bin Laden is described as an "emerging leader" within al-Qaeda [CIA
handout via AP]
Qazis in Darul Qaza to Now Get Lessons in Indian Constitution
Means Peace, None of Allah's Names Mean Violence: External Affairs Minister at
in India Microcosm of Its Diversity, Not Influenced By Extremist Ideology: External Affairs Minister
Ban: 77-Year-Old Islamic Organisation Accused Of Terror Links Has Been
Politically Active In J&K
Of Pilot To India: Ulema Council Lauds PM’s Decision
Perception Hardens on Pakistan As Terrorist State
Revive Harsh Rule in a Remote Afghan Province
Arabia Strips Bin Laden’s Son Hamza of Citizenship
Rejects US Move to Recognize Golan Annexation by Israel
NGOs Protest Offensive Post against Islam
in Darul Qaza to Now Get Lessons in Indian Constitution
on Jamaat in J&K to rein in over-ground workers, curb stone-pelting
has proof of hit on Balakot Jaish camp; up to govt to release it
friend Masood Azhar a global threat
property worth Rs 4.5K cr under lens after crackdown
repatriates Abhinandan, large crowd outside Attari celebrate his return
conflict: Muslim intellectuals meet Rajnath Singh
Commander Abhinandan Varthaman returns, IAF says happy he’s back
Al Badr recruits terrorists as Imran talks peace
chief in Pakistan, admits foreign minister Qureshi
misadventure turned into embarrassment, says Fazl
of IAF jets encouraged US mediation
questions ‘haste’ in decision to free Indian pilot
seeking to become an OIC observer and gradually force its way in: FM Qureshi
Samiul Haq’s secretary arrested on murder charges
acquits death row convict accused of training suicide bombers
least 20 soldiers killed in Taliban attack on Afghan-US base
militants suffer heavy casualties in Kandahar airstrikes
attack repulse attack on an army base in Helmand
Rohingya women, children found stranded on Malaysia beach
killed in Taliban attack on US-Afghan base in Helmand
says Bangladesh must take in Rohingya Muslims
civilians die fleeing final Daesh enclave in Syria's Dayr al-Zawr: UN
of Islamic Cooperation foreign ministers call for tougher strategy on terrorism
used in 2018 attack on Syria's Douma: Chemical weapons watchdog
SDF expects ‘fierce battle’ in final ISIS enclave
Turkey know Daesh leader's whereabouts: Syria
UK terrorist designation 'insult' to Lebanon
Arabia strips Osama bin Laden's son of citizenship
advises Muslims to embrace Western values
students mock Islam dressed as suicide bombers
Hezbollah slams British ban, says it shows US ‘obedience’
mulling over extending Saudi arms ban
need peace and security to go home: UK panel
Calls for End to Word 'Infidels' To Describe Non-Muslims
denies paying Sarawak Report editor to settle libel suit
Name Former Laskar Jihad Leader a Suspect in Religiously Charged Assault Case
Soldiers Mercilessly Beat Up Disabled Palestinian Man In His Bed
government calls on Iran to stop supporting of Houthis
Al-Azhar slams Israeli violations in Jerusalem
attorney-general plans to charge Netanyahu in corruption cases
forces injure 17 Palestinians in Gaza
military says airstrike in central Somalia kills 26 al-Shabab extremists
Bashir hands party leadership to new deputy
rages in Mogadishu as hotel bomb kills nearly 30
airstrike in Somalia kills 26 al-Shabaab fighters
Many killed in al-Shabab attack in Mogadishu
Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram return from Cameroon
Says 30,000 Nigerians Return to Town Targeted By Boko Haram
Nigerian soldiers, Boko Haram destroyed Maiduguri homes on election day
Renews Designation Of PKK As Terrorist Organisation
military plans to exit Afghanistan within five years: New York Times
keeps PKK's status as foreign terror organization
delegation in Turkey to discuss Syria pullout
by New Age Islam News Bureau
In a first, the members of All India Muslim Personal Law Board's (AIMPLB) have
decided that qazis appointed at Darul Qaza (Shariat courts) will now be given
lessons in the Indian constitution.
Thursday, the third and final day of Darul Qaza conference organised by AIMPLB,
the highest decision making body on Muslim affairs, in Aishbagh Eidgah, it was
decided that apart from Islamic knowledge, the qazis will learn about the
various articles related to Muslim community in the constitution. They also
decided that that the words ‘adaalat’ and ‘court’ will no longer be used to
refer to Darul Qaza.
qazis appointed in the Darul Qaza will now be trained in the knowledge of
articles of Indian constitution which deal with the Muslim community. Darul
Qaza has nothing to do with the judicial system of the country. These are
places where issues that are not sub-judice are resolved by mediation. The
complainants are not bound by the decision of the Darul-Qaza and are free to go
to a court if not satisfied. However, the number of cases going to court after
mediation at Darul Qaza is quite low,” said said senior advocate and AIMPLB
secretary Zafaryab Jilani.
Darul Qaza should be referred as just that in all languages and terms such as
Islamic Court or Sharia Court should not be used as they give out a wrong
message to the world. These words make it seem like Muslims have a parallel
judicial system of their own, which is not correct,” Jilani added.
are 19 Darul Qaza in Uttar Pradesh, 33 in Maharashtra, four in Rajasthan, two
in Madhya Pradesh, two in Delhi and one each in Goa, Punjab and Karnataka. Most
cases that are brought here constitute of family and domestic issues.
member Khalid Rasheed Farangi Mahali said that some people have been trying to
defame these Shariat courts. “The Darul Qaza have been working inside the
constitutional framework. Although there are some forces which have been
defaming them and spreading misconceptions. The truth is that most issues that
are brought to Darul Qaza are solved without hassle,” he said.
a major diplomatic achievement, India for the first time addressed the OIC
meeting on Friday here, and asserted that the war against terrorism, which was
destabilising regions and putting the world at great peril, was not against any
participation came despite strong demand by Pakistan to rescind the invitation
to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to address the grouping of the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which was turned down by the host
UAE, resulting in Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi boycotting
and extremism bear different names and labels. It uses diverse causes. But in
each case, it is driven by distortion of religion, and a misguided belief in
its power to succeed. The fight against terrorism is not a confrontation
against any religion," Swaraj, who is the first Indian minister to address
the meeting of the 57 Islamic countries, said.
Ali Ahmed, a senior minister in Indira Gandhi's cabinet who later became
President, was invited to attend the Rabat conference in 1969 and then
disinvited at Pakistan's instance after he arrived in the Moroccan capital.
then, India has been excluded from all OIC deliberations.
during her address read a verse from the Holy Koran which says 'La Ikrah
fiddeen' -- Let there be no compulsion in religion.
as Islam literally means peace, none of the 99 names of Allah mean violence.
Similarly, every religion in the world stands for peace, compassion and
brotherhood," she said.
carry the greetings of my Prime Minister Narendra Modiji and 1.3 billion
Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our
Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India itself,"
the minister said and asserted that "very few" Muslims in India have
fallen prey to the poisonous propaganda of radical and extremist ideologies.
her nearly 17-minute speech, she did not mention Pakistan.
remarks came amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan following the
killing of 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district by the
Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed. Pakistan, a member of the OIC, had written a
letter to the grouping demanding the withdrawal of the invitation to the
plenary after New Delhi's counter-terror operations in Pakistan on February 26.
said she is a representative of a land, that has been for ages a fountain of
knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, and home to
religions from the world – and now, one of the major economies of the world.
have diverse culinary tastes, myriad choices of traditional attire, and they
maintain strong cultural and linguistic heritage of the regions they loved and
have lived for generations. They practice their respective beliefs and live in
harmony with each other and with their non-Muslim brethren," Swaraj said.
Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday told the Organisation of Islamic
Cooperation (OIC) conference that Muslims in India were a microcosm of its
diversity and very few of them have fallen prey to the poisonous propaganda of
radical and extremist ideologies.
the plenary of the conference as a "Guest of Honour", a first for
India, she referred to India' strong bonds with several member countries of the
OIC including Bangladesh, Maldives and Afghanistan which are in its
expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and others friends for their
strong support for hearing India's voice in this forum.
also referred to Iran, saying the mutual partnership was vital for stability
and prosperity in the region.
minister said she was honoured to join her colleagues from nations that
represent a great religion and ancient civilisations.
said she was carrying greetings of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 1.3 billion
Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters, and was
representative of a land that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a
beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions and home to religions from
Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India. They
speak Tamil and Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi, Bangla and Bhojpuri or any of
the numerous languages of India.
have diverse culinary tastes, myriad choices of traditional attire, and they
maintain strong cultural and linguistic heritage of the regions they loved and
have lived for generations."
said Muslims in India practice their respective beliefs and live in harmony
with each other and with their non-Muslim brethren.
is this appreciation of diversity and co-existence, that has ensured that very
few Muslims in India have fallen prey to poisonous propaganda of radical and
said 2019 was a very special year as OIC is celebrating its Golden Jubilee,
United Arab Emirates is celebrating Year of Tolerance and India is celebrating
the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, a global symbol of Truth and
is, therefore, a matter of pride for me,and for India, to be invited in this
special year, to be your Guest of Honour, and to be extended a hand of
expressed her deep appreciation to UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin
Zayed for his sagacious leadership and for his invitation.
said that in the past four years, few relationships have seen as much
engagement as India's relationship with UAE and indeed, with the entire Gulf
and West Asia Region. "It is a return of history."
said OIC has a key role in shaping the world with countries coming together on
the foundation of a common faith as also a shared desire for a better future
for their people.
said India has forged deep bonds of friendship and close partnerships with many
members of OIC.
India's economy has grown and become more integrated with the world, these
partnerships have become stronger. We have excellent political ties, marked by
warmth, respect and goodwill. With many, we have expanding defence and security
economic engagement is robust and growing rapidly. Our digital partnerships are
shaping the course of our future. And, our ties have the warm glow of deepening
human and cultural links."
said countries to India's east including Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia were
important pillars of India's Act East Policy and ties with Afghanistan,
Bangladesh and Maldives were forged in shared struggles, warmth and commitment
to the security and prosperity of people and the region.
said in Central Asia, India was rebuilding its relationship along new routes of
do this, especially with and through Iran, a country, with which we not only
share civilizational and cultural links, but a partnership, that is vital for
stability and prosperity in our region."
minister said India's solidarity with the aspirations of the Palestinian people
has remained unwavering.
referred to the close partnership with Egypt, India and Iraq standing together
in our triumphs and trials and support for Jordan's efforts "in
strengthening the voices of moderation and building bridges of understanding
said India has been working with countries like Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria
with a shared desire for a more inclusive world.
Turkey, a nation, with which, we have many strands of connected history, we are
imparting new momentum to our ties. Our many friends from Africa are
here," she said.
minister said the Gulf region was India's largest market, supplier of energy
and source of remittances.
than 8 million Indians living in the region, are the 8 million vibrant threads
of this partnership," she said, adding that the relationship has vastly
expanded in the past five years.
is an indispensable strategic and security partnership, and a natural economic
partnership of immense value to our nations and for our shared region,"
ban: 77-year-old Islamic organisation accused of terror links has been
politically active in J&K
Indian government on Thursday banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir
organisation for five years under the anti-terror law on grounds that it was
"in close touch" with militant outfits and is expected to
"escalate secessionist movement" in the state.
notification, banning the group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,
was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after a high-level meeting on
security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The notification said the
Centre is of the opinion that the Islamic organisation operating in Jammu and
Kashmir is "in close touch with militant outfits" and is supporting
extremism and militancy in the state and elsewhere. It said the outfit claims
"secession of a part of the Indian territory from the union" and
supports terrorist and separatist groups fighting for this purpose.
notification, which came a few days after the Jammu and Kashmir Police arrested
around 100 cadres of the group in the state, said that the organisation has
been indulging in activities intended to disrupt the territorial integrity of
the intervening night of 22 and 23 February, the police had carried out a
crackdown on Jamaat-e-Islami cadres and arrested 100 members across the Valley,
including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz and advocate Zahid Ali, who is also the
group's spokesperson. The action in the aftermath of the 14 February terrorist
attack in Pulwama, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
have been allegations in the past that the group was a political outfit of
banned terror organisation Hizbul Mujahideen, but the group has denied this
claim. According to a report by Scroll, the Jamaat distanced itself from the
Mujahideen in 1997.
Centre is also of the opinion that the group is "involved in anti-national
and subversive activities in the country intended to cause disaffection".
banning it under the anti-terror law, the Centre reasoned that the group was
intending to escalate its subversive activities, including an attempt to carve
out an Islamic state out of the Union of India by destabilising the government
established by law.
outfit, which was formed in 1942 as a chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and
separated in 1953 due to differences over political ideology with the parent
body, was banned in 1990. The previous ban lapsed in 1995 and wasn't invoked
again. It was founded during British India in 1941 by Abul Ala Maududi, an
Islamic theologian and socio-political philosopher. Along with the Muslim
Brotherhood, ('Ikhwan al-Muslimin', founded in 1928 Egypt), JeI was a first of
its kind organisation to develop "an ideology based on the modern
revolutionary conception of Islam.”
strongly believed that Islam is essential for politics and soon JeI became the
first organisation to develop "an ideology based on the modern
revolutionary concept of Islam.” The Islamist theologist believed secularism,
nationalism, and socialism to be products of western imperialism and thought it
necessary to establish sharia (Islamic Law).
constitution for the Kashmir branch was drafted a year later and an 'amir'
(president) was elected. The new 'amir', Sa'aduddin Tarbali, began preaching
the Jamaat ideology, creating its base first in Shopian, Moneycontrol reported.
following the partition of India in 1947, JeI split into separate independent
organisations in India and Pakistan — Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan and
Jamaat-e-Islami Hind — respectively. Some reports also state that following
Partition, the group branched out in various places across Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, South Africa, Mauritius and the UK, and most of these branches
found an identity of their own.
after the independence of Bangladesh in 1971, Bangladesh banned the
Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan as it had collaborated with the Pakistan army. But, it
got a new lease of life under the name of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, which
later joined mainstream politics in the country, reports said.
1990, when militancy erupted in the Valley, the Hizbul Mujahideen called itself
the military wing of JeI. While hundreds of its activists were killed by the
counter-insurgent force Ikhwan in the mid-90s, JeI distanced itself from
militancy in 1997, said The Indian Express' report.
party, which had a pro-Pakistan leaning during the Plebiscite Front days and
during the eruption of militancy, pitches itself as a socio-religious
organisation working mainly in the field of education and awareness about
Islam. It was also an influential founder member of the undivided Hurriyat
Conference from its inception in 1993 till 2003 when the amalgam suffered a
vertical split led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani over alleged proxy participation in
2002 Assembly polls by some leaders of the People's Conference led by Sajjad
Gani Lone. Thereafter, the Jamaat withdrew from the Hurriyat and decided to
focus on its social work while maintaining its separatist stand on the Kashmir
cadre-based party has a powerful 'Majlis-e-Shoora' (an advisory council) which
takes decisions on important issues through consensus. The second tier of the
organisation consists of 'Rukn-e-Jamaat' (pillar of Jamaat), who in turn elect
the 'Majlis-e-Shoora'. The number of 'Rukn-e-Jamaat' can vary from 100 to 300
but for getting into this elite group, one has to fulfil certain criteria which
can take a decade at least.
Tarbali’s tenure, several schools were built and charitable trusts formed,
alongside an expansion the activities of the group, which then made a silent
foray into the political arena.
group participated in the 1971 general elections, hoping to get a larger
platform to propagate their ideology and a means to implement them through
legislation. However, it couldn’t win a single seat. It again contested
Assembly elections in 1972, this time with the hopes “to challenge the notion
that politics and religion are separate” and won five seats.
popularity grew manifold after it played the anti-sheikh card when Sheikh
Abdullah signed an accord with Indira Gandhi in 1975, dropping his demand of
right to self-determination for Kashmiris. At this time Jamaat was the only major
organisation talking about the right to self-determination of Kashmiris.
