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Islamic World News (31 Mar 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Fatwa of 200 Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Muftis Declares Centre's Sukanya Sammridhi Yojna 'Unlawful In Islam'









Fatwa of 200 Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Muftis Declares Centre's Sukanya Sammridhi Yojna "Unlawful In Islam"

Jerusalem ‘Common Patrimony’ Of Three Religions: Pope

‘Wound’ Of Migration Not Solved By Physical Barriers, Pope Says

Ameer of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) Does Not Support Militant Outfits

Jokowi: Let's Not Blaspheme Each Other

In Syria's Al-Hol Camp, Ultra-Extremists Fuel Fear

US Support Enabled Saudis to Brutalize Journalist Khashoggi: WP Columnist

Afghan Vice President Survives Taliban Attack

 

India

Fatwa of 200 Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Muftis Declare Centre's Sukanya Sammridhi Yojna "Unlawful In Islam"

Government’s tribunal to review ban on JKLF, Jamaat-e-Islami

‘I have my doubts...’ Farooq Abdullah on Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF jawans

Red herring? Pakistan wants details of Pulwama bomber's guns

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Mideast

Jerusalem ‘Common Patrimony’ Of Three Religions: Pope

Tens Of Thousands Mass At Gaza Border To Mark Protest Anniversary

Israel reopens Gaza crossings after week of hostilities

Five rockets fired at Israel from Gaza Strip, Israeli tanks respond

Fourth Palestinian killed in Israel border clashes: Gaza ministry

Erdogan: Turkey will solve Syria issue “on the field” after Sunday’s elections

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Europe

‘Wound’ Of Migration Not Solved By Physical Barriers, Pope Says

Muslim World League Holds Moscow Conference On Religious Peace And Coexistence

Pope In Morocco Stresses Need To Oppose ‘Fanaticism’

Germany releases 11 detained after weapons suspicions prove unfounded

UK Conservative Party openly Islamophobic: Analyst

Hundreds show solidarity with Palestine in London

Turkey welcomes Romania’s position on its EU ties

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Pakistan

Ameer of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) Does Not Support Militant Outfits

Return Looted Money, Pakistan PM Imran Khan Tells PML-N, PPP

Army Chief To Brief Lawmakers On LoC Situation at GHQ

Military courts cease to function today

What makes Hindus in Sindh so vulnerable?

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Southeast Asia

Jokowi: Let's Not Blaspheme Each Other

How Can Islamic State Returnees Make It Back to Indonesia, Legally?

Brunei Defends Tough New Islamic Laws against Growing Backlash

'My Mother Was A Christian': Prabowo Denies Supporting Caliphate

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Arab World

In Syria's Al-Hol Camp, Ultra-Extremists Fuel Fear

Egypt hands 18 life jail terms for joining ISIS

Thirty men sentenced for Egyptian church attack plot

US Forces Continue Spying on Hashd Al-Shaabi in Western Iraq

High-Profile ISIL Terrorist in Syria Transferred to US Base in Heliborne Operations

Notorious Key ISIL Commander Killed in Iraq

Syrian Army Gives Crushing Response to Terrorists' Attacks from Demilitarized Zone in Hama

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North America

US Support Enabled Saudis to Brutalize Journalist Khashoggi: WP Columnist

Saudi Arabia Hacked Washington Post Owner’s Phone

ICJ sets mid-May as deadline for US to explain measures on Iran bans removal

American officials say many troops will remain in Syria in reversal of total pullout

Lebanese concerned over fate of Shebaa Farms after Trump’s Golan decision

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South Asia

Afghan Vice President Survives Taliban Attack

25 Taliban militants killed in Special Forces operations, airstrikes

19 Taliban militants killed, 4 IED manufacturing facilities destroyed in Helmand

Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties during the latest counter-terrorism operations

1 dead, 2 wounded in Taliban attack on Afghan Vice President’s convoy in Balkh

Key ISIS Khurasan group member arrested in Jalalabad city

Bangladesh stops Rohingya making risky journey to Malaysia

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Africa

Bashir’s Ruling Party Postpones Sudan Convention, Election Of New Leader

Libya Holds Municipal Elections In First Vote Since Five Years

Tunisia delays presidential elections by one week to Nov. 17

Three African migrants charged in Malta over oil tanker hijacking

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/fatwa-of-200-jamiat-ulema-e-hind-muftis-declares-centre-s-sukanya-sammridhi-yojna--unlawful-in-islam-/d/118180

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Fatwa of 200 Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind Muftis Declares Centre's Sukanya Sammridhi Yojna "Unlawful In Islam"

Mar 30, 2019

NEW DELHI: Led by Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, 200 muftis (Islamic scholars) from different parts of the Country passed a fatwa here in Delhi declaring “unlawful in Islam” all schemes like the Centre’s “Sukanya Samriddhi Account Yojna” for the girl child that provides “interest” on the money deposited in the bank. They cite the Sharia which they say holds any kind of interest based financial transaction as unlawful in Islam to justify the resolution passed at the end of a three day conference here in the Capital.

However, the muftis see no problem in financial transactions by different mobile applications, cash back or reward points by Paytm or Easy Paisa etc. “Similarly booking taxi etc. by mobile applications is also allowed in Sharia,” it is stated in another resolution passed at the conference. They also passed a resolution saying that use of ‘Google Adsense’ for advertising lawful goods is allowed. However it cannot be used for the promotion of movies and illegal programs.

As per a statement from JUH, about two hundred Islamic jurists from Darul Uloom Deoband, Nadawatul Ulama, Lucknow, Jamia Qasmia Shahi, Muradabad and different Islamic institutions participated in the conference.

The resolution passed by the muftis states that “under ‘Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana’ a bank account is opened in the name of girl child of less than ten years of age by her parents. The parents keep on depositing money in the account for certain age of the child. The bank annually increases the amount by adding annual interest up to nine percent etc. It is because that this scheme involves interest; it is clearly un-Islamic.”

When asked that would this not deny genuine beneficiaries from low income families financial benefits, Niaz Ahmed Farooqui, secretary JUH said, “Irrespective of how idealistic the vision behind a scheme providing interest is as per Islam it is unlawful. It is for people to follow or not follow.”

Kamal Faruqui from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board explained, “Islam calls for earning through business and participataory transaction. It does not approve of living off interest generated out of Capital sitting in a bank,” he added.

However, the JUH resolution has evoked a sharp reaction from Firoz Bakht Ahmed, Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, told TOI, “ By bringing such resolutions in the name of religion such clerics are deterring the extension of benefits of such schemes to beneficiaries. The fatwa diktat in itself is a U-turn on the Islamic law that talks of educating and equating the girl child to boys in all walks of life.”

Hilal Ahmed, associate professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, makes some very critical assertions. “Firstly, everyday life of a Muslim is not entirely determined by religion. Secondly, it is impossible to survive in today’s economy if one rejects the interest on cash deposits. Thirdly, the timing of this resolution is questionable. I see this as an attempt by these clerics to find legitimacy in media discourse in election times by invoking religion.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/fatwa-declares-centres-sukanya-sammridhi-yojana-unlawful-in-islam/articleshow/68649881.cms

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Jerusalem ‘common patrimony’ of three religions: Pope

March 31, 2019

RABAT: Pope Francis joined Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Saturday in declaring Jerusalem the “common patrimony” of Christians, Jews and Muslims, on the first day of a visit to the North African country.

The spiritual leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics was invited by King Mohammed VI for the sake of “interreligious dialogue”, according to Moroccan authorities.

In a joint statement, the two leaders said Jerusalem was “common patrimony of humanity and especially the followers of the three monotheistic religions,” during the pontiff’s visit to Rabat.

“The specific multi-religious character, the spiritual dimension and the particular cultural identity of Jerusalem... must be protected and promoted,” they said in the declaration released by the Vatican.

Their statement came after US President Donald Trump’s landmark recognition of the disputed city as capital of Israel, sparking anger across the Muslim world, especially from Palestinians who see Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Improving relations with other religions has been a priority for the Argentine pontiff, whose papacy has been marred by a wave of child sex abuse allegations against clergy.

Addressing thousands of Moroccans who had braved the rain to attend the welcome ceremony, Pope Francis said it was “essential to oppose fanaticism”.

He stressed the need for “appropriate preparation of future religious guides”, ahead of meeting trainee imams later on Saturday.

Catholics are a tiny minority in the country where 99 percent of the population is Muslim. The king is revered across West Africa as “commander of the faithful”.

Speaking at the ceremony at the Tour (or tower) Hassan mosque and nearby mausoleum in Rabat, Pope Francis defended “freedom of conscience” and “religious freedom”.

“Live as brothers,” he told a crowd of around 25,000, after arriving from the airport in his Popemobile, passing rows of Moroccan and Vatican City flags.

An estimated 12,000 well-wishers packed the esplanade outside the partly-finished 12th century mosque, some in traditional dress, according to Moroccan officials.

Some 130,000 people across Rabat watched the first stage of the pope’s visit, which was beamed onto giant screens, officials said.

Pope Francis will also visit an institute where around 1,300 students are studying to become imams and preachers, teaching “moderate Islam” and backed by the king.

“It’s a very significant event, the first time that a pope is welcomed to an institute for the training of imams,” said Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti.

Rabat has stepped up security ahead of the first papal visit to the North African country since John Paul II in 1985.

Buildings have been repainted, streets decorated and lawns manicured for the pope’s two-day visit.

Last month Pope Francis visited the United Arab Emirates, where he met with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam’s prestigious seat of learning.

The two signed a document which called for “freedom of belief” and “full citizenship” rights for minorities, a text which Gisotti said the pontiff will give to heads of state.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1472962/jerusalem-common-patrimony-of-three-religions-pope

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‘Wound’ of migration not solved by physical barriers, pope says

March 31, 2019

RABAT: Pope Francis said on Saturday the plight of migrants was “a wound that cries out to heaven” and could never be healed by physical barriers.

Francis, starting a two-day visit to Morocco, also backed Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s efforts to spread a form of Islam that promotes inter-religious dialogue and rejects violence in God’s name.

In recent months, migration has again risen to the fore of national political debates in a number of North African and European countries and the United States.

US President Donald Trump has promised to fulfil his campaign pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico and on Friday threatened to close the border next week if Mexico did not stop immigrants reaching the United States.

“The issue of migration will never be resolved by raising barriers, fomenting fear of others or denying assistance to those who legitimately aspire to a better life for themselves and their families,” Francis said at the welcoming ceremony.

“We know too that the consolidation of true peace comes through the pursuit of social justice, which is indispensable for correcting the economic imbalances and political unrest that have always had a major role in generating conflicts and threatening the whole of humanity,” he said.

