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Islamic World News (26 Sep 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Triple Talaq Ordinance Brought By Govt to ‘Punish Muslim Husbands’: Sunni Muslim Scholars and Clerics to SC

"I saw Lord Rama in my dream on Monday night... he was sad and in tears... he wanted a quick settlement of the issue," Rizvi said.



Triple Talaq Ordinance Brought By Govt to ‘Punish Muslim Husbands’: Sunni Muslim Scholars and Clerics to SC

Shia Waqf Board Chairman 'Dreams' Rama Sad Over Ram Temple Delay

Maldives Destroys British Statues Deemed Offensive to Islam

Preachers Who Put Down Other Religions Not Welcome In Malaysia: Minister

Pakistanis Lobby to Free Wives of Businessmen Trapped In Xinjiang



Triple Talaq Ordinance Brought By Govt to ‘Punish Muslim Husbands’: Sunni Muslim Scholars and Clerics to SC

Shia Waqf Board Chairman 'Dreams' Rama Sad Over Ram Temple Delay

SC Likely To Decide Whether ‘Mosque’ Is An Integral Part In Islam

UP: Stones Pelted At Policemen for ‘Stopping Hindu Procession from Passing Muslim Locality’

Kerala Preacher Slams Muslims for Offering Prayers at Temples, Churches

J&K terrorists kill cops, but spare own relatives in forces

Election Commission orders probe after viral video shows Muslims pledging vote to TRS

Local fights escalate in sensitive Muzaffarnagar village, 27 held

Assam Police seeks to form ATS after discovery of Hizbul Mujahideen module rings alarm bells among security establishment

India, Pakistan must start talks to find solution to Kashmir problem, says NC


South Asia

Maldives Destroys British Statues Deemed Offensive to Islam

China Denies Reports of Pakistan Asking It to Ease Pressure On Muslims Minorities

Rohingya Refugee Thanks Canada 'From the Bottom Of Our Hearts' After Genocide Motion

U.S. airstrike target Taliban’s IED factory in Paktia province

UNAMA says preliminary reports indicate 12 of a family killed in Wardak airstrike

Govt supports utilization of biometrics system in upcoming elections: Abdullah

UN raises concern over rising Afghan civilian casualties in US airstrikes

Myanmar’s delaying tactics blocking Rohingya return: Bangladesh PM


Southeast Asia

Preachers Who Put Down Other Religions Not Welcome In Malaysia: Minister

For Mahatir, Mixing Islam and Democracy Can Sometimes Lead To Disaster

Thai court finds nine Muslim men guilty in bomb plot

More people distrust Muslims after hypothetical terror attack: Poll

Amanah forms Indian Muslim panel to help minority group



Pakistanis Lobby to Free Wives of Businessmen Trapped In Xinjiang

Non-Bailable Arrest Warrant against Senior Pakistani Journalist, Cyril Almeida

APML puts forward conditions for Musharraf’s return to Pakistan

IHC can’t ask Centre to initiate high treason case against ex-PM

Cyril Almeida broke no law, says PPP chairman

Trump extends good wishes for PM Khan during meeting with Qureshi

‘People need to be neutral in news judgment’: ISPR DG

Christian family’s house, van torched in land grab bid in Gujar Khan

SC seeks details of Zardari and his children’s assets within 15 days



Crackdown on Nigerian Muslim Group Could Spark Militancy

Hospitals Cautioned Against Treating Injured Shabaab Militants

Nigerian troops repel Boko Haram attack on base: sources

At least 12 dead in Mali attack near Nigeria

Pro-government forces assume control of Libyan capital

Christian and Islamic Groups Sign Peace Agreement on 2019 Elections


North America

After Long Silence, US Calls Myanmar Crimes against Rohingya ‘Extreme’

US NSA to Warn Iran’s Clerics: ‘There Will Be Hell to Pay’

Canada calls out China for treatment of Uighur Muslims

Trump hails Saudi achievements, criticizes Iran in UN speech

Trump: ‘No plans’ to meet Iran’s Rouhani ‘despite requests’

Muslim, Lebanese-American police officer files discrimination lawsuit against SJPD

Trump says Iran ‘funds’ Middle East slaughter and urges regime’s isolation


Arab World

Muslim World League Launches Advanced Halal Identification System

Saudis' High-Speed Train Links Islam's Two Holiest Cities

Bahrain accuses 169 of forming another Hezbollah

Turkey-Backed Militants Continue Looting People's Assets in Northern Syria

Russia Starts Sending Advanced Electronic Military Hardware to Syria

More Turkish Military Hardware Arrive in Northern Syria

Gargash says UAE will support UN proposals for new Yemen peace talks

Saudi Arabia, Germany agree to turn page after diplomatic row

Lebanese court sentences trio to hard labour for providing intelligence to Israel

Bahraini attorney general charges 169 anti-regime activists with terrorism



Human Rights Watch Accuses Houthis of Hostage-Taking, Torture

Iran Declares Identity of 5 Terrorists in Ahwaz Attack

Yemeni army units find naval mines planted by Houthis off Midi coasts

Saudi Ambassador to UN: Yemen’s crisis is caused by the Houthis

US 'unilateral, illegitimate' sanctions amount to economic terrorism: Rouhani

Saudi-led airstrikes kill 3 people, including child, in Yemen’s Hudaydah, Sa’ada

Israel will continue conducting military operations in Syria: PM Netanyahu

Save the Children warns against rising civilian casualties in Hudaydah

Erdogan: Turkish court will decide fate of detained US pastor



Labour Votes In Favour of UK Arms Ban on Israel

France's Macron Urges 'Dialogue and Multilateralism' On Iran

Israel should end policies that imperil peace: Macron

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/triple-talaq-ordinance-brought-by-govt-to-‘punish-muslim-husbands’--sunni-muslim-scholars-and-clerics-to-sc/d/116493



Triple Talaq Ordinance Brought By Govt to ‘Punish Muslim Husbands’: Sunni Muslim Scholars and Clerics to SC

SEPTEMBER 25, 2018

Samastha Kerala Jamiathul, one of the biggest religious organisation of the Sunni Muslim scholars and clerics in Kerala, on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the triple Talaq ordinance, saying its only objective is “to punish Muslim husbands”.

The Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Ordinance, 2018 notified on September 19 makes triple talaq a penal offence.

Section 4 imposes a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment when a Muslim husband pronounces triple talaq. The offence is cognisable and non-bailable.

“If the motive was to protect a Muslim wife in an unhappy marriage, no reasonable person can believe that the means to ensure it is by putting an errant husband in jail for three years and create a non-bailable offence for merely saying “talaq, talaq, talaq”.

“Further, the offence is confined only to Muslim husbands.

“It is absurd that for an utterance which has no legal effect, whether spoken by Muslim, Hindu or Christian, it is only the Muslim husband who is penalised with a three-year sentence.

“Protection of wives cannot be achieved by incarceration of husbands… the intent behind the ordinance is not abolition of triple talaq, but punishment of Muslim husbands,” Jamiathul, represented by advocate Zulfiker Ali P.S, contended.

It urged the court to stay the operation of the ordinance while questioning the haste with which the government promulgated it.

The petition contends that the Supreme Court has already declared the utterance of triple talaq “null and void”. If triple talaq has thus no legal effect, why should the government go ahead and make it an offence now?

There is no informed assessment or study that forms basis for the Centre to have created this offence. Some isolated instances of the practice have occurred despite the judgment of Supreme Court does not imply that a penal provision is required to be immediately enacted to prevent the practice.

The petition points to how sections 5 and 6 of the ordinance create a “classification among married women who have suffered triple talaq and those who have not.

It said a truly welfare-oriented legislation would promote amicable resolution of matrimonial disputes, regardless of community.




Shia Waqf Board Chairman 'Dreams' Rama Sad Over Ram Temple Delay

SEP 25 2018

Shia Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi claimed on Tuesday that Lord Rama was "sad" over the delay in the construction of the Ram Temple and that He wanted a quick resolution of the issue.