Shortly after, Emergency was declared and Jamaat became a banned outfit for the
contested its last elections in Jammu and Kashmir in 1987 in alliance with few
other religious organisations like the Muslim United Front in 1987. It has a
separate Kerala chapter as well.
allegations of mass rigging in the 1987 polls, MUF activists were arrested for
staging protests. Among those arrested was Mohammad Yousuf Shah, who was the
group’s then Srinagar head. He later joined Hizbul Mujahideen as its supreme
commander and came to be known by his alias Syed Salahuddin, Moneycontrol
1990s, when many Kashmiri youths were taking arms training in Pakistan, Jamaat
also allegedly begun supporting the insurgency. In the same year, Ahsan Dar,
founder and chief commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, dubbed the outfit a
"sword arm of Jamaat". In 1997, Jamaat claimed they have no ties with
the Hizbul and that it never backed the insurgency.
Falah-e-Aam Trust was created in 1988 to run JEI schools following its ban. The
products of these schools were targetted by their Pakistan masters, exfiltrated
to Pakistan, trained in arms and ammunition, and infiltrated back to carry on
their subversive activity, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium
1988-89, the Jamaat supported militancy only indirectly, but it got directly
involved when, under the influence of Pakistan's secret service, ISI, it
accepted the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) formed in 1989 as its militant wing. The
Hizbul Mujahideen assumed ascendancy among other major groups and mercilessly
slaughtered the innocents until the emergence of counter-insurgency groups in
the Valley in the later half of 1994 and their targetted attacks on JEI/HUM
activists, the TRAC website mentions.
of Jamaat leaders
all claims, security agencies believe that “the structure of Jamaat is used in
Kashmir for pro-Pakistan and militant activities”. According to the report, K
Rajendra, ex-DGP, Jammu and Kashmir Police, had said: “They are the root cause
of the problem in Kashmir.” According to a News18 report, there is a belief
that most terrorists are influenced by Jamaat’s ideology and their leaders are
responsible for instigating the masses.
Pakistan is a political party there, presently headed by Siraj Ul Haq (Ameer),
who is also a member of the Pakistan Senate. His speech in the National
Assembly on the recent tension enthralled Pakistani media and audiences.
calls crackdown 'political vengeance'
the organisation has termed the government's crackdown as "absolute
statement released by the group after the arrests of several of its members
said: "The state government while misusing its power is trying to appease
BJP and other communal forces and have unleashed atmosphere of terror across
the valley wherein hundreds of young and old having religious tilt have
detained under baseless grounds. The repressive policy adopted by the state
authority clearly smells bad and thus are trying to choke every peaceful
political exercise in and around."
vehemently condemned the arrest spree by police and terms it undemocratic and
gross violation of human rights," it read.
it a murder of democracy, the organisation has appealed to the Human Rights
Groups, the United Nations Organization and OIC to intervene into the grave
situation prevailing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and use their influence
to stop the lawlessness at the hands of forces.
of pilot to India: Ulema council lauds PM’s decision
Pakistan Ulema Council lauds the decision of Prime Minister Imran khan to
handover detainee Indian Pilot Abhi Nanden to Indian authorities as goodwill
gesture and to ensure peace and stability in the region.
the call of Pakistan Ulema Council, ‘Solidarity and Defense Day’ was observed
in all over Pakistan and clerics, Ulemas and religious scholars while
addressing the Friday congregations lauded the services of Pak-Force for peace
and stability in the country.
religious scholars and clerics also announced to stay united with Pak-Force in
face of any threat and aggression from India.
Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, while addressing a
press conference after Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid Marhaba, Kurri Road,
Rawalpindi stated that Pak-Force successfully retaliated Indian aggression and
foiled the dreams of Indian supremacy in the region once and forever.
entire nation is united to support and endorse Pak-Security Forces,” said Hafiz
Tahir Ashrafi, adding that government of Pakistan has got moral victory against
India by handing over detainee Indian Air force Pilot Abhi Nanden to Indian
authorities at Wagah border here on Friday. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan
has given an explicit message to the entire world that Pakistan aims peace and
stability in the region without compromising on its security.
Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi also announced that
4th International Message of Islam Conference for eradication of terrorism,
extremism and sectarian violence that was scheduled to be held in aegis of
Pakistan Ulema Council on 3rd March 2019 at Convention Center Islamabad has
been extended owing to prevailing scenario in the country and now will be held
now on 14th April, 2019 at Convention Center Islamabad.
addressing the press conference, Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi flanked by Maulana Nauman
Hashir, Maulana Tahir Aqeel, Maulana Abubakar Sabri, Maulana Mumtaz Rabbani and
Maulana Daud Khan, Maulana Naib Khan stated that hundreds and thousands of
clerics and Ulemas Mashaykh of Pakistan Ulema Council and Wafaq ul Masajid
Pakistan are ready to become volunteers for Pak-Force in face of any emergency
situation. “The political, religious and military sections of Pakistan want
peace and stability in the region but any aggression on part of India towards
Pakistan will not be tolerated,” he said. Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi also lauded the
decision of the government of Pakistan for not attending OIC Foreign
Ministerial level meeting in protest for inviting Indian Foreign Minister
Sushma Suraj at the said Islamic forum.
Tahir Ashrafi also demanded of the leadership of Muslim Ummah to take notice on
this decision of OIC for inviting the Indian Foreign Minister Sushma swaraj.
Responding to a query, Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi welcome the endeavours on part of
Saudi Arabia to ensure talks between Pakistan and India adding that Pakistan
has never negated possibility of peace negotiations in the region. Pakistan
aims at diffusing tension in the region, said Tahir Ashrafi adding that without
resolving Kashmir dispute, peace can't prevail in the region. Replying to
another query, Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi demanded of Ulemas and clerics of India to
protest against the war hysteria of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. People
of India should play their effective role against war hysteria of Prime
Minister Narendra Modi who aims at winning support of Hindu extremists by
coining Pak-India tension ahead of elections in India.
Tahir Ashrafi also announced that 4th International Message of Islam Conference
has been extended which will be held now on 14th April 2019 as it was getting
problematic due to suspension of flight operations in Pakistan. President Shariah
Court Palestine, Imam e Kaba and leadership from all over Muslim world were
scheduled to arrive in Pakistan, which is not possible due to prevailing
scenario in Pakistan as flight operations of different International airlines
have been cancelled in Pakistan.
perception hardens on Pakistan as terrorist state
Global outlook and perception of Pakistan have hardened in course of the latest
flashpoint between India and Pakistan - which has been defused for the moment.
reactions and pronouncements from across the world show that Pakistan was seen
as the serial provocateur who triggered yet another face-off and India was
recognized as the victim who was reacting in self-defense to the aggravation.
was the Trump White House that first laid down the line on this, making it
clear soon after the Pulwama suicide bombing (and even before India’s attack on
a terrorist camp inside Pakistan) that New Delhi had the right to self-defence,
virtually greenlighting an Indian response.
later described India’s attack on the terrorist camp as counter-terrorist
action, setting the tone against any perception that New Delhi was the
aggressor. Separately, France and Russia took the same line.
China, all too familiar with terror groups within Pakistan, did not challenge
the Pakistani government was not directly implicated in the Pulwama attack, the
forbearance of successive Pakistani establishments towards terror groups, and
its military’s nurturing of what it regards at its “strategic assets,” irked
policy makers in Washington to repeatedly speak of Pakistan’s supportive
ecosystem for terror groups.
Pakistani coddling of terror groups came into glaring focus on Friday when the
country’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi publicly glossed over the
presence of Masood Azhar, leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, who has bragged about
terrorist attacks on India, including the Pulwama bombing.
Azhar is in Pakistan, he is very unwell, he's unwell to the extent that he
can't leave house because he is really unwell,” Qureshi purred on CNN about a
globally designated terrorist, adding, “If they have evidence share with us so
that we can convince the people and the judiciary.”
foreign minister, who incidentally was visiting India during 26/11 attack and
hurried back even as it transpired that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI
planned and executed the attack with its LeT jihadi assets, was called out for
his brazen defence since Azhar was sprung from an Indian prison after the
Kandahar hijacking in a prisoner-for-hostages swap. That would make Pakistan
officially a violator of international norms and treaty.
this has hardened the attitude of policy makers and legislators in the U.S
where Pakistan hardly has any friends or defenders left.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan warned of “miscalculation” by India that
could lead the two dies down a slippery slope of war, Eliot Engel, Chairman of
the U.S House Foreign Affairs committee, responded: "To avoid the kind of
miscalculation Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly fears, Pakistani
leaders must take demonstrable action against Jaish-e-Mohammed and the
terrorist infrastructure on Pakistan's soil.”
affirm India's right to self-defence in response to attacks planned and
executed by Pakistani-based terrorist groups designated by the United States
and United Nations. We share your position that Pakistan must do more to combat
these antiIndia extremist groups that destabilise the region and urge you to
use your authority to pursue a peaceful resolution to this conflict before it
grows,” added Senators Jerry Moran from Kansas and Jeanne Shaheen from New
Pakistan though, there did not appear to be the slightest change in attitude.
reserves the right to respond to any aggression displayed against it as a
matter of self-defence, the country Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa was quoted as
telling the the military chiefs and ambassadors of major western powers and
China even after being called out for being the aggressor and the burden of
self-defense hoisted on India.
Revive Harsh Rule In A Remote Afghan Province
Taliban never managed to capture the mountainous northeastern province of
Badakhshan when they swept Afghanistan in the 1990s.
they control large parts of the remote region bordering Tajikistan, Pakistan,
and China, and the hard-line Islamist movement has revived its harsh rule
there. Now billing themselves as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, formal
name of the Taliban, the movement still focuses on curtailing individual
freedoms, imposing gender segregation, strict rules, and punishments in the
name of Islamic Shari’a law.
the United States attempts to negotiate peace with the Taliban, many Afghans
see the insurgents’ worldview as largely unchanged after a quarter-century of
Osmani, a 24-year-old Afghan woman, first fled Taliban rule when the insurgents
overran her village in Badakhshan’s Warduj district in 2015.
living in neighboring Baharak district, she told Radio Free Afghanistan that
the Taliban’s first major change was to impose harsh rules for women. “They do
not allow women to step outside without a male guardian,” she said.
with the Afghan government, Osmani noted, the Taliban are unable to provide key
services. “They closed the school and health clinic,” she said. “After the
elders intervened, they reopened the school, but the clinic remains closed,
which really affects pregnant women and mothers with young children.”
farmer living in Warduj says he has seen the Taliban dole out harsh Islamic
punishments. The Taliban follow a strict criminal code called Hudood, which
ordains punishments such as amputating limbs for theft, stoning for adultery, and
lashes for alcohol consumption.
have seen people stoned to death, hands amputated, and people flogged,” he told
Radio Free Afghanistan, requesting his name be withheld due to possible Taliban
reprisals. “Women are flogged if they go out without male guardians.”
farmer says he has been beaten by the Taliban many times. He says the arrival
of the Taliban has increased poverty in the region, where most people depend on
subsistence farming and animal husbandry.
is a shortage of food, and people can often be seen begging at mosques,” he
said. “Despite this, Taliban fighters often force people to feed them.”
says he longs for a return to government control.
was much easier to talk to government officials. They sometimes listened,” he
said. “The Taliban only expect us only to obey.”
an apparent effort to appeal to more Afghans, the Taliban have tried to show
flexibility on some of their harshest policies, stating that the movement is
not seeking a monopoly over power and is open to compromise.
movement recently announced it is “committed to all rights of women.” But the
commitment comes with some major caveats.
and then Afghan tradition [are] two major values of the Afghan Mujahid nation,
so Islamic Emirate is also committed to all rights of women within this
framework,” the February 5 Taliban statement noted. “The policy of the Islamic
Emirate is to protect the rights of women in a way that neither their
legitimate rights are violated, nor their human dignity and Afghan values are
closer reading reveals that the primary aim is still to create a state and
society that the movement considers Islamic, which is why it wants to replace
the current Afghan Constitution, which incorporates international human rights
Emirate of Afghanistan considers it necessary that constitution must be based
on principles of Islamic religion, national interests, historical achievements
and social justice,” the Taliban statement said. “It should be committed to
human dignity, national values and human rights, and could guarantee
territorial integrity of the country and all rights of all the citizens.”
Jackson, a research associate with the Overseas Development Institute in
London, has studied Taliban governance in rural Afghan regions.
told RFE/RL’s Gandhara website that the Taliban leadership has learned from the
movement’s mistakes and the challenges it faced while in government. She says
there’s a sense of continuity despite the Taliban embracing some pragmatism
while fighting a complicated insurgency since losing power in late 2001.
degree to which their fighters on the ground have changed in outlook and
ideology is questionable,” she said. “At their core, they remain a highly
conservative, rural-based movement that is seeking to restore a pure form of
Islamic government -- which entails many familiar elements from the 1990s.”
to the Afghan Analyst Network (AAN), some Badakhshan clerics and locals have
been part of the Taliban since the 1990s. Apart from one major battle in 1998,
control of Jamiat-e Islami, a predominantly Tajik Islamist party, was never
challenged in Badakhshan.
the help of local Tajik commanders, most of whom were educated at Pakistani
religious schools, the Taliban ramped up its recruitment drive in 2004. In
2012, they increased military activities and the recruitment of graduates from
madrasahs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Many fighters hail from strategically
located Warduj, and the region provides the bulk of local Taliban leaders and
cadres in Badakhshan, according to AAN.
overrunning Warduj in October 2015, the Taliban took over neighboring Baharak.
Out of the 28 Badakhshan districts, they have also sporadically controlled or
made incursions into Yumgan, Jurm, Raghistan, and Kohistan. While the
government reclaimed several lost territories, the Taliban still control Warduj
and Yumgan, although the violence has turned Badakhshan into a contested
Daulat Khawar, district governor of Warduj, operates out of Baharak. He says
the 1,300 families who fled the Taliban’s capture of Warduj now live in dire
conditions in Baharak.
told Radio Free Afghanistan that some of the 19 schools in Warduj have reopened
after two years. The eight girls’ schools in the district are allowed to offer
elementary and middle grades.
the standard of living has taken a turn for the worse,” he said. “They have
lost services, projects, and any prospects of work. Poverty is rampant.”
Abdul Wahab Majdi, 38, a former teacher at Warduj's women’s teacher-training
college, says the college remains shut since the Taliban takeover. He says its
more than 100 female students have been deprived of their education.
he sees some change in the Taliban’s behavior.
first two years after they took over was a reign of terror,” he noted. “But
since last year they have changed and are now more cautious in their dealings
49, who goes by one name only, hopes to return to Warduj with his 12 family
members if peace returns. He supports the ongoing efforts to make peace with
the Taliban but expects protection.
support a peace where the rights of all people are protected,” he told Radio
Free Afghanistan. “Otherwise our misery will not end, and there will be no
Arabia strips Bin Laden’s son Hamza of citizenship
Arabia’s Interior Ministry announced that a Royal Decree has been issued
granting approval of stripping the Saudi nationality from the son of late
al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Hamza, according to Okaz newspaper.
Thursday, the United States had offered a $1 million reward for information on
Hamza bin Laden, seeing him as an emerging face of extremism.
bin Laden is believed to have spent years with his mother in Iran, where it is
thought his wedding took place, and is suspected to still be living there.
bin Laden is believed to have been born in 1989, the year of the Soviet
withdrawal from Afghanistan.
15th of Osama bin Laden’s 20 children and a son of his third wife, Hamza has
been groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps since childhood.
bin Laden began appearing in militant videos and recordings in 2015 as an
has threatened attacks against the US to avenge the 2011 killing of his father
- who was living in hiding in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad - by US
at least August 2015, he has released audio and video messages on the Internet
calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its
Western allies,” the US State Department said in a statement on Thursday.
released by the CIA in 2017 that was seized during the Abbottabad raid shows
Hamza bin Laden with a trimmed mustache but no beard, at his wedding.
