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Islamic World News (12 Mar 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)


Lucknow Encounter: Pro-Islamic State Channel Identifies Saifullah as Soldier of Caliphate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucknow police had said Saifullah was ‘self-radicalised’and inspired by Islamic State. (Source: PTI Photo)

 

Lucknow Encounter: Pro-Islamic State Channel Identifies Saifullah as Soldier of Caliphate

British Imams to Be Told To Preach In English at Mosques

‘Second ISIS’ Made Up of Defeated Rebels Is Emerging In Syria – Former Al-Nusra Prisoner

Syria: Twin Bombs Kill 59 in Damascus, Mostly Iraqi Pilgrims

31 Taliban Militants Killed In Afghan and Foreign Forces Airstrikes in Helmand

 

India

Lucknow Encounter: Pro-Islamic State Channel Identifies Saifullah As Soldier Of Caliphate

India's NIA Charge Sheet Says IS Recruiter from Kerala Asked To Leave Islamic Religious School in Sri Lanka

Pak deputy HC summoned over ceasefire violations by Pak forces

Muslim reservation bill will be passed in budget session: K Chandrasekhar Rao

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Pakistan

Ulema Must Undo Extremist Narrative of Religion: Pakistan PM

JUI-F Proposes Referendum on FATA Reforms

Army aware of plots against CPEC, says Gen Qamar

Nine mortar rounds fired by Iran into Pakistani territory

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Arab World

‘Second ISIS’ Made Up of Defeated Rebels Is Emerging In Syria – Former Al-Nusra Prisoner

Syria: Twin Bombs Kill 59 in Damascus, Mostly Iraqi Pilgrims

Assad: No One Invited US to Manbij, All Foreign Troops In Syria Without Permission Are ‘Invaders’

Syrian MP: Ankara Admits Failure in Expansionist Policies by Changing Position on Manbij

Hama: Syrian Army Seizes Terrorists' Vehicle Carrying Arms Cargo with Turkey-Registered Plate

Jordan releases soldier who killed 7 Israeli girls in 1997

Qatari, Kuwaiti Forces Clash with Yemeni Army near Saudi Borders

Yemeni Forces Destroy another Saudi Warship

Syria: Tens of Militants Defect Euphrates Shield Due to Widening Differences with Turkish Army

Syria: ISIL Terrorists' Commanders Fleeing Deir Ezzur

Several ISIL Bases, Boats in Deir Ezzur Destroyed by Army

ISIL Besieged in Tal Afar by Hashd Al-Shaabi

Syria: Al-Nusra Terrorists Withdraw from More Positions in Eastern Damascus

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques receives phone call from President of Indonesia

Saudi forces Killed Shia child in Awamiya

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South Asia

31 Taliban Militants Killed In Afghan and Foreign Forces Airstrikes in Helmand

Eight Afghan Police Killed In ‘Insider Attack’

Gunmen attack military airport in eastern Afghanistan

Govt asks for analysis report in 10 days for the launch of Electronic ID cards

Ex-Afghan spy chief Saleh appointed as minister for security reforms

Aga Khan Foundation plans to build standard hospital in Kabul

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Mideast

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan Compares Dutch Rally Ban to Nazism as Row Spirals

All Kinds of Military Cooperation with Russia in Syria: President Erdoğan

Turkish family minister says Dutch police escorting her back to Germany amid row

Investigation launched into helicopter crash killing 7 in Istanbul

Sessions asks US prosecutor of Turkish-Iranian businessman, 45 Obama-era attorneys to resign

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Southeast Asia

Djarot Faces Hostile Protesters at East Jakarta Mosque

Indonesia arrests 9 suspected militants

Philippine government, Communist rebels to restart peace talks

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Africa

Saif Al-Islam Transferred To New Place of Detention in Zintan

Islamic Bank Provides MAD 1.23 Billion to Support Morocco’s High-Speed Train

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Europe

British Imams to Be Told To Preach In English At Mosques

UN Says World Faces Worst Humanitarian Crisis Since World War II

Tension rises as Turkish minister stopped in Rotterdam

Germany shuts down shopping mall over attack threat

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North America

Muhammad Ali’s Son Says He Was Detained Again at Airport in Washington

Florida: Indian-American mistaken for Arab in arson attack

Does the Trump administration want a holy war against Islam? It’s a terrifying but reasonable guess

 Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/lucknow-encounter--pro-islamic-state-channel-identifies-saifullah-as-soldier-of-caliphate/d/110377

 

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Lucknow Encounter: Pro-Islamic State Channel Identifies Saifullah as Soldier of Caliphate

The website also posted a photograph of Saifullah describing him as a "soldier of the Khilafah from India.

March 12, 2017

In a fresh development in the Lucknow encounter, a purported message posted by a pro-Islamic State (IS) Telegram channel has identified Saifullah, who was killed in an encounter in Lucknow earlier this week, as a soldier of the Caliphate. Officials said they are verifying the veracity of the post and has sought cooperation from foreign intelligence agencies. This is the first time that any IS supported channel on Telegram has owned up Saifullah, who was part of the alleged terror module, which planted a bomb on a train near Bhopal on March 7.

It may be recalled that Uttar Pradesh police after initially claiming the attack to be carried out by a group owning allegiance to IS has retracted from the statement and said the group was “self radicalised” and was inspired by the IS. Home minister Rajnath Singh also did not mention IS in his statement to the Parliament.

US based intelligence website Site Intel Group posted a screen grab of the Telegram message on Twitter, which said, “Pro-#ISIS Telegram Channel Incites for Attacks in #India, Points to Suspected IS Fighter Saifullah as Example.”

The website also posted a photograph of Saifullah describing him as a “soldier of the Khilafah from India.” The photo was juxtaposed with a message in Urdu, Arabic and English. It said, “Think not of those who are killed in the way of Allah as dead, Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision.”

indianexpress.com/article/india/lucknow-encounter-pro-islamic-state-identifies-saifullah-as-soldier-of-caliphate-4566403/

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British Imams to Be Told To Preach In English At Mosques

 Ben Riley-Smith, assistant political editor

11 MARCH 2017

Imams are to be encouraged to deliver their sermons in English under measures being prepared to rid Britain of hate preaching.

The Telegraph has been told that the counter-extremism taskforce is working on the plans amid concern that preaching in foreign languages enforces divisions between Islam and mainstream British society and can foster radicalisation.

Ministers have been inspired by some Middle Eastern countries that have begun urging that sermons be published in English online. A senior Government source said: “If imams are speaking in another language it makes it far harder to know if radicalisation is taking place.”

Measures are being prepared for the long-awaited counter-extremism proposals after an initial strategy was published in October 2015. Exact measures are yet to be finalised but one source said tougher licensing rules for foreign preachers was being considered.

Currently, imams from outside the European Union who visit Britain have to prove they can speak English before a visa is granted. However, sources have ruled out the introduction of any new licensing scheme for imams already in the UK because it could be seen as a curb on religious freedom.

Tackling radicalisation in Britain was one of Prime Minister Theresa May’s priorities during her six years as Home Secretary. A speech she gave before the 2015 general election set out a 
series of “bold” measures that could be adopted in order to counter home-grown extremism.

“Everybody in our country is equal and everybody is free to lead their lives as they wish. But our society does not just confer rights; it demands responsibilities,” Mrs May said back then.

“You have the freedom to live how you choose to live – but you must also respect the freedom of others to live how they choose to live.”

She also promised a “step change” in helping people to learn in English and she hinted at tighter language rules on “foreign religious workers in pastoral roles”.

Debate about whether imams, who lead prayers at mosques, should use English has been making headlines for more than a decade. A survey of 300 mosques in 2007 found that just 8 per cent of imams were born in the UK and only 6 per cent of them spoke English as a first language.

The Tory 2015 election manifesto promised to “confront and ultimately defeat” extremism and make protecting Britons their “overriding priority”.

The document pledged to “tackle all forms of extremism, including non-violent extremism, so our values and our way of life are properly promoted and defended”.

The Conservatives’ 2015 counter-extremism strategy has yet to undergo formal consultation amid reports that wrangling over how to define extremism has held up the process.

In 2016, David Cameron called for more imams to speak English to help guide young Britons away from the “poisonous rhetoric” of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

He said: “When I was sat in a mosque in Leeds this week one of the young people there said how important it is that imams speak English because if you have got young people, sometimes who speak English themselves but not Urdu and not Arabic, they need someone to guide them away from Isil and their poisonous rhetoric.”

He said: “That’s why we’re going to be targeting money at people, very often women, who’ve been stuck at home, sometimes by the men of the house. Speaking English is important for all, imams included.”

A Government spokesman said: “There are no plans to license imams or require imams to have a minimum level of English language proficiency beyond visa requirements already in place.”

telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/11/imams-told-preach-english-mosques/

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‘Second ISIS’ Made Up of Defeated Rebels Is Emerging In Syria – Former Al-Nusra Prisoner

11 Mar, 2017

Rebels from various parts of Syria are flocking to the country’s north-western corner, giving rise to a “second Islamic State,” a US journalist and former Al-Nusra captive told RT, warning that the West is blind to what’s happening on the ground.

Western media coverage of the Syrian crisis is inadequate and biased, while most things reported about Aleppo are false or unprovable, a US journalist and former Al-Nusra captive told RT, while noting that the rise of a “second Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL]” is being completely overlooked.

Peter Theo Curtis, an American journalist who is known by his pen name Theo Padnos, was asked to share his view on how the war in Syria is seen in the West. Abducted by Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front in 2012 while trying to sneak into rebel-controlled Syrian territory, he gained insight into the various armed factions fighting the government, from the “moderate” Free Syrian Army to hardcore Islamists.

“I think that the Western understanding of what is happening in Syria is inadequate,” Padnos told RT.

“They don’t know what’s happening on the ground, they either don’t understand the language, or they can’t make sense of the videos, or their informants are, perhaps, biased,” he said.

Many in the West hardly understand “who the important forces are, what they want, and where they are,” Padnos said.

“I think most of the things that we in the West say about Aleppo are either false or improvable [sic], or just irrelevant,” he said, adding that some critical details about the Syrian conflict are underreported or simply go unnoticed.

“Something very dangerous and alarming is occurring in northwestern Syria, and this is the emergence of the second Islamic State there,” he stressed.

Asked how concerning this development is, Padnos responded by saying “we will know it when they turn up in Paris or London with Kalashnikovs.”

The new terrorist grouping possesses “tons of weapons,” he warned, noting that it includes rebels defeated by the Syrian army in Aleppo, Homs, Daraa, and the outskirts of Damascus who were “shipped up to the northwestern Syria.”

They are particularly active in the province of Idlib “governing itself by Sharia law which involves shooting people on the street. As somebody who has been tried in an Islamic court up there, I know what it’s like. It’s not exactly justice; it’s not democracy; it’s not what we want; it’s not exactly justice; it’s not what we want for our fellow human beings,” he told RT, stressing “we should pity the women and the children up there.”

“It could carry on forever unless the outside world can really stop sending missiles to the rebels,” the journalist warned.

Padnos – a one-of-a-kind character who is a fluent Arabic speaker – went to Yemen in the mid-2000s and enrolled in a religious school popular among Muslims dreaming of the return of the initial version of Islam. He later wrote in the New York Times that “I was eager to understand a world where the West often seemed to lose its way,” a desire that inspired him to go to war-torn Syria in 2012.

