blasphemy issue created the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party that has paralysed
the country with violent protests (AFP Photo/ASIF HASSAN)
Government Tracking Theological Content Driven Salafi, Wahhabi Websites being Seen
As A Carefully-Crafted Strategy to Spread Radical Islam in India
God's Name: How Extremists Hijacked Pakistan's Blasphemy Laws
Yes, Your Kids’ Savings above Nisab Value Are Subject To Zakat Payments
Terror Groups Will Continue Attacks in India, Afghanistan: US Spymaster
Worried About Being Left Out Of US Taliban Peace Talks
Militants Will Return Home, and To Prison, From Syria
Government Tracking Theological Content Driven Salafi, Wahabi Websites being
Seen As A Carefully-Crafted Strategy to Spread Radical Islam in India
of Hazrat Shaikh Ji Hali Abul-U-Lai, the Testimony Of The Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb,
May Not Host Basant Sufi This Year
Question Timing Of Centre’s Ayodhya Petition In Supreme Court, Shia Board Hails
Foreign Minister Qureshi dials Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
in Muslim Weddings Un-Islamic, Qazi Boycotted Nikah
behind Burdwan, Bodh Gaya blasts arrested and charge sheeted
rate among Muslims low: IUML
to ‘The Pioneer’ For Calling Zakir Naik “Salafist Terror Preacher”
SC Upholds Aasia Bibi's Acquittal in Blasphemy Case, Asks Petitioners If Islam Allows
Punishment for Those 'Not Guilty'
Pakistan’s problems through dialogue culture stressed
Russia agree to coordinate efforts for Afghan peace
refuses to accept Pakistani envoy’s credentials
appoints Muslim politician from Chinese-based DAP to Islamic agency's board
We’ll listen to views on dress code for Muslim workers
Politician Appointed To Islamic Agency Board
Attack In Philippine Mosque Kills Two Muslim Teachers
Abu Sayyaf faction behind deadly Philippine church bombings, says army chief
government shutdown over, US Senate advances Middle East bill
intelligence chiefs contradict Trump on Daesh, North Korea
ministers of anti-Daesh coalition to meet in US
Senate leader challenges Trump on Syria withdrawal as Kurds seek delay
Commandos rescue 38 people including security personnel from a Taliban prison
ISIS-K and Taliban militants killed in Afghan and Coalition Forces operations
elite force arrests 5 linked to jihad and Sri Lanka drug haul
continue to stay with the United States in Afghanistan”: NATO SG
Special Forces bust gang of foreign terrorists in Nimroz province
Rights Court: Turkey Didn’t Cooperate On Murder Case
Cast Start Fundraising Page for UK Islamic School In Hate Crime Attack
Union denounces Bahrain ruling on Sheikh Salman
calls for inter-religious dialogue at end of Egypt visit
shifts stance on returning extremists as US withdraws from Syria
Croatian ministers discuss security, migration
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Muslims Long to Be Legally Recognized
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president accuses PM of secret pact for power
security chief orders release of detained protesters
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advance in northern Syria threatens fragile truce
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Arrests 54 Muslim Brotherhood Members
Mass Grave of Victims Killed by ISIL Discovered by Syrian Army in Military
Ankara Continues Efforts to Annex Afrin to Turkey's Soil
Syria must step up joint efforts in face of Western economic war: President
anti-regime activist says escapes fate not unlike Khashoggi’s
soldier held prisoner by Houthi militia returns home
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PM Plans to Boot TIPH Observers Protecting Palestinians Out Of Al-Khalil
Militia Attacks UN and Demining Teams in Hodeidah
and Iran sign ‘strategic’ economic agreement
Eyes $1.2 Bln Budget for Palestinians despite US Cuts
toughest ballot rival, ex-general Gantz, to break silence
ask UN to deploy observer force in West Bank
blast Saudi regime's plundering of Yemeni oil resources
Ansarullah movement sends ill Saudi soldier back home, draws UN praise
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Government Tracking Theological Content Driven Salafi, Wahhabi Websites being
Seen As A Carefully-Crafted Strategy to Spread Radical Islam in India
number of websites are under the scanner of security agencies for propagating
Salafism and the ultra-conservative practice of Islam known as Wahhabism as
part of what is being seen as a carefully-crafted strategy to spread radical
Islam in India.
of these websites operate from outside the country but the agencies have
noticed regular traffic on these online platforms.
websites were flagged after they were spotted during investigations into ISIS
modules operating in various parts of the country, including in Jammu and
influenced by radical content on the Internet is often the starting point for
most of those who join such modules. Ideological and theological indoctrination
takes place through these websites.
website is Ikhwanis.com which claims to spread "the other (hidden) face of
the so-called Muslim Brotherhood".
website, Ashabulhadith.com, carries a section on Manhaj-ul-salaf, or the belief
system of Salafism. It runs an audio of religious sermons.
has "your starting point for Islam, Sunnah and Salafiyyah online" as
under the lens is Manhaj.com which claims to explain "Quran and Sunnah
according to the understanding of the pious predecessors".
claims to clear misgivings about the much misunderstood figure Ibn Taymiyyah, who
is said to have influenced Wahhabism.
the context of Jammu and Kashmir, the security forces see radical content as
part of a design by Pakistan to give religious colour to the separatist
movement and alienate the people further overshadowing the moderate age-old
tradition of Sufism in the region.
have been instances where protesters have waved ISIS flags during street
demonstrations in Jammu and Kashmir but these were played down by the security
agencies as aberrations. Officials now claim that the situation is changing on
the ground with radical elements becoming more brazen with their activities.
extent of the problem has forced agencies to launch massive counter
the states where ISIS-related cases have been reported are Kerala followed by
Telangana. Security agencies are worried about the widespread nature of online
radicalization of individuals.
Politicians have been assassinated, European countries threatened with nuclear
annihilation and students lynched, all in the name of combating blasphemy in
Pakistan, where the legal punishment for insulting the Prophet Mohammed is
issues are as inflammatory in the conservative Islamic republic as blasphemy.
Here's a brief history of where the law came from and how it has changed the
country over the years.
country's first blasphemy law was originally passed down from Pakistan's former
colonial masters and was largely aimed at keeping the peace between different
religious communities on the subcontinent.
framework was later given a boost during the rule of former hardline Islamist
dictator Zia-ul-Haq in the mid-80s.
military government passed a series of new statutes that included a provision
for capital punishment in cases where the Prophet Mohammed was insulted.
to date no one has actually been executed for blasphemy, with most punishments
commuted to life sentences. But mere accusations of insulting Islam have
sparked mob lynchings and murders.
rights groups have long criticised the legislation as a tool of oppression and
abuse, particularly against minorities.
recent years, it has also been used to smear dissenters and even politicians.
topic is so inflammatory that even calls to reform the law have provoked
violence, most notably the assassination of Salmaan Taseer — the governor of
Pakistan's most populous province — by his own bodyguard in 2011.
murder was followed the same year by the killing of minority affairs minister
Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, who had also vowed to maintain his opposition to
the laws in defiance of death threats.
blasphemy issue has also created a new religious extremist movement that has
dictated terms to successive governments and paralysed the country at will with
less than two years the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party (TLP) — or the Movement
at the Service of the Prophet — has become one of the most powerful groups in
by firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, the far-right religious party has
weaponised the ultra-sensitive blasphemy issue in the Muslim-majority nation.
has sparked fears the TLP is radicalising the country's heartland and opening a
dangerous new chapter in Pakistan's brutal confrontation with extremism.
leaders have gone on to threaten to "wipe Holland off the face of the
earth" with nuclear weapons, call for the assassination of Pakistan's top
judges and mutiny in the military ranks.
have long demanded reform, saying the legislation is too often abused to settle
personal scores and target religious minorities.
law is so vaguely written that defining blasphemy can be difficult if not
impossible and criticism of the law could be perceived as blasphemy itself.
the murders of Taseer and Bhatti, mainstream politicians have steered clear of
renewing calls for reform of the blasphemy law, fearing violent reprisals.
recent uptick in violence, along with prosecutions of alleged offenders, comes
as Washington added Pakistan this month to a blacklist of countries it says wantonly
violate religious freedom.
later dismissed the US move as politically motivated.
Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
LUMPUR, Jan 30 — Children with savings exceeding the minimum amount set by the
national zakat institutes (nisab) must also contribute to the fund through
their parents or guardians, said a religious agency executive.
Malaysia cited Ahmad Husni Abdul Rahman, assistant manager of the Shariah and
Special Information Unit of the Federal Territory Islamic Council’s Zakat
Collection Centre (PPZ-MAIWP), as saying many were still unaware of this
requirement, blaming it on their limited knowledge of zakat contribution types.
of them are under the impression that only certain types of zakat contributions
are compulsory, whereas their children with savings more than the nisab amount
are also required pay the 2.5 per cent zakat rate,” he was quoted saying at
PPZ-MAIWP forum yesterday.
year we have set the nisab value at RM13,968. If savings of the child does not
exceed that value, then there is no need for them to make the contribution,” he
Islam, zakat is compulsory tithing that is treated as taxation. In Malaysia,
Muslim taxpayers may also use their zakat contributions to offset their income
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa
announced that zakat collections in 2018 had increased by six per cent to
RM651.2 million, compared to the RM615.2 million collected in 2017.
figures also revealed a RM45.95 million spike in zakat payments from savings,
up seven per cent from the RM42.81 million collected in 2017.
Husni said parents with multiple savings accounts set aside for their
children’s future should take the initiative and total up the money in the accounts
to see if they are liable for the payments.
the child has savings accounts in three different banks, we need to add up the
total of all three accounts and if it exceeds the set nisab value, then it is
compulsory to make the zakat contributions.
also applies to adults and their savings. This compulsory condition (applies
to) people with a lot of assets, even if they are crazy or handicapped,” he was
terror groups will continue attacks in India, Afghanistan: US spymaster
The terror groups supported by Pakistan will continue to conduct terrorist
attacks in both India and Afghanistan, America's spymaster has said.
of National Intelligence Dan Coats also said Pakistan's "narrow approach
to counterterrorism cooperation - using some groups as policy tools and
confronting only the militant groups that directly threaten Pakistan - almost
certainly will frustrate US counterterrorism efforts against the Taliban."
groups supported by Pakistan will continue to take advantage of their safe
haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan,
including against US interests," Coats told the members of the Senate
Select Committee on Intelligence.
and heads of other top American intelligence agencies appeared before the
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on their worldwide threat assessment.
among them included CIA director Gina Haspel, who has just returned from a trip
to India; FBI director Christopher Wray and Defense Intelligence Agency
director Robert Ashley.
comment on South Asia is part of US intelligence community's assessment of
worldwide threats in 2019 and was presented in the form of a written document
to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence by Coats.
said that the challenges facing South Asian states will grow in 2019 because of
Afghanistan's presidential election in midJuly and the Taliban's large-scale
attacks, Pakistan's recalcitrance in dealing with teror groups, and Indian
election that risk communal violence.
assess that neither the Afghan Government nor the Taliban will be able to gain
a strategic military advantage in the Afghan war in the coming year if
coalition support remains at current levels," he said.
forces generally have secured cities and other government strongholds, but the
Taliban has increased large-scale attacks, and Afghan security suffers from a
large number of forces being tied down in defensive missions, mobility
shortfalls, and a lack of reliable forces to hold recaptured territory, Coats
worried about being left out of US Taliban peace talks
discussions ahead of formal peace negotiations between the US government and
Taliban inch forward, Afghan political and civil society leaders have raised
concerns about the lack of Afghan representation in the process.
another round of talks with Taliban leaders in Qatar, US special envoy Zalmay
Khalilzad arrived in the Afghan capital on Monday amid widespread reports in
Afghan media that he was there to discuss a proposed interim government that
would include the Taliban.
Khalilzad, however, dismissed the reports. Addressing local media, Mr Khalilzad
said negotiations were now focused on a comprehensive ceasefire plan.
are working with the Afghan government, with international partners, to find
implementing mechanisms to reach these goals,” he said.
Afghan High Peace Council, an independent body appointed by the government to
negotiate peace, also dismissed rumours of an interim government, telling The
National that it was “not on our agenda”.
spokesman Sayed Ihsan Taheri did say that greater Afghan involvement in the
peace process was necessary. “Our constitutional authority should be considered
and respected. Our people want intra-Afghan direct talks to kick off between
the Afghan government and Taliban.”
