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Islamic World News (08 Nov 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



After Clerics, RSS to Interact With Muslim Professionals and Educated Youth Ahead Of Ayodhya Verdict







West Bengal Government Gives Job to Sister Of Mob Lynching Victim

Twitter Workers Charged With Spying On Saudi Critics at Riyadh Order

New ISIS Leader Is 'A Nobody,' But US Knows 'Almost Nothing' About Him: Official

Despite Hateful Social Media Attacks, Local Voters Elect Muslim American Candidates

42% Of Muslims In France Harassed At Least Once: Report

Malaysian Sultan Demands Russian Ex-Wife’s Son Be Raised Muslim to get $250,000 - Report

'High Price To Pay': Australia Urges Nations To Refuse To Pay Ransoms To Terrorists

Taliban Kill Three Judges, Court Staffer in Southeast Afghanistan

 

India

After Clerics, RSS to Interact With Muslim Professionals and Educated Youth Ahead Of Ayodhya Verdict

West Bengal Government Gives Job to Sister Of Mob Lynching Victim

BHU Students Protest over Muslim Professor’s Appointment in Sanskrit Department

Only 3-4% of Indian Police Personnel Are Muslim, Study Finds

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to meet Waqf custodians now to allay fears

Babri Masjid Verdict: Maulana Arshad Madani Appeals To All the Countrymen to Accept The Verdict Of The Supreme Court

Mayawati’s Muslim outreach to undo damage due to BSPs stand on Article 370 & Triple Talaq

Soldier killed as Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in J&K's Poonch

SC to Ghulam Nabi Azad on restrictions in Kashmir: Should authorities have waited for riots to take place?

UP Police using drones for surveillance in Ayodhya ahead of SC verdict

Badruddin Ajmal writes to Union home ministry seeking ban on book allegedly demeaning Islam; author denies the claim

Pak invites Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for Kartapur inauguration

Hotel Mumbai dialogues based on real phone transcripts of 26/11

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Arab World

Twitter Workers Charged With Spying On Saudi Critics at Riyadh Order

Saudi Arabia Calls On Iran to Fully Cooperate With UN Nuclear Watchdog

Iraqi Forces Kill 10 Protesters In Baghdad And Basra

Saudi Recruitment of Twitter Workers Reflects Insider Risks

Protests in Hezbollah stronghold continue despite intimidation

Syrian Kurds Resume Fight Against Islamic State, Leader Says

3 IS militants killed in eastern Iraq

Iraqi PM: We are working on budget to help manage Iraq's economy

Lebanon’s Hariri meets Aoun, says will continue talks

Protesters block Bank of Lebanon entrance, prevent staff from entering building

US using ex-Daesh militants to hold onto Syrian oil

King Salman hosts CIA chief in Riyadh

Muslim World League chief honored in US for promoting peace, global harmony

Iran 5.9 magnitude earthquake kills at least 5, injures 120

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North America

New ISIS Leader Is 'A Nobody,' But US Knows 'Almost Nothing' About Him: Official

Despite Hateful Social Media Attacks, Local Voters Elect Muslim American Candidates

US: 26 Muslims Elected In Tuesday's Off-Year Elections

US, UK, KSA, Israel, seek the theft of global resources: Writer

US announces reward up to $10 million for two senior Al-Qaeda leaders

US to investigate 'any' claim of weapons misuse in Iraq

Turkey, US cooperated in al-Baghdadi killing'

'Trump told Israel to fund Palestinian security forces'

US welcomes Yemen peace deal between gov't, separatists

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Europe

42% Of Muslims In France Harassed At Least Once: Report

Reported Attack In Tajikistan Could Have Broad Implications For Central Asia

Muslim preachers must speak German to work in the country under proposed law

IAEA disputes Iran’s allegation UN inspector tested positive for explosives

France’s Macron says NATO experiencing ‘brain death’

Scathing criticism for EU over Syrian refugee policies

East Germany gripped by surging xenophobia, Islamopobia

Use of force against Iraqi protestors 'deplorable': EU

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Southeast Asia

Malaysian Sultan Demands Russian Ex-Wife’s Son Be Raised Muslim to get $250,000 - Report

VP Amin draws no connection between radicalism and people's clothing

VP Ma’ruf calls on Muslims to increase ‘zakat’ to reduce inequality

Penang to tighten shariah laws to stem spread of other religions to Muslims

More religious institutions now but fewer moral values, says Perak sultan

Five Malaysians Sentenced To Caning For Gay Sex under Islamic Law

It’s okay if he disagrees, says Anwar after ruler rejects zakat proposal

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Australia

'High Price To Pay': Australia Urges Nations To Refuse To Pay Ransoms To Terrorists

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South Asia

Taliban Kill Three Judges, Court Staffer in Southeast Afghanistan

ISIS Fighters Attack Outpost in Tajikistan

Taliban kills an Afghan scholar on travel

13 Taliban militants killed, detained in Special Forces raids in Helmand and Wardak

The upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Panipat’ sparks anger among the Pashtun’s of Afghanistan

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Mideast

Iran takes most significant step yet away from nuclear deal with world powers

Iraqi Tribal Leaders in Karbala Meet Iranian Diplomat for Apology

Iran: Uranium enrichment is at pre-nuclear deal levels

Erdogan: Al-Baghdadi’s inner circle trying to enter Turkey

Erdogan says U.S. not fulfilling Syria promises, ahead of Trump talk

Like Daesh scenario, new US plot for Iraq will face defeat: Iran's Shamkhani

Ypsilanti engineer funneled tech secrets to Iran, FBI says

Iran alleges UN inspector tested positive for explosives

Houthi militants attack Yemen government forces, 8 killed

Iran paying price of opposing US unilateralism

Russia says Iran's 4th step away from JCPOA no violation of NPT

Israel assisting Syrian Kurdish militants ‘through a range of channels’

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Pakistan

Country May Remain On FATF List beyond February: Minister

Pakistan agrees to settle Soviet-era trade dispute with Russia: report

PTI bulldozes 11 ordinances through NA

Khawaja Asif slams govt for 'making a mockery' of legislation

Rs5.5bn collected through amnesty schemes, NA body told

FIA declares emergency over FATF-related cases

3 suspected terrorists killed in Quetta after exchange of fire: CTD

Govt offers judicial probe into ‘rigging’ but Fazl won’t budge

Azadi March in Pakistan, a damp squib

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Africa

37 Killed In Attack on Canadian Firm Convoy In Burkina Faso

Boko Haram: North-East Governors Urge Buhari Regime to Dialogue With Terrorists

2 militants killed in northern Algeria

Boko Haram not Islamic sect, group tells media

ICC has info on location of Qaddafi’s son, Libya fugitives: Prosecutor

Yemen’s President Hadi meets separatist leader after deal ends power struggle

South Sudan rivals meet as deadline looms for unity government

10 killed in raid on DR Congo village: officials

Nigerians demand bigger budget for counter-terror op

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/after-clerics,-rss-to-interact-with-muslim-professionals-and-educated-youth-ahead-of-ayodhya-verdict/d/120212

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After Clerics, RSS to Interact With Muslim Professionals and Educated Youth Ahead Of Ayodhya Verdict

November 8, 2019

New Delhi [India], Nov 8 (ANI): After reaching out to Muslim clerics, scholars and eminent personalities, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has decided to open a dialogue with professionals from the community ahead of the Supreme Court's crucial verdict in the Ayodhya case.

The RSS team, which has been tasked with reaching out to the community, has planned interaction with educated youths and professionals from various walks of life.

Top RSS functionaries Krishna Gopal and Ram Lal will address the professionals at an event which, in all probability, will be held in Nehru Memorial here on Friday.

"The agenda of the meet is the court's verdict in the Ayodhya case and to maintain harmony after it is delivered," said a senior RSS leader involved in the process.

According to a senior member of the team, various NGOs and professional bodies were contacted to reach out to the professionals from the minority community and then invitations were sent out.

"A group of 70 to 80 professionals would be participating in this interaction with professionals from the community. The group consists of engineers, professors, doctors and social activists," added the leader.

With many professionals active on various social media platforms, it became pertinent to seek their help and support and also appeal to not share fake news, identify and report if there is one in circulation, the RSS believes.

Elaborating on the need to reach out to these professionals specifically, the leader said, "Not many people are following religious leaders. There may be many who spend too much time on social media. We all should avoid responding to fake and instigating messages if there would be any. We know these professionals too would not want peace to be disturbed. We are reaching out to them. It's a continuous process till verdict comes. We need to be prepared to accept it amicably."

Notably, both RSS and BJP are keeping the momentum up to ensure no untoward incident takes place in wake of the pronouncement of the court's verdict in the politically-sensitive Ramjanmbhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute case, irrespective of which side the decision goes.

Given the sensitivity of the matter, both organisations are conducting interactions with their cadre and the minority community to ensure that peace and harmony are not disturbed after the judgement, which could be pronounced any time now.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/after-clerics-rss-to-interact-with-muslim-professionals-ahead-of-ayodhya-verdict-119110800080_1.html

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West Bengal government gives job to sister of mob lynching victim

November 08, 2019

The West Bengal government gave job to the sister of Mohammad Aslam, a street hawker of Asansol in West Bengal who was killed by a mob on suspicion of child lifting. Minister of Labour and Law Departments, Moloy Ghatak had promised to get one of his family members a job. On November 7, Aslam's sister, Nasima Khatun joined the labour department as a casual peon. Aslam was the only male member of the family.

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Twitter workers charged with spying on Saudi critics at Riyadh order

Nov 7, 2019

The Saudi Arabian government has reportedly recruited two Twitter employees to get personal account information on some of their critics, prosecutors with the US Department of Justice said Wednesday.

Two former Twitter employees and a third man were charged in San Francisco Federal Court Wednesday with spying on Twitter users critical of the Saudi royal family, the US Justice Department announced.

The two Saudi citizens and one US citizen allegedly worked together to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of the government in Riyadh and the royal family, the department said.

According to a court filing, they were guided by an unnamed Saudi official who worked for someone prosecutors designated "Royal Family Member-1," which The Washington Post reported was Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Those charged were Twitter employees Ali Alzabarah and Ahmad Abouammo, along with Ahmed Almutairi, a marketing official with ties to the royal family.

"The criminal complaint unsealed today alleges that Saudi agents mined Twitter's internal systems for personal information about known Saudi critics and thousands of other Twitter users," said US Attorney David Anderson.

"US law protects US companies from such an unlawful foreign intrusion. We will not allow US companies or US technology to become tools of foreign repression in violation of US law," he said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes as US-Saudi relations continue to suffer strains over the brutal, Riyadh-sanctioned murder one year ago of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who wrote for, among others, The Washington Post.

A critic of Crown Prince Mohammed, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

According to the Post, US intelligence has concluded that the prince himself was closely linked to the murder.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/07/610572/Saudi-Arabia-spy-twitter-recruit-personnel-dissidents

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New ISIS leader is 'a nobody,' but US knows 'almost nothing' about him: Official

ByCONOR FINNE

Nov 6, 2019

Although the U.S. knows "almost nothing" about the new leader of ISIS, he is "a nobody," according to a senior State Department official, making it difficult for the terror group to rally around him.

Amid the hunt for the new ISIS leader, the U.S. will leave between 700 and 900 troops in Syria, with the official saying the "goals and means" of defeating ISIS, ridding Syria of Iranian-commanded forces, and securing a political transition haven't changed, despite President Donald Trump's new focus on "taking" oil.

Trump said last Friday that he and his administration "know exactly who [the new leader] is!" one day after the terror group announced a new leader under the nom de guerre Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi. Al-Hashimi replaces Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the terror chief that created the group, expanded it to the so-called "caliphate" the size of Great Britain, and killed himself in an explosion amid a U.S. special forces raid in late October.

U.S. ambassador-at-large for counterterrorism Nathan Sales said Friday that the administration was "looking into the leader, his role in the organization, where he came from." But the senior official said Wednesday the new leader "appears to be a nobody. Nobody knows his background."

"We think we know a bit about him ... What little we know about him, we're not impressed," the official added. "If he's in Iraq or Syria, we don't think he's too long for the world, anyway."

The announcement of the new leader came in an audio message released last week by a new ISIS spokesperson, after Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, the spokesperson and right-hand man to Baghdadi, was also killed, in a separate U.S. airstrike.

The speech provides little information about the new leader or spokesperson, with both names pseudonyms that mask their real identity, but tie them to the Quraysh tribe, a historic Arab tribe based near Islam's holy city Mecca. Doing so is a way to create legitimacy for their leadership because the prophet Muhammad is said to be from the Quraysh tribe.

Al-Hashimi is also identified as a "caliph" -- meaning the group still considers itself a caliphate despite its loss of territory. Pledges to the new leader have come in across social media, according to analysts, who have warned that the terror group has fierce affiliates in West Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and even Southeast Asia.

But the senior official said that because al-Hashimi's true identity is not publicly known, it's become a "major issue" for the terror group to rally supporters around him.

Earlier this week, Turkey announced that it has captured al-Baghdadi's sister, known as Rasmiya Awad, along with her husband, daughter-in-law, and five children. A senior Turkish official told reporters her arrest was an intelligence "gold mine," according to the Associated Press, but the senior State Department official could not confirm anything related to it.

U.S. policy in Syria has undergone whiplash in recent days, from a deliberate and orderly U.S. withdrawal that had stalled, to an immediate pullout of all 1,000 troops in the northeast, to now keeping 700 to 900 troops to "protect the oil," in the president's words.

"We did leave soldiers because we are keeping the oil. I like oil. We are keeping the oil," Trump said Friday at the White House.

But the senior State Department official said the U.S. will have nothing to do with the oil. "The oil is being worked by the local authorities for the benefit of the local communities. We have no guidance here in the Department of State from the administration to do anything with the oil fields."

The official acknowledged that "the conditions have changed" after the initial U.S. withdrawal, but now says that the "goals and means are basically the same" -- a U.S. military presence that is there to ensure ISIS's enduring defeat and create leverage for a political transition in Syria and the expulsion of all Iranian-commanded forces from the country that threaten America's allies like Israel.

https://abcnews.go.com/International/isis-leader-us-senior-official/story?id=66795150

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Despite hateful social media attacks, local voters elect Muslim American candidates

November 07, 2019

By Rupa Shenoy

“You don't win elections on the internet,” the 23-year-old said. “You win them at the doors.”

Khalid quit Facebook at one point during her campaign for a seat on the City Council of Lewiston, Maine, because she was getting so many hate-filled messages. Someone even posted her home address.

“I even saw one that said, ‘I will shoot you,’” she said. “One that said, ‘You should be stoned.’”

It was overwhelming for her, even though Khalid is used to challenges. She came to Lewiston with her family when she was 7, along with thousands of other refugees from Somalia who helped revive the dying mill town. Lewiston became a diverse spot in an overwhelmingly white state. It’s experienced some tension and racism, but Khalid said she grew up feeling welcomed.

“I am an example that Lewiston is such a progressive city,” she said, pointing out that the people who attacked her online are not the voters she met during the months of door knocking. “The negative comments and then, you know, the trolls were not from Lewiston. Some may be from Maine, but the majority were across the country from Mississippi to Alabama.”

Khalid won with nearly 70% of the vote and will be the youngest member of the Lewiston City Council, and its first Somali American. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said across the country, 34 Muslim American candidates won local elections out of more than 80 who ran. It’s part of a trend that began with last year’s election, with more diverse candidates choosing to run for office.

This week, a Somali American woman won a seat on the St. Louis Park, Minnesota, City Council. In Virginia, Ghazala Hashmi, an Indian American college administrator who came to the US as a child, was elected to the Virginia state senate from a district that’s been Republican for decades.

“It was sort of a test to see the ways in which the community might respond to a candidate such as myself,” Hashmi said, adding that her bid for office was in part a response to the rise in hate crimes across the country.

“I knew that we had to speak up and start representing ourselves, and we had to become visible,” she said.

She said she had her fair share of trolls and hateful messages. But Hashmi ended up helping turn her whole state blue, giving Democrats a majority in the state Legislature. Even though Hashmi said the demographics of her district haven’t changed in the past few years — it’s still majority white, minority African American.

“So, that has not changed,” Hashmi said. “But I believe perceptions have changed.”

In other words, the constituents got to know her. Which might sound overly simple, but it’s what Abrar Omeish experienced, too. She’s the daughter of Libyan immigrants, who won a seat on the Fairfax County School Board in Virginia.

“Some people honestly couldn’t get past the hijab. You have people who ask, ‘Where are you from?’ Several people would say, “Well, are you an Islamic person?”” Omeish recalled. “It’s been weird to have humanizing myself be part of our strategy conversation as a campaign team. I’m trying to focus on policy, I’m trying to focus on voter outreach. And we have to have conversations about how do we make me more relatable, human, because there are so many misconceptions that come before that.”

But those are the conversations Muslim Americans have to have, said Salam al-Marayati, who’s president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

“I think this is a moment for American Muslims to declare their independence from whatever is happening in the Middle East, [to say] that we do not look to the Middle East as a reference for Islam, that we see within ourselves what Islam means, and therefore creating that independent American Muslim identity,” he said. “We're at that cusp of defining who we are for our fellow Americans.”

But Imam Omar Suleiman, who was trolled and attacked after delivering a Muslim prayer in front of the Texas state Legislature, said this is just the beginning of the challenges these Muslim American elected officials will face.

“They’re going to want to be judged by the weight of their platform, by the virtue of their work, and not by the perceptions of their identity,” he said. “And I think it’s frustrating when they constantly have to operate as either somebody’s feel-good story or somebody’s villain.”

At least now, future candidates know that it’s possible to endure the hate and get a local community to ignore those who want to weigh in from across the country, said Safiya Khalid.

“My message for them is to continue, you know, knocking on doors and to not pay attention because you don't have time to worry about what someone across the country is saying about you. It’s a distraction,” she said. “It’s all about distraction and inciting fear in you.”

And if you give into it, Khalid said, you’re letting them win before the votes are even counted.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-11-07/despite-hateful-social-media-attacks-local-voters-elect-muslim-american

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42% of Muslims in France harassed at least once: Report

Yusuf Ozcan  

06.11.2019

PARIS

A poll said on Wednesday that 42% of Muslims in France were harassed at least once in their lives.

The survey published by the French Public Opinion Institute (IFOP) said most racial harassment occurred during police controls, job applications and house rentals.

60% of Muslim women who wear headscarf said they were harassed at least once, while this figure was 44% for non-headscarf-wearing Muslim women.

24% of Muslims who participated in the survey said they were verbally attacked and this rate was 9% for non-Muslims.

Also, 37% of the headscarf-wearing Muslim women said they were insulted.

Last month, French far-right lawmaker Julien Odoul had requested from a Muslim woman to take off her veil in a meeting in eastern Besancon and attacked her verbally.

After the incident, the issue sparked discussions and statements targeting Muslims.

Last week, an 84-year-old man was arrested after he shot and wounded two people seriously while they were praying at a mosque in the southern French city of Bayonne.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/42-of-muslims-in-france-harassed-at-least-once-report/1637555

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Malaysian Sultan Demands Russian Ex-Wife’s Son Be Raised Muslim to Get $250,000 - Report

08.11.2019

An Islamic upbringing is only one of a set of demands put forth by a settlement between the Malaysian monarch and his Russian model ex-wife. It appears the settlement was rejected as it also included a non-disclosure clause.

Malaysian Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan, former ruler of Malaysia who abdicated the throne early this year, demanded that his son by his former wife be raised a Sunni Muslim, but never contact him, if the mother wants to get a $250,000 trust fund, The Daily Mail reported Thursday, without disclosing sources.

The demand appears to be a part of a set of what the Mail calls “draconian” preconditions set forth as a settlement agreement between the monarch and his former wife - the Russian national and former Miss Moscow, Okasana Voevodina.

The report comes in the wake of earlier information that cited an unnamed palace source who claimed that Sultan Muhammad denied paternity and said the boy could be the son of “any Asian man.”

The purported trust fund would make monthly payments of some $1,500 to the child, increasing payments as the boy gets older. The sultan allegedly also proposed an additional $100,000 agreement in ten monthly payments to Voevodina.

According to the Mail, the settlement agreement not only demands that the child be raised Sunni Muslim – which includes attending all required rituals – but that the boy or his mother never contact the sultan and demands that Voevodina delete all her social media accounts, which have aggregated over a half a million followers, and delete all her pictures of the sultan.

On top of that, the alleged agreement imposes a strict non-disclosure demand, which, if violated, cuts Voevodina off from the money. According to reports, the insistence of a non-disclosure clause was not successful.

The proposed trust fund comes nowhere close to what the former beauty queen reportedly seeks from her royal ex-spouse. If the Mail report is to be believed, Voevodina originally wanted a settlement of some £20 million, as well as a Spanish villa.

More recently, she altered her demands to $31,000 in monthly child support and a $10 million London apartment. More immediately, she seeks a $1.5 million apartment in Moscow.

Voevodina says her son has royal blood and his father must provide appropriately. She reportedly vowed to go to a Moscow court to perform a DNA check to prove that Sultan Muhammad is the father, the report says.

The sultan and the Russian beauty queen married last summer, but before the New Year their relations had soured, earlier reports said. In January, the sultan abdicated the throne of Malaysia in an unprecedented move, and later this year left his wife using the harshest divorce ritual in Islam – by uttering “talak” three times – which is considered irreversible. According to earlier reports the marriage was doomed to fail from the beginning as the sultan wanted to keep the pairing a secret, but Voevodina sought to make it public.

https://sputniknews.com/viral/201911081077250663-malaysian-king-demands-russian-ex-wifes-son-be-raised-muslim-to-get-250000---report/

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'High price to pay': Australia urges nations to refuse to pay ransoms to terrorists

By Rob Harris

November 7, 2019

Australia has called for greater co-operation globally to help cut off millions of dollars flowing to terrorist organisations by steadfastly refusing to pay ransoms for kidnapped foreign nationals.

Speaking at a No Money for Terror conference in Melbourne yesterday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne urged international partners to be resolute in the face of terror tactics, warning no nation could combat the problem on its own.

She said money was like oxygen for terrorist groups and kidnap for ransom was one way such groups stayed alive.