However, before he made it, he was abducted by Al-Nusra Front, a Syrian rebel group with ties to Al-Qaeda, and held in a number of prisons. According to Curtis, the Islamists tortured and humiliated him, while pushing him to convert to Islam from time to time with no result.

His family received numerous requests for a ransom of between $3 million and $25 million, but his release was finally engineered in 2014 by the Qatari secret service. According to a statement from his family, Curtis was freed “on a humanitarian basis without the payment of money.”

Speaking on the subject to Business insider earlier, Curtis specifically pointed out that a “second Islamic State” is operating in close proximity to Europe’s borders.

“It’s right on the Turkish border,” he explained.

“To get to this second Islamic State from any European country, it’s a couple of days on the bus. Young kids are going every day, that’s what the guys on the ground in Syria are telling me: ‘Oh yes, we have new French people, new English people every day,’” he said.

rt.com/news/380308-second-isis-syria-rebels/

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Syria: Twin bombs kill 59 in Damascus, mostly Iraqi pilgrims

The foreign ministry in Damascus condemned "the cowardly terrorist attack which comes in response to victories of the Syrian Arab Army" against jihadists.

March 12, 2017

Twin bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims killed 59 people in Damascus on Saturday, most of them Iraqis, a monitoring group said of one of the bloodiest attacks in the Syrian capital. There have been periodic bombings in Damascus, but the stronghold of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been largely spared the destruction faced by other major cities in six years of civil war.

A roadside bomb detonated as a bus passed by and a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Bab al-Saghir area, which houses several Shiite mausoleums that draw pilgrims from around the world, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The explosions killed 47 pilgrims, most of them Iraqi Shiites, and 12 Syrian pro-government fighters, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

“There are also dozens of people wounded, some of them in a serious condition,” he told AFP. Syrian state television said 40 people were killed and 120 wounded after “terrorists detonated two bombs”. It broadcast footage of several white buses with their windows shattered, some charred and peppered with shrapnel. Shoes, glasses and wheelchairs lay scattered on ground covered in blood.

Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar said the attack targeted “pilgrims of various Arab nationalities”. “The sole aim was to kill,” he said. The Iraqi foreign ministry said around 40 of its nationals were among the dead and 120 among the wounded.

A witness told AFP that the second bomb exploded as passers-by gathered at the scene of the first attack, and state television said a booby-trapped motorcycle was defused nearby. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Shiite shrines are a frequent target of attack for Sunni extremists of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group, not only in Syria but also in neighbouring Iraq.

The foreign ministry in Damascus condemned “the cowardly terrorist attack which comes in response to victories of the Syrian Arab Army” against jihadists. The Sayyida Zeinab mausoleum to the south of Damascus, Syria’s most visited Shiite pilgrimage site, has been hit by several deadly bombings during the war. Twin suicide bombings in the high-security Kafr Sousa district of the capital in January killed 10 people, eight of them soldiers. That attack was claimed by former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, which said that it had targeted Russian military advisers working with the Syrian army.

indianexpress.com/article/world/twin-bombs-kill-59-in-damascus-mostly-iraqi-pilgrims-4565986/

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31 Taliban militants killed in Afghan and foreign forces airstrikes in Helmand

Sun Mar 12 2017

At least thirty one insurgents were killed in a series of airstrikes conducted by the Afghan and foreign forces in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the airstrikes were carried out in the provincial capital city of Lashkargah, Nad-e-Ali, and Garamser districts.

The statement further added that 11 of the militants were killed after they were targeted by the Afghan forces in Bolan Mandawi area of Lashkargah and at least three others were wounded.

At least eight Taliban insurgents were killed and six others were wounded during a separate operation in Nad-e-Ali district.

According to the provincial government, several areas were cleared during the operations in Nad-e-Ali and dozens of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) were destroyed.

The statement also added that twelve insurgents including a local leader of the group identified as Mullah Ewaz were killed in an airstrike conducted by the foreign forces in Hussainabad area of Garamser district.

A vehicle belonging to the militants was also totally destroyed after it was hit by the airstrike, the statement said.

khaama.com/31-taliban-militants-killed-in-afghan-and-foreign-forces-airstrikes-in-helmand-02374

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India

 

Lucknow Encounter: Pro-Islamic State Channel Identifies Saifullah as Soldier of Caliphate

The website also posted a photograph of Saifullah describing him as a "soldier of the Khilafah from India.

March 12, 2017

In a fresh development in the Lucknow encounter, a purported message posted by a pro-Islamic State (IS) Telegram channel has identified Saifullah, who was killed in an encounter in Lucknow earlier this week, as a soldier of the Caliphate. Officials said they are verifying the veracity of the post and has sought cooperation from foreign intelligence agencies. This is the first time that any IS supported channel on Telegram has owned up Saifullah, who was part of the alleged terror module, which planted a bomb on a train near Bhopal on March 7.

It may be recalled that Uttar Pradesh police after initially claiming the attack to be carried out by a group owning allegiance to IS has retracted from the statement and said the group was “self radicalised” and was inspired by the IS. Home minister Rajnath Singh also did not mention IS in his statement to the Parliament.

US based intelligence website Site Intel Group posted a screen grab of the Telegram message on Twitter, which said, “Pro-#ISIS Telegram Channel Incites for Attacks in #India, Points to Suspected IS Fighter Saifullah as Example.”

The website also posted a photograph of Saifullah describing him as a “soldier of the Khilafah from India.” The photo was juxtaposed with a message in Urdu, Arabic and English. It said, “Think not of those who are killed in the way of Allah as dead, Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision.”

indianexpress.com/article/india/lucknow-encounter-pro-islamic-state-identifies-saifullah-as-soldier-of-caliphate-4566403/

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India's NIA Charge Sheet Says IS Recruiter from Kerala Asked To Leave Islamic Religious School in Sri Lanka

Sun, Mar 12, 2017

Mar 12, Colombo: A charge sheet filed by India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) has stated that an alleged Islamic State (IS) recruiter from Kerala, Abdul Rashid Abdulla was sternly asked to leave a Islamic religious school in Sri Lanka on account of his radical views, DNA reported.

The 30-year-old Keralite is accused of 'instigating' 22 youths from Kerala to join the terror outfit, the NIA charge sheet has said.

According to the charge sheet against Abdulla and Islamic Research Foundation's guest relations manager Arshi Qureshi, Abdulla and 17 other Indians at the school in Sri Lanka were warned never to raise such issues again, and were categorically told, "Jihad is to fight with bad elements of your own self, Jihad does not mean fighting and killing innocent people."

Among those who attended the religious school that had arranged for special classes on the Quran there were 80 Sri Lankans and 18 Indians.

The six-volume NIA charge sheet includes statements of 49 witnesses. Among them are statements from three of the 22 youths who were allegedly instigated by Abdulla and Qureshi to join the fight in Syria.

According to the charge sheet, Abdulla had decided to go to Sri Lanka along with some other Indians to gather more knowledge on the Quran before travelling to Syria to join the battle there.

colombopage.com/archive_17A/Mar12_1489298753CH.php

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Pak deputy HC summoned over ceasefire violations by Pak forces

Mar 11, 2017

NEW DELHI: India today summoned the deputy high commissioner of Pakistan and conveyed its strong protest and "grave concern" over continued ceasefire violations by the Pakistan side at the LoC and international border in Jammu and Kashmir.

Syed Haider Shah was summoned to the ministry of external affairs and also conveyed India's strong protest at the fatal casualty of an Indian soldier in unprovoked firing by Pakistan forces on March 9.

The Ministry said the Pakistani Deputy High Commissioner was also conveyed India's expectation that Pakistan will not take any step detrimental to peace along the LoC and IB and to the security of India.

"He was conveyed the Government's grave concern and strong protest at the continuing incidents of ceasefire violations by the Pakistan side at the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB).

After quizzing, putting pressure and harassments, you can send him back, that's what you are all capable of doing ! At least, he will be safe, once he returns !!

"The Government registered its strong protest at the fatal casualty of an Indian soldier in unprovoked firing by Pakistan forces on March 9," the Ministry said.

The army jawan was killed on Thursday when Pakistani troops violated ceasefire in Poonch sector in Jammu region.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-deputy-hc-summoned-over-ceasefire-violations-by-pak-forces/articleshow/57597197.cms

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Muslim reservation bill will be passed in budget session: K Chandrasekhar Rao

Mar 12, 2017

HYDERABAD: The TRS government will pass a Muslim reservation bill in the ongoing budget session. This was disclosed by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Saturday while speaking in the Assembly. He also announced that the state government would urge the Centre to include it in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution (as in the case of Tamil Nadu).

In a clear assurance to the Muslim community, the chief minister said the bill was prepared on the basis of inputs from the Sachar and Sudhir Committees. The Backward Castes Commission is examining the nitty-gritty of the bill and legal experts are giving final touches to the bill, he said.

"The TRS government has appointed the Sudhir committee which has studied the backwardness of Muslim communities. As the Constitution does not allow reservations based on religion, we have requested the Sudhir committee to examine the backwardness of these communities. Basing on the Sachar and Sudhir committee reports, the legal experts have prepared a draft bill which will be introduced very soon and passed in the ongoing session," said the chief minister. During the YS Rajasekhar Reddy regime, Muslims were granted 4% reservation in government jobs and education based on their economic conditions.

do any of you know how can this be happened? what a fake promise

He said the TRS MPs will bring pressure on the Centre to include the legislation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution so that it would not get challenged in courts.

He said that the Scheduled Tribes (ST) reservation bill that is aimed at increasing their reservations to 12% from the present 7.5% will also be passed. KCR has also promised inclusion of several other castes in the ST category. At present, 9.9% population in Telangana reportedly belong to the ST category which after the inclusion of few other castes is likely to touch 12%.

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/hyderabad/muslim-reservation-bill-will-be-passed-in-budget-session-k-chandrasekhar-rao/articleshow/57601310.cms

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Pakistan

Ulema Must Undo Extremist Narrative of Religion: Pakistan PM

March 12th, 2017

LAHORE: Prime Minis­ter Nawaz Sharif visited a prominent seminary on Saturday to enlist clerics’ help in combating the menace of terrorism, asking them to reject in forceful terms all the religious decrees that incite violence in clear misinterpretation of Islam — the religion of peace.

“Hate is being spread in the name of religion and it is the duty of the ulema to free it from hate and violence. One way of doing that is to reject all those fatwas that incite violence, [and] only the ulema can do it,” said the prime minister while addressing a seminar at Jamia Naeemia.

The seminary in Garhi Shahu is one of the first institutions in the country to have been targeted by terrorists with its principal among those who lost their lives in the incident. The terrorist attack occurred after Allama Dr Sarfraz Ahmed Naeemi, the principal, issued a fatwa against terrorists, the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, in particular.

He promised that the “few remaining militants” would not be spared. The government, he said, had brought the political leadership, the army, the police and other law enforcement agencies on the same page as far as dealing with terrorism and terrorists was concerned.

“Peace is not far off, especially if the ulema extend a helping hand,” he said, adding that religious scholars should play a proactive role in building an alternative narrative of Islam that promoted peace and harmony.

