Displaced Iraqis flee
their homes as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants, in western
Mosul, Iraq March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
Muslim Nations’ Envoy Discuss Online Blasphemy against
Islam in Islamabad
In Rural Canada, Churches That Once Shunned One
another Open Their Hearts to Syrian Refugees
United States Probes Nearly 300 Syrian And Iraqi
Civilians Deaths Due To Airstrikes
Iraqi Forces to Deploy New Tactics in Mosul, Civilians
Pakistan Observes 86th Death Anniversary of Bhagat
Islamabad Administration Stops Abdul Aziz From Staging
Conference At Lal Masjid
‘Pakistan mulling options for Basit’s replacement in
Pakistan rejects US Human rights report as flawed
No visa issued without consulting embassy’s security
Chaudhry Nisar tells new FC recruits they have to
bring peace to Balochistan
Six Russian Troops Killed In IS-Claimed Attack on
Police arrest two more over British parliament attack
Russia, China seek chemical weapons probe in Iraq
Three injured in shooting in northern French city of
Islamic State group claims Chechnya attack: SITE
Vladimir Putin meets French presidential contender
Marine Le Pen in Kremlin
Confusion and fear: British PM Theresa May’s London
The Bible Tells Us So: Concern for Immigrants Is At
the Heart of Faith
Victim’s husband appeals for calm after Wisconsin
UN rights council approves fact-finding mission in
US sanctions firms for transferring technology to
Iran, N. Korea & Syria
Donald Trump administration asked to push for F-16
fighter jets sale to India
Final Push on Syria’s Raqa to Begin ‘In Coming Days’:
Saudi embassy confirms UK attacker had been in Saudi
Syrian Army Wins Back Control of another Town in
Damascus: Army Earns Control of All Lost Areas in
Kurdish Forces Reach Al-Tabaqa Dam in Raqqa
Terrorists' Offensive Warded Off by ISIL Hunters in
UN profoundly concerned by ‘hundreds of casualties’ in
suspected coalition airstrikes in Mosul
Suppress All Militants Opposing Govt and Law, Ghani
Tells ANP Special Forces
Suicide Attacker Blows Himself Up Near Bangladesh
International Airport, No Casualties
Islamic State claims responsibility for Bangladesh
‘Noor has always asked for Balkh, not for himself’:
President Ghani arrives in Mazar-e-Sharif city on
Deadly mosque bombing foiled in North of Afghanistan
Modi Sends Chador to Ajmer Shrine
Delhi Continues To Harp On Terror Mantra
NIA Opposes Aseemanand Bail, Says Has Ample Proof
Hamas Blames Israel for Senior Member Assassination,
Threatens ‘To Act’
MHP Leader Seeks ‘Yes’ Vote to End ‘Global Plot
Israel ignores UN demand against settlements: Diplomat
Gunmen kill Hamas official in Gaza
At least 11 migrants killed in new Aegean tragedy off
Swiss foreign minister warns Turkey against illegal
236 Turkish citizens sought asylum in Greece since
Turkey may not be in great position, but looks worse:
Cairo Suburb Explosion: One Killed, Three Injured, Say
Key events in the life of the ousted Egyptian
president Hosni Mubarak
Malaysia PM to sign pacts worth $5bn during India
visit in April
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
March 24, 2017
Envoys of 21 Muslim countries met in Islamabad to
discuss blasphemous contents against Islam on social media and decided to adopt
a joint strategy to counter it. Pakistan’s interior minister Nisar Ali Khan
hosted a meeting of envoys to thrash a policy to counter online anti-Islam
materials, according to statement by the Interior Ministry.
“There was unanimity among the participants that the
entire Muslim Ummah is united to protect the sanctity and dignity of the
religion and Holy prophet,” it said.
It was decided that a comprehensive strategy paper
encompassing all legal and technical aspects would be circulated by Pakistan’s
Ministry of Foreign Affairs among the ambassadors of the Muslim countries which
they would be sharing with their governments to evolve future plan of action.
It was also decided that a formal reference would be
sent to Secretary General of the Arab League raising the issue of blasphemous
content on social media and how such a tendency had been hurting the sentiments
of the Muslims across the world.
The meeting decided that after response is received
from the government of the Islamic countries, the matter then would be taken up
at the level of UN besides looking into legal options available to follow-up
the matter legally in the courts of the respective countries from where such
content was being generated.
Addressing the Ambassadors, the Interior Minister
pointed out that distortion of religious beliefs and sacrilege of holy
personalities of any religion is intolerable.
He said that no law permits showing disrespect or
distortion of any religion.
Khan said that it was unfortunate that the Muslim
being the biggest victims of terrorism were being portrayed as the
He said that the Islamic Ummah must strive together to
impress upon the international community to shed off Islamophobia.
The Minister said that distortion of any religion is
also another form of terrorism that the international community must
The Interior Minister said that sections of the
western world must get out of double standards about Islam and the Muslims.
“On one hand, they have laws against any kind of
distortion or disrespect towards any religion and on the other hand, the most
revered personalities of Islam are being ridiculed,” he said.
The meeting has one-point agenda to discuss
blasphemous content on social media and to effectively raise voice of the
entire Muslim world against it.
In rural Canada, churches that once shunned one
another open their hearts to Syrian refugees
By Bobby Ross Jr
March 23, 2017
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes Syrian
refugees at Pearson International Airport in December 2015. Photo courtesy of
the Prime Minister’s Office
DAUPHIN, Manitoba (RNS) Ken Yakielashek, a Roman
Catholic and semiretired farmer in the Canadian Prairies, says he remembers
when Christians of varying denominations “wouldn’t talk to one another.”
To Yakielashek, that makes what’s happened in Dauphin
— a rural community 200 miles northwest of the provincial capital of Winnipeg —
all the more remarkable.
A year and a half ago, three churches put aside
theological differences and came together to sponsor the resettlement of three
Syrian refugee families to this town of 8,500.
In the rural Canadian community of Dauphin, Manitoba,
Cordell Lind, left, of the evangelical First Baptist Church and Ron Marlin of
the mainline Dauphin First United Church put aside theological differences to
focus on helping resettle Syrian refugee families. Joining in the effort was
St. Viator’s Catholic Church, a parish of the Archdiocese of Winnipeg. RNS
photo by Bobby Ross Jr.
“We have three different theological outlooks on
things, but they’ve been pushed to the background,” said Ron Marlin, a lay
leader for Dauphin First United Church, a liberal mainline Protestant
“The focus was very much on helping our neighbors in
need,” agreed Cordell Lind, whose wife, the Rev. Lorayln Lind, serves as pastor
for the conservative evangelical First Baptist Church of Dauphin.
In the United States, new President Trump’s effort to
bar refugees from certain Muslim-majority nations deemed terrorism threats —
including Syria — has dominated headlines for weeks.
But here in Canada, the government has welcomed more
than 40,000 men, women and children fleeing Syria’s civil war since Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau’s October 2015 election.
“Canada is doing the right thing by providing refuge
for those so desperately seeking safety,” Trudeau has said.
Back in September 2015, a 3-year-old Syrian boy named
Aylan Kurdi drowned after a 15-foot boat ferrying him to a Greek island
Pictures of the toddler’s lifeless body on a beach
horrified millions around the globe, including Yakielashek, a parish council
member at St. Viator’s Catholic Church in Dauphin.
Yakielashek said he felt a personal connection to the
Syrian refugees because his Polish grandfather “escaped from situations similar
to that in eastern Europe.”
“This isn’t right,” Yakielashek said he told his
parish priest, the Rev. John Legitimas. “Somebody has to do something.”
Legitimas talked to the Rev. Richard Gagnon,
archbishop of Winnipeg, and got approval to look into sponsoring a refugee
Siblings Roqayah and Hussein Alassaf in the Zaatari
Refugee Camp in Jordan before resettling in Canada. Photo courtesy of the
The same boy’s death spurred Dauphin First United
Church to act: “That galvanized us to say, ‘OK, we can’t just write a check and
send it somewhere else,’” said Marlin, a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Meanwhile, First Baptist Church already had
connections to the Middle East and was moving forward with plans to help,
Cordell Lind said.
When the three churches learned of one another’s
efforts, they committed to pool resources and share ideas where they could. The
churches formed the Dauphin Interchurch Refugee Team — “which, by the way, has
the acronym DIRT,” Lind said with a chuckle.
Siblings Hussein and Roqayah Alassaf test out new
donated bicycles at their home in Dauphin, Manitoba, in 2016. Photo courtesy of
While working together, each church maintained its
individual sponsorship of a Syrian family. The refugees — 15 men, women and
children in all, plus a baby born after their arrival — began new lives in
Dauphin a year ago.
Months later, the Arabic-speaking immigrants — still
learning English — told Canadian media that their church sponsors and other
community friends had become like family.
“It feels like home,” Asya Alassaf, one of the Syrian
mothers, told the Winnipeg Free Press.
“It’s good,” said Louai Alassaf, Asya’s husband.
“Mainly, people are very nice.”
But not everyone.
Soon after news broke that the families were coming, a
man made threatening telephone calls saying he hoped Dauphin First United
Church “would burn in hell,” according to local media reports.
Still, most area residents — like the majority of
Canadians in general — have responded positively, said the sponsoring churches’
“It still gives me goose bumps when I think about it,”
Lind said. After picking up one Syrian family at the Winnipeg airport, he said,
“we stopped in a little town called Neepawa for a cup of coffee on the way
home, and everyone in the McDonald’s had to come over to welcome them to
Ukrainian immigrants first settled in Dauphin more
than a century ago, but the community has become much more multicultural in the
last 15 years, Yakielashek said.
“For the most part, the reaction (to the Syrian
refugees) has been welcoming from all walks of life, from doctors to lawyers to
dentists to farmers to accountants to ordinary laborers and teachers,” he said.
Yakielashek’s attitude: “We’ve got lots of land here.
We have lots of opportunities for the country to grow. Why can’t we bring
people in here to contribute? I don’t expect them to have any more or less than
we do, but just a chance at life.”
The three Syrian families that resettled in Dauphin,
Manitoba, gather for a photo at a going-away celebration held for their
interpreter at Riding Mountain National Park. Photo courtesy of Ron Marlin
Not only have the churches helped make life better for
the refugees, but they also have built bridges drawing Dauphin’s Christians
closer together, the representatives said. The Dauphin Interchurch Refugee Team
is making plans to bring more Syrian refugees to town.
To be sure, the days of Christians refusing to
communicate across confessional lines because of theological differences began
to fade long before the refugees’ arrival. And the cooperation on their
absorption didn’t remove the differences that remain.
For example, Marlin said Dauphin First United Church
sees no need to proselytize the refugees — all Muslims.
“It’s not our job to convert them from their lifelong
religion to another,” Marlin said. “It’s our job to support them in the
celebration of their religion and the celebration of their humanity.”
Cordell Lind, on the other hand, said the First
Baptist Church “would love for Mahmoud and Hala (the couple sponsored by the
congregation) to meet Jesus.”
“So we pray for our family, and we pray for the other
families and would be very excited if they did” become Christians, Lind said.
“If they don’t, they will still be our lifelong friends and part of our
March 25, 2017
The US military is investigating whether it was
responsible for the deaths of nearly 300 Syrian and Iraqi civilians in three
different sets of airstrikes this month, a media report said.
Civilian casualties have been alleged in all three
instances, but each situation is different and complex, CNN quoted a US defence
official as saying on Friday.
So far, there is no indication of a breakdown in US
military procedures governing airstrikes, the official said, and the US is not
contemplating a pause in military operations.
The most severe incident involves western Mosul in
The US military is trying to determine if sometime
between March 17 and March 23, bombs dropped in the neighbourhoods of al
Jadidah, al Amel and al Yarmouk by American warplanes resulted in the deaths of
over 200 civilians.
The chairman of Nineveh Provincial Council in Iraq,
Bashar al Kiki, told CNN: “Most of (those) killed are civilians, among them
children and women.”