Morocco has become a key departure point for African migrants trying to reach Europe after crackdowns that closed or limited routes elsewhere. Italy’s anti-immigrant interior minister has closed ports to rescue ships run by charity groups.

Francis, who has made a defence of migrants and refugees a key part of his preaching, said he was concerned about their “frequently grim fate” and receiving countries must acknowledge that migrants were forced to leave their homes because of poverty and political upheaval.

From the airport to the city centre, Francis, 82, was driven in a white popemobile on a drizzly day as the 55-year-old king rode beside him standing up in a separate vehicle, a vintage black 1969 open-top Mercedes 600 Pullman.

In the afternoon, the pope spoke again of migration during a visit to a Church-run shelter. He called migration “a great and deep wound that continues to afflict our world at the beginning of this 21st century. A wound that cries out to heaven.”

He said migrants and refugees had rights and dignity “independent of their legal status” and that host community should reject “all forms of discrimination and xenophobia”.

Francis and the king visited an institute the monarch founded to train imams and male and female preachers of Islam.

Morocco, which is almost entirely Muslim, has promoted itself as an oasis of religious tolerance in a region torn by militancy.

It has offered training to Muslim preachers from Africa and Europe on what it describes as moderate Islam.

Francis, making the first papal visit to Morocco in 34 years, praised the monarch for providing “sound training to combat all forms of extremism, which so often lead to violence and terrorism, and which, in any event, constitute an offence against religion and against God himself”

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/world/2019/03/31/wound-of-migration-not-solved-by-physical-barriers-pope-says/

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Ameer of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) Does Not Support Militant Outfits

Mar 31, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Maulana Fazl ur Rehman, who is the Ameer of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) said on Saturday that he does not support the presence of militant groups in the country.

Speaking during an interview, Fazl ur Rehman called for rounding up the non-state militant groups in the country.

However, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) leader said that if possible, such organizations should be mainstreamed.

Appreciating the politics of chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, he said that he has asked former president Asif Ali Zardari to put Bilawal under his mentorship.

The JUI-F chief said, “Zardari has learned a lot from me, he should bring Bilawal now.”

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/03/31/not-in-favour-of-presence-of-militant-groups-in-country-fazl/

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Jokowi: Let's Not Blaspheme Each Other

MARCH 31, 2019

Jakarta. Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto crushed any concerns that he may compromise Indonesia's national unity by being too cozy with radical Islamists during Saturday evening's debate.

The former Army general, in a heated tone, said he has been at the receiving end of accusations that he supports the movement that seeks to establish an Islamic state, or caliphate, in Indonesia.

"This is something very unreasonable. My mother is a Christian. I was born from a Christian womb," Prabowo said, stating the fact in public for the first time in years.

"I, from the age of 18, risked my life to defend Pancasila. I put my life at stake for this republic; why am I being accused of wanting to change Pancasila?" he said about the official state ideology.

"These are really cruel acquisitions, but I believe Mr. Jokowi doesn't approve of them," he added, referring to the incumbent, Joko Widodo, by his popular nickname.

Prabowo has been rallying Islamist support for his presidential ticket, seeking to replicate a strategy that proved successful two years ago in toppling Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, Jakarta's widely popular former governor, who is a Christian.

The chairman of the opposition Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) revamped his Islamic credentials with a formal endorsement of his candidacy by the ulema. The party also opposed a move by the Jokowi administration to disband Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, the local branch of a transnational movement that aims to establish a global caliphate.

But when asked to state his position on Pancasila, Prabowo reinvigorated his commitment to the state ideology.

"For us, Pancasila is the final ideology," he said.

"Pancasila is the result of a major compromise, of the brilliance of our founding generation. Pancasila succeeded in uniting hundreds of ethnic groups, major religions, different cultures and different languages. This compromise resulted in the ‎Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia‎, therefore we are determined to maintain Pancasila to the last drop of blood."

"I, at the age of 18, signed an oath to defend the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution. If anyone wants to change this, I will face them with all the strength I have."

Early Education

Jokowi had little to disagree with in Prabowo's statement.

"I believe Mr. Prabowo is a 'Pancasilaist.' I also believe Mr. Prabowo is a nationalist," the president said.

But he added that it is better for leaders to adhere to the values of Pancasila in their daily lives and interactions.

"Let's not blaspheme each other; not insult each other; not underestimate each other; not disparage each other, which we now see our politicians doing," Jokowi said, adding that the country's leaders should behave in a way that sets a healthy example for young people.

The two candidates agreed that Pancasila should be introduced to Indonesian children from an early age.

"Education of our children should start, not from kindergarten, but from preschool," Jokowi said.

The National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) has found many examples over the past three years of extremist literature distributed at Islamic preschools in Indonesia stating that it is halal, or lawful under Islamic law, to shed the blood of non-Muslims.

"Children must be told how to be tolerant, because we have 714 tribes. Children must also be told how to be friends with their brothers and sisters of the same country, which has more than 1,100 different regional languages," Jokowi said.

Caliphate

Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the advisory council of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), said the discourse between the idea of a caliphate – in its narrowest sense an Islamic state – and Pancasila had been resolved by the Indonesian ulema long ago.

He said Indonesia can be considered Darul Ahdi wa Shahadah, or a state based on an agreement between Muslims and their fellow countrymen, which Muslims are obliged to uphold.

He acknowledged the connotation recently attached to the idea of a caliphate, which links it with the movement to dismantle Indonesia's current political system and replace it with something based solely on Islamic law. But he warned that using it in politics could cause irreparable damage to the nation.   

"Broadbrushing something considered anti-Pancasila onto a particular group is a labeling and generalization that are dangerous and which can create an atmosphere of division in the fabric of the nation," Din said.

https://jakartaglobe.id/context/prabowo-reinvigorates-commitment-to-pancasila-jokowi-lets-not-blaspheme-each-other

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In Syria's Al-Hol camp, ultra-extremists fuel fear

March 31, 2019 

Clashes with guards, violent factional quarrels and a new strain of ultra-extremism -- the Islamic State group's territorial "caliphate" may be defeated, but a camp in eastern Syria is emerging as a fresh jihadist powder keg.

Dislodged in a final offensive by a Kurdish-led ground force and coalition air strikes, thousands of wives and children of IS fighters have flooded in from a string of Syrian villages south of the camp in recent months.

Among the hordes of Syrians and Iraqis, some 9,000 foreigners are held in a fenced section of the encampment, under the watch of Kurdish forces.

When they want to go to the camp's market or receive aid rations, these high-risk prisoners are escorted by armed guards.

But tensions are rife among the foreigners themselves.

"We don't have the same mentality -- they (the extremists) want to impose their vision of Islam," said Vanessa, who came to Syria from her native Guyana as a convert in 2013 with her husband and children.

"They say that we are infidels," the gangly 36-year-old said, singling out the camp's Tunisians as especially "extreme".

The semi-autonomous Kurdish administration that rules much of northeastern Syria is urging countries of origin to take back their citizens.

The women and children need to be "re-educated and reintegrated by their home countries," said Kurdish official Abdel Karm Omar.

Otherwise, he warned, they will become "the terrorists of the future".

'These people scare me'

Under IS's so-called caliphate -- declared in 2014 over large swaths of Syria and neighboring Iraq -- minors were systematically indoctrinated and even exposed to public executions.

In a gesture of continued loyalty to IS, some children at the camp -- a few grinning, others staring coldly -- pointed their index finger to the sky in front of AFP reporters.

One woman threatened to hit a cameraman, but others -- anxious to return home and declaring they regret joining IS -- were keen to talk.

Some of the Tunisians and Russians interned at Al-Hol have adopted "very extreme beliefs", confided a Belgian woman who came to Syria in 2013.

"These people scare me," she said.

Even just "talking to the guards, or requesting to go to the market, can make us infidels" in their eyes, she added.

Once someone is labelled a non-believer, these women decree it lawful to strip the person of their belongings, the Belgian said.

"They can burn our tents and do whatever they want to us."

But tensions are not limited to the foreigners' section.

A few days ago, a confrontation escalated in the main area, populated by Iraqis and Syrians. Kurdish police were forced to intervene.

Some of the residents "threw stones" at their fellow residents, a policeman told AFP, without giving his name.

Nabil al-Hassan, who heads the camp's communications, insisted the "security situation is under control".

But, he admitted, major logistical challenges give rise to "problems", including tensions over access to tents and aid.

'It's not mine'

Heavily pregnant Lamia, 21, told AFP she is steadfast in her loyalty to the IS cause. 

"We remain with the [Islamic] State," said the former resident of Manbij, a northern Syrian town that was occupied by the jihadists until the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces prevailed.

Lamia wants to go back to her hometown and has been at the camp for a month; her first husband was killed in combat, the second is in prison.

Back at the entrance to the foreigners' area, several women including Algerians and Ukrainians gathered at the gate, insisting it was their turn to go to market.

Blonde children and those from central Asia mingled in the dust.

The women returned from the market hauling trolleys full of eggs, potatoes, nappies, and gas cylinders.

Everything is meticulously searched by the guards, who are instructed to confiscate, log and store unusually valuable items and mobile phones.

These "security measures" are needed to stop residents stealing from each other -- and from smuggling goods or cultivating contacts in the outside world -- Hassan said.

Delving through a black handbag, the guards retrieved a phone and small piece of paper with a contact number scrawled on it.

"It's not mine, it belongs to my friend," the Tunisian owner insisted.

A little later, in another bag, the guards dug out a ring and a hefty gold chain, carefully hidden in a tiny plastic bag.

The dismayed owner gripped the sentinel's hands in an attempt to prise back the items, to no avail.

"She's not coming back inside. Take her to the cell," the guard said.

The woman clung to the wire fence and wailed.

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/03/31/in-syrias-al-hol-camp-ultra-extremists-fuel-fear.html

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US support enabled Saudis to brutalize journalist Khashoggi: WP columnist

Mar 30, 2019

A senior journalist writing for the Washington Post has revealed more details about the gruesome killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a diplomatic mission in Turkey in October, saying those who carried out the assassination had been trained in the United States.

David Ignatius cited US and Saudi sources in his column published on Friday as saying that some members of the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group that was sent to Istanbul to deal with Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in the city had received training in the US on special-operations capabilities.

“The CIA has cautioned other government agencies that some of this special-operations training might have been conducted by Tier 1 Group, an Arkansas-based company, under a State Department license,” said Ignatius while citing the sources.

The columnist said the training program had been going on long before Khashoggi’s murder as part of an ongoing liaison with the Saudis although it was suspended after the murder like many other joint programs.