The religion has been held hostage by hate-mongers, he said.

Strengthening of democracy

While terrorism was mentioned by the premier as something posing a threat to the state, on a different note he emphasised the need for strengthening of democratic rule in the country.

During a visit to the Central Police Office earlier in the day, Mr Sharif urged the nation not to allow any attempts to derail the democratic system in order to ensure uninterrupted deve­lop­ment and progress of national institutions.

Inaugurating a digitisation initiative by the police department, he lauded the IT-based reforms introduced by the Punjab police. “Our country has seen the discontinuation [of democracy] and many [military] people have tried to impose their will but failed. [Because of this] Roads were damaged and loadshedding continues to haunt the people. National institutions worsened while the infrastructure was damaged,” he said in an indirect reference to the Musharraf era.

At Jamia Naeemia, a seminary considered to have close ties with the Sharifs, the prime minister said that Islam is [a religion of] peace. However, of late, its name has been misused to “spread hate and violence”, while the holy concept of jihad had been hijacked by miscreants.

“Terrorists draw their strength from an extremist interpretation of religion which only the ulema can trounce by building an alternative, rather the true, narrative of peace and love,” he told his audience, which mainly comprised religious scholars.

At the police office, PM Sharif congratulated the Pakistan army, the Rangers, police and cricket authorities for successfully holding the PSL final match in Lahore despite threats of terrorism.

“We were told not to hold the match but we did. Steps [that are] in the best interest of the country should always be taken. The entire nation was on one side and a few were on the other,” he said, in a thinly-veiled reference to Imran Khan’s stance on holding the final.

The prime minister noted, however, that most people were not happy with the police and that there needed to be a way to check their performance. Most people in the country do not believe that the police would help the poor, he said.

Police authorities must change this image by promoting a culture of sympathy and decency in police stations, he said, urging the officials to promote the perception that police stations were centres of protection for the weak.

He conceded that the police, in most cases, managed to arrest criminals but the conviction rate continued to plummet because of faulty investigations that led to acquittal of the culprits.

“Train your investigation staff at the district and tehsil levels on modern lines and recruit law graduates as your investigators through the public service commission,” he said.

dawn.com/news/1319966/ulema-must-undo-extremist-narrative-of-religion-pm

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JUI-F proposes referendum on FATA reforms

March 12, 2017

PESHAWAR: Leaders of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) have called for a referendum on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) reforms package that would first ask tribesmen whether or not they approved a change in the status of the tribal areas.

The decision was taken during a day-long jirga held at the JUI-F Secretariat on Saturday. The Jirga was attended by the party’s leadership from all the tribal agencies.

Participants discussed the issues of Fata reforms and declared it ‘baseless and unconstitutional’.

They alleged that the reforms were formulated by foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and handed over to the federal government for implementation.

Speaking to the media after the Jirga, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman said the tribesmen has unanimously rejected the reforms and would continue to do so if the tribesmen were not taken into confidence.

“When the government supports and advocates referendum for the people of Kashmir, then the people of Fata should also have a referendum to take the views on reforms,” said Rehman. “The Fata tribesmen should be given the right to decide their fate instead of imposing a decision taken by NGOs.”

The JUI-F leaders said no authority in the country had the mandate to change the status of a particular region, only the local people could decide whether they want a separate province or to be merged into another province.

tribune.com.pk/story/1353073/jui-f-proposes-referendum-fata-reforms/

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Army aware of plots against CPEC, says Gen Qamar

March 12, 2017

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Army is fully aware of the hostile conspiracies hatched against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the army chief said on Saturday.

During his visit to the Special Security Division (SSD) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, however, vowed that the security forces were fully prepared to foil the nefarious designs of the enemy.

The army chief was given a detailed briefing on the Integrated Security Mechanism led by the Special Security Division.

He reiterated the army’s commitment to ensure security for CPEC and the workforce involved. Gen Qamar also underscored the value

attached to the Chinese help and assistance extended in making these projects a success.

The army chief appreciated SSD for their state of preparedness and arrangements for the execution of the assigned mission and tasks.

Earlier, on arrival, COAS was received by GOC SSD Major General Abid Rafique. Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Bilal Akbar was also present at the occasion.

Peshawar Zalmi

The COAS met with the Pakistan Super League champions Peshawar Zalmi at the General Headquarters.

He congratulated the team and the management on their performance and success, the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a press release.

Gen Qamar appreciated all the teams and the management of PSL for bringing back cricket to the country.

He made a special mention and conveyed thanks to foreign players and guests, who came to Pakistan.

“Pakistan is a peace loving country. Cricket is the most favourite game in the country and a binding force for the nation,” he added.

He advised players to continue their pursuit of excellence and bringing a good name to Pakistan.

The visiting players and management thanked the army chief for the support. They were pleasantly surprised to know the army chief’s attachment with cricket, his cricketing expertise and knowledge of cricket records.

They also thanked Gen Qamar for his tips and advice, and assured him that they were soldiers of Pakistan and stood with the Pakistan Army in promoting peace and national harmony.

The team acknowledged the great sacrifices made by Pakistan Army for bringing back peace and stability in the country.

tribune.com.pk/story/1353098/army-aware-plots-cpec-says-gen-qamar/

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Nine mortar rounds fired by Iran into Pakistani territory

March 12, 2017

QUETTA: Iranian forces fired nine mortar rounds into Pakistani territory in the early hours of Saturday.

However, no loss of life was reported. According to details, the mortar shells were fired into the Pakistani territory from a very short distance by the Iranian forces in the early hours of Saturday.

Assistant Commissioner Mehrullah Badini launched a protest with the Iranian authorities on the directives of Deputy Commissioner Chagai after the firing.

The Iranian authorities, however, said that they had no knowledge about the mortar rounds being fired into Pakistan. They also hinted that a third party may have fired the rounds to create misunderstanding between the two brotherly countries.

tribune.com.pk/story/1353087/protest-launched-nine-mortar-rounds-fired-iran/

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Arab World

 

‘Second ISIS’ Made Up of Defeated Rebels Is Emerging In Syria – Former Al-Nusra Prisoner

11 Mar, 2017

Rebels from various parts of Syria are flocking to the country’s north-western corner, giving rise to a “second Islamic State,” a US journalist and former Al-Nusra captive told RT, warning that the West is blind to what’s happening on the ground.

Western media coverage of the Syrian crisis is inadequate and biased, while most things reported about Aleppo are false or unprovable, a US journalist and former Al-Nusra captive told RT, while noting that the rise of a “second Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL]” is being completely overlooked.

Peter Theo Curtis, an American journalist who is known by his pen name Theo Padnos, was asked to share his view on how the war in Syria is seen in the West. Abducted by Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front in 2012 while trying to sneak into rebel-controlled Syrian territory, he gained insight into the various armed factions fighting the government, from the “moderate” Free Syrian Army to hardcore Islamists.

“I think that the Western understanding of what is happening in Syria is inadequate,” Padnos told RT.

“They don’t know what’s happening on the ground, they either don’t understand the language, or they can’t make sense of the videos, or their informants are, perhaps, biased,” he said.

Many in the West hardly understand “who the important forces are, what they want, and where they are,” Padnos said.

“I think most of the things that we in the West say about Aleppo are either false or improvable [sic], or just irrelevant,” he said, adding that some critical details about the Syrian conflict are underreported or simply go unnoticed.

“Something very dangerous and alarming is occurring in northwestern Syria, and this is the emergence of the second Islamic State there,” he stressed.

Asked how concerning this development is, Padnos responded by saying “we will know it when they turn up in Paris or London with Kalashnikovs.”

The new terrorist grouping possesses “tons of weapons,” he warned, noting that it includes rebels defeated by the Syrian army in Aleppo, Homs, Daraa, and the outskirts of Damascus who were “shipped up to the northwestern Syria.”

They are particularly active in the province of Idlib “governing itself by Sharia law which involves shooting people on the street. As somebody who has been tried in an Islamic court up there, I know what it’s like. It’s not exactly justice; it’s not democracy; it’s not what we want; it’s not exactly justice; it’s not what we want for our fellow human beings,” he told RT, stressing “we should pity the women and the children up there.”

“It could carry on forever unless the outside world can really stop sending missiles to the rebels,” the journalist warned.

Padnos – a one-of-a-kind character who is a fluent Arabic speaker – went to Yemen in the mid-2000s and enrolled in a religious school popular among Muslims dreaming of the return of the initial version of Islam. He later wrote in the New York Times that “I was eager to understand a world where the West often seemed to lose its way,” a desire that inspired him to go to war-torn Syria in 2012.

However, before he made it, he was abducted by Al-Nusra Front, a Syrian rebel group with ties to Al-Qaeda, and held in a number of prisons. According to Curtis, the Islamists tortured and humiliated him, while pushing him to convert to Islam from time to time with no result.

His family received numerous requests for a ransom of between $3 million and $25 million, but his release was finally engineered in 2014 by the Qatari secret service. According to a statement from his family, Curtis was freed “on a humanitarian basis without the payment of money.”

Speaking on the subject to Business insider earlier, Curtis specifically pointed out that a “second Islamic State” is operating in close proximity to Europe’s borders.

“It’s right on the Turkish border,” he explained.

“To get to this second Islamic State from any European country, it’s a couple of days on the bus. Young kids are going every day, that’s what the guys on the ground in Syria are telling me: ‘Oh yes, we have new French people, new English people every day,’” he said.

rt.com/news/380308-second-isis-syria-rebels/

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Syria: Twin bombs kill 59 in Damascus, mostly Iraqi pilgrims

The foreign ministry in Damascus condemned "the cowardly terrorist attack which comes in response to victories of the Syrian Arab Army" against jihadists.

March 12, 2017

Twin bombs targeting Shiite pilgrims killed 59 people in Damascus on Saturday, most of them Iraqis, a monitoring group said of one of the bloodiest attacks in the Syrian capital. There have been periodic bombings in Damascus, but the stronghold of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has been largely spared the destruction faced by other major cities in six years of civil war.

A roadside bomb detonated as a bus passed by and a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Bab al-Saghir area, which houses several Shiite mausoleums that draw pilgrims from around the world, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The explosions killed 47 pilgrims, most of them Iraqi Shiites, and 12 Syrian pro-government fighters, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

“There are also dozens of people wounded, some of them in a serious condition,” he told AFP. Syrian state television said 40 people were killed and 120 wounded after “terrorists detonated two bombs”. It broadcast footage of several white buses with their windows shattered, some charred and peppered with shrapnel. Shoes, glasses and wheelchairs lay scattered on ground covered in blood.

Syrian Interior Minister Mohammad Shaar said the attack targeted “pilgrims of various Arab nationalities”. “The sole aim was to kill,” he said. The Iraqi foreign ministry said around 40 of its nationals were among the dead and 120 among the wounded.

A witness told AFP that the second bomb exploded as passers-by gathered at the scene of the first attack, and state television said a booby-trapped motorcycle was defused nearby. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Shiite shrines are a frequent target of attack for Sunni extremists of Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) group, not only in Syria but also in neighbouring Iraq.

