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Islamic World News (06 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Islamic Foundation Bangladesh to Invite Imams of Two Holy Mosques to Preach Against Militancy















A policeman frisks people entering the shrine of Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi - Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

 

Islamic Foundation Bangladesh to Invite Imams of Two Holy Mosques to Preach Against Militancy

Question Mark over Security of 160 Shrines across Karachi

Most of Britain's Islamist Terrorists Came From Highly Segregated Muslim Districts

After ISIS Threat, China May Have to Get off Sidelines in Mid East

 

South Asia

Islamic Foundation Bangladesh to Invite Imams of Two Holy Mosques to Preach Against Militancy

Bangladesh Government Bans Extremist Organization Ansar Al-Islam

Key ISIS leader Gul Agha killed in Zabul operations

3 key Taliban commanders killed in Kunduz airstrike

Terrorist attack near Afghan border kills five soldiers

Five Afghan policemen killed in Taliban attack

Special tribunal orders arrest of 25 leaders of radical Islamist groups

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Pakistan

Question Mark over Security of 160 Shrines across Karachi

Seminaries Being Punished For Acts of Others, Says Fazl

Ashrafi unmoved by ‘dismissal’ from council

5 soldiers, 10 terrorists killed in Mohmand Agency: ISPR

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Europe

Most of Britain's Islamist Terrorists Came From Highly Segregated Muslim Districts

Dutch Meet To Support Muslims as Far-Right MP Vows to Close Mosques

UK's anti-terror forces thwart 13 attacks since mid-2013

Germany's rally ban on Turkish ministers condemned

Ukraine to accuse Russia of 'terrorism' in UN court

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Southeast Asia

After ISIS Threat, China May Have to Get off Sidelines in Mid East

More Saudi Luxury than Largesse for Indonesia

Malaysia arrests seven for suspected links to militant groups

PAS making it hard to be Muslim, says Siti Kasim

Saudi global peace centre in Malaysia reflects true tolerance of Islam, says KACND chief

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Mideast

Iranian Sunni Bloc Angered by MP Who ‘Insulted’ Prophet Mohammed’s Companions

Al-Qaeda Receives New Saudi Arms Cargo in Southern Yemen

Erdogan compares German behaviour with Nazi period

Suspected al Qaeda militants kill six Yemeni troops, civilian: official

Leader warns of Israel's plan to weaken Iran-Azerbaijan ties

Israeli forces kill Palestinian during West Bank raid

Yemeni snipers kill Saudi soldier in retaliatory attack

Israeli bulldozers, tanks cross into Gaza, level Palestinian lands

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Arab World

The ISIS Is On Its Last Legs, but Beware Of What Comes Next

Aleppo: 30 ISIL Terrorists, Including Senior Foreign Commanders, Killed in Syrian Army Operation

IS hits back against army’s Aleppo advances, kills 15 in twin suicide attacks

200k civilians displaced since Mosul operation started: IOM

Syrian Army Wins back Energy-Rich Field in Eastern Homs

Saudi Arabia's Military Base Damaged in Yemen's Zalzal-2 Missile Attack

Syrian Army Blocks Move of ISIL Reinforcement Forces from North-East of Damascus to Palmyra

Hashd Al-Shaabi Discovers 100 Tons of Military Grade Chemicals in Mosul

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Africa

End Ethnicity in Islam, Lagos State Commissioner Urges Muslims

Sudan rebels free 127 prisoners captured in fighting

Rights groups condemn Jordan executions

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India

Policeman, 2 Militants Killed In 15-Hr Long Tral Encounter

As Afghan security worsens, India’s responsibilities just got bigger

Pakistan apprehends around 70 fishermen off Gujarat; 3rd case this year

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North America

Muslim Youth Door-Knock to Answer Questions about Islam

Muslim youth group aims to educate Canadians about misconceptions of Islam

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/islamic-foundation-bangladesh-to-invite-imams-of-two-holy-mosques-to-preach-against-militancy/d/110303


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Islamic Foundation Bangladesh to Invite Imams of Two Holy Mosques to Preach Against Militancy

March 06, 2017

Islamic Foundation Bangladesh, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Religious Affairs, is trying to bring imams of the two most revered mosques of Islam to Dhaka this month to preach against militancy.

Islamic Foundation Director General Shamim Mohammad Afzal told the Dhaka Tribune that they are expecting imams of Masjid al-Haram and Al-Masjid an-Nabawi to attend the founding anniversary of IFB on March 22 in Dhaka, and address people on eradicating militancy.

Two political parties, however, had failed to successfully invite Dr Sheikh Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Sudais, imam of Masjid al-Haram, in July last year.

“Both Dr Sheikh and Ali Bin Abdur Rahman al Huthaify, chief imam of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, are highly respected among Muslims all over the world. We hope that they will accept our invitations and come to Bangladesh to spread awareness among people against militancy,” said Shamim.

Islamic Foundation is planning to arrange a rally on its 42nd founding anniversary at Suhrawardy Udyan, where Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is also expected to attend.

Foundation personnel met the prime minister on February 28 to discuss the event.

Following the meeting, a four-member representative team from Bangladesh met authorities of the Royal Embassy of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Dhaka on March 2 to take the preparations forward.

According to the team, the Saudi king would have to allow the invitation as the imam of Grand Mosque is a state post.

Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, secretary of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, said: “The time has not come to confirm their visit yet, but we are trying our best.”

Islamic Foundation has been running anti-militancy campaigns by instructing imams and muezzins in Bangladesh to deliver sermons about  the devastating impacts of extremism.

Abdul Rahman Ibn Abdul Aziz Al-Sudais

Imam of Masjid al-Haram

President of General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.

Awarded “Islamic Personality of the Year” in 2005 by Dubai International Holy Quran Awards. Preaches Islam’s opposition to terrorism and advocates peaceful inter-faith dialogue. Completed his PhD in Islamic Sharia from Umm al-Qura University.

Ali Bin Abdur Rahman al Huthaify

Chief Imam of Al-Masjid an-Nawabi

Former lecturer of Islamic Jurisprudence and Tawheed at Islamic University of Saudi Arabia.

He completed his PhD in Islamic law from Al-Azhar University.

al Huthaify has also studied forensic sciences.

He was the imam of the Quba Mosque. al Huthaify has been the imam of the Prophet’s Mosque since 1979.

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/crime/2017/03/06/ifb-to-invite-imams-of-two-holy-mosques-to-preach-against-militancy-in-dhaka/

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Question mark over security of 160 shrines across Karachi

SAHER BALOCH

Mar 6, 2017

KARACHI: Two police mobile vans now guard the main entrance to the shrine of Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi as the security has been tightened since the terrorist attack at the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan on Feb 16.

Police officers at the shrine in Clifton explained that they received orders from the office of the inspector general of police who had recently visited it. Previously security had been beefed up after twin bomb attacks at the Ghazi shrine in October 2010.

According to an estimate, there are 160 shrines across Karachi and around 100 of these shrines, situated around the shores as well as areas lining the outskirts of the metropolis, are most visited by the devotees from Sindh and southern Punjab.

Although historians and researchers count many of these to be “linked to the city’s past”, there is an increasing security threat faced by many of these shrines. Some of the threat is due to the increasing encroachment surrounding the shrines, as pointed out by an activist Abdul Ghani who works to protect heritage sites in Karachi’s district west. He spoke about the shrine of Sakhi Sultan, also known as Baba or Peer Mangho, in Manghopir, which is surrounded by marble shops and tile makers. According to him, “areas at the back of the shrine still harbour support for the Taliban who were said to be booted out during the Rangers-led operation in Karachi”. This led to the fear among residents that the shrine and groups of gypsies living next to it needed to be alert, he said.

Writer Gul Hassan Kalmati said that when it was about protection, the shrine of Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi was among the first ones to receive it. “Many other shrines are left out as a result though they are just as vulnerable to these threats,” he added. Mr Kalmati said most of the shrines, such as Hazrat Syed Kutub Alam Shah Bukhari’s shrine in Eidgah, Hazrat Ghayab Shah Bukhari’s shrine in Keamari, among others, were filled on Thursdays or around particular month of the year as part of yearly festivities. The shrine of Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi, however, “is filled round the year by both Hindu and Muslim devotees,” he added.

According to him, as many of the shrines are situated near the shore, these were and still are frequented by fishermen. Before embarking on a 15- to 20-day journey, many fishermen used to stop at the nearest shrine, pray, and then leave. The same routine was repeated on their return from the sea, he said.

Shrines also serve as a congregating junction for families and friends, said Mr Kalmati. It was explained best through the stalls surrounding most shrines of toys, bangles, apart from the chadors inscribed with religious text, flower petals and incense sticks.

Moving away from the “simpler times” as Mr Kalmati referred to it, the addition of caretakers to the shrines increased the tales or legends about each one of the saints it belonged to. These legends about the ‘karamaat’ of a saint were, and still are, orally circulated among the devotees, he added.

For instance, he said, the shrine of Hazrat Yusuf Shah, brother of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, in Manora, was said to be the saviour of the sea and to have protected the sea during the Indo-Pak war of 1965.

In his article Another Time, Another Place, published in Herald, architect Arif Hasan wrote: “We are told by British visitors later that no vessel left or entered the harbour without depositing some offering at the shrine.” At the same time, Hasan stated that another British Marine, John Porter, visited Karachi in 1774 and mentioned the shrine as the “white tomb”.

Jillani Baba’s shrine in Gadap is known to organise literary events which are attended by people from Karachi and other cities every year. Mr Kalmati added that the dargah was working well without a caretaker because of a 20-member committee helping with the maintenance of the shrine. “Not having a caretaker helps, as then, the responsibility is either with the government or a committee of like-minded people who are invested in maintaining the shrine and not to use it as a way of earning money,” said Mr Kalmati. As an afterthought, he added that the money earned could be used to upgrade security at the shrines as well. “Protecting these shrines should be a priority as they are part of our city’s history and, whether we agree or not, they provide momentary relief to those who believe,” he added.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2017

https://www.dawn.com/news/1318652/question-mark-over-security-of-160-shrines-across-karachi

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Most of Britain's Islamist Terrorists Came From Highly Segregated Muslim Districts

March 05, 2017

British Islamist terrorists are getting younger and an increasing number had no prior convictions or previous criminal records before carrying out an act of terrorism or being arrested in the later stages of planning attacks, according to a major report to be published this week in London.

The rising proportion of militants who are so-called “clean skins,” previously unknown to the authorities, has jumped sharply, posing a growing challenge for Britain's security services as they scramble to try to prevent acts of terrorism, says the report's author, Hannah Stuart, an analyst at The Henry Jackson Society, a British research group.

Between 1998 and 2010 more than three-quarters of Islamist terrorists were known to British authorities in one way or another well before their arrests, 48 percent had come under surveillance by Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5. But the number of terrorists known to authorities has plunged between 2011 and 2015, the proportion known to MI5 more than halved.

More women radicalized

Aside from the growing number of "clean skins" in the ranks of British militants plotting terrorist acts, the 1,000-page report analyzing Islamist terrorism in Britain since 1998 to the beginning of last year finds there has been a surge in the number of women joining jihadist groups or radicalizing.

The report states, “Eighteen women have been convicted of terrorism offenses ranging from supportive offenses such as assisting an offender to serious attack-related offenses such as attempted murder. More than half of the female cases involved behavior that was supportive of men with whom they have a family or personal relationship, or was accepted by the trial judge as subordinate to that of their partner and co-accused.”

Women accounted for four percent of Islamist-related offenses between 1998 and 2010, but 11 percent between 2011 and 2015.

The report, one of the most comprehensive of its kind in Europe, says the terrorism threat the country faces continues to be from ‘home-grown” militants rather than from militants infiltrated into the country or recruited from the ranks of recent refugees or migrants. According to the study, 72 percent of Islamism-related offenses in Britain were carried out by British nationals or people who held dual British nationality.