Khashoggi, a former Washington Post contributor who used to write columns under Post Global Opinions, was in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to receive documents for his forthcoming marriage when he was murdered. A sound recording obtained by Turkish intelligence has revealed that the group of 15 Saudi agents had been sent to Turkey to kidnap Khashoggi and bring him back to Saudi Arabia for detention and interrogation. However, the same tape reveals the journalist was choked to death and his body was dismembered.

Months after the gruesome assassination, US President Donald Trump has yet to endorse numerous reports suggesting it had been directly ordered by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

Royadh has also evaded accepting direct responsibility for the murder, saying agents who were out of control carried out the operation.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/30/592227/US-support-Saudi-killing-Khashoggi

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Afghan vice president survives Taliban attack

MARCH 31, 2019

Taliban fighters on Saturday attacked a convoy carrying Afghanistan’s vice president Abdul Rashid Dostum, in an assault that left the former warlord unscathed but killed one of his bodyguards, an official told AFP.

Enayatullah Babur, Dostum’s former chief of staff, said the hour-long attack also left several others in the convoy wounded.

The attack occurred in the northern province of Balkh, where Dostum had held a rally earlier in the day. On Twitter, a Taliban spokesman said the insurgent group had carried out the attack and claimed four of Dostum’s bodyguards had been killed.

Dostum, a powerful ethnic Uzbek leader, is notorious in Afghanistan for extreme barbarities and for repeatedly switching loyalties over 40 years of conflict.

Despite a catalogue of war crimes attached to his name and accusations of organising the rape and torture of a political rival, Dostum became Afghanistan’s first vice president in 2014.

At the rally in Balkh, Dostum had claimed he could clear northern Afghanistan of the Taliban within six months — if only the government would let him.

In delayed elections now slated for September, President Ashraf Ghani has chosen to run with Amrullah Saleh, an ethnic Tajik, instead of Dostum.

Dostum has survived several other attempts on his life, including one claimed by the Islamic State group last July in Kabul that killed 23 people including AFP driver Mohammad Akhtar.

https://dailytimes.com.pk/371598/afghan-vice-president-survives-taliban-attack/

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India

 

Government’s tribunal to review ban on JKLF, Jamaat-e-Islami

Mar 31, 2019

A week after it banned, Yasin Malik’s Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) as an unlawful association, the Centre on Friday set up a tribunal that will adjudicate whether sufficient grounds exist for such a move against the militant group and the J&K chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI). The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Tribunal will comprise justice Chander Shekhar of the Delhi high court.

An official notification said the tribunal had been formed “for the purpose of adjudicating whether or not there is sufficient cause of declaring the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), Jammu and Kashmir, and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (Mohd. Yasin Malik faction) (JKLF-Y), as unlawful association.”

JeI’s J&K unit was banned on February 28 in a crackdown following the February 14 suicide car bombing in Pulwama that left at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers dead. The ban on JKLF followed on March 22.

After a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS),the highest decision-making body on security issues, Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba said the JKLF had been banned for “funneling funds” into militancy and “fomenting terrorism.”

The Jammu and Kashmir police and other enforcement agencies have named the JKLF in as many as 37 first information reports, the Centre said.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/government-s-tribunal-to-review-ban-on-jklf-jamaat-e-islami/story-Vu5O4TlDQ32G9INFBBlfJJ.html

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‘I have my doubts...’ Farooq Abdullah on Pulwama attack that killed 40 CRPF jawans

Mar 30, 2019

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah appeared to head right into a row for his statement that he had “doubts” about the February 14 Pulwama suicide bombing that killed 40 CRPF soldiers. He did not clarify the nature of his doubts.

Speaking at a party conference in Srinagar, the National Conference chief said, “Did PM Modi ever pay homage to the numerous jawans who were killed in action? Did he ever go meet their families? Did he ever meet the families of those who were killed in Jammu and Kashmir. But those 40 CRPF jawans who were killed, I have my doubts about that as well.”

The Pulwama suicide bombing that took place on February 14 had resulted in the deaths of 40 CRPF jawans. The Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack had led to tensions escalating between India and Pakistan.

On February 15, a day after the suicide bombing, leaders from various political parties including Prime Minister Narendra Modi had paid homage to the deceased jawans at the Indira Gandhi airport where their bodies were kept in state before being sent to their respective homes.

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Abdullah also went on to question the death of six air force jawans in a helicopter crash in Jammu and Kashmir on February 28.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/i-have-my-doubts-farooq-abdullah-on-pulwama-attack-that-killed-40-crpf-jawans/story-0piMIryoOqr4Epo77qUPuK.html

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Red herring? Pakistan wants details of Pulwama bomber's guns

Mar 30, 2019

NEW DELHI: In what is being read by India as lack of any serious intent in probing the Pakistan link to the Pulwama attack, Islamabad has set out a list of, as sources here put it, trivial demands that include seeking the gun type, manufacturer and "identification numbers" of the weapon brandished by suicide bomber Adil Dar in his confession video.

Pakistan has also sought a copy of the FIR registered by India in the February 14 Pulwama bombing which killed 40 CRPF troopers and asked for statements of witnesses in its reply to India's February 27 dossier.

Indian authorities see these demands, especially the one for details of Dar's guns, as delaying tactics, if not a red herring. The weapons in question were not used for the attack and their identification, or lack of it, is unlikely to have any bearing on the Pulwama investigations.

Dar was seen armed with several weapons in the pre-suicide video in which he admitted he was a member of Jaish-eMuhammed and that he had been tasked with carrying out the attack. The attack was swiftly owned and evidence given to Pakistan included coordinates of a WhatsApp number used by a JeM member to claim responsibility.

The government sees Pakistan's response to several important issues raised in India's dossier as disappointing. "There were specific and actionable inputs about JeM's involvement but it doesn't seem Pakistan has acted on those in a serious and focused manner," said a source on condition of anonymity.

Apart from inputs on JeM complicity in the attack, India had also provided information about its terror camps and its leaders. In its response, which TOI has accessed, Pakistan has accused India of not sharing initial investigation details like the FIR and witness statements.

While accusing Pakistan of following the 26/11 and Pathankotattack script even in Pulwama investigations, India said last week it was examining the "paper" handed over by Pakistan.

Pakistan has sought details about how and where the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device used for the attack was prepared and also the source and quantity of the explosives.

However, while India called for action in the dossier against 90 individuals closely linked with JeM, Islamabad has demanded information on how each of these individuals was linked to the Pulwama attack. India reads this as another sign of Pakistan's reluctance to take serious and credible action against JeM terrorists on its soil.

That JeM owning up responsibility for the attack is seen as very significant and the government had asked Pakistan to help identify one Mohammed Hassan who was said to have made the claim of Jaish's role in WhatsApp messages. Pakistan though has asked for more information about his identity even though it is unlikely that India would have withheld such information which needs to be pursued in Pakistani territory.

Pakistan has demanded call detail records of Hassan's number besides information about the identity of the subscriber of the number contacted by the person. India had also mentioned WhatsApp and Telegram groups in which views had been shared by suspects on the terror attack. Pakistan in its response has sought GSM numbers used by the administrators of the group.

Pakistan also wants to know the IP address which was used to upload Dar's video and details of those held by India for the attack.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/red-herring-pakistan-wants-details-of-pulwama-bombers-guns/articleshow/68650490.cms

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Mideast

 

Tens of thousands mass at Gaza border to mark protest anniversary

March 31, 2019

GAZA CITY: Tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied in heavy rain at the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of a new wave of protests, facing off against Israeli tanks and troops massed on the fortified frontier.

The ‘Great March of Return’ protests have been marked by sometimes deadly violence and Gaza medical officials said two Palestinians had been killed on Saturday.

One man died near the border before dawn, hours before the main afternoon rally, they said, while a 17-year-old boy was killed by Israeli fire at a protest site east of Gaza City.

Palestinian protesters threw rocks, grenades and burning tyres toward soldiers across the border fence, the Israeli military said.

The protesters are calling for the lifting of a security blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt, and for Palestinians to have the right to return to land from which their families fled or were forced to flee during Israel’s founding in 1948.

Israel rejects any such return, saying this would eliminate its Jewish majority.

The Israeli military said 40,000 people had gathered in the frontier area but that most of them were keeping away from the border.

Despite the bad weather, an Israeli security official said the turnout was larger than for the usual weekly protests and that it also appeared organisers were trying to keep violence from erupting.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 17 people had been wounded by Israeli gunfire and scores more by tear gas and shrapnel.

Around 200 Gazans have been killed by Israeli troops since the protests began on March 30 last year, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures, and an Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Confrontations mounted ahead of the anniversary. A Gaza rocket attack wounded seven Israelis north of Tel Aviv on Monday and, in response, Israel launched a wave of air strikes and ramped up its forces at the border.

After 12 months of bloodshed, Egyptian mediators are working to avoid further confrontation, and to ease tensions by persuading Israel to lift restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of the Gaza Strip.

The blockade is cited by humanitarian agencies as a key reason for impoverishment in the narrow coastal enclave into which two million Palestinians are packed.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1472925/tens-of-thousands-mass-at-gaza-border-to-mark-protest-anniversary

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Israel reopens Gaza crossings after week of hostilities

31 March 2019

Israeli authorities have reopened the two crossings with the Gaza Strip after days of hostilities in a sign that cease-fire talks may be advancing.

Israeli and Hamas officials confirmed Sunday that the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings were opened for the first time since Monday. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sunday’s reopening comes hours after Palestinian militants launched rockets into Israel overnight and the military responded with tank fire.

Four Palestinians, including three teens, had died a day earlier from Israeli fire as tens of thousands took part in mass protests along the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/31/Israel-reopens-Gaza-crossings-after-week-of-hostilities.html

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Five rockets fired at Israel from Gaza Strip, Israeli tanks respond

31 March 2019

Five rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel early Sunday while Israeli tanks targeted Hamas military posts in response, the Israeli military announced, following a day of mass protests that saw Israeli troops kill four Palestinians near the territory's border.

No casualties were reported and no Palestinian group claimed responsibility for the rockets, though they appeared to be in retaliation for the deaths of the protesters.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians rallied in the Gaza Strip on Saturday to mark the anniversary of their mass protests along the Israeli border.

Most demonstrators kept their distance from the border, though small crowds of activists approached the perimeter fence. The forces responded with tear gas and opened fire, killing four Palestinians and wounding 64.

Hamas officials say that Israel is offering a package of economic incentives in exchange for calm along the volatile border.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/31/Five-rockets-fired-at-Israel-from-Gaza-strip-Israeli-tanks-respond.html

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Fourth Palestinian killed in Israel border clashes: Gaza ministry

31 March 2019

A fourth Palestinian died from Israeli fire in clashes sparked by mass demonstrations along the Israel-Gaza border on Saturday, the health ministry in the enclave said.