The foreign ministry in Damascus condemned “the cowardly terrorist attack which comes in response to victories of the Syrian Arab Army” against jihadists. The Sayyida Zeinab mausoleum to the south of Damascus, Syria’s most visited Shiite pilgrimage site, has been hit by several deadly bombings during the war. Twin suicide bombings in the high-security Kafr Sousa district of the capital in January killed 10 people, eight of them soldiers. That attack was claimed by former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, which said that it had targeted Russian military advisers working with the Syrian army.

indianexpress.com/article/world/twin-bombs-kill-59-in-damascus-mostly-iraqi-pilgrims-4565986/

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Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’

11 Mar, 2017

Any foreign forces, including those from the US, that enter Syria without invitation are invaders, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Chinese media in an interview, noting that no one had given the US troops currently in Manbij permission to be there.

“Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one,” Assad told Chinese PHOENIX TV, as cited by the Syrian state-run SANA news agency.

When a journalist asked the Syrian president if Damascus had “opened doors” for American troops in Aleppo province’s city of Manbij, Assad said “No, we didn’t.”

“What are they [foreign troops] going to do? To fight ISIS [Islamic State, formerly ISIL]? The Americans lost nearly every war. They lost in Iraq, they had to withdraw at the end. Even in Somalia, let alone Vietnam in the past and Afghanistan.”

According to Assad, the US “didn’t succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions.”

The Pentagon confirmed earlier in March that US troops had been sent to Manbij to prevent conflict between US-backed Kurdish forces and rebels backed by Turkey.

Without foreign intervention, the Syrian war “will take a few months” to bring to an end, Assad noted.

“The complexity of this war is the foreign intervention. This is the problem,” he said.

rt.com/news/380256-assad-foreign-troops-invaders/

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Syrian MP: Ankara Admits Failure in Expansionist Policies by Changing Position on Manbij

Sat Mar 11, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Syrian legislator underlined that the recent change of position by Ankara on the Syrian army's advance in Manbij city of Aleppo province indicates that Turkey has admitted the failure of its expansionist policies in Syria.

The Turkish officials have recently said that Ankara is not opposed to the Syrian army's deployment in Manbij city.

"Such comments should merely be considered as Ankara's admission of its failure in Syria and Erdogan's expansionist policies in Northern Syria, and the end of Turkey's game in Syria," Mojib al-Rahman al-Dandan told FNA on Saturday.

Stressing that fighting against the terrorist groups is a highly important issue which should be carried out in coordination with the Syrian government, he said, "We should pay attention that the Syrian army should say the last word in this process because it is the only legitimate military power in Syria."

His remarks came after the Syrian army units continued military operations against the ISIL in Eastern Aleppo, and regained control of the strategic town of al-Khafseh.

Local sources also said on Thursday that the Syrian army deployed troops in several villages previously controlled by the Kurdish forces of the Manbij Military Council following the recent Russian-brokered agreement with Damascus.

The sources said that the army units have entered the villages of Jubb al-hamra and al-Wahihij to maintain security to the regions in Manbij that are held by the Kurdish forces against a possible attack by the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield Operation militants.

Jubb al-Hamra and al-Wahihij were previously under the control of the Manbij Military Council forces.

The sources pointed out that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces left Jubb al-hamra and al-Wahihij and other villages in Manbij region after the Syrian soldiers deployed and took charge.

The Kurdish forces are expected to hand over more villages to the Syrian army West of Manbij in the next few days.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951221000936

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Hama: Syrian Army Seizes Terrorists' Vehicle Carrying Arms Cargo with Turkey-Registered Plate

Sat Mar 11, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army soldiers stopped and seized a vehicle of the terrorists with Turkish license number and documents carrying a large volume of arms and ammunition in ISIL-held regions in Northeastern Hama.

The army soldiers in an ambush operation 1km deep into ISIL-held regions stopped a vehicle of the terrorists in Wadi al-Azib region on a road connecting al-Saboureh to Ithriya.

The Isuzu documents presented by the driver had been registered in Turkey.

The vehicle was carrying 5,516 bullets, 23 anti-aircraft bullets, 111,760 PKC bullets and severs RPG rockets.     

Secret reports of the Turkish police indicated late in January that the Al-Nusra Front (recently renamed to Fatah al-Sham Front) and ISIL terrorists use Turkey's both legal and illegal border crossings to transfer weapons and ammunition to Syria.

"Certain elements linked to terrorists in Syria are still shipping weapons and supplying their logistics from Turkey," the Turkish-language daily, Karshi, cited a police report to the country's public prosecutor about its operations in the city of Diyarbakir.

The newspaper, meantime, said that certain communities also provided financial supports for the terrorists fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The daily also said the Al-Nusra and ISIL terrorist groups established bases in Turkey to train recruits, adding that many explosive devices were even manufactured and assembled on Turkish soils.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951221000309

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Jordan releases soldier who killed 7 Israeli girls in 1997

The release could raise tensions between Israel and Jordan.

March 12, 2017

A Jordanian soldier who killed seven Israeli school girls during a class trip to his country was released Sunday, after serving 20 years in prison, an official said. Ahmed Daqamseh had killed the eighth graders in a 1997 shooting rampage at the scenic “Island of Peace” border post where he was stationed. Seven other girls were wounded at the time.

The release could raise tensions between Israel and Jordan. In 2011, Israel summoned Jordan’s ambassador to express anger after the kingdom’s justice minister at the time called for Daqamseh’s release. Amer Sartawi, a spokesman for Jordan’s Public Security Directorate, said Daqamseh was freed early today.

A military court deemed him mentally unstable at the time and sentenced him to life in prison, which in Jordan typically means 25 years. Jordanian lawmakers had lobbied for his early release. After the shooting, Jordan’s King Hussein — the late father of the current king, Abdullah II — rushed to Israel and paid condolence visits to the girls’ families, a gesture that touched many Israelis at the time.

The shooting came three years after Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty.

indianexpress.com/article/world/jordan-releases-soldier-who-killed-7-israeli-girls-in-1997-4566223/

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Qatari, Kuwaiti Forces Clash with Yemeni Army Near Saudi Borders

Sat Mar 11, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Qatari and Kuwaiti ground forces clashed for the first time with Ansarullah fighters and Yemeni army near the Saudi borders on Friday night.

Local sources reported that the clashes erupted in Saqam region in Jazan province near the borders with Yemen after the Yemeni army pushed back a Saudi aggression on bordering areas.

According to al-Yaman al-Saied news website, after the clashes, the Saudi-led coalition fighter jets pounded the Yemeni army's positions.

No report has yet been released ont the number of casualties on either side.

Saudi Arabia launched its bombing campaign against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to restore power to fugitive President Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.

Hadi stepped down in January 2015 and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Ansarullah revolutionaries.

Despite Riyadh's claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi warplanes are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

The Monarchy's attacks have so far claimed the lives of at least 13,100 civilians, mostly women and children.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951221000390

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Syria: Tens of Militants Defect Euphrates Shield Due to Widening Differences with Turkish Army

Sat Mar 11, 2017

EHRAN (FNA)- Media sources disclosed that rifts are widening between militants of the Ankara-led Euphrates Shield Operation and the Turkish Army, causing tens of militants to give up fight and leave the operation.

Hawar news quoted informed sources as saying that at least sixty Ankara-backed militants in al-Rai town in Northern Aleppo have dropped ties with the Euphrates Shield Operation over low salary and Turkish Army's indifferences to the promises it made to assist the militants.

Hawar news added that the Turkish army had promised to pay $400 to each militant as his monthly salary, but paid only 400 Turkish Lira to them.

The news website went on to say that after differences emerged among the Euphrates Shield forces, 15 militants were kidnapped by the Turkish soldiers and transferred to an unknown location.

Another source told Hawar news that the Ankara-backed militants are deeply worried about escalation of clashes with the Turkish soldiers, especially after the Syrian Army urged the Turkish army men to leave Syria's territories.

In November, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad warned the Turkish government to immediately withdraw its military forces from Syria.

"Turkey should immediately retreat from the Syrian territories, and as long as Turkey continues occupation of the Syrian lands, the regional situation will not improve," Mikdad told al-Mayadeen news channel.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951221001060

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Syria: ISIL Terrorists' Commanders Fleeing Deir Ezzur

Mar 11, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- A number of commanders and members of ISIL have defected the terrorist group and fled Deir Ezzur following the collapse of the group in Iraq's Mosul and heavy defeats in battles with the Syrian army, local sources said.

The sources said that after Do'a Araqi and Abu Fares Araqi, two senior commanders of ISIL, escaped Deir Ezzur along with their families, several more terrorist commanders cut off ties with the group and escaped ISIL-held regions.

They added that a number of ISIL terrorists have defected the group and left ISIL-held regions in Albu Kamal town in Southeastern Deir Ezzur.

In the meantime, ISIL has relocated a number of non-Syrian members to the villages and towns in Eastern Deir Ezzur to save them from military operations, the sources went on to say.

They added that the ISIL has also repositioned troops in Hatleh village near Deir Ezzur city to al-Salehiyeh village due to security reasons.

Reports said earlier today that the army troops targeted the movements and positions of ISIL in Southern and Southwestern Deir Ezzur, destroying a tank and a fuel tanker of the terrorists.

The army men hit a military column of ISIL en route to al-Tayem school, destroying a tank and a fuel tanker and killing their crew.

In the meantime, the Syrian fighter jets bombed positions and gathering centers of ISIL in the villages of Ayash, al-Baqaliyeh, al-Hosseiniyeh, al-Thardeh mountain, al-Maqaber and Jonayd division, killing and wounding a number of militants.

Local sources reported that a number of fresh forces of ISIL with their military equipment crossed Iraq's border with Syrian and entered Deir Ezzur's countryside.    

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951221001262

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Several ISIL Bases, Boats in Deir Ezzur Destroyed by Army

Mar 12, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian air and ground forces continued military operations against the ISIL in Deir Ezzur, and smashed three of their bases and several boats on the Euphrates river.

The Syrian fighter jets targeted the ISIL centers in al-Mayadeen city in Eastern Deir Ezzur, killing a large number of militants and blowing up three of their bases.

Also, the Syrian army units destroyed 6 ISIL boats on the Euphrates river near the two villages of al-Sobhah and al-Mariah in Eastern Deir Ezzur. The militants used the boats for transferring weapons and ammunition.

Meantime, other units of the Syrian army smashed several other ISIL boats on the Euphrates near al-Baqiliyeh village in Western Deir Ezzur, inflicting casualties on the militants.

Earlier today, the Syrian troops targeted the moves and positions of ISIL in Southern and Southwestern Deir Ezzur, destroying a tank and a fuel tanker of the terrorists.

The army men hit a military column of ISIL en route to al-Tayem school, destroying a tank and a fuel tanker and killing their crew.

In the meantime, the Syrian fighter jets bombed positions and gathering centers of ISIL in the villages of Ayash, al-Baqaliyeh, al-Hosseiniyeh, al-Thardeh mountain, al-Maqaber and Jonayd division, killing and wounding a number of militants.

Local sources reported that a number of fresh forces of ISIL with their military equipment crossed Iraq's border with Syrian and entered Deir Ezzur's countryside.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951221001451

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ISIL Besieged in Tal Afar by Hashd Al-Shaabi

Sat Mar 11, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- Spokesman of Hashd al-Shaabi (Iraqi mobilization forces) Ali al-Hosseini announced that the ISIL terrorist group is now under a tight siege by the mobilized forces after cutting all its supply routes towards Syria.

