Devotees offering prayers on the occasion of Shivratri at the Hanuman Mandir in
Srinagar on Friday. | Photo Credit:
What Does ISIS Think Of Trump? Islamic
State Agrees That Muslims Shouldn’t Travel To US
On Shivaratri, J&K Muslims Wash
Temple, Organise Puja
Muslims Stand Guard as Hindus Mark Maha
Shivaratri in Pakistan
The Shocking Secret Plan for a Muslim
State in Australia
Muslims Clash in Mass Brawl Outside Of A
Over 2,000 Terrorists Join ISIL after
Over 35 killed in multiple suicide
attacks targeting Syrian military HQs in Homs – reports
Islamic State has been cranking out car
bombs on an industrial scale for the battle of Mosul
Saudi foreign minister makes rare visit to
Smugglers use Quran to transfer drugs
into Saudi Arabia
Iraqi forces enter western Mosul, launch
air strikes in Syria
Al-Nusra Suffers Heavy Casualties in
Syrian Army Advances in Aleppo Province
Inside the fight against IS sleeper
cells in liberated Mosul
Saudi King Salman launches investment
drive with Asia tour
On Shivratri, J&K Muslims Wash
Temple, Organise Puja
At Militant Hotbed, Kashmiris Throng
Martyred Soldier’s Funeral
Jammu and Kashmir: Control on mosques,
madrasas & media needed, says MHA’s report
Sunni-Shia Scholars Pledge Unity against
Takfiri Terrorists In Lahore, Pakistan
Islamic Finance Centre disburses Rs14
million in two months
ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, and Daesh:
What's The Difference? President Trump Won't
As Muslims Open Mosques, Non-Muslims
Come In Droves To Show Support
Muhammad Ali’s son detained by
immigration, asked ‘are you a Muslim’
Second Florida Mosque Hit by Arson
Attack in 5 Months
ISIS May Develop Regional Power Base in
Northwest of Afghanistan: ISW
Nearly A Dozen Afghans Shot To Death by
Daesh in Mosque Ambush
6 key ISIS leaders killed in Nangarhar
province of Afghanistan
Afghan envoy says Pak-Afghan border may
be opened temporarily
Rocket Fire Kills Two Schoolchildren in
UNICEF Delighted Imam Hussain Holy
Shrine Supports Children
German Intelligence Warns of Massive
Increase in Islamists
'Spying Imams' Spark New Crisis between Europe
Promoting Islamic Lifestyle Helps Repel
Former Palestinian prisoners work hard
to conquer ghosts of their torture
Iran complies with nuclear deal, slashes
low-enriched uranium stockpile by half – IAEA
Turkey says Al-Bab completely captured
Israeli Bedouin stigmatized by terrorist
Mutual Interests Break Ice between
Egypt, Saudi Arabia
Compiled by New
Age Islam News Bureau
25 February 2017
'The agenda is to create a country
within your country': Islamic leader warns radicals have a shocking secret plan
to create a Muslim state inside Australia... funded by taxpayers
Muslim Imam Shaikh Mohammad Tawhidi has
warned that an independent state within Australia is the agenda of radicals,
according to an upcoming interview on Today Tonight.
The Muslim leader, who has openly spoken
out against ISIS and extremists, is interviewed on Seven's Today Tonight and
claimed radicals would 'create a country within your country'.
'The agenda is to create a country
within your country,' Imam Tawhidi told Today Tonight.
He goes on to claim his religion is
suffering at the moment.
'Sadly in my religion, in the current
situation, is an absolute mess.'
The episode, on Monday night, will
reveal the shocking plan for a Muslim state in Australia, funded by taxpayers
and foreign fanatics the show's preview reads.
Muslim community leader Jamal Daoud, a
Sunni Muslim and human rights activist, will appear on the episode.
Mr Daoud has spoken out against Muslim
women wearing the burqa in the past, claiming the move would help with security.
'This will help with security, national
security, and preventing terrorist attacks,' he said.
BY PRANSHU RATHI 02/24/17
Trump's Battle With Judges Over Travel
Ban Deemed 'Constitutional Crisis'
President Donald Trump and the Islamic
State group are in agreement when it comes to an immigration ban against
travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Or at least that's the way
one prominent scholar on terrorism tells it.
"ISIS, at official levels, has
ignored the Trump executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority
countries, in spite of the widely voiced claim that it has been a propaganda
victory for the group," Simon Cottee, a contributing writer for The
Atlantic and a visiting senior fellow with the Freedom Project at Wellesley
College in Massachusetts who specializes in terrorism, wrote in an op-ed
Thursday in the New York Daily News. "There are several possible reasons
for ISIS’ seeming reluctance to engage with Trump and the travel ban. First,
ISIS has far more pressing matters to contend with and to propagandize about right
now — like trying to show the world that it isn’t losing its strongholds of
Mosul and Raqqa. Second, ISIS doesn’t need to propagandize about what it sees
as the 'true' thuggish and fascistic face of America, because Trump himself is
doing such an effective job at disseminating this image... On the issue of the
travel ban, ISIS and Trump are seemingly in alignment: Both are adamant that
Muslims should not migrate to the west, least of all America. Whereas Trump and
his advisors think that Muslim migrants are a potential threat to U.S. national
security, ISIS demonizes the same group as apostates and deserters."
While ISIS supporters did discuss the
ban online, generally praising it as a recruiting tool to turn Muslims against
Washington, it's true that Islamic State group leaders have stayed mum about it
so far. That's because ISIS in general seems to pay little attention to Trump,
On Shivratri, J&K Muslims wash
temple, organise puja
Peerzada Ashiq SRINAGAR FEBRUARY 25, 2017 00:20 IST
Holy day: Devotees offering prayers on
the occasion of Shivratri at the Hanuman Mandir in Srinagar on Friday. | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD;NISSAR AHMAD -
‘We want them to perform puja with all
reverence and without any sense of insecurity’
From Muslims cleaning up and organising
puja at a temple to 1,000 specially-designed ‘Herath’ greeting cards, this
Shivratri Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims bonded and reached out to each other,
with social media providing a rare platform to relive past memories.
For perhaps the first time since
hundreds of Pandit families migrated outside the Valley in the face of raging
militancy in the 1990s, villagers, young and old, of Sumbal village in
Bandipora, 30 km away from Srinagar, converged on the Nand Kishore temple,
located under the shade of mighty chinar trees early in the morning. They were
carrying brooms and water containers in hand.
“We have decided to clean up the
premises of the temple for the Pandits. We want them to perform puja with all
reverence and without any sense of insecurity,” said Rashid Dar, a local.
Several locals were seen carrying
placards. “Let’s celebrate next Herath (a term used by Kashmiri Pandits for
shivratri) together in the valley,” the placards read, an apparent reference to
the return of Pandits to their native places.
The Sumbal area has witnessed growing
militancy this year, with around six encounters already reported.
Scores of Valley-based Muslim netizens
greeted Pandits on the occasion as social media provided a rare platform to
recall old memories.
“I miss water-soaked walnuts that Pandits
would offer to Muslims in neighbourhood. For ‘salam’, I would visit Pandits the
next day after herath,” recalled Ashraf Kishoo on Facebook.
Those Pandits who stayed back followed
the tradition of keeping water-soaked walnuts for Muslim neighbours. More than
3,000 families decided to stay back despite the militancy.
The Kashmiri Pandits’ herath is
different from the rest of the country. Unlike Hindus elsewhere, Pandits here
would cook both fish and meat dishes on the occasion.
“For the first time in my living memory,
I heard that some Kashmiri Pandits elsewhere will not celebrate it a day
before. I am not sure whether this is about the lunar calendar being uniquely
erratic this year or about the reinvention of tradition to eventually erase the
differences between Kashmiri Pandits and Indian Hindus,” said Nitasha Kaul, a
Pandit novelist who authored Residue.
In another gesture, the government
mailed through post offices specially-designed herath greeting cards.
“Around 1,000 greeting cards were
delivered to Pandit families. The card highlights the poetry of Lal Ded,
equally revered by Muslims and Pandits. It carries the picture of a stone
temple of Mansbal that was restored with the help of locals. The idea is
highlight the rich culture the State has nurtured for centuries,” Works
Minister and government spokesman Nayeem Akhtar said.
Mr Daoud has spoken out against Muslim
women wearing the burqa in the past, claiming the move would help with
Muslims Clash In Mass Brawl Outside Of A
A scene of unrest outside one of
Melbourne's largest mosques has been captured on camera, as conflict rises over
treatment of banned Sheikh Mohamad Abou Eid.
The sheikh had been accused of
inappropriate behaviour and banned from Preston Mosque, where a large group of
men came to blows on Friday, pushing, shoving and shouting at each other.
Sheikh Eid was suspended before standing
down from his role - he had been told the claims against him could not be
proven, The Age reports.
Shocking moment huge brawl erupts
outside of a Melbourne mosque
The video begins as a group of men make
their way towards the mosque, one barging into an older gentleman in a blue
shirt, who expresses his shock before walking into the group of people.
The blue-shirted gentleman appears to be
addressing the group surrounding the sheikh, or perhaps the sheikh himself -
who can be seen wearing black clothing and dark glasses.
The sound of shouting grows and the
group press on, past the gates and into the area outside the mosque.
The appears to be pushing and shoving
between the two groups, with a few men being restrained by their peers.
The aggressive exchanges continue until
one point where a man climbs onto a car where he and others attempt to subdue the
Eventually the crowds dissipates and the
Sheikh Abou Eid told worshippers about
his concerns over how the mosque was managed to hundreds of worshippers on the
street outside last Friday.
He said he feared the mosque may have
misappropriated donations, and fees paid for burial and school services, The
'The Islamic Society of Victoria and
some members of the Board of Imams are involved in something bigger than me and
bigger than you,' he said.
The Islamic Society of Victoria reported
allegations of inappropriate behaviour by the sheikh to the Board of Imams.
It is alleged he had acted
inappropriately with female worshippers, however he has since been informed
that the allegations made against him were baseless.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman told Daily
Mail Australia that they are aware of a number of allegations and are in the
process of making further enquiries.
'However no formal report has been made
at this time.
'Police are also aware of a dispute
taking place between members of senior management of the Preston mosque.
'We hold no immediate concerns for
community safety. As this matter is ongoing, it would not be appropriate to
provide further detail at this time.'