Billal al-Najjar, 17, was shot by Israeli forces east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, it said in a statement.

Two others aged 17 and a 20-year-old man were killed, according to ministry statements, as tens of thousands gathered to mark the first anniversary of weekly protests along the frontier.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/31/Fourth-Palestinian-killed-in-Israel-border-clashes-Gaza-ministry.html

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Erdogan: Turkey will solve Syria issue “on the field” after Sunday’s elections

30 March 2019

Turkey will solve the Syria issue “on the field” after Sunday’s local elections, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday, as he sought to drum up support for his AK Party in the vote.

Turkey has carried out two cross-border operations against Kurdish militants in northern Syria and has warned that it will launch further incursions if the threats along its borders are not eliminated.

“First thing after the elections, we will solve the Syria issue on the field if possible, not at the table,” Erdogan told supporters in the first of his six rallies in Istanbul.

In his election campaigns, Erdogan has taken serious measures to defend the lira – after blaming international powers for the drop – including withholding the currency, and opening up government-run vegetable stalls selling vegetables at half the price of regular markets to limit inflations.

Ranko Berich, Chief Market Strategist at Monex Europe described the situation as a “fairly desperate attempt by the Turkish authorities to support the lira in the short-term.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/30/Erdogan-says-Turkey-will-solve-Syria-issue-on-the-field-after-Sunday-s-elections.html

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Europe

 

Muslim World League holds Moscow conference on religious peace and coexistence

30 March 2019

The Muslim World League launched an international conference on religious peace and coexistence in the Russian capital of Moscow.

Titled “Islam, a Message of Mercy and Peace,” the three-day conference included participants from 43 countries, representing senior muftis, scholars, intellects, and politicians, as well as leaders from different religions attended the conference which included a session in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Dr. Mohammed Al-Issa also gave a Friday sermon at the Grand Mosque in Grozny in the presence of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic.

On Thursday, Al-Issa met here with Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin. During the meeting, they discussed issues related to the promotion and support for dialogue among religions and civilizations, as well as the activation of cultural communication and exchange between the Islamic world and Russia.

The conference’s six main sessions included “Russian Muslims and the Community of Peace,” “Terrorism and Extremism,” and a panel session on the role of social and religious organizations in advocating for moderation.

One of the main sessions included a panel discussion by the Center for Arab-Russian Studies on the role of social and religious organizations in spreading moderation. Participants also discussed Saudi Arabia's efforts in the fight against terrorism and the targeting of youth by terrorist groups through social media.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/03/30/Muslim-World-League-holds-Moscow-conference-on-religious-peace-and-coexistence.html

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Pope in Morocco stresses need to oppose ‘fanaticism’

30 March 2019

Pope Francis on Saturday said it was “essential to oppose fanaticism,” in a speech delivered to thousands of Moroccans shortly after arriving in the capital Rabat.

The “appropriate preparation of future religious guides is necessary,” said the pontiff, who has put interreligious dialogue at the center of his two-day visit to the North African country.

Pope Francis also defended “freedom of conscience” and “religious freedom” as fundamental for human dignity, and called on the faithful to “live as brothers.”

After the arrival ceremony, Pope Francis and Moroccan King Mohammed VI visited an institute the monarch founded in 2015 for the training of imams and male and female preachers of Islam.

Morocco has marketed itself as an oasis of religious tolerance in a region torn by militancy. It has offered training to Muslim preachers from Africa and Europe on what it describes as moderate Islam.

The Pope, making the first papal visit to Morocco in 34 years, praised the monarch for providing “sound training to combat all forms of extremism, which so often lead to violence and terrorism, and which, in any event, constitute an offense against religion and against God himself.”

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/03/30/Pope-in-Morocco-stresses-need-to-oppose-fanaticism-.html

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Germany releases 11 detained after weapons suspicions prove unfounded

30 March 2019

Eleven men who were detained overnight on suspicion of planning major attacks with stockpiled weapons were released on Saturday after no evidence of a cache of weapons or explosives was found, a prosecution spokesman said.

The men, aged between 22 and 35, were held during raids conducted by police commandos in western and southern Germany on suspicion that they were supporters of ISIS extremist group planning a “serious, state-endangering crime.”

The spokesman said the men, most of whom were Tajikistan nationals, were released after investigators’ suspicions proved unfounded.

Germany has been the scene of several extremist attacks in recent years, including a 2016 truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people.

Authorities across Europe are also on high alert for attacks from right-wing extremists after last week’s New Zealand mosque attack that left 50 dead.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/03/30/Germany-releases-11-detained-after-weapons-suspicions-prove-unfounded.html

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UK Conservative Party openly Islamophobic: Analyst

Mar 30, 2019

A senior political analyst from London says prominent Islmophobes have dominated Britain’s ruling Conservative Party as concerns grow over some of them nearing the position of leadership in the party.

“The Conservative Party is very dominantly Islamophobic; it is very openly Islamophobic, to the extent that even some Muslim-background individuals like Sajid Javid who is Home Secretary, he has also behaved extremely discriminatory towards Muslims,” Massoud Shadjareh said in an interview with Press TV on Saturday.

Commenting on recent warnings about UK Environment Minister Michael Gove and his increased chances of becoming the next prime minister, Shadjareh said the Conservative lawmaker is quite known for his negative views on Muslims.

“Michael Gove is a sort of neocon in the Conservative Party, his views on Muslims are very publicly known and not very positive ... he is in many ways a committed Islamophobe,” said Shadjarah.

The analyst reiterated, however, that the general mood in the Conservative Party and its approach toward the Muslims was worrying.

“I think what is really worrying is not just individuals who are Islamophobic in Conservative Party but the whole of the Conservative Party, the Conservative Party, especially in recent years, have been dominated by neocons and those who see Muslims as others.”

The expert said taking on individuals like Gove or Javid as senior Islamophobes would not resolve the problem of increasing hate crime against Muslims in the UK and other countries.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/30/592214/UK-Islamophobia-hate-Conservative-Party

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Hundreds show solidarity with Palestine in London

Ahmet Gurhan Kartal 

30.03.2019

LONDON

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the Israeli Embassy in central London in solidarity with Palestinian people who are holding large "Great March of Return" and "Palestinian Land Day" rallies across Gaza border Saturday.

The rally organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) saw speakers calling for justice for Palestinian people and an end to 12-year-long blockade on Gaza by Israeli state.

“We stand here today in solidarity with all those marching in Gaza, who will continue to march until they get their fundamental rights,” the PSC Director Ben Jamal said.

“Exist! Resist! Return!” and “Freedom to Palestine” some placards read.

A group of Jewish people also attended the rally to support the demonstration for Palestinians while a separate small group holding Israeli flags were holding a counter protest.

The PSC also held demonstrations in many other cities across the U.K., including Newcastle, Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham.

Great March of Return protests in Gaza

Two Palestinians were martyred and dozens injured by Israeli army fire during protests marking the Land Day in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, according to the health ministry.

In a statement, the ministry said Nidal Saqr, 17, and Jihad Saad lost their lives east of Gaza City, while another 138 demonstrators were injured -- including 24 by live ammunition.

The ministry said eight of the injured protesters were in a serious condition.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of Palestinians staged mass rallies near Gaza-Israel buffer zone to mark the first anniversary of protests against the decades-long Israeli occupation.

The protests also commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the Land Day when six people were killed in 1976 during demonstrations against seizure of Arab land in Galilee.

In the run-up to Saturday’s rallies, the Israeli army has deployed numerous tanks and armored vehicles along the buffer zone with the Gaza Strip.

Nearly 270 Palestinian demonstrators have been martyred by Israeli army gunfire since Palestinians began holding regular demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone in March of last year.

Demonstrators demand the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/hundreds-show-solidarity-with-palestine-in-london/1435627

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Turkey welcomes Romania’s position on its EU ties

Nilay Kar 

30.03.2019

Turkey’s vice president hailed Romania on Friday for supporting Ankara’s efforts to establish “constructive” relations with the European Union.

“We welcome Romania’s principled stance and its efforts, which contribute toward a constructive understanding in EU-Turkey relations," said Fuat Oktay, speaking at a joint press conference in Bucharest with Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila.

"We hope Romania’s stance will set an example for other European countries," Oktay added.

His remarks came after bilateral and inter-delegation meetings with Dancila.

“We’ve had a fruitful meeting with Prime Minister Dancila…We broadly exchanged views on bilateral relations as well as regional and international developments.

“Within the framework of the EU presidency of Romania, we’ve shared our approach and expectations to advance the negotiation process of our country's accession to the EU,” Oktay said, calling Romania a “close ally”.

Romania holds the EU’s rotating presidency until June 30.

“During our meeting, we confirmed that we are on the same page on further developing our cooperation in every field and on Turkey-EU relations,” he added.

Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.

But negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from Germany and France.

Regarding the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 coup attempt, Oktay said: “We place great importance on the continuation of mutual cooperation in the fight against the structuring of this terror organization, which also poses a threat to Romania’s security.”

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

Dancila voiced her support for Turkey’s EU membership, calling Turkey a “key partner” of the EU.

She also praised Turkey’s efforts to deter irregular migration by hosting over 3.5 million migrants.

Stating that Turkey and Romania have very “strong” relations, Dancila said the bilateral trade potential of the two countries was very high.

Following the press conference, Oktay met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on the sidelines of the quadrilateral meeting of Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-welcomes-romania-s-position-on-its-eu-ties/1435150

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Pakistan

 

Return looted money, Pakistan PM Imran Khan tells PML-N, PPP

March 31, 2019

Imran said whenever accountability was launched, opposition parties started a propaganda that democracy was under threat.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday reiterated his government's resolve not to forgive the leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League-N and Pakistan Peoples Party unless they pay back the looted public money.

"I challenge you today. Do whatever you want to do, get united or anything else. We will not leave you. This nation will not pardon you. You have only one way out - pay back public money, then we will leave you," the prime minister said while addressing a public gathering here in the industrial city of Sindh province.

Besides a huge number of people, the event was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Grand Democratic Alliance leader, including Zulfiqar Mirza and Arbab Ghulam Rahim, and MPA Ali Gohar Mahar.

Referring to the train march by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto, the prime minister said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had staged a sit-in to demand fair elections, not to conceal its corruption.

The PPP paid Rs2,000 per head to the people to join the train march because it was not meant for people's benefit rather to cover corruption, he added.

Imran said whenever accountability was launched, opposition parties started a propaganda that democracy was under threat. It was not democracy but their corruption that was under threat, he added.

