Anti-Shia Propaganda Threatens A Sectarian Civil War Which Will Engulf the Entire Muslim World
Sunni Monarchs Back YouTube Hate Preachers: Anti-Shia Propaganda Threatens A Sectarian Civil War Which Will Engulf the Entire Muslim World
Saudi Arabia, CIA behind Terror Bombings in Southern Russia
Egypt seizes assets of 572 Muslim Brotherhood leaders
Syrian Army Annihilates Terrorists Concentration Camps in Several Regions
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Iraq PM warns Sunni protesters to end rallies
Iraq seizes Al-Qaeda-linked group's weapons
Over 130,000 killed in Syria since uprising: NGO
Number of Prisoners in S. Arabia on Sharp Increase
ISIL Takes Control of Islamic Front’s Military Centre in Idlib
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US and Iran's Shi'ite Forces, First Joint Military Venture: Fighting al Qaeda in Iraq
US opposes planned release of 88 Afghan prisoners
US increases financial aid to Palestinians, links it to progress in peace talks
Iran hardliners join nuclear talks team
Hamas rejects Egypt branding of Brotherhood as 'terrorist'
Kids in cages: Israel accused of torturing Palestinian children
Abbas warns of legal action against Israeli settlements
Middle East a ‘killing field’ for journalists, says media rights group
Turkish President Gül urges respect for rule of law
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Interior Minister says no operation underway against Taliban
JI for exemplary punishment for Musharraf
27 Taliban militants join peace process in Herat province
600 Jamaat-Shibir, BNP men sued in Hajiganj
Bangladesh political violence killed 507 in ’13
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India to ink labour cooperation pact with Saudi Arabia
India, Pakistan exchange nuclear facilities list
India offers scholarships to Bangladeshis
South Sudan rebels seize key town of Bor - mayor
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By Patrick Cockburn
January 01, 2014
Anti-Shia hate propaganda spread by Sunni religious figures sponsored by, or based in, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, is creating the ingredients for a sectarian civil war engulfing the entire Muslim world. Iraq and Syria have seen the most violence, with the majority of the 766 civilian fatalities in Iraq this month being Shia pilgrims killed by suicide bombers from the al-Qa'ida umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis). The anti-Shia hostility of this organisation, now operating from Baghdad to Beirut, is so extreme that last month it had to apologise for beheading one of its own wounded fighters in Aleppo – because he was mistakenly believed to have muttered the name of Shia saints as he lay on a stretcher.
At the beginning of December, al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula killed 53 doctors and nurses and wounded 162 in an attack on a hospital in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, which had been threatened for not taking care of wounded militants by a commentator on an extreme Sunni satellite TV station. Days before the attack, he announced that armies and tribes would assault the hospital "to take revenge for our brothers. We say this and, by the grace of Allah, we will do it".
Skilled use of the internet and access to satellite television funded by or based in Sunni states has been central to the resurgence of al-Qa'ida across the Middle East, to a degree that Western politicians have so far failed to grasp. In the last year, Isis has become the most powerful single rebel military force in Iraq and Syria, partly because of its ability to recruit suicide bombers and fanatical fighters through the social media. Western intelligence agencies, such as the NSA in the US, much criticised for spying on the internet communications of their own citizens, have paid much less attention to open and instantly accessible calls for sectarian murder that are in plain view. Critics say that this is in keeping with a tradition since 9/11 of Western governments not wishing to hold Saudi Arabia or the Gulf monarchies responsible for funding extreme Sunni jihadi groups and propagandists supporting them through private donations.
Satellite television, internet, YouTube and Twitter content, frequently emanating from or financed by oil states in the Arabian peninsula, are at the centre of a campaign to spread sectarian hatred to every corner of the Muslim world, including places where Shia are a vulnerable minority, such as Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and Malaysia. In Benghazi, in effect the capital of eastern Libya, a Jihadi group uploaded a video of the execution of an Iraqi professor who admitted to being a Shia, saying they had shot him in revenge for the execution of Sunni militants by the Iraqi government.
YouTube-inspired divisions are not confined to the Middle East: in London's Edgware Road there was a fracas this summer when a Salafi (Sunni fundamentalist) cleric held a rally in the face of objections from local Shia shopkeepers. Impelled by television preachers and the social media, sectarian animosities are deepening among hitherto moderate Sunni and Shia, with one Shia figure in the UK saying that "Even in London you could open the address books of most Sunni without finding any Shia names, and vice versa."
The hate propaganda is often gory and calls openly for religious war. One anti-Shia satellite television station shows a grouping of Shia clerical leaders, mostly from Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, labelled as "Satan's assistants". Another asks "Oh Sunni Muslims, how long will you wait when your sons are led to be hanged in Iraq? Is it now time to break the shackles?" A picture of a woman in black walking between what appear to be two militiamen is entitled "Shia men in Syria rape Sunni sisters", and another shows the back of a pick-up truck heaped with dead bodies in uniform, titled "The destiny of Syrian Army and Shia soldiers". Some pictures are intended to intimidate, such as one showing an armed convoy on a road in Yemen, with a message addressed to the Shia saying: "Sunni tribes are on the way".