The Iraqi official demanded an end to military
operations in the area until civilians’ safety can be guaranteed.
The incidents military officials are looking into are
based largely on local reports and social media accounts of the strikes.
While in Syria, the US military has begun a formal
investigation into a March 16 airstrike, where local reports said a mosque was
struck and more than 40 people died.
For days the Pentagon said there were no civilian
casualties in the March 16 incident, even as numerous social media reports
showed images of bodies being carried out of the rubble.
However, the US has not ruled out the possibility that
the Islamic State (IS) terror group was using civilians as human shields, but
the defence official told CNN that there was an urgency to find out if
Washington was responsible.
The Central Command was also reviewing an airstrike
against a school building on Wednesday near Raqqa, Syria.
Local activists have said an airstrike may have killed
more than 30 civilians seeking shelter there. The US was conducting strikes in
the area, the defence official added.
Iraqi forces to deploy new tactics in Mosul, civilians
Iraqi forces are to deploy new tactics in a fresh push
against Islamic State in Mosul, military officials said on Friday, after
advances slowed in the campaign to drive the militants out of their last
stronghold in the country. Iraq’s military is assessing opening up another
front and isolating Mosul’s Old City, where the militants have put up fierce
resistance, a US deputy commanding general for the coalition said. Families are
streaming out of the northern Iraqi city in their thousands each day, headed
for cold, crowded camps or to stay with relatives. Hunger and deadly fighting
are making life unbearable inside.
The US-backed offensive to drive Islamic State out of
Mosul, now in its sixth month, has recaptured most of the city. The entire
eastern side and around half of the west is under Iraqi control. But advances
have stuttered in the last two weeks as fighting enters the narrow alleys of
the Old City, home to the al-Nuri mosque where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate spanning large areas of Iraq and Syria in
2014. The militants have used car bombs, snipers and mortar fire to counter the
offensive, firing from crowded residential areas and complicating the battle
plan especially since troops entered the crowded Old City.
US Army Brigadier General John Richardson, a deputy
commanding general in the coalition, said the solution could lie in a change of
tactics. “They (Iraqi forces) are looking at opening another front to force
ISIS to fight on two directions and isolate the Old City, so when it is time to
go into the old city, potentially they surrender,” he told Reuters. Richardson
said the Iraqi forces could move army units in from the north while other
brigades build up positions around the Old City. “That is going to force ISIS
to fight on two fronts, and I don’t think they have that capability,” he said.
Richardson said it was hard to estimate the number of militants left in the
city, but said the quality of fighter was declining as their ranks were depleted.
An Iraqi defence ministry spokesman, who also spoke of
new tactics, said elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces made some
advances against the militants on Friday. “In the next few days we will
surprise Daesh terrorists by targeting and eliminating them using new plans”
Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told state TV, without elaborating. Rasool said
CTS forces had advanced in tough, building-to-building battles to recapture
areas outside the Old City including al-Yabsat. Islamic State fighters had been
positioning car bombs, and forcing residents to move furniture onto the streets
which the militants were booby-trapping to slow Iraqi advances, he said.
Reuters could not independently verify the new advances by the CTS.
No new advances were reported in the Old City, where
elite Rapid Response forces, an interior ministry unit, and Federal Police are
involved in the fighting. The Federal Police said they were clearing houses and
securing areas that they had already entered. Fighting in the eastern half of
the city ended in January, but in a sign of the challenges still faced there,
security forces killed one suicide bomber before he detonated his explosives.
Police said the bomber had crossed the Tigris from the west.
Islamic State fighters have stationed themselves in
homes belonging to Mosul residents to fire at Iraqi troops, often drawing air
or artillery strikes that have killed civilians.
One police officer said the new tactics would also
involve deploying additional sniper units against Islamic State sharpshooters.
The officer asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of discussing
military tactics. The militants have launched a series of counter-attacks,
sometimes pinning down Iraqi forces on the southern edges of the Old City.
Cloud cover and rain in recent weeks have prevented effective air support,
military officials say. As the battle continues, more civilians are being
killed or displaced. Local officials and residents said on Thursday dozens of
people were buried in collapsed buildings after an air raid against Islamic
State triggered a massive explosion last week.
The US coalition said there was an investigation into
those reports. Outside the city on Friday, hundreds of displaced people trudged
through mud clutching suitcases and bags. One man said that Islamic State
snipers were shooting at fleeing residents, and some had been killed in
explosions. Residents described grim living conditions inside the city, saying
there was no running water or electricity and no food coming in. Khaled Khalil,
a 36-year-old carpenter whose shop was destroyed in fighting, clutched his
three-year-old daughter. “We’ve been on the move since yesterday. We’re very
tired but now we’re safe. Anybody they (Islamic State) catch, they kill. If we
have time, we run,” he said. As many as 600,000 civilians remain in the western
half of Mosul.
Pakistan observes 86th death anniversary of Bhagat
The civil society members and academics in Pakistan
have demanded a public apology from the British Queen for the “unjust killings”
of Indian freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev as the country
marked their 86th death anniversary. The main event was organised by the Bhagat
Singh Memorial Foundation at Lahore’s Fawara Chowk yesterday where the three
freedom fighters were hanged on March 23, 1931. Amid high security, the participants
attended the memorial ceremony and urged the British Queen to visit Shadman
Chowk and tender a public apology for the murder of the trio.
Adopting a resolution, the activists also demanded the
Queen should apologise to India and Pakistan and to the families of the freedom
fighters, besides paying pecuniary compensation for the “unjust killings.” The
civil society members also held a candle light vigil to remember the sacrifices
of the freedom fighters. Some descendants of Bhagat’s family, including Sardar
Hakoomat Singh, Gurjit Dhat, Abhe Singh Sindhu, Kiran Jeet Singh and Sardar
Sukhvendra Singh Sanga delivered telephonic speeches from Canada and India.
“We will not forget the courage and sacrifice of
Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his companion. Singh will be echoed against every
imperialistic regime,” said Abdullah Malik, president of Bhagat Singh
Foundation Pakistan. He criticised the Punjab government for not honouring the
freedom fighters and not renaming Shadman Chowk as Shaheed Bhagat Singh Chowk.
Foundation’s chairman Imtiaz Qureshi said people like
Bhagat and his comrades were born in centuries and their great sacrifice would
always be remembered. On the order of the Lahore High Court, the Lahore police
provided security for the event which had faced threats from “religious
Taran Geet Sing, Amir Sohail and other Sikh students
also spoke on the occasion and paid rich tributes to freedom fighters. The Dyal
Singh Research and Cultural Forum also held a separate function at the Dyal
Singh Auditorium Lahore to pay tributes to the three freedom fighters. Forum’s
director Ehsan Nadeem said the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh lit the candle of
freedom that wiped out British colonialism.
Punjab University’s Dean of Social Sciences Iqbal
Chawla said unlike Gandhi, founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah had
supported Bhagat’s struggle and declared it was legal. “It was Maulana Zafar
Ali Khan who in a poem declared Bhagat Singh a martyr. All this indicated
Muslims’ love for Bhagat Singh and the Sikh community,” he said.
Islamabad administration stops Abdul Aziz from staging
conference at Lal Masjid
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad administration and police
forcibly stopped Shuhada Foundation and Maulana Abdul Aziz from holding a
conference at the Lal Masjid on Friday.
The Shuhada Foundation had announced to hold a
Tahaffuz Namoos-e-Risalat (Protection of the sanctity of the Prophet (PBUH))
conference at the mosque in light of the on-going controversy over alleged
blasphemous content being shared on social media.
However, the Islamabad Capital Territory
Administration (ICT) did not grant permission to the organisers to hold the
event at the mosque and had requested them to cancel it.
However, the organisers were adamant on holding the
conference – even if they did not have the requisite permission.
On Friday morning, the police and administration
locked down all routes leading to and from the mosque.
Roads from Aabpara to Melody were blocked. Anyone,
including pedestrians, motorists, or media were barred from approaching the
With all routes blocked, Aziz announced that they were
postponing their conference till next Friday.
Banned documentary on Lal Masjid cleric screens behind
The cleric said the step was being taken to avoid
violence and clashes with law enforcers. He claimed that police had detained as
many as 40 people who were released after Friday prayers.
The police, however, denied making any ‘formal
Earlier in January, the administration had stopped the
Shuhada Foundation from holding a news conference at the mosque.
Pakistan may replace its top envoy to India, Abdul
Basit, who has completed his three-year tenure in New Delhi.
Basit, the Pakistan High Commissioner to India, was
appointed in March 2014 after he suffered a major disappointment when he was
sure of being appointed Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary but last-minute wheeling
and dealing resulted in the appointment of Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.
He failed again to get favours from the
decisions-makers in Islamabad when last month his junior Tehmina Janjua was
appointed his boss and Foreign Secretary.
The “powerful men” in Islamabad wanted to make history
by appointing a woman as the first foreign secretary of Pakistan.
Reliable sources said Basit in the heat of passions
had thought of resigning. But later decided to stay put, making it clear to his
bosses he would not work in any ‘subordinate’ position to Janjua.
As he completes his tenure, Foreign Office bosses are
unsure how to deal with Basit. Sources said an option could be to let Basit
carry on but the problem is he is considered hawkish by the incumbent
government who hardly fits into the Prime Minister’s policy of “good ties with
Another possibility could be to appoint him to send
him as ambassador or high commissioner to a European capital. The last option
could be to send his replacement to New Delhi and let him come back and then
proceed on a long leave.
Already, name of senior diplomat Sohail Mahmood is
being discussed as possible replacement. He is not the only one as other names
are also being named including one of former spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, the
In his Pakistan Day speech yesterday at the embassy in
New Delhi, Basit said the long-standing unresolved issues of Kashmir must be
resolved as per the “aspirations of Kashmiris”.
Pakistan on Friday rejected as flawed the US State
Department’s Human Rights Report 2016, which has scathingly criticised the
country on account of human rights situation. The US State Department in its
annual report on human rights around the world earlier this month alleged that
Pakistan is involved in “human rights violations” including “poor
implementation and enforcement of laws, and frequent mob violence and vigilante
justice, gender inequality, violence against gender and sexual minorities, and
sectarian violence”, Xinhua news agency reported.
Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman termed the
document as the “so-called Country Reports on HR Practices for 2016”. “As a
matter of principle, we do not recognise validity of unilateral approaches
including reports sitting in judgment of other states. As such, these reports
are invariably inherently flawed and lack objectivity. It comes as no surprise
that as regards Pakistan, the Report is far removed from facts and depicts a
grossly inaccurate and misrepresented picture,” Nafees Zakaria said.
The spokesman told his weekly briefing that Pakistan
remains deeply committed to the promotion and protection of human rights of all
its citizens. “The Government accords high priority to advancing the mutually
reinforcing objectives of development, human rights and democracy for the
people of Pakistan. Many international obligations have been undertaken by
Pakistan besides a number of important domestic initiatives for the promotion and
protection of human rights,” he said when his attention was invited to the US
He further said Pakistan is fully conscious of its
international and national obligations with regard to promotion and protection
of human rights, and the Government remains committed in its resolve to ensure
fundamental rights, prosperity and well-being of all the people of Pakistan.
“International cooperation and constructive dialogue coupled with adherence to
international conventions are the best ways of promoting the common objective
of universal human rights. Countries that are not even party to some of the
core human rights conventions have no standing to question others,” Zakaria
March 25th, 2017
WASHINGTON: Former ambassador to the United States
Husain Haqqani said on Friday that he had consulted both the civil and military
security wings in the embassy before issuing visas to US officials.
A document released to the media earlier on Friday
showed that former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani had authorised Mr Haqqani
to issue year-long visas to US officials without clearance from Islamabad.
Mr Haqqani did not say if he had issued visas without
informing the government but did state that he had consulted security personnel
at the embassy before approving the applications.