"It makes no sense for nation-states to fund both sides of the battle: where we pay with blood to mount ever more complex and risky counter-terrorism operations, and then we allow terrorists to nourish their recovery through kidnap for ransom or the other forms of terrorist financing," she said.

More than $US120 million in kidnap ransom funds were channelled to terrorist groups between 2004 and 2012, according to a recent United Nations report.

The amount has increased since the rise of Islamic State, which raised $US45 million from kidnapping between September 2013 and September 2014 alone. In Africa's Sahel region, kidnapping put an estimated $US89 million in the coffers of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb between 2013 and 2017.

In 2017, an estimated 8937 people were kidnapped as a result of terrorism.

Senator Payne said nations needed to work more collaboratively to cut off the threat of kidnappings by giving travellers more information on the risks in dangerous areas through government warnings on diplomatic, consular, passport, law enforcement or travel websites. They also needed to mobilise diplomatic, law enforcement and intelligence networks faster in the event of a kidnapping.

She said there were lessons to be learnt from the Iraq War, during which kidnap for ransom became a "growth industry" for terrorist groups. More than 15 countries participated in the Hostage Working Group set up in 2004, which exchanged intelligence and other information freely, and countries pooled their military and law enforcement resources to get kidnap victims back.

"Nations were not left on their own to find their own solution using only their own resources," Senator Payne said.

But she said no member nation was allowed to pay a ransom, whatever happened, in order to break the business model of the terrorist kidnappers.

"Such an approach could be examined once more and extended more widely," she said. "It is clearly not in our collective national interests to pay ransoms. Paying more ransoms means suffering more kidnappings, and then the demands for higher ransoms per kidnapping will surely follow."

Senator Payne said while governments stood by the families of the kidnap victims by providing information and support, they must also encourage them not to pay a private ransom.

"Of course we want our citizens back when they have been kidnapped. However, returning one of our citizens to safety today is a high price to pay if it means another is kidnapped tomorrow. And the next day and the next," Senator Payne said.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/high-price-to-pay-australia-urges-nations-to-refuse-to-pay-ransoms-to-terrorists-20191107-p538he.html

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Taliban kill three judges, court staffer in southeast Afghanistan

Nov 7, 2019

Taliban militants have ambushed and shot dead three Afghan judges and a court staffer while they were traveling from the southeastern province of Paktia to Kabul, local officials say.

Abdullah Hasrat, a spokesman for the governor in eastern Paktia province, said on Thursday that the attack took place in Mohammad Agha district of neighboring Logar province.

"They were travelling in a car but were stopped by the Taliban checkpoint on the road," media outlets quoted Hasrat as saying.

The militant group, which has been blamed for previous ambushes on the highway linking Logar province to the Afghan capital, did not confirm it was behind the latest assault.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he was not aware of the attack but would check with local commanders.

Taliban insurgents fighting to overthrow the Kabul government have long targeted the judiciary in retaliation for harsh sentences given to their fighters.

As Afghan police casualties mounted, the government this year pulled back from hundreds of checkpoints in isolated areas that acted as a magnet for Taliban attacks.

Many Afghans complain that militant groups have now set up checkpoints along the main highways, searching cars and looking for government employees.

The Taliban now control more territory than at any point since the US invasion of the country nearly two decades ago. The United States is desperately trying to end its longest ever war, but peace talks with the Taliban are currently stalled.

In the past year, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held nine rounds of negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, where the militant group has a political office.

An agreement appeared imminent in early September, but a new wave of violence and the death of a US soldier made US President Donald Trump suddenly call off the talks. The White House also canceled a truce signing ceremony at Camp David of which few had been aware.

The US-Taliban negotiations centered on the US’s withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

More than 14,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan and Trump has repeatedly expressed his frustration with their continued deployment. US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Trump.

Daesh in Afghanistan targeting ex-Soviet countries

On Thursday, the chief of Russia's Federal Security Service Alexander Bortnikov said that the Daesh terrorist group was setting up a base in Afghanistan to target former Soviet states using militants from Central Asia.

"We are seeing increased activities of Daesh branches in Afghanistan," Bortnikov he told a regional security forum in Tashkent.

"Their goal is to increase a base to expand into the CIS (ex-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States) territory," he was quoted by TASS state news agency as saying.

The expansion into the ex-Soviet countries "will be done by militants who are citizens of Central Asian republics with experience of warfare as members of terrorist groups," Bortnikov said.

The comments come on the heels of an attack Wednesday on a border post in Tajikistan which officials blamed on members of the Daesh, who crossed over from Afghanistan.

Tajikistan authorities said 15 attackers were killed and four detained, while a soldier and a policeman were also killed.

Daesh militants have also claimed several attacks in Tajikistan, including a hit-and-run raid that killed four Western tourists on a cycling trip last summer.

In recent years, Daesh has established a foothold in eastern and northern Afghanistan.

Last February, some months after the group's defeat was announced in Iraq and Syria, the Associated Press reported that the US military was pulling its forces from a base in Iraq and shifting them to Afghanistan.

The report flew in the face of Trump's campaign promises to end Washington's Afghanistan intervention.

In April, unnamed US officials warned that Daesh-affiliated terrorists of the so-called ISIS-K group in Afghanistan were preparing to carry out attacks on the US mainland, the USA Today reported.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/07/610611/Afghanistan-US-Trump-Taliban-Logar-Paktia-Abdullah-Hasrat-Zabihullah-Mujahid

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India

 

BHU Students Protest Over Muslim Professor’s Appointment In Sanskrit Department

Nov 08, 2019

The appointment of a Muslim assistant professor in the literature department of the faculty of Sanskrit Vidya Dharm Vigyan (SVDV) of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) has triggered protests.

Research scholars and students of the department started a sit-in at Holkar Bhawan near vice-chancellor’s residence on the varsity campus from Thursday. They played musical instruments to attract attention towards their demand.

They are demanding the cancellation of the appointment of a ‘non-Hindu’.

However, the BHU administration has made it clear that “the appointment has been made as per the University Grants Commission (UGC) rules and the BHU Act in a transparent manner based on the eligibility of the candidate”.

The protestors, in a letter to the BHU vice-chancellor Rakesh Bhatnagar, have claimed that the varsity’s founder, late Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya had termed the SVDV faculty as the heart of the varsity.

“The stone plate of the faculty also contains that this institution is for cultural, religious, historical debates and discussion of Sanatan Hindus and their direct or indirect branches like Arya Samaj, Buddh, Jain, Sikh, etc.”, the letter pointed out.

The protestors said that despite knowing all these facts, a ‘non-Hindu’ has been appointed, which seems to be a conspiracy. They allege that as the new appointment is against the soul and spirit of the institution, it should be cancelled immediately.

BHU spokesman Rajesh Singh said: “The appointment has been made following an interview in the ‘Sahitya’ (literature) department of the faculty of SVDV. The varsity has made the appointment as per the UGC rules and the BHU Act, in which discrimination on the basis of caste and creed has no place. The appointment has been made with full transparency and only on the basis of the eligibility of candidate.”

However, he declined to comment on the protests.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/education/bhu-students-protest-over-muslim-professor-s-appointment-in-sanskrit-department/story-Kifl1utx991fkuRnFNqqTI.html

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Only 3-4% of Indian police personnel are Muslim, study finds

APOORVA MANDHANI

7 November, 2019

New Delhi: Muslim representation in Indian police has “remained consistently low” at 3 to 4 per cent, a study by Tata Trusts, the philanthropist arm of Tata Group, has found.

According to the Trusts’ ‘India Justice Report’, the number stood at 8 per cent even for Jammu and Kashmir, India’s lone Muslim-majority state that was bifurcated into two union territories last month.

Released Thursday, the report notes that most states fall short of fulfilling quota requirements for the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) at the level of police officers.

Karnataka, the report states, is the only state to have “very nearly” filled officer-level quotas in all caste categories.

The study is an initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with NGOs Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause, Daksh and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, along with Prayas, a Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) initiative to help undertrials, and thinktank Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy.

While the report makes observations about all states and union territories, the rankings for justice delivery capacity only accounts for 18 large and mid-sized states, where “90 per cent of India’s population lives”, and seven small ones. Information is drawn from government data to assess trends on police, prisons, judiciary and legal aid across India.

However, the report does not use a single baseline, instead relying on the date for which latest data is available under each sub-head — for police, it is 1 January 2017, prisons 31 December 2016, 2018 for the judiciary, and January 2019 for legal aid.

Overall, the report identifies Uttar Pradesh as having the worst justice delivery system among large states, and Maharashtra as the best. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Haryana follow Maharashtra in the latter category.

Women’s presence in police force low

According to the report, only 7 per cent of the police personnel in the states studied are women. There are only four states and as many union territories where women comprise more than 10 per cent of the police force, the study adds.

At 18 per cent and 15 per cent, Chandigarh and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, respectively, have the highest share of women in their police force. Tamil Nadu, where women comprise 13 per cent of the police force, is the top ranker among states, followed by Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra, both with 12 per cent.

Another notable finding of the report is that 47,557 police personnel are deployed to protect 14,841 VIPs. This conclusion is based on 2012 data from the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D).

India, the study found, also has the lowest incarceration rate (number of prisoners per 1 lakh population) in South Asia. Thirty-three of every 1 lakh Indians are in prison, a far cry from the figure for India’s BRICS partners Brazil and Russia, which clock in at 301 and 445, respectively. The US has an incarceration rate of 698.

A judge for every 50,000 people

The study suggests some startling findings about the Indian judiciary. For example, it states that there is just one subordinate court (district court, sessions court) judge for every 50,000 people in 27 states and union territories.

In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh, this ratio exceeds one judge for every 1 lakh people. Delhi and Chandigarh have been adjudged marginally better, with one subordinate court judge for every 35,000 people.

The report, however, cautions, “A simple judge to population formula tempts the conclusion that fewer judges means longer waits and higher arrears, but no direct causality can be readily drawn between the two.”

In 21 states/UTs, the report claims, a case is pending for five years or more. The numbers vary greatly within the group, with cases in Gujarat’s subordinate courts remaining pending for up to 9.5 years on average, the report adds.

Full report at:

https://theprint.in/india/governance/only-8-of-policemen-in-muslim-majority-jk-are-muslim-study-finds/317337/

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Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi to meet Waqf custodians now to allay fears

ET Bureau

Nov 8, 2019

NEW DELHI: As part of confidence-building campaign, the Centre will hold a meeting of Mutawalis (custodians) of Waqf properties, such as mosques, dargahs and madrasas, on Friday, after the scheduled National Waqf council meeting.

Minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told ET that the meeting will be held in Kochi and around 300 custodians of Waqf properties are expected to participate in it. "The message is to address the apprehension of Muslims with regard to the religious properties and give them as an assurance that the government will not allow any violation of law with regard to sentiments of Muslims."

"We felt a large section of clergy and scholars, particularly of the south were left out in the meeting, so we want to speak with them too, to address their apprehensions." A member of the council, Naushad T.O said the meeting is coming at a time when the "government understands its responsibility to reach out to the Muslim community which could be feeling vulnerable."

On Friday, Naushad added, minister Naqvi is expected make important announcements to allay the anxieties of the community, with respect to their mosques.

The UP Sunni Waqf Board is a defendant in the Babri Masjid demolition case, and has argued that there is no proof by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to show that a temple was destroyed to build the mosque at the impugned site, which is under its possession.

According to existing rules, Wakf property cannot be sold under any circumstances but can be lease for a maximum period of three years, renewed every years.

Wajahat Habibullah, Former Chairperson of the National Commission on Minorities however said while the council does have some authority under legislation, the waqf boards do not really command much influence on the community.

"They are regarded as mainly instruments of the government. Their responsibility is to recover Waqf properties, under issues that are defined, and retain their security, none of which we have been successfully doing. There are huge waqf properties that have come down since Mughal, much of which has been squandered or is under illegal possession often with the connivance of waqf boards."

Habibullah added what the government needs to be doing right now, is reassuring people, and keep up the vigilance so that the properties under them are not used to provoke communal feelings. "There are methods of provocation that are often done such as slaughtering a cow etc. Since the properties are under their watch, they must be vigilant in these sensitive times."

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/mukhtar-abbas-naqvi-to-meet-waqf-custodians-now-to-allay-fears/articleshow/71965843.cms

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Babri Masjid Verdict: Maulana Arshad Madani Appeals To All the Countrymen to Accept The Verdict Of The Supreme Court

by Sameer

November 07, 2019

New Delhi: President of Jamiat-ul-Ulema of India, Maulana Arshad Madani appealed to all the countrymen to accept the verdict of the Supreme Court which is likely to be pronounced next week.

He further told that it is better in the interest of the solidarity of the country to maintain communal harmony.

He was addressing a press conference in New Delhi yesterday.

He also told that his organization made an attempt to resolve it through legal means instead of taking it to the roads.

In order to present the case of the Muslims, competent and experienced lawyers were engaged who presented the case with concrete evidence.

He stated that it is not only the case of the ownership of the property but it is associated with the supremacy of the constitution and the rule of law.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/babri-masjid-verdict-heres-what-maulana-arshad-madani-appeals-1720572/

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Mayawati’s Muslim outreach to undo damage due to BSPs stand on Article 370 & Triple Talaq

NOV 07, 2019

NEW DELHI: Mayawati appointing Muslim leaders to the senior posts in the party, Danish Ali again as Leader of the party in Lok Sabha and Munquad Ali as the state party president, seems an outreach to the Muslim community after the perception took root that BSP had let down Muslims on the issues of Triple Talaq and Article 370.

The desertion of the Muslim vote is seen as a strong reason for the party’s disastrous performance in the recent by-polls in the state where BSP failed to win a single seat.

Though this was the first time that Mayawati decided to contest by-polls, the verdict is seen by observers in the state as a vote of no-confidence in the BSP after the party abstained from voting during the passage of the Triple Talaq law in Rajya Sabha and went on to vote in favour of the government on the issue of abrogating Article 370.

The Samajwadi party, which took up cudgels against the government on both issues in the Parliament, has cornered BSP on the issue and projected itself on the ground as the true representative of the Muslim interests, a senior Samajawadi party leader told ET.

A person closely involved with the BSP told ET that Mayawati is now impressing upon her cadres to take the message to people that she did not act under BJP’s pressure or irection on the issues of Triple Talaq or Article 370 and that the vote in favour of the latter was in line with Bhim Rao Ambedkar’s vision and the decision went in favour of the Buddhists of Ladakh. This however does not explain why the party’s AmrohaMP, Danish Ali, was removed abruptly in August by Mayawati as the LOP in Lok Sabha and now re-instated again in the post on Thursday. Ali was said to be against the party’s approach on issues of Triple Talaq and Article 370 and wanted the party to vote against the Article 370 move like Samajwadi Party and Congress did.

Full report at:

https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/mayawatis-muslim-outreach-to-undo-damage-due-to-bsps-stand-on-article-370-triple-talaq/articleshow/71957974.cms

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Soldier killed as Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in J&K's Poonch

Nov 8, 2019

POONCH: A soldier was killed as Pakistan violated ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on Friday, an Army official said.

Pakistan fired at forward posts along the LoC around 2.30 am in Krishnaghati sector in Poonch, in which the Army personnel was killed, the official said.

Indian troops carried out retaliatory firing, he added.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/army-jawan-martyred-in-pak-ceasefire-violation/articleshow/71964604.cms

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SC to Ghulam Nabi Azad on restrictions in Kashmir: Should authorities have waited for riots to take place?

Nov 7, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on his opposition to the imposition of various restrictions following the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status, and asked if the authorities should have "waited for riots to take place".

"In an issue like this, why cannot apprehension be there that the entire area or the place may be disturbed?" a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana asked Azad's party colleague and counsel Kapil Sibal, who argued that it was a "colourable exercise of power" on the part of the authorities to impose restrictions, including on communication and transportation.

The senior advocate was arguing that without having materials to support their apprehensions about danger to public tranquillity, the authorities cannot impose such restrictions.

He argued before the bench, also comprising justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai, how the government can assume that the entire population would be against it and there would be law and order problem.

"In the 10 districts of the valley, was it necessary to paralyse seven million people like this? They have to show the materials," Sibal said, adding, "Here, we are not talking about rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir. We are talking about rights of people of India."

He said that the authorities may have apprehensions about law and order problem there but they need to have materials to back their apprehensions.

The bench asked, "Should they have waited for riots to take place?"

Responding to this, Sibal said, "How can they assume that riots will take place? It shows there is assumption in their minds and there are no materials. They can have intelligence input to say so."

He said that state has wide powers and if the situation arises, the authorities may impose section 144 (power to issue order in cases of nuisance on apprehended danger) of the CrPC.

Sibal said it is the bounden duty of the State to protect not only the rights of citizens but also those who are in need.

"What is happening in Jammu and Kashmir, people of India are entitled to know," he said while referring to restrictions imposed on modes of communication there.

"This is a complete misuse of section 144 of CrPC. It is colourable exercise of power. It is constitutionally impermissible," he said, adding, "You cannot say that everyone living in a district may disturb the peace."

He said in an extraordinary situation, it can happen but the authorities must have materials to back their apprehensions.

He said that orders imposing restrictions were passed on August 4, a day before abrogation of provisions of Article 370 giving special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

"Why you have assumed that the entire population will be against this and on what basis?" he said during the arguments which would continue on November 14.

The bench then told Sibal, "If that is so, then there cannot be any section 144 at any place."

The apex court also said in case of curfew imposed in an area, in some circumstances some people might suffer.

He said the government can impose restrictions in certain areas under section 352 (proclamation of emergency) but that has to be passed by Parliament.

Sibal said the State should have taken care of exigencies and steps to protect the fundamental rights, including that of livelihood, of the citizens.

He also argued that Jammu and Kashmir has suffered an economic loss of Rs 10,000 crore due to the restrictions imposed there.

During the hearing, Sibal also referred to the odd-even road rationing scheme which is presently in force in Delhi.

"Everything about the scheme is odd. Everyone do not have two cars or motorcycles," he said, adding that he had bought a hybrid car so that he could get exemption, but this time it has not been exempted.

The bench said two-wheelers are exempted in the odd-even scheme.

It also said that women, who are driving four-wheelers and are not accompanied by men, are also exempted from the odd-even scheme.

The apex court had on September 16 allowed Azad to visit four districts in Jammu and Kashmir for assessing the impact on life of daily wagers due to the situation prevailing after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370.

Azad's counsel had earlier told the court that there were reports that daily wagers involved in farming and working in apple orchards were facing serious problems and loss of livelihood due to the clampdown prevailing in the state.

His counsel had said that Azad had thrice tried to visit the state on August 8, 20 and 24, but was sent back from the airport itself.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sc-to-ghulam-nabi-azad-on-restrictions-in-kashmir-should-authorities-have-waited-for-riots-to-take-place/articleshow/71960496.cms

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UP Police using drones for surveillance in Ayodhya ahead of SC verdict

Nov 7, 2019

AYODHYA: With the Supreme Court's verdict in the Ayodhya case expected any day now, Uttar Pradesh is conducting surveillance with drones in the district.

"We have deployed drones in Nayaghat, Nageswarnath, Ram ki Paidi, Hanumankupa road and some areas of Ayodhya. We get a real-time assessment with drone surveillance. We also can track people with this. Drones are good for the security purpose," Ayodhya Circle Officer, Arvind Chaurasia told ANI.

In order to maintain the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh during and after the pronouncement of judgement on the Ram Janambhoomi- Babri masjid case, the Centre has given Uttar Pradesh almost 4000 extra Paramilitary personnel.

The central government is aware that even the smallest of security-related incidents could spark reactions in other states hence there is close coordination between top security departments of both the centre and UP. Strict instructions have been given right down to the police station level that no breach of government directives on security must be tolerated.

A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court has concluded the hearing in the Ayodhya land dispute case and reserved its verdict.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/up-police-using-drones-for-surveillance-in-ayodhya-ahead-of-sc-verdict/articleshow/71960118.cms

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Badruddin Ajmal writes to Union home ministry seeking ban on book allegedly demeaning Islam; author denies the claim

Kangkan Acharyya

Nov 07, 2019

Even as the nation awaits the verdict of the Ram Janambhoomi and Babri Masjid case with bated breath, Assam MP Maulana Badruddin Ajmal has written a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs demanding a ban on a recently published book on Islam citing a fear that it might cause communal tension.

The letter also demands arrest of its writer Satya Ranjan Bora, who is also a leader in the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the BJP.

The book, written in the Assamese language with the title Islam Aru Quranor Kalankita Kothabur, was launched in the Guwahati Press Club on Sunday and has attracted a major controversy in the state.

Ajmal, who leads the All India United Democratic Front, claims in the letter that the book has severely affected the emotions and hurt religious sentiments of Muslims.

“The author of the book has very nastily misinterpreted the verses of The Quran. The book made fun of the ‘Sunnah’ of our beloved prophet using highly objectionable language. The book has described the religion of Islam as a threat to other religions and communities,” the MP said in the letter.

Ajmal further expressed apprehension that as the judgment on the Babri Masjid case is likely to be delivered by the Supreme Court soon, this book may create communal tension affecting the law and order situation in the country, particularly in Assam.

The book, which is in the eye of the storm, cites 52 verses of The Quran raising questions on the status of women in Islam, the meaning of Jihad, Islamisation and also practices like Nikah Halala.

“In Quran, the word Jihad is used multiple times. In the real world too we have seen terrorist groups killing people in the name of Allah. Is this what Jihad means?” Bora told Firstpost.

The author also evoked the issue of population control policy adopted by the state government in Assam which was opposed by Ajmal.

“In a verse in the Quran, women are compared with fertile agricultural fields. Is this what the status of women in Islam?” he asked.

Recently, the Government of Assam adopted a two-child policy barring anyone to apply for state government jobs if a person has more than two children. The policy is an attempt in population control and it seeks to discourage married couples from having more than two children. However, the policy faced opposition from Ajmal.

"Muslims will continue to produce children and they will not listen to anyone despite the government bringing a law to stop Muslims from having jobs," the AIUDF chief had said.

Bora questioned whether Islamisation through population growth is the motive behind Ajmal’s opposition to the two-child policy.

“Is it because the Quran has asked Muslim men to consider the women as agricultural fields that produce crops that Ajmal opposes the two-child policy? Ajmal is certainly carrying ahead the agenda of Islamisation in Assam. Then why he would oppose the two-child policy,” he said.

