observation post in Idlib, hitting it with mortar fire 35 times.

“We believe that was deliberate,” Mr. Cavusoglu said, adding that three soldiers had been slightly wounded. He said Turkey would “do what is necessary” if such attacks continued.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday that Russian jets had bombed forces it called terrorists in Idlib four times after the Turkish military outpost was shelled.

The government offensive to retake Idlib, one of the last areas of Syria outside the control of President Bashar al-Assad after eight years of civil war, has displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, killed hundreds of civilians and made it nearly impossible for people there to find shelter or medical care.

Idlib is home to about three million people, mostly civilians, including some who came to the province as a last resort after refusing to surrender to the government in their own regions. The population also includes a mix of extremist and more moderate rebel groups.

Turkey maintains some control over much of Syria’s northwest, with military outposts in Idlib, and a de-escalation deal between with Russia had kept the Syrian government from invading the area until recently.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/13/world/middleeast/syria-cease-fire-russia-turkey.html

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Saudi Warns Iran Over Yemeni Rebel Airport Attack

June 13, 2019

Riyadh accused its arch-foe Tehran on Thursday of ordering a Yemeni rebel missile strike which wounded 26 people at a Saudi airport and warned of "grave consequences".

"The continuation of the Iranian regime's aggression and reckless escalation, whether directly or through its militias, will result in grave consequences," deputy defence minister Prince Khaled bin Salman tweeted.

Yemen's Huthi rebels hit the civilian airport in the popular mountain resort of Abha in the southwest of the kingdom on Wednesday, damaging the arrivals hall and forcing its closure for several hours.

"We will confront the Huthi militia's crimes with unwavering resolve," said Prince Khaled, a son of King Salman.

"Their targeting of a civilian airport exposes to the world the recklessness of Iran's escalation and the danger it poses to regional security and stability."

Iran and the Yemeni rebels both follow arms of the Shiite branch of Islam but Tehran has always denied providing more than moral support to the rebels.

Riyadh has accused the rebels of being Iranian proxies ever since it led its allies in launching a military intervention against them in March 2015.

"The Iranian regime is the only party in the region that has been pursuing reckless escalation, through the use of ballistic missiles and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to directly target civilian installations and innocent civilians," Prince Khaled said.

"For 40 years, the Iranian regime has been spreading chaos, death and destruction, by sponsoring and financing terrorist organisations including the Huthis."

There has been a spate of rebel attacks on Saudi targets in recent weeks which have coincided with reports of intensified coalition strikes on rebel strongholds on the other side of the border.

The rebels say that missile and drone strikes against Saudi Arabia are one of few ways that they can retaliate against more than for years of bombing by the Saudi-led coalition which has exacted a heavy civilian death toll in Yemen.

Since 2015, the conflict has killed tens of thousands of people, many of them civilians, relief agencies say.

It has triggered what the UN describes as the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with 24.1 million Yemenis -- more than two-thirds of the population -- in need of aid.

Full report at:

https://en.radiofarda.com/a/saudi-warns-iran-over-yemeni-rebel-airport-attack/29996874.html

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Rocket fired from Gaza hits building in Israel

14 June 2019

A rocket fired from Gaza on Thursday hit an empty building in the Israeli border town of Sderot, without causing casualties, authorities said.

The Israeli army, which said air raid sirens had been triggered in the south of the country, said a “projectile was fired from the Gaza Strip towards the town of Sderot”, without giving further details.

The Israeli police confirmed no-one was wounded in the strike, saying the building was damaged after being hit “with full force”. A student told Israeli media the rocket had hit the religious school he attends.

“The rocket fell two meters from where I was standing,” said Shalom Kahlon. The incident came hours after Israeli warplanes bombed bunkers at a Hamas base in southern Gaza, causing no casualties, according to a Palestinian security source.

The strike came after Israeli air Defences intercepted a previous rocket launched from Gaza, the first since hundreds were fired from the enclave in early May in a flare-up, which killed 25 Palestinians and four Israelis.

Israeli authorities on Wednesday announced a ban on fishing off Gaza, in response to the launching of balloons, fitted with incendiary devices, into Israeli territory to set fire to farmland.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/06/14/Rocket-fired-from-Gaza-hits-building-in-Israel.html

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Yemen drones target Saudi's Abha airport for second time in a week

Jun 14, 2019

Yemen’s armed forces have carried out retaliatory drone attacks on an airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia for the second time in a week.

Yemeni Qasif-2K drones targeted the airport in the Saudi province of Asir in the early hours of Friday morning, two days after a cruise missile attack by army troopers and allied fighters from Popular Committees at the strategic Saudi facility, Yemen's al-Masirah television network reported.

There have been no immediate reports of possible casualties or the extent of damage caused as a result of the attack.

A Saudi-led coalition spokesman said in a statement released by the Saudi Press Agency that the country's air missile Defence systems had intercepted five Yemeni drones over the Saudi airport on Friday morning.

On Wednesday, Brigadier General Yahya Saree, the spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces, said US-built surface-to-air missile systems stationed at Abha airport could not intercept the cruise missile, which he said had hit the designated target with great precision.

He noted that the missile hit the observation tower in the airport, which is about 200 kilometers north of the border with Yemen and serves domestic and regional routes, causing significant disruption to air travel.

Saree pointed out that the missile attack on Abha airport was part of retaliatory measures by Yemeni soldiers and their allies in the face of the Saudi-led coalition’s crimes against Yemeni people.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/06/14/598464/yemen-saudi-arabia-abha-airport-drone-attack

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Arab coalition hits Houthi targets after Abha airport attack

June 13, 2019

JEDDAH: The Saudi-led coalition in Yemen launched airstrikes on Thursday that destroyed Iran-backed Houthi militia targets around the capital, Sanaa.

The alliance had pledged a “stern response” to Wednesday’s Houthi missile attack on a Saudi civilian airport, in which 26 people were injured.

It said Thursday’s strikes targeted “foreign experts from terrorist organizations working with the Houthis.” “The targets that were destroyed in Yemen include missile depots, weapons and manufacturing plants,” the coalition said.

The Houthi-run Masirah TV admitted that coalition jets bombed three sites, including military targets belonging to Houthi forces, on the outskirts of Sanaa. Residents said the strikes had targeted military camps west and north of the city.

Saudi Arabia vowed on Thursday to take “appropriate” action to confront and deter Houthi attacks.

“We will confront the Houthi militias’ crimes with unwavering resolve,” said Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman. “Their targeting of a civilian airport exposes to the world the recklessness of Iran’s escalation and the danger it poses to regional security and stability.

“The targeting of Abha airport, injuring innocent civilians, is a continuation of their immoral and criminal behavior that is in line with the malign behavior of their patrons.