"I saw Lord Rama in my dream on Monday night... he was sad and in tears... he wanted a quick settlement of the issue," Rizvi said.

Rizvi, who has demanded the transfer of the disputed land in Ayodhya in favour of the Hindu parties for construction of the Ram Temple, accused the All India Muslim Personal Law Board of opposing the Ram Temple under the "influence" of Pakistan.

"Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Rama... some Muslims, under the influence of Pakistan and with the help of the Congress, want the issue to remain unresolved," he said.

Rizvi had recently visited a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workshop, where stones were being carved for the Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

He donated Rs 10,000 towards the construction of the temple.

A section of Muslim leaders have slammed Rizvi and termed him a "stooge'' of the BJP and even demanded that he be excommunicated. Rizvi has been involved in a verbal duel with senior Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad.




Maldives destroys British statues deemed offensive to Islam

25 Sep 2018

COLOMBO: Police armed with pickaxes and power tools have destroyed a modern artwork by a celebrated British sculptor in the Maldives, after the outgoing president in the tourist haven declared the installation offensive to Islam.

Abdulla Yameen in July ordered the sculptures demolished but his ruling was not acted upon until Friday (Sep 21), on the eve of a presidential election which he lost to a liberal candidate.

A series of statues by Jason deCaires Taylor were placed inside a semi-submerged metal cube in July at a resort in the Maldives, an archipelago of 340,000 Sunni Muslims popular with tourists.

Islam, the official religion in the Maldives, bans the depiction of idols, and the work provoked some criticism from clerics even though the statues have no religious symbols or meaning.

Yameen said in July that "significant public sentiment" against the artwork known as "Coralarium" had guided his decision to destroy it.

It is unclear why the sculptures were not raised from the waters until Friday, just two days before Yameen was turfed out of office.

Police were photographed chipping away at the works with pickaxes and using power tools to remove them from the large and ornate cage housing them.

A video posted by state media showed several men tearing a statue off a plinth.

"I was extremely shocked and heartbroken to learn that my sculptures have been destroyed by the Maldivian authorities at the Coralarium, despite continued consultations and dialogue," deCaires Taylor told AFP in a statement.

"The Coralarium was conceived to connect humans to the environment and a nurturing space for marine life to thrive. Nothing else!

"The Maldives is still beautiful, with a warm and friendly population, but it was a sad day for art and sad day for the environment."

The import of statues is prohibited in the Maldives. Even depictions of the Buddha are banned despite a long legacy of Buddhism in the islands before Islam came to dominate the archipelago.

Despite the edict, huge cutouts of Yameen towered over the capital Male in the lead-up to Sunday's poll, which he lost after five years of strongman rule marked by a regression from democracy.

Many of these cardboard posters depicting the ousted leader were torn down after he suffered a shock defeat to opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, an act of defiance unthinkable under his iron-fisted leadership.




Preachers Who Put Down Other Religions Not Welcome In Malaysia: Minister

25 Sep 2018

PENDANG (Bernama): Muslim or non-Muslim preachers who put down and criticise other religions or beliefs in their religious talks are not welcome in this country, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Senator P. Waythamoorthy.

He said such an attitude would only cause uneasiness among the multi-racial and multi-religious people in the country.

He also shared the sentiment of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa about controversial preacher Dr Zakir Naik's style of delivering religious talks where he was often seen putting down other religions.

“I agree with Mujahid's statement on Zakir Naik as it can affect the racial unity and harmony in the country, not only Zakir Naik but other Muslim or non-Muslim preachers including Hindus who enter this country and criticise other religions cannot be accepted.

On Monday (Sept 24), Mujahid was quoted as saying that Zakir Naik's combative style of propagating Islam, which put down other beliefs was not suitable for Malaysia as a multi-racial and multi-religious country.

Meanwhile, Waythamoorthy said the government was planning to hold the Cultural Diversity Day early next year in an effort to strengthen the unity among the people in the country.

“It is still at the discussion stage and a large-scale campaign will be carried out to attract people of all races to the programme,” he added.

On today's programme, the minister, who is in charge of national unity and social wellbeing, said the Siamese community there had raised several issues pertaining to their welfare including their agricultural land, citizenship as well as higher education. - Bernama




Pakistanis Lobby to Free Wives of Businessmen Trapped In Xinjiang

Sep 25, 2018

BEIJING: Pakistani businessmen whose wives and children are trapped in China's restive Xinjiang are travelling to Beijing to lobby their embassy, in hopes that the south Asian nation's new government will pressure its ally for their release.

Beijing has faced an outcry from activists, some governments and UN human rights experts over mass detentions and strict surveillance of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority, and other Muslim groups, in the western region.

Mirza Imran Baig, 40, who trades between his home city of Lahore and Urumqui, the Xinjiang regional capital, said his wife was detained in a "reeducation" camp in her native Bachu county for two months in May and June 2017 and had been unable to leave her hometown since her release.

His wife, Mailikemu Maimati, 33, and their four-year-old son, who are both Chinese nationals, are unable to get their passports back from Chinese authorities, he told Reuters outside the Pakistan embassy in Beijing.

"My ambassador says, 'Wait, wait, wait, one day, two days.' Okay, I wait," Baig said late on Tuesday, after his meeting.

Reuters could not immediately reach the ambassador, Masood Khalid, to seek comment.

Beijing says it faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists in Xinjiang and has rejected accusations of mistreatment.

Asked about the Pakistani businessmen on Tuesday, Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told a regular news briefing that he was not aware of the situation.

Muslim majority nations have mostly remained silent over the situation in Xinjiang.

Last month's election of cricketing legend and firebrand nationalist Imran Khan as Pakistan's prime minister has fed the expectations of many for him to deliver on promises to create jobs, build an Islamic welfare state and restore the country's image abroad.

Mian Shahid Ilyas, a businessman in Lahore who has been collecting details of cases and seeking government support, said he was optimistic the new government would help.

Pakistan's foreign ministry in Islamabad did not reply to questions from Reuters on the Uighur spouses.

"A lot of people get married like us. It's no problem. But in 2017 they start to seal everything off in Xinjiang," Ilyas, who said his Chinese Uighur wife, a citizen of China, had been detained since April 2017, told Reuters by telephone.

Ilyas said he had confirmed details of 38 cases but believed there were more than 300 similar cases of Pakistani husbands whose wives and children, most of them Uighurs, had been stuck in Xinjiang for more than a year, in camps or confined to homes.

The handful of businessmen, including Baig, is travelling to China in groups of twos and threes, to avoid raising suspicion, parking themselves at the embassy to make their case, he said.

"This is China's big mistake," said Ilyas. "Before people did not know how they treated Muslims. Now, everyone knows."

whose wives and children, most of them Uighurs, had been stuck in Xinjiang for more than a year, in camps or confined to homes.

The handful of businessmen, including Baig, is travelling to China in groups of twos and threes, to avoid raising suspicion, parking themselves at the embassy to make their case, he said.

"This is China's big mistake," said Ilyas. "Before people did not know how they treated Muslims. Now, everyone knows."






SC likely to decide whether ‘Mosque’ is an integral part in Islam

September 25, 2018

New Delhi: The Apex Court is likely to deliver a verdict on Friday that would decide if a temple will be built or not in Ayodhya were the title dispute between different communities is going on.

It is also speculated that CJI Dipak Mishra could deliver the verdict before he retires, NDTV reported.

The SC will decide on whether its 1994 verdict which said Namaz or Muslim prayers could be offered anywhere and that mosque is not an essential integral part of practice in Islam and is not needed for the congregation.

With Muslims treating this verdict as unfair towards the minority community, said this apex court’s decision in 1994 has played a big role in the Ayodhya dispute following which the Allahabad High Court decided to give the essential part of the land to Hindus observing apex court’s order.

The Babri Masjid built in 16th century was destroyed in 1992 by lakhs of right-wing volunteers who decided to destroy the mosque in order to built a Ram Temple in the place where they claim Lord Ram was born.

Now if the apex court decides to revisit the issue of ‘Namaz’ and ‘mosque’ being an integral part in Islam, it will stop the ongoing land dispute unless these points are settled and decided on.




