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Islamic World News (18 Oct 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)



Niger's President Blames 'Misreading Of Islam' For His Country Having The Highest Birth Rate In The World At More Than Seven Children Per Mother







Turkey Joining EU ‘Antidote’ To Islamophobia: Diplomat

UAE-Backed Project Bringing Light to Lives Of Rohingya Refugees

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Promoting Islam in Public School

224 SDF Soldiers, 183 Turkish-Backed Rebels Killed In Syria Clashes - Monitor

Is Turkey Able To Handle An Influx Of Islamic State Prisoners?

Turkey Agrees to Pause Military Operations in Northern Syria

‘You’ll Answer in Afterlife’, Heartbroken Mum Tells Prosecutor, Investigators after Tahfiz Sexual Abuse Case Dismissed

 

Africa

Niger's President Blames 'Misreading Of Islam' For His Country Having The Highest Birth Rate In The World At More Than Seven Children Per Mother

Millions of Sufi Devotees Converge In Senegal's Touba

Is al-Shabab looking to Ethiopia?

Fears, Warnings on ISIS Comeback in Libya

Nigeria: Boko Haram Substantially Defeated, Buhari Insists

Enduring miseries drive exodus of Tunisian youth

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Europe

Turkey Joining EU ‘Antidote’ To Islamophobia: Diplomat

Turkey concerned over raid on Ataturk House in Greece

Merkel worried over Russia’s influence in Syria

Dutch premier: NATO cannot 'make it' without Turkey

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South Asia

UAE-Backed Project Bringing Light to Lives Of Rohingya Refugees

Airstrikes kill 33 Taliban and ISIS militants in 7 provinces

UN decries 'unprecedented' civilian casualties in Afghanistan

Will play 'constructive role' in improvement of India-Pakistan ties: China

President assures Saudi entrepreneurs of cooperation

2.5 years’ jail for first S’porean convicted of terrorism financing; gave over S$1,000 to foreign radical

The soft power of mothers: Fighting extremism begins at home

Afghanistan postpones announcement of preliminary results for presidential elections

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North America

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Promoting Islam in Public School

US Religious Freedom Envoy Urges Muslim World to Speak up For Incarcerated Uyghurs

Trump Questions Pelosi's Mental Health: ‘Pray For Her, She Is A Very Sick Person!’

Democratic lawmakers press for white supremacist groups to be labeled foreign terrorist organizations

Muslim Families Not Allowed To Board NYC Ferry After Being Labeled A 'Security Issue,' Complaint Says

Sanctions on Turkey no longer necessary: Donald Trump

Turkey, US agree on Syria ceasefire to force Kurdish fighters' withdrawal

Trump says Turkey and Kurds needed to fight 'like two kids'

Turkish president replies to Trump's tweet

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Mideast

224 SDF Soldiers, 183 Turkish-Backed Rebels Killed In Syria Clashes - Monitor

Is Turkey Able To Handle An Influx Of Islamic State Prisoners?

US-brokered ceasefire with Turkey is ‘vague,’ says Assad advisor

US, Turkey agree Ankara to primarily control Syria ‘safe zone’

Pence announces ceasefire deal with Erdogan to end Turkey’s Syria offensive

EU should toughen sanctions against Turkey, says parliament head Sassoli

US detention of Iranian scientist ‘very disturbing’

Iran president urges global consultations on Palestine, Yemen

UNRWA announces new relief projects for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

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Arab World

Turkey Agrees to Pause Military Operations in Northern Syria

Saudi Arabia, Palestine agree to set up joint business council

Assad Says Syria Will Respond to Turkish Aggression as Two-Hour Pence-Erdogan Meeting Ended with Results

Turkish Forces Likely Use Chemical Weapons in Northern Syria

Damascus says Syrians ‘unified’ against Turkish assault

Millions of Arba'een pilgrims from around the world gather in Karbala

Iraq prudent over taking foreign Daesh terrorists

Amnesty accuses Turkey of ‘war crimes’ in Syria

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Southeast Asia

‘You’ll Answer in Afterlife’, Heartbroken Mum Tells Prosecutor, Investigators after Tahfiz Sexual Abuse Case Dismissed

Better Luck Next Time For Nobel Hopefuls Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama

Malaysia’s police chief: Daesh fighters ‘must be allowed to come back’

First Singaporean jailed for financing terrorism

Ex-IT engineer first Singaporean to be convicted of terrorism financing, jailed 30 months

Maldives Investigates Activist Group for ‘Slandering Islam’

Malaysian Islamic party demands Oktoberfest events be shut down

Indonesia arrests 40 militant suspects ahead of inauguration

Official presidential portraits of Jokowi, Ma’ruf released

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India

Kartarpur Corridor: India Urges Pakistan Not To Levy $20 Service Fee

Plaint Filed Against Counsel Of Muslim Parties In Babri Masjid -Ram Mandir Dispute

Police identify Hizb militants behind civilian killing in J&K

Sunni Waqf board counsel favours settlement of Ayodhya dispute

BJP minister proposes to rename Hajj House named after Ali Miyan

At A Time When Faith in Human Goodness Is Quickly Eroding Honesty of Two Muslim Teenagers Spreads Diwali Cheer in Jodhpur

Bangladesh Home Minister Seeks Detailed Report after Border Guards Shoot Dead BSF Jawan

Deadly day in Kashmir as three militants killed, migrant worker shot dead

Apple traders moved to Jammu & Kashmir 'safe houses'

Pakistan scrambled F-16s after SpiceJet flight confusion

Pak-sponsored terrorists behind civilian killings identified: J&K DGP

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Pakistan

Fazl Spurns Govt’s Dialogue Offer, Renews Demand for PM’s Exit

Imran Khan launches Rs 100-billion programme for Pakistani youths

Plane with Prince William, Kate aborts Pakistan landing twice, couple 'fine'

Any attempt by India to divert water flow would be considered 'act of aggression': Pakistan

Sir Syed Paid Tribute Over His Services For Muslims Of Subcontinent

Speculation swirls as Shahbaz in no hurry to meet Nawaz

‘Institution’, judge accused of pressurising Arshad to convict Nawaz

PHC declares internment centres in KP unconstitutional

Petition filed in SC against KP special powers ordinance

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/niger-s-president-blames--misreading-of-islam--for-his-country-having-the-highest-birth-rate-in-the-world-at-more-than-seven-children-per-mother/d/120028

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Niger's President Blames 'Misreading Of Islam' For His Country Having The Highest Birth Rate In The World At More Than Seven Children Per Mother

17 October 2019

Niger's president says a misreading of Islam is to blame for his country's explosive birth rate.

Mahamadou Issoufou, who counts Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel among his supporters, has been trying to drive down his country's birth rate of more than seven children per woman.

He has advocated family planning and contraception in the 98 per cent Muslim country but says a simple misreading is the cause of the population problems.

He told The Guardian: 'Before Islam came, women used to be married at the age of 18 but, due to a misreading of Islam, young women were having babies at the age of 12 or 13. But what does the Qur'an say?

'If an educated person reads the Qur'an, it talks about responsible parenthood. Islam says you should only have children if you can take good care of them and properly educate them.

'Schools need to educate young girls because we do not want them having children at 12 or 13. Ideally, we want to keep them in school as long as possible, until age 18. This is something new to us.'

Issoufou has faced resistance from some religious leaders for his views on contraception but he fears the huge population growth combined with climate change could represent a real geopolitical problem.

He warned that migration may even exceed the levels seen in World War II.

Issoufou has overseen a slight decline in the birth rate to six children per woman.

In 1990, Niger's population stood at 8million but by 2018 it had soared to 22.4million.

Issoufou warned the population of Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, will double in 17 years and by 2050 it will have the second biggest population in Africa behind Nigeria.

This population growth will be mirrored across Africa, creating a huge wave of migration into Europe, exacerbated by the changing climate which will cause droughts and flooding, he warns.

He says Africa will suffer first and blames the wealthy across the world for causing his continent suffering.

The president says when people understand the cause of climate change, it could lead to 'anger and social turmoil'.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7584359/Nigers-president-blames-misreading-Islam-country-having-worlds-highest-birth-rate.html

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Turkey joining EU ‘antidote’ to Islamophobia: Diplomat

Ali Murat Alhas  

17.10.2019

With the disease of Islamophobia on the rise in many European countries, the antidote might be Turkey joining the European Union, said a Turkish official.

Speaking at an Islamophobia panel held by Ankara-based think tank SETA, Faruk Kaymakci, Turkey’s deputy foreign minister and director for EU affairs, said the rise of the far-right and Islamophobia are the main challenges to the European Union today.

Citing SETA's European Islamophobia Report 2018 report, he said, “As the report suggests, there is a growing number of violations against Muslims."

“Islamophobia is a direct threat to our human rights and social cohesion in any country, so we have to act together,” he said, adding that civilian society, as well as governments, should take more responsibility.

According to Kaymakci, Turkey joining the EU would be the “antidote” to cure rising radicalism, and this would improve the integration of Muslims in the EU. “From this point of view, we have a visionary perspective.”

He added: “With Turkey’s membership, the EU can change its image… EU institutions can reach the Muslim world; otherwise the EU will be seen as an imperialist Christian club.”

He also argued that the emergence of the Daesh terror group was a significant blow to the reputation of Islam as Daesh’s attacks distorted many people’s views of the Muslim faith.

Islamophobia in Europe

Sponsored by the European Union, the report argued that growing Islamophobia damages multiculturalism and leads to security and stability woes in European countries.

The report examined 34 countries, including EU heavyweights such as Germany and France, shedding light on violent acts, offensive remarks of politicians, and the media attitude towards Muslims.

Violent acts result from the dehumanizing ideology of racism, and Muslims are increasingly becoming victims due solely to their faith, said the report.

Around 70 Islamophobic incidents were seen in Belgium, and 76% of the victims were female, it noted.

In Austria, 540 Islamophobic incidents were recorded in 2018, up from 309 in 2017 -- a rise of some 74%.

In France, 676 Islamophobic incidents were documented in 2018 versus 446 in 2017, up 52%. Among these 676 incidents, 20 involved physical attacks (3%), 568 discrimination (84%), and 88 hate speech (13%).

In Germany, there were 678 attacks on German Muslims, including 40 attacks on mosques.

Some 1,775 attacks were on refugees, 173 on asylum homes, and 95 on aid workers in Germany, according to the report.

In the Netherlands, 91% of a total of 151 incidents of religious discrimination reported to the police targeted Muslims.

Religiously motivated crimes in England and Wales shot up 415% from 2011 to 2018, the report said.

SETA is a non-profit research institute dedicated to innovative studies of national, regional, and international issues.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-joining-eu-antidote-to-islamophobia-diplomat/1617454

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UAE-backed project bringing light to lives of Rohingya refugees

Haneen Dajani

Oct 18, 2019

Rohingya refugees have known only darkness for years, but finally many have a chance to step into the light thanks to a UAE-backed initiative.

In August 2017, hundreds of thousands of the Muslim-minority group were forced to flee their homes in Myanmar amid a brutal campaign of violence branded as ethnic cleansing and possible genocide by the United Nations.

A military-led crackdown in the predominantly Buddhist country resulted in villages being razed and a death toll that ran into the thousands.

Roughly one million displaced families are thought to have sought sanctuary in Bangladesh, with large numbers settling in camps in Cox's Bazar, in the south of the country.

While they escaped bloodshed and widespread persecution, danger still lurked in the shadows.

Due to a lack of street lights at the camp, many women found themselves prone to abuse and attacks when stepping outside their tents in the dark.

However, since March, those at camp started to see light emerge from the dark.

Dozens of solar street lamps were installed by Sunna Design, a French company which was among the winners at last year's Zayed Sustainability Prize, an international award to inspire renewable energy projects in the name of the nation’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed.

“There was pitch dark, no light in the street at all,” said Thomas Samuel, founder and president of Sunna Design.

“The darkness was mostly affecting security at the camp. It was very hard for people to go out at night especially women. They had accidents when they went out.

“In Bangladesh the sun sets at roughly 6pm, and it is something that we have forgotten to be concerned about living in developed countries. But where there is no street lighting, the feeling of security is gone.”

Sunna Design collaborated with non-governmental organisation Electricians Without Borders to launch the project, Light for the Rohingyas.

A total of 75 lampposts were used to light the streets surrounding 1,500 accommodations inhabited by 8,000 people.

“Our strategy was to finance the pilot to demonstrate the impact and benefits for people in strategic places, and we are hoping that other parties will step in and continue [the project].”

A dozen Rohingya refugees, along with another 12 Bangladeshi locals living near the camp, were trained to install the lampposts and maintain and repair them to ensure long term benefits.

“When they install the lamps themselves, they know where to put them and will be able to take care of them,” said Mr Samuel.

Providing this technical training for the refugees also provides them with a potential source of income.

Mr Samuel said they avoided hiring a foreign or local company to do it, because they could pay the refugees instead to do it. And with their new acquired skills they would hopefully secure jobs in such fields in the future.

Similar projects conducted at other refugee camps over the past two years applied the same model.

Sunna Design has also contributed to similar projects in refugee camps around the world, including Cameroon, Kenya, Rwanda, Jordan and Senegal.

Before winning the prize, Sunna Design provided the solar street lights as a service.

“We were paid by the client, but after winning the prize we have the means to donate the lights.”

They donated eight of the 75 lampposts that were provided to Light for the Rohingyas.

Electricians Without Borders have also been nominated for the latest edition of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, the results of which will be announced in January.

https://www.thenational.ae/uae/environment/uae-backed-project-bringing-light-to-lives-of-rohingya-refugees-1.925113

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Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Promoting Islam in Public School

Clarion Project

October 17, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of a Christian high school student in Maryland who, despite threats of receiving a failing grade, refused to deny her faith by making a written profession of the Muslim conversion prayer known as the shahada.

The shahada states, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."

Caleigh Wood, an eleventh-grader in La Plata High School, a public school in La Plata, Maryland, was represented in the case by the Thomas Moore Law Center, nonprofit public interest law firm know for defending First Amendment rights – particularly those that violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

As part of the school's "World History" curriculum, the La Plata High School high school students were taught extensively about Islam and required to list the benefits of the religion.

Wood and other students were forced to view a series of pro-Islamic PowerPoint slides, including one that stated, "Most Muslims' faith is stronger than the average Christian."

The curriculum also taught:

"Islam at heart is a peaceful religion."

Jihad is a "personal struggle in devotion to Islam, especially involving spiritual discipline."

"To Muslims, Allah is the same God that is worshiped in Christianity and Judaism."

"Men are the managers of the affairs of women."

"Righteous women are therefore obedient."

The case was previously heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the course did not violate the Establishment Clause.

The ruling came despite the fact that the high school's content specialist, Jack Tuttle, testified that use of such comparative statement was inappropriate, and that he would have advised the teacher not to use it.

Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the law center, commented on the fact that the Supreme Court refused to hear the case:

"I'm not aware of any public school which has forced a Muslim student to write the Lord's Prayer or John 3:16 [which states]: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.'"

"Yet, under the pretext of teaching history or social studies, public schools across America are promoting the religion of Islam in ways that would never be tolerated for Christianity or any other religion.

"It's disappointing that the Supreme Court did not take this opportunity to clarify the test which lower courts should use when ruling on establishment clause and free speech challenges to public school classes on religion."

The legal question in front of the Supreme Court at stake was whether La Plata High School violated the First Amendment's Establishment and free speech clauses when it gave Wood an assignment she was unable to complete without violating her religious conscience as a Christian.

Wood believes it is a sin to profess the existence of any other god but the Christian one. School officials refused her father's request that she be allowed to opt-out or be given an alternative assignment.

When Wood refused to complete the assignment to write the shahada, she received a failing grade.

"Many public schools have become hot beds of Islamic propaganda. Teaching Islam in schools has gone far beyond a basic history lesson," Moore commented.

"Prompted by zealous Islamic activism and emboldened by confusing court decisions, schools are now bending over backwards to promote Islam while at the same time denigrating Christianity.

"Although the Supreme Court passed up an opportunity to provide clearer constitutional guidance on this important issue, there will be other chances as this issue isn't going away anytime soon," he added.

https://www.meforum.org/campus-watch/59603/supreme-court-declines-to-hear-case-promoting

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224 SDF soldiers, 183 Turkish-backed rebels killed in Syria clashes - monitor

17 October 2019

A Turkish offensive into northeast Syria has led to the death of 224 from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and 183 Turkish-backed rebels after the first eight days of fighting, the Syrian Observatory reported on Thursday.

The toll includes 72 civilian deaths, the Observatory added, which comes after a deal between Damascus and the SDF to allow government forces to deploy across the Syria-Turkey border to help fend off the Turkish assault.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/17/224-SDF-soldiers-183-Turkish-backed-rebels-killed-in-Syria-clashes-monitor-.html

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Is Turkey able to handle an influx of Islamic State prisoners?

Fehim Tastekin

October 16, 2019

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might have agreed to take the responsibility of Islamic State (IS) prisoners held in camps in northeastern Syria to get a blessing for Operation Peace Spring, but Ankara soon realized the trouble it got itself into as experts warned that the incursion could lead IS fighters to escape prison camps and reorganize.

There are already unconfirmed reports that the operation allowed some IS supporters to escape camps under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during Turkish bombardments against the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the region.

The American decision to leave the responsibility for IS prisoners to Turkey on Oct. 6 initially caused a shock in Turkish public opinion. Some Turkish social media users even came up with analogies for the Korean War in the 1950s, where Turkish troops fought alongside Americans in exchange for little pay, reminding readers that American officials then regarded Turkish troops as “cheap soldiers.”

“The United States will not hold them for what could be many years and great cost to the United States taxpayer. Turkey will now be responsible for all ISIS fighters,” the White House statement said soon after President Donald Trump announced the US troop withdrawal from Syria, paving the way for Turkey’s Oct. 9 operation against the predominantly Kurdish YPG. ISIS is another abbreviation for the Islamic State.

The YPG — the backbone of the SDF — is an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Turkey and many other Western powers, including the United States.

Financial costs aside, the other risks Turkey is willing to undertake somehow seem ignorable for Erdogan, who is fully committed to the operation. Yet there are many questions regarding Erdogan’s commitment.

First, why did Turkey agree to take the custody of IS fighters at a time when European countries are refusing to repatriate their own citizens? What agenda is Turkey is pursuing by volunteering for the job?

Second, how much territory is Turkey seeking to secure through Operation Peace Spring? Most of the IS detainee camps or prisons are located outside of the scope of Turkey’s self-proclaimed objective to set up a safe zone reaching only 32 kilometers (20 miles) deep inside Syria. Most of the IS fighters and supporters are being held outside of this scope.

The estimated number of male IS detainees in Syria is 12,000. Some 10,000 of them are either from Syria or Iraq; the rest are from other countries around the world. Most of these fighters are being held in prisons in the northeastern province of Hasakah, 55 miles (88 kilometers) south of Ras al-Ayn and 50 miles (80 kilometers) away from Kobani. The largest camp where families of IS fighters are being held is al-Hol. This camp is even farther away, more than 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Ras al-Ayn and 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Qamishli.

Although Erdogan said the safe zone Turkey plans to set up inside Syria could be expanded to Deir ez-Zor and Raqqa later on, this scenario seems highly unlikely, at least for the moment.

Indeed, Ankara apparently has come to its senses after realizing the magnitude of the Erdogan’s initial commitment to transfer all IS prisoners in Syria.

