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Islamic World News (24 Nov 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)


One Million Chinese People 'Move Into Muslim Homes to Report on Islamic Or Unpatriotic Beliefs'

















Police fired tear-gas canisters to disperse supporters of Islamic political party Tehrik Labaik Ya RasoolAllah (TLP) during a protest over the Khadim Hussain Rizvi arrest in Karachi, Pakistan 23 November 2018. EPA

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One Million Chinese People 'Move Into Muslim Homes to Report on Islamic Or Unpatriotic Beliefs'

Pakistan Detains Tehreek-e-Labbaik Chief, Supporters Ahead of More Blasphemy Protests

Demolish Jama Masjid, Demands Sakshi Maharaj; Claims Mughals Built 3000 Mosques by Destroying Temples

Tehran Imam Calls for Sunni-Shia Unity against Enemies of Islam

Tunisian Activists Call for Protest during Bin Salman’s Visit over Khashoggi Killing

 

Southeast Asia

One Million Chinese People 'Move Into Muslim Homes to Report on Islamic Or Unpatriotic Beliefs'

Be Brave in Defending Pancasila, Jokowi Tells Nahdlatul Ulama Youths

Muslim lawyers thank Putrajaya over ICERD refusal, calls for calm

Government Rejects Anti-Racism Convention to Uphold Malay Muslim Privileges

Malaysia govt says it won't ratify UN rights treaty after facing anger from Malays and Muslims

Anti-ICERD protest will continue until issue solved in Parliament, say Johor Umno and PAS Youth

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Pakistan

Pakistan Detains Tehreek-e-Labbaik Chief, Supporters Ahead of More Blasphemy Protests

Terrorists Target Shia Seminary, Kill 35 in Pakistan

Baloch suicide squad kills 4 at China’s consulate in Karachi

Pakistan arrests over 100 TLP members

Muslim voices lead new UK asylum calls for Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi

COAS confirms death sentence of 11 hardcore terrorists

US, India, politicians condemn twin terror attacks in Pakistan

War against terrorism, militancy not over yet: Bajwa

Murad orders intelligence-based operations against militants, abettors

PM will inaugurate Kartarpur crossing on 28, NA told

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India

Demolish Jama Masjid, Demands Sakshi Maharaj; Claims Mughals Built 3000 Mosques by Destroying Temples

Education Neglected By All Muslim Segments: Former Vice President of India

Soldier’s Remarried Widow Who Embraced Islam Will Get Pension

Kartarpur corridor will act as bridge between people of India, Pakistan: PM Modi

26/11 Attacks Anniversary: Lessons Shrouded In Lethargic Strategic Culture

Navjot Singh Sidhu to Visit Pakistan for Kartarpur Border Corridor Ceremony: Report

Shujaat Bukhari's assassin among 6 terrorists killed in Kashmir

Former SPO Abducted, Killed by Terrorists in J&K's Shopian

Aligarh Muslim University: AMUSU demands cancellation of BJP MP’s court membership

After Amritsar blast MHA seeks NIA probe on J&K students held from Jalandhar

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Mideast

Tehran Imam Calls for Sunni-Shia Unity against Enemies of Islam

Turkey Says Trump Turning A ‘Blind Eye’ To Khashoggi Murder

Lavrov: Russia ready to mediate between Palestinians and Israel

Eryani: Hodeidah port should be under legitimate authority’s control

Iran calls US sanctions 'humiliation' to entire world, urges 'collective response'

Israeli fire injures 20 more Palestinians in Gaza

Israel’s Netanyahu to visit Bahrain amid signs of Arabs warming ties with Tel Aviv: Report

Israeli court orders eviction of 700 Palestinians from East Jerusalem neighbourhood

Turkey charges Gulen, 27 others for killing of Russian ambassador

Turkey sends 9 truckloads of aid to Bosnia-Herzegovina

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Africa

Tunisian Activists Call for Protest during Bin Salman’s Visit over Khashoggi Killing

U.S. Airstrikes Kill 50 Al-Shabaab Jihadis in Somalia

Boko Haram: Buhari govt under fire over killing of 44 soldiers

Suspected Islamic State attack kills nine in southeast Libya

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Europe

Regulators Seek to Revoke Zakir Naik’s Peace TV’s License in UK

Brexit Party Leader Hires Prominent Anti-Muslim Extremist As Adviser

Germany urges S. Arabia to cooperate with Turkey

Tunisians don't need the British government to teach them about resilience

London group with alleged ties to Hamas cooks chicken soup with local Jews

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Arab World

Jamal Khashoggi 'Truly Lived Life to the Fullest', His Daughters Say

The Tag of the ‘Children of ISIS’ Is a Slur That Weighs Heavily Upon a Large Number of Arab and Foreign Children

SDF Agrees to Withdraw from Military Bases in Hasaka after Popular Uprising

Syrian Army Pounds Terrorists' Movements from Demilitarized to Repel Attack in Hama province

US-led coalition strikes kill 11 Syrian civilians in Dayr al-Zawr

Former Israeli military affairs minister met Syrian terrorists: Report

Gunmen kill two activists in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province

Bahrain holds elections with ban on opposition groups

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South Asia

Myanmar Fails to Address Mistreatment of Rohingya: NYT

Casualties Feared As Suicide Attack Target Army Mosque in Khost Province

This is why the Afghan peace plan will fail again

Nation not in favour of Taliban’s return to power: Ghani

Fears of boat exodus as smugglers prey on Rohingya desperation

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North America

Western States Do Not Want To Irrevocably Damage Ties with Saudi Arabia: Researcher

Trump went off-script, exposed Saudi-Israel alliance: Analyst

US House To Probe Trump Ties To Saudi Over Response To Khashoggi Murder

US service member killed in Afghanistan

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/one-million-chinese-people--move-into-muslim-homes-to-report-on-islamic-or-unpatriotic-beliefs-/d/116974

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One million Chinese people 'move into Muslim homes to report on Islamic or unpatriotic beliefs'

Nov 24, 2018

Uninvited, more than one million Han Chinese people have reportedly moved into the homes of Uighur Muslim families to report on whether they display Islamic or unpatriotic beliefs.

Sent to homes in Xinjiang province by the Chinese government, American anthropologist Darren Byler said they were tasked with watching for signs that their hosts’ attachment to Islam might be “extreme”.   

The informants, who describe themselves as "relatives" of the families they are staying with, are said to have received specific instructions on how to get them to let their guard down.

As devout Muslims would refuse cigarettes and alcohol. this is seen as one way of finding out whether they were extreme.  

“Had a Uighur host just greeted a neighbour in Arabic with the words ‘Assalamu Alaykum’? That would need to go in the notebook,” said Dr Byler, in research published by Asia Society's Centre on US-China Relations. “Was that a copy of the Quran in the home? Was anyone praying on Friday or fasting during Ramadan? Was a little sister’s dress too long or a little brother’s beard irregular?”

As many as a million Uighurs are thought to have been rounded up and placed in "re-education’ centres", in what China claims is a clampdown on religious extremism.

Those who have spent time in them, have however claimed that they were forced to undergo an intensive indoctrination programme, urged to renounce Islam and instead heap praise on the Chinese Communist Party.

One former inmate claimed Muslim inmates were forced to eat pork and drink alcohol.

Dr Byler said more than a million Chinese civilians, who refer to themselves as "relatives", were assigned to the homes of Muslims for a series of week-long stays in 2017.

His claim appeared to be confirmed in the Communist Party's official newspaper, the People's Daily, which reported that more than 1.1 million people paired up with 1.69 million ethnic minority citizens in China by the end of September this year.

They often focus on families of those who have been detained in the "re-education" centres.

China was also said to be trying to prevent people from fasting during Ramadan in Xinjiang last year.

According to the World Uighur Congress (WUC), officials in the region ordered all restaurants to remain open and a series of measures were put in place seemingly designed to prevent people observing the holy month.

Chinese authorities have also been accused of putting Uighur children and those from other ethnic minority groups into state-run orphanages across the western Xinjiang region, even if their parents were not dead, as some one million adults in their families were sent to internment camps.

Dilxat Raxit, of the exile World Uighur Congress, has also claimed officials in Xinjiang warned them that they must surrender religious items such as the Quran or face “harsh punishments”.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-uighur-muslim-people-move-homes-xinjiang-china-religion-a8648561.html

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Pakistan Detains Tehreek-e-Labbaik Chief, Supporters Ahead of More Blasphemy Protests

24 Nov 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police late on Friday (Nov 23) detained a hardline cleric whose party recently paralysed the country with violent protests over the acquittal of a Christian woman accused of blasphemy.

Firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, who is the leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) party, was detained ahead of a scheduled rally on Saturday in Islamabad, the country's information minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted.

"Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into protective custody by police and shifted to a guest house," Chaudhry tweeted, adding that the move was not linked to the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was on death row for eight years before the Supreme Court overturned her blasphemy conviction last month.

"It's to safeguard public life, property and order and has to do nothing with (the) Asia Bibi case," Chaudhry tweeted.

"Law shall take its course and it cannot be left to individuals," he added.

The court's decision sparked furious demonstrations led by the hardline TLP, with protesters calling for Bibi's execution as they blocked major roads, leaving large swathes of the country paralysed.

In response, the government made a deal with the Islamists to impose a travel ban on Bibi, who was released from jail earlier this month as she awaits the outcome of a final review of her case.

The TLP has vowed to return to the streets if she is allowed to leave the country.

In a video message released on Friday, another TLP leader Pir Afzal Qadri called for fresh protests, saying police had arrested dozens of party workers in the port city of Karachi and in parts of central Punjab province including Lahore.

Blasphemy is a massively inflammatory issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where even unproven allegations of insulting Islam and Prophet Mohammed can lead to lynchings and murders.

Bibi's conviction stemmed from a 2009 incident when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields.

Muslim women labourers objected to her touching the water bowl as a non-Muslim, and a fight reportedly erupted.

A local imam then claimed Bibi insulted the Prophet Mohammed.

Bibi has consistently denied the charges, and her prosecution rallied international rights groups, politicians and religious figures.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/pakistan-detains-hardline-cleric-behind-blasphemy-protests-10964474

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Demolish Jama Masjid, Demands Sakshi Maharaj; Claims Mughals Built 3000 Mosques by Destroying Temples

November 24, 2018

New Delhi: Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament (MP) Sakshi Maharaj from Unnao has advocated demolishing Delhi’s Jama Masjid, claiming, the mosque was built on the remains of a temple. The BJP leader further said that he should be hanged if idols were not found below the staircase of the mosque.

“Main rajniti mein jab aya to mera pehla statement tha Mathura mein… Ayodhya, Mathura, Kashi ko choro… Delhi ki Jama Masjid toro, agar siriyon mein murtiyan na mile to mujhe fansi pe latka dena… Aj bhi main kayam hun..” (When I came to politics, my first statement was in Mathura. To leave Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi aside and demolish Jama Masjid in Delhi and if idols are now found below the staircase then I should be hanged. I still stand by this statement), Indian Express quoted Maharaj as saying.

The BJP leader also said that he expected the government to bring in a law to build Ram temple in Ayodhya before the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Sakshi Maharaj, giving his first statement after his venture into politics, claimed that Mughals had shown disregard to sentiments of Hindus and built around 3000 mosques by dismantling temples across the country. “Mugal kal mein Hinduon ke samman ke sath khilwar kiya gaya Mandir tore gaye..Masjiden banayei gayi, 3000 se jyada..” (During Mughal era, people played with the honour of Hindus and demolished temples and mosques were constructed, over 3000.), the newspaper quoted Maharaj as saying.

Reinstating his firm position on the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, Maharaj appealed Congress president Rahul Gandhi, BSP chief Mayawati and SP president Akhilesh Yadav to voice their stand on the issue.

https://www.india.com/news/india/sakshi-maharaj-stirs-fresh-controversy-calls-for-demolition-of-jama-masjid-says-hang-him-if-idols-not-found-3444428/

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Tehran Imam calls for Sunni-Shia unity against enemies of Islam

November 24, 2018

Tehran’s Friday Khatib Ahmad Khatami called for unity amongst Muslims, Sunnis and Shias, against the conspiracies of the great powers so as not to allow a rift in the nation because of America, which he accused of “supporting terrorism”.

Khatami said this would mean “Shias and Sunnis unite together, depending on their constituents, against enemies who are targeting the foundation of Islam.”

“By its unity, the Islamic world will give a powerful blow to the United States,” he said.

He went on to criticise how US President Donald Trump stigmatised the Iranian people for “terrorism” and said that “Trump’s remarks are very silly. The whole world knows that America is the terrorist and the sponsor of terrorism.”

“It is they [America] who send terrorists to Syria,” he added.

Despite his call for unity, Khatami accused Saudi Arabia of being a “puppet of America” that had a key role in every terrorist act in the Muslim world.

He also accused the Saudi authorities of “committing war crimes” in Yemen. “The crimes committed by the Al Saud family in Yemen are very brutal. They unjustly call themselves the Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques, while they are actually the traitors of the Two Holy Mosques.”

https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181124-tehran-imam-calls-for-sunni-shia-unity-against-enemies-of-islam/

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Tunisian activists call for protest during bin Salman’s visit over Khashoggi killing

Nov 23, 2018

Tunisian activists have called for holding protests during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s upcoming visit to the north African country over the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

On Thursday, bin Salman began a tour of several Arab states, starting with the United Arab Emirates, in his first trip abroad since the killing of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s city of Istanbul last month, which is blamed on him and battered his image abroad.

Tunisian activists on Friday called for demonstrations in front of the presidential palace in Carthage during the trip on Tuesday.

"The blood of Khashoggi has not dried yet, the murderer bin Salman is not welcome in Tunisia, the country of democratic transition," said Neji Bghouri, the president of the journalists' syndicate.

The North African country has been hailed for its relatively smooth democratic transition following the 2011 revolution that toppled dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Journalists, bloggers and human rights activists are also trying to mount a legal challenge to stop the visit.

They tasked a group of 50 lawyers to file a complaint with the Tunisian courts to oppose the visit, lawyer Nizar Boujlel said.

The Tunisian presidency, however, welcomed the visit, with Nourredine Ben Ticha, adviser to Tunisia's President Beji Caid Essebsi, saying "Bin Salman will visit Tunisia on November 27. He is welcome in Tunisia, like the rest of the Arab brothers. Saudi Arabia has an important role in the Arab region."

He added that Tunisia had asked for the truth about the death of the Washington Post columnist and the punishment of those involved, but said the incident should not be exploited "to harm the stability of a brotherly country like Saudi Arabia".

Khashoggi, 59, a one-time royal insider who had been critical of the crown prince recently, was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Following weeks of denial of any involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance, the Saudi regime eventually acknowledged the “premeditated” murder, but has sought to distance the heir to the Saudi throne from the assassination.

A Saudi prosecutor later said Khashoggi’s body had been dismembered, removed from the diplomatic mission and handed to an unidentified “local cooperator.”

Furthermore, a recent report by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) said that the spy agency had concluded that bin Salman had been behind the gruesome crime.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/23/580907/Tunisians-protests-Saudi-crown-prince

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Southeast Asia

 

Be brave in defending Pancasila, Jokowi tells Nahdlatul Ulama youths

November 23, 2018

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has urged GP Ansor, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia's largest Islamic organization, to be brave and to be on the front line in safeguarding the state ideology of Pancasila and national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).

The President also said that he expected GP Ansor to protect the state from terrorist threats and separatism.

“GP Ansor has shown that our country’s heritage is the spirit of warriors and the sincerity of heroes. GP Ansor can’t be easily threatened, and that’s our spirit as a nation,” Jokowi told thousands of GP Ansor members at a commemoration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad, known in Islam as Maulid Nabi, in Pekalongan, Central Java, on Thursday evening.

GP Ansor was recently in the spotlight after a division in the group, Barisan Ansor Serbaguna (Banser), was involved in the burning of a black flag bearing the Islamic creed written in Arabic.

The incident occurred during National Santri Day celebrations in Garut, West Java, on Oct. 22, and led to several rallies in various cities accusing Banser of insulting Islam.

Ansor said the Banser members burned the flag because they thought it was the flag of outlawed group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI).

Jokowi said GP Ansor should insist that Pancasila could not be replaced by any other ideology and its members should be patient in facing all problems and challenges, and put the interests of the nation first.

“I want all GP Ansor members to safeguard and maintain our unity and brotherhood as the country with the largest Muslim population. Our biggest asset is us our unity and harmony. We should keep our Ukhuwah Islamiyah [Islamic brotherhood] and Ukhuwah Wathaniyah [brotherhood of the nation],” Jokowi said. (foy)

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/23/be-brave-in-defending-pancasila-jokowi-tells-nahdlatul-ulama-youths.html

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Muslim lawyers thank Putrajaya over ICERD refusal, calls for calm

23 November 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — The Malaysian Muslim Lawyers Association (PPMM) has expressed its relief and gratitude to Putrajaya today for backtracking on its earlier pledge to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

Its president Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar also called for calm, after mass protests by Malay-Muslim groups nationwide and police investigation into racially-charged rhetorics. 

“We feel very relieved with the announcement,” he told Malay Mail.

He said Muslim groups were alarmed over the decision, claiming the Convention would affect Bumiputera privileges.

“So I would consider that since a very firm decision has been taken by the government, the matter should put a stop to the grouses raised,” he added.

Zainul said that Muslim NGOs were confused with the different position given by the Cabinet.

Amid mass protests across the country, the Prime Minister’s Office had announced today that the government will not ratify ICERD.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1696443/muslim-lawyers-thank-putrajaya-over-icerd-refusal-calls-for-calm

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Government rejects anti-racism convention to uphold Malay Muslim privileges

11/23/2018

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Malaysian government will not ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Prime Minister’s Office announced today.

“The government will continue to defend the Federal Constitution in which is enshrined the social contract that was agreed upon by the representatives of all the races during the formation of the country,” the statement read.

The "social contract" was a pact made by the leaders of its Malay majority and minority Chinese and Indian groups regarding their rights and privileges as citizens, prior to independence from Britain in 1957.

Over time, the government adopted an affirmative action policy to benefit the Malays, who form 60 per cent of a population of about 32 million, after deadly race riots in the late 1960s.

Ethnic Chinese are estimated at 23 per cent and ethnic Indians comprise about 7 per cent, government data shows.

In Malaysia, race and religion are official bureaucratic terms included in the national identity papers of all citizens over the age of 12.

The concepts of Malay supremacy and Muslim supremacy (Ketuanan Melayu and Ketuanan Islam) are closely linked, since ethnic Malay are legally required to be Muslims.

Last Sunday, Prime Minister Mahathir said that it would be almost impossible for the government to ratify the ICERD since changes to the Federal Constitution require a two-third majority in parliament.