UP: Stones Pelted At Policemen for ‘Stopping Hindu Procession from Passing Muslim Locality’

September 26, 2018

SEVEN police officers including an additional superintendent sustained injuries when people pelted stones at them for allegedly stopping a religious procession from passing through a Muslim locality in Hamirpur’s Maudaha town Tuesday.

Police resorted to lathicharge and also fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. Eight people were detained and a police vehicle was damaged. Police are conducting raids to trace others, said DIG, Chitrakoot Dham Range, Manoj Tiwari.

The injured include Additional Superintendent of Police, Hamirpur, Lal Sahab Yadav, who was hit on his head with a stone. The injured were rushed to a hospital where doctors discharged them after first aid, said police.

Station House Officer (SHO) of Maudaha police station Raj Kumar Singh said, “Residents of Maudaha take out a two-day religious procession in the name of Kans Mela every year. People from neighbouring areas also take part. The first day of the procession (Sunday) ended peacefully.”

He further said, “On the second day (Monday), people insisted that the procession be taken through a Muslim locality. Since processions are not taken out from those localities, we did not allow them. Hence, it was not taken out Monday. A series of meetings was held between officials of administration and police and participants of the procession. On Monday evening, the participants decided not to take the procession through the Muslim locality. Hence, we allowed them to take it out Tuesday.”

As a preventive measure, heavy police force was deployed at Maudaha town.

Full report at:




Kerala preacher slams Muslims for offering prayers at temples, churches

Sep 26, 2018

KOZHOKIDE: A Salafi preacher has lashed out at Muslim organisations for cleaning up temples and offering prayers there as well as in churches during the recent Kerala floods, describing such acts as among the most detested in Islam.

Some Muslim organisations had cleaned temples and churches that were submerged in the flood and had held mass prayers inside a church and in a hall attached to a temple.

In the September edition of Al Islah magazine, Abdurauf Nadvi, a member of the Salafi group led by Zakkariyya Swalahi, has denounced celebration of these acts of communal amity. He said these acts amounted to associating with 'shirk' (polytheism), which Islam had strictly prohibited.

"Polytheism and the path leading to it have been strongly discouraged in Islam. How can a Muslim offer prayer at a place where the idols, the cross and the photos of Mary and Christ are installed," Nadvi asked.

According to Nadvi, 'shirk' is the gravest sin in Islam, which has been variously described in the religion as that forbids access to heaven and ensures entry to hell. Islam does not provide any relaxation in associating with 'shirk' in any form. Some concessions have been allowed in extreme situations such as threat to life, but no such situations existed in India, he said.

Full report at:




J&K terrorists kill cops, but spare own relatives in forces

September 26, 2018

Five days after the dastardly killing of two SPOs and one Jammu and Kashmir Police constable in Shopian district, an India Today TV investigation has revealed that several of the top terrorists from the Valley have close relatives holding government jobs in the police or the security forces.

A group of dozen Hizbul Mujahideen militants and Lashkar terrorists, who butchered the special police officers and the constable, meanwhile, have steered clear of harming their own relatives who work for the security forces.

The classified document accessed by India Today TV exposes this hypocrisy of the terrorists. Zeenat Ul Islam from Shopian is a Hizb Commander whose brother works in the police department.

Zeenat is incidentally among the top three wanted terrorists in Kashmir Valley.

Mohammed Yousuf Dar alias Yousuf Kantroo alias Issa from Budgam is another terrorist whose brother works as an SPO.

Shams Ul Haq Mengnoo from Shopian has a brother who is an IPS officer. The brother and brother-inlaw of Ishaq Ahmed Dar of Shopian are both employed in the Jammu & Kashmir Police.

Shakir Ahmed Nazar from Kulgam has two paternal uncles who work in the Indian Air Force and the BSF, respectively.

Ishaq Ahmad Bhat from Kulgam is the son of a J&K policeman. His three uncles are also employed in the state police force.

Full report at:




Election Commission orders probe after viral video shows Muslims pledging vote to TRS

September 25, 2018

The State Election Commission of Telangana Tuesday ordered a probe after a video purportedly showed a group of Muslim men pledging their support to the TRS party in upcoming state assembly elections in the presence of a state minister, PTI reported.

“There were some newspaper reports and complaints have also been made. Now, since the model code of conduct is not on, if a voter takes the oath, I don’t think it falls within the purview of the electoral code violation. But we have asked the district electoral officer concerned to give a report on that,” state’s CEO Rajat Kumar was quoted as saying by PTI.

The development comes as the state gears for legislative elections after chief minister k Chandrashekhar Rao dissolved the state assembly. KCR is currently serving as caretaker CM in the state. The video shows some people promising their votes to Transport Minister in the caretaker government Patnam Mahender Reddy. The minister is contesting from Thandur.

After the video went viral, opposition parties criticised the caretaker government and alleged that KCR is indulging in ‘cheap tricks’ and ‘communalising’ the elections. Congress then lodged a complaint with the Election Commission and raised questions as to why the body was not stepping in to check such practices. “The TRS, out of the fear of failure, is resorting to this kind of anti-Constitution practice which is detrimental to the principles of the secret ballot. This is a cheap way of manipulating people. KCR is now scared and has realised that he committed a mistake by calling early polls,” Telangana Congress spokesperson Sravan Dasoju said.

Full report at:




Local fights escalate in sensitive Muzaffarnagar village, 27 held

by Sukrita Baruah

September 26, 2018

Twenty-seven men from the Muslim community have been arrested, among them three under the stringent National Security Act (NSA), for allegedly leading communal attacks in Muzaffarnagar’s Purbaliyan village on August 21 and 24 — a fallout of a fight between youths in the locality, according to the police.

While members of Purbaliyan’s Hindu Pal community claimed to be at the receiving end of violence, those from the Muslim community alleged they were picked up arbitrarily and arrested, or were forced to surrender amid increasing police pressure on their families.

Purbaliyan is among villages that saw skirmishes during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

Visiting the communally sensitive village on August 25, BJP MP from Muzaffarnagar Sanjeev Balyan had advocated invoking the NSA. He had said, “Such severe action will be taken that no one will have the courage to misbehave like this…the NSA will be pressed against primary offenders…”

On Tuesday, Balyan told The Indian Express that he had recommended to the administration strictest action against the accused. He said: “The (2013) riots began here with the killing of four Hindus. What took place on August 21 was not a fight between boys but an attack inside the mohalla. On August 24, there was another attack in the presence of a police inspector, who was also attacked. After these incidents, it emerged that the Pal community is constantly harassed in this Muslim-majority village.”

People from the Pal community even wanted to leave after the attacks, Balyan claimed.

Mansoorpur SHO K P S Chahal denied that any police officer was assaulted.

Explaining the sequence of events, Chahal said that a fight broke out “between some Muslim and Hindu boys” on August 21 in which a Muslim boy was left injured. A group of people from the community subsequently went to the home of one Hindu boy and allegedly began assaulting people. “An FIR was filed but villagers collectively decided that the issue should be dealt with after Eid, the following day,” the SHO said.

“But before it could be resolved, on August 24, one Shamsher claimed that his domestic help was beaten by Hindus. He collected a large group to attack them. Luckily, an inspector was at the spot and the attack was averted,” Chahal said.

The families of those arrested denied perpetrating the violence. Eight people were arrested on August 24. The others surrendered in the following days.

“On August 24, the police picked up anyone they could find on the street,” Hajra, 55, alleged. “They came every day and harassed our families – 19 people surrendered to end this (harassment). The police stopped coming only three days ago.”

On September 16, NSA was invoked against Shamsher; and against his nephews Mehboob and Aftab three days later. The police said around 10 people are still absconding.

The NSA was invoked on Muzaffarnagar District Magistrate’s orders – an official in the district administration said the primary reason was “creation of communal tension”.

Two FIRs have been filed so far — one filed on August 21 names 12 people, the second on August 24 names 25.