“Our security services will be particularly concerned that the major threat continues to be home grown, and that females are playing an ever increasing role in terrorism,” says Stuart. She and other researchers scoured court transcripts and media reports as well as other sources to analyze 269 individual convictions or suicide bombings and all of the nearly 400 terrorism offenses recorded between 1998 and early 2015.

The number of Islamism-inspired terrorism offenses in Britain nearly doubled between 2000 to 2015, according to the report.

Poverty and segregation factors

Another key finding from the study includes the highlighting of a connection between poverty and radicalization, upending a conventional view that has increasingly taken hold that Islamist terrorists are disproportionately educated and middle class.

About 38 percent of terrorists were unemployed, while 76 percent came from neighborhoods with above-average deprivation. The report says 48 percent of British-based offenders were people living “in the most deprived 20 percent of neighborhoods nationally, commonly referred to as ‘highly deprived.”

A crucial finding is that militants come from highly segregated and heavily Muslim areas, raising new questions about integration. A high concentration of bombers or those convicted of terrorism-related offenses came from segregated districts in London and Birmingham. A tenth of all Britain’s Islamist terrorists come from just five local authority districts in Birmingham, the most populous British city outside London.

Forty-three percent of those convicted of Islamist-related terrorism came from London and half of those most came from just three of the capital’s boroughs in east London, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest.

During the period studied the most common age for an Islamic terrorist was 22. The Henry Jackson researchers found that 52 percent of Islamist offenders had Southern Asian ethnic backgrounds, and were most commonly British Pakistani.

Last month, a senior British counter-terror official, Max Hill, warned that Britain is facing a level of threat from terrorists not seen since the Irish Republican Army bombings 40 years ago. He said jihadist strategists were planning “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians” and that the country is facing an “enormous ongoing risk which none of us can ignore.”

Hill expressed anxiety about the imminent return of hundreds of British jihadists who have been fighting for jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq and warned British teenagers as young as 14 years-old are being radicalized by extremist videos and hate speech online.

http://www.voanews.com/a/britain-islamist-terrorists-segregated-districts/3750471.html

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After ISIS Threat, China May Have to Get off Sidelines in Mid East

Mar 6, 2017

Michael Clarke - On Feb. 27, the Islamic State released a slickly produced propaganda video detailing for the first time “scenes from the life of immigrants from East Turkistan [i.e. Xinjiang] in the land of the Caliphate.” The video, in which a Uighur militant exclaims that the Islamic State will “shed blood like rivers” to avenge Beijing’s “oppression” of Muslims in the Western region of Xinjiang, provides not only a highly stylized view of Uighur militants’ training with heavy weaponry and snapshots of their daily life in the “caliphate,” but is also punctuated by two brutal executions of alleged “informants.”

While the direct threat against China and the brutality of the executions has captured much attention, a close analysis of the video suggests something even more important: the possible splintering of Uighur militancy.

The video demonstrates the intensification of the Islamic State’s threat to China. In 2014, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi argued that China was on a par with states such as Israel, India, and the United States as an “oppressor” of Muslims. This was followed by the group’s execution of a Chinese citizen, Fan Jinghui in Iraq in November 2015. The new video adds to this by providing the first visual evidence of Uighur militants fighting for the Islamic State and lends greater weight to Chinese claims that hundreds of Uighurs have been recruited by the group in recent years.

Revealingly, a militant in the video denounces the “apostasy” of the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) — a well-established Uighur militant group that has had a significant presence in Syria since 2012 — and urges TIP members to defect to the Islamic State. This leads to a significant implication: it highlights a potential splintering of Uighur militants between the well established Al Qaeda-affiliate, TIP, and the Islamic State.

To date, TIP has posed the most immediate terrorist threat to China. This has been based on its close alignment with Al Qaeda, a product of the group’s genesis in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the late 1990s. As Al Qaeda itself became active in Syria with the establishment of Jabhat al-Nusra as its affiliate in January 2012, TIP also began to release videos about the Syrian conflict and articles in its magazine, often comparing the struggle of the anti-Assad forces to that of the Uighurs in China. By 2015 TIP had a well-documented presence on the battlefield in Syria, with the group releasing a number of videos detailing its role in combat in Idlib, Jisr al-Shughur, and the Al Ghab plain. There have also been reports of the establishment of significant settlements of Uighur fighters and their families (numbered in their hundreds) since 2014 around Idlib and Latakia.

Throughout TIP has remained a steadfast ally of Al Qaeda and its affiliates in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusrah and its leadership has openly criticized the Islamic State and rejected the legitimacy of its “caliph,” Baghdadi. Al Qaeda for its part has widely praised TIP. Ayman al-Zawahiri, for instance, released a video in July 2016 titled “Turkestan: Patience and Then Victory,” that hailed TIP for its struggle against the “atheist occupier” of “East Turkestan” (i.e. Xinjiang) and encouraged followers to wage jihad “in any corner of the world, wherever they may be.” The video provides confirmation that the Al Qaeda-Islamic State split has now begun to affect Uighur militant groups.

Such splintering could, however, have contradictory effects. One could be broadly positive for China; inter-group conflict presaged by the video could distract and weaken Uighur militants’ ability to carry out attacks against China or its interests. Conversely,

The latter dynamic may already be taking place, discernible in the August 2016 attack against the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and the 2016 New Year’s Eve Istanbul nightclub attack. In the first of these attacks, the suicide bomber was revealed to have been an ethnic Uighur who Kyrgyz authorities subsequently claimed had been travelling on a Tajik passport and assisted by an ethnic Uzbek with links to the TIP in Syria. The 2016 New Year’s Eve attack was claimed by the Islamic State, and Turkish authorities subsequently identified the gunman as an ethnic Uighur with links to Syria.

These developments present a major challenge to Beijing. Within Xinjiang, China has responded to the growing threat with a show of force, including recent “anti-terror” rallies of thousands of security personnel in major cities such as Urumqi, Kashgar, and Khotan. Externally, however, the question of how the activities of TIP and now Islamic State-aligned Uighur militants will affect Beijing’s approach to Iraq and Syria remain unclear. Ultimately, Beijing may have to jettison its long-standing aloofness to the crisis in both countries if China wishes to combat Uighur militancy effectively.

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Mar-2017/after-isis-threat-china-may-have-to-get-off-sidelines-in-mid-east

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South Asia

 

Bangladesh government bans extremist organization Ansar al-Islam

March 5, 2017

Bangladesh government has banned the extremist organization Ansar al-Islam. Home Ministry's Department of Public Safety issued a notification in this regard on Sunday after the law enforcing agency sent a letter to the ministry seeking a ban on the organization.

The notification said activities of the organization are contrary to country's peace and order. Activities of the organization have already been considered as a threat to public safety, added the notification.

Ansar al-Islam, which claimed itself Bangladesh wing of al-Qaeda and claimed the responsibility of killing bloggers, is actually the renewed version of Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) with new name.

Ansarullah Bangala Team which took birth in 2007 was working as a platform for the believers of al-Qaeda in Bangladesh. At first, the group was involved in study circle and internet propaganda, but started killing bloggers in 2013. The militant group first came into light after killing blogger Rajib Haider in capital's Pallabi on February 15 of the same year. Later, they divided into different groups and got operative. So far, the group has claimed responsibilities for 9 murders including bloggers, publishers and students, teachers.

The current government had earlier banned Ansarullah Bangla Team on May 25, 2015 and Hizb ut-Tahrir on October 22, 2009.

Ansarullah later became affiliated with AQIS that eyes establishing Shariah law in the country.

Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden's successor, Egyptian ideologue Ayman al-Zawahiri, announced the formation of AQIS in September 2014 to carry the group's fight to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and with a special focus on Rakhine state of Myanmar.

The US government blacklisted AQIS as a "foreign terrorist organization" and its leader, Indian-born Asim Umar, a "specially-designated global terrorist" in a statement issued on June 30 last year.

The previous BNP-Jamaat government outlawed Shahadat-e-al Hikma on February 9, 2003, Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) on February 23, 2005, and Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (Huji) on October 17, 2005.

Police have arrested a number of top leaders of the outfit, but its alleged operations chief Maj (sacked) Syed Ziaul Haque and spiritual leader Tamim al-Adnani have remained traceless.

The group made the first claim on May 3, 2015 after their supporters hacked to death six targets, including blogger Ahmed Rajeeb Haider and science writer Avijit Roy.

The spiritual leader of Ansarullah Bangla Team (now Ansar al-Islam), Jasim Uddin Rahmani, was arrested on August 12, 2013 for inciting jihad at mosques. Later, he was removed from the post of chairman of Markazul Uloom Al-Islamia Madrasa's management committee at Basila in Mohammadpur.

On December 31, 2015, Rahmani was sentenced to five years in prison for inciting the murder of Rajeeb Haider, while two of his followers to death and four others to different jail terms for their involvement in the murder that took place on February 15, 2013.

Ansar al-Islam earlier extended support to Harakah al-Yakin or Faith Movement, a like-minded Rohingya-based militant group that attacked three border outposts of Myanmar as part of their armed jihad on October 9.

In a public statement issued on December 15, al-Qaeda urged the Muslim youths of Bangladesh to join the fight to avenge the persecution against Rohingyas.

Its members are campaigning against the indigenous peoples of the country's CHT region terming them terrorists. They incited further attacks on the Hindus of Nasirnagar in Brahmanbaria last year during a discussion on Dawahilallah, an open forum of AQIS.

With Ansar al-Islam, total seven organizations have been banned for militant activities and religious extremism in the country.

The six other banned outfits are Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Harkat ul-Jehad al-Islami Bangladesh (HUJI), Sahadat-e Hikma, Hizbut-Tahrir and Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT).

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/ansar-al-islam-bangladesh-government-extremist-organization-ansar-al-islam-ansarullah-bangla-team/1/897449.html

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Key ISIS leader Gul Agha killed in Zabul operations

Mar 05 2017

A key leader of the loyalists of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group was killed during an operation of the Afghan Special Forces in southern Zabul province.

According to the local government officials, Gul Agha was among at least seventeen insurgents killed during the operation.

Provincial police chief Mirwais Noorzai said Gul Agha was originally a resident of eastern Nangarhar province and was actively involved in insurgency activities in Zabul province.

This comes as the Ministry of Defense (MoD) officials said Wednesday that seventeen ISIS loyalists were killed during a special military operation conducted by the Afghan forces in Arghandab district.

Zabul is among the relatively volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents and other militants including ISIS loyalists are actively operating.

The local residents and tribal elders recently met with the government officials in Kabul to convey their concerns regarding the growing activities of the terror group in some restive districts of Zabul.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/key-isis-leader-gul-agha-killed-in-zabul-operations-02334

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3 key Taliban commanders killed in Kunduz airstrike

Mar 05 2017

At least three commanders of the Taliban group were killed in an airstrike conducted by the Afghan Air Force in northern Kunduz province of Afghanistan.

The Ministry of Interior (MoI) in a statement said the airstrike was carried out late on Saturday night in Imam Sahib district.

The statement further added that fifteen Taliban insurgents including three commanders of the group identified as Qari Mazlum, Qari Hejran, and Farooqi were killed in the airstrike.

At least three Taliban insurgents were also wounded in the airstrike, MoI said, adding that five vehicles and some weapons were also destroyed.

The security forces and local residents did not suffer any casualties during the operation, the ministry said.

Kunduz is among the relatively volatile provinces in northern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgents are actively operating in its various districts and often conduct insurgency activities.

Full report at:

http://www.khaama.com/3-key-taliban-commanders-killed-in-kunduz-airstrike-02333

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Terrorist attack near Afghan border kills five soldiers

06-Mar-17

MOHMAND AGENCY: Three terrorist attacks at border checkpoints along Mohmand Agency were thwarted by army personnel on Sunday night, resulting in the death of five soldiers.

According to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the shoot-out between the terrorist and armed forces also resulted in at least 10 terrorists being killed, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa expressed grief over the loss of soldiers’ lives in the in the incident but emphasised that, "Terrorists must be denied freedom of movement along the border". He also lauded the immediate response of the personnel.

Mohmand, one of the agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, has been a hotbed of violence during the war on terror.