The prime minister said in the past, both Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari used to taunt each other as corrupt but now both had joined hands against his government to save their corruption.

Imran told the gathering that during the last 10 years the Sindh government received Rs234 billion in gas royalty alone, but the living condition of the people in Ghotki, which produced 70 per cent of gas, remained unchanged. He said the money which was supposed to be spent on people, went into fake accounts.

"The money for your development should have come from the province, as the centre had given them the funds," he said. "Everyone should ask how much of the share of royalties was given to Ghotki." "This is corruption," he said

Imran said due to corruption, country's debt had swelled from Rs6,000 billion to Rs30,000 billion within 10 years.

He said Pakistan once had been the fastest growing economy in Asia and even South Korea had adopted Pakistan's development model but now it (Pakistan) was under record burden of debt. The country had to pay Rs6 billion a day as mark-up of the loans.

Imran said Sindh should have been the most developed province as country's financial capital Karachi is part of it, most of gas fields are situated here in addition to having fertile agriculture lands. But, interior Sindh was the poorest area in Pakistan due to endemic corruption, he added.

The prime minister assured the gathering of visiting Sindh more often to ensure its uplift on a par with other areas.

https://www.khaleejtimes.com/international/pakistan/return-looted-money-pakistan-pm-imran-khan-tells-pml-n-ppp

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Army chief to brief lawmakers on LoC situation at GHQ

Ikram Junaidi

March 31, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will brief the parliamentarians next week on “hostile situation at Line of Control” in the aftermath of recent tension between India and Pakistan.

The briefing, to be held at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi on April 4, will be attended by the members of standing committees of the National Assembly and Senate on defence.

It will be the second briefing by the COAS to the parliamentarians over one month. Earlier, parliamentarians were briefed in an in-camera session held at Parliament House on Feb 27, the day the Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian fighter jets. However, Prime Minister Imran Khan did not attend the briefing.

The briefing would be attended by a number of prominent leaders from the opposition parties, including former ministers, as they are members of the two committees.

According to a notification issued by the National Assembly Secretariat, chairman of the NA committee Amjad Ali Khan would lead the MNAs’ delegation. Members of committee include Tahir Sadiq, Chaudhry Farrukh Altaf, Syed Faizul Hassan, Barjees Tahir, Ijaz Ahmad Shah, Riazul Haq, Mohammad Khan Daha, Aurangzeb Khichi, Alam Dad Laleka, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Ghous Bux Mahar, Khursheed Ahmed Junejo, Aftab Shaban Mirani, Amer Ali Magsi, Jamil Ahmed Khan, Syed Aminul Haque, Salahuddin Ayubi, Rubina Irfan and Ramesh Kumar Vankwani.

Minister of Defence Pervez Khattak has also been invited as he is ex-officio member of both standing committees.

The MNAs have been told to assemble at Gate No 1 of Parliament House at 10am and those who intend to proceed directly to GHQ have been asked to provide registration numbers of their vehicles before the meeting.

A notification issued by the Senate Secretariat says that Chairman of Senate standing committee on defence Azam Swati will lead the members. The members who will be attending the briefing include Rehman Malik, Sherry Rehman, Anwarul Haq Kakar, Chaudhry Tanvir Khan, Khushbakht Shujaat, retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum, Kabeer Ahmed Mohammad Shahi, Javed Abbasi, Talha Mahmood, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Mushtaq Ahmed and Sajjad Hussain Turi.

A few days ago Prime Minister Imran Khan had said that the possibility of a misadventure from India could not be ignored.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1472952/army-chief-to-brief-lawmakers-on-loc-situation-at-ghq

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Military courts cease to function today

Amir Wasim

March 31, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The military courts that had been set up under the National Action Plan (NAP) in 2015 to try civilians on terrorism charges finally ceased to function today (Sunday) as their second two-year constitutional term expired at midnight.

The government, which has already decided in principle to give another extension to the military courts for two more years, is still struggling to seek the cooperation of the opposition parties over the issue as it does not have the required two-thirds majority in any of the two houses of the Parliament to carry out the constitutional amendment for the purpose.

The government had earlier planned a meeting of the parliamentary leaders and heads of political parties for a briefing on the issue of implementation of the NAP on March 28, but it had to cancel it following the opposition parties’ decision to boycott the event due to the prevailing tense political atmosphere in the country.

Sources in the government told Dawn that the draft law to give second extension to the military courts had been prepared and the two ministries concerned — law and interior — had already initiated the process of reinstating the military courts even before the expiry of their two-year term on March 30.

There has been no official data available about the cases heard and tried by these military courts. The National Assembly, however, had been informed in November last year that the military authorities had to decide 185 terrorism-related cases before expiry of their two-year term in March.

In a written reply to a question raised by MNA Mohsin Dawar, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak had informed the National Assembly that since the launch of the military operation Zarb-i-Azb, the interior ministry had referred a total of 717 cases of terrorism to the military courts. Of the total cases, 185 were still under process and they had to be decided by March 30 when the two-year term of the courts would expire.

Giving details of the cases decided by the military courts, the minister had said that a total of 478 cases had been decided, which meant that the conviction rate of the cases was more than 60 per cent.

He said a total of 284 convicts had been awarded death sentences and 56 of them had already been executed. Similarly, he said, 192 convicts had been awarded rigorous imprisonment, two accused acquitted and 54 cases dropped due to technical reasons.

Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, when contacted, said the government had already decided to engage the opposition to take it into confidence over the issue as without their support the period of the military courts could not be extended.

He said the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf believed that the military courts set up through a political consensus under the NAP against terrorism in 2015 had delivered and even the Supreme Court had upheld the establishment of these courts.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1472947/military-courts-cease-to-function-today

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What makes Hindus in Sindh so vulnerable?

Akhlaq Ullah Tarar

March 31, 2019

TWO Hindu sisters, Reena and Raveena, were reportedly abducted recently from their home in Daharki and taken to Rahim Yar Khan. This is yet another in a series of such abductions taking place in Sindh’s rural areas of Umerkot, Tharparkar and Ghotki in which economically vulnerable Hindu girls or young women of marriageable age are ‘abducted’ and then conveniently discovered with their newfound identity as converts to Islam. The ensuing public hue and cry fizzles out after a few days.

I am a police officer serving in Balochistan’s southern district of Lasbela. In my subdivision, eight per cent of the population is Hindu, and there is enviable inter-communal harmony here. It has been so for centuries — people of all religions living together in a spirit of acceptance and mutual respect. In fact, many Muslims enthusiastically participated in the recent Holi celebrations. Such sentiments are invariably reciprocated by the Hindus.

In the context of the recent incident, three fundamental questions arise. Why are Hindus in Balochistan not being subjected to forced conversions? Why is this phenomenon so predominant in interior Sindh? And lastly, why is the modus operandi — a Hindu female, either minor or of marriageable age, eloping with a man and then converting to Islam — identical in all such incidents?

What makes Hindus in Sindh so vulnerable?

To answer the first question, Hindus in Balochistan have always felt more secure vis-à-vis religious persecution. The tribal chiefs consider Hindus, or for that matter any other religious minority, as members of their own extended family and afford them the freedom to live their lives according to their faith. They never acquired any missionary zeal to convert them. The Jams of Lasbela and Bugti tribal chiefs in Dera Bugti, for instance, have always been protective of them. Owing to this, society overall has developed a culture of tolerance and coexistence.

Second, Hindu places of worship are proportionate to their population: within the jurisdiction of two police stations (Uthal and Bela) in Lasbela, for example, there are 18 temples for 5,000 Hindus living in the area. This is a powerful indicator of religious freedom.

Lastly, Hindus are economically well off: they are working as contractors, bank employees and landowners. By virtue of their affluence, they enjoy a social status that gives them adequate protection.

On the other hand, the dynamics in interior Sindh are altogether different.

For one, the social and economic disparities are stark. It is a particularly inegalitarian society, where a few individuals enjoy a privileged status and the impunity that goes with it while others have to struggle for even their basic rights to be recognised. The Hindu community’s lack of financial empowerment, and their total dependence on those who control the means of production, makes them doubly vulnerable.

Second, there is a very strong proselytising zeal among the local clergy to bring non-Muslims into the fold of the dominant faith. To convert someone is perceived as a pious deed that will bring rewards in the hereafter, no matter the method employed to execute the conversion. Clerics like Mian Mitho from Ghotki and Ayub Jan Sarhandi from Samaro, to name a few, have become veritable symbols of conversion in Sindh.

Third, for a poor Hindu girl, conversion is in a way a stepping stone to a better life that offers her the prospect of an end to a miserable existence. Such considerations have played a role in young girls being enticed by even elderly Muslim men into marrying the latter.

Fourth, elopement in the case of a Hindu girl is akin to defilement. After running away from her family, she sees no way back because she will be shunned by her own community. Thus even if she is remorseful and unhappy in her marriage, she will accept her lot.

In the backdrop of these recurring incidents, the police must expand their outreach to the vulnerable Hindu community. They should meet often not only with the notables of the community, but also local Hindus who do not have any social media platform from where to voice their concerns.

For most of Pakistan’s existence, there existed no legislation on a registration mechanism for Hindu marriages. Then the Sindh Hindus Marriage Act, 2016 was passed by the Sindh Assembly which, however, includes no provision for divorce.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1472977/forced-conversions

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Southeast Asia

 

How Can Islamic State Returnees Make It Back to Indonesia, Legally?

MARCH 29, 2019

Jakarta. Even as its dream of creating a caliphate lies in tatters, the Islamic State is still causing major headaches for the Indonesian government. Many of its citizens had joined IS at its heyday, but now most of them have been abandoned and are on the brink of being stateless.

There have been pressures on the government to welcome the IS returnees, but it also has plenty of reasons to fear the spread of their extremist views if they are allowed back into the country.

Reports of IS sympathizers and fighters, including Indonesians, attempting to return to their homelands have surfaced after the fall of the regime's last stronghold in Baghouz, Syria, to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

It is estimated that hundreds of Indonesians are still stranded in Syria, in refugee camps or on the run with the last remaining IS fighters.

Among these Indonesian IS sympathizers are Mariam Abdullah, a mother of four from Bandung, and her husband Saifuddin, and dozens of others seeking protection at the Al-Hol refugee camp in eastern Syria, BBC reported.

Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir, however, said Indonesia may not be so quick to extend a diplomatic hand to help these IS rejects.

"I have not received all the information. Many people speak Indonesian [at the camp] and there are many Mariams there. We can't determine yet if someone is an Indonesian citizen or not. There's a long procedure to make that decision," he said.

Losing all of its territory in Syria does not mean that the IS caliphate dream has now come to an end, experts say. Its manpower, ideology and financial resources remain a looming threat.