The writer also heavily criticised the practice of Nikah Halala in his book.

Significantly, Assam is a state in which Muslims have a living history of nearly eight hundred years. The Assamese Muslims, which are divided into three distinct ethnocultural religious groups, have not only evolved a native Islamic culture of their own but also have lived in complete harmony with people of different religions.

Moreover, a study conducted by Tezpur University shows that a number of districts in Assam which have a denser population of Assamese Muslims have recorded a lower birth rate among Muslims than Hindus.

Interestingly, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind also plans to respond to the allegations made by Bora by publishing a book of their own.

Full report at:

https://www.firstpost.com/india/badruddin-ajmal-writes-to-union-home-ministry-seeking-ban-on-book-allegedly-demeaning-islam-author-denies-the-claim-7617461.html

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Pak invites Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for Kartapur inauguration

by shameen

November 08, 2019

New Delhi: Pakistan has invited spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the inaugural ceremony of the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor, which connects Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, Pakistan with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.

“The opening of the Kartarpur Corridor and promotion of religious tourism also coincides with your objective of Violence-Free World,” the invitation letter sent to Ravi Shankar read.

The Kartarpur Corridor is set to open on Saturday and both countries are set to hold ceremonies to mark the occasion.

The three-km corridor will allow Sikh pilgrims direct access to the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak Dev passed away in 1539.

The corridor will facilitate visa-free movement of Indian pilgrims, who will have to obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib.

The inauguration ceremony for the Corridor on the Indian side will also be held on Saturday.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/pak-invites-sri-sri-ravi-shankar-kartapur-inauguration-1721414/

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Hotel Mumbai dialogues based on real phone transcripts of 26/11

by Neha

November 07, 2019

Mumbai: Filmmaker Anthony Maras, who helms the upcoming film “Hotel Mumbai”, says he used transcripts of original phone conversations between the staff at The Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai and the rescue team during the fateful 26/11 attack.

“Hotel Mumbai” is based on the brutal 26/11 terrorist attacks of 2008. The film stars Dev Patel, Anupam Kher, Armie Hammer and Nazanin Boniadi.

Maras and co-writer John Collee were not only able to gauge the situation better through the recordings but these recordings also rendered authenticity to the dialogues.

Maras said: “It all started when I saw the ‘Surviving Mumbai’ documentary. We got very easy access to the transcripts and access to the people who have lived through it. We spent a great deal of time just listening and making the focus on these stories. We met them in person or via video calls to get access to just hearing of what these survivors had to say, to know what was it to live through such an experience.”

“Hotel Mumbai” will release on November 29, in Hindi, English, Tamil and Telugu languages.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/hotel-mumbai-dialogues-based-real-phone-transcripts-26-11-1721174/

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia calls on Iran to fully cooperate with UN nuclear watchdog

8 November 2019

Saudi Arabia has affirmed its support and appreciation for the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and its inspectors’ professionalism and high transparency.

According to the report by Saudi Press Agency (SPA) from Vienna, this came in a speech delivered by Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Ambassador to the Republic of Austria and the Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and international organizations in Vienna.

The special session of the IAEA Board of Governors was held on Thursday concerning the implementation of the safeguards agreement under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Additional Protocol in Iran.

Prince Abdullah indicated that the Deputy Director-General’s briefing on Iran dealt with its delay in providing adequate information consistent with the results of testing samples taken by the IAEA from an undisclosed site where nuclear materials were detected and this site has been cleared before being visited by the IAEA inspectors without providing any logical explanations identical to the analysis and testing of the samples during the last 11 months.

In his speech, Prince Abdullah expressed the Kingdom’s condemnation of Iran’ ongoing pursuit of this approach. He said the Iranian regime’s history is replete with deception and evasion, including the concealment of sensitive parts of its nuclear program, which undoubtedly confirms Iran’s non-peaceful program and its ambition to possess nuclear weapons.

Prince Abdullah also expressed the Kingdom’s happiness at the arrival of the detained inspector from Iran to the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, noting that the complacency in taking deterrent measures and actions against Iran for its actions against persons enjoying the privileges and immunities being guaranteed to them by international treaties inside the Iranian territory, will encourage its regime to repeat them in the future, especially in light of its record of such violations and lack of respect for international conventions and norms.

The Saudi envoy to the UN also stressed the need to call on Iran to fully cooperate without delay with the IAEA in providing the information required, and to respect the immunities and privileges of IAEA inspectors, in addition to providing the appropriate conditions for them to do their work properly.

Prince Abdullah also called on the Agency to intensify verification and monitoring efforts in Iran in order to unveil more information concerning its nuclear activities, and any other undeclared sites that Iran is likely to use in this regard, especially in light of hostile policies towards the countries of the region and the world at large, and its tendency towards expansion and domination.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/08/Saudi-Arabia-calls-on-Iran-to-fully-cooperate-with-UN-nuclear-watchdog.html

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Saudi recruitment of Twitter workers reflects insider risks

November 08, 2019

Allegations that two former Twitter employees spied on users for the Saudi government have spotlighted the threat posed by insiders who exploit their access to the mountains of sensitive data held by tech companies.

The Twitter case adds an alarming international dimension to the longstanding problem of rogue employees who steal information or snoop on others.

"It's stupid to think foreign intelligence services would spend tens of millions trying to hack a company like Twitter when they can pay less than $100,000 to bribe employees," cybersecurity expert Robert Graham of Errata Security said on Thursday.

Detecting insider access isn't easy, despite the availability of tools to do so, experts say. Yet the wealth of data that these companies have turned them into lucrative targets.

Companies that provide email, social media, search and other services have troves of personal data, including users' location, hobbies, political views and connections to other users. Many services also have users' private emails and other conversations.

While activists fearing repercussions might use a pseudonym in public posts, that's ultimately tied to a real account. An employee can look up the email address or phone number used to sign up and the locations used to access the app.

The coordinated spying effort unveiled on Wednesday included the user data of over 6,000 Twitter users, including at least 33 usernames for which Saudi Arabian law enforcement had submitted emergency disclosure requests to Twitter, investigators said.

Most big tech platforms already take measures to prevent employees from abusing their position to spy on a crush they saw on Tinder.

Detecting well-instructed moles working for foreign governments is a "whole different kind of problem" because they may be cannier about what data they access and how to justify it, said John Scott-Railton, a researcher with the internet watchdog Citizen Lab.

He said companies can erode collaboration and trust if they put up too many silos, but they become a target if they put up too few.

Wednesday's federal complaint in San Francisco alleged that the Twitter employees were able to access the private data, including a user's email account, despite holding jobs that didn't require access to Twitter users' private information. That violated company policy, according to the complaint.

Ahmad Abouammo and Ali Alzabarah were charged with acting as agents of Saudi Arabia without registering with the United States government. Prosecutors say they were rewarded by Saudi royal officials with a designer watch and tens of thousands of dollars funnelled into secret bank accounts.

Twitter said in a statement that it "limits access to sensitive account information to a limited group of trained and vetted employees", but declined to elaborate on how the breach described by prosecutors happened. A year ago, after reports first surfaced of Twitter insiders targeting Saudi dissidents on the platform, the company said that "no other personnel have the ability to access this information, regardless of where they operate".

It's not clear how Twitter's security practices compare to other tech giants or if they have improved since 2015, when Abouammo and Alzabarah stopped working at the San Francisco company.

Google, Facebook and Apple didn't respond to email and phone requests for comment on Thursday on how they prevent rogue employees from accessing users' email and other online services. Microsoft, which owns LinkedIn, declined comment.

"We should not assume that the Saudi government is the only government that has thought about doing this," said Suzanne Spaulding, a former undersecretary for cybersecurity at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Spaulding said tech companies that are holding so much private data need to do a better job of segregating that data and limiting who can see it.

"These are people who didn't need access to this information to do their job," she said of the indicted former Twitter employees.

Jake Williams, president of Rendition Infosec and a former U.S. government hacker, said no one should be surprised when a foreign intelligence service infiltrates a big tech company. He said better auditing inside company networks can detect the espionage.

"Too often, logging is written purely for the purposes of troubleshooting outages and service issues, not tracking insiders," he said.

But Tarik Saleh, a security engineer at DomainTools, said it takes resources for companies to look for anomalies in employees' access to data. While artificial intelligence systems in recent years have had moderate success in automatically scanning for unusual activity, "once you're in the weeds, it's extremely difficult", he said.

"Very few organisations can do it right, even sophisticated ones like the NSA or the CIA."

Tony Cole, chief technical officer at Attivo Networks, said that rather than focus solely on detecting unauthorised access, it's better for companies to limit data access to authorised individuals to begin with. Such systems can also flag unauthorised attempts, he said.

Some cybersecurity firms offer not just monitoring but active measures to try to detect employee misbehaviour such as introducing as bait bogus data with commercial value and seeing if workers suspected of previous wrongdoing take that bait, said Alex Holden, chief security officer of Hold Security in Milwaukee.

Experts said tech companies particularly social media and email providers must recognise that they will be targets of insider threats given the types of information they hold.

"We've talked to them about it for years and they've kind of listened with half an ear maybe," former FBI counterintelligence agent Frank Montoya said.

Holden said the new cases of data abuse that pop up every month point to "a certain amount carelessness among companies". Facebook recently made headlines when it disclosed that it had left millions of user passwords exposed on its network in plaintext that should have been encrypted.

And then there was the CapitalOne hack, in which a former Amazon Web Services employee who knew her way around the network stands accused of obtaining records on roughly 100 million people.

Until recently, tech companies were also routinely letting employees and contractors review users' audio interactions with digital assistants. While that was done to improve services, many of the conversations leaked.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1515630/saudi-recruitment-of-twitter-workers-reflects-insider-risks

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Protests in Hezbollah stronghold continue despite intimidation

Sunniva Rose

Nov 7, 2019

Standing on top of a truck blasting revolutionary music through the Lebanese city of Baalbek on Tuesday evening, 36-year-old Adel Dalati, a school supervisor, screamed encouraging words into a microphone to the crowd behind him: “You are free people! You are those that fear no-one! You are the real heroes!”

Standing below on the pavement, a coffee vendor smiled. “My heart grows bigger, honestly. We have not seen such unity in Lebanon’s history,” said 45-year old Mohamed Hujeiry.

Defying attempts by Hezbollah supporters to intimidate them with violence or indirect pressure, protesters have continued gathering in Baalbek to demand the ousting of their leaders, three weeks since a suggested tax increase sparked the country’s biggest demonstrations in decades in Lebanon.

Baalbek, in the south east of Lebanon, is a Hezbollah stronghold where peddlers sell yellow t-shirts labelled with the party’s green logo to tourists visiting its monumental Roman ruins. Giant portraits of the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, are everywhere.

It is also one of the country’s main poverty pockets, along with Tripoli in the North and Sidon in the South, where corruption and lack of basic services such as healthcare and education are more acutely felt than in the rest of the country.

But Hezbollah, a party that traditionally prides itself on helping the poor, has strongly pushed back against protests that have directly targeted the corruption of the ruling elite that has ruled the country since the end of the civil war in 1990.

The Shiite group, which built its legitimacy in the eyes of the Lebanese public through its armed resistance against the 18-year-long Israeli occupation of South Lebanon, has been represented in Parliament for 27 years and in successive consensus governments for 14 years.

Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has warned his followers that protesters are manipulated by political parties. Supporters of Hezbollah and its Shiite ally Amal attacked protest groups in Beirut, Tyre and Nabatieh.

As a result of Mr Nasrallah’s warnings and the ensuing violence, protests in the party’s strongholds have quietened down. Numbers have also diminished in areas outside of Hezbollah’s control as roadblocks are lifted and many Lebanese go back to work.

In Baalbek, a Shiite majority city, protesters were careful to not directly attack Hezbollah. Instead, they slammed all Lebanese political parties, accusing them of mismanagement, and called for them to resign.

One exception was 28-year old Hiba Al Chayah, who recounted how Hezbollah supporters fired gunshots in the air as they drove through the crowd during the first days of the protests, forcing them to relocate from the entrance of Baalbek to a square that faces the Roman ruins where traffic is less dense.

“People were afraid and stopped coming for a bit but now, thank God, they have come back,” she said, a few minutes before the march through Baalbek’s market took off.

“I am not afraid,” she laughed. “Shooting happens all the time in Baalbek. This is one of the reasons why we are protesting. We want the government to bring this area under the rule of law.”

Rejecting traditional divisions among sectarian lines, protesters saluted Lebanese cities that have taken part in protests since October 17, from Christian-majority Jal el Dib to Sunni Muslim Tripoli

Locals closely watched the dozen or so protesters marching through the city’s markets. Though joyful music was blaring, the atmosphere surrounding participants, who called loudly for others to join them, was sometimes tense.

A group of men standing on the pavement said they were there to protect protesters against “problems”. Asked what those could be, they declined to specify, answering instead that “all of Baalbek is with them”.

Most protesters were women, waving small Lebanese flags and carrying placards with slogans directed against Lebanese politicians including: “There is no trust, no negotiation. Resign!”.

Asked why the crowd was mostly female, one of the protesters said local thugs had beaten up male protesters, discouraging them from joining.

As she spoke, men crowded around her to listen to what she said to a foreign journalist. The woman, who asked not to be named, stopped speaking, hinting that the situation was dangerous for her.

The next day the same protester wrote in a text message: “Parties dominate our country and every party controls a region. Baalbek is subservient to one of them. Because of this, there is danger”. She did not mention Hezbollah.

One activist, Mohamed Dib Osman, said that his car was destroyed one night soon after protests started, but that he did not know who was behind the attack.

“Of course, there has been pressure from the parties in charge here. They told people on Whatsapp and Facebook not to go out, that [bad] things would happen” he told The National.

Asked if those parties were Hezbollah and Amal, he answered, “Hezbollah, Amal, all of them, including [the Prime Minister’s Sunni-majority] Future Movement. They are all corrupt.”

As the protest wound down, protesters lit their phones and sang the mournful anthem, My Homeland, which has rallied protesters all over the Arab world from Iraq to Palestine and Lebanon.

Jumping off the truck, Adel Dalati said he was proud that Baalbek was also part of the nation-wide protests.

“They say that in Baalbek people do not take to the streets, that people here just follow a party. We told them, today you will see our response. We will get bigger and bigger until we get our rights,” he said. “Today, we showed that Baalbek is united in its pain.”

Listening closely, a local restaurant-owner shot back: “if you dare cut the roads in front of my restaurant, I will kill you.”

The discussion quickly became heated as both men accused each other of not representing people’s demands.

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/protests-in-hezbollah-stronghold-continue-despite-intimidation-1.934136

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Syrian Kurds Resume Fight Against Islamic State, Leader Says

By Glen Carey

November 7, 2019

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have resumed operations alongside the global coalition fighting Islamic State, a sign that ties between the U.S. and the Kurds are mending after Turkey sent forces across the border to establish a safe zone in northeastern Syria.

The SDF is “resuming its joint program of work” to combat Islamic State and to secure infrastructure in northeastern Syria, Kurdish General Mazloum Abdi said on Wednesday on Twitter. The work will depend on the “current stage and new developments on the ground,” he said.

Mazloum Abdî مظلوم عبدي

@MazloumAbdi

As a result of series of meetings with Coalition leaders, #SDF is resuming its joint program of work with the Coalition to combat #ISIS and securing the infrastructure of NE #Syria. According to the current stage and new developments on the ground.

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President Donald Trump was widely criticized last month for giving the green light to Turkey to launch its military operation against the Kurdish fighters. The decision was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, where Trump’s move was regarded as the betrayal of a loyal ally and bulwark against Islamic State.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have resumed operations alongside the global coalition fighting Islamic State, a sign that ties between the U.S. and the Kurds are mending after Turkey sent forces across the border to establish a safe zone in northeastern Syria.

The SDF is “resuming its joint program of work” to combat Islamic State and to secure infrastructure in northeastern Syria, Kurdish General Mazloum Abdi said on Wednesday on Twitter. The work will depend on the “current stage and new developments on the ground,” he said.

Mazloum Abdî مظلوم عبدي

@MazloumAbdi

As a result of series of meetings with Coalition leaders, #SDF is resuming its joint program of work with the Coalition to combat #ISIS and securing the infrastructure of NE #Syria. According to the current stage and new developments on the ground.

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10:46 PM - Nov 6, 2019

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President Donald Trump was widely criticized last month for giving the green light to Turkey to launch its military operation against the Kurdish fighters. The decision was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, where Trump’s move was regarded as the betrayal of a loyal ally and bulwark against Islamic State.

Mazloum warned after Turkey’s move that the SDF wouldn’t be able to fight Islamic State and Turkey at the same time and that his fighters would be forced to abandon prisons they’ve been guarding that hold Islamic State prisoners.

Separately, James Jeffrey, the U.S. envoy for Syria engagement and the special envoy to the coalition to defeat Islamic State will meet senior Turkish leaders and members of the Syrian opposition in Ankara and Istanbul from Nov. 8-9, the State Department said on Wednesday.

Full report at:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-11-06/syrian-kurds-resume-fight-against-islamic-state-leader-says

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3 IS militants killed in eastern Iraq

2019-11-06

BAGHDAD, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi security forces Wednesday killed three Islamic State (IS) militants, including one prominent IS leader, in a military operation in Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, a security source said.

Based on intelligence information, Iraqi security forces carried out artillery shells against an IS hideout in a village, some 60 km north of Diyala's capital city of Baquba, Alaa Alsady, a police officer from Diyala province told Xinhua, adding the bombing killed the IS leader and his two companions.

A joint force of the Iraqi army, police and paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units has been conducting search operations to track down the remnants in the northeast of the province.

The security situation in Iraq was dramatically improved after Iraqi security forces fully defeated the extremist IS militants across the country late in 2017.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-11/06/c_138533699.htm

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Iraqi PM: We are working on budget to help manage Iraq's economy

7 November 2019

Iraq is working on a budget that would help manage the country's economy, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi said on Thursday.

Abdul Mahdi said that the challenges on the country have increased, adding that the majority of countries suffer from debt.

Blocking projects would waste thousands of jobs, the prime minister said, referring to mass protests that have caused unrest across Iraq in recent weeks.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/07/Iraqi-PM-We-are-working-on-budget-to-help-manage-Iraq-s-economy.html

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Lebanon’s Hariri meets Aoun, says will continue talks

7 November 2019

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri met President Michel Aoun on Thursday and said after the meeting he would continue to hold talks with the head of state and other parties.

Hariri resigned as prime minister last week.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/07/Lebanon-s-Hariri-meets-Aoun-says-will-continue-talks.html

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Protesters block Bank of Lebanon entrance, prevent staff from entering building

7 November 2019

Protesters blocked the entrance of a branch of the Bank of Lebanon in Tripoli on Thursday, and prevented staff members from entering the building.

The move came amid continued disruption on the twenty-second day of protests across Lebanon.

In Akkar in north Lebanon, students staged a sit-down outside of their high schools, reported Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA). Students also protested elsewhere in the country, including in Batroun.

On Wednesday, students had protested in front of the Ministry of Education in Beirut, giving renewed momentum to the protests during their third week.

In government, the speaker of parliament and leader of the Amal political party Nabih Berri reportedly met with Salim Sfeir, the Head of the Lebanese Banks Association, according to the NNA. Lebanon's banks have suffered during the crisis, with many remaining closed.

Ratings agency Fitch further downgraded on Wednesday one of Lebanon's largest lenders, Byblos Bank, due to its substantial exposure to the country’s central bank.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/07/Protesters-block-Bank-of-Lebanon-entrance-prevent-staff-from-entering-building.html

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US using ex-Daesh militants to hold onto Syrian oil

Nov 7, 2019

By Robert Inlakesh

(Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer and political analyst who has lived in and reported from the occupied West Bank. He has written for publications such as Mint Press, Mondoweiss, MEMO and various other outlets. He specializes in the analysis of the Middle East, in particular the Palestine-Israel issue. He also works for Press TV as a European correspondent.)

President of the United States Donald Trump recently launched a military operation which claimed the life of Daesh terrorist leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In Trump’s address to the US public he also claimed to have defeated one hundred percent of Daesh’s Caliphate. But is the United States actively working with ex-Daesh militants to hold Syrian oil?

With the recent withdrawal of U.S. support for the Kurdish group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), previously holding the North East of Syria, the United States has attempted to shelter its one true interest in Syria, the Dayr al-Zawr oil fields.

Donald Trump has publicly spoken on a number of occasions about locking down Syria’s oil and it looks as if he is moving towards just that. Trump even indicated on twitter that Syria’s Kurds should abandon their homes and move south towards Dayr al-Zawr province, towards the oil, revealing the lack of compassion felt towards the Kurdish people of the region.

The US is on the oil to stay

The Trump administration announced that they were initially intending to withdraw from North Eastern Syria. But now it seems that this was nothing more than Public Relations stunt, done only to serve the Trump’s re-election campaign next year.

The U.S announced an initial peremptory withdrawal of 100 troops on the 6th of October, later announcing a withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. personnel, which we then found out were being redeployed to Iraq. The troops were also put on standby, to re-enter Syria if combating Daesh was required.

But despite it looking as if Trump had stuck to his words and was withdrawing from Syria, something very different was happening. The U.S. were in fact shifting their presence towards the al-Omar oil fields in Dayr al-Zawr.

In late October the U.S. President decided to redeploy hundreds of troops to Syria, in order to lock down the oil of Syria. The Syrian oil fields of the Dayr al-Zawr province are after all considered a foreign asset under the United States Department of the Treasury.

Recently an official twitter account belonging to a United States Military Spokesman, in part confirmed the nature of the new redeployments to Dayr al-Zawr’s oil sites. The account confirmed that M2A2 Bradley fighting vehicles are now being used in Syria. This is significant because it proves a shift in the type of military equipment used.

The United States seems to be withdrawing its mobile units, which possess greater mobility and light fire power, for heavy fire power units with less mobility. With the usage of smaller mobile units, assumed to have been operated by Special Forces, it may have previously appeared that U.S. military was planning a temporary stay in the region. However, now that it is using heavy mechanized units, which require more resources to service them, it indicates that their stay may be much longer than previously assumed.