A suicide blast near the main gate of the Mohmand Agency headquarters in Ghallanai, last month, killed five people including three security forces personnel were martyred.

On the same day, another suicide attacker struck in Mosal Kor area of the agency.

Full report at:

http://dailytimes.com.pk/pakistan/06-Mar-17/terrorist-attack-near-afghan-border-kills-five-soldiers

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Five Afghan policemen killed in Taliban attack

Mar 6, 2017

KABUL: At least five members of the Afghan security forces were killed early Sunday morning when their checkpoint came under an insurgent attack in northeastern Kunduz province, an Afghan official said.

Gen. Abdul Hamid Hamid, provincial police chief in Kunduz, said a large group of Taliban fighters attacked the post near the city of Kunduz.

Meanwhile, 18 insurgents were killed by airstrikes in the Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province, according to a statement released by the Interior Ministry. Three others were wounded while five vehicles and an ammunition stockpile were destroyed, the statement added.

"The key terrorists killed in the operation were involved in planning and implementing several terror attacks in Kunduz province," said the statement.

Elsewhere in the northern province of Faryab, a district police chief died when a bomb that had been attached to his car detonated, said Karim Yuresh, spokesman for the provincial police chief. Another policeman was wounded in the explosion Saturday evening. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/05-Mar-2017/five-afghan-policemen-killed-in-taliban-attack

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Special tribunal orders arrest of 25 leaders of radical Islamist groups

March 06, 2017

The judicial directive is issued against Islamist groups like Hefazat-e-Islam for actively instigating violence against the Gonojagoron Moncho.

The court has issued arrest warrants against 25 people, including leaders of Hefazat-e-Islam, in a case lodged against them four years ago for instigating an attack on Gonojagoron Moncho on February 22, 2013.

Dhaka Metropolitan 1 Special Tribunal Judge Mohammad Kamrul Hossain Molla ordered the arrest warrants based on the Shahbagh police station’s charge sheet which accuses 29 people for the bombing under the Explosives Act.

Islami Oikya Jote Chairman Abdul Latif Nizami and Secretary General Mufti Md Faizullah, Bangladesh Khilafat Majlish Ameer Mawlana Md Ishaq, Secretary General Ahmed Abdul Quader and chief Mawlana Abdur Rouf Yusufi, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Executive President Mufti Md Wakkas, Bangladesh Khilafat Andolon Ameer Shah Ahmedullah Ashraf and Nizam-e-Islam Bangladesh President Abdur Rakib are among the 25 accused.

Full report at:

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/crime/2017/03/06/special-tribunal-orders-arrest-25-leaders-radical-islamist-groups/

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Pakistan

 

Seminaries being punished for acts of others, says Fazl

SALEEM SHAHID

Mar 6, 2017

QUETTA: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has said that those who trained youths in guerilla warfare and gave weapons in their hands should accept responsibility for the prevailing disorder in the country. He said religious seminaries should not be punished for their crimes.

Speaking to heads of seminaries, religious scholars and JUI-F workers at a gathering held at the Hockey Ground here on Sunday, he said targeting religious people and seminaries for crimes committed by others was a great injustice.

He said the JUI-F wanted to promote the rule of law in the country.

Maulana Fazl said those indulging in “politics of arms” were neither protectors of religion nor representatives of the Sharia.

He said religious people took pride in the history of the JUI which was replete with heroic deeds for the independence of the country.

He said his party wanted Islamic system in Pakistan and added that only ulema could guide masses in religious matters.

The JUI-F chief said his party represented oppressed sections of the society and it was the only party which could provide employment opportunities to the youth.

He said successive governments during the past 70 years had failed to give economic stability to the country, adding that during this period the country had been ruled by landlords and the elite.

“These people take part in politics only to promote their interests. They try to copy European models and never use their minds to find out what system suits Pakistan.”

He said corruption could be eliminated from the country if ulema were given a chance to run the affairs of the government. When ulema talk about different issues, people in the establishment and bureaucracy make fun of them. Only the leadership of the JUI-F could put the country on the right direction, he added.

The Maulana said the country was heading towards a new turn. “The slogan of Pak-China friendship is being raised for over the 70 years, but now this slogan is about to be translated into an economic reality.”

Deputy Chairman of Senate Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Leader of the Opposition in Balochistan Assembly Maulana Abdul Wasey, former governor Syed Fazal Agha and other JUI-F leaders were present on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2017

https://www.dawn.com/news/1318706/seminaries-being-punished-for-acts-of-others-says-fazl

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Ashrafi unmoved by ‘dismissal’ from council

NASIR JAMAL

Mar 6, 2017

Whatever the term means, Hafiz Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi is known among journalists in Lahore as a ‘liberal’ maulvi (cleric). His ‘moderate’ stance on issues such as sectarian violence, militancy and suicide attacks has endeared him to many in urgent need of a religious scholar who can provide them with breathing space in today’s Pakistan. He is one of the few religious leaders in the country who have stood up in recent years to denounce violence by extremist organisations and to defend people like the little Christian girl from Islamabad, Rimsha Masih, who was booked on a blasphemy charge.

A graduate of the University of Punjab and the Jamia Ashrafia in Lahore, Tahir Ashrafi gained prominence on account of his active role in the Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC), a platform created by the leaders of Deobandi, Barelvi, Shia and Ahle Hadith schools of thought back in 1988 to promote sectarian harmony amid growing sectarian strife in the country. He has been part of the council since its inception and was elected its chairman by its Markazi Majlis-i-Shoora or central executive committee, in 2007. Ever since, the PUC, a Deobandi-dominated organisation, has under his stewardship issued several (religious) decrees against suicide attacks, honour killings and activities of the militant Islamic State group, and in favour of women’s suffrage and prevention of misuse of blasphemy laws.

On the other hand, Hafiz Ashrafi also has the image of a controversial figure. He has been repeatedly criticised by religious circles for his views and actions and has faced threats to his life from extremist and militant organisations. There have been several efforts to remove him from the chairmanship of the council. The latest such attempt was made by Sahibzada Zahid Mahmood Qasmi last week at a meeting of the PUC Shoora at a Deobandi mosque-cum-seminary in Faisalabad. An announcement made after the meeting said that 500 ulema, who had gathered at Jamia Qasmia, had decided to remove Tahir Ashrafi and replace him with Sahibzada Qasmi, who has the reputation of a conservative and hard-line Deobandi cleric.

“The Markazi Majlis-i-Shoora of the Pakistan Ulema Council has dismissed Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi from the office of the council’s chairman, cancelling his basic membership from its sub-organisations, and elected Sahibzada Zahid Mahmood Qasmi in his place,” the statement said.

“The former chairman has made autonomous decisions on internal and external affairs without consulting members of the Shoora. Some authentic facts and evidence have come into notice of the Shoora that show that Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi has made foreign contacts that were absolutely against Islam, the constitution of Pakistan and manifesto of the Pakistan Ulema Council,” said the statement published in newspapers.

At the heart of the accusations made against Hafiz Ashrafi was the allegation that he had “secretly obtained massive funds from the American and German governments for spying on the students of seminaries in Pakistan” — a charge he vehemently denies.

“I haven’t received any money from any American or German organisation or any foreign government,” he told Dawn. “I was approached by the Americans who planned to set up peace committees here. They wanted me to guide them on different issues. The deal fell through because of difference of views (on the project). Even the Americans and Germans have issued clarifications about these unproven allegations.”

Tahir Ashrafi wasn’t particularly worried about his “dismissal”.

“The people who removed me from the chairmanship of the PUC do not have the mandate to do this. Only a couple of Shoora members actually attended the meeting. Certain elements have long been campaigning against me because they don’t approve of my stance on issues like sectarianism, women’s rights, blasphemy laws, etc.”

Without naming anyone, he said the people opposed to his moderate religious views had tried many times in the past to incite public opinion against him. “When I speak about interfaith harmony, I am asked to shut up. When I call for preventing misuse of blasphemy laws, I am threatened. Recently, I was told that the council should issue a decree against the (missing) bloggers. I refused and told them that I could not support their demand because it was the job of law enforcement agencies to investigate such matters. It is not the PUC’s job to declare every other man and woman kafir (infidel). We must encourage moderate views and respect the rule of law as taught by Islam.”

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1318711/situationer-ashrafi-unmoved-by-dismissal-from-council

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5 soldiers, 10 terrorists killed in Mohmand Agency: ISPR

March 06, 2017

Five soldiers were killed in Mohmand Agency while foiling a terrorism bid on three border checkpoints on Saturday night, according to Inter Services Public Relations.

10 terrorists were also killed during the exchange of fire between army personnel and terrorists.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/national/06-Mar-2017/5-soldiers-10-terrorists-killed-in-mohmand-agency-ispr

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Europe

 

Dutch meet to support Muslims as far-right MP vows to close mosques

Mar 6, 2017

AMSTERDAM - Hundreds of Dutch citizens met at an Amsterdam mosque Sunday to show solidarity with the country's Muslim population, as an anti-Islam MP again vowed to shut mosques and ban the Koran should he win upcoming elections.

Some 200 concerned citizens and organisers representing a broad coalition against racism in The Netherlands gathered at the central Al-Kabir mosque, saying they were deeply worried about the rise of discrimination against Muslims in the European country.

"It's very important that we make our voice heard. We as a Muslim community pose no danger whatsoever to society," said Najem Ouladali, one of the organisers of the meeting which also included members of Amsterdam's gay and lesbian community.

"In fact, we are victims too of Islamic extremism," added another speaker, Abdou Menebhi, who chairs a Moroccan organisation in The Netherlands.

Various estimates put The Netherlands' Muslim population between 840,000 to 960,000 people, or around 5.0 percent out of a population of some 17 million people. Most Muslims are from Turkish or Moroccan descent, according to the Dutch central statistics office.

Talk during the meeting, which was paused for afternoon prayers, constantly returned to Dutch firebrand far-right MP Geert Wilders, who is campaigning ahead of elections on an anti-Islam ticket. The 53-year-old Wilders has courted controversy with his hardline anti-Islam, anti-immigrant stance and his incendiary insults against Moroccans and Turks.

He has vowed in his party's one-page manifesto that if elected he would ban the sale of Korans, close mosques and Islamic schools, shut Dutch borders and ban Muslim migrants. Support however for Wilders and his extreme stance seems to have withered in recent days according to the latest polls.  "We believe that what Wilders is doing is very dangerous to our society," Ouladali told AFP after the mosque meeting, speaking in Dutch.

Ineke van der Valk, a researcher at the University of Amsterdam told the meeting incidents of hate crimes against Muslims were on the rise in The Netherlands.

Since 2015 incidents involving discrimination have almost doubled and there were at least 54 incidents involving mosques - like threatening letters displaying Nazi symbols she said.

"There has been a worrisome rise in this kind of activity in our country," Van der Valk said.

Meanwhile across earlier across the Dutch capital, the firebrand Wilders again vowed to close mosques, should he become prime minister after the vote, seen as a key litmus test of the rise of populist and far-right parties ahead of other national elections to be held across Europe later this year.

"Closing mosques may be more difficult but you can do it," Wilders told journalists in an industrial suburb of Amsterdam earlier at a press meeting.

"You have to change the Constitution. It takes time, certainly in Holland... but I am a lawmaker and if anyone can change the constitution and propose this, it's me," Wilders said.

Just 10 days before elections Wilders and his Freedom Party (PVV) appears to have slipped into second place behind the Liberal party of incumbent Prime Minister Mark Rutte after months of leading the opinion polls.

"I am confident we will all have excellent results," Wilders told a gaggle of mainly foreign journalists, referring also to France's far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen.

"Even if that will not be the case, the genie will not go back into the bottle... certainly things will change in Europe," he insisted.

In an odd press conference, Wilders gathered reporters from international organisations in a street in an Amsterdam industrial area, surrounded by a heavy security detail of uniformed and plain-clothed police officers.

Boosted by the polarising debate over immigration, and initially by the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential race, Wilders had been leading polls since late last year.