However, in early September, Mahathir had told the UN General Assembly that Malaysia would ratify each of the six human rights conventions still not adopted, including the one on racial discrimination.

The proposed ratification sparked criticism and protests in the government and opposition, as well as among non-governmental organisations.

Many feared that its implementation could undermine the privileges status for Malays in the Constitution.

The ruling Islamist Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) coalition and the opposition United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) had planned a protest on 8 December.

Yesterday, some NGOs claimed that the approval of the Convention was part of the Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) secret agenda to abolish the special privileges of the Malay Muslim community.

Full report at:

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Government-rejects-anti-racism-convention-to-uphold-Malay-Muslim-privileges-45564.html

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Malaysia govt says it won't ratify UN rights treaty after facing anger from Malays and Muslims

NOV 23, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government has officially declared it will not be ratifying a United Nations human rights treaty, after facing anger from Malay and Muslim organisations who are worried about the dilution of their rights.

"The Pakatan Harapan government will not ratify the ICERD," said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office, as quoted by the Malaysia media.

ICERD refers to the UN's International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

"The government will continue to defend the Federal Constitution which includes the social contract agreed upon by representatives of all races during the founding of this nation," the statement added, as quoted by Utusan Malaysia and Free Malaysia Today news sites on Friday (Nov 23).

The debate over the ratification of ICERD grew louder in the weeks after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad spoke in September at the UN General Assembly, where he said his new government would ratify all remaining UN human rights conventions as part of its international commitments.

Malaysia is also taking steps to remove the death penalty.

The main opposition parties, Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), are strongly united against the issue, and are planning a massive demonstration in Kuala Lumpur over ICERD on Dec 8.

Those opposed to the convention said ratifying ICERD would weaken the rights of Malays and Malay royalty, and dilute Islam's position in Malaysia.

The two top leaders of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, Tun Mahathir and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, over the weekend signalled that the government is unlikely to ratify the treaty anytime soon.

Once ratified, the convention requires the signatory state to set up legislation that prohibits racial discrimination and related acts.

This could affect Malaysia's longstanding bumiputera policy that reserves education and job spots for Malays and other indigenous races. There are also concerns that this would also weaken the primacy of Islam in the country and the special position enjoyed by the nine Malay royal houses.

Malaysian police, meanwhile, said on Friday that they are keen to interview several political leaders, after messages linked to ICERD and them were spread on social media.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last week, speaking at a joint rally over ICERD in Perak, told the crowd: "Don't wait until the Malays run amok. But if our warning goes unheeded, Umno and PAS will unite.

"This is not a mere warning; don't play if you don't want the amok to happen."

Dr Mahathir, speaking to Malaysian reporters in Papua New Guinea on Sunday, said: "This matter (ICERD) is sensitive to the Malays, we understand that."

He was quoted by Bernama news agency as saying: "In my speech at the United Nations, I mentioned about the complexity of implementing ICERD. So, we didn't commit that we are going to do it."

The Prime Minister said it would be almost impossible to change the federal Constitution to accommodate ICERD, as this would need support from two-thirds of MPs in Parliament.

The ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition that he leads has 127 out of the 222 seats in Parliament. A minimum of 148 votes are needed for a two-thirds majority to change any part of the Malaysian Constitution.

"Only with the support from the opposition can we have a two-thirds majority, and even then, government members themselves may not support (it). So I feel that it's almost impossible for us to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary," Dr Mahathir said.

Mr Anwar, speaking to reporters after the annual congress of Parti Keadilan Rakyat that he leads, said on Sunday that he believes it is not the right time to ratify ICERD.

Full report at:

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-govt-says-wont-ratify-rights-treaty-after-facing-anger-from-malays-and-muslims

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Anti-ICERD protest will continue until issue solved in Parliament, say Johor Umno and PAS Youth

23 November 2018

KULAI, Nov 23 — Johor’s Umno and PAS Youth wings say they will continue to protest against the United Nations’ International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) in spite of the government’s decision today not to ratify it.

“We will not rest until the matter becomes official and is brought up in Parliament,” said Johor Umno Youth chief Mohd Hairi Mad Shah, adding that they supported the joint rally organised by Umno and PAS against ICERD at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on December 8.

Mohd Hairi and Johor PAS Youth chief Juwahir Amin led more than 50 protesters on a demonstration in front of the Kulai district police headquarters in Bandar Indahpura here today at 2pm.

They had also lodged police reports against Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy over a video clip in which he allegedly made disparaging remarks on Malaysia’s supposed abuse of human rights involving the Indian community.

Juwahir maintained his support for the protest which the parties deemed to be detrimental to the Muslim way of life as well as a blow to bumiputra rights and the monarchy.

“Despite the Pakatan Harapan government giving the assurance (that it will not ratify ICERD), we in PAS are not convinced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement on the matter.

“We will continue with our protest as the basis of our struggle is against Waytha Moorthy which we view as the main cause of the government’s earlier decision to ratify ICERD,” Juwahir told Malay Mail when contacted.

Meanwhile, Johor police chief Datuk Mohd Khalil Kader Mohd confirmed that the Kulai district police has received three reports by the parties.

Mohd Khalil advised anti-ICERD protestors who wish to lodge police reports to do so within the confines of the country’s law.

Full report at:

https://www.malaymail.com/s/1696470/icerd-protest-will-continue-until-issue-solved-in-parliament-say-johor-umno

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Pakistan

 

Terrorists Target Shia Seminary, Kill 35 in Pakistan

Nov 23, 2018

ISLAMABAD: A suicide bomber on a motorbike rammed through a marketplace outside a Shia religious seminary, in northwestern Orakzai district near the border with Afghanistan on Friday, killing at least 30 people, including members of minority Sikh community. Over 50 people were injured in the terror attack targeted at Shias, the minority sect in the Sunni Muslim-majority Pakistan.

Abbas Khan, a senior district management official said, "A suicide bomber drove a motorcycle into a crowd busy in shopping at a weekly festival (Juma Bazar) before detonating his explosives." Among the dead were three members of the minority Sikh community and two security officials, he added.

"The majority of the dead were Shia," Aminullah, an official of local administration said adding that at least 51 people were injured, 17 of them critically. The injured have been shifted to hospitals in Kohat and Peshawar.

The suicide attack took place outside an imambarah (a religious seminary of Shia Muslims) in Kalaya Bazar, a Shia majority area in Lower Orakzai district. Lower Orakzai was one of the tribal agencies before its merger into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province by the previous government.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and his minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari, condemned the attack. In a tweet, Mazari feared that the death toll could rise and blamed the US failures in neighbouring Afghanistan for the attack.

"As the US fails in Afghanistan, Pakistan should be prepared for a fallout and we must ensure greater security for our tribal areas especially protection of our people," Mazari tweeted.

The attack occurred shortly after a brazen attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi by members of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a militant group of ethnic Baloch separatists that had waged a nationalist insurgency against the Pakistani state.

The BLA attack left two police officers and two civilians dead. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the Orakzai bombing.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/terrorists-target-shia-seminary-kill-30-in-pakistan/articleshow/66777800.cms

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Baloch suicide squad kills 4 at China’s consulate in Karachi

Nov 24, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Three suicide squad members of an ethnic Baloch separatist group stormed a Chinese consulate in the southern port city of Karachi on Friday, killing five people before they were shot dead by the Pakistani security forces. No Chinese national was hurt in the attack.

The suicide attack was claimed by Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), an insurgent group that has been fighting Pakistani state for over a decade and considers China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an illegal occupation of Balochistan. Since the launch of CPEC construction projects, the BLA and other Baloch separatist groups have been targeting Chinese and Pakistani engineers and workers in the restive province. On Friday, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said at a press conference, “All of our Chinese  friends and officials who work at the consulate, 21 in total, are safe and they have been shifted to a secure location. The area is now clear.” He vowed that Islamabad and Beijing will defeat the forces that wish to halt development in Pakistan.

China, in a statement, condemned the attack and promised to protect Chinese citizens in Pakistan. But Beijing made no comment on whether Qureshi’s reference to Pakistan and China fighting the Baloch separatists together, could result in its security forces playing a bigger role in CPEC.

Earlier, the BLA spokesperson, Jihand Baloch had said, “We have been seeing the Chinese as an oppressor, along with Pakistani forces. Three of our fighters have raided the consulate.” The fighters, he said, were members of the Fidayeen Majeed Brigade, a new force raised by the group to carry out suicide attacks on Pakistani security forces and Chinese targets. "The objective of this attack is clear: we will not tolerate any Chinese military expansionist endeavours on Baloch soil," the BLA said in a statement.

The group also released images of three young men, Azal Khan, Raziq Baloch and Raees Baloch, claiming that they were the attackers assigned with the task to target the consulate. Later, the BLA confirmed that their fighters had been killed.

Police said some gunshots were heard at 9.30am outside the Chinese consulate in Karachi’s upscale Clifton area. An exchange of fire and multiple explosions followed soon after, leaving two policemen and two civilians, a father and son, dead. “All three attackers were also killed in the ensuing gunfight with security forces. Police recovered a suicide jacket, arms and ammunition from the attackers,” Javed Alam Odho, a senior police officer said. In a tweet, Major General Asif Ghafoor, army’s spokesperson, had said that Karachi police and Pakistani Rangers had brought the “situation under control.”

“Two policemen lost their lives due to multiple injuries caused by explosive material, while a private security guard was injured in the blast,” Dr Seemin Jamali, Executive Director at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre (JPMC), told media. “Two civilians, a father and son, named Zahir Shah and Abdul Karim, were also killed in the attack,” Dr Jamali added.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/baloch-suicide-squad-kills-4-at-chinas-consulate-in-karachi/articleshow/66779152.cms

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Pakistan arrests over 100 TLP members

Nov 24, 2018

LAHORE: Pakistani police have arrested over 100 members of the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, including the radical Islamist party's chief who had given a protest call for Sunday against the acquittal of Christian woman Aasia Bibi.

Last month, Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) disrupted daily life across Pakistan by staging widespread protests following Bibi's acquittal in a blasphemy case by the apex court.

"We have taken into custody more than 100 TLP leaders and activists including its chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi from Lahore and other parts of the Punjab province," a senior police officer told PTI on Saturday.

He said a team comprising government officials and clerics tried to persuade Rizvi in Lahore late on Friday night to defer its November 25 protest, but he refused to budge.

"On this police arrested him and other leaders," the officer said.

"Khadim Hussain Rizvi has been taken into protective custody by police from Lahore. The action was prompted by TLP's refusal to withdraw its call for protest on November 25. It is to safeguard public life, property and order," Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted.

The minister, however, clarified that the "arrest has nothing to do with Aasia Bibi case".

"The TLP has become a continuous threat to the life and properties of the citizens and is doing politics under the guise of religion... the situation is fully under control, people should remain peaceful and fully cooperate with authorities," Chaudhry said.

He said the government did its best to convince the party against staging the protest, but they refused every offer and started to incite violence.

There were reports of TLP workers clashing with police in Lahore following Rizvi's arrest. Three policemen and seven workers are reported to have been injured.

The apex court, in a three-member bench led by chief justice Saqib Nisar, issued the landmark verdict last month.

Following the verdict, the TLP had termed the chief justice and other judges in the bench "liable to be killed" and had called Army chief General Qmar Javed Bajwa a non-Muslim and urged Muslim generals to revolt against him.

Bibi was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.

She has been released from the jail and the government says is in a 'safe' house. The government says she cannot leave the country till decision on the review petition against her acquittal. Chief Justice Nisar has ordered full protection to Bibi.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/pakistan-arrests-over-100-tlp-members/articleshow/66779818.cms

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Muslim voices lead new UK asylum calls for Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi

13 November 2018

Prominent British Muslim voices, including three Imams, have led new calls for the UK to offer asylum to Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman recently acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan.

In a letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, they urge him ‘to make a clear and proactive statement that Britain would welcome a request for sanctuary here.’ The signatories add that they are ‘confident that action to ensure Asia Bibi and her family are safe would be very widely welcomed by most people in Britain, across every faith,’ and that ‘If there are intolerant fringe voices who would object, they must be robustly challenged, not indulged.’

Signatories to the letter include Imam Qari Asim, Imam Mamadou Bocoum and Imam Dr Usama Hasan, as well as representatives from the Association of British Muslims, New Horizons in British Islam, Faith Matters, Muslim Council of Wales and Open My Mosque. Cross-party MPs Stephen Crabb, Liam Byrne, Ed Davey and Nigel Dodds have also signed the letter (full text + signatories below).

Rabiha Hannan, co-founder of New Horizons in British Islam, said:

“The idea that granting asylum to Asia Bibi would damage community relations is unfounded. On the contrary, the case offers a chance to show how we can work together for our common values and respect for free speech. If anything could damage community relations, it would be letting this wrong-headed idea take hold that we should let fear of extremists dictate our policies.”

Zehra Zaidi, a former Tory parliamentary candidate and signatory to the letter, said:

“As someone with a track record of working on protecting religious freedoms, including Christian and Muslim minorities, I know that Asia Bibi and her family would be welcomed and supported in rebuilding their lives in Britain. We all witnessed how ethnic minorities in Britain campaigned against the atrocities being committed by ISIS against Iraq’s Christian and Yezidi minorities and fundraised for relief efforts. Work is undertaken in every region of Britain on tolerance and the protection of religious freedoms, led often by our ethnic communities. The Government should make it clear that any extreme voices will not be allowed to have any influence in this matter.”

The letter to Home Secretary reads:

Asia Bibi’s life is in danger in Pakistan, where violent mobs are calling for her execution following her acquittal by the Supreme Court in a blasphemy trial. 

Britain’s commitment to freedom of religious expression is one of our most important values. This is especially valued by minority faiths in our society. Its foundation is respect for the beliefs of others, of all faiths and none.  This country has a long tradition of offering protection, stretching back to the Huguenots. We should seek to act in this case too.

It is essential that there is strong international pressure to ensure the Pakistani government allows Ms Bibi to leave for a place of safety if she wishes to do so. We call on you to make a clear and proactive statement, that Britain would welcome a request for sanctuary here. Many other governments may wish to make a similar offer: we wish to see our government step up and show leadership.

We are confident that action to ensure Asia Bibi and her family are safe would be very widely welcomed by most people in Britain, across every faith in our society. If there are intolerant fringe voices who would object, they must be robustly challenged, not indulged.

The real threat to good community relationships in Britain would arise from a failure to stand for and act upon the values we should all share.

Yours

Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham

Imam Qari Asim

Imam Mamadou Bocoum

Imam Dr Usama Hasan

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism

Liam Byrne MP (Labour)

Maria Caulfield MP (Conservative)

Stephen Crabb MP (Conservative)

Ed Davey MP (LibDem, Home Affairs spokesperson)

Nigel Dodds MP (DUP)

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP (DUP)

Steve Double MP (Conservative)

Kate Green MP (Labour)

Christine Jardine MP (LibDem, Foreign Affairs spokesperson)

Stephen Kerr MP (Conservative)

David Lammy MP (Labour)

Ian Paisley MP (DUP)

Gary Streeter MP (Conservative), Chair of Christians in Parliament

Stephen Timms MP (Labour)

Sammy Wilson MP (DUP)

Mohammed Abbasi, Association of British Muslims

Dr Khalid Anis, Future Leaders

Arshad Ashraf, British Muslim TV

Akeela Ahmed, Founder, She Speaks We Hear.

Rashad Ali, Institute of Strategic Dialogue

Paul Salahuddin Armstrong, Association of British Muslims

Mohammed Abdul Aziz

Dr Ali-Reza Bhojani, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Nottingham

Mustafa Field MBE Faiths Forum for London

Edie Friedman, JCORE, Jewish Council for Racial Equality

Stephen Hale, Refugee Action

Rabiha Hannan, New Horizons in British Islam

Hifsa Haroon-Iqbal MBE DL MPhil Association of British Muslims

Dilwar Hussain, New Horizons in British Islam

Sunder Katwala, British Future

Dr Omar Khan

Saleem Kidwai, Muslim Council of Wales

Dr David Landrum, Director of Advocacy, Evangelical Alliance

Amina Lone, Co-director, Social Action and Research Organisation

Nick Lowles, Hope Not Hate

Rabia Basri Mirza, British Muslims for Secular Democracy

Prof Tariq Modood, University of Bristol MBE FBA

Fiyaz Mughal OBE FCMI, Faith Matters,

Anita Nayyar Co Founder Open My Mosque

Rana Shama Nazir, Founder, British Kashmiri Women Council

Iman Otta OBE, Tell MAMA

Onjali Rauf, founder, Making Herstory

Jill Rutter, British Future

Matthew Scott, barrister, Pump Court Chambers

Julie Siddiqi, gender equality campaigner

Naved Siddiqi, New Horizons in British Islam

Jasvir Singh, Chair, City Sikhs

Satbir Singh, JCWI

Shahien Taj OBE, Henna Foundation

Shavanah Taj, Welsh Secretary, PCS Union

Zehra Zaidi, Director, Cities of Hope

http://www.britishfuture.org/articles/muslim-voices-uk-asylum-call-asia-bibi/

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COAS confirms death sentence of 11 hardcore terrorists

Nov 24, 2018

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Bajwa Friday ratified the death sentences awarded to 11 hardcore terrorists, who were involved in attacks on a school, law-enforcement personnel and a civilian, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported.

According to the military’s media wing, the terrorists, who were sentenced to death, were involved in heinous offences related to terrorism, such as targeting armed forces and the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) of the country, destruction of educational institutions and killing of an innocent civilian.

They were involved in the killing of 26 persons, including a civilian and 25 troops of the armed forces, frontier constabulary and police. Arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession upon apprehension and the convicts were tried by special military courts.

Those sentenced to death are Anwar Salam s/o Said Nazar, Irfanul Haq s/o Dilbar, Sahib Zada s/o Akbar Zada, Nadir Khan s/o Ahmed, Izat Khan s/o Bashreen, Imtiaz Ahmed s/o Taj Muhammad, Ameer Zeb s/o Jahangir, Badshah Iraq s/o Muhammad Ishaq, Izhar Ahmed s/o Mukhtiar Ahmed, Akbar Ali s/o Shaiber Sahib and Muhammad Imran s/o Azizur Rehman.

As many as 22 convicts have also been awarded life imprisonment.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/11/23/coas-confirms-death-sentence-of-11-hardcore-terrorists/

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US, India, politicians condemn twin terror attacks in Pakistan

Nov 24, 2018

The United States (US) and India as well as politicians at the local level have all condemned the twin attacks in Pakistan on Friday, denouncing the involvement of terror groups.

While 33 were killed and dozens injured when a bomb hidden in a carton of vegetables ripped through a crowded marketplace in Kalaya Bazar area of lower Orakzai tribal district, security forces in Karachi foiled a terror attack targeting the Chinese consulate situated in Clifton area.