Early this month, an Indonesian woman with affiliations to the Islamic State blew herself up and two of her children in Sibolga, North Sumatra, after the National Police uncovered a terror attack plot involving her husband and his network of underground terrorists.

In May last year, a family of six who had come back from Syria, where they sought to live under IS, carried out suicide bomb attacks on two churches in Surabaya. 

But some of the IS returnees have also shared harrowing experiences of living under IS with the Indonesian public, and even joined government efforts to stem its radical ideology.

The Indonesian government has already taken steps to prevent IS returnees from spreading their newfound ideology in their homeland.

Indonesians who went to Syria to join IS must go through a citizenship verification process before they are allowed to return to Indonesia. The lengthy process involves collaborations between the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the National Police, the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

"Their citizenship must be verified first, and then they will be interviewed again to find out if they have to go through a deradicalization process. There are many stages [they have to go through], both in Syria and in Indonesia. From there, we will determine whether or not they will be allowed to return [to Indonesia]," Armanatha said.

He said some Indonesian IS sympathizers had entered Syria illegally without official documents, making it hard to find out the exact number of Indonesian citizens in Syria.

Legally, Indonesia has no reason to deny them citizenship. The country has already thrown its support behind United Nations' efforts to reduce statelessness. Its 2018 Law on Acts of Terrorism only bars issuing passports to terror convicts for a limited period.

Even if the IS sympathizers denounced their Indonesian citizenship and swore loyalty to IS, they are still considered Indonesian citizens under the country's 2006 Law on Citizenship, simply because IS is not a sovereign country recognized by Indonesia.

"There are those who say these people can be regarded as foreign terrorist fighters and that for that reason their passports can be revoked. But we cannot [deny them citizenship] because our law does not recognize statelessness," Law and Human Rights Minister Yasona Laoly said earlier this week. 

https://jakartaglobe.id/context/how-can-islamic-state-returnees-make-it-back-to-indonesia-legally

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Brunei defends tough new Islamic laws against growing backlash

March 30, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Brunei has defended its right to implement Islamic laws that would allow death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality against growing global criticism.

Brunei, a Muslim-majority former British protectorate with a population of around 400,000, will implement the Sharia laws from April 3, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with the death penalty, including by stoning, and theft with amputation.

The laws, elements of which were first adopted in 2014 and which have been rolled out in phases since then, will be fully implemented from next week, the prime minister’s office said in a statement on Saturday.

“The (Sharia) Law, apart from criminalising and deterring acts that are against the teachings of Islam, also aims to educate, respect and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race,” the statement said. Some aspects of the laws will apply to non-Muslims.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, 72, is the world’s second-longest reigning monarch and is prime minister of the oil-rich country. He ranks as one of the world’s wealthiest people.

Brunei, which neighbours two Malaysian states on Borneo island, already enforces Islamic teachings more strictly than Malaysia and Indonesia, the other majority Muslim countries in southeast Asia. The sale of alcohol is banned and evangelism by other religions is forbidden.

The country does not hold elections, but any discontent is assuaged with generous government polices including zero taxes, subsidised housing, and free healthcare and education.

The expected implementation of the strict Islamic laws has drawn widespread criticism. Politicians in Europe and the United States have attacked the plans and raised concerns with Brunei.

“Stoning people to death for homosexuality or adultery is appalling and immoral,” former U.S. vice president Joe Biden said in a Twitter post on Friday. “There is no excuse - not culture, not tradition - for this kind of hate and inhumanity.”

Full report at:

https://www.nst.com.my/world/2019/03/474449/brunei-defends-tough-new-islamic-laws-against-growing-backlash

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'My mother was a Christian': Prabowo denies supporting caliphate

March 30, 2019

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto clarified during the fourth presidential candidate debate on Saturday that he was not in any position to support the establishment of a caliphate in Indonesia, an accusation recently thrown at him.

Prabowo, who was born from a Christian mother, said the accusation was “cruel” and did not “make any sense”.

“I am sure Pak Jokowi is a Pancasilaist, patriot and nationalist. But I wonder if you realize, that some of your supporters have accused me of supporting the creation of a caliphate?” Prabowo asked incumbent candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo during an ideology-themed session.

“My mother was a Christian. I was born from the womb of a Christian,” he added.

The retired army general reiterated his stance by saying that altering Pancasila, the state ideology,  had never crossed his mind.

“Since I was 16 year old, I [have been] defending Pancasila. I risked my life, how could I be accused of [trying] to change Pancasila? That’s cruel,” he said.  

Prabowo’s support among conservative Muslims, including former sympathizers of the now-banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), had led to rumors that he planned to turn Indonesia into an Islam-based state if elected.

In response, Jokowi said he believed his rival was a Pancasilaist, nationalist and patriot. However, he mentioned that false accusations had been thrown at him as well.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/03/30/my-mother-was-a-christian-prabowo-denies-supporting-caliphate.html

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Arab World

 

Egypt hands 18 life jail terms for joining ISIS

30 March 2019

An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 18 people to life in prison for joining ISIS and plotting to bomb a church, a judicial source said.

The state security criminal court in Cairo heard that some of the defendants had undergone “militant training” in Libya and Syria.

The prosecution in their investigation accused the defendants of planning a “suicide bombing” in July 2017 at a church in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the source said.

They were also convicted for plotting to bomb a liquor store the same year in the town of Damietta, 200 kilometers northeast of the capital.

ISIS claimed responsibility for twin church bombings on Palm Sunday in April 2017 that killed 45 people. One of the churches targeted was a Coptic cathedral in Alexandria.

Saturday’s sentence saw 30 defendants in total. Eight were given 15 years in prison and four others were handed 10-year jail sentences.

All were convicted for joining a “terrorist group”, planning terror acts as well as possession of explosives, firearms, and ammunition, the source said.

Egypt has been locked for the past year in deadly battles with insurgents affiliated with ISIS in its eastern Sinai Peninsula.

Around 600 suspected militants and 40 soldiers have been killed in an army offensive launched in February 2018, according to official figures.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/30/Egypt-hands-18-life-jail-terms-for-joining-ISIS.html

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Thirty men sentenced for Egyptian church attack plot

30 March 2019

Thirty men were sentenced to between 10 years to life imprisonment on Saturday for planning a suicide bombing on a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria and other charges, court official said.

Authorities said at the time of their arrest that the defendants had embraced the ideas of ISIS extremist group and received training abroad and in Egypt.

Twenty of the defendants who appeared in court, dressed in white prison garb, did not react to the sentences, and there was no immediate comment from lawyers representing them. The other 10 are still on the run and were sentenced in absentia.

The attack on the church did not take place. But minority Christians have faced a series of assaults in Alexandria and other parts of Egypt in recent years.

ISIS claimed responsibility for suicide bombings on churches in Alexandria and Tanta in April 2017 that left 45 people dead.

The defendants were also accused of planning to bomb a liquor store in the Mediterranean city of Damietta, joining an illegal group and possessing weapons and explosives.

Eighteen of them received life terms, which are 25 years long in Egypt, eight got 15 years in prison and four were sentenced to 10 years, the head of the Alexandria Criminal Court, convened in Cairo, said.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/30/Thirty-men-sentenced-for-Egyptian-church-attack-plot.html

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US Forces Continue Spying on Hashd Al-Shaabi in Western Iraq

Mar 30, 2019

The Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website quoted a high-ranking source in al-Anbar as saying on Friday that the US forces stationed in the region have restarted espionage operations to collect intelligence from a number of Hashd al-Shaabi commanders in al-Anbar and their bases in the region.

He added that the US military men have forced a number of Iraqi tribal leaders who had earlier joined the ISIL either to surrender to the security forces or work for the Americans as secret spies.

A commander of Hashd al-Shaabi in al-Anbar province had in December revealed that the US military forces are spying on them at bordering areas with Syria, warning that the popular forces would take action if they trace any threat to their nation.

The Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website quoted Qassem Moslih, the Iraqi popular forces' commander in Western al-Anbar, as saying that the US forces flew different types of planes over the Iraq-Syria bordering areas, spying on Hashd al-Shaabi.

He added that 20,000 Hashd al-Shaabi forces were deployed near the border with Syria from al-Qa'em to Southern Iraq near Jordan, stressing that they were prepared to confront any threats against the country.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980110000182

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High-Profile ISIL Terrorist in Syria Transferred to US Base in Heliborne Operations

Mar 30, 2019

The Arabic-language Baghdad al-Youm news website quoted a security source as saying on Saturday that the US forces have launched heliborne operations in Syria near the border with Iraq to transfer a key ISIL terrorist to their bases in the country.

Meantime, an Iraqi source earlier said that the US forces have informed the Syrian Democratic Forces after the SDF's control over the town of Baqouz that ISIL ringleader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is still in Syria.

Local sources said earlier this month that more ISIL terrorists had been evacuated from Eastern Deir Ezzur by the US forces.

Local sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur reported that the US-led coalition forces staged heliborne operations near Badiyeh al-Tonak region, rescuing the ISIL militants on 3 helicopters.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980110000244

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Notorious Key ISIL Commander Killed in Iraq

Mar 30, 2019

The Arabic-language Shafaq news website quoted a source in Saraya al-Salam group affiliated to the Sadr Movement as saying on Friday that a high-profile commander of the ISIL namely Mohammed Intikhab was killed in Samara city in Saladdin province along with 4 of his aides.

He added that Intikhab was one of the most notorious ISIL commanders who recruited and prepared children for suicide attacks and was a liaison between Saladdin province and Northern Baghdad.

The source noted that he had also committed different crimes, including murder, creating panic and horror in al-Mo'etasam and al-Sa'awiyeh regions, participation in several terrorist operations in al-Ishaqi region and attacks against the Iraqi army centers, the last of which occurred in February.

Senior Iraqi officials have blamed the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some Persian Gulf Arab states for the presence of ISIL terrorists in their country.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980110000133

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Syrian Army Gives Crushing Response to Terrorists' Attacks from Demilitarized Zone in Hama

Mar 30, 2019

The Syrian army units pounded the terrorists' moves and hideouts in the towns of Kafr Zita, al-Shariah, Jisr Beit al-Ra'as, Tal al-Sakhar and al-Jabisat in Northern Hama with artillery and missile fire on Saturday.

Meantime, a field source reported that during the attacks several positions and military equipment of the terrorists were smashed and a large number of militants were killed and wounded.

Also, the Syrian army forces targeted the gathering centers of Turkistani terrorists in Jisr Beit al-Ra'as in Northwestern Hama who intended to infiltrate the army-controlled areas, fully destroying their positions and military equipment and inflicting heavy tolls on them.