Mr Khalilzad’s repeated assurances, Afghan politicians and civil society members
are concerned about a transitional political leadership with the Taliban,
largely because many Afghans fear the influence of Pakistan and other regional
powers in such a setup.
idea of an interim government was raised by Pakistan’s intelligence agency
three years ago, according to Idrees Stanikzai, a political activist and a
former candidate for the parliament from Kabul. “The US wants to hand over
Afghanistan to Pakistan in the name of peace,” he said.
of an interim government have raised fears that presidential elections
scheduled for July could be postponed. “It is imperative that fair elections be
held to ensure that the Afghan interest is represented,” Mr Stanikzai said.
close to Mr Khalilzad told The National that the US envoy was critical of
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's approach and policies surrounding the peace
talks, and that Taliban leaders including Mullah Zaeef have expressed to Mr
Khalilzad their reluctance to enter talks with the Afghan president. “Khalilzad
quite openly said that future political system is based on the Afghan will. It
is not something the US wants to [control], it is a matter for Afghans, so I
think [if they did indeed propose an interim government] there might be a
rational explanation to it,” said Hekmat Azamy, deputy director at Centre for
Conflict and Peace Studies, a Kabul based think tank. Mr Azamy said he had a
detailed discussion with Mr Khalilzad on Tuesday about the proposed framework
that is currently being discussed in Afghan media.
elaborating on what a potential interim government or a “peace set-up” might
look like, Mr Azamy said: “President Ghani’s term in closing. However, if the
elections are postponed his government will remain in power in an acting
capacity, albeit unconstitutional."
speculated that the Taliban might be more open to talking with such an
"acting body or group" that represents the Afghan people. "It
would then perhaps be more plausible for the Taliban to be willing to negotiate
with the current government. Since in such a situation, all sides would be
technically illegitimate and the word ‘government’ – which seems to be a reason
for the Taliban to reject them – could be removed from the talks.”
the possibility of the Taliban negotiating with Afghans directly is assured –
rather than only with the Americans – an interim government would be worth
considering, he said. "This could allow for a truly intra-Afghan
of concern to Afghans are reports that Mr Khalilzad had discussed with the
Taliban a timeline for withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. A
premature withdrawal of troops could leave the country's already faltering
security in an even more vulnerable state.
persistent refusal of the Taliban to talk with the Afghan government, which it
views as an American puppet, risks undermining the credibility of the talks in
the eyes of many Afghans. “I think the fact that Afghanistan as the only
country not present in the Afghan peace talks is concerning,” said Javid
Faisal, former spokesperson to Abdullah Abdullah, the Chief Executive of
Afghanistan, an office that was set up in a power-sharing agreement brokered by
the US between the two leading presidential candidates during elections in
2014. “Intra-Afghan dialogue [is] the only solution and concrete path forward
for lasting peace in the country.”
added: “As it is going now, there are no guarantees that the process will serve
the goal [of Afghan people] even if the Afghan government and people agree to
an interim government. There are no guarantees for success and no obligations
for Taliban and Pakistan to respect a peace deal for long.”
about Pakistan involvement in the peace process are genuine, Mr Azamy said.
“The influence that Pakistan enjoys over the Taliban is undeniable. I believe
these meetings could never have been possible without Pakistan’s pressure, and
now the Pakistani army is even claiming that out loud," he said, referring
to a recent statement by a Pakistan military spokesperson taking credit for facilitating
talks between the US and the Taliban. Afghans remain apprehensive about
Pakistan's role in the negotiations, fearing that the neighbouring country may
try to exert influence to determine the outcome of talks.
an Afghan, it also worries me that if a deal is made with Pakistan looking over
the Taliban, it will not be in our national interest,” Mr Azamy said.
Khalilzad has rejected accusations about Afghans not being involved in the
process. “There is a false narrative that Afghans are not included. That is not
true. The Afghan voice is there,” he said.
Stanikzai, the activist, is not convinced. If the Taliban do not wish to deal
with the Afghan government, it should reach out directly to the Afghan people,
not call a traditional Loya Jirga [a council of tribal elders] and sit as one
nation and decide the country’s future, rather than sitting with the Americans
in Doha?” he asked.
militants will return home, and to prison, from Syria
government is preparing for an influx of homegrown miltants with the departure
of US troops from Syria, saying Tuesday that anyone who left to fight for ISIS
will go straight to jail.
an interview with BFM television, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said
that a handful of French militants had already returned and more would follow
soon. Neither he nor France’s foreign ministry confirmed BFM’s report that as
many as 130 could come back within weeks.
Americans are leaving Syria. It’s important to keep that in mind,” Castaner
said. “There are a certain number who are imprisoned because the Americans are
there, and they will be freed. They will want to return to France.”
question of what to do with foreigners who joined the ISIS group has grown
increasingly thorny as the US departure looms.
miltants made up the largest contingent of European recruits, and in 2015 and
2016 ISIS cell of French and Belgian fighters who sneaked in from Turkey
attacked Paris and Brussels.
refuses to take back citizens who joined the group and has stripped their
citizenship. Other European countries have remained largely silent about the
fate of men and women whom many see as a security threat.
are people who have voluntarily joined a terrorist organization ... that has
committed attacks in France and continues to threaten us,” France’s foreign
said all would be jailed immediately in France and face trial, but declined to
authorities in Syria have detained 900 foreign members of the group, and 4,000
family of ISIS members, according to Ilham Ahmed, a senior Syrian Kurdish
official. Russia has taken some of the recruits back and jailed them.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there are at least 78 French women and
children who had recently come out of the last stronghold of ISIS in eastern
Syria. This is in addition to another 65 previously evacuated from other
ISIS-held areas and in Kurdish custody. It was not clear if Castaner was also
speaking of civilians and families of ISIS members.
said a small number had already returned to France, although it’s not clear
whether they had voluntarily surrendered or were repatriated, or whether he
meant fighters or their families.
April, then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said French special forces had joined
American troops in Syria.
of Hazrat Shaikh Ji Hali Abul-U-Lai, the Testimony of the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb,
May Not Host Basant Sufi This Year
This year, the Basant Sufi festival at the dargah of Hazrat Shaik ji Hali
Abul-u-lai, which stands as the testimony of the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb
(Hindu-Muslim unity) of Hyderabad, may not be held at the dargah.
Poor maintenance of the 202-year-old shrine in Patthargatti due to a dearth of
funds is poised to be a danger for devotees who throng the shrine regularly.
samaa khana, where cultural programmes like the Basant Sufi festival are held
has only a tin roof which is supported by wooden planks. Over the years the tin
sheet is left with holes and parts of the wooden planks have given way, posing
a danger of collapse at any moment.
mutawali of the dargah has installed a cloth sheet under the tin structure to
prevent any roof piece from falling on those standing below.
towards a rickety-looking joint holding the tin roof, Muzaffar Ali Chisti, the
mutawali of the dargah said, “If that gives in, the whole tin roof would
collapse. With this danger lurking, we cannot hold the Basant Sufi festival
this year inside the dargah.”
have been asking both the Waqf Board and CM KCR, for release of the funds since a GO ordering
the same was issued last May but nothing has borne fruit,” he added.
revived by Ali in the city, the Basant Sufi festival was initiated by the Qutub
Shahis about five centuries ago.
the same to Express, CEO of Telangana State Waqf Board Shahnawaz Qasim, said,
“The increase of salary to imams and muezzins from Rs 1,500 to Rs 5,000 has
drained the budget. Apart from that there are other dargahs in a 2017 GO which
still await funds.”
venues for this year’s Basant Sufi festival -- Salar Jung Museum, Taj Deccan or
Chiran Fort Club, said Ali. The festival will be celebrated on February 10 this
question timing of Centre’s Ayodhya petition in Supreme Court, Shia board hails
bodies and clerics on Tuesday questioned the timing of Centre’s petition in the
Supreme Court offering to return a part of the 67.703 acres acquired in 1993 by
the government in and around a disputed site in Ayodhya to its original owners,
terming the move, months before Lok Sabha elections, unwarranted and one-sided.
petition, seeking to return the undisputed part of the land, sought amendments
to apex court verdicts that had imposed status quo on the acquired plot.
Supreme Court has appointed Centre as the receiver of the entire land keeping
in mind the various intricacies and sensitive nature of the dispute. Hindus
alone do not own the entire 67 acres, there is land belonging to (a) graveyard
and other Muslims also,” said Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli, a member of
the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. In any case, a final call on the
Centre’s plea would be taken by the apex court, he added.
Rizvi, chairman of the UP Shia Central Waqf Board Waseem Rizvi, a votary of the
construction of a Ram Temple at the disputed site welcomed the move. “It’s a
very good initiative. We all know that a grand Ram temple has to be built in
Ayodhya. If the SC releases this land which is not disputed, construction work
on a temple can immediately start...,’” he said.
Shubhajit Roy, Naveed Iqbal
an unusual move, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Tuesday dialled
All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to brief him on
“the efforts of the government of Pakistan to highlight the gross human rights
violations” in Jammu and Kashmir.
is the first time that the new government in Pakistan, under Prime Minister
Imran Khan, has reached out to the Hurriyat.
also informed the Hurriyat leader about events being organised in London,
including at the House of Commons and an exhibition on February 4-5, where
these issues will be highlighted. Official sources in Delhi told The Indian
Express that it is “extremely unusual” for a top Pakistan government
representative to call Hurriyat leaders directly, and said that they do not
recall any such conversation in the last decade. Usually, they said, Pakistani
representatives meet Hurriyat leaders while visiting India, and the Ministry of
External Affairs is kept in the loop.
NDA government, however, has drawn a red line on meetings between visiting
Pakistan representatives and Hurriyat leaders over the last four-and-half
years, even leading to the cancellation of talks at the level of Foreign
Secretary and Foreign Minister.
to The Indian Express, Mirwaiz said Qureshi spoke of involving world capitals
in highlighting the Kashmir issue. “He said, ‘We are very concerned about what
is happening in Jammu and Kashmir’. The most important thing he said was that
Prime Minister Imran Khan tried his best to reach out to the government of
India but unfortunately there was no response… they will reach out to the next
government after the elections.”
to Mirwaiz, Qureshi reiterated that “primarily, hum chahte hain ki baat-chit se
hi saare masle hal ho (we want all issues to be resolved through dialogue), but
there was no response from the government here”.
to the 10-minute conversation, sources in Delhi said it reflects “the duplicity
in the Pakistan leadership’s approach” while referring to Imran Khan’s call for
an attempt by the Pakistan Foreign Minister is a regressive step and is
contrary to the overall perception, which the Pakistan leadership is trying to
create,” sources said.
Pakistan Foreign Minister also raised the June 2018 report issued by the Office
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the APPKG report of the UK
Parliament. India has rejected both these reports.
has been and continues to foment cross-border terrorism in India. Its repeated
attempts to incite disharmony and violence in India continue. The media antics
of its leadership cannot divert attention from the fact that the Pakistan
establishment’s hands are stained with the blood of innocent Indians, including
in J&K and in territory under its illegal occupation,” sources in Delhi
needs to focus on addressing the human rights situation within its own
territory and promoting and protecting its own citizens, especially from the
minority community. The persecution and discrimination of different ethnic
populations, including Pashtuns, Baloch, Ahmediyas, Hindus and Sikhs in
Pakistan, need to end,” sources said.
people of India will defeat all nefarious designs aimed at creating disharmony
and terrorist violence in India,” sources said.
In Muslim Weddings Un-Islamic, Qazi Boycotted Nikah
DELHI: Shattered with the sound of drums, clerics residing in Jhabua refused to
preside over a wedding on Tuesday.
the region, the Qazis have banned drums, DJ s and music on the occasion of
marriage from the past two and a half years.
believe that only vocal music is permissible (halal) and that instruments are
forbidden (haram) in Islam.
to ANI, Hazi Haroon Rasid, Qazis said: “We will not conduct nikah in weddings
where music and dance will happen and DJ will be there. We have banned such
thing in our society as it was un-Islamic. Two and a half years ago, the
decision to ban drums, music and DJ was taken by all. I also spoke to the
family of groom in this regard but they decided to breach the practice. Following
which I announced that the marriage will be boycotted by all Qazis of this
after Qazi’s refusal, the family members of the bride and groom called another
Qazi from the nearby Rajghad town to solemnise the wedding.
out more details about the case, Aishwarya Shastri, SDOP, Jhabua told ANI,
“After the families called the Qazis from the adjoining area. The Qazis of
Jhabua filed a complaint against the groom’s family in the Kotwali police
arrests in Bengal and a supplementary charge sheet filed against six persons,
including a Bangladeshi national currently in a Patna jail, at a special court
in the Bihar capital have thrown light on the fact that the same men linked to
the banned Bangladesh terror outfit Jamaatul Muhadeen Bangladesh (JMB) were
behind both an IED explosion in Bengal’s Burdwan in 2014 and the planting of
three IEDs at the Mahavihara Buddhist temple complex in Bihar’s BodhGaya during
the visit of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama in January 2018.
IEDs exploded in the temple complex but there were no casualties.
National Investigative Agency (NIA) arrested Kadar Kazi and Sajjad Ali in the
Arambagh area of Bengal’s Hooghly district on Monday night for alleged links
with the Burdwan blast in 2014 that had killed two and blown the lid off a
flourishing JMB network in districts of West Bengal.
brings the total number of arrests in the Burdwan case up to 32.
is believed to an associate of Bangladesh national Mohammed Jahidul Islam alias
Bomaru Mizan alias Kausar, an JMB operative who is the key accused in both
Burdwan and Bodh Gaya incidents. Kausar was arrested near Bengaluru last year
and a Bihar police officer has confirmed that he is currently lodged in
Kolkata’s Presidency jail.
the NIA filed a supplementary charge sheet against six men including ‘Kausar’
at a special court in Patna in connection with the Bodh Gaya blasts of 2018.
probe agency had already filed a charge sheet against three accused in
September last year. Kausar, who awaits a death sentence in Bangladesh for three
separate cases, was one of the key accused in the serial blasts in 63
Bangladesh districts in 2005. He had escaped from a prison van during a staged
ambush on the India-Bangladesh border and crossed over to West Bengal.
IUML state general secretary KPA Majeed has said that the Triple Talaq Bill
proposed by the central government was part of the agenda to implement Uniform
Civil Code in the country.
the symposium on 'Triple Talaq Bill- For Whom?' organised by the Vanitha League
here on Tuesday, Majeed said that the rate of divorces in the Muslim community
was significantly less when compared to other communities.
is saying triple talaq is the biggest problem faced by the Muslim women in the
country. Where is triple talaq happening? It is not an issue at all in Kerala.
Even when the entire country is taken into account, the instances of triple
talaq are very limited. The rate of divorces in the Muslim community is
significantly less when compared to other communities," he added.
added that while the BJP led government is portraying triple talaq bill as
reflective of their commitment for protection of rights of Muslim women, the
fact remains that thousands of women and children who were displaced due to the
communal riots in North India are still living on the streets.
to reports, only 23% of those displaced in communal riots in Gujarat have
returned to their homes. Also, women were most affected due to communal
violence in Muzaffarnagar and the government has not taken any steps to protect
or rehabilitate the victims," he added.
said if any changes or amendments are to be made in the Shariat Law or Personal
Law then it has to be done by the Muslim community and its bodies.