But the latest collated polls by the Dutch website Peilingwijzer (Poll indicator) from seven different agencies on Saturday showed Rutte's VVD party would now win 23 to 27 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament, with the PVV set to garner 22-26 seats if elections were held today.

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Mar-2017/dutch-meet-to-support-muslims-as-far-right-mp-vows-to-close-mosques

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UK's anti-terror forces thwart 13 attacks since mid-2013

Mar 5, 2017

British security forces have thwarted 13 terrorist attacks in less than four years, mostly thanks to information provided by the public, the country's most senior anti-terrorism official said Monday.

Mark Rowley, assistant commission for London's Metropolitan Police, said security and intelligence agencies are dealing with more than 500 investigations at any one time.

The terrorism threat to Britain is categorized as "severe" — meaning an attack is "highly likely" — as authorities faced "some big operational challenges," Rowley said in an interview with local media.

He said military success against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria is "welcome" though that alone is "not going to eradicate the terrorist problem." Al-Qaida and off-shoots of both groups remained a threat, he said, but "extreme right-wing groups" have also become a focus of police efforts in recent months.

The number of people leaving Britain to fight with extreme Islamist groups has fallen, he said. Up to 800 people are believed to have left Britain to fight in Syria and Iraq. It is not known exactly how many have returned home, though some experts say it could be up to half, with some 50 killed.

"The majority (of our work) is actually people in this country who are radicalized," Rowley said. "Sometimes they are in contact with people overseas and they are looking to radicalize others in this country and potentially conduct attacks."

The attention on home-grown far-right extremism follows the killing of lawmaker Jo Cox last June, ahead of the Brexit referendum on Britain's European Union membership.

Full report at:

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/uks-anti-terror-forces-thwart-13-attacks-mid-45928412

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Germany's rally ban on Turkish ministers condemned

06 March 2017

The Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE)’s Turkey Group president has termed the ban on Turkish ministers from addressing their community in Germany ahead of April 16 referendum in Turkey as a violation of human rights.

"We call on the Council of Europe to do its duty," Talip Kucukcan told Anadolu Agency ahead of the PACE Political Affairs Commission meeting in Paris on Monday.

"The repressive mindset against our ministers can never be associated with the values of the Council of Europe. Therefore, we will raise this issue during today's PACE Political Affairs Commission meeting in Paris," Kucukcan said.

An official petition has already been filed at the commission highlighting the unjust ban, he said.

It is one of the missions of PACE to protect lawmakers of member countries, he said, adding Turkey would do its best to prevent discrimination against its ministers and elected representatives. 

There is a strong Turkish diaspora in Europe with a potential 2.5 million voters. Kucukcan said the ban on addressing this community is a direct violation of freedom of speech as well as the right to assembly.

While Turkish ministers and other government officials have been stopped from addressing their community abroad to brief them about the proposed constitutional reforms, politicians from other Turkish political parties have been able to visit Europe and meet the expat community, Kucukcan noted.

Nonetheless, he urged the Turkish community to go to ballot boxes and vote in the upcoming referendum.

On April 16, a referendum will take place in Turkey on constitutional reforms, including the crucial change to a presidential system of governance.

The statement comes after the municipality of Gaggenau in southwest Germany revoked last week its permission for Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag's rally for April 16 referendum, citing concerns about overcrowding. This prompted Bozdag to cancel his planned visit to Germany.

The cancellation by the Gaggenau municipality has drawn strong criticism from the Turkish government.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/185823/germanys-rally-ban-on-turkish-ministers-condemned

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Ukraine to accuse Russia of 'terrorism' in UN court

06 March 2017

Kiev will seek to convince the UN's top court Monday that Moscow is "sponsoring terrorism" in a bloody conflict involving separatist pro-Russian rebels, as tensions escalate in war-torn eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine's representatives will also ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to take emergency measures ordering Russia to stop its alleged funnelling of money, weapons and personnel into the east, and to halt what it called "discrimination" of minorities in Russian-occupied Crimea.

It is also seeking compensation for attacks on civilians in nearly three years of conflict.

Moscow has long denied arming the rebels and has hit back that the case was just motivated "by political interests".

It has also claimed that Kiev in fact had "shown a lack of will to hold a concrete dialogue."

Ukraine lodged its case against its former Soviet master at the court based in The Hague in mid-January, saying it has protested for several years against Moscow's alleged financing of separatist rebels battling Ukrainian government forces.

Ukraine now "respectfully requests the court to adjudge and declare that the Russian Federation bears international responsibility by virtue of its sponsorship of terrorism... for the acts of terrorism committed by its proxies in Ukraine," it said in papers before the court.

Nearly three years of conflict have claimed some 10,000 lives in eastern Ukraine -- and led to Russia's seizure of Ukraine's southern peninsula of Crimea in 2014 -- pushing ties between Moscow and the West to their lowest point since the Cold War.

Rare talks between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over the past month have proved "fruitless", the Ukrainian presidency said in a statement Thursday.

 Upsurge in fighting

 he talks come amid an upsurge in violence which killed 35 people in early February, centred around the government-held town of Avdiivka near rebel bastion Donetsk.

Moscow also "brazenly defied" the UN Charter by seizing Ukraine's southern peninsula of Crimea, and then attempted to "legitimise its act of aggression" by holding an "illegal referendum", Kiev said in its filing.

It accuses Russia of discriminating against Crimean minorities such as Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians including conducting what it termed a campaign of "cultural erasure" against these groups.

Ukraine wants Russia to "make full reparations for... acts of terrorism the Russian Federation has caused, facilitated or supported," it said, including the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 shot down by a missile over rebel-held eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Full report at:

http://www.worldbulletin.net/europe/185818/le-pen-could-win-in-france-warns-hollande

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Southeast Asia

 

More Saudi luxury than largesse for Indonesia

MARCH 6, 2017

During his nine-day visit to Indonesia, the first by a Saudi Arabian monarch in 47 years, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saudi and his 1,500-strong entourage have lavished far more on accommodation than the kingdom spent in direct investment to the world’s largest Muslim country for all of last year.

That was a mere US$900,000, down sharply from US$30.4 million the previous year and far less than the US$2.1 million it cost to install bulletproof glass in the presidential suite of Jakarta’s Ritz Carlton Hotel where the 81-year-old king stayed before heading to the resort island of Bali.

A fleet of six jumbo jets and a Hercules cargo plane brought the delegation from Riyadh, carrying food, two mobile lifts and other supplies weighing “459 Toyota Avanzas” – the media’s strange choice of measurement that works out to be 546.7 tons.

For all that – and the presence of 10 Saudi ministers and 25 princes – the signing of a US$1 billion deal to fund what were vaguely described as “various development projects” was a clear disappointment for the expectant Indonesians.

That was a drop in the bucket compared with the US$7 billion state-owned Saudi Aramaco oil company agreed to invest in a half-share of a Petronas petrochemical complex during the monarch’s state visit to neighboring Muslim majority Malaysia as part of a month-long Asian tour.

It was also a far cry from the US$25 billion in deals officials had said were to be signed during the visit, including US$6 billion for the expansion of the Cilacap oil refinery on Java’s south coast that had been the subject of a memorandum of understanding between the two sides signed in May 2016.

Indeed, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was left to lamely explain that Aramco and Indonesia’s state-run Pertamina oil company had yet to even establish a formal joint venture to expand the refinery’s capacity from 340,000 to 370,000 barrels a day.

Parliament was disappointed, too. It had forked out US$500,000 on a lavish reception, complete with new carpets and banks of flowers. Yet the king spent only 20 minutes there, during which he delivered a brief two-minute speech in Arabic.

Historically, there were several conduits for Saudi religious aid, although by the late 1970s worry about the kingdom’s impact on how Islam is practised led to the former dictator Suharto’s government directing that all external aid run through the Jakarta government.

One major charity, Al Haramain, was closed in 2004 after allegations surfaced that it had channeled money to militant groups then engaged in a bloody bombing campaign. Among the targets were the Ritz Carlton and the JW Marriott, two of the four luxury hotels booked out by the Saudi delegation.

Most Saudi funding currently comes through either LIPIA or the home-grown Indonesian Society for the Propagation of Islam (DDII), which has proved a key factor in Indonesia’s Islamic revival and its interaction with Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

Over the years, it has grown into a strictly conservative organization with the sort of strong anti-Shiite, anti-Christian and anti-Ahmadiyah views that dovetailed with the Saudi agenda of countering Iran’s global influence after the 1979 revolution.

The DDII has built mosques, hospitals, and orphanages, distributed Qurans and other Islamic materials, aided local religious schools, trained religious leaders and awarded scholarships to Saudi Arabian and other Middle Eastern universities.

Religious scholar Ben von der Mehden says it has also sought links with other Islamic organizations at home and abroad, including the Muslim Brotherhood, international Islamic youth groups and even elements of the homegrown Jemaah Islamiyah terror network.

While LIPIA graduates tend to gravitate toward mosques in urban areas and in university cities, they have not normally been the advocates of violent Islam, who come mainly from a small radical minority of the country’s 13,000 Islamic boarding schools.

Saudi Wahhabi-Salafi tenets may be more widespread than they once were, but von der Mehden says there are impediments to their expansion, starting with the rural tradition of melding local beliefs into Islam, a syncretic mix to which the doctrinaire Saudis are strongly averse.

Many Indonesians also equate Wahhabis and Salafis with fanning hate-speech, fanaticism and violence, while local mass Muslim organizations such as Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama seek to weaken their influence in the mosques and schools under their umbrellas.

Apart from the discomfort felt over the so-called “Arabization” of Indonesia, attitudes towards the Saudis themselves have not helped revelations in news reports of sexually abusive employers ill-treating Indonesian maids and, more recently, the kingdom’s failure to compensate the families of pilgrims killed in the 2015 haj disaster.

The countries will always remain bound by their shared belief in Sunni Islam, the million Indonesians who work in Saudi Arabia and the 221,000 Indonesians who will make the pilgrimage to Mecca this year, the country’s highest quota.

The number of Saudis visiting Indonesia is only a tiny fraction of that number, most of them heading for Hindu-populated Bali, where the king’s delegation spent five days in an environment whose only similarity to their homeland ends with the sea and the sand.

But despite all the comforting talk last week about tolerance, religious harmony and the evils of extremism, moderate Indonesian Muslims are more worried about how Saudi Arabia’s conservative teachings may be eating away at the country’s secular underpinnings.

In a society where conformity has become the norm, once those beliefs have been implanted they are nurtured by the same hardline groups that are trying to ensure the ongoing trial on blasphemy charges of ethnic-Chinese governor Basuki Purnama will lead to his conviction.

http://www.atimes.com/article/saudi-luxury-largesse-indonesia/

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Malaysia Arrests Seven for Suspected Links to Militant Groups

Mar 6, 2017

Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has arrested six foreigners and one Malaysian for suspected links to militant groups including Islamic State, the police chief said on Sunday (05/03).

The Southeast Asian nation has been on high alert since suicide bombers and gunmen linked to Islamic State launched multiple attacks in Jakarta, the capital of neighboring Indonesia, in January 2016.

A grenade attack on a bar on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, in June last year wounded eight people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, the first of such attacks on Malaysian soil.

Malaysia has arrested hundreds over the last few years for suspected links to militant groups.

In the latest arrests made between Feb. 21 and Feb. 26, one Malaysian and one Indonesian were detained for planning to launch a large-scale car bomb attack using a "vehicle borne improvised explosive device," before leaving to join IS in Syria, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said in a statement.

Full report at:

http://jakartaglobe.id/international/malaysia-arrests-seven-suspected-links-militant-groups-2/

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PAS making it hard to be Muslim, says Siti Kasim

FMT Reporters | March 6, 2017

The lawyer and activist says PAS is neglecting other aspects of Islam in its push to strengthen the shariah courts' powers.

sitikasim-syariahcourtPETALING JAYA: PAS’s efforts to give wider powers to shariah courts are only making it difficult to be a Muslim in Malaysia, says lawyer Siti Kasim.

Speaking at a talk on the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act in Ipoh last Friday, Siti said the Islamist party put too much emphasis on punishment and neglected other aspects of the religion.