Also, on Friday, the Syrian army attacked the positions and moves of Tahrir al-Sham terrorist group in response to their continued offensives from the demilitarized zone in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.

The Syrian army forces launched heavy artillery strikes against the positions and moves of Tahrir al-Sham in the towns of al-Sharia'h and Tal al-Sakhar in response to the terrorists' attacks against military areas.

During the attacks, the Syrian army smashed several hideouts, military vehicles, weapons and equipment of the militants, leaving a bunch of the terrorists dead and wounded.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980110000056

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North America

 

Saudi Arabia hacked Washington Post owner’s phone

Mar 31, 2019

An investigation into the leaking of Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos’ private phone data has revealed that Saudi Arabia hacked his phone, possibly because of the Post’s coverage of the state-sponsored murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The finding was announced by Gavin de Becker, a security consultant and long-time associate of Bezos, who was recently commissioned by him to find out how his text messages and photos had been obtained by American Media Inc (AMI), the publisher of the tabloid National Enquirer.

“Our investigators and several experts concluded with high confidence that the Saudis had access to Bezos’ phone, and gained private information,” de Becker wrote in an article for The Daily Beast website on Saturday.

On its front page in January, the National Enquirer said Bezos had been “caught cheating on his wife of 25 years with the spouse of a Hollywood mogul!”

A month after the publication of that alleged affair, Bezos accused the AMI of blackmail, saying it had threatened to publish his intimate photos unless he said publicly that the tabloid’s reporting was not politically motivated.

Bezos also stressed in a blog post that The Washington Post’s “unrelenting coverage” of the murder of Khashoggi was “undoubtedly unpopular in certain circles,” an apparent reference to the Saudi court and political groups within America allied to Riyadh.

Khashoggi — a late but vocal critic of Crown Prince Mohammed (MBS) — was killed and his body was dismembered by a Saudi hit squad after being lured into the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018. His fate was unknown for several days, until Saudi Arabia confirmed under rising international pressure that he had been murdered at the consulate. Riyadh has not produced Khashoggi’s body to this day.

In the final years of his life, Khashoggi lived in the US and wrote a column for The Washington Post.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has sided with Riyadh in the scandal, despite a conclusion by the CIA that Mohammed personally ordered the murder — a development first reported by the Post.

‘Mohammed considers Washington Post a major enemy’

In his Saturday article, de Becker said his investigation had “studied the well-documented and close relationship” between Mohammed —also known by his initials MBS — and AMI Chairman David Pecker.

“Some Americans will be surprised to learn that the Saudi government has been very intent on harming Jeff Bezos since last October, when the Post began its relentless coverage of Khashoggi’s murder,” he said. “It’s clear that MBS considers the Washington Post to be a major enemy.”

The security consultant said the AMI had previously demanded that he say his probe had concluded that the publisher had not relied upon “any form of electronic eavesdropping or hacking in their newsgathering process,” which he and Bezos refused to do.

De Becker also said he had turned over the findings of his inquiry to US federal officials.

Ever since Khashoggi disappeared at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, The Washington Post has been producing near-constant coverage of the case. The reportage has partially helped attract international attention to the scandal.

Bits and pieces of reporting by various international media have depicted a picture of Mohammed as a publicly innocuous but privately power-hungry figure who resorts to cunning and aggressive means to reach his goals.

Reporting by The New York Times has revealed that Mohammed “authorized a secret campaign to silence dissenters — which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudi citizens — over a year before the killing of” Khashoggi.

The Times has also reported how Saudi Arabia employed a troll farm to harass Khashoggi online before his death. The Riyadh regime also used a Saudi employee at Twitter as a spy.

There was no immediate reaction to the revelation de Becker from the Trump White House, which remains closely tied to Riyadh, including in the form of military contracts worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

In a sign of the magnitude of the latest scandal, de Becker wrote in his article, “For 40 years, I’ve advised at-risk public figures and government agencies on high-stakes security matters... I’ve seen a lot. And yet, I’ve recently seen things that have surprised even me, such as the National Enquirer’s parent company, AMI, being in league with a foreign nation that’s been actively trying to harm American citizens and companies.”

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/31/592248/Saudi-Arabia-hack-phone-Jeff-Bezos-Jamal-Khashoggi-crown-prince-Mohammed-bin-Salman

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ICJ sets mid-May as deadline for US to explain measures on Iran bans removal

Mar 30, 2019

Iran says the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has set May 15 as the deadline for the US to give detailed accounts of its measures to lift sanctions on humanitarian supplies to the country.

The ICJ has informed the US of the deadline in a letter, Iranian legal representative at the ICJ Mohsen Mohebbi told IRNA on Saturday.

Washington is required to report to the Court about measures it was supposed to carry out regarding the ICJ’s orders with respect to the removal of Iran bans, Mohebbi said.

Back in October 2018, the ICJ ordered the United States to halt the unilateral sanctions it had re-imposed on "humanitarian" supplies to Iran.

The Hague-based court, which is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, announced its ruling on October 3 regarding the July 2018 lawsuit brought by Tehran against Washington's decision to re-impose unilateral sanctions following the US exit from a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.

The decisions of the ICJ – which rules on disputes between UN member states – are legally binding.

The ruling requires Washington to allow supply of medicine and medical devices, food and agricultural goods and airplane parts, which directly deal with human lives, according to Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassem.

Iran’s lawsuit argued that the sanctions violate the terms of the 1955 Treaty of Amity between Iran and the US, which the latter canceled following the October ruling.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/30/592221/Iran-US-ICJ-ruling-sanctions-removal-Mohebbi

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American officials say many troops will remain in Syria in reversal of total pullout

Mar 30, 2019

American officials say the US has backpedaled on its plan for a total withdrawal from Syria and will keep a large portion of its forces on the ground there.

The officials told the New York Times on Friday that the Pentagon mulls cutting its combat force in northeastern Syria roughly in half by early May - or to about 1,000 troops - and then pause the process.

The US military, they added, will then assess conditions and reduce the number of forces in Syria every six months or so, until it reaches 400.

US President Donald Trump announced the plan to withdraw all 2,000 American forces from Syria last December. Since then, however, American officials have provided contradictory statements on the procedure.

Trump's abrupt move sparked concern among officials in Washington, prompting Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to step down in protest. The pullout order also raised worries among US-backed Kurdish militants operating in northern Syria and left them feeling abandoned by Washington.

In February, a senior administration official said that Trump had agreed to keep about 400 US troops in Syria, split between a safe zone in the country's northeast and al-Tanf base in Homs Province.

Despite the shift, Trump claimed at the time that he was not "reversing course” on Syria and that the remaining troops would be “a very small, tiny fraction” of the forces.

The American officials, who were speaking on condition of anonymity, told the New York Times that under the latest Syria plan, the Pentagon may not have to reach that lowest troop level until the fall of 2020.

Meanwhile, military officials warned that the Syria withdrawal timetable remained fluid and that final force levels could be changed given a range of factors.

“We continue to implement the president’s direction to draw down US forces to a residual presence in a deliberate and coordinated manner,” said Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. “This work is ongoing and, for operational security reasons, we will not discuss specific US troop numbers or drawdown timelines.”

After Trump’s pullout order, the American military started withdrawing equipment from Syria  while increasing the number of troops to almost 3,000.

However, the current number of American personnel fell below 2,000.

“Armed forces are being withdrawn,” James F. Jeffrey, the American special envoy for Syria, said earlier this week.“We had to reinforce initially to bring in more combat power, and now we’re going back down toward what the final number will be.”

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/30/592176/Syria-US-troops-withdrawal-Pentagon

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Lebanese concerned over fate of Shebaa Farms after Trump’s Golan decision

Mar 30, 2019

The US's controversial decision to recognize Israeli “sovereignty” over Syria’s occupied Golan Heights has raised concerns among Lebanese officials about the fate of Shebaa Farms which remain under occupation by the Tel Aviv regime.

Israel occupied Shebaa Farms, a small strip of land at the intersection of the Lebanese-Syrian border and the Golan Heights, during the 1967 war.

Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, but it kept control of Shebaa Farms under the pretext that the region’s ownership was undecided between Lebanon and Syria.

Tel Aviv considers Shebaa Farms part of the occupied Golan while both Damascus and Beirut say the area is Lebanese.

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump signed a decree recognizing Israeli “sovereignty” over the occupied Golan at a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The move sparked international condemnations, including from Lebanon.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that the new US stance on Golan was a “black day for the world” and an “arbitrary action” that goes against international law.

Lebanese officials fear the US could also recognize Israel’s claim to Shebaa Farms.

A Lebanese official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told London-based Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that Shebaa Farms were not part of the Golan Heights.

"No one mentioned our land to declare its annexation to Israel. Therefore, the official Lebanese positions were limited to criticizing the move because it affects Syria and its lands. Our occupied territories were never part of Golan," he said.

However, Riad Kahwaji, head of the Dubai-based INEGMA defense consultancy, claimed that as long as Israel considers Shebaa Farms part of Golan, the US's recent decision also covers the Lebanese region.

“As long as Shebaa Farms, the Kfar Shuba Hills and the village of Ghajar are for Israel a territory belonging to Golan, most of which were occupied in 1967, the American recognition of its sovereignty over Golan automatically means its sovereignty over its territories including occupied Lebanese territories," he said. “What makes things worse is the absence of clear documents and maps that determine where Golan begins and where it ends," he added.

Meanwhile, speaking to a meeting of Arab ministers in Tunis on Friday, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui said that his country will coordinate with its fellow Arab countries to “contain” any fallout from Trump’s provocative decision to recognize Israeli "sovereignty" over Syria’s Golan Heights.

Also on Friday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani stressed that Tehran would resist the US's Golan move.

Trump's decision is "trampling on international regulations about the Golan," he said, adding "Iranians too should resist and that way gain victory" over the US and Israel.

In 1967, Israel waged a full-scale war against Arab territories during which it occupied a large swathe of Syria’s Golan and annexed it four years later, a move never recognized by the international community.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/03/30/592191/Syria-Golan-Lebanon-Shebaa-Farms

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South Asia

 

25 Taliban militants killed in Special Forces operations, airstrikes

30 Mar 2019

At least 25 Taliban militants were killed during the operations of the Afghan Special Forces and airstrikes which were conducted in Paktika, Helmand, Uruzgan, and Kandahar provinces.

Informed military sources said Saturday that an airstrike in Bermal district of Paktika province killed 2 Taliban fighters while 8 Taliban fighters were killed in Afghan Special Forces operation in Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand in past 24 hours.

The sources further added that an airstrike in Musa Qal’ah district of Helamdn killed 1 Taliban fighter and wounded another.