United Nations report published last year noted that Hamza bin Laden “continued
to emerge as a leadership figure in al-Qaeda.”
leadership demonstrates strategic patience and its regional affiliates exercise
good tactical judgment, embedding themselves in local issues and becoming
players,” the UN report warned. “While there is as yet little evidence of a
re-emerging direct global threat from al-Qaeda, improved leadership and
enhanced communication will probably increase the threat over time.”
rejects US move to recognize Golan annexation by Israel
Special Envoy for Syria Geir O. Pedersen has underlined Syria’s sovereignty
over the Golan Heights, rejecting a US congressional motion to recognize
Israel's annexation of the occupied territory.
the Security Council is very clear that the Golan is Syrian territory, and the
first aspect of [Resolution] 2254 is of course the territorial integrity of
Syria,” Pedersen told reporters at a Security Council briefing on Syria held on
Thursday in New York.
made the comments in response to a question regarding a bill introduced by
Republican members of the US congress which seeks to recognize Syria’s Golan
Heights as Israeli territory.
measure, brought by Senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton as well as Representative
Mike Gallagher, cites concerns about what the lawmakers call a “threat” posed
United States has been committed for over 40 years to ensuring Israel’s
security from attacks emanating from across the Golan Heights,” the bill’s
sponsors said Wednesday.
officials have long pushed for US recognition of the Tel Aviv regime’s
sovereignty claims over the territory, which was seized from Syria in 1967.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly discussed the issue with both US
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the
White House in 2017, urging them to recognize Israel’s sovereignty.
has stepped up his efforts over the past years, using the presence of Iranian
military advisers and Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah’s fighters in
Syria as a scare tactic to convince US leaders.
comes as the United Nations has time and again stressed Syria’s sovereignty
over the occupied heights. Back in December 2018, the majority of the United
Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging the Israeli regime to
withdraw from the entirety of the Syrian Golan Heights.
resolution, titled The Syrian Golan, was adopted by a record vote of 99 in
favor, 10 against and 66 abstentions. It declared that the Israeli
controversial move to extend its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the
occupied mountainous plateau is null and void and called on Tel Aviv to leave
the strategically-important territory.
in the month, the General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a
resolution on the permanent sovereignty of Syria over natural resources of the
resolution reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the Syrians in the occupied
Syrian Golan to sovereign over its natural resources, including land, water and
this week, UN chief Antonio Guterres unveiled a report which accused Israel of
burying radioactive nuclear waste in the Golan Heights.
submitted the report - which is based on Syria’s charges against Israel - to
the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at the panel's 40th session, which opened
in Geneva Monday and will run through March 22.
Syrian Arab Republic noted that Israel continued to bury nuclear waste with
radioactive content in 20 different areas populated by Syrian citizens of the
occupied Syrian Golan, particularly in the vicinity of al-Sheikh Mountain,” the
to deal with foreign military presence'
the United Nations, Syria's Permanent Representative Bashar al-Ja'afari told a
Security Council session that US, French, British and Turkish forces must end
their illegal presence in the Arab country.
said hit out at hostile US statements about keeping part of its troops on the
Syrian territory, saying “Syria will deal with any foreign military presence,
without its acceptance, as an aggression.”
White House announced last Thursday that around 400 American troops would
remain in Syria on a “peacekeeping” mission despite President Donald Trump’s
pledge to fully withdraw from the country.
NGOs protest offensive post against Islam
NGOs protested a Chinese offensive statements against Prophet Muhammad on
of six nonprofits carrying banners gathered in front of Masjid Negara Mosque in
Kuala Lumpur to protest Wai Foo Sing, 68, who was arrested for posting a
cartoon image on social media last month.
Kamarulzaman Muhammad said “some irresponsible people” act offensively, and
added: “We arranged the protest to show our love of Prophet Muhammad.”
faces two charges of uploading the image and intention to annoy another on
found guilty, Wai will face five years in prison and more than $12,000
DELHI: The ban on Jamaat-e-Islami J&K is expected to rein in overground
workers (OGWs) network of terrorist outfits, particularly Hizbul Mujahideen, in
south Kashmir, apart from applying brakes on extreme radicalisation and recruitment
of locals for terror-related activities, according to the central security
inputs from the ground suggested that the line between active cadres of the
Jamaat and terror operatives/facilitators in J&K had blurred to such an extent
that it became inevitable to ban Jamaat-e-Islami with immediate effect. Sources
put the number of such cadres at around 2,000, though the overall Jamaat
following in south Kashmir is described as large enough to cover one-third of
in the home ministry said JeI (J&K), the parent of both Hizbul Mujahideen
and Hurriyat, is primarily responsible for propagation of separatist and
radical ideology in the Valley, apart from providing all kind of support to
Hizbul Mujahideen, its terror offspring, in terms of recruits, funding,
ferrying of arms, providing shelter, logistics etc.
the banning of Jamaat, its top leaders and cadres detained a few days back in
J&K will now be formally arrested. “The Jamaat has always maintained a
pro-Pakistan stance and gets its funding from Pakistan chapter of the
Jamaat-e-Islami patronised by ISI, or ‘zakaat’ collected from within J&K in
name of religious activities but diverted for anti-India and subversive activities,”
said an officer.
strong presence of Hizbul in the area of influence of JeI (J&K) — terror
hotbeds of Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam — is a clear reflection of its
separatist and radical ideology, said an officer.
assessment here is that banning the Jamaat in J&K will go a long way in
curbing mobilisation of locals for stone-pelting protests, including at
encounter sites. Given the close ties between some Hurriyat separatists and
JeI, the banning of the latter will weaken the separatists’ space, said a home
Hurriyat reflecting Jamaat’s pro-Pakistan stance, there is a debate within the
security establishment on whether Hurriyat should be banned as well,
particularly Tehreek-e-Hurriyat headed by S A S Geelani. “However, there are
pros and cons of the same. A ban may leave no Kashmiri representatives to
consult were the government to want talks for a political solution. On the other
hand, with Hurriyat leadership showing little interest in talks and involved in
terror funding instead, there is some merit in slapping a ban on them,” said an
DELHI: The Indian defence establishment on Friday said it had synthetic
aperture radar (SAR) pictures to buttress its contention of having effectively
hit the Jaish-e-Mohammed’s terror training facility at Balakot in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
province of Pakistan in the February 26 air strikes.
came after a few independent satellite imagery experts raised doubts whether
the Mirage-2000 fighters had actually managed to hit the terror facility on the
‘Jaba Top’ hillock. They claimed that while there was little evidence of damage
to the facility in the satellite pictures, craters caused by bombs were visible
in open areas around 150 to 200 metres from the barracks/buildings.
defence officials, however, rejected these reports. “The SAR films clearly show
before and after pictures of the intended targets being hit+ . Its up to the
government whether it wants to release them or not. Pakistan, of course, has
also worked swiftly to repair the damage to the site,” an official said.
refused to specify the platform used to capture the SAR pictures. The
Mirage-2000s, which had fired long-range Spice-2000 precision-guided bombs and
AGM-142 (Popeye-2) missiles after crossing the Line of Control, have
electro-optical sensors but they could not have captured the imagery because it
was cloudy during the pre-dawn strikes. The Sukhoi-30MKIs, which accompanied
the Mirage-2000s for ‘air defence’, do have SARs for high-resolution ground
mapping with the capability to penetrate clouds.
the sprawling Balakot facility had over 300 terrorists at the time of the air
strikes, as per intelligence, it is impossible to estimate the exact number of
casualties. Describing the operation as a “non-military pre-emptive action”,
foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale on that day had said “a very large number of
JeM terrorists, trainers, senior commanders and groups of jihadis, who were
being trained for fidayeen action, were eliminated”.
Thursday, IAF assistant chief of air staff (space and operations) R G K Kapoor
had said, “There is fairly credible evidence with us which proves that there
was damage to the camp. We hit the intended targets and caused the damage that
it will be premature to say what is the number of casualties we have been able
to inflict on those camps and the number of deaths. Whatever we intended to
destroy, we have got the results. Now it is up to the government and higher leadership
as to when and how to give the evidence or not.”
DELHI: Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, a known associate of Al Qaida
founder Osama bin Laden, had helped the latter flee from Tora Bora caves in
Afghanistan where he was cornered after the 9/11 attacks in 2011, at a time the
Pakistan army had cordoned off one side of the vast cave network.
to Indian intelligence sources, Jaish planned two major attacks in India in the
immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the US planned and executed by al
Qaida. First, on October 1, 2001, some three weeks after 9/11, Jaish bombed the
J&K assembly complex, killing 35 persons.
months later, on December 13, 2001, Jaish fidayeen carried out an audacious
attack on India’s Parliament, which claimed nine lives.
top intelligence official told TOI that the two attacks heightened hostilities
between India and Pakistan, leading to a war-like situation and provided the
Pakistan army a “pretext” to withdraw much of its forces from its western
border, which were cordoning the Tora Bora caves. This assisted Osama’s escape
a result, it took the US forces 10 additional years to get hold of Osama. He
was killed by US Navy Seals on May 2, 2011, in a compound in Abbotabad,
is the nature of Jaish’s capability, and demonstrates that it is an
organisation that does not just impact India, but feeds on pan-Islamism and has
been a major threat to global peace and security,” an intelligence functionary
inputs suggest that Azhar is suffering from renal failure and requires regular
dialysis at the Army hospital in Rawalpindi.
who founded Jaish soon after his release from an Indian prison as part of the
IC-814 swap deal in 1999, reportedly worked closely with Osama in the 90s. As
the top motivator of Harkat-ul-Ansar, he was used for jihadi indoctrination
across various African countries.
Azhar was freed in 1999, he was greeted in Kandahar by Mullah Mansoor, a senior
representative of Taliban chief Mullah Omar. Mansoor later replaced Omar and
was killed in a drone strike in 2016. On the night of Azhar’s release, Osama is
known to have hosted a banquet for him.
is known to many as the Pakistani cleric who brought jihad into religious
discourse in UK mosques. He reportedly made contact with people who helped
provide training and logistical support for terror plots of 7/7 and 21/7
attacks in London and the attempt in 2006 to smuggle liquid bomb-making
substances on to transatlantic airlines.
The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday empowered the inspector generals and
district magistrates to detain and arrest the functionaries of Jamaat-e-Islami
(JeI), the controversial socio-religious organisation that was declared unlawful
by the Centre a day ago.
order was sent to all 22 districts of Jammu and Kashmir. More than 350 enrolled
members of JeI were arrested on Friday. The order has led to a crackdown on
JeI’s functionaries operating 400 schools, 350 mosques and 1000 seminaries
across the state.
officials said in some districts, these physical assets run into several
hundreds of crores of rupees. However, their attachment would not be immediate.
district magistrate would get an inventory made by the police. Then depending
on investigation another inventory would be made to ascertain whether the
properties are legal or illegal. The total estimated properties could be well
over Rs 4,500 crore. So far the order entails the arrest under the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967,” said a top government official.
sources said they will also deliberate if the JeI members can be booked under
Public Safety Act (PSA) or Section 151 CrPC (arrest to prevent the commission
of cognizable offences).
will also have to verify if their functionary was already out on bail and can
be booked again and the grounds and evidence needed to arrest him,” said a top
which for long has been advocating Kashmir’s secession from India and its
integration with Pakistan, has built its assets with the help of donations
received from people in the state and abroad.
state administration refused to divulge any details about their bank deposits
or bank accounts yet.
IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, captured by Pakistanis on
Wednesday after his MiG21 crashed across the Line of Control in
Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, was repatriated to India from the Wagah-Attari
border on Friday night.
pilot, who was expected to be released by Pakistan on Friday afternoon, crossed
over to India only around 9.20 pm as huge crowds waited outside the Attari ICP
to welcome him despite cold and rain.
foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi had on Friday morning said Abhinandan
would be handed over to Indian officials at the Wagah-Attari border in the
afternoon. “As the prime minister (Imran Khan) has said, as a peace gesture and
to deescalate matters, the Indian pilot will be released. So today (Friday),
this afternoon, he will be released at Wagah,” Qureshi said, raising
expectations in India of an early handover.
handover, however, took hours and Abhinandan finally crossed over to the Indian
side after 9 pm. Dressed in a blue coat and white shirt, he was escorted to the
Zero Line by the air attaché at the Indian high commission in Islamabad, Group
Captain Joy Thomas Kurien and a Pakistan foreign ministry lady official. Senior
Border Security Force officers welcomed him at the Zero Line on the Indian
handover at Wagah was telecast live on Pakistani television channels, but the
media in India was kept away and not allowed inside the ICP Attari. The
Pakistan foreign office issued a statement titled “Return of Indian POW Wing
Commander Abhinandan Varthaman” after the handover that described it as a
“gesture of peace” and said Abhinandan “while in captivity, was treated with
dignity and in line with international law.”
was immediately whisked away by the IAF from Attari — a huge convoy of senior
IAF officers and those from Army, BSF, Punjab Police and Amritsar district
administration that included ambulances had arrived at Attari around 4 pm.
Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor told the media assembled outside the Attari ICP gates
that Abhinandan would first be taken for a detailed medical check-up. “This is
mandatory as he had ejected from his plane and must have caused great stress to
his body,” he said, adding: “IAF is happy to have him back.”
DC Shivdular Singh Dhillon, who briefed the media gathered outside Attari ICP
through the day, said Pakistan had not given any explanation for the delay in
the handover and India had not sought one. When asked how Abhinandan had
reacted after stepping back on the Indian soil, Dhillon said he was smiling and
said, “It is good to be in back in my country”.
confirmed Abhinandan's parents were not at Attari to receive him.
groups of people, waving tricolours and dancing to the beat of drums, had to
return disappointed as they could not even catch a glimpse of the pilot.
Delhi: Amidst Indo-Pak conflict following the terrorist attack in Pulwama,
Jammu and Kashmir, a high-level delegation of noted intellectuals and Muslim
leaders called on home minister Rajnath Singh. The delegation expressed their
concern over the attacks and war-like situation. They said if the attacks are
not stopped any innocent citizens may lose their lives.
delegation members also discussed internal situation of the country and said
the situation has become such that anyone can take law into his own hands and
target whoever he wishes. It is harmful to the society, religion and country as
delegation included, Dr MJ Khan, Maulana Asghar Ali, Imam Mehdi Salfi,
journalist Qamer Agha, journalist Shahid Siddiqui, former IAS Siraj Husain,
Zakat Foundation of India chief Dr Zafar Mahmood, Dr Idris Quraishi, Maulana
Sajid Rasheedi, Maulana Furqan Madani, Maulana Tauqeer Raza, Maulana Asghar, M
J Khan, Maulana Mohammed Arif Qasmi, Badruddin khan, Khalid Ansari and Mufti
Kamaldeep Singh Brar
an anxious wait that saw day turn to night, Wing Commander Abhinandan
Varthaman, the IAF pilot who was captured two days ago by the Pakistan Army
after his MiG-21 Bison was shot down as he chased PAF intruders, returned home
Friday night via the Wagah-Attari border crossing.
in civilian clothes, he walked across the Zero Line at 9.20 pm as the Pakistan
Rangers handed him over to the BSF. Group Captain J T Kurien, Air Advisor in
the Indian High Commission, and Fareeha Bugti, Director (India) in the Pakistan
Foreign Office, had accompanied him to the crossing. He was whisked away by IAF
personnel, and the hundreds who had gathered there to welcome him failed to
catch a glimpse.
Varthaman returns: ‘Recording of IAF pilot’s video before release led to delay’
Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, reading from a prepared statement, told reporters:
“Wing Commander Abhinandan has just been handed over to us as per standing
operating procedure of Indian Air Force. We will now take him for a detailed
medical check-up. This check-up is mandated particularly because the officer
has had to eject from an aeroplane which would have put his entire body under
great stress. IAF is happy to have Abhinandan back.”
Deputy Commissioner Shivdular Singh Dhillon told reporters that the pilot said
he was happy to be back in his country. The repatriation triggered celebrations
across the country where people had waited hours, glued to TV sets to watch the
Minister Narendra Modi, in a tweet, said: “Welcome Home Wing Commander
Abhinandan! The nation is proud of your exemplary courage. Our armed forces are
an inspiration for 130 crore Indians. Vande Mataram!”.
Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also tweeted “Jai Hind… Proud of you Wing Commander
#AbhinandanVarthaman. The entire nation appreciates your valour and grit. You
held your calm in the face of adversity. You are an inspiration to our youth.
Salute. Vande Mataram.”
of several political parties, including Congress president Rahul Gandhi and
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, welcomed him home.
had been planning a hero’s welcome ever since Thursday when Pakistan Prime
Minister Imran Khan told his country’s lawmakers that the pilot would be
returned to India as a “gesture of peace” following the sharp escalation of
tensions between the two countries.
gathered at the border crossing, waving the Tricolour, raising slogans, singing
and dancing to the beat of dhols. Media personnel were stopped almost a
kilometre from the Zero Line. Tourists who had come to witness the daily
retreat ceremony were later told to vacate the galleries. Around 2.30 pm,
Deputy Commissioner Dhillon said: “The ceremony had been cancelled as smooth
release of Abhinandan is top priority for us.”
Even as India lobbies with the international community to get Masood Azhar designated
as a global terrorist at the UN, another terror outfit, Al Badr, on Thursday
conducted its recruitment drive in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), the Pakistani province
where Indian Air Force (IAF) had bombed Jaish-e-Mohammad’s training camp.
in Kashmir since 1998, Al Badr incidentally shares a close relationship with
Jamaat-e-Islami, the religio-political organisation which was banned by Centre
of the sister organizations of JeM, Al Badr has gone in a frantic mode to
accommodate Azhar’s old cadres and recruit new ones in Dir district of KPK, 400
km from Jaish’s Balakot training facility that was destroyed on Tuesday.
recruitment drive went on even as Pakistan premier Imran Khan announced on
Thursday in parliament that IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman would be
released as a “gesture of peace” towards India.
video exclusively accessed by TOI showed three armed terrorists of Al Badr
inviting people to Dir Chowk to join the outfit in support of the Pakistan
army. The video was shot and released on Wednesday and a local source in KPK
confirmed that the recruitment drive was conducted on Thursday in Dir.
the video, an Al Badr spokesperson, flanked by two others, is seen speaking in
Pashto, the native language of KPK. Indian intelligence officials who
translated the speech said the spokesperson praised the Pakistani army for
“giving a befitting reply” to Indian strikes in Balakot by capturing an Indian
pilot. “Pakistan army and Mujahideen are one,” says the Al Badr spokesperson.
spokesperson also claimed that its “mujahideen were hanging out in the
mountains of Kashmir and ready to launch terror attacks on India”.
officials said the Al Badr recruitment drive indicated that Pakistani army and
ISI were exercising the old ploy of changing the nomenclature of terror groups
ahead of any crackdown on the Jaish by the international community.
for example, was a member of Harakat-ul-Mujahideen before he set up JeM. In
2001, when the US State Department was considering declaring JeM a global
terrorist outfit, the group renamed itself Tehrik-ul-Furqan and transferred its
funds from its bank accounts to little known cadres to nullify any freeze on
its assets. Two years later, the group divided itself in two subgroups— Jamaat
ul-Furqan (JUF) and Khuddam ul-Islam (KUI).
ul Jihad al Islami, Harkat ul Ansar, Harkat ul Mujahideen, JeM, Al Badr— all
these groups are one and the same, ideology and agenda wise. They keep changing
their names as and when there is a financial or legal crackdown,” a police officer
in Srinagar said.
group was one of the several terror J&K groups which attended Osama bin
Laden’s conference in Khost, Afghanistan, in February 1998.
said Al Badr is headed by Bahkt Zameen Khan whose deputy goes by the name of
Zahid Bhai. The commanders for launching terrorists and communication are Irfan
and Abu Mawai, respectively. The group exerts massive influence in KPK, sources
in Pakistan said.
DELHI: Terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar is very
unwell and in Pakistan, said a fumbling Pakistan foreign minister Mehmood
Qureshi, when questioned on TV about Islamabad’s delay in arresting the terror
the chief of JeM Masood Azhar present in Pakistan? And if so, will you go after
him?” asked CNN’s Christian Amanpour during a 10-minute television interview
with Qureshi on Thursday, to which the minister replied in the affirmative.
is in Pakistan, according to my information. He is very unwell. He is unwell to
the extent that he cannot leave his house because he is really unwell. That's
the information I have," an otherwise articulate and composed Qureshi
fumbled, while evading the second part of the question about Azhar's arrest.
world has known for almost 20 years that JeM boss Masood Azhar is in Pakistan.
And if official confirmation was indeed needed, it's come from no less than
Pakistan's foreign minister, S M Qureshi. Even if we were to set aside, for a
moment, the mountain of evidence establishing Jaish's role in multiple terror
attacks against India, there can be no walking away from the fact that the
Pak-headquartered organisation has itself brazenly claimed credit for the
Pulwama bombing -- and it has since been condemned by name by the UN Security
Council. All Pakistan needs is the will to bring Azhar to book. The real
question is, will his terror sponsors in the 'deep state' allow it? The ball is
in Imran Khan's court.
further pressed by Amanpour about why Pakistan has not arrested Azhar, “ill or
not ill”, he said they want “solid, inalienable evidence” to convince the
“people and the independent judiciary of Pakistan” of their actions.
if Pakistan will “welcome” the move of putting Azhar’s name on the
international terrorist list+ to de-escalate tensions between the two nations,
he said, “We will be open to any step that leads to de-escalation. And if they
have good solid evidence, please sit and talk. Please initiate a dialogue and
we will show reasonableness.”
fears of a war, Qureshi said an armed conflict will be “mutual suicide” for
both countries. He added that Pakistan PM Imran Khan has written to the Indian
PM saying “let the two foreign ministers meet on the sidelines in New York so
that they can chart a way forward.”
minister also “thanked” United States President Donald Trump and US secretary
of state Mike Pompeo for “taking interest to de-escalate” tensions between the
The Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (F) chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman on Friday said Modi
is suffering from “war hysteria” and is unable to fathom Pakistan’s strength.
to the media persons, he advised the Indian prime minister to learn from the
failure of the US in Afghanistan. He said the Indian misadventure has turned
into a sheer embarrassment for them with the loss of two jets and the capture
of one of their pilots by Pakistan. He said despite serious political
differences with the ruling party, we are united against any aggression against
JUI-F said the Muslims never believe in aggression but they are duty bound to
repel aggression strongly. The veteran politician said Pakistan armed forces
are fully capable to defend the motherland against any aggression. He
categorically denied the presence of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) in Pakistan and
also refused any link with any such organisation
The downing of two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets this week persuaded the
United States to re-engage Pakistan for ending a dangerous confrontation
between South Asia’s two nuclear-armed states, said a former White House
the Pakistani military shot down two Indian Air Force planes and captured an
Indian pilot, the United States walked back its rhetoric of self-defence,” said
Shamila N. Chaudhary, who was director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the
White House National Security Council under President Barack Obama.
was referring to a recent statement by US National Security Adviser John Bolton
who said after the Feb 14 suicide attack in Pulwama that the United States
“support(s) India’s right to self-defence”.
a piece she wrote for a congressional newspaper, The Hill, she noted that after
Pakistan brought down the IAF planes US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged
both countries “to exercise restraint, and avoid escalation at any cost”.
several US lawmakers backed Mr Pompeo’s appeal to India and Pakistan to defuse
the situation. “Pakistan’s repatriation of Wing Commander Abhinandan to India
is a good first step toward enabling meaningful dialogue to resolve this
conflict,” said Congressman Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Committee on
Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
called upon the Trump administration to play an active role to “promote peace
and stability in South Asia” following the flare-up in tensions between India
reminded the present administration that “past Republican and Democratic
administrations have played constructive roles at the highest levels to promote
peace and stability in South Asia”.
Engel said that to avoid the kind of miscalculation Prime Minister Imran Khan
“rightly fears, Pakistani leaders must take demonstrable action against
the threat of further escalation, Senator Menendez said: “I urge Islamabad and
New Delhi to immediately engage in dialogue to de-escalate the tensions.”
Thursday, Secretary Pompeo told journalists that he “spent a good deal of time”
talking to Pakistani and Indian leaders, “encouraging each country to not
take any action that would escalate and create increased risk”.
US media outlets reported on Friday that Washington was maintaining regular
contacts with both Islamabad and New Delhi and the US military was backing
these peace efforts. However, Alyssa Ayres, a former US deputy assistant
secretary of state for South Asia, told the National Public Radio that the
United States did not have the same influence that it did during the Kargil
crisis, when Pakistan was still a close ally.
don’t think the United States has the type of clout it might’ve had 35 years
ago. But you have seen a consensus among the powers around the world all
echoing each other to create that kind of echo chamber about the kind of
actions Pakistan should take,” she said.
The Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) on Friday questioned the ‘haste’ in the
decision to release the captured Indian pilot and asked if any terms had been
decided behind the scenes for it.
part in the discussion in the Senate on the tension between Pakistan and India,
PPP parliamentary leader in the house Sherry Rehman said it had to be seen what
message was coming from the other side. “Has India agreed to hold talks?” she
Rehman said she was not opposed to the release of the Indian pilot, but sought
to know what Pakistan had asked for in return. She said social media suggested
they (India) had given no quarter. “If we have not asked for anything, it is an
immature diplomatic move”.
pointed out that India had violated Pakistan’s airspace twice and as such it
was an aggressor.
said the United States was an ally of India and asking Pakistan to take action
against terrorists. She said Pakistan had gained a moral high ground but the
Indian media’s attitude appeared to be childish.
Rehman said that Indian response to the release of the pilot was inappropriate.
“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not attending repeated telephone calls
of PM Imran Khan,” she said, asking how the decision to release the pilot had
been taken overnight. “And what India gave in response to that gesture…India
should at least give a response to the PM’s calls.”
part in the debate, former chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, referred
to an article published in an international newspaper suggesting that Israel
had a role to play in the heightened tension between India and Pakistan. He
said the military and economic nexus of India was growing.
the Indian prime minister’s campaign to win the elections, the US wanted to
make India regional policeman in an attempt to contain China, Senator Rabbani
Pulwama incident should not be seen in isolation,” he said. “It is true that Modi’s
election campaign is behind this escalation, but there are other factors as
the factors, he said that Indian intelligence agency — Research and Analysis
Wing — had aided and abetted incidents of terrorism in Pakistan and then came
India’s increasing violations of the Line of Control. “Then India avoided
participating in the Saarc conference saying it cannot come in the shadow of
terrorism,” Mr Rabbani said.
had been propagating that Pakistan had terrorists’ havens, talking about
violation of the Indus Waters Treaty and making efforts to get Pakistan placed
on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force, he said. “And then it
[India] says it can talk only on terrorism and not on Kashmir issue.”
seeing all these developments in juxtaposition, the lukewarm response of the US
and other countries and the new strategic shift in Pakistan’s foreign policy,
this all would have to be seen whether international forces are bent upon
getting the supremacy of India accepted to some extent to make it policeman of
the region,” he said.
Rabbani said it had to be seen if attempts were being made to strengthen Indian
dream of becoming a regional policeman and force Pakistan to “do more”.
PPP Senator, Rehman Malik, said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had played a
good card by taking the decision to release the Indian pilot. “We have shown
courtesy,” he said.
should have also shown courtesy of attending PM Khan’s phone call, he said and
termed the gesture undiplomatic.
Malik said the drama of the Pulwama attack had been staged by India under a
well thought-out plan. He said there was a need to finalise a policy on
Pakistan’s response in case aggression was imposed on it.
about his ordeal, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Kamran Michael,
who was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Feb 8 in
connection with a corruption case, said he was detained without any concrete
evidence against him. “When NAB produced me before the court to get physical
remand, the court refused to accept the bureau’s request and termed me a
‘so-called accused’.” He said the court even remarked that the judicial remand
could not be given in a reference that had already been filed. He said he was
arrested in a corruption reference that did not even include his name.
give NAB the free hand to arrest lawmakers,” he said and requested the chair to
refer his matter to the Senate’s law committee for a hearing.
Senator Javed Abbasi said the anti-corruption watch dog was not above the
parliament and it should inform the house about the allegations against Mr
Michael. NAB should be questioned why it arrested the senator — a formal
federal minister — and the matter should be referred to the committee, he said.
party colleague of Mr Michael, Senator Saleem Zia, said neither the lawmaker’s
name was included in any case nor was he part of any investigation.
Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi told the session that 550 million gallons
chemical-infested polluted water was flowing into the sea in Karachi every day.
addition, up to 7,000 tonnes of solid waste was being thrown in the ocean on a
daily basis, he added.
said only a single water treatment plant having the capacity of 70m gallons per
day was working in Karachi and more treatment plants should be installed on the
sites where water fell into the sea.
cannot even dip a finger in the water where people used to swim in the past,”
Mr Zaidi said. He warned that if the situation persisted, foreign vessels would
refuse to come to Karachi port.
Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday said India wants to use the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) platform to further its own agenda
which it will do by way of first becoming an observer and then gradually
forcing its way in to exert more influence on member nations.
foreign minister said this while responding to a question put forth by the host
on DawnNewsTV talk show, News Wise.
was asked: "Don't you think that after repeatedly telling India that
Pakistan wants to sit down for talks, then to boycott the OIC meeting because
India will be present, doesn't it seem as if we are contradicting our own
at all ... We are ready to sit down with India. But India wants to use the OIC
[platform] to further its own agenda. They were looking for a way to become an
observer and then gradually force their way in," the minister responded.
said New Delhi's stance has been that based on a sizable Muslim population in
India, it should be given OIC membership.
tried [to get membership] in 1993, 1984, 2004 which Pakistan has always been
blocking and today too no mention was made regarding the observer status.
Pakistan remained successful in that regard," he noted.
about the opposition's criticism of his move to boycott the OIC session in Abu
Dhabi, Qureshi said the opposition parties had unanimously agreed upon the
opposition is a signatory. We have taken this move after taking into account
the parliament and opposition's opinion on the matter," he said, adding that
many members of the PML-N and PPP were present who expressed their approval.
then proceeded to name them: "Khursheed Shah, Raza Rabbani and many others
all of whom held the unanimous view that Pakistan should not join in."
The police arrested Syed Ahmed Shah, the secretary of late Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam
Sami (JUI-S) leader Maulana Samiul Haq on murder charges and sought his
physical remand for interrogation on Friday.
senior police official told Dawn that the arrest came about after the police
investigating team examined Syed Ahmed Shah’s first and last statements, which
his earlier statement, Ahmed Shah had claimed he had locked the main gate from
outside when he left Maulana Sami alone at home to fetch drinking water from a
filtration plant and later, he said he had not locked the gate when he left,” a
police official close to the investigation said.
said Syed Ahmed Shah has been arrested by the police in the murder case and
that a four-day physical remand has been obtained from the local court of law.
said Ahmed Shah had been in police custody before and that he was released
after investigation later. He has now formally been arrested after getting
permission from the family of Maulana Samiul Haq.
leader Maulana Samiul Haq was killed in his Safari Villa in Bahria Town on Nov
2 last year when Ahmed Shah had allegedly gone to get water from a nearby
a key witness in the case, Syed Ahmed Shah was allowed to participate in the
late senator’s funeral but he went missing soon after. He was picked up for
investigation a couple of weeks later but was allowed to go.
the police investigation into the murder of the JUI-S leader was inconclusive,
an interim challan had been submitted by the police in the court of an
additional session judge after a month.
police was to submit the interim challan within a fortnight of the murder.
interim challan contained statements of Maulana Sami’s secretary and an
investigation report on more than 20 other individuals, mobile phone records of
the slain JUI-S leader, the preliminary statement of Ahmed Shah and the police
police were still waiting for a DNA report of the samples taken from the body
of the deceased and the blood found elsewhere in the crime scene. However, the
investigation team had already received the maulana’s mobile phone data.
police had also made an attempt to exhume the body for a post-mortem but the
concerned court of law and the family of the deceased had refused to allow the
police to do so.
request was made to the additional session judge by the Rawalpindi police’s
Homicide Unit which was forwarded to a court in Nowshera which rejected it.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday acquitted a 52-time death sentence convict
Sufi Baba, who was allegedly involved in brain-washing of youngsters for
suicide attacks, giving him benefit of doubt.
three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan
Khosa, heard the case.
the course of proceedings, the additional prosecutor of Punjab apprised the
court that the accused did train suicide bombers for an attack on Sakhi Sarwar
said that the accused also recorded his confessional statement in this regard.
chief justice questioned Sufi Baba sent other people to heaven but why he never
wished to visit heaven. It is strange that no evidence existed against a person
who did train suicide bombers as child became a victim himself, he added.
observed that Police did not provide any evidence against the accused and added
that he was not present at the time of suicide attack.
chief justice remarked that the prosecution also failed to prove the
allegations leveled against accused and acquitted him giving the benefit of
may be mentioned that accused Bahram alias Sufi Muhammad was accused of
training suicide bombers for the attack on Sakhi Sarwar shrine in which 52
people were martyred and 73 injured.