"ISIS, at official levels, has
ignored the Trump executive order banning refugees from seven Muslim-majority
countries, in spite of the widely voiced claim that it has been a propaganda
victory for the group," Simon Cottee, a contributing writer for The
Atlantic and a visiting senior fellow with the Freedom Project at Wellesley
College in Massachusetts who specializes in terrorism, wrote in an op-ed
Thursday in the New York Daily News. "There are several possible reasons
for ISIS’ seeming reluctance to engage with Trump and the travel ban. First,
ISIS has far more pressing matters to contend with and to propagandize about
right now — like trying to show the world that it isn’t losing its strongholds
of Mosul and Raqqa. Second, ISIS doesn’t need to propagandize about what it
sees as the 'true' thuggish and fascistic face of America, because Trump
himself is doing such an effective job at disseminating this image... On the
issue of the travel ban, ISIS and Trump are seemingly in alignment: Both are
adamant that Muslims should not migrate to the west, least of all America.
Whereas Trump and his advisors think that Muslim migrants are a potential
threat to U.S. national security, ISIS demonizes the same group as apostates
TEHRAN (FNA)- The al-Qaeda linked Tahrir
al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board) could subjugate the ISIL-backed
Liwa al-Aqsa terrorists after besieging them in Khan Sheikhoun and Morek
following two weeks of bloody clashes in Northern Hama.
Over 300 rebels were killed in the
infighting, most of whom were executed Jeish Al-Nasr prisoners of war. Also
three convoys belonging to the Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at terrorists were reportedly
ambushed near Khan Sheikhoun.
Faced with the prospects of a protracted
siege like Kafraya and Foua’a, Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at negotiated with Liwa
al-Aqsa offering a safe exit towards ISIL-held areas East of Hama.
In return, Liwa al-Aqsa would release
its Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at prisoners and relinquish its heavy weapons and
Prior to the evacuation of the last
batch of al-Aqsa militants, the group burnt all its heavy equipment to spite
its rival rebels. The evacuation reportedly took place along the Syrian
army-controlled Ithriya Highway where a number of convoys belonging to the
terror group were ambushed by government troops.
Liwa al-Aqsa is estimated to number
between a thousand and two-thousand men with some unconfirmed reports
suggesting some 2,100 fighters joining the ISIL in Raqqa.
The ISIL will likely use its much needed
manpower boost to counterattack the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Raqqa or
the Syrian army in West of Palmyra or even bolster their cracking defenses
around Deir Hafer in Eastern Aleppo.
Late in January, Al-Nusra Front
(recently renamed to Fatah al-Sham Front) and several militant groups declared
forming a new coalition under the name of Tahrir Al-Sham Hay'at to narrow down
widening rifts amongst their commanders and members.
The Al-Nusra Front, Nouralddeen al-Zinki
Movement, Jeish al-Sonah, Jabhat Ansaraldeen and Liwa al-Haq announced that they
would act under a united coalition named the Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at.
The five merged terrorist groups act
under the command of Abu Jaber Hashem al-Sheikh, who was one of the commanders
of Ahrar al-Sham. The new coalition led by al-Sheikh is now fighting against
Ahrar al-Sham, a rival terrorist group operating mainly in Northwestern Syria.
Al-Sheikh resigned from his post in
Ahrar al-Sham after he was appointed as the commander of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at.
A number of Ahrar al-Sham's commanders,
including the groups' spokesman Abu Yusuf al-Mohajer, Hesam Salameh and Abu
al-Fatah al-Farqali Mesri also joined the new coalition.
Terrorist groups' websites claimed that
Al-Nusra Commander Abu Mohammad al-Joulani will be the top commander of Tahrir
Ahrar al-Sham rejected its affiliation
to the new coalition, but websites close to the terrorist groups have disclosed
that Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Sham, Jeish al-Izzah, Turkistani party and Liwa
al-Tamkin will soon start a new front called Tahrir al-Syria Front.
Nusra terrorists have been attacking
positions of other terrorist rivals across Northwestern Syria.
25 Feb, 2017
At least 35 people have been killed and
many more injured in several suicide attacks outside Syrian military facilities
in the city of Homs, according to RIA Novosti citing a local source.
“The number of fatalities has reached 35
people, dozens are wounded. A total of over six suicide bombers blew themselves
up near two security facilities,” a source familiar with the matter told RIA
Novosti on Saturday. The Syrian state security service’s local HQ and the
military intelligence building were targeted.
Later in the day, the governor of Homs
province, Talal al-Barazi, told AP that there have been three blasts in total,
which have killed more than 20 people and wounded many others. The official
estimate conflicts with previous media reports.
The attackers had attempted to enter the
headquarters, al-Barazi added. “The security detail repelled the attack and
prevented the militants from breaking into the buildings, but the terrorists
managed to detonate their explosive devi?es,” he told Syrian TV channel
Al-Ikhbariya, as cited by TASS.
General Hassan Daaboul, chief of
provincial military security unit, is said to be among the victims.
The blasts come as Syrian army units
continue to move eastwards in a bid to retake the ancient city of Palmyra,
located in the Homs province. On Friday, the troops defeated Islamic State (IS,
formerly ISIS/ISIL) as well as Al Nusra Front militants near the mountain of
Al-Hayal that overlooks Palmyra’s western neighborhoods, Syrian news agency
The Syrian army’s 18th Tank Division,
Military Shield Forces, as well as elements of the National Defense Forces
(NDF), are taking part in the offensive, supported by the Russian air force,
according to Al-Masdar.
Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, was
where anti-government riots began in 2011. Syrian forces recaptured the
opposition stronghold after a major push in late 2015, when rebels withdrew
from the last district under their control, leaving the city fully in the hands
of the government.
25 Feb, 2017
That’s when he saw the car bomb, a white
Chevy pickup sheathed in plates of armor, barreling forward.
“I fired two rounds at it, but it kept
moving. I knew my weapon would have no effect,” Ghani said. “I shouted,
‘Mufakhakhah! [Car bomb!]’ and ran to the house for cover.”
Ghani, a 22-year-old member of Iraq’s
elite Counter-Terrorism Service, was facing what has become Islamic State’s
weapon of choice — a poor man’s guided missile that militants have found a way
to produce on an industrial scale. In Iraq and Syria these days, “car bomb,”
has become a bit of a misnomer — these are civilian vehicles outfitted like
primitive tanks, assembled in primitive factories.
Of 1,112 suicide bombings carried out by
Islamic State in Syria and Iraq in 2016, 815 of them used vehicles laden with
explosives, according to an infographic released by Amaq, a news agency
affiliated with Islamic State.
In the fight launched earlier this month
to drive the militants from the western part of Mosul, the city that had become
the extremist’s groups de facto capital in Iraq, they are a frequent threat.
“It's the tactic they use the most,” said
Staff Lt. Col. Muntadhar Salem, head of the Counter-Terrorism Service’s Mosul
He recalled the battle for Bartella, a
Christian-dominated town east of Mosul recaptured by government forces in
October. “In Bartella, my group alone faced seven of them, but altogether there
were 23 on the first day of our offensive,” he said.
Vehicles armed with bombs are nothing
new. The first arguably dates to 1920, when an anarchist named Mario Buda blew
up a horse-drawn wagon on New York’s Wall Street, killing 40 people and
injuring more than 200, according to Mike Davis, author of “Buda’s Wagon: A
Brief History of the Car Bomb.”
In Iraq, after the U.S. invasion in
2003, insurgents attacked military convoys and bases with what became known in
U.S. military parlance as Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices, or
During the Sunni-Shiite bloodletting
that followed, Al Qaeda and later the Islamic State of Iraq (the precursor of
today’s Islamic State) would often park a car bomb in a busy neighborhood and detonate
it later. Some bombs were detonated by the drivers, which gave rise to another
abbreviation, the SVBIED, or Suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device.
But it wasn’t until after 2011, during
the crisis ravaging Syria, that the car bomb came into its own. The rebels
often lacked the heavy weaponry needed to punch through government defenses.
That’s what Ghani was facing recently
when he spotted the white Chevy pickup. As he recalled later, he already had
survived the harrowing rescue that day of a family trapped in their house in
Braving Islamic State snipers, Ghani
drove his Humvee up to the house, his gunner giving covering fire. Three
bullets smacked into the steering wheel, the seat cushion and a window. He
stuffed the family into the Humvee, only to have the sniper put a bullet in his
gunner’s right hand.
Hours later, he was facing the car bomb.
He ran to a house and tried the door. Locked.
“I gave the door two kicks, and went as
far to the back as I could,” he said.
Moments later, the explosion ripped
through the structure, collapsing its front and hurling shrapnel and glass
shards into Ghani’s face, back and legs.
Covering in rubble and bleeding, he
crawled to his walkie-talkie 6 feet away. “It felt like it was 2 miles away,”
he said. He called for help just before he lost consciousness.
For Islamic State, the car bomb is an
ideal weapon. Anyone who can drive can command one. They’re cheap, using
explosives made out of ANFO, a mixture of ammonium nitrate (which is found in
fertilizer) and diesel oil.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms, a standard-sized sedan can deliver 1,000 pounds of
explosives, with a lethal range of 125 feet.
Meanwhile, Islamic State’s takeover of
Mosul in mid-2014, when the group commandeered billions of dollars’ worth of
U.S.-supplied military hardware, meant it had in its possession thousands of
armored vehicles it could use for bombs as well.
Islamic State has even created SVBIED
battalions, such as the Abu Laith Ansari Battalion (named after the group’s
Its designs also evolved, according to
Devin Morrow, a technical advisor at Conflict Armament Research, a group thar
tracks weapons in contemporary conflicts.
“We see some really ingenious designs,”
she said. “They learn from past mistakes and adapt.”
Hulking and huge, many of these vehicles
look to be straight out of “Mad Max.” They boast improvised armor made of pipes
or sheet metal welded onto a frame, capable of easily deflecting small arms
fire and even the occasional rocket-propelled grenade.
Islamic State is now making car bombs on
an industrial scale.
In the basement of the Great Mosul
Mosque (once called the Saddam Mosque, after the former Iraqi strongman), a
stone’s throw from the Tigris River, are the remains of what apparently was a
car bomb factory.
Car doors are stacked off to the side
near a neat pile of hoods. Piping, buckets of metal detritus as well as dozens
of metal grilles and gates are arrayed against the wall.
“They strip the cars right down to the
frame, cut [off] all the doors and then replace them with sheet metal,” Morrow
said. “In these shops, we see a division of labor: One cuts off the doors and
installs the armored plates, another one places the explosives.”
Although Islamic State has lost
territory in the past year, production appears unaffected.