In a report by The Star, the lawyer, who is also an activist, said Islam was a merciful and beautiful religion.

“It’s also supposed to be easy to practise. They (PAS) are making it hard to be a Muslim,” she said.

“As religious people, PAS members should be compassionate.”

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, through a private member’s bill tabled last year, has been pushing to increase the maximum punishment for shariah offences to 30 years’ jail, 100 lashes of the cane and RM100,000 for fines.

Shariah court punishment is currently capped at jail terms not exceeding three years, whipping of not more than six strokes of the cane, or a maximum of RM5,000 for fines.

PAS’s move to amend the act has drawn protest from both sides of the political divide, who fear the plan would ultimately pave the way for the implementation of Islamic capital punishment, or hudud, in Kelantan.

Speaking last week, Siti said Malays should not be afraid to challenge Hadi and his shariah bill, The Star said.

At a counter-rally to a PAS-organised gathering to garner support for the bill, Siti said that Malays were the most oppressed group in Malaysia.

Speaking to a crowd of about 200 people on Feb 18, she added that the situation would only get worse if PAS’s proposed amendments went through.

“If it’s truly God’s law, I will not go against it. But I know for sure that this is not God’s law, this is Hadi’s law,” she said.

The counter-rally, organised to oppose PAS’s pro-shariah gathering on the same day, was helmed by NGO Bebas.

Full report at:

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/03/06/pas-making-it-hard-to-be-muslim-says-siti-kasim/

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Saudi global peace centre in Malaysia reflects true tolerance of Islam, says KACND chief

6 March 2017

RIYADH: The establishment of a global peace center under the King Salman Center for Global Peace in Malaysia is another of the Kingdom’s contributions to spread the message of Islam and peace, said Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muammar, secretary general of the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND).

During King Salman’s visit to Malaysia, both countries agreed to establish the center in coordination with the Saudi Ministry of Defense, the Center for Security and Defense at the Malaysian Ministry of Defense, the Malaysian University of Islamic Sciences and the Makkah-based Muslim World League (MWL).

The KACND chief said the center is considered a practical translation of the tolerance of Islam and its permanent call for the spread of peace and coexistence.

King Salman Center for Global Peace will contribute to unifying Islamic and global efforts to spread stability in the region, which has suffered much from wars and terrorism, he said.

The Kingdom, led by King Salman, and resting on its religious, political and economic positions in the hearts of Muslims, has never spared any efforts in undertaking its historic role and realizing cooperation and fraternity between Islamic countries, and preserving their security and stability, he said.

The Islamic world needs to unify their ranks, renounce extremism and terrorism, and clarify the true image of Islam. Muslims are advocates of peace, love and coexistence, he pointed out.

In a related development, a group of scholars in Egypt expressed appreciation for King Salman’s call for dialogue between religions and cultures during his recent visit to Indonesia.

Full report at:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1063921/saudi-arabia

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Mideast

 

Iranian Sunni Bloc Angered by MP Who ‘Insulted’ Prophet Mohammed’s Companions

5 March 2017

The Ahlus Sunnah Iranian parliamentary bloc has demanded an investigation into MP Javad Karimi Ghoddousi’s alleged insults of the companions of Prophet Mohammed.

In a letter the bloc submitted to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on Saturday, the bloc voiced anger of Ghoddousi’s statements made on Friday “insulting” the four successors of Prophet Mohammed and making “false claims” about Sunnis, the Iranian Labor News Agency reported.

The bloc voiced the importance of investigating Ghoddousi, who is a representative of Mashhad, over the “insults and fabrications” made.

According to semi-official sources, there are between 10 and 20 percent of Sunnis in the country, which has a total population of 79 million.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/05/Iranian-Sunni-bloc-angered-by-MP-who-insulted-Prophet-Mohammed-s-companions.html

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Al-Qaeda Receives New Saudi Arms Cargo in Southern Yemen

Mar 05, 2017

France 24 news channel quoted local Yemeni sources as saying that a truck carrying a large number of weapons and ammunition moved to the Lodar region in Abyan province and delivered its cargo to al-Qaeda.

According to the sources, the truck was loaded in one of the Saudi-led coalition bases in Ma'arib province and sent to the Northern parts of Abyan province.

The al-Qaeda-affiliated Ansar al-Shari'ah terrorist group received the cargo of weapons and ammunition, according to the report.

Earlier this week, a Yemeni intelligence source disclosed Saudi Arabia's attempts to reinvigorate al-Qaeda terrorist group in Abyan province through excessive arms shipments and aids.

"The al-Qaeda terrorists have received a cargo of weapons sent by the Saudi mercenaries stationed in Ma'arib, near Akad heights in Lodar city of Abyan province," the source told FNA on Tuesday.

According to the Yemeni activists in the Southern parts of the country, the forces loyal to General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar (fugitive president Mansour Hadi's deputy commander of armed forces) have sent the arms to al-Qaeda after the terrorist group's recent defeats in different cities of Abyan province, the source added.

The al-Qaeda terrorist group is fighting against the Yemeni army and popular forces in Yemen, while multiple reports and documents show that the terrorists are operating for the Saudi army after working out a deal last year.

Local sources in Yemen disclosed earlier this month that several members of the al-Qaeda terrorist group, including a senior commander, have been killed in an ambush operation of the Yemeni army and popular forces in Ta'iz province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951215001470

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Erdogan compares German behaviour with Nazi period

Mar 6, 2017

ISTANBUL/ANKARA - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany on Sunday of "fascist actions" reminiscent of Nazi times in a growing row over the cancellation of political rallies aimed at drumming up support for him among the 1.5 million Turks living in Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's office had no immediate comment on the remarks but the deputy leader of her Christian Democratic Union party said the Turkish president was "reacting like a wilful child that cannot have his way".

German authorities withdrew permission last week for two rallies by Turkish citizens in German cities, at which Turkish ministers were to urge a "Yes" vote in a referendum next month on granting Erdogan sweeping new presidential powers.

The row has dragged relations between the two NATO partners to a new low. At the same time, public outrage is mounting in Germany over Ankara's arrest of a Turkish-German journalist.

"Germany, you have no relation whatsoever to democracy and you should know that your current actions are no different to those of the Nazi period," Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul. "When we say that, they get disturbed. Why are you disturbed?"

Erdogan says he needs the proposed new powers to tackle Kurdish rebels, Islamist militants and other political enemies in a land with a history of unstable coalition governments. Critics argue a "yes" vote in the April 16 vote would abolish checks and balances already eroded over 15 years of his rule.

Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci, who had one meeting cancelled last week, said he would speak at rallies with Turkish citizens in the cities of Leverkusen and Cologne on Sunday.

Erdogan's harsh words bring to the foreign political arena the heated climate in Turkey since a failed army attempt to topple the president in July. Mass arrests and dismissals in professions from the military to academia, journalism to science, have been heavily criticised in the West.

"We will talk about Germany's actions in the international arena and we will put them to shame in the eyes of the world," Erdogan said.

"We don't want to see their fascist actions," Erdogan he added. "We thought that era was in the past, but apparently it isn't."

Berlin says the meetings were cancelled by local authorities on security grounds.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke on the phone with Merkel on Saturday, in what he called "a good and productive meeting". The two countries' foreign ministers are due to meet this week.

Erdogan's remarks - he is a man admired by many for his rhetorical flourishes - could win support among many of those who see Turkey threatened by militant attacks and abandoned by putative allies. But they may damage economic ties at a time when Turkey faces rising unemployment and inflation.

Ten percent of Turkish exports go to Germany. Germany accounts for about 11 percent of Turkish imports.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Mar-2017/erdogan-compares-german-behaviour-with-nazi-period

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Suspected al Qaeda militants kill six Yemeni troops, civilian: official

Mar 6, 2017

Suspected al Qaeda militants opened fired on a Yemeni military checkpoint in the southern province of Abyan on Sunday, a security official and residents said, killing six troops and a civilian.

The attack comes after the United States launched several days of air strikes against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the global militant group.

Government forces dubbed the "security belt" are deployed in the provinces around the southern port city of Aden which is the base of the country's internationally recognized government.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/05-Mar-2017/suspected-al-qaeda-militants-kill-six-yemeni-troops-civilian-official

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Leader warns of Israel's plan to weaken Iran-Azerbaijan ties

Mar 5, 2017

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says enemies are irked by close relations between Iran and Azerbaijan, warning of the Israeli regime’s efforts to undermine the two countries' mutual ties.

“The evil Zionist regime [of Israel] is making efforts more than all enemies to weaken the brotherly relations between Iran and Azerbaijan,” the Leader said in a meeting with the visiting Azeri President Ilham Aliyev in Tehran on Sunday.

Ayatollah Khamenei added that in response to enemies' plots, Tehran and Baku must try to protect their friendly relations.

The Leader hailed Azerbaijan’s very positive stances on the Islamic Republic, including its position on the Iranian nuclear issue.

“In political circles and communities, the Azeri government has always stood by Iran and these positive stances bring the two countries closer than ever to each other,” Ayatollah Khamenei stated.

During the meeting, which was attended by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Aliyev said Tehran and Baku enjoy cultural, historical and religious commonalities.

Despite efforts to sow discord between Iran and Azerbaijan, the two countries have high-level relations and the enemies bids to undermine such ties would be futile, he added.

The Azeri president said Tehran and Baku signed 20 documents for cooperation in 2016, adding that the volume of trade exchanges showed a 70-percent increase in comparison with the previous year.

Aliyev, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the current volume of trade exchanges and said the two countries are implementing joint projects, including a railway link.

The Iranian and Azeri presidents signed an agreement in Tehran on Sunday to work toward completing their portions of a planned freight railway route from Europe to South Asia and also agreed to link the two countries’ rail systems.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/05/513114/Iran-Azernaijan-Israel-Leader-Ayatollah-Seyyed-Ali-Khamenei-Ilham-Aliyev-Hassan-Rouhani

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Israeli forces kill Palestinian during West Bank raid

Mar 6, 2017

A young Palestinian man has been killed as clashes broke out between Israeli forces and Palestinian youths in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.

The Israeli forces stormed the Qaddura Refugee Camp in central Ramallah in the early hours of Monday and fired tear gas and live ammunition at youths there, al-Aqsa satellite television said.

The TV channel quoted Palestinian sources as saying that the victim was shot dead by Israeli forces at his home in Ramallah.  Photos of the young man’s house were also released, showing traces of blood.

Israeli media, however, alleged that soldiers killed the Palestinian man after he opened fire on them.

According to al-Aqsa, two young Palestinian men were injured when Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition while several others suffered symptoms of tear gas inhalation.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/06/513174/Israel-kills-Palestinian-Ramallah

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Yemeni snipers kill Saudi soldier in retaliatory attack

Mar 5, 2017

Yemeni army soldiers, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, have shot dead a Saudi trooper in the kingdom’s southwestern border region of Jizan in response to Riyadh’s deadly airstrikes against their conflict-stricken country.

Yemeni forces and their allies targeted the Saudi soldier in the al-Moannaq military camp of the region, located 969 kilometers south of the capital, Riyadh, on Sunday afternoon, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Army troops and Popular Committees fighters also launched a number of artillery shells at al-Beit al-Abyaz military base in the same Saudi region, though no immediate report of casualties was available.

Moreover, Yemeni soldiers and allied fighters fired a domestically-manufactured Zelzal-2 (Earthquake-2) missile at a camp belonging to Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Saudi soldiers in the Alab border crossing of Saudi Arabia's southwestern region of Asir.

Separately, Saudi warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes against al-Khawkhah district of Yemen’s western coastal province of Hudaydah, with no immediate word on possible casualties.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/05/513125/Yemeni-snipers-Saudi-soldier-Moannaq-base-Jizan

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Israeli bulldozers, tanks cross into Gaza, level Palestinian lands

Mar 5, 2017

A fleet of Israeli bulldozers and military vehicles has crossed the border fence into the besieged Gaza Strip and flattened private Palestinian lands, as the Tel Aviv regime’s illegal construction activities continue in the occupied Palestinian territories.