“Appropriate measures will be taken to confront and deter these terrorist militias. We will stand against all those who aim to inflict harm on our security and interests.

“For 40 years, the Iranian regime has been spreading chaos, death and destruction by sponsoring and financing terrorist organizations, including the Houthis.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1510401/middle-east

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Africa

 

4 Al-Shabaab fighters dead after IEDs blow up prematurely

JUNE 13 2019

Four Al-Shabaab militants died in Lamu County on Thursday after the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) they were planting blew up prematurely.

Three died at the scene of the incident at about 3am near Kwa Omollo Bridge along Bodhai-Bar’goni road.

Joseph Kanyiri, director of the Linda Boni operation and the Lamu County Commissioner, said the fourth terrorist was severely injured in the explosion and died while escaping.

Several other gunmen were injured in the incident.

Mr Kanyiri said, "[The bodies of the three were found at the scene while the fourth one was found in a bush metres away. He had been trying to run away."

He added that police found three loaded AK 47 rifle magazines, 12 loose bullets and a magazine pouch.

NO RELENTING

Kwa Omollo Bridge is within the dense Boni Forest where the multi-agency Linda Boni security operation is taking place.

The government launched the operation in September 2015 as part of efforts to flush out the terrorists.

Mr Kanyiri said security agencies were determined to smoke out the criminals.

“There is no cause for alarm. Citizens should rest assured that we’re determined to ensure peace and stability is restored in Lamu and other places where the operation is ongoing," he said.

"We will not relent in the war against criminals. We will smoke them out."

HIDING PLACES

Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata lauded the agencies securing Boni Forest and other parts of Lamu.

“Residents should not be deterred. Our security agencies are determined to ensure peace is maintained,” he said.

Commuters who use Hindi-Kiunga and Bodhai-Bargoni roads asked the government to clear bushes so the enemies lack places to hide.

“We appreciate the efforts by the government in dealing with Al-Shabaab and ending the war in our area. We haven’t experienced any attacks recently, enough proof that the operation is successful," said Mr Dida Athman of Basuba Village.

"We are, however, appealing to the government to ensure bushes are cleared so that these enemies don’t find places to hide and attack us and security agents."

https://www.nation.co.ke/counties/lamu/Al-Shabaab-blown-up-in-Lamu/3444912-5156370-13qxl6t/index.html

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Cameroon Says 88 People Killed in Suspected Boko Haram Attack

By Pius Lukong

June 13, 2019

More than 80 people were killed, including 16 Cameroonian soldiers, during an attack by suspected Boko Haram Islamists in the north of the country, the Defence ministry said.

Eight civilians and 64 fighters also died in the pitched battle in the Darak locality of Cameroon’s Far North Region on June 9, while another eight fighters were taken prisoner, Defence Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said in statement handed to reporters in the capital, Yaounde.

Based in Nigeria, Boko Haram has been waging a violent campaign since 2009 to impose its version of Islamic law in Africa’s most populous country. Its attacks have left tens of thousands of people dead and the violence has spilled into Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-06-13/cameroon-says-88-people-killed-in-suspected-boko-haram-attack

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Sudan’s military rulers say they thwarted several coup attempts

14 June 2019

Sudan’s military rulers said on Thursday they had thwarted several coup attempts against them.

Two different groups of people who had attempted coups had been arrested, the Transitional Military Council’s spokesman said.

One group consisted of five people while the other had more than 12 members, he said.

The military council for the first time on Thursday admitted it had ordered the June 3 dispersal of a Khartoum protest sit-in that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

“The military council decided to disperse the sit-in and a plan was made... but we regret that some mistakes happened,” spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters.

He said the military would not allow any further protest camps to be set up near armed forces sites, after the sit-in outside army headquarters in central Khartoum was cleared.

Kabbashi said the findings of an investigation into the events of June 3 would be released on Saturday.

The military rulers said that Ethiopia’s prime minister had suggested that negotiations between the rulers and the Sudanese opposition on a transition to democracy move to Addis Ababa.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/06/14/Sudan-s-military-rulers-say-they-thwarted-several-coup-attempts.html

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Sudan’s military council head meets senior US diplomat in Khartoum

13 June 2019

The head of Sudan’s ruling military council met with US diplomats in Khartoum on Thursday, the council said.

The ruling Transitional Military Council said Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan met with Tibor Nagy, the US assistant secretary for Africa, and veteran diplomat Donald Booth, who was appointed US envoy to Sudan on Wednesday.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/06/13/Sudan-s-military-council-head-meets-senior-US-diplomat-in-Khartoum-.html

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Sudan charges ousted leader al-Bashir with corruption

13 June 2019

Sudan’s public prosecution has charged ousted President Omar al-Bashir of corruption, the official SUNA news agency said on Thursday.

SUNA quoted an unnamed official as saying that Bashir is facing charges including “possessing of foreign funds, acquiring suspected and illegal wealth and ordering (the state of) emergency.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/06/13/Sudan-s-ousted-President-Omar-al-Bashir-accused-of-corruption-money-laundering.html

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No peace talks before seizing Libyan capital: Haftar allies

Jun 13, 2019

The speaker of east Libya’s parliament, which is aligned with troops trying to seize capital Tripoli from the UN-backed government, says there could be no peace negotiations until they captured the city.

Oil-rich Libya has been divided between two rival governments, the Tobruk-based House of Representatives and the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

The parliament is aligned with the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), led by strongman Khalifa Haftar, who launched an offensive in early April to conquer Tripoli and oust the GNA.

Haftar, who enjoys the loyalty of a group of armed militia and backing from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt, has taken upon himself to protect the government in Tobruk.

The assault, however, has stalled in the face of resistance from local armed groups aligned with GNA.

“The (military) operation must be resolved. The political solution should in any case come even after the liberation of the Libyan capital,” Aguila Saleh, the chief of the Tobruk-based parliament, said.

Saleh rejected proposals for the LNA to withdraw troops or agree to a truce, while he admitted that “the campaign to liberate Tripoli is not easy.”

“If someone could get these groups out peacefully, then the army would return to the barracks,” Saleh said, referring to the GNA’s armed groups.

Saleh claimed that GNA troops were using more than two million Libyans and buildings in the capital as shields, while Haftar’s militia was refraining from using heavy weapons to limit damage to property.

“The army could have carried out a powerful operation and used all kinds of weapons but these are Libyans and we will save any drop of blood, no matter what,” Saleh said.

Haftar and his supporters claim that they are trying to liberate the capital from the grips of militias which they blame for destabilizing the North African country since the ouster of Libya’s former dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Gaddafi’s ouster created a huge power vacuum, leading to chaos and emergence of numerous militant outfits, including the Daesh terrorist group.