Sectarian animosities between Sunni and Shia have existed down the centuries, but have greatly intensified since the Iranian revolution of 1979 and the eight-year Iran-Iraq war that followed it. Hatreds increased after the US invasion of Iraq and the takeover of what had been a Sunni-run state under Saddam Hussein by the majority Shia community, which generated a ferocious sectarian civil war that peaked in 2006-07 and ended with a Shia victory. Opposition to Iran and the new Shia-run state of Iraq led to Sunni rulers emphasising the Shia threat. Shia activists point in particular to the establishment in 2009 of two satellite channels, Safa TV and Wesal TV, which they accuse of having strong anti-Shia bias. They say that Saudi clerics have shown great skill in communicating extreme sectarian views through modern communications technology such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, giving them a much wider audience than they had previously enjoyed.
An example of the inflammatory views being pumped out over YouTube is a sermon by Nabil al-Awadi, a cleric in Kuwait, who has 3.4 million followers on Twitter. His speech is devoted to "exposing the biggest conspiracy the Muslim world faces", which turns out to be a plot "conceived in Qom [the Shia holy city in Iran], and handled by sayyids and chiefs in Tehran, to get rid of the nation of Islam, aiming to desecrate the Kaaba [the building in Mecca that is Islam's most sacred site] brick by brick".
Mr Awadi relates that Iraq fell to an enemy whom he does not name, but he clearly means the Shia, often referred to as Safavids after the Iranian dynasty of that name. He says that in Iraq "they were killing the imams with drills in their heads until they are dead and they put the bodies in acid to burn until they died". But the speaker looks forward to a holy war or jihad in Syria, where a great battle for the future of Islam will be fought and won. He warns that "they did not know that jihad is staying and will put fear in their hearts even if they are in Washington, even if they are in London, even if they are in Moscow".
In Egypt, the Shia are only a small minority, but a cleric named Mohamed Zoghbi reacted furiously to the suggestion that they appear on satellite television to debate religious differences. "We would cut off their fingers and cut off their tongues," he said. "I must cut off the Shia breath in Egypt." Bloodthirsty threats like this have great influence on ordinary viewers, since many Egyptians watch religious channels continuously and believe the opinions expressed on them. An example of what this kind of incitement can mean for Shia living in communities where Sunni are the overwhelming majority was demonstrated in June in the small village of Zawyat Abu Musalam, in Giza governorate in Egypt. Some 40 Shia families had previously lived in the village until an enraged mob, led by Salafist sheikhs, burned five houses and lynched four Shia, including a prominent local figure.
Video films of the lynching, which took place in daylight, show the savage and merciless attacks to which Shia minorities in many countries are now being subjected.
Hazem Barakat, an eyewitness and photojournalist, minutely recorded what happened and recorded it on Twitter in real time. "For three weeks, the Salafist sheikhs in the village have been attacking the Shias and accusing them of being infidels and spreading debauchery," he told Ahram Online. Film of the incident shows a man, who looks as if he may already be dead, being dragged through a narrow street in the village by a mob. Among the four dead was 66-year-old Hassan Shehata, a well-known Shia leader who had been twice jailed under Hosni Mubarak for "contempt for religion". Police came to the village but arrived late. "They were just watching the public lynching like everyone else and did not stop anything," said Mr Barakat.
A significant sign of the mood in Egypt is that immediately after the lynchings, a TV host said that Mr Shehata had been killed because he had insulted the Prophet Mohamed's relatives. Several Salafist and conservative Facebook pages are cited by Ahram Online as having lauded the murders, saying that this was the beginning of eliminating all the three million Shia in Egypt.
Given that Shia make up between 150 and 200 million of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, they are a small and usually vulnerable minority in all countries aside from Iran and Iraq, though they are numerous in Lebanon, Pakistan and India. In Tunisia last year, a pro-Palestinian march by Shia in the city of Gabes was attacked by Salafists chanting, "There is no god but Allah and the Shia are the enemies of God." Tunisian eyewitnesses cite the influence of Egyptian and Saudi religious channels, combined with the Salafists claiming to be the last defence against an exaggerated threat of a takeover by Iran and the Shia.
The propaganda war became more intense from 2006 on, when there were mass killings of Sunni in Baghdad which, having previously been a mixed city, is now dominated by the Shia, with Sunnis confined to enclaves mostly in the west of the city. The Sunni community in Iraq started a protest movement against persecution and denial of political, social and economic rights in December 2012. As the Iraqi government failed to conciliate the Sunni with concessions, a peaceful protest movement mutated into armed resistance.
The enhanced prestige and popularity of the Shia paramilitary movement Hezbollah, after its success against Israel's air and ground assault in 2006, may also be a reason why Sunni governments tolerated stepped-up sectarian attacks on the Shia. These often take the form of claims that Iran is seeking to take over the region. In Bahrain, the Sunni monarchy repeatedly asserted that it saw an Iranian hand behind the Arab Spring protests in early 2011, though its own international inquiry later found no evidence for this. When President Obama said in September that Bahrain, along with Iraq and Syria, suffered from sectarian tensions, the Bahraini government furiously denied that any such thing was true.
Social media, satellite television, Facebook and YouTube, which were praised at the start of the Arab Spring as the means for a progressive breakthrough for freedom of expression, have turned into channels for instilling hatred and fear. Fighters in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and other countries beset by violence often draw their knowledge of the world from a limited number of fanatical internet preachers and commentators calling for holy war by Sunni against Shia; often such people are crucial in sending young volunteers to fight and die in Syria and Iraq.