US works with former Daesh militants to hold Syrian oil

Ex-ISIS MEMBERS WORKING IN THE DEIR EZZOR MILITARY COUNCIL

During the late stages of October 2017, as the U.S. backed SDF forces advanced towards the al-Omar oil fields in Dayr al-Zawr province, reports began to surface of Daesh defectors joining the ranks of a specific division of the SDF. That division they joined is known as the Dayr al-Zawr Military Council.

The Dayr al-Zawr Military Council was involved in the Island Storm Operation of the SDF against Daesh in Syria’s East and is even treated as a suspect group under the SDF. Vice News has even reported that their journalists were advised to stay away from those in the Dayr al-Zawr Military Council as they were not a trusted group and had shady connections.

The Dayr al-Zawr Military Council in addition to being an untrusted group by the SDF, is also the only group attached to the SDF, which has filmed its members committing war crimes such as gunning down captives in cold blood.

This group is now one of the groups trusted by the United States, to help them guard their oil from potential enemies who may seek to take it away, this includes the Syrian government's forces who are the only ones with a legally justifiable claim to the resources.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/07/610599/Syria-Daesh-US-oil-Dayr-alZawr

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King Salman hosts CIA chief in Riyadh

November 07, 2019

RIYADH: King Salman on Thursday met Gina Haspel, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, in Riyadh.

During the meeting, they discussed topics of mutual interest.

The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, State Minister Dr. Musaed Al-Aiban, Chief of General Intelligence Khalid bin Ali Al-Humaidan, and US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid.

King Salman also met Edgars Rinkēvičs, the Latvian foreign minister, and his accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, they discussed ways to develop and strengthen relations between the two countries.

Also on Thursday, the Council of Saudi Chambers (CSC) received Rinkēvičs to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries.

Rinkēvičs praised strategic relations between the two countries, noting the efforts of the Saudi leadership.

The minister said that he looks forward to future cooperation between CSC and its counterpart in the Latvian market in education, health care, the environment, the pharmaceutical industry and IT.

CSC Vice Chairperson Abdullah Al-Adeem said that delegation exchanges between the two countries contributed significantly to the growth of bilateral relations, adding that despite efforts, trade remains modest at around SR342 million ($91 million) in 2018.

He urged an increase in the exchange of information to keep abreast of the latest opportunities in both markets, and to hold exhibitions to highlight their respective products.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1580616/saudi-arabia

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Muslim World League chief honored in US for promoting peace, global harmony

November 08, 2019

WASHINGTON: The head of the Muslim World League (MWL) has been honored for his global peace efforts, during a tour to the US.

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa was presented with a medal by the National Council on US-Arab Relations for his “highly valued” international work to promote harmony among nations.

Earlier, the MWL’s secretary-general met with US congressman John Curtis, and discussed a number of topics of common interest. Curtis praised Al-Issa’s important role on behalf of the MWL in strengthening ties between countries and peoples, and he hailed the league’s efforts in combating extremism.

Al-Issa also held talks in Washington, DC with Michigan representative, Debbie Dingell, who lauded his work in encouraging religious minorities to adapt in their communities, emphasizing that they had benefited from these efforts in her state of Michigan, which had the largest Muslim community in the US.

The secretary-general said the approach adopted by the MWL was to constantly call on Muslims and all minorities to abide by the constitutions and laws of their countries, and not to receive religious fatwas from outside parties which had nothing to do with where they were living.

In addition, Al-Issa met with the chaplain of the US Senate, Dr. Barry Black. They reviewed a number of topics of mutual interest, most notably the means of establishing religious and national harmony in societies of religious and ethnic diversity, and the need for coordination among world faith institutions in promoting the message of tolerance.

As part of his American tour, the National Council on US-Arab Relations hosted Al-Issa for an open dialogue in the presence of a number of politicians, intellectuals, media professionals and religious leaders.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1580831/saudi-arabia

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Iran 5.9 magnitude earthquake kills at least 5, injures 120

November 08, 2019

TEHRAN: An emergency official says a magnitude 5.9 earthquake in northwestern Iran has killed at least five people and injured 120 others.

Pirhossein Koulivand told state TV about the deaths and injuries early Friday morning.

The quake hit at 2:20 a.m. Friday in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. It says the temblor occurred at a depth of 2 kilometers (1.2 miles).

The US Geological Survey puts the quake’s magnitude at 5.8 at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

Shallow earthquakes tend to cause more damage.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1580861/middle-east

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North America

 

US: 26 Muslims elected in Tuesday's off-year elections

Vakkas Doğantekin  

07.11.2019

About a third of the 81 Muslim-Americans who ran for office in Tuesday’s off-year elections in the U.S. scored electoral victories, according to Muslim-American advocacy groups.

A total of 26 Muslim candidates emerged winners on Tuesday night, and so far this year 34 Muslim candidates won state and local elections, said a joint press release by Muslim advocacy groups the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Jetpac, and MPower Change.

Among the 34 winners in 2019, 16 are women, said the groups, reporting preliminary numbers.

“These electoral victories clearly indicate that American Muslims are stepping up and showing their commitment to public service,” said Nihad Awad, the council’s national executive director.

"American Muslims are running for office in large numbers because more of us are realizing that we have a unique perspective that will help fix massive inequities in healthcare, education, and the criminal legal system,” said Mohammed Missouri, Jetpac’s executive director.

"What do Muslim Americans do during a time of heightened Islamophobia under a xenophobic administration? We run for office and win," said Linda Sarsour, executive director of MPower Change.

Of the 26 Muslim candidates who won on Tuesday, 13 were first-time winners, and the rest were incumbents who were reelected.

Somali immigrant Safiya Khalid, a 23-year-old Democrat who ran for Lewiston City Council in the state of Maine, won her race by a huge margin despite vicious racist attacks on her campaign.

“Community organizers beat Internet trolls,” she told supporters after the victory.

Khalid's win was one of several historic firsts across the country.

In Virginia, Ghazala Hashmi became the first Muslim woman elected to the state senate, while Abrar Omeish became the first Muslim woman to sit on the school board in Fairfax, an affluent Northern Virginia suburb south of Washington, D.C.

Nadia Mohamad, also 23, became the first Muslim woman and first Somali elected to the city council in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Chol Majok, a 34-year-old from South Sudan, became the first refugee elected to public office in Syracuse, New York.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-26-muslims-elected-in-tuesdays-off-year-elections/1638267

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US, UK, KSA, Israel, seek the theft of global resources: Writer

Nov 8, 2019

The United States, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, “and their globalist allies all seek the theft of resources while building a one world system of complete domination and control over all the world's human and material resources,” according to Walt Peretto, an American writer and sociopolitical analyst in Washington.

Footage shows American made weapons arriving in war-ravaged Yemen secretly as the country suffers from the ongoing Saudi aggression.

Released by CNN on Wednesday, the video purportedly shows US-made Oshkosh armored vehicles in the early morning darkness at the Yemeni port of Aden.

The US heavy weaponry and reinforcement were meant to support Saudi Arabia and its allies in their aggression against the impoverished country.

Commenting on this Peretto said, “It's sad and ironic at the same time that US public information 'experts' spread the blame for the September 11th attacks on Saudi hijackers with no jet flying skills, Osama bin Laden (a dialysis patient), and even Saddam Hussein and others...without ever actually addressing the Zionists and Neocons who actually planned and carried out the attacks.”

“They spread the blame by hinting that Saudi Arabia was instrumental in the planning and carrying out of 9/11 - yet the US continues to sell them weapons after invading Afghanistan and Iraq during the post-9/11 confusion.  The Western mainstream media is now reporting that US weapons are arriving in Yemen to aid Saudi Arabia's campaign against Yemeni sovereignty. This after the US announced a 110 billion dollar arms deal with the House of Saud,” he added.

“In reality, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United States, Great Britain and their globalist allies all seek the theft of resources while building a one world system of complete domination and control over all the world's human and material resources. Syria and Yemen remain unwilling participants in this global fantasy--so the United States military machine is now aiding Saudi Arabia in its bloody aggression against its neighbor Yemen, just as Israel and the United States employ mercenaries to destabilize Syria...particularly in the resource  rich North where Kurds are used as pawns as needed,” he noted.

“In Yemen, US military equipment shipped in to aid the Saudi backed forces is portrayed by the US media as part of the phony war on terror that has been the justification of endless US and allied aggression against any country in the Middle East and Northern Africa that is not led by a globalist one-world agenda. Fighting against the US backed Saudi aggressors are the Houthi who receive some aid from Iran. The Western mainstream media hints that the Houthi are one of the enemies on the war on terror to justify US aid to the Saudis. When in fact the Saudi/US alliance is actually a globalist agenda and the Houthi is getting in the way of these goals. Of course American war profiteers reap the benefits of this multi-billion dollar arms deal as another example of short term profits for a few individuals while advancing the long term globalist goals of the finance cartels based mostly in London,” he said.

“For the globalist one-world proponents to achieve their goals, they must have a uniform set of information networks to disseminate their propaganda. In the US, only six corporations own virtually all of the mainstream media. All these sources receive their information from Reuters which was purchased by the globalists well over a hundred years ago, and since former President Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act, all of the US mainstream media now has one source of information to keep thoughts and ideas uniform without the threat of independent research and analysis muddying the waters,” he said.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/08/610652/US-UK-KSA-Israel-seek-the-theft-of-global-resources

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US announces reward up to $10 million for two senior Al-Qaeda leaders

November 07, 2019

WASHINGTON: The United States on Thursday offered a reward of up to $10 million for information on two senior leaders of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the State Department said.

Michael Evanoff, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security, told reporters in a briefing that the department was offering up to $6 million for information on Sa’ad bin Atef Al-Awlaki and up to $4 million for Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud Al-Qosi, who he said have encouraged attacks against the United States.

Rewards for Justice

@Rewards4Justice

BREAKING: Multi-million dollar REWARDS for information that brings two senior leaders of #AQAP to justice. Up to $6 million for al-Awlaki and up to $4 million for al-Qosi. Stop these terrorist extremists and earn a reward. Relocation possible. 💵http://rewardsforjustice.net 💰

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https://www.arabnews.com/node/1580676/middle-east

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US to investigate 'any' claim of weapons misuse in Iraq

Michael Hernandez 

07.11.2019

WASHINGTON

The U.S. would investigate allegations of its weapons being used inappropriately in Iraq, the Pentagon said Thursday amid a mounting death toll among demonstrators. 

"We have a very stringent use requirements, end-user requirements for those we provide military weapons to for sales," Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters. "And we would investigate any allegation that the weapons are being used inappropriately, not the manner in which they were intended."

At least four protesters were killed by security forces gunfire, and dozens more injured by live ammunition Thursday in Baghdad.

In all, nearly 500 people have been killed in successive waves of anti-government protests in Iraq that began in October. Thousands more have been injured.

Hoffman said Defense Secretary Mark Esper sought assurances from Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali al-Hakim and Defense Minister Erfan al-Hiyali "that the peaceful protests would be observed peacefully and be able to continue."

"But at the same time we are there at the invitation of the Iraqi government," he added.

Popular anger has been simmering in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Iraqis have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-to-investigate-any-claim-of-weapons-misuse-in-iraq/1638820

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Turkey, US cooperated in al-Baghdadi killing'

Kasim Ileri  

07.11.2019

WASHINGTON

Daesh/ISIS terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed with military and intelligence cooperation between Turkey and the U.S., said the Turkish defense minister.

“We had some information military-to-military before the operation. At the same time, the military people coordinated among them. We wanted our troops not to cause any conflict,” Hulusi Akar told CNN on Wednesday.

"On the other hand, between our intel agencies there is very close cooperation, and I believe they cooperated and coordinated with the information as well,” he added.

Baghdadi, who was born in Iraq, blew himself up during an Oct. 26 raid by U.S. forces in Idlib, Syria.

Akar said the YPG/PKK terrorists did not withdraw from northern Syria in violation of deals with the U.S. and Russia.

"Both sides, the U.S. and the Russian sides, agree to remove the YPG from those areas,” the minister said. "But still there are lots of violations committed by the YPG/PKK terrorists. So we are fighting against them.”

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring on Oct. 9 to eliminate terrorists from northeastern Syria and create a safe zone along the border, thereby paving the way for the voluntary return of Syrian refugees.

Ankara agreed with Washington on Oct. 17 to pause its operation to allow YPG/PKK terrorists to withdraw from the planned safe zone.

On Oct. 22, Turkey also reached an agreement with Russia on a 10-point plan to force the YPG/PKK group to withdraw from the planned terror-free zone.

Underlining the necessity of a safe zone in northern Syria to bring back refugees, mostly living in Turkey, to their homelands safely and voluntarily, Akar said Turkey needs financial support to build a livable place.

Asked whether Idlib has turned into a safe heaven for Daesh/ISIS terrorists following the operation, Akar emphasized: "It’s not true, it’s impossible."

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkey-us-cooperated-in-al-baghdadi-killing/1638739

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'Trump told Israel to fund Palestinian security forces'

Erdoğan Çağatay Zontur

07.11.2019

U.S. President Donald Trump rejected a request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow U.S. aid to be transferred to Palestinian security forces and told aides months earlier that Netanyahu should pay for it, according to a report.

The U.S.-based Axios news site claimed the State Department realized around six months ago that $12 million in aid to the Palestinian security forces had not been cut as part of a gradual halt by the Trump administration in all funding to the Palestinians but was also never transferred to them.

The department realized the situation after Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and other Israeli officials told their American counterparts they wanted the funds to be transferred to help the Palestinian security forces, who were working with Israelis in the West Bank.

The department said in light of Trump’s policy to cut such funding, the decision would have to be cleared by him.

According to Axios, Trump wasn’t convinced.

"If it is that important to Netanyahu, he should pay the Palestinians $12 million," he told his aides.

The money was never transferred.

The Trump administration has gradually cut all funding to the Palestinians over the last two years, and Netanyahu is known to have played a key role in encouraging it to do so.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/trump-told-israel-to-fund-palestinian-security-forces/1637804

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US welcomes Yemen peace deal between gov't, separatists

Michael Hernandez  

06.11.2019

WASHINGTON

The U.S. welcomed Wednesday a peace pact between the internationally-recognized Yemeni government and southern separatists as a "pivotal" step towards the achievement of a broad political settlement.

"We are hopeful that with this agreement, all parties will work together to end the conflict and to achieve the peace and stability that Yemen’s people deserve," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Signed Tuesday, the deal ends conflict between the internationally-recognized Yemeni government, and the United Arab Emirates-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) over several southern cities.

Yemen’s Deputy Prime Minister Salem al-Khanbashi, representing the Yemeni government; and Nasser al-Khabaji, the representative of the STC, signed the agreement in the presence of Yemeni, Arab and other foreign leaders and politicians.

Ortagus said that through the signing the parties "demonstrated the spirit of compromise needed from all sides to reach a lasting solution," urging all parties to commit to its implementation.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/us-welcomes-yemen-peace-deal-between-govt-separatists/1637566

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Europe

 

Reported Attack In Tajikistan Could Have Broad Implications For Central Asia

November 06, 2019

By Bruce Pannier

A deadly attack on a Tajik border post reported early on November 6 is disturbing for many reasons, including the fact Tajik officials are blaming the so-called Islamic State (IS) militant group for the assault that authorities say left at least two security servicemen and 15 militants dead.

The alleged attack has raised alarms across the southern parts of Central Asia and will no doubt be duly noted by the Kremlin, where officials have long warned of such a possibility. Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, is also sure to take notice.

Tajik security officials have given few details about the attack -- just a few kilometers from Uzbekistan and 60 kilometers west of Dushanbe -- but said in a quickly released statement by the Border Guard Service that 20 people crossed from the Qala-e Zal district in Afghanistan's northern Kunduz Province on November 3 into Tajikistan's Qubodiyon district.

The group -- which reportedly included at least one woman, according to the Interior Ministry -- apparently acquired four vehicles and drove to the Ishkobod border post in the Rudaki region. Some of the attackers are said to have acquired five weapons before they were surrounded after a chase and 15 of them were killed. Five others were allegedly caught a few kilometers away after fleeing and were detained, the statement said.

Photos released by Tajik officials showed several severely burned bodies surrounding two badly damaged vehicles, one completely burnt-out. The pictures -- which included what appeared to be a deceased attacker with his hands bound by plastic handcuffs -- were deleted later on November 6 from the Interior Ministry's website.

Until now there has been no evidence of militants having crossed from Afghanistan into a Central Asian country. It is also noteworthy that the northeastern part of Afghanistan bordering the area near where the attack occurred is known to be under the control of the Taliban, not IS.

Several observers have also pointed to the scant details of the attack and question why the militants would raid a border post to seize weapons when arms are so plentiful in Afghanistan.

Officials in Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Defense and Foreign ministries have said for several years that the IS presence in Afghanistan is growing and could threaten Central Asia.

Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev made such points during a two-day visit to Dushanbe and Tashkent on October 30-31, warning of "challenges and threats to security" in the region.

Russian officials have estimated there are thousands of IS militants in northern Afghanistan near Central Asia.

But before this attack there was no evidence of an incursion into Central Asia by Islamic militants from Afghanistan, though there was a deadly assault on foreign bicyclists near the town of Danghara in July 2018.

A small group of men who had recently sworn allegiance to IS used a car to ram into the bicyclists and then attack them with axes and knives, killing four. Security forces killed four of the assailants and captured a few others, all of whom had been living in Tajikistan.

Watchful Eyes On The Frontier

The identities of those involved in this latest attack have not been revealed by Tajik authorities but the assertion they came from Afghanistan heightens security concerns not only on the Tajik-Afghan border, but also along Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan's borders with war-torn Afghanistan.

Neither of those latter countries is a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, where Russian officials have been ringing the alarm bell about IS in northern Afghanistan for several years.

Coincidentally, there was a meeting on November 6 in Tashkent involving officials from the Russia-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) discussing how best to combat terrorism.

Russian officials have increasingly referred to Central Asia's border with Afghanistan as the "CIS southern border" and chided Turkmenistan for not cooperating with the organization's security efforts.

SCO member China has also helped Tajikistan shore up security in its sparsely inhabited, eastern mountainous regions to prevent militants in Afghanistan from penetrating Tajikistan and crossing into China.

Beijing will likely follow the progress of Dushanbe's investigation into the November 6 attack with great interest.

The day of the attack is also notable as it comes on Tajikistan's Constitution Day, with November 6 being the day, 25 years ago, when Tajiks approved a new constitution and Emomali Rahmon was elected president for the first time.

Whatever the motive for the reported attack and whomever the alleged attackers were, the problem is that IS is being blamed for an attack in Central Asia that was carried out by people who allegedly came from Afghanistan.

If no compelling evidence surfaces to refute the Tajik government's version of events, then the Central Asian countries, Russia, and China may have to reformulate their strategies based on real -- not hypothetical -- threats in Central Asia.

Bruce Pannier writes the Qishloq Ovozi blog and appears regularly on the Majlis podcast for RFE/RL.

https://www.rferl.org/a/reported-attack-in-tajikistan-could-have-broad-implications-for-central-asia/30256653.html

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Muslim preachers must speak German to work in the country under proposed law

Jorg Luyken, berlin

7 NOVEMBER 2019

All imams who work in Germany will in future have to prove they can speak the German language, under a draft law for religious leaders introduced by the government.

The bill, which passed cabinet on Wednesday, means that foreign preachers will only be granted work visas if they can demonstrate basic German. They would then need to show improvements in their language skills after a year in order to prolong their stay.

Although it applies to all religious preachers, the coalition treaty signed by the German government - which includes the rule - specifically refers to imams.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer hailed it as “a vital contribution for successful integration in Germany.” The government justified the move by saying that imams have a central role to play as models of integration for other immigrants, who often turn to mosques for help when they first arrive.

However, the media has reported concerns about clerics preaching in other languages for several years.

There are no official figures on the number of mosques in Germany, nor on where their funding comes from. But authorities suspect that Gulf states including Saudi Arabia have been financing the construction of some mosques in order to spread the fundamentalist Wahhabi Islam practised on the Arabian peninsula. Conservatives complain that, as long as imams preach in other languages, they will feel free to espouse views hostile to democracy.

But Germany's Green party attacked the draft law, saying it will exacerbate the already acute shortage of imams to serve the country’s growing Muslim population. According to a recent study, over 90 percent of imams active in Germany come from abroad.

Criticism also came from the Islamic community. Bekir Altaş, head of the Millî Görüş mosque association, said that many Muslim associations had made German language skills a requirement for preaching in their mosques years ago.

Full report at:

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/11/07/muslim-preachers-must-speak-german-work-country-proposed-law/

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IAEA disputes Iran’s allegation UN inspector tested positive for explosives

7 November 2019

The UN nuclear watchdog disputed on Thursday Iran's allegation that its inspector was blocked from a nuclear site last week because she tested positive for suspected traces of explosive nitrates.

Iran canceled the accreditation of a UN nuclear inspector on Thursday, after she reportedly triggered an alarm last week at entrance to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, according to an online post by the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation (IAEO).

The IAEO said that the inspector had “triggered an alarm” which raised concern that she could be carrying a “suspect product” on her.

The Iranian organization said it had reported the incident to UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and notified it that its inspector’s accreditation had been withdrawn. She had since left Iran for Vienna, where the IAEA is based, it said, without saying when.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Thursday it “does not agree with” Iran’s claims that its inspector was tested positive for traces of explosives, calling Iran’s treatment of the inspector “not acceptable.”

IAEA Acting Director General IAEA Cornel Feruta said the IAEA Board of Governors had been informed “that an agency inspector was last week temporarily prevented from leaving Iran,” a statement from the agency said.

According to the statement, Feruta said: “Preventing an inspector from leaving a country, particularly when instructed to do so by the Agency, is not acceptable and should not occur.”

The US said Iran’s holding of an inspector from the UN nuclear watchdog was an “outrageous provocation” during an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors on Thursday on Iran.

“The detention of an IAEA inspector in Iran is an outrageous provocation. All Board members need to make clear now and going forward that such actions are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and must have consequences,” the US ambassador to the IAEA, Jackie Wolcott, said in a statement to the board.

The European Union voiced ‘deep concern’ over the incident in a statement on Thursday.