“I will go only 30 kilometers down from the border. I cannot take responsibility for (IS fighters) who are being held 65 kilometers [40 miles] away from the border. They are under the responsibility of those who are controlling that area,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, referring to the SDF, which controls Raqqa and large parts of Hasakah.

If Ankara is planning to bring the detainees to Turkey, another burden is the large number of people staying at the camps. The SDF is holding some 73,000 detainees from 55 different countries at al-Hol camp; 62,000 of those are from Syria or Iraq. The rest of the detainees are staying at a separate camp adjacent to the main compound. Nearly 94% of the total population are women and children. Another camp that families of IS fighters are being held is located in Ain Issa, 31 miles (50 miles) from Tell Abyad. The camp is located south of the strategic M4 highway that Turkey has said will be the southern border of the operation.

The detention centers that remain within the scope of the safe zone along 480 kilometers (300 miles) of the Turkish-Syrian border and 30 kilometers inside Syria are Roj camp and Rimelan prison. Roj is located along the Turkish-Syrian border and hosts some 1,700 people; most are families of IS fighters. All of the inmates at the Rimelan prison are IS fighters.

If Turkey only seeks to reach 30 kilometers deep inside Syrian territory, then why did Erdogan agree to assume the responsibility for IS prisoners who are being held in camps outside of the scope of its operation? Nobody knows the answer.

The only thing that is clear is that Turkey believes that the IS prisoners have turned into a point of leverage in the hands of the Kurdish groups and Ankara is trying to put an end to that.

“YPG terrorists are holding (IS fighters) as a weapon in their hands,” Cavusoglu said.

Erdogan didn’t hesitate to say that IS fighters can be brought to Turkey to be put in prisons or rehabilitation programs. But there are no preliminary preparations for that.

Erdogan has said that Turkey has detained 17,000 people on suspicion of connections with the IS, with 5,500 of them still behind bars, and that 7,600 IS suspects were deported from Turkey.

In an attempt to reassure the international community about Turkey's ability to handle IS prisoners in Syria, Erdogan summarized his plan by saying that the ones who should be kept in prisons will be kept behind bars, the ones who are accepted by their countries will be extradited, and that the rest — women and children — will be reintegrated into society through rehabilitation and reintegration programs.

This plan means Erdogan, who has repeatedly complained about the Syrian refugee population in Turkey and has even threatened to flood Europe with refugees, is willingly take the responsibility for a problematic and criminal group of some 88,000 IS prisoners.

There are many reasons why this commitment has been greeted by suspicion. First, despite the figures mentioned above, Turkey has developed a bad reputation for showing tolerance to IS members.

Indeed, Al-Monitor’s firsthand observations in camps around Syria found that many IS fighters and their family members hoped to go to Turkey, thinking they would be more comfortable there or be able to flee from there. There is a widespread fear that Turkish authorities would free these people in a short time, allowing them to slip away among society.

During the crisis in Syria and Iraq, IS fighters developed skills to reside, hide and receive help in Turkey. If Turkey takes in these prisoners, they will likely reconnect with their networks. Another question is where the government would put these people at a time when the country’s prisons are already overcrowded due to crackdowns on dissent.

Furthermore, how can Turkey handle a large group of “criminals” or “potential criminals” while it still hasn’t developed a comprehensive rehabilitation program for the Syrian refugees in Turkey who need mental support?

Some European countries, particularly Austria and Germany, have been working to develop rehabilitation and integration programs to fight against radicalization on different levels. Yet Turkey has failed to address this matter despite the magnitude of the problem it faces.

In a country where Islamism is on the rise on so many levels, religious education institutions and the government’s main official religious body, Diyanet, do not have a comprehensive strategy for countering IS’ jihadi-Salafi ideology, a dogmatist and devoted structure that constantly cites verses of the Quran and quotes from the Prophet Muhammad.

Besides, the content of the religious education curriculum, some religious sermons recited in mosques and even some television programs help Salafists strengthen their arguments.

Moreover, it remains unclear how Ankara can persuade European capitals to repatriate their citizens. If Turkey considers using IS prisoners as leverage against the West, there is a great risk that Ankara’s relationship with dozens of European capitals will be further strained.

So far only a handful of countries have shown interest in repatriation. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kosovo quietly took back their citizens who had joined IS. Russia also repatriated some of its citizens, but Chechens afraid of returning were not sent back.

In Western Europe, Belgium, Norway, Holland and France only repatriated children — six, five, two and 18, respectively. While Germany took 10 children from Iraq, France left its 11 citizens in Iraq to be tried. Italy accepted one of its citizens back and put him behind bars. Britain and Denmark stripped citizenship from those who joined IS. Outside Europe, Australia repatriated eight children, and the United States took back 18 of its citizens.

Fehim Tastekin is a Turkish journalist and a columnist for Turkey Pulse who previously wrote for Radikal and Hurriyet. He has also been the host of the weekly program "SINIRSIZ," on IMC TV. As an analyst, Tastekin specializes in Turkish foreign policy and Caucasus, Middle East and EU affairs. He is the author of “Suriye: Yikil Git, Diren Kal,” “Rojava: Kurtlerin Zamani” and “Karanlık Coktugunde - ISID.” Tastekin is founding editor of the Agency Caucasus. On Twitter: @fehimtastekin

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/10/turkey-syria-united-state-can-ankara-handle-isis-fighters.html

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Turkey Agrees to Pause Military Operations in Northern Syria

Oct. 17, 2019

Turkey agreed to suspend military operations in northern Syria for five days in return for a U.S. pledge to facilitate a pullout by Syrian Kurdish fighters, a deal President Trump hailed as “an amazing outcome,” but that some critics said mainly fulfilled Turkish goals.

Vice President Mike Pence reached the deal after five hours of talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday aimed at stopping a nine-day Turkish military incursion into Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria. The U.S. and Kurds have been allies...

https://www.wsj.com/articles/pence-leads-u-s-efforts-to-halt-turkey-offensive-in-syria-11571308486?mod=hp_lead_pos3

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‘You’ll answer in afterlife’, heartbroken mum tells prosecutor, investigators after tahfiz sexual abuse case dismissed

17 Oct 2019

BY ZURAIRI AR

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — The mother of a boy that was allegedly sexually abused in a tahfiz school, but whose case was dismissed by prosecutors despite a court recognising an offence was committed, wrote her “final words” on the matter today.

She thanked the magistrate who gave her family a favourable outcome and the lawyers who represented them, but had some harsh words against prosecutors who decided against going ahead with the case linked to celebrity preacher Datuk Kazim Elias.

“To the prosecutor, ‘thank you’ for choosing to not prosecute those who committed crimes against my child,” the mother wrote in a lengthy Facebook post.

“I’m confident, you will also be prosecuted one day, at the Court of God in the afterlife. Be ready, since you are a Muslim too.”

She also accused the investigators of “showing their true colours” by allegedly skipping the psychiatric and paediatric experts’ reports in the investigation papers.

On Monday, the Magistrate’s Court in Ipoh decided to dismiss the case of alleged sexual abuse against a minor at a tahfiz school in Manjoi, Ipoh, merely two months after recognising that an offence did take place.

Magistrate Mohammad Afifi Mohammad Deen made the decision after the court was provided with a letter from the Perak State Legal Adviser’s Office detailing a directive by Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas written under Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution.

The family’s lawyer, Asiah Abd Jalil, who was present with co-counsel Raja Norhajjah Ahmad, said that the provision empowers the AG with the discretion to discontinue any proceeding for an offence.

The mother said today the case would set an ugly precedence, where any minor who become a victim of bullying, assault, sodomy or rape by those connected to the elites, will not receive justice despite overwhelming evidence.

She insisted that in this case, the police did not even follow standard operating procedures such as getting the victim to identify the suspect, video recording a minor’s statement, and getting the victim to identify the place where the offence took place.

In addition, she also pointed out that there has been a speculation that the investigation paper was completely empty.

“If this is true, what can we hope from our police, from our judiciary? This only proves that the law only skews towards the rich, influential, and famous, not for commoners like us,” she said.

On August 7, the court acknowledged that an offence did take place in the case following the complaint made by the victim’s mother on the same day, under Section 377E and Section 14(a) of the more recent Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 — that handles physical sexual assault on a child.

The court then instructed the Deputy Public Prosecutor to attend Monday's proceeding to explain why the investigation paper was closed previously with no suspects identified, despite the victim being able to recognise the suspects.

The alleged offence took place three years ago in Maahad Tahfiz al Barakah, a tahfiz school teaching Quran memorisation, then owned by Kazim.

In August 2016, the mother had lodged two police reports alleging that her son, then nine years old, was consistently sexually abused together with other students by their seniors in the tahfiz school.

In December that year, the police had informed the mother that there would be no further action over the case.

Despite providing additional documents and evidence to support her claim, the victim’s mother was again told in May 2018 that no further action would be taken, citing lack of witnesses and concrete evidence to support the allegation.

Meanwhile, the victim, who is now 13, is still undergoing psychiatric therapy to overcome his trauma at the Hospital Bahagia in Tanjung Rambutan. His treatment is only scheduled to conclude in 2021.

Kazim no longer owns the tahfiz school, claiming that a falling number of speaking appointments had made it difficult for him to manage the centre.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/10/17/youll-answer-in-afterlife-heartbroken-mum-tells-prosecutor-investigators-af/1801304

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Africa

 

Millions of Sufi devotees converge in Senegal's Touba

17.10.2019

Millions of devotees gathered on Thursday in Senegal's Touba city to commemorate the exile of a revered Sufi saint to Gabon.

Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba, founder of the Mouride Brotherhood, was exiled by French colonialists 125 years ago.

“#Senegal at least 5million people from around world are in Touba city, seat of Murid brotherhood for Magal ie annual pilgrimage marking 125th anniv. of day when French colons sent leader Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba into exile to #Gabon. #Sufism Magalu jaam. Bon magal à tous #kebetu,” Senegali activist Aisha Dabo tweeted on Thursday.

Bamba was exiled to Gabon and Mauritania because he resisted the French colonial and missionary activities in Senegal.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/africa/millions-of-sufi-devotees-converge-in-senegals-touba/1617332

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Is al-Shabab looking to Ethiopia?

16.10.2019

Martina Schwikowski

The al-Shabab militant group has sown fear and terror in Eastern Africa for more than a decade. The terrorist group is fighting to oust the Somali government and establish a society based on a rigid interpretation of Islamic Shariah law. Its original leadership was affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Although based in Somalia, al-Shabab frequently launches terror attacks in other African countries, most notably in neighboring Kenya. It has struck there more than 20 times in the past five years, killing at least 300 people.

In January 2019, 21 people died when al-Shabab gunmen attacked a hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Most recently, Kenyan police shot and killed three alleged al-Shabab members and arrested seven. The men were suspected of planning attacks in the coastal city of Mombasa earlier in October.

Al-Shabab says its strikes on Kenya are in retaliation for its troops crossing into Somalia: Kenya first sent soldiers into Somalia in 2011 to target al-Shabab fighters and in 2012 it officially joined the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia, known as AMISON.

Ethiopia so far evaded large-scale al-Shabab attacks

Similarly to Kenya, al-Shabab also has an antagonistic relationship with neighboring Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, backed by the United States, invaded Somalia in December 2006, capturing the capital Mogadishu and helping the Somali interim government drive out the loose-knit Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled the capital and much of southern Somalia. Ethiopia also decided in 2013 to send troops to Somalia to join AMISON. In retaliation for this move, al-Shabab renewed its call for 'jihad' against Ethiopia

Despite this, Ethiopia has been targeted far less than Kenya and has so far managed to evade large-scale attacks.

Six years ago, Ethiopia was spared bloodshed when two Somali suicide bombers accidentally blew themselves up in central Addis Ababa. Security officials assume they were preparing to kill football fans during Ethiopia's World Cup qualifying match against Nigeria that was to take place later that day. Back then, the country's vulnerability to extremists' attacks even became the subject of a written question in the European Parliament.

Ethiopia arrests militants

In September this year, however, Ethiopian security officials announced the arrest of a number of alleged al-Shabab suspects. The suspects aimed to attack "hotels, religious festivities, gathering places and public areas" in the capital Addis Ababa, Ormomia and Ethiopia's Somali region, according to a statement by the country's National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) read out on state television.

NISS did not specify how many people it detained, but the state broadcaster reported that it was 12. The suspects were said to have entered Ethiopia through Djibouti and Somalia, as well as the breakaway state of Somaliland.

Berhanu Jula, deputy chief of Ethiopia’s military, told the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency that there is evidence al-Shabab "has recruited, trained and armed some Ethiopians."

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had also recently warned about attempts by the Somalia-based al-Shabab extremists to make inroads into Ethiopia, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Is Al-Shabab taking advantage of political changes?

Al-Shabab could be benefiting from increasing ethnic violence and the fraught political transition sweeping the country since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed ushered in a series of reforms when he came to power in April 2018.

"There were highly significant political changes in Ethiopia that led to wholesale changes in the federal government leadership and the leadership of the security apparatus as well," said William Davison, Senior Analyst for Ethiopia at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. 

"The security posts have been re-staffed and it takes time for such a system to be rebuilt."

It could be that al-Shabab perceives the security apparatus as weak as a result, and is seeking to take advantage of this, Davison said.

As such, the arrests and the televised statement about them could be read as the Ethiopian government putting its ability to fight terrorism on display.

However, there is still no clear indication of the identity of the detainees or the circumstances, Davison said.

Under the previous regime, international observers were concerned with how the government used the fight on terror to crack down on dissent, Davison pointed out.

Full report at:

https://www.dw.com/en/is-al-shabab-looking-to-ethiopia/a-50854924

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Fears, Warnings on ISIS Comeback in Libya

17 October, 2019

Libyans in the country’s south and west have expressed fears that ISIS militants would make a major comeback after scores of fighters were seen in several areas.

Spokesman of Sirte’s protection unit Salim al-Amil said an ISIS militant, who had left town after its liberation from ISIS in 2016, was recently arrested in an ambush after security forces received a tip that he had returned to Sirte.

Amil told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS members are present in big numbers in mountainous areas in southern Libya after they reorganized by taking advantage of a lax security.

“There are dozens of small groups. Their impact would be disastrous if they were able to form large groupings,” he said.

US Africa Command has conducted several airstrikes in the past month on ISIS militants in the south, leaving several of their commanders dead.

Ayas Abdul Moncef who hails from the southern town of Murzuq told Asharq Al-Awsat that residents have monitored armed men in cars firing in the air to terrorize them.

Many militants have threatened the residents to kidnap and kill them, he said.

The local fears on the comeback of ISIS in Libya have been coupled by warnings from officials from abroad like Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has stated that Libya could turn into the main bastion for terrorists in North Africa.

Lavrov told Russia’s Interfax this week that the ongoing fighting in northeastern Syria after Turkey launched its offensive against Kurdish forces there allowed ISIS militants to infiltrate different countries around the world.

A Libyan security official in the east, who refused to be identified, agreed with Lavrov, saying the Libyan National Army leadership is aware of attempts by ISIS extremists to reinvente themselves.

But the official stressed that militants have been crushed in eastern Libya.

Full report at:

https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1949651/fears-warnings-isis-comeback-libya

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Nigeria: Boko Haram Substantially Defeated, Buhari Insists

17 OCTOBER 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said efforts of officers and men of the Armed Forces had led to the return of normalcy in affected parts of the nation.

Buhari reiterated that the Boko Haram terrorists had been "substantially defeated and degraded to the extent that they were only daring soft targets."

Speaking at the State House, Abuja, during the formal launch of the 2020 Armed Forces Remembrance Day Celebration Emblem and Appeal Fund, he said the nation was appreciative of the gallantry and sacrifices of officers and men of the Armed Forces in the campaign against insurgency and other internal security operations.

The president said all hands must be on deck to check the attacks on soft targets, mostly innocent Nigerians. He said his government would continue to provide necessary logistical support to ensure that the Armed Forces operate with the best modern warfare equipment, while at the same time "adequately" addressing the issues of their welfare.

He said peace and security of Nigeria is not negotiable, asking the security agencies to continue to do their work diligently.

Buhari also said his government would remain steadfast in developing alliances with neighbours and friends in the international community for the total defeat of the insurgents.

He urged service leaders to take urgent steps to settle the entitlements and the welfare packages designed for the dependants of those who lost their lives to the war against insurgency and other internal security operations.

Full report at:

https://allafrica.com/stories/201910170113.html

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Enduring miseries drive exodus of Tunisian youth

October 18, 2019

SFAX/TUNISIA: It only took 10 minutes for Fakher Hmidi to slip out of his house, past the cafes where unemployed men spend their days, and reach the creek through the mud flats where a small boat would ferry him to the migrant ship heading from Tunisia to Italy.

He left late at night, and the first his parents knew of it was the panicked, crying phone call from an Italian mobile number: “The boat is sinking. We’re in danger. Ask mum to forgive me.”

Hmidi, 18, was one of several people from his Thina district of the eastern city of Sfax among the dozens still unaccounted for in this month’s capsizing off the Italian island of Lampedusa, as ever more Tunisians join the migrant trail to Europe.

His loss, and the continued desire among many young men in Thina to make the same dangerous journey, vividly demonstrate the economic frustration that also drove voters to reject Tunisia’s political elite in recent elections.

In a parliamentary vote on Oct. 6, the day before Hmidi’s boat sank just short of the Italian coast, no party won even a quarter of seats and many independents were elected instead. On Sunday, the political outsider Kais Saied was elected president.

In the Hmidis’ modest home, whose purchase was subsidized by the government and on which the family is struggling to meet the repayment schedule, his parents sit torn with grief.

“Young people here are so frustrated. There are no jobs. They have nothing to do but sit in cafes and drink coffee or buy drugs,” said Fakher’s father, Mokhtar, 55.

Mokhtar lost his job as a driver two years ago and has not been able to find work since. Fakher’s mother, Zakia, sells brik, a fried Tunisian egg snack, to bring in a little extra money. His two elder sisters, Sondes, 29, and Nahed, 24, work in a clothes shop.

Much of the little they had went to Fakher, the family said, because they knew he was tempted by the idea of going to Europe. At night the family would sit on their roof and see the smuggler boats setting off. The seashore was “like a bus station,” they said.

Decline

At a cafe near the Hmidis’ home, a few dozen mostly young men sat at tables, drinking strong coffee and smoking cigarettes.

Mongi Krim, 27, said he would take the next boat to Europe if he could find enough money to pay for the trip even though, he said, he has lost friends at sea.

A survey by the Arab Barometer, a research network, said a third of all Tunisians, and more than half of young people, were considering emigrating, up by 50 percent since the 2011 revolution.

The aid agency Mercy Corps said last year that a new surge of migration from Tunisia began in 2017, a time when the economy was dipping.

Krim is unemployed but occasionally finds a day or week of work as a casual laborer. He points at the potholes on the road and says even town infrastructure has declined.

For this and the lack of jobs, he blames the government. He did not vote in either the parliamentary or the presidential election. “Why would I? It is all the same. There is no change,” he said.

Unemployment is higher among young people than anyone else in Tunisia. In the first round of the presidential election on Sept. 15, and in the parliamentary election, in which voter turnout was low, they also abstained by the highest margin.

When an apparently anti-establishment candidate, Kais Saied, went through to the second round of the presidential election on Sunday, young people backed him overwhelmingly.

But their support for a candidate touting a clear break from normal post-revolutionary politics only underscored their frustration at the direction Tunisia took under past leaders.

At the table next to Krim, Haddaj Fethi, 32, showed the inky finger that proved he had voted on Sunday. “I cannot imagine a young man who would not have voted for Saied,” he said.