The attack in Karachi was reportedly claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA). Pakistan has long accused New Delhi of supporting the Baloch separatists. The two countries have a history of bitter relations and have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region of Kashmir since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

India’s Foreign Ministry condemned the bid to attack the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani port city, saying that “there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism.”

The statement from New Delhi said, “Perpetrators of this heinous attack should be brought to justice expeditiously.”

It also added that “such terrorist attacks only strengthen the resolve of the international community to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.”

US Ambassador in Pakistan Paul Jones also condemned the attempted attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi. Denouncing the attack, the ambassador said that the US condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

CONDEMNATIONS FROM POLITICAL LEADERS:

Former president Asif Ali Zardari condemned the terror attacks in Karachi and Orakzai agency. The PPP co-chairman said that the planners and facilitators of these attacks should not be spared.

Zardari hailed the timely operation by the Sindh Police, praising SSP Suhai Aziz Talpur who fearlessly headed the operation. He instructed the Sindh government to pay compensation to the martyred police personnel and look after their families.

He also expressed his condolences to the families of the martyred police officials.

“We need to eliminate the nurseries of terror once for all to stop such acts of terror,” Zardari said, adding that killing innocent people is the most brutal act.

Prime Minister Azad Kashmir Raja Farooq Haider paid tribute to the security forces who foiled the terror attack on the Chinese consulate.

In a statement, the AJK PM applauded police and Rangers who paid rich tributes to them. He also acclaimed those police officials who lost their lives during the operation.

PM Haider said security agencies have set an example of professionalism by foiling the attempt.

He said terrorists will be eradicated from the country and for this purpose, the political leadership will back the law enforcement agencies.

He said the base of Pak-China friendship is stable. “Enemy tried to sabotage this friendship but they had failed in their nefarious designs in the past and will be given a befitting reply in the future too,” he said.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Ameer Senator Sirajul Haq and Secretary General Liaqat Baloch also condemned both terrorist attacks.

In their reaction, the JI leadership said these were the enemy activities to sabotage the CPEC. “The enemy is playing with the lives of innocent citizens,” they said, while paying tributes to the police and Rangers for foiling the terrorist designs in the Karachi attack and said the nation was proud of its brave security men.

The JI chief prayed for those martyred in the Hungo blast and expressed his condolences with the bereaved families.

Full report at:

https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/11/23/india-us-condemn-twin-terror-attacks-in-pakistan/

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War against terrorism, militancy not over yet: Bajwa

November 24, 2018

MULTAN / RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that war against terrorism and militancy is not over yet.

The army chief’s remarks came during a visit to Multan Garrison on Friday where he witnessed training demonstration on combat readiness by an armour formation of the strike corps.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Gen Bajwa underlined that an army deterred war through professional competence and readiness.

During his visit, the army chief interacted with officers of Multan Garrison and shared his thoughts on the security situation of the country, challenges and the response, the ISPR added.

“After kinetic operations, we are now into the phase of stability operations. War against terrorism and militancy is not over yet,” the ISPR quoted the army chief as saying. “Besides kinetic efforts we have to take on measures to address the root causes while staying cognisant of inimical forces and foreign hostile agendas,” he added.

Gen Bajwa said that within the folds of national action plan, the country should support national focus on socioeconomic development so that the people of Pakistan reaped dividends of improving security.

He said some elements were wittingly or unwittingly trying to pull the country back into confrontation. “The State shall not let them do it whether on the name of religion, ethnicity or any other pretext,” he said, adding that peace, stability and progress of the country was contingent upon rule of law by all.

Meanwhile, the army chief confirmed death sentences awarded to 11 hardcore terrorists, who were involved in heinous offences related to terrorism.

According to the ISPR, the terrorists were involved in attacking armed forces, law enforcement agencies, killing of an innocent civilian and destruction of an educational institution.

The convicted terrorists, it said, were involved in the killings of a total of 26 people — one civilian and 25 armed forces/security personnel — and injuring 22 others. Arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession.

According to the ISPR, these convicts were members of proscribed organisations. They were tried by special military courts and were awarded death sentences. The courts also handed down imprisonment to 22 convicts.

Details of conviction provided by the ISPR are as follows:

Anwar Salam was involved in an attack on the armed forces which resulted in the death of Major Ziaul Haq, Subedar Ali Asghar, Havildar Muhammad Afzal, Havildar Muhammad Bashir and Lance Naik Muhammad Anwaiz.

He was also found involved in the kidnapping of Lt Col (retired) Khaqan Afzal for ransom. The convict confessed to his crimes before a judicial magistrate and the trial court, which sentenced him to death.

Irfanul Haq was involved in abetting terrorist commander Mufti Meraj Uddin in the kidnapping of Capt Najam Riaz Raja and Capt Jonaid Khan along with two soldiers. The officers/soldiers were later slaughtered by the terrorists.

He was also found in possession of explosives. The convict was awarded death sentence after he confessed to his offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

Sahibzada was found involved in attacks on armed forces/law enforcement agencies personnel, which resulted in the death of Naib Subedar Muhammad Hanif along with four soldiers, a civilian and injuries to eight others. He was also involved in destruction of Government Primary School, Langar (Swat). In addition, he was found in possession of firearms/explosives as well.

The convict confessed to his offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. He was awarded the death sentence.

Nadir Khan, Izat Khan and Imtiaz Ahmed were involved in attacks on armed forces personnel, resulting in the death of a junior commissioned officer along with two soldiers and injuries to two others.

They were also found in possession of firearms and explosives. These convicts were sentenced to death after they confessed before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

Ameer Zeb and Badshah Iraq were involved in attacks on armed forces/law enforcement agencies personnel, which resulted in the death of three soldiers and injuries to nine others.

Arms and explosives were also recovered from their possession. The convict confessed to their offences before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. They were awarded the death sentence.

Izhar Ahmed was involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies, which resulted in the death of Constable Ayub Khan and Constable Islam Gul. He was also found in possession of explosives.

He was sentenced to death after he confessed before a judicial magistrate and the trial court.

Akbar Ali was involved in attacks on armed forces personnel, which resulted in the death of Sepoy Asif Mehmood and injuries to an officer and two soldiers. He was also found in possession of explosives.

The convict confessed to his crimes before a judicial magistrate and the trial court. He was awarded death sentence.

Mohammad Imran was found involved in attacks on law enforcement agencies, which resulted in the death of a soldier. He was also found in possession of firearms.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1447335/war-against-terrorism-militancy-not-over-yet-bajwa

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Murad orders intelligence-based operations against militants, abettors

Habib Khan Ghori

November 24, 2018

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed law enforcement agencies to speed up intelligence-based operations against terrorists in the city.

“The attempt to attack the Chinese consulate general shows that still there are abettors of terrorists in the city,” he said while presiding over a special meeting on law and order here at the CM House on Friday.

The CM directed the inspector general of police (IGP) to investigate the incident like the police had previously investigated some other high-profile cases including the Safoora bus carnage so that the abettors of terrorists in the city could be eliminated.

He also directed the IGP to conduct a security audit of all the diplomatic missions/consulates and install most sensitive CCTV cameras in the vicinities of the foreign missions.

The meeting was attended by CM’s Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Shah, IG Dr Kaleem Imam, Home Secretary Kazi Kabir, Commissioner Iftikhar Shalwani, Karachi police chief Dr Amir Shaikh, representatives of Pakistan Rangers, provincial heads of intelligence agencies and representative of the army’s Corps 5.

He said that after the recent bomb blast in Quaidabad Friday’s attack was the second such incident in the city.

He said that the heavily armed militants must have stayed somewhere in the city and travelled from their place to Clifton. He questioned why they were not checked anywhere.

“This shows that our snap-checking system needs to be more effective and strict,” he said, directing the city police chief to ensure snap checking of vehicles in the city.

Briefing the CM, the IGP said: “On Nov 23, at about 9.30am unknown armed terrorists armed with heavy weapons and grenades attacked the Chinese Consulate General near the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, in Block-4 Clifton. The Sindh police’s special security unit and Rangers reached the scene and killed all three terrorists. Two civilians died, one private security guard was wounded. All were shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.”

The chief minister directed the IGP to get the incident investigated properly. “This must be worked out as the police have worked out high-profile cases like Safoora carnage and others,” he said.

The chief minister was told that the Clifton police and Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) were investigating the case.

The CM directed the IGP to look after the families of the slain policemen, who valiantly laid down their lives in the line of duty.

He also asked to make necessary arrangements for shifting of the bodies of the two civilians to their native town in Balochistan.

Funeral prayers

The chief minister, governor, chief secretary, corps commander, DG Rangers and senior police officers offered funeral prayers for the martyred policemen at police’s headquarters in Garden.

The IG announced “bravery award” for both martyred policemen.

Martyr ASI Ashraf Dawood, father of three children, was a resident of Lyari, while martyr constable Mohammad Amir, father of two children, was a resident of Neelum Colony in Clifton.

The CM met with their family members and assured them that they would not be left alone. “The provincial government will look after you properly, you are not alone ... we are with you,” he told the aggrieved family members.

Visit to Chinese CG

Following the attack on the Chinese consulate, the CM spoke to Consul General Wang Yu and asked him about his well-being.

He also rushed to the spot and met with Mr Wang and his staff. He told them that the security was enough to thwart the attack.

“As soon as the incident was reported to me I got in touch with the IGP and Rangers DG and remained in constant touch with them until they controlled the situation,” he told the consul general.

The consul general of China thanked the chief minister for his prompt action and also lauded the efforts of the law enforcement agencies in controlling the situation.

Woman police officer appreciated

The IGP also briefed the CM and the diplomat about the incident.

Full report at:

https://www.dawn.com/news/1447313/murad-orders-intelligence-based-operations-against-militants-abettors

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PM will inaugurate Kartarpur crossing on 28, NA told

Ijaz Kakakhel

NOVEMBER 24, 2018

The lower house of the Parliament was on Friday informed that Prime Minister Imran Khan would inaugurate the opening of Kartarpura crossing, which would generate goodwill between Pakistan and India.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the corridor would facilitate the Sikh community during their visits to Pakistan. He said the Sikh community all over the world including Canada, UK and India were hailing the decision.

Qureshi said that Prime Minister Imran Khan would perform the ground breaking ceremony at the Kartarpura corridor on Wednesday. The minister said Pakistan had taken a positive step by deciding to open Kartarpura crossing and the Indian side should also reciprocate.

He said that Indian leadership should also demonstrate the courage to open doors for the Kashmiri people for trade and people-to-people contacts. He said Pakistan had given a message of peace on the LoC but regretted that Indian side was resorting to violence and unleashing atrocities on the Kashmiri people. The minister also said that Pakistan desired friendly relations with all its neighbours including India. He said resolution of all outstanding disputes with India lies only in the dialogue process.

Referring to the dialogue offer made by the Prime Minister to the Indian side, he said the Indian side backtracked from the talks due to domestic political pressure. He, however, said that Pakistan still desired dialogue with India.

The National Assembly witnessed a rare moment of unity between the government and the opposition when the foreign minister and Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif both condemned the terrorist attack on Chinese Consulate, saying that some elements wanted to sabotage Pak-China relations and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“This project [CPEC] is providing economic activity which is not bearable for many. They do not want peace and economic prosperity in Pakistan,” Qureshi said.

Qureshi also paid tribute to the two policemen who were martyred foiling the attack. He said the policemen lost their lives when they stopped one of the attackers who detonated his suicide jacket. According to the foreign minister, two other attackers were killed by snipers before they could enter the consular section.

“The terrorists wanted to create a hostage situation but their plan was foiled. There were about 21 Chinese staff members at the consulate and they were all safe and shifted to a safe location,” Qureshi maintained.

Sharif condemned the attack and praised the swift response of the Sindh Police and Rangers. Sharif emphasised that China was among the few countries who had supported Pakistan through difficult times.

He also said that the Prime Minister Imran Khan should disclose the name of the person who said that Nawaz Sharif wanted a National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). It had emerged that the prime minister’s sister Aleema Khan had some properties in Dubai and that she was given an NRO, he said, adding, “Who were these people who said that Nawaz Sharif wanted an NRO? Prime minister should tell us the name of the person.”

“Prime Minister should stop using threatening language. This is only hurting Pakistan,” he lamented. Speaking about the prime minister’s statement regarding U-turns, he said, “If taking U-turns is a big trait, then who in the world will trust us.” “Does the prime minister know that a negative image of Pakistan has been created because of his statement? If the premier gives out statements like these then no will trust him,” he asserted.

He reiterated the opposition’s claim that the PTI government officials were still behaving as if they were in the opposition.

PML-N lawmaker Saad Rafique alleged that those in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) were being drugged to influence their confessional statements. Addressing the National Assembly, the PML-N leader said, “During [Pervez] Musharraf’s time, NAB was used to coerce people into switching loyalties. Those who were with Musharraf were considered ‘clean’ and those who stood firmly by their viewpoints were punished by NAB. Those were unfortunate times.”

Rafique lamented, “PML-N and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) were given chances but despite attempts both the parties were unable to amend the draconian NAB law. We are responsible for this.” “Several lawmakers believe the NAB law had completed its time. However, despite this for some time now, NAB was being used as a tool to force people into switching political loyalties,” he added. “Kamran Mujahid had earlier revealed NAB’s injustices and inappropriate behaviour and Shehbaz Sharif had said similar things. It has been told that NAB imprisons people in a room which is 10×10 in size.”

On Friday, the National Assembly also unanimously passed a resolution paying homage to Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) on the occasion of his birth anniversary. The resolution was moved by Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan. Responding to the points of opposition members on the martyrdom of SP Tahir Dawar, Minister of State for Communication Murad Saeed said those involved in the despicable incident will be brought to justice. He pointed out that Pakistan has rendered innumerable sacrifices in the war on terrorism. He said certain elements do not want peace in Pakistan and also want to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. He said that India also stands exposed on the Ajmal Kasab case.

Finance Minister Asad Umar also spoke on Friday, insisting that the government would only sign an IMF package that was in the interest of Pakistan’s economy and the people.

Making a policy statement in the National Assembly, he said, “we are not in a hurry for the IMF package as alternative arrangements have been made to address immediate economic needs of the country.”

Full report at:

https://dailytimes.com.pk/325453/pm-will-inaugurate-kartarpur-crossing-on-28-na-told/

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India

 

Education Neglected By All Muslim Segments: Former Vice President of India

November 23, 2018

Former Vice President Hamid Ansari on Friday said among the identified issues faced by the Muslim community, education has been the most important one and is neglected by all the segments of the community.

"We have identified the issues (faced by the Muslims) a number of times. The issue is of identity and security, it is also of education. And I feel education is the most important issue," Ansari said during the 12th Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer Memorial Lecture On 'Muslims of India: Past and Present'.

Education, according to him, "has been neglected by all segments of the community and it has only confined to a small section of the community".

"Delhi has a large number of Sikhs and most of them were refugees. They have not only rehabilitated themselves but have also set up their religious institutions as well as their educational institutions. If a small community can do that, why can't a much bigger community," he asked.

He also said that, "190 million (of population) is not a minority except in terms of legal technicality".

He also suggested that, "interacting on a continuous basis with the wider community of fellow citizens is the answer" to remove the mental barriers.

"It (the interaction) does not have to confine to our idioms and our manner of behaviour. If I interact with another person, I will do it on the level of equality not on saying my way is the only way."

He also said this formula (of interaction) has worked in different parts of the world, and he does not see any reason why it will not work in the country.

The lecture, dedicated to Indian reformist-writer and social activist, was organised by the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism.

Delivering the lecture, A.G. Noorani, Advocate, Supreme Court and Constitutional Expert, advised the Muslims to involve themselves in national issues.

He also said "denying the discrimination is to denying the truth".

"There is a form of agitation among the Muslims and that can only be controlled through secularising the identity and by including them," he said.

https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/education-neglected-by-all-muslim-segments-hamid-ansari-118112301092_1.html

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Soldier’s Remarried Widow Who Embraced Islam Will Get Pension

Nov 24, 2018

CHENNAI: Being a soldier’s widow, P D Sunantha did not think her remarriage and conversion to Islam would ever come in the way of her continuing to receive her husband’s family pension. Sunantha became Haleema, and her religion became Islam instead of Hinduism in records.

However, it was only after Canara Bank denied her pension stating that it faced problems in linking her Aadhaar card which carried her new Muslim name, did Sunantha decide to approach the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) for remedy. The AFT came to her rescue, by ordering the local record office to make necessary changes and ensure that she received the family pension.

A few years ago Lance Naik V S Viju, who on patrol duty in Assam, met with an accident and had splinter injuries after a handgrenade in his pocket detonated when he tripped and fell down. Though he was carried to the Air Force Hospital at Hasimra, the hospital authorities declared him as ‘brought dead’. His death was classified as battle casualty and liberalised family pension was sanctioned to his mother and wife Sunantha (50% each).

Sunantha, who used to receive her pension through Marthandam branch of Canara Bank in Kanyakumari district, married P Maheen later and embraced Islam. She also changed her name to Haleema. Due changes were made in the government gazette in 2015, and she got her name changed in PAN and Aadhaar cards as well.

When Sunanthan — now Haleema — approached the Chennai regional bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal stating that bankers refused to release the family pension, the Army said the Integrated Headquarters of Ministry of Defence (Army) in its letter on April 2018 revised its policy on allowing change of name so that widows of deceased soldiers did not face any problems in receiving pensions.

On hearing both the sides, Justice VS Ravi and Lieutenant General C A Krishnan directed the Record Office in Madras Regiment Abhilekh Karyalaya to make changes in the Army records.

The office has been asked to publish the Part-II order changing her name as Haleema instead of Sunantha and religion as Islam instead of Hinduism.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/soldiers-remarried-widow-who-embraced-islam-will-get-pension/articleshow/66778667.cms

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Kartarpur corridor will act as bridge between people of India, Pakistan: PM Modi

November 24, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the proposed Kartarpur corridor between India and Pakistan will act as a bridge between the two nations. The Prime Minister was speaking at a function on the occasion of Guru Nanak Jayanti organised by Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

“Kisne socha that ki Berlin ki deewar gir sakti hai. Shayad Guru Nanak Dev Ji ke aashirwad se, Kartarpur ka corridor sirf corrdior nahi, jan jan ko jodne ka bahut bada karan ban sakta hai,” (Who thought that the Berlin wall would fall? With the blessings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Kartarpur corridor can become a reason to connect people with each other),” Modi was quoted as saying by ANI.

During the function, Modi was felicitated with a ‘saropa’ and turban by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and former deputy chief minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal and president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) Manjit Singh GK.

The Union cabinet on Thursday cleared the plans to build the corridor from Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Narowal district of Pakistan Punjab. Pakistan has conveyed to India its decision to open the Kartarpur Corridor for the Sikh pilgrims on the occasion of Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Thursday.

Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu also wrote to Union minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday and hailed the Centre’s decision to develop the corridor. Sidhu in the letter said, “As we move down this road and write a new chapter of faith and love for the region, I pray and hope that this enterprise will yield undeniable and implicit change and thaw in the relations, that it will build bridges, burn animosity and will act like a soothing balm for two neighbouring countries.”

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kartarpur-corridor-will-act-as-bridge-between-people-of-india-pakistan-pm-modi-5461979/

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26/11 Attacks Anniversary: Lessons Shrouded In Lethargic Strategic Culture

Nov 24, 2018

Mumbai city was held hostage by a group of terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Taiba who entered the city by the sea route and carried out a dastardly attack that led to the death of 166 people. The dead included security personnel and 28 foreign nationals from 10 nations.

Consequently, 26/11 has been etched on the Indian collective as a totally unexpected and surprise attack on national sovereignty by a ruthless terrorist group with visible state support. Ten years later, it is valid to ask if India’s seas are safer and could terrorists succeed in taking the sea route again? And furthermore, have the gaps in coastal security been plugged effectively and the appropriate lessons learnt and internalised across the security lattice of India?

26/11 happened because the national security apparatus from Delhi to Mumbai was found inadequate to anticipate this kind of a threat from the maritime domain and when it did unfold over three days with murderous consequences, the various institutions mandated to deal with such an exigency were found wanting. The Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (CG) and the local Mumbai police, who have different areas of responsibility, were unable to detect and prevent the terrorists from sneaking into the city and carrying out the attacks.

This gap was compounded by the fact that the national intelligence infrastructure that includes the external, domestic and state/city level agencies were unable to pick up any significant lead in the run-up to the 26/11 attacks that could have pre-empted the massacre of innocents that took place in late November 2008. It later transpired that the slim intelligence lead provided to the navy was not actionable.

Important lessons were learnt in the immediate aftermath of 26/11 and the most significant was the acknowledgement that maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Indian Ocean region needed to be enhanced by a significant index with appropriate focus on the more vulnerable coastal regions. A comprehensive plan that included a chain of coastal radars was envisaged in two phases.

The Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) with a chain of surveillance radars, cameras and related sensors has been established along the coast. The first phase of 46 radars has been installed and 38 more are in the pipeline as part of the second phase. Almost 1,500 potential landing points on the coastline have been identified and a broad division of responsibility has been arrived at, which involves the navy, the CG, the local police of the coastal states and the local fisher folk.

26/11 was enabled by the reality that one small vessel was able to enter the shores of Mumbai undetected and this was a gap that had to be plugged. Small fishing craft in India are in excess of 200,000 and over the last 10 years there has been an attempt to fit them with an automatic identification transponder system and introduce a colour code state-wise. This has been partially successful though the scale of the numbers and the compliance by owners remains uneven.

In November 2014, India commissioned the Information Management and Analysis Centre in Gurgaon, which is a joint operational facility of the navy and the CG. Shipping data from various sensors and databases is aggregated, correlated and then disseminated to various stations for enhanced awareness.

The gist is that the seas around India are better monitored now, after the enormity of November 2008 and the MDA index is much better – but that is only part of the success that has been achieved as far as composite security of the seas is concerned.

Coastal security is complex and 26/11 has revealed the inherent vulnerability of a country that has the kind of geography and security culture that India has. Mumbai 2008 triggered the need to beef up coastal security assets and the CG was enabled such that its ability to board vessels and monitor the coastal waters was enhanced. Consequently the CG has doubled its operational deployments since 2009 and average deployment per day is: ships/boats 35-40 and aircraft 10-15 sorties. One indicator is that average total aircraft flying efforts in 2009 which was over 10,000 hours annually is now over 21,000 hours . The CG extensively undertakes boarding operations which has resulted in a 50% increase in apprehensions at sea.

However while the navy and the CG have made steady improvements in their capabilities and organisational procedures, the last-mile credibility of coastal security lies with the state led maritime police and this domain is far from satisfactory. Coastal states lack the resources – both fiscal and HR -- to ensure 24/7 surveillance in critical coastal areas and 10 years after 26/11, this is a glaring gap with modest exceptions on the east coast.

And a final observation: India’s comprehensive maritime security compulsions go beyond what 26/11 symbolises and warrant a national maritime authority with a dedicated high-ranking professional adviser at the helm. Currently, legislation about India’s maritime security is embedded in a coastal security bill that is yet to be objectively deliberated upon and in the interim, a committee has this onerous responsibility – the NCSMCS (National Committee for Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security).

Full report at:

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/26-11-attacks-anniversary-lessons-shrouded-in-lethargic-strategic-culture/story-BKpo5TUm0Td5rPqTrFvgTO.html

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Navjot Singh Sidhu to visit Pakistan for Kartarpur Border corridor ceremony: Report

November 24, 2018

Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Friday that Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu would visit the country to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur Border corridor, according to a media report on Friday.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will inaugurate the groundbreaking ceremony of the facilities at the crossing on the Pakistan side on November 28.

Chaudhry confirmed that the former Indian cricketer would visit the country. This will be Sidhu’s second visit to Pakistan this year.

Sidhu told Roznama Express that he has gladly accepted the invitation, sent by khan for the November 28 event. He said the Pakistani premier was his friend and he will visit the country whenever he is invited by him.

“I don’t have words to express my joy,” he said.

A long-pending demand of the Sikh community to build a religious corridor linking India’s border district of Gurdaspur with a historic gurudwara in Pakistan may finally be fulfilled with both the countries announcing that stretches would be developed in their respective areas.

In a significant decision, India’s Cabinet Thursday cleared a proposal to develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Indian pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur in Pakistan.

The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Punjab Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of Khan as prime minister of that country.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/navjot-singh-sidhu-to-visit-pakistan-for-kartarpur-border-corridor-ceremony-report-5462346/

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Shujaat Bukhari's assassin among 6 terrorists killed in Kashmir

Nov 23, 2018

SRINAGAR: Security forces gunned down six top terrorists of Lashkar-eTaiba and Hizbul Mujahideen including one of the assassins of senior Kashmiri journalist Shujaat Bukhari in south Kashmir on Friday.

ADG law and order Munir Khan said all the terrorists were killed in a predawn operation on the basis of specific and credible intelligence about their presence at Sekipora forest area of Bijbehara in Anantnag district.

One of the slain terrorists, Azad Ahmad Malik, was involved in Bukhari’s assassination at Press Colony in Srinagar in June this year, he said.

Lt General A K Bhatt, GOC of 15 corps, who spoke to the media in Baramulla, called the operation a major success for security agencies.

Bukhari’s assassin, Azad, also known as Dada, was from Arwani and LeT’s district commander of Anantnag. He had escaped along with his aide from an encounter site at Khudwani in Kulgam in April 2018.

Police said he was a close associate of the absconding Pakistani terrorist Naveed Jatt, the main assassin of Bukhari and his security guards. Jatt made a dramatic escape from a Srinagar hospital in February.

Police identified other terrorists as LeT’s Basit Ishtiyaq of Pushwara Anantnag, Firdous Ahmad of Muchpuna Pulwama and Shahid Bashir of Kawni Awantipora. Unais Shafi of Takiya Maqbool Shah Bijbehara and Atif Najar of Waghama Bijbehara were from HM.

All the killed six terrorists were wanted by police for their complicity in a series of civilian atrocities and terror attacks including those on security establishments.

A huge quantity of arms and ammunition including four AK 47 rifles and one Insas rifle were recovered from the site of the encounter.

As the news of the killing of the terrorists spread, people shut down markets in Anantnag and Bijbehara townships. Reports said militant sympathizers held massive protests in Bijbehara. An eyewitness said that forces used tear gas shells at the protesters who were pelting stones on the forces. At least three protesters were injured in clashes with the security forces in Bijbehara area.

Full report at:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/shujaat-bukharis-assassin-among-6-terrorists-killed-in-kashmir/articleshow/66777691.cms

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Former SPO Abducted, Killed by Terrorists in J&K's Shopian

November 23, 2018

New Delhi: In another act of terror, a former special police officer (SPO) was killed after he was kidnapped by terrorists in Reban area of Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said on Friday. Earlier in the day, three persons including a former special police officer (SPO) were kidnapped by unidentified terrorists.

Police said, “Terrorists in a brutal act of terror killed an individual in Shopian after he was kidnapped from Reban area of Shopian earlier. 3 young men kidnapped forcibly by terrorists were identified as Reyaz Ahmad, Zahid Ahmad, and Basharat Ahmad. The two of them were set free.”

The terrorists kidnapped Basharat Ahmad Wagay, a former SPO, Zahid Ahmad Wagay, and Reyaz Ahmad Wagay from their village at Reban in Zainapora area of Shopian.

“However, Police retrieved dead body of one Basharat Ahmad from village Nikloora in Pulwama. His body was handed over to his family after completion of medico-legal formalities,” police added. A case has been registered and an investigation is also initiated in the matter.

The incident comes few days after a 19-year-old schoolboy was abducted and killed by terrorists. Huzaif Ashraf Kuttay was abducted along with two other, Farooq Ahmad and Shahid Ahmad, from a bakery shop from Saidpora Payeen village in Shopian.

The body of Huzaif Ahmad was recovered from Lundoora village on Saturday evening while Farooq Ahmad and Shahid Ahmad were released unharmed. “Terrorists Saturday killed a civilian in a brutal act of terror in Shopian district after he was kidnapped earlier in the day from Saidpora area,” a police official had said.

Another 17-year-old Nadeem Manzoor was abducted from Shopian was killed in neighbouring Pulwama district. The video of the incident had gone viral on social media drawing wrath from all over the country.

“Terrorists in the intervening night of November 15-16 forcibly abducted a civilian and killed him in Pulwama. He has been identified as Nadeem Manzoor of Safanagri, Shopian. His bullet-riddled body was retrieved by police from Kilora Pulwama. Cas registered and an investigation initiated,” the J&K police was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Full report at:

https://www.india.com/news/india/jammu-and-kashmir-former-spo-abducted-killed-by-terrorists-in-shopian-district-3444264/

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Aligarh Muslim University: AMUSU demands cancellation of BJP MP’s court membership

Nov 23, 2018

Aligarh: Secretary Students’ Union of Aligarh Muslim University Huzaifa Aamir has written a letter to AMU Visitor and President of India Ramnath Kovind and demanded cancellation of MP Satish Gautam’s membership of AMU Court. He said Satish Gautam should be replaced by an educated, sincere MP. He announced that the said MP will not be allowed to attend the Court meeting to be held on December 2. The Aligarh Muslim University Students’ Union (AMUSU) accused the BJP MP from Aligarh, of attempting to “sully” the name of the institution by making baseless charges against it.

BJP MP Satish Gautam had reportedly alleged that the AMU administration was being run on “Talibani ideology”.

According to sources on the hoarding installed for the publicity of a drama to be staged on November 18, had by mistake an incomplete map of India. On which the BJP MP, in a letter to the AMU vice-chancellor, had alleged that the recent incident of putting up a poster showing the map of India sans Jammu and Kashmir on the campus proved that the university was breeding “anti-nationals”.

Full report at:

https://www.siasat.com/news/aligarh-muslim-university-amusu-demands-cancellation-bjp-mps-court-membership-1436585/

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After Amritsar blast MHA seeks NIA probe on J&K students held from Jalandhar

November 24, 2018

While Punjab Police claims to have cracked the grenade attack on Nirankari Satsang Bhawan in Amritsar on Sunday as the handiwork of ISI-backed Khalistani forces in Pakistan, the Centre had, after the attack, ordered a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into last month’s arrest of three Kashmiri students from an engineering college in Jalandhar.

The students — Zahid Gulzar, Yasir Rafiq Bhat and Mohd Idris Shah — were alleged to be members of Zakir Musa’s outfit Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind (AGuH), and officials said the terror outfit’s pan-network requires detailed investigation.

While ordering transfer of the probe to NIA, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) stated in its order, “Central Government has received information regarding registration of FIR number 166 on October 10, 2018 at police station Sadar, Jalandhar, Punjab, under Sections 121, 121A, 120B of IPC, Sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Arms Act and Explosive Substances Act relating to arrest of 3 Kashmiri youths for their involvement in terrorist activities.”

An NIA team will soon take over the investigation and question the three suspects arrested by Punjab Police, officials said.

Punjab Police had claimed to have seized two weapons, including an assault rifle, and explosives during its raid from the hostel room of a student identified as Zahid, a B.Tech (Civil) student. Gulzar was detained along with Shah and Bhatt. Two of them were pursuing B.Tech and the third was a B.Sc student, it was informed.

An MHA official said the trio’s questioning has revealed attempts by AGuH to recruit more youths.

Officials said Bhatt is related to Zakir Musa, and that further raised suspicion on AGuH’s plans to spread its base outside Jammu and Kashmir, and of efforts by Pakistan’s ISI to expand the arc of militancy on India’s western border. Investigations have also thrown leads that the module has links with Jaish-e-Mohammad, the terror group responsible for the Pathankot and Uri attacks, sources said.

The grenade blast in Amritsar on Sunday was initially suspected to be the work of AGuH after posters on Musa’s possible movement in the state came up, but Punjab Police ruled it out.

Musa, according to J&K Police, is a former Hizbul Mujahideen militant who broke away to form AGuH, which is suspected to be affiliated to the Al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS). Musa had released a video clip in 2016, threatening to chop off the heads of Hurriyat leaders and advocated establishing Islamic law in Kashmir. As per the assessment of central intelligence agencies, he has recruited nearly two dozen youths from the Valley.

Full report at:

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/amritsar-blast-nirankari-bhavan-mha-seeks-nia-probe-jk-students-jalandhar-5462163/

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Mideast

 

Turkey says Trump turning a ‘blind eye’ to Khashoggi murder

November 24, 2018

Ankara - Turkey on Friday said US President Donald Trump intended to turn a “blind eye” to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder after he said it would not affect Washington’s ties with Riyadh.

Trump’s backing of Saudi Arabia, his key ally against Iran, comes despite global outrage over the grisly October 2 killing that has tarnished the image of both the kingdom and its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“In one sense, Trump is saying ‘I will turn a blind eye’ no matter what happens,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in an interview with CNN Turk broadcaster.

“This is not the right approach. Money doesn’t mean everything,” Cavusoglu said, referring to Trump’s continued support for Saudi Arabia, which has committed billions of dollars in US weapons contracts.

Trump on Tuesday glossed over the Central Intelligence Agency’s reported conclusion that the crown prince had authorised the killing. “Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said, implying Prince Mohammed’s culpability in Khashoggi’s killing in the Saudi mission in Istanbul.

Trump was widely pilloried for what critics called his mercantile priorities that made him appear more like a lobbyist for Riyadh. A former Saudi royal insider who became a critic of the crown prince, Khashoggi was killed and dismembered in what Riyadh -- after weeks of denial -- said was a “rogue” operation.

The 59-year-old had gone there for documents he needed to marry his Turkish fiancee. Saudi Arabia has held 21 people in custody over the murder but shielded the powerful crown prince.

Washington earlier this month placed sanctions on 17 Saudis, which also targeted the two top aides to the crown prince by freezing assets under US jurisdiction and forbidding US companies from doing business with them. The killing and Riyadh’s explanations have angered its Western partners.

Germany on Monday said Berlin would bar 18 Saudis from entering its territory and Europe’s Schengen passport-free zone over their alleged links to the murder.

In October, Germany called for EU countries to follow its lead and suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, prompting a dismissive response from France, the kingdom’s second-biggest customer after India.

But Denmark on Thursday followed suit, freezing all sales of weapons and military equipment to Riyadh.

Cavusoglu said “artificial measures” would not help solve the crisis. “They (Europe) say they don’t want to upset ties with Saudi Arabia. We do not want to upset our relations either,” he said, but added Ankara would do anything to shed light on the murder.

Turkey insists the murder was premeditated, sharing evidence with Riyadh as well as with the US and Western allies but stops short of pointing the finger of blame at the prince.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the order came from “the highest levels” but not from King Salman.

Ankara has not ruled out the possibility of a meeting between Erdogan and Prince Mohammed on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina next week. “We don’t see any obstacle to a meeting with the crown prince,” Cavusoglu said. “If there is a request, there could be a meeting but our president will decide.”

The two men spoke on the phone in late October but that would be the first face-to-face encounter since the murder. Prince Salman on Thursday embarked on a regional tour starting with Riyadh’s close ally United Arab Emirates, his first official trip since the killing.

The prince is also set to travel to the Tunisian capital on Tuesday. Turkish pro-government media, which has often provided gruesome details of what happened to Khashoggi in a series of leaks maintaining pressure against Riyadh, speculated further on what happened to Khashoggi’s body.

Sabah newspaper reported Khashoggi was first strangled using a bag over his head before Salah Muhammed Al-Tubaigy, a lieutenant-colonel in the Saudi forensic department, drained his blood in the bathtub before dismembering him.

https://nation.com.pk/24-Nov-2018/turkey-says-trump-turning-a-blind-eye-to-khashoggi-murder

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Lavrov: Russia ready to mediate between Palestinians and Israel

24 November 2018

Russia would be ready to host a meeting between Palestinians and Israel and to act as a mediator, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.

Lavrov was speaking to reporters during a two-day trip to Rome.

At least 14 Palestinians were wounded by Israeli gunfire on the same day, during protests along the Gaza border, the enclave’s health ministry said, as a lull in deadly violence held after a truce deal last week.

Thousands of demonstrators turned out for the protests but largely kept their distance from the fortified frontier.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2018/11/24/Lavrov-Russia-ready-to-mediate-between-Palestinians-and-Israel.html

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Eryani: Hodeidah port should be under legitimate authority’s control

24 November 2018

The Yemeni minister of information, Moammar el-Eryani, said on Friday that it is not possible to accept any formula to manage the port of Hodeidah that does not guarantee its return to the legitimate authority’s control and the exit of Houthi militias from the city.

In a series of tweets, the minister said that welcoming peace has been reassured based on the three agreed terms of reference.

He further expressed his welcoming to any steps or efforts made by the UN envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to convince Houthis of leaving Hodeidah and its port, handing it over to the legitimate authority.

The UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, arrived on Friday in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah.

On Thursday, Griffiths met with Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi to discuss logistics ahead of planned peace talks in Sweden in December.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/gulf/2018/11/24/Eryani-Hodeidah-port-should-be-under-legitimate-authority-s-control.html

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Iran calls US sanctions 'humiliation' to entire world, urges 'collective response'

Nov 24, 2018

Iran says the US sanctions against the country are a "humiliation to all international community," calling for a "collective response" to Washington's unilateralism to uphold the rule of law and prevent the US from undermining diplomacy.

The remarks were made by Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi in his address to a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors on “Verification and Monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in Light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015)”.