The UN-backed GNA, however, blames Haftar for the crisis.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/06/13/598448/Libya-Aguila-Saleh-parliament-Tobruk-GNA-LNA-Haftar-Tripoli

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Sudan military rulers admit dispersing Khartoum sit-in

Jun 13, 2019

Sudan's ruling military council has admitted for the first time admitted it had ordered the June 3 dispersal of a Khartoum protest sit-in that left dozens of people dead and hundreds more injured.

"The military council decided to disperse the sit-in and a plan was made... but we regret that some mistakes happened," spokesman Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters.

He said the military would not allow any further protest camps to be set up near armed forces sites, after the sit-in outside army headquarters in central Khartoum was dispersed.

Kabbashi said the findings of an investigation into the incident would be made available on Saturday.

Thousands of protesters had held a round-the-clock sit-in outside the army complex since April 6, initially seeking the army's help to oust longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir.

The army toppled Bashir on April 11 but since then the ruling generals have resisted calls to hand over power to a civil administration.

Demonstrators continued with the sit-in even as they held negotiations with the generals over the form of a new governing body.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/06/13/598457/Sudan-army-sitin

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Sudan’s former President Bashir charged with corruption

Mohammed Amin 

13.06.2019

Sudan’s state prosecutor’s office has charged former President Omer Al-Bashir with corruption, local media reported on Thursday.

The state-run SUNA news agency confirmed that the prosecutor’s office has completed the probe into two cases of "possessing foreign currency and suspected illicit wealth".

The media office of the state general prosecutor has also pointed out the state prosecutor has concluded the investigation in two cases of possessing illegal foreign currency and “suspected illicit wealth”.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/sudan-s-former-president-bashir-charged-with-corruption/1503777

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Libya: Renewed clashes rock southern Tripoli

Walid Abdullah  

13.06.2019

TRIPOLI

Armed clashes on Thursday morning renewed between the UN-recognized Libyan government and its rival forces affiliated with Gen. Khalifa Haftar in the southern districts of the capital Tripoli.

Both the airport road and the al-Khula area have seen the fiercest clashes between the two sides, while explosions have been heard in different districts of the neighborhood.

On late Wednesday, Haftar-affiliated warplanes pounded forces of the UN-recognized government concentrated in the two areas of Mashrou al-Moz and Ain Zara, south of Tripoli.

The UN-recognized forces announced that they have destroyed a tank affiliated with the Haftar forces.

In another development, pro-Haftar forces said in a Thursday statement that they had shot down a warplane allegedly belonging to the UN-recognized government near the city of Misrata, some 200 kilometers (124.27 miles)  east of Tripoli.

A pilot was killed in the attack, the statement read.

The UN-recognized government has yet to comment on these claims.

Haftar's forces have so far been unsuccessful in seeking to capture Tripoli from the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord in an offensive that began in April.

Nevertheless, his forces remain deployed in several areas around the capital.

Libya has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a NATO-backed uprising after four decades in power.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/libya-renewed-clashes-rock-southern-tripoli/1503152

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North America

 

Trump says neither Iran nor US are ready to make a deal

13 June 2019

US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday saying that neither Iran nor US are ready to make a deal.

"While I very much appreciate P.M. Abe going to Iran to meet with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, I personally feel that it is too soon to even think about making a deal. They are not ready, and neither are we!" he said.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/06/13/Trump-says-neither-Iran-nor-US-are-ready-to-make-a-deal.html

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Pompeo blames Iran for tanker attacks in Sea of Oman

Jun 13, 2019

The administration of US President Donald Trump blames Iran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Sea of Oman without providing evidence as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called the incident "suspicious" which occurred during a landmark visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Islamic Republic.

On Thursday morning, Iranian rescuers rushed to the assistance of two oil tankers hit by yet unspecified accidents in the Sea of Oman, transferring all of their 44 crew members to Iran's southern shores.

None of the two involved tankers -- one sailing under a Panama flag and owned by Japan and another bearing the Marshall Islands’ ensign -- sank during the incident, said the director general of Ports and Maritime Department in the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan, Allah-Morad Afifipour.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday accused Iran of carrying out the attacks without providing any evidence to back up his accusation.

“It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today,” Pompeo told reporters in a brief appearance at the State Department in Washington, DC.

“This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication,” Pompeo said.

Saudi agrees with US

Saudi Arabia – a key ally of the US in the Middle East – said on Thursday that it agrees with the United States that Iran was behind the attacks.

"We have no reason to disagree with the secretary of state. We agree with him," Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir told CNN. "Iran has a history of doing this."

Britain agrees with US, warns Iran 

Britain has also agreed with the US and said that Iran is responsible for the attacks, and warned Tehran that these actions were "deeply unwise.”

"This is deeply worrying and comes at a time of already huge tension. I have been in contact with Pompeo and, while we will be making our own assessment soberly and carefully, our starting point is obviously to believe our US allies," British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement on Thursday.

"We are taking this extremely seriously and my message to Iran is that if they have been involved it is a deeply unwise escalation which poses a real danger to the prospects of peace and stability in the region," he added.

The Trump administration had also accused Iran of being behind a similar attack on May 12 on four oil tankers in the Persian Gulf while independent analysts blamed US and Israeli intelligence agencies for carrying out a false flag operation in order to ignite a conflict in the Middle East region.   

Last week, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting on the vessel attacks near the UAE port of Fujairah, but member states refused to blame any party despite Abu Dhabi's claim that a "state actor" was behind the incident. Russian Deputy Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov told reporters that no evidence on Iran's alleged link to the attacks were presented during the briefing.

Days before the Security Council briefing, hawkish US National Security Adviser John Bolton had vowed to present to the UN evidence on Iran's involvement in the Fujairah attacks, but he didn't.

Earlier on Thursday, hours after the attacks occurred, Zarif, said, “Suspicious doesn't begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.”

Highlighting the fact that attacked tankers were bound for Japan, Zarif noted, “Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.”

Iran's foreign minister then stressed that promotion of a regional dialogue forum was necessary to deal with the recent attacks on commercial ships in the Persian Gulf, in what was a clear allusion to his previous call for the formation of a such a forum for the Persian Gulf littoral states in an attempt to restore peace and stability to the region.

Qatar calls for international probe

Meanwhile, Qatar has called for an international investigation into the attacks on tankers.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/06/13/598452/US-blames-Iran-for-tanker-attacks-in-Sea-of-Oman

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US: No interest in engaging in new Mideast conflict

14.06.2019

By Kasim Ileri

WASHINGTON

The Pentagon said Thursday it had no interest in engaging in a new conflict in the Middle East as it sent a destroyer to the scene of attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

"We will defend our interests, but a war with Iran is not in our strategic interest, nor in the best interest of the international community," U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement.