“I have consistently said no unauthorised visas were
issued by the embassy in Washington while I was the ambassador,” he wrote in an
email to Dawn.
Haqqani says Gillani’s 2010 letter was ‘essentially
a general executive order’
The former ambassador, like Pakistan Peoples Party
leaders in Pakistan, also said that “the real issue” was “not issuance of visas
to US officials but [Al Qaeda chief] Osama bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan”.
Also read: Haqqani’s article revives tale of OBL raid
He said the document released to the media vindicated
his position on the issue, “including my assertion that the military wing of
the embassy was involved in vetting of visas to the US officials”.
Mr Haqqani advised those “making a mountain out of a
molehill” to stop doing so and “examine institutional failings rather than
blaming an individual unfairly”.
The document leaked — a letter sent to the embassy in
Washington with the signatures of then prime minister’s principal secretary
Nargis Sethi — showed that the authorisation to issue one-year visas to US
officials without consulting Islamabad came from the office of the prime
“The Prime Minister has been pleased to decide that
the Ambassador in Washington will be empowered, with immediate effect, to issue
visas valid up to one year without Embassy having to refer each aforementioned
visa application to the concerned authorities in Pakistan. The Pakistan embassy
in US would issue these visas under intimation to the Prime Minister’s office
in Islamabad,” Ms Sethi wrote.
Although the content of the letter indicated that Mr
Haqqani had the discretion to ignore the normal procedure for issuing officials
visas, he said he did not do so. “No visas were issued without proper procedure
and vetting involving security agencies. Period,” he wrote.
Mr Haqqani said the prime minister Gillani’s July
(14), 2010 letter was “essentially a general executive order” establishing
procedure and authorising the ambassador to issue visas requested by the US
State Department without referral to Islamabad.
“Upon receiving that authorisation, the internal
embassy system was to delegate scrutiny to Defence Attache’s office and
Counsellor representing interior ministry,” he wrote.
The former ambassador said that since the May 2, 2011
US raid that killed Osama in Abbottabad, he had repeatedly asserted that “a) no
unauthorised visas were given and, b) scrutiny process may have changed but
both major intelligence agencies remained involved in issuance of all visas to
Mr Haqqani said he would not get into how, why and
what prime minister Gillani wrote in that letter because “it’s a fake issue”.
“Instead of wasting time on procedures for issuing
visas to officials of an ally and aid donor, Pakistan’s media should do its job
in focusing on how OBL lived in Pakistan for so long.”
Mr Haqqani said that those who were whipping up this
controversy also knew that visas had been issued to US officials under one
procedure or another since 1947 and would continue to be issued.
“All branches of the Pakistan government, civil and
military, maintain close ties with their counterparts in Washington and none
has ever officially objected to US officials travelling to Pakistan,” he added.
In a March 10 article in the Washington Post, Mr
Haqqani said that his ‘connections’ with the Obama administration enabled the
US to target and kill the Al Qaeda leader.
He wrote that the friends he made in the Obama
presidential election campaign team were “able to ask, three years later, as
National Security Council officials, for help in stationing US Special
Operations and intelligence personnel on the ground in Pakistan”.
Explaining how he responded to those requests, the
former ambassador wrote: “I brought the request directly to Pakistan’s civilian
leaders, who approved (and)… these locally stationed Americans proved
invaluable when Obama decided to send in Navy SEAL Team 6 without notifying
His claims started a major controversy in Pakistan
about his and the former PPP government’s role in the US raid. Although
debated repeatedly in parliament and the media, the controversy refuses to go
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan addressed a
Frontier Corps (FC) passing-out parade at Loralai on Saturday, instructing the
new recruits that they would be responsible for bringing peace to Balochistan.
Speaking at the ceremony, the interior minister said:
"You have to bring peace to Balochistan. This is your national duty and
your debt to this land."
"There are some who do not want peace in Pakistan
and Balochistan," Nisar added. "These people do not want our children
to live happy and prosperous lives. Nor do they want our children to receive an
Advising the new recruits, Nisar said, "When you
go back to your regular daily activities then you should ask yourselves who
these culprits are who want to use our youth for bloodshed and what their
agenda is. There are some elements who have been receiving funding from our
enemies and have been living comfortable lives themselves while they use
Balochis as their sacrificial pawns."
The minister added that the new FC recruits also have
the task of destroying religious extremism and that it is up to them to rid the
country of the menace.
Six Russian troops killed in IS-claimed attack on
MAR 25, 2017
Six Russian soldiers were killed in Chechnya Friday
when gunmen tried to storm their base in an attack claimed by the militant
Islamic State (IS) group.
The base belongs to Russia's National Guard, a branch
established last year to defend borders and counter extremism.
It is subordinate directly to President Vladimir Putin
and has bases in the country's North Caucasus regions, including Chechnya.
In a statement, the National Guard said the militants
tried to storm the base in heavy fog at around 2:30 am local time but were
spotted by a group of soldiers who opened fire.
“Six of the attackers were destroyed,” the statement
“During the armed combat, six military were killed and
there are wounded.” None of the insurgents managed to enter the base, the
National Guard said.
Counter-terrorism troops, investigators and explosives
experts are at the scene, it said.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant
communications, said the IS group claimed responsibility for the attack on
The assailants attacked “a military base of the
Russian National Guard close to Naurskaya village in northwestern Groz
Mar 24, 2017
LONDON: British police said they had made two further
significant arrests in the investigation into the attack on London's parliament
and gave the birth name of the man behind the assault as Adrian Russell Ajao.
Britain's top anti-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley,
said police had nine people in custody after the attack on Wednesday which
killed five people including the assailant.
Police had said the man behind the attack was
British-born Muslim covert Khalid Masood, who used several aliases, and that
they were trying to establish if others had directed him.
"Our investigation focuses on understanding his
motivation, his operation and his associates," Rowley said.
"Whilst there is still no evidence of further
threats, you'll understand our determination is to find out if either he acted
totally alone, inspired perhaps by terrorist propaganda, or if others have
encouraged, supported or directed him.
Rowley said police had made two further
"significant" arrests overnight, one in the West Midlands and one in
the north west of the country.
We now have nine people remaining in custody, and one
woman has been released on bail," he said.
Rowley said the attacker, who ploughed down
pedestrians when he sped across Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing an
unarmed policeman, had injured at least 50 people in total. Two are still in a
critical condition, and one person is considered to have life-threatening
Russia and China have proposed that a United Nations
panel investigating chemical weapons use in Syria be extended to Iraq, a
proposal Britain immediately rejected. The two countries raised the prospect of
broadening the scope of the Joint Investigative Mechanism during a council discussion
about the battle of Mosul, where Iraqi forces are fighting Islamic State group
jihadists. Security Council members expressed “unanimous concern” about the
latest information concerning IS’s use of chemical weapons, according to
British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, who chaired the talks.
Russia and China then presented a draft resolution
that “seeks to expand the work of the Joint Investigative Mechanism to Iraq,”
Rycroft said, adding that Britain opposes the measure.
“The UK pointed out that there were many differences
between the situation in Iraq and Syria,” he said. Unlike the Syrian
government, the Iraqi government “is fully cooperating with the OPCW,” Rycroft
added, referring to the intergovernmental Organization for the Prohibition of
Chemical Weapons, which works with the UN to implement the Joint Investigative
“There are no allegations” the Iraqi government is
using chemical weapons, he said. The council took no decision over the draft on
Friday, Rycroft said. He did not indicate whether Russia and China would submit
their resolution to a vote in the future. The dispute highlighted a fundamental
disagreement over Syria between Western countries and Russia.
The Joint Investigative Mechanism — which Moscow
helped establish as a Security Council member — found that the Syrian
government, a Russian ally, had used chemical weapons at least three times. But
in February, Russia and China vetoed a draft resolution that would have
sanctioned the Syrian government for its use of chemical weapons.
The reason for the shooting is unclear. It comes as
France is under a state of emergency after deadly extremist attacks.
Police say three people have been injured in a
shooting in the northern French city of Lille. Witnesses told police that an
unidentified assailant opened fire near a metro station Friday night before
fleeing, according to two Lille police officials.
The officials said one of those shot is a minor, and
none of the injuries is life-threatening. The officials were not authorized to
be publicly named.
Newspaper La Voix du Nord and radio France Bleu Nord
reported that the Lille shooting may have been a settling of scores among local
criminals. While firearms are less common in France than the U.S., gang-related
shootings occur sporadically in poor French neighborhoods.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an
attack on Friday on a Russian military base in Chechnya, according to the SITE
Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist communications. Six attackers
stormed “a military base of the Russian National Guard close to Naurskaya
village in northwestern Grozny in Chechnya,” the IS statement said. “They
clashed with those at the base with light weapons for several hours.”
The statement said all of the assailants died during
the attack, which killed six Russian soldiers.
Russia’s National Guard, established last year, is a
new branch of troops aimed at defending borders and countering extremism.
In a statement, the National Guard said the rebels
tried to storm their base in heavy fog at around 2:30 AM local time but were
spotted by a group of soldiers who opened fire.
Chechnya was the scene of two separatist wars in the
1990s and early 2000s, but the region has been largely calm under the
iron-fisted rule of strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Two National Guard soldiers were killed in a Chechen
village in January during a joint operation with police and special forces in
which four suspected militants also died.
President Vladimir Putin granted an audience to French
far-right party leader Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin on Friday, bestowing a
level of international recognition that has so far eluded her in the countdown
to France’s presidential election. Opinion polls show Le Pen getting through to
the second, decisive round of the French presidential election on May 7 but
then losing to centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron.
Le Pen, who has said she admires Putin, reiterated her
call for a lifting of the European Union’s economic sanctions imposed on Russia
over its role in the Ukraine conflict. “We attach great importance to our
relations with France, but at the same time we try to maintain equal relations
both with the current authorities and with representatives of the opposition,”
said Putin ahead of his talks with Le Pen.
“Of course I know that the election campaign in France
is actively developing,” said Putin. “We do not want to influence events in any
way, but we reserve the right to talk to representatives of all the country’s
political forces, just as our partners in Europe and the United States do.” Le
Pen told reporters after the talks that the aim of her visit to Russia was not
to boost her election chances, though her meeting with Putin is likely to go
down well with her core supporters in France, many of whom admire the Russian
leader’s conservative stance on social and moral issues.
Other French voters, however, may be put off by her
association with a leader widely seen in the West as autocratic. The meeting
also shows that the Kremlin is not shying away from actions that could
influence foreign elections, even after the storm over U.S. intelligence
agencies’ allegations that Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. presidential
election to help Donald Trump win the White House.
Russia has denied trying to influence the U.S. vote,
and has also dismissed allegations that Kremlin-funded media outlets are
spreading “fake news” in an attempt to interfere in the French presidential
race. Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, told reporters on a conference call
that Putin and Le Pen had not discussed the possibility of Russia offering any
financial help to her political party.
Her party took a 9-million-euro loan from a
Moscow-based bank in 2014, and is actively seeking new sources of funding.
In a less-than-slick escape from parliament when her
staff appeared rattled as a lone assailant rampaged just yards away, Prime
Minister Theresa May dashed around a car park and looked lost as she searched
for her ride before escaping. In footage published by The Sun newspaper,
Britain’s prime minister is seen walking towards her car with five members of
her detail around her before picking up the pace and darting left and right in
a moment of uncertainty.
Once at the silver Jaguar, May waits a few seconds for
the door to be opened, although it is unclear if staff were still trying to
unlock the vehicle. A man is seen running towards them a few seconds later
holding a device in his hands.
The car pulls out of its parking spot, approaches a
black Range Rover and moves backwards, nearly completing a three-point turn
before a member of May’s security team, his gun drawn, runs towards the
vehicle, opens the door and the video ends.