Centre is trying to take away the rights of minorities and trying to destroy
their beliefs. The government is making such interventions to implement the
Uniform Civil Code ," he added.
to ‘The Pioneer’ for calling Zakir Naik “Salafist terror preacher”
Delhi: Recently Enforcement Directorate seized some properties of Dr. Zakir
Naik in an alleged money-laundering case. The news, based on a PTI report, was
published by newspapers and electronic media describing Dr. Naik as a
“controversial preacher” but the Pioneer, while publishing the same news in its
front page on 20 January, 2019, described Dr. Naik as “Salafist terror
sou motu cognisance of this, Delhi Minorities Commission has sent a notice to
the Editor of the Pioneer,saying that “this is a gross misuse of media freedoms
to defame a person who is still an accused and no court verdict has been passed
in the case. The said preacher is at best an accused in a case of
money-laundering and not terror funding or preaching.”
SC upholds Aasia Bibi's acquittal in blasphemy case, asks petitioners if Islam
allows punishment for those 'not guilty'
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the review petition filed against
the acquittal of a Christian woman who was on death row for eight years on charges
of blasphemy. The apex court's decision in October to overturn the conviction
of Aasia Bibi sparked nationwide protests and death threats from hardline
three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, dismissed the
review petition filed by Qari Muhammad Salaam, Dawn reported. During the
hearing, Salaam's lawyer said that the matter of Aasia's acquittal is a matter
concerning the Muslim clergy and religious scholars should also be called to
present their point of view. "How is this a matter of religion?" the
chief justice asked. "Has the verdict not been given on merit?"
"The verdict was given on the basis of testimonies; does Islam say that
one should be punished even if they are found not guilty?" he asked.
to us what [you believe] is wrong with the verdict," said Chief Justice
Khosa said. He further said that if testimonies of those involved in the case
were not judged correctly, the court will review them and if the matter needs
to be referred to a larger bench, the decision will be taken.
FIR lodged five days after an incident is suspect," said Justice Khosa
while referring to report lodged in the case and which formed the basis for
Aasia's prosecution. He said that testimonies also differed in their account
regarding the size and the place of the crowd which had gathered following the
blasphemy accusation, the Express Tribune reported. The lawyer countered that
late registration of an FIR does not necessarily mean ill intention.
"Should we then hand an accused on the basis of such testimonies,"
questioned the chief justice.
dismissed the review petition filed against the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, saying
the petitioner was not able to point out any mistake in the apex court verdict
acquitting the 47-year-old woman.
was tightened in Islamabad where the court is located. Paramilitary Rangers
were deployed in addition to the regular police to deal with any unsavoury
situation. Bibi's lawyer, who fled to the Netherlands after receiving death
threats for defending her, returned home last week to represent her in the
a 47-year-old mother of four, who is now in protective custody, was convicted
in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours.
She always maintained her innocence but spent most of the past eight years in
solitary confinement. She challenged the verdict in October 2014 in the Lahore
High Court which upheld the death sentence. The apex court's decision to acquit
her had sparked three-day-long mass protests led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik
filed the review petition in the case on 1 November, 2018 at the Lahore
registry of the apex court, urging the Supreme Court to reconsider its
decision. In the petition, it has been argued that the Supreme Court's
acquittal of Bibi did not meet the standards of jurisprudence as well as
Islamic provisions and the "normal principle of justice with reference to
application in blasphemy laws".
: Religious slogans were used in the run-up to the country by the mob not the
elite, said Chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology Dr. Qibla Ayaz.
shared his thoughts during a daylong first-ever “Dialogue Pakistan 2019,”
organized by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), a leading think tank of
Pakistan. Renowned experts, serving and former parliamentarians, political
leaders, former military officials, and religious scholars participated in the
speakers said that the only way forward for Pakistan is dialogue. They were of
the opinion that different segments of the society, irrespective of their
political leaning; civil and military players; government and opposition should
hold dialogues with each other to get out of the problems they often blame on
now, many of our critical debates are outdated, inviting polarizing opinions or
leading all the way to the genesis of the country. This despite that the world
around has changed a lot,” shared the speakers.
University’s Dr. Jaffar Ahmed said the country was founded as a result of
separatist ideals, rather than any religious ones. After the country was
formed, the discourse shifted to political Islam, which was used by successive
governments and bureaucracy to further their end. Former senator Afrasiab
Khattak argued that enforced uniformity is problematic. Such top-down approach
has failed in the past, and will do in the future, he said.
director Muhammad Amir Rana noted the issue seemed to be more about struggle
over resources between the two players.
issue of parliamentary supremacy also came in the dialogue. Several former and
serving parliamentarians wondered if parliament really is supreme, saying there
always are constraining forces.
Babar said it is incorrect to blame parliament for not doing its job, saying
that many a questions of parliament were unanswered on the grounds of being
“sensitive and secretive.”
Senator Parvez Rasheed argued that political parties are fighting for their own
survival. They have to bear cases which are implanted on them, he said, leading
to situation in which parliament takes backseat.
former military official Lt. Gen. (r) Amjad Shoaib wondered who stops the
parliament from taking matters of public interest. He asked why the parliament
did not discuss economic issues. He contested the view that the country is
becoming a security state, saying there is no controlled environment.
MNA of Jamiat Ulema Islam Hafiz Hussain Ahmed said political parties are also
responsible for weakening the parliament. PPP’s Nafisa Shah agreed, saying
parliament has often not been treated seriously by members. She called for
making it more transparent and accessible to the people.
foreign policy, scholar Moeed Yusuf said while we continue to indulge in
debates about facts, the world around is changing. He said ten years down the
road, India-Pakistan power differential will be equal to India-Sri Lanka’s. He
said Pakistan’s foreign policy centers around India. It is reflected in all its
relations, with all its neighbours. “Virtually every single decision we made
has been driven around India”, he said.
Rahimullah Yusufzai said insecurities emanating from India essentially tailored
our policy around India. Former foreign minister Inam ul Haq said India appears
to be more obsessed with Pakistan than Pakistan is with India. After all, while
Pakistan is an issue in India's domestic politics, in Pakistan, India is not,
he said. Similarly, former Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations
Maj. Gen (r) Athar Abbas said one has to be prepared for challenges. “When
Indian National Security Advisor talks about covert operations”, he said, this
is a challenge to be confronted.
Afghanistan, Inam ul Haq said Pakistan is "overly apprehensive" of
Indian influence. He argued Pakistan should have no qualms about Afghanistan
trading with India. Meanwhile, Rahimullah reminded that since 1960s, Pakistan
and Afghanistan have been supporting each other's opponents.
the rationale of the Dialogue Pakistan 2019, PIPS director Muhammad Amir Rana
said that problems in the country can be resolved by promoting the culture of
dialogue. Former CII Khalid Masud said dialogues are rooted in Islamic
traditions, and that dialogues, which are about exchanging views among each
other, can help achieve consensus on different issues. Dialogues, he said, not
only provide rights to the citizens but also strengthen the state.
Pakistan and Russia on Tuesday agreed to continue coordinating their positions
on efforts for peace in Afghanistan.
understanding was reached during Russian Special Representative on Afghanistan
Ambassador Zamir Kabulov’s meetings with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi
and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.
Kabulov was in Islamabad for consultations on regional political situation and
the Afghan peace process.
has renewed efforts for facilitating the peace process in Afghanistan. The
United States and Taliban last week held six-day-long negotiations after which
both sides claimed significant progress although some issues still remain to be
Qureshi in his meeting with Mr Kabulov underscored that Pakistan was
facilitating the ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban as a shared
responsibility and in good faith and hoped that the talks would lead to an
Taliban have since the start of negotiations with the US refused to talk to the
Afghan government until Washington committed to a clear withdrawal plan.
Kabulov noted that Russia and Pakistan were important stakeholders in peace and
stability in Afghanistan and it was in their shared interest to support all
efforts for peace and stability there through their close coordination.
two sides agreed to continue regular consultations on Afghan peace process and
support regional initiatives to bring lasting peace in Afghanistan and the
region,” a Foreign Office statement said.
Minister Qureshi later left for a visit to Muscat, Oman.
his two-day trip to Oman, the minister will attend the meeting of Pak-Oman
Joint Ministerial Commission. He would also be meeting Omani Foreign Minister
Yusuf bin Alawi and deputy prime minister Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud al Said.
Qureshi, in his pre-departure statement, said he would take the Omani
leadership into confidence regarding the situation in Afghanistan.
a major blow the already strained bilateral relations, Bangladesh on Tuesday
refused to accept the credentials of Saqlain Syedah as Pakistan’s high
commissioner in Dhaka, according to a report published by a local English
to the report, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid’s government did not cite any
reason for refusing to accept the envoy’s credentials.
ambassadorial position had fallen vacant after Rafiuzaman Siddiqui’s retirement
in last year. Syedah, a PBS-20 officer in the Foreign Service of Pakistan, was
named as the new high commissioner to Bangladesh subsequently.
year, Pakistan’s Foreign Office had condemned controversial statements issued
by the Bangladesh premier, in which she had urged her compatriots to ‘punish’
those who still loved Pakistan despite living in an independent nation.
LUMPUR- A Muslim politician from Chinese-based ruling party, the Democratic
Action Party ( DAP), has been appointed to the board of trustees of the Islamic
Propagation Foundation of Malaysia (Yadim).
bold move might unsettle Malay Muslims, most of whom have yet to give the
Pakatan Harapan (PH) government their support.
DAP politician is Mr Sheikh Omar Ali, 33, who holds a Bachelor's degree in
Usuluddin (Islamic studies) from Universiti Malaya, majoring in dakwah
(propagation), local media reported on Tuesday (Jan 29).
left Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to join the DAP in 2005, and is today the
Johor State Cabinet Minister for Information, Entrepreneurship Development,
Cooperatives and Creative Economy.
has a high-profile role in Malaysia. It is an agency under the Prime Minister's
Department that coordinates Islamic propagation involving government agencies
and non-governmental organisations.
appointment of Mr Sheikh Omar was announced by Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Malaysia's
de facto Islamic Affairs Minister on Tuesday (Jan 29).
Omar was appointed as someone with a religious education background," he
said, as quoted by Malaysiakini. "There should be no negative
perception... he's a Muslim, he has merit, and contributed some good ideas in
the past," he told reporters.
of the PH government, of which the DAP is a member, may be discomfited by the
appointment, especially as the two main opposition parties - Umno and PAS -
have been pushing the line that the DAP is anti-Islam.
deputy Islamic affairs minister and Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said
on Tuesday that Mr Sheikh Omar is from a party that had never recognised Islam
as Malaysia's official religion.
institutions in Malaysia, Datuk Asyraf claims, are under threat from the
"DAP-dominated" PH government.
of the appointment comes as the four-party ruling alliance is still struggling
to attract more Malay support, eight months after winning the general election.
candidate from the DAP lost badly in the Cameron Highlands by-election held
last Saturday, as Malay voters mostly backed Umno despite last-minute
campaigning by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The human resources ministry today said it will take into account views from
the National Labour Advisory Council (NLAC) before it implements dress code
guidelines for Muslim workers in the private sector.
said the guidelines will first be presented at a meeting of the NLAC before the
final draft is completed.
ministry said that as a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO),
Malaysia will take into account views from the NLAC on matters involving human
guidelines will only apply to Muslim workers in the private sector and their
formulation is important to address possible instances of workplace
discrimination, Bernama quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.
final draft is currently being finalised towards its implementation.
if an employer compels employees to wear clothing contrary to their religious
beliefs, complaints about this matter may be forwarded to the Labour
Department,” the ministry said.
August last year, the minister in charge of Islamic affairs, Mujahid Yusof
Rawa, announced in the Dewan Rakyat that the government was working on a dress
code for women workers in the private sector.
announcement drew criticism from certain groups, including the Women’s Aid
Organisation (WAO), which said the government should not be policing what women
a report that certain hotels prohibited frontline staff from wearing headscarves
had sparked controversy, leading to groups calling for a boycott of the hotels.
politician appointed to Islamic agency board
LUMPUR • A Muslim politician from the Chinese-based ruling party has been
appointed to the board of trustees of the Islamic Propagation Foundation of
bold move by the Democratic Action Party (DAP) politician is seen by observers
as one which may unsettle Malay Muslims, most of whom have yet to give the
Pakatan Harapan (PH) government their support.
politician, Mr Sheikh Omar Ali, 33, holds a Bachelors degree in Usuluddin
(Islamic studies) from Universiti Malaya, majoring in dakwah (propagation),
local media reported yesterday. He left Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to join
the DAP in 2005, and is today the Johor state Cabinet minister for Information,
Entrepreneurship Development, Cooperatives and Creative Economy.
is an agency under the Prime Minister's Department that coordinates Islamic
propagation involving government agencies and non-governmental organisations.
appointment of Mr Sheikh Omar was announced by Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof
Rawa, Malaysia's de facto Islamic Affairs Minister, yesterday.