A recent study of dead rebel fighters in Syria by Aaron Y Zelin of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation indicates that jihadi death notices revealing country of origin show that 267 came from Saudi Arabia, 201 from Libya, 182 from Tunisia and 95 from Jordan. The great majority had joined Isis and the al-Nusra Front, both of which are highly sectarian organisations. A deeply dangerous development is that the foreign fighters, inspired by film of atrocities and appeals to religious faith, may sign up to go to Syria but often end up as suicide bombers in Iraq, where violence has increased spectacularly in the past 12 months.
There is now a fast-expanding pool of jihadis willing to fight and die anywhere. The Saudis and the Gulf monarchies may find, as happened in Afghanistan 30 years ago, that, by funding or tolerating the dissemination of Sunni-Shia hate, they have created a sectarian Frankenstein's monster of religious fanatics beyond their control.
Jan 1, 2014
TEHRAN (FNA)- Two back-to-back bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd have created the suspicion that the US-backed countries such as Saudi Arabia are revenging President Putin for not letting the Syrian President alone, observers and analysts said.
Bill Van Auken in article in the World Socialist Web Site wrote that "there has been open speculation in the Russian press that the latest terror attacks are the work of US-backed regimes in the Middle East in retaliation for Moscow’s diplomatic success in diverting Washington from a direct military intervention to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria".
“There is no doubt that the Salafist regimes of the Persian Gulf, primarily Saudi Arabia, have been supporting Islamic terrorism in Russia,” wrote Kirill Benediktov in Izvestiya.
“Russia is now strong enough to afford unfriendly measures towards the regimes that have been using the Wahhabi fifth column in order to destabilize the situation in our country.”
Auken added that as President Putin had previously warned, the return of 400 Russian terrorists who were fighting in Syria during the past years, can bring terrorism inside the country.
Auken also said that these events happening just before the Winter Olympic Games renewed the attention to the discussion of Putin and former Saudi intelligence chief Bandar Bin Sultan who is one of the main supporters of rebels in Syria.
According to a transcript of the discussion leaked to the media, Bandar demanded that the Russian government terminate all support for the Assad regime in Syria. In return, he offered a joint energy strategy to prop up oil prices and other inducements.
“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year,” said Bandar. “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”
Putin in response said that Russia would strike a massive military blow against terrorist training camps, which many analysts interpreted the remarks as a threat against Saudi Arabia.
Auken finally concluded that the explosions has raised the question that whether Saudi Arabia is sponsoring the North Caucasus terrorists independently or in collaboration with the US, who both want to take revenge from Russia for their defeats in the Syrian war.
Egypt seizes assets of Muslim Brotherhood leaders
A senior Egyptian Justice Ministry official says the assets of more than 500 leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, from which the country's ousted president hails, have been ordered confiscated.
Abdel-Azzem el-Ashri said Tuesday that a ministerial inventory committee ordered the “movable and immovable properties” of 572 Muslim Brotherhood leaders seized.
The order is part of a wider state crackdown on the Brotherhood, first banned by a court order and then dubbed by the military-backed government as “terrorist” organization by linking it to a wave of terrorist attacks targeting security forces without publicly presenting any evidence.
The group denies being involved in the attacks and continues to hold near-daily protests demanding the reinstatement of ousted President Mohammed Mursi, toppled in July 3 after millions rallied against him.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian armed forces continued operations against terrorist groups in many provinces and repelled attempts to attack military posts.
Army eliminated the Al-Nusra Front terrorists in Idlib countryside.
Army unit eliminated a number of Al-Nusra terrorists in al-Habit village in Idlib countryside on Tuesday, among them were terrorists bearing non-Syrian nationalities.
A military source told that terrorists Mohammad Mahmoud al-Owaiyed from Saudi Arabia, Ibrahim Ahmad Bakr from Afghanistan, Nayrouz Hammoud and Mudrek Hammoud from Chad, Bahad Eddin al-Haraf and William Ali Nahir from Tunisia, Bader Amouni from Egypt in addition to terrorists Hassan Mohammad Barakat, Ahmad al-Rabe'e, Rasheed Mohammad Thalja and Azzam Ali were identified among the dead.
In Ein Larouz region, army units destroyed all members of a terrorist group and destroyed three rocket launch platforms. Among the dead terrorists were an American known only as David and other non-Syrians, including Ramadan Mohammad Dahnon, Ali Haitham al-Shawi, Fawaz Abu al-Tous, and Ahmad Nour Arab.
Army advances in al-Zabdyeh neighborhood in Aleppo
The army units advanced in the neighborhood of al-Zabdyeh in Aleppo and destroyed terrorists' hideouts and weapons in many areas in the province.
A military source told the state-run news agency that the army eliminated terrorist groups near Aleppo Central Prison and in the areas of al-Lairamon, Ma'arat al-Arteq, Kafeen, Erbeed, al-Jdeideh and Kweris.
An army unit clashed with terrorists who attacked the locals of al-Hamidyeh neighborhood in Aleppo city and killed and injured the majority of them.
The army also destroyed terrorists' hideouts in the neighborhoods of Salah Eddin, al-Ansari, al-Mashhad, al-Kallaseh and Bustan al-Qasr, killing dozens of terrorists and destroying their weaponry and equipment.