In a statement delivered to a special meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an EU representative said: “The EU is... deeply concerned by the incident concerning one IAEA inspector.”

According to a source close to the IAEA, the 35 members of its council of governors will hold a special meeting dedicated to Iran.

On Wednesday, Iran started to inject uranium gas into centrifuges at its underground Fordow nuclear facility, according to reports from Iranian state TV. The move is part of Tehran’s fourth step in scaling back its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal.

By Thursday morning, Iran claimed that the percentage of uranium enrichment in its Fordow nuclear complex had almost reached the levels it was at before the 2015 deal.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/07/Iran-says-it-has-cancelled-the-accreditation-of-UN-nuclear-inspector.html

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France’s Macron says NATO experiencing ‘brain death’

7 November 2019

French President Emmanuel Macron says he believes NATO is undergoing “brain death,” lamenting a lack of coordination between Europe and the United States and aggressive actions in Syria by key member Turkey, in an interview published Thursday.

“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO,” Macron told the Economist magazine in an interview.

“You have no coordination whatsoever of strategic decision-making between the United States and its NATO allies. None. You have an uncoordinated aggressive action by another NATO ally, Turkey, in an area where our interests are at stake,” he added.

Asked whether he still believed in the Article Five collective defence guarantee of NATO’s treaty,

Macron answered, “I don’t know,” although he said the United States would remain an ally.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in Leipzig ahead of the 30th anniversary on Saturday of the fall of the Berlin Wall that is seen by many as NATO’s crowning achievement through its four-decade-long role blunting Soviet expansionism, said the alliance was perhaps one of the most important “in all recorded history.”

Macron has said there is a lack of strategic coordination between European allies on the one hand and the United States and Turkey, with NATO’s second largest military, on the other.

While France has traditionally had an ambivalent role in NATO, taking no part in its strategic military planning from 1966-2009 despite being a founding member, Macron’s comments - a month before NATO’s December 4 summit in London - were unexpected.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and many allies want to project an image of unity at the summit at a time of rising Chinese military might and what NATO leaders see as Russian attempts to undermine Western democracies through cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and covert operations.

Cold war relic?  

NATO was shaken by Trump’s portrayal of it as being in crisis at the last summit in Brussels in July, and its image of unity took a hit when Turkey defied its allies to launch a military incursion into Syria on Oct. 9.

Macron had earlier decried NATO’s inability to react to what he called Turkey’s “crazy” offensive and said it was time Europe stopped acting like a junior ally when it came to the Middle East.

In his interview, he also said the United States was showing signs of “turning its back on us”, as demonstrated by Trump’s sudden decision last month to pull troops out of northeastern Syria without consulting the allies, the French leader said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said he was overreacting.

“The French president has found rather drastic words to express his views. This is not how I see the state of cooperation at NATO,” she told a news conference alongside Stoltenberg in Berlin.

Stoltenberg told Reuters that NATO had overcome differences in the past, citing the 1956 Suez Crisis and the 2003 Iraq War.

Once seen by some as a Cold War relic until Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO needs all its 29 allies on side as it confronts militant attacks in Europe and seeks to defend against the threat of ballistic missiles from Iran to North Korea.

Macron lauded nascent European defense integration initiatives independent of the United States. His so-called European Intervention Initiative has so far brought together nine willing militaries ready to react to crises near Europe’s borders without NATO or the United States.

The European Union has also recently launched its own multi-billion-euro defense plans to develop and deploy military assets together after years of spending cuts that have left European militaries without vital capabilities and reliant on Washington.

“The European Union cannot defend Europe,” Stoltenberg said in a speech in Berlin.

Since taking office in 2017, Trump has accused European NATO allies of not shouldering their fair share of the cost of defending Europe. He demanded they double NATO’s defense spending goal of 2% of economic output, set in 2014.

They retorted that security is not just about spending targets, but all have since raised their defence outlays, though some remain short of the 2% objective.

In a change of policy, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Thursday Berlin would spend 2% of its economic output on defense by 2031, belatedly reaching the goal

set by NATO leaders five years ago.

But with its military bases in Europe and nuclear warheads stored in five NATO countries, the United States remains the ultimate protector of European democracies against an increasingly assertive post-Soviet Russia.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/07/France-s-Macron-says-NATO-experiencing-brain-death-.html

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Scathing criticism for EU over Syrian refugee policies

Nov 7, 2019

Once again the subject of EU asylum policy has been debated in the European Parliament. This time the focus was on reports that refugees are being forced to move from Turkey into war-torn northeastern Syria.

The European Commission says the EU would never fund such returns but scepticism surrounds this pledge. In 2015 the bloc gave six billion euro to Ankara as part of what would become the EU-Turkey deal. Campaigners say the aim was to prevent desperate refugees from reaching the EU.

Rights groups accuse the EU of breaking international laws by creating a so-called 'Fortress Europe' but some believe tight border controls are necessary given that so many EU citizens travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Daesh.

Out of the 5.6 million Syrian refugees in the world, Turkey is hosting 3.7 million, according to the UN.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/07/610570/Scathing-criticism-for-EU-over-Syrian-refugee-policies

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East Germany gripped by surging xenophobia, Islamopobia

Oliver Towfigh Nia  

08.11.2019

BERLIN

Germany marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall this week, but growing xenophobia and Islamophobia in especially formerly communist East Germany is seriously threatening the country's national security.

Three decades after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, German authorities are grappling with the rise of far-right ideology in the eastern part of the country.

The most damning evidence is the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, which crept into the Bundestag in 2017; in parts of eastern Germany it is the most popular party.

The AfD is in fact riding a shocking rise of German Islamophobia and xenophobia. In its annual report on the state of German unity, the German government has warned that Eastern Germany's xenophobia represents a danger to social harmony.

Repeated attacks against refugee centers and Islamic centers in Eastern Germany are proof of the fact that these xenophobic violent acts are a serious danger to Germany's national security.

A case in point was the East Germany-based neo-Nazi terror cell the National Socialist Underground (NSU) which was involved in anti-foreigner killings from 2000-2007.

It took German authorities almost a decade to connect 10 murders against mostly Turkish business owners and trace them to the NSU, sparking an investigative committee in the German Parliament and a national outcry about authorities' blind spots to right-wing terrorism.

The NSU's racially motivated attacks still resonate to this day. Over the past week, high-level politicians from parties representing the whole German political spectrum have received death threats.

This past summer, one of those threats became reality when regional politician Walter Lubcke was gunned down in his home in central Germany. And in October, a right-wing extremist gunman killed two in the eastern city of Halle, after failing to gain entry into a synagogue to carry out a massacre on a Jewish holiday.

Deep-rooted Islamophobia

Around half of the German population has concerns about Islam, according to a recent study on democracy and religious tolerance. But what is the reason behind the negative feeling toward Islam felt by many?

While Germans are generally viewed as tolerant, their attitude toward Muslims is different. This is indicated by a study published by the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s ‘Religion Monitor’.

According to the research, the majority of German citizens (87%) are open to other world views.

But 52% perceive the religion of Islam as a threat. For Germans living in eastern states, the number of people who feel this way (57%) is higher than those in the west of the country where 50% view the religion as a threat.

"Obviously many people currently see Islam less as a religion than as a political ideology and therefore exclude it from religious tolerance," said the foundation's religion expert Yasemin El-Menouar.

In her view, social debates and media reports in recent years, which often put Islam in a negative light, have contributed to these attitudes.

El-Menouar said there was cause for concern because these fears over Islam can be exploited by far-right populist groups.

According to the "Weltanschauliche Vielfalt und Demokratie" (World View Diversity and Democracy) study, 30% of respondents in the east of Germany do not want Muslims as neighbors, compared to 16% in the west.

A country of over 81 million people, Germany is home to the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the country’s nearly 4.7 million Muslims, at least three million are of Turkish origin.

Why do East Germans feel this way?

According to Dresden-based political scientist Werner Patzelt, the reason for the concerns against Muslims can be traced back to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to keep the borders open during the height of the refugee crisis in 2016.

"As a whole, it's because of the immigration politics of Chancellor Merkel back in 2015," he said.

"Germany has had a significant Muslim minority for many years which was a Turkish minority, without significant problems. This was something that passed as normal and nothing to worry about."

However, Patzelt said when Merkel made the controversial decision to allow refugees and migrants to enter the country, German attitudes changed.

He said crimes reportedly committed by asylum seekers and refugees, such as the cases of sexual assault in Cologne in New Year 2015 "gave reason for widespread worries" which added fuel to the fire.

When it comes to eastern Germany, Patzelt said the region has never experienced significant immigration from Muslim countries before, and many people did not want it.

Protests, such as the anti-Islam Pegida demonstrations, which started in the eastern German city of Dresden in 2014, explicitly called for no Muslim immigration into Germany.

Patzelt said these protests "gave voice to many east Germans who have the same anti-Muslim sentiment".

However, because politicians dismissed these demonstrations, anger grew, said Patzelt.

This partly explains why far-right parties such as AfD have grown in support, particularly in eastern German regions.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/east-germany-gripped-by-surging-xenophobia-islamopobia-/1638996

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Use of force against Iraqi protestors 'deplorable': EU

Diyar Guldogan  

07.11.2019

ANKARA

The EU on Thursday voiced concern over ongoing protests in Iraq, saying use of force against protestors is "deplorable".

"Despite repeated calls for restraint, there has been further loss of lives, a great number of injured and destruction of public and private property.

"The excessive use of force against protestors is deplorable," EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

Mogherini said over the past month, the people of Iraq have exercised their fundamental rights, which needs to be respected in line with the Iraqi constitution.

"The reported attacks by armed entities against demonstrators undermine the right to peaceful assembly and the expression of legitimate demands.

"The European Union expects perpetrators of all violations to be held accountable," she added.

The bloc also reiterated willingness to support Iraq in its work to address the citizens' demands.

At least 260 people have been killed and thousands injured in a second wave of protests in Iraq since last week against deep-seated corruption, unemployment and lack of basic services.

More than 230 people have been killed in a first wave of anti-government protests in October.

Popular anger has been simmering in Iraq in recent years due to rising unemployment and rampant corruption. Many people in the country have limited access to basic services such as electricity and clean water.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/use-of-force-against-iraqi-protestors-deplorable-eu/1638358

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Southeast Asia

 

VP Amin draws no connection between radicalism and people's clothing

November 08, 2019

Magelang, C Java (ANTARA) - Vice President Ma'ruf Amin affirmed that the choice and manner of wearing clothing was unrelated to radicalism and intolerance but are instead closely linked to the public’s thought process and behavior.

Amin made the statement while delivering a speech at an event to inaugurate the Syubbanul Wathon Hospital in Magelang, Central Java Province, on Thursday, in connection with a public debate on the issues of religious radicalism and intolerance.

"Now, a public debate is ongoing about intolerance and wearing trousers below the ankles. Indeed, radicalism and intolerance are actually related to the way in which one thinks, behaves, and acts that should be corrected," he noted.

Amin highlighted the need to eradicate the intolerant and radical thought and behavioral process to realize the Onward Indonesia Vision since disunity, radicalism, and intolerance were apparently the gravels that could debilitate the nation and pose a hindrance in its path to realizing the vision.

He drew a parallel between the Onward Indonesia Vision and an aircraft that must take off. To this end, both the government and nation should work in unison to prep it for take-off.

"To enable us to take off quickly, we must prepare a strong and solid runway. Thus, the gravels and muddy roads must be removed. If we fail to do that, it is impossible for us to be able to take off," he noted.

However, Amin emphasized that wearing niqab, or a piece of cloth that several Muslim women wear to conceal the entire face except for the eyes and trousers below the ankles did not reflect the person’s radical and intolerant stance.

The public debate on the issues of religious radicalism and intolerance is fueled by the recent statement of Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi.

Razi was quoted by CNN Indonesia (Oct 31, 2019) as saying that he planned to ban those wearing niqab from entering the government's compounds and that he would study it and incorporate the ban in the religious affairs minister's regulation.

While introducing his new cabinet members on Oct 22, 2019, President Joko Widodo drew attention of appointed Religious Affairs Minister Razi to the pressing need to tackle radicalism.

Furthermore, Vice President Amin brought up issues concerning radicalism during his meeting with Malaysian King Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta'in Billah.

"I called on Malaysia, along with Indonesia, to develop a peaceful and tolerant Islam as 'rahmatan lil alamin' (graceful for the universe), so we can prevent the spread of radicalism in Islam," Amin stated in Tokyo on Oct 22.

He pointed out that Indonesia, with the world's largest Muslim population, along with Malaysia, play a pivotal role in developing Islam wasathiyah, a middle path or moderate Islam that balances the way of life, avoids extremes, and believes in moderation. Both countries are expected to maintain peace in Southeast Asia.

"Indonesia and Malaysia are both Muslim-majority countries. At the same time, the ASEAN is facing the emergence of radicalism and intolerance," Amin pointed out.

Former coordinating minister for political, legal, and security affairs Wiranto also highlighted radicalism as one of the serious tasks that should be handled by his successor, Mahfud MD.

https://en.antaranews.com/news/136171/vp-amin-draws-no-connection-between-radicalism-and-peoples-clothing

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VP Ma’ruf calls on Muslims to increase ‘zakat’ to reduce inequality

November 7, 2019

Vice President Ma’ruf Amin has said the zakat, if managed well, will decrease the welfare gap in the country. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 8th World Zakat Forum 2019 in Bandung, West Java, on Tuesday, Ma’ruf said the zakat alms tax, one of the rukun Islam (five pillars of Islam), could have a direct impact on the social and economic condition in Indonesia, where 90 percent of the population is Muslim. “Islam allows everybody to collect as much halal wealth as possible but there is also an obligation to put aside some wealth to be given to the poor,” said the senior cleric and former Indonesian Ulema Council leader. Ma'ruf said the zakat potential in Indonesia was an estimated Rp 230 trillion but so far only about 3.5 percent, or Rp 8 trillion, of the potential was collected and managed. He expressed concerns over the large unmanaged...

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/11/07/vp-maruf-calls-on-muslims-to-increase-zakat-to-reduce-inequality.html

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Penang to tighten shariah laws to stem spread of other religions to Muslims

Predeep Nambiar

November 7, 2019

GEORGE TOWN: Shariah law in Penang will be “improved” to better deal with those spreading other religions to Muslims.

Deputy Chief Minister I Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman (PH-Pinang Tunggal) said there is already a 1996 state law which prohibits this, with offenders being tried in civil courts.

During Question Time, he said a committee under the Penang Islamic Religious Council (MAINPP) has drafted a new version of the law, taking into account best practices from other states.

Zakiyuddin said under the present law, under Section 5 of the Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Penang) 1996, offenders face a RM3,000 fine or two years’ jail if convicted of spreading religions other than Islam to Muslims.

“Since this section expressly says it ought to be tried in civil courts, the enforcement and arrest would have to be done by the police, with the assistance of the legal adviser of the Penang Islamic Affairs Department.”

Zakiyuddin was replying to a question by Nor Hafizah Othman (BN-Permatang Berangan).

Earlier this week, the opposition bench had raised concerns over the spread of Bibles in Malay and Christian prayers at a missionary school.

However, backbenchers had shot down the concerns, saying the Bible issue was an isolated one and happened five years ago.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/11/07/penang-to-tighten-shariah-laws-to-stem-spread-of-other-religions-to-muslims/

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More religious institutions now but fewer moral values, says Perak sultan

November 7, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Perak ruler Sultan Nazrin Shah says there has been a decline of moral values among Muslims in the country despite an increase in number of Islamic institutions.

He said large-scale corruption had recently been uncovered although more and more from the Malay community were becoming professionals and academics.

“When the country achieved independence, the Malay-Muslim community only knew the Malay academic who went by Pendeta Za’ba. You couldn’t find Malay scholars with philosophy doctorates.

“Yet the country did not see corruption practised on the scale reported today,” he said in his speech at the Golden Jubilee celebration of the National Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia.

He said the Islamic teachings at the time had built strong integrity within the Malay community which prevented them from committing acts that would threaten their dignity.

“It kept many Malay-Muslim officers from doing evil and sinning through breach of trust, corruption and misuse of power,” he added.

He also said Islam used to be taught by teachers who did not have degrees or diplomas, and who travelled by foot or bicycle to teach at huts and suraus.

Yet, he said, they had formed a generation strong in their faith and principles.

He said the Islam he was taught emphasised the values of integrity and trust.

“Is the level of poverty so great that it would cause villagers from two different villages to fight over food that’s not theirs from a lorry spill?

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/11/07/more-religious-institutions-now-but-fewer-moral-values-says-perak-sultan/

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Five Malaysians sentenced to caning for gay sex under Islamic law

07 Nov 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 — Five Malaysian men were sentenced to jail and canings today by an Islamic court for attempting to have gay sex, reports and an activist said.

There have been growing concerns in the Muslim-majority country about the worsening climate for the homosexual community, and the verdicts follow the caning last year of two women for lesbian sex.

An Islamic court in Selangor state, outside Kuala Lumpur, sentenced four of the men to six months in jail and six strokes of the cane as well as fines of RM4,800, newspaper Harian Metro reported.

Another man was sentenced to seven months jail, six strokes of the cane and an RM4,900 fine, the paper said.

The group, who were caught in an apartment outside Kuala Lumpur in November last year, were reportedly convicted of attempting to have intercourse against the order of nature, a crime under Islamic laws.

Gay rights activist Numan Afifi, who attended the court hearing, told AFP the sentences would create a “culture of fear”, adding: “It’s a gross injustice and terrible for our country”.

Malaysia operates a dual-track legal system, with Islamic courts handling some matters for Muslim citizens.

AFP could not immediately contact court officials or the men’s lawyers.

Critics say there is growing pressure on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Malaysia.

As well as the caning of the two women last year under shariah law, the Islamic affairs minister has spoken out against homosexuals and ordered pictures of LGBT activists to be removed from a public exhibition.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/11/07/malaysians-sentenced-to-caning-for-gay-sex-under-islamic-law/1807894

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It’s okay if he disagrees, says Anwar after ruler rejects zakat proposal

Ainaa Aiman

November 6, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Anwar Ibrahim said he accepts the Selangor sultan’s opposition over his proposal to open up zakat to non-Muslim recipients, saying the matter comes under the ruler’s jurisdiction.

But the PKR president said his call was made in the spirit of a healthy debate as encouraged in Islam.

“If the Sultan has decided to disagree, that is okay,” Anwar told reporters today.

“I only started a new debate about this topic because there has been different views. I welcome his decision. I just want for us to have the space to continue a healthy debate,” he said, adding that matters on Islam come under the jurisdiction of the sultan and the state Islamic council.

Zakat is a religious obligation for Muslims who meet several criteria of wealth. A Muslim owning wealth above a minimum amount is obliged to pay an annual rate of 2.5%.

Anwar first made the suggestion to open up zakat to the poor from other religions during a conference on zakat organised by the Federal Territories Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP) and UiTM on Oct 30. He also said the proposal would require fatwa and policy changes.

Full report at:

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/11/06/its-okay-if-he-disagrees-says-anwar-after-ruler-rejects-zakat-proposal/

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ISIS Fighters Attack Outpost in Tajikistan

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Najim Rahim

Nov. 6, 2019

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 17 people were killed on Wednesday when militants said to be members of the Islamic State attacked a checkpoint on the Tajikistan-Uzbekistan border, the Tajik authorities said.

The attack points to the resilience of the Islamic State and its longstanding aim to spread further into Central Asia from its enclave in Afghanistan. It comes almost two weeks after the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed during an American military operation in northwestern Syria. Western officials had warned that Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death was likely to lead to retaliatory attacks.

Fifteen assailants were killed in the gun battle in Tajikistan, as were a Tajik border guard and an employee of the country’s Interior Ministry. Five militants were captured, the ministry said in a statement.

The Islamic State has not taken responsibility for the clash, which occurred around 50 miles southwest of the capital, Dushanbe, but the Interior Ministry said that Tajik officials had learned of the group’s role during “the investigation and interrogation” of the captured fighters.

“These attackers are probably our own citizens,” said Umarjon Emomali, a spokesman for the Tajikistan Interior Ministry.

The militants crossed into Tajikistan over the weekend from Kunduz Province, in northern Afghanistan, Afghan officials said. The fighters passed through the Qala-e-Zal district, an area where the border is porous because it is almost entirely controlled by the Taliban, said Mohammad Nabi Gochli, the local police commander there.

“They didn’t raise their flags because they are scared of the Taliban,” Mr. Gochli said on Wednesday.

Mr. Gochli said that he had learned that Islamic State fighters had arrived in his district roughly two weeks ago, and that they had inhabited a cluster of villages along the Amu Darya, a river that runs almost parallel to the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border.

The governor of Qala-e-Zal, Ahmad Fahim Qarluq, said on Wednesday that an Islamic State commander had arrived in the district about a month ago from the southeastern province of Nangarhar and had been recruiting fighters.

As told by Mr. Qarluq and Mr. Gochli, the fighters’ spreading from southeastern Afghanistan and eventually into Tajikistan highlights what could be described as the slow but steady growth of the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, known as Islamic State Khorasan.

Tajikistan, an impoverished former Soviet republic of nine million, fought Islamist insurgents in a civil war in the 1990s, and it has regularly been plagued by unrest since then. Hundreds of people from the country are believed to have joined the Islamic State.

In May, the group claimed responsibility for the deaths of more than 20 people during a riot in a Tajik prison east of Dushanbe, along with the release of prisoners affiliated with the Islamic State.

And in July 2018, four touring cyclists — two from the United States, one from the Netherlands and one from Switzerland — were run down and killed by a carload of men who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. American defense officials said the attack was inspired, and possibly even directed, by the Islamic State leadership in Afghanistan.

The group’s affiliate in Afghanistan established a foothold in Nangarhar Province in 2015, and it has slowly spread elsewhere in the country, including to Kabul, the capital.

Estimated to have between 2,500 and 3,000 fighters, many of whom are from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the group has established itself as an enduring threat in Afghanistan despite repeated American-backed military offensives and hundreds of airstrikes.

Full report at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/06/world/asia/isis-tajikistan.html

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Taliban kills an Afghan scholar on travel

07 Nov 2019

Taliban has killed an Afghan scholar who was in the way to travel from Baghlan to northern Kunduz province.