Omar was appointed as someone with a religious education background,"
Malaysiakini cited him as saying. "There should be no negative
perception... he's a Muslim, he has merit, and contributed some good ideas in
the past," he told reporters.
deputy Islamic affairs minister and Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said
yesterday that Mr Sheikh Omar is from a party that has never recognised Islam
as Malaysia's official religion. Islamic institutions in Malaysia, he claims,
are under threat from the "DAP-dominated" PH government.
grenade was thrown into a mosque in the southern Philippines where Muslim teachers
were sleeping early on Wednesday morning, killing two of them and injuring
four, authorities said.
was the second explosion at a religious site in the south this week, though
authorities didn't see it as retaliation for the bombings of a Roman Catholic
cathedral in nearly Jolo during Sunday Mass that killed 21 people.
police Chief Superintendent Emmanuel Luis D. Licup said investigators are
trying to determine the motive and identity of the suspect in the grenade
attack at the mosque in Zamboanga city.
victims were from Basilan and nearby provinces at the mosque to teach Islam to
Col Leonel M Nicolas emphasized the grenade blast was not a retaliatory act and
was still under investigation. Licup said a personal grudge was among the
Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula condemned the attack as "an inhumane
act" and called for people to be "calm yet vigilant." President
Rodrigo Duterte's office described the mosque attack as a taunt to the
government and said the successive attacks on different places of worship
showed the ruthlessness of terrorists.
peace process for the southern region would not be stalled by such obstacles,
presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said. "The movement to change
the face of Mindanao and the oppressive conditions affecting its people shall
move forward despite these acts of terrorism," the statement said.
official military and police toll for the cathedral attack was raised to 21
dead with about 100 wounded. One of the dead is still unidentified.
Islamic State group claimed two suicide bombers carried out the cathedral
attack, one who detonated an explosive belt inside the building and the other
near the entrance. Philippine authorities have named as their main suspect a
commander of a local Abu Sayyaf faction that has pledged allegiance to IS.
said Tuesday that an unidentified militant couple detonated the two bombs, and
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at least one was a suicide bomber.
Twin bombings during a church service on a southern Philippine island were most
likely perpetrated by a cell from a domestic militant group, the country’s
armed forces chief said Tuesday.
Jan. 27 attacks on Jolo Island, Sulu province, killed at least 21 people and
wounded more than 100. They were one of the deadliest in recent years in a
region plagued by decades of instability.
most prominent, the most possible angle is that it was perpetrated by the Abu
Sayyaf Group (ASG) under commander Hajjan Sawadjan” with the support of the
Ajang-Ajang faction of the group, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. told Arab News.
Sayyaf, meaning “Bearer of the Sword,” was founded in the 1990s. Some factions
pledged allegiance to Daesh in 2014 and mostly engage in piracy and kidnap for
ransom. Experts say the group is fragmented and lacks a central command,
operating largely in disparate cells run by different commanders across the
a cell within ASG, is notorious for kidnapping and extortion in Sulu. Police
believe it carried out the church attacks in revenge for relatives who were
killed during military operations against ASG.
and police officials said the bombs —
planted inside and outside of the church — appeared to have been detonated remotely.
Tuesday the military also identified one of the suspects as Kamah, a known
bombmaker and brother of slain senior ASG figure Surakah Ingog.
said it was unclear if the church attacks were suicide bombings.
confirmed as suicide bombings they would be the second such attack in the
Philippines and consistent with details of a claim of responsibility by Daesh
through its Amaq news agency on Monday.
army chief downplayed the Daesh announcement, however, saying anyone could claim
the attack and it was yet to be proven if it was the work of the jihadi group.
said it was possible that Sawadjan’s forces were inspired by Daesh, but that
the attackers were “locals, and part of the ASG.”
have been reports in the last few years that foreign Daesh fighters forced out
of Syria and Iraq were arriving in the Philippines with the aim of recruiting.
announced in 2016 that it had established what it called the “East Asia
Province” in the Philippines, appointing ex-ASG leader Insilon Hapilon as its
than 1,100 people were killed in 2017 when pro-Daesh militants attacked and
held the Philippine city of Marawi for five months, leading to massive
destruction across the scenic lakeside town.
year Daesh said it was behind an attack in which a device was detonated by the
driver of a van when he was stopped at a remote checkpoint in Basilan province,
killing 11 people. The driver was believed to be a foreigner and may have
triggered the device prematurely, security officials told journalists at the
personalities have been looking into Southeast Asia,” Madrigal said. He added
there were reports that some transnational individuals linked with the group
had embedded themselves in ASG and were engaged in training its members,
especially in IED making.
the general claimed that such individuals had been thwarted.
have to maintain and enhance our coordination with our Asian neighbors so that
even before coming into the Philippines we are able to arrest and neutralize
these personalities,” he said, referring to Indonesia and Malaysia.
Philippines’ immigration bureau said it was on high alert to prevent the
possible entry of foreign terrorists.
US Senate advanced legislation reaffirming support for allies in the Middle
East on Monday, including fresh sanctions on Syria and a measure that combats
the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel over its
policies toward the Palestinians.
had blocked the package in the Senate during the 35-day partial government
shutdown, saying the chamber should first consider legislation to reopen the
after Friday’s agreement to end the shutdown at least until Feb. 15, most of
the Senate’s Democrats joined Republicans in favor of taking up the bill.
measure is still several steps from becoming law, and may never get there. Even
if passed by the Senate, it must also be approved by the House of
Representatives, where Democrats hold a majority of seats.
legislation includes provisions to impose new sanctions on Syria and guarantee
security assistance to Israel and Jordan. Those are seen as efforts to reassure
US allies worried about shifts in US policy since President Donald Trump
abruptly announced plans last month for a quick withdrawal of US troops in
the act also includes the BDS provision, which opponents consider an
impingement of free speech.
I do not support the BDS movement, we must defend every American’s
constitutional right to engage in political activity. It is clear to me that
this bill would violate Americans’ First Amendment rights,” said Senator Bernie
Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and was a “no” vote on
Republicans accused Democrats of supporting the BDS movement, which they see as
anti-Semitic. Democrats in turn accused Republicans of trying to use the BDS
measure to divide moderate and liberal Democrats.
intelligence chiefs have contradicted President Donald Trump's assertions
related to national security, underlining a persistent division in his view of
the world and theirs.
a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday, Director of National
Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA director Gina Haspel appeared to contradict the
claims made by Trump on the Daesh terrorist group and North Korea.
announced last month that he was going to withdraw American troops from Syria
because Daesh had been defeated and there was no reason for the US to extend
military presence in the war-torn country.
decision, however, was met with criticism from both Democrats and Republicans,
prompting then defense secretary James Mattis and Brett McGurk, the US special
envoy to the so-called anti-Daesh coalition in Syria and Iraq, to resign.
said Tuesday that "ISIS (Daesh) is intent on resurging and still commands
thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria."
intelligence assessment is that the terror group "very likely will
continue to pursue external attacks from Iraq and Syria against regional and
Western adversaries, including the United States," he added.
North Korea, Trump said in June, after returning from Singapore where he had held
a historic summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un, that Pyongyang did not
pose any nuclear threat.
the end of that summit, the two leaders signed a brief, broadly-worded document
according to which both sides committed to working “towards complete
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
the Tuesday hearing, however, Coats said that "we currently assess that
North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to
completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability because its
leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival."
intelligence community's "assessment is bolstered by observation of some
activity that is inconsistent with full denuclearization," he noted.
White House spokesman, commenting on Coats’ remarks, said, "Our goal is to
achieve the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK as Chairman Kim
committed to in Singapore."
foreign ministers of the global coalition fighting the Daesh terror
organization will meet in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 6, the U.S. State Department
full 79-member Coalition will meet for in-depth discussions on the impending
territorial defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which is the result of four years
of Coalition and our partners’ efforts, and a significant milestone towards
delivering ISIS an enduring defeat," said the department in a statement,
using another name for Daesh.
meeting comes amid the U.S. withdrawal of troops announced by President Donald
Trump in December, who said the U.S.-led coalition had succeeded in militarily
defeating the Daesh terrorist group.
to the statement, the ministers will discuss the "next phase" of the
anti-Daesh fight in Iraq and Syria, which it said would focus on protecting
against a resurgence of the organization through stabilization and security
will also discuss important next steps in degrading ISIS’s global networks and
affiliates outside Iraq and Syria," said the statement.
McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, is challenging Donald Trump’s
decision to pull out troops from Syria and Afghanistan through offering a
legislative amendment against a “precipitous withdrawal”.
McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor on Tuesday, said he is proposing an
amendment to the bipartisan backed bill ‘Strengthening America's Security in
the Middle East Act’, which cautions against withdrawing from either Syria or
Trump has ordered the Pentagon to put plans for US troop pull-out from both
wars, against the advice of his top generals and former Secretary of Defence
McConnell explained his rare move against the president as one that “would
recognise the danger of a precipitous withdrawal of either conflict and
highlight the need for diplomatic engagement and political solutions to the
underlying conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan.”
it is tempting to retreat to the comfort and security of our own shores, there
is still a great deal of work to be done…we know that left untended, these
conflicts will reverberate in our own cities,” the Republican leader warned.
refuted Mr Trump’s notion that ISIS is defeated in Syria, and said “Al Qaeda,
ISIS, and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious
threat to our nation.”
bill will require majority support to pass in Congress, and two thirds support
to override a possible veto by Mr Trump.
US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also contradicted Mr Trump’s
assessment on ISIS. Testifying to Congress on Tuesday, he said “ISIS is intent
on re-surging returned and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and
Mr Trump was initially planning a 30-day-withdrawal from Syria when he
announced his decision last month, a more prolonged and coordinated withdrawal is
now being planned. Kurdish leader and co-president of the Syrian Democratic
Council Ilham Ahmed is currently in Washington to convince the administration
to slow down the pull out.
are asking the Trump administration to slow down the withdrawal and instead
implement a well-studied plan,” Ms Ahmed told The National during an event
hosted by The Middle East Institute on Tuesday.
said there has been no change in US military posture in Syria since Mr Trump
announced his decision, and was firm in rejecting any Turkish military presence
or Turkish led safe zone in the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) held areas.
the Syrian Kurdish leader said her group would be open to accepting UN monitors
that won’t include a Turkish contingent. She characterised the 32km safe zone
under consideration as a Turkish idea and not a US one reiterating that the SDF
will reject it.
Commandos of the Afghan National Army (ANA) have rescued at least 38 people
from a Taliban-run prison in southeastern Ghazni province.
Commander of the Special Operations Corps of the Afghan Military Gen. Bismillah
Waziri told reporters 38 people including three civilians have been rescued
from a Taliban prison during an operation which was conducted in Aab Band
district of Ghazni.
Waziri further added that 9 Afghan National Army soldiers and number of Afghan
National Police soldiers were also rescued during the operations.
said the militants had also abducted a number of security personnel of a
parliamentary candidate as well as members of the public uprising forces.
acting minister of defense Asadullah Khalid hailed the Afghan Commandos for the
successful conduct of the operation which resulted into the release of the
also added that he had vowed to take the fight into the hideouts of the
terrorists and the Afghan Commandos have proven this during their operation in
Aab Band district of Ghazni.
least 23 ISIS Khurasan (ISIS-K) and Taliban militants were killed during
separate operations and airstrikes of the Afghan and Coalition Forces in the
past 24 hours.
to the informed military sources, the Afghan Special Forces conducted a
clearance operation in Sangin district of Helmand province killing 5 Taliban
fighters and destroying 8 IEDs and 150 pounds of homemade explosives.
coalition air strike also killed 2 Taliban fighters in Nahr-e Saraj district of
Helmand while another coalition air strike killed 2 ISIS-K fighters in Khugyani
district of Nangarhar, the sources added.
Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Achin district of Nangarhar killing 8
ISIS-K fighters and destroying a weapons cache and a house-borne IED, the
source said, adding that Afghan Special Forces also conducted a raid in
Darah-ye Pech district of Kunar killing 2 ISIS-K fighters.
the publication of reports in Blitz on busting of huge drug haul in Sri Lanka
and activities of narco-jiahdists within South Asian countries, elite force of
Bangladesh Police, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) on January 29, 2019 detained
six members of jihadists belonging to transnational drug trafficking racket.
The arrestees are Fatima Imam Tania, 26, Afsana Mimi, 23, Salma Sultana, 26,
Sheikh Mohammad Badhon aka Parvez, 28 and Ruhul Amin aka Simon, 29. They were
detailed in separate raids.
the possession of these arrested members of narco-jihadist racket, the elite
police unit has recovered 1,970 Yaba pills, foreign currency notes and
passports. They have “confessed to being involved in an international drug
racket” during preliminary questioning, but the RAB sources did not disclose
any information on their involvement with jihadist outfits, although it was
earlier reported in Blitz that such groups are affiliated with Islamic State
Dec 31, Sri Lankan Police seized 272 kilograms of heroin and five kilograms of
cocaine during a special operation at a housing complex in Templers Road at
Colombo’s Mount Lavinia.
Bangladeshis caught in the operation were Mohammed Jamaluddin of Bogura and
Rafiul Islam of Joypurhat. According to Sri Lankan police, the two had arrived
in Sri Lanka on December 23. Investigative reporters of this newspaper have
already identified Mohammed Jamaluddin and Rafiul Islam to be directly
connected to Jamaat e Islami.
on Dec 14, two suspects were arrested in Nugegoda, a suburb in Colombo, with
one kilogram of heroin hidden in a cake box, Superintendent of Police
Gunasekara had told the Daily Mirror.
of the suspects had a remote controller for a roller gate and other keys. We
found that the keys belonged to a two-storey house on Kawdana Road, Dehiwala
Dec 15, a Bangladeshi woman called ‘Surjamoni’ was arrested with another cake
box of heroin. A police search in the building she rented, led to the discovery
of 31 kilograms of heroin.
hauls caused a sensation and led to the New Year’s Eve raid at Mount Lavinia,
conducted jointly by Sri Lanka’s Police Narcotic Bureau and the Special Task
the raid, packets, containers and luggage items filled with heroin were found
everywhere in the house, said SP Gunasekara.
safe-house had been used to weigh and repack expired drugs … we believe the
drugs were transported by sea and air.”