Shalu, 19, sister of Sumit Kumar, in whose name both FIRs have been filed, claimed that a group of Muslim youths beat her brother on August 21. Trying to help him, she also received injuries on stomach and legs, she said. “The issue could have been resolved by 3 pm on August 24, but before that some 100-150 of them, including children, came to our home and assaulted even a police inspector who was there to take my report,” she alleged.

Full report at:




Assam Police seeks to form ATS after discovery of Hizbul Mujahideen module rings alarm bells among security establishment

Sanjib Kr Baruah

Sep 25, 2018

Srinagar to Guwahati may be a good 2,800 km and may be much more apart in imagination, but in these days of social media and times of dizzyingly fast means of communicating with each other, ideas take seconds to travel. That is why the recent emergence of tentacles of the Kashmir-focused Hizbul Mujahideen in Assam is not really a far-fetched development.

While nine people have been rounded up by the Assam Police as recent as Sunday and linkages being explored and investigated in Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, it has set alarm bells ringing within the security establishment in the state and efforts have gained ground to set up a Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) on the lines of the ones in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and other places.

“The emergence of the Hizbul Mujahideen module in Assam may be a one-off case. But we have sought the formation of an ATS in Assam in order to keep a close eye as these groups operate very surreptitiously and secretively because of the unique nature of the Assamese social fabric,” Pallab Bhattacharya, additional director general (special branch), told Firstpost.

Hizbul Mujahideen is the largest militant outfit in Jammu and Kashmir waging an armed struggle seeking the severance of Kashmir from India although government reports say the outfit is fighting a growing crisis of shortage of weapons and finances. It is believed that of the about 210 hardcore militants active in Kashmir Valley now, about 126 belong to the Hizbul.

After Jammu and Kashmir, Assam has the largest population of Muslims among the Indian states. While Assamese Muslims adhere to a Sufi form of Islam cherished and propagated by 17th-century poet and spiritual leader Azaan Faqir that is deeply rooted in Assamese culture and traditions, Bengali-speaking Muslims are fairly liberal in their outlook too.

“It is a unique Islamic culture in Assam due to which even the few radicalised elements tread very carefully lest they be exposed by members of their own community. But radical thoughts have increasingly been gaining ground and that is why there is an urgent need to tackle it and nip it in the bud,” said Bhattacharya.

At the same time, what is surprising is the daring effort to supplant the Hizbul Mujahideen ideology in the northeastern state as is the ready availability of a ragtag band of wannabe militants.

The idea behind setting up the ATS would ostensibly be to identify and isolate the radical elements. While the state’s security forces have handled the insurgency led by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and other insurgent outfits in an effective manner, a different approach needs to be organised to combat jihadi modules.

At the same time, it has to be admitted that situation in certain parts of the state is indeed getting more fertile to breed radical Islamist ideologies which pave the way for setting up of jihadi outfits. The latest Hizbul Mujahideen involvement is a manifestation of that.

Says Ajai Sahni, a leading security expert: “The Hizbul Mujahideen module in Assam doesn’t mean much. A person from Assam went to Kistwar in Kashmir and got radicalised after coming into contact with certain elements. He went back to Assam and tried to cobble up a group. There is however no denying that there is significant potential for Islamist radicalism in the state.”

According to South Asia Terrorism Portal, a leading portal on terrorism, about 20 Islamist terror formations have operated in Assam at different periods.

Four years back, the Assam state Assembly was informed that between January 2001 and November 2014, a total of 130 Islamist extremists, including 106 MULTA (Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam) cadres, 14 of Harakat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), and 10 of JMB (Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh), were arrested in Assam.

Full report at:




India, Pakistan must start talks to find solution to Kashmir problem, says NC

by Adil Akhzer

September 26, 2018

Terming the calling off meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan as “extremely unfortunate”, the National Conference’s (NC) Central Working Committee (CWC) on Tuesday that India and Pakistan must restart a “sustained and uninterrupted dialogue process” to find a solution to all “disputes including the Kashmir problem”.

On Tuesday, National Conference President Dr Farooq Abdullah, for the second consecutive day, chaired a two-day-long meeting of the party’s CWC in Srinagar. Former chief minister and party vice-president Omar Abdullah was also present. A statement issued by party in the evening said that at the end of the two-day meeting, CWC of party unanimously passed five resolutions. The party statement said that NC stands for the “unity, integrity and the special” status of Jammu and Kashmir and shall continue to strive to defend its secular character.

On calling off the meeting between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan, the party CWC said, “We are of the firm opinion that continuation of the dialogue between two countries is the only way available to settle all disputes between two countries and is also in the larger interest of people of the sub-continent.”

According to the statement, the working committee of the party reiterated its stand and commitment to defend and protect Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution of India. “We believe this is the right time for the government of India to consider the autonomy resolution passed by the state legislature…,” the CWC has said.

In another resolution, the party said that Central government and the governor should immediately take steps to restore a sense of security in the state. The party’s CWC further said that the “root cause of the alienation and anger that has been visible since 2014 is the opportunistic alliance of the PDP with the BJP”.

Full report at:




South Asia


China denies reports of Pakistan asking it to ease pressure on Muslims minorities

Sep 25, 2018

China on Tuesday refuted reports that Pakistan's new government has urged it to ease pressure on Muslim minorities in Xinjiang amid reports of detention and restriction of religious activities, and defended its policies in the restive region.

Reports from Islamabad last week said that in his meeting with Chinese envoy Yao Xing, Pakistan's minister for religious affairs Noorul Haq Qadri urged China to ease pressure on Muslim monitories specially Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

Rights groups have said Uyghurs faced restrictions on religious activities and mass detention in "re-education camps" in China.

The report of Pakistan expressing concern came as a surprise as Islamabad always remained silent about strong policies pursued by China in Xinjiang where Uygur Muslims were restive for several years over settlements from Hans, an ethnic group, from other provinces.

China blames East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) for violent attacks in the province and other areas in the country.

Asked about the reports of Pakistan expressing concern to China, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing that Pakistan upheld China's efforts for promoting religious progress.

"China's Ambassador to Pakistan held a meeting with the Religious Affairs Minister of Pakistan and had exchange of opinions. Pakistan upholds China's efforts in promoting religious progress.

"Some foreign media had distorted and misrepresented that event. We express strong opposition," Geng said.

He defended the policies being pursued by China in Xinjiang, saying that the Chinese government has made efforts to develop Xinjiang in accordance with the laws.

"We have a series of measures and policies to promote stability of development, unity and improve people's livelihood in Xinjiang," he added. 




Rohingya refugee thanks Canada 'from the bottom of our hearts' after genocide motion

Sep 25, 2018

A Rohingya refugee living in an overcrowded camp in Bangladesh is heaping "heartfelt thanks" on Canada for declaring the Myanmar military's actions against his people a genocide.

The emotional show of gratitude by 28-year-old Mohammed Islam was captured by a film crew working in the camp and shared with CBC.

Islam was responding to last week's motion, unanimously adopted by MPs from all parties, that formally condemns the atrocities against the Muslim minority population as crimes against humanity.

"We have nobody to hear, to solve our problems. Finally the Canadian government declared that my government has committed genocide against the Rohingya people," he said.

"Thanks, from the bottom of our hearts."

The Rohingya man, who works as a teacher in the camp he has lived in since 1992, was speaking to a Poland-based film crew, which shared the video with CBC after contacting the Prime Minister's Office.

In addition to his expression of "heartfelt thanks" to Canada and the U.K., Islam conveyed another message: "Please don't abandon us."

John Lyotier is a Canadian working with the film crew, which is putting together a video about how technology can help refugees. He said he was surprised the news of Canada's genocide declaration had made its way into a refugee camp — a place he'd expected to be an informational "black hole."

Islam's unprompted reaction, he said, made him recognize the significant impact that the House of Commons motion had on refugees feeling isolated and forgotten by the rest of the world.

"They are paying attention to what the world's doing, and sometimes all it takes is someone standing up for what is right, and that makes them feel not so alone," Lyotier said in an interview from Bangladesh. "What I think that gave them was hope, and hope is a very precious commodity."