His remarks came after two commercial tankers -- the Marshall Islands-flagged Front Altair and Panama-flagged Kokuka Courageous -- were on their way to Taiwan and Singapore from Qatar and Saudi Arabia respectively when they were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz, which links the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman.

The strait is a vital waterway, with roughly one-third of the world's liquefied natural gas and a fifth of its oil consumption transiting through it each day.

Brown said the destroyer USS Mason was en route to the scene of the attacks.

Calling Thursday's attacks "a clear threat to international freedom of navigation and freedom of commerce," Brown said the U.S. and its partners in the region will take all necessary precautions to "defend ourselves and our interests".

Earlier, the USS Bainbridge rescued 21 mariners from the Kokuka Courageous and they are currently aboard the destroyer.

"The USS Bainbridge remains in close contact with the M/V Kokuka Courageous and is the on-scene U.S. command authority," said Brown. "No interference with the USS Bainbridge, or its mission, will be tolerated."

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-no-interest-in-engaging-in-new-mideast-conflict/1503859

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Turkish Defence minister calls US letter 'improper'

Sarp Ozer 

13.06.2019

Speaking to his U.S. counterpart, Turkey’s Defence chief on Thursday brought up an “improperly” worded letter sent by the U.S. last week, said an official Turkish statement.

The phone call between Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s national Defence minister, and Patrick Shanahan, the acting U.S. Defence secretary, came after Akar said Wednesday the letter was “not in line with the spirit of the alliance.”

“During the call, Minister Akar emphasized the improper wording” of the letter, said a Defence Ministry statement.

The letter said that Washington was cutting short a F-35 fighter jet training program for Turkish pilots over "safety concerns."

Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have simmered over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 Defence systems.

Washington claims the purchase will jeopardize Turkey's role in the F-35 fighter jet program and has threatened sanctions.

Turkey has said there is no conflict between the S-400 and the F-35 and has called for a working group to clarify the issue.

In Thursday’s phone call, the statement added, also discussed were mutual issues between the two countries, regional security issues, and Defence industry cooperation matters.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkish-Defence-minister-calls-us-letter-improper/1503449

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US sanctions Iraqi firm for trafficking weapons to Iran-backed militias

June 13, 2019

The US Treasury has placed sanctions on an Iraq-based company and two Iraqi citizens for trafficking weapons worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Iraqi militias backed by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its foreign operations arm, the Quds Force.

The Treasury said that in addition to weapons smuggling, South Wealth Resources Company, also known as Manabea Tharwat Al Janoob General Trading Company, "moved millions of dollars to Iraq for illicit financial activity benefiting the IRGC-QF and its Iraq-based militia groups".

The SWRC and its two associates, Makki Kazim Abd Al Hamid Al Asadi and Muhammed Husayn Salih Al Hasani, have also been placed on the US State Department's list of "Specially Designated Global Terrorists", according to a Treasury statement released on Wednesday.

The US move tightens pressure on the IRGC after designating it as a foreign terrorist organisation in April. The Quds Force was designated in 2007 for supporting terrorism.

The new sanctions freeze any assets that the targets may have in US jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

The Treasury said SWRC also generated profit in the form of commission payments for Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, an US-sanctioned adviser to Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

"Treasury is taking action to shut down Iranian weapons smuggling networks that have been used to arm regional proxies of the IRGC Quds Force in Iraq, while personally enriching regime insiders," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/us-sanctions-iraqi-firm-for-trafficking-weapons-to-iran-backed-militias-1.874257

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US budget doesn’t contain aid for Pakistan Army

Jun 14, 2019

The United States’ budget for the upcoming financial year does not include any security assistance for Pakistan’s military but only civilian assistance programming, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia Alice Wells will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) in a hearing on ‘US Interest in South Asia and FY 2020 Budget’.

As per the statement released by HFAC, the budget request for India will be increased and those for Afghanistan and Pakistan will be “rationalized”.

According to reports, the statement also refers to the February 14 Pulwama attack , saying it “underscored the importance and immediate need to halt terrorist activity in the region,” adding that the multilateral effort in sanctioning Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar at the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee “sends an important message that the international community will not tolerate terrorism”.

The statement also notes that while Pakistan has taken “important” steps to detain militants and seize their assets in recent months, these actions are reversible.

“Pakistan must sustain these measures and expand upon them, including by prosecuting terrorist leaders. The reality is that terrorist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and JeM will continue to pose a grave risk to international peace as long as they are able to operate freely in Pakistan,” the statement says.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/06/13/us-budget-doesnt-contain-aid-for-pakistan-army/

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US seeks Pakistan’s support in Afghanistan, but urges caution on India

Anwar Iqbal

June 14, 2019

WASHINGTON: The United States wants Pakistan to continue supporting the Afghan peace process but also expects Islamabad to end its allegedly “unacceptable support” to militants, say two key US officials, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Assistant Secretary Alice G. Wells.

“Under President Trump, we’ve taken our defence cooperation to new heights … and taken a far tougher stand on Pakistan’s unacceptable support for terrorism in the region,” Secretary Pompeo told a gathering of mainly Indian-Americans in Washington on Wednesday.

“Our approach to Pakistan has focused largely on securing Islamabad’s support for the Afghan peace process and for Pakistan to follow through on its pledges to take sustained and irreversible actions against all militant groups operating from within its territory,” said Wells, who looks after South Asian affairs at the State Department.

Secretary Pompeo, who will visit India later this month, also addressed India’s hyper-sensitive approach in its dealings with China and Pakistan.

“We get it. We realise it’s different to deal with the likes of China and Pakistan from across the ocean than it is when they are on your borders,” he said.

Ms Wells outlined the administration’s priorities for Pakistan before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee for Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation, which began a hearing on Thursday on the State Department’s budget requests for the South and Central Asian regions.

“Our relationship with Pakistan remains one of our most complex and most consequential,” she said. “Our engagement with Pakistan on nonproliferation issues is also crucial. The United States and Pakistan both attach high importance to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

The United States, she said, also remains concerned about Pakistan’s development of certain categories of nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

“On Afghanistan reconciliation, we recognise that Pakistan has taken steps to encourage Taliban participation in peace negotiations, which has been important to the progress we have made thus far,” she said.

“(But) there is much more work to be done to achieve our ultimate goal of a peaceful Afghanistan free of terrorist groups.”

Noting that no other country will benefit more from a peaceful Afghanis­tan than Pakistan, she said: “We exp­ect Pakistan to continue to play a constructive role in reconciliation efforts.”