At least 20 soldiers are believed to have been killed and others injured during
a Taliban attack on a key Afghan-US military base in Helmand province on Friday.
pre-dawn assault on the Shorab compound came during a pause in peace talks
between Taliban and US officials in the Qatari capital Doha.
armed with rocket-propelled grenades, engaged in a heavy firefight with Afghan
forces at the base where US troops are also stationed.
in Helmand later claimed that all nine of the assailants who had taken part in
the raid were killed, and there were no reports of any US military casualties.
Shorab attack is the first major one to be conducted by the Taliban since the
group began direct peace talks with US diplomats in a bid to bring an end to
the long-running conflict in Afghanistan.
came as Taliban and US negotiators — led by Washington’s special envoy for
Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad — took a break from their latest
round of discussions in Doha, which both sides have described as positive.
of the talks, the Taliban had said that the focus of the meeting was the total
withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, with the insurgents guaranteeing that
Afghan soil would never again be used against US interests or any other nation.
US and European officials with knowledge about the progress of the Doha talks,
The New York Times reported that the US was looking at keeping its troops in
Afghanistan for up to five years, with the Taliban agreeing to join a
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the report was propaganda by the
“anti-peace crowd” with Afghans “inching closer toward peace.”
a statement Mujahid said: “No talks have been held in the meetings regarding an
interim government and elections, nor has the US side proposed anything
regarding staying in Afghanistan for four or five years.”
the Shorab assault, another Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yousuf Ahmadi,
said the attackers had caused serious damage to a fleet of helicopters inside
Helmand governorate officials denied Ahmadi’s account, adding that nine
assailants had taken part in the attack and all of them had been killed.
the peace talks, fighting has continued to take place in Afghanistan between
the Taliban and US-backed Afghan forces.
Afghan diplomat Ahmad Saeedi said the Shorab attack and previous military
pushes were normal attempts to try and gain an upper hand in negotiations.
peace talks reach an important stage, the warring sides try to have military
gains so they can bargain at the peace table from a position of strength,”
Saeedi told Arab News.
Taliban militants have suffered heavy casualties during the airstrikes of the
Afghan Air Force in southern Kandahar province.
to the informed military sources, the airstrikes were carried out in the
vicinity of Shahwali Kot district, leaving at least 22 militants dead or
Afghan Air Force conducted air strikes in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar
killing 18 Taliban fighters and wounding 4 others,” the sources added.
sources further added that the Taliban fighters attacked a 209th Corps
checkpoint in Sancharak district of Sar-e-Pul province. “Reinforcements and the
assistance of self-defense air strikes killed 6 Taliban fighters and wounded
anti-government armed militant groups including Taliban have not commented
regarding the casualties inflicted on their militants.
group of Taliban militants and suicide bombers launched a coordinated attack on
an army base in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan earlier today.
to reports, the attack was launched on 215th Maiwand Corps headquarters.
media office of the provincial government has announced that the attack was
immediately repulsed by the security forces leaving at least 3 suicide bombers
and 6 other militants dead.
to a statement released by provincial government media office, a clearance
operation is underway to ensure assailants are not left in the area.
than 30 Muslim Rohingya women and children were found stranded along a beach in
Malaysia’s northernmost state early on Friday, and are believed to have been dropped
off by human traffickers, authorities said.
police official in Kangar, the capital of northern Perlis state, said villagers
found the 34 people, including nine children, weak, hungry and covered in mud
as they made their way through the muddy coast.
official, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue,
said the group was believed to have come from Thailand. He said they have been
fed and handed over to immigration officials.
Aziah Mohamad Shariff, an official with the National Security Council, said it
is aware of the illegal entry and is investigating.
into Thailand from Bangladesh
Myanmar welfare group said the group is believed to have been trafficked into
Thailand from Bangladesh, before heading to Malaysia, whose dominant Malay
Muslim population makes it a sympathetic destination.
Ahmad Ghani, who heads the Myanmar Ethnic Rohingya Human Rights Organization of
Malaysia, said he obtained information that many more Rohingya are being
tricked by traffickers into leaving Bangladesh after being warned they may face
death if repatriated to Myanmar.
and videos obtained by members of the group showed a long rope placed across
the muddy shore at low tide to help the Rohingya walk through the mud.
than 700,000 ethnic Rohingya have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since August
2017, when a group of militants attacked security forces, triggering a massive
retaliation by Myanmar’s army. The exodus came after hundreds of thousands of
other Rohingya escaped previous bouts of violence and persecution.
Lewa, founder of the Arakan Project which works to improve conditions for
Rohingya, said the women and children may be part of a large group that sailed
from Bangladesh in two boats in mid-February. She said the total number of
passengers was unclear, with estimates of about 150, and that it was unclear
what happened to the others.
said the Arakan Project spoke to a Rohingya man who landed in northern Malaysia
in late February on a boat that had arrived undetected with 85 aboard.
said it was unclear why the women and children were stranded, and that the two
boats were the only ones they knew had sailed from Bangladesh this year.
people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar don’t accept Rohingya Muslims as a native
ethnic group. They are, instead, viewed as having migrated illegally from
Bangladesh, though generations of Rohingya have lived in Myanmar.
all have been denied citizenship since 1982 and lack access to education and
UN General Assembly approved a resolution in December condemning “gross human
rights violations and abuses” against Myanmar’s Rohingya.
Taliban attack on a US-Afghan base was repelled in southeast Afghanistan,
officials said Friday, as fighting continues in the war-torn country amid a pause
in ongoing peace talks between the insurgents and American negotiators in Doha.
militants launched the pre-dawn assault on Shorab military base in Helmand
province - where an unspecified number of US troops are also stationed -
engaging in heavy firefights with Afghan forces.
now, the Afghan commando forces are carrying out a clean-up operation in the
area,” said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
and defense officials said at least four attackers were killed in the skirmish.
forces spokesman Colonel Dave Butler also confirmed the incident, tweeting:
“The attack was repelled by the brave Afghan Security Forces.”
later added that reports indicated “Taliban fighters were initially able to
gain access to the Afghan base but were stopped by Afghan forces.”
Taliban control or contest more than half of Helmand’s districts and regularly
deliver heavy blows to Afghan forces, who have been struggling to hold off
insurgents across Afghanistan since taking the lead from NATO forces in late
assault on Shorab comes as US and Taliban negotiators in Doha have temporarily
halted peace talks, which are set to restart over the weekend.
special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad called the latest meetings in the months-long
diplomatic push “productive”, saying the two sides “will take the next two days
for internal deliberations, with plans to regroup on Saturday.”
snowfall across large swathes of Afghanistan has led to a sharp reduction in
violence this winter, but warmer weather in the country’s south will likely
lead to an increase in bloodshed with the arrival of the spring fighting
have warned that the Taliban are likely to ramp up attacks this spring as they
attempt to maintain momentum on the battlefield and leverage at the negotiating
forces, however, claim to be taking the fight to the insurgents, with the
Ministry of Defense saying more than 100 “terrorists” have been killed in
recent days in various operations across the country.
United Nations has called on the government of Bangladesh not to close the
border to Rohingya Muslims fleeing war in Myanmar, after Dhaka declared that it
would no longer take in Myanmar's Rohingya.
Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told the Security Council on Thursday that the
refugee crisis had gone from "bad to worse"
the fact that none of the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya sheltering in his
country had returned home.
has been amazingly generous in the support they have given the Rohingya
refugees," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric, adding that it is
important that people fleeing conflict are able to find safe haven wherever
a deal reached with Bangladesh, Myanmar agreed to take back some of the
refugees, but the UN insists that the safety of the Rohingya be a condition for
told a council meeting on Myanmar that "Bangladesh would no longer be in a
position to accommodate more people from Myanmar," suggesting that his
government was ready to close the border to refugees.
Bangladeshi government also urged the UN Security Council to take action on the
month, Bangladesh summoned Myanmar’s ambassador to protest against a new influx
of refugees fleeing clashes in the restive Rakhine state.
740,000 Muslim Rohingya are living in camps in Bangladesh after they were
driven out of Myanmar's northern Rakhine state during a military campaign in
2017 that the United Nations has described as ethnic cleansing.
of Rohingya Muslims were killed, and others only survived by fleeing to
Bangladesh. The country was already home to 300,000 refugees who had fled
earlier violence in Rakhine.
Myanmar’s Buddhists, who constitute the majority in the country, are in
conflict with the military they backed to drive out the Rohingya just 18 months
Arakan Army (AA), a Buddhist rebel group calling for greater autonomy for
Rakhine, conducted raids on police border posts on January 4. Thirteen people
were killed by the rebel group. The army says 13 militants have been killed in
retaliatory attacks while the UN says the violence left at least 5,200 people
clashes have added a new, complex dimension to the troubles in Rakhine.
has been the scene of communal violence since 2012. Many Muslims have been
killed while tens of thousands have been forced to flee as a result of attacks
by Buddhists. The refugees largely live in camps in dire conditions.
United Nations says at least 84 people, two-thirds of them young children, have
lost their lives since December while fleeing the Takfiri Daesh terrorist
group's last enclave in the eastern Syrian province of Dayr al-Zawr to Hol
refugee camp in the neighboring province of Hasakah.
Laerke, spokesman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
(OCHA), told a news briefing in the Swiss city of Geneva on Friday that the
world body is “gravely concerned” about the plight of thousands of civilians
escaping from the last vestige of Daesh's territorial rule at the besieged
village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border.
added that Hol camp now holds at least 45,000 people, including 13,000
civilians who fled Dayr al-Zawr last week.
of them have arrived exhausted, hungry and sick,” he said, adding that nine out
of 10 were women and children.
a very long, a very tiring journey to this camp, so far [we] have reports of
more than 84 deaths on that road, on that stretch of territory. Two-thirds of
those who have died are children under five years of age,” Laerke said.
senior UN official went on to say that some 175 children have been hospitalized
due to severe malnutrition, citing reports from UN agencies and aid groups on
the US-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) expect a fierce
battle with Daesh terrorists in Baghouz.
Bali, the head of the SDF media office, told Reuters on Friday that Daesh
militants were still holed up in the eastern Syrian village, and that the
extremists were making their last stand there.
noted that there were still civilians in the enclave, and the SDF would
evacuate another large group of civilians on Friday.
won't storm the village and declare it liberated unless we have completely
confirmed the departure of civilians. We expect a fierce battle,” he said.
Donald Trump asserted on Thursday that US-backed forces in Syria had retaken
100 percent of the territory once held by Daesh.
just took over, you know, you kept hearing it was 90 percent, 92 percent, the
caliphate in Syria. Now it's 100 percent we just took over, 100 percent
caliphate,” Trump told American troops stationed in Alaska.
terrorists, who launched a terror campaign of bloodshed and destruction against
people in Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, have been defeated and eradicated
from most regions in Syria.
victories have been scored thanks to successful military operations by Syrian
government forces and allied fighters from popular defense groups, who are
being offered guidelines by Iranian and Russian military advisors.
The 46th session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Council of
Foreign Ministers (CFM) began in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
CFM, running from March 1-2, under the title “50 Years of Islamic Cooperation:
Road Map for Prosperity and Development,” saw the presidency pass from
Bangladesh to the UAE, and was chaired by its foreign affairs minister,
Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. In an opening address to his fellow delegates,
Al-Nahyan commended Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, and the OIC’s
secretary-general, Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, for their efforts in promoting
cooperation between the organization’s member states.
called for the establishment of a preventative strategy to deal with terrorism
and extremist ideology in the region. “We reiterate UAE’s support for the right
of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state and to exercise
self-determination,” said Al-Nahyan.
thanked the UAE for its hospitality and warm reception, and expressed his
delight at the progress it was making in all sectors, from business and finance
to culture and sport, in becoming one of the world’s most prominent nations.
too expressed his gratitude and appreciation to King Salman’s government,
highlighting its role in promoting the OIC internationally, giving it greater
clout to meet its aims and grow in influence over the past 50 years.
secretariat, thanks to member states’ constant support, made the organization’s
voice heard all over the world and achieved a qualitative leap in its
activities. It went from organizing conferences to interacting with regional
and international organizations, governments and civil society institutions
around the globe,” he said.
“The OIC is deeply concerned with Iraq’s
stability, security and prosperity,” he said.
was used in an attack on the Syrian town of Douma in April 2018, although there
was no evidence of nerve agent, the world’s chemical weapons watchdog said
Friday in a final report on the incident.
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said there were
“reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon has taken
place on 7 April 2018. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine.”
long-awaited findings confirmed an interim report released in July on the
attack, which medics said killed about 40 people when a cylinder containing
poison gas landed on the roof of a housing block.
report does not place blame because it was not in the OPCW’s remit at the time,
although the watchdog has since been given powers to investigate responsibility
for all chemical attacks in Syria back to 2014.
team of OPCW inspectors took more than 100 samples from some seven sites in
Douma when they gained access to the town several weeks after the attack.
team also interviewed witnesses and carried out a series of tests including
toxicological and ballistic analysis, said the watchdog based in The Hague.
which backs the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, swiftly rejected
the OPCW report, saying that it was “staged” by Syrian rescue volunteers known
as the White Helmets.
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) expect a “fierce battle” with ISIS
militants who are still holed up in the group’s last enclave in eastern Syria,
Mustafa Bali, the head of the SDF media office, told Reuters on Friday.
President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the SDF had retaken 100 percent of
the territory once held by ISIS.
Bali said ISIS militants were still holed up in Baghouz, a village on the Iraqi
border, and had not surrendered. “We won’t storm the village and declare it
liberated unless we have completely confirmed the departure of civilians.”
UN ambassador has complained about the Western countries' collusion with Daesh,
saying the US and Turkey know the whereabouts of the Takfiri terrorist group's
ringleader, Ibrahim al-Samarrai, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
an interview with Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen television channel on Friday,
Bashar al-Ja'afari said that terrorism is used as a tool by its sponsors and
also accused the US-led coalition, which is bombarding what it calls Daesh
positions, of transferring Daesh elements.
authorities arrested hundreds of terrorists on its borders with Nigeria, and
after interrogating the terrorists it was revealed that they had come from
Aleppo’s countryside, wondering who transported these terrorists from Syria to
the Algerian-Nigerian borders," Ja'afari said. "Americans and Turks
know where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is."
Syrian envoy further denounced a recent deal clinched between the US and Daesh,
under which Washington received “tens of tons of gold" in exchange for
allowing terrorists out of Syria's Dayr al-Zawr Province.
started its campaign of terror in Iraq and Syria in 2014, occupying territory
in the two Arab countries and establishing a self-proclaimed “caliphate.” The
Iraqi and Syrian armies — both receiving advisory military help from Iran —
galvanized to retake Daesh-held territory.