On the bare patch of mud by the creek where Fakher Hmidi took the boat, some boys were playing. For them, the migration to Europe is — as it was for Hmidi — a constant background possibility in a country that offers them few other paths.

At the time of Tunisia’s 2011 revolution, they had great hope, Mohkhtar Hmidi said. But economically, things got worse. Fakher found little hope in politics, he said.

Despite the apparent surge of young support for Saied as president, he has been careful to make no promises about what Tunisia’s future holds, only to pledge his personal probity and insist that he will rigidly uphold the law.

The economy is in any case not the president’s responsibility, but that of a government formed by parties in the Parliament, whose fractured nature will make coalition building particularly difficult this year.

Any government that does emerge will face the same dilemmas as its predecessors — tackling high unemployment, high inflation, a lower dinar and the competing demands of powerful unions and foreign lenders.

An improvement would come too late for the Hmidi family, still waiting nearly two weeks later for confirmation that their only son has drowned.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1570436/middle-east

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Europe

 

Turkey concerned over raid on Ataturk House in Greece

Büşra Nur Bilgiç  

17.10.2019

Turkey has expressed concern over an attempted attack on the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, in Greece by a group of terrorist YPG/PKK supporters.

In a statement on Thursday, Hami Aksoy, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said Turkey expects Greek authorities to prevent similar attempts and “ensure that the perpetrators face justice and receive the punishment they deserve.”

According to the statement, “On Thursday Greek anarchist groups, that are known to carry out terrorist activities within the PKK/PYD/ YPG terrorist organization, have attempted an act against the Ataturk House at the compound of the Consulate General of Turkey in Thessaloniki.”

Turkey also urged Greece to take necessary measures to protect its missions and their staff in the neighboring country.

The perpetrators of the attack were taken into custody by the Greek police, the statement noted.

The house museum and the Turkish consulate share the same grounds.

Attackers were assumed to have entered the compound disguised as visitors and carried banners reading "Solidarity with the rebel Rojava.”

The group, protesting Turkey's anti-terror operation in northern Syria, also chanted slogans against Turkey.

According to Greek news agency ANA-MPA, police detained 12 people that staged the attack.

"The competent Greek authorities, which were mobilized from the first instant, have already detained suspects and are taking necessary steps to investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice,” ANA-MPA reported citing the Greek Foreign Ministry.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-concerned-over-raid-on-ataturk-house-in-greece/1617373

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Merkel worried over Russia’s influence in Syria

Ayhan Simsek 

17.10.2019

BERLIN

Germany’s chancellor on Thursday voiced concern over the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from Syria, arguing that it would further increase the influence of Russia and Iran in the region.

Addressing lawmakers at the Bundestag before heading to Brussels for a summit of EU leaders, Angela Merkel criticized Turkey’s ongoing anti-terror operation in northern Syria, expressed concerns over the recent U.S.-Turkey tensions and President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from the region.

“Talking about the geopolitical repercussions, we have to figure out that Russia has significantly increased its influence in the region, together with Iran, after the withdrawal of American soldiers,” she said.

“And the consequences of this new situation is not yet foreseeable,” Merkel added.

The German chancellor repeated her criticism of Turkey’s ongoing anti-terror operation against the YPG/PKK group in northern Syria, arguing that this might lead to a humanitarian crisis and further instability in the region.

She was silent about the YPG/PKK’s terrorist attacks that claimed many lives in Turkey, the group’s persecution of political opponents and religious minorities in Syria.

Germany’s domestic intelligence BfV described the terrorist PKK group and its Syrian affiliates -- YPG and PYD -- as “sister organizations”, in recent reports published by the agency on the website.

Turkish politicians have repeatedly criticized Berlin for tolerating activities of the PKK, although the terrorist group has been banned in Germany since 1993.

Ankara on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring east of the Euphrates river to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist groups there, to pave the way for the safe return of Syrian refugees to the region and to ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/merkel-worried-over-russia-s-influence-in-syria/1617003

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Dutch premier: NATO cannot 'make it' without Turkey

Abdullah Asiran  

17.10.2019

THE HAGUE

The NATO alliance cannot "make it" without its longtime member Turkey, according to the Netherlands’ prime minister.

Taking lawmakers' questions in parliament late Wednesday on Turkey's anti-terror operation in northeastern Syria -- launched last week -- Mark Rutte said the claim that NATO would be better without Turkey is not a "smart" claim.

"Turkey is one of the strongest NATO members. I do not think that NATO can make it without Turkey geopolitically or strategically," he stressed.

A member of the bloc since 1952, Turkey boasts NATO’s second-largest army, after the United States.

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched Operation Peace Spring to secure its borders by eliminating terrorist groups there, to ensure the safe return of Syrian refugees and Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear northern Syria east of the Euphrates of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the PYD/YPG.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/dutch-premier-nato-cannot-make-it-without-turkey/1616822

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South Asia

 

Airstrikes kill 33 Taliban and ISIS militants in 7 provinces

17 Oct 2019

A series of airstrikes killed 33 Taliban and ISIS militants in seven provinces of Afghanistan in the past 24 hours.

The military officials said Thursday airstrikes in Dasht-e Archi district of Kunduz killed 17 Taliban militants and destroyed a small cache of weapons.

The officials further added that airstrikes in Rashidan and Qarah Bagh districts of Ghazni killed 6 Taliban militants and destroyed a weapons cache of the group.

An airstrike in Chak-e Wardak district of Wardak province killed 2 Taliban militants and destroyed a cache of weapons, the officials said, adding that a similar airstrike in Sharan district of Paktika killed 2 Taliban militants.

Meanwhile, airstrikes in Pachir Wa Agam and Deh Bala districts of Nangarhar killed 3 ISIS militants, the officials added.

The officials also added that airstrikes in Shah Wali Kot of Kandahar and Day Chopan districts of Zabul killed 2 Taliban militants besides destroying a cache of weapons.

https://www.khaama.com/airstrikes-kill-33-taliban-and-isis-militants-in-7-provinces-04236/

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UN decries 'unprecedented' civilian casualties in Afghanistan

Oct 17, 2019

The United Nations says an "unprecedented" number of civilians were killed or injured in the third quarter of 2019 across violence-wracked Afghanistan, calling the violence "totally unacceptable." 

In a new report released Thursday, the United Nations said 1,174 people were killed and another 3,139 wounded from July to September this year.

July alone saw more casualties than in any other month on record since the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began documenting the violence in 2009, it noted.

The figures represent a 42 percent increase over the same time period last year.

The first six months of the year had seen casualties drop somewhat compared to previous years.

The UN recorded 8,239 civilian casualties in total in the first nine months of 2019 -- 2,563 killed and 5,676 injured. Some 41 percent of them were women and children, UNAMA said.

The report laid most of the blame for the spike at the feet of "anti-government elements" such as the Taliban.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN's special representative for Afghanistan, said "civilian casualties are totally unacceptable."

“Civilian casualties at record-high levels clearly show the need for all parties concerned to pay much more attention to protecting the civilian population," said Yamamoto.

The figures show the need for peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement, he added.

“The harm caused to civilians by the fighting in Afghanistan signals the importance of peace talks leading to a ceasefire and a permanent political settlement to the conflict; there is no other way forward,” said Yamamot.

“Civilian casualties are totally unacceptable, especially in the context of the widespread recognition that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.”

Fiona Frazer, UNAMA's Human Rights chief, also said that "the impact of Afghanistan's conflict on civilians is appalling,"

“The United Nations will continue its advocacy work with all parties to the conflict until Afghanistan reaches the only acceptable number of civilians killed and injured in the conflict: zero,” said Frazer.

UNAMA has previously blamed both the US military and the Taliban militants for a spike in civilian deaths in Afghanistan. In its annual report, UNAMA said that civilian deaths in 2018 had increased 11 percent compared to 2017, with 3,804 people killed, including 927 children.

Prospects for peace in Afghanistan appeared more remote after peace talks between the militant group and the White House collapsed earlier last month in Qatar’s capital, Doha.

After calling off the peace talks, Trump suggested the Taliban were coming under surging military pressure and claimed in a speech marking the September 11, 2001 incidents that “the last four days, we have hit our enemy harder than they have ever been hit before, and that will continue."

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/17/608904/Afghanistan-UN-UNAMA--Tadamichi-Yamamoto-Taliban

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Will play 'constructive role' in improvement of India-Pakistan ties: China

Oct 17, 2019

BEIJING: China said on Thursday it will play a "constructive role" in the improvement of relations between India and Pakistan, days after the second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping.

Elaborating on the remarks by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in his briefing to the Chinese media on October 13 where he stated that China's "respective relations with India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries could run in parallel and develop together", the foreign ministry said China sincerely hopes that the New Delhi and Islamabad will improve their relations.

Wang was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency that that "China's respective relations with India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries could run in parallel and develop together, neither targeting any third party nor being influenced by a third party".

Asked to elaborate Wang's remarks, the foreign ministry in a written response to the media on Thursday said, "as a common neighbour and friend of India and Pakistan, China sincerely hopes that China-India relations will be good, China-Pakistan relations will be good and India-Pakistan relations will be good and everyone will work together to promote regional stability and development."

"It is hoped that India and Pakistan will live in harmony, resolve disputes between the two countries through peaceful means, replace confrontation with dialogue, resolve differences in good faith and create a future through cooperation. China is willing to play a constructive role in this regard," it said.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/will-play-constructive-role-in-improvement-of-india-pakistan-ties-china/articleshow/71635688.cms

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President assures Saudi entrepreneurs of cooperation

October 18th, 2019

Saudi business delegation expresses their keen interest to invest $3 billion in Bangladesh's power and energy sector

President Md Abdul Hamid has assured the visiting Saudi business delegation of providing all cooperation to execute their projects as Bangladesh has a very favourable environment for investment at present.

The head of the state came up with this assurance as a Saudi business delegation, during a courtesy call on him at Bangabhaban in Dhaka on Thursday evening, expressed their keen interest to invest $3 billion in Bangladesh's power and energy sector, reports BSS.

President's Press Secretary Joynal Abedin briefed newsmen after the meeting, saying that Chairman of ACWA Power of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammad Abunyyan led the eight-member high-powered business delegation of two Saudi Arabian companies -- AWCA and Aramco Trading.

He said, during the meeting, they apprised the president that they would invest about $3 billion to build an efficient and modern power plant and also solar system in Bangladesh.

Abunyyan hoped that this investment would encourage others to invest here in the days to come.

He said Saudi Arabia always considers Bangladesh manpower as a key resource.

Welcoming the delegation, the president said Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh has an excellent relation at present and Bangladesh evaluates the existing good relations with Saudi Arabia as a special one.

Mentioning the recent visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Saudi Arabia and the visit of Saudi high-powered delegation to Bangladesh, President Hamid said these visits helped strengthen bilateral relations and investment between the two countries.

Through this exchange of visits between the two countries, the bilateral relations would be expanded gradually and turned into a multilateral one in the days to come.

Other delegation members included Vice President of Aramco Trading M Abdul Salam Al- Hazmi, AWCA Power Chief Executive Officer Paddy Padmanathan, and its Chief Investment Officer Rajit Nanda.

Full report at:

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/dhaka/2019/10/18/president-assures-saudi-entrepreneurs-of-cooperation

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2.5 years’ jail for first S’porean convicted of terrorism financing; gave over S$1,000 to foreign radical

By LOUISA TANG

17 OCTOBER, 2019

SINGAPORE — A 35-year-old man became the first Singaporean to be convicted of terrorism financing here, and he was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ jail on Thursday (Oct 17) for giving more than S$1,000 to a Jamaican preacher who had been imprisoned for stirring racial hatred.

Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman pleaded guilty to two charges under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.

In a closed-door hearing on Thursday, a district court heard that Hussein was detained under the Internal Security Act in August last year. He had been radicalised and wanted to undertake armed violence in Syria in support of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis).

A second Singaporean, 35-year-old Imran Kassim, was charged under the Act earlier this year with giving money to support Isis’ propaganda efforts. His trial is set to begin in January next year.

Besides Hussein, a group of six Bangladeshi men have been convicted of terrorism financing. They had set up an Islamic State in Bangladesh cell here in 2016.

COMMUNICATED WITH JAMAICAN PREACHER

Hussein’s path to radicalisation began in 2013 when he began watching online videos of a Jamaican preacher, Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal.

The preacher supported the use of violence against “intruders” described as “non-Muslims attacking a Muslim area or location”.

Sheikh also preached that Muslims were obliged to set up an Islamic caliphate and that Isis’ establishment of the caliphate through violence was commendable.

Sheikh had been convicted and jailed for nine years in the United Kingdom in 2003 for — among other things — soliciting the murders of Jews, Americans, Hindus and Christians and using threatening words to stir racial hatred.

During his trial in the UK, tapes of Sheikh’s lectures showed him calling for the death of non-believers, quoting the words of the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and calling for the murder of Jews and bombing of Hindu businesses.

Sheikh was deported to Jamaica after serving four years behind bars, where he is banned from preaching and is constantly monitored.

Despite knowing this, Hussein reached out to the preacher and began communicating with him through Facebook, WhatsApp and email. He then discovered that he could donate money to Sheikh.

On July 29, 2016, he sent S$1,059 to the preacher through a middleman called Patrick Gray via Western Union. It was not stated who Gray is.

On Sept 3, 2016, he sent another US$62 (S$87) to Sheikh’s wife Nzingha Kokayi through PayPal.

‘TERRORISM AFFECTS US ALL’

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Chong Yonghui sought the sentence imposed, telling the court that a deterrent sentence was warranted to send “a strong message to other like-minded individuals in Singapore that supporting terrorism through financial means will attract uncompromising punishment”.

The prosecutor highlighted aggravating factors such as the transnational element of the offences, and how Hussein carefully planned what he did.

“Terrorism in all its manifestations, whether as acts, or propaganda in the form of extremist rhetoric, affects us all.

“This is especially so when the Internet, a platform with a truly global reach, is used to distribute terrorist propaganda which is focused on recruitment, radicalisation and incitement to terrorism,” DPP Chong added.

When Hussein was charged last month, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that he also followed the lectures of foreign radical ideologues, such as Anwar al-Awlaki from Al-Qaeda and several others who have been arrested or imprisoned for inciting violence or espousing support for terrorism.

Hussein maintained regular contact with foreign pro-Isis individuals on social media to keep up with the developments in Isis, MHA said.

He also tried to influence some of his foreign online contacts to follow the violent eachings of the radical ideologues whom he had been following, because he wanted them to support Isis.

Full report at:

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/25-years-jail-first-sporean-convicted-terrorism-financing-gave-over-s1000-foreign-radical

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The soft power of mothers: Fighting extremism begins at home

By Isabelle de Pommereau

October 17, 2019

Edit Schlaffer felt as if she was part of history in the making when 60 mothers from this southern region of Germany recently received their MotherSchools diploma from Bavaria’s social minister.

Ms. Schlaffer initiated her MotherSchools syllabus six years ago for women in Tajikistan who were concerned about Islamic extremists recruiting their children. The program has since become a global movement whose goal is to fight extremism not with soldiers, but with mothers.

And now, Germany has its first batch of graduates – women with roots from Syria to Algeria. They’ve learned not only how to better detect, and respond to, early signs of radicalization, but also how to better connect with their sons. When Ms. Schlaffer initially met them, the women had tended to be shy, their hands often crossed on their knees and their heads bent down. But on graduation day, donning colorful headscarves and shiny suits, they mingled with top brass politicians in a castle overlooking the Main River here.

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At the ceremony, Ms. Schlaffer knew that her tireless efforts to bring mothers to the fore of the fight against terrorism were beginning to bear fruit. For women who’d rarely received any type of recognition in their lives, the festive graduation was MotherSchools’ “crowning moment,” she says.

“It was such a visible sign that at long last, society was looking at mothers as resources it needs to trust and support,” says Ms. Schlaffer, a native of Vienna who herself has two adult sons. “Mothers are our security allies. They have the closest proximity to the children who might be at risk.”

MotherSchools has reached some 3,000 women in 16 countries, from Tanzania to Bangladesh to European nations including Austria and Belgium. It was named a “best practice model” by UNESCO and the European Union’s Radicalisation Awareness Network about three years ago.

Ms. Schlaffer has achieved something major, “to get mothers out of their isolation and get their children to look at them at eye level,” said Emilia Müller, Bavaria’s minister of labor, social affairs, family, and integration, at the graduation ceremony.

From researcher to activist

Ms. Schlaffer’s interest in women’s issues grew in the Vienna of the 1960s, where she was a sociology student. As a lecturer and researcher later on, she traveled to countries in crisis and transition to document the experiences of women. Witnessing the violence and brutality waged against female and child refugees made her an activist.

In 2001, Ms. Schlaffer founded the nonprofit Women Without Borders. Aimed at empowering women to become agents of change in their communities, it spurred initiatives ranging from a telephone hotline for female victims of Islamic extremism in Yemen to soccer games for women victims of the genocide in Rwanda. Ms. Schlaffer went on to create Sisters Against Violent Extremism, known as the world’s first female counterterrorism platform.

But it wasn’t until 2012, when she was talking with mothers in the mountains of Tajikistan on a research mission, that she began to envision MotherSchools. There, the mothers she interviewed echoed what she’d heard from hundreds of mothers in other conflict zones. Their sons were dropping out of school, joining radical mosques, and breaking off contact. Scared and isolated, the mothers were eager to regain influence over their sons, but they were powerless and unsure how to do so.

“Then a mother said, ‘I know what we need. We need to go back to school,’” Ms. Schlaffer recalls.

“That was it,” she says. “That’s when the idea for MotherSchools was born in my head. I realized that it is mothers who are at the front line against terror,” she adds. “We have to equip them with not only the confidence, but also the right tools and techniques to better interact with their children.”

A bottom-up security strategy

With its onion-shaped Baroque churches, this picturesque city nestled in the Franconian hills is far from some of the places that Islamic terrorist groups have hit, from Pakistan to sub-Saharan Africa. But increasingly, it’s in these tranquil communities that the battle against Islamic radicalization is being waged. A wake-up call came three years ago when a 17-year-old Afghan refugee, wielding an ax, attacked and injured five people near Würzburg, making Germany part of the growing spiral of Islamic terrorism engulfing Europe. Here, too, recruiters have been luring Europe’s vulnerable youth.

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Yet in France and other European countries, the government responses distressed Ms. Schlaffer. By sharpening their security and law enforcement methods, they were deepening the divide between national security officials and civil society – and excluding “those who are directly involved.” Decades of research into the root causes of radicalization had taught her that “no politician, no secret agent is closer to the mechanisms of recruitment than the families.”

Leaving them to cope with extremism by themselves “is not only a lost opportunity; it is playing with a ticking time bomb.”

Against this backdrop, Ms. Schlaffer found “mobilizers” to launch MotherSchools in Europe. In London, for instance, she worked with a Bangladeshi immigrant. And in Austria, which ranks second in the EU after Belgium for Islamic State recruitment, Chechen exile Maynat Kurbanova became Ms. Schlaffer’s anchor for Vienna’s booming, vulnerable Chechen Muslim community. “Women aren’t aware of how much enormous potential they have,” says Ms. Kurbanova, a journalist. With MotherSchools, “they get the chance to reflect on their possibilities in a real trusting, protected atmosphere.”

In Germany, long before the 2016 ax attack, Bavarian government officials took an approach different from elsewhere in Europe. They asked Ms. Schlaffer to set up MotherSchools as part of the state’s budding violence prevention and deradicalization network. Now, this region was “looking at [mothers] as a resource where they can get information from, help make change, find support from,” she says.