Army kills terrorists, obliterates hideouts in Daraa
The army killed and injured scores of terrorists in a series of operations against them in many areas in Daraa province.
A military source said that the army eliminated the members of an armed terrorist group that tried to attack a military checkpoint in al-Muleiha al-Gharbyeh in Daraa countryside.
Other army units destroyed terrorists' gatherings and hideouts in areas of Otman, al-Jumruk al-Qadeem, al-Karak and al-Masri roundabout.
Army targets, eliminates terrorists in Homs
The army destroyed many terrorists' gatherings in many areas in Homs, killing a number of terrorists and destroying their weaponry.
A military source told the state news agency that the army destroyed terrorists' gatherings in the neighborhoods of Bab Hud, al-Safsafa and al-Warsha.
An army unit eliminated all members of an armed terrorist group in the area of al-Mukharam.
The army also continued operations against terrorists in the areas of Taldahab, al-Houla, Talbiseh, al-Dar al-Kabera, al-Ghasbiyeh and Khattab, killing many terrorists and destroying their weaponry and equipment.
Terrorists' mortar rounds claim one citizen's life, injure another in Damascus
A source at Damascus Police Command told SANA that one citizen was killed and another was injured by a terrorist mortar attack on al-Qasa'a area in Damascus.
The source said that the terrorists fired three mortar rounds which landed neat John of Damascus School and the Cross Church in al-Qasa'a, claiming one citizen's life and injuring another, in addition to causing considerable material damage to homes and parked cars.
Terrorists' shells claim lives of 3 citizens, wound others in In al-Mahatta neighborhood in Homs
A source at the Police Command in Homs told SANA that terrorists launched mortar shells on the In al-Mahatta neighborhood in Homs city.
The source said that the attack claimed the lives of 3 citizens, among them a pregnant woman, and caused injuries to other citizens, adding that the attack also caused material damage to the private properties in the area.
Three citizens injured by terrorists' shells in Jaramana
Three citizens were injured after terrorists launched mortar shells on the city of Jaramana in Damascus Countryside.
A source at the Police Command told that 3 shells hit the area of Daf al-Sakhr in the city, causing the injury of 3 citizens and material damage to the properties in the area.
Three citizens injured in terrorist mortar attack on Idlib
Three citizens were injured in a mortar shell launched by terrorists in Idlib province.
A source at the Police Command said that a mortar shell fell on the Southern gate of the governorate’s building, causing the injury of three citizens and material damage.
Army units eliminate scores of terrorists, destroy their weapons and ammunition in Adra, Douma, Jobar
Units of the army eliminated scores of terrorists and destroyed their weapons and ammunition in a series of operations against their dens in Adra, Douma, Jobar, Yabroud, Zabadani and Darayya.
Sources said that terrorist dens were razed to the ground in Adra al-Balad and the army troops killed some 15 terrorists in Douma.
Sources added that army units pursued terrorist groups in Beit Sahim and Akraba and killed a large number of them.
In Yabroud, army units destroyed terrorist gatherings belonging to the Al-Nusra Front.
Four terrorists were killed in clashes with the army in Daraya city.
December 31, 2013
BBEIRUT: A possible assassination attempt could target a Shiite dignitary for the purpose of provoking strife in the country, following the recent killing of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s adviser, Speaker Nabih Berri said in remarks published Tuesday.
The speaker also warned against the formation of a fait accompli government after hints by President Michel Sleiman that the formation of such a Cabinet is possible.
In remarks to As-Safir daily, the speaker described Lebanon as a “psychiatric hospital” and said a potential attempt on a Shiite figure's life would aim at implicating the Sunnis as avenging for the murder of former Finance Minister Mohammad Shatah.
Such an attack would deepen the divide between Muslims and give way for strife to destroy the country, Berri said.
Shatah, a moderate and prominent diplomat and economist, was killed in a car bomb in Downtown Beirut Friday along with seven others.
Berri also said he advised security officials in his Amal Movement to remain alert, fearing a security development.
The speaker also warned that the formation of a fait accompli Cabinet could obstruct holding the next presidential election on time.
“Any cabinet that violates national consensus, whether it was neutral or a March 14 collation government, would lead to dangerous repercussions,” he said.
“Such a unilateral choice [by Sleiman] would ultimately do away with the presidential elections,” Berri warned.
He said that “any attempt to impose a government on others would automatically lead to severing ties between rival parties.”
Berri added that the national interest requires a consensus on forming a Cabinet that includes all political groups and holding the elections on time.
Lebanon’s Cabinet formation process has been at a stalemate for over eight months in light of differences between rival political groups.
The March 8 alliance has repeatedly warned against the formation of a neutral Cabinet as aspired by the March 14 coalition and also against forming a fait accompli Cabinet.
The presidential election is due on May 2014.
Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, has warned largely Sunni demonstrators to stop their protests against the Shia-led government which they say discriminates against them.
The move comes as powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr voiced his support for the Sunni protests.
Maliki has ordered the release of more than 700 female prisoners, a key demand of the demonstrators, but he also issued a warning to the protesters to end their rallies.
World Bulletin / News Desk
The Iraqi army has seized caches of weapons belonging to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the western Anbar province, a military official said on Tuesday.
The cache includes 11 rocket heads hidden in al-Amari district in Ramadi, army gen. Hasan al-Baydani said in a statement.
