Photo: Kashmiri villagers wave Pakistani flags during the funeral procession of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in Tral on Saturday. (AP photo).
Mosque Loudspeakers in J&K Incite Youth to Join 'Anti-India Jihad'
ISIS’ Rise in Bangladesh; Looking at its Dangers in South Asian Country
Countdown Starts for Liberation of Aleppo City from Terrorists
Unemployed Youth, Mostly Muslims, Being Roped In By IS In Bengal Border
Arrest Zakir Naik the Moment He Returns To India: Sena
India & Japan to Give Boost To Counter-Terror Cooperation
India refuses to take Pakistan bait on Burhan's killing
Hizbul poster boy Burhan Wani killing a bonus: Sleuths
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Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Unemployed Youth, Mostly Muslims, Being Roped In By IS In West Bengal Border
Jul 11, 2016
Kolkata: Unemployed youth, preferably from Muslim community, are being roped in by handlers of terror groups like ISIS and JMB to expand their networks in border districts of West Bengal.
Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) has been targeting unemployed youth and ISIS too could be following its tactics.
The recent arrest of 25-year-old Mohammed Musiruddin has exposed the presence of the terror group in the state, particularly in the districts bordering Bangladesh including Burdwan, Murshidabad and Birbhum, a top CID official of West Bengal said on the condition of anonymity.
The group has also spread its tentacles in different pockets of the city, the official said describing the Khagragarh blast in 2014 as a clinching proof of the existence of its bases in the state.
Burdwan district entered the terror map in October 2014 when two suspected JMB terrorists were killed while making improvised explosive devices at a rented house at Khagragarh. In fact, NIA in its supplementary chargesheet in connection with the Khagragarh blast had claimed that JMB had been recruiting youths from the border districts of West Bengal.
"Unemployed youths are the main targets of terror groups. JMB had been doing that and the ISIS is following the same process," the official said adding that this fact has again got a confirmation during the grilling of Musiruddin, who was part of the of recruitment network.
"They have handlers who supervise one to two districts and keep a tab on educated but unemployed youth including girls in the age group of 16-30 years preferably from the Muslim community," he said.
"The brainwashing starts from the first meeting which helps them convince the youth to join the group. And from there they are moved to the training camps in the bordering districts," the officer said referring to the arrest of a 19-year-old polytechnic student at Durgapur by NIA this March.
The name of Ashique Ahmed, alias Raja, a resident of Hooghly's Dhaniakhali, had surfaced during an interrogation of one Abdus Sami Qasmi, who was arrested by the agency from Uttar Pradesh in February.
The NIA sleuths, who had seized some documents from Ashique's ancestral home, were initially hesitant to arrest him as he was a teenager and had no criminal record. "This is another tactic to choose someone with no criminal records but has some education. Youths are told that they do not need to come to Syria to join the war actively but can initiate their own jihad from their native places," the officer said.
"It is nothing but asking them to carry out 'lone-wolf' attacks which are very hard to stop until they are executed," he said, adding that these camps also worked as a fund-raising machinery too.
The handlers, he said, communicate with their leaders mostly based either in Syria, Iraq or Bangladesh through the social media like Facebook and also via Whatsapp and other messengers.
Musiruddin's mobile phone showed calls received and made to numbers in countries like Syria, Iraq and Bangladesh, apart from the App he was using to communicate to the leaders, the officer, who is part of the probe team, said.
Pointing to a 2015 report of the Intelligence Bureau, the officer said the posters were put up in several districts of the state asking the youths to join the JMB. In West Bengal, districts like Burdwan, Nadia, Murshidabad, North 24 Parganas, Malda and Birbhum have been witnessing increasing fascination for the ISIS.
"The state's secular and cosmopolitan nature has made it quite easy for the terror groups from across the border to use it as a corridor for smuggling of arms, explosives and fake currency notes and the city as a transit route," he said.
Procuring ration card, passport, voter ID cards and all sorts of documents to establish their Indian citizenship are easy and sleeper cells help illegal immigrants in getting them. "Marrying local women is also another process of establishing yourself as an Indian citizen. But that is actually a curtain to cover the actual activity," he said.
SRINAGAR: Pro-Pakistan and anti-India slogans blared from loudspeakers at mosques across Kashmir as the death toll from the last two days of violence sparked by Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani 's killing climbed to 22. The direct incitement to fight against security forces and fervent appeals to the youths to join "jihad against India" came even as five killings were reported on Sunday and six people succumbed to injuries sustained during clashes on Saturday.
Separatists often play readily available audio cassettes in mosques for 'azadi' from India through 'jihad'.
A senior intelligence officer said that those with Pakistani links keep such material available to flare up anti-India sentiments whenever protests occur in the Valley.
The screams rattled the elderly and the ailing and children were seen covering their ears with their palms. Shops, private offices, business establishments and petrol pumps were shut. Public transport was completely off roads. Universities and boards have postponed their examinations.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh said the Centre was working with the state government to bring normalcy to the Valley. J&K government spokesperson Naeem Akhtar also appealed for calm with protesters having attacked 48 police stations since Saturday and even looting weapons from one of the police stations. Three policemen are still missing.
Akhtar said some elements are trying to incite violence in Kashmir and noted it was the duty of parents to prevent their children from holding protests. Mobile internet and train services have been withdrawn in the Valley and the Amarnath Yatra is temporarily suspended with around 10,000 pilgrims stranded.
AhlulBayt News Agency - By taking a multi-faceted and multi-layered look at the violent nature of jihadi-takfiri movements in Bangladesh, including ISIS’ branch there, which has recently taken responsibility for a couple of terrorist attacks in the country, it becomes clear that such a behavior essentially has roots in different political, cultural, and security principles and stimulations, and developed in a highly diversified background.
In first view, the existence philosophy and the process of evolution of nature of some countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and others unwantedly fuel the emergence and growth of militarism and extremism in these countries.
With 90 percent of its population Sunni Muslims and only 10 percent Hindus, Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan on March 26, 1971, by an Indian support and leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Mujibur Rahman tried to establish a secular system in this majorly Muslim country, but he was assassinated in 1975. After Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, General Ziaur Rahman took over the power, but he was, too, assassinated in 1981. After him, his wife Khaleda Zia founded Bangladesh Nationalist Party and became prime minister of the country. Following her, Hasina Wazed, the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, took over post of prime minister from 1996 to 2001. Wazed again in 2009 became prime minister as her party won majority in the Bangladeshi parliament.
The bases of political power and violent transition of power between the ruling elites of this Muslim country, which mostly are accompanied by military coups and India’s interventions, have granted increasing power to the Islamic groups which are recognized as forces opposing such a situation.
In addition to these structural flaws in Bangladesh’s political system which fan extremism boost in the country, the following points could help get a better understanding of rise of ISIS terrorist organization in Bangladesh:
1. Despite the fact that activity in Muslim regions of southern and southeastern Asia is not priority for ISIS in its announced policy, these regions historically and due to distance from Muslim world's developments centers in the time of threat have always been safe havens for growth and persistence of the radical Islamist movements.
In early April, Abu Ibrahim al-Hanif, the chief of ISIS in Bangladesh, in an interview told Dabiq, an online magazine run by ISIS, that Bengal in eastern India was of strategic significance for the terrorist group. He added that ISIS presence in Bangladesh was first step to liberate Myanmar. Al-Hanif continued that the Bangladesh-based ISIS forces could launch attacks on India in association with the Islamist forces from different places. He argued that Hindus of Bangladesh and India declared war against the Muslims. He also claimed that strong bases for ISIS in the region could facilitate it to carry out partisan assaults simultaneously in western and eastern India with a backing from Indian members of the group in a bid to “fully liberate the region from the grasp of the pagans.”
2. The political rifts and dynamism in Bangladesh to a large extent provide the grounds and motives for periodic extremism in the country. Having in mind that the anti-Bangladeshi government opposition groups use the potentials of the religious groups like Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami or secretly support some of armed groups active in the country, sometimes political scuffles lead to violence caused by the religious extremists. Hasina Wazed, the current prime minister of Bangladesh, amid political rivalry and rifts repeatedly accused the two parties of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami of orchestrating terrorist attacks in order to damage the Bangladeshi government. In 2015, the opposition party of Bangladesh led by Khaleda Zia arranged massive anti-government rallies. Moving to put the demonstrations down, the Bangladeshi police forces opened fire, killing at least 120 protesters. The government claimed that the sabotage activities were directly led by some senior leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami and the Islamic Student Movement. It is notable that the militant groups existing in Bangladesh are organizationally weak, and only hold some ideologies in common with ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
3. If we accept the analysis that sees ISIS’ prance in southern Asia as a Pakistani project, then we must assume that ISIS’ muscle flexing in some parts of Asia, including Bangladesh, is a security maneuver organized by Islamabad against the Indian-Bangladeshi camp. Backed by India, the present Bangladeshi government has started clamping down on the Islamic groups in the country. It also works with India to contain Pakistan’s moves on the Bangladeshi borders. It appears that Islamabad to confront these moves by the other side always tried, through influence of Islamic groups in Bangladesh and strengthening Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) as well as ISIS, to develop a kind of security-strategic equation against India while the latter has always sought to get a toehold in Afghanistan. Execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami, the former leader of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, in May 2016 also in some way sent the diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan chilled. In protest moves, Pakistan and Bangladesh summoned ambassadors of each other. It seems that chilled ties have triggered influence and activity of terrorist groups in Bangladesh.
4. Competition between Al-Qaeda and ISIS to expand and keep influence in Bangladesh has also helped boost of ISIS presence in the country. The Subcontinent is essentially a backyard for Al-Qaeda, and the terrorist group holds better potentials in this region for launching attacks. The defected Al-Qaeda forces which are discontent with its inactivity in the Indian Subcontinent could provide ISIS with well-trained and strong forces. Sometimes the changes and developments in the region are easily done with provocation by the ISIS’ members who come back from the Iraqi and Syrian battlefields. Ansar Al-Islam group, an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in Bangladesh, in late April claimed responsibility for assassination of two political activists in the country. In early April the same terrorist group had taken responsibility for killing a university student protesting the radical Islam in Bangladesh. At the same time, ISIS claimed responsibility for killings in Al-Qaeda areas of influence in a bid to promote itself and be able to recruit more members and so practically beat Al-Qaeda in the Subcontinent. For the first time on September 28, 2015, ISIS publicized its presence in Bangladesh. During the past five months, the terrorist group has accepted responsibility for 15 assaults conducted across the country. Al-Qaeda since 2013 collectively took responsibility of 13 terrorist attacks in Bangladesh which killed 11 people.
Accordingly, although ISIS rivalry with Al-Qaeda in Bangladesh is a major drive for expansion of terrorism in this South Asian country, it would be the most crucial hurdle ahead of evolution of activities of ISIS takfiris in Bangladesh. Al-Qaeda has strong native allies like Ansarullah or Ansar Al-Islam in Bangladesh— an alliance that could put strains on ISIS in the country.