Marek Osiecimski is the Polish director of the video crew, which is due out next spring. He said Islam's plea for the world to remember the Rohingya was a profound moment for him.

"I think it's a great example for the rest of the world. It's a great example for my country, which is still reluctant to do what we should, I think, on helping refugees in Europe," he said. "I really felt proud of Canadians to hear that their Parliament decided to recognize that what happened with the Rohingya people was a genocide."

All parties support motion

The House of Commons motion passed Thursday officially endorses the findings of a UN fact finding mission that concluded that crimes against humanity have been committed against the Rohingya Muslims and other ethnic minorities.

The motion calls for sanctions against the highest levels of the Myanmar military's chain of command for perpetrating "horrific acts."

It also calls on the UN Security Council to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court, so that the senior officials can be investigated and prosecuted for genocide.

After the motion passed, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland praised the "cross-party action."

"It's a very important step for Canada to recognize that the crimes against the Rohingya constitute a genocide," she said from Washington, where she was taking part in NAFTA talks. "Canada has been at the forefront of both pursuing justice for the Rohingya and working to provide support for the Rohingya forced out of their homes."

The Conservatives issued a release stating the motion came only in response to pressure from the Conservatives.

"Unfortunately, when it comes to foreign policy, the Trudeau government is always playing catch up. It is unfortunate that they continuously fail to do the right thing, as in the case of the resettlement of Yazidis, until they are pressured by the opposition and the Canadian public," the statement read.

Conservative MPs held a news conference the day before the motion to pressure the government on several fronts, including the Rohingya genocide issue.

In May, the Liberals pledged $300 million over three years to address the Rohingya refugee crisis. The following month, Canada imposed sanctions on several Myanmar officials believed to be involved in brutal military attacks.

More than 700,000 Rohingya have fled violence in the past year, with most living in squalid, cramped camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.

Bob Rae, the prime minister's special envoy on Myanmar, is attending meetings on the crisis at the UN General Assembly in New York this week, and will be travelling to the region in about a month's time.

U.S. stops short of declaring genocide

The U.S. State Department released a report Monday based on a survey in spring 2018 of the firsthand experiences of 1,024 Rohingya refugees.

It concludes the recent violence in northern Rakhine State was "extreme, large scale, widespread, and seemingly geared toward both terrorizing the population and driving out the Rohingya residents."

The report stops short of calling the atrocities a genocide.

"The scope and scale of the military's operations indicate they were well-planned and coordinated," it says. "In some areas, perpetrators used tactics that resulted in mass casualties, for example, locking people in houses to burn them, fencing off entire villages before shooting into the crowd, or sinking boats full of hundreds of fleeing Rohingya." 

Full report at:




U.S. airstrike target Taliban’s IED factory in Paktia province

Sep 25 2018

The U.S. forces in Afghanistan have carried out an airstrike on Taliban factory which was used to manufacture improvised explosive devices, the local officials said.

The provincial government media office in a statement said late on Monday that the airstrike was carried out in the vicinity of Mamozai the airstrikes. area of Zurmat district.

The statement further added that the IED manucfacturing factory was destroyed and two militants were killed during

According to the provincial government, the two militants killed in the airstrike were IED experts and were identified as Hekmatullah and Hamas.

Hundreds of kilograms of explosives, equipments, and spares used in landmines were destroyed during the airstrike, the provincial government added.

Taliban and other militants often use IED as the weapon of their choice to target the security forces and government but in majority of such attacks ordinary civilians are targeted, besides such attacks often claims the lives of the militants as well.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in its latest report stated that 1,692 civilians were killed in the first six months of 2018.

According to UNAMA, the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in attacks by Anti-Government Elements remained the leading cause of civilian casualties.

Full report at:




UNAMA says preliminary reports indicate 12 of a family killed in Wardak airstrike

Sep 26 2018

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has at least twelve of a family were killed in an airstrike in central Maidan province of Afghanistan.

“Preliminary findings from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) indicate that 12 civilians were killed Sunday in an airstrike in Maidan Wardak province during operations conducted by Pro-Government Forces in the area,” UNAMA said in a statement.

The statement further added that “All of the victims were women and children from the same family whose house in the village of Mullah Hafez, Jaghato district, Maidan Wardak, was destroyed by aerial ordnance late on 23 September. Ten of those killed were children whose ages ranged from 6 to 15. Eight were girls.”

“UNAMA is currently reviewing reports of civilian casualties from a number of alleged airstrikes in other parts of the country. UNAMA continues to work to verify whether Afghan or international military forces were responsible for the civilian casualties from recent strikes,” UNAMA added.

This comes as the UN mission on Tuesday said it has received multiple, credible allegations that on 22 September, aerial ordnance impacted the home of a teacher in the Budrab area of Tagab district, Kapisa province, killing nine civilians, including four children and three women, with several others injured.

The statement further added that all the victims from the attack were from the same family, including grandparents and children aged between two and twelve. Five of the six other family members who were injured when their home was destroyed were women and young children.

Full report at:




Govt supports utilization of biometrics system in upcoming elections: Abdullah

Sep 25 2018

The Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity Abdullah Abdullah has said the leadership of the government supports the utilization of biometrics system in the upcoming elections.

The Office of the Chief Executive in a statement said Chief Executive Abdullah made the remarks during a meeting with the Secretary of the United Nations António Guterres.

The statement further added that Mr. Guterres welcomed Chief Executive Abdullah for participating in the UN General Assembly and said peace and stability in Afghanistan remains among the top ambitions of the United Nations.

In his turn, Abdullah said a transparent and credible election could help with the political stability in Afghanistan.

He also presented a broad picture regarding the political and security situation of Afghanistan to the UN Secretary General.

Abdullah further added that the government of national unity is committed to organize transparent and credible elections and supports the utilization of biometrics system to ensure the transparency of the elections.

In the meantime, Abdullah informed the UN Secretary General regarding Afghanistan’s readiness for the participation in Geneva Summit.

In regards to the ongoing efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism, Abdullah said no major changes have been witnessed in the politics of Pakistan as he emphasized that a genuine cooperation between the two countries is the only way to take the region out of the ongoing issues.

Full report at:




UN raises concern over rising Afghan civilian casualties in US airstrikes

Sep 25, 2018

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has expressed concern about the increasing number of civilian casualties resulting from airstrikes conducted by US forces this year across the violence-wracked country.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, known as UNAMA, in a statement on Tuesday said it had received "multiple, credible allegations" that a strike hit the house of a teacher in the province of Kapisa on Saturday. Nine civilians, members of the same family including three women and four children, were killed.

"UNAMA reminds all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm," the statement read.

"The Mission repeats its earlier call for government forces to uphold their commitment to regular review of targeting protocols and ensure mitigation measures and compensation for victims."

Afghanistan's Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Radmanish confirmed the civilian casualties during a joint operation by Afghan and US forces that involved air support. He said an investigation was underway.

In a statement on Monday, the US military in Kabul said American helicopters supporting an Afghan army operation in Kapisa came under fire from a pro-government militia that had fired in error, and returned fire in self-defense, accidentally wounding six militia members. "We have no indication of non-combatant casualties," it said.

The number of airstrikes has spiked steeply to nearly 3,000 this year across Afghanistan, with the number of bombs dropped by the US Air Force almost doubling in the first six months.

The UN said 149 civilians were killed and 204 wounded in airstrikes in the year's first half, with women and children comprising more than half of the 353 casualties. Since the figures were reported in July, the world body said it had recorded increasing numbers of civilian casualties from airstrikes.

The UN figures show that the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan’s long-running conflict hit a record high of 1,692 fatalities in the first six months of 2018.

The reports underlined one of the problems facing General Scott Miller, the new US commander in Afghanistan who took up his post this month and must balance the need to pressure the Taliban militant group with the need to avoid civilian casualties.

Full report at:




Myanmar’s delaying tactics blocking Rohingya return: Bangladesh PM

September 26, 2018

NEW YORK: Bangladesh’s leader accused neighboring Myanmar of finding new excuses to delay the return of more than 700,000 Rohingya who were forced across the border over the past year, and said in an interview late Tuesday that under no circumstance would the refugees remain permanently in her already crowded country.