Takfiri outfit was gradually stripped of all the land it had occupied, but
Daesh remnants are now believed to be hiding in the Iraqi-Syrian border region.
said that the Western states are working "to prolong the crisis in
Syria" and that the administration of US President Donald Trump is seeking
to keep up "investing in terrorism" in Syria and Iraq in order to
pursue its agenda in the region.
also hailed relations between Syria, Iran and Russia as "excellent,"
noting that talks about a rift between the trio is just "media
is the interest of the Arabs in creating hostility with an important country
like Iran? What is the interest of the Persian Gulf states in a war that Arabs
and Iranians are fueling and Israel is watching?" he asked.
stressed that relations with Iran and Russia serve Syria's interests and that
Damascus would not "compromise" with anyone regarding its ties with
slams UK's blacklisting of Hezbollah
on Friday, Syria strongly denounced a decision by the UK government to put the
Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement on its list of terrorist organizations.
source at the Syrian Foreign Ministry said that the move confirms Britain’s
"deep-seated historical hostility against the Arab nation, as Britain is
the godfather of fragmenting the Arab nation."
UK, he added, has "a dark history of enslaving people and usurping their
rights," harbors extremists and has been a main partner in all forms of
aggression against the Arab nation.
Hezbollah has issued a statement "strongly rejecting" a British
decision to consider the resistance movement a terrorist organization.
strongly rejects the condemned British decision to include Hezbollah on what is
called the ‘terrorist organizations list,’ and stresses that Hezbollah is a
resistance movement against Israeli occupation,” read the Friday statement.
statement stressed that nothing would stop Hezbollah from defending the
country’s independence and freedom from “Israeli greed” in Lebanon’s
"land, resources and territorial waters."
party added that the move showed “servile obedience” to the United States,
Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper reported.
British government, in this decision, insulted the sentiments and the free will
of the Lebanese people, who consider Hezbollah such a political and popular
force that they granted it big representation in Parliament and Cabinet,” read
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said on Monday that the government will designate
the entire Hezbollah organization as a terrorist entity as of Friday subject to
the approval of the parliament.
UK had previously blacklisted Hezbollah's military apparatus as a
an extreme right-wing politician of the Pakistani origin, said the UK
government was no longer able to maintain a distinction between Hezbollah’s
political and military activities and thus will include the group’s political
unit in its blacklist.
UK's Labour Party has voiced its official objection to the move.
Saudi Arabia has stripped citizenship from Hamza bin Laden, the son of dead
Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden, who is thought to be about 30, had
his citizenship removed on Feb. 22, the official gazette Umm Al-Qura said on
US State Department offered a reward of up to $1 million on Thursday for
information leading “to the identification or location in any country” of bin
Laden, who it described as a key Al-Qaeda leader.
at least August 2015, he has released audio and video messages on the internet
calling on his followers to launch attacks against the United States and its
Western allies,” the department said.
bin Laden was killed by US special forces who raided his compound in Pakistan
in 2011. Hamza was thought to be under house arrest in Iran at the time, and
documents recovered from the compound suggested attempts to reunite him with
was introduced by the new Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in an audio message
in 2015. He has called for acts of terrorism in Western capitals and threatened
to take revenge against the US for his father’s killing, the State Department
said in 2017 when it designated him as a global terrorist.
also threatened to target Americans abroad and urged Saudi tribes to unite with
Yemen’s Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to fight against Saudi Arabia, it
only way to counter radicalisation is to inoculate Muslims against the
separatism of political Islam.” These are the words of Zuhdi Jasser, words that
could get him killed in some parts of the Middle East.
the controversial founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, visits
Australia this month for a series of talks and meetings with Australian Muslim
groups. He will also meet Jewish leaders and some secular Christian leaders.
is something of an anomaly in the Islamic world. Born in the US to a Syrian
family that fled the Assad regime, he is a practising Muslim who served in the
US Navy for 11 years as a doctor and was deployed to the Middle East.
at a time when Islam (and religion in general) is on the nose, he is a brave
reformist, a civil libertarian and a passionate American patriot.
I had started this organisation in the Middle East, I would probably be dead by
now,” he says.
makes no bones about the core teachings in Islam that need reformation.
Basically, it is the idea of political jihad. “This is a big issue because a
quarter of the world’s population is Muslim.”
points out that after every terror threat or attack since 9/11, there have only
been two responses from imams, and both have been “unacceptable”.
first response is to apologise: “We don’t know where al-Qa’ida came from … It
has nothing to do with Islam.” These apologies continue in the face of the development
of Islamic State and its terrorists.
second response is dialogue: “They did not want to come to terms with the fact
that the root cause is jihadi ideology, no matter what the group. The root
cause is a fundamental antagonism towards Western secular democracy, the idea
of the separation of mosque and state.”
his work is not to fight against terrorism. “Our mission is not to counter
terrorism because we believe terrorism is a symptom. ISIS is a symptom (of that
he believes that the conversation has now changed.
ISIS came into being, many Muslims began to realise that those that want to put
religious law into governance of the state, a theocracy, or a quasi-theocracy
like Egypt or Turkey, it is not going to benefit them as Muslims. Democracy,
the American constitution and the rule of law are actually the best protection
for Muslims and other religions.”
Jasser’s family were political refugees, they, like most immigrants, sought to
better their economic situation and wholeheartedly embraced what he calls
“Americanism”, which he defines as “a social contract of constitutionalism and
individual rights of all under God”.
speaks frequently to schoolchildren and college students, whom he encourages to
read French political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville. And he thinks the imams
should read him too. As a doctor, he can see that Islamic radicalism is not
solely, as it has been characterised by some armchair experts, a problem of
anti-modernisation. Rather it is a problem of lack of political modernisation,
hamstrung by ancient apologetics. He explains: “Muslims can be totally modern
in science and technology, but completely in a different world politically.”
talks about being anti-establishment. “Ninety per cent of Muslim leadership is
steeped in 13th-century interpretation of our laws. The Christians solved this
hundreds of years ago, when the religious establishment was pushed out of the
political secular spectrum.” This revisionism is ongoing in the Christian
in the Islamic world things will get better only after they get worse, and he
points to Iran. “They will never go back to theocracy. They went through a
period of learning after the Shah when they had a theocracy. They won’t vote
for that again.”
says young Muslims need to understand the social contract about being American
or Australian, that under democracy and constitutionalism you are in fact safer
if you embrace Western democracy.
also points out to students that while they complain about intolerance or the
status of refugees, or perceptions about women or whatever, they have a right
to complain in the West — try doing so in the Middle East. “I tell them, it is
easy to complain, but you can only do this in the Western world. All these
points of controversy like the role of women are important because, at the end
of the day, that is what democracy and the rule of law is about.”
does this put Islam as a voice in the democratic public square? After all,
Christian churches are always saying they have this right. In the US there is a
more definite view of the separation of church, mosque and state. So, does he
think Islam has a place in the public square?
absolutely. That is why we encourage our students to read de Tocqueville. It is
not freedom from religion but freedom of religion. The reason that Europe has
so much of a problem is the alternative ‘imposition’ of secularism, as in
France, where even expression of symbols of personal religion is forbidden.
you push it underground you ‘feed the radicals’.
a free and democratic religious atmosphere provides a ‘laboratory’ where you
can be critical and open about certain elements of religious dogma. But you
cannot give the sharia courts status … and we have to make people understand
that the cover of religious freedom is not an excuse to oppress their own
group of high school students here mocked Islam when they wore headscarves and
suicide belts while imitating the movement of Islamic prayer.
students traditionally celebrate graduation ceremonies 100 days before the end
of school year, Mahinur Ozdemir, an independent member of parliament from
Brussels Regional Parliament, told Anadolu Agency.
it is scandalous that these students chose the theme as ‘Islam and Saudi
Arabia’ and imitated prayer moves wearing headscarves and bombed belts,
therefore relating Muslims with terrorism.”
Jan de Gendt of the College Paters Jozefieten, the Catholic school in Ghent
where the students attend, defended their actions and said it is an event for
entertainment and does not aim to provoke or upset anyone.
said the principal’s remarks normalizes such events and that leads to
it free to wear headscarves for entertainment, while it is forbidden to wear it
at schools?” Ozdemir asked.
is intolerable that students wear traditional Arab clothes and relate Islam and
Muslims with terrorism and violence, said Coskun Beyazgul, the head of
religious affairs in Belgium.
Lebanese group Hezbollah condemned on Friday the British government’s decision
to list it as a terrorist organization, saying the move showed “servile
obedience” to the United States.
heavily armed Shiite group, which is backed by Iran, said in a statement it was
a “resistance movement against Israeli occupation” and described the British
move as an “insult to the feelings, sympathies and will of the Lebanese people
that consider Hezbollah a major political and popular force”.
sees in this decision servile obedience to the US administration, revealing
that the British government is but a mere a follower in service of its American
master,” the statement added.
said on Monday it planned to ban all wings of Hezbollah due to its
destabilizing influence in the Middle East, having previously proscribed its
external security unit and its military wing. Hezbollah is already deemed a
terrorist organization by Washington.
the most powerful group in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s clout has expanded at home and
in the region.
group controls three of 30 ministries in the government led by Western-backed
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the largest number ever. It does not acknowledge
having separate political and military wings.
and political allies that view its arsenal as an asset to Lebanon won more than
70 of parliament’s 128 seats in an election last year, a major blow to Lebanese
parties that oppose its possession of weapons like the Christian Lebanese
Forces which enjoys close ties to US-allied Gulf states.
founded in 1982 by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, has also seen its regional
influence expand with fighters in various Middle East conflicts including
British ban means anyone who is a member of Hezbollah or invites support will
be committing a criminal offence with a potential jail sentence of up to 10
move may raise questions for London’s relationship with Lebanon, which includes
military and security aid.
the decision, Hariri said he hoped the decision should not harm bilateral ties,
telling reporters: “We consider that this matter pertains to Britain, not
Secretary Jeremy Hunt reiterated Britain’s support for “a stable and prosperous
Lebanon” and said the listing would “not change our ongoing commitment to
Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, a political ally of Hezbollah, said the British
move would not have a negative impact on Lebanon and that Britain had informed
Lebanon of its commitment to bilateral ties.
he also defended the group, whose arsenal has been a focal point of political
division for years in Lebanon.
Democrats on Friday renewed their demand for extending Germany’s arms export
ban to Saudi Arabia beyond the March 9 deadline.
Schulz, a senior lawmaker from Social Democratic Party (SPD), has sharply
criticized human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and Riyadh’s involvement in
the Yemen conflict.
long as this state [Saudi Arabia] tramples human rights underfoot and wages a
war in Yemen, there is nothing to change in our arms exports ban,” he told
German weekly Der Spiegel.
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their coalition partner SPD decided
last October to stop all arms exports to the Kingdom following the the killing
of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at his consulate in Istanbul.
Germany’s decision was criticized by the U.K. and France, which claimed that
Berlin’s arms exports ban also had negative impact on their defense companies,
due to various joint projects involving German firms.
month, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt asked for exemption for such
projects, to enable British companies to fulfill their contracts with Saudi
Christian Democrat politicians this week spoke against renewing the ban, and
argued for a compromise solution that would address expectations of the U.K.
Friday, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference in Berlin
that talks were still underway among coalition partners on the issue of
extending arms export ban to Saudi Arabia.
the need for peace and security, a U.K. panel discussed the future of the
persecuted Rohingya people in Bangladesh refugee camps after a stalled
repatriation plan that would have allowed them to return to their homes in
Rohingya people who have been kicked out of their homes want to return to their
homeland, they don’t want to remain trapped in a foreign land and they want to
return back to peace and security,” said Abdullah Faliq, the CEO of the Justice
For Rohingya Minority group, which organized Thursday’s event.
these two items, peace and security, are guaranteed, no one will return, this
is why repatriation failed,” he added.
panel of academics and activists also discussed the use of social media in
Myanmar and how it aided the spread of anti-Rohingya and Islamophobic
sentiments, the use of rape by Myanmar’s army as a tactic against the Rohingya,
and what steps should come next to ensure the international community are aware
of the genocide taking place.
the situation remains as it is, the refugees who are born and raised in the
camps, what will they become?” asked Faliq. “One of the fears is that some will
turn to extremism and means of desperation and that is something we don’t need
right now, which is why JFRM is lobbying the government to help the Rohingya
compared the Rohingya to Palestinian refugees who still have keys to their
homes after being forced out more than 60 years ago. However, Faliq said that
he has hope this won’t be the case with the Rohingya -- that through lobbying
and campaigning, the Rohingya people will be able to return safely to their
Lee, a former Australian MP, told the panel the importance of social media in
Myanmar and how its mass dissemination of anti-Rohingya and ethno-nationalist
rhetoric fueled Islamophobia among the public. Lee also alleged the government
and the military are at the forefront of an anti-Rohingya social media campaign
meant to turn public opinion against a people labelled as the world’s most
oppressed ethnic group.
and other messaging apps played a role in the violence in 2017” which drove out
hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, Lee said, referring to the massacres of
Rohingya in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
have people using Internet tools in Myanmar to spread discord, to spread
anti-Muslim sentiment and particularly anti-Rohingya sentiment.”
event also screened a short film “Mother, Daughter, Sister” on the horrific
sexual violence committed by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya women.
Survivors described in shocking detail how soldiers brutally tortured and raped
them before burning down their homes and forcing them to flee, leaving them
separated from their families, with many never seen again.
panel also included Htike Hitke, a Rohingya humanitarian activist, Kyaw Win,
founder of the Myanmar Human Rights Network, and Kim Knappett, joint president
of the National Education Union, which trained teachers in Myanmar.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced
heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in
to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and
children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after
forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s
state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development
than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others
were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya:
The Untold Experience."
18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and
over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it
UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and
young children -- brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state
calls for end to word 'infidels' to describe non-Muslims
from Islamic mass organization Nahdlatul Ulama have urged Muslims to refrain
from using the word kafir (infidels) to describe non-Muslims.
word ‘kafir’ hurts some non-Muslims and is perceived to be theologically
violent,” cleric Abdul Moqsith Ghazali said at the Bahtsul Masail forum during
the NU’s clerics national meeting in Banjar, West Java, on Thursday as quoted
by NU’s official website, nu.or.id.
an alternative, Moqsith and other clerics agreed to use the word muwathinun
(citizen), to demonstrate that Muslims and non-Muslims have equal status as
citizens in a country.
fellow Indonesian citizens who participate in constructing the nation as
‘kafir’ seems unwise,” he continued, saying that some groups still disputed the
citizenship status of non-Muslim Indonesians.
who was the meeting’s chairman, said the NU’s standpoint on the usage of the
word kafir would not be included in the meeting’s official recommendation, as
such recommendations usually pertained to government policy.
labeling of people or groups as kafir has been an issue in recent years, with
conservative Muslim groups using the word to denounce groups they consider
heretical such as Shia and Ahmadiyah adherents.
word was also prominent during the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial campaign, when
many groups urged Muslims to not vote for then-governor Basuki “Ahok"
Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, with the slogan “tolak pemimpin
kafir” (reject infidel leaders). (kmt)
LUMPUR: Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) on Friday (Mar 1) denied making a payment
of more than RM1.4 million (US$343,000) to Sarawak Report’s editor Clare
Rewcastle-Brown, in order to settle a defamation suit filed by the party’s
president against the British investigative journalist.
came after Ms Rewcastle-Brown’s lawyer said he received a cheque of more than
RM1.4 million on behalf of his client as an out-of-court settlement for the
suit filed by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.
information chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi said on Friday that the bank account
number on the cheque purportedly used to pay Ms Rewcastle-Brown was fake.
photo of a cheque and an account number was made viral to defame PAS, with a
new tune of RM1.4 million. There were friends who checked the account number
which was made viral by transferring RM5 and RM1, and the account was proven to
be non-existent,” he was quoted as saying by Malay Mail.
Mr Rafizi Ramli, the vice-president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat said he
successfully transferred RM10 to the Bank Islam account number that was stated
in the settlement agreement.
proves that the account that was noted in the agreement exists, and so too the
RM1.4 million,” he was quoted as saying by The Malaysian Insight.
has been adamant that it did not have to pay Sarawak Report as part of a
Abdul Hadi had filed a defamation suit over a 2016 report alleging that PAS had
received RM90 million from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO)
before the May 2018 general election.
filed a counterclaim and Mr Abdul Hadi opted for an out-of-court settlement.