Westminster attack, westminster terror attack, london
terror attack, london attack, british parliament attack, Theresa may escape,
Theresa May, British prime minister, British PM, world news, indian express
news Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street the morning
after the terror attack in London, Britain, March 23, 2017. (Source: REUTERS)
Lawmakers had gathered in parliament for May’s weekly
questions session when shortly afterwards the attacker mowed down pedestrians
on the bridge approaching the building before crashing his car and attacking a
police officer, killing a total of four people.
Some commentators have questioned how the assailant,
whose birth name was Adrian Russell Ajao, was able to get so close to
parliament. The Sun newspaper cited sources saying only three unlocked doors
separated Ajao from May. A spokesman at May’s office declined to comment when
contacted by media.
The Bible tells us so: Concern for immigrants is at
the heart of faith
By Roger Vermalen Karban
Migrants recieve bananas, soup, bread and tea before
crossing the Austrian-German border in Achleiten, Austria, across from Passau,
Germany, on Oct. 29, 2015. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Michaela Rehle *Editors:
This photo may only be republished with RNS-KARBAN-OPED, originally transmitted
on March 23, 2017.
(RNS) Concern for the well-being of resident aliens
has always been front and center of the Christian faith, and that should be no
surprise given Christianity’s Jewish roots.
Centuries before Jesus reminded his followers to
welcome strangers as they welcome him (Matthew 25:35), “undocumented
immigrants” were on one of the most oft-repeated lists in the Hebrew
Scriptures: Three groups of people that Yahweh constantly singled out for
special care were, in fact, orphans, widows and resident aliens.
Of all people, Jews had a unique reason to treat such
people with special kindness. “You shall not oppress or wrong a resident alien,
for you were once aliens in the land of Egypt,” as God says in Exodus. Yahweh
is simply reminding the Chosen People of their own salvation history, a history
that included a stay of more than 400 years in someone else’s country.
Our ancestors in the faith always worried about people
who had no “clout,” individuals who couldn’t defend themselves when push came
to shove. Widows — women without a man to support them, as was the custom of
the day — clearly fit this category, as did orphans.
Resident aliens were in the same boat. They were
foreigners, inhabitants in a strange land. Then, as now in many countries, all
three could easily be taken advantage of.
The late Scripture scholar Hans Walter Wolff
frequently reminded us that the Israelite monarchy was a unique institution in
the ancient world. Monarchical governments normally came into existence to
protect the interests of the wealthy and influential. Jewish kings, on the
contrary, were put in power to protect the rights of the poor and downtrodden.
During the biblical period, it was presumed everyone
had a “go’el” (often translated as “redeemer”), a person who would “get you out
of hock” when problems arose. Usually this was a close relative – a father,
brother or son. Or, in some situations, a distant relative, as was the case
with Boaz in the book of Ruth. The king was expected to fulfill this role for
orphans, widows and resident aliens. He was supposed to personally step in and
defend their rights. His door was to be open to them 24/7.
As any serious reader of Scripture knows, it didn’t
take long for many of King David’s successors to put their go’el obligation on
a back burner. Imitating the behavior of their neighboring, pagan kings, they
became notorious for being more concerned for their own needs than for the
needs of their people. They, not the helpless, benefited from their power. It
was left to Yahweh’s prophets to force the issue.
We find a classic case of such a king-prophet
confrontation in I Kings 21. Influenced and aided by his pagan queen, Jezebel,
King Ahab not only steals his neighbor Naboth’s vineyard, but the conniving
couple eventually has him stoned to death. Except for the prophet Elijah, no
one seems to have made a public issue of the atrocity. The narrative of his
stinging encounter with Ahab in the stolen vineyard is one of Scripture’s most
From the days of Deutero-Isaiah, the biblical problem
for those who would persecute an undocumented immigrant is no longer just a
case of looking over their shoulder, fearing an encounter with a government
entity. Now they have to worry about God righting the wrong they’ve inflicted
on these powerless individuals.
One of the last of the scriptural prophets — Malachi —
couldn’t be clearer: “I (Yahweh) will be swift to bear witness … against those
who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against
those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says Yahweh of hosts”
This carries a special obligation for those who would
later claim to be “other Christs,” those who have chosen to carry on the
ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Perhaps many of us don’t understand that
obligation because we don’t understand the meaning of what Jesus says when he
“purifies” the Jerusalem temple in Mark 11:15-17.
In referring to the temple as a “den of thieves,”
Jesus is in fact harking back to Jeremiah 7, a passage in which the prophet
accuses people of replacing concern for the helpless with liturgical worship.
The temple cleansing completely dovetails with Jesus’
constant concern that his followers be committed to caring for others,
especially those with no clout.
“Christ Cleansing the Temple” by artist Bernardino
Mei, circa 1655. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
As I mentioned at the top of this article, Matthew
25:31-46 presents us with Jesus’ well-known Last Judgment narrative. In each
instance, he warns his disciples that they’ll be judged only on what they did
to assist the helpless around them … including the strangers they encounter.
Scholars of early Christianity tell us that practicing
hospitality toward strangers was one of the practices most frequently employed
by first- and second-century disciples of the risen Jesus as they sought to
imitate the Savior in their daily lives.
They didn’t have far to go to find occasions when that
could be accomplished. Though I can’t remember the author or the publication, I
recall once reading an article in my doctoral program with a title that summed
up the original Christian message: “Saved by Practicing Faith, Hope, Love and
Another unknown author — the writer of the letter to
the Hebrews — also reminded his readers of what was at stake: “Do not neglect
to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels
without knowing it.”
We presently live in an environment in which — for
political reasons — fear of undocumented immigrants is frequently stressed.
Though coming into contact with strangers always provokes some anxiety in our
hearts, Jesus assures us that when we encounter such individuals we are really
It’s possible that worrying about the consequences of
coming face-to-face with resident aliens has stopped many of us from
experiencing the risen Jesus in our daily lives, something our ancestors in the
faith believed was an essential element of that faith — no matter in what
country they lived or from what country the aliens came.
As other Christs, they assumed an obligation to be
their go’el. We believers can do no less today.
The husband of one of four people killed in a string
of shootings by a suspect who is Hmong urged community members not to “get
caught up in colors” in reacting to the attack. Nengmy Vang, 45, is accused of
launching a rampage that spanned three northern Wisconsin towns on Wednesday,
killing his wife’s divorce attorney, a police detective and two people at the
bank where his wife worked.
“This person could’ve been any gender, any color, any
religion and they could’ve acted in other ways of violence to make their
point,” Scott Sann wrote in an emotional letter posted on his employer’s
Facebook page. “Don’t get trapped in the details.”
Sann’s wife, Sara Quirt Sann, was the attorney who
died in the attack.
According to the US Census, nearly 50,000 Hmong live
in Wisconsin. Tensions between them and whites in the state’s northern reaches
have occasionally flared, most notably in 2004, when a Hmong hunter fatally
shot six white hunters and wounded two more in northwestern Wisconsin.
The Hmong are mainly from the mountain regions of
Laos, which borders Vietnam on the west. They began immigrating to the U.S. in
the 1970s after the Vietnam War because had had helped the U.S. during the war.
They settled mostly in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
That 2004 shooting of hunters took place hundreds of
miles from the Wausau area. Nothing has emerged so far to suggest the shootings
were motivated by anything more than Vang’s anger toward his wife. The two are
embroiled in a bitter divorce proceeding.
Vang’s brother, Vajloogzeb Vaj, told The Associated
Press that the Hmong population will come together to help the victims’
“I feel sorry for the families,” he said.
Kahm Yang, board president of the Wausau Area Hmong
Association, didn’t return messages. Sann did not respond to phone messages
from the AP.
Investigators have released few details about what
happened during the shooting spree. They haven’t officially identified Vang as
the suspect. A person close to the investigation gave his name to the AP Friday
on condition of anonymity because the person wasn’t authorized to speak. Vang’s
divorce attorney, David Gardner Casey, didn’t return messages Friday.
Police have said that the spree was sparked by a
domestic dispute between Vang and his wife, Naly Vang. Nengmy Vang filed a
petition to divorce her in 2015.
She continued to live in the couple’s home during the
divorce proceeding but he moved to an apartment. Vaj told the AP that his
brother is an avid squirrel and deer hunter but showed signs of being mentally
ill since he and his wife separated. Vaj said he hadn’t spoken with his brother
for weeks and he thinks he’s become a loner. He once hit their mother “like a
crazy person,” Vaj said.
Court records show Nengmy Vang has struggled with debt
as well as marital problems. He’s been sued five times since 2009 by various
lenders seeking thousands of dollars and had his wages garnished three times
while he worked at Foot Locker; Coby Dogs, a Medford restaurant; the Marathon
Cheese Corporation in Marathon City and the Kolbe and Kolbe Millwork Co. in
Wausau. The couple was issued a garnishment notice to repay $9,370 to a credit
union on Tuesday, a day before the shootings.
According to investigators, Nengmy Vang showed up at
the Rothschild bank where his wife worked on Wednesday. It’s unclear what
happened, but he allegedly shot two workers, Dianne Look and Karen Barclay.
Naly Vang managed to escape unhurt, Vaj said.
Nengmy Vang then traveled to nearby Schofield, where
he shot Sara Quirt Sann in her office. He then barricaded himself in his Weston
apartment, fatally shooting Everest Metro Police detective Jason Weiland as
Weiland was setting up a perimeter. A standoff with police ended when officers
shot Nengmy Vang and took him into custody.
Vaj said his brother called him from inside his
apartment after he was shot to say goodbye. Vaj said he was so shocked that “I
almost got a heart attack.”
Vaj said doctors have told him his brother is expected
to survive his wounds.
The UN-backed Human Rights Council has approved a
resolution by consensus to “dispatch urgently” an international fact-finding
mission to Myanmar to probe alleged abuses by military and security forces,
particularly in Rakhine state.
The 47-member body threw its weight Friday behind
existing efforts to investigate alleged abuses including torture, rape,
arbitrary killings and forced displacement of the country’s Muslim Rohingya
minority. Myanmar Ambassador Htin Lynn said a domestic investigative panel is already
looking into the alleged crimes, and any council action should not worsen “an
already complicated situation.”
The resolution says the council’s president will
appoint the independent mission, which is to provide an update on its work in
the council’s autumn session. Some countries including China, India and Cuba
dissociated themselves from the European Union-backed resolution.
WASHINGTON: The United States has imposed sanctions on
30 foreign companies or individuals for transferring sensitive technology to
Iran for its missile programme or for violating export controls on Iran, North
Korea and Syria, the State Department said on Friday.
Eleven companies or individuals from China, North
Korea or the United Arab Emirates were sanctioned for technology transfers that
could boost Tehran’s ballistic missile programme, the State Department said in
Nineteen entities or individuals were sanctioned for
other violations under the Iran, North Korea and Syria Non-proliferation Act,
They are believed to have transferred or acquired
sensitive technology that could contribute to development of weapons of mass
destruction.“These determinations underscore that the United States continues
to regularly impose sanctions under existing authorities, as warranted, against
entities and individuals that engage in proliferation activity with Iran, North
Korea, and Syria,” the State Department statement said in a statement.
The companies included under the newly imposed
sanctions are based in China, North Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.
The State Department said that 11 of the entities and
people contribute to activity that “serves to escalate regional conflicts
further and poses a significant threat to regional security.”
Eleven entities and individuals were sanctioned for
transfers of sensitive items to Iran’s ballistic missile programme.
The government also implemented sanctions on 19
companies or people found to have “transferred to, or acquired from, Iran,
North Korea, or Syria goods, services, or technology listed on multilateral
export control lists, or on US national control lists, or other items that
could make a material contribution to the development of weapons of mass
destruction or missile proliferation.”
Most of the companies listed engage in export
Two top Senators have urged the Trump administration
to push for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to India to build its capability to
counter security threats and balance China’s growing military power in the
Pacific. Senators Mark Warner from Virginia and John Cornyn from Texa in a
joint letter to US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex
Tillerson said, the Trump administration must make the fighter jet acquisition
a priority during initial bilateral discussions with India.