Ms Wells noted that the Pulwama terrorist attack in February sparked a crisis between India and Pakistan and underscored the importance and immediate need to halt terrorist activity in the region.

“We continue to urge Pakistan’s leaders to make good on their pledges to take sustained and irreversible actions against terrorist groups operating within the country’s borders, which is necessary for the long-term stability and prosperity of the region,” she said.

The US official acknowledged that in recent months, Pakistan had detained some militants and seized assets belonging to front organisations raising funds for terrorist groups.

“While these steps are important, they are still reversible. Pakistan must sustain these measures and expand upon them, including by prosecuting terrorist leaders.”

Ms Wells warned that terrorist organisations, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), would continue to pose a grave risk to international peace as long as they were able to operate freely in Pakistan.

The US official also took credit for the May 1 listing of JeM leader Masood Azhar at the UN 1267 Sanctions Committee — “an achievement 10 years in the making”. She argued that this listing sent an important message that the international community would not tolerate terrorism.

“Sustained progress on these two issues — reconciliation and counterterrorism — will lie at the heart of a renewed bilateral relationship,” Ms Well said. “We believe in the potential of the US-Pakistan relationship to foster regional stability and economic prosperity.”

The State Department official told the congressional panel that her department’s budget request for 2020 did “not include security assistance funding for Pakistan’s military”.

Mr Pompeo, who will visit India, Sri Lanka, Japan and South Korea from June 24 to 30, also cited BJP’s popular election slogan — “Modi hai to mumkin hai” — while expressing the Trump administration’s desire to build a strong partnership with India.

“As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his latest campaign, ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai,’ or ‘Modi makes it possible’, I’m looking forward to exploring what’s possible between our people,” he said.

Mr Pompeo noted that the first batch of India’s Apache helicopters were coming off Boeing’s production line in Arizona. Other defence equipment made available to India include Lockheed Martin’s F-21 and Boeing’s F/A-18 are state-of-the-art fighters that could give New Delhi an edge in air capabilities.

The Trump Administration has also allowed American companies to export more high technology items to India, including cutting-edge defence platforms like armed UAVs and ballistic missile defence systems.

“We have already launched the Asia-EDGE programme, to help India raise private capital to meet its energy security and access needs,” Mr Pompeo said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1488085/us-seeks-pakistans-support-in-afghanistan-but-urges-caution-on-india

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Europe

 

Christchurch mosque attack defendant pleads not guilty

14 June 2019

The man accused of shooting dead 51 Muslim worshippers in the Christchurch mosque attacks pleaded not guilty to multiple murder and terrorism charges Friday and was committed to stand trial next year.

Appearing in Christchurch High Court via audio-visual link from a maximum-security prison in Auckland, Brenton Tarrant sat silently as lawyer Shane Tait said his client pleaded “not guilty to all charges”.

The self-proclaimed white supremacist has been charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act over the March 15 atrocity in the South Island city.

The 28-year-old Australian allegedly opened fire in the packed al-Noor mosque during Friday prayers, then traveled across town to continue the carnage in the suburban Linwood mosque, while live-streaming his actions on social media.

The court heard that mental health assessments had found Tarrant was fit to stand trial for the worst massacre in modern New Zealand history.

“No issue arises regarding the defendant’s fitness to plead, to instruct counsel, and to stand his trial. A fitness hearing is not required,” Judge Cameron Mander said in a statement issued shortly after the hearing.

About 80 survivors and relatives of those killed packed into the courthouse’s public gallery for a glimpse of Tarrant. Wearing a grey crewneck jersey, Tarrant smirked at times during the hearing.

Judge Mander set a trial date of May 4 next year, with Tait saying it was expected to last at least six weeks.

“The court endeavors to bring serious criminal cases to trial within a year of the arrest. The scale and complexity of this case make this challenging,” Mander said. Tarrant was remanded in custody to appear for a case review hearing to be held on August 15.

Mander barred news outlets from taking photographs or video of Tarrant’s appearance, although he said images from an earlier hearing in April could be used.

New Zealand’s government tightened the country’s gun laws in the wake of the attack and has said it will review laws dealing with hate speech.

It has also supported international efforts to ensure that social media giants to do more to combat online extremism.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/06/14/Christchurch-mosque-attack-defendant-pleads-not-guilty-.html

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Sajid Javid says he was shut out of Donald Trump state banquet

June 13, 2019

British home secretary and Conservative Party leadership contender Sajid Javid has expressed confusion about why he was not invited to last week's state banquet for US President Donald Trump.

Mr Javid was the only top-level Cabinet minister not to be invited to the dinner at Buckingham Palace, sparking speculation that his previous comments about Mr Trump’s Twitter activity may have been behind the snub.

“I don’t know,” he told the BBC. “I’ve asked… but I was just told normally home secretaries aren’t invited.”

Mr Javid responded angrily to the US president retweeting a post from far-right group Britain First in 2017.

His tweet, written during his tenure as minister for communities, said Mr Trump had “endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me”.

“I refuse to let it go and say nothing,” he wrote.

Sajid Javid

@sajidjavid

So POTUS has endorsed the views of a vile, hate-filled racist organisation that hates me and people like me. He is wrong and I refuse to let it go and say nothing

28.7K

3:29 AM - Nov 30, 2017

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Asked if his Muslim background may be behind the lack of invite, Mr Javid replied: “No, I’m not saying that at all, but I really don’t know.”

Former Labour Secretary of State Jacqui Smith weighed in on the idea that home secretaries are not ordinarily invited, writing on Twitter : “I went to every state banquet for visiting leaders as Home Secretary”.

Jacqui Smith

@Jacqui_Smith1

V odd. I went to every state banquet for visiting leaders as Home Secretary

Sky News

@SkyNews

Sajid Javid: It is 'odd' I wasn't invited to Donald Trump dinner at Buckingham Palace http://news.sky.com/story/sajid-javid-it-is-odd-i-wasnt-invited-to-donald-trump-dinner-at-buckingham-palace-11740945 …

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Mr Javid's predecessor as home secretary, Amber Rudd, also attended state banquets for foreign leaders during her term in office.

However, participation isn’t guaranteed. In 2011 Mrs May herself, then in charge of the Home Office, did not attend a State Banquet for Barack Obama.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said the banquet was hosted by the Queen and “it would not be appropriate to discuss in public who did or did not ask to attend.”

The home secretary made the comments shortly before the first round of voting in the Conservative leadership contest.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/sajid-javid-says-he-was-shut-out-of-donald-trump-state-banquet-1.874299

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Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's Germany visit highlights global role for Year of Tolerance

June 13, 2019

Angela Merkel. the German chancellor, took the opportunity to embrace the UAE Year of Tolerance during the official visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed this week.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces arrived home on Thursday from a two-day trip to Berlin in which the highlight was a joint statement that rolled over the 15-year strategic partnership between the two states.