“I already have 160 million people in my country,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, when asked whether Bangladesh would be willing to walk back its policy against permanent integration. “I can’t take any other burden. I can’t take it. My country cannot bear.”

Hasina was speaking to Reuters in New York, where she is attending the annual United Nations meeting of world leaders.

The prime minister, who faces a national election in December, said she does not want to pick a fight with Myanmar over the refugees.

But she suggested patience is growing thin with Myanmar’s leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, and its military that she said wields the “main power” there.

Hasina has previously called on the international community to pressure Myanmar to implement the deal.

Calls to Myanmar’s government spokesman, Zaw Htay, went unanswered. He said recently that he will no longer answer media questions by phone, but will answer questions at a biweekly press conference.

Rohingya fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh after a bloody military campaign against the Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. The two countries reached a deal in November to begin repatriation within two months, but it has not started, with stateless Rohingya still crossing the border into Bangladesh and the refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar.

“They agree everything, but unfortunately they don’t act, that is the problem,” Hasina said of Myanmar. “Everything is set but ... every time they try to find some new excuse,” she told Reuters.

Myanmar has said it is ready to take back the refugees and has built transit centers to house them initially on their return.

But it has complained that Bangladesh has not provided its officials with the correct forms. Bangladesh has rejected those claims and UN aid agencies say it is not yet safe for the refugees to return.

Given the delays, Bangladesh has been preparing new homes on a remote island called Bhasan Char, which rights groups have said could be subject to flooding. Cox’s Bazar is also vulnerable to flooding but this year’s monsoon season was light.

Hasina said building permanent structures for refugees on the mainland “is not at all a possibility (and) not acceptable” since they are Myanmar citizens and must return.

Rohingya regard themselves as native to Myanmar’s Rakhine state, but are widely considered interlopers by the country’s Buddhist majority and are denied citizenship.

Human rights groups and Rohingya activists have estimated thousands died in last year’s security crackdown, which was sparked by attacks by Rohingya insurgents on security forces in Rakhine in August 2017.

This week, a US government investigation reported that Myanmar’s military waged a planned, coordinated campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar has rejected similar findings as “one-sided” and said it had conducted a legitimate counterinsurgency operation.

Ahead of December’s election, Hasina and her ruling Awami League have been on the defensive following student protests over an unregulated transport industry. The protest was triggered after a speeding bus killed two students in Dhaka.

Full report at:




Southeast Asia


For Mahatir, mixing Islam and democracy can sometimes lead to disaster


For some Islamic nations, the transition to democracy can be disastrous, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (pictured) at a conference on "The challenge of Good Governance in the Muslim world", held yesterday in London at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

For the Malaysian leader, Muslim countries adopting the democratic system needed to spend more time trying to understand the workings of democracy.

Far too often, when “they try a democratic system, there will be fighting among themselves and the countries can be almost destroyed”.

For Mahathir, speaking at Oxford was a return. Twenty-two years ago, he delivered a memorable lecture on ‘Islam, the Misunderstood Religion’ at the prestigious British university.

On this occasion, he stressed that “If you don't understand that in a democracy the vote is powerful, then you cannot have a democratic system”. Conversely, Muslim countries, he suggests, were much more comfortable with a monarchy.

In a democratic system, people choose the government and support the government for a period of time. However, in some Muslim countries, people cannot wait for the term to end and want to change immediately after the election, he said.

“(It’s) time for them to respect the vote and set up a government that uses power for the betterment of the country and people,” he said.

Mahathir said the democratic system worked somehow in Malaysia because whilst people were loyal to their royal rulers, they also wanted a democratic system.

“We (in Malaysia) don't like violence. We don't overthrow a government. The government changes by itself,” he said.




Thai court finds nine Muslim men guilty in bomb plot

September 26, 2018

BANGKOK: A Thai court on Tuesday convicted nine young Muslim men from southern Thailand of planning to set off a car bomb in the capital, in a case in which many of the defendants said they were tortured into making false confessions.

The Criminal Court in Bangkok found all nine guilty of two offences belonging to an underground criminal group and conspiracy and sentenced each to four years’ imprisonment. Five defendants were acquitted.

At least seven of the 14 defendants said they had been tortured or otherwise physically abused in custody, but the presiding judge said the court considered their allegations baseless as the men did not provide any evidence and did not report the cases to police.

The case began when at least 50 Thai Muslims, mostly students at Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng University, were rounded up in joint police-military sweeps on Oct 10, 2016. They were released but 13 were re-arrested the following month along with an additional suspect.

Tortured to confess

The guilty verdict was based mainly on the confessions. The only other major evidence presented against them was traces of explosive material found on one of the men one week after he was first detained.

All 14 men are from Thailand’s deep south, which has been plagued by a bloody insurgency since 2004. Muslims in the poverty-stricken south feel they are treated as second-class citizens in Thailand, which is overwhelmingly Buddhist.

Pornpen Khongkachonkiet, from the Cross Cultural Foundation, a human rights organisation that sent observers to the trial, said seven defendants testified in court that they were tortured while under detention in army camps either in Bangkok or in the southern province of Pattani.

“The degrees of severity of torture claimed by these men varied,” Pornpen said. “Their claims include being pun­ched, head-locked, and doused or sprayed with water and locked in cold rooms. These allegations raised concern about how the confessions were obtained.”

Full report at:




More people distrust Muslims after hypothetical terror attack: Poll

Lim Min Zhang

Sep 26, 2018

In analysing a 2017 survey of more than 2,000 Singaporeans, researchers from the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) also found that older and less well-off people were less likely to retain trust and openness in Muslims in such circumstances.

However, non-Muslims who had more interracial interaction were more likely to express solidarity with Muslims after an attack, pointing to the "importance of providing ample avenues for interracial mingling", the researchers said.

The report, released by the IPS yesterday, is believed to be the first public study of its kind to examine perceptions of different religious groups after a hypothetical terror attack.

The report - titled Community Relations Amidst The Threat Of Terror - is authored by Dr Mathew Mathews, senior research fellow at the IPS, with Mr Leonard Lim, research associate at IPS, and Ms Shanthini Selvarajan, research assistant at IPS, as co-authors.

Singaporeans were asked to respond to news of a bomb exploding on an MRT station platform, which killed 15 people and wounded 40.

They were told the authorities had confirmed the identity of the perpetrators and given four scenarios: that it involved either a foreign extremist Buddhist; Muslim; Christian; or Hindu organisation.

If the attack was by a Muslim group, 48 per cent of respondents were quite or very likely to be suspicious of a Muslim stranger walking in their neighbourhood, compared to 40 per cent for Buddhists and Hindus, and 35 per cent for Christians.

Less-educated respondents, or those less well-off as measured by housing types, were more likely to show less trust and openness after an attack.

Across most of the survey findings, those living in one- and two-room Housing Board flats fared differently from the rest.

"This is indicative of the exclusion those at the extreme end of the socio-economic status may be experiencing, which fuels their prejudices and biases," said the authors.

The study also found "substantial levels of mistrust" between races in Singapore, especially by the majority Chinese community of the minority Malays and Indians.

This was measured by asking respondents what proportion of people of each race they thought would return their wallet if they had dropped it in a shopping mall.

Most Chinese respondents said they could not trust Indian and Malay people to hand it back; they were more likely to trust a Chinese person to return it.

Non-Muslims who had more interracial interaction in the previous two years - such as friendships or shared cultural experiences with Malays - were less likely to display Islamophobic tendencies after a an attack by a foreign Muslim group.

The survey of Singapore citizens, conducted by consumer research firm Media Research Consultants and funded by Mediacorp, questioned 1,016 Chinese people, 504 Malays, and 511 whose ethnicity was classified as Indian or others.

Useful to reach out to lower-income, lower-educated non-Muslims

It also suggested that national education programmes or regular sports events in housing estates could be tailored for this group, which tend to have fewer interactions with people from other races and religions.