India has launched an effort to expand its combat
aircraft fleet and the competition has reportedly narrowed down to Lockheed’s
F-16 and Saab’s Gripen.
Noting that the last F-16 for the US Air Force rolled
off the production line in Fort Worth in 1999, the two Senators said India
remains the only major F-16 prospect customer.
“A primary factor in India’s decision will be
compliance with Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative, which will
require establishing some level of local production capacity,” Warner and Cornyn
“Given the strategic significance of India selecting a
US aircraft as the mainstay for its future Air Force and the potential for a
decision this year, we ask that the administration make the fighter acquisition
a priority during initial bilateral discussions,” they said.
Warner, who is a Democrat and Cornyn from the
Republican Party are the co-chairs of the influential Senate India caucus, the
only country specific caucus in the US Senate.
“We urge you to weigh in forcefully with the White House
on the strategic significance of this deal, both to America’s defence
industrial base and to our growing security partnership with India,” said the
letter dated March 23.
Making a strong case for the sale of F-16s to India,
the two Senators said this would represent a historic win for America that will
deepen the US-India strategic defence relationship and cement cooperation
between our two countries for decades to come.
“It would increase interoperability with a key partner
and dominant power in South Asia, build India’s capability to counter threat
from the north, and balance China’s growing military capability in the
Pacific,” they said.
India, they said, increasingly serves as an integral
partner in the United States’ security architecture in the volatile South Asia
region, helping to protect our joint interests and deter common threats, and
has emerged as a critical trading partner, they noted.
As such “it is in our national interest to work with
India to progress democratic principles through regional security partnership
and burden sharing,” they said.
“To this end, we support the co-production of our
legacy F-16 aircraft in India to help sustain the United States’ current fleet
of aircraft and aid a critical Indian security need with a proven American
product,” Cornyn and Warner wrote.
The competition for the fighter jets, they wrote,
presents an opportunity to solidify and strengthen the significant gains made
in the bilateral US-India defence relationship over the two previous
administrations, they said.
Final push on Syria’s Raqa to begin ‘in coming days’:
The international coalition battling the Islamic State
group in its Syrian stronghold of Raqa will begin a final push on the city in
the coming days, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said today.
“Today, we can say that Raqa is surrounded and the
battle will begin in the coming days,” he told France’s CNEWS television.
Raqa is one of two major strongholds of the IS along
with the Iraqi city of Mosul, which Iraqi forces in October launched a massive
operation to recapture.
“This will be a very hard battle but essential,” Le
IS is under pressure from several directions in
northern Syria, with Russia supporting its Syrian ally President Bashar
al-Assad on one front and Turkey providing air cover for rebel groups battling
the jihadists on another.
The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London says that
the Westminster attacker was in the country three times and taught English
A statement released late Friday says Khalid Masood
taught English in Saudi Arabia from November 2005 to November 2006 and again
from April 2008 to April 2009.
The embassy says he had a work visa. It says he
returned for six days in March 2015.
The embassy says he wasn't tracked by Saudi security
services and didn't have a criminal record there.
Before taking the name Masood, he was known as Adrian
Elms. He was known for having a violent temper in England and had criminal
Masood drove an SUV into pedestrians on Westminster
Bridge before fatally stabbing a policeman. He was shot dead.
Syrian Army Wins Back Control of Another Town in
Sat Mar 25, 2017
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army regained control of
another town during the military operations against the ISIL terrorists in
The army forces engaged in clashes with the ISIL
militants, and seized back control of Rasma al-Faleh town in the Eastern parts
of the strategic city of Deir Hafer.
The Syrian army forces on Friday completed their siege
over Deir Hafer, the ISIL's most important base in Eastern Aleppo.
The army units started massive and heavy attacks
against the terrorists in Deir Hafer region from the two Northern and Southern
directions, and liberated the two towns of Jeni al-Salameh and Um al-Mara near
Um Adaseh and Khalileh towns just to the East of Deir Hafer.
The ISIL is now fully besieged by the government
forces from four sides in Deir Hafer after the army liberated Um Tineh village
- just to the North-East of Deir Hafer - and the nearby areas.
Also, all supply routes of the terrorist group in the
region have been blocked.
A military source said that the Syrian soldiers are on
the verge of a complete victory and will soon capture Deir Hafer as ISIL's
defense lines are collapsing in the city.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian troops fended off a series of
offensives by al-Nusra (Fatah al-Sham) Front terrorists to break the siege on
their comrades in al-Ma'amel (plants) region and regained control of all
occupied areas in Northern Jobar.
The Syrian army units smashed the last remaining bases
and gathering centers of the terrorists in al-Ma'amel region in Northern Jobar
and won back control of all points and blocks occupied by the terrorists
between Jobar and al-Qaboun regions as well as the textile and weaving
The victories were gained after heavy clashes with the
The army's artillery and missile units also targeted
the militants' positions near the textile and weaving factories with heavy
On Friday, the Syrian soldiers had captured
terrorist-occupied regions in Jobar district of Eastern Damascus and damaged an
operation room of the militants.
The army troops won back control of a textile plant in
the Northern parts of Jobar district after heavy clashes with al-Nusra Front
Concurrently, the Syrian air force and artillery units
targeted the terrorists' positions with heavy strikes.
A field source also reported that the Syrian fighter jets
pounded the operations room of Faylaq al-Rahman terrorist group in Jobar,
killing all the militants inside.
Meantime, the Syrian soldiers targeted a terrorist
base in Sadkoub region, inflicting at least 10 casualties on the militants.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The predominantly Kurdish Syrian
Democratic Forces (SDF), fighting the ISIL within the framework of the
Euphrates Rage Operation, reached al-Tabaqa dam and won control of several
Jeihan Sheikh Ahmad, the Euphrates Rage Operation
spokesman, said that the SDF forces arrived in the strategic dam after heavy
clashes with the ISIL militants in the Western parts of Raqqa.
They continued to advance in the region and gained
control of 8 villages and a large number of farms in the Western coasts of the
Euphrates river after killing and wounding tens of ISIL terrorists.
Other sources also reported that the SDF forces have
started offensives against the ISIL in al-Tabaqa city.
Meantime, Talal Salou, the SDF forces' spokesman, said
that the army forces can also join the operations to liberate Raqqa.
On Friday, the SDF had managed to take control of
The Kurdish forces engaged in clashes with the ISIL
terrorists in Abu Khashab region, and gained control of Moshirefeh al-Shahanat,
al-Qasaneh and Farsat Abu Ismail in Eastern Raqqa.
Meantime, the SDF forces besieged one of the most
important ISIL bases in al-Karameh town.
Also, on the third day of the military operations to
liberate al-Tabaqa dam (Euphrates dam), the SDF continued advances and won control
of a large area of lands.
According to local sources, they were advancing
towards al-Tabaqa town from the South-West and North-East on Friday.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army's special forces known
as 'ISIL Hunters' thwarted an assault launched by the terrorist group on their
positions North of the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmur) in Homs province.
The ISIL hunters, trained by the Russian military
experts, killed 24 militants and wounded 12 others in al-Mazar Mountain and the
nearby energy fields in Homs province.
The Syrian army has intensified its offensives against
the ISIL and al-Nusra Front terrorists in Homs in recent days, killing and
wounding tens of militants.
Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian army forces
targeted one of al-Nusra Front command centers in al-Qantou village in Northern
Homs, killing and wounding a large number of terrorists inside.
The army units also launched heavy attacks against the
terrorists' positions in Um Sharsouhm, al-Qajar and al-Bayekeh villages and
al-Taloul al-Hamar region in Northern Homs, inflicting losses on the militants
and smashing their military equipment.
Meantime, the army soldiers repulsed the terrorists'
offensive by bomb-laden cars against a military position in the Eastern parts
of al-Mushrefeh village, and blew them up before they could reach their target.
Also, the government troops launched strikes against
the ISIL positions and moves in the Eastern parts of Job al-Jarrah town in
Eastern Homs, killing all members of a terrorist group and smashing their
The Syrian army forces intensified military operations
against al-Nusra Front in the Northern parts of Jobar and the Eastern Ghouta of
Damascus, blocking their moves in the region.
The army units pounded the moves and supply routes of
al-Nusra Front deep inside Eastern Ghouta towards Jobar district, inflicting
heavy casualties on the terrorists and destroying several military vehicles.
Also, a military source said that the Syrian soldiers
continue their military operations in several fronts in Jobar, and added that
the army has inflicted tens of casualties and injuries on the militants in its
attacks on their moves and supply routes in the region.
Also on Friday, Syrian Army troops engaged in fierce
clashes with the ISIL near al-Seen military airport in Northeastern Damascus,
pushing them back from more positions.
The army troops regained control of the Eastern
Battalion and Western Battalion regions and warehouse 559 near the al-Seen
airbase in Eastern al-Qalamoun region on Friday.
All the regions were cleansed of terrorists after
Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian army troops
captured terrorist-occupied regions in Jobar district of Eastern Damascus and
damaged an operation room of the militants.
A field source also reported that the Syrian fighter
jets pounded the operations room of Faylaq al-Rahman terrorist group in Jobar,
killing all the militants inside.
The Syrian army warded off an al-Nusra Front offensive
on several towns in Northern Hama and regained control of the recently-lost
areas in a pursuing counterattack.
The army units launched a rapid counterattack on
Al-Nusra gathering centers and moves in Northern Hama, killing a large number
of militants and destroying 3 tanks and 5 armored vehicles.
The Syrian soldiers also, in special operations,
targeted the terrorists' hideouts and moves near several towns in Northern Hama
and destroyed their military convoys.
Meantime, they could liberate the two recently-lost
towns of Khattab and Azreh from Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa terrorists.
The government troops also managed to fortify their
defense lines against the terrorists' attacks.
Also, the Syrian and Russian fighter jets launched
airstrikes against the al-Nusra terrorists' positions in Maardas and Souran.
Meanwhile, the army smashed the militants' weapons and
ammunitions depot in Kafr Zita, causing a big explosion that killed tens of
Also on Friday, the Syrian army forces continued
military operations against al-Nusra Front terrorists in Northern Hama, and
gained control over a strategic village.
The army units engaged in heavy clashes with al-Nusra
terrorists on Friday, and seized back control of Kokab village in Eastern
Meantime, the residents of Kafr Naboudeh town in
Northwestern Hama blocked the roads leading to the town, preventing the
terrorists stationed in Kafr Naboudeh from launching attacks against the army
positions in the Northern parts of Hama.
Two important positions of ISIL terrorists in the
Southwestern parts of Deir Ezzur city were destroyed in the Syrian army's
military operations which also killed a number of militants.
The Syrian troops launched massive missile and
artillery attacks on ISIL bases in the Southwestern parts of Regiment 137
region in Southwestern Deir Ezzur.
The offensive left several terrorists dead and wounded
and smashed two of their positions.
The army forces also targeted the ISIL moves on the
road leading to al-Tim oilfield in Southern Deir Ezzur, inflicting 5 losses on
the terrorists and wounding several others.
The Syrian army forces completed their siege over the
strategic city of Deir Hafer, the ISIL's most important base in Eastern Aleppo.
The predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces
(SDF) continued to advance against the ISIL to liberate Raqqa city and managed
to take control of three villages.
Also, on the third day of the military operations to
liberate al-Tabaqa dam (Euphrates dam), the SDF continued advances and won
control of a large area of lands.
According to local sources, they are now advancing
towards al-Tabaqa town and the Euphrates dam from the South-West and
25 Mar, 2017
The UN has urged all parties to the anti-terrorist
operation in Mosul to refrain from “indiscriminate use of firepower” after
reports by eyewitnesses said over a hundred civilians were either killed or
buried under rubble in an alleged coalition bombing raid.
“The United Nations is profoundly concerned by the
reports yesterday of a high number of civilian casualties in al-Jadida in Iraq,
a densely populated neighborhood in Mosul. Initial reports indicate hundreds of
casualties,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary General, told a
press conference on Friday.