“Up until now, they don’t seem to lack
what they need: big containers, some detonating cord, detonators, fertilizer
and aluminum,” said Damien Spleeters, Conflict Armament Research’s head of
operations in Iraq. “And of course people [ready] to blow themselves up.”
Spleeters added that it would take no
more than two days to make such a bomb.
For security forces, the crucial factor
that determines if they can stop a car bomb is distance. Security forces
routinely deploy bulldozers to build earthen berms to slow, if not stop, a car
“If they come at you from 1,000 feet,
you can get them. But at 300 feet, they’re too close for the missile,” said
Hassan Attiyah, 30, as he scanned Islamic State positions in western Mosul
through the scope of his anti-tank Kornet missile launcher.
But the close-quarters combat that
troops face against Islamic State in urban areas means they often don’t have
that luxury. Instead, they rely on the U.S.-led coalition’s drones to destroy
car bombs before they’re a threat.
“Even then, Islamic State keep them
inside houses or garages. The moment they see us, they go forward and blow
themselves up,” Col. Refaq Abdul Baqi, an officer with the Iraqi army’s 16th Division,
said from the government-held eastern bank of the city.
Abdul Baqi said residents of western
Mosul during the current campaign have been revealing the location of car bombs
to security forces so the coalition can destroy them.
Lt. Col. Muntadhar Salam said the first
thing his men do when they see a car bomb is use one of their vehicles as a
“We sacrifice one of our Hummers so it
won't go into our convoy, then we start firing RPGs and 50-caliber machine
guns,” he said.
“But sometimes, you just have to run.”
Saudi foreign minister makes rare visit
Reuters | Feb 25, 2017
BAGHDAD: Saudi Foreign Minister Adel
Al-Jubeir made a rare visit to Baghdad on Saturday, meeting with Iraqi Prime
Minister Haider al-Abadi, the premier's media office said.
It was the first visit of a senior Saudi
minister since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, a
spokesman for Iraq's foreign ministry told Reuters.
Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in
Baghdad a year ago following a 25-year shutdown.
But Iraq later asked for the ambassador
to be replaced after he made comments about Iranian involvement in Iraqi
affairs and the alleged persecution of Sunni Muslims, angering local Shi'ite
politicians and militia leaders.
Saudi Arabia has long accused Iraq of
being too close to Shi'ite Iran, its main regional rival, and of encouraging
sectarian discrimination against Sunnis, a charge Baghdad denies.
Enmity between Sunni and Shi'ite
regional powers has deepened in recent years as sectarian conflicts rage in
Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
February 25, 2017 - 10:34 AMabna.cc/7wzJ
News Code : 813935Source : Naij
According to Al Arabiya, Saudi
authorities are now more vigilant. Some of the incredible pictures of how drugs
hidden in a Quran were shared by the website.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - According to
Al Arabiya, Saudi authorities are now more vigilant. Some of the incredible
pictures of how drugs hidden in a Quran were shared by the website. Despite the
health risk it poses, smugglers even go to the extent of ingesting bundles of
Recently the most common substance found
has been Captagon tablets, which acts as a mental and physical stimulant. Daesh
(ISIS) have previously been reported for having taken Captagon tablets to help
keep them awake during the gun battles.
The drug has also previously been found
February 25th, 2017
MOSUL: US-backed Iraqi forces pushed
into western Mosul on Friday after retaking the city’s airport from the
militant Islamic State group. Aid agencies warned the most dangerous phase of
the offensive was about to begin for hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Troops disarmed booby traps planted by
retreating militant fighters in the airport, which the army plans to use as a
base from which to drive Islamic State from Mosul’s western districts and deal
a decisive blow to the group.
As they did, Iraqi fighter jets dropped
bombs on IS positions inside Syria on Friday. It was the first time the Iraqi
government publicly acknowledged striking militant targets inside Syria.
The new offensive comes after government
forces and their allies finished clearing IS from eastern Mosul last month,
confining the insurgents to the western sector of the city, which is bisected
by the Tigris river.
Commanders expect the battle in western
Mosul to be more difficult, in part because tanks and armoured vehicles cannot
pass through the narrow alleyways that crisscross ancient districts there.
The International Rescue Committee said
the most dangerous phase of the battle was about to begin for the 750,000
civilians believed to be trapped inside Mosul.
“There is a real danger that the battle
will be raging around them for weeks and possibly months to come,” said acting
country director Jason Kajer.
The United Nations has warned up to
400,000 civilians could be displaced by the new offensive amid food and fuel
Iraqi forces launched attacks on several
fronts. Counter-terrorism forces clashed with IS inside the southwestern
district of Al Mamoun and took full control of the Ghozlani military base on
Friday, Maj Gen Sami al Aridi, a senior commander, said.
Separately, federal police and an elite
Interior Ministry unit known as Rapid Response advanced into the Hawi al-Josaq
and al-Danadan districts after breaching a berm and a trench set up by IS north
of the airport, a spokesman said.
Early raids in the city’s west have so
far been restricted to thinly-populated areas. The government encouraged
civilians to stay in their homes, but some were caught in the crossfire.
Jamal Abdelnasser, 14, was shot in the
leg by IS when the militants stormed his home to take up sniper positions.
After crossing the frontline, soldiers unwrapped the blood-soaked bandages
around his leg and poured iodine on the bullet wound.
In another incident, a correspondent saw
civilians fleeing towards Iraqi security forces from the outskirts of Mamoun.
Defeat in Mosul would likely deal a
hammer blow to IS’s self-styled caliphate in areas it seized in 2014. But the
group still controls swathes of territory in neighbouring Syria and patches in
northern and western Iraq from where it could fight a guerilla-style insurgency
in Iraq, and plot attacks on the West.
On the ground in Mosul, Western advisers
are increasingly present close to the frontline, helping coordinate air strikes
and advising Iraqi forces as the battle unfolds.
The campaign involves a 100,000-strong
force of Iraqi troops, Shia militias and Sunni tribal fighters. It is backed by
an international coalition that provides vital air support as well as
on-the-ground guidance and training.
TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army soldiers,
backed up by the country's fighter jets, stormed the positions of Al-Nusra
Front (recently renamed to Fatah al-Sham Front) in the Western countryside of
Aleppo city, inflicting major losses on the terrorists.
The army troops deployed in Jam'iyat
al-Zahra neighborhood in the Western part of Aleppo city attacked Al-Nusra
Front's defense lines and managed to take back several buildings near Rasoul
Azam grand mosque in the Western countryside of Aleppo.
Field sources confirmed that the army
aircraft bombed Al-Nusra's centers in al-Bahouth al-Elmiyeh region West of
Aleppo city simultaneous with the ground troops' advances, killing at least 21
terrorists and wounding tens of others.
Sources close to the dissidents reported
on Friday that the Syrian air force pounded militants' positions and gathering
centers in Western Aleppo, killing at least 31 terrorists.
According to the pro-militant Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights, the militants were killed during airstrikes on
their bases in the Western parts of Aleppo.
The report came after news websites
close to the terrorists reported that tens of the members of the newly-formed
Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board) and the Free Syrian Army
(FSA) militants were killed in the Syrian air force's attacks on al-Bohouth
al-Ilmiyah building in the Western parts of Aleppo city.
Meantime, the Syrian army's artillery
units targeted the terrorists' centers and moves in al-Rashedeen 4 and 5
regions in Southwestern countryside of Aleppo, inflicting losses and damages on
Reuters | Updated: Feb 25, 2017, 01.00
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's King Salman
starts a month-long Asian tour on Sunday to build ties with the world's fastest
growing importers of Saudi oil and promote investment opportunities, including
the sale of a stake in its giant state firm Saudi Aramco.
The octogenarian monarch+ , who has
overseen the launch of an ambitious economic reform plan+ since his accession
two years ago, is expected to visit Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and China.
In a sign of the importance which the
kingdom places on strengthening economic ties with Asia, Indonesian officials
say Salman will be accompanied by a 1,500-strong entourage including 10
Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih and
Aramco executives will travel with him, sources told Reuters, on the king's
first trip outside the Middle East and North Africa since he visited the United
States in 2015.
Saudi officials are keen to court Asian
investors for the sale of a 5 percent stake in Aramco in 2018, which is
expected to be the world's biggest IPO, and have solicited financial advice
from banks with links to China.
Asian banks and companies are also
expected to play major roles in the kingdom's plans to develop non-oil
industries and expand its international investments, all part of the crude
exporting giant's attempts to reduce dependence on oil+ revenues.
The kingdom in August signed 15
preliminary agreements with China - ranging from house-building in Saudi Arabia
to water projects and oil storage - during a visit by the king's powerful son,
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is spearheading the economic
reform plan+ .
It has also agreed to invest up to $45
billion in a new technology fund with Japan's SoftBank Group.
While it pushes ahead with its
diversification efforts+ , Saudi Arabia is at the same time seeking to cement
its position as the world's biggest oil exporter and establish itself as the
dominant oil supplier to Asia's emerging markets.
In China, which is challenging the
United States as the world's biggest oil consumer, Saudi has just been pipped
by Russia as the top supplier.
Saudi Arabia has yet to announce
Salman's trip, but officials in Malaysia say he will start his tour there on
Sunday, accompanied by his son Prince Mohammed.
Aramco is expected to sign an agreement
during the visit to collaborate with Malaysia's state oil firm Petroliam Nasional
Bhd (Petronas) on its Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID)
The king, who is thought to be 81, will
travel to Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia from March 1-9, and Japan from March 12
to 14, officials in those countries told Reuters.
Indonesian Cabinet Secretary Pramono
Anung said the government hopes the visit will bring Saudi investments of up to
$25 billion. Jakarta's state-owned energy company Pertamina and Aramco are
working together to upgrade Indonesia's largest refinery complex and are
looking at other opportunities.
Indonesian television said the Saudi
delegation will stay in seven 5-star hotels in the Bali resort area of Nusa
Salman is also expected to go to China,
although neither Saudi nor Chinese officials have confirmed the visit, before
spending the last two weeks of March on holiday in the Maldives, according to a
Maldives diplomat. Local newspaper Mihaaru reported that three resorts have
been reserved for his stay.
Asia also figures in the kingdom's plans
for military cooperation, with Malaysia and Indonesia listed as members of a
Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance formed just over a year ago.
Riyadh's announcement of the
counter-terrorism alliance+ in December 2015 took many people by surprise+ ,
including officials of some member countries, and it is not yet clear what role
it will play.