Thursday, Ms Rewcastle-Brown posted on the whistleblower blog a cheque for RM1,422,980
as well as an excerpt of a letter of undertaking to affirm that the sum has
also noted that the Sarawak Report had agreed to Mr Abdul Hadi’s condition that
both parties should keep the payment confidential.
since the closing of the case, however, PAS has sought to spin and deceive over
the matter,” she wrote.
(Abdul) Hadi’s representatives in PAS have repeatedly broken the obligation
imposed on (Abdul) Hadi to keep confidentiality about the terms of the
settlement, by not only speaking about those terms but also misleading
Malaysians by stating that no payment was made to Sarawak Report in settlement
of the claim.”
secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan stated that Mr Abdul Hadi did not breach
any confidentiality agreement.
Police have named firebrand cleric Ja'far Umar Thalib, former commander of the
disbanded Islamist militant organization Laskar Jihad, a suspect in a case of
assault in Jayapura, Papua.
who is at the forefront of spreading a puritanical form of Islam in Indonesia,
has a long history of involvement in sectarian conflict.
to media reports, the Jayapura chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI)
had raised concern over the past three years that the actions of Ja'far and his
followers could harm the delicate religious harmony in Indonesia's easternmost
province. On Wednesday, these concerns materialized. Police said Ja'far – who
runs the Ihya As-Sunnah Islamic boarding school in Keerom district, 30
kilometers south of Jayapura – allegedly incited his followers to attack the
house of Jayapura resident Henock Niki.
was reportedly confronted at around 5:30 a.m. by several sword-wielding people
dressed in white. The pretext for the alleged attack was that he played his
music too loud and that it disrupted the morning prayers at a nearby mosque.
perpetrators then severed the cables of the victim's speakers. They told him
that the loud music was disturbing worshipers in the mosque," National
Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo told reporters in Jakarta on Friday.
according to Dedi, the homeowner told his alleged attackers that the morning
prayer was at 4:15 a.m., which should have been over by that time. They
subsequently fled south in a minibus.
incident sparked tension among Jayapura residents on Wednesday but police were
quick to diffuse the situation before it could escalate. They named seven
suspects in the case on Thursday, including Ja'far, who, unlike his co-accused,
was not detained over health concerns.
is a former student of the Islamic and Arabic College of Indonesia (Lipia), a
Saudi-backed university in Jakarta that teaches Salafism, a revivalist movement
that demands that its followers return to the practices of the Prophet Muhammad
and the early generations of Muslims, which it considers the purest form of
continued his studies in Yemen, which further strengthened his hardline views.
In 2001, Ja'far led Laskar Jihad to help defend Muslims in Ambon during a
violent sectarian conflict on the islands. He disbanded the group after the
conflict over concerns that politicians may use it for their own gain.
later established the Ahl Sunnah Wal Jama'ah Communication Forum (FKASWJ) to
ensure that Laskar Jihad's former members remain in touch.
Ja'far has been involved in many disputes with Salafists participating in
Indonesian politics, according to a report by NU Online, the publication wing
of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country's largest Islamic organization.
soldiers mercilessly beat up disabled Palestinian man in his bed
soldiers have violently beaten up a blind and paralyzed Palestinian man in
front of his wife and children with no apparent reason in the West Bank town of
Dawha, Haaretz reports.
Mizhar, a 47-year-old retired medical technician, was beaten with what he felt
were brass knuckles by Israeli forces who had stormed his house, early in the
morning on February 20, the paper reported.
Israeli forces allegedly broke the door and stormed the house after failing to
apprehend a targeted individual living a floor above the Mizhar family.
family explained that the beating lasted about five minutes, despite desperate
attempts to notify the soldiers of Mizhar's dire health situation.
soldiers refused to give any explanation for the ordeal and eventually left the
house after forcing the family's four sons to get on their knees with faces
pressed to the floor.
victim, who suffered severe bleeding in the face along with wounds in both
shoulders and hands, was taken to hospital for treatment. Mizhar currently has
pains in his jaw and has difficulty eating food, further complicating his
previously had his toes amputated and had lost his eyesight due to severe
diabetes. He can barely move and needs dialysis treatment three times a week
due to kidney failure.
attack also severely traumatized Mizhar's family, especially his wife, Iman,
who was at his side at the time of the assault.
about probable motives for the attack by Haartez, the victim's sister, Maysoun
said, "They beat us all. The occupation beats us all. We are under
occupation. This isn't the first time they beat someone for no reason, and it's
not the last. What's new about it is that this time they beat a blind person.”
Israeli military later published a statement downplaying the incident, claiming
that Mizhar was injured after reacting "disruptively" to an operation
that sought to "apprehend a wanted individual".
human rights group researcher Musa Abu Hashhash, however, described the
incident as “the most shocking case I've ever documented.”
occupation forces commonly harass Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
report being frequently brutalized, intimidated and forced through "cattle
pen" checkpoints under the occupation.
month, Israeli forces brutally assaulted a handcuffed and blindfolded
Palestinian while forcing his son to watch the ordeal. The incident prompted a
leading Israeli news anchor to slam the Tel Aviv regime for turning troops into
occupied territories have witnessed new tensions since US President Donald
Trump announced Washington's recognition of the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as
Israel’s “capital” on December 6, 2017.
announcement triggered demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories
and elsewhere in the world.
one of the latest developments last week, Palestinian worshipers managed to
gain access to the Israeli-restricted Bab al-Rahma area of the al-Aqsa Mosque
in Jerusalem al-Quds for the first time after 16 years.
event unfolded after a public call to action was made by Palestinian clerics.
Israel responded by banning a number of clerics from entering the city for one
Foreign Minister has called on Iran to abide by the principles of the
Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and to stop supporting the Houthi
militia, who have been at war with the Yemeni government since 2014.
Al-Yamani urged the Iranian regime to stop funding the militia and to stop
providing the group with weapons, in his address to the 46th Ministerial
Conference of the OIC in Abu Dhabi.
said Iran must stop destabilizing the region by supporting armed groups, and
respect the principles of international law.
said the Houthis were stalling the implementation of the Stockholm agreement,
and refused to withdraw from Hodeidah in order to open a humanitarian corridor.
has hindered the work of the United Nations, he stressed, who brokered the
agreement between the warring sides in Sweden in December last year.
Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Islamic world, condemned a
series of violations by Israel, including detention of Palestinians and raids
on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
a statement on Friday, Al-Azhar said it supports Palestinians in Jerusalem
against the arbitrary practices of Israel -- such as the closure of Al-Aqsa
doors -- adding that these violations cannot be accepted.
statement also called for urgent action -- including political and legal steps
-- against Israel's violations and support for the Palestinian people to
establish an independent state.
has mounted in Jerusalem since last week when Israeli police shut the Al-Aqsa
mosque compound’s Al-Rahma Gate, preventing Palestinian worshippers from
entering the site and sparking angry demonstrations.
Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their
part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the
site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967
Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized
by the international community.
attorney-general announced on Thursday he intends to indict Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges, a decision coming just six weeks
before a closely contested national election.
was the first time a serving Israeli prime minister has been put on official
notice of planned prosecution, and deepened uncertainty over how Netanyahu, a
veteran right-wing leader, will fare against a coalition of upstart centrist
actual filing of the charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust would depend
on the outcome of a required hearing, the Justice Ministry said. That could take
months to complete.
that hearing - which could take place after the April 9 election - Netanyahu
can try to persuade the attorney-general, Avichai Mandelblit, not to indict
him. His voice brimming with indignation as he addressed the nation during prime-time
TV news, Netanyahu dismissed the three criminal cases as a political
“witch-hunt” designed to oust him.
intend to serve you and the country as prime minister for many more years. But
it’s up to you,” he said, referring to his hopes of winning a fourth
consecutive term in April. “It’s not up to the civil servants. It’s not up to
the television studios. It’s not up to the pundits and journalists.”
is suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000-worth of gifts, which prosecutors
said included cigars and champagne, from tycoons and dispensing favors in
alleged bids for improved coverage by an Israeli newspaper and a website. He
could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of bribery and a maximum
3-year term for fraud and breach of trust.
shekel weakened against the dollar on the news. It was trading at 3.63 per
dollar at 1620 GMT, from 3.6240 before the announcement and down 0.4 percent
versus the US currency from Wednesday.
polls show a tight race for Netanyahu’s Likud party, with sharp gains for a
centre-left alliance led by Benny Gantz, a former armed forces chief who has
pledged clean government.
GREAT PRIME MINISTER’
the hearing with Mandelblit, the 69-year-old Netanyahu can cite the public
interest in arguing against an indictment.
his statement on Thursday, the prime minister touted what he has achieved for
the country: noting the strong economy and ties with world powers that he has
cultivated over the last decade. “This is not to be taken for granted,” he
would be under no legal requirement to resign, even if indicted. But if he were
re-elected it would likely be to lead a coalition, as he does now, and if he
were indicted, public pressure could buckle the necessary alliances.
Gantz said in a statement on Thursday evening he would not join Netanyahu in
any future coalition government, given the possible corruption indictment.
President Donald Trump, asked at a news conference earlier on Thursday about
Netanyahu’s legal troubles, voiced support for the Israeli leader. Trump and
Netanyahu have been in lockstep over policy towards Iran and the Palestinians.
I just think he has been a great prime minister,” said Trump.
forces have opened fire at anti-occupation protesters gathering on the edge of
the besieged Gaza Strip, leaving 17 people injured.
media outlets cited the Gazan Health Ministry as saying that 17 Palestinians
had been shot and injured east of Gaza on Friday.
ministry said that teargas canisters fired by the Israeli forces directly hit a
journalist and three paramedics during the Friday rallies.
Israeli attack on the Palestinian protesters came a day after a United Nations
Human Rights Council-mandated investigation found that the regime’s forces may
have perpetrated “war crimes” or “crimes against humanity” in the campaign
against the Palestinians in Gaza.
Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas has said Israel must be held fully
accountable for the crimes it has committed in the besieged enclave.
have been running high in Gaza since March 30, when the protests started.
Palestinian protesters demand the right to return for those driven out of their
homeland by Israeli aggression. They also demand a halt to Israel’s inhumane
blockade of the Gaza Strip.
clashes in Gaza reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary
of Nakba Day, or the Day of Catastrophe, which coincided this year with
Washington’s relocation of its embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied Jerusalem
United States military says it has killed 26 fighters from al-Shabab extremist
group with an airstrike in central Somalia, after a pair of strikes earlier
this week killed 55.
US Africa Command says the attack occurred Thursday in the Hiran region, where
the others took place.
airstrike was announced shortly after Somali authorities said a deadly
overnight siege by al-Shabab had ended in the capital, Mogadishu, with all
US has dramatically increased airstrikes against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab,
Africa’s deadliest extremist group, since President Donald Trump took office.
US has carried out 24 strikes this year.
and experts acknowledge that it will take more than airstrikes to defeat the
extremist group, which holds large parts of rural central and southern Somalia.
President Omar al-Bashir has handed leadership of the country’s ruling party to
his newly appointed deputy, the party said late Thursday, weeks into protests
against Bashir’s rule.
and deadly clashes have rocked Bashir’s iron-fisted rule since December, and
last week he imposed a year-long state of emergency to quell the protests.
Omar al-Bashir has transferred his authority as chief of the party to Ahmed
Harun,” the ruling National Congress Party said in a statement. “Harun will
serve as the acting chief of NCP until the party’s next general convention,
where a new president of the party will be elected.”
appointed Harun, wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for
alleged war crimes in the conflict in Darfur, as his deputy party chief last
week as part of top level changes in his administration in the face of ongoing
himself is wanted by the ICC for alleged genocide and war crimes in Darfur,
charges he denies. The NCP has an overwhelming majority in parliament, and
according to its charter, the chief of the party becomes its candidate in
presidential elections. The next presidential election in Sudan is scheduled in
2020. The NCP was formed a few years after Bashir swept to power in an
Islamist-backed coup in 1989, with him as party chief ever since.
protestors have staged regular demonstrations across Sudan since December,
accusing the administration of mismanaging the economy and calling on Bashir to
step down. He declared a year-long state of emergency across the country last
week after an initial crackdown failed to suppress the protests.
also dissolved the federal and provincial governments, appointing 16 army
officers and two from the feared National Intelligence and Security Service as
governors of the country’s 18 provinces. Bashir also ordered the creation of
special emergency courts to investigate violations during the state of
Thursday, eight protesters were sentenced to jail by emergency courts in
Khartoum for participating in unauthorized rallies earlier in the day, the
first such punishments handed down since the courts were established.
gunfire rang out across central Mogadishu on Friday as Somali troops battled to
dislodge insurgents holed up next to a hotel they bombed the previous evening,
and as the death toll stemming from that attack neared 30.
Shabaab fighters set off two bombs outside the Hotel Maka al-Mukarama before
retreating to an adjacent building, from where they fired on soldiers who tried
to enter. At least two soldiers were carried away from the hotel on Friday
attack - the latest in a series of high-profile assaults in East Africa by
al-Shabaab - came after US forces in Somalia stepped up airstrikes against the
militants are still fighting from inside a civilian house adjacent to the
hotel... (They) are fighting back with grenades and Kalashnikov (rifles),"
police officer Major Musa Ali told Reuters.
said 29 people, mostly civilians, had died in the attack and its aftermath, and
80 had been wounded. Many civilians had been rescued but the death toll could
rise, he added.
military spokesman said the group was still in control of the Hotel Maka
al-Mukarama, which is used by government officials and located on a street
lined with hotels, shops and restaurants.
government tried three times to enter the building but we repulsed them,"
said Abdiasis Abu Musab.
has been convulsed by lawlessness and violence since 1991, and al-Shabaab is
fighting to dislodge a Western-backed government protected by African
group has also carried out deadly attacks in neighboring countries contributing
to the African Union force, including one on a hotel and office complex in
Kenya in January that killed 21 people.
President Donald Trump, Washington has stepped up attacks against the group,
and US Africa Command announced six airstrikes it says have killed 52 militants
since February 23.
northern Somalia, a splinter group of former al-Shabaab fighters who have
pledged allegiance to Daesh is also battling the insurgency.
U.S. said Friday it had killed 26 al-Shabaab fighters in an airstrike conducted
in Somalia, adding to a mounting death toll since the U.S. began ramping up
airstrikes in the region.
airstrike was the 24th conducted by U.S. forces this year.
Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement that the strike was conducted
Thursday in Somalia's central Hiran region, the same area it conducted two
other strikes earlier in the week, killing a total of 45 fighters.
action is demonstrative of the Federal Government of Somalia’s commitment to
dismantling al-Shabaab’s network with U.S. assistance,” said AFRICOM's deputy
director of intelligence Gen. Gregory Hadfield.
airstrikes such as this one maintain pressure on al-Shabaab and disrupt its
planning cycle and degrade its ability to mass forces and coordinate attacks
against the Somali people.”
announcement comes a day after three deadly car bombings took the lives of at
least 20 people in the capital Mogadishu in attacks the al-Qaeda affiliated
al-Shabaab took responsibility for.
the U.S. has been stepping up airstrikes in Somalia to push al-Shabaab forces
out of major urban areas, the group still carries out deadly attacks.
gun battle continues to rage in Mogadishu between Somali soldiers and al-Shabab
fighters, who carried out a daring raid and suicide attack on Thursday night that
killed as many as 29 people.
gunfire was heard across the Somali capital through the night on Thursday, and
it continued as Friday dawned.
least 80 others were injured in the attack on Thursday near Hotel Maka
al-Mukarama and a judge's residence on a busy street in Mogadishu, according to
a police commander.
an interview with Reuters news agency, police officer Major Musa Ali placed the
death toll at 29.
news agency, however, said the fatalities were at least 10, quoting Abdirahman
Ali, a Somali national security officer.
military spokesman said they still control the hotel.
government tried three times to enter the building but we repulsed them. We
still control the hotel," Abdiasis Abu Musab, al-Shabab's military spokesman,
victims of Thursday's attack suffered horrific injuries and hospitals were said
to be struggling to cope with causalities.
of the wounded lost limbs, Sadiya Yusuf, a nurse at Daru Shifa, one of the
hospitals treating victims, told AP news agency.