At least four Israeli armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers, accompanied by a number of tanks, entered eastern part of the town of Fukhari in Gaza's southern governorate of Khan Yunis during the early hours of Sunday.

According to local sources, the invading convoy, dispatched from Israel's Sofa military post, advanced scores of meters into the Palestinian territory along the separation fence, relying on potential support from the artillery unit being on alert inside the base.

A number of Israeli surveillance aircraft were also reported to have flown at low altitude over the area while the bulldozers were busy leveling the lands. No gunfire or shelling was reported.

The Israeli regime has long been conducting daily incursions into Gaza and in the vicinity of the so-called buffer zone, which lies on both land and sea sides of the strip.

Israeli forces often fire at those Palestinians, who work in the vicinity of the zone. Tel Aviv has not yet made clear the exact demarcation of the designated zone. The practice has in effect devastated much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the besieged coastal enclave.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/05/513111/Israeli-bulldozers--tanks-cross-into-Gaza-level-lands

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Yemeni snipers kill Saudi soldier in retaliatory attack

Mar 05, 2017

Yemeni army soldiers, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, have shot dead a Saudi trooper in the kingdom’s southwestern border region of Jizan in response to Riyadh’s deadly airstrikes against their conflict-stricken country.

Yemeni forces and their allies targeted the Saudi soldier in the al-Moannaq military camp of the region, located 969 kilometers south of the capital, Riyadh, on Sunday afternoon, Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported.

Army troops and Popular Committees fighters also launched a number of artillery shells at al-Beit al-Abyaz military base in the same Saudi region, though no immediate report of casualties was available.

Moreover, Yemeni soldiers and allied fighters fired a domestically-manufactured Zelzal-2 (Earthquake-2) missile at a camp belonging to Saudi-backed militiamen loyal to resigned Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and Saudi soldiers in the Alab border crossing of Saudi Arabia's southwestern region of Asir.

Separately, Saudi warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes against al-Khawkhah district of Yemen’s western coastal province of Hudaydah, with no immediate word on possible casualties.

Full report at:

http://parstoday.com/en/news/middle_east-i47070-yemeni_snipers_kill_saudi_soldier_in_retaliatory_attack

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Israeli bulldozers, tanks cross into Gaza, level Palestinian lands

Mar 5, 2017

A fleet of Israeli bulldozers and military vehicles has crossed the border fence into the besieged Gaza Strip and flattened private Palestinian lands, as the Tel Aviv regime’s illegal construction activities continue in the occupied Palestinian territories.

At least four Israeli armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers, accompanied by a number of tanks, entered eastern part of the town of Fukhari in Gaza's southern governorate of Khan Yunis during the early hours of Sunday.

According to local sources, the invading convoy, dispatched from Israel's Sofa military post, advanced scores of meters into the Palestinian territory along the separation fence, relying on potential support from the artillery unit being on alert inside the base.

A number of Israeli surveillance aircraft were also reported to have flown at low altitude over the area while the bulldozers were busy leveling the lands. No gunfire or shelling was reported.

The Israeli regime has long been conducting daily incursions into Gaza and in the vicinity of the so-called buffer zone, which lies on both land and sea sides of the strip.

Israeli forces often fire at those Palestinians, who work in the vicinity of the zone. Tel Aviv has not yet made clear the exact demarcation of the designated zone. The practice has in effect devastated much of the agricultural and fishing sectors of the besieged coastal enclave.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/05/513111/Israeli-bulldozers--tanks-cross-into-Gaza-level-lands

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Arab World

 

The ISIS Is On Its Last Legs, but Beware Of What Comes Next

Mar 06, 2017

The supreme leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has admitted his terrorist government’s core territory in Iraq is lost. In what he dubbed his “farewell address” al-Baghdadi urged his local fighters to blow themselves up if they were defeated in battle and his foreign fighters to go home and wreak havoc. The latter threat will put almost all major countries, India included, on alert. But this will be more than balanced by the sense that the IS is on its last legs.

Few entities have lined up as many powerful enemies as the Islamic State. Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and every sensible world leader has called for their defeat. Even within the Islamic world, at least publicly, all governments have treated it as a political and theological heresy. The IS has acted deliberately as an outlier in the international system. It was the anti-nation state, driven by an apocalyptic version of Islam, using barbaric governance practices and openly promoting terrorism across the world. The surprise has been how long it has taken the international community to destroy this obvious threat. The deep divisions among West Asia’s regional powers – and the reluctance of the United States to take a leadership role – are among the main reasons for IS’s survival these past few years.

Over the past year, the IS’s fortunes have turned. On the military side, it faces two separate assaults: a Russia-backed offensive in Syria and a US-backed Iraqi assault on its east, with Iran providing ballast to both actions. Its finances have also suffered thanks to the fall in oil prices. The steady stream of foreign fighters has become intermittent as countries, most notably Turkey, have tightened their borders. But the drawn-out battle for the Iraqi city of Mosul is a reminder that the IS remains a formidable fighting force and it could be many months before its government will fall.

However, it is important to recognise that the sense of marginalisation among Sunni Arabs will remain, especially if non-Sunni and non-secular regimes come back to power in Iraq and Syria. The IS has already made plans to survive by disappearing into the Iraqi-Syrian hinterland. More importantly, the alienation and anger it represents will remain alive on the Internet and “lone wolf” terrorism will continue for the foreseeable future. Terror analysts have also noted that Al Qaeda, quietly but surely, has begun to reassert itself in the areas where the IS has been forced out of. Al-Baghdadi’s farewell address is welcome. But a new version of the IS leader will emerge if the broader problems afflicting West Asia are not addressed.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/editorials/the-is-is-on-its-last-legs-but-beware-of-what-comes-next/story-HNzx9yzlX92hESW7aK5LiI.html

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Aleppo: 30 ISIL Terrorists, Including Senior Foreign Commanders, Killed in Syrian Army Operation

Mar 06, 2017

The army soldiers engaged in non-stop clashes with the ISIL terrorists and pushed them back from the settlements of Sabha Salmah, Tabareh Kalash and Abu Hanaya, killing 30 terrorists, including ISIL's emirs of execution Khalaf al-Hossein and Abu Zeid Tunisi (from Tunisia) and the Australian Commander of ISIL's Ansar group, Abu Obeideh Osratliayee.

On Sunday, the Syrian pro-government forces deployed in their positions in Qasr al-Hadleh, Tal Ma'ez and al-Attawiyeh stormed ISIL's defense lines in the towns of Samiyeh, Khirbet Ashini and al-Saqiyeh, driving terrorists out of the three towns.

Army reports said the ISIL suffered tens of casualties in the attack.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951216000379

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IS hits back against army’s Aleppo advances, kills 15 in twin suicide attacks

Mar 6, 2017

MOSUL/beirut - Tens of thousands of civilians have fled offensives against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, where the jihadists are battling to keep what remains of their territory, the UN said Sunday.

IS overran large areas of both countries in 2014, declaring a "caliphate" in territory it controlled, but the jihadist group has since lost ground to Iraqi forces and faced advances from different groups in Syria.

Amid intense fighting in recent days, the thousands of displaced have been seen arriving in areas outside IS control, many hungry and terrified after years under jihadist rule. In Iraq, the offensive by US-backed Iraqi forces to retake west Mosul from IS has displaced more than 45,000 people in little more than a week, the UN migration agency said.

In neighbouring Syria, more than 26,000 people have been forced to flee fighting in the country's north in the same period from February 25, UN humanitarian agency OCHA said. Before the battle for Mosul was launched in October, a million-plus civilians were thought to still live inside Iraq's second city, which is IS's last major bastion in the country.

Iraqi forces backed by US air strikes in January retook the eastern side of the city, which is divided by the river Tigris, before setting their sights on its smaller but more densely populated west.

They launched a major push to recapture west Mosul from IS on February 19, retaking the airport and then pushing up into the city from the south.

Families escaping the battle for west Mosul have arrived in droves at sites for the displaced in the past week, the International Organization for Migration said.

On Saturday, Iraq's minister of displacement and migration criticised UN-led efforts to aid those displaced by the fighting, while the UN said that such assistance is the "top priority".

More than 200,000 are currently displaced as a result of the Mosul operation, while more fled but later returned to their homes, according to the IOM.

Meanwhile, twin Islamic State group suicide attacks killed 15 people in Syria's northern province of Aleppo, where the jihadists have faced simultaneous assaults in recent weeks, a monitor said on Sunday.

One attacker detonated a car bomb near the IS-held town of Deir Hafer, killing eight fighters with regime forces late Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

IS claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it "was carried out by fighter Abu Abdullah al-Shami with an explosive-laden vehicle".

Deir Hafer lies on a key road linking Aleppo city to the IS-controlled town of Khafsah, which holds the main station to pump water into Aleppo, and further east to the jihadist group's de facto capital Raqa.

Residents of Aleppo city have been without mains water for 48 days after the jihadists cut the supply.

On Sunday, Russian and regime warplanes bombarded IS positions in support of Syrian troops, which had advanced to nine kilometres (less than six miles) from Khafsah, the Observatory said.

They were just six kilometres from the pumping station, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The United Nations on Sunday said 26,000 people had fled the fighting since late February, while the Observatory said as many as 30,000 had been displaced.

In a second attack, IS said a fighter "detonated his suicide belt" in the rebel-held town of Azaz, also in Aleppo province.

The Observatory said the suicide attack in the town "killed seven fighters and wounded several others, some of them in critical condition".

In January, a massive tanker truck bomb ripped through a market in Azaz, killing 48 people and wounding dozens, the Observatory said.

It was suspected that IS was behind that attack.

Syria's conflict broke out in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad, but has escalated into a complex conflict that has killed more than 310,000 people.

Air strikes on the northwestern province of Idlib on Sunday killed six people, including five members of the same family, the Observatory said.

The raids on the town of Kafranbel also wounded 21 people.

In Syria, OCHA said 26,000 people had fled areas where government forces backed by Russian air power have been waging a fierce offensive against IS.

Those areas lie east of the town of Al-Bab, which Turkey-backed rebels seized from IS on February 23 after several months of fighting in another advance on the jihadist group.

The UN agency said the nearly 40,000 people displaced from the town since November fled north to areas controlled by other rebel forces.

Many have sought refuge in areas around Manbij, a town controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

An AFP correspondent in Manbij said that long queues of families were still forming at checkpoints leading to the town on Sunday.

Pick-up trucks full of children and women wearing full black veils were being searched by SDF personnel before being allowed to enter.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said Saturday that 30,000 people had been displaced by the government's offensive on IS.

The push is aimed at IS-held Khafsah, the main station pumping water into Aleppo.

Residents of Syria's second city, under full regime control since December, have been without mains water for 48 days after the jihadists cut the supply.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Mar-2017/thousands-flee-anti-is-offensives-in-iraq-and-syria-twin-suicide-attacks-kill-15

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200k civilians displaced since Mosul operation started: IOM

Mar 6, 2017

A high-profile NGO says more than 200,000 civilians have been displaced since the onset of the operation to liberate the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Takfiri Daesh terrorists.

In a report released Sunday, the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the total number of those displaced from Mosul since October 2016 has surpassed 206,000.

The Iraqi army, backed by allied popular fighters, launched the Mosul liberation battle in mid-October 2016, and managed to claw back the eastern half of the city some 100 days later in January.

Late last month, they began engaging the terrorists in the western side of Mosul, the Daesh terror group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq.

The IOM further said the number included 45,000, who have fled the western sector of Mosul since February to the sites set up for the displaced.

On March 3, the UN refugee agency reported that about 4,000 people are escaping Mosul’s embattled west on a daily basis.

As a strategy to hold onto Mosul, Daesh has been using civilians as human shields to slow Iraqi army advances.

According to the civilians who have managed to flee Mosul, the Takfiri terrorists have resorted to brutal executions or inhuman torture tactics to prevent people from escaping the city or cooperating with government troops.