Washington remains Saudi Arabia's chief
military partner, but Riyadh has adopted a more assertive policy in response to
what it perceived as U.S. disengagement from the region under former President
China has traditionally played little
role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region
for oil. But it has been trying to get more involved in efforts to end Syria's
six-year-old civil war, where Riyadh supports rebels battling President Bashar
Last year China also offered support for
Yemen's government, which is backed by a Saudi-led Gulf Arab coalition in a war
against the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement+ that controls much of the country.
China has had to tread a careful line,
though, as it also has close relations with Iran. President Xi Jinping visited
both Saudi Arabia and Iran Tehran in January last year.
“I miss water-soaked walnuts that
Pandits would offer to Muslims in neighbourhood. For ‘salam’, I would visit
Pandits the next day after herath,” recalled Ashraf Kishoo on Facebook.
At militant hotbed, Kashmiris throng
martyred soldier’s funeral
M Saleem Pandit | TNN | Updated: Feb 25,
Thousands of people came out on Friday
in Kashmir to bid a tearful adieu to Lance Naik Ghulam Mohiuddin Rather, who
was martyred in an ambush by terrorists.
Rather had left his home at Marhama
Mohalla in Bijbehara of south Kashmir last month after celebrating the birthday
of his son Aahil
The turnout astonished Kashmir observers
considering that south Kashmir villages are known to be militant hotbeds.
One last goodbye: Kashmiri villagers
carry the body of Lance Naik Mohiuddin Rather who was killed in Thursday’s
attack in Srinagar. (TOI photo by Bilal Bahadur)One last goodbye: Kashmiri
villagers carry the body of Lance Naik Mohiuddin Rather who was killed in
Thursday’... Read More
ANANTNAG: Thousands of people joined the
funeral service of Lance Naik Mohiuddin Rather at a mosque at Punchpora village
in Anantnag district of south Kashmir on Friday — a sight rarely witnessed in
chronicles of the valley's troubled past.
Mohiuddin, 35, and two of his mates were
killed in a militant ambush+ at Mulu Chitragam in Shopian district on Thursday
when they were returning from an anti-terror operation near Kungnoo village. Two
officers too were wounded in the attack.
When the tricolor-draped body of
Mohiuddin was brought in an Army vehicle to be handed over to his family
members for the last rites, thousands of residents of Punchpora village poured
out of their homes in a spontaneous gesture to pay their respects+ to the dead
soldier and console the bereaved family.
Many even came from other villages for
the nimaz-i-janazah (last prayers), which took place in the presence of top
Rashtriya Rifles officers.
"Mohiuddin has left behind his
ailing parents, wife, and a two-year-old son, besides a sister whose wedding
was fixed for next month," Manzoor Ahmad Rather, Mohiuddin's friend, said.
"He was a kind person who helped people in times of need," he said.
A group of women were seen consoling his
young weeping wife, Shahzada Akhtar, 26, and the soldier's unwell mother. Women
from the nearby villages walked to the slain soldier's village Punchpora,
around 55km from Srinagar, and were seen offering water to the young widow
while others tried to cuddle her toddler son. As colleagues bid farewell+ to
Mohiuddin, giving him a gun salute, many villagers couldn't control their
The turnout astonished some seasoned
Kashmir observers considering that south Kashmir villages are known to be
militant hotbeds, particularly for the Hizbul Mujahideen.
Neighbours said Mohiuddin never failed
to send medicine for his parents every week. While his father, Ghulam Mohammad
Rather, suffers from dementia, his mother was operated on for a tumour last year,
friend Manzoor added.
The soldier's mortal remains were sent
to his village on Friday morning after a wreath-laying ceremony at 15 Corps
headquarters in Srinagar by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat.
Seeing the large response, the district
administration made security arrangements to foil any untoward incident at the
funeral, official sources said.
Sat, 25 Feb 2017
An assessment report prepared by the
union government over the situation prevailing in the Kashmir Valley has
suggested a need to control mosques and madrasas, reported Indian Express.
Though the government report has not
made any reference to Pakistan, it has suggested the need to control of the
mosque, madrasa, print and TV media, strengthening of intelligence set-up and
reaching out to the moderate faction of Hurriyat, said the IE report.
The report, compiled after securing
inputs from the ground, suggests long-term “actionable points” and has been
sent to National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, the report said quoting
The Centre's report has also listed TV
channels as pro and anti-India and newspapers that it says should be promoted
for 'perception management'. It also stated that the Ministry of Information
and Broadcasting needed to revive its Jammu and Kashmir division that is
The report said that those indulging in
stone-pelting incidents need to be booked under Public Safety Act. It also
suggested reviving the Special Operation Group (SOG) to tackle militants from
across the border.
A week after warning of tough action
against those impeding counterinsurgency operations in Kashmir, Army Chief
General Bipin Rawat asked security agencies to synergise efforts to effectively
deal with the problem of stone-pelting during operations, an army official
The army chief had on February 15, while
paying tributes to soldiers killed during two encounters a day earlier in
Kashmir, warned of tough action against those civilians who were impeding the
counter-insurgency operations in the Valley by resorting to stone-pelting.
February 25, 2017
PESHAWAR: In an outstanding display of
inter-faith harmony, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Muslim residents stood next to their
Hindu compatriots as the three-day Maha Shivaratri celebrations kicked off at
the Hindu Dargah in Peshawar’s old city on Friday night.
The extraordinary display of inter faith
harmony that took place for the first time last year province’s local Muslims–
was all the more meaningful this year in the wake of a recent wave of terrorist
attacks across the country.
The KP police have maintained strict
security and set up a special control room for the festival. Closed-circuit
television cameras and scanning machines have been installed at the shrine.
The shrine – located inside the old city
at Jhanda Bazaar – has been illuminated with decorative lights, welcoming
hundreds of devotees from the city as well as from other parts of the province.
Ghulam Mustafa – nazim of the Union
Council Karim Pura – told the reporters that they had arranged this festival
even in the most difficult security situation. “This festival has never been
cancelled even during the time, when Babri Majid was attacked and destroyed by
fanatics in 1992,” Mustafa added.
Mustafa pointed out that Hindu and
Muslims have been living together for centuries and they have held on to the
centuries- old traditions of standing by each other without any difference of
caste or religion. “It has become our religious and social responsibility to
ensure their security and protection,” he said.
Shivaratri festival is celebrated by
Hindus around the world as it is believed the day when Lord Shiva and Parvati
got married. “Maha Shivaratri which also means ‘The Great Night of Shiva’ is
celebrated in the beginning of the spring season,” Shiv Nath Sharma, the
guardian of shrine, told the reporters.
He said devotees worship and offer
sacrifices as part of their prayers and the celebration continues for three
days. “On the first day, we fast for half a day and then sing hymns, praising
our God till late night. On the second day, we change the covering cloth of the
shrine, and on the third day, we offer communal sacrifices,” he said.
Sharma said the sacrifice is not limited
to an individual; rather, it is everyone’s sacrifice. “The devotees have
brought with themselves over a hundred goats to offer them as sacrifices at the
shrine,” he added.
Balwant Raam, an 80-year-old Hindu
elder, said the celebration become possible due to the support of locals and
the police. “It is not the first time that we have gathered to perform our
religious rituals. We have always observed our celebrations without any fear,”
Talking about the history of the Hindu
site, he said the Astaana has been here for centuries. The temple building was
constructed in the 15th century, but, he added, he was not sure about the
actual date of its construction.
The custodian of the shrine expressed
his satisfaction over the love and respect given by the people of the city, who
have made the festival possible even during the time, when the security forces
asked them not to allow any gathering.
“This year, like the past, Hindu women and men from across the province
and the Federally Administered Tribal areas are celebrating their religious
festival at the Dargah,” he added.
Sunni-Shia scholars pledge unity against
Takfiri terrorists in Lahore, Pakistan
Eminent Sunni religious scholars visited
the provincial secretariat o Shia religio-political party
Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen Punjab chapter in Lahore and endorsed MWM chief’s
narrative against the Takfiri terrorists.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - They held
meeting with the Shia religious scholars belonging to the MWM and discussed
ongoing security situation of Pakistan and in particular attacks on the
innocent Muslim civilians at shrines of Muslim saints and in busy residential
and commercial areas.
They announced their full support to the
Operation Radd ul Fasaad launched by Pakistan army under army chief General
Qamar Javed Bajwa.
They lamented that government failed to
act upon the National Action Plan due to which the Takfiri terrorists were
emboldened and encouraged to continue terrorism unabated.
They said they were sad on the precious
human losses in the bombings in all over Pakistan due to terrorist blasts.
However, they also appreciated the successful action of the security and
intelligence officials as they arrested facilitators and cracking down the
Those who vowed unity against Takfiri
terrorism at the MWM Punjab secretariat included: Syed Naubahar Shah, Dr Amjad
Chishti, Pir S A Jafari, Pir Akhtar Rasool Qadri, Allama Waqar ul Hasnain
Naqvi, Sahibzada Bilal Chishti, Maulana Asghar Arif Chishti, Professor Farooq
Saeedi, Allama Syed Hasan Raza Hamdani, Syed Nisar Safdar Naqvi advocate, Syed
Hassan Kazmi, Allama Mohammad Ali Hasnain Najafi, Rai Nasir Ali, Rana Majid
Ali, Mumtaz Bhutta advocate, Fayyaz Gondal advocate, Tahir Hashmi advocate,
Syed Zaheer Haider Zaidi, Syed Sadiq Haider Kirmani, Allama Syed Sabeeh Haider
Shirazi, Irfan Haider Naqvi advocate, Z H Jafari advocate and Agha Ali Imran
They opposed the closure of shrines of
Bibi Pak Daman, Data Dabar and others and demanded of the government to ensure
foolproof security to the devotees at and around the shrine and to all citizens
of Pakistan so that they could enjoy their normal life.
ISLAMABAD - The recently established Islamic Finance
Centre has disbursed Rs14 million among common people in first two months under
Ijarah mode of Islamic financing for purchase of motorcycles and other
The Islamic financing facility center
was inaugurated by SECP Chairman Zafar Hijazi in Rawalpindi on December 2016.
The initiative was taken by the Modaraba sector on the patronage of the SECP
chairman for providing Islamic financial products to the masses. Initially four
modarabas, Allied Rental Modaraba, First Habib Modaraba, Orix Modaraba and
Trust Modaraba has opened their offices in the this Islamic Finance Centre.