Aziz Ahmad Panjshiri, scholar and university lecturer has been killed by the Taliban militants in a highway between Baghlan and Kunduz provinces, Jawid Besharat, the spokesperson for Baghlan province confirmed.

The incident has taken place on Tuesday in the Hematkhil district of the new Baghlan city, where Taliban militants have wide appearance, Besharat said.

Taliban has not so far commented on this murder case.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah have released their condolence messages saying the Taliban cannot weaken the cultural and educational sector by showing violence and terroristic acts.

Aziz Ahmad Panjshiri was a 70 year old scholar and lecturer at the Kabul University.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/taliban-kills-an-afghan-scholar-on-travel-89765/

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13 Taliban militants killed, detained in Special Forces raids in Helmand and Wardak

07 Nov 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed 4 Taliban militants and arrested 9 others during the operations in Helmand and Wardak provinces.

The military officials said earlier today the Special Forces killed 3 Taliban militants and arrested 6 others in Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

The officials further added that the Special Forces killed another Taliban militant during a raid in Sayyidabad district of Wardak and arrested 3 others.

The Special Forces also destroyed a cache of weapons during the same raid, the officials added.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/13-taliban-militants-killed-detained-in-special-forces-raids-in-helmand-and-wardak-04312/

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The upcoming Bollywood movie ‘Panipat’ sparks anger among the Pashtun’s of Afghanistan

06 Nov 2019

After the trailer of Bollywood movie ‘Panipat‘ released, it sparked anger among the Pashtun’s tribe of Afghanistan.

The Panipat trailer went viral among Afghanistan social media users with many controversial discussions.

Some have welcomed it as the reality of history, while other group have criticized it, claiming that parts of the history has been forged in favor of specific groups.

The Bollywood cinema have recently produced a movie from a 250 year old historic tale of ‘Panipat‘ war where the Afghan king, Ahmadshah Durrani also called as Ahmadshah Abdali attacks India and kills at least 70,000 Maratha soldiers in his first attempt.

‘Panipat’ is the name of a popular historical conflict between Afghanistan and India in the eighteenth century.

The main characters are Sanjay Dutt, Arjun Kapoor and Kriti Sanson in the lead roles.

The movie has been jointly produced by Sunita Gowariker and Rohit Shelatkar under the direction of Ashutosh Gowariker.

Indian actor, Sanjay Dutt, who has played his role as Ahmad Shah Abdali has recently tweeted as “ahmad Shah Abdali – Death strikes where his shadow falls”.

The movie is to be screened on the 6th of December, Sanjay Dutt has confirmed in a tweet.

Ahmad Shah Durrani also known as Ahmad Khan Abdali was the founder of Durani Empire and is regarded as the historic leader of Pashtun’s and the founder of the contemporary state of Afghanistan.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/the-upcoming-bollywood-movie-panipat-sparks-anger-among-pashtuns-of-afghanistan-1762/

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Mideast

 

Iran takes most significant step yet away from nuclear deal with world powers

NOVEMBER 7, 2019

Dubai, United Arab Emirates — Iran injected uranium gas into centrifuges at its underground Fordo nuclear complex early Thursday, taking its most-significant step away from its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Tehran meanwhile also acknowledged blocking an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency from visiting its nuclear site at Natanz last week, the first known case of a United Nations inspector being blocked amid heightened tensions over its atomic program.

Iran then cancelled her accreditation, according to Agence France-Presse.

These latest steps put additional pressure on Europe to offer Tehran a way to sell its crude oil abroad despite the U.S. sanctions imposed on the country since President Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal over a year ago.

The gas injection began after midnight at Fordo, a facility built under a mountain north of the Shiite holy city of Qom, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said. A United Nations official from the IAEA witnessed the injection, it said. The centrifuges ultimately will begin enriching uranium up to 4.5%, which is just beyond the limits of the nuclear deal, but nowhere near weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Fordo's 1,044 centrifuges previously spun without uranium gas for enrichment under the deal, which saw Iran limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. The deal had called for Fordo to become "a nuclear, physics and technology center."

Iran acknowledged Fordo's existence in 2009 amid a major pressure campaign by Western powers over Tehran's nuclear program. The West feared Iran could use its program to build a nuclear weapon; Iran insists the program is for peaceful purposes.

Meanwhile, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said it had blocked the IAEA inspector from its facility at Natanz, where centrifuges also enrich uranium. Iran said an alarm went off while she tried to enter the facility, causing officials there to keep her from going in.

The state-run IRNA news agency, citing Iran's atomic agency, said the woman was stopped "due to concerns over carrying suspicious materials." The inspector later left Iran without completing her visit, it said.

This marks the first known time of Iran blocking an inspector amid the tensions surrounding its nuclear program. Iran said it planned to address its decision to block the inspector at a meeting of the IAEA Thursday in Vienna.

Iranian officials repeatedly have stressed the steps taken so far, including going beyond the deal's enrichment and stockpile limitations, could be reversed if Europe offers a way for it to avoid U.S. sanctions choking off its crude oil sales abroad. However, a European trade mechanism has yet to take hold and a French-proposed $15 billion line of credit hasn't emerged.

The collapse of the nuclear deal coincided with a tense summer of mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Saudi oil facilities that the U.S. blamed on Iran. Tehran denied the allegation, though it did seize oil tankers and shoot down a U.S. military surveillance drone.

The U.S. has increased its military presence across the Mideast, including basing troops in Saudi Arabia for the first time since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Both Saudi Arabia and the neighboring United Arab Emirates are believed to be talking to Tehran through back channels to ease tensions.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/iran-most-significant-step-yet-from-nuclear-deal-world-powers-today-2019-11-07/

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Iraqi Tribal Leaders in Karbala Meet Iranian Diplomat for Apology

Nov 07, 2019

They apologized to the Iranian nation and government over the recent attacks against the Islamic Republic’s mission in the holy Iraqi city in a meeting with Hosseinian on Wednesday.

The tribal leaders said the attackers could not disrupt brotherly and strong relations between the Iranians and the people of Karbala, adding that Tehran has stood with the Iraqis during difficult times.

Hosseinian, for his part, stressed that the incident would not affect Baghdad-Tehran ties, and expressed hope that the Iraq unrest would end soon.

Late on Sunday, a group of so-called protesters scaled the concrete barriers surrounding Iran’s Karbala consulate and spray-painted scurrilous writings on its perimeter walls.

Some other demonstrators also threw stones and burned tires around the Iranian consulate building, prompting Iraqi security forces to fire in the air to disperse the crowd.

Local sources said an Iraqi element affiliated to the Ba'ath Party has been arrested over the attack, but there has been no confirmation from Iraqi officials yet.

The Iranian foreign ministry had on Tuesday voiced concern about the dangers threatening the diplomatic missions amid unrests in Iraq, calling on Baghdad to increase security measures.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Abbas Mousavi once again condemned the attack on the Iranian consulate building in Karbala.

He added that the Islamic Republic “has conveyed its concerns to the host government through political channels and stressed the importance of guaranteeing the security of Iran’s diplomatic and consular missions in Iraq within the framework of international regulations and conventions”.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980816000237

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Iran: Uranium enrichment is at pre-nuclear deal levels

7 November 2019

The percentage of uranium enrichment in Iran's Fordo nuclear complex has almost reached pre-nuclear deal levels, Iran said on Thursday.

A UN nuclear watchdog policing the deal told member states in a closed-door meeting on Wednesday that Iran was enriching uranium to 4.5 percent purity, above the 3.67 percent limit set by its deal with major powers.

Iran injected uranium gas into centrifuges at its underground Fordo nuclear complex early Thursday, taking its most-significant step away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Tehran meanwhile also acknowledged blocking an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency from visiting its nuclear site at Natanz last week, the first known case of a United Nations inspector being blocked amid heightened tensions over its atomic program.

These latest steps put additional pressure on Europe to offer Iran a way to sell its crude oil abroad despite the US sanctions imposed on the country since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal over a year ago.

The gas injection began after at Fordo, a facility built under a mountain north of the Shiite holy city of Qom, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said. A UN official from the IAEA witnessed the injection, it said. The centrifuges ultimately will begin enriching uranium up to 4.5 percent, which is just beyond the limits of the nuclear deal, but nowhere near weapons-grade levels of 90 percent.

Fordo’s 1,044 centrifuges previously spun without uranium gas for enrichment under the deal, which saw Iran limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. The deal had called for Fordo to become “a nuclear, physics and technology center.”

Iran acknowledged Fordo’s existence in 2009 amid a major pressure campaign by Western powers over Tehran’s nuclear program. The West feared Iran could use its program to build a nuclear weapon; Iran insists the program is for peaceful purposes.

Meanwhile, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said it had blocked a female IAEA inspector from its facility at Natanz, where centrifuges also enrich uranium. Iran said an alarm went off while the woman tried to enter the facility, causing officials there to stop here from going in.

The state-run IRNA news agency, citing Iran’s atomic agency, said the woman was stopped “due to concerns over carrying suspicious materials.” The inspector later left Iran without completing her visit, it said.

This marks the first known time of Iran blocking an inspector amid the tensions. Iran said it planned to address its decision to block the inspector at a meeting of the IAEA Thursday in Vienna.

Iranian officials repeatedly have stressed the steps taken so far, including going beyond the deal’s enrichment and stockpile limitations, could be reversed if Europe offers a way for it to avoid US sanctions choking off its crude oil sales abroad.

However, a European trade mechanism has yet to take hold and a French-proposed $15 billion line of credit has not emerged.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/07/Iran-injects-gas-in-new-centrifuges-as-atomic-deal-unravels.html

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Erdogan: Al-Baghdadi’s inner circle trying to enter Turkey

7 November 2019

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that members of slain ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s “inner circle” are trying to enter Turkey from Syria.

Erdogan also added the number of people with family ties to al-Baghdadi who’ve been caught by Turkey “is close to reaching double digits.”

Erdogan’s comments Thursday were his second effort in as many days to publicize Turkey’s push to catch ISIS members who were close to al-Baghdadi.

Turkey is facing criticism that its military offensive to drive Syrian Kurdish-led forces from northeast Syria would allow for an ISIS resurgence.

Erdogan and Turkish officials revealed Wednesday that Turkish police detained one of al-Baghdadi’s wives and a daughter last year.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/11/07/Erdogan-al-Baghdadi-s-inner-circle-trying-to-enter-Turkey.html

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Erdogan says U.S. not fulfilling Syria promises, ahead of Trump talks

Daren Butler

November 08, 2019

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused the United States and Russia on Thursday of failing to fulfill their part of a deal for Kurdish militia to leave a Syrian region bordering Turkey, and said he would raise this with President Donald Trump next week.

Turkey launched an offensive across its border with Syrian rebels a month ago, seeking to push out Kurdish YPG fighters it sees as a threat to its security. After seizing control of a 120-km (75-mile) swathe of territory, Ankara reached a deal with the United States to keep the Kurdish militia out of that area.

Erdogan is set to discuss implementation in talks with Trump in Washington on Nov. 13. Turkish officials confirmed on Wednesday that the visit would go ahead, after a phone call between the leaders.

“While we hold these talks, those who promised us that the YPG... would withdraw from here within 120 hours have not achieved this,” Erdogan said ahead of a visit to Hungary, referring to a deadline set in last month’s agreement.

Turkish officials said earlier this week that Erdogan might call off the U.S. visit in protest at votes in the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize mass killings of Armenians a century ago as genocide and to seek sanctions on Turkey.

After the deal with Washington, Ankara also reached an agreement with Moscow under which the YPG was to withdraw to a depth of 30 km (22 miles) along the entirety of the northeastern Syrian border with Turkey.

But Erdogan said this deal had also not been fulfilled, with YPG fighters still in the border strip, adding that he would hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin soon after his meeting with Trump.

“Neither the United States, within the 120 hours, nor Russia within the 150 hours, were able to get the terrorists to leave the region,” Erdogan told a news conference in Budapest.

Ankara considers the YPG a terrorist group because of its ties to Kurdish militants fighting an insurgency in southeast Turkey since 1984. It has been infuriated with U.S. support for the YPG, a main U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic State.

A senior U.S. State Department official said late on Wednesday there has been fighting in the area southeast of the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain. It “is somewhat in dispute” whether the area is covered by the U.S. or Russian deals, the official said.

“The YPG and all armed forces have certainly withdrawn from the vast majority of our area,” the official said. “Erdogan is never all that specific in his broadside attacks on us or anybody else.”

CLASHES IN SYRIA

On Thursday, Erdogan said clashes in Syria were continuing, with 11 fighters from the Turkey-backed rebel Syrian National Army (SNA) killed on Thursday. He said “many more” YPG fighters were killed in the clashes.

Under the two bilateral deals, Ankara stopped its offensive in return for the withdrawal of the YPG fighters. Turkish and Russian soldiers have so far held two joint patrols near the border to monitor implementation of their agreement.

Ankara began its offensive after Trump announced an abrupt withdrawal of 1,000 U.S. troops from northern Syria in early October. The U.S. president has since said that some troops will continue to operate there.

Late on Wednesday, Mazloum Kobani, the commander of the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces, said the group was resuming work with the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria after a serious of meetings with coalition leaders. Turkey has been outraged by some U.S. lawmakers inviting Kobani, who it views as a terrorist, to Washington for talks on Syria.

Turkish sources say Trump and Erdogan have a strong bond despite anger in Congress over Turkey’s Syria offensive and its purchase of Russian air defenses, and despite what Ankara sees as the U.S. president’s own erratic pronouncements.

Those personal ties could prove crucial, given NATO member Turkey’s purchase of Moscow’s S-400 missile defense system, which under U.S. law should trigger sanctions. Turkey has already been suspended from the F-35 fighter jet program in which it was both joint producer and customer.

Full report at:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-security-turkey/erdogan-says-u-s-not-fulfilling-syria-deal-ahead-of-trump-talks-idUSKBN1XH12G

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Like Daesh scenario, new US plot for Iraq will face defeat: Iran's Shamkhani

Nov 7, 2019

Iran’s top security official has denounced plots hatched by the US and its regional partners for the Middle Eastern countries, saying the new “scenario” for Iraq will fail like that of the Daesh terror group.

Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said on Thursday that Washington and its allies have been taking advantage of rightful economic and social demands by anti-government protesters in Iraq and Lebanon in a bid to create insecurity and instability in both countries.

“Based on a deep understanding of the people and the unparalleled role of the religious leadership in Iraq, the scenario by the US and its regional puppets will fail like the Daesh sedition,” he said.

The comments come as Iraq is grappling with anti-government protests in several cities.

The rallies have, however, turned violent on several occasions, with so-called demonstrators vandalizing public property and opening fire on protesters during the mayhem.

While recognizing people’s right to peaceful rallies, the Iraqi officials have warned against violence and attempts by outsiders to take advantage of the chaotic situation.

The turmoil comes nearly two years after Iraq declared victory over the Daesh terror group.

Daesh had unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters launched operations to eliminate the terror outfit and ultimately managed to liberate their entire homeland from the Takfiri group in 2017.

‘People, religious leadership will counter enemy plots’

In another development on Thursday, Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri warned that the enemies have been exploiting the Iraqi and Lebanese people’s legitimate rights to bring mercenary governments to power, adding, however, that the religious leadership and the people of both countries will counter such conspiracies.

The Iraqi and Lebanese governments should resolve their people's problems, whether there are protests or not, he said, noting, "No one has the right to meddle in these countries'" affairs.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/07/610597/Iran-Ali-Shamkhani-Iraq-Lebanon

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Ypsilanti engineer funneled tech secrets to Iran, FBI says

Nov. 6, 2019

Detroit — The FBI's counterintelligence team has arrested an Ypsilanti engineer accused of stealing confidential technical data and sending the information to his brother who is linked to Iran's nuclear weapons industry.

The national security case against Amin Hasanzadeh, an Iranian military veteran, is outlined in a 14-page criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Detroit. The complaint describes a year-long, coordinated plan to steal sensitive, confidential data about a secret project involving an aerospace industry supercomputer and alleges Hasanzadeh emailed the data to his brother in Iran.

The full scope of the investigation was unclear Wednesday and it was unclear whether the technical information Hasanzadeh is accused of sending to his brother would help Iran rebuild a nuclear weapons program halted in 2003.

“We don’t have any concerns that there is a current threat to the safety of the United States,” FBI Special Agent Mara Schneider told The Detroit News.

Hasanzadeh, 42, a hardware engineer who also is a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan, made an initial appearance in federal court Wednesday and was ordered temporarily detained until a bond hearing Friday in downtown Detroit. No defense lawyer was listed in court records.

The Iranian-born citizen, who has lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., is charged with interstate transportation of stolen property and fraud for allegedly lying about serving in the Iranian military.

The case appears to be part of a broader effort by Iran to steal trade secrets and technology that have military and defense applications, said Eric Brewer, deputy director and fellow with the Project on Nuclear Issues at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research group based in Washington, D.C.

"Iran certainly does have as a goal improving its military capabilities and uses espionage as a means at its disposal to acquire information and technology it would have a hard time developing indigenously," Brewer said.

"Certainly we don't want Iran stealing sensitive info from U.S. companies but this does not strike me as something that could lead to a revolutionary new military capability on Iran’s part," Brewer added. "It is not usually the case where one type of technology or bit of information is so revolutionary that it changes the trajectory of a program."

Iran broke further away from its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers this week by doubling the number of advanced centrifuges it operates, linking the decision to President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement more than a year ago.

The announcement included Iran saying it now has a prototype centrifuge that works 50 times faster than those allowed under the deal, which limited the country's uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cut into the one year that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material for building a nuclear weapon — if it chose to pursue one.

The unsealed complaint accuses Hasanzadeh of stealing confidential documents and technical data from an unidentified company from January 2015 until June 2016. The company is based in Metro Detroit and serves the defense, aerospace and auto industries.

The company's president and CEO declined to comment Wednesday.

The data involved in the criminal case included information covered by a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, that was developed by the firm in collaboration with an unidentified partner.

"A senior company official advised that any unauthorized disclosure or theft of partner company documents and information protected under an NDA could be 'catastrophic,'" the FBI counterintelligence agent in charge of the case wrote in an affidavit filed in federal court.

The data Hasanzadeh is accused of stealing was emailed to several people, including his brother, Sina Hassanzadeh, according to court records that identify Sina as an Iranian electrical engineer with expertise in hardware engineering and programming code. Sina Hassanzadeh's job responsibilities indicate he has worked on military programs, including for Basamad Azma Co., an entity affiliated with Iran's cruise missile research, according to the FBI agent. His resume also includes working for a company linked to Iran's Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics "that contributes to Iran's proliferation-sensitive nuclear activities and/or its development of nuclear weapons or their delivery systems," the agent wrote.

The criminal case focuses on Amin Hasanzadeh's tenure at the Metro Detroit company. As a senior hardware engineer, Hasanzadeh had access to sensitive, confidential and proprietary information, including schematics, layouts, designs, diagrams, performance reports and other data, according to the government.

He also was assigned to one of the Detroit-area company's most sensitive projects, what court records describe as a real-time supercomputer with applications for the aerospace industry.

"This project involved documents that were not disseminated to the public and had research and development involving millions of dollars," the agent wrote.

Hasanzadeh and other hardware engineers were not allowed to use personal email accounts to transfer data or send work to personal computers without prior approval, according to the court case.

Yet Hasanzadeh illegally and secretly transferred trade secrets and confidential documents to his brother in Iran, according to the FBI agent.

Investigators reviewed emails indicating Hasanzadeh applied for a job at the Metro Detroit company because the firm's technologies and projects were of interest to his brother in Iran, the agent wrote.

Hasanzadeh started stealing information six days after he started working for the company in January 2015, the agent said.

"Hasanzadeh concealed these communications from (the firm) by almost exclusively using a personal email account to transfer documents to Sina," the agent wrote.

The documents included drawings and schematics that would have allowed his brother in Iran to replicate the designs, according to the court case.

In April 2016, Hasanzadeh also sent a company report to his brother and wife, who received a doctorate late last year after studying in the University of Michigan's electrical engineering department, the government said.

Investigators checked her University of Michigan email account and discovered thousands of the Metro Detroit company's documents stored in the university's cloud storage, according to the FBI.

Full report at:

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/detroit-city/2019/11/06/ypsilanti-engineer-funneled-tech-secrets-brother-iran-fbi-says/2514213001/

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Iran alleges UN inspector tested positive for explosives

By KIYOKO METZLER, PHILIPP JENNE and JON GAMBRELL

November 08, 2019

VIENNA (AP) — Iran alleged Thursday that the U.N. inspector it blocked from a nuclear site last week tested positive for suspected traces of explosive nitrates. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, disputed Iran’s claim.

The allegation made by Iranian representative Kazem Gharib Abadi came as Iran injected uranium gas into centrifuges at its underground Fordo nuclear complex early Thursday, taking its most-significant step away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. It also dominated an IAEA meeting that included discussions about alleged radioactive material found at an undeclared site in Iran.

These latest steps by Iran put additional pressure on Europe to offer Tehran a way to sell its crude oil abroad despite the U.S. sanctions imposed on the country since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the nuclear deal over a year ago.

The Oct. 28 incident with the inspector happened at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility, which includes the majority of the centrifuges now enriching uranium in the country. The entrance of Natanz includes equipment to check for traces of nitrates, Abadi said. “The detector’s alarm went off and it was signaling to a specific person,” he said. “They have repeated this procedure again and again, and unfortunately, the results were the same all the way for only that specific inspector.”

As they waited for a female employee to search the inspector, the woman went off to the bathroom. Abadi alleged when she came back, she no longer tested positive. He said the team took samples from the bathroom, as well as seized her handbag.

Abadi said he hoped further tests by Iran and the IAEA would explain what happened. Iran’s nuclear industry has been targeted by sabotage and its scientists assassinated in the past.

“Needless to say that Iran, like all other members of the agency, cannot condone any behavior or action which may be against the safety and security of its nuclear installations, especially ... considering the past sabotage attempts in its nuclear facilities,” Abadi said.

This marks the first known instance of Iran blocking an inspector amid the tensions.

The IAEA offered a rare statement to journalists disputing Abadi’s account.