“In humiliation to all international community, the United States’ most recent illegal and unilateral acts and sanctions brazenly and boldly disregard Security Council resolution 2231,” Gharibabadi said Friday.

He said the United States not only blatantly defies the Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), but also audaciously and preposterously coerces other States to follow suit.

“These sanctions as well as their previous reckless acts are specifically designed ‘to directly and adversely affect economic relations with Iran’ by intimidating third parties and pressuring other States to abide by their political aspirations,” he went on to say.

The Iranian envoy further referred to the US imposition of new bans as an illegal move that runs “counter to the well-established principles as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and as accepted by the community of nations such as the sovereign equality of States, non-intervention and non-interference in internal affairs of Member States and freedom of international trade and navigation.”

“The irresponsible conduct of the United States necessitates a collective response by the international community in order to uphold the rule of law, to prevent undermining diplomacy and to protect multilateralism,” Gharibabadi said.

Gharibabadi referred to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s latest confirmation of Iran’s full compliance with its end of the 2015 multinational nuclear deal, and said that was the thirteenth quarterly report by Amano which confirmed Tehran’s compliance with the JCPOA.

“These are clear indications of utmost transparency in Iran’s nuclear program,” he added.

In an address to a quarterly meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors on Thursday, Amano said, "Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”

“The Agency has continued to evaluate Iran’s declarations under the Additional Protocol, and has conducted complementary accesses under the Additional Protocol to all the sites and locations in Iran which it needed to visit,” he added.

The IAEA's latest report comes about two weeks after the US administration finished restoring all the anti-Iran sanctions it had lifted under the JCPOA, which has been ratified by UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

The administration of US President Donald Trump also resorted to a highly hostile campaign of maximum pressure against Iran in the aftermath of its exit from the deal, threatening "secondary sanctions" against all those firms that fail to abide by the American bans and keep doing business with Iran.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/24/580930/Iran-JCPOA-compliance-US-sanctions

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Israeli fire injures 20 more Palestinians in Gaza

Nov 23, 2018

At least 20 Palestinians have been injured as Israeli forces once again opened fire on anti-occupation protests near the fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and Israeli-occupied territories.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry, said the 20 people were shot and injured in the east of Gaza on Friday.

Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for the Hamas resistance movement, said on Friday that the people’s insistence to take part in the protests stresses their determination to achieve the goals of the rallies, especially to break the siege of Gaza.

Gaza has been under the Israeli siege since June 2007, causing a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty. It has also witnessed a fresh wave of tensions since March 30, which marked the start of “The Great March of Return” protests.

Nearly 240 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces ever since anti-occupation protest rallies began in the Gaza Strip on March 30. Over 22,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.

On June 13, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, sponsored by Turkey and Algeria, condemning Israel for Palestinian civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/23/580912/Israeli-fire-casualties-Gaza

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Israel’s Netanyahu to visit Bahrain amid signs of Arabs warming ties with Tel Aviv: Report

Nov 23, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Bahrain "soon" amid reports that a number of Arab countries in the Persian Gulf region are dramatically warming their relations with the Tel Aviv regime after secret contacts.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain is the next destination for Netanyahu,” Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency quoted Hani Marzouk, a spokesman for Netanyahu's office for Arab media, as telling the Israeli Broadcast Authority on Friday.

He added, “This visit is only a prelude for something bigger, for another Middle East. It "is the start for new relations and an indication that we are on the right track to correct history.”

Marzouk added, “Israel sees the Arab world is large, diverse and has rich human potential and it wants to establish great relations with it at the scientific and academic level.”

Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz visited Oman on November 4 to attend an international transport conference and pitch a railway project that would link the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean via Israeli-occupied territories.

The trip came on the heels of a surprise visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Oman late last month, where he met Sultan Sayyid Qaboos bin Said Al Said at the Bait al-Barakah Royal Palace in the coastal city of Seeb near the capital Muscat.

Israel’s English-language daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post reported that the two men discussed ways to advance the so-called Middle East peace process as well as a number of issues of mutual interest with regard to the region’s stability.

Netanyahu was accompanied by senior officials, including the head of the Mossad spy agency and his national security adviser.

Netanyahu's unpublicized visit to Oman came on the same day that Israeli Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to accompany Israel’s judo team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018.

Regev arrived in Abu Dhabi on October 26, and she participated in the opening ceremony of the international event at the Emirati capital’s Zayed Sports City, Palestinian Arabic-language Ma’an news agency reported.

Her visit to the UAE marked the first of its kind by an Israeli minister to a Persian Gulf littoral state.

Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi have no diplomatic ties and the UAE does not recognize Israel, but the two sides have increased backchannel cooperation in recent years. There have been numerous reports of growing contacts between Saudi and Israeli officials too.

Among Arab countries, Israel has diplomatic relations only with Egypt and Jordan.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/23/580900/Israels-Netanyahu-to-visit-Bahrain-amid-signs-of-Arabs-warming-ties-with-Tel-Aviv-Report

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Israeli court orders eviction of 700 Palestinians from East Jerusalem neighbourhood

Nov 23, 2018

Israel’s so-called High Court of Justice has approved the evacuation of 700 Palestinian residents of a predominantly Arab neighborhood on the outskirts of the occupied Old City of Jerusalem al-Quds from their homes in a blatant ethnic cleansing procedure. The court rejected the appeal filed by 104 Palestinians from the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood in Silwan against claims by right-wing Israeli organization Ateret Cohanim, which is working permanently to Judaize the Old City of Jerusalem and adjacent neighborhoods.

The court, however, acknowledged that the expropriation methods used by the settlement association were suspicious and raised questions about the validity of the procedures for the transfer of land and ownership.

The high court was ruling on claims that the land in question was populated by Jews who came from Yemen before the creation of Israel in 1948. The neighborhood was purportedly registered as belonging to a Jewish trust during the Ottoman Empire.

Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has criticized the court ruling for failing to address the context.

“As though the land were not ‘freed’ by an association whose goal is to drive Palestinians out of their homes; as though the body of law does not allow Jews alone to file ownership for land abandoned in 1948; as though the court were not sanctioning the broadest move to dispossess Palestinians since 1967,” B'Tselem said in a statement.

The statement added, “The judgment proves, yet again, that the Israeli high court gives its seal of approval to almost any infringement of Palestinians’ rights by the Israeli authorities.”

Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

Trump backtracked on Washington’s support for a “two-state solution” earlier this year, saying he would support any solution favored by both sides.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/23/580888/Israeli-court-orders-eviction-of-700-Palestinians-from-East-Jerusalem-neighborhood

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Turkey charges Gulen, 27 others for killing of Russian ambassador

Nov 23, 2018

Turkey has charged 28 people, including US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, for their alleged involvement in the killing of the Russian ambassador to Ankara back in 2016.

The Russian ambassador, Andrei Karlov, was killed on December 19, 2016 during the opening of a photo exhibition at a gallery in the Turkish capital Ankara. The assassin, off-duty policeman Mevlut Mert Altintas was later gunned down in an exchange of fire with security personnel at the scene.

The 28 suspects are charged with "violating the constitutional order", "being a member of a terror organization", "premeditated murder with the intention of causing terror", and "seeking to create terror or panic", the state-owned Anadolu news agency said Friday.

After carrying out the murder, Altintas went on a rant caught on camera, which saw him bawling “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!”

The assassination, condemned by the Turkish and Russian leaders as an attempt to sour Ankara-Moscow ties, came amid cooperation between the countries over the Syrian crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Gulen was behind the assassination. The elderly cleric, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, however, has flatly denied the allegation as he has strongly rejected the charge of having a role in the July 2016 attempted coup and condemned the putsch.

Last April, Turkish judicial authorities ordered the arrest of Gulen and seven others within the context of the investigation of the 2016 assassination of the Russian ambassador to Ankara.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/23/580899/Turkey-charges-killing-Russian-envoy

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Turkey sends 9 truckloads of aid to Bosnia-Herzegovina

23.11.2018

he Turkish Red Crescent has sent nine truckloads of aid to improve the living conditions of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina with winter approaching, the group said on Friday.

After carrying out humanitarian relief efforts in Bosnia-Herzegovina for many years, the Turkish Red Crescent initiated a new project to improve the housing conditions of refugees in the country, said a Red Crescent statement.

The aid includes 22 group tents measuring 105 square meters, 229 shelter tents of various sizes, 10,000 blankets, 1,000 kitchen sets, and two mobile kitchens.

The aid, sent from the Turkish cities of Istanbul and Kirklareli, will be delivered to refugees in need in the cities of Bihac and Mostar.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has found itself in the middle of a migrant crisis, with the government decrying a lack of funds.

After the Balkan route -- through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, and Hungary or Croatia -- was closed to refugees in March 2016, many migrants chose Bosnia-Herzegovina as an alternate route.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/turkey-sends-9-truckloads-of-aid-to-bosnia-herzegovina/1319703

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Africa

 

U.S. Airstrikes Kill 50 Al-Shabaab Jihadis in Somalia

23 Nov 2018

American airstrikes launched over the last three days have “degraded” the East Africa-based al-Qaeda wing al-Shabaab, killing 50 jihadis in Somalia days after the United Nations determined the group is expanding and remains the top threat facing African nation, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) revealed.

The airstrikes came after the United Nations found that the American airstrikes have failed to diminish al-Shabaab’s ability to carry out “complex asymmetric attacks in Somalia,” adding that the growing Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) presence in the African country fueled by an influx of fighters from the fallen caliphate in Iraq and Syria also poses a menace.

Via press releases, AFRICOM announced it launched airstrikes this week to support the Somalian government’s efforts to degrade al-Shabaab, killing 37 jihadis on November 20; seven on November 21; and six jihadis and a weapons cache on November 22, adding: Airstrikes reduce al-Shabaab’s ability to plot future attacks, disrupt its leadership networks, and degrade its freedom of maneuver within the region. Alongside our Somali and international partners, we are committed to [preventing] al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia. In particular, the group uses portions of southern and central Somalia to plot and direct terror attacks, steal humanitarian aid, extort the local populace to fund its operations, and shelter radical terrorists.

The desired end state in East Africa is one in which terrorist organizations cannot destabilize Somalia and its neighboring states, nor threaten the interests of the U.S. and its international allies in the region.

“On October 16, an airstrike left 60 dead [terrorists] in Central Somalia. This was the deadliest attack since November 2017 when 100 terrorists were killed,” Kenya’s Capital FM news outlet acknowledged.

This week’s U.S. airstrikes came after the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea warned this month that al-Shabaab and its ISIS rival in Somalia are expanding despite international efforts against both groups.

“Al-Shabaab’s presence in Puntland, in north-east Somalia, has expanded, exacerbating the challenges faced by authorities in the region. Concurrently, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) faction, largely confined to Bari region in north-east Puntland, has grown in numbers and is attracting an increasingly broad range of recruits,” the U.S. reported on November 2.

The U.N. determined that although ISIS is expanding alongside al-Shabaab in Somalia, the latter terrorist group remains the most potent threat facing the African country.

According to the U.N., America’s air campaign under U.S. President Donald Trump has failed to decimate al-Shabaab:

Al-Shabaab remains the most immediate threat to the peace, security, and stability of Somalia. Despite ongoing efforts by international forces to eliminate Al-Shabaab’s leadership, in particular through the use of airstrikes, the group’s ability to carry out complex asymmetric attacks in Somalia remains undiminished.

Citing the issue of ISIS’s weekly Al Naba newsletter last Friday, the Long War Journal (LWJ), a component of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank, reported that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s organization has directly threatened to displace al-Shabaab as the top group in Somalia.

Both groups are competing for territory, influence, and fighters.

The U.S. learned ISIS continues to mainly target “disaffected members of Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia” for recruitment, a move that is likely to infuriate the al-Qaeda wing.

According to the U.N., the U.S. air campaign is making an impact on ISIS’s operations in Somalia.

“Since the commencement of United States air strikes, ISIL operations in Puntland have been at an ebb, and it appears that the group has entered a period of retrenchment and reorganization,” the U.N. reported on November 9. “However, it is apparent that ISIL in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic continues to view Somalia as an important avenue for future expansion.”

https://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2018/11/23/u-s-airstrikes-kill-50-al-shabaab-jihadis-somalia/

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Boko Haram: Buhari govt under fire over killing of 44 soldiers

November 23, 2018

By Fikayo Olowolagba

The President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government has come under attack over the recent killing of about 44 soldiers by Boko Haram insurgents.

Immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, in a tweet on Friday, queried the silence treatment of Buhari over death of soldiers yet was quick to criticize Goodluck Jonathan’s book “My Transition Hours”

Fayose tweeted: “Over 100 soldiers killed in just one week and our President and his men are acting as if nothing happened? And the same Presidency is jumping up and down over the content of @GEJonathan book? May the soul of those soldiers rest in peace and may God restore sanity to our land.

Recall the Senate had earlier taken notice of the killing of the soldiers and suspended plenary in honour of the slain officers.

Full report at:

http://dailypost.ng/2018/11/23/boko-haram-buhari-govt-fire-killing-44-soldiers/

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Suspected Islamic State attack kills nine in southeast Libya

24 November 2018

At least nine security service officers were killed in a suspected Islamic State (IS) group attack in the southeastern Libyan town of Tazerbo on Friday, a senior security official said.

Eleven other people, including civilians and a security chief, were also kidnapped by gunmen thought to belong to the militant group, who attacked a police station in the oasis town, said the official.

The Tazerbo desert region is controlled by the forces of Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who heads the self-styled National Libyan Army (LNA).

The capital Tripoli is the seat of a rival administration, the internationally-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Fayez al-Sarraj.

Friday's assault, which is yet to be claimed by IS, is the second attack targeting forces loyal to Haftar in less than a month.

In October, an attack claimed by IS killed at least five people in the country's central Kufra region.

Another IS-claimed attack in August killed 11 people, including nine members of the LNA.

Torn apart by power struggles and undermined by chronic insecurity, Libya has become a haven for militants since the ouster and killing of Moammad Gaddafi in 2011.

IS took advantage of the chaos to gain a foothold in the city of Sirte in 2015, but forces loyal to the GNA regained control of the city in December 2016 after eight months of fighting.

Since then, some militants have returned to the desert in an attempt to regroup and reorganise.

Full report at:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/suspected-attack-kills-nine-southeast-libya-878465493

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Europe

 

Regulators Seek to Revoke Zakir Naik’s Peace TV’s License in UK

Saman Siddiqui

Nov. 23, 2018

British office of communication, Ofcom is being urged to immediately revoke the license of the TV station founded by Islamic Preacher Dr. Zakir Naik. Who was banned from UK over concerns about extremism.

Dr. Zakir Naik founded the channel Peace TV in 2006, which broadcasts from Dubai. This channel claims to have more than 200 million viewers in hundreds of countries around the world.

In UK, Dr Zakir Naik’s Peace TV, has continued broadcasting to millions of British households since he was barred from entering the country in 2010.

In 2010, high profile preacher was banned by Theresa May when she was home secretary, after he praised Osama bin Laden and said “all Muslims should be terrorists”.

The TV station was banned in India and Bangladesh in 2016 after its founder, Zakir Naik’s speeches were blamed for inspiring a terror attack in Dhaka which killed 22 people.

As being reported, Peace TV has repeatedly fallen foul of broadcasting rules on extreme content but remains available to Sky subscribers on its English and Urdu channels in UK.

The Henry Jackson Society has accused Ofcom of “a material failure” to protect viewers in UK by revoking the station’s licence.

British publication reports that the media regulator said it had launched “six detailed investigations” earlier this year to find out whether Peace TV had breached regulations that protect audiences from hate speech, offence and the incitement of crime.

In 2012, Peace TV was found to have breached Ofcom rules by broadcasting a speech in which the Dr Naik said he “tend[ed] to agree” that Muslims “should be put to death” if they converted to another faith and tried to spread their new religion against Islam.

In 2016, four years later, Peace TV’s Urdu channel was fined £65,000 for airing lectures of late Islamic scholar Israr Ahmad, in which he described Jewish people as “a cursed race” with an “evil plan” that had filled Europe with “poison”.

Dr. Zakir Naik has been reported to have resign as the director of the company which holds Peace TV’s licence in May this year. But he is still listed as the channel’s lead speaker and the station is funded by his charity, the Islamic Research Foundation International.

This charity was banned in India last year to safeguard its national security, but it remains a registered charity in the UK.

Dr Zakir Naik, who now reportedly lives in Malaysia, is being sought to extrude by Indian security services, for allegedly inciting terrorism and delivering hate speeches.

https://www.oyeyeah.com/lifestyle/revoke-peace-tv-license-in-uk-for-already-banned-zakir-naiks/

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Brexit party leader hires prominent anti-Muslim extremist as adviser

November 23, 2018

The right-wing extremist dubbed the loudest Islamophobic voice in Britain has been appointed an adviser to the leader of a British political party that championed the campaign to leave the European Union.

Tommy Robinson has been brought in by Gerard Batten of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) to give his views on so-called grooming gangs and prison reform despite having a history of criminality and leading violent demonstrations against Islam.

UKIP has no MPs and has shifted to the political side lines after its charismatic former leader Nigel Farage quit having played a prominent role in persuading Britons to vote to quit the EU.

Under new leadership, UKIP has lurched further to the right culminating in the appointment of Mr Robinson despite him being barred from holding membership under party rules.

Mr Farage said on Friday that he was appalled at the appointment of Mr Robinson and called for Mr Batten, to be dumped.

He said the selection of Mr Robinson, a former leader of the extremist English Defence League, was dragging the party in a “shameful direction”.

In 2014, UKIP had two MPs and won the third highest number of votes in national elections the following year but has seen its support decline since. It retains lawmakers in lower-tier representative bodies and at the European parliament.

Mr Batten claimed that Mr Robinson had been “persecuted by the state” because of his views. Mr Robinson has used the convictions of Asian men for grooming and raping young women to further his anti-Muslim agenda.

“A lot of people respect his stand on things and his courage,” Mr Batten told the BBC. “Islamophobic is a made-up word... I don’t have an irrational fear of Islam, nor does Tommy Robinson.”

Mr Robinson is the most recognisable face of the far-right and the tie-up has the potential to lift his party out of the doldrums.

While the party has fewer than 13,000 followers on its official YouTube channel, Robinson has more than 270,000 for a medium he uses to raise money and to promote himself and his anti-Islam world view.

But his role in violent street protests, targeting Muslim-majority areas in confrontational campaigns and using a counter-terrorist agenda to promote an anti-Muslim agenda has seen him condemned and shunned by mainstream political parties.

He has, however, secured support and financial backing from prominent figures in the United States after emerging as the most recognisable anti-Muslim personality on the far-right in the UK.

Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former strategist, described Mr Robinson, who has convictions for violence, mortgage fraud and drug offences, as a “force of nature” and was seen as a potential key figure in the American’s plans for a European far-right movement.

Mr Robinson’s ability to raise money for his campaign came into sharp focus earlier this month when he was barred from travelling to the US this month for speaking engagements that anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate claimed could net him some £1 million.

Campaigners feared a ban from entering the US because of a 2013 conviction for using a false passport could be lifted. More than 50 UK lawmakers wrote to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to press him to uphold the ban.

But Mr Robinson is still due to take part in a five-date tour of Australia next month along with Gavin McInnes, a Canadian who co-founded the Vice Media group. The tour website offers tickets from 85 Australian dollars (225 AED) to a 995 Australian dollar-package (2,650 AED) that included a pre-show private dinner with the two men.

Analysts say Mr Robinson mixes small donations from mainstream payment engines with larger donations from far-right US figures including Robert Shillman, a successful manufacturer of high-tech equipment, and Pamela Geller, a US far-right political activist.

Ms Geller was barred from Britain in 2013 when she planned to speak at an EDL rally to mark the murder of a soldier by Islamist extremists.

An activist campaign led to PayPal cutting off its services to Mr Robinson, who has switched to requesting his followers to send him bitcoin to help fund his activities.

The organisers of the activist campaign said they would seek to publicly shame other providers into blocking Mr Robinson from using their platforms.

Tom Barns, said 65,000 members of his group SumOfUs used Twitter and petition campaigns to pressure PayPal to cut its ties with a man he described as the “loudest Islamophobic voice in Britain”.

“They wouldn’t have taken this step without public pressure,” said the UK-based campaigner. He said it also sent a strong message to corporations not to seek profit where “that puts communities around the world in danger”.

Mr Robinson claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy. “This is their attempt to remove me,” he said in a filmed clip posted on his YouTube site.

“They can see the support we are galvanising. By closing my PayPal account it closes my ability to continue working - and they know that.”

Instead of travelling to the US, Mr Robinson instead spoke about his bar from PayPal via videolink to a closed-doors meeting in Washington hosted by a Republican congressman, Paul Gosar, and the right-wing Middle East Forum (MEF).

Full report at:

https://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/brexit-party-leader-hires-prominent-anti-muslim-extremist-as-adviser-1.795130

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Germany urges S. Arabia to cooperate with Turkey

23.11.2018

By Ayhan Simsek

BERLIN

Germany urged Saudi Arabia on Friday to fully cooperate with Turkey to enlighten the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Adebahr said many questions regarding the murder of Khashoggi still remained unclear.

“We hope that the Saudi authorities would closely cooperate with the Turkish authorities,” she stressed, adding that Germany and its EU partners would continue to demand that all responsible for the murder are held accountable.

Asked whether Germany supported growing calls for a UN inquiry into the killing of Khashoggi, Adebahr said they would like to first wait for the result of Turkish investigation.

“The Turkish public prosecutor’s office has not yet concluded its investigation and released a final report. First, we have to wait for this outcome,” she added.

Khashoggi, a Saudi national and columnist for The Washington Post, was killed on Oct. 2 inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

After weeks of denying involvement, the kingdom admitted that Khashoggi had been killed at the consulate but claimed that the Saudi royal family had no prior knowledge of a plot to murder him.

On Monday, Germany imposed a travel ban on 18 Saudi citizens suspected of involvement in the killing of Khashoggi.

The German government has also halted all arms exports to Saudi Arabia in a move to increase pressure on Riyadh to conduct a full investigation into the murder.

Full report at:

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/germany-urges-s-arabia-to-cooperate-with-turkey/1319566

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Tunisians don't need the British government to teach them about resilience

23 November 2018

Malia Bouattia

On Wednesday, Middle East Eye reported that a secretive British government counter-terrorism propaganda unit has been working on youth-targeted campaigns in the Middle East and North Africa. The British Council-led work has been rolled out in Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon and has focused on cultural and artistic platforms to "deliver messages about alternative pathways to vulnerable youth".

The programme, called Strengthening Resilience in MENA, works with the national governments of each country in the hope of recruiting local civil society groups and organisations into the project in order to supposedly steer young people away from radicalisation and possible recruitment into terrorist groups.

Shaping Muslim identity

There are many alarming aspects of this work. Firstly, the Research, Communications and Information Unit (RICU), which forms part of the Home Office’s Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism (OSCT), is also involved, though seemingly behind the scenes.

In the UK, this has been a heavily criticised unit which has targeted grassroots organisations – some of which include Muslim women's groups – in order to deliver Home Office-funded propaganda in relation to counter-terrorism, by attempting to shape Muslim identity in Britain.

This was pursued despite opposition from large sections of the Muslim community to the government’s Prevent strategy, and the deeply racist and repressive tendencies of these so-called counter-terrorism policies.

What made matters more insidious is that some groups were not directly informed of RICU’s role and funding, a familiar practice that was also used following Prevent’s inception, when grassroots community spaces were approached and resourced without being given full disclosure on the nature of the funding received.

Yet, despite mounting criticism at home, the British government continues to export problematic projects like this, not only to other European countries but also to Muslim majority ones.

Ignoring social issues

One of the campaigns, developed through the programme, was a social media celebration of Tunisian identity (Ala Khatrek Tounsi – Because You Are Tunisian). Advertisements were played on television depicting a positive image of the country, as well as videos, posts and photos being shared across social media platforms evoking pride in national and cultural identity.

This took place during Ramadan 2016 and 2017, a time of increased TV and online platforms viewership given the lengthy and hot fasting days, when working and school hours are often made shorter in the region throughout the holy month.

Similar to the concept of controlling the sense of belonging and identification with the state, which the Home Office attempted in the UK, this tactic has been applied in a region where young people have grown up in the aftermath of a revolutionary uprising that demanded an end to poverty and state repression.

Yet these campaigns are not engaging with the social issues that continue to plague Tunisian society, despite the fall of former Tunisian president Ben Ali’s autocratic rule, such as the ongoing repression of political and journalistic freedoms – intensified under the state of emergency that has been in place since 2015 – or the lack of jobs and prospects for young people.

There are many cases of arbitrary arrests, police brutality, torture and even extrajudicial killings of protesters, which are often denied by the government.

Just last month a 30-year-old English studies graduate, Mouna Guebla, detonated a handmade explosive in a suicide attack in Tunis. She was unable to find a job for years after completing her degree. This was effectively brushed off as an "isolated act".

Little attention was given to her social position, potential hopelessness as a consequence of studying for years in a field that she was unable to find work in, and the fact that she had no history of criminal activity.

Resilience against whom?

This week, thousand of Tunisians took to the streets to protest and strike alongside 650,000 public sector workers over rising inflation, public sector cuts, and a failure to increase wages. There were walkouts across universities, schools, hospitals and ministries, chanting in demand of their rights.

Yet, the Strengthening Resilience in MENA programme continues working alongside governments in the region, including Tunisia, and seeks to support their strategic communications campaigns. One has to then wonder: who is to build resilience and against whom?

Some of the biggest social issues for young people across Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon include poverty, unemployment, political repression, government corruption, access to good education and healthcare, and police brutality. Working alongside these states – renowned for violating people’s right to protest, not adequately tackling poverty and joblessness, divesting from welfare services, as well as relying heavily on aid – surely contradicts the intention to tackle the roots of isolation, marginalisation and even violent extremism.

In this sense, the programme appears more like an active campaign to strengthen identification with the state and undermine feelings of social revolt and resistance.

Asim Qureshi from human rights group Cage best described it as follows:

"RICU has been involved in secret programmes to promote versions of Islam that are depoliticised and attempt to ignore the root causes of political violence - foreign and domestic policies. These programmes exist specifically to reinforce ideas that ideology are at the centre of violence, rather than dealing with the structural violence they perpetuate. If RICU was serious about ending political violence, they would turn their attention to the way that regimes quell dissent, not only abroad, but in the UK as well."

The British Council’s own assessment report states that working in partnership with RICU, they have,"succeeded in creating a platform where government and civil society can communicate more effectively to strengthen resilience and reduce radicalisation and recruitment by violent extremists in the three target countries of Tunisia, Lebanon and Morocco”.

In order for that to happen, there probably needs to be a major probe into the stifling of freedom of speech and the violence towards political activists, trade unionists and various figures from oppressed minority groups in these countries. Effective communication would become a reality when the threat to a person’s life and liberty for criticism of the state are an unlikely outcome of these exchanges.

Colonial arrogance

Hip Hop culture (i.e. rap and graffiti) has been a key component in the "Strengthening Resilience" work. What has historically served as an artform which speaks to young people from oppressed groups about social consciousness, political frustrations and state violence, has been co-opted to serve as a means of "strategic communications" by repressive states. This can be likened to the way the CIA used American abstract expressionism as a weapon during the Cold War.

Works by Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko were toured internationally in order to promote the "freedom" of the US in contrast to Russian, communist repression of self-expression.

Adopting methods of propaganda that can be traced back to the Cold War, during which the UK and US funded different forms of cultural expressions – from Pollock to Jazz – to dissuade support for communism, doesn’t exactly point to the project as being about overall social good.

There is – overall – a striking level of colonial arrogance involved in the idea that a people who have participated in the largest revolutionary uprising in recent times need the British state to teach them about civil society, communication, or reducing violence. This is to say nothing of the irony of focusing on potential, isolated, individual violence while ignoring – or even legitimising – organised structural state repression.

In truth, it is us – the people of the global North – who should be learning from the people of Tunisia and the region about how to face down increasingly repressive states, curtailment of our free speech, and growing poverty. The revolutionary waves that shook the MENA region in 2011 emerged out of specific local contexts, and yet they also spoke to a broader global truth.

Full report at:

https://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/why-tunisians-do-not-need-british-government-teach-them-about-resilience-1915451745

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London group with alleged ties to Hamas cooks chicken soup with local Jews

By CNAAN LIPHSHIZ

23 November 2018

JTA — Dozens of British Jews cooked chicken soup for homeless people with volunteers from a Muslim group that is banned in Israel over alleged ties to Hamas.

At least 1,000 bowls of soup, which used a traditional Jewish recipe and halal meat, were prepared at the East London Mosque on Sunday, the East London Advertiser reported. The drive was part of Mitzvah Day, a Jewish communal initiative that encourages social action and that started in the United Kingdom 13 years ago.

According to the BBC, the London-based Muslim Aid group helped organize the event, where its volunteers wore its logo on green shirts. In 2008, Ehud Barak, who was then Israel’s defense minister, outlawed the group in Israel, citing unspecified ties to Hamas.

Their Jewish partners at the event were from the New Stoke Newington Shul, a Masorti or Conservative synagogue. Last year, the government of Bangladesh also banned some activities of the group, citing the use of their resources for promoting “radicalism.” Similar charges leveled against the group in Britain were found by authorities to be unfounded in a 2014 inquiry led by the United Kingdom’s Charity Commission.

Campaign 4 Truth, a hawkish Jewish group from London, said in a statement it found the event “questionable” in light of the allegations by Israel against Muslim Aid, “in a climate when Israel faces an existential threat from Iran proxies Hamas and Hezbollah.”

A Muslim Aid spokesperson rejected the allegations against the group, quoting a Charity Commission assertion that it can give “public assurance that public allegations of links between [Muslim Aid] and terrorism are unsubstantiated.”

Muslim Aid “has never had any links to terrorist groups. Muslim Aid works via trusted partner organizations, which are carefully screened and do not appear on international lists of proscribed organizations,” the spokesperson said. “Muslim Aid regularly partners with numerous organizations of many faiths, persuasions and backgrounds,” the spokesperson added, and “has a 30-year history of excellent field work here in the UK and globally.”

Mitzvah Day founder and chair Laura Marks reiterated to JTA her group’s commitment to “bringing people together and showing that there is more that unites than divides us.” She declined to address the claims raised against Muslim Aid. “This particular project was all about Jews and Muslims coming together to feed the homeless. We do not raise money or fund projects,” she told JTA.

The chicken soup drive was one of hundreds of events held throughout the United Kingdom on Mitzvah Day, many of them across religious divides. The initiative has spread over the years to include Jewish communities in nearly 30 other countries, which this year saw approximately 2,000 different Mitzvah Day projects.

Muslim Aid did not respond to JTA’s request for a comment about the accusations made against it by Israel.

According to a Telegraph exposé from 2010, the group has admitted funding Al-Ihsan, a charity linked to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Islamic University of Gaza. It has declined to address claims that it has funded the Islamic Society and five other bodies linked to Hamas, according to that article.

Jehangir Malik, the CEO of Muslim Aid, told BBC of the chicken soup drive: “The interfaith is the fabric of our society it’s part of what makes our British communities so rich, so diverse.” Rabbi Roni Tabick of the New Stoke Newington Shul told BBC that the use of halal meat is “kind of a fusion in that way of both our traditions.”

Full report at:

https://www.timesofisrael.com/london-group-with-alleged-ties-to-hamas-cooks-chicken-soup-with-local-jews/

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Arab World

 

Jamal Khashoggi 'Truly Lived Life to the Fullest', His Daughters Say

23 November 2018

“He was just ‘Baba’”.

That’s how Jamal Khashoggi’s daughters, Noha Khashoggi and Razan Jamal Khashoggi, described their father: “simply Dad”.

In a column published Friday in the Washington Post, the US newspaper in which Khashoggi had a regular column, his daughters described him as "a loving man with a big heart", a passion for books and an unrelenting thirst for knowledge.

"He surrounded himself with books and always dreamed of having more. And in all he read, he never discriminated, fully absorbing every opinion. His love of books taught him to form his own thoughts. He taught us to do the same," they wrote.

Khashoggi, who was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on 2 October, strived "for a utopian version of reality" — which is what drove him to think critically, his daughters said.

"It was vitally important to him to speak up, to share his opinions, to have candid discussions. And writing was not just a job, it was a compulsion; it was ingrained into the core of his identity, and it truly kept him alive," they wrote.

"Now, his words keep his spirit with us, and we are grateful for that. They say, 'Here was a man who truly lived life to the fullest.'"

Not a eulogy

Khashoggi longed to return to Saudi Arabia, his daughters wrote on Friday.

They said that on the day he left the Gulf kingdom, he stood on the doorstep of his home, "wondering if he would ever return".

"Throughout all his trials and travels, he never abandoned hope for his country. Because, in truth, Dad was no dissident. If being a writer was ingrained in his identity, being a Saudi was part of that same grain," they wrote.

Since his killing last month, Khashoggi's daughters said the family has visited his home in the US state of Virginia, where he had been living in self-imposed exile.

"The hardest part was seeing his empty chair," they said, and "his absence was deafening".

"As we looked at his belongings, we knew he had chosen to write so tirelessly in the hopes that when he did return to the kingdom, it might be a better place for him and all Saudis."

While Khashoggi's daughters said their column may read like a eulogy for their deceased father, they insisted it wasn't.

"Rather, this is a promise that his light will never fade, that his legacy will be preserved within us. Baba said it best: 'Some depart to remain,' which rings true today," they wrote.

"We feel blessed to have been raised with his moral compass, his respect for knowledge and truth, and his love.

"Until we meet again in the next life."

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/jamal-khashoggi-man-who-truly-lived-life-fullest-1042639658

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The tag of the ‘children of ISIS’ is a slur that weighs heavily upon a large number of Arab and foreign children. It could haunt them for years to come, as even their countries of origin and sometimes even their parents do not want them.

Even on Children’s Day, celebrated by the world on November 20, these children were kept outside UNICEF’s “Blue Line” drawn in commemoration of Children’s Day.

Child recruits

According to the Raseef22 website, there are two types of children within the terrorist organization — the children of the organization’s fighters born in Syria, Iraq, Libya and then the children kidnapped by the organization for recruitment.

There is another classification for such children which concerns arming and recruitment: children who have not yet taken up arms, and other where children were recruited and have even carried out executions and suicide attacks.

After ISIS was chased out of Mosul in July 2017, the world discovered suffering of the people of the city, both young and old. It was a difficult task for the authorities to deradicalize the minds of the children that had lived under the ISIS rule.

Russian news agency Sputnik reported in March this year that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that a total of 1127 children lived in the shelters of the Ministry of Social Affairs, of which 514 were under three years old, while 460 children were between the ages of 3 and 9 years. Of them, the majority is of girls (94), while 59 are boys.

Iraqi Ministry of Social Affairs told Sputnik that it was dealing with these children as "victims of an oppressive organization" and was working toward removing extremist ideology from their minds.

Cubs of ISIS

A look at the nationalities of these children shows how the terrorist organization spread its influence across various societies in the east and west, attracting fighters from different countries.

The children in this center are of Turkish, Azerbaijani, Russian, Tajikistani, Kyrgyzstani, Uzbek, Moroccan, Ukrainian, Iranian, Algerian, German, French and South American origin.

The project of recruiting children to carry out suicide operations was part of the "cubs of ISIS" project, but it is an advanced stage of the terrorist action. The plans were overseen by the French brothers Michel and Fabien Clain, who were also responsible for the propaganda of the organization.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2018/11/23/-The-children-of-ISIS-A-nightmare-for-humanity.html

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The Tag of The ‘Children Of ISIS’ Is A Slur That Weighs Heavily Upon A Large Number Of Arab And Foreign Children

23 November 2018

The tag of the ‘children of ISIS’ is a slur that weighs heavily upon a large number of Arab and foreign children. It could haunt them for years to come, as even their countries of origin and sometimes even their parents do not want them.

Even on Children’s Day, celebrated by the world on November 20, these children were kept outside UNICEF’s “Blue Line” drawn in commemoration of Children’s Day.

Child recruits

According to the Raseef22 website, there are two types of children within the terrorist organization — the children of the organization’s fighters born in Syria, Iraq, Libya and then the children kidnapped by the organization for recruitment.

There is another classification for such children which concerns arming and recruitment: children who have not yet taken up arms, and other where children were recruited and have even carried out executions and suicide attacks.

After ISIS was chased out of Mosul in July 2017, the world discovered suffering of the people of the city, both young and old. It was a difficult task for the authorities to deradicalize the minds of the children that had lived under the ISIS rule.

Russian news agency Sputnik reported in March this year that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights that a total of 1127 children lived in the shelters of the Ministry of Social Affairs, of which 514 were under three years old, while 460 children were between the ages of 3 and 9 years. Of them, the majority is of girls (94), while 59 are boys.

Iraqi Ministry of Social Affairs told Sputnik that it was dealing with these children as "victims of an oppressive organization" and was working toward removing extremist ideology from their minds.

Cubs of ISIS

A look at the nationalities of these children shows how the terrorist organization spread its influence across various societies in the east and west, attracting fighters from different countries.

The children in this center are of Turkish, Azerbaijani, Russian, Tajikistani, Kyrgyzstani, Uzbek, Moroccan, Ukrainian, Iranian, Algerian, German, French and South American origin.