The establishment of Modaraba-based
Islamic Finance Centre was initiated to promote legal modes of financing and to
curb the illegal and unlicensed informal lending practices throughout the
The Islamic Finance Centre received
overwhelming response and common people are approaching the centre to avail
Islamic finance for purchase of motorcycles to cater their conveyance needs.
The Modarabas in this centre are providing microfinance to the customers at
cheaper rate ranging in between 20 to 25 percent, as against the prevalent
market rates of 40 to 45 percent.
The SECP has shown its firm commitment
to provide all the support to other Modarabas, which have plans to open similar
centres in other parts of the country for the benefits of the common people.
This will increase the outreach of
Modarabas to the smaller cities and towns for greater financial inclusion of
the underserved sectors.
ISIL, ISIS, Islamic State, and Daesh:
What's The Difference? President Trump Won't Call Extremist Group 'ISIL' Like
BY SUMAN VARANDANI 02/25/17
The Islamic State group will be called
ISIS under President Donald Trump's administration, rejecting former President
Barack Obama's preference for referring to the militants as the Islamic State
of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said in a Feb. 12
memo that using the term ISIS to refer to the terrorist group, which has
occupied large swathes of areas in Iraq and Syria, will create consistency, the
Washington Post reported Friday.
While addressing the nation in his speech
on terrorism in late 2016, Obama referred to the group as “ISIL” rather than
the more commonly used “ISIS.” At the time, Trump said Obama should not have
referred to the extremist group as ISIL.
The reason behind Obama using ISIL to
refer to the terrorist group was believed to be partly geographical and partly
grammatical. In 2013, the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the
group was called the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. The group’s name in
Arabic is al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, and “Levant” is sometimes
argued to be the more accurate translation for “al-Sham.” The name was later
shortened to Islamic State by Baghdadi, who declared that the territory under
his control would be a caliphate — a state ruled by a caliph, which is Arabic
for "successor," meaning successor to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
After the Islamic State group took
control of large territories in Iraq in 2014, the world debated over how to
refer to the group. The term ISIS stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,”
while ISIL stands for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” which means the
whole eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, including Syria, Lebanon,
Palestine, Israel and Jordan. Obama reportedly preferred ISIL to avoiding
referring to Syria.
Several Arab and European countries
refer to the group as Daesh, an Arabic acronym for “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi
al-Iraq wa al-Sham.” It can sometimes be spelled DAIISH , Da'esh or Daech , a popular French
version. French President François Hollande began using the term since the
November 2015 deadly attacks in Paris.
Some U.S. military officials also use
Daesh in support of foreign allies.
Starbucks Brand Crashes After
Announcement of Plan to Hire 10,000 Muslim ‘Refugees’
24 Feb 2017
The Starbucks Coffee brand has taken a
major hit since the company’s announcement that it would hire 10,000 Muslim
“refugees” in response to President Donald Trump’s temporary travel moratorium
Starbucks was one of those early to
criticize President Trump for putting a temporary hold on immigration from a
list of seven terror-torn countries flagged by the Obama administration. In
response, the coffee house giant pledged to hire 10,000 Muslim refugees over
five years in protest against Trump’s order.
But since the company issued its
anti-Trump statement its brand name has lost its luster with customers.
Perception levels of the Starbucks brand name fell by an incredible two-thirds
since its January announcement, according to a YouGov survey, as reported by
The survey measures how potential
customers feel about a company’s brand and asks if they have “heard anything
about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of
mouth, was it positive or negative.”
In the week before the company’s January
refugees announcement, 30% of respondents said they would consider spending
money at Starbucks. But after the statement that number fell to 24 percent, the
The company’s announcement immediately
sparked a #BoycottStarbucks movement on Twitter and brought condemnation from
coast to coast.
Not long after Starbucks issued its
anti-Trump refugee statement, many Americans began to wonder why Starbucks is
slighting the hiring of Americans — especially U.S. military veterans — in
favor of refugees.
Ultimately, on the heels of its refugees
announcement, the company felt enough pressure to issue a second statement to
explain to America’s military veterans that the company doesn’t actually hate
As Muslims open mosques, non-Muslims
come in droves to show support
By Bertrand M. Gutiérrez Winston-Salem
CLEMMONS — Two meetings happened
recently, the first in Kernersville, the second in Clemmons. In the first one,
a small group of conservatives painted Muslims as a problem, the plotters, the
would-be terrorists. In the second, on Friday, Muslims opened their mosques,
reaching out, trying to build trust.
The Kernersville group did not show up.
“There are people we need to talk to
that are not in this room,” said Wasif Qureshi, president emeritus of the
Islamic Center of Greensboro, who was visiting to participate in the open-door
event at the Annoor Islamic Center here. Rather, a large crowd showed up made
up mostly of ardent supporters, more than 200, spurred by an invitation from
the center and Interfaith Winston-Salem.
All three mosques in Forsyth County —
the Annoor Islamic Center, the Community Mosque on Waughtown Street and Masjid
Al-Muminun on Harriet Tubman Drive — opened their doors. It was their way of
responding to the stinging — and violent — comments made at the Kernersville
meeting, which was first reported by the Triad City Beat weekly newspaper.
At the Community Mosque in southeastern
Winston-Salem, Imam Khalid Griggs said there were about 20 new faces at the
prayer service, non-Muslims supporting Muslims.
“They felt it was important to come and
let us know the hateful words spoken (in Kernersville) were not felt by
everyone in the community,” Griggs said. “Many stayed and ate and talked with
us afterward. It was very positive.”
Most had never attended a mosque, he
Their presence was encouraging, he said,
particularly after comments made by President Donald Trump and the people at
the Kernersville meeting.
Citing national security and a need to
review the federal government’s vetting of refugees, Trump signed an executive
order last month that temporarily froze the U.S. refugee program, indefinitely
banned Syrian refugees and banned for three months citizens from Iraq, Syria,
Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
The executive order has since by blocked
in federal court by a lawsuit brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota
against the Trump administration — but Trump has signaled that he is working on
a new executive order rather than pursue a legal fight.
“The common feeling was that (the
comments were) a byproduct of the empowerment that many people felt with the
language of our current president targeting Muslims,” Griggs said. “It’s
created a climate of hatred.”
Efforts to contact the Al-Muminun mosque
At Annoor, members said they have seldom
seen the mosque as packed as it was Friday for service and a town hall meeting
Hamdy Radwan, the chairman of the
Islamic center’s council, led the service, providing a synopsis on what it has
been like to be on the receiving end of other people’s suspicions about
Muslims. At one point, describing how much attention the Kernersville meeting
has gotten, he said with humor that he has gotten calls from people from as far
as Egypt asking about the town.
“It’s not easy to hear — ‘wipe them
out,’” he said, alluding to some of the comments made in the Kernersville
“We need to come together as one
community,” said Radwan, who has been in the United States for 30 years, now
working as a physical therapy professor at Winston-Salem State University.
The Kernersville discussion — captured
in an audio recording — was referred to the FBI by the Council on
Returning to a theme echoing the Golden
Rule, Radwan stressed that, every day, about 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide eat,
dance and love — they live their lives just like people of any other faith.
But, he said, people tend to get their information from snippets of news. Not
many may know that Radwan and members of the Islamic center have, for example,
fed the hungry or built homes with Habitat for Humanity.
After the service, during the town hall
meeting, Radwan at times used humor, other times a measured tone to answer
questions from many non-Muslims.
Among them was Marie Davis, who said she
Before the forum, she told a
Winston-Salem Journal reporter that she was there to ask some questions, prefacing
them with the idea that there are “bad apples in every bunch,” referencing bad
deeds committed by the Catholic church.
Many of her questions were about the
treatment of women. Examples: Are women forced to marry, and are men allowed to
have more than one wife?
Radwan said he does not know anyone with
more than one wife.
Dina Shehata, an active member of the
Annoor Islamic Center, presented herself as an example of what life can be for
Muslim women. Shehata got an undergraduate degree at UNC Chapel Hill and a
graduate degree at N.C. State University, focusing on international studies.
Recently, she was approved to work at the U.S. State Department, pending a
Nobody forces her to wear the hijab, or
“My father does not force me to wear it.
My brother does not force me to wear it. My mother does not, either,” Shehata
said. “It’s truly a spiritual connection for women. They have a choice … to
wear it or not to wear it. Yes, it is a requirement. But ultimately it’s up to
the woman, herself.”
Many Annoor members said they follow the
law of the land.
“I chose my own man,” Shehata said with
humor, triggering a wave of laughter. “Nobody forced me to choose him.”
Some people at the town hall, including
Barry Geller, a Jew, simply expressed support. Referring to the Torah, he said,
first in Hebrew, then in English: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
“Jesus said that. It’s also in (the)
Quran. The exact same words. The exact same sentence,” Geller said.
By: ANI | New Delhi | Published:
February 25, 2017
In a shocking development, it has been
revealed that the son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by
immigration officials earlier this month at a Florida airport, and was
repeatedly asked about his religion.
Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother, Khalilah
Camacho-Ali, the first wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort
Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on February 7 after an event in
Jamaica, when they were pulled aside while going through customs because of
their Arabic-sounding names, reports the USA Today quoting Ali’s family friend
and lawyer Chris Mancini.
Camacho-Ali was let go after she showed
them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, however, her son was not so lucky
as he was badgered for two straight hours, where he was repeatedly asked,
“Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?”
When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a
Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was
Mancini said he and the Ali family are
contemplating filing a federal lawsuit and are currently trying to find out how
many other people have been subjected to the same treatment as Ali Jr.
“Imagine walking into an airport and
being asked about your religion. This is classic customs profiling,” he said.
Mancini also emphasised that the line of
questioning was clearly designed to produce answers that corroborate what
officials want to hear, adding that neither Camacho-Ali nor Ali Jr. have ever
been subjected to detainment before, despite extensive global travel experience.
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“To the Ali family, it’s crystal clear
that this is directly linked to Mr. Trump’s efforts to ban Muslims from the
United States,” Mancini said, referring to President Trump’s executive order
signed Jan. 27 that instituted a ban for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim
by NIKITA BIRYUKOV and ALEXANDRA
A fire at a Florida mosque was ruled
arson Friday, the second time an Islam housed of worship was set on fire in the
state since September, authorities said.
The Hillsborough County fire department
responded to a call of a fire at the Islamic Society of New Tampa, Daarus
Salaam Mosque in Thonotosass at around 2:10 a.m. and later determined that the
small fire set near a door had been intentionally set, fire department
spokesman Cory Dierdorff said.