Starting with self-confidence

Recently, a group of 15 MotherSchools pupils has been meeting in Miltenberg, a town of timber homes along the Main River near Würzburg. Once a week for 10 weeks, the women have engaged in role-playing meant to boost their self-confidence and have learned how to observe children’s psychological development, monitor their use of the internet, and recognize warning signs.

When the women are asked to take part in a “fashion show” and parade across the room in front of everybody, laughter ensues.

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“We don’t start with radicalization; we start with all of us being mothers,” says Bouchra Mecheri, a translator and guardian of refugees who is Ms. Schlaffer’s mobilizer in Bavaria. “Our language is the language of mothers.”

There are emotional moments at these meetings, as when a Yazidi mother confesses that, although Islamic State had killed her husband in her native Iraq, set her village on fire, and taken women as sex slaves, she had learned in the MotherSchools group that “not all Muslims are the same.”

Shaden, who asked that only her first name be used for safety reasons, is originally from Syria. She fled Jordan to live in Germany 15 years ago. And with three children under age 14, she is a MotherSchools graduate. “I am here because I want to learn how to better protect my children,” she says.

Full report at:

https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2019/1017/The-soft-power-of-mothers-Fighting-extremism-begins-at-home

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Afghanistan postpones announcement of preliminary results for presidential elections

17 Oct 2019

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) has postponed the announcement of preliminary results for the September 28th presidential elections.

A source in IEC confirmed that the commission has postponed the announcement of preliminary results by a week.

The commission was supposed to announce the preliminary results on coming Saturday.

However, reports indicate that the election commission has postponed the announcement of the preliminary results in order to count the votes of the quarantined ballot boxes of the provinces and the capital.

Alice Wells, the United States’ Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs had earlier said “The IEC & ECC have a challenging task to review votes & process complaints, concerns, & allegations of fraud from across the country.”

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/afghanistan-postpones-announcement-of-preliminary-results-for-presidential-elections-04233/

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North America

 

US Religious Freedom Envoy Urges Muslim World to Speak up For Incarcerated Uyghurs

2019-10-17

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback on Thursday called on the world and Muslim-majority countries in particular to “get their courage back” and confront China over its internment of some 1.5 million Muslim Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Brownback, a former U.S. senator and state governor, told RFA’s Uyghur Service in an interview that Washington is focused on highlighting the detention camps and other abuses of the roughly 11 million Turkic-speaking Muslims in the XUAR.

“This is a horrific human rights situation that’s happening—over a million in detention camps, while those that aren’t in the detention camps are in a virtual type of detention camp, with all of the security cameras and artificial intelligence systems,” he said.

“And we’re highlighting to the world that this is what China is doing to their Muslim minority population.”

In 2019, Brownback and other Trump administration officials have hosted high-level religious freedom conferences at the State Department and at the United Nations, and both events placed a sharp focus on Chinese repression of the Uyghurs, which has been longstanding but intensified in early 2017.

Up to 1.5 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities accused of harboring “strong religious views” and “politically incorrect” ideas have been held since April 2017. Reporting by RFA’s Uyghur Service and other media outlets has shown that those in the camps routinely face rough treatment at the hands of their overseers, and endure poor diets and unhygienic conditions.

“We’re just pointing out to the world that this is what China is doing, and China’s response has been really just to bluster, to say that this is some sort of anti-terrorism effort to lock a million people up,” Brownback said.

“But their responses have been, I don’t think, good or accurate, or really doing justice to the situation,” he added.

Though Beijing initially denied the existence of re-education camps, China has tried to change the discussion, describing the facilities as “boarding schools” that provide vocational training for Uyghurs, discourage radicalization and help protect the country from terrorism.

Brownback’s office as well as U.S. diplomats have repeatedly called on Muslim-majority countries and the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to confront China over the Uyghur crisis—to little avail.

“I’m disappointed in their silence,” he said when asked by RFA about the Muslim world’s response to the Uyghurs’ plight.

“It’s my hope that a number of people on the streets in these Muslim majority countries will start to hear about what’s taking place with the Uyghurs and that … their voices will raise up and force their leadership to speak out more aggressively and more effectively against what China is doing,” said Brownback.

'People need to get their courage back'

China’s immense economic clout has been cited by several Asian neighbors as the main reason few Muslim-majority countries are willing to challenge China.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the RFA-affiliated BenarNews, during an interview in New York last month on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly, that China’s diplomatic and economic power may have prevented Muslim nations from criticizing its repression of the ethnic Uyghur minority.

“Because China is a very powerful nation,” the 94-year-old leader told BenarNews. “You don’t just try and do something which would anyway fail, so it is better to find some other less violent ways not to antagonize China too much, because China is beneficial for us.”

Brownback said, however,  that "history will not reward their silence."

“I think people need to get their courage back—that a lot of people are just scared of the Chinese money. That somehow China is going to punish them economically, or withhold some sort of trade agreement with them,” Brownback said.

The campaign by Brownback and the State Department to halt the incarcerations has also been joined by the U.S. Congress, which is debating legislation that seeks accountability for China’s harsh crackdown on the Uyghurs. The Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act would appoint a special State Department coordinator on Xinjiang and require regular reports on the camps, the surveillance network and the security threats posed by the crackdown.

A related effort by U.S. lawmakers calls for the imposition sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, crafted initially to deal with rights abuses in Russia, on XUAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo and other Chinese officials leading the repression of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the region.

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/uyghur/brownback-muslim-10172019181348.html

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Trump questions Pelosi's mental health: ‘Pray for her, she is a very sick person!’

Oct 17, 2019

US President Donald Trump has slammed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) following a tense meeting with her at the White House, questioning her mental fitness.

"Nancy Pelosi needs help fast! There is either something wrong with her 'upstairs,' or she just plain doesn’t like our great Country," Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

"She had a total meltdown in the White House today," he continued. "It was very sad to watch. Pray for her, she is a very sick person!"

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Nancy Pelosi needs help fast! There is either something wrong with her “upstairs,” or she just plain doesn’t like our great Country. She had a total meltdown in the White House today. It was very sad to watch. Pray for her, she is a very sick person!

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Trump called Pelosi a “third grade politician" to her face during a White House meeting about Syria, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders said after they stormed out of the meeting.

Pelosi said Trump had suffered a “meltdown” when she told him that the House had passed a bipartisan resolution condemning his recent withdrawal of American troops from northern Syria.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) was also in the meeting. He said: “Never have I seen a president treat so disrespectfully a co-equal branch of government."

Pelosi also said Trump called her “third-grade” rather than “third-rate.”

“I think now we have to pray for his health," the speaker said. "Because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.”

Republicans who were in the White House sit-in confirmed things got “heated” but said it Pelosi's fault.

“I see a pattern of behavior with Speaker Pelosi. She storms out of another meeting, trying to make it unproductive,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters. “Very productive between the Democrats who actually stayed in the meeting. Unfortunately, the speaker tries to make everything political.”

Trump's relationship with Pelosi and other Democrats has deteriorated as he faces an impeachment inquiry led by House Democrats over Trump’s alleged request that Ukraine investigate a political rival.

House Democrats, spearheaded by Speaker Pelosi, launched last month the impeachment inquiry of Trump after a whistleblower’s disclosure of the president’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump allegedly sought Ukraine’s help to smear Biden.

Trump reportedly urged Zelensky about eight times during the phone call to work with his lawyer Giuliani to investigate government corruption involving Biden and his son, Hunter.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/17/608876/Pray-for-Pelosi-she-is-a-very-sick-person-Trump

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Democratic lawmakers press for white supremacist groups to be labeled foreign terrorist organizations

BY EMILY BIRNBAUM

10/16/19

Dozens of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday pressed the State Department to designate three white supremacist groups as foreign terrorist organizations, arguing that reclassification could help the U.S. seriously confront the escalating crisis of white extremist violence.

In a letter led by Rep. Max Rose (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee's counterterrorism subpanel, the 39 lawmakers asked the State Department why they have not placed Ukraine's Azov Batalion, Finland's Nordic Resistance movement or the United Kingdom's National Action on the U.S. list of "foreign terrorist organizations" (FTOs).

"Today, if an American citizen swears allegiance to the Islamic State (or another Foreign Terrorist Organization on the list) and spreads their message of terror, there are several resources available to the federal government to counter the threat," their letter reads.

"However, if that same American citizen swears allegiance to a violent white supremacist extremist group based overseas and spreads their message of terror, the Federal government does not have access to the same tools," it continues.

In a phone interview with The Hill, Rose emphasized that he had approached a slew of Republicans about signing on to the letter with no luck. While he declined to say whether he believes the State Department under Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will take on his proposal, he said he's "very curious as to what their explanation is if they resist this."

"It is incredibly clear that these entities possess right now the ability to carry out terrorist attacks, they certainly are engaging in radicalization efforts that threaten the homeland, and we need to use the full ... tools at our disposal," Rose said. "So the ball’s in their court."

The State Department did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

For years, experts and policymakers have raised the possibility of adding international white supremacist groups to the list of FTOs, which currently does not include any neo-Nazi or white extremist groups. While the idea has failed to gain traction for years, the lawmakers are reigniting the debate after the Department of Homeland Security announced a new counterterrorism strategy last month focused on the threat of white extremism.

Governments around the world have turned their attention to the issue of white extremism after a string of mass shooters this year have had ties to fringe far-right online communities, where they were radicalized and have been hailed as martyrs in the wake of gruesome attacks.

In March, a mass shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, killed more than 50 worshippers at a pair of mosques after allegedly posting an anti-immigrant screed online in which the suspect laid out his bigoted views on Europe's changing demographics. In that document, the shooter claimed he trained with the far-right Azov Battalion in Ukraine. 

The U.S. has also named the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement and National Action as groups whose violence "puts American lives at risk." The man who drove his car into a group of protesters in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, killing one anti-racism protester, had links to National Action.

But those foreign groups still aren't designated as terrorist organizations, meaning the U.S. government cannot charge their American supporters with "providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization" and cannot commit the full range of counterterrorism resources to combat their influence.

The issue of white extremism has taken on new significance over the past several years as white nationalists flock to mainstream and fringe platforms to organize, discuss their views and radicalize hordes of mostly young men.

The top social media companies in the world, including Facebook, Twitter and Google's YouTube, have recently agreed to dedicate more resources and coordinate more over taking down extremist content that promotes violence against minorities and immigrants — an effort that picked up amid pressure from multiple governments.

But it's been a complicated process as the platforms navigate their own policies, which often tend toward allowing free expression even when content is hateful.

Rose said that designating more neo-Nazi groups as FTOs could help the social media companies commit to driving them off the platform with the endorsement of the government.

"Right now, if you look at the way in which [the social media companies] measure their ability to remove terrorist content from their platforms, they are looking at the FTO list," Rose said. "So for us to put this on that list, I think takes a bold step forward in expanding what is expected of them."

Shootings in Poway, Calif., and El Paso, Texas, over the past several months have also been perpetrated by extremists with anti-immigrant views, which they cultivated online.

"As we learn more about connections between certain overseas white supremacist groups and domestic terrorists, it is time we take the threat of violent white supremacist extremists more seriously," the letter from the lawmakers reads. Other signatories include key Democrats on intelligence and national security committees.

Rose called the letter a "first step" to dedicating the full breadth of government and private sector resources toward combatting the rise of white extremism.

Extremism-related murders spiked 35 percent between 2017 and 2018, and every one of those deaths was carried out by a far-right extremist, according to an analysis from the Anti-Defamation League.

"What we are pointing to with this letter is the fact that these ideologies are not national but they’re connected to a global infrastructure, which is significantly tied to transnational organizations," Rose said. "These are significant organizations that directly inspired attacks here at home, whether it is Poway, whether it is the Charlottesville incident."

Full report at:

https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/466064-dozens-of-dem-lawmakers-press-state-department-to-designate-white

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Muslim families not allowed to board NYC Ferry after being labeled a 'security issue,' complaint says

By Ali Gostanian

Oct. 17, 2019

NYC Ferry employees refused to allow three Muslim families to board a ferry because of a "security issue," according to a discrimination complaint filed with the New York City Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday.

The complaint, filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the families took a NYC Ferry without incident from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to the Wall Street stop on Sept. 21. They then decided to take another ferry to Brooklyn's Pier 6.

The families requested to board the Brooklyn-bound ferry last because they had a double stroller and many children, according to the complaint. After all the other passengers boarded, the women and their children attempted to board but were stopped by NYC Ferry employees who said there was a "security issue."

Two of the women were wearing hijabs, as well as other religious clothing, and have pronounced accents, the complaint says.

CAIR National

@CAIRNational

Everyone deserves equal and fair service free of discrimination, especially when using public transportation like the NYC Ferry.  These families were humiliated and traumatized in public view because they happen to be Muslim.https://www.cair.com/cair_ny_files_discrimination_claims_for_three_muslim_families_denied_boarding_by_nyc_ferry_called_security_issue …

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When one of the women asked why they were not allowed to board, an NYC Ferry employee told her that security had informed him that they could not board the ferry. They were then escorted to security in full view of the other passengers.

When they arrived at security, however, the families were told by the officers that there was no issue. The complaint notes that security was confused and did not know why employees were "blaming security."

During this encounter, the children were "crying, upset and very confused," the complaint says. One of the children, a 4-year-old boy, later asked his parents why they were treated like this by the ferry staff. His parents were "heartbroken" and did not know what to tell him to comfort him, the complaint says.

NYC Ferry employees eventually told the families that they had been denied service because their children had allegedly been standing on the seats during the first ferry ride. NYC Ferry later admitted this explanation was false, the complaint states.

After approximately two hours, the families were allowed to board a ferry back to Bay Ridge, but not before experiencing "one of the worst days of their lives."

"All New Yorkers, regardless of creed, deserve equal and fair service free of discrimination, especially when using public transportation like the NYC Ferry. These families were humiliated and traumatized in public view and treated as suspect because they happen to be Muslim. That is unacceptable. We hope the city will live up to its commitment of nondiscrimination and swiftly correct this injustice," CAIR-NY Litigation Director Ahmed Mohamed said in a press release.

NYC Ferry offered to reimburse the families for their fares, calling the incident a "misunderstanding." CAIR said it is seeking payment of compensatory damages for "humiliation, embarrassment, and severe emotional distress" and punitive damages.

New York City's Economic Development Corporation, which runs NYC Ferry, told NBC News that it was aware of the complaint and is investigating the incident.

Full report at:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/three-muslim-familes-not-allowed-board-ferry-after-being-labeled-n1067991

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Sanctions on Turkey no longer necessary: Donald Trump

Oct 18, 2019

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump has said that America's proposed economic sanctions on Ankara are no longer necessary after the US and Turkey struck a deal for a five-day cease fire in Syria.

As per the deal announced by Vice President Mike Pence in Ankara on Thursday, Turkey will suspend its operations for 120 hours to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a designated safe zone along the Turkish and Syrian border.

Protesting Turkey's military offensive in northeast Syria, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order to slap sanctions against Turkish officials, raising of steel tariffs and ending negotiations on a USD 100 billion trade deal. “Sanctions won't be necessary because Turkey is doing what they're doing,” Trump told reporters on Thursday as he congratulated his Turkish counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for reaching a deal with the United States.

“He's a friend of mine and I'm glad we didn't have a problem because frankly, he's a hell of a leader and he's a tough man. He's a strong man. He did the right thing. And I really appreciate it. And I will appreciate it in the future,” Trump said, describing the cease fire as a great news.

Terming it as an incredible outcome, Trump said that Turkey had a legitimate problem on the 22 mile (34 kms) strip for many years.

"They had terrorists, they had a lot of people in there that they couldn't have. They've suffered a lot of loss of lives also. They had to have it cleaned out,” he said.

“But once you start that, it gets to a point where a tremendous amount of bad things can happen. So, a process started and we started to negotiate. I think that obviously, the sanctions and tariffs were going to be very biting. I'm glad we don't have to do it. We will be taking them off very quickly,” Trump said.

“We've gotten everything we could have ever dreamed of and we are also going to be able to bring our people back home we will be able to have control of ISIS, we will be able to do whatever we have to do to get the rest of ISIS wherever they may be. They are never going to be ruling us,” he said.

Trump also thanked the Kurds for agreeing to abide by the ceasefire.

“This is a solution that really well, it saved their lives frankly. It saved their lives. So, we've done a great thing for our partner. If we didn't go this unconventional tough love approach they could have never gotten it done. They have been trying to do this for many, many ears. You could have never gotten it done,” he said.

Talking to reporters in Ankara, Pence said that all military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused and it will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.

This also includes an agreement by Turkey to engage in no military action against the community of Kobani.

In addition, the United States and Turkey have both mutually committed to a peaceful resolution and future for the safe zone, working on an international basis to ensure that peace and security defines this border region of Syria, he said.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/us-and-world/sanctions-on-turkey-no-longer-necessary-donald-trump/articleshow/71643362.cms

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Turkey, US agree on Syria ceasefire to force Kurdish fighters' withdrawal

Oct 18, 2019

ANKARA: Turkey has agreed to suspend its Syria offensive for five days and will end the assault if Kurdish-led forces withdraw from a safe zone along the border, US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish officials announced Thursday after high-stakes talks.

The agreement for the 120-hour pause eased what had escalated into an unprecedented crisis between the United States and Turkey, but critics quickly accused President Donald Trump of again abandoning Kurdish allies.

Under the deal reached after Pence flew to Ankara, Kurdish forces will have to withdraw from an area 32 kilometres (20 miles) deep, becoming a "safe zone" long sought by Turkey, which brands the fighters as "terrorists".

Trump paved the way for the week-long Turkish incursion by withdrawing US troops but he later imposed sanctions and threatened to destroy the NATO ally's economy as he came under fire at home.

After talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that stretched hours longer than expected, Pence told reporters that Turkey's operation "will be halted entirely on completion" of the pullout of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and, following that, the US would withdraw sanctions.

Pence said the United States would work with the PG, the Kurdish fighters who dominate the SDF, "to facilitate an orderly withdrawal in the next 120 hours."

SDF chief Mazlum Abdi said the forces were "ready to abide by the ceasefire" covering the area from Ras al-Ain to Tal Abyad.

But James Jeffrey, the US pointman on Syria, acknowledged that the Kurdish fighters were not happy and that Washington was using "a carrot and a stick" with threats of sanctions to enforce the deal.

"There's no doubt that the YPG wishes that they could stay in these areas," he told reporters travelling from Ankara with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said more than 300,000 civilians had been displaced within Syria since the start of the assault, calling it one of the largest upheavals since Syria's civil war began in 2011.

The monitor said nearly 500 people have been killed including dozens of civilians, the majority on the Kurdish side.

Turkey has faced wide condemnation, with many European countries imposing arms embargoes. EU leaders meeting in Brussels reiterated their call early Friday for Turkey to end its assault, while noting the pause in the offensive.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu insisted to journalists in Ankara that Turkey was "suspending the operation, not halting it".

"This is not a ceasefire. A ceasefire is reached between the two legitimate parties."

Ankara considers YPG militants to be an extension the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) -- a group that has fought a bloody insurgency inside Turkey for 35 years.

Trump hailed the deal, reached after more than four hours of talks led by Pence, as "a great day for civilisation".

"I want to thank the Kurds, because they were incredibly happy with this solution," he said during a visit to Texas. "This is a solution that really -- well it saved their lives, frankly."