January 5, 2019, Bangladesh’s Department of Narcotics Control detained a person
named ‘Choice Rahman’ from a house at Dhaka’s Uttara. Rahman was named in a
case by the Criminal Investigation Department filed at Uttara West Police
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said the alliance will continue to
stay with the United States in Afghanistan.
during a press conference with the acting defense secretary of the United States
Patrick Shnahan in Washington, Mr. Stoltenberg said “We continue to stay with
the United States in Afghanistan. We
welcome the talks with Taliban.”
said “Ambassador Khalilzad briefed all allies a few weeks ago, and the reason
why NATO is in Afghanistan is to create a condition for peaceful solution to
make sure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for international
terrorists and to send a message to Taliban that they will not win on the
battlefield, so they have to sit down at the negotiating table, and therefore
we are encouraged by what we see now, the progress and — and talks with
comes as efforts are underway to revive direct peace talks between the Afghan
government and Taliban group leaders to end the ongoing violence in the
U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Khalilzad
had earlier said that significant progress has been made on vital issues during
the 6-day talks with Taliban political leaders in Qatar.
Special Forces of the Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security
(NDS) have busted a gang of foreign terrorists in western Nimroz province of
Afghanistan. The National Directorate of Security (NDS) in a statement said one
terrorist was killed during the operation and three others were arrested. The
statement further added that the operation against the gang was conducted in
Zaranj city based on intelligence tip off. The gang was led by terrorist leader
Khadem and were originally hailing from Pakistan who were recently deployed to
Zaranj city to plan and coordinate armed attacks in the city, NDS added in its
statement. The leader of the terrorists Khadem was killed during the operation
and three others identified as Esmatullah alias Hafiz son of Mohammad Ali,
Abdul Shakoor alias Daman son of Saifullah, and Hamrazuddin alias Jahan Zeb son
of Farzandullah were arrested, acording to NDS statement. The anti-government
armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the
killing of the foreign militants so far.
rights court: Turkey didn’t cooperate on murder case
top human rights court has ordered Turkey to pay a fine to the relatives of a
murdered Turkish Cypriot family after ruling it had failed to cooperate with
neighboring Cyprus in investigating the 14-year-old crime.
European Court of Human Rights said on Tuesday that Turkey hadn’t made “the
minimum effort required” to live up to its obligation to work with Cyprus in
getting to the bottom of the 2005 killing of a Turkish Cypriot man, his wife
three were found shot dead on a highway in the internationally recognized,
southern part of ethnically divided Cyprus.
court found that Turkey failed to even respond to the Cypriot government’s
extradition requests for the murder suspects, who had crossed into the island’s
breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.
cast start fundraising page for UK Islamic school in hate crime attack
former cast of a popular British television series have started an online
campaign to raise money for an Islamic school which was targeted in racist
Academy in the northern English city of Newcastle was broken into last week by
vandals who spray-painted swastikas and anti-Muslim graffiti on the walls and
threw copies of the Quran on the floor.
school’s building, which was bought by an Islamic charity in 2010 to be turned
into a school, was the former set of TV series Byker Grove, which ran from
show’s former artistic director Anna Magrath as well as former actors and crew
members set up a Go Fund me page to help with clearing up the damage and
improve security of the building.
is a peaceful city and we cannot allow a few mindless thugs to cause divides
amongst us or represent us,” a statement on the fundraising page read.
attack a place where children are supposed to feel safe is unacceptable.”
police, who said the attack happened between Thursday night and Friday morning,
are treating the incident as a hate crime.
the school’s leaders have said they do not want the vandals to be punished.
Muhammad Abdulmuheet revealed that the site had been frequently targeted by
vandals since it was bought by Bahr academy. Still under restoration, the site
is scheduled to be opened to students next year.
Abdulmuheet said he wanted to speak with the vandals to say “we are not really
what you might have thought we are".
told the BBC: "We want to speak to you, so you can find out what we are
about and teach you what Islam actually says, so you have a correct understanding
of what we are trying to do in these places."
Forbes, leader of Newcastle city council, condemned the attack and called the
city to unite in the face of division.
European Union (EU) has censured a ruling by Bahrain’s Supreme Court to uphold
a life sentence for prominent opposition figure Sheikh Ali Salman as “a further
step against dissenting voices.”
highest court on Monday upheld life sentences issued against Sheikh Ali Salman,
who is the secretary general of the now-dissolved al-Wefaq movement, and two
senior al-Wefaq leaders, Sheikh Hassan Sultan and Ali Alaswad, in November last
year on charges of spying for Qatar.
final “verdict marks a further step against dissenting voices and undermines
the residual chances for an inclusive political dialogue in the Kingdom of
Bahrain,” an EU spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.
also reiterated its “concerns over the increasingly limited political space in
rights groups have frequently said cases against activists in Bahrain fail to
meet the fundamental requirements of fair trials.
European Union expects Bahrain to fulfill its international and national Human
Rights obligations, including guaranteeing the right to a fair trial, in the
interest of the long term stability of the country and its citizens,” the
Monday ruling was also condemned by Amnesty International, which described the
verdict as another blow to the freedom of expression in Bahrain.
of anti-regime protesters have regularly held demonstrations in Bahrain ever
since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.
are demanding that the Al Khalifah dynasty relinquish power and allow a just
system representing all Bahrainis to be established.
has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. In March 2011,
troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist
Bahrain in its crackdown.
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday held a surprise second meeting with
his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi after talks with the country’s top
clerics, ending a three-day visit aimed at boosting ties while raising human
traveling on to Cyprus for a summit of southern EU countries, Macron and
El-Sisi held an unscheduled 45-minute meeting at Cairo airport.
Macron met with Pope Tawadros II at St. Mark’s Cathedral, the seat of Egypt’s
ancient Coptic Orthodox Church. They both stressed the need for “dialogue
decided that a new conference will be held in Paris to see how to act more
effectively,” he said, without giving details.
diplomatic source said the French capital would host a forum on religious
minorities in the Middle East, but without giving a date.
visited the church adjacent to the cathedral that was the site of a December 2016
jihadist attack, which killed 29 people.
also met in Cairo with Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, the most
prestigious seat of Sunni Islamic learning in Egypt.
talks centered on “the training of imams (prayer leaders) in France and the
fight against the misguided vision of religion,” the French presidency said.
on Tuesday, Macron lunched with civil society members “active in the areas of
judicial protection of detainees, press freedom, gender equality and children’s
defense,” the presidency said.
France is preparing for the return of dozens of French extremists held by
Kurdish authorities in Syria after the United States announced the withdrawal
of its forces, its interior minister said on Tuesday, marking a shift in Paris’
policy on the issue.
like other European nations, has been wrestling with how to handle suspected
militants and their families seeking to return from combat zones in Iraq and
Syria, as well as those in detention, after Daesh lost huge swathes of
policy until now has been to categorically refuse to take back fighters and
their wives. Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has categorized them as
“enemies” of the nation who should face justice either in Syria or Iraq.
Americans are disengaging from Syria and there are people who are in prison and
held because the Americans are there and they will be released. They will want
to come back to France,” Christophe Castaner told BFM TV.
want all those who return to France to be put immediately into the hands of
justice,” he added, responding to an unsourced report by BFM that 130 French
extremists wil be released in the coming weeks.
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which have been backed by 2,000 US troops
and air support from nations including France, are holding about 150 French
citizens in north-eastern Syria, including 50 adults, according to military and
families, officials estimate 250 French extremists are still fighting in Syria,
including 150 in the Hajjin area, one of the final bits of territory held by
Daesh in eastern Syria, and 100 in Idlib province.
officials in private say that they will have no choice but to change policy on
citizens who went as jihadists to fight in the Middle East. Paris is already
trying to repatriate minors on a case-by-case basis.
decision to withdraw from Syria quickly has left Paris fearing that French
extremists will either disperse or fall into the hands of the Syrian government
if the Kurdish-led forces strike a peace deal with the government in Damascus.
the evolution of the military situation in north-east Syria, American
decisions, and to ensure the safety of the French people, we are examining all
options to avoid the escape and dispersion of these potentially dangerous
people,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told a daily briefing
and Croatian interior ministers on Tuesday discussed cooperation on security
issues and fight against terror, said Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.
and Croatian counterpart Davor Bozinovic met in Ankara and spoke to reporters
after the meeting.
Turkish minister said he discussed cooperation on security issues, fight
against terror, irregular migration, anti-narcotics efforts and bilateral
relations with his counterpart.
today’s meeting, we had the chance to review our bilateral relations with
Croatia in a comprehensive way," Soylu said.
expressed hope that Croatia will consider carefully the "very
important" issues for Turkey mentioned at the meeting, referring to
Fetullah Terrorist Organization (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.
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.
for his part, said there are around 4 million Syrians living in Turkey and he
thanked and praised Turkey for hosting them.
kids of Daesh terrorists to be returned to Tunisia
delegation from the Tunisian government collected DNA from the alleged children
of Daesh Takfiri terrorists in a bid to return them to their families in
Tunisia, in the Libyan city of Misurata on Sunday.
children, who are currently living at a Red Crescent center in the city,
arrived there from Sirte where Daesh was defeated in 2016.
then, according to children’s supervisor Faisal Jalwal, 53 children of nine
different nationalities have arrived at the Red Crescent center.
were suffering psychological and physical diseases. During that period the Red
Crescent performed many medical operations including bone and plastic
surgeries,” said Jalwal.
date when the children might be taken to Tunisia is yet to be set as their
origin has first to be confirmed.
Muslims long to be legally recognized
being one of the world's largest religions, Islam remains officially
unrecognized in Angola.
southern African nation has a population of nearly 30 million people, 75
percent of whom are Christians – most of them Catholics.
country’s Muslim population totals roughly 800,000, said David Alberto Ja, head
of the Islamic Community of Angola.
Islam has ancient roots in Angola, the spread of Islam began in the 1990s as
massive immigration took place from the West African countries of Mali,
Senegal, and Guinea, among others,” Alberto Ja told Anadolu Agency.
said religion in Angola had been affected by the particular reality of the
nation – its political history marked by socialist ideology and years of civil
and legal reforms were slow,” he said.
former regime was not so open with Islam in particular and freedoms in general.
Consequently, Muslims faced many challenges. One of the most controversial
issues regarding religion is the Law on Religion.”
2004, the law has determined that for a religion to be recognized by the state,
it must have more than 100,000 members and a presence in over two-thirds of the
addition, a religious group must submit a minimum of 60,000 signatures to the
government to have its congregation legalized.
is now a reality which cannot be denied,” Alberto Ja said, adding that Muslims
in Angola are in the process of collecting the 60,000 signatures.
said this edict was passed just recently by Angola’s National Assembly,
reducing the minimum number from 100,000.
on official legal status
spite of the legal restrictions imposed by the government, Alberto Ja said he
is optimistic about the future.
have to say that as a result of the current political reforms in Angola,
Muslims are witnessing better relations with the state and society.”
many lawyers view the legal requirements as a government tactic to limit
freedom of religion and say it goes against the rights of religious and ethnic
the lack of legal recognition, Muslims have been freely exercising their
religion for many decades, and there are now 60 mosques in Angola, Mohammed
Saleh Jabu, head of Islamic Religious Guidance/Irshad and Cooperation in
Angola, told Anadolu Agency.
are around 1,000 religious communities in Angola, of which only 84 have been
are free to exercise our religion, but the government has yet to recognize
Islam as one of the official religions of the state, and that should change,”
said Jabu. “We are in the process of legalizing our religion.”
said the Justice Ministry has recognized the Supreme Council of Angolan Muslims
of Luanda and that other institutions would follow.
also called on Islamic countries to support the council.
is also a problem with the number of Islamic books in circulation because of
the challenges of printing and distribution,” he said.
Ja echoed Juba’s call.
shall be grateful if in Islamic conferences held by Turkey, we could be
informed too, considering the role the Turkish Republic plays in Islamic
N.Y. — Deep in the dense woods near the Catskill Mountains, a settlement was
started decades ago by Muslim families, many of them African-Americans from New
York City, who were seeking to distance themselves from neighborhoods they saw
as dangerous and laden with corrosive influences. Holy Islamberg was intended
to be a refuge, a serene environment to pray and bring up children.
the years since, the enclave’s residents have forged relationships with state
and local law enforcement, and made connections with their non-Muslim neighbors
from nearby towns. They work alongside each other in medical clinics and
offices. Their children are teammates in youth football and basketball games.
residents of Islamberg have found that there is no such thing as a safe haven
in the internet age.
theorists and anti-Muslim groups have sketched a false portrayal of the
community as a hidden-away den of Islamic extremism. Last week, the police in
Greece, N.Y., roughly 200 miles away, arrested four young people who are
accused of amassing a stockpile of firearms and homemade bombs with plans to
target the community.
alleged plot was the second major one on Islamberg to be thwarted by the
authorities in recent years.
threatened violence reflects how Islamberg has become fodder for a pernicious
part of the internet, one steeped in virulent hate and misinformation spread by
websites like 4chan and Infowars, alongside baseless theories like Pizzagate
kids in Greece, they’ve never been to Islamberg,” said Hussein Adams, chief
executive of the Muslims of America and a resident whose family has lived in
the community for three generations. “They go on the internet and they’re fed
all this fake news and all this misinformation, and they come up with a plan.”