Maka al-Mukarama hotel is frequently patronised by government officials, and
al-Shabab has targeted it multiple times in past attacks that have killed
scores of people.
witnesses saw frantic residents in the city searching for missing relatives
through the night, making countless phone calls to find out if anyone had seen
their family members.
have been running to and fro from blast scene to hospitals since yesterday
evening in search of my husband and brother who were selling a shop at the
place where the blast took place. I have just seen them in hospital, they are
in critical conditions. My husband lost his stomach and my brother suffered
severe wounds to both arms," Halima Omar, a mother of three children told
has been convulsed by lawlessness and violence since 1991 but has stabilised
somewhat in recent years.
armed group has been fighting to dislodge a Western-backed government protected
by African Union-mandated peacekeepers.
US has dramatically increased air attacks against al-Shabab since President
Donald Trump took office.
US military command for the African continent reportedly carried out 50 raids
in Somalia in 2018.
year, the US raids targeting al-Shabab fighters have been coming more
estimated 30,000 Nigerians have returned since Tuesday from Cameroon to the
flashpoint town of Rann, which has been targeted repeatedly by Boko Haram
militants this year, the U.N. refugee agency said in an emailed comment to
Reuters on Thursday.
men, women and children were among 40,000 civilians who fled Rann and sought
refuge in the Cameroonian village of Goura.
United Nations humanitarian report said 5,000 remained in Goura and were
expected to make the 8-km (5-mile) trip to Rann on foot on Friday.
other 5,000 had reportedly travelled to Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s
Borno state, or to other unknown locations, the U.N. report said.
Rann residents who decided to return did so after being visited by Nigerian
officials who encouraged them to go, and gave assurances that security would be
restored in the area, the UNHCR statement said.
have responded to this appeal and many have opted to take the return journey
home,” UNHCR said.
have also advocated with the authorities to guarantee admission and protection
of those seeking asylum and government support so that humanitarian
organisations can deliver assistance.”
Wednesday, the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Cameroonian and
Nigerian authorities had ordered the 40,000 refugees to return to northeast
this month the militant group Boko Haram killed at least 60 people in Rann
after it was abandoned by the military, Amnesty International and security
attack came two weeks after Boko Haram overran the town, driving out Nigerian
soldiers and signalling the group’s re-emergence as a force capable of
capturing army bases.
other 5,000 had reportedly traveled to Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria's
Borno state, or to other unknown locations, the U.N. report said.
have responded to this appeal and many have opted to take the return journey
home," UNHCR said.
have also advocated with the authorities to guarantee admission and protection
of those seeking asylum and government support so that humanitarian
organizations can deliver assistance."
attack came two weeks after Boko Haram overran the town, driving out Nigerian
soldiers and signaling the group's re-emergence as a force capable of capturing
the morning of the Nigerian Election Day, residents of Maiduguri, Borno State,
woke up to thunderous sounds of explosions as Nigerian soldiers exchanged fire
with Boko Haram fighters attempting to invade the city.
than a dozen deafening explosions echoed over the city as residents cringed
inside their homes.
one knew the direction from which the sounds were coming. It was not yet dawn,
everywhere was dark and no one would risk going out to find out what was
many people knew there was an attack the previous night on a suburb of
Maiduguri called Zabarmari in Jere local government and it was confirmed that
Boko Haram was responsible.
as the explosions were happening on election day, the police quickly came up
with a statement denying there was an attack.
police said what was being heard was “friendly firing” by security forces on a
show of force exercise.
statement issued by Edet Okon, the police public relations officer, read;
“Owing to the sound of heavy gunfire heard this morning around Maiduguri Metropolis,
the Commissioner of Police Borno State, CP Damian Chukwu, wishes to inform
members of the public that there’s no attack on any part of Maiduguri and hence
no threat to public peace and order.
gunfire was not targeted at members of the public but was for security purpose.
CP, therefore, calls on all qualified voters in the state to come out en masse
to vote for candidates of their choice.”
later in the day, as people went out to cast their votes in various polling
units designated by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), facts
concerning the explosions began to emerge, and it became obvious that the
security forces were not saying the truth.
was indeed an attack by Boko Haram, and what the security forces were doing in
the earlier part of the day was not a friendly firing but repelling the attack.
voters met at the polling units, those who came very close to the attacks began
to give accounts of what they saw or experienced. It became clearer that the
multiple explosions were not of the usual Boko Haram suicide bombs, but from
bombs mechanically fired from a distance over and into the city.
was indeed a day Maiduguri residents witnessed the rain of rocket-propelled
the news began to spread around the city, the police had to come up with
another statement which contradicted an earlier one issued by the PPRO.
time around, the police confirmed that the explosions had to do with Boko Haram
attempting to attack key military formations in Maiduguri.
have confirmed that at about 0520hrs, suspected Boko Haram terrorists operating
from the outskirts of Maiduguri town, fired sporadic artillery shots into
Maiduguri, ostensibly targeted at strategic locations, especially security
facilities, to disrupt ongoing electioneering activities in Borno State.
of the missiles were said to have strayed into vulnerable locations like
Teacher’s Village IDP Camp. However, no casualties so far, but two expended
shells of mortar bombs were recovered at Teacher’s village IDP Camp, near the
HQ of 7Div Garrison.”
details are yet to be accessed, but the election processes are not being
Ignored Casualties of Zajeri
the Nigeria security operatives continued to deny any form of casualties in
respect of the attack on Maiduguri, the residents of Zajeri, a crowded suburb
of the city had different testimonies about the attack.
was not certain from which side it came, but a particular RPG fired from a
distance landed on a residential compound filled with women and children and
left the entire place in rubbles.
TIMES visited the heartland of Zajeri, where 95 percent of the residents are
to the witnesses, who are mostly victims, the warhead landed on their house at
about 5.20 a.m; when the residents were either up or out for prayers.
of the victims in the compound where the RPG landed, Hadiza Muhammed, said she
was still in bed when the missile landed on their house.
I could recall was that there was a loud explosion and I became deafened,” said
Mrs Muhammed, who is in her early 50s.
was still in bed; everywhere was dark and filled with thick dust. I could not
stand up because my legs were shaking, so I started crawling and groping in the
dark for the two orphaned grandchildren living with me. I could not see clearly
but I heard one of them calling out for me, until we bumped into each other and
I picked them up.”
Hadiza said she still felt pains on her head and was having difficulty sleeping
because of “the fear another attack might come.”
victim was Amina Ali, a mother of two who is in her mid-20s.
said she was performing ablution within the compound for her morning prayers
when she heard a whistling sound.
sound was coming with speed, then suddenly, I was blinded by lighting,” she
a short while, everywhere was filled with thick dust. I was pushed by the
vibration to the ground; so I crawled to find my two children who were crying
inside the room.
husband ran back from the mosque and I heard him shouting my name because he
could not see me. When we finally found ourselves, we ran to a corner of the
house and ducked while we continue to hear sounds of shootings like it was
coming from all over the place.
husband was injured by shrapnel. I could not sleep well since then. The entire
house has been blown apart.”
Muhammed, 28, was the luckiest. The RPG landed on a small stall at the gate of
the compound demolished the shop and levelled her room.
for the fact that she had passed the night with her parents in the next
neighborhood, she would have been dead.
said she was woken up by neighbours who called to inform her that her house was
ran back only to find my room in rubbles,” she said.
entire walls have fallen as well. They said it was caused by a bullet; and I
still cannot understand what kind of bullet will do such a thing to a building.
But my joy is that I was not in when that happened because it occurred at the
time I used to be fast asleep.
I have been rendered homeless in my matrimonial home, so I have to pack few of
the things that did not spoil and return to my mother’s.”
women want the government to come to their aid, especially in getting their
want government to come to our aid, since we have nothing left here,” one of
the women, Hadiza said.
RPG did not only destroy the home of Hadiza and her neigbours’, it also shook
most of the houses around them.
cleric, Sayyinna Abacha, in his mid-70s said he had performed his morning
prayer when he heard a sound like that of a jet.
said it was followed by an explosion as something landed in the compound behind
said the impact of the explosion pulled down a makeshift apartment where some
Almajiris used to sleep.
of the children sustained injuries like cuts from zinc roofing sheets but none
had any fracture,” said the cleric.
was the first time the terrorists would fire RPGs on Maiduguri.
has left many citizens worried especially with the insurgents now having the
capacity to deploy a shoulder-fire anti-tank weapon system from a distance into
said RPGs are usually fired to neutralise an enemy battle tank; hence its use
in a civilian location is the most barbaric act of warfare.
Boko Haram/ISWAP had claimed credit for the attack. In an online post, the
group claimed it fired “10 missiles” targeting military locations and the
AFP report quoted an undisclosed military source saying “one soldier was killed
and 20 were injured.”
renews designation of PKK as terrorist organisation
an apparent effort to gain concessions from Turkey on the issues of arms sales
and creating an internationally-monitored safe zone in Syria, the Trump
administration renewed on Friday the designation of the Kurdistan Workers’
Party (PKK) as a terrorist organisation.
US State Department issued a statement announcing that it “has reviewed and
maintained the Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) designation of the PKK”.
The militant group was first designated in October 1997 and the US has offered
financial rewards for information on three of its leaders.
United States maintains a strong commitment to our partnership with our NATO
ally Turkey, including fighting PKK fundraising operations in Europe and elsewhere”,
the statement read. While the move reiterates a longstanding US position on the
PKK, its timing comes as a US inter-agency delegation is visiting Ankara and
negotiating a range of issues between the two NATO allies including Syria, the
sale of Patriot missiles, trade and counter terrorism.
meetings were the second this month between Washington and Ankara. The talks
began on Wednesday and were due to conclude Friday, but it is unclear if they
reached a breakthrough.
foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu confirmed that the discussions entailed the
sale of a US Patriot missile defence system to Ankara. “The United States said
they could sell Patriots, and the delegations are negotiating," Mr
Cavusoglu said on Friday, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported. However, issues
relating to the time frame of delivering the $3.5 billion and Turkey’s purchase
of S-400 missiles from Russia are complicating the talks, and remain
officials have insisted that if Ankara goes ahead with its purchase from
Russia, then the Patriots deal will be withdrawn. "The S-400 will be
delivered towards the end of this year in autumn. We bought S-400s because we
could not purchase Patriots," Mr Cavusoglu was quoted as saying.
Heras, a senior fellow at the Centre for New American Security, said the
US-Turkish talks involve a number of trade-offs between the two states.
US is trying to gather enough carrots [incentives] to put into a basket to
satisfy Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan's desire to show that he has
strong national security chops, and re-designating the PKK is an easy carrot
for Washington,” said Mr Heras.
harder part, "will be whether the US can offer Mr Erdogan enough carrots
that he will accept the US argument that the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF)
needs to maintain its power and presence in northern and eastern Syria” Mr
Heras added. For that purpose, the ”the US might actually need to eliminate the
PKK leadership in Wadi Qandil” in Iraq.
special representative for Syria James Jeffrey is with the delegation visiting
Turkey. Washington is now seeking to leave around 400 of the 2000 US troops
currently in Syria according to Bloomberg, seemingly abandoning the idea of a
US has also objected to a Turkish-controlled safe zone in Northern Syria and is
instead offering to bring together an international force with the help of NATO
and the Europeans to deploy in Syria. The size of such force is still being
negotiated, and Turkey could participate with a small number, but it would a
majority of other forces to range around 2000 troops.
US Defense Department is offering a new plan that would see all American troops
exit Afghanistan within the next three to five years and end the 17-year-old
conflict in the war-torn country, according to US media.
Pentagon plan is being offered in peace negotiations that could result in the
Afghan government sharing power with the Taliban militant group, The New York
Times reported Thursday, citing former American and European officials.
plan would also require the departure of NATO forces in Afghanistan at the same
time, after having little success in stabilizing the country since their
invasion in 2001, the newspaper reported.
proposal calls for cutting by half the 14,000 American troops currently in
Afghanistan in the coming months. It would task the remaining 8,600
international troops from NATO and non-NATO nations with training the Afghan
the Taliban is reportedly deeply opposed to the proposal for American troops
remaining in Afghanistan for up to five years.US officials also warned that
President Donald Trump could upend the new plan at any time.
has long expressed skepticism of enduring American wars overseas.
Monday, US diplomats met with the Taliban in Qatar in the highest-level negotiations
yet, including the attendance of General Austin Miller, the commander of the
international forces in Afghanistan.
negotiations between the US and the Taliban are aimed at ending the 17-year war
Afghan government has not been a part of the negotiations because of Taliban
reluctance to talk to President Ashraf Ghani or his envoys.
US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and overthrew a Taliban regime in power
at the time. But US forces have remained bogged down there through the
presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.
Stavridis, a retired American admiral and former top NATO commander who is now
with the Carlyle Group private equity firm, said empowering the Afghan military
is more important than an enduring international troop presence for
U.S. on Friday said it is maintaining the PKK's status as a foreign terrorist
organization and Washington will continue to help Turkey fight the PKK's
United States maintains a strong commitment to our partnership with our NATO
ally Turkey, including fighting PKK fundraising operations in Europe and
elsewhere," the department said in a statement.
addition to notifying to the U.S. public and the international community that
the PKK remains a terrorist organization by Washington, the State Department
has also designated the PKK as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist since
State Department first designated the PKK as a terrorist organization in 1997,
and through this designation the PKK is denied access to the U.S. financial
U.S. has worked with Turkey to counter terrorist threats from the PKK,
according the department. The designation helps U.S. agencies and governments
in law enforcement activities in relation to the PKK and anyone deemed a member
of the terrorist organization.
its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a
terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible
for the death of some 40,000 people.
capital Ankara is hosting the second meeting of a bilateral Turkish-U.S. group
to coordinate the American troop withdrawal from Syria, a diplomatic source
Turkey-U.S. Joint Working Group, following its first meeting on Feb. 6 in the
U.S., met Thursday for a gathering set to end today, said the source, who spoke
on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
U.S. pullout from Manbij, Syria and the area east of the Euphrates River --
where Turkey has promised a counter-terrorist operation -- topped the
U.S. currently has more than 2,000 troops deployed in Syria, but announced last
December that they were leaving, revised this week to say some 200-400 would
group meeting in Ankara is operating as a sub-unit of the Syria Working Group
established in February 2018 between Turkey and the U.S.
the meeting, neither side is expected to comment, but its contacts will
continue in the days to come, according to participants at the meeting.
weapons back from YPG/PKK
of Turkey’s top concerns is that U.S., while withdrawing, takes back the
weapons and ammunition it gave to the terrorist YPG/PKK, as it pledged.
its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a
terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible
for the death of some 40,000 people. The YPG is the group's Syrian branch.
U.S. allied itself with the PKK/YPG to fight Daesh in Syria, but Turkey argued
that using one terror group to fight another makes no sense.
also does not want former U.S. bases to fall into the hands of the terrorists
after the withdrawal, saying they should either be destroyed or handed over to
the Turkish army.
negotiations in Ankara and Washington, Turkish officials said that if the U.S.
troop withdrawal happens before a mutual agreement is reached in line with
Turkey’s security concerns, Ankara would reserve its right to self-defense.
Washington declared the pullout in mid-December, Turkey has been warning of the
power vacuum that the withdrawal could create in the region.
the U.S. pulls out from the field, Assad regime forces, Iran, and even Russian
military police could enter the area unless an agreement with Ankara is reached
Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said on Feb. 11 that the
pullout is likely to begin within weeks and that he expects no increase in U.S.
troops in Iraq.
other officials said the pullout is expected to be completed by summer based on
the situation on the ground.
Feb. 13, acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said Washington will
establish a multinational observer force to take its place in northeastern
Turkish official, speaking anonymously due to restrictions on talking to the
media, pointed out that Turkey is still a member of the U.S.-led coalition to
official said the U.S. intention to give Turkey a symbolic place in the
coalition observer force is meant to prevent it from having a powerful military
presence in northeastern Syria.
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