The Institute of Policy Studies made the recommendations in a report yesterday, after its research noted that Singaporeans would display stronger negative reactions if a terror attack here were to be carried out by foreign Muslims than if the foreign attackers were Buddhists, Christians or Hindus.

The report, which analysed a 2017 survey of around 2,000 respondents, looked at how Singaporeans would react following a terror attack perpetrated by groups that used religious labels.

It found that lower-income and lower-educated non-Muslims were more likely to exhibit Islamophobia if overseas Muslim extremists carried out an attack here.

This group has more racially homogeneous social networks which, in turn, drastically reduce opportunities for inter-racial dealings.

"This also limits the potential for avenues to encourage a sense of empathy for people of other races and/or religions," it added.

The report suggested that aspects of school courses that teach multicultural values could be applied to programmes tailored for this group.

The findings suggested that even casual cross-racial ties, such as attending a wedding or celebration of someone of a different race in the previous two years, are enough to enhance trust among different groups.

Full report at:




Amanah forms Indian Muslim panel to help minority group

26 Sep 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: A special Indian Muslim committee has been set up within Parti Amanah Negara to look after the interest of the minority group.

Amanah communications director Khalid Samad said the decision to set up the committee was made in response to the formation of a new political party, Parti India Muslim Bersatu Malaysia (PIBM), last week.

“Rather than form a minority political party for a minority (group), why not consider joining us and let your voice be heard effectively.

“If you are in a small party, your voice will only be loud within your party but may have little impact and attention for your concerns,” he said during a brief ceremony to accept the application of new members to the party held at Menara PT80 here.

“However, I urge them to consider joining Amanah as their voice will be better represented and integrated with Malaysia as a whole.”

Amanah, said Khalid, was willing to accept members from all races and backgrounds to add diversity to the party.

Full report at:






Non-bailable arrest warrant against senior Pakistani journalist, Cyril Almeida

Sep 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday drew widespread condemnation after Lahore high court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against one of the country’s most respectable and senior journalist Cyril Almeida. The court has also barred him from leaving the country.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) was quick to take note and express its concern while several journalists and media groups across the globe condemned the harassment of Almeida who works for Pakistan’s major English news daily, the Dawn.

The Lahore high court moved against Almeida for failing to attend proceedings in a petition seeking action against Pakistan Muslim LeagueNawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif and former PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in a case related to treason. Almeida’s name has also been put on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The decision against the journalist came in connection with a petition filed against Sharif for defaming state institutions after he had publicly admitted in an interview with Dawn in May this year that Pakistani terrorists were involved in the 26/11 attacks.

The former three-time Prime Minister had questioned why Ajmal Kasab and nine others were allowed to cross the border to carry out carnage in Mumbai in 2008. “Militant organisations are active. Call them non-state actors, but should we allow them to cross the border and kill 150 people in Mumbai? Explain it to me. Why can’t we complete the trial?” Sharif had asked during an interview, referring to the Mumbai attacks related trials which have been stalled in the anti-terrorism court in Pakistan.

The petition also seeks action against ex-PM Abbasi for allegedly not honouring his oath of office and disclosing the minutes of a National Security Council (NSC) meeting to Nawaz Sharif.

In its statement, the HRCP termed the court’s decision “regrettable”, saying that “Mr Almeida, a widely read and highly respected journalist, is being hounded for nothing more than doing his job — speaking on the record to a political figure and reporting the facts.”

“As a law-abiding citizen, Mr Almeida has no reason not to appear before the court as directed. Placing him on the ECL and issuing a non-bailable warrant is an excessive measure,” it added.




APML puts forward conditions for Musharraf’s return to Pakistan

September 25, 2018

ISLAMABAD: All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) has put forward few conditions for return of its former chairman General (retd) Pervez Musharraf to Pakistan.

In a series of tweets, the party said, “If the Supreme Court assures Musharraf won’t be arrested till investigation is completed and also allows him to continue his treatment abroad, he will return to Pakistan and appear before the court.”

Former president Musharraf is suffering from a disease, which does not have treatment in Pakistan and he regularly visits London for follow-up treatment, the party said.

Party went on to say, keeping in view, Pervez Musharraf, on humanitarian ground, be allowed to continue his treatment abroad besides his free movement in Pakistan.

Earlier, Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Tuesday said that former President Pervez Musharraf will be provided security on his return to Pakistan.

He said this during hearing of a case regarding loss to the national exchequer due to the NRO promulgated by former president Pervez Musharraf.

Full report at:




IHC can’t ask Centre to initiate high treason case against ex-PM

Malik Asad

September 26, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Islam­abad High Court (IHC) dismissed as non-maintainable a petition seeking trial of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif on a high treason charge and declared that the high court lacked jurisdiction to direct the federal government to initiate high treason proceedings against any person.

In an order passed on Sept 12 — made available on Tuesday — on the petition seeking initiation of proceedings under Article 6 of the Constitution against the former premier for his interviews related to the trial of suspects in the Mumbai attack case, IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb declared: “The High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973, prescribes a procedure for the initiation of proceedings for high treason. This court [IHC] is bereft of the jurisdiction to direct the federal government to initiate proceedings for high treason.”

Article 6 of the Constitution says: “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or hold in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance the Constitution by use of force or show force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason. As per clause 2 of the Article 6, “any person aiding or abetting [or collaborating] the acts mentioned in clause (1) shall likewise be guilty of high treason.” The third clause of Article 6 says, “Parliament shall by law provide for the punishment of persons found guilty of high treason.”

The High Treason (Punishment) Act, 1973 provides procedure for proceeding for high treason. It says, “No court shall take cognizance of an offence punishable under this act except upon a complaint in writing made by a person authorised by the federal government in this behalf.” The punishment for high treason is death or lifetime imprisonment, according to the act.

As per the court order sheet, petitioner Bisma Noureen sought the initiation of proceeding under Article 6 against Mr Sharif. The petitioner appeared in person and submitted that Mr Sharif had committed high treason; and that the court ought to direct the federal government to initiate proceedings against him for committing treason. The petitioner based her stand on various news items published in the print and electronic media.

The court while observing lack of jurisdiction in this matter declared that the petition was “dismissed as not maintainable”.

After preliminary hearing of the petition filed on Sept 12, Justice Aurangzeb dismissed it without issuing notice to the respondents — the federal government, foreign minister, interior minister, director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Chief of the Army Staff and ex-PM Sharif.

Full report at:




Cyril Almeida broke no law, says PPP chairman

September 26, 2018

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Pakistan Peo­ples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has expressed surprise and dismay on the issuance of an arrest warrant against Dawn assistant editor Cyril Almeida by the Lahore High Court.

“Treating Mr Almeida like he is a criminal and trying him for treason no less is shocking! This adds on to the perception that media is under siege in Pakistan. Mr Almeida was doing his job — nothing less, nothing more,” said the PPP chairman in a statement.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari said that the Pakistani media was already facing the worst kind of censorship. “Dictators who have abrogated the Constitution and have actually committed treason are roaming free while journalists who are only doing their jobs are being tried for treason,” he regretted.

The PPP chairman said that Mr Almeida broke no law by interviewing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “Why should a journalist not interview someone? What law stops a journalist from interviewing a politician?” he asked.

The PPP, he added, stood by freedom of expression and wanted a free media in Pakistan. “Democracy without a free media is a sham democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has also expressed concern over the issuance of a non-bailable arrest warrant against Mr Almeida and the placement of his name on the no-fly list, terming the decision “regrettable”.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, HRCP chairman Dr Mehdi Hasan stated: “The HRCP is greatly perturbed to learn that the LHC has issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for journalist Cyril Almeida, requiring him to appear at the next hearing of a case seeking action against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on charges of treason.”

The HRCP termed the court’s decision “regrettable”, adding that “Mr Almeida, a widely read and highly respected journalist, is being hounded for nothing more than doing his job — speaking on the record to a political figure and reporting the facts”. As a law-abiding citizen, it added, Mr Almeida had no reason not to appear before the court as directed. Placing him on the Exit Control List (ECL) and issuing a non-bailable warrant is an “excessive measure”, said the HRCP.