5. Some part of violencism of the extremists in Bangladesh should be attributed to the complicated and volatile relations between the government and the Islamists in this country. The India-backed Prime Minister of Bangladesh Hasina Wazed has formed a fact-finding committee to probe into war crimes committed in 1971 during which a number of Hindus were killed. By doing so, she has in practice started a confrontation with the Islamic groups in the country. On May 10, the Bangladeshi government confirmed that it hung Motiur Rahman Nizami after he was blamed for committing war crimes during the civil war of Bangladesh in 1971. Earlier, Dhaka had hung two other Islamist leaders of Bangladesh for similar charges. By adopting this approach which is turning normal in the country's politics, the Bangladeshi government has transformed the Islamism in the Subcontinent that holds peaceful principles and essences into an unsolvable security challenge and a violent entity.
The Bangladeshi government argues that ISIS is not present in the country. The fact is that Dhaka’s denial fails to solve any problem. ISIS recruitment of Bangladeshi nationals for fight in Syria and Iraq, the terrorist group's major battlefields, is something confirmed. Beside chronic and deep-rooted political rifts in Bangladesh, the country has always been vulnerable to falling into quagmire of violence because the illiteracy and unemployment rates are high in the country. Therefore, once no moves are made against ISIS’ bridgeheads in Bangladesh, perhaps the ISIS ghost in this populous Muslim country turns into an uncontrollable monster. It appears that the Subcontinent countries have to ponder the idea of foundation of a rapid reaction force to deter the terrorist organizations in the region, as the Bangladeshi security forces have failed to display speedy and efficient reaction in their taking on of the terrorists.
July 11, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and their popular allies are resolved to complete the siege on the terrorist groups in Aleppo and launch a large-scale offensive to beat them back from the entire districts of Northern city, military experts said.
"Recent advances of the Syrian Army and its allies in Northern Aleppo and closure of the terrorist groups' main supply line connecting Aleppo to the border with Turkey through Castillo region will imminently end in a complete siege on the militant group inside Aleppo as the first phase of government forces' anti-terrorism operations and full liberation of the city in the final phase," the military experts said.
"The Syrian government forces will not allow Ankara's dream of taking full control over border territories in Northern Syrian to come true," they added.
"Liberation of Aleppo will end Turkey's dreams to expand its territories across Northern Syria via setting up safe zone," the sources said.
On Sunday, battlefield sources in Syria refuted the terrorists' claims about advancing in Northern Aleppo, and underlined the government forces' full control over the newly-liberated territories in the province.
"The Syrian soldiers and their popular allies fended off large-scale offensive of the al-Nusra Front and Nouralddeen al-Zinki terrorists on the government forces' stronghold in the Southern farms of al-Malaah region and the Northern side of Castillo highway, the only supply line to the terrorist-held districts of Aleppo city," the sources said.
"The terrorist groups stormed the government positions by several bomb-laden suicide vehicles, but the Syrian soldiers targeted and detonated them before reaching the army's defense lines," they added.
"Hundreds of terrorists, then, stormed the army's positions but their attacks were repelled by the army men and popular forces," the sources said.
"The militant groups left behind dozens of their dead and wounded members and fled the battlefield without any gain."
"Al-Malaah region is under full control of the Syrian military forces, and the Castillo highway is still closed and under full fire control of the army," they underlined.
Arrest Zakir Naik the moment he returns to India: Sena
Shiv Sena today demanded that controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik be arrested the moment he returns to India from Saudi Arabia and his “Peace TV” network dismantled.
The NDA ally also likened Zakir Naik’s “social work” to the activities of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar.
Mumbai-based Naik, who is expected to be back in the city this afternoon, has been facing the heat following reports that his alleged “provocative” speeches had inspired some of the militants who carried out Bangladesh’s worst terror attack in a cafe in capital Dhaka.
The preacher has dismissed the allegations against him.
“The way fanatics like Pakistan-based Azhar Masood openly spew venom, people like Zakir Naik carry out through their social work in the name of peace by covert means…Naik has been nurturing anti-nationals for the last several years and the lessons in peace preached by him have been unmasked after the Dhaka carnage,” the Sena said in a stinging editorial in its moutpiece “Saamana”.
Taking a dig at the state and central governments for allowing the preacher to carry on with his activities, Sena said Naik should have been thrown into the same cell as Mumbai attack convict Ajmal Kasab long back.
“Peace TV is in reality Preach TV. The Narendra Modi government at the Centre and the Devendra Fadnavis government in Maharashtra should show some courage and destroy all machinery of this channel,” it said.
“The government can bring back black money when it wants to, but for now, the government should immediately destroy the financiers of Naik because the game he is playing will destroy our nation. Arrest him as soon as he returns to the country,” the Sena demanded.
Notably, the Bangladesh government yesterday banned the broadcast of Naik’s Peace TV after reports that his “provocative” speeches inspired some of the Bangladeshi militants, who killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, at an upscale restaurant in Dhaka on July 1.
India & Japan to give boost to counter-terror cooperation
NEW DELHI: India and its East Asian strategic partner Japan are expected to boost their counter-terror cooperation including effective information sharing and capacity building taking forward from Shinzo Abe's visit here last December in the backdrop of attack in Dhaka that killed seven Japanese in the upscale cafe.
With the Abe government deciding to increase budget and scope of counter-terror initiatives within days of the attack that killed consultants on a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) development project in Bangladesh, Delhi and Tokyo are expected align their positions against global terrorism, people familiar with the developments indicated to ET.
It has been learnt that a senior Indian functionary could visit Japan this month to share security partnership and related capacity building initiatives. Indo-Japan intelligence sharing between is expected to receive boost in the aftermath of Dhaka terror strike. India had allowed overflight permission to a special Japanese aircraft to carry back home bodies of the victims of July 1 attack.
"The Dhaka incident is a watershed in the history of Japan's security challenges. Tokyo had taken earlier taken some steps after an incident in Algeria where Japanese nationals were killed. After Dhaka attack the Abe government is expected to take some drastic counter-terror measures," a Japanese government source indicated to ET.
Japan has already taken some steps in response to the Dhaka tragedy. A day after the attack, Visiting State Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara visited Bangladesh and met PM Sheikh Hasina and asked for her cooperation to combat terrorism. The United States is also stepping up commitment to work with Japan to combat terrorism.
Japan has not been a victim of terror on its soil for many years and has limited counter-terror capabilities, noted officials familiar with Japan. Japan has also not played any significant role in global counter-terror initiatives so far including at multilateral forums notwithstanding India's several appeals to Tokyo on the matter in the past. "Hopefully Japan's approach on countering international terrorism will change now," an official source here quipped.
Japan's commitment in counter-terror efforts is a positive development in the fight against global menace as in the past it did not take much interest in the issue of terrorism notwithstanding Indo-Japan deliberations on the issue - as it did not see itself as a victim, experts pointed out, adding circumstances altered with the rise of Islamic State.
The Modi government has extended support to Tokyo in contributing to security arrangements during the G-7 summit at Kashiko Island in Japan's Mie Prefecture this May.
Earlier Japan decided to deploy an officer from its counter-terror intelligence unit at the Embassy here. Tokyo has an officer from this unit in Delhi who receives specialized training from Indian security agencies. Such Japanese officers are also being posted in Amman, Cairo and Jakarta. Following killings of few Japanese last year in West Asia and North Africa Abe formed the counterterrorism intelligence unit on December 8 last year days ahead of his visit to Delhi for the annual Summit. At At that meet the two PMs emphasised that the evolving character of terrorism called for stronger international partnership in combating terrorism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumido Kishida plans to convene a meeting of Foreign Ministry and JICA officials soon to discuss safety measures for projects in developing countries financed by Japanese Overseas Development Assistance (ODA). Consisting of officials from the Foreign Ministry and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the panel will compile safety-bolstering measures as early as next month. Japan provides ODA to several developing countries in the world including several terror impacted nations.
NEW DELHI: Pakistan is using the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir to fish in troubled waters, condemning the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani as an "extra-judicial killing".
In a strongly worded statement, the Pakistan foreign office said, "The extra-judicial killing of Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani and scores of other innocent Kashmiris is deplorable and condemnable. Such acts are a violation of fundamental human rights of Kashmiris and cannot deter the people of J&K from their demand for realisation of the right to self-determination."
The Indian government refused to rise to the bait and respond to the statement.
Retired diplomat Vivek Katju said the statement was "yet another manifestation of Pakistan's instigation and promotion of terrorism in J&K and elsewhere in India. It constitutes a grave and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of India."
Reacting to the statement, former envoy to Pakistan, G Parthasarathy, said, "Pakistan should remember it is a state sponsor of terrorism throughout India. Pakistan should remember people in glass houses should not throw stones. We want to see details of extra-judicial killings and persecution of people of Balochistan, Karachi, of tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa."
The Pakistan statement came a day after the country's cricket board issued a statement mourning the Hizb terrorist's death.
Muslim clerics in India unite against superstar televangelist Zakir Naik
Superstar Islamic televangelist Zakir Naik claims to be a messenger of peace and harmony. Through his channel, Peace TV, he broadcasts his messages to around 200 million people across India and the world. Despite this, he has never been able to unite the different branches, sects and sub-sects of Islam in India. One sign of this is the fact that these various groups continued to celebrate Eid on different days earlier this month.
However, Naik seems to have finally united India’s Muslim clerics.
Showing unprecedented solidarity, Muslim clerics from all sects have come forward to urge strong action against Naik and his channel for misinterpreting the Quran and misleading Muslims with his evangelism.
Naik’s Islam is a particularly conservative brand of Salafism, the ultra-conservative reform movement within Islam, which aims to go back to what its proponents call the fundamentals of the faith.
In the aftermath of the July 1 attacks in Dhaka, there were reports that Naik’s provocative speeches had inspired the militants behind the attack in which 20 people, mostly foreigners, were killed. On Sunday, Bangladesh banned Naik’s channel.
Many clerics in India have now demanded a ban on Peace TV, which is broadcast from Dubai. In 2012, the channel was blocked in India after the Intelligence Bureau red-flagged it for broadcasting malicious and so-called anti-national content. However, illegal broadcasts continue and Naik’s sermons are also available online, thus making it hard for the government to limit Naik’s popularity.
Condemnation across the board
In his Eid sermon, one of the most powerful Muslim leaders in Bengal, Syed Mohammad Nurur Rahman Barkati, criticised the Muslim televangelist for misleading people and suggested a ban on all his preaching materials in India. “Zakir speaks rubbish,” said Barkati, who is the shahi imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque. “He is only amassing huge wealth. Who is funding him? The government should also investigate this.”
Clerics from the Barelvi school of Sunni Islam, which gets its name from Bareilly – the town in Uttar Pradesh where it originated from – also accused Naik of delivering anti-Islamic speeches. During his Eid sermon last week, Maulana Asjad Raza Qadri, head cleric of Bareilly, demanded a ban on Naik for his hate speeches, and said that his activities were against Islam and the culture of India.
In the past, Naik has criticised Sufism – the mystical form of Islam that has been present in India for over 1,000 years. The preacher condemned those who revere Sufi saints and visit their tombs as “grave worshippers”.
Last year, members of the All India Ulama and Mashaikh Board, an organisation of Sufi Muslims, protested at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi after the centre invited Naik for a conference. The members even lodged a complaint against Naik at a local police station, and demanded that he be arrested under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Condemnation from Shias
Naik has also been criticised by the Shias – the second-largest branch of Islam after Sunni Islam.
Shia clerics in Lucknow have accused the televangelist of propagating ideas that attracted Muslim youth to extremism.