A day after the leak of a letter in which Trump warned Erdogan not to be a "fool," Trump hailed the Turkish president as "a friend of mine", adding: "He's a hell of a leader."

Erdogan on Twitter called for action to "defeat terrorism," saying "I am confident this joint effort will promote peace and stability in our region."

Erdogan, who like Trump has faced political setbacks at home, found wide domestic support for the operation.

But Trump faced accusations even from usual supporters that his withdrawal of 1,000 US troops -- practically the entire US contingent in the region -- betrayed Kurdish militants who bore the brunt of the fight against the Islamic State group in recent years.

Trump quickly faced renewed attacks over the deal.

"President Trump's decision to help Turkey push the Kurds out of their home in northern Syria after all they have done to help the US defeat ISIS is outrageous," said Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat.

Erdogan wants to destroy Kurdish hopes of an autonomous enclave that Turkey fears could serve as a launchpad for attacks on its soil.

He also wants to resettle some of the 3.6 million Syrian refugees Ankara is hosting.

Jeffrey said Turkey had promised that its presence in the zone would be short, insisting that the United States still recognised Syria's territorial integrity.

"The Turks have reassured us many times that they have no intention -- no intention whatsoever, from President Erdogan personally on down today -- of staying in Syria very long," he said.

The US pullout has strengthened both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who for the first time sent troops to the northeast in an agreement with Kurdish forces, and Russia -- Assad's main backer.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/us-agrees-deal-to-give-turkey-what-it-wants-in-return-of-5-day-syria-truce/articleshow/71639932.cms

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Trump says Turkey and Kurds needed to fight 'like two kids'

October 18, 2019

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he allowed Turkish and Kurdish forces to clash in deadly battle because the two sides were like children who needed to fight each other.

"It was unconventional what I did. I said they're going to have to fight a little while," Trump told a rally of supporters in Texas.

"Like two kids in a lot, you have got to let them fight and then you pull them apart.

"They fought for a few days and it was pretty vicious."

Trump triggered the week-long Turkish offensive against the Kurds by withdrawing US troops from northeast Syria.

More than 500 people have been killed including dozens of civilians, mostly on the Kurdish side, and 300,000 civilians have been displaced within Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

Trump stressed that "not one drop of American blood" was shed.

On Thursday, Turkey — after talks with US Vice President Mike Pence — agreed to suspend its offensive and to end the assault if Kurdish-led forces withdraw from a safe zone along the border.

"We went there and we said we want a pause, and the Kurds have been terrific. They're going to move back a little bit," Trump said.

"We are going to keep ISIS (the Islamic State group) nice and locked up. We are going to find more of them, and Turkey is all set."

Trump has faced accusations even from usually loyal supporters that his withdrawal of 1,000 US troops betrayed Kurdish militants who bore the brunt of the fight against militant Islamic State in recent years.

Brett McGurk, former presidential special envoy for the anti-IS coalition, described Trump's remarks about "two kids" fighting as "obscene and ignorant".

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511540/trump-says-turkey-and-kurds-needed-to-fight-like-two-kids

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Turkish president replies to Trump's tweet

Erdogan Cagatay Zontur

17.10.2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan replied to a tweet of his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on Thursday.

"Mr. President, many more lives will be saved when we defeat terrorism, which is humanity's arch enemy. I am confident that this joint effort will promote peace and stability in our region," Erdogan tweeted.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

• 16h

Great news out of Turkey. News Conference shortly with @VP and @SecPompeo. Thank you to @RTErdogan. Millions of lives will be saved!

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

@RTErdogan

Mr. President, many more lives will be saved when we defeat terrorism, which is humanity's arch enemy. I am confident that this joint effort will promote peace and stability in our region.

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Erdogan's remarks came shortly after Ankara agreed with Washington to pause Operation Peace Spring for five days so that YPG/PKK could leave the region.

Trump has said in a tweet, "Great news out of Turkey. News Conference shortly with @VP and @SecPompeo. Thank you to @RTErdogan. Millions of lives will be saved!"

According to a joint statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the operation will be paused when the withdrawal of YPG terrorists, the Syrian branch of PKK terror group, is completed.

Among the terms are the re-collection of YPG heavy weapons and the destroying of their fortifications and all other fighting positions.

Turkey will get 20 miles (32 kilometers) of safe zone south of the Turkish border in Syria, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told a press conference in Ankara following a meeting with Erdogan that took more than an hour-and-a-half.

Pence said that Turkey and the U.S. also agreed to eliminate Daesh completely in Syria's northeast, underscoring that Washington agreed to withdraw the existing sanctions when the operation is halted.

Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring in northern Syria on Oct. 9 in order to secure Turkey’s borders, aid the safe return of Syrian refugees, and ensure Syria’s territorial integrity.

Ankara wants to clear the region east of the Euphrates River of the terrorist PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the YPG.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkish-president-replies-to-trumps-tweet/1617880

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Mideast

 

US-brokered ceasefire with Turkey is ‘vague,’ says Assad advisor

17 October 2019

A ceasefire announced by the United States to end hostilities in northern Syria with Turkey is “vague,” a senior adviser to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad told Al-Mayadeen TV on Thursday.

Top Assad adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said Damascus “cannot accept” another Iraqi Kurdistan in Syria, comments that came just after an agreement announced by US Vice President Mike Pence in Turkey.

Shaaban said “important steps” had been taken so far with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, but that all remaining issues could not be resolved at once.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/17/US-brokered-ceasefire-with-Turkey-is-vague-says-Assad-advisor-.html

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US, Turkey agree Ankara to primarily control Syria ‘safe zone’

17 October 2019

Turkey’s military will primarily enforce a “safe zone” in northern Syria, according to a joint US-Turkish statement after high-level talks in Ankara at which the sides agreed a temporary ceasefire in a campaign against a Kurdish militia.

“The safe zone will be primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces,” the statement said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said no guarantees were made in the talks on the flashpoint Syrian border town of Kobani, adding Turkey’s military was only “pausing” operations so that the Kurdish YPG forces could leave the zone.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/17/US-Turkey-agree-Ankara-to-primarily-control-Syria-safe-zone-.html

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Pence announces ceasefire deal with Erdogan to end Turkey’s Syria offensive

17 October 2019

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday he had reached a deal with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan for a ceasefire in northern Syria to end an eight-day-old Turkish offensive against Kurdish-led forces.

Speaking after crisis talks with Erdogan in Ankara, Pence said that under the deal all military operations would be paused to allow a pullback of Kurdish YPG militia over a 120-hour period. The Turkish military operation would end once that withdrawal was complete, Pence told a news conference.

“Today the United States and Turkey have agreed to a ceasefire in Syria,” Pence told a news conference after more than four hours of talks at the presidential palace in Ankara.

“The Turkish side will pause Operation Peace Spring in order to allow for the withdrawal of YPG forces from the safe zone for 120 hours,” Pence said. “All military operations under Operation Peace Spring will be paused, and Operation Peace Spring will be halted entirely on completion of the withdrawal.”

Pence said US forces in the region had already begun to facilitate a safe disengagement of YPG units.

The deal struck with Erdogan also provided for Turkey not to engage in military operations in theflashpoint Syrian border town of Kobani.

Pence said the United States and Turkey had committed to a peaceful resolution of Ankara’s demand for a “safe zone” in northern Syria near Turkey’s border, one of the objectives of the Turkish offensive.

Pence added that he had spoken to US President Donald Trump after the talks and that Trump had expressed his gratitude for the ceasefire accord.

The deal was a major contribution to relations between NATO allies Turkey and the United States, which have become strained in recent months.

After Pence and Erdogan met at the presidential palace, talks between Turkish and US delegations continued for over four hours - well past their expected duration.

Pence’s mission was to persuade Erdogan to halt the internationally condemned offensive, but Turkish officials had said before the meeting began that the action would continue regardless.

The Turkish assault has created a new humanitarian crisis in Syria with 200,000 civilians taking flight, a security alert over thousands of ISIS fighters abandoned in Kurdish jails, and a political maelstrom at home for President Donald Trump.

Trump has been accused of abandoning Kurdish-led fighters, Washington’s main partners in the battle to dismantle ISIS’s self-declared caliphate in Syria, by withdrawing troops from the border as Ankara launched its offensive on October 9.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/17/Pence-says-Turkey-to-end-military-operation-after-Syrian-Kurd-withdrawal.html

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EU should toughen sanctions against Turkey, says parliament head Sassoli

17 October 2019

The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli called for tougher sanctions of the European Union against Turkey and said Ankara’s membership talks with the EU should be suspended because of the Turkish invasion of north Syria.

“Sanctions should be much tougher and include existing contracts,” Sassoli told a news conference in Brussels. Earlier this week EU governments committed not to sign new arms sale deals with Turkey, but did not take any action against existing ones.

Sassoli, an Italian center-left politician, also told EU leaders that membership talks with Turkey should be suspended.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/17/EU-should-toughen-sanctions-against-Turkey-says-parliament-head-Sassoli.html

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US detention of Iranian scientist ‘very disturbing’

Oct 18, 2019

The US detention of Iranian scientist, Masoud Soleimani, upon his arrival in the country on an invitation from a research center last year,  was very disturbing, says a journalist who also describes the move as "outside of the law."

Canadian author and journalist Eric Walberg said in an interview with Press TV that Soleimani’s imprisonment is “outside of the law.”

“But there are ways around they can always keep someone if they [Washington] really want to,” he added.

The 49-year-old Iranian professor and biomedical researcher at Tehran's Tarbiat Modares University, was detained by the FBI upon his arrival in October last year.

He was travelling to the US with a visa issued upon an invitation by Minnesota-based medical center, the Mayo Clinic, to lead a research program on the treatment of stroke patients.

“That’s very disturbing that even a well-known institute like the Mayo Clinic {is} proudly invites the state department into serving its anti-Iranian politics,” said Walberg.

Prosecutors accused Soleimani and two of his former students of attempting to export biological materials from the US to Iran without authorization, in violation of US sanctions.

Their lawyers, however, insist that the three did nothing wrong.

The two students, who are living in the US, are currently free on bail.

Soleimani, still in jail, appeared in court in May this year. He was charged with trying to transfer to Iran via his students a few vials of growth hormone — a substance readily available on the market and not subject to sanctions.

His lawyer, Leonard Franco, said in a court filing that Soleimani’s research “has led to global lifesaving medical advancements in regenerating non-functional human body parts.”

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/18/608952/Iran-US-politics-sceince-Masoud-Soleimani

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Iran president urges global consultations on Palestine, Yemen

Oct 16, 2019

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has underlined the need for global consultations on war-ravaged and displaced people of the world, especially the oppressed nations of Palestine and Yemen. 

President Rouhani made the remarks in a Wednesday meeting with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor in Tehran.

He also referred to Washington’s economic war against the Iranian nation following its unlawful withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and called on the international community to stand up to the US actions, which he said are to the detriment of all, including the United States itself.

“We hope all our friends around the world, including South Africa, will take a more decisive stance against the US’ illegal and inhumane actions towards the Iranian nation which even include food and medicine sanctions,” Rouhani said.

The South African minister, for her part, praised Tehran for remaining committed to the JCPOA, and urged the US to return to the deal and end sanctions on Iran.

Despite what the US claims, Iran says Washington’s sanctions are targeting the Iranian nation's access to medicines and treatment services, which amounts to economic terrorism according to Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

"The US’ indiscriminate policy of maximum pressure has placed certain restrictions on Iranian citizens," Zarif said in New York in late September.

Washington's so-called "maximum pressure" campaign has barred Iranian citizens from carrying out financial transactions in the medical sector, preventing them from purchasing medical equipment and instruments, he added.

Tensions have been running high between Iran and the United States since May 2018, when Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/16/608849/Rouhani-Palestine-Yemen-talks-South-Africa

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UNRWA announces new relief projects for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon

Oct 17, 2019

Mariam Saleh

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – the UNRWA - has signed an agreement with France and the French Development Agency. The French-funded project “WAHET”- will improve water access, health and education for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

The French ambassador to Lebanon says in the face of the unprecedented crisis caused by the US withdrawal of funds, other states will shoulder the responsibility and should work towards renewing the mandate of the UNRWA.

Palestinian children also expressed their content with the proposed project.

Palestinian refugees have been living in dire humanitarian crisis since their expulsion from Palestine by Israeli militant forces in 1948. Now, hundreds of thousands are spread across 12 camps.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/17/608898/UNRWA-Relief-Projects-Palestinian-Refugees-Lebanon

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Arab World

 

Saudi Arabia, Palestine agree to set up joint business council

17 October 2019

Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians agreed on Thursday to establish a joint economic committee and a business council, as the Palestinian Authority faces a financing gap that could top $1.8 billion.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas’s PA has been in deep financial crisis since February when Israel froze transfers of VAT and customs duties it collects on the Palestinians’ behalf.

His administration had to impose austerity measures, cutting almost half the salaries of its employees.

Abbas, who arrived in Riyadh on Wednesday, met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

It added that the leaders reached “an agreement on the establishment of a joint economic committee and on a Saudi-Palestinian business council.”

The report did not elaborate further.

The announcement came days after Saudi Arabia’s football team played Palestine in the occupied West Bank for the first time on Tuesday, with the Saudi side having previously refused to enter the territory as part of its boycott of Israel.

Israel’s cuts have hit hard on the Palestinian territories, already suffering unemployment of around 26 percent in the second quarter of 2019, the World Bank said last month in a report.

Israel collects around $190 million a month in customs duties levied on goods destined for Palestinian markets that transit through its ports, and it is supposed to transfer the money to the PA.

In February, Israel decided to deduct around $10 million a month from the revenues – the sum the PA paid inmates in Israeli jails or their families – prompting the Palestinians to refuse to take any funds at all.

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner during a conference in Bahrain dangled the prospect of $50 billion of investment into a stagnant Palestinian economy.

But the plan so far fails to address key issues such as an independent Palestinian state, Israeli occupation and the Palestinians’ right to return to homes from which they fled or were expelled after Israel’s creation in 1948.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/business/2019/10/17/Saudi-Arabia-Palestine-agree-to-set-up-joint-business-council.html

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Assad Says Syria Will Respond to Turkish Aggression as Two-Hour Pence-Erdogan Meeting Ended with Results

Oct 17, 2019

During a meeting with visiting Iraqi National Security Advisor Falih al-Fayyadh in Damascus on Thursday, Assad stated that foreign schemes in the Middle East region have been foiled throughout history, and the Turkish criminal aggression, launched by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration, on Syria falls within such plots, official news agency SANA reported.

“No matter what false slogans could be made up for the Turkish offensive, it is a flagrant invasion and aggression. Syria has frequently hit (Turkish-backed) proxies and terrorists in more than one place. Syria will respond to the assault and confront it anywhere within the Syrian territory through all legitimate means available,” the Syrian leader noted.

Fayyadh, for his part, conveyed Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s message, which focused on further expansion of bilateral ties between the two countries in various areas of interest, particularly with regard to combating terrorism and border security in light of the recent developments, economic cooperation and re-opening of border crossings.

Assad's remarks came after an unknown source in the Syrian Foreign Ministry earlier on Thursday strongly condemned the ongoing ground offensive by Turkish forces and their allied militants against Kurdish regions of the country.

The source stressed, “This treacherous Turkish aggression is the outcome of the expansionist ambitions and illusions of Erdogan’s regime, and it affirms that the regime is classified among terrorist groups to which it has provided all forms of support. The offensive deals a heavy blow to the efforts aimed at finding a solution to the crisis in Syria. It makes, therefore, the Turkish regime lose its position as a guarantor of the Astana peace process as its aggression completely contradicts the principles and decisions of the process.”

The meeting comes after an agreement between Damascus and the Kurds to fend off the assault launched by Ankara and its allied militants on Northeastern Syria last week.

Also on Thursday, US Vice President Mike Pence met Erdogan in Ankara in a hour-and-40-minute meeting on a mission to persuade him to halt the offensive against Kurdish fighters in Northeast Syria.

After the meeting, Pence stated that Turkey has agreed to temporarily halt its military operation against Kurdish militants, allowing them to withdraw from the country’s border.

“Today the United States and Turkey have agreed to a ceasefire in Syria,” Pence said during a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The ceasefire between the Turkish military backed by affiliated militants and the Kurdish-led fighters is set to last 120 hours, according to Pence.

This time will be spent on the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces from the 20-mile strip along the Syrian border, where Turkey wants to set up a “safe zone”.

The agreed stoppage of hostilities has been described as a “temporary” one.

When a “permanent” one comes in place, US President Donald Trump will cancel the executive sanctions against Ankara, the VP explained.

The process of the Kurdish militias’ withdrawal will be “facilitated” by the US, Pence noted without elaborating.

But in later remarks, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu somehow rejected the statements by the US vice-president, and stressed that Turkey has not agreed to any ceasefire or a complete stop of the military offensive, and has only conceded to suspend the 'Peace Spring' Operation to monitor the Kurdish militias' withdrawal.

"Tonight's agreement is not a ceasefire, since ceasfire takes place between two legal sides and Turkey doesn't recognize the terrorist groups," Cavusoglu said.

Yet, Pence said Ankara has promised that the military operation, ‘Peace Spring’, will be stopped entirely when the Kurdish-led militias complete their withdrawal, adding that Washington supports the Turkish idea of creating a “long-term” buffer zone within Syria’s territory.

The Kurds and the Damascus government have yet to respond to the alleged agreement.

The Kurds in Syria previously enjoyed the protection of the US. The protection, however, was de facto withdrawn days ago by Trump, who pulled out American troops that had previously been embedded with the militias.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Great news out of Turkey. News Conference shortly with @VP and @SecPompeo. Thank you to @RTErdogan. Millions of lives will be saved!

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On Tuesday, Erdogan said he told Trump Ankara would never declare a ceasefire in Northeastern Syria, adding that Turkey would "not negotiate with a terrorist organisation" in response to Trump's mediation offer.

Trump had signed a decree imposing sanctions on Turkey over its military operation in Syria, threatening Washington will destroy Turkey’s economy if Erdogan refuses to stop Ankara offensive on Kurdish militias.

Larry Kudlow, the White House's Economic Adviser, stated that Washington is prepared to levy additional sanctions on Turkey if necessary.

"We will use sanctions, and we may use more sanctions to keep Turkey in line," he told CNBC in an interview.

In response, Cavusoglu said on Wednesday Turkey would retaliate against US sanctions over his country’s military incursion into northeast Syria.

Speaking in parliament, Cavusoglu described all threats and sanctions against Turkey as unacceptable, adding that Ankara expected the US Congress to turn back from its “damaging approach.”

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980725000734

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Turkish Forces Likely Use Chemical Weapons in Northern Syria

Oct 17, 2019

Several cases of people suffering from severe burns have arrived in Hasaka Hospital from Ras al-Ain as it is more likely that the injury resulted from being exposed to mysterious chemical substances, official news agency SANA reported.

Local sources claimed that several cases of people with severe burns due to the Turkish shelling on Ras al-Ain city, North of Hasaka, on Wednesday evening arrived in the hospital, indicating that their burns are more likely to be resulted from using unknown chemical substances by Ankara-backed militants.

Earlier, sources close to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared that the Turkish-supported militias used the internationally-banned phosphorus in shelling residential neighborhoods in Ras al-Ain city.

Ras al-Ain may be a small border town but it is key in Ankara's plan to create a 'safe zone' along the border East of the Euphrates River.

After meeting with US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien in Ankara on Wednesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said "information emerged that terror groups are intending to use chemical weapons and blame it on Turkish military".