He said that the explosive materials "were planned to be used by terrorist groups in attacking government buildings and bridges".
There was no comment from ISIL.
Anbar province has been shaken by violence after Iraqi police and army personnel dismantled a sit-in staged by anti-government Sunni Muslims.
Full report at:
More than 130,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the conflict in Syria nearly three years ago, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday.
The conflict in Syria began in March 2011 as peaceful protests against four decades of rule by President Bashar al-Assad's family, but turned into an armed insurgency whose sectarian dimensions have reverberated across the Middle East.
The monitoring group, which is based in Britain and relies on a network of sources across Syria, said 130,433 people have been killed since the conflict began in March 2011, including 46,266 civilians.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Saudi Arabia announced plans to build two more jails in Riyadh and Jeddah to accommodate the prisoners who are mostly incarcerated for political crimes and whose number has been increasing sharply in recent months.
“Over 95% of construction works of the two prisons in Riyadh and Jeddah have ended,” Director-General of Saudi Arabia’s Prisons Department Major General Ibrahim bin Mohammed al-Hamzi said, adding that Riyadh has spent over 2bln Rials for building the two jails.
He said that the high number of prisoners jam-packed in the cells was the main reason behind the decision to build the new jails.
More than 40,000 political prisoners, mostly prisoners of conscience, are in jails across Saudi Arabia.
ISIL Takes Control of Islamic Front’s Military Center in Idlib
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a Saudi-backed al-Qaeda group in Syria, seized control of a military center belonging to a rival US and Saudi-backed militant group in an Idlib countryside in Northwestern Syria.
The ISIL attacked a military center of the so-called Islamic Front in the town of Shalakh in Idlib countryside and seized its control.
The ISIL arrested a number of Islamic Front’s terrorists and seized their weapons and ammunition.
(Reuters) - The suspected involvement of converts to Islam in Russian suicide bombings points to the growing reach of jihadists far beyond the Muslim provinces of Chechnya and Dagestan, where insurgency and separatism have simmered for two decades.
Russian news media say the authorities suspect an ethnic-Russian convert to Islam may have been behind one of the two suicide bombings that killed a total of 34 people in the past two days in Volgograd, a southern Russian city.
Another convert is suspected of building a bomb used to kill seven people in the same city two months ago.
The attacks came half a year after two Chechen brothers who had lived in Dagestan became the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three Americans, sign that a conflict once seen as remote by the West could have consequences far afield.
Security experts say that insurgents have used ethnic Russians to carry out attacks in other parts of Russia, both because of the symbolism of their conversion to radical Islam and because Slavic appearance could help them avoid detection.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin said the vileness of the deadly Volgograd bombings did not need to be commented on. “Whatever their motives were, this attack on innocent civilians cannot be justified, especially taking into account all the children and women casualties,” the president said.
Mr. Putin arrived in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, the gateway to the southern wedge of Russian territories, to open an anti-terror meeting, which follows twin blasts that hit the city’s central train station and a commuter-packed trolleybus several days ago.
The Russian leader told the committee that security of women and children was of paramount importance during any special forces’ raids.
Russia is doing not enough to combat the ideology of Wahhabism, a high-ranking spokesperson for the Moscow Patriarchate says.
"If the circulation of Nazi ideological cliches has been strictly limited or banned in certain cases, why not apply the same scheme to the radical interpretation of Islam rejected by most Muslims themselves?" Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, said on Silver Rain radio.
January 1st, 2014
A panel appointed by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to review France’s integration policies has urged the government to implement a “new form of secularism” that would raise the profile of Islam in public life—in order to improve the integration of Muslim immigrants. Among a long list of recommendations aimed at “recognizing the richness of multiple identities,” the panel says that public schools in France should begin allowing Muslim pupils to wear headscarves in class (clothing that has been outlawed since 2004), and that courses should be taught in Arabic and African languages rather than in French. The panel also recommends a number of other multicultural changes that would provide greater recognition to the “Arab-oriental dimension” of France’s national identity. These include changing street and place names, overhauling the history curriculum taught in schools and creating a special day to honor the contribution of immigrant cultures.
The US has hailed the release of the last three Chinese Muslim Uighurs from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay as a "significant milestone".
They were flown to the Slovakian capital Bratislava, where the US said they were "voluntarily resettling".
None of them are terror suspects, the Slovakian interior ministry said.
Guantanamo now holds 155 prisoners, down from more than 750. Many have been there more than a decade, and dozens were cleared for release years ago.
The US says it refuses to repatriate Uighur detainees to China because of the risk they could be mistreated. China has cracked down hard on Uighur dissidents who oppose rule from Beijing.
US troops and Iranian Al Qods officers join the Iraqi army in a major anti-al-Qaeda offensive, the biggest the Middle East has seen in six years. Their aim: to foil Al Qaeda's plan to spread its first caliphate across the Syrian-Iraqi frontier - but also to buttress the pro-Iranian Shiite crescent arching over the region. Vladimir Putin, mindful of the impending Sochi Olympics, watches approvingly - as a suicide bomber blows up the Volgograd railway station.
The United States wants Afghanistan to halt the release of 88 prisoners from an Afghan jail because they pose a serious threat to security, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.