The project of recruiting children to carry out suicide operations was part of the "cubs of ISIS" project, but it is an advanced stage of the terrorist action. The plans were overseen by the French brothers Michel and Fabien Clain, who were also responsible for the propaganda of the organization.

Full report at:

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/features/2018/11/23/-The-children-of-ISIS-A-nightmare-for-humanity.html

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SDF Agrees to Withdraw from Military Bases in Hasaka after Popular Uprising

Nov 23, 2018

"After attending a meeting with elderly tribesmen in Southern Hasaka, the SDF accepted to withdraw from its military bases in populated outskirts of Hasaka and also agreed to release the arrested people and stop forced recruitment of soldiers," Maza Hamad al-Asa'ad, a tribesman leader in Eastern Syria, said.

The tribal leader reiterated that the agreement took place after widespread protests took place in several regions of Hasaka, specially in al-Shadadi region in Southern Hasaka.

Osama Bashir, another tribal leader in Eastern region, also emphasized that amid threats by Turkey to launch military operation in Eastern Euphrates, the Kurdish forces agreed to withdraw from their military bases as they fear from Arab tribal leaders' imminent support for Turkish military intervention in Hasaka.

In relevant remarks on Tuesday, clashes were reported in Southern Hasaka after protesters from various Arab tribes took to the streets and called for the expulsion of the US army men and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from Northeastern Syria, a militant-affiliated website reported.

Baladi news website reported that protesters, mainly from the Arab al-Mahasen tribe, clashed with the US soldiers in al-Aam street in the town of al-Shadadi in Southern Hasaka after the US artillery attack killed the entire members of a family from the same tribe.

Baladi further said that a large number of civilians in al-Shadadi and in the villages of al-Hana Sharqi, al-Sarab and Saleh al-Leil in Southern Hasaka took to the streets, protesting against the US-backed SDF and SDF-affiliated security forces of Asayesh.

In the meantime, field sources reported that the protestors attacked 2 bases of Asayesh and set fire at their flags and their leaders' photos, calling for their expulsion from their region.

They added that the SDF, in response, opened fire at the protestors and launched artillery attacks on several neighborhoods, injuring several civilians.    

A militant-affiliated website reported on Sunday that Arab tribes in Hasaka province in Northeastern Syria demanded the Syrian Army to deploy its guards at border with Turkey after the Ankara forces' threats to launch an imminent large-scale operation against the Kurds on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

Zaman al-Wasl reported that the Kurdish militias try to hold different meetings with Arab tribes in Hasaka, Raqqa and Aleppo provinces to persuade them to join them in battle against the Turkish troops.

It further said that the Kurds had several meetings with Arab tribes in al-Safir region in the town of Ra'as al-Ein in Northwestern Hasaka, adding that all tribal elites called on the SDF to hand over border control to the Damascus force to deter a Turkish invasion.

In the meantime, local sources in Hasaka province pointed to the Kurdish concerns about the Turkish troops' operation, and said that the Kurds have transferred prisoners and detainees from their Alaya jail in the town of Qamishli in Northeastern Hasaka to their central jail in Hasaka city.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970902000154

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Syrian Army Pounds Terrorists' Movements from Demilitarized to Repel Attack in Hama province

Nov 23, 2018

The Damascus army warded off the terrorists' attacks on its military positions in the Northern parts of Hama province.

The Syrian army's units pounded movements by Al-Izza Kataeb and other terrorist groups who were trying to penetrate from the demilitarized zone into military positions in the surrounding areas of al-Moghir village and Bridij village in Northern Hama. The terrorists came under the Damascus army's attacks on Tal al-Sakhar-al-Janabereh road as well.

Meantime, the Syrian army troops killed a number of terrorists and forced others to retreat.

Field sources also reported that the Syrian army also engaged in tough battle with several terrorists who were intending to penetrate from al-Masaseneh in Northern Hama into the military zone and pushed them back.

Military sources pointed to the presence of terrorists together with their weapons and military hardware in a location between al-Zuka and al-Arbaeen towns to launch attacks on Syrian army's military positions, and confirmed that the Syrian army troops stationed in al-Jabin town West of Mahradeh in Northern Hama targeted and pounded terrorists, leaving high casualties on them.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Syrian army repelled militants' offensive in the demilitarized zone in Hama, Idlib and Aleppo as reports said that the terrorists have further equipped their members with more weapons and military grid.

The Syrian army forces pounded the terrorists' positions in al-Ziyarah and al-Sarmaniyeh with artillery and missile fire on Thursday as they wanted to infiltrate into the army positions in Northwestern Hama from the demilitarized zone, inflicting heavy tolls on them.

Meantime, the Syrian army troops launched artillery attacks against the terrorists' moves and positions in the towns of al-Latamineh, al-Zakat, Murak, al-Arba'een, Tal al-Sakhar, Lahaya, al-Jaisat, al-Jaberiyeh and Tal Hawash in Northern Hama.

The army units also targeted the militants' moves in al-Khowayn, Sakik, al-Katibeh and al-Mahjoureh, warding off their offensives and forcing others to flee.

Meantime, in Aleppo province, Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) terrorists launched 15 missile and mortar attacks against residential areas in Share' al-Nil and Jamiyat al-Zahra regions on Wednesday. The army reciprocated the attacks with missile fire.

Also, field sources reported that the terrorist groups in Northern Syria have in the past week sent unprecedented volumes of weapons and equipment to the contact lines with the Syrian army in Northern Hama and Southeastern Idlib in demilitarized zone.

The terrorists' refusal to implement the Sochi Agreement is pushing the army to initiate its long-waited assault on militants in Idlib that had been put on hold due to the Sochi Agreement.

Colonel Mar'ei Hamdan, a Syrian military expert, was quoted by the Arabic-language website of Sputnik news agency as saying earlier this month that Tahrir al-Sham is in control of nearly 70% of towns and villages in Idlib province and makes provocative moves against the Syrian army, adding that the army's commitment to decrease tensions is not lasting forever.

He added that the Syrian army has so far repelled all attacks by terrorists against its positions and inflicted heavy damages on them, noting that the army is now necessitated to come out of the defensive mood to retake control of Idlib.

Hamdan said that Tahrir al-Sham will resort to a full-scale military operation against the Syrian and Russian armies soon, after rejecting the Sochi agreement last October, which leaves no room for ceasefire or disarmament anymore, and underlined that the Syrian army's battle against Tahrir al-Sham is inevitable.

Meantime, the Turkey-backed Ahrar al-Sham and National Liberation Front (NLF) terrorist groups has also dismissed the Russian-Turkish Sochi agreement and is preparing for military operations against the army in Northern Syria, calling for a coalition with Tahrir al-Sham.

Tahrir al-Sham and other allied terrorist groups have not left the demilitarized zone two months after the Sochi agreement and have instead reinvigorated their strongholds and targeted the army positions every day.

Relevant reports said last week that the Turkey-backed NLF had put its gunmen on alert to launch a heavy offensive against the Syrian army in the demilitarized zone in Idlib province.

Full report at:

http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13970902000205

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US-led coalition strikes kill 11 Syrian civilians in Dayr al-Zawr

Nov 24, 2018

At least 11 civilians, mostly women and children, have lost their lives and dozens more have been wounded when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group bombarded residential areas in Syria’s embattled eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA on Friday that the airstrikes pounded multiple parts of the village of al-Shafa in the east of the flashpoint province, adding that three women and five children were among the victims.

The report further said that the death toll could rise as some of the wounded were in critical condition due to the intensity of the aerial aggression.

On November 17, the so-called military coalition killed at least 40 people after its warplanes struck the village of al-Buqa'an on the outskirts of Hajin town in the same province, leaving dozens more wounded.

On November 13, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates condemned a recent airstrike by the US-led coalition against the eastern town of al-Shaafah, which left more than 60 people dead and injured, arguing that the massacre clearly pointed to the fact that members of the military alliance had no respect for moral values, international rules and regulations besides the lives of innocent civilians.

The ministry, in two separate letters, addressed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the rotating president of the UN Security Council Ma Zhaoxu, called on the Security Council to fulfill its responsibilities and stop US-led aerial assaults.

Furthermore, the US-led coalition has in multiple occasions used internationally-banned white phosphorus munitions in bombing raids across the province, particularly the town of Hajin, located some 110 kilometers east of the provincial capital city of Dayr al-Zawr.

In June last year, Human Rights Watch warned that the US-led coalition was deploying white phosphorous bombs in both Iraq and Syria.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/24/580925/Syria-USled-airstrikes-alShafa-Dayr-alZawr

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Former Israeli military affairs minister met Syrian terrorists: Report

Nov 23, 2018

A retired Israeli military General Staff Corps commander has revealed that former Israeli military affairs minister Moshe Ya’alon met with Syrian terrorists operating near the occupied Golan Heights during his tenure.

Major General Gershon Hacohen made the remarks at an Israeli conference earlier this week, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper report on Friday.

“When I was commanding a corps in the Golan and Bogie [Ya’alon] was defense minister, we sat with three Syrian activists from the other side, from Syria,” said Hacohen.

Israel has largely remained silent about military cooperation with terrorists fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Israeli authorities have, however, openly admitted sending “civilian” provisions to the other side of the border, effectively sending much food, aid and fuel supplies to militant forces north of the occupied Golan Heights.

Moreover, Israeli reports indicate that up to 70 percent of wounded individuals treated in Israel from Syria have been “men of fighting age.”

The Syrian army has, nonetheless, confiscated Israeli-made arms and military equipment from militants fighting pro-Damascus forces on numerous occasions.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/23/580914/Israeli-military-affairs-minister-met-Syrian-terrorists

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Gunmen kill two activists in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province

November 23, 2018

BEIRUT: Two activists critical of both the regime and militancy were gunned down Friday in Syria’s last major rebel bastion in the northwest of the country, their radio station and a monitor said.

Citizen journalist Raed Fares and Hammoud Al-Juneid were “shot dead by unknown assailants riding in a van in the town of Kafr Nabel” in Idlib province, Fresh FM said on its Facebook page.

More than half of Idlib and the surrounding region is controlled by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, an alliance led by militants of Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate, while most of the rest is held by pro-Turkey rebels.

Daesh also has a presence in the province.

Targeted killings and kidnappings have for months plagued Idlib, with angry residents blaming all sides.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said the two men died of their wounds from the attack, for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

“They were famous for their criticism of rebels committing violations or arresting civilians, especially when it came to jihadist groups,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

“Both have several times been detained by Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham,” he said.

Throughout Syria’s seven-year uprising, Fares has been known for his often humorous signs in English and Arabic criticizing President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Fares founded Fresh FM in 2013 to counter “fundamentalist narratives” in Idlib, he has said, after which he was repeatedly targeted by armed groups.

Daesh militants raided the radio’s offices on several occasions, but it was also bombarded by regime forces, he wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Times in June.

“In 2014, I almost lost my life when two armed men opened fire at me and shot me in the chest,” he said.

“I was abducted four times by Al-Qaeda militants and released a few days later after being tortured.”

Fares’s killing was a blow to the few independent voices that have continued to promote nonviolence and democratic change in the war-torn country.

Social media sites were rife with the news of Fares’ killing. “My last friend & hope 4 a better Syria has been killed (today) after being let down by” everyone, Zaina Erhaim, a UK-based Syrian journalist who left the country in 2016, wrote on Twitter.

Fares gained fame during the Syrian uprising because of continued support for opposition protests even when the conflict took a violent turn.

His town gained attention during weekly anti-government protests because of the humorous English-language banners he created for each rally. “Do not send money. Gold is not edible,” one banner read, urging the world to free a besieged area instead of sending assistance.

He organized protests to express support for the victims of the 2013 Boston bombings, which he called “a sorrowful scene of what happens in Syria every day. Do accept our condolences.”

Fares was also a vocal critic of militants, supporting rallies against them, and accusing them of silencing dissent. The Observatory reported that more than 390 people have been shot and killed since April in the rebel-held north amid a wave of assassination and lawlessness.

Mohammed Katoub, a doctor who supports health facilities in rebel-held areas, said public figures and civil society activists are increasingly under threat in northwestern Syria by militant groups. He said at least 13 doctors have disappeared since 2018.

“I think the targeted people are all public figures and community leaders who believe in the same values of humanity, dignity, justice and liberty,” Katoub said. “You can’t know (Fares) without loving him, his smile, his optimism, his hopes for Syria, (his) way of thinking and creativity.”

Al-Juneid, who also worked at the radio, was an advocate for freedom of expression and the rule of law.

“I want freedom of opinion. I want to be able to speak and not be scared,” he said in a video posted on Facebook earlier this year.

A September deal between regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey held off a major regime assault to retake Idlib.

But a buffer zone has yet to be implemented around the region, as stipulated by the deal, after militants refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarised area by mid-October.

Full report at:

It has since evolved into a complex conflict involving world powers and militants.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1409836/middle-east

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Bahrain holds elections with ban on opposition groups

Nov 24, 2018

Bahrainis are heading to the polls on Saturday in a parliamentary election from which opposition groups have been barred in a crackdown on dissent in the Western-allied kingdom as tensions with the Shia Muslim opposition show no signs of abating.

Activists have called for a boycott of what they describe as "farce" elections, raising doubts about the credibility of the polls. The government says the elections are democratic.

The polls opened at 8am local time (05:00 GMT) and are set to close at 8pm.

Bahrain's Sunni-Muslim ruling Al Khalifa family has kept a lid on dissent since the Shia opposition staged a failed uprising in 2011. Saudi Arabia sent in troops to help crush the unrest in a mark of concern that any power-sharing concession by Bahrain could inspire Saudi Arabia's own Shia minority.

Riyadh regards the neighbouring island nation, which does not possess vast oil wealth like other Gulf states, as a critical ally in its proxy wars with Iran in the Middle East.

Bahrain, which is home to the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, has closed the main opposition groups, barred their members from running in elections and prosecuted scores of people, many described by human rights groups as activists, in mass trials.

"Clearly, legislatures from the world's leading democratic states believe that the upcoming election in Bahrain lacks legitimacy. You simply cannot crush, torture and imprison your entire opposition, call for a pseudo-election, and then demand the respect of the international community," said Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, director of the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD).

The government said 506 candidates are running in the election, including the highest number of female candidates. It expects a higher voter turnout than in 2014, which it put at 53 percent, when opposition groups boycotted the elections.

Only 23, out of 40 incumbents of the House of Representatives, are seeking re-election this year to parliament, which has limited powers.

Many of Bahrain's Shia say they are deprived of jobs and government services and treated as second class citizens in the country of 1.5 million.

The authorities deny the allegations and accuse Iran of fostering unrest that has seen demonstrators clash with security forces, who have been targeted by several bomb attacks. Tehran denies the allegations.

Bahrain emboldened

Human Rights Watch said in a statement that Manama is failing to create conditions necessary for a free election by "jailing or silencing people who challenge the ruling family" and banning all opposition parties.

A leader of dissolved opposition groups al-Wefaq said the rise of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has emboldened Bahrain's authorities in their crackdown on dissent, which has included stripping scores of activists from their nationality.

"They couldn't go ahead with all the crackdown without the strong backing of the Saudi government. Mohammed bin Salman listens only to hardliners in Bahrain's ruling family," Ali Alaswad, who lives in self-exile in London and has been sentenced in absentia to life in prison, told Reuters news agency.

Government opponents say the space for political expression has been shrinking in the lead up to the election. Several activists, including a former lawmaker, were arrested last week for tweeting about boycotting elections, activists said.

"No-one is barred from expressing their political views," said a government spokesperson.

"Bahrain is home to 16 political societies, the majority of which have put forward candidates for the upcoming elections, and the government fully supports open and inclusive political dialogue."

Some candidates have taken to social media to urge Bahrainis to vote as a patriotic duty.

"Those who don't participate will not be part of the national consensus or equation in Bahrain," said Ali Al Aradi, deputy president of Bahrain's House of Representatives.

Some opposition figures hope the outcry over the murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh's consulate in Istanbul last month could help strengthen more moderate voices in the region, including members of Bahrain's royal family who are open to dialogue with the opposition.

The killing of Khashoggi, a critic of Prince Mohammed, has drawn global condemnation and exposed Saudi Arabia's crackdown on dissent and aggressive foreign policy.

"Now if there's a real accusation from the US against Mohammed bin Salman, radical wings in Bahrain which don't want to work with the opposition will be weakened," Alaswad said.

But some analysts are skeptical.

Full report at:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/bahrain-holds-elections-ban-opposition-groups-181124055225047.html

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South Asia

 

Myanmar fails to address mistreatment of Rohingya: NYT

23.11.2018

Myanmar's plan to repatriate Rohingya who fled the country from persecution fails to address the country's mistreatment of the Muslim minority, The New York Times said.

In an opinion piece, the Time's editorial board said the Rohingya should be able to return to their homes in Myanmar, however, "simply pushing them back across the border" is not the right way.

"Nobody asked the Rohingya about the repatriation plan, and they understandably panicked when Bangladesh troops entered their camp and told the first group of 2,200 to get ready to move," the board wrote Thursday. "With one voice, young and old alike shouted, 'We won’t go!'"

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

"The plight of the Rohingya ranks among the worst injustices in the world today," the board wrote.

The newspaper also criticized Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi for her role in the persecution of the Rohingya.

"The Myanmar government, including the once-respected Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has denied any culpability, invoking ancient grievances and skewed history to justify treating the Rohingya as Muslim interlopers in a predominantly Buddhist land," it added.

Many different rights group, along with the UN, objected to the plan to repatriate Rohingya to Myanmar, saying conditions were not met and it could put the lives of the Muslim minority at risk.

UNICEF noted an “overwhelming majority” of the refugees in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar were reluctant to be repatriated unless their safety was ensured.

Last week, the Bangladeshi government halted the first scheduled Rohingya repatriation to Myanmar following protests by more than 700,000 refugees.

"No, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, the world does not need your 'explanations,' nor repatriation schemes that fail to address the mistreatment of the Rohingya and give them assurances that they can rebuild their burned-out homes and live in security and dignity," the board wrote.

https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/myanmar-fails-to-address-mistreatment-of-rohingya-nyt/1319836

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Casualties feared as suicide attack target army mosque in Khost province

Nov 23 2018

A suicide bomber detonated his explosives among the participants of Friday prayers in mosque located inside an Afghan army brigade in southeastern Khost province of Afghanistan.

The incident took place this afternoon during Friday prayers in Mandozai district of Khost province.

An Afghan army source confirmed the incident and said preliminary reports indicate at least ten army soldiers have been martyred and at least 20 others have sustained injuries.

However, unconfirmed reports indicate at least 26 people have died and nearly 50 others have sustained injuries in the explosion.