"The Hashd al-Shaabi forces have cut off all the supply routes of the ISIL in the strategic city of Tal Afar, specially from the western direction which leads to the Syrian borders," al-Hosseini told FNA on Saturday.

He said that laying siege on the ISIL can greatly facilitate the liberation of all Tal Afar region and adjacent areas.

Al-Hosseini also said that the ISIL terrorists' morale has weakened after all routes used to send aid to them were blocked.

Earlier this week, the Iraqi mobilization forces made an important advance Northwest of Tal Afar after they took control of the mountainous region near al-Ayathia villages, thereby gradually encircling the ISIL stronghold in Nineveh Province.

ISIL sustained at least 30 casualties while five car bombs were utilized to counter the advancing mobilization troops, however the Iraqi forces were able to destroy the car bombs well before they reach their positions. 

This newly captured area can be used by the mobilization forces as a launching pad to storm Tal Afar and direct a large-scale offensive on the city.

Meanwhile, local sources said on Tuesday that the Iraqi troops have kept on their advances towards Tal Afar and are now in the distance of 5 to 8 km from the city.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951221001272

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Syria: Al-Nusra Terrorists Withdraw from More Positions in Eastern Damascus

Sat Mar 11, 2017

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army soldiers continued to hit the positions of Al-Nusra Front (Fatah al-Sham Front) hard in al-Qaboun district Northeast of the capital, wining back several more positions.

The army soldiers continued to clash with Al-Nusra Southeast of al-Qaboun district, pushing terrorists back from al-Khabaz grand mosque and several residential complexes.

A local source underlined the importance of the army advances in the front of al-Hafez street in al-Qaboun farms, saying the army soldiers have cut off the terrorists' supply lines in Eastern Ghouta. 

Reports said earlier today that the army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with Al-Nusra in al-Hefaz street in al-Qaboun district, and managed to drive the terrorists out of their positions.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13951221001289

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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques receives phone call from President of Indonesia

RIYADH, 12th March, 2017 (WAM) -- The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, has received a phone call from Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia.

According to Saudi Press Agency, SPA, the Indonesian President expressed his happiness at the results of the recent visit of King Salman to the Republic of Indonesia.

King Salman in turn expressed his thanks to the Indonesian President, commending the visit's results, which, he said, laid the foundations for a new stage in relations between the two countries.

wam.ae/en/details/1395302602294

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Saudi forces Killed Shia child in Awamiya

March 11, 2017

A residential neighborhood was raided by Saudi forces in Qatif’s village of al-Awamiyah in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province on Saturday. A minor named Walid Talal al-Ariz was killed and an unspecified number of other civilians were injured in the attack.

Regime forces deployed explosive devices during the operation.

On Friday, the Saudi Interior Ministry said police had shot dead a man in the area during what it called an exchange of fire. The man had previously been charged with committing crimes related to “terrorism,” it said.

Qatif has been the scene of widespread anti-regime protests since 2011. The Shia community there has been suffering from discrimination at the hands of the regime.

The protests have been met with a heavy-handed crackdown by the regime. Security forces have ramped up security measures across the province.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws so as to also affect activism.

en.abna24.com/news/middle-east/saudi-forces-killed-shia-child-in-awamiya_817069.html

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South Asia

 

31 Taliban militants killed in Afghan and foreign forces airstrikes in Helmand

Sun Mar 12 2017

At least thirty one insurgents were killed in a series of airstrikes conducted by the Afghan and foreign forces in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan.

The provincial government media office in a statement said the airstrikes were carried out in the provincial capital city of Lashkargah, Nad-e-Ali, and Garamser districts.

The statement further added that 11 of the militants were killed after they were targeted by the Afghan forces in Bolan Mandawi area of Lashkargah and at least three others were wounded.

At least eight Taliban insurgents were killed and six others were wounded during a separate operation in Nad-e-Ali district.

According to the provincial government, several areas were cleared during the operations in Nad-e-Ali and dozens of Improvised Explosive Device (IED) were destroyed.

The statement also added that twelve insurgents including a local leader of the group identified as Mullah Ewaz were killed in an airstrike conducted by the foreign forces in Hussainabad area of Garamser district.

A vehicle belonging to the militants was also totally destroyed after it was hit by the airstrike, the statement said.

khaama.com/31-taliban-militants-killed-in-afghan-and-foreign-forces-airstrikes-in-helmand-02374

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Eight Afghan police killed in ‘insider attack’

March 12th, 2017

KANDAHAR: Eight local policemen were killed by their colleagues after they were poisoned in their base in southern Afghanistan, officials said Saturday, in a latest so-called “insider attack”.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the incident, which happened in the Nawshar district of southern Zabul province late on Friday, as the militants escalate a deadly winter campaign of violence.

“The infiltrators first poisoned their colleagues and then shot them dead,” provincial spokesman Gul Islam Seyal said, adding that the attackers fled the area taking all the weapons and munitions from the base.

The governor of Zabul Bismillah Afghanmal said they had launched an investigation into the incident. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a message to the media that the group’s “infiltrators” carried out the attack.

So-called insider attacks — when Afghan soldiers and police turn their guns on their colleagues or on international troops — have been a major problem during the more than 15-year-long war.

Such attacks have sapped morale and caused deep mistrust within security ranks.

dawn.com/news/1319944

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Gunmen attack military airport in eastern Afghanistan

March 12th, 2017

Gunmen attacked a military air base in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, officials said on Saturday.

Khost police spokesman Faizullah Ghairat said that three militants had attacked the base, close to the border with Pakistan. One had been killed, while two others were still holding out, he said.

There was no immediate comment from the headquarters of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Kabul.

The incident comes just ahead of the normal start of the spring fighting season, when warmer weather brings increased operations by both insurgents and government forces.

Afghan and US officials have warned that Afghanistan will see increased fighting this year as the Taliban steps up an insurgency which has cut the area controlled by the government to below 60pc.

Earlier this week, the head of US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, asked for more American troops to join the roughly 8,400 already stationed there.

The Afghan interior ministry said that over the past 25 hours, security forces had killed 51 armed militants in counter-terrorism operations across Afghanistan.

In a separate incident in the southeastern province of Zabul, two renegade policemen killed eight colleagues and defected to the Taliban, local officials said, although details of the incident, which occurred last Friday, were unclear.

"They first poisoned them and after that shot and killed all of them," Zabul Governor Bismillah Afghanmal said, adding that the men stole weapons and equipment before defecting.

The Taliban's main spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that the two poisoned their colleagues, saying that they had "prepared the way" for other fighters to attack the checkpoint.

dawn.com/news/1319817/gunmen-attack-military-airport-in-eastern-afghanistan

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Govt asks for analysis report in 10 days for the launch of Electronic ID cards

Sun Mar 12 2017

The Afghan government has asked for an analysis report to be prepared in ten days for the launch of the long-delay electronic national identity cards.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said a meeting was organized in the Presidential Palace on Saturday to discuss the ways for the launch of the ID cards after President Ghani issued a legislative decree to modify the census law which prevented the distribution program.

According to a statement by ARG Palace, the relevant institutions were instructed to include their recommendations and the time table in an analysis report within the next ten days.

The statement further added that the meeting was attended by the Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danish, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar, Minister of Interior Taj Mohammad Jahid, head of the presidential administrative affairs Abdul Salam Rahimi, and some members of the electronic ID card department.

This comes as the Afghan government has stepped up efforts to organize the parliamentary elections and has taken major steps in bring reforms in the election bodies.

In the meantime, there are concerns that a fair and transparent election will not be possible in the absence of electronic ID cards.

khaama.com/govt-asks-for-analysis-report-in-10-days-for-the-launch-of-electronic-id-cards-02375

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Ex-Afghan spy chief Saleh appointed as minister for security reforms

Sat Mar 11 2017

The former prominent Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh has been appointed as the government’s minister in security sector reforms and the head of the high office of the oversight for appointing top security and defense officials.

Saleh was appointed for the post by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani after he issued a decree to confirm his selection.

The decree released by the Administrative Office the President stated that Mr. Saleh’s appointment as the government’s minister in security sector reforms and head of the office of the oversight for appoint top security and defense officials has been approved following the article 13 and clause 64 of the Afghan constitution.

Saleh resigned from his position nearly six years ago following an attack on a peace gathering in capital Kabul.

He is currently leading the Green Trend movement and was one of the main supporters of Abdullah Abdullah during the 2014 controversial presidential elections.

Saleh has been one of the main critics of Pakistani military, mainly the country’s military intelligence or the Inter Services Intelligence, for their role in the instability of Afghanistan.

khaama.com/ex-afghan-spy-chief-saleh-appointed-as-minister-for-security-reforms-02373

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Aga Khan Foundation plans to build standard hospital in Kabul

Sat Mar 11 2017

The Aga Khan Foundation plans to build a standard hospital in capital Kabul as the plan regarding the hospital has been presented to President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

The Ambassador of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan Nurjehan Mawani informed the plan to build the hospital during a meeting with President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani.

The Office of the President, ARG Palace, said the meeting was organized in the presidential palace where President Ghani met with Ms Mawani and her delegation.

According to a statement by the Palace, Ms Mawani presented a detailed plan and sketches of the hospital to President Ghani which the Aga Khan Foundation plans to build in Kabul city.

The statement further added that President Ghani thanked the Aga Khan Foundation for its plans to invest on building a standard hospital in Kabul city.

President Ghani instructed his adviser Mohammad Humayoun Qayoumi to follow the plan for the building of the hospital with the relevant institutions and in consultation with the residents of the place where the hospital will be built.

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Mideast

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan compares Dutch rally ban to Nazism as row spirals

Turkey's Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya appeared at the scene after reportedly travelling overland from Germany

March 12, 2017

Rotterdam

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Dutch rally ban, Dutch rally, netherlands rally, world news

Protesters wave flags outside the Dutch consulate in central Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue, the main shopping road of Istanbul. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said a Dutch ban on his foreign minister’s visit was like Nazism, as tensions rocketed over rallies abroad to help Ankara gain backing for a key vote. His comments came yesterday after the Netherlands said it would refuse Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu permission to land for a rally to gather support for a referendum on boosting Erdogan’s powers. The Dutch decision to ban Cavusoglu from visiting and holding a rally in the port city of Rotterdam came after Germany and other European nations also blocked similar campaign events. Unlike in Germany, where a string of planned rallies were barred by local authorities, in the Netherlands it was the government that stepped in to block Cavusoglu’s visit.

“They are the vestiges of the Nazis, they are fascists,” Erdogan told an Istanbul rally yesterday, days after he angrily compared moves to block rallies in Germany to “Nazi practices”.

“Ban our foreign minister from flying however much you like, but from now on let’s see how your flights will land in Turkey,” Erdogan said. Around 1,000 people waving Turkish flags protested outside the consulate in the Dutch port city of Rotterdam yesterday evening, watched by a large police presence.

Turkey’s Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya appeared at the scene after reportedly travelling overland from Germany, but Turkish TV said she was stopped by Dutch police some 30 metres (yards) short of the consulate.