Prominent Shia Muslim cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi demanded a complete ban on Naik’s books, speeches and lectures. “Zakir Naik is spreading terrorism,” he said. “Naik is a part of the Saudi Arabia-funded Wahhabi terror network, which creates scholars and clerics who in turn brainwash young Muslims.”
Another Shia cleric, Maulana Yasoob Abbas, led a demonstration against Naik in Lucknow during which Abbas burned Naik’s effigy and labeled him as anti-national and anti-religious. The protestors at this demonstration carried a banner, which read: “Protest Against Terrorism” and carried the photograph of Zakir Naik along with those of Islamic State chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed.
Condemnation from Deobandis
However, the most surprising condemnation comes from the Darul Uloom Deoband, the seat of the Deobandi school of Sunni Islam, which is headquartered in Deoband in Uttar Pradesh. The Deobandis are often referred as the Wahhabis, as they share many of their beliefs with Wahhabism. Darul Uloom has issued a series of fatwas against Naik since 2007.
The Deoband school said that religion should be learned through authorised ulema (Muslim scholars with specialised knowledge of Islamic theology) and books, and added that Naik was a self-styled preacher unaffiliated to any of the four schools of Sunni Islamic thought.
One of the fatwas issued by the Darul Uloom against Naik states that “Zakir Naik is an agent of Ghair Muqallideen, away from knowledge and wisdom from the four schools of thought, spreading mischievous things and misguiding simple Muslims to wrong path”.
Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali, the deputy imam of Lucknow’s Eidgah, had once come to the defence of Zakir Naik. He had said that if Naik had committed a crime, he should be tried under the law, but harassing the man on a big platform was unethical.
However, in 2008, the deputy imam’s uncle, Mufti Abul Irfan Mian Firangi Mahali, issued a fatwa against Zakir Naik describing him as kafir, or disbeliever. Following that, the Lucknow deputy imam also condemned Naik, and referred to him as a fake scholar. Then, Maulana Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mahali said in an online statement that: “Naik has just mugged up some verses from the Quran and pretends to be an Islamic scholar.”
Solidarity from Kashmir
The one place in India where Muslim clerics have supported Zakir Naik is in Kashmir, where the Jamaat-I-Islami and Jamiat-ul-Ahlihadees have condemned what they called a campaign by the government and media against Naik.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, members of the Islamic Fraternity, a Muslim youth body, held a demonstration in support of the televangelist at the Press Enclave in Srinagar last week. The report said that the protestors carried banners which read: “Dr Zakir Naik, Kashmir is with you”, “Zakir Naik is a man of peace and harmony” and “Stop false propaganda against Zakir Naik.”
Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the leader of the separatist Hurriyat, too recently issued a press statement in favour of Naik in which he said that the preacher was not involved with incidents of terror in Dhaka, Bangladesh, or anywhere else.
With sentiment against him brewing in India, Naik has released a video saying that he did not inspire the Bangladeshi attackers. Incidentally, in the past, he has, on several occasions, denounced the Islamic State, to which the Dhaka terrorists swore allegiance.
However, Naik is undoubtedly an influential Salafi ideologue whose influence has grown in India and around the world over the years. In fact, last year, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented Naik with the King Faisal International Prize for service to Islam, which carried a cash reward $200,000.
NEW DELHI: Terming Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani's killing a "bonus", intelligence agencies said there was no specific information that he was part of the group engaged in Friday's encounter.
"We had information that some Hizbul terrorists were holed up in the Kokernag hideout... though there was some indication of 'recycled' terrorist Sartaj Ahmed Shaikh being part of the group, we had no idea that Wani was with him. Wani's killing was a bonus," a top intelligence officer based in J&K told TOI. State police sources, too, confirmed that Wani 's identity was established after retrieving the bodies from the encounter site.
Sources said two personnel of J&K Police's special operations group (SOG) were injured in the encounter. "If it was an extra-judicial killing, as is being made out to be by some quarters, why would our own men take bullets?" asked an intelligence official.
Wani, a recruitment icon for Hizbul Mujahideen and its glamorous face on social media, was killed on Friday in a joint operation by the SOG, Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF at Kokernag, Anantnag. Two other terrorists were killed along with him, including Sartaj Ahmed Shaikh, who had earlier served a jail term in terror cases but went back to militancy after his release. According to sources in J&K police, not only was Wani motivating young Kashmiris to join Hizbul ranks but his name also figured in a string of police cases, starting with one of weapons snatching at a very young age.
As for the violence that followed Wani's killing , the central forces and the J&K police brass claimed the situation was on the mend after an eventful Saturday coinciding with his funeral.
Home minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday held a review meeting with top officers of the ministry, central forces and intelligence agencies, where the latest law and order situation was assessed and steps needed to restore normalcy discussed.
"The home minister asked the forces on the ground to ensure that standard operating procedures (SOPs) for dealing with unruly mobs in J&K are adhered to. These require security personnel to exercise maximum restraint while at the same time ensuring that the situation does not get out of control," said an official. The meeting also reviewed security for the Amarnath yatra and discussed steps to secure Kashmiri Pandits from the backlash to Wani's killing.
Atop officer of the security establishment claimed the situation in J&K had improved on Sunday due to "better management". Intelligence sources attributed Saturday's violence to triggers like the "local angst against the state government, unemployment and other factors" rather than only an outpouring of sentiments over Wani's killing.
While ruling out a major surge in terrorism in the Valley in the coming days and months, a top security official said the 'Burhan Wani' phase would soon pass. "Many terror icons have come and gone... no single individual can have permanent appeal or impact," he said. In the long term, the security establishment feels, the Centre and J&K government will have to step up engagement with local youth to keep them away from militancy. "We plan more civil action programmes that will involve the youth in a big way," CRPF chief KDurga Prasad told TOI.
31 ISIS loyalists killed in ongoing operations in East of Afghanistan
Mon Jul 11 2016
At least 31 militants fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group have been killed during the ongoing operations in eastern Nangarhar province.
According to the local officials, the militants were killed during the raids in two separate districts, including Kot and Achin.
The loyalists of the terror group started their operations from Kot and Achin as they attempt to expand foothold in the country.
The officials further added that a number of the foreign insurgents were also among those killed in the latest clearance operations.
The Afghan Air Force provided close-air support to the ground forces during the operations, the officials said, adding that several weapons and ammunition belonging to the militants of the terror group were also destroyed.
No further details were given regarding the possibel casualties of the Afghan forces during the operations.
The anti-government armed militant groups including the loyalists of ISIS terrorist group have not commented regarding the operations so far.
The Afghan forces have stepped up raids against ISIS loyalists to curb their insurgency activities as they attempt to expand operations in Afghanistan.
In the meantime, the US forces in Afghanistan are also regularly targeting the loyalists of the terror group using unmanned aerial vehicle.
A group of Haqqani network suicide attack organizers were arrested during an operation from Kabul city, the Afghan intelligence said Monday.
According to a statement by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the group included three key members of the terrorist network.
The statement further added that the individuals were expert in the making of magnetic bombs and bombs which can be detonated with mobile phones.
The operation was conducted in the 9th police district of the city in Khwajah Rawash area, the statement added.
According to NDS, the individuals have been identified as Husain Ahmad also known as Shahid, Shahid Ahmad also known as Bashir Ahmad, Hematullah also known as Mustafa.
The detained individuals have confessed that they were involved in explosion targeting UK sport owner’s vehicle, explosion near Fahim Hashemi’s house, explosion targeting police vehicle in Yakatoot area of Kabul, attempted murder of intelligence operative, keeping a suicide bomber in their residence.
The intelligence operatives have also confiscated 21 improvised explosive devices, 2 magnetic bombs, 3 rocket warheads, 2 hand grenades, 5 remote controls, 2 laptos, 2 vicles, 2 motorcycles, military equipment and various other types of explosives.
President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has demanded the handover of the Afghan militants based in Pakistan and those who are opposing peace talks with the Afghan government.
Speaking during a press conference following his return from Poland, President Ghani said the Afghan government wants Pakistan to handover those militants opposing peace.
He said the message of Afghanistan to Pakistan is specific and positive and those differentiating between good and bad terrorism should pay the price.
President Ghani further added that the neighboring countries of Afghanistan should respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan and do not allow the insurgent groups to use their soil.
Insisting on the current position of Afghanistan which is central to the international community’s attention, Presidnet Ghani warned that those not supporting Afghanistan will become isolated.
This comes as President Ghani earlier said Pakistan continues to maintain distinction between good and terrorists.
“Our regional initiatives with neighbors are beginning to yield significant cooperative dividends. The exception is with Pakistan–despite clear commitments to a quadrilateral peace process, their dangerous distinction between good and bad terrorists is being maintained in practice,” he said during his speech at Warsaw summit.
President Ghani further added “The key problem among our neighboring states is an absence of agreed rules of the game, thus we seek regional and global support in creating those rules, which will bind us to collective security and harmony.”
The Afghan officials have long been criticizing Pakistan for allowing the Afghan militant groups, specifically the Afghan Taliban and the notorious Haqqani terrorist network to use its soil from where they plan and coordinate attacks in Afghanistan.
Both Taliban and Haqqani network are having leadership councils based in Quetta and Peshawar cities of Pakistan, according to Afghan officials.
A prominent Pakistani politician has claimed that many undocumented Afghan refugees are behind the incidents of kidnappings for ransom and terrorism in the country, particularly in Peshawar city.
The Chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf has also claimed that the hostility within the host population has increased as a result of the incidents involving the undocumented Afghan refugees.
“The problem is that the locals complain about the crime, which is coming in from the refugee camps. Most of the people who are picked up, who are kidnapped for ransom in Peshawar, the calls for ransom come from Afghanistan. The people are picked up, taken to Afghanistan and the [phone] calls come from there,” he was quoted as saying in a report by Voice of America.
Khan further added “What we need is the help from seniors of the Afghan refugees who then cooperate with the police, which is what I have been trying to do, so that these criminals are isolated from the bulk of refugees.”
He also added that meetings have been organized with the Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan and other authorities in the country to look into the reports of the harassment of the refugees by police.
The issue of Afghan refugees harassment in Pakistan forced the UNHCR officials to ask the Pakistani authorities not to label the Afghan refugees terrorists.
The United Nations refugee chief urged Pakistanis last month not to blame Afghan refugees for terrorism in their country, amid growing public calls for their deportation and worsening relations between the two neighbours.
Warning that the roughly 2.5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan risked becoming a “forgotten” crisis, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called on the international community to invest more funds to help them.
“My appeal is that, not only to the authorities but also to the local population: refugees as you know are not terrorists,” Grandi said during a visit to a repatriation centre outside the northwestern Pakistan city of Peshawar.
Sun Jul 10 2016
A group of Afghan police cadets who sustained injuries in a deadly attack in Kabul have been taken to India for further treatment.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said 4 police cadets were taken to India as they sustained more injuries and had almost lost their eyesight in the attack.
A senior official in the Ministry of Interior Kandahar Shenwari said the Afghan government is in contact with the Embassy of Afghanistan in India for the treatment of the cadets.
He said the cadets will receive high level medical care in a State-run hospital in India and will return to Afghanistan after they fully recover.
At least 33 people including a civilian and 32 police cadets lost their lives in a coordinated suicide attack in the outskirts of Kabul city late last month.