The United States only recently transferred the prison at Bagram to Afghan control after it had become a serious source of tension with the government in Afghanistan which is fighting a Taliban insurgency.
Relations with Afghanistan have grown particularly strained over Karzai's refusal to sign a bilateral security deal that would keep around 8,000 U.S. troops in the country after 2014, when most foreign forces are due to leave.
The United States has increased its financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, but linked this aid to progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported on Wednesday.
The American aid will be increased from $426 million in 2013 to $440 million in 2014, said Maen Rashid Areikat, the head of the PLO delegation in Washington DC.
Despite the increase, the 2014 US aid is significantly lower than previous years. In 2011, the US provided the PA $545 million in aid money, and $495 in 2012.
Development comes a day after Iran and the West reported they were nearing an understanding on the details of implementing the Geneva accord.
Iran has boosted its team in charge of nuclear talks with world powers, adding what are believed to be hardliners and conservatives in an apparent effort to silence critics of the landmark interim accord reached in Geneva in November 2013.
The semi-official news agencies Fars and Mehr reported on Wednesday that new members have joined the high council, which directs strategies in the talks and which is led by the country’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The agencies did not identify the new members, saying only that representatives of “all branches of power and other senior figures” are now on the council.
AFP | Jan 1, 2014
GAZA CITY (Palestinian Territories): Gaza's Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya rejected on Tuesday Egypt's branding of the Muslim Brotherhood a "terrorist" organisation, saying his Islamist movement would not abandon its links with the Brotherhood.
"No one can push Hamas to reject its ideology or its history," he told a news conference, stressing he "rejects the description of the Muslim Brotherhood as terrorists".
"We don't expect a country like Egypt, which is a safe place for the Palestinian people and resistance, to abandon its (principles) and rank Hamas as a terrorist organisation," he said.
Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, is the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian prosecutors and police accuse the Brotherhood of having links with Hamas and Sinai militants.
An NGO has accused Israel of locking up children in cages during the worst of the recent snow storm. Kids that police suspected of minor crimes were regularly placed in cages as a form of public humiliation and threatened with sexual violence, among other acts designed to terrify them.
The torture was halted only after Justice Minister Tzipi Livni interfered following the discovery and a candid phone talk with Israel’s Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch.
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, which is an Israel-based human rights group, said caging was a standard procedure at Ramle prison, with children enduring freezing temperatures and inclement weather outside a transit facility. They spent night hours outside after arrest until they were brought to court in the early morning.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned of legal and diplomatic action to stop Israeli settlement expansion.
Abbas warned the Palestinians would take action to halt any such construction in territories they expect to form part of their promised state.
"We will not remain patient as the settlement cancer spreads, especially in (annexed East) Jerusalem, and we will use our right as a UN observer state by taking political, diplomatic and legal action to stop it," he said.
At least 70 journalists were killed on the job around the world in 2013, including 29 who died covering the civil war in Syria and 10 slain in Iraq, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The dead in Syria included a number of citizen journalists working to document combat in their home cities, broadcasters who worked with media outlets affiliated with either the government or the opposition, and a handful of correspondents for the foreign press, including an Al-Jazeera reporter, Mohamed al-Mesalma, who was shot by a sniper.
Six journalists died in Egypt. Half of those reporters were killed while reporting an Aug. 14 crackdown by Egyptian security forces on demonstrators protesting the ouster of President Mohammad Mursi.
Political uncertainty and rising risks in Turkey have moved President Abdullah Gül to use his traditional New Year’s message to call for the utmost attention to respect for the rule of law for the sake of the country’s future generations.
“We are a country which has been integrated with the world, which has harmonized with the European Union acquis to a considerable extent, which has become a center of attraction of investors and where capital flows liberally. In such a country, stability, trust and confidence in the future are determining factors,” Gül said in a message posted on the official website of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey yesterday.
RAMALLAH – The Israeli High Court of Justice rejected the petition of former atom spy Mordechai Vanunu against the extension of restrictions on his movement and behavior, a report said.
The Israeli daily Haaretz said that Vanunu will have to spend another year in Israel. The report said that it was the seventh time the restrictions have been extended, since they were imposed when Vanunu was released from prison in April 2004. The report said that the Israeli security agencies and attorney general argued in favor of the restrictions.
Indonesia's elite anti-terrorism squad shot and killed six suspected militants and arrested another amid New Year's Eve celebrations in an all-night standoff at a house near the country's capital, a police spokesman said Wednesday.
Intelligence gathered from earlier arrests allowed police to storm hideouts in Ciputat on Jakarta's outskirts as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to bomb the Myanmar Embassy and a Buddhist temple, said National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar.
The nine-hour-long shootout started late Tuesday when most Indonesians were preparing to celebrate the end of the year and ended Wednesday. Amar said those killed had refused to surrender and had fired guns and lobbed homemade bombs at security forces, injuring one police officer in his leg.
Banda Aceh. In defiance of a ban placed on New Year’s Eve festivities, thousands of residents of Banda Aceh gathered downtown to celebrate the occasion with fireworks and revelry.
“Usually, there are a lot of fireworks set off here on New Year’s Eve,” Eliana, an onlooker who was with her family, said.
Most of those present were young people, and many of them were on motorbikes.
A government truck was also touring the area, although not to join the celebration. Instead, it was trying to disperse the crowd.