"Turkish military does not have any chemical weapon in its inventory, everybody knows this," the defense minister added.

As Turkey's operation has entered its second week, heavy battles continue on the ground. A fierce combat erupted in Ras al-Ain, with the SDF mounting fierce defence using tunnels and trenches. The Turkish military aircrafts have also launched heavy bombardment on the city and villages in its vicinity.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Turkish forces have extended their control over several towns and villages, including the strategic city of Tel Abyad. SDF managed to regain control of the entire city of Ras al-Ain, as well as the town of Tal Halaf.

On Thursday, Turkey's Defense Ministry announced that a total of 673 Kurdish militias have been killed since the launch of Ankara's ongoing military operation in Northern Syria.

Last Wednesday, Ankara and its allied militants launched a new military campaign in Northern Syria dubbed ‘Operation Peace Spring’ that has triggered widespread condemnation.

Rather than Turkish regulars, however, the troops used in the operation appear to be militants, which similarly happened in 2016 during ‘Operation Euphrates Shield’ that targeted the Kurds around Afrin.

Full report at:

https://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13980725000314

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Damascus says Syrians ‘unified’ against Turkish assault

17 October 2019

Damascus on Thursday said Syrians are unified against a cross-border Turkish assault, in its first statement since deploying troops in Kurdish-controlled areas to contain Ankara’s offensive.

“The Syrian government renews its absolute rejection and strong condemnation of Turkey’s blatant aggression,” said a foreign ministry statement carried by state news agency SANA.

It “affirms the cohesion among Syrians, all Syrians, and their unity, more than ever, under Syria’s national flag.”

The foreign ministry statement accused Ankara of causing “death and destruction” in an offensive that revealed Ankara’s “expansionist aims,” SANA reported.

Nine days since Turkey launched an offensive against Kurdish-led forces and Kurdish groups in northern Syria, dozens of civilians have been killed and 300,000 have been displaced, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Damascus on Sunday clinched a deal with Kurdish-led forces that saw troops deploying in parts of the Kurdish-run northeast, including the key areas of Manbij and Kobane.

The deployment is the most significant by the army since it began a large-scale pullout from the region in 2012.

It came after the US pulled out from Syria’s northern region last week, exposing its Kurdish partners to a Turkish assault.

What the Kurds resent as a US betrayal paved the way for a desperate deal with Damascus, despite long-standing skepticism.

Marginalized for decades, Syria’s minority Kurds carved out a de facto autonomous region across some 30 per cent of the nation’s territory after the devastating war broke out in 2011.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2019/10/17/Damascus-says-Syrians-unified-against-Turkish-assault.html

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Millions of Arba'een pilgrims from around the world gather in Karbala

Oct 18, 2019

Millions of pilgrims, including a record number of Iranians, have gathered in Iraq’s holy city of Karbala to commemorate Arba’een, the 40th day after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam.

Among the pilgrims, which usually number 20 million from around the world every year, many arrive in Karbala after trekking about 70 kilometers northward from the holy city of Najaf in a symbolic gesture honoring Imam Hussein.

Pilgrims enter the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala up to two weeks before Arba'een. This year’s Arba’een falls on Saturday, October 19.

Speaking on Thursday, Iran's Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said a total of 3.5 million Iranians had entered Iraq to take part in the ceremony, 1.2 million more than the number reported last year and topping previous participation records.

Fazli praised what he described as "good cooperation" on behalf of Iraqi officials in facilitating the process, adding that all branches of the Iranian government had also contributed to managing the huge pilgrimage.

Foreign pilgrims from other countries also participate in the event, with tens of thousands entering Iraq notably from countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Lebanon.

The pilgrims are greeted by the generous hospitality of the Iraqi people, who provide them with food, water, transport and accommodation needed for the journey.

Syeda Sakeena🇵🇸

@awaited_hope

The Love & Sprit to serve Pilgrims of #Arbaeen for free in Iraqis is really some thing U will never saw on earth other than #ArbaeenWalk

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Imam Hussein was martyred along with dozens of his companions during a last-stand battle against the tyrant of the time, Yazid I, more than thirteen centuries ago.

The martyrdom of Imam Hussein has turned into a symbol of righteous revolt and social and political reform.

Imam Hussein is a highly-venerated figure not only among Shia Muslims but also among Sunnis and people of other faiths.

🍂 جعفر امام🍂

@SYEDJAFFER_IMAM

Protestants and Catholics paying their tribute during Arbaeen at Karbala.

Do not forget Wahab bin Qalbi one of the Martyrs of Karbala, a Christian who turned Muslim and fought for Imam Hussain (as) and died. He had got married 2 weeks before Ashura.#HussainIsForHumanity

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Mainstream media silence

Many observers have highlighted that despite Arba'een being the world's largest annual peaceful gathering on earth, there has been substantially little attention from mainstream media to the major ceremony.

"The biggest gathering in the world is taking place these days, but it receives the least possible media coverage," wrote media activist Amir Abbas Sadegi for Iran's ISNA news agency on Friday.

Sadegi said coupled with the mainstream silence, certain groups have sought to undermine Arba'een by propagating false information.

Earlier this month, Arab media outlets reported a US-backed plan seeking to influence recent anti-corruption protests in Iraq in a bid to spark instability in the country.

Observers believe the timing of the provocations signals that foreign-backed elements seek to undermine the Arba’een processions, specifically by fueling antagonism towards Iran.

The protests, however, have largely receded since last week.

On Tuesday, Prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to take part in Arba'een processions chanting slogans denouncing corruption, but also the United States and Israel.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/10/18/608955/Arbaeen-pilgrims-Karbala

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Iraq prudent over taking foreign Daesh terrorists

October 18, 2019

BAGHDAD: Iraqi officials appeared cautious on Thursday after holding talks with European powers this week aimed at accelerating efforts to create a judicial framework that would enable terrorists being held in Syria to face trial in Iraq.

European states have been trying to fast-track a plan to move thousands of foreign Daesh militants out of Syrian prison camps and into Iraq, after the Turkish offensive in northern Syria raised the risk of radicals escaping or returning home, diplomats and officials said.

Legal experts from Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have been in Baghdad this week for technical talks, and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in Iraq on Thursday to discuss the issue with the Iraqi government and Kurdish leaders. Speaking at a news conference with Le Drian, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Hakim said his government’s priority was to bring back Iraqi fighters and their families “if possible.”

“With regard (to) foreign fighters ... these countries must take necessary and appropriate measures to try these people,” he said.

Europeans comprise a fifth of around 10,000 Daesh fighters held captive in Syria by Kurdish militias which are under heavy attack by Turkish forces. If the militias redeploy prison guards to the front line, there is a risk of jail-breaks.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1570491/middle-east

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Amnesty accuses Turkey of ‘war crimes’ in Syria

October 18, 2019

BEIRUT: Turkish forces and Syrian rebel allies have committed “war crimes” including summary executions during their offensive in northeast Syria, Amnesty International said Friday.

Amnesty accused Ankara’s forces of “serious violations and war crimes, summary killings and unlawful attacks” in the operation launched on October 9.

There was no immediate response from Ankara, which announced a suspension of the attacks late Thursday, but it says all possible measures have been taken to avoid civilian casualties.

Ankara’s operation aims to remove the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from areas near its border in northern Syria.

The offensive has killed at least 72 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“Turkish military forces and a coalition of Turkey-backed Syrian armed groups have displayed a shameful disregard for civilian life,” Amnesty said.

The charges were based on the testimony of 17 people including medical, aid and rescue workers, journalists and displaced people, as well as video footage, it said.

“The information gathered provides damning evidence of indiscriminate attacks in residential areas, including attacks on a home, a bakery and a school, carried out by Turkey and allied Syrian armed groups,” Amnesty said.

Kumi Naidoo, the organization’s secretary general, said Turkish forces and their allies had “displayed an utterly callous disregard for civilian lives.”

The report included testimony of a Kurdish Red Crescent worker who said he removed bodies from the wreckage of a Turkish air strike near a school in Salhiye on October 12.

“I couldn’t tell if they were boys or girls because their corpses were black. They looked like charcoal,” the rescue worker was quoted as saying.

It also said Kurdish female politician Hevrin Khalaf and her bodyguard were summarily executed by members of the Syrian National Army, a Turkish-funded and -trained group.

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1570551/middle-east

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Southeast Asia

 

Better Luck Next Time For Nobel Hopefuls Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama

Dian Septiari

October 17, 2019

The country’s two-biggest Islamic organizations, Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), have learned that there is no shortcut to international recognition, after failing to win the revered Nobel Peace Prize this year amid stiff competition. The two organizations were nominated by scholars in January for their contributions to democratic developments in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. A number of big names were touted to win the prize this year, including 16-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, indigenous Brazilian leader Raoni Metuktire and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.  However, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Friday that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had won the prize "for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border con...

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/17/better-luck-next-time-for-nobel-hopefuls-nu-muhammadiyah.html

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Malaysia’s police chief: Daesh fighters ‘must be allowed to come back’

October 17, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government has still to decide whether a reported 40 Daesh members of Malaysian origin — including women and children — should be allowed to return to their homeland from Syria. But the Inspector-General of Police of Malaysia Abdul Hamid Bador told Arab News on Thursday, “They are Malaysians and the must be allowed to come back.”

Bador stressed that any returning Daesh members would be charged under Malaysia’s Security Offenses Act and would have to undergo the country’s deradicalization program. But while many Malaysians are opposed to allowing the hard-line militants to return home, Bador said, “As a sovereign nation, Malaysia must fulfill her international obligations. We will undertake the responsibility of subjecting all of them to our rehabilitation programs.”

At a press conference on Saturday, Malaysia’s Special Branch Anti-Terrorist Division principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said that Daesh returnees would undergo rehabilitation, which would include counseling for the children.

Many Malaysians believe that the Daesh returnees will pose a threat to national security and should not be allowed to return.

“In principle, they are the citizens (of Malaysia), so they have a right to come back,” Dr. James Dorsey, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute, told Arab News. “But, in having to fulfill that obligation, obviously the question arises whether or not they broke the law, and to what degree they pose a threat.”

Dorsey warned that “not all deradicalization programs are 100-percent effective,” but said he believed that rehabilitation would enable people to reenter society to some degree.

“The assumption is that they went to Syria to fight, so now that Syria is no longer available they are going to come home to fight. But we don’t know that for a fact,” he said. “That may be true for some, but not for others. It is really going to be a question of evaluating every single one. We need to deal with each of them differently. Sending them to rehabilitation might be one way to resolve this.”

“There are no magic tricks involved in the programs,” Bador said to Arab News. Their success, he said, depended on coordination between the police, the religious department, and prison officers. “We are also thankful that the prisoners themselves have the willpower to return to society,” he added.

Malaysia claims that its deradicalization program is one of the most successful in the world — a model for the fight against terrorism and religious extremism, in which religious institutions play an equally important role during the rehabilitation process.

“Malaysia prides itself to having achieved a 97 percent success rate which indicates that occurrences of recidivism are minimal,” said Muhammad Sinatra, an analyst at Malaysia’s Institute of Strategic and International Studies.

He told Arab News that Daesh returnees would serve time in prison, and would —  along with the women and children — be enrolled in a month-long rehabilitation program by the government.

“The women and children must have suffered from witnessing horrendous violence and losing their loved ones during their time in Syria and Iraq,” Sinatra said. “This is on top of the physical toll that years spent in conflict zones will have taken. It will take a tremendous effort by psychologists and doctors to address the physical and mental issues these returnees face.”

Full report at:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1570331/world

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First Singaporean jailed for financing terrorism

By Jalelah Abu Baker

17 Oct 2019

SINGAPORE: A 35-year-old Singaporean man was sentenced to 30 months' jail on Thursday (Oct 17) for financing terrorism after he sent more than S$1,000 to a hate preacher.

Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman, a former information technology engineer, is the first Singaporean to be sentenced under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act.

He had given S$1,059 in July 2016 and another US$62 (about S$87) in September that year to a preacher living on Caribbean Island in Jamaica who was facilitating terrorist acts, according to court documents.

Hussein was arrested by the Internal Security Department in July 2018. He was detained under the Internal Security Act in August 2018 because he was found to be radicalised and wanted to undertake armed violence in Syria in support of Islamic State, the court heard.

In 2013, Hussein came to know of the hate preacher Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal through watching videos online.

He was aware that Sheikh Abdullah was a "radical preacher" who supported the use of violence against "non-Muslims attacking a Muslim area or location", and had been arrested previously for preaching violence in the United Kingdom.

The hate preacher was convicted and sentenced in 2003 to nine years imprisonment in the UK for soliciting the murders of Jews, Americans, Hindus and Christians and using threatening words to stir up racial hatred, among other things.

After serving four years of his sentence, Sheikh Abdullah was deported to Jamaica where he is under constant monitoring by Jamaican Special Branch Investigators and

is banned by the Islamic Council of Jamaica from preaching at any of its mosques.

The court was told that Hussein agreed with Sheikh Abdullah's religious ideology and preaching.

“Despite the fact that Sheikh Abdullah’s preaching was deeply steeped in violence, the accused reached out to Sheikh Abdullah and managed to establish communications with him over Facebook, email and the online messaging service Whatsapp," said Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Yonghui.

"The accused was keen to donate, and did in fact donate, despite having reasonable grounds to believe that the money he donated would be used in whole for benefitting Sheikh Abdullah, a person facilitating terrorist acts," court documents read.

Hussein then made donations to the hate preacher through two middlemen in 2018.

In an effort to cover up any evidence, he deleted emails from his email account and also deleted his email account that was linked to his Facebook account, which contained records of his communication with Sheikh Abdullah.

“The accused admitted that he viewed the donation as a ‘risky’ transaction as he had sent (money) to an intermediary of Sheikh Abdullah, a known preacher of violent religious ideology, and was aware that he could get in trouble for the donation,” the court was told.

In his submissions on sentence, Mr Chong said: "Taking into account the unique social environment of Singapore as a multi-racial society emphasising the importance of religious harmony and tolerance, it cannot be overstated that public interest requires an unequivocal clampdown on offences related to the financing of terrorist and radical rhetoric, as such offences threaten the very fabric of Singapore's society."

Full report at:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/first-singaporean-man-ahmed-hussein-jail-terrorism-financing-12008926

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Ex-IT engineer first Singaporean to be convicted of terrorism financing, jailed 30 months

OCT 17, 2019

Cara Wong

SINGAPORE - A 35-year-old former information technology engineer was sentenced on Thursday (Oct 17) to two years and six months' jail for funding terrorism.

Ahmed Hussein Abdul Kadir Sheik Uduman is the first Singaporean national to be sentenced for terrorism financing.

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/first-singaporean-to-be-convicted-of-terrorism-financing-jailed-for-30-months

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Maldives investigates activist group for ‘slandering Islam’

By Krishan Francis 

October 17, 2019

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The head of a Maldivian activist group said Thursday that police have contacted her as part of an investigation into a report published by her organization that has been accused of slandering Islam.

The Maldives government ordered the Maldivian Democracy Network to suspend its activities a week ago because of its 2016 report on religious radicalization in the Indian Ocean archipelago state. The group’s executive director, Shahinda Ismail said that the report has been on the group’s website for three years.

“I have been contacted by police. They wanted to have my address because they want to send me summons,” Ismail said by telephone from Germany where she is studying. She said police asked her to present herself for an inquiry within 14 days of receiving the summons.

The government spokesman, Ibrahim Hood, said Thursday evening that he could not immediately comment because he was in a meeting.

The government said last week that there is widespread public condemnation of the report because of “content slandering Islam and Prophet Mohamed.”

The report examined school text books for each grade on how Islam is taught and how some Friday sermons allegedly incited hate and intolerance. It also said more than 90 percent of people interviewed supported the implementation of flogging, stoning to death, death penalty and amputations as punishments in the Maldives.

It was unclear why the investigation was initiated three years after the report was published, but Ismail speculated that it may have happened because some preachers who criticized it and demanded an investigation are named in the report for allegedly promoting extremism. The Maldives’ anti-terror law was recently amended to criminalize any form of support for extremism and radicalization.

The Maldives, known for luxury island resorts, is a Sunni Muslim nation where practicing and preaching other faiths are banned by the constitution.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/maldives-investigates-activist-group-for-slandering-islam/2019/10/17/4a5e1756-f10d-11e9-bb7e-d2026ee0c199_story.html

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Malaysian Islamic party demands Oktoberfest events be shut down

By Max Walden

Oct 18, 2019

Malaysia's largest Islamic party is pushing for Oktoberfest events across the country to be banned, renewing a familiar culture war in the Muslim-majority country.

The ultraconservative Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) has for years barracked against the hosting of Oktoberfest and other alcohol-related events in Malaysia, which has large Buddhist, Christian and Hindu minorities.

"Oktoberfest should not be organised and must be strongly objected to," Senior PAS figure Mahfodz Mohamed said in a statement this week.

"If non-Muslims want to drink alcoholic beverages, they are welcomed to do so in their homes without promoting the activity and organising large-scale events."

In the state of Terengganu, controlled by PAS, the Government has expressly banned Oktoberfest events.

"No-one has applied to hold Oktoberfest here," said Tourism Minister Ariffin Deraman as quoted by The Star newspaper, adding: "We will be constantly monitoring to ensure that the festival is not held."

The comparatively liberal state of Johor also announced this week it would not be issuing licences for organisers to host alcohol-themed festivals, including Oktoberfest.

"As with any other private institutions serving alcohol, restrictions and conditions can be imposed on the event, not to ban it completely," Melissa Sasidaran, director of Lawyers for Liberty, told the ABC.

In Kuala Lumpur, meanwhile, the Mayor said venues could host Oktoberfest events as long as they were held indoors and already licenced to sell alcohol.

Analysts have observed a conservative shift within Malaysian Islam in recent decades.

Farida Ibrahim, a member of progressive Muslim organisation G25, told the ABC it was "undeniable" religious conservatism was on the rise.

"The Government has to rein it in before it gets out of hand … most of our Islamic institutions have been infiltrated by Wahabis from Saudi Arabia," she said.

"This culture war has impinged upon the rights of both Muslims and non-Muslims."

Malaysia applies some aspects of Islamic law to Muslims only, covering matters regarding family law and religious observance.

Muslims are barred from purchasing or consuming alcohol, however the law is seldom enforced. In 2009, a Muslim model was sentenced to caning for drinking beer, but her sentence was later commuted.

Oktoberfest is not the only issue that has pitted conservative Muslims against more liberal Malaysians.

US fast food chain A&W now calls its signature product — non-alcoholic root beer — simply "RB" in order to maintain halal certification.

A governmental Islamic body ruled in 2016 that products named "hotdog" would be denied halal certification, due to the perception among some Muslims that dogs are forbidden in Islam.

In 2014, Malaysia's High Court ruled non-Muslims could not use the word "Allah" in their publications, despite the fact Malay-speaking Christians had used the term in their holy texts for centuries.

PAS recently formed a coalition with the country's main opposition party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

UMNO dominated Malaysia's ruling coalition for six decades before being toppled by Mahathir Mohamad's Pakatan Harapan in a historic election last year.

Full report at:

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-10-18/malaysian-islamic-parties-call-for-oktoberfest-to-be-shut-down/11618600

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Indonesia arrests 40 militant suspects ahead of inauguration

By Niniek Karmini 

October 17, 2019

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s elite anti-terrorism unit went on a busy 24-hour spree to root out suspected Islamic militants ahead of a presidential inauguration this weekend that will be attended by Asian leaders and Western envoys.