Play Tampa Mayor Reacts to Mosque Arson
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No one was inside the mosque at the
time. The damage appeared minimal, but the fire had worshipper Arshaad Malik
"It's a place of worship to
God," Malik told NBC affiliate WESH. "You are trying to burn down a
place of worship. Is this the tolerance that we have?"
Related: Growth in Anti-Muslim Hate
Groups Seen in 2016, SLPC Report Says
In September, a Fort Pierce, Florida,
mosque once attended by Pulse nightclub gunman Omar Mateen was set on fire. It
took firefighters five hours to extinguish that blaze, and arrest was made in
the case. No one was hurt in either incident.
This handout photo shows damage to the
Islamic Society of New Tampa in Thonotosassa, Florida, in a fire that has been
ruled arson on Feb. 24, 2017. Council on American-Islamic Relations Florida
"This time another Florida mosque
has been targeted in a crime that could have easily taken the life of any
worshiper," Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, spokesman for the Council on
American-Islamic Relations Florida, said in a statement.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives is assisting in the investigation of Friday's fire.
Related: Federal Authorities Investigate
Bomb Threats Targeting Jewish Centers
Thonotosassa is a community northeast of
Tampa. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said the city stands in solidarity with the
View image on TwitterView image on
Bob Buckhorn ? @BobBuckhorn
We cannot allow anyone, for any reason,
to be attacked. We stand in solidarity with our Muslim community. We will
figure out who did this.
9:27 PM - 24 Feb 2017 • Tampa, FL
63 63 Retweets 111 111 likes
A vigil was held outside the Islamic
Society of New Tampa Friday night. Imam Junaid Khan told the crowd that the
show of support demonstrates that the act of arson doesn't reflect the
"I am thanking God for giving us
this beautiful community, who came to us and have reached out to us in
solidarity, in unity and showed the haters that this is the America we
know," Imam Junaid Khan said, according to WESH. "This is the
community we know. This is the Tampa we know."
ISIS may develop regional power base in
Northwest of Afghanistan: ISW
By KHAAMA PRESS - Sat Feb 25 2017
The loyalists of the Islamic State of
Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group may develop a regional power base in
northwestern Afghanistan, the Institute for the Study of War has said in a
report, citing the recent activities by the terror group northern parts of the
The institute particularly pointed
towards the recent killing of ICRC workers and abduction of some of their
workers in northern Jawzjan province.
According to ISW, the loyalists of the
terror group may particularly use the opportunity provided to them with the
absence of the Junbish-e-Millie fighters led by the Vice President General
Abdul Rashid Dostum.
“ ISIS’s expansion in the region comes
as First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, who maintains significant
influence in the North through his Junbish Militia, remains confined to his
home surrounded by his militia in Kabul City following a scandal involving the
alleged assault of former Jowzjan Provincial Governor Ahmad Eschi in November
2016 by his bodyguards,” the US-based think tank said in a report.
The report further added that “The lack
of reported Junbish militia action to combat ISIS-linked militants in Northern
Afghanistan may represent the absence of Junbish militias. Alternatively,
Dostum may be sanctioning the expansion of ISIS in the region in order to
demonstrate his significance to Afghan security in an attempt to relieve the
political pressure to prosecute him for the alleged assault.”
“Meanwhile, the ANSF is currently
undergoing a U.S.-led force regeneration process during their 2016-2017 winter
campaign. The Afghan National Unity Government has historically relied on a
joint force of ANSF units and Junbish militiamen to provide security in
northwestern Afghanistan. The lessened presence of Dostum’s militia while the
ANSF rests and refits units may be granting ISIS-linked militants increased
freedom of movement in the region,” the report added.
This comes as the Afghan officials have
long been expressing concerns regarding the attempts being made by the ISIS
loyalists to expand in northern parts of the country as they look to infiltrate
further into the Central Asian States.
Nearly a dozen Afghans shot to death by
Daesh in mosque ambush
Sat Feb 25, 2017
Nearly a dozen people have been shot
dead in an ambush by Takfiri Daesh terrorists in northern Afghanistan, a local
The fatalities, including 10 Afghan
police officers and the wife of a police commander, occurred in the country’s
northern Jowzjan Province after the victims came under attack while leaving a
Mohammad Reza Ghafori, spokesman for the
provincial governor, said the commander’s wife was gunned down when she rushed
to the scene after hearing about her husband being shot.
Afghanistan faces many security
challenges years after the US and its allies invaded the country in 2001 as
part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban
from power, but many areas in the country are still beset with insecurity.
Despite the presence of thousands of
foreign boots on the ground, Afghanistan has been rocked by a surge in
terrorist attacks, some of them carried out by Daesh.
The rise of Daesh in Afghanistan has
raised concerns in the Asian country that has already been torn apart by
decades of Taliban-led militancy and the US-led invasion.
Civilian casualties in 2016 were the
highest recorded by the United Nations since 2009, with nearly 11,500
non-combatants killed or wounded.
At least six key leaders of the Islamic
State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group loyalists were killed during the
ongoing operations in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
According to the security officials, the
six ISIS leaders were killed in the past 24 hours along with at least 41 other
An official in 201st Silab Corps of the
Afghan National Army in Eastern Afghanistan said the militants were killed in
Haska Mina district.
The official speaking on the condition
of anonymity further added that 25 militants also sustained injuries during the
According to the official, the
operations are jointly being conducted by the ground forces and air forces of
the Afghan security forces and coalition forces based in Afghanistan.
The Afghan security forces also
confiscated several weapons and dozens of weapons were destroyed during the
Nangarhar is among the relatively calm
provinces in eastern Afghanistan but the anti-government armed militant groups
are attempting to expand their insurgency in this province during the recent
The growing threats posed by Taliban,
ISIS and other insurgents forced the Afghan forces and US forces based in
Afghanistan to step up operations in a bid to restrict their insurgency
Feb 25, 2017
Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal on
Saturday said that the border crossings closed by Pakistan in the aftermath of
a string of militant attacks will be opened provisionally later on the same
The envoy also said in that the border
will likely be opened completely within the next 3-4 days.
In the statement, posted to his Facebook
account, Zakhilwal also advised Afghans to avoid travelling to Pakistan without
proper travel documents.
The envoy said on Thursday that he had
written to the Pakistani military leadership to seek the reopening of border
Pakistan's de facto foreign minister,
Sartaj Aziz, in a press conference held on Saturday said the country's border
with Afghanistan could not remain closed indefinitely.
The borders were closed in light of
security concerns, he said. However, he desisted from providing a timeframe for
when the closure would be relaxed.
The closure of the border crossings was
ordered by Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Feb 16, hours after militants
struck Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine in Sehwan, killing 90.
All traffic between the two countries
remained suspended since then, creating logistical difficulties for landlocked
Afghanistan, which conducts most of its external trade through Pakistan.
A large number of Afghan nationals were
also stranded in Pakistan by the decision.
Pakistan has frequently used border
closure to express its annoyance with Afghanistan on different issues.
This time, the military closed the
crossings to pressurise Kabul to take action against terror outfits that it accuses
of taking up sanctuary on Afghan soil and directing attacks from there.
A rocket strike killed two children and
wounded six others on Saturday at a school in Afghanistan's eastern Laghman
province, local media reported.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Afghan news
agency Pajhwok said on social media networks that the rocket had landed inside
a school in the largely rural province.
There were no immediate reports as to
what group might have been behind the attack, but the Taliban – a terrorist
organization outlawed in Russia – has recently captured large rural areas
UNICEF delighted Imam Hussain Holy
Shrine supports children
Within a visit to Iraq to study the
child’s situation, a delegation from “UNICEF” visited the Imam Hussein Holy
Shrine where reports on the children who left school, and the children who were
enlisted by ISIS, were presented to them.
(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Within a visit
to Iraq to study the child’s situation, a delegation from the United Nations
International Children's Emergency Fund “UNICEF” visited the Imam Hussein Holy
Shrine where reports on the children who left school, and the children who were
enlisted by ISIS, were presented to them.
A member of the delegation, Hebeeb
El-Meghribi – from Morocco, said to the official website of the Imam Hussein
Holy Shrine, “We have been acquainted with some projects Imam Hussein Holy
Shrine has achieved; such projects indicate how the holy shrine protects the
child, and how they build better future for them.”
"We are delighted to find that the
Imam Hussein Holy Shrine has built hospitals for children and a center for
family guidance" said El-Meghribi.
Jemal Esh-Shehristani, director of
Department of Media of Imam Hussein Holy Shrine, said that the visit was also
to find out about the children enlisted by ISIS to execute terrorist attacks.
Reports have recently shown the means
ISIS is using to enlist children in Iraq and Syria.
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY
01: A Muslim man stands outside the Bilal mosque in Griesheim district while
police investigate inside on February 1, 2017 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Approximately 1,000 police officers were involved in the anti-terror raids of
54 residences, apartments and businesses across the state of Hesse. Police
arrested a Tunisian man whom they suspect of working with the Islamic State
(IS) and planning terror attacks in Germany. Authorities say they have also
identified 16 other people they suspect as accomplices. (Photo by Thomas
Lohnes/Getty Images)Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images
By CHRIS TOMLINSON
25 Feb 20175
The Federal Office for the Protection of
the Constitution (BfV), Germany’s domestic intelligence service, warns that the
number of radical Islamists has grown enormously in the last four years.
Since 2013, the number of Islamists has
skyrocketed from a mere 100 or so to over 1,600 currently. Chief of the BfV,
Hans-Georg Maassen, said the number is increasing more and more every month. Mr
Maassen described the current situation saying: “We receive between two and
four credible tips on planned terrorist activity in Germany each day,” and
added, “We have to recognise that we are living in a different situation now
than was normal,”
Mr Maassen described the current
situation saying: “We receive between two and four credible tips on planned
terrorist activity in Germany each day,” adding: “We have to recognise that we
are living in a different situation now than was normal,” Deutsche Welle
The reasons for the massive increase,
according to the BfV, are numerous, including the arrests of Islamists plotting
attacks, and the ability for Islamists to communicate online and radicalise
disaffected young Muslims.
Maasen said it was hard for many friends
and family to detect if a person had become radicalised saying: “These are
social groups that find each other, let’s say through their mosque community,
and the people who see them in the real world don’t necessarily notice any
change in behaviour.”
Of the total 1,600 radical Islamists,
Maassen said around 560 of them are potentially dangerous and have the ability
to plot and possibly carry out acts of terrorism in Germany.
Since the Berlin Christmas market attack
in December, authorities in Germany have been working to crack down on radical
Islamist groups and have conducted raids all across the country.