No individual or group including Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Khost has been among the relatively calm provinces since the fall of the Taliban regime but the security situation of the province has deteriorated comparatively during the recent years.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/casualties-feared-as-suicide-attack-target-army-mosque-in-khost-province-02798/

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This is why the Afghan peace plan will fail again

Nov 24 2018

In early October, the newly- appointed US Department of State’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad launched his shuttle diplomacy. He is not a new face on the scene.

Khalilzad was on the US team in Geneva in 1988, which negotiated the agreement on the Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also led the American delegation in Bonn that established the post-Taliban government in 2001. Both deals failed to bring peace.

Now, questions rise again over whether he can offer a solution in 2018 that can bring sustainable peace to Afghanistan.

Last week, Khalilzad held the second round of meetings with Afghan government and opposition politicians, Pakistanis and Afghan Taliban representatives in Qatar.

Although he has not announced a peace plan,  rumours left in the trail of his visits point to a scenario that envisions postponing presidential elections slated for April 2019; dissolution of the current elected Afghan government and establishment of an extra-constitutional interim government and a trial-based ceasefire agreement.

Meanwhile, the US would devise a military withdrawal plan from Afghanistan and finally, once the Taliban receives some territorial concessions, elections will be held.

Territorial concessions would involve granting the Taliban protection inside Afghanistan or even autonomy over a few districts they already control, but this remains a controversial idea.

While a Taliban spokesperson denied that the group has asked for an interim government, the US envoy was quoted in the Afghan media as saying that he is “cautiously optimistic or hopeful” that a peace deal can be reached before the April presidential poll.

Several fundamental flaws beset both scenarios. But let’s backtrack a little.

Deadlines and quick-fixes

The Afghanistan war had escalated considerably since 2014 when US President Barack Obama pulled most of the American military out of Afghanistan. The drawdown was a short-sighted quick-fix attempt to end America’s longest war.

The drawdown, however, was not the first time America had abandoned the Afghans.

In the 1980s, the US pumped millions of dollars of weapons and ammunition through Pakistan, to the Afghan mujahideen who were fighting the invading Soviet army. The intention was to bleed the Soviets in their own Vietnam.

The US and the USSR finally agreed in 1988 for a Red Army withdrawal, leaving the Afghan resistance out of the negotiations. Washington found no use in remaining engaged.

Regional powers were quick to step in arming their proxies among Afghanistan’s ethnic and sectarian groups. Neither the chaos and bloodshed of the early 1990s nor the subsequent coming to power of the Pakistani-backed Taliban alarmed the Americans. Neither did the existence and flourishing in Afghanistan of Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.

Then, 9/11 happened.

America retaliated swiftly. A military campaign was followed by a new government made up of mostly former mujahideen, circumventing the Taliban. But, with the US military intervention came lofty promises of Marshall-Plan proportions for reconstruction, democratisation and eradication of terrorism.

US attention, however, quickly shifted to invading Iraq and the quagmire that followed. This provided a golden opportunity for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to resurrect the Taliban, and over time, sponsor a plethora of transnational terrorist organisations.

The Obama plan for a military drawdown was announced at the end of 2009 to be completed by the end of 2014.

“You have the watches, but we have the time,” a Taliban commander was quoted as telling a NATO general in 2011, referring to the disadvantage of a deadline.

Since 2015, Afghan casualties have skyrocketed with nearly 29,000 police and military personnel killed. Civilian casualties have risen too. From January through September this year, 1065 civilians have been killed and 2,569 injured. Women and children accounted for almost 25 percent of civilian casualties.

Since 2015, Americans have lost 58 military personnel in Afghanistan.

Where from here?

With such staggering casualties, Afghans are naturally the most eager stakeholders in peace. But, to achieve a comprehensive and sustainable peace, first and foremost, all Afghans must feel ownership of the process.

The old method of promising a piece of the power pie to the now mostly irrelevant old guard for their stamp of approval will not assure success for Khalilzad’s peace plan.

Afghans have moved on. A new generation of men and women with master’s degrees are governing the nation. Even the illiterate tribesman aspires for modern life.

Education, sports, arts and music, equal rights, life with dignity, justice, freedom of expression, ethnic and sectarian inclusion and room for prosperity are the values of the new Afghanistan. These values need to be a part of any realistic peace process.

Second, a peace process must not be handled between individuals as a business deal. It must not be negotiated secretly behind closed doors. It must be allowed to be a process. It must be negotiated nationwide and a national consensus must be reached on the red lines and compromises. This is especially crucial given the multitude of actors, diversity of objectives and newly defined values.

Equally important is the fact that the Taliban are no longer a homogenous group loyal to one supreme leader and having only one foreign backer. Past negotiations in Qatar have been rejected by disparate Taliban factions.

Furthermore, the current conflict environment in Afghanistan includes not only the Taliban but the Haqqani Network, the IS-K (Daesh), the resurgent Al Qaeda Arabs, Uzbek and Tajik insurgents, the Chechens, the Uyghur and various Pakistani militant groups. Striking a deal with one branch of the Taliban would hardly stop the war in Afghanistan.

Oversimplification of issues

Third, reducing the solution to foreign troop withdrawal, a release of Taliban prisoners and accommodating the Taliban’s ideology in the Afghan constitution will not carry the country to peace.

The drivers of conflict are many, chief among them is the lucrative opium trade, from which the insurgents and their foreign supporters—in the region and beyond—benefit enormously.

Illegal mining is yet another driver of conflict. A simple exercise of superimposing the map of Afghan mines on the map of the country’s conflict zones would illustrate this point.

For example, insurgents gain an estimated $9 million per year from talc mining in the restive Nangarhar province, while lapis mining in Badakhshan province finances much of their fight in the north and perpetuates insecurity.

Finally, the regional dimension of the conflict in Afghanistan is arguably more difficult to tackle than internal grievances. Complexities of regional ambitions and fears must be addressed fundamentally.

At a time when most of Afghanistan’s neighbors near and far are supplying their proxy groups, withdrawal of US and NATO troops and release of Taliban prisoners will not achieve peace.

A genuine process with the intention to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace could only begin with a firm US commitment to support an Afghan-led process with no deadlines. It would allow the Afghans to reach a national consensus on the terms and task their elected government to prepare the prerequisites, seek international support and negotiate with the insurgents.

Long-term US interests are better served if instead of acting like traders in peace, willing to mortgage Afghanistan’s achievements for a “dignified exit”, Washington assumes a supporting role to an Afghan-led process for peace with justice, freedoms and dignity for all sides.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/this-is-why-the-afghan-peace-plan-will-fail-again-044355/

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Nation not in favour of Taliban’s return to power: Ghani

Nov 23 2018

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani says the Afghan people do not want the Taliban to return to power and the nation supports peace, education, prosperity, and development of Afghanistan.

Speaking during a gathering of elders and influential figures of Jaghoori and Malistan districts, President Ghani said it has been revealed during his interaction with the people that the nation do not want the return of Taliban to power.

He said the nation supports peace, education, prosperity, and development of Afghanistan and under no circumstances are prepared to make compromise with the achievements of the state.

Pointing towards the casualties of the armed forces in Jaghoori district, President Ghani said the martyrdom of the commando forces is a sign of the national unity of the nation and national unity is key for the existence of the nation.

President Ghani further added that the future steps in Jaghoori and Malistan would ensure stability in the two districts and clear instructions and security plan exist for the two districts emphasizing that ensuring security of the routes is part of the plans.

He also added that clear instructions have been issued for the reinforcement of security outposts in Jaghoori and Malistan districts and work is underway for the establishment of a special unit in Bamyan province.

Full report at:

https://www.khaama.com/nation-not-in-favour-of-talibans-return-to-power-ghani-02799/

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Fears of boat exodus as smugglers prey on Rohingya desperation

NOV 23, 2018

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AFP) - As desperation swells in the squalid camps that are home to a million Rohingya refugees, long-dormant - and often deadly - trafficking networks are being revived, Bangladeshi officials warn.

Smugglers operating rickety fishing boats prey on the hopes of people who fled violence in Myanmar, charging them small fortunes for a dangerous journey to South-east Asia, offering an empty promise of a fresh start.

The first vessel to depart Bangladesh for Malaysia since the end of the monsoon was intercepted by law enforcement, who warn others will follow.

Many in the heaving Rohingya ghettos of Cox's Bazar feel they have no other option but to try to escape, community leaders and aid workers say.

A deal to safely return the persecuted Muslims to Myanmar has failed, condemning them to limbo and deprivation in fetid camps where they are barred from leaving or looking for work to improve their lot.

Sensing a surge, coastguard patrols have been stepped up since the first boat was detected in November in the Bay of Bengal, said Ikbal Hossain, deputy police chief in Cox's Bazar.

Another boatload of refugees who fled a camp in Myanmar were found off the country's southern coast in November after spending 15 days at sea in a failed attempt to reach Malaysia.

"As the sea turns calm, the smuggling rackets have resumed their activities. But we have a zero-tolerance attitude towards human trafficking," Mr Hossain told AFP.

But he said traffickers were difficult to detect in the teeming hills where more than 720,000 Rohingya sought refuge after a brutal crackdown by the Myanmar military in August 2017.

Shabeda Begum, a 30-year-old widowed in what UN investigators called ethnic cleansing, said she was approached by another refugee offering to reunite her with a sister and brother-in-law in Malaysia.

The Muslim-majority nation hosts one of the largest overseas Rohingya communities, many of whom arrived by boat from Cox's Bazar until that smuggling pipeline was closed in 2015.

Ms Begum was introduced to a Bangladeshi handler in the coastal town of Teknaf and arranged to get the required US$120 (S$165) from family in Kuala Lumpur.

That secured Ms Begum and her two children a spot aboard the crescent-shaped fishing boat crammed with 33 other refugees above and below deck.

"They promised my life would change if I could reach there with my kids," she told AFP despairingly from a plastic-roofed shanty. Her son, seven-year-old Mohammad Riaz, recounted his terror as the creaking boat was tossed about in the churning sea.

"I was scared because the boat was bouncing on the waves. I thought I would fall overboard and into the sea," he told AFP.

Six traffickers were arrested in connection with the failed voyage, police said.

One told AFP the fishing trawler had been due to transfer the Rohingya to a bigger Malaysia-bound ship out at sea.

At its peak, transnational smuggling networks passed refugees from boat to boat before docking in Thailand and moving them overland to secret campsites in Malaysia.

That route collapsed in May 2015, when shallow graves were found at migrant holding camps along the Thai-Malaysia border.

As the authorities closed in, traffickers abandoned boats in the Andaman Sea, leaving starving and dehydrated passengers to drift south.

No one knows exactly how many died in the transit camps or at sea.

Local authorities fear another exodus is looming, as traffickers return to old tricks to lure vulnerable refugees onto ships.

Mosammat Khadiza, a 16-year-old refugee, said her mother put her on board after traffickers promised that a wealthy Rohingya man in Malaysia would marry her.

"We were kept in a fish refrigerator inside the boat's hull for hours. We couldn't move inside the tight space," she told AFP.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR is running awareness campaigns in the camps about the dangers of trusting people smugglers and taking flimsy boats into the open ocean.

"We recognise that the continued maritime movements, despite the serious dangers, illustrate the desperation that people feel," UNHCR spokesman Caroline Gluck told AFP. "Unless they believe there are other tangible solutions to their plight, Rohingya will continue to risk their lives on boats."

But amid grinding hardship, with little prospect of a brighter future, camp leaders say the promise of a better life elsewhere would be difficult to counter.

"This is not a life anyone would prefer," said Rohingya community leader Mohammad Osman. "That's why they jump on boats without a second thought when approached by traffickers."

Full report at:

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/fears-of-boat-exodus-as-smugglers-prey-on-rohingya-desperation

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North America

 

Western states do not want to irrevocably damage ties with Saudi Arabia: Researcher

Nov 24, 2018

The United States and other Western states do not want to irrevocably disturb their relations with Saudi Arabia despite evidence that the Saudi rulers murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Walt Peretto, a writer and researcher based in Washington, DC.

“The Turkish foreign minister has expressed his disdain for Donald Trump's laissez-faire stance regarding Saudi Arabia's handling of reports that a dissident Saudi journalist is missing and presumed murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2. While Germany, Denmark, and Sweden have halted arms sales to the Saudis -- France, the UK, Spain, Italy, and the United States will continue to supply the Saudis and their murderous campaign in Yemen,” Peretto said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

The Turkish foreign minister’s comments came after Trump stated that the murder of Khashoggi would not affect Washington’s ties with Riyadh despite the fact that the murder had been ordered at highest levels of the Saudi government.

Trump on Tuesday glossed over the CIA's reported conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had authorized the killing.

Peretto said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has blamed higher-ups in the Saudi government for the murder of the journalist, but falls short of blaming King Salman. Western bloc nations in general do not want to irrevocably disturb their relations with the Kingdom despite evidence that they murdered one of their own journalists. Relations between the Western bloc nations, which includes Saudi Arabia, is much stronger than any reprimand for killing a journalist.”

“Trump has strong ties to the Saudis going back decades including a 'financial' relationship. In the large scheme of things, a murder of a journalist is a very minor offense compared to foreign entities colluding with higher ups in the US government to murder 3,000 people on 9/11. Independent investigation and analysis has concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that US and Israeli intelligence, so called neo-cons in the Bush administration, current and former Israeli prime ministers, and representatives of several industries including the mainstream media were complicit in these heinous crimes,” he stated.

“As bad as the murder of the journalist is, it is nothing compared the crimes against humanity perpetrated every day by members of the Western bloc nations who are under the financial and psychological control of the international bankers and military industrialists who work obsessively for a one world system of complete domination and control led by a relatively small number of organized psychopaths,” he noted.

“Empathic Humanity has a choice, and it has freewill, it can continue to spin its wheels until it sinks into the ground of the impeding New World Order -- or it can deal directly with organized psychopathy, expose these dark elements of human behavior, and figure out a way to save what is good about the human race and begin to build a rational society from that point on,” he concluded.

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/24/580940/Western-states-do-not-want-to-irrevocably-damage-ties-with-Saudi-Arabia

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Trump went off-script, exposed Saudi-Israel alliance: Analyst

Nov 24, 2018

US President Donald Trump’s remarks on Saudi Arabia’s importance for Israel prove right longtime speculation about Riyadh’s secret alliance with Tel Aviv, American political analyst Keith Preston says.

Faced with international pressure to hold Riyadh responsible for murdering dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump has argued that punishing the kingdom hurts the US more as it would alienate the key Middle East ally and jeopardize billions of dollars in arms sales.

But the biggest reason, as he told reporters on Thursday, was the risk that losing Saudi Arabia’s services would pose to Israel.

“Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia,” Trump said after a Thanksgiving Day telephone call with military personnel from his Mar-a-Lago resort home in Florida.

“If you look at Israel, Israel would be in big trouble without Saudi Arabia,” he added. “So what does that mean, Israel is going to leave? You want Israel to leave? We have a very strong ally in Saudi Arabia.”

The President said the Saudis were “tremendously helpful” in the region as they also helped keep oil prices down.

Preston, chief editor of attackthesystem.com, said the remarks corroborated previous reports about growing ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“Trump is unusual for an American president in that he frequently goes off-script and says things that are unusually candid,” Preston told Press TV on Friday.

The analyst said while many people seemed to think that Riyadh and Tel Aviv were enemies, Trump’s statement proves that they are not.

“The relationship between the Americans, the Israelis and the Saudis as a triangle is very well established and the common objective of all three powers is for the triangular alliance to dominate the Middle East and doing so by attacking other forces in the Middle East that pose a challenge to that kind of hegemony,” he added.

What makes Saudi Arabia essential for Israel’s existence is the Saudi regime’s “destabilizing” role in the region, Preston said.

It’s “true that the instability that the Saudis have helped to create has also served the interests of Israel by attempting to undermine rival countries such as Iran, Syria and also Iraq,” he argued.

But those policies served the limited interests of the American elite and hurt the US national interests in general, he added.

“What we actually see happening is the Saudi state, the Israeli state are aligned with elements in the United States and the American government… that have a vested interest in either destabilizing the Middle East so that the Israelis and the Saudis could exercise further domination in the Middle East or simply in eliminating” rivaling forces, he noted.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/24/580926/US-Trump-Saudi-Arabia-Khashoggi-ISrael-alliance

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US House to probe Trump ties to Saudi over response to Khashoggi murder

Nov 24, 2018

The US House of Representatives is set to take a “deep dive” into US President Donald Trump’s ties to Saudi Arabia, following his response to the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The House intelligence committee will launch the investigation once the new Democratic-dominated House assembles in January, California Representative Adam Schiff, who is in line to become head of the committee, told the Washington Post in an interview published Friday.

Trump has refused to pressure Saudi Arabia to be accountable over the killing of Khashoggi, arguing that doing so would hurt political and financial relations with the traditional Middle East ally.

A US green card holder and a columnist for the Post, Khashoggi was murdered after entering the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

After offering numerous contradictory explanations, Riyadh eventually admitted that the journalist was indeed murdered. However, it denied evidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had anything to do with the apparent hit job.

Even after it was reported that the CIA was in possession of recordings that incriminated MBS, Trump stood by the young prince and referred further question to the spying agency.

“Certainly we will be delving further into the murder of Khashoggi,” Schiff told the Post. “We will certainly want to examine what the intelligence community knows about the murder.”

In addition to examining the CIA’s findings, the lawmakers would also see whether Trump’s private financial dealings with Riyadh influenced his response as president.

“There are a whole set of potential financial conflicts of interest and emoluments problems that Congress will need to get to the bottom of,” Schiff said. “If foreign investment in the Trump businesses is guiding US policy in a way that’s antithetical to the country’s interests, we need to find out.”

Trump, who still owns his business despite relinquishing day-to-day control to his children, told a rally during the campaign days that he had made “hundreds of millions” of dollars from Saudi purchases.

The president argues that going after Saudi Arabia for issues like Khashoggi and the Riyadh regime’s war on Yemen hurts his $110bn arms deal with the Saudis and pushes them towards Russia.

Trump has regularly attacked Schiff, calling him “little Adam Schitt” in a tweet earlier this month.

Full report at:

https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2018/11/24/580924/US-Trump-Schiff-Khashoggi-murder-CIA

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US service member killed in Afghanistan

November 24, 2018

KABUL: A US service member was killed in Afghanistan on Saturday, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said in a statement, bringing the US combat death toll this year to eight.

The identity of the service member and details about the incident will be shared at a later stage, said Debra Richardson spokesperson for the Resolute Support in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon says there are about 14,000 US service members in Afghanistan. The US military’s mission is focused mainly on guiding and aiding Afghan forces battling the Taliban, which was ousted from power in 2001.

More than 2,400 US forces have died in the 17-year-old war, America’s longest conflict.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1410156/world

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