At least 40 suspects have been detained by the counterterrorism squad, known as Densus 88, in eight provinces, including four who were captured on Thursday, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo said. The sweep followed a tipoff about possible attacks against police and places of worship in several areas.

Six of the arrested militants, including a woman, were presented in a news conference Thursday in orange detainee shirts and under heavy guard at the police headquarters. They were not identified by police, who also displayed explosive chemicals for bomb-making, knives, jihadi books, airsoft guns and rifles with silencers and sniper scopes they said were seized from the suspects.

Another police spokesman, Muhammad Iqbal, said Wednesday among the arrested suspects were two female police officers who have been radicalized and were willing to be suicide bombers.

The arrests follow an attack last week in which a militant stabbed Indonesia’s top security minister, Wiranto, who is recovering from his wounds. A husband and wife were arrested in that attack. President Joko Widodo, who will take the oath of the office on Sunday at a ceremony in the capital, Jakarta, ordered government forces to hunt down the militant networks responsible for the attack.

Wiranto, a local police chief and a third man were wounded in the broad daylight attack in Banten province last Thursday by suspected militant Syahril Alamsyah and his wife, Fitria Andriana. Both are believed to be members of a local affiliate of the Islamic State group known as the Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, or JAD.

Prasetyo said the arrested husband, known as Abu Rara, would face heavier sanctions for handing a knife to his 15-year-old daughter to help assault the police. The child declined out of fear.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, has been battling militants since bombings on the resort island of Bali in 2002 killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists. Attacks aimed at foreigners have been largely replaced in recent years by smaller, less deadly strikes targeting the government, mainly police and anti-terrorism forces and local “infidels.”

In May last year, two families carried out suicide bombings at churches in Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya, killing a dozen people and two young girls whose parents had involved them in one of the attacks. Police said the father of the two girls was the leader of a cell in a larger militant network that claimed allegiance to IS.

The inauguration of Widodo, who won a second term with 55.5% of the vote in the April 17 election, will be attended by Southeast Asian leaders and Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Several envoys, including China’s Vice President Wang Qishan and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, are also scheduled to attend.

Prasetyo said 31,000 security personnel were being deployed to secure the capital during the inauguration, though there has been no warning of a possible attack.

“The arrested suspects planned to attack police and worship places instead,” Prasetyo said.

He said police were hunting down other suspected militants, mostly participants in a social media chat group who are believed to be linked to JAD.

Police have seized 10 homemade pipe bombs believed to be intended for suicide attacks, chemicals for use in explosives, airsoft guns, knives, documents on planned attacks, jihadi books, laptops and cellphones in separate raids.

Full report at:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/indonesia-arrests-36-militant-suspects-ahead-of-inauguration/2019/10/17/06e24076-f0a7-11e9-bb7e-d2026ee0c199_story.html

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Official presidential portraits of Jokowi, Ma’ruf released

October 17, 2019

The State Secretariat has released the official portraits of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and vice president-elect Ma’ruf Amin for the next central government administration.

The photos can be downloaded from the State Secretariat’s website since their release on Thursday.

https://www.setneg.go.id/view/index/foto_resmi_presiden_dan_wakil_presiden_ri_periode_2019_sd_2024

The official portraits are available in the formats A2 and A3.

For the official portrait, Ma’ruf Amin wears a black suit, white shirt, red tie and a presidential pin, which is a rare look compared to his usual all-white Muslim attire complete with a sarong.

The State Secretariat also provides printed versions of the portraits for free upon request.

“To obtain the hard copy/printed official photo for free/without fee, requests can be submitted by contacting Press Bureau, Media and Information by telephone 08118111339 or email biro_pmi@istanapresiden.go.id,” a statement on the website reads.

Jokowi and Ma’ruf were elected in the 2019 presidential election and will be inaugurated at the House of Representatives on Sunday. Their tenure will run for five years from 2019 to 2024.

Full report at:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/10/17/official-presidential-portraits-of-jokowi-maruf-released.html

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India

 

Kartarpur corridor: India urges Pakistan not to levy $20 service fee

Oct 17, 2019

NEW DELHI: A pilgrim service fee of $20 (Rs 1420) by Pakistan for visitors to Kartarpur Sahib could be the deal-breaker for India. India has asked Pakistan to waive the fee before it agrees to sign the agreement.

In a statement on Thursday, MEA spokesperson said “We have urged Pakistan not to do so in the interests of devotees, and because this is a P2P initiative. We hope that the Agreement can be concluded and signed in time for the great event."

Pakistan has said it would charge pilgrims a service fee of roughly Rs 1420 from all devotees who want to visit Kartarpur Sahib, for which India is close to completing elaborate preparations. "The Kartarpur Sahib Corridor is an important people to people initiative taken by India to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji.”

The MOU is expected to be finalized on October 19, that is, on Saturday. Applicants have been encouraged to register from 20th. Indian officials have said the construction of the facilities including a pre-fabricated passenger terminal would be completed by October 31.

Indian and Pakistani officials have held several rounds of negotiations on the corridor. The spokesperson said, “After several rounds of discussion with Pakistan, we have reached an agreement on all other issues, except the matter of Service Fee. Pakistan insists on levying a fee of $20 (approx. Rs. 1420) on all pilgrims.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/kartarpur-corridor-india-urges-pakistan-to-not-levy-20-service-fee/articleshow/71635582.cms

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Plaint filed against counsel of Muslim parties in Babri Masjid -Ram Mandir dispute

Oct 18, 2019

The Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha has written to the Bar Council of India seeking disciplinary action against Supreme Court senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan for tearing up a copy of the Ram Janmabhoomi map which was handed over to him and the five- judge bench hearing the Babri Masjid -Ram Mandir dispute.

According to the letter written by the Mahasabha’s national spokesperson , PP Joshi: “ Dr Rajeev Dhavan has committed highly unethical action by tearing into pieces a copy of the map handed over to him. This has brought disrepute to the Supreme court bar. This is unbecoming of a senior advocate and ...request to take cognizance against Dr Dhavan and take appropriate action against him in accordance with law.”

The Supreme Court on Wednesday witnessed unprecedented drama in the Ayodhya case when Senior Advocate Dhavan, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Wakf Board tore up a map supplied by the Hindu side in open court.

This happened after Dhavan got into a tiff with Senior Advocate Vikas Singh who was represenging the All India Hindu Mahasabha and wanted the court to take on record a book “Ayodhya Revisited” authored by retired IPS officer Kunal Kishore.

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/ayodhya-case-hindu-mahasabha-wants-action-against-dhavan/story-ryBnjIlNh7MjzHTreEpfJM.html

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Police identify Hizb militants behind civilian killing in J&K

Oct 18, 2019

Mir Ehsan

A fruit trader from Punjab remained in critical condition in hospital on Thursday after he was shot and wounded by suspected Kashmiri militants who killed an associate of his in south Kashmir’s Shopian district in the latest attack on people associated with the fruit business, one of the mainstays of the local economy.

Meanwhile, the police released pictures of the two top Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Shopian who they suspect were responsible for killing a truck driver from Rajasthan earlier in the week.

Unidentified gunmen targeted two fruit traders from Ferozepur in Punjab at Trenz, seven kilometres from Shopian town, on Wednesday night, killing Charanjit Singh on the spot and wounding Sanjay Kumar, who was admitted in Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital in a critical state.

“Kumar had bullet injuries in his chest and is on a ventilator and continues to be critical,’’ said the medical superintendent of SMHS Hospital, Nazir Choudhary .The body of Charanjit Singh was sent to Punjab in the evening.

It was the first attack on fruit traders from outside of Jammu and Kashmir. The fruit trade is one of the mainstays of the Kashmiri economy and several attacks have taken on people associated with it in the aftermath of the Centre’s August 5 decision to strip the state of its special status and divide it into two Union territories -- J&K and Ladakh.

In September, militants barged into the house of a fruit trader in Dangerpora, Sopore, and opened fire, leaving four people, including a little girl, injured.

Singh and Kumar had been in south Kashmir from some time in connection with the fruit business. A senior police officer said an investigation was underway and the police were trying to identify the militants behind Wednesday’s attack in Shopian.

“There is every possibility that the latest attack could be handiwork of militants who killed the {truck} driver from Rajasthan,’’ the officer said on condition of anonymity.

J&K’s director general of police Dilbag Singh, who visited Shopian and chaired a high-level meeting, told reporters that the police had identified the militants behind the attack and they would be neutralised. He identified the militants as Salman Bhai, a Pakistani, Naveed and Raheel Magray.

“One of the militants had even gone to the fruit orchards asking the growers not to pluck their fruit,” said Dilbag Singh, who asked the army, Central Reserve Police Force and police officers to safeguard fruit growers and trucks transporting their produce from various parts of the valley, especially Shopian

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/police-identify-hizb-militants-behind-civilian-killing-in-j-k/story-BIM6KTeWqzLKCEmvng1wSI.html

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Sunni Waqf board counsel favours settlement of Ayodhya dispute

by Rasia Hashmi

October 17, 2019

New Delhi [India]: With the mediation committee submitting a “settlement report” in the Supreme Court on the day it wound up its arguments in the Ayodhya dispute case, counsel of Sunni Waqf Board Syed Shahid Rizvi said on Thursday that every party should read the terms of settlement and sign it.

“The parties have reached at a term before the mediation panel, I cannot divulge the details. Mediation is already done and over. Other parties, who did not seek it, must read the terms of the settlement and sign it. There is a chance of settlement,” Rizvi told ANI.

Rizvi said the settlement is “best for unity and integrity of India”.

Karunesh Shukla, who represented Mahant Dharam Das, a primary litigant in the case, said most parties in the case have not agreed with the mediation panel. “It is not required,” he said.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday wrapped up the arguments of all the concerned parties and reserved the order in the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute case.

The five-judge bench Constitution bench, headed by CJI Ranjan Gogoi, has given liberty to the parties to submit written submissions in three days.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/sunni-waqf-board-counsel-favours-settlement-ayodhya-dispute-1695960/

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BJP minister proposes to rename Hajj House named after Ali Miyan

by Rasia Hashmi

October 17, 2019

Lucknow: Mohsin Raza, minister of state for minority welfare, Muslim Waqf and Haj has proposed to rename the Haj House in Lucknow after ‘Missile Man’ Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, which is presently named after renowned cleric Maulana Ali Miyan.

During a meeting here on Wednesday, the minister also proposed a change in the names of Haj houses in other parts of UP, including Varanasi and Ghaziabad.

As reported by Hindustan Times, the exterior walls of Haj House were painted saffron in January 2018.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/bjp-minister-proposes-rename-hajj-house-named-after-ali-miyan-1695620/

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At A Time When Faith in Human Goodness Is Quickly Eroding Honesty of Two Muslim Teenagers Spreads Diwali Cheer in Jodhpur

17th October 2019

By Rajesh Asnani

JAIPUR: At a time when faith in human goodness is quickly eroding, an act of honesty by two school-going boys gives hope that morality and ethics still shine in Indian society. Inspired by their grandfather's teachings on honesty, two Muslim boys showed an exemplary zeal to find the real owner of a lost bundle of notes that they found on a road.

Two 13-year-old Muslim cousins, Abdul Majid and Abdul Qadir, from Bilara tehsil in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur district had gone to the market to buy a mobile sim card when they found cash worth Rs 15,500 lying on the road near a petrol pump.

Though it was a huge amount for them in view of their financial status, the boys were not lured into any mischief but instead went straight to their grandfather Fakir Mohammed who had always taught the children to be upright and honest in their lives. Fakir, who works as a rag picker, heard the story from his two grandsons and immediately set out with them to find out the rightful owner of the money.

Heading straight to the place where the bundle of money was found, the three came to know, after several enquiries from nearby shopkeepers, that one Mishri Lal Gurjar had come looking for the money and had left his number with a mobile store.

It was only after Gurjar came and established his credentials by giving the denominations of the notes lost, the amount was duly returned to him.

As Fakir Mohammed says, "I was scared that we might give it to some wrong person then how will we give the money to the right owner. Which is why I asked him about the notes and amount. When he answered correctly, we confirmed that he was the real owner." Fakir was delighted that despite their poverty and tender age, his grandchildren have stuck to the honest path that he has guided them towards "These kids live with me and I have always taught them not to lie and to live honestly. I am happy that they have adhered to my teachings practically," he said.

As per Gujrar, he had come to purchase feed for his cattle but probably dropped the amount while taking out his mobile from his pocket.

Full report at:

http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2019/oct/17/honesty-of-two-muslim-teenagers-spreads-diwali-cheer-in-jodhpur-2049100.html

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Bangladesh Home Minister Seeks Detailed Report after Border Guards Shoot Dead BSF Jawan

October 17, 2019

Kolkata: Hours after a Bangladeshi Border Guard (BGB) gunned down a head constable of the Border Security Force (BSF) and left another injured, Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan sought a detailed report from the concerned authorities.

“I heard about the firing incident along the international border area between Bangladesh and India. I am looking into it,” Khan told News18 over telephone.

“I have asked for a detailed report on what led to the firing incident from the Director General of Border Guards Major Shafeenul Islam. Each and every detail has been sought and only after receiving a detailed report from Islam, I will be able to share more on this issue,” he added.

Khan on Thursday visited Rangamati, which is a part of the Chittagong Division, for official work and will conduct a high-level meeting on this issue in Dhaka on Friday with the concerned officers.

Khan in the past has maintained that Bangladesh shares a very cordial relationship with India. In an interview with News18, he has defined the India-Bangladesh relationship as “magical”.

Full report at:

https://www.news18.com/news/india/bangladesh-home-minister-seeks-detailed-report-after-border-guards-shoot-dead-bsf-jawan-2349885.html

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Deadly day in Kashmir as three militants killed, migrant worker shot dead

16 October 2019

SRINAGAR, India, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Indian security forces killed three separatist fighters, while suspected militants shot dead a migrant worker on one of the bloodiest days in Kashmir since New Delhi revoked the disputed region's autonomy and special status more than two months ago.

The killings on Wednesday were the first since mobile telephone services were restored as part of gradual relaxation of security measures taken to curb violent unrest in Jammu and Kashmir state.

The government had cut off telephone and internet lines before it revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special rights on Aug. 5, striking down long-standing constitutional provisions for the Muslim-majority region that is also claimed by neighbouring Pakistan.

A security lockdown is still largely in place, and broadband and mobile internet connections remain unavailable to most Kashmiris.

The militants killed on Wednesday died during a gun battle after soldiers, acting on a tip-off, raided a village in south Kashmir, two police sources told Reuters.

"Three terrorists were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter," Kashmir police said in a statement. "Incriminating material, including arms and ammunition, was recovered."

Neither the soldiers or police, who were also present, suffered casualties, according to the police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to the media.

Security forces imposed travel restrictions near the site of the gun battle to prevent unrest, the sources said. Many Kashmiris hostile to India's rule often gather to throw stones at security forces after militants are killed.

In a separate incident in south Kashmir's Pulwama district, suspected militants shot dead a migrant worker from Chhattisgarh state, in central India, in an execution-style killing, police said.

"Area has been cordoned and searches are going on," Kashmir police said in a tweet.

Full report at:

http://news.trust.org/item/20191016104327-tfmro/

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Apple traders moved to Jammu & Kashmir 'safe houses'

Oct 18, 2019

SHOPIAN/NEW DELHI: Concerned at the killing of three non-Kashmiris+ by terrorists since Monday, the J&K administration on Thursday started herding the floating population of migrant labourers, truckers and fruit traders visiting south Kashmir into "safe houses" in Shopian and Pulwama.

Also taking measures to enhance security of 'outsiders' linked to apple trade, the district administration in Shopian has decided that the big trucks will ply only on the main roads and not venture into the interior areas. "The fruit growers have agreed to have the apples transported in smaller vehicles from the orchards to identified pick up points on the main road, where they will be loaded on the trucks. J&K police has put in additional security measures at the pick up points," J&K DGP Dilbag Singh told TOI on Thursday.

Explaining why outsiders were being targeted, Singh said terrorists were specifically hitting people linked to apple trade. "Apples have largely been picked up from Pulwama but here in Shopian, the apples ripen later and hence are being transported only now. Shopian also happens to be a hub of terrorists. Hence the rising attacks."

"Despite the killings, the highest ever transportation of the fruit - not only in this season but in the history of fruit trade here - was reported today (Thursday)," he said.

Shopian deputy commissioner Yasin Chowdhry said apple traders and truckers waiting for their shipments had been asked to assemble at the town's new wholesale fruit market and its adjoining areas, where the administration would provide them secure lodging. "We are in the process of bringing them in. We should be having the exact headcount soon," he told TOI.

Trucks have been barred from going directly into the orchards because terrorists might be lying in wait there. "The plan is to deploy porters and a fleet of smaller vehicles to carry fruit from the orchards till the highway so that the loading can be done there. The trucks will then move in a convoy with escorts," an official said.

An apple trader from Punjab was shot dead in Shopian on Tuesday, hours after a brick kiln worker from Chhattisgarh was killed by terrorists in Pulwama.

On Monday, a trucker from Rajasthan fell to terrorist bullets in Shopian. The three attacks in as many days prompted many truckers to flee the Valley without their fruit shipments.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/apple-traders-moved-to-jk-safe-houses/articleshow/71640574.cms

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Pakistan scrambled F-16s after SpiceJet flight confusion

Oct 18, 2019

NEW DELHI: The Pakistan air force last month scrambled two F-16 jets to escort a SpiceJet plane flying from Delhi to Kabul till it exited its airspace and entered Afghan airspace because the Pakistani aviation authorities were confused about the schedule commercial flight's call sign.

The scare happened amid rising tensions between India and Pakistan on September 23 when flight SG-2 was flying with over 120 people on board.

The Boeing 737's call sign "SG" reportedly was misunderstood by Pakistan to be an Indian Army or Air Force aircraft. So they scrambled two F16s. During this time, the SpiceJet pilots told the Pakistan ATC that they were operating a schedule commercial flight from Delhi to Kabul.

Once the PAF jets had the SpiceJet plane in their sights, they could see the aircraft was not a military plane. They reportedly asked the pilots to descend to a lower altitude.

Even after being convinced, the fighter escort for this plane remained till it exited Pakistani airspace and entered Afghan airspace. Since the passengers could see fighter jets flying alongside their plane, there was tension in the cabin. Sources say passengers were asked to pull down the window blinds. Relief came when the plane exited Pakistan airspace and the F16s peeled away.

However, the return Kabul-Delhi flight this aircraft was to operate was delayed by about five hours. All paperwork and route clearances were reiterated with the Pakistani authorities to ensure the same thing didn't happen on the way back. Luckily, the return sector was uneventful.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-scrambled-f-16s-after-spicejet-flight-confusion/articleshow/71640530.cms

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Pak-sponsored terrorists behind civilian killings identified: J&K DGP

Oct 17, 2019

SRINAGAR: The Pakistan-sponsored terrorists involved in the killing of three civilians, including an apple trader, this week have been identified, director general of Jammu and Kashmir police Dilbag Singh said on Thursday, directing for stringent action against the elements inimical to peace.

The police chief also called for effective measures to foil ill-designs of the elements from across the border that are continuously attempting to foment trouble in the state.

A truck driver from Rajasthan, a migrant labourer from Chhattisgarh and an apple trader from Punjab were killed and another apple trader critically injured in three separate attacks by terrorists in Shopian and Pulwama districts of south Kashmir since Monday.

"Pakistan-sponsored terrorists are involved in the killing of the three civilians… Such acts are very barbaric and inhumane," the police chief said, chairing a meeting of police and security force officers in South Kashmir's Shopian district.