Since the release of the video of an aftermath of the airstrike
on Friday morning, showing scores of dead bodies being pulled up from a
completely destroyed house, Pentagon announced it is “looking into” the report
of it being a result of a coalition sortie.
“We are aware of reports on airstrikes in Mosul resulting
in civilian casualties,” Eric Phahon, Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement,
cited by Fox News, acknowledging that coalition jets had carried out recent
airstrikes in Mosul.
Earlier, the Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) for
Operation Inherent Resolve said in an email to RT that the process of examining
the allegations will “take time” as conflicting reports put the airstrike
between March 17 and March 23.
Meanwhile, the US-led coalition has “opened a formal
civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation,” as cited by AP.
Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, is
“stunned by the horrendous loss of life,” Haq said, conveying Grande’s message
of condolences. Grande also called on warring parties engaged in hostilities in
Iraq to stick to international humanitarian law.
“Parties to the conflict – all parties – are obliged
to do everything possible to protect civilians,” she stressed, denouncing the
jihadists’ tactics of using civilians as cover.
Grande has in particular cautioned against sweeping
bombing raids which ultimately result in a heavy civilian death toll.
“This means that combatants cannot use people as human
shields and cannot imperil lives through indiscriminate use of firepower,” she
was cited as saying.
While no side in the conflict has officially claimed
responsibility for the alleged bombing, unnamed US officials told Los Angeles
Times the preliminary data indicates that such a heavy impact from a reported
strike might have been a result of a jet hitting a truck, filled with fuel or
Up to 200 civilians have been killed in the airstrike
in the embattled western Mosul, where Iraqi troops backed by the US-led
coalitions are pushing hard to flush out Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS,
The large-scale offensive that saw the eastern part of
the city being recaptured by Iraqi forces has been dragging on after reaching
Mosul’s Old City, which includes the heart of the so-called Islamic caliphate,
proclaimed by IS in the al-Nuri mosque back in 2014. The narrow alleys of the
historic center hinder movement of Iraqi troops and prevent its advance further
into the western part of the beleaguered city.
On Friday, the spokesman for the US-led coalition, US
Army Brigadier General John Richardson, announced that in light of the latest
impediment, the Iraqi forces will be altering their tactics and aiming to
encircling the Old City from two sides forcing, the militants to surrender.
“They [Iraqi forces] are looking at opening another
front to force ISIS to fight in two directions and isolate the Old City, so
when it is time to go into the old city, potentially they surrender,”
Richardson said, as cited by Reuters.
Iraqi military commanders hope that the new approach
will bring rewards in the immediate future.
“In the next few days we will surprise Daesh
terrorists by targeting and eliminating them using new plans,” Iraqi army
spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said.
Suppress all militants opposing govt and law, Ghani
tells ANP Special Forces
Sat Mar 25 2017
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has said there is no
ambiguity in the fight against terrorism as he instructed the Special Forces of
the Afghan National Police (ANP) forces to suppress all militants opposing the
government and law.
He made the remarks during a meeting with the ANP
Special Forces Commanders, Officers, and Personnel.
In regards to the recommendations of the ANP Special
Forces commander Syed Mohammad Roshandil, President Ghani promised that the
supply of the weapons to the Special Forces will be done within the coming five
Insisting on proper implementation of the regulations
of the Special Forces, President Ghani instructed the Ministry of Interior to
take immediate steps in providing help to the families of the fallen soldiers.
He also added that the government will step up efforts
to provide treatment to the wounded soldiers in one of the international
According to President Ghani, the government has
considered special courses for the Special Forces and instructed the Ministry
of Interior to prepare a schedule so that the supplies can be delivered to the
forces on time through air.
President Ghani also emphasized on the need to provide
further equipment to the Special Forces in a bid to help reduce the number of
casualties and added that negotiations are underway with the international
allies of the country to establish permanent installations for the Special
He instructed the Ministry of Interior to conduct a
thorough assessment for the increment of the salaries of the Special Forces and
said the organic law of the officers will be modified so that those officers
who are having better experience should be shifted to the administrative level.
Suicide attacker blows himself up near Bangladesh
International Airport, no casualties
Dhaka, dhaka suicide attack, dhaka suicide bombing,
suicide bombing dhaka, dhaka airport terrorist attack, Hazrat Shahjalal
International Airport, latest news, latest world news Hazrat Shahjalal
A suicide attack was carried out at Dhaka
International Airport in Bangladesh on Friday evening. The attacker was killed
by the security forces. There were no other casualties reported.
The bomber allegedly had attempted to attack the
police box overlooking the airport intersection at 8pm where he blew himself up.
A man set off a bomb in front of a police checkpoint and killed himself, police
official Ruhul Amin informed Reuters.
This is the second bomb attack in Dhaka within this
week. In the previous attack militant had tried to enter a security checkpost
on a motorcycle armed with explosives.
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the
bomb blast at a police outpost near Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport
SITE Intel Group, which tracks online activities of
different extremist groups, posted on their Twitter account that IS had claimed
the attack. This was the 28th militant incident in Bangladesh, for which IS
Earlier on Friday, a suicide bomber was killed while
trying to carry out an attack at the intersection.
Assistant Commissioner of police (Airport) Ruhul Amin
Shagor confirmed that a suicide bomber attempted to attack the police box
overlooking the airport intersection, as reported by the Dhaka Tribune.
He also confirmed the attacker has been killed and no
other casualties have been reported. He tried to blow up the outpost with
explosives in his pocket or tied around his waist.
The explosion, however, ripped through the right side
of his waist.
The suicide attack comes exactly a week after another
bomb attack on the Rapid Action Battalion (RRAB) camp at Ashkona, barely half a
kilometre away from Friday’s site.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani hailed the provincial
governor of the northern Balkh province Ata Mohammad Noor for his dedicated
work for the province, saying ‘Noor has always made request for the improvement
of Balkh and not for himself’.
Speaking during a gathering organized to inaugurate
the new educational year in this province, President Ghani promised that the
government will equally invest on education as he expressed concerns regarding
the current curriculum being taught to the school children in the country.
He said the government will distribute 6.2 million
books to the schools across the country in coming two weeks.
President Ghani also emphasized that more focus should
be done on girl’s education, insisting that investment on a girl’s education is
equal to investment on five generations.
In other parts of his speech, President Ghani hailed
the balance of development in Balkh province and hoped that similar steps are
taken in other provinces as well.
In the meantime, governor Noor briefed the gathering
participants regarding the developments in Balkh province and said around 50
percent of the school students in Balkh are girls.
He also added that 55 percent of the school teachers
are women while 50 percent of the university students are also girls.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani arrived in
Mazar-e-Sharif city, the provincial capital of the northern Balkh province on
an unannounced visit this morning.
The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said
President Ghani is accompanied by a delegation of high level government
According to a statement by ARG Palace, President
Ghani will inaugurate the new educational year in one of the schools of
The statement further added that the President Ghani
is also expected to inaugurate the Noor hall and the Mazar-e-Sharif shrine
He has also been invited by the provincial governor
Ata Mohammad Noor besides meeting the officials of the 209th Shaheen Corps of
the Afghan National Army.
The unannounced visit by President Ghani to Mazar-e-Sharif
city comes as the provincial governor Ata Mohammad Noor earlier announced that
he will soon decide regarding his resignation as the governor of the province.
Speaking during the Nowroz festival in Balkh capital,
Noor described the reason behind his likely resignation as his intention to
participate in major political activities, including the upcoming elections.
A deadly plot by the anti-government armed militants
to detonate explosives inside a mosque in northern Sar-e-Pul province has been
foiled by the Afghan security forces.
According to the local government officials, the militants
were looking to target the Friday prayers in Guzar Shahan mosque.
Provincial governor Mohammad Mohammad Zahir Wahdat
said a suspect has been arrested in connection to the planting of an Improvised
Explosive Device inside the mosque.
He said the suspect has been identified as Basir and
was arrested by the security forces after he planted the IED in the mosque.
Wahdat further added that the Afghan security forces
managed to detect and defuse the IED before the militants manage to detonate
and a deadly terrorist attack plot was foiled.
Sar-e-Pul province has been among the relatively calm
provinces since the fall of the Taliban regime but the anti-government armed
militants have increased their insurgency activities in this province during
the recent years.
The anti-government armed militants including the
Taliban insurgents frequently use Improvised Explosive Device (IED) as the
weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government officials.
According to the UN mission in Afghanistan, it
documented 11,418 civilian casualties between 1st January 2016 to 31st
According to the report, 61 percent of all civilian
casualties were incurred through attacks by the anti-government elements which
includes a total of 6,994 civilian casualties (2,131 deaths and 4,863 injured).
Modi sends chador to Ajmer shrine
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has
sent a ceremonial chador to be offered at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin
Chishti in Ajmer, Rajashthan, on the occasion of the 805 Urs of the great Sufi
saint of the subcontinent.
A Times of India report said the chador will be laid
on behalf of the prime minister by his representatives at the Ajmer Sharif
Dargah during the Urs, which begins on March 30.
On Friday, Mr Modi handed over the chador to the
minister of state for minority affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and the minister
of state in the PMO, Jitendra Singh.
The report said that the PM conveyed greetings and
best wishes to the Sufi saint’s followers across the world.
The great 6th century Sufi saint is also known as
‘Gharib Nawaz', or the patron of the poor.
In his message, Mr Modi said “Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti
is a symbol of the great spiritual traditions of India. Gharib Nawaz’s service
of humanity would remain an inspiration for future generations.”
He offered his best wishes for the successful conduct
of the Urs.
Only on Wednesday, a court in Jaipur had sentenced two
Hindu hardliners to life imprisonment for their involvement in a 2007 blast at
the Ajmer shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti that killed three people and
injured more than a dozen.
News reports said the convicts were former preachers
of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), whose political wing is India’s
ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Delhi continues to harp on terror mantra
NEW DELHI: While Pakistan continues to reiterate that
it desires good relations with India and other neighbours, New Delhi harps on
the same string calling on Islamabad to ‘walk away’ from terrorism.
“…Terrorism emanating from Pakistan is affecting not
merely India but other neighbours of Pakistan as well has been the core
concern, continues to be the core concern and we would like it to be
effectively addressed by Pakistan,” Gopal Baglay, the spokesperson for India’s
External Affairs Ministry, was quoted as saying by ANI news agency on Friday.
Baglay’s statement came a day after Pakistan’s High
Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit expressed Islamabad’s desire to have good
relations with New Delhi. “We hope we will be able to solve our differences and
issues, especially the Kashmir issue,” Basit said on Thursday while speaking at
a Pakistan Day event organised at Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in the Indian
Relations between the two hyphenated neighbours have
been at the lowest ebb since a deadly militant attack on an Indian military
base in Uri, in the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir, in September last year. However, in an apparent thaw in frosty
relations the Indus water commissioners of the two countries met in Lahore last
week to discuss the thorny water issue.
Bagley sought to downplay the interaction, saying the
Indus Waters Treaty mandated the commissioners of India and Pakistan to meet
once a year.
“As long as we are party to the Indus Waters Treaty,
it is incumbent upon us to fulfill our obligation. It is mandated to meet at
least once a year. Therefore, India’s Indus commissioner attended the meeting
of the Permanent Indus Commission last week in Pakistan,” he added.
Bagley also said that during the meeting, India’s
Indus water commissioner had detailed technical discussions. “We are in the
process of assessing these deliberations on various technical matters that the
commission is mandated to make,” he added.
India has denied Pakistani media claims that New Delhi
has accepted Islamabad’s reservations on the disputed Miyar dam during the
talks of the Indus Water Commission. The reports, sources said, were ‘factually
incorrect and wrong’ and India has ‘never agreed to halt the project’.
Pakistani media reported that the Indian delegation,
led by the country’s Indus Water Commissioner PK Saxena, had agreed to halt
work on the hydroelectric project’s design and that it would soon share a new
design of the Miyar project.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister
Narendra Modi sent felicitations to Pakistan on the republic day on Thursday,
triggering speculations that fractured relations might be on the mend.