The incident took place in Company area of the city after a suicide bomber targeted the vehicles convoy of the police cadets as they were on their way from the neighoring Wardak province.
Another suicide bomber rammed into the convoy of the vehicles minutes of the first blast as several people had gathered to help the victims of the incident.
The Taliban group claimed responsiblity behind the attack which followed almost two months after a deadly attack targeted the VIP protection unity in Kabul.
At least 64 people were killed and 347 others were wounded in the attack, forcing the Afghan government to change the soft stance against the Taliban and pick a strict military action against the group amid ongoing peace efforts.
ISIS in Afghanistan1The Taliban militants group is worried regarding the attempts made by the loyalists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group, saying they are aware of the problems and consequences the country and region could face.
The Taliban group spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid issued a statement after reports emerged regarding the hoisting of ISIS flags in the restive parts of northeastern Badakhshan province.
The officials said Saturday that hundreds of the Taliban militants were seen holding ISIS flags in Khostak area of Wardoj district.
Muahid claimed that the vast areas of Badakhsahn province including Khostak in Wardoj district are under the control of the Taliban militants.
He said the Taliban group will not allow any other group to gain and expand foothold in teh country.
The latest statement by Taliban group expressing concerns regarding the growth of ISIS loyalists in the country comes as the two militant groups have engaged in bloody battles in parts of the country in the past.
Both the Taliban and ISIS loyalists declared Jihad against each other in Afghanistan earlier last year.
Earlier, the leader of the ISIS terrorist group Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi called Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar “a fool and illiterate warlord”.
Al-Baghdadi said that Mullah Omar does not deserve a spiritual or political credibility. While on the other hand Taliban fighters have been ordered by their leaders not to let Daesh flag raise in Afghanistan.
ISIL Terrorist Group Executes more Members in Raqqa
TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL terrorist group has executed tens of its own fighters in recent days on charges of fleeing Raqqa - the capital of its self-proclaimed Caliphate - to find safer shelters in Syria, Iraq or Turkey, informed sources said.
"The ISIL has executed at least 70 of its own members, who tried to leave Raqqa due to recent advances of the Syrian army near the ISIL-held city and the pro-government's firm will to liberate the Raqqa," the sources said, adding, "The religious judge of Raqqa has issued a Fatwa (religious decree), which allows ISIL's security forces to killed anybody leaving Raqqa without permission."
Local sources announced on Saturday that five civilians, including three soccer players, were killed by ISIL's security forces in the capital of the terrorist group's self-proclaimed Caliphate on charges of opposing ISIL's rules and regulations.
"Osama Abu Kuweit, Nahad al-Hussein and Ehsan al-Shavakh, three members of al-Shabab team alongside al-Shabab's trainer Ahamd al-Shavakh and another civilian were beheaded in front of people's eyes in al-Dalah square," the sources said.
Mowafaq Jom'ah, the president of Syria's football federation, condemned massacre of the country's sportsmen.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Foreign-backed terrorists fired rockets at several neighborhoods in the Northern Syrian province of Aleppo, killing at least eight people.
More than 80 people were also injured in Monday’s terrorist attacks as medical sources said most of the victims were children and women, SANA reported.
The attacks come as at least 30 civilians, including four children, were killed and 140 others sustained injuries on Friday, as militants fired rockets at the al-Furqan and al-Sukan neighborhoods of Aleppo.
Aleppo has been divided between government forces and militants since 2012, a year after conflict broke out in the Arab country.
The Friday attacks happened during a unilateral 72-hour ceasefire declared by the Syrian army on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011. UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in Syria, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Members of the ISIL terrorist group began deserting their positions and escaping from the Haweija in the Iraqi province of Kirkuk as the army forces are making significant advances into militant-held areas in the oil-rich province, a military source said.
"Some of the terrorists shaved beards and went to remote areas outside Al Haweija and also to the neighboring villages in the area of Al Zab amid Iraqi military's advance," noted the source, Al Sumaria reported.
The Kirkuk province is the richest in oil region of Iraq. Part of the province as well as other large territories in Northern and Western Iraq, including the country’s second biggest city of Mosul, were seized by the ISIL terror group in 2014.
The source noted that, thereby, ISIL has lost almost a half of its members in Haweija.
ISIL is considered a terrorist group by the UN and numerous countries throughout the world.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iraqi security sources disclosed that a large number of ISIL terrorists have fled the city of Mosul towards Syrian territories in 160 vehicles.
"The ISIL terrorists most of them Arab nationals escaped from al-Ba'aj region in the Western part of Nineveh province towards Syria in machinegun- and DshK-equipped vehicles," the Arabic-language media quoted an unnamed security source as saying on Monday.
The source reiterated that the ISIL has used 160 vehicles to escape to Syria.
The ISIL has suffered many defeats as a result of the Iraqi army advances in Nineveh and Salahuddin provinces.
On Sunday, a senior ISIL military commander was killed in Iraqi airstrike on terrorists' positions in a village South of the ISIL-held city of Mosul.
"The defunct ISIL commander, nom de guerre Abd Saied, was reportedly in charge of the group’s artillery units in Southern Mosul, as battlefield reports confirmed, two of his fellow militants were also killed in the aerial attack on al-Jada’eh village,” the source, who demanded anonymity.
"The attack also ended in reducing the ISIL’s artillery hardware and other fortifications in the village to rubble."
The development comes as Iraqi army and its popular allies are gaining more ground and getting closer to the city of Mosul in their attempt to kick out the terrorist group from Iraq.
Earlier on Sunday, informed sources in Mosul disclosed that the ISIL has arrested a large number of its own militants for fleeing the battlefield of al-Qayara near the city of Mosul.
"The ISIL has also put the assets and properties of the arrested militants on sale in Nineveh province," the Arabic-language media outlets quoted an informed local security source as saying.
The source said that the senior ISIL commanders are trying to flee from Mosul to Raqqa province in Syria via Iraqi and Syrian borders.
On Saturday, the Iraqi army and popular forces took back al-Qayara air base in Southern Mosul after heavy clashes with the ISIL terrorist group.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Governor-General of Homs province Tallal al-Barazi announced that the Syrian army and its allies are preparing for massive operations against the terrorist groups to take full control of al-Salamiyeh region in Southern Hama province.
"The Syrian army in cooperation with its allied forces has been able to gain major achievements in the areas near Jab al-Jarrah, al-Massoudieh and Maksar al-Hessan towns in the Eastern parts of Homs and win back more regions from the ISIL," Barazi told FNA on Monday.
He said the army units have established their positions in the Eastern and Northern parts of Homs, and described it as a prelude to massive military operations in Hama and Salamiyeh.
Barazi said that the Eastern and Northeastern parts of Homs province are witnessing clashes now, adding that the conditions are appropriate for the resistance forces' advance in Eastern Homs.
The Syrian army and National Defense Forces (NDF) in a fresh military operation against the Al-Nusra Front Takfiri terrorist group managed to seize back the village of al-Ramliyeh in the Southern part of Hama province, and killed tens of militants in heavy clashes on Sunday.
The Syrian government troops took full control of al-Ramliyeh village and its surrounding hilltops in the Southern parts of al-Salamiyeh region.
At least 60 al-Nusra Front terrorists were killed and their military vehicles equipped with machineguns were also destroyed in the battle over al-Ramliyeh village.
Also on Sunday, the Syrian army and its allies repelled the Al-Nusra Front's attack on their military positions along a strategic road near the al-Ramliyeh village on the Southern part of Hama province.
The army units and popular forces pushed back the Al-Nusra Front terrorists from the vicinity of al-Ramliyeh near the al-Salamiyeh city and Northern Homs.
The Al-Nusra Front's attack was the biggest one over the past two months.
At least 12 Al-Nusra Front terrorists were killed in the Syrian army's pursuing counteroffensive near Al-Ramliyeh village and al-Asi river.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Mohammad Hossein Baqeri underlined the country's full preparedness to confront foreign threats and plots.
"Timely and prompt response to any threat in proportion with different plots and in view of the plots in the surrounding countries and regions as well as confronting the enemies' efforts to penetrate and spread this unrest to inside the country is crucial," Major General Baqeri told reporters on Sunday.
He said that another duty the Iranian Armed Forces is to boost the defense and security preparedness which is the main goal of defending the country.
"Upholding the status of the popular mobilization in all dimensions, specially upholding the defense capabilities and preparedness as well as the role played by the Armed Forces to further deepen the roots of the Islamic Revolution is seriously being pursued," Major General Baqeri added.
He reiterated that the country's Armed Forces are proportionately following up the process of completion of intelligence, operations, logistics and commanding operations.
In relevant remarks in mid-May, Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Rear Admiral Gholam Reza Khadem Biqam warned of the Navy's crushing and rigid response to the enemies who would dare to make an aggression against the country.
"The enemies would never dare to even dream of attacking Iran," Admiral Khadem Biqam said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran.
He reiterated the might and preparedness of Iran's armed forces to confront the enemies' attacks.
Also in May, Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari warned that his forces are always prepared to give a crushing response to the slightest aggression by the US army.
"We always consider the world arrogance (the US and its allies) as a threat and are ready to confront it," Sayyari said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran.
He underlined Iran's naval power and its deployment in the international waters, and said, "Our flotilla of warships will sail around Africa and sail towards the Atlantic Ocean in the near future."
Sayyari also said that the Iranian fleets of warships have rescued at least 25 foreign and tens of Iranian vessels from pirates' attacks in international waters.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iranian foreign ministry rejected as "baseless claims" the concerns raised against the country's missile program in the communiqué issued at the end of the recent NATO summit in Warsaw.
"The concerns raised in the final statement of the NATO summit on the Islamic Republic of Iran's missile program are rejected as they are a repetition of the past baseless claims," Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Monday.
"As repeatedly declared, our country's missile capabilities are merely within the framework of the Islamic Republic of Iran's legitimate programs and they have not been designed to carry nuclear warheads at all," he said.
Qassemi underlined that Iran's missile program neither is related to the last July nuclear agreement with the world powers and the nuclear talks, nor violates the UN Security Council's Resolution 2231.
The communique issued by NATO leaders in the last week meeting claimed that "we remain seriously concerned by the development of Iran’s ballistic missile program and continuing missile tests that are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231".
The western officials have in recent days showed surprising attention to Iran's missile program which was described by Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi as indicative of a new plot against Tehran.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in the Bundestag on Thursday that Iran "continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council”.
Merkel claimed that NATO's anti-missile system targets Iran's rocket program and was "developed purely for defense".
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi lambasted her "unreal and unconstructive" remarks, and said Tehran's missile program doesn’t violate the UN Security Council resolution 2231.
"We have announced that our missile activities are for defensive purposes, aren’t related to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the last July nuclear deal inked by Iran and the world powers) and don’t violate the JCPOA and (UNSC) Resolution 2231," Takht Ravanchi said on Sunday.
He said Iran's missiles are no way in violation of Resolution 2231 as have not been designed to carry nuclear warheads.
"Therefore, Mrs. Merkel's remarks are far from reality and are not constructive and we certainly don’t expect a country with which we have friendly relations to take such positions," Takht Ravanchi said.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army troops and their popular allies are about to capture the besieged town of al-Nashabiyah as a last stop before they reach the most important stronghold of Jeish al-Islam in Eastern Ghouta, military sources said.