“We’ve been here for about four hours. We were not even offered water,” she told the NTV television channel. “(Dutch) police are not allowing me to enter the consulate. ”

“I was told to leave the country and return to Germany as soon as possible,” she added. “I will not leave unless I am allowed to meet even for five minutes with our citizens.”

The Dutch public broadcaster NOS said police were planning to escort Kaya back to the border with Germany. Police would not confirm anything to AFP. Cavusoglu flew to France where he is expected to address a rally today in the eastern city of Metz. A French official said the visit had been cleared by the foreign ministry in Paris.

As the row raged, Turkish foreign ministry sources said the Dutch embassy in Ankara and consulate in Istanbul had both been sealed off for “security reasons”. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Erdogan’s criticism was “crazy.”

“I understand that they are angry but this is way out of line,” he said. “I really think we made the right decision here.” Cavusoglu, speaking in Istanbul, said the ban was “unacceptable”. “Why are you taking sides in the referendum?” he said, adding: “Is the foreign minister of Turkey a terrorist?”

indianexpress.com/article/world/turkeys-recep-tayyip-erdogan-compares-dutch-rally-ban-to-nazism-as-row-spirals-4566248/

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All kinds of military cooperation with Russia in Syria: President Erdoğan

March/10/2017

Ankara and Moscow are conducting all kinds of military cooperation in Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told a press conference March 10 with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

“There are all kinds of military cooperation in military pace in Syria,” Erdoğan said.

The president also voiced determination in maintaining cooperation regarding humanitarian aid in the war-torn country.

Meanwhile, Putin also said he appreciated the cooperation of intelligence and military units.

"We rate very highly the level of interaction achieved between the special services of Russia and Turkey and between the two countries’ military," Putin said as quoted by TASS news agency.

Erdoğan also reiterated that the territorial integrity of Syria should not be put in jeopardy, adding that Ankara has no toleration for the splitting of Syria and Iraq.

The top soldiers of Turkey and Russia, along with the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, held a three-way military summit in Antalya on March 8 discussing developments in Syria and Iraq regarding the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Erdoğan noted that although Turkey and Russia did not agree on everything, the countries kept the channels of communication "open.”

Putin said Syria's territorial integrity was an "irreplaceable" element, which is "vital" for the solution of the crisis.

He added the situation in Syria was "complicated.”

Ankara, Moscow agree to ease ban on Turkish firms

Erdoğan and Putin also agreed to remove work permit sanctions against Turkish nationals and businesses.

"We expect Russia to completely remove [economic] restrictions," Erdoğan said.

"Only in this way will it be possible for us to reach our previously announced target of $100 billion trade volume."

Putin, for his part, said that Russia would "very soon" remove work permit sanctions against Turkey.

"Erdoğan raised this issue today," he said, adding they especially discussed the situation of the Turkish workers in construction sector.

"We agreed on the date when this [sanction] will be removed. This ban will be lifted as soon as possible," Putin said.

He added technical issues remained in this regard, saying: "We will continue to solve other issues."

After the Nov. 24, 2015 jet crisis, Moscow took several measures against Turkey, including restriction of visa-free travel to a ban on imports of certain foodstuffs and a ban on the sale of Turkish holiday packages by tourist agencies to Russians. Russia had also called on its nationals to boycott Turkey as a tourist destination following the crisis.

Since last summer, Russia has relaxed the sanctions imposed on Turkey in response to the jet incident and the countries have worked together to bring a cease-fire and political solution to Syria.

Turkey, Russia agree to establish joint investment fund

Turkey and Russia on March 10 signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a joint investment fund in a bid to strengthen bilateral ties and investment flow.

The agreement was signed during Erdoğan’s official visit to Moscow, according to a written statement from Turkey Wealth Fund, TVF, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

Each country is to invest up to $500 million in the Turkey-Russia Joint Fund, the statement said.

hurriyetdailynews.com/all-kinds-of-military-cooperation-with-russia-in-syria-president-erdogan.aspx?pageID=238&nID=110687&NewsCatID=352

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Turkish family minister says Dutch police escorting her back to Germany amid row

March/12/2017

Family Minister Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya said on March 12 that Dutch police is escorting her back to Germany after having been barred from entering the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam amid an escalating row between the two countries.

“I am being taken to Germany from the Nijmegen border with democratic and humanitarian values disregarded. I condemn this on behalf of all my citizens,” Kaya said in a tweet.

Sayan Kaya, who had arrived from Germany by road, was intercepted by Dutch police late on March 11 near the consulate building hours after Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s flight clearance to Rotterdam was cancelled over “security” and “public safety” issues.

Dutch police officers blocked around one kilometer of the road in front of the residence of the Turkish consul general to Rotterdam, where Çavuşoğlu’s meeting with Turkish citizens ahead of the April 16 referendum would take place.

Sayan Kaya said she requested the Netherlands and European countries to return back to “the democratic values they say to defend” after being intercepted.

Thousands of protesters waving Turkish flags gathered outside the Rotterdam consulate, demanding to welcome the minister while protests also erupted in Istanbul and Ankara in front of the Dutch diplomatic missions which had been sealed off after the Dutch move.

Dutch police later used water cannon and horses to break up the protests following the minister's leave.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said late March 11 that they have conveyed to the Netherlands their will for the Dutch envoy to Ankara to not return to his post for a while upon the cancellation of Çavuşoğlu’s flight permit.

“It has been notified that we do not wish for the Dutch ambassador, who is currently on leave outside of Turkey, to return to his job for a while,” read a statement issued by the ministry.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-family-minister-says-dutch-police-escorting-her-back-to-germany-amid-row.aspx?pageID=238&nID=110696&NewsCatID=351

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Investigation launched into helicopter crash killing 7 in Istanbul

Mar 12, 2017

Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into a civilian helicopter crash in Istanbul on March 10 that killed seven people aboard the chopper.

The prosecutor’s office opened an investigation with two public prosecutors into the incident, state-run Anadolu Agency said.

Seven people, three Turkish citizens and four Russians, were killed on March 10 when a civilian helicopter owned by a private company, Swan Aviation, and which was carrying business executives from Eczacıbaşı crashed in Istanbul’s Büyükçekmece district.

Crime scene investigation and accident investigation teams examined the scene of the accident under the supervision of the two public prosecutors. The teams’ findings are expected to be gathered in a preliminary report, which will be presented to the public prosecutor’s office.

All parts of the Sikorsky S-76 model helicopter were collected and technical investigation on these parts will be conducted, Anadolu Agency reported.

Even though the cause of the crash is not yet defined, early witness accounts suggested that the helicopter hit the top antenna of a 257-meter-high TV tower near the scene.

There was also speculating that foggy weather may have played a role in the crash, but the Transportation, Marine and Communications Ministry later said in a statement that weather conditions were normal at the time of takeoff but that the helicopter subsequently crashed into the TV tower.

Eczacıbaşı Holding confirmed on March 10 in a written statement that Eczacıbaşı Building Products Russia Country Director Salim Özen, Russia Regional Sales Manager Aleksandr Vanin, Russian guests Igor Kochergin, Luidmila Chuprova, Elena Badragan, as well as Turkish pilots Alaattin Nacar and Ahmet Bulut were onboard the crashed helicopter.

While a funeral was held for Özen, a separate funeral was held for Nacar and Bulut in Istanbul on March 11. The bodies of the Russian citizens were set to be sent to their home towns in Russia after official procedure is finalized, according to the Eczacıbaşı Holding.

Eczacıbaşı Holding head Bülent Eczacıbaşı attended the funeral on March 11.

hurriyetdailynews.com/investigation-launched-into-helicopter-crash-killing-7-in-istanbul.aspx?pageID=238&nID=110691&NewsCatID=341

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Sessions asks US prosecutor of Turkish-Iranian businessman, 45 Obama-era attorneys to resign

March/11/2017

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly asked the remaining 46 chief federal prosecutors left over from the Obama administration to resign on March 10, including Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who had been asked to stay on in November 2016 by then President-elect Donald Trump and is the chief prosecutor in the case of an arrested Turkish-Iranian businessman.

Although U.S. attorneys are political appointees, and the request from Trump's Justice Department is part of a routine process, the move came as a surprise. Not every new administration replaces all U.S. attorneys at once.

"Until the new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutors in our U.S. attorney’s offices will continue the great work of the department in investigating, prosecuting and deterring the most violent offenders," Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement, according to The Associated Press.

By the evening of March 10, U.S. attorneys around the country - including New Jersey, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Montana - had publicly announced their resignations.

A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed the resignation requests included Bharara, whose office handles some of the most critical business and criminal cases passing through the federal judicial system.

Bharara met with Trump in Trump Tower on Nov. 30, 2016. After, Bharara told reporters the two had a "good meeting" and he had agreed to stay on.

Bharara is the chief prosecutor of the case in which arrested Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab is being tried in the U.S. on charges of fraud, violating sanctions on Iran, committing bankruptcy fraud, and laundering money.

On March 10, Bharara was unsure where he stood because he did not know if the person who contacted him about resigning was aware that Trump had asked him to remain in office, according to a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

It was not immediately clear if all resignations would ultimately be accepted.

hurriyetdailynews.com/sessions-asks-us-prosecutor-of-turkish-iranian-businessman-45-obama-era-attorneys-to-resign.aspx?pageID=238&nID=110689&NewsCatID=359

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Southeast Asia

Djarot faces hostile protesters at East Jakarta mosque

Sun, March 12, 2017

Jakarta deputy gubernatorial candidate Djarot Saiful Hidayat faced hostile opposition from supporters of his gubernatorial election rivals while attending an anniversary prayer for late former president Soeharto at At Tien mosque in East Jakarta on Saturday evening.

Kompas.com reported that an unidentified protester threw a bottle into the line of guards protecting Djarot as he was leaving the venue at 8:30 p.m.

Police protected Djarot on his way to his car as some protesters pursued him while hurling verbal abuse.

Hostility had been in the air since Djarot's arrival at the mosque vicinity, with some protesters even trying to block his access to the mosque. However, Djarot, accompanied by his bodyguards, eventually managed to enter the venue.

In addition to Soeharto's chidren, Siti Hediyati Haryadi, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, Gerindra Party chair Prabowo Soebianto, Jakarta gubernatorial candidate Anies Baswedan, Islam Defenders Front leader Rizieq Shihab also attended the event. (dmr)

thejakartapost.com/news/2017/03/12/djarot-faces-hostile-protesters-at-east-jakarta-mosque.html

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Indonesia arrests 9 suspected militants

The suspects were all members of Mujahidin Indonesia Timur, a group that had been controlled until last year by one of the first Indonesian militants to pledge loyalty to Islamic State.

Jakarta |March 12, 2017

Indonesian police arrested nine suspected militants on the island of Sulawesi, a police spokesman said on Saturday, in an operation that media reported had targeted a group with affiliations to Islamic State. With investigations continuing, police spokesman Martinus Sitompul declined to give further details, but media reported police had also seized bomb-making materials meant for use in attacks on police and official buildings.

The suspects were all members of Mujahidin Indonesia Timur, a group that had been controlled until last year by one of the first Indonesian militants to pledge loyalty to Islamic State. Santoso had been the country’s most-wanted men before he was killed in a gunbattle with police and military forces last July, and security officials have been expecting reprisal attacks.