Adams and other residents said they subscribe to a faith based on love and
the local authorities said the swirl of online conspiracy theories about
Islamberg were unfounded.
are law-abiding,” said Maj. William McEvoy, the State Police commander in the
region. “They are positive, solid members of the community.”
has about 200 residents, some from families who have lived here for two or more
generations, and covers some 60 acres outside Binghamton, near the Pennsylvania
state line and about 150 miles from New York City. It is set back off a bumpy
road on private property, up steep slopes, past pastures and alongside a creek.
winter conditions can be punishing, with snow and ice making the community even
harder to reach. Still, residents have a spread of land offering enough room to
build homes and a mosque and raise livestock and crops.
was started around 1980 by a group of mostly African-Americans who converted to
Islam in the 1960s and followed Sheihk Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, a Pakistani
cleric and founder of Muslims of America.
encouraged his followers to flee large cities and build communes in rural areas
where they could separate themselves from the crime and the violence they faced
in their old neighborhoods and the decadence that, in his view, pervaded
secular society. Over the years, his followers have set up about a dozen other
villages similar to Islamberg, including ones in Virginia, Georgia and
presence of a largely black community whose members wear Muslim garb has been
conspicuous in the nearby small towns like Hancock that are populated with
mostly white residents. Their arrival more than 30 years ago came with tension,
but over time, the relationship warmed as residents of Islamberg became
enmeshed in the broader community.
never had a problem,” said Nancy Furdock, who has lived in Hancock — “two
mountains over” from Islamberg, she said — for nearly two decades and has
become friendly with people who live in the enclave.
corrected herself slightly, “We have a problem with outsiders.”
don’t they come talk to us?” she added, referring to those who circulate
conspiracy theories about Islamberg online. “We’ll tell you what’s going on,
which is nothing.”
recent years, far-right Facebook groups have warned of an encampment governed
by an oppressive form of Shariah law, which they claimed would encroach on
videos portrayed Islamberg as a jihadi training camp and terrorist sleeper
cell, and people who present themselves as national security experts have
published reports online alleging a culture of “militant brainwashing,” forced
marriages and doling out lashes and other forms of draconian abuse for
violating its rules.
community’s critics seized upon an arrest, in 2017, of a 64-year-old man
accused of stealing ammunition in nearby Johnson City, which led the
authorities to find a storage locker stocked with powerful weapons.
said at the time they had found “no indications there was a plan in place to
commit an act of violence.” Still, the case served as fodder for purveyors of
disinformation, who peddled false stories claiming the weapons were bound for
Islamberg, that President Donald Trump had ordered a raid and that
investigators had uncovered “America’s WORST Nightmare.”
have been found attempting to sneak into the community or to fly drones over
the property to conduct their own investigations. And a recurring ride of
bikers has rumbled past Islamberg’s entrance in a caravan to alert the
community to their vigilance.
don’t believe the people inside here are peaceful and are standing for the same
thing we stand for,” Joseph Glasgow, an organizer of the demonstration, called
a “ride for national security,” told the crowd that had assembled in a parking
lot before setting off for Islamberg in 2017.
speculation about terrorism has inspired more than protests. In 2017, a
Tennessee man, Robert Doggart, was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison over
a plot to recruit a militia and storm the enclave. In a phone call recorded as
part of a federal wiretap, Mr. Doggart said, “I don’t want to have to kill
children, but there’s always collateral damage.”
most recent threat of violence came last week after investigators in Greece,
outside Rochester, thwarted an apparent plan concocted by a group who,
officials said, had stockpiled 23 firearms and three homemade bombs.
men — Vincent Vetromile, 19, Brian Colaneri, 20, and Andrew Crysel, 18 — were
arrested and charged with criminal possession of a weapon and conspiracy, and a
fourth person, whose identity was not released because he or she is a minor,
was charged as an adolescent with the same offenses.
is unclear how the individuals were connected, but three of them had been Boy
Scouts. In the days before the plot was uncovered, at least one of them, Mr.
Vetromile, shared far-right memes and conspiracy theories about border security
and a government scheme to seize weapons. The authorities also said that the
defendants had corresponded using Discord, a group chat app created for video
gamers that became popular with far-right activists.
Vetromile and Mr. Colaneri remain in custody, according to jail records.
imagine having to wake up and tell your children of such a plot, tell your
children that their life was in danger,” said Rashid Clark, Islamberg’s mayor.
of the scrutiny directed at Islamberg centers on the community’s ties to Mr.
Gilani, an elusive figure who became more widely known after the 2002 murder of
The Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Mr. Pearl, who was
reporting on a story about the so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, was seeking
an interview with the sheikh when he was abducted. (The sheikh is not believed
to have been involved in the plot, counterterrorism analysts said.)
has also sprung from the community’s purported association with an obscure
Muslim group called Jamaat al-Fuqra, which is tied to the sheikh and has drawn
the notice of law enforcement in the United States because of accusations of
criminal activity beginning in the 1980s.
2002, after the gun-charge arrests of three people who the authorities said
were part of Jamaat al-Fuqra, federal prosecutors described a “history of
violence” involving the organization, including firebombings and murder.
Islamberg’s leaders have denied a connection to the group.
an analysis published in 2008 in the CTC Sentinel, a journal published by the
Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, concluded that there was no evidence
proving Islamberg was part of a covert training operation. Instead, the report
said, neither “the presence of weapons (or even arsenals), nor weapons training
are particularly unusual phenomena in rural America.”
right-wing interest reflects “a certain amount of obsession that I don’t see
how it’s possibly justified,” William Rosenau, one of the authors of the
Sentinel analysis, said last week. “I think the fact that the members are
Muslim and almost all African-American is a source of a lot of the anxiety. I
think it’s straight up religious and racial fear.”
McEvoy, the State Police commander in the region, said the story of Islamberg
reminded him of his own: His mother had moved their family from Brooklyn to
Binghamton for a change.
believe in education,” Maj. McEvoy said. “They believe in hard work. They
believe in raising their children with those goals in mind.”
day after the most recent plot emerged, nudging Islamberg back under the glare
of outside attention, community officials organized a news conference in a
hotel ballroom in Binghamton. There, its leaders once again had to challenge
falsehoods about them. “Beautiful place to live, beautiful people to live
with,” said Cassandra Greene, who was among the earliest arrivals to Islamberg
more than 30 years ago.
the news conference, Mr. Adams of Muslims of America marveled at his
community’s resilience. He said he believed that the alarm and cynicism that
has surrounded Islamberg had not seeped inside the community.
he said, Islamberg has remained very much the same place his parents had
sought, with tranquillity among residents and the latitude to live out their
faith. To him, that was most evident in the mornings. The community rises well
before sunrise. People wash their bodies and put on clean clothes and perfume.
They step outside, on the land where they hunt and raise much of their own
president on Tuesday accused the prime minister of seeking power through a
secret deal with an Islamist party, the latest sign of tension at the top ahead
Minister Youssef Chahed had gained the backing of the Ennahdha party to stand
in the presidential polls, President Beji Caid Essebsi said, quoted by Al Arab
wants to stay in power... Ennahdha has understood his ambition... They have
pushed him to create a new party which divides power between them after the
2019 elections,” said Essebsi, whose comments were verified by the presidency.
was appointed by Essebsi in 2016 but relations between the pair have strained
in recent months, fuelling speculation the prime minister will run in this
year’s presidential election.
his part, 92-year-old Essebsi indicated he would not seek a second term.
ambition is not to stay president for life. I am not in favour of a president
for life,” he said.
claim of a private pact by Chahed comes as the premier prepares for elections
with a progressive platform -- the Tahia Tounes movement -- described as being
in opposition to Ennahdha.
political stance is similar to that of Essebsi’s secularist Nidaa Tounes, which
won the 2014 elections and formed a coalition with Ennahdha that lasted four
Sudan’s security chief has ordered the release of people detained during weeks
of anti-government protests, the Information Ministry said on Tuesday, as
demonstrations continued in several cities.
ministry was confirming reports by activists that Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh,
the head of Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), visited
a prison in the capital Khartoum and said arrested protesters would be freed.
further details were available. Hundreds of protesters, activists and
opposition figures have been arrested since protests began to spread across
Sudan on Dec. 19.
demonstrations, triggered by a worsening economic crisis, have called for an
end to the rule of President Omar Bashir who has been in power since 1989.
used tear gas on Tuesday to disperse dozens of demonstrators in Khartoum’s
Burri neighborhood and hundreds who gathered in its twin city of Omdurman,
may take months, but I’m confident we will succeed,” said Reem, a 25-year-old
housewife facing off against clouds of tear gas in Omdurman. Hundreds also
demonstrated in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan and chanted anti-government
demonstrations, called by unions and opposition activists, fell on the
anniversary of the 2005 killing of protesters in Port Sudan during an earlier
period of demonstrations against Bashir’s long rule. Protests also took place
latest rallies were the largest in several days, as Sudanese have taken to
demonstrating in local squares and neighborhoods sometimes blocked off with
cars or makeshift barricades.
current wave of protests began on Dec. 19 in opposition to surging prices and a
failing economy, but quickly shifted to calls for an end to Bashir’s nearly
devaluation of the currency in October pushed up prices, but lifting state
subsidies on bread last month proved to be the final stroke, sparking the
unrest. A cash crunch also led to long lines at ATMs and limits on cash
withdrawals. Similarly, a fuel shortage meant hours-long waits at gas stations.
Irish jihadist tells of dying days of 'caliphate'
From detention in northern Syria, alleged Irish jihadist Alexandr Bekmirzaev
describes hunger and fear as missiles pounded down on the last shreds of the
Islamic State group's "caliphate".
thought we were going to die from the starvation," the Muslim convert, 46
this year, told AFP in English, captured after fleeing the extremist group's
crumbling last pocket in eastern Syria.
said he fled into territory held by Kurdish-led forces, who detained him along
with four other alleged foreign jihadists late last month.
by air strikes of the US-led coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have
since September been whittling down the last IS holdout near the Iraqi border.
in for an interview by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) who are
still interrogating him, the detainee described watching the IS stronghold
collapse around him.
hundreds of suspected jihadists captured by the SDF are usually keen to be sent
Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria also wants to send the prisoners
back for trial, but governments in their countries of origin are often
said Tuesday for the first time that French jihadists held by Kurdish forces in
Syria could be allowed to return home.
are examining all options to avoid the escape and scattering of these
potentially dangerous individuals," the French foreign ministry said.
was detained by SDF forces on suspicion of being a fighter trying to blend in
with fleeing civilians, with the aim of escaping and then setting up IS sleeper
cells to carry out further attacks.
insisted he had never carried a weapon for Islamic State -- but his claim could
not be verified by AFP.
summer, there had been "bombing, bombing, bombing" on a near-daily
basis, said Bekmirzaev, who was born to an Uzbek father and Belarusian mother.
the so-called Hajin pocket encircled by the SDF, there was no flour in the
market, and meat was prohibitively expensive, he said.
said he, his wife and five-year-old son were forced to eat bread made with
wheat husks, what little the neighbours gave them, and sometimes grass.
You wish. There is nothing, absolutely nothing. This is grass we eat,"
said the bearded man.
US-backed fighters advanced inside the jihadist pocket, taking village after
village, Bekmirzaev and his family were forced to flee deeper into
left my home because the SDF approach probably around 800 metres from my
house" in the village of Kishmeh, he said.
and his family fled south along the eastern banks of the Euphrates River to the
village of Al-Shaafa, he said, where they slept in a mosque.
there, they again escaped in a large group including women and children, guided
by a young man who helped them avoid landmines.
thought, "if we go as a big group, it will be less dangerous, because they
will see so many people, specially with the kids, kids crying," he said.
says he has been in Syria for five-and-a-half years, his Belarusian wife and
son a little less.
claims he never intended to fight for IS and worked as an ambulance worker for
around a year in 2014-2015, but it is not clear what he did after that.
also says an IS commander confiscated his passport, and he had already been
thinking of escaping the jihadists with his family from as early as 2015.
says he converted to Islam in his early twenties in Uzbekistan, after a
troubled period "drinking a lot, taking drugs" following a brother
then lived and worked in Ireland for more than a decade, selling menswear and
as a nightclub bouncer, before becoming an Irish citizen in 2010.
in 2012, a year after Syria's war started with the brutal repression of
anti-regime protests, he lost his job.
says he plunged into depression, to the backdrop of endless news reports about
the conflict in Syria.
thought, 'I need to help to the Muslims' so I decide to come here," in
September 2013, he said. Four months later, his wife and then 10-month-old son
overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq the following year, and the
group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a "caliphate" there.
the jihadist group has since lost most of that territory to various offensives,
and is down to its last fighters in what remains of its eastern holdout.
now describes his decision to come to Syria as a "mistake".
he asked where the group's elusive leader was.
is this guy called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? Where is he? This is my
question," he said.
didn't do anything," he claimed. "I want to go back to my country. I
hope they won't abandon me."
suicide bomber detonated his suicide vest in the command center of Tahrir
al-Sham in the Center of Idlib City," a local source in Idlib said.
source reiterated that several Tahrir al-Sham terrorists were killed and many
more were wounded in the explosion.
Tahrir al-Sham declared a state of emergence and besieged the area.
a relevant development in October, two notorious commanders of Tahrir al-Sham
Hay'at and National Liberation Front (NLF) were killed in a bomb and gun fire
attacks by unidentified raiders in Southern Idlib.
al-Azo, a field commander of NLF, was killed in a bomb blast along a road
connecting Dayer Sharqi to Ein Qari'a in Southern Idlib.
the meantime, Abu Osama al-Terablosi, a notorious commander of Tahrir al-Sham,
was gunned down by unknown raiders near the town of Ma'arat al-Nu'aman in
a number of NLF fighters were killed or injured after a bomb went off near
their base in the town of al-Artab in Western Aleppo.
and assassination operations have increased further in Northern Syria after the
endorsement of the Sochi Agreement by Russia and Turkey that ruled for the
establishment of a demilitarized zone in Idlib.
close to the armed groups operating in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib told
al-Watan newspaper on Friday that al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations,
including the Turkistan Islamic Party and Horas al-Din, would not leave the
demilitarized zone as they had not received insurances for the security of their
foreign members from Turkey.
specified that some of the foreign contract fighters were denied access to
their home countries.
to the sources, Ankara failed to provide these guarantees as it is concerned
over the foreign contract fighters' possible fleeing to Turkey and the
consequent deterioration of the security situation there.