"The Syrian soldiers, National Defense Forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, whose joint large-scale operations in Eastern Ghouta ended in cleansing the regions of al-Bahariyeh, Jarba, al-Balaliey and Marj al-Sultan, have laid siege on al-Nashabiyah from three flanks," the sources said.
"The government forces' next step will end in beating militant groups back from al-Nashabiyah to pave the ground for carrying out a large-scale operation to win back Douma as the main stronghold of Jeish al-Islam terrorists near capital," they added.
"After liberation of al-Nashabiyah, the Syrian military will deploy forces to the countryside of Douma, the main base of Jeish al-Islam commanders," they added.
In relevant developments in Eastern Damascus on Saturday, Syrian Army troops and the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters continued to hit Jeish al-Islam terrorists' strongholds in Eastern Ghouta and took back more lands in the region.
The Syrian government forces stormed the militants' positions in the Northern and Western farms of Meda'a and forced the terrorists to retreat from the battlefield.
Jeish al-Islam terrorists, who withdrew from Meda'a on Wednesday, left behind tens of the dead and wounded members and fled the battlefront.
In the meantime, the Syrian Army men in a fresh round of operation struck Jeish al-Islam's defense lines in the small town of al-Midani in Southwestern side of Meda'a from three flanks.
If the Syrian army captures al-Midani, the threat of terrorists' penetration into the strategic town of Meda'a will be significantly decreased.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Kurdish sources disclosed that the US-led coalition's air force has been indifferent to the massacre of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) when they came under the large-scale attacks of the ISIL terrorists in Northern Raqqa and Northeastern Aleppo.
"The ISIL terrorists have intensified their offensives on the Kurdish-led SDF fighters' positions near Ein Issa in Northern Raqqa and near Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo, while the US-led coalition's air force has not carried out any air attack against the Takfiri militants," the sources said.
"The US-led coalition's combat flights have been limited to bombing bridges and the road connecting Jarabulus near the border with Turkey to Manbij, but they have left large part of SDF fighters without any aerial support," the sources said.
The SDF that is comprised of mainly Kurdish fighters as well as a few hundred Syrian Arab dissident forces have received trainings from the US and have been provided with scanty US-coalition air support in their battles in Raqqa province in Northeastern Syria; but in Northern and Northwestern battlefronts, they have been operating alongside the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and received the Russian air backup in their Aleppo wars that started with the conquest of Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates early in February.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian military forces continued to push back the terrorist groups from their strongholds in a key town in Western Ghouta, destroying hideouts of their snipers in several building blocks.
The Syrian soldiers stormed positions of the terrorist groups in the town of Darayya and captured more building block, large residential area with the length of 500 meters and width of 350 meters to Eastern side of Nouralddeen Sho'ait mosque.
The terrorist snipers, who were using the building block to hide and hit civilians, retreated from their positions leaving behind several advanced rifles.
The Takfiri groups also suffered a heavy death toll in the army's advances.
Also on Friday, Syrian Army troops, the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and National Defense Forces stormed the strongholds of Ajnad al-Sham in a key town in Western Damascus, pushing the militants back from more positions in the battlefield.
The Syrian government forces targeted the remaining farms under the control of Ajnad al-Sham in al-Alayeh district in Darayya, which inflicted major losses on the militants and forced them to retreat from the battlefront.
the Syrian missiles and artillery units shelled positions on the militant groups in the Northern sector of the al-Alayeh district.
ISIS could launch more attacks on Europe as it loses QUARTER of its territory
11 JUL 2016
Islamic State lost an area the size of Ireland - a quarter of its territory - to hostile forces in the last 18 months and is likely to further step up attacks on civilians in coming months, said researchers from Information Handling Services (IHS) .
The territory controlled by the ultra-hardline Sunni group shrank from 35,000 square miles in January 2015, six months after it declared a caliphate in Syria and Iraq, to 26,370 square miles, the research firm said.
This has led the group to step up attacks on civilian targets in the Middle East and in Europe and this is likely to intensify, IHS said.
“As the Islamic State’s caliphate shrinks and it becomes increasingly clear that its governance project is failing, the group is re-prioritizing insurgency,” said Columb Strack, senior analyst at IHS and lead analyst for the IHS Conflict Monitor.
“As a result, we unfortunately expect an increase in mass casualty attacks and sabotage of economic infrastructure, across Iraq and Syria, and further afield, including Europe.”
The Iraqi military’s recapture of Falluja , an Islamic State stronghold just west of Baghdad, last month has led the insurgents to step up bombings on Shi’ite Muslim targets.
Nearly 300 people died when an Islamic State suicide bomber struck in a busy shopping district in Baghdad a week ago, in one of the worst such attacks by the group to date.
Islamic State lost control of the city of Ramadi at the end of last year, another key stronghold for the group which captured large swathes of Iraq in 2014.
The army is now gearing up to retake Mosul, the largest city in Iraq’s north and Islamic State’s de facto capital.
In Syria, the militants lost ground this year to both Russian and Iranian-backed forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad and to the U.S.-backed Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance.
In February the SDF captured the town of al Shadadi, a major logistics hub for the militants, and in March Syrian and allied forces backed by Russian air strikes drove Islamic State out of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and surrounding areas.
An SDF advance is underway to retake areas north of Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, Raqqa.
Wave of Muslim immigrants spur German debate
Monday, July 11, 2016
BERLIN — On a trip to the beach, a German friend recently saw two teenage Afghan refugee boys stare in shock at female bathers in scanty bikinis. She overheard one youth agitatedly ask the German volunteer accompanying him: “Where are their fathers? Where are their fathers?”
The good news is that the boy spoke German and had a German friend who could explain the culture gap between Afghanistan and Europe.
The bad news is obvious: Germany has an overwhelming task trying to integrate many of the million or so Muslim migrants who arrived in 2015.
And a debate has gone public over a subject that was once considered unmentionable in public here: whether Islamic precepts are compatible with the West.
A sizable number of migrants are from the educated middle class, especially those arriving from Syria, around 40 percent of the total. But many others are young men from poorer backgrounds in Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan. They were sent ahead to establish a family beachhead in Europe — or escape the army. A good number are unaccompanied minors.
Many Germans — not just members of the anti-immigration or populist movements — worry that such youths are tempting targets for Islamists. They also wonder whether the gap between Germany society and conservative Arab Muslim cultures may be too wide to bridge.
“Fear toward Islam is increasing in Germany,” says Thomas Volk, coordinator on Islam and religious dialogue at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. “Fifty-seven percent of the non-Muslim population thinks Islam is dangerous or very dangerous. In May a poll showed that 60 percent think Islam doesn’t belong to Germany.”
Those polled don’t distinguish between Islamist ideology and the Muslim religion, says Volk.
The German public’s warmth toward refugees faltered after a New Year’s Eve episode in Cologne, where hundreds of young Arab men accosted German women during street celebrations. The men were mostly North African, not war refugees, and many were here illegally.
Yet this awful event also spurred a necessary public debate about how to integrate the newcomers quickly — and how to avoid the emergence of Arab Muslim ghettos, or “parallel societies,” as the Germans call them, where Islamists — or criminal gangs — could take root.
At present, the government sees providing jobs for immigrants as the main antidote to Islamization. But it appears to be paying less attention to another critical issue: Who will fund the mosques and imams that serve the new influx of Muslims? At present, around two-thirds of Germany’s roughly 4 million Muslims (5 percent of the population) are of Turkish descent, and Turkey’s religious ministry provides around 900 imams.
This arrangement was long viewed as satisfactory until the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan began Islamacizing what had been a secular country.
However, the new immigrants are largely — though not all — Arabic speakers. The German press reported last year that Saudi Arabia offered to build 200 mosques in Germany for the newcomers (the Saudis have denied this), which sparked controversy.
This is a hot-button issue that won’t go away.
Four theological schools have begun training German-speaking imams, leading some to hope Germany can produce a unique variant of European Islam that emphasizes tolerance and the peaceful aspects of the religion.
However, the largest Turkish Muslim association in Germany has made clear it will not accept the newly minted imams. It is also unclear whether they would be welcomed in mosques created for Arabic newcomers.
The question of how to ease young migrants into German society and culture touches on the nerves of those who fear youths may be easy targets for radical proselytizers outside of school. Puritan salafi Muslims — of whom there are said to be about 9,000 in Germany — have been caught trying to infiltrate refugee shelters.
“We are afraid of recruitment, particularly among unaccompanied minors,” says Deidre Berger, the Berlin representative of the American Jewish Committee which has concerns about threats to Jewish life in Germany.
Can the Afghan boys on the beach find a way into German society where they can practice their faith but don’t feel alienated by their surroundings? And can the debate over clashing cultures be addressed without encouraging a racist backlash that alienates those whom Germany is trying to integrate?
At this point no one
A closely-fought Australian election has brought with it the revival of a fringe party led by right-wing politician Pauline Hanson, showing the country is not immune to the anti-immigration mood sweeping parts of western Europe and the U.S.
While Hanson’s party secured only 4.2 percent of the primary vote in Australia’s upper house, that’s enough under the country’s preferential voting system to secure her a Senate spot and the chance to influence legislation. Another Hanson-led One Nation party candidate may win a Senate seat.
Hanson, who wants a Royal Commission into Islam and a ban on the wearing of the Burqa in public, benefited from a protest vote against the major parties. She was also helped by the implosion of another small, conservative group, the Palmer United Party, and needed only half the usual votes to win a seat due to the counting peculiarities created by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to force an early election.
“We’re in danger of being swamped by Muslims,” Hanson, 62, told News Corp. in May, even as data show they represent just 2 percent of the population. “If you’re going to bury your head in the sand about it, you’re a fool.”
Hanson’s influence over the next government remains to be seen, and the Senate makeup is not yet finalized. During her brief stint in parliament 20 years ago, the Liberal-National coalition government of the time criticized her views on Asian immigration as misguided and dangerous, and she faded from view as her party imploded in infighting.
But as governments around the world battle concern about refugees and immigrants -- U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump is threatening to build a wall to keep Mexicans out -- fueled in part by rising income inequality and jobless rates, Hanson’s anti-Asian, anti-Muslim rhetoric may be harder to shut down.
“Disillusionment with the major parties is clearly a trend in Australia, as elsewhere,” said Anne Tiernan, a political scientist at Brisbane’s Griffith University. “They will have to be careful in the way they deal with Hanson and will need to walk a fine line between understanding, but not accepting, some of the more extreme views she represents.”
The ruling coalition led by Turnbull and the Labor opposition led by Bill Shorten secured their lowest share of the primary vote since World War II. Some of that vote went to left-leaning parties like the Australian Greens, and a centralist group led by Senator Nick Xenophon. But it’s Hanson who has garnered the bulk of the attention.
Turnbull has claimed victory, even as he reaches out to independent and small party lawmakers. His challenge will be soothing voters dissatisfied with the major parties while avoiding knee-jerk populist policy responses that curtail needed immigration. The stance of Hanson and some other smaller parties against foreign investment may also damage Australia’s international reputation.
Hanson’s previous stint in politics help trigger a hardening of government policy over immigration. Then-Prime Minister John Howard created detention camps for would-be migrants arriving by boat. Now both the coalition and Labor back the policy, along with turning back boats laden with asylum seekers.