However, the Foreign Office spokesperson in Islamabad
played down the development, calling it part of ‘normal courtesies’ between the
leadership of various countries.
Observers also doubt these contacts could lead to the
resumption of structured dialogue that remains suspended for the past several
NIA opposes Aseemanand bail, says has ample proof
Mar 25, 2017
NEW DELHI: A Hyderabad court's decision to grant bail
to Swami Aseemanand in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast case has come as a setback
to NIA to secure his conviction in a terror case.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had on
Thursday opposed his bail petition in the 2007 case, submitting that it had
ample evidence to prove his guilt "beyond all reasonable doubt".
Seeking denial of bail to accused Nabakumar Sarkar
alias Swami Aseemanand, NIA argued that the delayed trial in the case,
resulting in his long incarceration, or his age at 66 years was not valid
ground for granting him bail, contrary to the contentions made in the bail
NIA stated that the Mecca Masjid blast case trial was
at a decisive stage and granting bail to Aseemanand at this juncture would run
the risk of his trying to influence the nearly 134 witnesses yet to be examined
by the court.
Aseemanand's bail in Mecca Masjid blast case has paved
the way for his freedom as he had earlier secured bail in the Samjhauta blast
case and was also acquitted in the Ajmer Sharif blasts case on March 8.In fact,
the fourth metropolitan sessions judge at Hyderabad, while allowing his bail
application on Thursday , cited his bail in Samjhauta train bombing case and
acquittal in Ajmer Sharif blast case.
This was despite NIA's quoting sub-section 5 of
Section 43 D of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) to get the judge to
deny bail. The section states that no person accused of an offence under
Chapter IV and VI of UAPA (both dealing with terrorism) shall be released on
bail or his own bond if the court, on a perusal of the case diary or the report
made under Section 173 of CrPC is of the opinion that there are reasonable
grounds for believing that the accusation against such person is prima facie
NIA argued that the court, while framing charges based
on report filed under Section 173 of CrPC, had found the accusations against
Aseemanand to be prima facie true.
An NIA officer said that they were yet to study the
order and take a call on whether to challenge it.
Hamas blames Israel for senior member assassination,
threatens ‘to act’
Hamas has vowed retaliation following the death of a
prominent member, who was shot near his home in the Gaza Strip on Friday. He
had been serving a life sentence in Israel before being released in a prisoner
swap in 2011.
Mazeh Faqha suffered four gunshot wounds to his head
and was later pronounced dead in Tell al-Hama neighborhood of the Gaza Strip.
It is understood that the perpetrators managed to flee and are now on the run.
In the aftermath of the assassination, Gaza police cordoned off the scene and
set up checkpoints hunting for suspects.
Iyad al-Bozum, Gaza’s Interior Ministry spokesman,
said an investigation into the circumstances of his death has been launched,
without elaborating on possible affiliations and motives of the attackers.
While the search for the attackers continues, Hamas
was quick to point to Israel as the only possible benefactor from the death of
the official, accusing the Israeli authorities or its “collaborators” of being
behind the assault.
“This assassination does not serve anybody but the
[Israeli] occupiers, it is of no interest to the other parties,” Khalil
al-Haya, Hamas deputy chief in Gaza, said as cited by AFP.
In an official statement, cited by Reuters, the
militia threatened Israel and its agents with retribution for “this despicable
crime,” stating that “Israel knows that the blood of [Hamas] fighters is not
spilled in vain and Hamas will know how to act.”
Faqha lived in Gaza after his release from an Israeli
jail in 2011, which was agreed to between Hamas and the Israeli government as
part of a major prisoner exchange. Over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were set
free from Israeli jails in exchange for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, who
was held captive by Hamas for five years after his capture in 2006.
At the time, Faqha was serving a life sentence for
recruiting potential terrorists and arranging attacks on Israel. In particular,
he was found guilty of recruiting a suicide bomber to mount an attack in
northern Israel in 2002 that claimed the lives of nine people and left over 50
The Australian government found no evidence of
diversion of state funds to Hamas by the US-based Christian relief group World
Vision. Israel claims
While Israel officials have not commented on Faqha’s
murder yet, the way his assassination was carried out bears similarities to the
murder of Hamas engineer Mohammed al-Zoari, who was killed last year, a source
close to Hamas’ military wing told The New Arab.
Al-Zoari, a Tunisian national, was one of the leading
scientists involved in developing Hamas’ drone program. He was shot dead
outside his home in the port city of Sfax on December 15.
Allegations of Israeli involvement in the attack were
voiced by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, who said that “there is a
suspicion that Israel was involved” in early January.
MHP leader seeks ‘yes’ vote to end ‘global plot
An “international plot” is being conducted against
Turkey, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli has suggested,
asking for a “yes” vote in the upcoming referendum for the constitutional
amendment to “disperse the global powers.”
“We will disrupt the bloody game of the global powers
in our region in solidarity with the nation and in collaboration with the
state,” Bahçeli said in Bursa on March 24.
Focusing his speech on “the powers that are against
Turkey’s prosperity,” Bahçeli asked for a “yes” vote in the constitutional
referendum “for the survival of Turkey” and “to end the games played on
“Pay attention to the painful and bloody exhaustion of
the neighboring countries. We are surrounded by a hostile circle. The global
plot is active and cruel,” he said.
Referring to the recent operation on Syria’s al-Bab,
where Turkey had a presence as part of the Euphrates Shield Operation, Bahçeli
accused Russia and the United States of pursuing an alliance with the outlawed
Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in Syria.
“Russian soldiers are posing with PYD-YPG badges after
U.S. soldiers did. This is a challenge to our nation,” he said, referring to
the presence of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria,
regarding it as a “threat to Turkish survival.”
“PYD-PKK offices are in Moscow. Russia, [Syrian
President Bashar] al-Assad and the PYD-YPG are in alliance. The U.S. is
supporting this alliance covertly,” he added.
He also expressed his discomfort with the presence of
the PKK in the northern Iraqi province Sinjar, criticizing Iraqi Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani for supporting the outlawed
party, accusing him of being a part of the “dark picture.”
He also criticized the U.S. and the United Kingdom for
a ban on electronic devices in direct flights from Turkey.
“The political decision of the United States, which
means an attempt to undermine Turkey’s reputation and honor, is malicious and
contrary to the law of allies,” he said.
He also referred to the growing crisis in relations
with European countries and institutions which escalated with a ban preventing
Turkish ministers from conducting campaign rallies for the constitutional
amendments in several European countries.
“The true faces of those who speak of human rights in
Berlin and Frankfurt, of human values in Amsterdam and The Hague emerge in
Syria and Iraq,” he added.
“Those who embrace innocence in Europe are turning
back to their original identity, cruelty, in the Middle East,” he said.
Israel has ignored a United Nations resolution
demanding it halt settlement building in the occupied Palestinian territory
that was criticized by the Trump administration, the UN Middle East envoy said.
Although the UN Security Council resolution passed December 23 demanded that
Israel immediately cease all settlement activities, “no such steps have been
taken,” envoy Nickolay Mladenov said in his first report to the council since
the resolution was adopted.
“The January spike in illegal settlement announcements
by Israel is deeply concerning,” he said.
In January, Israel made five announcements on
settlement building that together totaled more than 6,000 homes in the occupied
West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem.
In early February, Israel declared its intention to
build what would be, according to anti-settlement group Peace Now, the first
new settlement by an Israel government since 1992.
Mladenov also expressed concern about the Israeli
parliament’s approval of a new settlement law on February 6 that retroactively
legalizes dozens of Jewish outposts and thousands of settler homes built on
private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.
The new law will allow Israel to legally seize
Palestinian private land on which Israelis built without knowing it was private
property or because the state allowed them to do so.
Palestinian owners will be compensated financially or
with other land.
Mladenov said the law represents a major change in
Israel’s position on the question of legality in the Palestinian occupied
Settlements in both the West Bank and east Jerusalem
are viewed as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to
peace as they are built on land the Palestinians want for their own state.
The Middle East envoy’s report came before the
15-nation Security Council held a closed-door session to discuss the
Under the new administration, the United States, one
of the five veto-wielding council members and a long-time Israel supporter, has
pledged to back Israel more than Donald Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
As president-elect, Trump in late December assailed
Obama’s outgoing administration for abstaining in the December 23 council vote
on a UN resolution reprimanding Israel over its settlement activity.
By declining to use its veto, the US enabled the adoption
of the first UN resolution since 1979 to condemn Israel over its settlement
The Obama administration justified its decision by
citing frustration with Israel’s attitude on settlement building.
The newly installed Trump administration in late January
signaled that Israel did not have a blank check from America on settlement
Gunmen in the Gaza Strip shot dead a Hamas official
who was freed by Israel in a 2011 prisoner swap, the interior ministry in the
Palestinian enclave said. Mazen Faqha was released along with more than 1,000
other Palestinians in exchange for Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas had
detained for five years. Iyad al-Bozum, an interior ministry spokesman in the
Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, said that gunmen opened fire on Faqha in the Tell
“An investigation has been launched,” he said, giving
no further details. Police spokesman Ayman al-Batniji said Faqha had “four
bullets in his head” and said Israel and its “collaborators” were responsible
for the killing.
“We know how to respond to this crime,” he added.
Faqha was a senior Hamas official in the Israeli-occupied West Bank but after
his release Israel transferred him to Gaza.
The Israeli army refused to comment. But Khalil
al-Haya, a senior Hamas official in Gaza, said: “This assassination does not
serve anybody but the occupiers (Israel), it is of no interest to the other
Eleven migrants drowned on March 24 after a boat
carrying 22 sank off the Kuşadası-Davutlar area of the Aegean province of
Aydın, Doğan News Agency has reported.
Eight migrants were rescued while efforts to rescue
the other missing three were continuing.
A number of ambulances were also dispatched to the
Video footage on Doğan News Agency’s network showed
half a dozen bodies after they were recovered from the water and laid out near
Turkish television channel NTV said the migrants had
been traveling in a rubber boat.
The frequency of tragedies on the Aegean has
diminished sharply since the implementation of a Turkey-European Union refugee
deal in March 2016, but the agreement now hangs by a thread.
Turkey agreed in 2013 to take back migrants who
traveled illegally to the EU in return for the promise of visa-free travel, as
well as financial aid for those in its care and accelerated EU membership
However, Ankara may cancel the agreement and is also
re-evaluating a $6 billion refugee deal with the bloc, Foreign Minister Mevlüt
Çavuşoğlu said March 15.
More feared dead off Libya
Separately, around 250 African migrants are feared to
have drowned in the Mediterranean after a charity’s rescue boat found five
corpses and two partially submerged rubber dinghies off Libya, a spokeswoman
said March 23.
Laura Lanuza of Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms
said its boat Golfo Azzuro had recovered the five dead bodies close to the
dinghies, about 15 miles off the Libyan coast.
“We don’t think there can be any other explanation
than that these dinghies would have been full of people,” she told AFP. “It
seems clear that they sunk.”
She added that they would typically have been carrying
120-140 migrants each.
“In over a year we have never seen any of these
dinghies that were anything other than packed,” she said.
Lanuza said the bodies recovered were African men with
estimated ages of between 16 and 25.
They had drowned, apparently in the 24 hours prior to
them being discovered shortly after dawn on March 23 in waters directly north
of the Libyan port of Sabrata.
Despite rough winter seas, migrant departures from
Libya on boats chartered by people traffickers have accelerated in recent
months from already-record levels.
Over 5,000 people have been picked up by rescue boats
since March 19, bringing the number brought to Italy since the start of 2017 to
over 21,000, a rise of more than half compared to the same period in previous
Aid groups say the accelerating exodus is being driven
by worsening living conditions for migrants in Libya and by fears the sea route
to Europe could soon be closed to traffickers.