Afghan security forces killed 3 Taliban fighters in Tarin Kot district of Uruzgan during the same period, the sources said, adding that airstrikes were also carried out in Musa Qal’ah district of Helmand which left 8 Taliban fighters dead.

In the meantime, the sources said an airstrike in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province killed 3 Taliban fighters.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the operations and airstrikes so far.

https://www.khaama.com/25-taliban-militants-killed-in-special-forces-operations-airstrikes-03610/

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19 Taliban militants killed, 4 IED manufacturing facilities destroyed in Helmand

30 Mar 2019

At least 19 Taliban militants were killed and four Improvised Explosive Device manufacturing facilities were destroyed during the operations in southern Helmand province.

According to informed military sources “A multi-day operation in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand killed 19 Taliban fighters and wounded 2 others.”

The source further added that the Afghan security forces destroyed 4 IED manufacturing facilities and an large IED cache, which included 13 pressure plate IEDs, multiple RPG rockets and an RPG launcher.

“During the operation a precision air strike was used to destroy a vehicle-borne IED,” the sources said.

The anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding the operations so far.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/19-taliban-militants-killed-4-ied-manufacturing-facilities-destroyed-in-helmand-03608/

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Taliban militants suffer heavy casualties during the latest counter-terrorism operations

31 Mar 2019

The Taliban militants have suffered heavy casualties during the latest operations of the Afghan Special Forces and airstrikes which were conducted in Ghazni, Uruzgan, Kandahar, and Helmand provinces in past 24 hours.

According to informed military sources, at least 3 Taliban militants including one of their senior commanders were killed in Special Forces operations and airstrikes which were conducted in Jaji and Qarabagha districts of Ghazni province.

Similar operations were conducted in Tainkot city of Uruzgan province leaving at least 30 militants dead, 1 wounded. The soldiers also found and destroyed 13 IEDs and IED making material.

Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid on a suspected Taliban IED-making facility in Maywand district of Kandahar province killing 3 Taliban fighters, the sources said, adding that Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Sangin district of Helmand province and arrested 4 Taliban fighters and leaders. 

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-militants-suffer-heavy-casualties-during-the-latest-counter-terrorism-operations-03612/

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1 dead, 2 wounded in Taliban attack on Afghan Vice President’s convoy in Balkh

30 Mar 2019

At least one person was killed and two others were wounded in an attack by Taliban militants against the convoy of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the First Vice President of Afghanistan.

A spokesman for Junbish-e-Milli Party, Bashir Ahmad Tahyanj, confirmed that the Taliban militants had laid an ambush against the convoy of the First Vice President in the vicinities of Alam Khel, Timorak, and Shisha Khana areas located along Balkh-Jawzjan highway.

Tahyanj further added that the militants were forced to retreat after the security forces responded to the attack.

According to Tahyanj, the militants have probably suffered casualties during the clash with the secuirty forces.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/1-dead-2-wounded-in-taliban-attack-on-afghan-vice-presidents-convoy-in-balkh-03609/

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Key ISIS Khurasan group member arrested in Jalalabad city

30 Mar 2019

A key member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) was arrested during an operation of the Afghan security forces in Jalalabad city, the provincial capital of Nangarhar province.

Provincial governor’s spokesman Ataullah Khogyani confirmed that the ISIS-K group member was arrested during the operation of Afghan Intelligence operatives.

Khogyani further added that the detained individual has been identified as Sajid who is originally a resident of Kama district of Nangarhar.

In the meantime, the provincial government media office in a statement said Sajid was a member of the urban network of ISIS-K and was invovled in recruiting militants in ISIS ranks and spreading propaganda in favor of the group in Jalalabad city.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/key-isis-khurasan-group-member-arrested-in-jalalabad-city-03606/

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Bangladesh stops Rohingya making risky journey to Malaysia

Mar 30, 2019

TEKNAF: Bangladesh security forces stopped 29 people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, from being smuggled to Malaysia in rickety fishing boats, officials said Saturday, the latest group prevented from leaving squalid refugee camps.Lieutenant Commander Mahmud Hasan said Bangladesh Coast Guard forces found 16 women, seven children and six men waiting for the boat along the coast of the southern Saint Martin's Island early Saturday.

"Among them 22 are Rohingya refugees from the Cox's Bazar camps and the rest are Bangladeshis. We have also arrested three human traffickers with a boat," Hasan told reporters.

The official said they have handed over the traffickers to the police and sent the refugees back to Kutupalong, the largest refugee camp in the world.

About 740,000 of the Muslim minority fled Myanmar for Bangladesh, escaping a military crackdown in the Buddhist-majority nation in August 2017, and joining some 300,000 Rohingya already living in the overcrowded camps.

Saturday's operation marked the sixth time since November that Rohingya have been intercepted attempting to get a boat to Malaysia, a more prosperous Muslim-majority nation.

Bangladesh security forces last month stopped more than 100 people -- mostly Rohingya refugees -- from making the dangerous journey.

People smugglers sent tens of thousands of Rohingya from the camps to Malaysia before Bangladesh launched a crackdown in 2015 following the discovery of mass graves of refugees by Thai authorities.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/bangladesh-stops-rohingya-making-risky-journey-to-malaysia/articleshow/68646761.cms

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Africa

 

Bashir’s ruling party postpones Sudan convention, election of new leader

31 March 2019

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s party decided Saturday to indefinitely postpone its general convention, which was to elect a new head after the veteran leader handed the party’s leadership to his deputy.

The general convention of the National Congress Party (NCP), held once in four years, was scheduled for next month but the exact dates had not been announced.

“The party’s shura council ... decided to indefinitely suspend the holding of the general convention because of the current situation in the country,” Mohamed el-Hassan el-Amien, an NCP leader, told reporters.

Bashir, who normally attends meetings like the one held Saturday, was not present.

Sudan has been rocked by deadly protests since December, with demonstrators calling for an end to Bashir’s rule of three decades.

Bashir has remained defiant, and on February 22 imposed a nationwide state of emergency after an initial crackdown failed to quell the protests.

But on March 1 he handed his powers as head of NCP to his deputy, Ahmed Harun, making him acting chief until the general convention, where a new president of NCP was to be elected.

Sudan is scheduled to hold its next presidential election in 2020, and according to the charter of NCP, the leader of the party becomes its candidate in the election.

The NCP was formed a few years after Bashir swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, and he had been the party's leader up until this month.

Protesters continue to stage regular demonstrations that first erupted on December 19 after a government decision to triple the price of bread.

The protests swiftly turned into nationwide rallies against Bashir’s government, accusing it of mismanaging the country’s economy.

Officials say 31 people have died in protest-related violence, but Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at 51.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/03/31/Israel-reopens-Gaza-crossings-after-week-of-hostilities.html

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Libya holds municipal elections in first vote since five years

31 March 2019

Libya held rare municipal elections in nine communities on Saturday, although turnout in the country’s first voting since five years reached only about 38 percent.

The North African state, which has been mired in conflict and chaos since the 2011 toppling of Muammar Gaddafi, has not held any elections since 2014, when a heavily contested national vote ended up splitting the country into rival administrations and parliaments.

Only nine out of 69 municipal councils in southern and western Libya voted on Saturday, officials said. No violence or sabotage was reported.

Libya created 120 municipal councils in 2013 in a bid to end 42 years of centralization and one man rule under Gaddafi. Some councils held elections in 2014.

The municipal board of each council includes seven members, which then elects a mayor.

“We’ll go on each Saturday until 33 councils hold their elections then we resume after the holy month of Ramadan so all councils are elected,” Salem Bentahia, head of the elections commission, told Reuters.

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends in early June.

In Zuwara, a town west of Tripoli near the Tunisian border, there was a modest turnout in the morning.

“We wish every success to this board and for it to achieve all the aspirations of this city’s residents in all areas,” Abdulsalam Ramdan Abdulsalam said as he cast his vote.

The United Nations is holding a national conference in April in a bid to end the political conflict between the internationally recognized government in Tripoli in the west of Libya and a parallel administration version in the east.

Solving army control dispute

Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday that there are signs that Libya’s two rival leaders may for the first time solve a key dispute over control of the army.

The United Nations has been trying to broker a power sharing agreement between Khalifa Haftar, a commander controlling eastern Libya allied to a parallel government, and the internationally-recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, based in Tripoli.

One key obstacle has been whether Haftar can head a unified Libyan army under civilian command, which would form part of a new national government.

“We see signs that the contradictions that you have noted could possibly be overcome for the first time,” Guterres told reporters when asked whether the two leaders could reach an agreement on the question of civilian army command.

He spoke after a meeting with officials of the Arab League, European Union and African Union ahead of an Arab leaders’ summit in Tunis on Sunday.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/03/31/UN-s-Guterres-says-Libya-s-rival-leaders-could-overcome-army-control-dispute.html

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Tunisia delays presidential elections by one week to Nov. 17

30 March 2019

Tunisia has delayed the first round of its presidential elections by one week to November 17, a spokesman for the elections commission said on Friday.

The initial date had been set for Nov. 10 but this conflicted with an Islamic holiday, when many Tunisians are travelling.

The parliamentary race is expected to be fought closely by the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, the more secular Tahya Tounes party of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, and the Nidaa Tounes party led by Hafedh Caid Essebsi, the president’s son.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/03/30/Tunisia-delays-presidential-elections-by-one-week-to-Nov-17.html

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Three African migrants charged in Malta over oil tanker hijacking

30 March 2019

Maltese authorities charged three young African migrants on Saturday with committing an act of terrorism for hijacking a vessel that rescued them off the coast of Libya.

The two teenagers from Guinea and one from Ivory Coast, aged 15, 16 and 19, are accused of forcing the Palau-flagged tanker Elhiblu I towards Malta after it picked up 108 migrants, including women and children, on Wednesday and headed towards its destination in Libya.

A Maltese special operations unit boarded the ship a day later, arrested five men suspected of leading the hijacking. They handed control back to the captain who steered the ship to Valletta under a navy escort.

The three migrants, who were charged at a Maltese court with seizing control of the ship through the use or threat of force and intimidation, pleaded not guilty and were placed in preventive detention pending trial.

They face prison terms of between seven and 30 years if convicted.

The ship’s captain told Maltese media the hijackers “were desperate and absolutely did not want to return to Libya.”

“Panic and confusion erupted when the migrants understood that we were going back,” to a country where migrants face trafficking, kidnap, torture and rape according to the United Nations and aid groups.

Following Italy’s increasingly tough anti-migrant stance, vessels that pick up migrants crossing the Mediterranean increasingly return them to Libya.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/03/30/Three-African-migrants-charged-in-Malta-over-oil-tanker-hijacking.html

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