The visit also highlighted the importance of jointly appointed special envoys in promoting strong bilateral exchanges in future.

Mrs Merkel said the ties went far beyond strong economic links and the one million Germans that visited the UAE every year. She said the Year of Tolerance and the visit of Pope Francis to Abu Dhabi in February was a demonstration of the state's wider influence.

"I would like to emphasise – and this is very important to us – the tolerance initiative of the Emirates," she said. "At the beginning of the year, the first pope's visit to the Arabian Peninsula took place within this framework. The fact that the Special Olympics were hosted by the United Arab Emirates also shows that all population groups should be involved. These Special Olympics were a great success.

"We talked about the importance of building bridges across different religions and denominations, as well as between neighbours, given the conflicts in the region. Extremism and hatred must be resolutely opposed to tolerance and friendship between peoples. Of course, this includes the fight against international terrorism."

region, including Iran, Syria and Yemen.

"I am very glad that in our joint statement we agreed that there is a need to support the process initiated by the United Nations with the Special Envoy as well," she said of the peace efforts in Yemen. "Small successes can be seen but unfortunately we are still a long way from resolving the conflict."

On Iran, the German leader said the 2015 nuclear deal was one consideration among others. "Even if the United Arab Emirates and Germany sometimes have slightly different points of view, we are united by the desire to find peaceful solutions," she said. "We have recently had a lot of exchanges on this. It has to be said that there are activities of Iran – for example the ballistic missile programme or even some activity in Syria – that of course concerns us."

For his part Sheikh Mohamed underlined the long-term nature of the relationship and how both sides wished to invest in an expanded partnership.

''I am extremely happy to be here in Germany as we are celebrating the 15th anniversary of signing our Strategic Partnership Agreement," Sheikh Mohamed said.

"The trade exchange at that time was $3 billion and now it is close to $14bn. Our visit to Germany confirms that we have a new road map for another 15 years.

"We are looking forward to double our trade exchange. We have discussed a variety of issues and we agree on many of them. We hope to see our bilateral relations and co-operation getting stronger."

Mrs Merkel warmly welcomed the visit of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince to Berlin as a continuation of his last trip in 2016 and her visit to the UAE in 2017.

She said the talks with Sheikh Mohamed tackled a wide range of bilateral issues, most notably the celebration of the 15-year strategic partnership between the two countries.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/uae/sheikh-mohamed-bin-zayed-s-germany-visit-highlights-global-role-for-year-of-tolerance-1.874297

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French Imam Leads 40 Muslim Educators in Visit to Knesset

June 13, 2019

French Imam Hassen Chalghoumi, a central public figure and founder of the “Conference of Imams,” visited the Knesset on Wednesday at the head of a delegation of 40 Muslim educators from France and met with Israeli officials.

Imam Chalghoumi is known for his efforts to promote moderate Islam and his criticism of radical Islam and fundamentalism, as well as his actions to encourage inter-religious dialogue and collaboration.

Chalghoumi is on his second visit to the Jewish state as part of a visit organized by the European Leadership Network (ELNET), which brings together leaders who believe in the importance of close relations between Europe and Israel.

In France, he is viewed as an Islamic leader who represents an essential alternative to radical movements. He also maintains a close relationship with the Jewish community of France, and recognizes the right of existence of a Jewish state in Israel.

In 2014, he headed a delegation of imams who visited Israel as part of an initiative that promotes peace.

He has been facing death threats after he met with IDF Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis in Paris in July 2018 and posted the historic meeting on social media.

His family lives in Bahrain due to threats on his life from the Islamic State (ISIS).

In May 2006, his home was ransacked following a Holocaust memorial ceremony that he conducted in Drancy, the site of Nazi deportations.

His cooperation with Jewish organizations in France has won him the epithet “Imam of the Jews.”

During the event at the Knesset, Chalghoumi noted that tensions in Belgium and France are high and that anti-Semitic incidents have risen by 74 percent. However, he said, extremist Muslims in these countries are a small and unrepresentative minority. While religious-political radicalization is occurring in all of Europe, he urged the media to reflect the true face of the populations, which seek coexistence, he said.

Member of Knesset (MK) Eli Avidar, who was present at the meeting, said the world is a better place because of people like Chalghoumi, who is not driven by fear.

Full report at:

https://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/europe/france/french-imam-leads-40-muslim-educators-in-visit-to-knesset/2019/06/13/

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Pope says he wants to visit Iraq in 2020

June 11, 2019

Vatican City, June 10. 2019: Announcing his desire to visit Iraq in 2020, Pope Francis called for a peaceful resolution to crises in the Middle East.

He also warned that God would unleash his wrath on hypocritical leaders who liked to talk about peace while selling weapons to warring nations.

“People escaping, crowded on boats, they cry out, seeking hope, not knowing which ports will be able to welcome them in a Europe which opens its ports to vessels that have to load sophisticated and costly weapons, capable of wreaking havoc that doesn’t even spare children,” he said.

The pope made his comments during a meeting June 10 with a Vatican coalition of funding agencies, known by its Italian acronym ROACO. Coordinated by the Congregation for Eastern Churches, ROACO assists Eastern-rite churches around the world as well as the Latin-rite church in North Africa and the Middle East. It was holding its annual general meeting at the Vatican.

Francis said their meetings with experts, including papal diplomats, would help them “hear the cry of the many who have been robbed over these years of hope.”

They included people from Syria, where the risk of a major humanitarian crisis still looms, he said, underlining the plight of so many people left without food, medicine, schools and loved ones who have died or been killed.

While people may be “insensitive” to such tragedy, God is not, because he is moved by the cries of his children, and he seeks to protect and guide them with tenderness, the pope said.

“But many times, I also think about God’s wrath, which will be unleashed upon those nations’ leaders who talk peace, but sell arms to make these wars. This is hypocrisy. This is a sin.”

The pope said his thoughts were also with Iraq, “where I have the desire to go next year.”

He said he hoped this nation could pursue building the common good through “the peaceful and shared participation” of all people, of every religion. He said he hoped it would not succumb to tensions fanned by conflicts between regional powers.

“And I cannot forget Ukraine, that its people may find peace,” he said.

He said he hoped leaders in the Holy Land would work with other local and international leaders to be able to live together in peace, harmony and respect.

The pope also noted the many signs of hope and consolation that are the fruit of “that tireless charitable outreach that has been made possible also thanks to each of you and the agencies that you represent.”