Some members of his group were believed to be still hiding in Sulawesi’s dense jungles. Security experts say that Indonesia, an officially secular state with the world’s largest Muslim population, faces a growing threat from supporters of Islamic State.  Last month, police killed a militant after he detonated a small bomb in the city of Bandung. Authorities said they were investigating whether he had links to a radical network sympathetic to Islamic State.

indianexpress.com/article/world/indonesia-arrests-9-suspected-militants-4565946/

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Philippine government, Communist rebels to restart peace talks

Both sides have also agreed to hold the fifth round of formal peace negotiations in June.

March 12, 2017

By: IANS | Manila

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Protesters hold pictures of those allegedly killed by the military or police during their “all out war” campaign against communist rebels following the collapse of the peace talks as they hold a rally outside Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in Quezon city, north of Manila, Philippines on Friday, March 10, 2017. Both sides have suffered casualties after accusing each other of violating temporary ceasefire. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The Philippine government and the communist rebels have agreed to resume the peace talks to end the 48-year-old communist insurgency in the Philippines, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza announced on Sunday. Dureza also said in a statement posted on his Facebook page that both sides have also agreed to restore their separate unilateral ceasefire before the fourth round of talks scheduled for the first week of April “as soon as their respective forces shall have been informed.”

“I am pleased to announce that the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People’s Army/ National Democratic Front which broke down weeks ago, are now back on track again,” Xinhua quoted Dureza as saying.

Aditi Rao Hydari Stuns All In Harper's Bazaar Photo Shoot

 “At the same time, a unilateral ceasefire that was also earlier terminated is deemed restored and reinstated but will be made effective only as soon as the respective forces of both sides are duly informed but definitely before the next round of talks in April, 2017,” he added.

Both sides have also agreed to hold the fifth round of formal peace negotiations in June. He said the agreement was reached at informal talks held on March 10 and 11 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

indianexpress.com/article/world/philippine-government-communist-rebels-to-restart-peace-talks-4566253/

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Africa

Saif Al-Islam transferred to new place of detention in Zintan

By Libya Herald reporter.

Benghazi, 11 March 2017:

Reports that Seif Al-Islam Qaddafi has been freed in Zintan appear to have been somewhat exaggerated. The son of the former dictator, captured in November 2011 and since held in Zintan, has simply been transferred from the keeping of one authority in the town to another.

Zintan Military Council has confirmed his removal from his existing place of confinement to another controlled of the town’s Social Council.

Last year, Saif’s British lawyer Karim Khan claimed that he had been released from house arrest on the orders of the Presidency Council and moved to an undisclosed location in Zintan. This was also untrue, although it is known that Saif has been confined in relatively comfortable circumstances akin to house arrest.

libyaherald.com/2017/03/11/saif-al-islam-transferred-to-new-place-of-detention-in-zintan/

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Islamic Bank Provides MAD 1.23 Billion to Support Morocco’s High-Speed Train

March 11, 2017

By Youssef Igrouane

Rabat – The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has granted a loan of MAD 1.23 billion to the National Office of Railroads (ONCF).

The loan occurred during a signing ceremony for a financing agreement between the ONCF and the IDB. It is part of the IDB’s Istisnaa contract, one of the flagship products granted by the Islamic financial institution.

The Ministry of Finance has guaranteed the ONCF the contract, which is considered the first of its kind in the history of Morocco.

Following this loan, the ONCF will proceed with the construction of stations for new High Speed Trains, better known as TGV. They are expected to launch in 2018. They will be the first ones to operate in Africa, connecting Tangier to Kenitra in only 1 hour and 30 minutes.

In the future, the TGV will link Tangier to Casablanca in 2 hours and 10 minutes, instead of the current five hour journey takes. The governments of Morocco, France, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE, are funding the TGV’s $2 billion investment for new trains and tracks.

Morocco received the first carriage for the TGV in July 2015. Then, in September of the same year, the second fleets of the TGV arrived at the Port of Tangier Med. After it received the second carriage, the ONCF said: “The transfer of this train to the Tangier maintenance workshop will take place via several special convoys.”

This not the first time the ONCF has taken out a loan for the construction of its services. In December 2016, the ONCF announced that it would receive a MAD 1.6 billion loan from the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development to renovate the Rabat Ville and Rabat Agdal train stations to make the transit centers compatible with the Kingdom’s new high-speed trains.

moroccoworldnews.com/2017/03/210705/islamic-bank-provides-mad-1-23-billion-to-support-moroccos-high-speed-train/

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Europe

British Imams to Be Told To Preach In English At Mosques

 Ben Riley-Smith, assistant political editor

11 MARCH 2017

Imams are to be encouraged to deliver their sermons in English under measures being prepared to rid Britain of hate preaching.

The Telegraph has been told that the counter-extremism taskforce is working on the plans amid concern that preaching in foreign languages enforces divisions between Islam and mainstream British society and can foster radicalisation.

Ministers have been inspired by some Middle Eastern countries that have begun urging that sermons be published in English online. A senior Government source said: “If imams are speaking in another language it makes it far harder to know if radicalisation is taking place.”

Measures are being prepared for the long-awaited counter-extremism proposals after an initial strategy was published in October 2015. Exact measures are yet to be finalised but one source said tougher licensing rules for foreign preachers was being considered.

Currently, imams from outside the European Union who visit Britain have to prove they can speak English before a visa is granted. However, sources have ruled out the introduction of any new licensing scheme for imams already in the UK because it could be seen as a curb on religious freedom.

Tackling radicalisation in Britain was one of Prime Minister Theresa May’s priorities during her six years as Home Secretary. A speech she gave before the 2015 general election set out a 
series of “bold” measures that could be adopted in order to counter home-grown extremism.

“Everybody in our country is equal and everybody is free to lead their lives as they wish. But our society does not just confer rights; it demands responsibilities,” Mrs May said back then.

“You have the freedom to live how you choose to live – but you must also respect the freedom of others to live how they choose to live.”

She also promised a “step change” in helping people to learn in English and she hinted at tighter language rules on “foreign religious workers in pastoral roles”.

Debate about whether imams, who lead prayers at mosques, should use English has been making headlines for more than a decade. A survey of 300 mosques in 2007 found that just 8 per cent of imams were born in the UK and only 6 per cent of them spoke English as a first language.

The Tory 2015 election manifesto promised to “confront and ultimately defeat” extremism and make protecting Britons their “overriding priority”.

The document pledged to “tackle all forms of extremism, including non-violent extremism, so our values and our way of life are properly promoted and defended”.

The Conservatives’ 2015 counter-extremism strategy has yet to undergo formal consultation amid reports that wrangling over how to define extremism has held up the process.

In 2016, David Cameron called for more imams to speak English to help guide young Britons away from the “poisonous rhetoric” of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

He said: “When I was sat in a mosque in Leeds this week one of the young people there said how important it is that imams speak English because if you have got young people, sometimes who speak English themselves but not Urdu and not Arabic, they need someone to guide them away from Isil and their poisonous rhetoric.”

He said: “That’s why we’re going to be targeting money at people, very often women, who’ve been stuck at home, sometimes by the men of the house. Speaking English is important for all, imams included.”

A Government spokesman said: “There are no plans to license imams or require imams to have a minimum level of English language proficiency beyond visa requirements already in place.”

telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/11/imams-told-preach-english-mosques/

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UN says world faces worst humanitarian crisis since World War II

 March 12th, 2017

UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations is warning that the world is facing its worst humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II, with more than 20 million people facing starvation and famine in four countries.

The world body’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien called on Friday for an urgent mobilisation of funds — $4.4 billion by July — for northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen to “avert a catastrophe”. “Otherwise, many people will predictably die from hunger, livelihoods will be lost and political gains that have been hardwon over the last few years will be reversed,” O’Brien said in his stark warning to the UN Security Council.

“Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease. Children stunted and out of school. Livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost.” He called war-wracked Yemen “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world,” with two thirds of the population, or 18.8 million people — three million more than in January — in need of assistance and more than seven million with no regular access to food.

The conflict in Yemen has left more than 7,400 people dead and 40,000 wounded since an Arab-state coalition intervened on the government’s side against rebels in March 2015, according to UN figures.

In just the past two months alone, more than 48,000 people have fled fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country, according to O’Brien, as it grapples with a proxy war fought by archrivals Iran and Saudi Arabia.

‘Arbitrarily denying’ access

During recent meetings, O’Brien said senior leaders in both parties agreed to provide continuous humanitarian access and respect international humanitarian law.

He noted that 4.9 million people received food assistance last month alone.

“Yet all parties to the conflict are arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicise aid,” he added.

“Already, the humanitarian suffering that we see in Yemen today is caused by the parties and proxies and if they don’t change their behaviour now, they must be held accountable for the inevitable famine, unnecessary deaths and associated amplification in suffering that will follow.” He noted that despite assurances from all parties that he would obtain safe passage to the flashpoint city of Taiz, he was in fact denied access and came under gunfire after retreating to a short distance away.

A total of $2.1 billion are needed to reach 12 million people with life-saving assistance and protection in Yemen this year, according to O’Brien, who noted that just six percent of those funds have been received so far.

He announced that a ministerial-level pledging event for Yemen will take place in Geneva on April 25, to be chaired by UN chief Antonio Guterres.

Politics behind ‘man-made famine’

During his visit last week to South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, O’Brien said he found a situation that is “worse than it has ever been”. “The famine in South Sudan is man-made,” he added.

“Parties to the conflict are parties to the famine — as are those not intervening to make the violence stop.” He said more than 7.5 million people need assistance, an increase of 1.4 million fro last year. And some 3.4 million people are displaced, including nearly 200,000 who have fled South Sudan since January alone.

More than half the population of Somalia — 6.2 million people — need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 2.9 million at risk of famine.

Nearly one million children under the age of five will be “acutely malnourished” this year, according to the humanitarian chief, who also visited the country.

“What I saw and heard during my visit to Somalia was distressing — women and children walk for weeks in search of food and water,” O’Brien said.

“They have lost their livestock, water sources have dried up and they have nothing left to survive on. With everything lost, women, boys, girls and men now move to urban centers.” In northeastern Nigeria, O’Brien said 10.7 million people need humanitarian aid, including 7.1 million people who are “severely food insecure”. The humanitarian emergency afflicting the area was triggered by the Boko Haram insurgency, which erupted in Nigeria in 2009. Poor governance and climate change have also been powerful contributors to the crisis.

The conflict, which has left around 20,000 people dead and forced more than 2.6 million others to flee their homes, has aggravated an already difficult humanitarian situation in one of the poorest regions of the world.

dawn.com/news/1319950/un-says-world-faces-worst-humanitarian-crisis-since-world-war-ii

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Tension rises as Turkish minister stopped in Rotterdam

March 12, 2017

Kaya entered the country at the German-Dutch border in a convoy by car and drove straight to the consulate in Rotterdam.