Prior to the latest fatal incident, the U.N. refugee
agency had estimated that some 440 migrants had died trying to make the
crossing from Libya to Italy since the start of 2017.
That figure, also sharply up on previous years, is
based on a combination of bodies recovered and testimonies from the survivors
Switzerland’s foreign minister told his Turkish
counterpart on March 23 that his country would “rigorously investigate” any
illegal spying by Ankara on expatriate Turks before the April 16 referendum
that will decide whether the current parliamentary system should be replaced by
an executive presidency.
During a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt
Çavuşoğlu, Switzerland’s Didier Burkhalter underscored Swiss concerns that
Turkey may have been using its intelligence network to monitor the activities
of Turkish citizens in Switzerland in the run-up to the vote, according to a
Swiss foreign ministry statement.
“Freedom of expression is a universal value recognized
by Switzerland, which hopes that this freedom will also hold true for Turkish
citizens whether they cast their votes in Switzerland or in their own country,”
said Burkhalter, as he “underscored the validity of Swiss law on Swiss soil”
and urged Turkey “to comply with it.”
The statement said Switzerland would “rigorously
investigate illegal intelligence activities.”
Efforts to reach the Turkish embassy late March 23
For weeks, Burkhalter has been trying to keep his
neutral country from becoming too deeply entangled in a bitter dispute between
Ankara and other European nations over campaigning by Turkish politicians to
drum up support for a “yes” vote in the referendum among Turks living abroad.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has accused Germany and
the Netherlands of behaving like Nazis for halting some rallies by Turkish
ministers, comments that both countries have called unacceptable.
While the Swiss government has been pressured by cities
including Zurich to block visits by Turkish officials, Bern has refused on the
grounds there was nothing to justify curbs on freedom of speech.
Çavuşoğlu had been scheduled to visit Switzerland for
an event earlier this month, but that was canceled for lack of a venue.
During the visit on March 23, Burkhalter also told
Çavuşoğlu that he was aware of Turkey’s “difficult situation” following the
July 2016 failed coup attempt, the Swiss statement said.
Still, Burkhalter remained concerned about mass dismissals
and arrests of people Ankara has linked to U.S.-based Islamic preacher
Fethullah Gülen, who is widely believed to have been behind the thwarted coup.
“The declaration of a state of emergency does not
exempt Turkey from its international human rights obligations,” the statement
said, adding Burkhalter “stressed the importance of freedom of expression and
the freedom to speak out for democracy.”
Swiss government statistics show 68,000 Turkish
citizens live in Switzerland. The Turkish embassy’s website refers to 130,000
Meanwhile, Switzerland has opened a criminal probe
into possible spying involving Switzerland’s Turkish community, federal
prosecutors said on March 24.
“The Office of the Attorney General has been made
aware of concrete suspicion that political espionage has likely been conducted
involving the Turkish community in Switzerland,” the agency said in a
statement, giving no details about the probe
launched on March 16.
A total of 236 Turkish citizens have sought asylum in
Greece since the July 2016 failed coup attempt, marking a rising trend in the
number of requests compared to previous years.
According to official data from the Greek Asylum
Services seen by daily Kathimerini, 236 Turkish citizens requested political
asylum in the country between July 2016 and February 2017, with most of them
are believed to be the members of the Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ),
which was accused of the attempted takeover on July 15, 2016.
According to figures, some 43 Turkish citizens sought
asylum in Greece in 2015 while another 51 requested political asylum in the
country between January 1, 2016 and July 14, 2016.
Some 98 of the asylum requests were made in 2017, the
Meanwhile, the re-trial process of eight former
Turkish soldiers who escaped to Greece following the coup attempt will begin
soon. The process for Ankara’s new demand on their extradition has also begun.
In January, the Greek top appeals court had rejected
the extradition of the soldiers.
While they are still waiting for the outcome of their
asylum request, Turkey’s NATO ally Norway have already granted asylum for four
Turkish soldiers and a military attache in the country.
Turkey’s perception abroad is poor, but the country is
not in that bad a position, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek has said,
adding that Turkey’s narrative would remain robust in the medium and long term
with the realization of a number of key reforms.
“When seen from outside, Turkey’s perception abroad is
bad, but the country is not in that bad a position. The reality may, however,
not be as good as desired. Therefore, we have a comprehensive reform program.
Turkey will keep growing in the medium and long term. Turkey’s narrative will
remain strong in the future,” Şimşek said in an opening speech at the Uludağ
Economy Summit in the northwestern province of Bursa.
He said the Turkish economy had grown an average of 6
percent since the beginning of the 2000s, displaying a strong resilience.
“Although the economy slowed down last year in a
serious manner due to the [July 15] coup attempt and terror attacks, it
continues to grow in a moderate, but limited, manner,” he said.
“We have seen a serious resilience in the economy, which
is of great importance,” he said.
“This shows that as soon as uncertainties fade away,
Turkey will again be able to return to a high growth track. There is no reason
for it to do the opposite,” Şimşek said.
He noted that reforms would be key for the country to
achieve this goal, adding that the biggest reform would be to maintain
Turkey’s narrative still alive
Noting that there were no more than six or seven
countries with a population of 80 million or more that are located in the
middle-income group, he said: “Turkey’s narrative is still there. We have a
comprehensive reform program to keep this narrative strong. The leading reform
here is a constitutional reform which will ensure stability in the country’s
administration and prevent any crisis in the future. This makes it a key
Şimşek also said Turkey did not face any democratic
recession, suggesting instead that the country was on the road to normalization
again after a number of seriously devastating shocks.
“Turkey faced a coup attempt and a state of emergency
needed to be declared. We do not see it as a permanent solution … We have faced
a highly complicated and dangerous structure, which infiltrated almost all
institutions in the country over the last 40 years and which has been active in
more than 170 countries … As we have been fighting against this, some claim
that there is no democracy in Turkey anymore. On the contrary, if the coup
attempt had been successful, there would have been no democratic rule in Turkey
now,” he said.
“Turkey is not entering a democratic recession. On the
contrary, it is working a lot to save its democracy and rule of law. We are on
the road to normalization again,” said Şimşek.
Cairo suburb explosion: One killed, three injured, say
One man was killed and three others injured in an
explosion in the Cairo suburb of Maadi, the Interior Ministry said in a
statement on Friday. The man who was killed, a building guard who was cleaning
the property’s garden, found “an unidentified metallic object.” Upon handling
it, it exploded, resulting in his death and the injury of his wife and two
children by shrapnel, the statement said.
The injured have been moved to the hospital for
treatment and the area had been cordoned off and is being combed by security
forces, it added. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The government is taking on militants in the Sinai
Peninsula, where militants loyal to Islamic State are based, and Islamist
groups elsewhere in the country who generally target security forces.
Key events in the life of the ousted Egyptian
president, who has been released from detention and returned home.
Oct. 15 1981: Mubarak takes office after his
predecessor, Anwar Sadat, is assassinated by Islamic militants during a
military parade. Mubarak, Sadat’s vice-president, survives with a minor hand
Mubarak implements emergency laws as part of his
battle against militants and expands police powers.
In one of his first moves, Mubarak says Egypt will
stick to the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, the first by any Arab nation with
the Jewish state.
Mubarak becomes a major mediator in the Arab-Israeli
peace process, remaining a consistent US ally bolstered by billions of dollars
in American aid.
During the 1990s, an Islamic militant insurgency _
aiming to set up an Islamic state _ attacks policemen, assassinates politician,
and targets foreign tourists, one of the country’s key sources of revenue.
1995: Militants attempt to assassinate Mubarak during
a visit to Ethiopia.
1997: Mubarak responds by arresting thousands,
crushing the movement.
Sept. 1999: Mubarak is re-elected for a fourth term in
a staged, single-candidate referendum in which he wins over 90 percent of the
Feb. 2005: Mubarak engineers constitutional amendments
that, according to critics, guarantee ruling-party victories in elections.One
bans religious political parties, blocking the Muslim Brotherhood from
officially participating in political life.
2005: Mubarak allows the first ever multi-candidate
presidential election, which he wins easily over 10 other candidates amid
charges of voter fraud and intimidation.
April 2008: Bread riots turn violent. Mubarak’s
government had subsidized staples such as bread and cooking oil, and the butane
gas used for cooking. He fires up military ovens to help quell discontent.
2010: Parliamentary elections are widely deplored as
rigged, and the Brotherhood responds by withdrawing its candidates, who ran as
independents, from a second round of voting.
Jan. 25, 2011: Thousands of anti-government protesters
clash with police in Cairo during a Tunisia-inspired demonstration to demand
Mubarak’s removal. The day marks the start of the Arab spring in Egypt.
Feb. 11: After three weeks of massive protests against
his rule, Mubarak steps down, handing power over to the military.
April 13: Authorities detain Mubarak and his two sons
in an investigation into corruption, abuse of power and the killing of
protesters. A month later, Mubarak is ordered to stand trial.
Aug. 3: Mubarak’s trial starts in Cairo. From the
defendant’s cage, Mubarak denies all charges against him.
Feb 22, 2012: Mubarak, who had rarely spoken during
the trial, turns down his last chance to address the court during the defense’s
June 2: Mubarak is sentenced to life in prison. He’s
ferried by helicopter from the police academy where the trial was held to
Cairo’s Torah Prison where his sons and members of his regime have been either
serving prison sentences or being held pending trials over a variety of
Jan, 2013: Mubarak is granted a retrial from the
Nov. 29, 2014: Murder charges against Mubarak are
dismissed, and his security chief is acquitted over the killing of protesters
during the 2011 uprising.
Mubarak is also acquitted of corruption charges that
he faced along with his sons Alaa and Gamal _ his one-time heir apparent _ as
the statute of limitations on the case expires.
June 4, 2015: Egypt’s highest appeals court orders the
retrial of Mubarak on charges that he failed to prevent the killing of hundreds
of protesters during the 2011 uprising. The ruling sets a trial date for the
Criminal Court sentences Mubarak to three years and fines him and his sons 125
million Egyptian pounds following his conviction for embezzling funds earmarked
for the maintenance and renovation of presidential palaces.
Jan. 9, 2016: An Egyptian court upholds a three-year
prison sentence for graft. It is considered already served by the former
president and his two sons based on their time spent in detention.
March 2, 2017 Egypt’s top appeals court issues its
final ruling, acquitting Mubarak of charges that he ordered the killing of
protesters during the 2011 popular uprising. The Court of Cassation rejects an
appeal by prosecutors, allowing an acquittal verdict from 2014 to stand.
March 13, 2017: Mubarak is freed from detention.
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian PM Najib Razak is expected to
sign 15 agreements worth more than $5 billion during his meeting with his
Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New Delhi early next month -marking the
first high level visit by a foreign head of government after a string of
Though the key engagement of the Malaysian team would
be with the Centre and the three apex chambers -Ficci, Assocham and CII, the
trade and economic impetus will come from the states. Prominent amongst these
are the signing of 7 bids worth $1.2-$1.4 by Malaysia's Construction Indust ry
Development Board for Rajasthan state highways, for which Najib has included a
day's visit to Jaipur on April 2. Malaysia is also setting up a 258-acre
technology park in Amravati and getting into an MoU with Bengaluru for an optic
fiber and smart city project worth $300 million.
India's investment in Malaysian economy would include
a proposed 1.6 million tonne urea plant. Talks on laying of railway tracks by
IRCON International for the Serendah-Klang-Seremban line will also be held.
Indian high commissio ner to Malaysia, Tirumurti, said
this visit could result in setting up of an ayurveda chair in Malaysia, which
would enable Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman to offer a degree course in ayurveda
for the first time in the country . While the visit is seen as a kick-off to
events highlighting the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the
two countries, there is a not-so-obvious political intent. Sources said Najib
will make an effort to reach out to the huge Indian diaspora, predominantly
Tamil, by including Chennai in his itinerary . General elections in Malaysia
are due next year and there are more than 2.5 million people of Indian descent
part of the electorate.
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