Full report at:

http://mattersindia.com/2019/06/pope-says-he-wants-to-visit-iraq-in-2020/

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Marine Le Pen goes to trial over tweets on ISIS atrocities

06/12/19

A French judge has ordered Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s right-wing Rassemblement National party, to stand trial over gruesome images of atrocities committed by ISIS she shared on Twitter, according to The Local France.

In December 2015, the French politician sent three tweets showing the decapitated body of American reporter James Foley, a man on fire in a cage and a victim being driven over by a tank. The images were captioned “This is Daesh,” another name for ISIS.

In 2017, she was stripped of legal immunity by the European Parliament, and in February 2018 Le Pen was charged with circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity" that can be seen by a minor.

"This only shows French citizens what the EU is, what the European Parliament is and that it's all part of the system that wants to stop the French people's candidate that I am," Le Pen said in response to being stripped of immunity, according to the site. 

Le Pen refused to attend a police interview during a law enforcement investigation into the tweets, telling AFP "I am being charged for having condemned the horrors of Daesh” and that “in other countries this would have earned me a medal."

The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of approximately $91,000, the Local reported.

She was also ordered to undergo psychiatric testing by a district court in Nanterre, France, last year as part of the investigation, a demand she railed against on Twitter.

"I thought I had been through it all: well, no! For denouncing the horrors of Daesh (Isis) by tweets the 'justice system' has referred me for a psychiatric assessment. How far will they go?!" she said, as translated by TheLocal.fr.

Full report at:

https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/448139-marine-le-pen-goes-to-trial-over-tweets-of-isis-atrocities

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UAE, Germany Underline Commitment to Fighting Terrorism

12 June, 2019

The UAE and Germany have reaffirmed their joint commitment to the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, in all its forms, at both regional and international levels.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday on the occasion of the visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to Germany, the two countries expressed their shared view that terrorism and violent extremism are threats to the international order.

They reiterated their unequivocal rejection of all forms of terrorism that represents a threat to international peace and stability and ensure security cooperation in this regard, reported the UAE news agency (WAM).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Sheikh Mohammed held in-depth talks on the current security situation in the Gulf, on issues relating to regional security, as well as increasing political, economic, humanitarian and cultural cooperation between Abu Dhabi and Berlin.

The UAE and Germany said that terrorism and violent extremism are threats to the international order. They underscored their unequivocal rejection of all forms of terrorism, that represents a threat to the international peace and stability, and ensure security cooperation in this regard.

They agreed on rallying efforts on counter-terrorism issues, exchanging of expertise and information on combating terrorism and strengthening individual training and capacity-building in that regard.

They acknowledged their role in playing a stabilizing role in their respective regions, along with positive contributions to global affairs. Particular importance is to be ascribed in this regard to multilateralism, international law and rules-based order and international institutions as a means of addressing joint challenges and achieving peaceful coexistence.

On Yemen, the UAE and Germany strongly encouraged a political solution, taking into account the initiative of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and its executive mechanism, the outcomes of the Yemeni national dialogue conference and all relevant resolutions of United Nations Security Council. They underlined the importance of the implementation of the Stockholm deal and expressed their unequivocal support for the ongoing efforts of UN special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths.

On Iran, both the UAE and Germany expressed concern for growing tensions in the region and called on Iran to play a constructive role and refrain from any escalatory steps.

They stressed the urgency for all actors in the regions to refrain from any actions that could escalate existing tensions. The UAE and Germany also view that the importance of respecting sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs is essential to guarantee regional security and stability.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1764381/uae-germany-underline-commitment-fighting-terrorism

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Hezbollah European Drug Trade Revealed

12 JUNE 2019

By Pooya Stone

Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah is bypassing US sanctions against Iran by laundering many millions of dollars in the drug trade in Europe.

This news comes as the result of a study about how Hezbollah’s political wing serves its military wing and further enshrines that there is no real distinction between the two. It showed that Hezbollah acts as intermediaries in the global drug route from South America to West Africa to Europe, with only 5-10% of total drugs being intercepted.

Daniel Cohen of the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya said: “We are showing how all the drug distribution works and supports money laundering… Our study links Hezbollah’s political wing with its military wing, and we went down to the field level and are showing how all the drug trafficking system supports money laundering. At least 20%-25% of the [profit] goes back to Hezbollah and is used for arming, weapon purchases, salaries and more.”

Many countries, including the US, Britain, and the Netherlands, consider the group as a whole to be a terror organization, but some, notably the European Union, mistakenly distinguish between the two by only sanctioning the military wing.

Former US Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Derek Maltz said: “These Hezbollah operatives are actually overseeing all the illicit finance and the drug trafficking activities, not just in Europe, but in South America, the Tri-Border region, moving about $200 million a month.”

He explained that Hezbollah will use the drug money to buy cars, watches and jewellery, which is then sold in Hezbollah to pay the traffickers in South America.

He said: “It is a trade-based money laundering scheme, generating millions and millions of dollars to help support these radical terrorists like Hezbollah.”

Ron Prosor, the current head of the Abba Eban Institute, urged Europe to take action against the scheme.

The development comes shortly after a Daily Telegraph article about how Britain’s security services uncovered a huge Hezbollah explosives cache in London in 2015, acting on a tip from an unnamed foreign intelligence agency. During a raid on four properties in North West London, MI5 and the Metropolitan Police found thousands of disposable ice packs containing three tons of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient in homemade bombs. Supposedly, this was part of a wider plan for future attacks.

Full report at:

https://www.iranfocus.com/en/terrorism-mainmenu-31/33574-hezbollah-european-drug-trade-revealed

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UK warns Iran over ‘deeply unwise’ attacks on oil tankers

14 June 2019

Britain is working on the basis that Iran is responsible for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday, and warned Iran that these actions were “deeply unwise,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.

“This is deeply worrying and comes at a time of already huge tension. I have been in contact with (US Secretary of State Mike) Pompeo and, while we will be making our own assessment soberly and carefully, our starting point is obviously to believe our US allies,” Hunt said in a statement.

“We are taking this extremely seriously and my message to Iran is that if they have been involved it is a deeply unwise escalation which poses a real danger to the prospects of peace and stability in the region,” he added.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/06/14/UK-warns-Iran-over-deeply-unwise-attacks-on-oil-tankers.html

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Austria to shut Saudi-funded Centre in Vienna

Askin Kiyagan  

13.06.2019

The Austrian government confirmed Wednesday that it will shut down a Saudi-funded Centre for religious dialogue in the capital Vienna.

The decision came after members of parliament demanded that the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) be closed down amid ongoing criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

Five political parties approved a motion in parliament to shutter KAICIID.