The diplomatic tensions between the Netherlands and Turkey rose on Saturday night after a convoy of Turkey’s Minister of Family and Social Policies Betul Sayan Kaya was halted for hours close to the Turkish General Consulate in Rotterdam. Kaya wanted to visit the Turkish consulate to speak at a rally for a “yes” vote in the forthcoming constitutional referendum in Turkey, Xinhua reported. Earlier on Saturday, the Dutch government had withdrawn the landing rights for the plane of Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu, who had the same plan.

Kaya entered the country at the German-Dutch border in a convoy by car and drove straight to the consulate in Rotterdam. Near the consulate, her car was stopped by the police. “The Netherlands is violating all international laws, conventions and human rights by not letting me enter Turkish Consulate in Rotterdam,” the Turkish Minister tweeted. The support of Turkish-Dutch citizens, holding Turkish flags, near the consulate grew to hundreds of people during the evening.

Around 10 p.m. local time, the Dutch military police started to clear some streets, without major incidents occurring so far, although Dutch national broadcaster NOS reported a rising tension. The Turkish government planned to campaign in the Netherlands, as in other European countries, to urge Dutch citizens with the Turkish nationality to vote for a stronger position for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Dutch government, citing “the public order was at stake”, objected the campaign by Turkish officials and had made several attempts to prevent them from coming.

indianexpress.com/article/world/tension-rises-as-turkish-minister-stopped-in-rotterdam-4566230/

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Germany shuts down shopping mall over attack threat

Security services quoted by the daily Bild described the threat as a potential multiple suicide bombing at the mall

March 12, 2017

German police have sealed off a major shopping centre in the central city of Essen, citing the threat of a terror attack, with media reports suggesting a link to the Islamic State group. The country is on high alert following scenes of carnage at a Christmas market in Berlin in December, when an IS jihadist rammed a truck into a crowd of pedestrians, killing 12 people. The German domestic security agency BfV believes the IS group was “almost definitely” behind the threat, local media reported.

According to the Bild daily, IS called for an attack and got a message to Syrian supporters in the Essen region to attack a shopping centre yesterday. Security services quoted by Bild described the threat as a potential multiple suicide bombing at the mall, one of the biggest in the country.

“The shopping centre will be closed all Saturday due to security concerns. The police have concrete information regarding a possible attack,” local police said in a statement published on social media. Local car parks and the underground train station were also closed.

Though there was no announcement of arms or explosives being found, police said two men had been picked up for questioning. Both men were arrested in the town of Oberhausen near Essen but later police said in a statement that the pair “are not suspects” in the case.

“Many agents are deployed onsite. This is a major operation,” a local police spokesman told AFP, indicating the lockdown included the 200-store Limbecker Platz in downtown Essen, nearby parking garages and an underground rail station. Sniffer dogs were also been deployed at the site.

Essen, which is in the industrial Ruhr region, has a population of approximately 500,000. The police said they had been alerted to the threat by “another department” but no German agency has confirmed if it was involved.

indianexpress.com/article/world/germany-shuts-down-shopping-mall-over-attack-threat-4566220/

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North America

Muhammad Ali’s son says he was detained again at airport in Washington

March 12, 2017

Attorney Chris Mancini said that when Ali attempted to board a JetBlue Airways flight home to Florida yesterday he was detained for 20 minutes.

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Muhammad Ali Jr was detained and questioned at a Washington airport before being allowed to board a flight to Fort Lauderdale after meeting with lawmakers to discuss a separate airport detention incident last month, a lawyer for the late heavyweight champion’s son has said. Ali and his mother, Khalilah Camacho Ali, were stopped at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after returning from Jamaica on February 7.

They traveled to Washington on Wednesday without incident to speak to members of a congressional subcommittee on border security about that experience. But attorney Chris Mancini said that when Ali attempted to board a JetBlue Airways flight home to Florida yesterday he was detained for 20 minutes. Mancini said Ali spoke to Department of Homeland Security officials by telephone and showed his driver’s license and passport before he was allowed to board.

“None of this was happening Wednesday,” Mancini said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon as he was traveling with the Alis. “Going to Washington obviously opened up a can of worms at DHS.” A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration acknowledged the agency confirmed Ali’s identity before he boarded his plane. Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said Ali also was patted down because his jewelry set off a checkpoint scanner alarm. Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was on the same flight, tweeted a photo with Ali after he was allowed to board and wrote: “On way home on DOMESTIC FLIGHT Muhammad Ali Jr. detained AGAIN … Religiously profiling son of ‘The Greatest’ will not make us safe.”

The mother and son, both born in the United States, have said in interviews that they believe they have been stopped because they are Muslim with Arabic names. Earlier this week, they announced a campaign for religious freedom in the spirit of the boxing icon, supported by ex-boxing greats Evander Holyfield, Larry Holmes, Roberto Duran and others. They say they are opposed to President Donald Trump’s travel ban, which they feel unfairly targets Muslims.

indianexpress.com/article/world/muhammad-alis-son-says-he-was-detained-again-at-airport-in-washington-4566331/

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Florida: Indian-American mistaken for Arab in arson attack

March 12, 2017

"Mr. Lloyd made the assumption that the store owners were Arabic when, in fact, they are of Indian descent."

In yet another instance of purported hate crime, a 64-year-old man in Florida attempted to set fire to a store owned by an Indian-American thinking they were Muslims, news outlet CNN reported. The accused, Richard Lloyd reportedly told the deputies that he wanted to “run the Arabs out of our country.” St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara told CNN that Lloyd assumed the owners were Arab and what they were doing in the middle-east angered him. “It’s unfortunate that Mr. Lloyd made the assumption that the store owners were Arabic when, in fact, they are of Indian descent,” Mascara is quoted as saying by CNN.

Lloyd pushed a dumpster in front of the store and set it on fire. However, the store remained unharmed as the fire was put out immediately. No injuries were reported.

Mascara also said that the man’s mental health will be evaluated and it will be then ascertained whether the case merits hate crime charges. Lloyd had reportedly visited the store a few days earlier and asked for orange juice; however it was not available. According to CNN, Lloyd told deputies he “was doing his part for America” and that is why he tried to burn the departmental store.

Earlier in February, an Indian techie Srinivas Kuchibhotla was shot dead after an American man thought he was from Iran. In March, a Sikh was shot at while being told “go back to your own country”. The man, however, survived.

indianexpress.com/article/world/florida-man-mistakens-indian-americans-for-muslim-tries-to-burn-their-store-4566317/

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Does the Trump administration want a holy war against Islam? It’s a terrifying but reasonable guess

11 MAR 2017

Conor Lynch

After multiple delays, President Donald Trump finally signed a new executive order last Monday that reinstated a travel ban on citizens from six of the seven countries (Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria and Yemen) included in the previous order, which had been suspended after being struck down by the judiciary last month. The new ban arrived about a week after a Department of Homeland Security document that completely undermined the Trump administration's stated rationale for the ban was leaked to the press.

The DHS report, which noted that citizens from the countries included in the first ban are "rarely implicated in U.S.-based terrorism," and that an individual's citizenship is an "unreliable indicator of terrorist threat to the United States," was first published by the Associated Press as a draft document in late February. Less than a week later MSNBC's Rachel Maddow obtained what appeared to be a final version, dated March 1.

The final analysis, coordinated with various other departments, determined that "most foreign-born, U.S-based violent extremists [are] likely radicalized several years after their entry to the United States," and that different "experiences and grievances," including "perceived injustices against Muslims in the homeland and abroad because of U.S. policies, feelings of anger and isolation, and witnessing violence as a child," are the primary causes.

While experts have long contended that Islamophobic rhetoric and policies are more likely to fuel radicalization than to "eradicate" radical Islamic terrorism - the president's purported goal - some were hopeful that Trump would rethink his ill-advised ban after being educated by his own government.

"I think the Muslim ban is dead," remarked Maddow in her televised report.

Unfortunately, like most things that are based on facts, the report apparently had no effect on Trump, who has been firmly committed to some kind of ban since calling for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States" in late 2015.

While Trump's unwillingness to abandon this reckless policy is probably more about his massive ego and inability to admit when he is wrong than anything else, one has to wonder whether there are ulterior motives involved. When the original ban was first unveiled, experts widely denounced it as "counterproductive" and "stupid" - and in Trump's case, stupidity is probably the right word.

But the president's advisers are far from stupid, and the implications of the ban can hardly be lost on its chief architect, Steve Bannon. Is it too far-fetched to surmise that Bannon - who has previously said that the "Judeo-Christian West" is at war with "expansionist Islamic ideology," and that we're on the verge of a "global war" against "Islamic fascism" - is actually trying to alienate Muslims and fuel radicalization?

Like many right-wing extremists in the West, Bannon's worldview mirrors that of his archenemies in ISIS and al-Qaida, who also proclaim that the Islamic world and the Christian West cannot coexist peacefully, and that we are on the brink of an apocalyptic holy war. While the Christian fundamentalist and the radical Islamist are, in their minds, sworn enemies in this "clash of civilizations," they are both reactionary ideologues who feed off each other.

This process was recently demonstrated when Bannon and his bulbous nose graced the cover of the al-Qaida-linked newspaper Al-Masra, which published an article using the White House chief strategist's words as evidence that Islam and Christianity are irreconcilable, and that the crusader West is preparing to wage an existential war against Islam.

In his prescient 2007 book, "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America," Chris Hedges observed the many other parallels between Christian fundamentalists and Islamic extremists:

The Christian Right and radical Islamists ... share the same obsessions. They do not tolerate other forms of belief or disbelief. They are at war with artistic and cultural expression. They seek to silence the media. They call for the subjugation of women. They promote severe sexual repression, and they seek to express themselves through violence.

Christian theocrats who are "arrayed against American democracy," observed Hedges, "are waiting for a moment to strike, a national crisis that will allow them to shred the Constitution in the name of national security and strength."

Though some may view this as paranoid, it is not unreasonable to suspect that Bannon and other extremists inside the Trump administration are waiting - even hoping - for another big terrorist attack that will give further credence to their clash of civilizations narrative and allow the Trump administration to crack down still further on civil liberties and democracy.

The fact that the Muslim ban will likely fuel homegrown radicalization and exacerbate the risk of a Islamic terrorism, then, is a strength, not a weakness.

While President Trump himself is hardly a Christian fundamentalist (it is unclear whether he even believes in God), he is both an ignoramus and an opportunist, and his White House has been thoroughly infiltrated by Christian zealots with millenarian visions of the coming apocalypse.

Trump's CIA director Mike Pompeo believes, like Bannon, that we are in a religious war with Islam, and has said that politics is a "never-ending struggle ... until the rapture." Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, is a longtime supporter of privatizing schools, and believes that education should "advance God's kingdom." The secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, has compared secularism to schizophrenia. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has opined that the separation of church and state is unconstitutional, and that non-believers are unfit to govern. And of course Vice President Mike Pence is a "Christian supremacist" who has "been a reliable stalwart throughout his public life in the cause of Christian jihad," as the Intercept's Jeremy Scahill put it last year.

Since unveiling the new travel ban, the Trump administration has insisted that the president's latest executive order is not a "Muslim ban," and that it is necessary to ensure national security. But the facts tell us otherwise - and with an administration full of Christian zealots, one must consider whether the real end goal here is a global holy war.

rawstory.com/2017/03/does-the-trump-administration-want-a-holy-war-against-islam-its-a-terrifying-but-reasonable-guess/

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