Some of the raids have related to direct
threats of terrorist activity like the arrest of a 26-year-old Islamist in
Lower Saxony who was caught possessing explosive material commonly used by the
Islamic state terror group to make bombs. In another case, a 21-year-old in the
city of Neuss was arrested, also accused of trying to create an explosive
device and had connections with another Islamist terror plotter in Austria.
Others arrested have been on charges of
belonging to organisations like the Islamic State terror group. A pair of
German-Moroccan brothers were arrested in Bonn over links to ISIS. Prosecutors
allege that the two men had travelled to Syria in 2013 where they both joined
the Islamic state and participated in various battles on behalf of the group.
In Berlin, a Russian national was
arrested for trying to raise money for ISIS through Russian social media and
also sold drugs in order to raise money for the group.
'Spying imams' spark new crisis between
Europe and Turkey
Author Zülfikar DoganPosted February 24,
Under the ruling Justice and Development
Party (AKP), budget allotment for the Religious Affairs Department (Diyanet) —
Turkey's official religious body — has increased every year. In 2017, the
Diyanet had more money than 11 ministries.
Summary? Print Because of accusations of
espionage, Turkey had to recall religious attaches and official imams from
several European countries.
According to Diyanet statistics, today
there are 86,760 mosques in Turkey, all under its jurisdiction. With the number
of its personnel reaching 117,000, the Diyanet, which is endowed with ample
financial resources and has educational and publishing bodies, is like a state
within a state.
During the coup attempt of July 15,
2016, on instructions from the Diyanet, state-employed imams (prayer leaders)
called upon the people to come out to the streets and resist the coup plotters.
Now, the Diyanet is on the agenda with something completely different: spying imams.
The issue of spying imams led to
diplomatic tensions first between Turkey and the Netherlands, and then with
Germany and Austria. The crisis escalated when the German police searched the
residences of four Turkish imams on Feb. 15.
In a report submitted to the
Parliamentary Inquiry Commission investigating the coup attempt, there were
references to intelligence information provided by imams posted abroad.
Diyanet-appointed imams collected intelligence from 38 countries, primarily
about the Gulen movement.
Reports submitted by the spying imams
covered all Gulenist activities, the names of their adherents and their photos
in European, Central Asian and African countries. After the Diyanet reports to
the parliamentary inquiry were leaked to the media in December 2016, the first
reaction came from the Netherlands. Diyanet reports revealed that official
Turkish religious personnel were collecting intelligence about Turkish
expatriates praying in 145 mosques in that country. Yusuf Acar, the religious
affairs attache of the Turkish Embassy in The Hague, was accused of guiding
local imams. The Turkish government was asked to recall Acar, and it did.
But then the crisis extended into
Germany, which has the largest Turkish community in Europe. The Turkish-Islamic
Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), a nongovernmental organization set up in
1984, became the focal point of espionage allegations. Allegations emerged in
the German media and parliament that imams assigned to more than 900 mosques
were sending intelligence reports to Ankara.
Volker Beck, a deputy for Germany's
Green Party, filed a complaint with the federal prosecutor that DITIB imams
were engaged in espionage. An investigation was launched on Jan. 18 under the
provisions of article 99 of the German penal code that covers "spying for
a foreign country." DITIB and more than 900 imams linked to it were
investigated. Some German states suspended their cooperation with DITIB on
religious education in schools. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said if it
is verified that DITIB, which is subject to German legislation on civil
society, was engaged in intelligence activity, then it would be established
that this organization was actually an extension of the Turkish state.
German Interior Minister Thomas de
Maiziere said they will not tolerate the spillover into Germany of the domestic
strife between the Turkish government and the Gulen movement. According to
German laws, as a civil society organization, the DITIB must remain
independent, though the Diyanet is allowed to assign its imams to
DITIB-associated mosques as part of its assistance program to meet the
religious needs of the Turkish expatriates.
On Dec. 19, DITIB Secretary-General
Bekir Alboga acknowledged that "some imams had exceeded their authority
and were engaged in collecting information." He apologized, saying his
organization was against such practices.
With the expansion of the investigations
by German security services and prosecutors following the raids on residences,
the arrest and deportation of Diyanet imams became likely. German Chancellor
Angela Merkel asked for these imams to be recalled during her visit to Ankara
Feb. 2. Immediately after her visit, six imams were recalled to Turkey.
Diyanet Director Mehmet Gormez said some
imams may have exceeded their duties but he would not accept that they were
involved in espionage. Gormez said they had recalled the six imams not to
damage the 40-year friendship between Germany and Turkey. He said the Diyanet
and the DITIB were above politics and the state never interfered in the
operations of the DITIB.
Meanwhile, Turkey's Minister of Justice
Bekir Bozdag argued that the search of the imams' residences violated German
law and could not be reconciled with human rights and freedom of faith.
It appears that Diyanet imams gave the
most fervent support to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's call on Turkish
ambassadors to struggle against the Gulen movement in the countries they work.
Media organs close to the government
said the spying imam crisis was a ploy of Western countries to support and
protect the Gulen movement.
Never mind that the Diyanet director
said that they don't mix religion with politics. It seems the Diyanet and its
imams are already lined up behind Erdogan and the AKP.
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Countering cultural invasion is not
possible by only putting up fences, but by explaining Islamic lifestyle and its
moral, political and cultural values in poems
Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah
Seyyed Ali Khamenei called on Iranian religious poets to help repulse “cultural
invasion” waged by western countries against Iran by promoting Islamic
lifestyle in their poems.
In a meeting with poets writing on
religious issues in Tehran on Thursday, Ayatollah Khamenei said centers in
Europe and US are working to change people’s lifestyles in non-western
countries, particularly Iran.
“Countering this attack is not possible
by only putting up fences. One could fulfill the [defensive] duty by explaining
Islamic lifestyle and its moral, political and cultural values in poems,”
Leader.ir quoted him as saying. The Leader has long warned about the cultural
invasion waged by western powers, saying it aims to divest the Islamic Republic
of its original content, Islamic values and revolutionary spirit.
Cultural invasion happens when a
particular group tries to replace the culture and beliefs of the nation with
new concepts to reap political or economic benefits.
It differs from cultural interchange,
under which nations seek to enrich and develop their culture at their own will.
Ayatollah Khamenei said religious poets can also work to promote Islamic
guidelines regarding the need to fight oppression and hypocrisy.
“Fighting oppression is not limited to
its physical form. In today’s world, publicity campaigns play a very important
role, and oppressors can be fought by using the tool of poetry,” he said.
February 24, 2017
“Istiad Ashbah” (Ghost Hunting) is a
documentary about attempts by Palestinian prisoners to conquer their ghosts and
rebuild their lives.
A co-production between Palestine,
France, Switzerland and Qatar, “Ghost Hunting” premiered at the 67th Berlin
Film Festival in February, where the film won on Feb. 18 the main documentary
prize and one of three audience awards.
Andoni was arrested in 1985. Since then,
many Palestinians have been arrested and repressed, especially after the 1987
Palestinian protests that introduced to the world a new term, “intifada.” Andoni
spent a year in various Israeli jails, but the trauma stayed with him for
As is customary, the detained
Palestinian was blindfolded and after some time in the back of a military jeep,
he was dumped at the Mascobia jail in Jerusalem. The dreaded Israeli prison,
named after the Russian Orthodox Church that is across the street, has been the
place where many Palestinians, including Andoni, were held, tortured and
abused. Since the 1967 occupation, some 800,000 Palestinians have been detained
by Israel, roughly 20% of the total population and 40% of the total Palestinian
Speaking to Al-Monitor, Andoni explained
the long gap between his arrest and the production of the documentary. “I
needed nearly 30 years to be mature enough to be able to produce this film. I
needed the self-confidence, the courage, and to have developed enough
experience of a cinematic language that allowed me to be involved in this
Andoni started his career in the film
industry in 1997 as an independent producer. He co-founded Dar Films in
Palestine? and? ?Les Films? ?de? ?Zayna ?in? ?Paris. His? ?first? ?documentary?
?as? ?a? ?director, “Improvisation” (2005), is? ?an? ?appealing? ?insight?
?into three Palestinian musicians.? ?For? ?his? ?first feature? ?length? ?film,
“?Fix? ?Me” (2009),? ?Andoni? ?filmed? ?20? ?sessions? ?of? ?his? ?own?
?therapy? ?in? ?Ramallah. Andoni travels extensively, especially between
Palestine and France.
It was during the 20th therapy session
that Andoni came to the idea of the new film. “I first started writing it as a
fiction film, but then realized that what was needed was something much more
complicated.” Andoni decided he needed a more comprehensive psychological
approach. “I decided to search for a plan that would allow me to go all the way
emotionally in my search for closure.” In his search, Andoni came up with a
plan that combined this emotional search through a new cinematic language.
Andoni spoke to Al-Monitor by phone from
France about the unique emotional and cinematic plan that he devised.
In September 2015, he rented a
600-square-meter (6,500-square-foot) empty yard in the city of Ramallah and
published an ad calling on former prisoners who were held in Mascobia prison to
join him in the experiment. “The only condition was that I was looking for
former prisoners who had experience in construction. The idea was that former
prisoners who never saw the prisons they were held in because of the blindfolds
were going to be tasked with rebuilding a new prison on that empty lot in
Ramallah by digging deep in their memory to what they imagined the prison
Before actually beginning the building
and filming process, Andoni sought the advice of Dr. Fathi Fleifel, the head of
mental health at the Red Crescent Society. “I wanted to be sure I wasn’t doing
something that could cause more harm than help. But Fleifel was very helpful.
He gave me advice, nominated one of his staff to be with us and visited us
regularly,” said Andoni.
One of the strongest pieces of advice
that Fleifel gave Andoni was that he should not oppose any of his builders'
requests to leave the project. “He was adamant that if I forced them to stay,
they will have permanent damage.” Andoni agreed and made that announcement
before filming started. “Only one former prisoner couldn’t handle the emotions
and asked to be relieved after two weeks. All other participants stayed on till
As the former prisoners began building
what they could remember as the physical structure of their prison, cameraman
Camille Cottagnoud began filming interviews with the participants.
By the time the prison building was
completed, many of the former prisoners brought their families to the site and
relived with them what had happened to them when they were held and tortured.
“It was such a moving time full of energy and happiness despite the fact that
the stories were very emotional. The angry emotion was replaced with emotional
relief,” said Andoni.