Expressing deep sorrow on the killings and conveying his condolences to their families, Singh said the traders from other parts of the country come to the Valley to help people by purchasing their produce.

"The local people have condemned such barbaric acts and are cooperating with the police," he said, adding the situation throughout Jammu and Kashmir is improving although Pakistan is trying to infiltrate more terrorists to create trouble and disturb peace in the Valley.

Singh directed all field commanders of police, army and CRPF to work out additional security measures in consultation with local fruit traders.

He said loading points to transport apple from valley to outside markets have been identified where extra security measures will be taken to ensure the safety of civilians.

"Evolve an effective mechanism to ensure safety, security of people and also for maintenance of law and order," he said.

The DGP said hundreds of fruit trucks are being loaded and transported every day.

Singh visited Shopian, Imamsahib and Zianpora during the day-long tour and interacted with officers and Jawans of police components, police stations, CRPF, Armed Police and Army, a police spokesman said.

At Shopian security and law and order situation was reviewed in which Brigaider Ajay Katoch of Army, Commanding Officers of CAPF, Armed Police and Senior Superintendent of Police, Shopian, Sandeep Choudhary and other officers briefed him, he said.

While chairing the meetings, the DGP had detailed discussions regarding the counter insurgency measures, the spokesman said.

He said Singh stressed for enhanced coordination and synergy among all security agencies for achieving desired results.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pak-sponsored-terrorists-behind-civilian-killings-identified-jk-dgp/articleshow/71637722.cms

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Pakistan

 

Fazl spurns govt’s dialogue offer, renews demand for PM’s exit

Zulfiqar Ali

October 18, 2019

PESHAWAR: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman here on Thursday turned down the government’s offer for negotiations and declared that the party’s decision regarding the Oct 31 march on Islamabad was irreversible.

“First, tender your (prime minister) resignation and then, we can negotiate,” Mr Fazl told the foundation day function of the Jamiat Talba-i-Islam, the party’s student wing, here.

Opposition leader in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Akram Khan Durrani and other senior JUI-F leaders also addressed the ceremony.

“First, you (Imran) mocked and made fun of us and now, you are offering negotiations. Mockery and seriousness cannot go together,” he said, adding that the government would have to quit ahead of talks with his party.

In a meeting in Islamabad on Wednesday, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s core committee had offered talks to the JUI-F to discuss its demands.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak leads the party’s team tasked with contacting the JUI-F leader.

Addressing students, Mr Fazl said the party’s decision regarding the anti-government march was final and that all opposition parties were on the same page about it.

He said rallies would be taken out on Oct 27 to show solidarity with the people of India-occupied Kashmir with a major one being held in Peshawar.

“After showing solidarity with the people of the India-held valley, the people will march on Islamabad and will be there on Oct 31,” he said.

Mr Fazl said the government was pressuring transporters not to provide buses and wagons for the Azadi March.

He said the marchers would go to Islamabad at all costs even if they had to use camels, horses, bicycles and motorcycles or walk.

The JUI-F leader claimed that his party enjoyed the support of all segments of society, including traders, workers and industrialists, and the entire nation would join the anti-government march.

He said the marchers would remain peaceful, while the state institutions, including the Pakistan Army and police, won’t clash with them.

Mr Fazl rejected the government’s objections to the party’s security wing, Ansarul Islam, and said Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had also the National Guard.

He said the Ansarul Islam’s volunteers would operate to maintain discipline during the march.

The JUI-F leader said some people had waged an armed struggle in Pakistan in the name of the Taliban but his party vehemently opposed them.

He said the ulema and scholars affiliated with the JUI-F were killed in bomb and suicide attacks for opposing militancy.

Mr Fazl said he and other senior party leaders had survived attacks.

He said his party believed in parliamentary politics and began political movement against the ruling PTI as the people’s mandate was stolen in the July 25 general elections.

The JUI-F chief said the establishment was behind the current ‘selected and puppet’ government.

“This is our duty and responsibility to protect democratic rights of the people and ensure fair and transparent elections in the country,” he said.

Mr Fazl said the country’s economy had been ruined and industrialists had closed their units.

He said the puppet government had been installed to promote indecency and accomplish the agenda of the ‘Jewish lobby’.

The JUI-F leader claimed that the government had failed on all fronts, while neighbours had severed relations with Pakistan.

He said few retired generals had been talking in talk shows in favour of recognition of Israel.

Mr Fazl said retired generals should understand their limits and should not work for the Jewish state.

He said the Quaid-i-Azam had opposed Jewish settlements on Arab lands and declared them illegal.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511482/fazl-spurns-govts-dialogue-offer-renews-demand-for-pms-exit

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Imran Khan launches Rs 100-billion programme for Pakistani youths

Oct 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday launched a Rs 100-billion worth initiative to empower youths by providing them technical and financial support to start businesses.

The first phase of the Kamyab Jawan Programme was unveiled at a special ceremony in Islamabad.

"We have allocated Rs 100 billion for youths under the programme. Rs 25 billion from the project is earmarked for women," Khan said.

He said loans up to Rs one lakh will be given interest-free, while Rs 10 billion will be used to train 1,00,000 youths.

The entire Kamyab Jawan initiative will help 1 million young people.

Under the initiative, internship to 25,000 young people will be provided at various industries.

Khan said the government will also set up 500 science labs in madrassas across the countries.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/imran-khan-launches-rs-100-billion-programme-for-pakistani-youths/articleshow/71638128.cms

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Plane with Prince William, Kate aborts Pakistan landing twice, couple 'fine'

Oct 18, 2019

LAHORE: Britain's Prince William and his wife Kate told reporters on board their flight on Thursday that they were fine, after the plane was forced to abort landings in the Pakistani cities of Rawalpindi and nearby Islamabad due to a severe thunderstorm.

The RAF Voyager carrying the royals, who are on a four-day official visit to Pakistan, returned to Lahore where they had spent the day.

William, who has previously worked as a search and rescue helicopter pilot, told reporters after they landed in Lahore that he and Kate were fine and joked that the problems had been caused because he was flying the plane.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/plane-with-prince-william-kate-aborts-pakistan-landing-twice-couple-fine/articleshow/71639908.cms

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Any attempt by India to divert water flow would be considered 'act of aggression': Pakistan

Oct 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Thursday that it has "exclusive rights" over three Western rivers and any attempt by India to divert the flow of these rivers would be considered an "act of aggression".

Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal made the remarks during his weekly media briefing here in response to a question regarding Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent remarks to stop water flowing to Pakistan.

Addressing an election rally in Haryana early this week, Modi reportedly said that his government would stop the water flowing to Pakistan.

Faisal said that Pakistan had "exclusive rights" over the waters of three Western rivers (Indus, Chenab, Jhelum) under the Indus Water Treaty.

"Any attempt by India to divert the flows of these rivers will be considered an act of aggression and Pakistan has the right to respond," he said, without naming the rivers.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/any-attempt-by-india-to-divert-water-flow-would-be-considered-act-of-aggression-pakistan/articleshow/71632820.cms

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Sir Syed Paid Tribute Over His Services For Muslims Of Subcontinent

Faizan Hashmi

17th October 2019

LAHORE, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Oct, 2019 ) :The Nazria-e-Pakistan Trust (NPT) Thursday organised a special lecture to pay tribute to renowned scholar, educationist and leader of the subcontinent Sir Syed Ahmad Khan on his birth anniversary.

Key speaker, Professor Bushra Mujahid, said in her lecture that services of Sir Syed for the Muslims of Hindustan would be remembered forever.

She said that Sir Syed Ahmad encouraged the Muslims through his speeches and articles.

"He educated the Muslims so that they could be able to face educated but biased Hindus at that time," she added.

She said that Sir Syed was the founder of Aligarh education movement, which had produced educated Muslim, who later struggled for a separate homeland for Muslim.

As a result of the struggle, Pakistan came into being at a later stage under the leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah RA.

Full report at:

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/sir-syed-paid-tribute-over-his-services-for-m-739495.html

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Speculation swirls as Shahbaz in no hurry to meet Nawaz

Zulqernain Tahir

October 18, 2019

LAHORE: PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif seems to be in no hurry to meet his imprisoned brother Nawaz Sharif, triggering speculation that he is angry over rejection of his opinion with regard to Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s (JUI-F) ‘Azadi March’ on Oct 31.

The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly skipped on Oct 10 ‘an all-important meeting’ with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Kot Lakhpat jail, citing his backache. Similarly, he did not press the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to allow his meeting with him (Nawaz) at its Thokar Niaz Baig headquarters on Thursday.

Nawaz has been in NAB Lahore’s custody in the Chaudhry Sugar Mills case since Friday.

A party insider told Dawn that since Nawaz had completely ignored his younger brother’s suggestions on the ‘Azadi March’ of JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Shahbaz appeared to be registering his protest by way of delaying his meeting with him (Nawaz).

Interestingly, despite his backache Shahbaz met his son Hamza Shahbaz at Kot Lakhpat jail a couple of days ago. Hamza has been on judicial remand in the Ramzan Sugar Mills and assets beyond means cases. Shahbaz also presided over several party meetings.

On Wednesday, the former Punjab chief minister skipped a court hearing in the Ashiyana Housing and Ramzan Sugar Mills cases on the ground of ‘severe pain in spine’.

Shahbaz is reportedly not in favour of joining the JUI-F’s protest as it is perceived to be against the powerful establishment which is said to be backing the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government fully. However, Nawaz rejected all the concerns expressed by Shahbaz and some other senior party leaders and directed him to make preparations to join the Maulana’s protest plan, whether it is a rally or a sit-in.

When a reason was sought from PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal for Shahbaz’s act of ‘skipping’ meetings with Nawaz, he said: “Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday wrote to NAB seeking permission to meet Nawaz Sharif.”

He said that in jail Thursday was fixed for meetings but a ‘special permission’ was required to see a prisoner under NAB custody.

Dispelling the impression that there were differences between the two brothers, Mr Iqbal said: “Both brothers are on the same page on the JUI-F’s march. Shahbaz Sharif’s suggestions were more or less the same as Nawaz Sharif’s.”

Maulana Fazlur Rehman is coming to Lahore on Friday (today) to see Shahbaz to discuss the strategy for the protest. Afterwards, they will address a press conference.

Meanwhile, a personal physician was not allowed to see PML-N vice-president Maryam Nawaz at Kot Lakhpat jail.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511489/speculation-swirls-as-shahbaz-in-no-hurry-to-meet-nawaz

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‘Institution’, judge accused of pressurising Arshad to convict Nawaz

October 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Nasir Butt, the main character behind the judge’s video scandal, has claimed in an affidavit submitted in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that an ‘institution’ as well as a judge pressurised former accountability judge Mohammad Arshad Malik to convict former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Mr Malik convicted Mr Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference, but acquitted him in the Flagship Investment reference.

In a related development, the IHC on an application filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) allowed the prosecution to place additional evidence related to the assets of the Sharif family on court record in the Flagship Investment reference.

The affidavit of Mr Butt contradicted the allegations levelled by Mr Malik.

It may be mentioned that following the release of a video by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice president Maryam Nawaz in a press conference in which Mr Malik confessed to convicting Mr Sharif under duress, the former judge issued a press release and an affidavit that claimed that Nasir Butt, Nasir Janjua, Mahar Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf had blackmailed him for the acquittal of Mr Sharif.

Mr Butt rejected all allegations levelled against him by ex-judge Malik, saying that he had never threatened or blackmailed him. Had the ex-judge ever been threatened by anyone he should have informed about it to his senior officials, Mr Butt added.

Mr Butt further stated that he never knew existence of any immoral video of Mr Malik, adding that the ex-judge himself disclosed this fact and admitted that an institution and a judge pressurised him to convict Mr Sharif.

According to the affidavit of Mr Butt, some other personalities also pressurised Mr Malik for Sharif’s conviction.

Mr Butt claimed that ex-judge Malik had repeatedly expressed his desire to meet Mr Sharif for seeking his forgiveness over the conviction, but the former prime minister had refused to meet him. On Mr Malik’s insistence, however, Mr Sharif had finally agreed to meet him, he added.

Mr Butt also reproduced the conversation of Mr Malik with Mr Sharif in which the ex-judge allegedly explained factors behind his decision to convict him.

The IHC will take up Mr Butt’s affidavit as well as his petition seeking to place evidence against ex-judge Malik on the IHC’s record on Oct 29.

Physical remand

Meanwhile, the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Thursday rejected the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) request seeking extension in the physical remand of Hamza Arif Butt, a nephew of Nasir Butt, in the judge’s video scandal case.

ATC Judge Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan asked the FIA about the progress of last 10 days, the period in which Hamza Butt was in its custody.

The investigation officer, Ijaz Ahmed Shah, told the court that FIA had to recover laptops and some other evidence from the custody of the accused.

Arshad Khan Jadoon, counsel of Hamza Butt, informed the ATC that the evidence related to video of judge Arshad Malik had already been placed before the IHC.

He said the laptop in question had also been submitted before the IHC and the high court would take up the case on Oct 29.

Subsequently, the ATC judge rejected the FIA’s request and sent Hamza Butt to Adiala Jail on judicial remand.

Flagship Investment reference

An IHC division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani allowed NAB to place additional evidence on judicial record in connection with the appeal filed by the bureau against the acquittal of Mr Sharif in the Flagship Investment reference.

NAB’s additional prosecutor general Jahanzeb Bharwana informed the court that the bureau wanted to place a graph showing details of assets owned by the Sharif family on judicial record.

According to the prosecution, the graph correlates the Sharif family’s movable and immovable properties in Pakistan and abroad and it may be placed on record as it is vital for the prosecution case.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511483/institution-judge-accused-of-pressurising-arshad-to-convict-nawaz

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PHC declares internment centres in KP unconstitutional

Waseem Ahmad Shah

October 18, 2019

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court (PHC) bench on Thursday declared as unconstitutional the functioning of scores of internment centres in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after merger of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata) into the province.

The bench of Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Mussarat Hilali also directed the province’s inspector general of police (IGP) to take control of the centres within three days.

The court asked the IGP to constitute a committee for scrutinising the case of each internee. The internees against whom there was no case should be set free whereas the cases that had already been registered should be referred to normal courts, said the bench.

After lengthy arguments by lawyers representing several petitioners and the province’s Advocate General Shumail Ahmad Butt and Additional Attorney General Qazi Babar Irshad, the bench declared as unconstitutional the controversial Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance 2019, which was promulgated by the province’s governor on Aug 5, and the two similar regulations of 2011.

The bench also held as unconstitutional the KP Continuation of Laws in Erstwhile Pata Act, 2018 and the KP Continuation of Laws in Erstwhile Fata Act, 2019, through which the provincial government had given legal protection to the laws in force in former tribal areas at the time of their merger into the province.

The bench issued a short order and said a detailed judgement would be released later.

While different petitions were filed by detainees held at the internment centres, two of the petitions were filed by Advocate Shabbir Hussain Gigyani that challenged multiple laws, including the KP Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Ordinance, 2019, KP Continuation of Laws in Erstwhile Pata Act, 2018 and KP Continuation of Laws in Erstwhile Fata Act, 2019.

In May, Mr Gigyani initially filed a petition requesting the court to declare as null and void the KP Continuation of Laws in Erstwhile Pata Act, 2018 and KP Continuation of Laws in Erstwhile Fata Act, 2019 — wherein were all the laws, regulations, rules, notifications, including the Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation, 2011, that were applicable in the former tribal areas.

He had requested the court to declare as unconstitutional the internment centres established under the 2011 regulations and to direct the government to hand over all the internees to the respective courts of competent jurisdiction for their trial as per the law.

Subsequently, Mr Gigyani challenged the impugned ordinance, contending that all citizens of Pakistan were equally placed and there was no rational basis on which people of the province could be distinguished from those living in the other parts of the country.

The provincial home secretary had issued a notification on July 20, 2011, through which nine detention facilities, where hundreds of suspected militants had been detained, were notified as internment centres in the province.

Similarly, another notification was issued by the additional chief secretary, Fata, on Aug 12, 2011, under which around 34 internment centres were notified in the former Fata. Through that notification all the forts of the Frontier Corps and political lock-ups in the seven tribal agencies (now districts) were declared internment centres.

Advocate General Butt opposed the petitions and contended that no interned person could be subjected to torture.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511488/phc-declares-internment-centres-in-kp-unconstitutional

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Petition filed in SC against KP special powers ordinance

Nasir Iqbal

October 18, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court was asked on Thursday to order the scrapping of an ordinance promulgated in August by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor since it impinges upon fundamental rights.

The Action in Aid of Civil Power Ordinance authorises the armed forces to detain an individual at anytime and anywhere in the province without assigning any reason and without producing the accused before a court of law.

Farhatullah Babar, a leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, is the driving force behind the petition. The other signatories are rights activists Afrasiab Khattak, Bushra Gohar and Rubina Saigol, all from KP. Advocate Khwaja Ahmad Hosain drafted the petition.

Before the 25th Amendment to the constitution, the petition recalled, the tribal areas were administered under Article 247, which authorised the president to make regulations for peace and good governance in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata).

In 2011, the president promulgated the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulations, which were made applicable to Fata and Pata. The regulations made it clear that the need for the law arose because there was a threat to the country’s territorial integrity.

It was never the government’s intent to retain the 2011 regulations, which stipulated internment without charge, for an indefinite period. And once the threat had been addressed, the intention was that the directive to the armed forces to act in aid of civil power would be withdrawn and interned individuals would be handed over to civilian law enforcement agencies.

But the 25th Amendment removed Article 247 (7) from the constitution with effect from May 31 last year and merged both Fata and Pata with KP.

The petition stated that the ordinance was surreptitiously promulgated in early August and none of the petitioners who closely follow laws in KP were aware of its promulgation before the provincial government made it public in mid-September.

In a society governed by law, law-making bodies have an obligation to make citizens aware of all laws and there should be no secrecy in this regard, the petitioners argued.

The petition pleaded with the Supreme Court to order the federal and provincial governments to review the cases of all individuals interned or held under the ordinance and they be released or transferred to civilian law enforcement agencies.

The petition also requested the court to direct the two governments to ensure that all laws passed by them, whether primary or delegated legislation, were posted on official websites.

The apex court should also declare as illegal and unlawful any directive issued by the federal government under Article 245(1) of the constitution, which authorises the armed forces to act in any manner which is beyond the powers conferred on civilian law enforcement agencies, the petition said.

The court should also declare that the federal government must make publicly available forthwith any directive issued to the armed forces to act in aid of civil power under Article 245(1) of the constitution, together with the reasons for issuance of the same.

The petition sought urgent relief as everyone in the province had been subjected to a “parallel and draconian legal system” which authorises the use of force against them and to detain anyone without charge for an undefined duration and without any judicial remedy.

The petitioners are aggrieved as citizens of Pakistan because the ordinance provides for detention of anyone even on a visit to the province and even the petitioners who do not belong to KP were concerned at its impact on their fellow citizens in KP.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1511449/petition-filed-in-sc-against-kp-special-powers-ordinance

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TOTAL COMMENTS:-   1


  • The report says, “Islamophobia is a direct threat to our human rights and social cohesion in any country, so we have to act together,”
    It is extremely necessary to know first the tricks played by Islamophobes and radical Muslims and the way they use the contextual narratives. Only then we can be antidote to cries of those who associate their own evil intentions with Islamic teachings. 

    By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi غلام غوث الصديقي - 10/18/2019 8:30:23 PM



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