The motion was prompted by the recent sentencing to death of Murtaja Qureiris, an 18-year-old who has been detained since he was 13 for taking part in a protest against the Saudi government when he was 10.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/austria-to-shut-saudi-funded-Centre-in-vienna/1502806

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South Asia

 

NDS Special Forces seize massive cache of weapons, munitions of Taliban in Kabul

13 Jun 2019

The NDS Special Forces seized a massive cache of weapons and munitions belonging to Taliban group in Kabul.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said the NDS Special Forces discovered the cache in Paghman district.

The statement further added that the Special Forces of the Directorate seized 52 RPG rockets, 38 RPG boosters, 16 rounds of 82mm mortars, 5 Ak-47 rifles, 1000 rounds of Ak-47 ammunitions, 9 boxes of PKM ammunitions and a large quantity of other military kits.

The National Directorate of Security also added that the Talibjan militants were looking to use the weapons and munitions to stage attacks in Kabul city.

https://www.khaama.com/nds-special-forces-seize-massive-cache-of-weapons-munitions-of-taliban-in-kabul-03611/

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Will fight to the last drop of blood against terrorists backed by our neighbors: Gen. Amarkhel

13 Jun 2019

The police forces foiled a large-scale attack plot by Taliban militants in Obe district killing at least 20 Taliban fighters.

The Police Headquarters of Herat in a statement said a large number of Taliban militants had gathered to launch a large-scale attack to capture Obe district and Ganabad village.

However, the police forces launched an operation before the militants stage the attack killing at least 20 militants and injuring 10 others.

The Herat Police Chief Gen. Aminullah Amarkhel said the security forces have recently arrested several foreign militants which proves that the neighboring countries specifically Pakistan support the terror groups in Afghanistan.

Gen. Amarkhel assured the residents of Herat province that the security forces will fight to the last drop of blood to thwart enemy conspiracies for disrupting the security of Herat, harming the lives and dignity of the people and territorial integrity of the country.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/will-fight-to-the-last-drop-of-blood-against-terrorists-backed-by-our-neighbors-gen-amarkhel-03613/

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Suicide bomber kills 9 in eastern Afghanistan

June 13, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber walked up to an Afghan police vehicle in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, and detonated an explosive device that killed three police and six civilians on Thursday, said provincial health department official Shoaib Sahak. He said another 13 people were wounded, some of the seriously.

Attahullah Khogyani, spokesman for the provincial governor, said security forces were the target of the attack. Several of the injured were police, he said.

The Islamic State group, through its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. The group claimed eight people were killed. Both IS and the Taliban operate in Nangarhar province, located on the border with Pakistan and considered an IS stronghold.

Afghanistan's security forces come under near-daily attacks by both Taliban and IS-affiliated fighters. Afghan forces have suffered staggering casualties in recent years, even as the Taliban hold peace talks with U.S. Peace Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. He is currently in the Afghan capital, Kabul, trying to restart stalled peace talks aimed at ending the country's 18-year war and America's longest-running military engagement.

The Taliban have held talks with prominent Afghans, including former President Hamid Karzai and members of opposition political parties, but so far they have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, calling them U.S. puppets

Late Wednesday, the Afghan government freed 490 Taliban prisoners from jails across the country in a goodwill gesture that doubled as an attempt to further the peace process.

Full report at:

https://www.yahoo.com/news/afghan-government-says-freed-490-082431885.html

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Roadside bomb kills 6 civilians in southern Afghanistan

Jun 12, 2019

An Afghan official says six people were killed when a civilian vehicle struck a roadside bomb in southern Kandahar province.

Provincial councilman Yousof Younosi says all the victims were from a single family — two children, two women and two men. The attack took place on Tuesday in Dand district.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Younosi blamed the Taliban who are active in the province and regularly stage attacks against Afghan forces and government officials.

Meanwhile, Jawad Hajri, spokesman for the governor in northeastern Takhar province, said security forces repelled Taliban attacks on checkpoints in Khoja Ghor district on Tuesday.

Full report at:

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/roadside-bomb-kills-civilians-southern-afghanistan-63651412

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Suicide bomber kills 11 in Afghanistan

June 14, 2019

JALALABAD: A suicide bomber targeted a police checkpoint on Thursday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing at least 11 people and wounding 13 others, an official said.

The Afghan arm of the IS group claimed responsibility for the attack, which was committed by an assailant on foot, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province. There was at least one child among the fatalities, while three others were wounded.

A wave of violence across Afghanistan in recent weeks has claimed the lives of dozens of civilians and security forces.

After 18 years of conflict, the Taliban are in negotiations with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad for some sort of peace settlement. A resolution still seems far off, with the two sides struggling to agree on several key points.

Khalilzad is in the country now meeting with political leaders and members of civil society in the hope of launching intra-Afghan talks with the Taliban.

The EU envoy for Afghanistan, Roland Kobia, is also here to support the process.

In a gesture of goodwill, the government announced on Thursday it has released 490 Taliban prisoners who are ill or have less than a year left to serve. They are among 887 prisoners that President Ashraf Ghani promised to free in early June as he marked the end of Ramazan.

Khalilzad is due to travel to Qatar in coming days for a new round of talks with the Taliban.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1488144/suicide-bomber-kills-11-in-afghanistan

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Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties in Farah clash

13 Jun 2019

The Taliban militants suffered heavy casualties during a clash with the security forces in Farah province.

The informed military sources said Thursday that the clash broke out after Taliban militants attacked a security check post in Bala Boluk district.

The sources further added that the security forces killed 7 Taliban fighters and wounded 11 others during the clash.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-militants-suffer-heavy-casualties-in-farah-clash-03615/

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Taliban’s shadow district chief among dozens killed in Zabul clash

11 Jun 2019

The Afghan security forces killed Mawlavi Abdul Bari, the shadow district chief of Taliban for Daichupan district of Zabul.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) in a statement said the security forces also killed 44 other militants including two of their senior commanders during the operation.

The statement further added that the militants were killed after attacking Daichupan district.

The security forces also killed the chief of operations of the group Farid and commander Malook during the clash.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/talibans-shadow-district-chief-among-dozens-killed-in-zabul-clash-03594/

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8 foreign terrorists killed, wounded as Afghan forces target Lashkar-e-Taiba compound

13 Jun 2019

The Afghan security forces targeted a compound of Lashkar-e-Taiba group in Kunar province killing at least 3 foreign terrorists.

The 201st Silab Corps in a statement said the 2nd Brigade of Silab Corps conducted artillery strikes on Lashkar-e-Taiba compound in ASmar district on Wednesday.

The statement further added that the compound belonged to Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Majid alias Adalat.

The security forces killed 3 foreign terrorists of the group and wounded 5 more during the operation, the 201st Silab Corps added.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/8-foreign-terrorists-killed-wounded-as-afghan-forces-target-lashkar-e-taiba-compound-03612/

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