“We are calling on people not to celebrate New Year’s Eve,” a voice from the truck’s loudspeaker said.
Despite the heavy crackdown on fireworks prior to the celebration, some enthusiastic participants managed to light off a few firecrackers when the clock struck midnight. The occassion was also marked by cheers and shouts from the crowd, which persisted despite efforts by security personnel to disband the gathering.
ZAMBOANGA: Six revellers were killed and six others wounded in a bomb attack on a New Year's eve party on a volatile southern Philippine island, the military said today.
The improvised device exploded near a Catholic church in the town of Sumisip on Basilan, an island where Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militants operate, local army spokesman Captain Jefferson Somera said.
Troops and police who responded to the emergency said the party was taking place at the residence of Manuel Casineros, a pro-government militiaman volunteer and driver for the church.
Umno Selangor is threatening to protest at all churches in the state on Sunday unless a senior Catholic priest apologises for insisting that Christians can use the word “Allah”, reported Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia today.
Umno Gombak division chief Abdul Rahim Kamarudin said they would stage a protest if Catholic weekly Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew does not withdraw his statement by Saturday.
"We have to be firm and cannot condone this. His actions are rude and we want him to apologise to all Muslims," Umno Kota Raja division chief Kamaruzzaman Johari said in the Malay language daily.
PTI | Jan 1, 2014
ISLAMABAD: For thousands of party enthusiasts in Pakistan's capital here, the New Year celebrations did not go as planned as local authorities withdrew NOCs given to hotels for hosting parties to usher in 2014.
Many had paid up to Rs 16,000 per head to join the celebrations. But keeping an eye on the increased security concerns in the federal capital, the local administration suddenly decided to banish all celebrations in the city.
It was an emergency-like situation in some of the top hotels in the city where people, all decked up to celebrate, felt cheated.
While security was a major concern, another reason could be that many December 31 party packages came with unlimited booze.
January 1, 2014
ISLAMABAD: Non-Muslim religious groups expressed concern over discriminatory clauses in the Constitution of Pakistan that deny them their fundamental rights and urged the government to take immediate steps to address the issue.
They were speaking at a seminar on ‘Non-Muslim Pakistanis are Equal Citizens in Words, Not in Practice’, organised by Peace and Development Foundation (PDF) here on Tuesday.
Speakers said the constitution discriminates on the basis of religion. To address this anomaly, a charter of demand aimed at recognition and protection of their fundamental rights as equal citizens was presented and approved.
LAHORE - Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that PAT Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri’s show in Lahore on Sunday, subsequent to that by PTI Chief Imran Khan, was intended to save former military president Pervez Musharraf from sedition trial as well as a conspiracy to derail the process of democracy.
Talking to media on Tuesday, the minister vowed to withstand any conspiracy against the democracy, and expressed optimism that the PML-N government would surely complete its 5-year term.
RAWALPINDI: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Tuesday rejected the impression that an army operation was underway against Taliban in North Wazristan tribal agency bordering Afghanistan.
“No operation is underway in North Waziristan. The government's first priority is to engage Taliban with dialogue process and significant developments would soon be visible in next few weeks,” he told reporters after inaugurating the newly-constructed building of Regional Passport Office here.
In an obvious reference to Maulana Sami ul Haq, Chaudhry Nisar also dispelled the notion that the task to hold dialogues was assigned to an individual saying the government had not given authority to any individual for negotiations with Taliban.
LAHORE - Jamaat-e-Islami chief Syed Munawwar Hassan said that former military ruler Pervaiz Musharraf must be handed down the most deterrent punishment in order to obstruct the path of dictators in future.
In a statement on Tuesday, he said that the man, who subverted the Constitution twice and ridiculed the institutions, did not deserve any mercy. He said if Musharraf isn’t proceeded against under article 6 of the Constitution, the masses would be justified to hold the view that there are two different laws in the country; one for the helpless common man and the other for the powerful and mighty ones. Munawwar said that besides subverting the Constitution twice, Musharraf had held the head of a constitutional institution under unlawful detention. The Chief Justice of Pakistan was forcibly retired and kept under unlawful detention at his home, he said.
According to local authorities in western Herat province of Afghanistan, a group of 27 Taliban militants have joined peace process in this province.
District chief for Adraskan, Mohammad Omarzai confirming the report said the militants group led by Malem Aziz, surrendered to Afghan government in Adraskan district.
Mr. Omarzai further added that the group also handed over 27 arms and weapons to the local government.
As many as 600 Jamaat-Shibir and BNP activists have been sued in Hajiganj upazila of Chandpur on charges of blocking Chandpir-Comilla Road in Toragarh area in the upazila, vandalising vehicles and attack on law enforcers on Monday afternoon.
The cases were filed with Hajiganj Police Station following clashes between police and opposition activists in Toragarh area.
Officer in-charge Shah Alam said sub-inspectors Ershad, Mizan and Delwar of the police station filed the cases, accusing 150 identified and 450 unnamed Jamaat-Shibir and BNP men.
Rab and police personnel conducted a joint drive early yesterday and arrested 15 of the accused, including BNP Hajiganj municipality unit leader Monir Hossain, the OC said, adding that joint forces will launch drives in the upazila to arrest the rest of the accused.
By Mariyath Mohamed | December 31st, 2013
The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) deputy leader and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb has said the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) asked for cancellation of criminal charges against former President Mohamed Nasheed in exchange for MDP endorsing cabinet ministers.