Second Mosul bridge under army control

On Sunday, Major General Haider al-Maturi of the Federal Police Commandos Division told The Associated Press that the troops were facing the heaviest clashes yet since the start of the push to liberate the western side.

The terrorists sent at least six explosives-laden cars towards the troops, which were all destroyed before reaching them, he noted.

Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC), also told state-run television that the forces were advancing from the south and the southwest toward the heart of Mosul.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/06/513181/Iraq-Mosul-International-Organization-for-Migration

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Syrian Army Wins back Energy-Rich Field in Eastern Homs

Mar 06, 2017

The army troops and resistance forces engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL and drove the terrorists out of Jazal oilfield, inflicting tens of casualties on the militants.

Field sources said pro-government forces are about to reinvigorate security of Palmyra by widening security in areas around the city.  

In relevant developments in the province on Sunday, the army troops engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL terrorists in the Southeastern outskirts of Palmyra and seized back the city's military airport and an area stretching over 2km North of the airport, killing and wounding a number of militants.

Local sources said that the army men then clashed with ISIL terrorists in a region near the wheat silos and continued to advance against the terrorists towards the Northeastern outskirts of Palmyra.

The sources added that simultaneous with ground forces' advances, the Syrian Air Force and the army's artillery and missile units targeted ISIL's positions and concentration centers near the wheat silos and near the two oilfields of al-Sha'er and Jazal Northwest of Palmyra.

Tens of ISIL terrorists were killed and several command posts, positions and military vehicles were destroyed in the attacks.

Damascus and Kremlin both declared on Thursday that the Syrian Army, backed by the Russian Air Force, took back the key city of Palmyra from the ISIL terrorist group.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov stated that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to the commander-in-chief, President Vladimir Putin, that the historic city of Palmyra in Homs province was liberated.

Hours after Moscow declared the liberation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Homs province, the General Command of the Syrian Army also confirmed the report.

The Syrian army forces broke the ISIL defense lines in Palmyra on Wednesday night and entered the ancient city after liberating the Palmyra Triangle and Castle, cutting off the ISIL supply routes towards the historic city.

According to reports, the ISIL terrorists evacuated most parts of the city on Thursday after planting bombs in its houses and roads.

ISIL kicked off a large-scale operation on December 8 with thousands of forces in Homs province to take control of Palmyra that was liberated by the Syrian Army in March 2016.

The ISIL took control over some energy fields and strategic heights and approached Palmyra.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951216000293

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Syrian Army Wins back Energy-Rich Field in Eastern Homs

Mar 06, 2017

The army troops and resistance forces engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL and drove the terrorists out of Jazal oilfield, inflicting tens of casualties on the militants.

Field sources said pro-government forces are about to reinvigorate security of Palmyra by widening security in areas around the city.  

In relevant developments in the province on Sunday, the army troops engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL terrorists in the Southeastern outskirts of Palmyra and seized back the city's military airport and an area stretching over 2km North of the airport, killing and wounding a number of militants.

Local sources said that the army men then clashed with ISIL terrorists in a region near the wheat silos and continued to advance against the terrorists towards the Northeastern outskirts of Palmyra.

The sources added that simultaneous with ground forces' advances, the Syrian Air Force and the army's artillery and missile units targeted ISIL's positions and concentration centers near the wheat silos and near the two oilfields of al-Sha'er and Jazal Northwest of Palmyra.

Tens of ISIL terrorists were killed and several command posts, positions and military vehicles were destroyed in the attacks.

Damascus and Kremlin both declared on Thursday that the Syrian Army, backed by the Russian Air Force, took back the key city of Palmyra from the ISIL terrorist group.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov stated that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to the commander-in-chief, President Vladimir Putin, that the historic city of Palmyra in Homs province was liberated.

Hours after Moscow declared the liberation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Homs province, the General Command of the Syrian Army also confirmed the report.

The Syrian army forces broke the ISIL defense lines in Palmyra on Wednesday night and entered the ancient city after liberating the Palmyra Triangle and Castle, cutting off the ISIL supply routes towards the historic city.

According to reports, the ISIL terrorists evacuated most parts of the city on Thursday after planting bombs in its houses and roads.

ISIL kicked off a large-scale operation on December 8 with thousands of forces in Homs province to take control of Palmyra that was liberated by the Syrian Army in March 2016.

The ISIL took control over some energy fields and strategic heights and approached Palmyra.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951216000293

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Saudi Arabia's Military Base Damaged in Yemen's Zalzal-2 Missile Attack

Mar 06, 2017

Saudi Arabia's Alab military base in Assir province came under Yemen's Zalzal-2 missile attack.

Alab military base sustained heavy losses in Yemen's missile attack.

In a relevant development on Sunday, the Yemeni army and popular forces continued their advances in the Central part of Yemen, killing and injuring tens of ISIL terrorists in fierce clashes in al-Bayda province.

"At least 17 ISIL terrorists have been killed and 20 others have been wounded in tough battle with the Yemeni forces in al-Bayda province," the Arabic-language media outlets quoted informed security sources as saying.

The sources noted that Yemeni army and popular forces killed the 17 ISIL terrorists in Homeh al-Hasm, Leqah, al-Ashash and al-Jamri villages located in al-Qoreishiyeh region.

Also on Saturday, the Yemeni army and popular forces' artillery units targeted the positions of the Saudi-backed militants in Midi and al-Jawf regions.

The Riyadh-hired mercenaries sustained heavy losses in the Yemeni forces' artillery attacks on their military positions in Wadi Harab region of Al-Jawf province.

Meantime, the Yemeni army and popular forces' artillery units also struck the positions of the Saudi-backed militias in the Northern part of Midi desert.

Also on Wednesday, the Yemeni forces targeted and destroyed Saudi Arabia's strategic military base with a Zalzal-2 missile in Najran province in the Southwestern part of the kingdom.

The military positions of the Saudi army in Rajla military base in Najran province were destroyed in Yemen's missile and rocket attacks.

The Yemeni army also fired several Katyusha rockets at Rajla military base.

A video released by the Yemeni army shows the moment the Zalzal-2 missile hits Rajla military base.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951216000432

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Syrian Army Blocks Move of ISIL Reinforcement Forces from North-East of Damascus to Palmyra

Mar 05, 2017

The army troops in Southwestern Homs regions that border the Damascus province traced the movement of tens of ISIL terrorists who had left their positions in al-Qalamoun region in Northeastern Damascus to join their comrades over a 100 miles away to the East in Palmyra that are retreating from the region.

The army units inflicted heavy casualties on the terrorists and drove them back from Southwestern Homs territories, aborting their planned movement.

A field source in Homs province said that ISIL suffered heavy defeats in Palmyra and is now fueling war in al-Mokhram and Jubb al-Jarrah by rocket attacks on villages in the region.

The source added that ISIL also has stormed several military posts of the army in Tal al-Qatari region to cut off the road from al-Salamiyah in Hama to Homs to cover its heavy defeats in Palmyra.

Reports said earlier today that the army soldiers continued to hit ISIL's positions Southeast of the newly-liberated city of Palmyra (Tadmur), capturing the city's military airports with the aerial back up of the country's Air Force.

The army troops engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL terrorists in the Southeastern outskirts of Palmyra and seized back the city's military airport and an area stretching over 2km North of the airport, killing and wounding a number of militants.

Local sources said that the army men then clashed with ISIL terrorists in a region near the wheat silos and continued to advance against the terrorists towards the Northeastern outskirts of Palmyra.

The sources added that simultaneous with ground forces' advances, the Syrian Air Force and the army's artillery and missile units targeted ISIL's positions and concentration centers near the wheat silos and near the two oilfields of al-Sha'er and Jazal Northwest of Palmyra.

Tens of ISIL terrorists were killed and several command posts, positions and military vehicles were destroyed in the attacks.

Damascus and Kremlin both declared on Thursday that the Syrian Army, backed by the Russian Air Force, took back the key city of Palmyra from the ISIL terrorist group.

Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov stated that Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported to the commander-in-chief, President Vladimir Putin, that the historic city of Palmyra in Homs province was liberated.

Hours after Moscow declared the liberation of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Homs province, the General Command of the Syrian Army also confirmed the report.

The Syrian army forces broke the ISIL defense lines in Palmyra on Wednesday night and entered the ancient city after liberating the Palmyra Triangle and Castle, cutting off the ISIL supply routes towards the historic city.

According to reports, the ISIL terrorists evacuated most parts of the city on Thursday after planting bombs in its houses and roads.

ISIL kicked off a large-scale operation on December 8 with thousands of forces in Homs province to take control of Palmyra that was liberated by the Syrian Army in March 2016.

The ISIL took control over some energy fields and strategic heights and approached Palmyra.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951215001571

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Hashd Al-Shaabi Discovers 100 Tons of Military Grade Chemicals in Mosul

Mar 05, 2017

"About 100 tons of chemical substances that the ISIL used to make explosives in Mosul has been confiscated from the terrorist group," Hashd al-Shaabi security center announced.

The large amount of the chemicals have reportedly been discovered in Koukajli region in the Eastern part of Mosul city.

In relevant remarks on Saturday, Iraqi Volunteer Forces Spokesman Ahmad al-Assadi voiced Hashd al-Shaabi's readiness to start fresh military operations to seize back all regions to the West of the city of Mosul in Nineveh province.

"As the grounds have been prepared for regaining control of Tal Afar we (Hashd al-Shaabi) are waiting for Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to determine which military units will take part in the operations in Western Mosul," Al-Assadi told FNA in Baghdad.

He reiterated that the first phase of the Iraqi volunteer forces' operations in regions to the West of Mosul ended after seizing back 113 square kilometers of territories and taking back tens of villages as well as cutting the terrorists' supply routes.

"The Hashd al-Shaabi with all its units and groups has taken all the measures for starting the second part of the sixth phase of military operations to liberate the territories to the West of Mosul which includes the strategic Tal Afar region," al-Assadi added.

He pointed to Hashd al-Shaabi's support for other military forces participating in the Mosul liberation operations, and said, "The Iraqi volunteer forces will continue their support for the Iraqi Federal Police and counterterrorism units in a bid to pave the way for seizing back the remaining regions in Western Mosul."

The first part of the sixth phase of Mosul liberation operation in Western and Eastern flanks of Tal Afar ended with winning back 12 villages, killing 207 ISIL terrorists and freeing 1,200 Iraqi citizens on February 26.

In a relevant development on Friday, the Iraqi military forces continued to advance in Nineveh province and seized back a strategic region in the Western part of Mosul city.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951215001114

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Africa

 

End Ethnicity In Islam, Lagos State Commissioner Urges Muslims

Mar 5, 2017

The Lagos State Commissioner for Home Affairs, Alhaji Abdul-Lateef Hakeem, has called for an end to ethnicity in Islam and enjoined unity among Muslims in the country.

Hakeem gave the advice on Sunday at the turbanning of Alhaji Ghazali Adepoju as the Chief Imam of Iponri Housing Estate Central Mosque, Surulere, Lagos.

Adepoju succeeds the late Alhaji Bisiriyu Sanusi who died three years ago.

The turbanning ceremony was performed by Chief Imam of Lagos, Alhaji Garuba Ibrahim who urged the new Imam to be a symbol of unity among Muslims.

According to the commissioner, the fear of Allah is more important than one’s tribe or ethnic affiliation.

“Some people are dividing Islam into different groups for their selfish interests and this is causing disunity in the religion.

“Allah says we should observe congregational prayers so that the rich will be able to help the poor that is the essence of worshipping together.

“This will also ensure good relationship with one another,” the commissioner said.

Hakeem also urged believers to be functional Muslims by assisting the needy.

The chairman of the occasion, Alhaji Tajudeen Olusi, said that misinterpretation of the religion had led to war in many Islamic countries.

“Countries are waging wars against one another because of lack of understanding of Islam.

“Islam is a religion of peace and we should all work towards achieving this virtue,” he said.

Speaking after his turbanning, the new Imam promised to ensure unity and equity among Muslims in the community.

Highlight of the occasion was the inauguration of a nursery school within the mosque premises.