“Do you want your children and grandchildren to be living under Sharia Law and treated as a second-class citizen with no rights?” Hanson’s party says on its website, calling for the installation of surveillance cameras in mosques and Islamic schools. Multiculturalism has prevented people from “assimilating into Australian society -- exactly what was done and admitted to in England,” it claims. Hanson declined an interview with Bloomberg.
Since lifting a effective ban on Asian immigration in the 1960s, Australia’s racial mix has rapidly diversified. More than one in four residents was born overseas, while 43 percent have at least one overseas-born parent, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
“Hanson shaped the conversation over race and immigration” in the 1990s, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said. “The danger we face is similar to that being posed by right-wing populism in other western, liberal democracies.”
In the U.K., which recently voted to exit the European Union, “Leave” campaigners Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage urged Britain to adopt Australia’s “points system” for new immigrants, which emphasizes work and language skills. Human rights campaigners have argued that discriminates against non-English-speaking migrants often fleeing from war-torn nations.
Another bone of contention among Australian voters, many from regional areas, was asset sales -- primarily agricultural land -- to overseas interests. While the nation’s shallow pool of domestic capital means it needs foreign investment, a survey conducted by a Sydney-based think tank showed 87 percent of Australians opposed allowing foreign companies to buy farmland.
One Nation is against the sale of any assets overseas and wants government control over utility companies. Some similar policies can be found from the Nick Xenophon Team, a party that opposes free-trade deals and may have as many as five lawmakers in the new parliament.
Government data show China accounted for just over four percent of foreign investment in Australia at the end of 2014. About 90 percent of farmland was fully Australian-owned in 2014, according to the ABS.
Australia must keep a welcome mat for foreign investors, former foreign minister Bob Carr said.
“You can strike that nationalistic pose but it does mean lower living standards” should tougher foreign investment restrictions be enacted, Carr said. He described Hanson’s Senate win as “a bad look.”
Hanson sits on the fringe for now. “Populists have never taken hold here the way they have in many other countries,” Tiernan said.
Still, her comeback shows that “governments around the world are maintaining the fiction that they can control everything, when globalization has meant many circumstances are simply out of their hands.”
11 Jul 2016
The controversial former rebel turned head of state Ramzan Kadyrov said Austria had to accept part of the responsibility in a post on Instagram.
He was speaking after the attack was linked to the terrorist mastermind Akhmed Chatayev, 36, saying that Austria had helped make him the professional killer that he had become.
He said: "When he left Russia, he was a normal bandit, but in Austria, Georgia and Turkey he learned how to become a terrorist."
Chatayev, who was born in Chechnya in 1980, went Austria as an asylum seeker and lived there between 2003 and 2011.
While there, he was apparently travelling across the country gathering substantial sums of money for the support of terrorist leader Khuseyn Gakajev, the leader of the Caucasus Emirate group who was also responsible for hundreds of deaths.
The Caucasus Emirate is a terrorist organisation in south-western Russia and is trying to expel the Russians from the region and set up an Islamic caliphate, although in recent years it has been in decline.
Gakayev was a Chechen nationalist commander who was killed by Russian security forces along with his brother, called Muslim, and nine other militants after they were surrounded in the mountains of Vedeno, Chechnya on 24th January 2013.
Their representative in Europe was Austrian-based jihadi Chatayev.
Kadyrov further alleged that Turkish security forces had known where Chatayev was and that between 2008 and 2012 he had been briefly held in Sweden, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Georgia but had always escaped being extradited to Russia.
He said they had simply wanted to annoy Russia by refusing their extradition request, and now had to face the consequences of their actions.
And he added that in Turkey in particular there were Islamic extremists from Russia who were allowed to live there without hardly being bothered at all. Only after the bombing had they then moved to arrest 11 Russian citizens so far.
Chatayev also has significant Austrian connections, as he had changed his name in the country to David Mayer and then used his new identity to travel for example to Georgia and then back to Austria.
He is reportedly now living in Rakka in Syria which is under ISIS control.
The Kremlin has also backed up the statement saying that the Istanbul airport attack could have been avoided if European and Turkish security services had listened to Russian warnings.
The Kremlin spokesman added: "In most cases, these warnings were either completely ignored or simply not properly acted on."
The Islamic State has published a local language publication to increase its appeal to jihadists in Southeast Asia, according to a report in the Malaysian newspaper Berita Harian cited by the Malay Mail.
The publication al-Fatihin — the name is Arabic and means the Conquerors — was launched on June 20, in the holy fasting month of Ramadan, with the tagline: “The newspaper for Malay-speaking migrants in the Islamic State.” The articles, bringing updates from Iraq and Syria, were mainly written in the Indonesian language, which is comprehensible for many Malay speakers in Southeast Asia.
According to a report in CNN Indonesia, ISIS has a brigade called Katibah Nusantara, which is based in Syria and comprises Malay-speaking militants from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Apart from serving these jihadists, al-Fatihin also seeks to target its supporters in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, southern Thailand and southern Philippines — areas that overlap with the territory of a Southeast Asian caliphate envisioned by terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
“Al-Fatihin buttresses [ISIS] messages calling on militant groups in Indonesia and the Philippines to unite and pledge their allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi,” wrote Jasminder Singh and Muhammad Haziq Jani, terrorism analysts at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, in their research paper published last month, Al-Fatihin: Islamic State’s First Malay-Language Newspaper.
“Al-Fatihin’s tagline drives the point that, no matter the differences and nuances in language, identity and origins, Southeast Asian jihadists have a common logos and as such, all Malay-speaking jihadists should act as one,” they added.
Two days after the newspaper was launched, ISIS released a video declaring the Philippines as its territory and calling for Southeast Asian jihadists to travel to the Philippines if they could not go to Syria.
There are growing fears of ISIS encroachment in the region. Different militant groups in Southeast Asia have pledged allegiance to ISIS, including the East Indonesia Mujahideen in Central Sulawesi province, and Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines. Recent terrorist attacks in Indonesia and Malaysia have been blamed on ISIS supporters, with links to Indonesian and Malaysian jihadists in Syria.
JUL 11, 2016
PUTRAJAYA • The Malaysian authorities are working closely with Indonesia to prevent Indonesians convicted of terrorism from entering Malaysia, says Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said Malaysia is particularly concerned in the light of the impending release of some 300 followers of radical cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the former leader of militant group Jemaah Islamiah, from prison.
"We are worried that about 300 supporters of Abu Bakar Bashir, who have been sentenced for terror activities in Indonesia, are going to be released," said Datuk Seri Zahid.
The Malaysian Immigration Department and its Indonesian counterpart are working closely with each other in this regard, he added.
"Both are exchanging information, including biometric data, so that these people who are released can be prevented from entering the country to spread IS propaganda among Malaysians," Dr Zahid said at a Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at his official residence, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He also said Malaysia and Indonesia were exchanging Interpol data, and discussing ways to de-radicalise and rehabilitate those influenced by ISIS.
Dr Zahid, who is also Home Minister, added that the police were working closely with state Islamic religious departments to monitor the spread of ISIS ideology.
Meanwhile, National Security Council (NSC) secretary Alias Ahmad disclosed that the council is proposing a visa requirement for Middle Eastern visitors to check the entry of ISIS militants into the country.
"We'll see whether we should impose visa requirements on countries involved in conflicts or countries that we have identified to be sources of IS militant activities. If (militants) can enter freely, it will be hard for us to track them when they are here," he said.
Datuk Seri Alias said the NSC would also direct Bank Negara and the Companies Commission of Malaysia to monitor financial transactions between Malaysian firms and international companies to curb the channelling of funds to the militant group.
He said the NSC was also monitoring social media in and outside the country and constantly working with intelligence agencies abroad.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The public relations office of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps in a statement dismissed recent news reports about the remarks of an IRGC official on Hamas talks with the Israelis, stressing that the Movement is pioneering fight against the Zionist regime.
"There is no doubt that the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, which has inflicted a humiliating defeat and hit a deadly blow at the Zionist regime during the 22-day, 51-day and 8-day wars, is at the forefront of the Palestinian nation's anti-Zionism resistance and fight," the IRGC statement said on Monday.
The statement underlined that the Palestinian nation has entered a new stage by starting the third Intifada against the Zionist regime which has raised growing fears among the Zionists and their regional and trans-regional supporters.
The statement also reiterated that the Iranian nation's support for the Palestinian nation's cause is one of the inviolable strategies of the Islamic Revolution and the IRGC.
In relevant remarks in February, Hamas politburo member Mousa Abu Marzouk hailed Iran for its long-term and permanent support for the resistance group and the Palestinian people.
"Iran is a role model in Arab and Islamic countries in backing the Palestinian nation and Resistance," Abu Marzouk told reporters in Tehran.
He underlined that Iran's support, mainly after 2006, to Palestinian government has been very remarkable.
Abu Marzouk also expressed the hope that Iran would further help to restoration of regional stability, and said, "Iran can play a positive role in this regard."
Erdoğan pushes for support against terrorism at NATO summit
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said he pushed for more support for the fight against terrorism at the NATO leaders’ summit in the Polish capital on July 8-9.
“We have insistently emphasized that NATO has to do more than it already does, especially in the fight against terrorism,” Erdoğan told a group of reporters aboard the presidential plane returning to Turkey from Warsaw.
Erdoğan said he emphasized the situation in Syria and Iraq regarding the development of terrorism by presenting evidence at the gathering.
“I brought the Syria topic up very often. Daesh is the topic that is being insistently dwelled on; in fact the thing that is being targeted regarding all terror issues is Daesh,” said Erdoğan, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
He said he especially mentioned the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its military wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), both of which Turkey regards as offshoots of the PKK and designates as terror organizations.
Erdoğan said there was no ISIL when the U.S. went into Iraq in the early 2000s, saying there was only al-Qaeda and ISIL was the “son of al-Qaeda.”
Meanwhile, Erdoğan also expressed his discomfort with the German parliament’s resolution on the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottomans a century ago when he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the NATO summit.
“The Turkish president expressed Turkey’s frustration and discomfort with the resolution, while the German chancellor vowed to show the necessary sensitivity required for the move to not cast a shadow over bilateral relations,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said.
A source close to the Turkish Presidency said Merkel stressed she would do her utmost to ensure this event would not harm German-Turkish relations, Reuters reported.
In a press conference after the meeting, Merkel said she had talked through German-Turkish differences in a constructive spirit with Erdoğan but the issues had not disappeared.
“We discussed all outstanding issues. The atmosphere was constructive... and very businesslike in an effort to solve the existing conflicts,” Merkel told reporters.
Asked whether they had been resolved, she said: “The differences don’t just disappear through such a discussion. But I believe it was important that we talked them through.”
The German parliament passed the resolution on June 2, causing outrage in Turkey, which denies the accusation. Relations between the two countries have been strained since then, with Ankara withdrawing its ambassador from Berlin.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan conveyed his condolences to U.S. President Barack Obama over the tragic events unfolding in the U.S. recently during the course of the summit.
Separately, the Turkish president told U.K Prime Minister David Cameron he respected the vote of the British people to exit from the European Union.