“The agency does not go into details in public about such matters, but based on the information available to us, the agency does not agree with Iran’s characterization of the situation involving the inspector, who was carrying out official safeguards duties in Iran,” the IAEA said.

The IAEA added that it will “consult with Iran with a view to clarifying the situation.” It did not elaborate.

Nitrates are a common fertilizer. However, when mixed with proper amounts of fuel, the material can become an explosive as powerful as TNT. Swab tests, common at airports and other secure facilities, can detect its presence on the skin or objects.

Jackie Wolcott, the U.S. representative to the IAEA, earlier called the inspector’s rejection an “outrageous provocation.”

“All board members need to make clear now and going forward that such actions are completely unacceptable, will not be tolerated and must have consequences,” Wolcott said in remarks released to journalists.

The IAEA meeting also included discussions about an undeclared site on the outskirts of Tehran that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described to the U.N. in 2018 as a “secret atomic warehouse.”

Senior Israeli intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press to discuss intelligence gathered there, alleged the site contained undeclared nuclear materials. They claimed there were “several other” similar clandestine nuclear facilities under the purview of Iran’s Defense Ministry, not the country’s civilian atomic energy agency.

Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes. However, the IAEA has said Iran “carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device” in a “structured program” through the end of 2003. The Israeli officials said they believe equipment at the warehouse came from that program.

“The main concern is that this is the tip of the iceberg,” one Israeli official said.

Wolcott also suggested that IAEA inspectors recovered possible nuclear material there.

“Iran has refused to provide — and apparently cannot provide — a credible, verifiable answer to the fundamental question of where the particles detected by the IAEA came from, and where the material and equipment they came from is today,” she said.

Iran has denied the claims by Israel, which has its own undeclared nuclear weapons program. The IAEA released no information about those discussions Thursday.

Meanwhile, Iran began to inject gas into centrifuges after midnight at Fordo, a facility built under a mountain north of the Shiite holy city of Qom, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said. Fordo’s 1,044 centrifuges previously spun without uranium gas for enrichment under the deal, which saw Iran limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The 2015 nuclear deal with world powers had called for Fordo to become “a nuclear, physics and technology center.” Now, it’s become an active nuclear site again and represents the most-serious step away from the deal it has taken amid the tensions.

A U.N. official from the IAEA witnessed the injection, Iran said. The centrifuges ultimately will begin enriching uranium up to 4.5%, which is just beyond the limits of the nuclear deal, but nowhere near weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Since the U.S. withdrew from the deal, the other countries involved — Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China — have been struggling to save it.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in Berlin that Iran’s latest moves were another “step in the wrong direction.”

“With every step they take, the situation becomes more difficult,” she said.

Experts have suggested that the limits imposed under the 2015 deal, when obeyed, meant that Iran would need a year to gather enough material to build a nuclear weapon if it chose to do so — a time known as a “breakout period.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Iran’s decision to inject gas into the Fordo centrifuges. In a statement, he made no reference to Trump’s decision to leave the deal in May 2018, which sparked the crisis.

“Iran’s expansion of proliferation-sensitive activities raises concerns that Iran is positioning itself to have the option of a rapid nuclear breakout,” Pompeo said. “It is now time for all nations to reject this regime’s nuclear extortion and take serious steps to increase pressure.”

Full report at:

https://apnews.com/4f5d5ac4817740ac9e8d28dc4fe7422a

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Russia says Iran's 4th step away from JCPOA no violation of NPT

Nov 6, 2019

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Tehran's decision to resume uranium enrichment at Fordow nuclear facility is an "extremely alarming" move, but does not violate the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Lavrov on Wednesday said events unfolding around the 2015 nuclear deal were deeply disturbing, but the US is to blame for putting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the verge of collapse by its unilateral withdrawal from the accord.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, also said Moscow understood Tehran’s concerns over the “unprecedented and illegal sanctions” against the country.

China also said the US should blame itself, arguing that its exit from the deal is the root cause of the tensions.

“As we repeatedly pointed out, the root cause of sustained tensions around the Iranian nuclear issue lies with the US’ unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and its maximum pressure campaign against Iran," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang.

The Chinese spokesman called on the US to abandon what he called “the wrong strategies such as unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure.”

“In the meantime, Iran and all other parties to the JCPOA need to exercise restraint, implement the deal effectively and in full, and stick to the JCPOA framework to resolve disputes.”

Iran signals intent to leave deal: Macron

Speaking in China, French President Emmanuel Macron called Iran's latest move "grave", saying it explicitly signaled Iran's intent for the first time to leave the deal.

"I think that for the first time, Iran has decided in an explicit and blunt manner to leave the JCPOA, which marks a profound shift," said Macron, who has been at the forefront of efforts by European signatories to salvage the deal after the United States withdrew.

In an operation that started at 00:00 local time (20:30 GMT) on Thursday, November 7, Iran officially began injecting gas into hundreds of centrifuges at underground Fordow nuclear plant in the fourth step away from the 2015 nuclear deal.

The process started after the transfer of a 2,800-kilogram cylinder containing 2,000 kilograms of UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) from Natanz nuclear facility to Fordow - near the city of Qom, where 1,044 centrifuges are installed.

The spokesman for the AEOI had earlier said the injection of uranium hexafluoride is being monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The fourth step in Iran’s commitment reductions was initially announced by President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/06/610568/Russia-lavrov-npt-violation-Iran-nuclear-commitments

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Israel assisting Syrian Kurdish militants ‘through a range of channels’

Nov 6, 2019

Israel’s deputy foreign minister has admitted aiding Kurdish militants in Syria amid a Turkish incursion into the Arab country.

On October 9, the Turkish military launched a cross-border operation in northeastern Syria in an attempt to clear the Syrian border areas of Kurdish militants of the so-called People’s Protection Units (YPG), whom Ankara views as terrorists linked to the autonomy-seeking Kurdish militants at home.

The incursion began after the US announced it was withdrawing its forces from northeastern Syria, effectively abandoning its longtime Kurdish allies there and giving NATO partner Turkey the go-ahead for the operation. The withdrawal of the 1,000 US troops was deemed by Kurds as a betrayal by Washington.

On October 10, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed solidarity with and offered assistance to the "gallant Kurdish people," saying they faced possible "ethnic cleansing" by Turkey and its allied militants.

Addressing parliament on Wednesday, Tzipi Hotovely admitted Israel is assisting Syrian Kurds.

"Israel has received many requests for assistance, mainly in the diplomatic and humanitarian realm," she said, adding "We identify with the deep distress of the Kurds, and we are assisting them through a range of channels."

Hotovely gave no details on Israel’s assistance, but said during "dialogue with the Americans..., we state our truth regarding the Kurds...and we are proud of our taking a stand alongside the Kurdish people."

"Israel indeed has a salient interest in preserving the strength of the Kurds and the additional minorities in the north Syria area as moderate and pro-Western elements," the Israeli official said.

Israel has long been backing militants operating against the Syrian government.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Friday accused France and Israel of seeking to establish “a terrorist state” within Syria where they are reportedly assisting Kurdish separatists in the Arab country's north.

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/06/610550/Israel-admits-aiding-Kurdish-militants-Syria

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Pakistan

 

Country may remain on FATF list beyond February: minister

Khaleeq Kiani

November 08, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan may remain on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) beyond February 2020, mainly because of its risk profile and in view of two simultaneous evaluations.

Senior officials provided this information to a parliamentary panel on Thursday. They also revealed that the government recovered only Rs5.6 billion in taxes on foreign assets worth about $7.4bn (Rs1.15 trillion) of Pakistanis reported by the international community under information exchange arrangements.

“Pakistan faces greater challenges than many other countries because of its risk profile,” said the minister responsible for economic affairs division, Hammad Azhar, while speaking at a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue, presided over by MNA Asad Umar.

He said that some countries had been removed from the grey list after just 80 per cent compliance while Pakistan was being pressurised to ensure 100pc compliance with the action plan.

“Pakistan is being viewed from a very high threshold; there is a political element to this,” he said, adding that Afghanistan was not on the FATF grey list.

The minister said Pakistan was taking timely steps to meet the FATF targets as it was partially compliant on 22 of the 27 points in the action plan and non-compliant on five targets of the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG).

Pakistan will submit its next report on its action plan to the Asia-Pacific Group (APG) by Dec 7. The APG will return the report with its questions and feedback by Dec 17. Islamabad will be required to respond to these observations by Jan 7.

Pakistan’s technical team will attend a meeting of the APG joint working group in the third week of January to address any further questions and concerns. The joint working group will then submit its report to the FATF by end of January and the FATF plenary to be held by mid-February would finally decide whether Pakistan should be removed from the grey list or not.

Mr Azhar said the government was optimistic that it would achieve sufficient progress for the country to be removed from the grey list, but then it was also being reviewed simultaneously for a 40-point action plan of the APG for which the deadline was October 2020.

He said it was not clear what would the FATF decide about the intervening period — between February under the ICRG and October 2020 under the APG. He said there was a possibility that Pakistan would remain on the grey list until October next year even if it complied with the action plan for February.

Meanwhile, Federal Board of Revenue chairman Shabbar Zaidi told the meeting that the government had received 325 cases involving foreign assets worth $1 million or more of Pakistanis from 27 countries as of Oct 31. Upon examination, it was found that 135 persons had availed the 2018 amnesty scheme and declared Rs62.33bn worth of assets by paying Rs2.89bn. Another 56 people declared assets of Rs31.78bn under the 2019 amnesty scheme by paying Rs1.69bn.

Of the remaining 115 cases, the FBR imposed tax worth Rs4.06bn and recovered about Rs1bn. The remaining tax claims got stuck in courts as their owners secured stay orders.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1515579/country-may-remain-on-fatf-list-beyond-february-minister

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Pakistan agrees to settle Soviet-era trade dispute with Russia: report

November 7, 2019

Pakistan has decided to sign a deal with Russia to end a 39-year trade dispute, which Islamabad hopes will allow Moscow to invest over USD 8 billion in the cash-strapped country, according to a media report on Thursday.

The trade dispute, which goes back to the days of the Soviet Union, involves USD 117 million and many unsuccessful efforts have been made in the past to end the dispute.

According to a report in The Express Tribune, Pakistan will return USD 93.5 million to Russia within 90 days of the signing of the agreement and clear pending exporters' claims amounting up to USD 23.8 million as per the settlement agreements reached in 2016-17.

The efforts to sign the deal with Russia were kicked off by the previous Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz government and the incumbent regime of Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to execute it, the report said.

The Pakistan government has authorised its ambassador to Russia to sign the deal, it said.

The trade dispute negatively affected the relations between Russia and Pakistan and it is hoped that the settlement would open doors for enhanced bilateral political, economic and diplomatic relations between the two countries.

The report said that Russia has conveyed to Pakistan that it would invest USD 8 billion in Pakistan's energy sector and the Pakistan Steel Mills. But according to Russian law, it cannot invest in countries with which it has disputes.

The deal will enable Russia to invest in different sectors in Pakistan, officials told the newspaper.

According to the history of the case, the then Soviet Union used to buy textile and other materials from Pakistan in the 1980s. For this purpose the USSR opened two bank accounts in the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), with funds getting deposited in the accounts by the Economic Affairs Division through State Bank of Pakistan.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, some exports payments were left unpaid and as the trade dispute got prolonged. Pakistani companies got stay orders in the Sindh High Court, barring the NBP from transferring funds of Russian banks held in its two accounts since 1996.

The Sindh High Court in its decision on October 4, 2019 allowed an application for the passing of a compromise deal as all the parties had reached a settlement agreement outside the court, the report said.

The amount maintained in the two accounts with the NBP is sufficient pay off USD 93.5 million to Russia as well as clear the pending claims of exporters to the tune of USD 23.8 million, the report said.

Pakistan's relations with Russia have moved past the bitter Cold War hostilities in recent years. Islamabad has shown eagerness to build military-to-military level ties with Moscow.

In July, 2019 Gen Oleg Salyukov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Land Forces of Russia visited Pakistan.

Full report at:

https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/pakistan-agrees-to-settle-soviet-era-trade-dispute-with-russia-report-1616805-2019-11-07

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PTI bulldozes 11 ordinances through NA

November 08, 2019

ISLAMABAD: In a controversial move, the National Assembly on Thursday passed 11 presidential ordinances within half an hour amid ruckus by opposition members.

The session of the lower house of parliament started after Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of the parliamentary committee of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Parliament House, directing the party legislators to get all the bills passed, especially the one aimed at replacing the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) with the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC). The prime minister remained in his chamber in Parliament House till the session of the lower house was adjourned till 11am on Friday.

Interestingly, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri got the 11 ordinances passed in such haste that no time was given to legislators to hold a proper debate on them. He turned a deaf ear to the opposition members belonging to all main opposition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) — and others who tore up copies of the bills, threw them towards the deputy speaker and converged on the speaker’s dais.

The opposition rejected passage of the ordinances and termed it “unconstitutional” and vowed to bring a no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker.

The session started at 4:30pm and soon after commencement, the deputy speaker suspended the question hour and started a 25-point order of the day that carried introduction of four ordinances and four bills. Seven ordinances were later introduced by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Swati. These were recently promulgated by President Arif Alvi.

The ordinances passed by the assembly were related to conversion of the PMDC into the Pakistan Medical Commission, the protection of whistleblower who will inform about any benami property and asset, rights of ownership of women in property, efficacious and speedy mechanism for issuance of letter of administration and succession certificates, establishment of legal aid and justice authority to provide justice to the poor and vulnerable segments of society, court dress and mode of address to judges, recovery of mortgage-backed securities by financial institutions and the National Highway Safety.

Later, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan at a joint press conference along with Mr Swati justified the passage of the ordinances and said: “The government is amending the century-old laws to make them conversant to the present age and requirements.”

“Prime Minister Imran Khan has brought to an end the status quo by accepting a challenge to provide relief and meet basic needs of the common man,” she added.

Mr Swati said the government had discussed each and every clause of ordinances passed by the assembly on Thursday with the government’s allies and got it passed by majority votes.

Giving details of the ordinances, he said one of the ordinances was related to provide legal aid to the poor and those people who could not afford to get services of lawyers.

Regarding conversion of PMDC into PMC, the minister said unbridled opening of 168 medical colleges in the country had adversely affected the standard of medical education and doctors in the country. “Recently, 6,000 Pakistani doctors have been repatriated from Saudi Arabia,” he added.

He said under the whistle blower ordinance, the government would fully protect those who will inform the government bout any benami property and asset and the informer would get 25 per cent share in recovery on the basis of his information.

Mr Swati said Islam gave due right of women in inheritance and, therefore, an ordinance would ensure this right of women in the country.

He said under an ordinance the convict of NAB cases who committed corruption of over Rs50 million will given class-C in jail.

Pre-planned strategy

Meanwhile, some opposition leaders also held a press conference outside Parliament House. They rejected the passage of 11 ordinances in the assembly.

Khawaja Asif of the PML-N said: “The legislation made on Thursday has no legal and constitutional status.”

He accused the government of getting passed 11 ordinances in only half an hour under a “pre-planned strategy”.

Earlier, PM Khan chaired PTI’s parliamentary committee meeting at Parliament House and asserted that all ordinances should be passed by the lower house at any cost.

“The meeting was only focused on the passage of an ordinance related to conversion of the PMDC into the Pakistan Medical Commission,” said Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood while talking to Dawn after the session.

It has been learnt that all mobile phones and even purses of women party leaders were kept outside the meeting hall apparently no one could leak the inside story about the meeting during it. However, the education minister claimed that keeping mobile phones and other gadgets outside the meeting hall was a normal practice which was followed in all parliamentary committee meetings.

One of the significant aspects of the Thursday’s session was that the production order of detained opposition leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Khursheed Shah (PPP) and Khawaja Saad Rafique (PML-N) were issued, but only Mr Rafique attended the session. The two PPP leaders could not attend the session due to their illness.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1515583/pti-bulldozes-11-ordinances-through-na

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Khawaja Asif slams govt for 'making a mockery' of legislation

Nov 07 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) stalwart Khawaja Asif slammed the government, on Thursday, for making a mockery of the legislation.

Asif was referring to the approval of 11 out of 15 bills that were presented in parliament today (Thursday).

"Whatever happened today is an insult to the national assembly," he said."The government wrapped up proceedings in 20-25 minutes and postponed proceedings of the assembly."

Asif paid tribute to the JUI-F workers who are taking part in the Azadi March dharna.

"Chairman CDA was told to look after participants of the march," he said. "Instead, CDA officials are eating food from Azadi March participants."

Asif accused the government of creating hurdles for the Azadi March participants.

"The water supply in public mosques near the Azadi March has been cut," he said. "Internet services have been disrupted in areas close to the march."

Asif alleged that the government had instructed public hospitals not to treat participants of the Azadi March dharna.

Azadi March background

Thousands of protesters have converged on the federal capital under the banner of the Azadi March, seeking to send packing Prime Minister Imran Khan packing.

The ‘Azadi’ March caravan, which set off from Sindh, left Punjab’s city Lahore on Wednesday and culminated its journey Thursday night in Islamabad.

Opposition leaders delivered fiery speeches against the PTI government on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, giving the prime minister a 48-hour ultimatum to resign.

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman gave Prime Minister Imran two days to step down, failing which the protesters threatened to march to the PM House, 'force' the prime minister to step down, and 'arrest' him.

The government announced on Saturday that they would approach the courts over Fazlur Rehman's statements, accusing him of "instigating the people" and rallying them for 'mutiny'.

Full report at:

https://www.geo.tv/latest/255138-khawaja-asif-slams-govt-for-making-mockery-of-legislation

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Rs5.5bn collected through amnesty schemes, NA body told

BY GHULAM ABBAS

November 08, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) on Thursday informed a parliamentary body that the board collected a ‘meagre’ sum of Rs5.5 billion through the two tax amnesty schemes introduced by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government in 2018 and 2019.

In a bid to fatten up the reserves, the two governments whitened around Rs 94.115bn in 325 cases of assets declaration, the officials disclosed during a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance, chaired by former finance minister Asad Umar.

During the meeting, FBR chief Shabbar Zaidi briefed the committee that out of total of 325 Pakistani nationals who had assets abroad, some have availed amnesty schemes.

As per the documents, FBR collected Rs2.89bn in taxes against assets worth Rs62.335bn in 2018 when 135 individuals declared their assets under the scheme. Similarly, the board also whitened Rs31.78bn worth assets of tax evaders in return for only Rs1.694bn in taxes against 56 cases in 2019.

In the remaining 115 cases, FBR could recover only Rs 1bn against the taxed amount of Rs4bn, making the total collection of taxes in 306 cases to only Rs 5.5bn, which is 78.11 percent of the total collection.

As per the official data recorded as on October 31, 2019, at least 19 cases out of the 325 were still pending, whereas in 134 cases, people approached the courts against FBR. Only 191 individuals out of the total 325 cases had paid the taxes.

‘AMNESTY SCHEMES ARE WEAKNESS OF STATE’:

NA committee Chairman Asad Umar criticised the idea of introducing amnesty schemes to enable citizens to whiten undisclosed assets, saying they show the “weakness of state” against tax evaders.

PML-N lawmaker Ayesha Ghous Bakhsh also questioned the use of the amnesty schemes despite a lacklustre response.

Briefing the lawmakers about steps taken to document the economy and tighten the noose around people who have undeclared assets, FBR Chairman Shabbar Zaidi said data was being shared with 55 countries under the scheme like Residence by Investment (RCI), which would be used to circumvent reporting of bank and financial account information under the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) framework.

The officials briefed the Committee with regard to the data received through the Automatic Exchange of information from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Shabbar Zaidi informed the committee that out of the 55 countries, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was not sharing Iqama and other details under the agreed terms of these countries.

‘LARGELY COMPLAINT WITH FATF DEMANDS’:

During the meeting, Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar briefed the committee about the updated position on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

He apprised the committee that Pakistan “significantly completed the action plan on 22 items out of 27” given by FATF under the International Co-operation Review Group (ICRG).

He informed that plenary meetings of the FATF were held in Paris during October 13-18, 2019, wherein Pakistan Progress on 27 point FATF Action Plan from July 2018 to September 2019 was reviewed.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/11/07/rs5-5bn-collected-through-amnesty-schemes-na-body-told/

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FIA declares emergency over FATF-related cases

Munawer Azeem

November 08, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has declared an emergency regarding cases related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Sources in the agency said that a meeting, headed by the director general at FIA headquarters, decided to investigate FATF-related cases on an emergency basis. The agency’s head reviewed legal procedure taken over these cases and progress in the investigations so far, they said.

According to sources, money laundering and terror financing cases are related to the FATF. These involve the bank accounts of proscribed organisations, bank transactions by these organisations, fundraising activities and the resources of fundraising and donations.

The director general directed the heads of the wings investigating these cases to complete their investigations and submit charges in court for trial, the sources added.

The meeting also discussed issues related to corrupt government officials and the anti-corruption wing and directives were issued to expose corrupt government officials.

Progress into the investigations of cases regarding corruption of such officials was also reviewed, the sources said, said the director general asked that these investigations be completed and charges submitted in court for trial.

They added that he ordered for strong charge-sheets to be made against suspects so they cannot be given the benefit of the doubt during trial.

He also asked for internal accountability in the FIA and made an effective mechanism for it, they said.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1515532/fia-declares-emergency-over-fatf-related-cases

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3 suspected terrorists killed in Quetta after exchange of fire: CTD

Syed Ali Shah

November 05, 2019

Three suspected terrorists were killed by officials of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) on Tuesday during an exchange of fire in Quetta district's Ghabarg village, a spokesperson said.

The exchange of fire took place earlier today after a suspicious vehicle continued to move despite being signalled by CTD personnel to stop. Security officials said they also recovered weapons and explosives from the possession of the suspected terrorists.

The alleged militants were Afghan nationals and were involved in terrorist activities in Quetta's Kuchlak town, an official who wished to remain anonymous told DawnNewsTV.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1515055/3-suspected-terrorists-killed-in-quetta-after-exchange-of-fire-ctd

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Govt offers judicial probe into ‘rigging’ but Fazl won’t budge

November 08, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A deadlock persists in the negotiations between the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) as Maulana Fazlur Rehman is adamant on his demand of the resignation of Prime Minister Imran Khan despite being offered the formation of a judicial or parliamentary commission to probe into allegations of rigging in the 2018 general elections.