The ceremony was graced by political and religious leaders, including former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Alhaja  Lateefat Okunnu and Sole Administrator of Surulere Local Government, Mr Sheriff Balogun.

https://www.nigeriatoday.ng/2017/03/end-ethnicity-in-islam-commissioner-urges-muslims/

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Sudan rebels free 127 prisoners captured in fighting

Mar 6, 2017

KHARTOUM -A prominent Sudanese rebel group has released 127 prisoners it had captured in fighting with government forces, most of them soldiers, the military said on Sunday.

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) had captured the prisoners in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, where the group has been fighting Sudanese government forces for years.

The released prisoners include 109 soldiers and 18 civilians, army spokesman Brigadier Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami said in a statement.

"The Sudanese army recognises this as a positive step towards achieving peace in the country," he said.

Ethnic minority rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan have been fighting government forces since 2011, accusing President Omar al-Bashir's Arab-dominated government of politically and economically marginalising the two regions.

Fighting in the two areas and in Darfur have left tens of thousands of people dead and displaced millions.

Khartoum announced a unilateral ceasefire in June 2016 in all three conflict zones, which it extended by six months in January.

Full report at:

http://nation.com.pk/international/06-Mar-2017/sudan-rebels-free-127-prisoners-captured-in-fighting

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Rights groups condemn Jordan executions

Mar 5, 2017

Human rights groups have condemned Jordan's recent execution of 15 people, saying the hanging had been carried out in "secrecy and without transparency."

Samah Hadid, the deputy director of Amnesty International's regional office in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, said the executions on Saturday were "shocking."

"The scale of … mass executions is shocking and it's a big step backwards on human rights protection in Jordan," media outlets quoted Hadid as saying.

Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement, "Whatever image of strength Jordan wishes to project, the death penalty will never deter terror attacks and murder, or make the citizens of Jordan safer."

"Just the terror attacks of the last two years shows that reinstating the death penalty in Jordan has done nothing to reduce the incidents of such violent attacks," Whitson added.

Mohammed Momani, a Jordanian government spokesman, said on Saturday that a total of 15 people had been hanged at dawn in Swaqa Prison.

The spokesman said 10 of the people had links to terrorist groups.

The executed people had reportedly been involved in six different incidents spanning from 2003 to 2016.

Full report at:

http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/03/05/513104/Human-Rights-Watch-Amnesty-Jordan-executions

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India

 

Policeman, 2 militants killed in 15-hr long Tral encounter

Mar 5, 2017

NEW DELHI: A specially trained policeman was martyred and six security personnel, including an army major, were injured in an encounter with militants in Tral area of south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Sunday.

One of the militants was a Hizbul Mujahideen operative identified as Aaquib Bhat, popularly known as Aaquib Maulvi, who was active in the area for the last three years. The other militant, Saif-ul-lah alias Osama, was a Pakistani terrorist working with Jaish-e-Mohammed, official sources said.

A police constable, Manzoor Ahmed Niak of Uri, was also killed after he took on the militants head on during the operation which began at 6 PM last night and continued till 9 AM, officials said.

A holed-up Bhat had called his father in the wee hours of the morning and bid his final goodbye to him, they said. He was a local resident and his ancestral house was at Hyena in Tral area itself.

Security forces had received an input about the presence of two militants in the residence of a carpenter after which police, army and CRPF threw a cordon around it.

The first contact was established with the militants at around 6 PM and after that there was an intermittent exchange of fire.

Tral town, which had shot into prominence because of Hizbul Mujahideen militant+ Burhan Wani, was tense and people had started pouring on to the streets to try and provide an escape for the holed-up militants.

Stones were hurled at the security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations but the situation was brought under control by police and CRPF who chased the mob away, officials said. Strict restrictions were imposed in the area over the movement of people.

During these clashes, some of the miscreants snatched an INSAS rifle of a CRPF official.

An Army Major identified as R Reshi suffered a bullet injury and was rushed to the base hospital where his condition was stated to be out of danger now.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/policeman-martyred-in-encounter-with-militants-in-jammu-and-kashmirs-tral/articleshow/57473690.cms

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As Afghan security worsens, India’s responsibilities just got bigger

Indrani Bagchi

Mar 5, 2017

NEW DELHI: This week's latest terror attacks in Kabul show once again how the Taliban remains Afghanistan's greatest security threat. Condemning the attacks, India said, "We reiterate our resolve to work with Afghanistan to bring perpetrators of terrorist violence to the justice they deserve wherever they may be."

In Washington this week, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar met the new US NSA, HR McMaster on Wednesday, where both discussed Afghanistan and the way forward. Last week in Beijing, Jaishankar found the Chinese eager to talk about Afghanistan as well.

Afghanistan has returned to centrestage of India's foreign and security policy, as two key crises rear their heads - a tottering government of Ashraf Ghani beset by numerous political problems, and secondly, a renewed threat by Taliban which has found fresh oxygen from apparent political endorsement by a new regional bloc, led by Russia and China.

Ghani's government is in trouble, and there is talk in Kabul of a "jirga" that could look for a political alternative, though nobody wants to precipitate a crisis.

Inevitably, political forces within and outside Afghanistan are looking at former president Hamid Karzai, who occupies a growing political space in Kabul at present. In fact, sources said, it was an acknowledgment of Karzai's growing importance that prompted China to reach out to India, given India's close relations with Karzai. In the past few weeks, Islamabad too has tried to re-engage Karzai, a man they had actively opposed when he was president.

Of greater concern to India is the new apparent re-alignment of powers in the region, which could adversely impact India and Afghanistan, while giving an upper hand to the Taliban and their sponsors in Pakistan. While the US has been absorbed in domestic politics, Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan have made common cause by raising the spectre of Daesh/ISIS in Afghanistan, trying to create an opening to begin political negotiations with Taliban as a "friendly force" to keep out Daesh (ISIS). The new informal grouping, all on the wrong side of the US, could use their anti-US positions to make common cause with Taliban.

Questioned, Shaida Abdali, Afghan ambassador to India told TOI, "We should not be repeating the mistakes of the 80s and 90s, to use one set of radical extremists against another." It's a return to the good-terrorists-bad-terrorists narrative, so skillfully played by Pakistan in the region. "We know the Daesh in Afghanistan, like the Taliban, have their roots in Pakistan," Abdali said. "India and Afghanistan have to defuse this and work together with true and sincere allies for genuine peace and cooperation between big powers in the region."

Daesh mainly comprise disaffected TTP cadres and other militants displaced by Pak army's Zarb-e-Azb operations. There are no Arabs in it yet, though some Uzbek militants have been seen. In fact, recent reports point to steady whittling down of their numbers as they are targeted by drones and air attacks.

India was given a seat at the Moscow meeting in February, an afterthought of sorts. The meeting called for Taliban to talk directly with Kabul government and decided to bring Central Asian states into the tent. On the sidelines though, Russia, China and Iran are also talking to the Taliban - China and Iran have maintained ties with the Taliban, Russia, through its forceful presidential envoy, Zamir Kabulov, is pushing the same idea, i.e., try to co-opt some Taliban, while going after the really hardline groups. This is not new - America used to push this idea of the good-Taliban-bad-Taliban, until they discovered that Pakistan's role with the Taliban made that impossible.

The new grouping has significant power in Afghanistan, even China, which has a more mercantilist approach. While China is very sensitive to Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan, it obviously prefers to keep its options open by engaging India. This is not new either - in January 2013, former NSA Shivshankar Menon met the Chinese and Russians in Moscow in a similar initiative, which died later. India's role is more important, in both restraining old allies Russia and Iran from falling for the Pakistan line, as well as working harder with the US to stabilize Afghanistan.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/as-afghan-security-worsens-indias-responsibilities-just-got-bigger/articleshow/57481783.cms

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Pakistan apprehends around 70 fishermen off Gujarat; 3rd case this year

Mar 4, 2017

AHMEDABAD: The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency on Saturday seized 10 to 12 boats with around seventy fishermen on board in the Arabian sea off the Gujarat coast, a fishermen's association said.

"The fishermen who manged to escape informed us that PMSA seized 10 to 12 boats with some 70 fishermen on board," said Manish Lodhari, secretary of National Fishworkers Forum.

The boats were seized near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), he said, adding that these boats were mostly from Okha and Mangrol on Gujarat coast.

Full report at:

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-apprehends-around-70-fishermen-off-gujarat-3rd-case-this-year/articleshow/57467701.cms

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North America

 

Muslim youth door-knock to answer questions about Islam

March 5, 2017

Muslim youth fanned out across Canada on Sunday, knocking on doors and handing out flyers to try to counter misconceptions about Islam at a time when they say fear of their religion is rising.

The initiative had been planned for weeks but happened to fall one day after rallies across Canada by those opposed to a Liberal MP’s Parliamentary motion to condemn Islamophobia, known as M-103.

Qasid Chaudhry of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association Canada braved the cold temperatures with his group in Barrie, Ont., Sunday morning as they knocked on doors and offered to answer neighbours’ questions.

He said that although the youth group does ongoing outreach, this particular initiative is especially important after six Muslim immigrants were shot to death on Jan. 29 at a Quebec City mosque.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions people have been getting about Islam,” Chaudhry said. “We’re trying to give people the idea that (ISIS) is not Islam. It is a religion of peace.”

Chaudhry added that he was born in Canada and he wants his neighbours to understand that although he has Islamic values, he also shares their Canadian values.

He added that the response from neighbours in the Barrie area had so far been “really good.”

“It’s amazing because a lot of times people are afraid Islamophobia is becoming a really big problem,” Chaudhry said. “It makes us feel that people don’t fear Islam, they fear these extremist groups.”

Safwan Choudhry, spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada, told CTV News Channel that he believes it is important for Canadians to meet ordinary Muslims, rather than just hearing from imams.

“It’s an opportunity for Canadians to ask some questions about their faith, to challenge them, to know what exactly about their Canadian identity is important to them and how they reconcile that with being a Muslim,” he added.

Choudhry said outreach is important, because Canadians may not be aware that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association Canada is assisting in the fight against Islamic State radicalization, with their Stop the Crisis campaign.

Choudhry said there’s “no denying” that anti-Muslim sentiment, as well as anti-Semitism, is on the rise in North America and Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada wants to be on the front line of fighting against it.

A Forum Research poll of 1,304 randomly-selected Canadians taken in December found 28 per cent agreed they had “unfavourable” feelings toward Muslim people, while 54 per cent said they had “favourable feelings” and 17 per cent said they “don’t know.”

The number with “unfavourable” feelings toward Muslims was much higher than those with unfavourable views of First Nations (16 per cent), Asians (10 per cent), Jewish people (nine per cent) and black people (eight per cent).

The margin of error for the survey was reported as ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/muslim-youth-door-knock-to-answer-questions-about-islam-1.3311781?autoPlay=true

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Muslim youth group aims to educate Canadians about misconceptions of Islam

March 5, 2017

A Canadian Muslim youth group has launched “Islam Understood,” a campaign looking to dispel misconceptions around their religion.

More than a dozen members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association came together on Sunday to hand out information in Toronto’s downtown core.

“The whole point is very simple. We want Muslim youth – the same youth that took a lead role,that took part in the various de-radicalization effort across Canada to talk to everyday Canadians and help remove misconceptions,” said Safwan Choudhry, spokesperson for Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.

Ahmed Sahi was going door-to-door in the Bloor and Christie neighbourhood and said his messages were well-received.

“The feedback has been incredible,” Sahi said.

“It’s such a kind response and warm response. Everyone wants peace and to get along. We come across several people who really appreciate the message of peace we are spreading.”

David Choi, a resident living in the neighbourhood, said he was happy to have the group knock on his door.

“People are not knowledgeable on things – including myself – I’m not really familiar with Islam,” Choi said.

“If I can get some information, I can learn something about it and we would be more accept[ed].”

Full report at:

http://globalnews.ca/news/3289129/muslim-youth-group-aims-to-educate-canadians-about-misconceptions-of-islam/

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