It only took a few days for Al-Qaeda-linked militants to seize more than two
dozen towns and villages in northern Syria from rival insurgents earlier this
month, expanding and cementing their control over an area the size of
advance by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, or the Levant Liberation Committee, was the
most serious blow yet to a September cease-fire brokered by Russia and Turkey
that averted a major government offensive in Idlib province, the last main
stronghold of the Syrian opposition.
highlighted the growing threat posed by Al-Qaeda at a time when its rival, the
Daesh group, is on the verge of defeat and the US is preparing to withdraw its
2,000 troops from Syria. Although HTS has formally severed ties with Al-Qaeda,
experts say it is still closely linked to the global network founded by Osama
bin Laden and could use its base in Syria to launch attacks in the West.
Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics,
says there is a “real danger” that the group’s advance “will not only worsen
the humanitarian crisis for the 3 million inhabitants there, but also give
(President Bashar) Assad and his allies the justification to assault the
a scenario would be as devastatingly bloody as the battle for Aleppo,” he said,
referring to the months of heavy fighting over Syria’s largest city in 2016,
which killed thousands of people and ended with government forces and their
allies capturing the rebel-held east.
includes large numbers of battle-hardened Al-Qaeda fighters, and its capture of
most of rebel-held Syria could force aid agencies to withdraw, leaving tens of
thousands of civilians to fend for themselves. The opposition’s Free Aleppo
Medical Directorate said that some 250,000 people will lose medical support
after 43 facilities it runs cease operations due to a drop in aid from Western
agencies after the latest HTS offensive.
government has meanwhile stepped up its bombardment of Idlib and neighboring
rebel-held areas. Pro-government media say Defense Minister Gen. Ali Ayoub and
Brig. Gen. Suheil Al-Hassan, who commands the elite Tiger Force, have recently
visited the front lines with Idlib, raising fears of a new government
now controls an area of about 9,000 square kilometers (3,475 square miles) or
about 5 percent of Syria’s territory. The area is home to some 3 million
people, many of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country.
has nearly a dozen observation posts in Idlib, but has shifted its focus
further east, where it is preparing to launch an offensive against Syrian
which supports the opposition, fears the Syrian government is trying to
undermine the September agreement. Russia, a key ally of the Syrian government,
has urged Turkey to act more resolutely in reining in militants in Idlib, who
have launched attacks on Syrian government forces and the Russian military.
Russia said last week that the escalation of hostilities in Idlib threatens the
Russian air base in the neighboring coastal province of Latakia.
first 10 days of January turned rebel-held parts of northern Syria upside down.
powerful Nour el-Din el-Zinki rebel group dissolved itself after days of
fighting with HTS during which it lost more than two dozen villages. The
ultraconservative Ahrar Al-Sham, one of the largest groups in northern Syria,
also surrendered following attacks by HTS.
other groups, Thuwar Al-Sham and Bayareq Al-Islam, handed over Atareb, an
important stronghold in Aleppo province, to HTS and withdrew north toward a
region held by Turkish troops. Jaysh Al-Ahrar handed over its checkpoints and
said it would recognize the HTS-run civil authority.
week after HTS crushed its opponents, a bomb targeted one of the Al-Qaeda-linked
group’s checkpoints at the southern entrance to Idlib, the provincial capital.
The blast killed 11 people, including militants, and wounded several others.
later, HTS claimed that it captured 12 members of the Daesh group who were
allegedly behind the bombing. The group then released a graphic video like
those produced by IS that showed the men being led to the scene of the blast
and forced to kneel, blindfolded, before a line of gunmen. The video cuts out
before they are shot in the back of their heads.
the advance by HTS, which now controls a border crossing with Turkey and major
highways, some international aid agencies suspended their work for fear of
reprisals. HTS has been known to crack down on independent groups and civil
society in areas under its control.
Hajj Omar, who heads the opposition’s health department in Aleppo province,
said 250,000 people will be immediately affected and more than 3 million at a
spokesman Stephane Dujarric said earlier this month that the United Nations was
still providing aid to the region.
added that while the “full implications” of the HTS takeover were not yet
clear, the UN and its partners “are closely following developments to ensure
that independent, impartial and principled humanitarian action continues.”
Soufan Center, a New York-based think tank, said the HTS takeover “alters the
trajectory of the next phase in the civil war, tipping the balance of power in
favor of the Assad regime.”
SYRIA: Daesh fighters in eastern Syria are pinned down in a final tiny pocket
with their wives and children, forcing a US-backed militia to slow its advance
to protect civilians, the militia said on Tuesday.
aid agency said separately that 10,000 civilians had fled the enclave since
last week and were arriving hungry and desperate at a camp.
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which have been backed by 2,000 US troops
and air support, are preparing for a final showdown with Daesh in eastern Syria
after helping to drive the fighters from the towns and cities that once formed
the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
spokesman Mustafa Bali said Daesh fighters were now confined to a pocket of
just 5-6 square km (around 2 square miles) by the Euphrates River. The presence
of their wives and children meant the US-backed militia could not launch an
all-out storm of it, and was using slower, more precise tactics instead.
are thousands of Daesh families there. They are civilians at the end of the
day,” Bali told Reuters. “We cannot storm the area or put any child’s life in
SDF had refused an offer from the militants via mediators to surrender the
territory in return for safe passage out, Bali said.
had slowed because of the presence of the civilians, and “precise operations”
were taking more time. “Calm prevails on the frontlines but there is a state of
caution and waiting.”
International Rescue Committee (IRC) charity said it was helping tend to a
sudden influx of more than 10,000 people, almost all women, children and
elderly, who had arrived at a camp in northeast Syria since last week.
were exhausted, extremely hungry, and thirsty as they fled Daesh territory, the
global aid agency said. Many arrived barefoot. The UN confirmed that 12 young
children had died after reaching the Al-Hol camp or on the dangerous journey
there, the IRC added on Tuesday.
SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, has seized much of north and east
Syria with US help. It has been battling Daesh remnants near the Iraqi border
month, US President Donald Trump declared that Daesh had been defeated and
announced the abrupt withdrawal of the US troops, over objections of top
advisers including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who quit in protest.
SDF vowed to escalate its operations against Daesh this month after a bomb
attack killed several people including two US soldiers in northern Syria. SDF
officials have warned of a Daesh revival if Washington withdraws.
announced Tuesday the arrest of 54 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood
Interior Ministry charged that the suspects were plotting to foment chaos on
the anniversary of the 2011 uprising.
has become available ... that escaped leaders of the (Muslim Brotherhood) were
implementing a plot to create a state of chaos in the country during the months
of January and February, to coincide with the anniversary of the 25 January
revolution," it said in a statement.
identified the Brotherhood figure behind the planned attacks as Yasser al-Omda
and said he had set up an organization called Allahuma Thawra.
of the group were planning to "cut roads, disrupt traffic, and try to
spread chaos and terrify citizens", it added.
statement did not identify any of those arrested, but said legal measures were
being taken against them in coordination with the state security prosecutor.
sources said that the mass grave contained 11 dead bodies of the Syrian army
bodies belonged to the Syrian Army troops of Al-Tabaqa military airport who had
been executed by the ISIL near the village of Jab al-Ghol in Southern al-Tabaqa
in Southwestern Raqqa," a security source said.
is while the ISIL had taken control over several villages and al-Tabaqa
military airport in Southwestern Raqqa in 2014.
a relevant development earlier this month, the dead bodies of over 800
civilians killed in the US-led coalition airstrikes and ISIL attacks were found
in a mass grave in Raqqa.
media activists disclosed that the new mass grave has been discovered in the
village of al-Fakhikheh South of the city of Raqqa.
underlined that between 600 to 800 corpses have been retrieved from the mass
grave, and said that the newly-discovered mass grave was the 14th of its kind
found in Raqqa City and its outskirts.
is while Raqqa's civilian team also discovered more bodies of civilians, who
were killed in the US-led coalition's airstrikes on Raqqa City, from under the
debris of the destroyed buildings in districts of al-Tosayeh, Nazleh Shahadeh
and al-Haramieh in Raqqa City.
Kurdish-language Hawar News pointed to Ankara's efforts to occupy Northern
Syria, and said the Turkish occupiers have so far issued over 2,000 ID cards
for citizens of Afrin.
noted that that the Turkish Army and its affiliated militants have driven the
residents of Kouran Village in Jandaris region of Afrin out of their homes and
instead replaced them with their affiliated militants.
local sources in Afrin also pointed to the continuation of Ankara-backed
militants' measures against civilians, and said that the militants have asked
for a ransom of over $10,000 for releasing a physician they have abducted from
the Ankara-backed militants have also plundered olive products worth over $100
a relevant development earlier this month, a number of the Ankara-backed militants
were killed and wounded in a military raid by the Kurdish forces in Afrin.
Kurdish fighters during their military operations against the Turkish Army and
its affiliated militants in Afrin region pounded the Turkey-backed militants'
positions and movements in the village of Khaleteh in Afrin region, killing at
least eight militants of Sultan Murat and Jbahat al-Shamia as well as wounding
three others, the Kurdish media Hawar News reported.
noted that the Kurdish fighters' raid on the military positions of Farqa
al-Hamza in the village of Kimar in Shirawa region killed four terrorists,
including a terrorist commander and wounded three others.
Kurdish militants also exploded a bomb in the command center of Faylaq
al-Rahman terrorist group and the military police affiliated to Ankara in
Marimin village in Shara region, killing four terrorists and wounding two
other Ankara-backed terrorists were also killed and wounded during the Kurdish
fighters' military operations in Shara region.
a relevant development also earlier this month, the Kurdish fighters during
their military operations against the Turkish Army and its affiliated militants
in Afrin pounded a military position of Ahrar al-Sham terrorists and Turkish
army troops in Jandariseh region of Afrin, severely wounding two Turkish Army
soldiers and five Ankara-backed militants, Hawar News reported.
noted that five members of Farqa al-Hamza and Jbahat al-Shamia were killed and
three others were wounded in three consecutive military operations by the
Kurdish forces against the Turkish Army and Ankara-backed militants in the
Center of Afrin as well as Shirawa and Shara regions in recent days.
battlefield sources in Northern Aleppo reported that during the Syrian Democratic
Forces' missile attack on a military position of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in
Kimar village in Afrin region, a terrorist was killed and five others were
President Bashar al-Assad says the recent signing of several agreements between
Iran and Syria will pave the way for the two countries to boost their steadfastness
in the face of an economic war being waged against them by certain Western
a meeting with Iran’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri in Damascus on
Tuesday, Assad said Iran and Syria should make more joint efforts to thwart the
plots of those countries, which are aimed at weakening the two countries,
hindering their independent decision-making and breaking the will of their
added that Iran and Syria have always stood by each other during hard times and
called for Iranian state and private sectors to play a more active role in the
reconstruction plans of the war-stricken country.
was referring to the key economic agreements signed between the two countries
on Monday in the presence of Jahangiri and Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis.
the agreements, the Iranian vice president said Monday that the two sides had
come to “very important agreements on banking cooperation.” The Syrian prime
minister also announced that the countries had inked a “unique” agreement enabling
long-term economic cooperation.
in his remarks, Assad emphasized that the Syrian government and nation have put
up resistance against the terrorists wreaking havoc on the country since 2011,
and will continue to do so until their total elimination, hailing the support
of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei for the Arab
country’s fight against terrorism and foreign intervention.
security tied to Mideast peace: Jahangiri
Iranian vice president, for his part, commended the Syrian government and
nation for the great achievements they have made in their counter-terrorism
further said regional and international security is closely intertwined.
Daesh managed to establish a government in the Middle East, the Western
countries would have witnessed more acts of terror, violence and inhumane
crimes on their soil; therefore, the Westerners “must be grateful to Syria and
the countries that have been on the frontline of the fight against terrorism,” Jahangiri
war in Syria “was not against the Syrian government and nation but the entire
regional security and the resistance front. It was, however, defeated thanks to
the wisdom and prudence of the Syrian government and people as well as the support
of this country’s friends," Jahangiri said.
war started with the financial, intellectual and military support of the
Western countries, particularly the US and some regional states, he added.
a 40-member delegation, the Iranian vice president arrived in the Syrian
capital on Monday on a two-day visit to hold talks with senior officials of the
is a key ally of Syria. Tehran has been providing military advisory assistance
to Damascus in its anti-terror fight.
a meeting between high-ranking delegations of Iran and Syria, co-chaired by
Jahangiri and Khamis on Monday, the Iranian first vice president said the
Islamic Republic is honored to be spearheading the anti-terror campaign in the
region while felicitating the Syrian government and nation for their
achievements in the fight against terrorism.
Saudi political dissident says he avoided a destiny similar to that of renowned
journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed in the Arab kingdom’s consulate in
the Turkish city of Istanbul three and a half months ago.
in an exclusive interview with the Arabic news outlet Lebanon Debate, Maan
al-Jaraba, the leader of the Saudi opposition group Harakat al-Karama (Movement
for Dignity), said Saudi officials lured him into the country’s embassy in
Lebanon in September. Jaraba noted that he would have met a gruesome end in
case he had not been accompanied by bodyguards.
source close to Jaraba, who requested anonymity, later told Middle East Eye
that the events occurred 10 days before Khashoggi was killed in Turkey on
October 2, 2018.
source highlighted that Saudi officials told Jaraba they wanted to speak with
him to convince him to return to Saudi Arabia.
years of being blacklisted, Sheikh Maan was contacted by Saudi embassy
officials in Beirut. They said they were ready to engage in talks to bring him
back into the fold,” the source said.
official in charge of negotiations then suggested a face-to-face meeting with
Jaraba following several phone conversations.