Erdoğan also met with the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Hungary, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Greece, Georgia, Canada, Latvia, Italy and Bulgaria.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has detailed his plans to offer citizenship to nearly 3 million Syrians taking refuge in Turkey during his return trip from a NATO summit in Warsaw, suggesting that dual citizenship may be granted to applicants.
“We will predicate the regulations on dual citizenship. Is it a must for dual citizens, for people with citizenship, to return to their countries of birth?” Erdoğan inquired in response to a question about worries that Syrians might never return to their country if provided with Turkish citizenship.
Providing the examples of the United States and Germany, Erdoğan said it was up to people to make a choice between their countries of citizenship. “No one asked [Turks] whether they would return or not when they went [to Germany] in 1963,” Erdoğan said.
“There is no need to hesitate. This nation currently lives in 780,000 square kilometers as 79 million people. Germany, which is half our size, is currently 85 million,” the president said, stressing Turkey could “easily work out” problems of this sort.
Erdoğan also criticized the negative stance of opposition parties on the issue of Syrians and stressed Turkey could not confine refugees to a life in camps and the basements of apartments.
“Our municipalities tell me all sorts of things. There are nine, 10, 15 people, living chock-full inside basements,” Erdoğan said, stressing it was better for Turkish ministries to collaborate and find camps or houses to resettle Syrians inside Turkey.
The president proposed settling the Syrians in apartments built by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) which ended up remaining unoccupied due to disagreements.
Erdoğan reminded about Meskhetian Turks, a Turkish-speaking minority from eastern Ukraine who were expelled from their homeland in Georgia and moved to Ukraine. They were recently resettled to TOKİ apartments in Turkey in the northeastern province of Erzincan and the southeastern province of Bitlis.
“If need be, there are the empty TOKİ apartments. Just the way we gave them to the Meskhetian Turks in Erzincan – which they will pay for by instalments - we can do the same for them within the framework of a settlement and employment policy.
“Today, a Turk can go to Germany and become a German citizen; [a Turk] can go to the U.S. and become an American citizen; why can’t the same be possible for people living in our country?” Erdoğan asked, stressing Turks even had a shared history with Syrians.
Erdoğan stirred debate on July 2 when he said Syrians in Turkey could be granted Turkish citizenship if they filed an application and met a number of criteria.
The proposition was slammed by members of all three opposition parties represented in parliament in Ankara as a populist political move aimed at garnering the votes of Syrians and tilting the sensitive demographic balance in Turkey’s southeast.
It will take only 10 days of work for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to present their new constitutional draft to parliament, according to Mustafa Şentop, the president of the Turkish parliament’s constitution commission, who added that the ruling party may consider suggesting a semi-presidential system or a presidential post backed by a political party.
The AKP was open to all proposals which would improve the current system, Şentop said.
“If we won’t see that a presidential system is possible, we will have a proposal on a semi-presidential system or a president with a party,” he told daily Hürriyet.
“Rather than a presidential system which will not be realized, we would prefer a system based on a president who will maintain their link to a political party. We will conduct some talks on that subject,” said Şentop, who is also part of the constitutional drafting commission established within the AKP.
The reason why the work was prolonged in the previous period was former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s wish to be informed of all the work, he said.
A mini constitutional draft which would only include this amendment was also on the ruling party’s agenda, he said.
“There is no need to work a lot on the new constitution. Within a week or 10 days we can present our constitutional proposal to the public,” said Şentop adding: “A rather lengthy calendar was foreseen in terms of the constitutional work that had started within the party due to the fact that Prime Minister Davutoğlu wanted to know everything on that issue. We have drafts that we had prepared previously; the academics who worked with us and the members of the commission know all the details. We can conclude this work with small touches.”
Underlining the fact that parliament would not be working for some time during the summer, Şentop said the commission could meet during that time. “There could be some changes in the commission in terms of its members but probably the core cadre will be maintained. We have work that will require only a few meetings and we will make it ready to propose in the new parliamentary season. A presidential system is our point of departure in the new constitution, as the current system is in a deadlock,” he said.
Up to 300,000 Syrian refugees living in Turkey could be given citizenship under a plan to keep wealthy and educated Syrians in the country, Turkish daily Habertürk reported on July 9, soon after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inflammatory remarks suggesting Syrians could be extended citizenship.
Nationality would be given step-by-step, with initial plans for 30,000 to 40,000 Syrians gaining citizenship, Habertürk said, adding Ankara was targeting to give Turkish citizenship to up to 300,000 Syrians.
Turkey was hoping such a move would allow skilled Syrian refugees to become citizens, the paper said. Educated refugees from other countries could choose to become nationals as well.
Family members of those chosen to become Turkish citizens could also get the right to become nationals, it added.
The usual obligation of living in Turkey for at least five years before gaining citizenship could be waived for Syrians, the daily reported.
Syrian refugees who become Turkish nationals would then be able to vote in elections one year after being granted nationality.
The report appeared to generate anger among many social media users, with #suriyelilerehayir (“No to Syrians”) the top trending topic in Turkey on Twitter on July 9.
Erdoğan said on July 2 that Syrian refugees in the country would be offered nationality “if they want it,” the first time such an idea had been proposed at the highest level.
The president’s plan was rebuked by opposition parties as a populist bid for political gains by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government to garner additional votes from Syrians.
“The AKP is clearly showing that it is thinking of its political prosperity rather than the lives of these oppressed people by looking from the viewpoint of religion and sect, its election calculations and its assimilation plans. The fact that some 3 million people could suddenly become citizens would create trauma in society,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Veli Ağbaba said.
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy chair Semih Yalçın also voiced concern that the move could mean 3 million more voters.
“First of all, [it] would change the demographic structure in southeastern Anatolia. In a political meaning, 3 million people equals 10 percent [of the total] vote,” Yalçın said.
In a similar vein, Peoples’ Democratic Party (HPD) Kars deputy Ayhan Bilgen warned that creating constituents through cheap labor would only deepen already existing prejudices against refugees.
‘Sharif-Modi friendship’ damaging for Kashmir cause, says Bilawal
LAHORE: PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has alleged that “Sharif-Modi friendship” is causing irreparable damage to the Kashmir cause.
He condemned the killing of innocent Kashmiris in India-held Kashmir over the past few days and said that Indian authorities were violating rights of Kashmiri Muslims.
“While Muslims celebrated Eidul Fitr across the world, our Kashmiri brethren marked the day of festivities amid violence carried out by the Indian army,” Mr Bilawal said in a statement on Sunday. “Scores of people, including women, were injured on a day that was supposed to be an occasion of joy and celebrations. Kashmiri leaders were denied the right to offer Eid prayers and people were traumatised by brutality of Indian army. Such aggression by Indian authorities has exposed the sham democracy prevailing in India.”
An aide to the PPP leader told Dawn that Mr Bilawal would return from London this week and added that the PPP leader would address rallies in Azad Kashmir where he would speak against Indian brutalities in held Kashmir and criticise Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for taking a `soft stance’ towards India.
He said that efforts being made by PML-N to stop PPP from taking to the streets over Panama Papers leaks issue would bear no fruit.
“After Mr Bilawal’s return, PPP will prepare a strategy to launch a campaign against the government along with other opposition parties to build up pressure on Mr Sharif to step down and allow an independent investigation into offshore holdings of his children.”
Mr Bilawal in his statement said it seemed as if Mr Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken a similar stance over the killings in Kashmir.
He accused Mr Sharif of damaging the country’s foreign policy by giving his Indian counterpart a “certificate of friendship”.
“Mr Sharif is jeopardising the Kashmir issue by building his association with the Indian prime minister,” the PPP leader alleged.
He reiterated the PPP’s commitment to support oppressed Kashmiris and said that the party would raise its voice for their rights and condemn Indian hostilities at every forum.
About armed clashes between PML-N and PPP workers in Azad Kashmir, Mr Bilawal said that he was well aware of the tactics of PML-N and would not let it succeed. “It is a common tactic of PML-N to victimise and harass political opponents before any elections,” he added.
Reacting to Mr Bilawal’s remarks, federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said that the PPP leader should not hurl stones at others while “sitting in a glass house”.
Elaborating, he said that the PPP chairman should recall the Kashmir policy of his grandfather, mother and father, adding that as prime minister Benazir Bhutto had welcomed her Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi (on his arrival in Pakistan).
APP adds: Talking to reporters after visiting the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in Islamabad to inquire after the health of PML-N’s injured candidate from Haveli, Chaudhry Mohammad Aziz, Mr Rashid alleged that PPP had resorted to violence in the run-up to elections in Azad Kashmir because it foresaw its defeat.
Despite threats and use of government machinery, people would not vote for the PPP’s candidates, he said, adding that PML-N would win the elections.
WASHINGTON: Senior US lawmakers and their witnesses are gathering on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to once again ask Pakistan if it is America’s friend or foe.
The House Subcommittees on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade and Asia and the Pacific are jointly holding this hearing, hoping that it would help them determine how to deal with Pakistan, an old ally many in Congress no longer trust. The chairman of one of the subcommittees is a Republican lawmaker, Congressman Ted Poe, who never makes an effort to hide his dislike for Pakistan.
“This hearing will give members the opportunity to learn more about Pakistan’s longstanding ties to terrorist groups and allow for a more informed reassessment of US foreign policy priorities vis-à-vis Islamabad,” said Mr Poe while explaining why he had called the hearing.
Former US ambassador to Afghanistan and United Nations, Zalmay Khalilzad, is one of the three witnesses who have been asked to explain Pakistan and its policies to the lawmakers.
The other two witnesses are Bill Roggio, senior editor, Long War Journal, and Tricia Bacon, Assistant Professor, American University.
In a recent statement, Mr Khalilzad urged the United States to adopt a policy of total isolation against Pakistan and turn it into a “second North Korea” to force it to cooperate in Afghanistan.
“The United States has spent tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in aid to Pakistan since 9/11. Now, 15 years later, Pakistan’s military and intel services are still linked to terrorist organisations and little success has been made to stabilise the region,” said Congressman Matt Salmon, who heads the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
“We must take a closer look at US goals, expectations and our aid spending in the region. In this hearing, we will discuss the Administration’s failed policy towards Pakistan and debate the best way forward,” he said.
Islamabad: Pakistan has expressed shock over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter in Kashmir and deplored “oppressive measures” and “excessive” force used against civilians in the latest wave of violence in the Valley.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been under attack from the opposition for remaining “silent” over the killing of protesters in Kashmir, came out with a late night statement condemning the action of Indian security forces.
“The Prime Minister of Pakistan has expressed his deep shock at the killing of Kashmiri leader Burhan Wani and many other civilians by the Indian military and paramilitary forces,” Sharif’s office said in the statement.
The Prime Minister said it was “deplorable that excessive and unlawful force was used against the civilians” who were protesting against the killing of Wani.
“Oppressive measures such as these cannot deter the valiant people of Jammu and Kashmir from their demand of exercising their right to self-determination in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions,” he said.
Expressing concern over the detention of Kashmiri separatist leaders, Sharif said India should fulfil its human rights obligations as well as its commitments under the United Nations Security Council resolutions.
The death toll in the clashes between protesters and security forces in Kashmir mounted to 23, as normal life remained paralysed for the third day today in the Valley due to curfew-like restrictions and separatists-sponsored strike in the wake of the killing of Wani in an encounter on Friday.