Earlier in the day, Punjab Assembly (PA) Speaker Pervaiz Elahi, who is a member of government’s negotiation team, called on Maulana Fazl to find a way to end the opposition’s Azadi March.

Reportedly, the government’s offer was conveyed by Elahi to the JUI-F chief during Thursday’s meeting.

Talking to reporters before the meeting, Elahi said that he was hoping for a positive outcome and would soon give the nation some “good news”.

“We are hopeful and things seem to be going towards betterment,” he said, adding that recommendations are under consideration to break the ongoing deadlock.

However, Elahi said that there was no chance of accepting Fazl’s demand of the PM’s resignation because the incumbent government had been democratically elected by the people. “We are hopeful of finding a middle ground during the talks,” he said.

Meanwhile, the joint opposition’s Rehbar Committee met to discuss the future course of action.

Talking the media after a meeting, JUI-F leader Akram Khan Durrani said that Azadi March will take a new direction in two days.

He said that on the basis of recommendations presented during Thursday’s meeting, new moves will emerge in the protest. He added that new caravans from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) would soon join the Azadi March.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Babar said that the opposition is putting the government under pressure, calling it ‘the first phase’.

During the meeting, the JUI-F chief directed the party members to present their stance in the National Assembly (NA) with full zeal. The meeting decided that the opposition would give a tough time to the government and decided on a plan of action for the march and the parliamentary session.

PPP leader Farhatullah Babar, PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bukhari, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ayaz Sadiq, PML-N Khyber Pakhtunkhwa President Ameer Muqam, JUI-F’s Owais Noorani, Qaumi Watan Party’s (QWP) Hashim Babar, Jamiat Ahle Hadith’s Shafeeq Pasuri, National Party’s (NP) Tahir Bizenjo and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party’s (PkMAP) Usman Kakar attended the meeting of the Rehbar Committee.

FAZL DIGS IN HEELS:

Meanwhile, addressing the Azadi March protesters camped at the H-9 ground on Thursday evening, Maulana Fazl reiterated the demand of the prime minister’s resignation, saying the government shouldn’t bother with dialogue if Imran Khan’s resignation was off the table.

The JUI-F chief said the prime minister has no option now as he has hit a dead end.

“You are at a dead end now and now you must decide whether you want to continue to remain there or come out and give back the people their right,” said the JUI-F chief.

He also brought up the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) foreign fund case during his address.

He said the PTI was using “delaying tactics” in the foreign funding case pending with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

“Why is your foreign funding case still pending in the ECP for the past 5 years? Your own senior leadership has gone to the commission and has said funding came from India, Europe, and many other places. You submitted 60 petitions in the court to delay the case. Every petition by the government has been rejected. Why has the election commission not been able to decide the matter?” he questioned.

The JUI-F chief also welcomed the statement made by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) chief Major General Asif Ghafoor. Gen Ghafoor had said that the Pakistan Army was an “impartial institution and it wanted to remain so”.

“I want to say this to the state institutions that consider the JUI-F workers your own people and they will always be with you,” he said, hinting at supporting the Pakistan Army.

He said the ‘Azadi March’ had removed some of the misconceptions the society had about the religious segment.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/11/07/azadi-march-to-assume-new-direction-in-two-days-says-opp/

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Azadi March in Pakistan, a damp squib

D Suba Chandran 

November 08, 2019

With the Pakistan Army firmly behind Imran Khan and the Opposition divided, Fazlur Rehman’s protest will soon fizzle out

The much hyped ‘Azadi March’ of Maulana Fazlur Rahman, that started from Karachi on October 28, has entered Islamabad and is making global headlines. But neither will Prime Minister Imran Khan resign nor will elections happen immediately. Despite mobilising thousands of his party cadres, Fazlur will fail in his primary objectives for the following four reasons.

First, does Rahman seriously believe that his Azadi March would force Imran Khan to resign? Rehman is a pragmatic politician, and would know the practicality of his demand. More than Imran’s resignation, the Azadi March is meant to keep Rehman politically relevant.

Though the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam under Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) was not electorally successful during the last two decades, the 2018 election was the worst, for both the party and Rehman. Following the 2013 elections, the JUI-F had 15 seats in the national Assembly; Rehman had a better equation with Nawaz Sharif. In 2008, he won a Parliamentary seat and the party also did reasonably well. The 2002-08 period was the golden age for both. The JUI-F was a part of the coalition both at the national level and in the KP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and Balochistan provinces.

When compared to the previous three elections, 2018 was a disaster for the JUI-F, as it did not win a single seat for the national Assembly. Rehman suffered a greater blow. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won both the seats he had contested from, in Dera Ismail Khan, which was supposed to be his political and electoral fort.

Political support

Second, there is not much popular support for Rehman outside his party. Despite the failure in the government’s performance, there is no visible public anger that would bring people to the streets and join the Azadi March. Thanks to the JUI-F’s biased gender approach, one cannot see women as a part of the march; the upper middle class and those who are not in favour of a mullah narrative within civil society are also not backing the march.

The Prime Minister has smartly succeeded in diverting the public opinion. Khan’s anti-India, anti-Modi and pro-Kashmiri slogans and rhetoric have become the primary policy pursuits of his government. Had it not been for India’s new initiatives in Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi’s reluctance to engage Pakistan, Khan could have been facing a serious public outcry.

Though the march started in Karachi and entered Islamabad via Punjab, there is also not much support for Rehman amongst the Pakistani Sindhis and Punjabis.

Third, the opposition is not united behind Rehman. Much to the JUI-F leader’s dismay, the two leading parties — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — are not fully supporting the march. Only the smaller parties at the national and provincial levels have rallied behind Rehman.

The PPP is facing its own demons. Former leader Asif Ali Zardari is unwell and his participation is out of question. Bilawal Bhutto is playing a cat-and-mouse game in taking part in the Azadi March. The PML-N seems to be a divided house. While Nawaz Sharif, the party chief, may be keen to support Rehman, his younger brother Shabaz is not. The latter is aware that the Pakistan Establishment stands behind Imran Khan, and asking for his resignation is akin to banging one’s head against the wall.

Military backing

If there are any doubts about where the Establishment stands on the Azadi March, it was cleared by Major-General Asif Ghafoor, the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Responding to Rehman’s demand that the institutions should remain impartial, Ghafoor commented that the army’s support “lies with a democratically elected government.” Clearly, the military is with Khan. The Establishment’s primary objective is to keep the PPP and PML-N away.

As a result, the Prime Minister will not go. Rehman’s march will fizzle out just as Khan’s did in 2014. Had it not been for the terrible terrorist attack in Peshawar in December 2014, Khan would not have gotten a face-saving exit from his Azadi March against Nawaz Sharif.

Full report at:

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/why-the-azadi-march-in-pakistan-will-fail/article29907992.ece

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Africa

 

37 killed in attack on Canadian firm convoy in Burkina Faso

Nov 7, 2019

At least 37 people have been killed and dozens of others wounded in an attack on a convoy of a Canadian mining company in Burkina Faso, regional authorities say.

The attack took place on Wednesday when “unidentified armed individuals” ambushed five buses carrying the employees of Canadian gold miner SEMAFO in eastern Burkina Faso.

Saidou Sanou, the governor of the country’s eastern region of Est, said the convoy had been ambushed despite having an escort of local security forces and that the attack had left 37 civilians dead and 60 others injured.

Providing further details, a security source in the region told AFP that a military vehicle escorting the convoy on the road to Boungou mine in Est Region “hit an explosive device,” and “two buses carrying workers were then fired upon” by gunmen.

Burkina Faso’s government said the gunmen had conducted a “complex attack,” adding that security forces had launched a relief operation and were searching the area for the assailants.

SEMAFO said in a statement that there was no danger to the mine and its operations had not been affected.

“Bongou mine site remains secured and our operations are not affected. We are actively working with all levels of authorities to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our employees, contractors, and suppliers,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Canadian government denounced the attack in the West African country.

“Canada condemns today’s attack against a convoy of workers of the Canadian mining company SEMAFO, which also targeted security forces protecting them,” Angela Savard, spokesperson for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, said in an interview with CBC News.

It was unclear if there were any Canadian nationals among the casualties, with Savard saying that there were “no reports” that Canadians were hurt in the ambush.

It was the third deadly attack on Canadian firm SEMAFO, which operates two mines in Burkina Faso.

Two separate attacks on convoys transporting Boungou mine employees in August and December last year claimed 11 lives, with the company blaming “armed bandits” for the assaults and subsequently reinforcing security.

Over the past five years, Burkina Faso’s northern and eastern provinces have been struggling with Takfiri terrorism originating in neighboring Mali.

The attacks, perpetrated by the al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups, have killed nearly 700 people and displaced almost 500,000 others since early 2015, according to an AFP toll.

Takfiri terrorist groups have strengthened their foothold across the arid Sahel region, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking local ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso.

The United Nations (UN) declared in July that the spread of terrorist attacks was so fast in West Africa that the region had to consider bolstering its response beyond current military efforts.

In 2017, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali, and Mauritania launched the G5 Sahel task force to counter militancy in the region.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that the military approach alone would not be effective and called for greater efforts to relieve the roots of the conflict in the region, namely poverty, poor governance, and climate hazards.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/11/07/610588/Burkina-Faso-attack-Canada-mining-company-SEMAFO

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Boko Haram: North-East Governors Urge Buhari Regime To Dialogue With Terrorists

BY SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK

NOV 06, 2019

The six governors in North-east Nigeria, a region devastated by the Boko Haram terrorists have called on the President Muhammadu Buhari regime and governments at all levels to engage in dialogue with the insurgents.

The governors believed that could allow those who might want to repent among the terrorists exit the insurgency easily.

In a communique issued at the end of one-day security summit convened by the inspector general of police held in Maiduguri on Tuesday.

The summit was attended by the six governors of the region, members of the national assembly, states assemblies, top military personnel, other security chiefs among others.

"That the summit notes with deep sense of appreciation, the roles and sacrifices of the Nigerian military, the Nigerian police and other security agencies involved in the fight against insurgency in the north-east zone and urges them to continue to do more in the service to their fatherland.

"That the summit calls on the federal government to urgently increase the funding of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the police and other security agencies involved in the fight against insurgency and other security challenges in the North-east zone.

"That there is need for the North East Development Commission to assist the governors of the North-east states, the police and other security agencies in providing more logistics and support for fighting insurgency and insecurity in the zone.

"That efforts need to be made by the federal government to dredge the canal of the Lake Chad so that the military and other security agencies can fight the Insurgents in a bid to end the insurgency, as military and security boats can only operate and fight where there is water," the communique stated.

It added, "That military operations at the fringes of the Lake Chad which is currently harboring remnants of the Boko Haram insurgents need to be intensified and sustained.

"That governments at all levels are encouraged to engage in dialogue with the insurgents so that those who may want to repent and exit the insurgency can do so easily.

"That the police as part of their constitutional mandate of protecting lives and property, should take proactive measures to check drug abuse, banditry, kidnapping, etc., using modern technologies and other gadgets.

"That the police should come up with modalities for informally linking up the operations of the civilian JTF with that of the police, under the community policing model, while the State Government should provide the necessary funding for such callaboration."

In the communique, it was also agreed that all security agencies should to take the fight against terrorism to the corridors of the insurgents and do everything possible to end the insurgency in the North-east. In addition to that, that state governments should work with the security agencies to create access for farmers to go back to their farms so that economic activities can resume.

Continuing, it said, "That border security should be enhanced by deliberately engaging other neighbouring countries and states in matters of security.

"That deliberate efforts should be made by the state governments, the North East Development Commission and the police leadership to acquire modern crime fighting technology for the police and other security agencies to enable them deploy same in the fight against insurgency and other crimes.

"That deliberate efforts should also be made to encourage strong inteligence sharing between the traditional rulers, other stakeholders and the security agencies.

Full report at:

http://saharareporters.com/2019/11/06/boko-haram-north-east-governors-urge-buhari-regime-dialogue-terrorists

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2 militants killed in northern Algeria

2019-11-07

ALGIERS, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Algerian defense ministry said two armed militants were killed by anti-terror troops on Wednesday in the northern province of Tipaza, 55 km west of the capital Algiers.

"During the anti-terror operation launched on Nov. 3 in the dense forests of the locality of Jebel El Riacha of Tipaza Province, two terrorists were shot dead on Wednesday morning," said a minisntry statement.

The two militants carried two Kalashnikov-type machine guns and a quantity of ammunition, according to the statement.

Full report at:

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-11/07/c_138534060.htm

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Boko Haram not Islamic sect, group tells media

November 8, 2019

Media organizations in Nigeria and abroad should desist from addressing Boko Haram insurgents as Islamic sect, an international group, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (IOC), has said.

What the Boko Haram members do, a document of the IOC sighted by New Telegraph on Thursday showed, is “a criminal act; it has absolutely nothing to do with Islam.”

Secretary General of the group, Eyad Madani, had earlier said during a three-day visit to Nigeria that activities of Boko Haram “are anti-Islam.”

The IOC scribe said: “The OIC has issued statements that … these people are outlaws. What they do is criminal act, it has absolutely nothing to do with Islam, Islamic teachings, the religion of Islam, the history, the culture, the civilization of Islam and we should identify them for what they are: as a terrorist group.”

The group in the new document reiterated that it is solidly behind Nigeria in its fight against insurgents.

“We are also here to express our solidarity with Nigeria in facing up to this terrorist organisation and to condemn all terrorist acts they have been committing, and to show our condolences to the Nigerian people, to the families of those who were affected,” the IOC said.

Fielding questions from newsmen during his last visit to Nigeria Mr. Madani said the OIC delegation discussed its visions and priorities with the Nigerian government.

The organization, Madani said, intimated the President on what the OIC could do in terms of expressing its support, and its willingness to be actively involved in the war against the terrorist group.

When asked what concrete support Nigeria should expect from OIC, the Secretary General said since the crisis is multi-dimensional, OIC could be involved in many ways.

He said one of the ways OIC could be involved, is to “first to declare its position morally, to declare its position from the religious point of view.”

He said the conference is not a religious group, but a political organisation that has 57 member states, and each state is represented in the conference as a government.

“Nigeria is a member of OIC at the government level, so is Indonesia, so is Senegal, Saudi Arabia amongst others.

“But it has to express its concerns about the misuse of Islam morally and ethically. We are willing to do that if Nigerian government would allow us to.

“We will convene an inter-faith dialogue, because we feel that there is a lot to be said about the veracity of these (Boko Haram) claims, and to show the many aspects of similarities and living together between not only Christians and Muslims, but between all faiths and convictions,” he said.

He said Africa is a model of such tolerance, and its history is a history of tolerance, and that of living together. He added that the OIC, through its different organs, is available to the request of the federal government and would do all it could to help in alleviating the social and economic conditions in any area affected by the activities of insurgents.

The Federal Government, in a reaction to IOC’s stand noted; “the fact that the OIC has expressed its position of support and understanding at this hour of our challenges goes to show that OIC is playing its role to support any of its member states who had any problem, either socially, economically, religiously or otherwise.

Full report at:

https://www.newtelegraphng.com/2019/11/boko-haram-not-islamic-sect-group-tells-media/

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ICC has info on location of Qaddafi’s son, Libya fugitives: Prosecutor

7 November 2019

The International Criminal Court has “reliable information” about the location of one of former Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi’s sons as well as two other Libyan war crimes fugitives, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told the UN Security Council Wednesday.

“I urge all states, including Libya and Egypt, to facilitate the immediate arrest and surrender of the Libyan fugitives to the Court,” she said, citing the relevant Security Council resolution.

The three are wanted for war crimes including “murder, torture, cruel treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, and the crimes against humanity of persecution, imprisonment, torture, and other inhumane acts,” she said.

Seif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, Qaddafi’s son, was believed to be in Zintan, Libya, Bensouda said.

An arrest warrant was issued in 2017 for Al-Tuhamy Mohamed Khaled, the former head of the Libyan internal security agency, but Bensouda said he “still resides in Cairo.”

The third suspect is Mahmud al-Werfalli, a commander in General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).

Bensouda said her office had information Werfalli “continues to enjoy his liberty in the Bengazi area,” and was promoted in July from major to lieutenant colonel in the LNA.

“This promotion sends a clear message that General Khalifa Haftar, commander of the LNA, has no intention to genuinely prosecute Mr Al-Werfalli for the crimes alleged in the ICC arrest warrants,” she said.

Several Security Council members deplored the impunity the three suspects enjoy.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/north-africa/2019/11/07/ICC-has-info-on-location-of-Qaddafi-s-son-Libya-fugitives-Prosecutor-.html

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Yemen’s President Hadi meets separatist leader after deal ends power struggle

7 November 2019

Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi met the head of the Southern Transitional Council on Thursday, in their first meeting since his government and the separatists signed an agreement to end a power struggle in the south.

In the meeting with Aidarus al-Zubaidi in Saudi Arabia, Hadi praised the efforts to reach the deal, Yemeni state news agency SABA reported.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2019/11/07/Yemen-s-President-Hadi-meets-separatist-leader-after-deal-ends-power-struggle.html

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South Sudan rivals meet as deadline looms for unity government

November 07, 2019

JUBA: South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar will hold rare face-to-face talks Thursday in Uganda, their representatives said, as time runs out for the rivals to form a power-sharing government.

Both sides agreed to a November 12 deadline to join forces in a unity government, but unresolved differences over the terms of peace threatens to scuttle the deal and plunge the country back into war, observers have warned.

Representatives for Kiir and Machar, foes who have only met a handful of times since inking a September 2018 truce that paused five years of conflict, said the Kampala meeting would seek to broker a way forward.

Kiir and Machar have arrived at the State House in the city of Entebbe, according to a Ugandan official and an AFP correspondent at the scene.

"They are expected to discuss the unresolved issues as well, and Riek Machar will be having a meeting with President Salva Kiir," the president's spokesperson, Ateny Wek Ateny, told AFP on Thursday.

Machar's party, the SPLM-IO, said in a statement the meeting would seek progress on issues that have dragged on "without much having been achieved" since the deal was signed more than a year ago.

Machar, who lives in exile in Khartoum, has asked for more time so that the impasse, primarily over security and territory arrangements in South Sudan, can be overcome.

The rebel leader warned that if these were not addressed, the country would see a repeat of fighting in 2016, when an earlier peace deal collapsed, worsening the conflict.

Machar, a former deputy to Kiir, was forced then to flee South Sudan on foot under a hail of gunfire, and has only returned home on rare occasions.

Kiir says he's ready to form a new government, and has threatened to do it alone.

But the creation of the coalition government has already been delayed once, in May, and parts of the international community fear another extension risks the already fragile peace accord.

The United States in particular has warned it would reevaluate its relationship with South Sudan if a unity government isn't forged on November 12, and has floated sanctions.

The peace deal has largely stopped the fighting that erupted in 2013, just two years after South Sudan achieved independence, after a falling out between Kiir and Machar.

The International Crisis Group warned pushing the November 12 deadline at all costs risked this fragile truce.

"External actors could imperil these gains if they push the parties into a unity government that then falls apart or permit Kiir to exclude Machar," the think tank wrote in a report this week.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1580506/world

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10 killed in raid on DR Congo village: officials

James Tasamba 

07.11.2019

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo

At least 10 people including seven women were killed during a raid on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), local authorities said Wednesday.

Two others were also kidnapped during the raid, which came days after the army launched an operation against rebel groups.

The attack, which was blamed on members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a rebel group in Uganda and the DRC, took place late Tuesday in the town of Kokola, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the city of Beni in North Kivu province.

Donat Kibwana, a local official, told the media that the rebels took advantage of the army’s operations deep in the forests to attack civilians.

A 16-year-old girl was among those reported missing.

The rebels also stole livestock including goats and chickens during the raid, which took place around 8 p.m. local time, according to a civil society group in the area.

The situation is tense, with some people abandoning their homes, some fleeing to the north to the nearby town of Eringeti and others to the Oicha area, local news site Actualite.cd quoted Bravo Vukulu, president of the civil society of the Bambuba-Kisiki group, as saying.

The raid reportedly lasted more than an hour before the attackers withdrew.

The Congolese army launched a major military operation on Oct. 29 against armed groups in the eastern part of the country.

The large-scale operation is aimed at completely eradicating groups such as the ADF and the Mai-Mai operating in the far north in Beni, Butembo and Lubero, military spokesman Maj. Gen. Leon Kasonga told reporters last week.

The civil society in Beni has called on the army to be more vigilant after launching the offensive.

ADF rebels have been a menace in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo over the last two decades, attacking and killing civilians.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/10-killed-in-raid-on-dr-congo-village-officials/1637788

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Nigerians demand bigger budget for counter-terror op

Olarewaju Kola  

06.11.2019

Nigeria

Nigerians are calling for a bigger budget for the military’s counter-terrorism operation in the country’s volatile northeast, which has suffered from a more than decade-long insurgency by Boko Haram militants.

A security summit convened by the Nigerian Police Force in Maiduguri, the heartland of Boko Haram, asked the federal government to increase the amount of funds allocated for the procurement of military hardware and allowances to security forces fighting Boko Haram in the region.

“The summit calls on the federal government to urgently increase funding for the Nigerian Armed Forces, the police and other security agencies involved in the fight against the insurgency,” said a communiqué issued late Tuesday at the end of the summit.

The summit was organized by the police to gear people up to participate in developing strategies to tackle terrorism and other crimes in the region, said Police Inspector General Mohammed Adamu.

It was attended by the governors of Nigeria’s six northeast states, military and security chiefs, members of parliament, traditional rulers and religious, community and labor leaders.

Babagana Zulum, governor of Borno state, Boko Haram’s birthplace and the heartland of the violence, asked the military to take the battle to the terrorist enclave to end the war.

Ali Ndume, the Senate Committee chairman on Army, said the military did not have adequate equipment and personnel to end the violence sooner.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/nigerians-demand-bigger-budget-for-counter-terror-op/1636720

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TOTAL COMMENTS:-   1


  • Good decision by the Supreme Court on Ayodhya. We must accept it. Peace and brotherhood!
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 11/8/2019 10:20:53 PM



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