Saudi dissident agreed, stipulating however that the meeting be held in a
neutral public place, such as a restaurant or cafe.
talked about it at length and eventually scheduled a meeting in a building in
Beirut belonging to the Saudi embassy,” the source said.
drove to the meeting place with three armed bodyguards on the day of the
appointment. A more substantial security force was also on call nearby.
embassy officials who welcomed him were surprised to see the bodyguards,” the
source said. “They thought the sheikh would come alone, though they themselves
were heavily guarded.”
interlocutors tried to induce him to return to Saudi Arabia, where they claimed
he would be “free” to pursue his work. The dissident turned down the offer, and
the meeting concluded with promises of further appointments and talks.
few days later, Khashoggi was murdered at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Saudi soldier Musa Awaji has arrived back in the Kingdom after he was released
by his Houthi captors in Yemen. Col. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the
Coalition to Support legitimacy in Yemen, said Awaji flew in to King Salman Air
Base in Riyadh at 9:45 p.m. on January 29.
Houthis agreed to release him because of the poor state of his health and their
inability to provide suitable care for him. It followed a joint negotiation effort
by the leadership of the coalition forces and Martin Griffith, the special
envoy of the secretary-general of the United Nations to Yemen. In return, the
coalition has agreed to release seven Houthi detainees.
praised Griffith and the International Committee of the Red Cross for their
efforts in responding to the calls of the coalition leadership for Awaji to be
released due to the concerns about his health.
A bomb attack in a market killed seven Yemeni civilians including a cameraman
for a UAE television channel in the government-controlled town of Mokha on
least 20 people were wounded in the overnight blast in the Red Sea town, where
pro-government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition battling the Houthi
militants are based.
blast killed Ziad Al-Sharabi, a cameraman for Abu Dhabi TV and wounded Faisal
Al-Thubhani, a correspondent for the same network, the official WAM news agency
Dhabi Media general manager, Dr Ali bin Tamim blamed the Houthi militia for the
attack and said they have repeatedly targeted the media.
is not the first time that our frontline crews in Yemen have been exposed to
Houthi violations and terrorist acts," he said. "We will not stop exposing their brutal
crimes and terror acts in Yemen on all our media platforms.”
improvised explosive device was planted on a motorcycle parked in the middle of
the market, an official in the pro-government forces said.
was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but the Yemeni
government news agency Saba blamed it on the Iran-aligned Houthis.
city of Mokha has enjoyed relative calm since government forces, backed by an
Arab coalition that includes the UAE and Saudi Arabia, seized it from the
rebels in July 2017.
war was sparked by the Houthis decision to seize the capital Sanaa in 2014.
PM plans to boot TIPH observers protecting Palestinians out of al-Khalil
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to expel an international
observer group tasked with safeguarding Palestinians in the flashpoint city of
al-Khalil (Hebron), in the occupied West Bank, claiming the mission is working
announced in a statement on Monday that the mandate of the Temporary
International Presence in Hebron (al-Khalil) would not be extended, saying, “We
will not allow the continuation of an international force that acts against
Israeli premier did not give further details on the alleged misconduct of TIPH,
nor did he specify a date for ejecting the international mission.
is an international civilian observer group that, according to its mandate,
“assists in monitoring and reporting efforts to maintain normal life in the
city of Hebron, thus creating a sense of security among the Palestinians in
also reports alleged human rights abuses and violations of accords in the city
between Israel and Palestinians. TIPH observers come from Norway, Denmark,
Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, and Turkey.
mission was deployed in al-Khalil following an agreement reached between Israel
and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994, when an Israeli settler killed 29
Palestinian worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is revered by Jews,
Christians and Muslims.
group did not start its work in the city until 1998, after the Israeli military
refused to leave al-Khalil following the establishment of an illegal Israeli
settlement at the heart of the city.
mandate is renewed every six months. Its latest mandate is due to end on
have denounced Netanyahu’s decision to expel the monitoring group as
decision “means it has abandoned the implementation of agreements signed under
international auspices, and given up its obligations under these agreements,
which is rejected and is unacceptable,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Monday.
official further called on “the countries sponsoring this agreement to take a
clear stance” against Israel’s plan and “immediately act to pressure” the
regime into respecting international law.
is proof for the international community that Israel does not respect
international resolutions and agreements, he added.
has made life intolerable for Palestinians’
leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said Tel Aviv “has imposed physical
and legal segregation between the hundreds of settlers and the thousands of
Palestinian residents” in al-Khalil.
coupled with violence by settlers” and Israeli forces, “has made life
intolerable for Palestinians, leading to a mass exodus and the economic ruin of
the downtown area,” said the group.
its deployment, TIPH has “observe(d) and report(ed) on breaches of the
agreements (and) violations of international humanitarian law and international
human rights law,” B’Tselem said.
December, Israeli daily Haaretz reported that a TIPH investigation of “40,000
incident reports” showed that Israel had violated international law by restricting
Palestinian movements in the city.
than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since Israel’s
occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank in 1967. This is
while much of the international community considers the settler units illegal
and subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied
on Monday, Netanyahu visited Gush Etzion, a string of settlements and
settlement outposts in the southern West Bank, pledging to continue his support
for the Israeli settlers living there.
want to uproot us from here. They will not,” Netanyahu said.
militia attacks UN and demining teams in Hodeidah
Houthi militants attacked members of the United Nations, Yemeni government
liaison officers and an engineering team responsible for surveying and demining
areas on Tuesday, Saudi state-news agency SPA reported.
engineering, government, and UN officers moved at 8 a.m. to the Red Sea Mills,
and reached the 13 Kilo area by 9 a.m. when suddenly the group came under
intense fire from the Houthi militia” Yemeni government spokesman Rajih Badi
have already coordinated with the UN representative, who in turn told the team
that the Houthis promised him a cease-fire and allowed for demining," he
explained that the liaison officer waited for the UN delegate to enter the Red
Sea Mills, but the Houthi militia refused to allow the road to be opened.
and Iran signed 11 agreements and memoranda of understanding late Monday,
including a “long-term strategic economic cooperation” deal aimed at
strengthening cooperation between Damascus and one of its key allies in the
civil war that has torn the country apart.
11 deals and memoranda of understanding signed on Monday covered fields
including the economy, culture, education, infrastructure, investment and
were signed during the visit of Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri to
the Syrian capital.
pact signed in August
and Syria had already signed a military cooperation agreement in August while
Tehran has supported Damascus economically during the conflict through oil
deliveries and several lines of credit.
civil war has killed more than 360,000 people and displaced millions since it started
in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
agency eyes $1.2 bln budget for Palestinians despite US cuts
UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Tuesday appealed to nations to help it
maintain a $1.2-billion budget in 2019 after it was hit last year by the
withdrawal of US funding.
organization, known as UNRWA, was able to fully fund a budget of the same
amount in 2018, despite a dramatic initial shortfall when the administration of
US President Donald Trump announced it was withdrawing nearly all support.
campaign last year was successful,” agency chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl told
reporters in Geneva.
closed the entirety of the shortfall, which was an almost existential shortfall
of $446 million, ... thanks to the remarkable and generous mobilization of
member states” and others, he said.
US, which was previously UNRWA’s largest contributor, last year cut a full $300
million in funding to UNRWA, and has said it will not repeat the $60 million it
the void, the European Union, followed by Germany and Saudi Arabia were the
biggest donors, with a total of 40 governments providing funds to the UN
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s toughest rival in Israel’s April ballot, former
military chief and political enigma Benny Gantz, will set out his goals on
Tuesday in a marker of the center-left opposition’s prospects.
predict a Netanyahu reelection, with his right-wing Likud party taking around
30 of parliament’s 120 seats, and Gantz’s Resilience party coming a distant
second with around 15.
would line Gantz up to join a future Netanyahu-led coalition government -
unless the ex-general tries to mobilize like-minded factions against the
incumbent, now in his fourth term.
depends on the ideology of Gantz’s newly formed party. On this he has so far
been silent. His campaign, meanwhile, has stoked his residual popularity from
his term as top general with graphic ads claiming hundreds of enemy deaths in
two Gaza wars.
mindful of Israeli moderates, Gantz’s image-makers also cast him in a softer
light, releasing a video in which the tall, taciturn 59-year-old says “there is
no shame in pursuing peace”.
a launch party on Tuesday timed to coincide with the evening TV news, Gantz was
due to deliver his first political speech, with voters watching for combustible
policy points like Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, frozen since 2014, or
corruption allegations dogging Netanyahu.
Hermann, a scholar with the non-partisan Israel Democracy Institute, predicted
Gantz would try to stay “very vague on certain topics: for instance ‘yes to
peace but Israel’s security comes first’”.
Netanyahu to be defeated, Hermann said, Gantz would have to bring together
disparate center-left parties.
can happen, but at the moment the most likely outcome of the election would be
a (Netanyahu-led) center-right government,” she said.
has sought to write Gantz off as a “leftist”, casting him as an untested whimsy
candidate and no match for Netanyahu, 69, who is also defense minister.
the election approaches, and facing possible indictment, Netanyahu has highlighted
his handling of national security, publicly acknowledging Israeli air strikes
against Iranian targets in Syria.
Dempsey, a retired US army general whose tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff mirrored that of Gantz as Israeli armed forces chief between 2011 and
2015, told Reuters that he would bring “an open mind to change” and have the
“instincts to build a team to solve the most urgent challenges”.
Palestinians are asking the United Nations to deploy a permanent international
force in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
request comes a day after Israel said it was suspending operations of an
observer force in the city of Hebron, after 20 years.
official Saeb Erekat says the UN should “guarantee the safety and protection of
the people of Palestine” until “the end of Israel’s belligerent occupation.”
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said it would not extend the mandate of
the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, saying “we will not allow the
continuation of an international force that acts against us.”
has denounced exploitation of the country’s oil resources by the Riyadh regime
in the provinces of Hadhramaut and Mahrah, where troops from Saudi Arabia and
the United Arab Emirates are present.
Yemeni Foreign Ministry affiliated with the Houthi Ansarullah movement said in
a statement on Tuesday that Saudi Arabia was "desperately attempting"
to take advantage of the "ongoing state of insecurity by plundering oil
resources and pursing its illegitimate interests across the region."
statement further explained that Saudi Arabia was committing a blatant
violation of international law by transporting Yemeni oil to the Arabian Sea
through a pipeline which extends from the Rub' al-Khali desert to Hadhramaut
and Mahrah in the south of the country. It also called on the United Nations
and other international organizations to counter through legal mechanisms the
Saudi aggression, occupation and looting of Yemeni resources.
in the statement, the ministry demanded that the international community
increase pressure on Riyadh and Abu Dhabi authorities to “respect and preserve
territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Yemeni nation.”
series of documents obtained by some media outlets in August last year pointed
to Saudi Arabia's intention to develop the port, which would extract and export
petroleum. In a letter addressed to the kingdom's ambassador to Yemen, a
Saudi-based marine construction company, Huta Marine, thanked the official for
trusting the company's capabilities by asking it to present a technical and
financial proposal for the port's design.
southern areas are controlled by Saudi-backed officials of the former Yemeni
government. Saudi Arabia has taken control over the provinces' seaports and
airports, using them to deploy hundreds of troops in the region.
say the pipeline would allow the kingdom not to be constrained to the Strait of
Hormuz or the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, both strategic choke points that affect its
current oil shipping routes.
the onset of the Saudi war on Yemen in 2015, the Houthis, who run state affairs
in Sana’a in the absence of an effective government, have been defending the
nation against the aggressors.
Houthi Ansarullah movement has set free an ailing Saudi prisoner on
humanitarian grounds, in a move that could boost ongoing UN-led efforts to end
the bloody Saudi-led war against the country and broker peace there.
of Yemen’s National Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs, Abdulqader al-Mortadha,
said on Tuesday that Ansarullah leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi had ordered the
release of the Saudi trooper, identified as Musa al-Awaji, “on compassionate
grounds” due to his deteriorating health condition.
soldier was repatriated by a plane belonging to the International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC), according to the official.
highlighted that the United Nations officials in addition to a number of tribal
and social figures had approached Saudi authorities over the past two weeks in
the hope of securing an urgent exchange of the sick Saudi soldier with a group
of wounded Yemeni fighters, but to no avail.
having witnessed the Saudi regime’s utter disregard for the soldier and his
worsening condition, decided to free him as a humanitarian gesture, the Yemeni
official pointed out.
move was praised by the United Nations’ special envoy to Yemen, Martin
Griffiths, who expressed hope on Twitter for “more similar humanitarian
gestures from the parties” to the conflict in Yemen.
UN official also said he looked forward to the implementation of a prisoner
exchange agreement reached between Yemen’s Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed
regime of ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi during UN-brokered peace talks in
Sweden last month.
two warring parties have not yet agreed full terms of the prisoner swap deal.
United Nations is working to facilitate the exchange as well as the
implementation of a landmark truce deal, which was signed between the warring
sides in Sweden for the main port city of Hudaydah, to set the stage for a new
round of negotiations between the two sides.
on Tuesday, a civilian lost his life and another sustained injuries when Saudi
military aircraft struck al-Mandala area in the Kushar district of Yemen’s
northwestern province of Hajjah.
warplanes also launched five airstrikes against an area in the al-Qaflah
district of the northwestern Yemeni province of ‘Amran. There were no immediate
reports about possible casualties and the extent of damage caused.
scores of Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to Hadi were killed and injured when
Yemeni army soldiers and allied fighters from Popular Committees targeted them
with bombs near al-Sadis military base in Saudi Arabia’s southern region of
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military
campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing Hadi’s
government back to power and crushing Ansarullah.
to a new report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED),
a nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far
claimed the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country’s infrastructure,
destroying hospitals, schools, and factories. The UN has already said that a
record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million
threatened by severe hunger. According to the world body, Yemen is suffering
from the most severe famine in more than 100 years.
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