Most of the separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik, are either in custody or under house arrest.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has alleged that “Sharif-Modi friendship” was causing “irreparable damage” to the Kashmir issue.
“While Muslims celebrated Eid-ul Fitr across the world, our Kashmiri brethren marked the day of festivities amid violence carried out by the Indian army,” Bilawal said in a statement yesterday.
He accused Sharif of damaging the foreign policy by giving his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi a “certificate of friendship”.
“Sharif is jeopardising the Kashmir issue by building his association with the Indian prime minister,” he said.
Four terror suspects arrested in South Africa
Four suspects in South Africa are facing terror-related charges after being detained by police. The three men and one woman were arrested over the weekend as they were about to fly to Syria.
"We stopped them from flying to Syria and the airline concerned was also informed and they were refused access," said Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesman for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, widely known as "the Hawks."
National Hawks chief Lieutenant General Mthandazo Ntlemeza called the arrests a "very big step forward in the fight against terrorism".
The suspects, in their early 20s, were first identified in 2015 when they attempted to travel to Syria, according to Mulaudzi.
"Investigations showed they intended to join terrorist group ISIS," Hangwani told the local News24.
Monday in court
The four are due to appear in court on Monday, two of them in Johannesburg on terror-related charges. Two others, who are scheduled to appear at the Kagiso Magistrates Court west of Johannesburg, will face firearms and explosives related charges, according to Hangwani.
It is unclear if they were planning to help the Islamic State in Syria or launch an attack in South Africa.
Foreign nationals have flocked to Syria to fight for or against Islamic State, an ultra-hardline Sunni group that has also carried out deadly attacks worldwide.
There are no known militant groups operating in South Africa, but last month US and British intelligence agencies warned of a potential terror attack against foreigners in South Africa.
The country's Muslim minority makes up just 1.5 percent of the country's population. Analysts fear economic hardships could be a catalyst for radicalizing the country's small Muslim population.
Free Biafra From Nigeria
While the world seems preoccupied by the independence of Britain from the EU, a less known but an easily ignored and important plea for independence is coming out of Western Africa. Nigeria has a population of roughly 180 million people with a balanced religious mix of roughly 49.3% Christian and 48.8% Muslim. Most of the Christians live in southern Nigeria, a land previously controlled for over thousands of years by a people living in a land known as Biafra. Biafrans were a proud people. They were mostly Christian and a bastion of free-enterprise in Western Africa. With the formation of Nigeria in the breakup of Great Britain’s empire, Biafra lost its independence when it was unilaterally combined with the Muslim dominated north.
Today, the drive for a Muslim caliphate in Africa remains focused on three primary African states, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, where large populations of Christians remain. The all-out effort to destabilize the Christian power base has been carried out by Al-Shabaab in Kenya and Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria.
Boko Haram, an extremist Sunni Islamic fundamentalist sect strongly influenced by the Wahhabi movement, is committed to establish Nigeria as an Islamic State under Sharia Law. Their impact is strongest in the North. Seeking more grazing land for their herds, Fulani militants, linked to Boko Haram, have killed at least 20,000 people since 2009. The Fulani herdsmen have been moving south to areas dominated by Christians and non-religious farmers. They are well armed, and their coordinated attacks are increasing.
The atrocities against moderate Muslims and Christians are well documented but not widely covered in the Western press. Recently, angry Muslims youths in Kano decapitated a woman plastics trader alleging that she blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad. When the shop owner refused to allow a young man to wash his legs for the usual Muslim’s prayers in her shop because other customers were there, the young man shouted Allahu Akbar and lied to his friends that the owner had blasphemed. They dragged her away, beheaded her carried her head through the market and town center.
Many feel that now is the time for Biafra independence. The Biafran “George Washington,” Nnamdi Kanu, remains in jail on trumped up charges. Judges have refused to officially charge him. But fearing his leadership, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has kept him under lock and key. His sustained incarceration has just fueled the flames for independence. The number of supporters of freedom for Biafra has quadrupled since Kanu’s imprisonment.
Recently, Niger Delta Avengers blew up vital Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation oil pipelines. A new militant group, Red Egbesu Water Lions, has joined them in demanding that Nnamdi Kanu be released. Unless the Buhari government releases Kanu and moves toward a referendum on independence for Biafra, militants promise to shut down oil and gas production in the region.
In the past, Shell and British Petroleum have formed lucrative agreements with the Northern Muslim politicians to control 80% of the Nigerian oil, primarily from wells in the south. Not only are resources from Biafra being sold and profits diverted, the lack of environmental controls have resulted in pollution—hurting farming and fishing in the south.
Freedom isn’t free, but nowhere in Africa is freedom more important than in Biafra. But what are the Western powers doing? Unfortunately, very little. Britain has called for the release of Nnamdi Kanu but said little about the freedom referendum he supports. While covering the atrocities of Boko Haram in the North, there is little or no coverage of the Islamic terrorists brutalizing the Biafran Christians in the South.
This is about more than stopping Islamic extremism in Nigeria. Supporting the freedom of Biafra establishes a beachhead for Christian capitalism in Africa that puts a stop to a vision of a united Muslim caliphate in all of Africa.
America received support from France in breaking free of England. It’s time for the UN and Western powers to do their part to free the people of Biafra while independence is still possible without expanded bloodshed.
JULY 11, 2016
JOHANNESBURG — Renewed fighting between opposing army forces has raised fears of a return to civil war in South Sudan, which over the weekend marked its fifth anniversary of independence while panicked residents hid inside their homes.
Aside from the scores of soldiers killed after gunfire erupted late Friday outside the presidential compound, at least one civilian died in a U.N. camp caught in the crossfire. At least one U.N. peacekeeper was killed and several wounded.
Here is a look at the situation for the estimated 12 million people in the East African country:
A FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE
Largely Christian South Sudan won its independence from Sudan, a largely Muslim country, in 2011 after years of fighting. The new country's emergence was cheered by countries including the United States.
With oil resources supporting its young economy, optimism was high. But tensions eventually emerged between the country's top leaders, President Salva Kiir and his vice president, Riek Machar, and supporters of each.
THE CIVIL WAR
In December 2013, soldiers loyal to either side skirmished in the capital, Juba, and the fighting spread to other parts of the country. The violence was especially worrying to the international community because of the ethnic tensions involved, as many supporters of the president were Dinka and supporters of Machar, now a rebel leader, were mostly Nuer.
As fighting raged on well into 2015, tens of thousands of people were reported killed, and an estimated 2 million people had fled their homes. Meanwhile, the U.N. and others warned repeatedly of a humanitarian disaster as the civil war made it all but impossible to deliver aid to many areas of the country.
Troops on both sides have been accused of horrific human rights abuses, including gang rape and murder of civilians along ethnic lines. A U.N. panel of experts has said Kiir and Machar themselves bear command responsibility for troops who allegedly committed crimes.
A FRAGILE PEACE DEAL
Last August, after intense pressure from the international community, Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal that called for a two-year transitional government of ministers and parliamentarians from the two sides before new elections.
But fighting continued in parts of the country even as the fragile deal moved forward. In April, Machar returned to the capital to again take up the post of vice president, saying that "peace is the only choice for us to relieve our people the undeserved suffering associated with armed conflict enforced upon them."
FIGHTING ERUPTS AGAIN
South Sudan's opposing army factions have been stationed in Juba since April as part of the peace deal. They are meant to hold joint patrols but have yet to work together and remain stationed in separate areas.
On Thursday, soldiers from the opposing factions exchanged gunfire in the capital, leaving five soldiers dead. A day later, as Kiir and Machar met at the presidential compound about the incident, heavy gunfire began outside and soon spread to other parts of the city.
The fighting continued on and off during the weekend and started afresh on Monday morning, even after Kiir and Machar issued a joint call for calm.
Some international organizations and businesses have started evacuating workers from South Sudan, a further blow to its severely weakened economy. The International Monetary Fund this month said its currency has depreciated by almost 90 percent since December.
US Defense Secretary Discusses Strategy in Fight against IS in Iraq
Iraqi forces’ recent seizure of a major airbase near Mosul marks the completion of the coalition’s “first 10 plays” toward defeating Islamic State, says a senior U.S. defense official.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Iraq Monday to talk to Iraqi leaders and the U.S. commander on the ground about the next plays in the campaign, now that Qayyarah Airbase West, located about 60 kilometers south of Mosul, is under the control of Iraqi Security Forces.
“The point of seizing that airfield is to be able to establish a logistics and air hub in the immediate vicinity of Mosul,” Carter told reporters before entering Iraq.
“Qayarrah was definitely the big fish on that list because of its strategic importance,” a senior official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
In his fourth trip to Iraq as defense secretary, Carter will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi in Baghdad, and will speak by phone with Masoud Barzani, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Back in December and January, President Barack Obama and Carter laid out 10 strategic goals - some of them geographical, some of them functional - that needed to occur before Iraqi security forces, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and the Syrian counter-IS forces could retake Raqqah and Mosul, Islamic State’s de-facto capital in Syria and largest stronghold in Iraq.
The recapturing of Hit, Rupta and Ramadi in Iraq were key steps toward splitting the Iraq and Syria battlefields, said one senior defense official. Establishing a staging base in Makhmour has been considered a crucial step in encircling Mosul.
On the Syrian side, Shaddadi, located on the road from Raqqah to Mosul, also was deemed critical so that Islamic State’s core was “severed in half,” Carter said, stifling movement of people and supplies between the two cities.
The envelopment of Manbij by U.S.-trained opposition forces has taken a “hub” for Islamic State foreign fighters, Col. Chris Garver, the coalition spokesman based in Baghdad, told reporters last month.
Starting the train and equip program within northeast Syria was another of the 10 plays, said a second defense official.
Mosul fight shaping up
The plan to envelop Mosul in the south required two prongs: Makhmour to the southeast and Qayyarah to the southwest. A small number of U.S. forces have conducted a brief site survey at the airbase, but they did not remain onsite.
The Iraqi security forces' push to retake Qayyarah was Iraq’s largest armor maneuver since the Iraqi army invaded Kuwait, which officials say displayed a level of sophistication not yet seen in the war.
At the same time, two Peshmerga brigades equipped (and some even being paid for) by the U.S. are completing the encirclement from the north.
“Those two prongs are as important as the prongs coming from the south.” Carter said. During his last trip to Iraq, Carter announced the U.S. will provide $415 million in financial aid to Kurdish forces, through Baghdad, after the Kurdish economy took a hit with the worldwide drop in oil prices.
A senior defense official confirmed the U.S. has completed its initial goal of training 12 brigades for the Mosul fight, which commanders say is the number needed for the massive battle.
But while that goal has been reached, U.S. official say additional training might be needed for those groups. For example, when the fight for Ramadi involved layer after layer of improvised explosive devices, U.S. forces gave counter-IED training to soldiers previously trained in other skills.
U.S. technical engineering support likely will be needed for bridging because Islamic State has blown up the bridges into Mosul, and police training might also be needed to help stabilize the city once Islamic State has been thrown out.
Carter said he will talk with Abadi about “a whole host of enablers” that have proven effective against the enemy, such as air support, equipment, supplies and help with logistics.
“We will provide more if and when the Iraqi Security Forces can make good use of them, and Prime Minister Abadi requests them,” Carter said.
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