Andoni conducted the interviews and was
also the subject of the interviews in some clips. Palestinian actor Ramzi
Maqdisi was tasked with re-enacting some of the stories that the
In post-production, Denmark animator Luc
Perez was hired to create some animation inserts to help tell the stories of
the prisoners. But the biggest problem facing the Palestinian filmmaker was in
the editing process. “I worked with Arabic-speaking Lebanese editor Gladys
Joujou to review and edit more than 120 hours of filmed interviews and
re-enactments,” he told Al-Monitor.
After finalizing the film and before
showing it internationally, Andoni brought the film to Ramallah to share it
with those who helped make it possible. “We expected about a hundred people to
attend, but were surprised that more than 400 people came and they stayed for
hours talking after the film and reflecting on their experiences as they
conquered their own ghosts.”
In addition to participation in major
festivals, Andoni said he would like to have “Istiad Ashbah” tour throughout
Palestinian towns and villages, allowing the hundreds of thousands of
Palestinian prisoners to use this cinematic experiment to search and hopefully
conquer their own ghosts.
Iran has been found in full compliance
with a nuclear deal with leading world powers, a UN nuclear watchdog said in a
report. It comes amid heightened fears the US may walk out of the milestone
pact, with tensions flaring up between Tehran and Washington.
The latest report on the deal’s
implementation produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and
obtained by Reuters and AFP on Friday confirms that the Islamic Republic is far
from exceeding the limit for the amount of the low-enriched uranium it is
allowed to keep.
The report, citing data as of February
18, puts Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile at 101.7 kg, only the half of
the permitted amount of 202.8 kg.
Such a dramatic decrease can largely be
attributed to the recent “downblending” of 99.9 kg of low-enriched uranium at
Iran`s Isfahan conversion facility, which has been since exempted from the
The uranium was stored inside the
plant’s processing equipment, namely pipes and other elements, but it has
undergone a procedure that reduced its enrichment grade. The material is now
considered to be unrecoverable, as ruled by a Joint Commission comprised of
representatives of Iran and other parties to the deal.
Iran kept its pledge to not enrich
uranium to more than 3.67 percent, the IAEA report confirmed.
READ MORE: Russia disagrees with Trump
labeling Iran ‘number one terrorist state’
The amount of heavy water stored by Iran
is now under the permitted 130 tons, although at 124.2 tons it is way closer to
the upper margin. Since the deal was sealed on July 2015, Iran has gone over
the limit at least twice, the latest one in November, igniting the ire of Washington.
To stay in line with the target amount, Tehran transferred 11 tons of heavy
water to Oman at the time, according to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization’s
spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi.
“In view of the progress of talks with
several foreign firms and countries to purchase heavy water, some quantities of
Iran's surplus production has been transferred to Oman,” Kamalvandi said at the
time. He added that as the negotiations with potential byers picked up the
pace, another shipment to Oman was a likely option.
Heavy water is used in some types of
reactors that can produce plutonium, a material that can be used in a nuclear
weapon. The report, however, stated that Iran did not infringe its nuclear
commitment in this regard as it “has not pursued the construction of the
existing heavy water research reactor.”
The 2015 deal, which was cited by
President Barack Obama’s administration as one of its major achievements, has
been hanging in the balance ever since Donald Trump moved into the White House
in January. Trump has been a vocal critic of the pact, branding it a “disaster”
and “the worst deal ever negotiated” during his campaign. Once in office,
President Trump was quick to designate Iran the “number one terrorist threat,”
further fueling concerns over the nuclear deal.
Both the US and Iran have accused each
other of violating the spirit of the atomic agreement while sticking to its
letter. The latest heated exchange came after missile and radar tests conducted
by Iran early February. Iran argued that the test of a medium-range ballistic
missile did not violate the nuclear deal, warning off third countries against
meddling into its “defense affairs,” but Trump accused Tehran of “playing with
“Iran is playing with fire – they don’t
appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” Trump tweeted at
Shortly after the test, Washington
slapped Tehran with a new round of restrictive measures related to its missile
In December, the US extended the Iran
Sanctions Act (ISA) for another 10 years, causing outrage in Iran. Denouncing
the move, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the extension was
in clear breach of US commitments under the nuclear deal and “shows the
unreliability of the American government.”
The breakthrough deal envisioned the
lifting of the economic sanctions from Iran in exchange for significant
limitations imposed on its nuclear program. In addition to the US and Iran,
China, Russia, Britain, France and the EU took part in negotiating the deal.
PTI | Updated: Feb 24, 2017
ANKARA: Turkish armed forces and allied
Syrian rebels have completely taken the IS bastion of Al-Bab in northern Syria
from jihadists, the military said on Friday.
"As of February 24, 2017, control
of all neighbourhoods in Al-Bab have been secured" by opposition fighters
supported by Ankara against the Islamic State group (IS), the army said in a
"Activities continue to clear areas
under control of obstacles, mines and hand-made explosives," the military
Al-Bab, which is 25 kilometres south of
the Turkish border, was IS's last stronghold in the northern province of
Syrian rebel commanders claimed the day
before they had seized the town from IS militants, saying that it had been
Turkey launched its unilateral military
operation last August supporting Syrian opposition fighters, targeting IS as
well as Syrian Kurdish militia.
At the start of the operation dubbed
"Euphrates Shield", the rebels swiftly captured Jarabulus, Al-Rai and
Dabiq in northern Syria from IS jihadists.
After the lightning advance, the
operation became mired in a drawn-out conflict in Al-Bab lasting two months as
jihadists put up a stronger fight to keep the town.
It proved to be the bloodiest battle in
Turkey's campaign, where Ankara suffered most of its 71 losses so far,
including two soldiers who were killed in a suicide attack today, Turkish Prime
Minister Binali Yildirim said.
Mutual interests break ice between
Egypt, Saudi Arabia
CAIRO — Despite the strain in
Egyptian-Saudi ties since last October, on Jan. 26, Egyptian President Abdel
Fattah al-Sisi approved King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud 's $1.5 billion
development plan for the Sinai Peninsula. On Jan. 21, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed quoted
an Egyptian diplomatic source as saying that Egypt asked Saudi diplomats to
mediate to end Sudanese demands for direct talks on the annexation of the
disputed Halayeb and Shalateen areas.
Summary? Print Although tension has been
high between Egypt and Saudi Arabia in the past few months, signs of
cooperation are emerging over the development of Sinai and other common
The Egyptian-Saudi tension ramped up
Oct. 9 after Egypt voted at the UN Security Council in favor of a Russian draft
resolution to end the war in Syria, and Saudi Arabia's permanent representative
to the UN Abdullah al-Mouallimi expressed resentment. Matters escalated Oct. 10
as Saudi Aramco informed the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation that oil
shipments to Egypt were suspended. Aramco told Egypt Nov. 8 that the halt was
indefinite, which observers perceived as a Saudi sanction on Egypt for its
On Jan. 16, the Supreme Administrative
Court invalidated the maritime border demarcation agreement between Egypt and
Saudi Arabia, denying Saudi Arabia sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and
Sanafir in the Red Sea.
Signs of a breakthrough appeared in
January, with Sisi signing an agreement for a $1.5 billion loan from Saudi
Arabia to fund development projects in Sinai. The agreement is known as
Salman's development plan for Sinai, the most prominent of which is the
establishment of King Salman University.
The memorandum of understanding
concerning the Sinai development, among others such as the maritime border
demarcation agreement and the Aramco oil products supply deal, had been signed
on April 9, 2016, during the Saudi monarch’s visit to Egypt.
Mohammed Saeed Idris, the head of the
Arab and regional studies unit at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic
Studies, told Al-Monitor, “Egyptian-Saudi relations are not limited to just
political tension regarding the situation in Syria, such as when Egypt voted in
favor of the Russian draft resolution, or regarding the border demarcation
agreement or the oil import and export agreement. The two countries have many
issues and goals in common.”
He added, “Egypt and Saudi Arabia are
the two largest and most key actors for Middle East stability. The past few
years have probably revealed how dangerous the situation in Sinai is and how
important development projects are in countering terrorism in the arid area.
Despite their differences on the Syrian and border demarcation issues, Egypt
and Saudi Arabia are well-aware of how dangerous terrorism is. I believe that
the development project is a part of these countries’ efforts to combat
terrorism in all areas, most notably in Sinai, because of the danger of
terrorism to the entire Arab region.”
But what about the Halayeb and Shalateen
areas? On Jan. 17, the Sudan News Agency quoted a Sudanese diplomatic source
that it did not name as saying that his government had renewed demands to
restore the Halayeb and Shalateen triangle at the UN Security Council. The
statement came the day after the maritime border demarcation agreement between
Egypt and Saudi Arabia was invalidated.
The Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry
responded in an official statement Jan. 18 to the Sudanese news agency, saying
that the Halayeb and Shalateen areas belong to Egypt and are under Egyptian
sovereignty. It added that in April 2016, Egypt denied the request that Sudan
has been repeating for decades.
Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported Jan. 21 that
Egyptian officials asked their Saudi counterparts to mediate to halt Sudanese
demands that Halayeb and Shalateen be annexed to Sudan, and that during
undeclared deliberations the Egyptian and Saudi sides paved the way for the
resurrection of the maritime border demarcation agreement.
The report went on that Egyptian
officials confirmed that it would be difficult to take any concrete steps in
the maritime border demarcation dossier while the Sudanese demands continued,
as doing so would further anger the Egyptian street and forces opposing the
Ahmed Abdel Halim, the former head of
Egyptian Geological Survey, told Al-Monitor that the goal behind the maritime
border demarcation agreement is to enable oil and gas exploration activities in
the Red Sea waters, which are rich in oil and gas resources.
He dismissed the possibility that Egypt
sought Saudi mediation to put an end to the Sudanese demands, saying, “The
passing of the maritime border agreement is in favor of Saudi Arabia, as it
facilitates the oil and gas drilling activities. The Sudanese demands regarding
Halayeb and Shalateen … contradict the agreement.”
He explained, “The agreement is an
implicit Saudi recognition of the Egyptian ownership of Halayeb and Shalateen.
Under the agreement, the maritime border between Egypt and Saudi Arabia along
the Egyptian coast on the Red Sea are determined. This area also includes the
Halayeb and Shalateen coasts along the Red Sea. Thus, the Sudanese claim
regarding its ownership of that territory is a challenge to the agreement.”
The Egyptian-Saudi interests are deep
and complex and their ongoing tension will not be a reason for a complete
rupture between two countries that have many interests in common.
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