Nasheed has been charged with the unlawful arrest of a Criminal Court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed. The case is still pending.
MDP International Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has dismissed Adheeb’s claims, terming them “nothing but blatant lies”.
DHAKA : A total of 507 people were killed in political violence in Bangladesh in 2013, making it the deadliest year since 1971, a human rights group said Tuesday.
The Ain of Salish Kendra (ASK) said most of the deaths occurred during clashes between security forces and opposition protesters over a controversial war crimes tribunal and changes to the electoral system. “A total of 507 people died in 848 acts of political violence this year,” ASK acting executive director Nur Khan Liton told AFP. “Police used excessive power in handling the opposition protests and in many cases they opened fire,” Liton said, adding the group’s findings were based on its own investigations and newspaper reports. The group’s figure is nearly twice the number known to have died in the political violence this year.
According to an AFP count based on confirmation by police officials, 278 people have died, many by police shooting.
Dhaka march 'failure' frustrates Khaleda
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has been greatly infuriated and frustrated, as the party's senior leaders have failed to make the December 29 “march for democracy” programme in the capital a success, according to BNP insiders.
A disappointed Khaleda is now concerned over the fate of the opposition's ongoing movement to thwart the January 5 “farcical and one-sided” election, they said.
A section of BNP mid-level leaders, however, think the government's “unprecedented obstacles” including barring Khaleda Zia from coming out of her residence will galvanise grassroots leaders into waging opposition's final round of movement--the non-stop countrywide blockade on roads, rails and waterways beginning this morning.
A quarter of 28 lakh Indians working in the Gulf kingdom will be benefited
India will sign on Thursday a labour cooperation agreement with Saudi Arabia, which will benefit a quarter of the 28 lakh Indians working in the Gulf kingdom.
Labour Minister Abdul Fakieh, an important figure in the Saudi Cabinet for India which has the largest number of expatriates in the Kingdom, will sign the agreement with Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vyalar Ravi, Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, said here on Tuesday.
Mr. Fakieh will meet External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday. The meeting comes at a time when India has been invited for an international conference to discuss the Syrian situation, in which Saudi Arabia has huge stakes.
AP | Jan 1, 2014
NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan have exchanged lists of their nuclear facilities as part of a 1988 pact that bars them from attacking each other's nuclear installations.
An external affairs ministry statement says the exchange, both in New Delhi and Islamabad, is done each New Year's Day since 1992.
The ministry also said that both countries exchanged lists of prisoners held in their jails who are citizens of the rival country. But the ministry gave no further details.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars since they won independence from Britain in 1947.
They have been trying to improve relations seriously damaged by the Mumbai terror attack in 2008 that killed 166 people.
The government of India has offered scholarships to meritorious Bangladeshi nationals under different scholarship schemes for the academic session 2014-15 to pursue courses in India at under- graduate, post-graduate and PhD levels.
The scholarships schemes are: Bangladesh Scholarship Scheme, Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, and India Scholarship Scheme.
Candidates are required to have proficiency in English and should have secured minimum 60 percent marks or GPA-3 out of GPA-5 in the qualifying examination, said an Indian high commission press release yesterday.
Source: Daily star Bangladesh
South Sudanese rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar have seized control of Bor, the capital of restive Jonglei state, the town's Mayor said on Wednesday.
Nhial Majak Nhial told Reuters government troops loyal to President Salva Kiir had made a "tactical withdrawal" to Malual Chaat army barracks, 3 km (2 miles) south of the town on Tuesday, after fighting that started earlier in the day.
"Yes they (rebels) have taken Bor," Nhial said from the national capital Juba, 190 km south of Bor by road.
The South Sudanese government and rebel negotiators will arrive for peace talks in Ethiopia on Wednesday, a day later than planned, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom said, as fighting raged for the control of the flashpoint town of Bor.
The Tunisian government late on Tuesday adopted a new anti-terror bill.
"An anti-terror bill has been drafted and approved," said Noureddin al-Behiri, an adviser to Premier Ali Larayedh.
He said that the new bill respects human rights, giving no further details about the content of the law.
The Tunisian adviser said that the new law strikes a balance between tackling terror issues in Tunisia without infringing the human rights of suspects.
JUBA: South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar agreed to send envoys to peace negotiations in Ethiopia Tuesday, but rejected face-to-face talks with President Salva Kiir, warning that his forces will continue to fight.
Machar, a former vice president accused of sparking deadly conflict by attempting a coup over two weeks ago, said his troops were still marching on the capital after claiming to have recaptured a key town.
“Our forces are still marching on Juba, there is no cessation of hostilities yet,” Machar told AFP via satellite telephone from an undisclosed location inside South Sudan.
Ignoring a deadline from regional powers for an immediate ceasefire, he said any halt in the more than two weeks of fighting “needed to be negotiated”.
President Michel Djotodia of the Central African Republic (CAR) blasted on Tuesday increasing attacks targeting foreigners in CAR, particularly Chadians, vowing to protect them.
"I dislike the xenophobia targeting foreigners living in this country and I would like to assure them of the government's commitment to protect them," Djotodia told a press conference at a military base in the capital Bangui.
He said he was talking with leaders of the Chadian community and other foreigners to persuade them not to leave CAR.