‘The ease with which Mr Almeida’s interview with the former Prime Minister was perceived as an attempt to allegedly defame state institutions, and the pace at which this has spiralled into charges of treason, only serve to further choke press freedom in Pakistan,” the statement read.

While remarking that “journalism — sensible, rational, independent journalism — is not a crime or treason”, the HRCP urged the court to give Mr Almeida the opportunity to appear at the scheduled hearing of his own volition and to have his name removed from the ECL immediately.

In Islamabad, addressing the inaugural meeting of a recently-established National Interfaith Working Group by the HRCP on Tuesday, Awami National Party (ANP) leader Bushra Gohar said that freedom of religion and speech was a fundamental right of every citizen of Pakistan, but unfortunately it was not being granted.

Full report at:




Trump extends good wishes for PM Khan during meeting with Qureshi

September 25, 2018

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is in New York to attend the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on Tuesday met US President Donald Trump in New York and discussed matters relating to bilateral relations.

Talking to the PTV, Qureshi said that President Trump, during an informal meeting at a luncheon in New York, extended good wishes for Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The foreign minister said he apprised the US president about the persistent need to "rephrase the historic relations between Pakistan and the US", adding that during the meeting he found the attitude of President Trump to be positive.

During the gathering, Qureshi said he also met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife. A special meeting with Secretary Pompeo was scheduled for October 2, he added.

Meanwhile, FM Qureshi held a meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the UNGA, Radio Pakistan reported.

Full report at:




‘People need to be neutral in news judgment’: ISPR DG

September 26, 2018

LAHORE: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor says development of the country is not the job of army but they are playing their role in national development by constructing roads, hospitals, setting up schools, colleges and universities.

He was speaking at a seminar on “Role of army in the development of Pakistan” at the University of Management and Technology (UMT) here on Tuesday.

According to a press release issued by the UMT, the DG said false propaganda was on the rise against the army to create gulf between the nation and the institution. He said Pakistanis had great respect for their armed forces and people involved in propaganda would not succeed.

Ghafoor said people should need to be neutral in judging the news circulating in media especially on social media because most of them were not true.

“We should have to develop our own opinion without influence of others and we should not believe in the stuff without personally seeing, touching and hearing it because Islam also guides us to authenticate the information prior to passing it to others,” he said.

Differentiating between terrorism and fundamentalism, the DG said not every fundamentalist was a terrorist, as “I am also a fundamentalist.”

“(Similarly) not every terrorist relates himself with fundamentalism. Western countries and Indians are also fundamentalists. If I am someone who wants everyone to view the world through my perspective then I will not be called a fundamentalist but an extremist,” Ghafoor said.

Earlier, the DG extended condolences over the demise of UMT founder Dr Hasan Sohaib Murad who had died in an accident on Sept 10 on his return from Gilgit.

Full report at:




Christian family’s house, van torched in land grab bid in Gujar Khan

Sep 26, 2018

LAHORE: A poor Christian family is running from pillar to post for justice after members of a local land mafia, allegedly patronised by the brother of a former prime minister, tortured them and set their house on fire in Gujar Khan, Pakistan Today has learnt.

Bashir Masih, a retired sanitary worker of the Punjab Health Department, said that his house was attacked by at least 12 armed men on Sept 21, Ashura day.

“My wife and I were standing on our doorstep when two accused – Imran and Ihsan – attacked us without any provocation on Sept 20. They called us Choorha (a derogatory term used for Pakistani Christians) and beat both of us mercilessly,” said the 60-year-old man, adding that he could not find any plausible reason for the attack given the fact that they were the only Christian family in the village and had never been involved in any dispute with the assailants.

Masih and his wife have four sons, all of whom are married and have 4-5 children each. The family settled in the village 5 years ago and have been living together ever since.

“The next day, around 4 am, a person named Muhammad Kamran telephoned my son Fayyaz and threatened him to vacate the house within three days failing which they would kill us all,” Masih said, adding that the gangsters were part of the local land mafia allegedly protected by Raja Javed Ashraf, the brother of former prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.

Masih said the family was still reeling from the other day’s attack when around 3.30pm at least 12 assailants, armed with weapons, stormed their house and attacked the family, ruthlessly beating the men, women and children.

“They stripped the clothes of my daughters-in-law and forced them out on the street. They also threw the children, some as young as two, against the walls. My sons and I were hit with gun butts and iron rods amid volleys of abuse and threats,” he said, adding that the gangsters kept shooting in the air the entire time as the entire village looked on in silence.

Masih said that the assailants also looted jewellery and other valuables and then set the house and a Suzuki van owned by his son on fire before escaping the scene.

Though the Gujar Khan Police have registered an FIR [First Information Report] No. 504/18 against 12 men, none of the accused has been arrested so far.

Sub-Inspector Khaliq Khan of Gujar Khan Police Station said all of the accused nominated by the family had obtained pre-arrest bail, however, their bails would be canceled as they had been charged under non-bailable offences.

Khan said the incident appeared to be an attempt to grab the family’s property; however, the matter would become clearer after the arrest of the accused.

Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and his brother Javed Ashraf remained unavailable for comment.

The Pakistan Centre for Law and Justice (PCLJ) is providing legal assistance to the family, said Napolean Qayyum, an official of the rights outfit.

Full report at:




SC seeks details of Zardari and his children’s assets within 15 days

SEPTEMBER 26, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday summoned details of assets of former President Asif Ali Zardari and his children within 15 days.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing Zardari’s review petition against the apex court’s earlier verdict summoning details of his assets in relation to the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) case.

On August 29, the apex court had summoned details of the former president’s assets from the past 10 years, while hearing a petition related to the NRO, passed by General (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf’s government in 2007.

As the hearing went under way, the court directed, “Zardari should submit details of inherited assets.”

To this, the former president’s counsel, Farooq Naik, said, “You can have details for the last five years but please don’t ask for details of the last 10 years. The law only holds for five years.”

However, the court refused Naik’s request and upheld that asset details should be provided for the last 10 years.

Naik then requested, “Asset details of autonomous children should not be summoned either.”

The chief justice in response said, “Now, all children are autonomous and mature. But daughters are under guardianship till marriage.”

The former president’s counsel then said, “Zardari was co-accused in eight cases.” Further, Justice Ijazul Ahsan questioned Naik, “Did you destroy all records yourself?” To this, the former president’s counsel stated, “I indicated towards the presence of the record. An affidavit was summoned from Zardari under Article 184(3).”

Responding to Naik, the chief justice said, “Public money is for the people’s welfare which is why we used Article184 (3). This is not a corruption issue; we are just increasing our ambit.”

Also during the hearing, the CJP inquired why was the former president, General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, was not returning to Pakistan to face the charges. The CJP said Musharraf had left the country on grounds of poor health but he could be seen dancing in several videos circulating on the Internet. In response, the former president’s counsel, Akhtar Shah, said, “Musharraf can return if restrictions are not imposed on his travel.” To this, the chief justice remarked, “His name has not been removed from the Exit Control List.”

Justice Nisar assured that Musharraf’s security will be ensured. “Even if he asks for the security given to a brigade, we will provide it,” he said.

“We will provide him any kind of security he asks for, and he can get his treatment done from a doctor of his choice whether it is at the Combined Military Hospital or at Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi,” Justice Nisar added. Further, the chief justice said that ahead of Musharraf’s arrival in the country his house will be cleaned under Naeem Bukhari’s supervision.

“A contingent of Rangers will receive him at whatever airport he lands at,” the CJP assured. Justice Nisar continued, “He should come and record his statement and then he is free to roam around wherever he pleases.”

The chief justice also guaranteed that they will take all measures that Musharraf desires ahead of his return and the top court will ensure his security and not question him regarding his assets.

Turning to Musharraf’s counsel, Justice Nisar remarked, “Tell me the schedule of his return.” Shah responded, “Musharraf is not a coward and will return if his travel is not banned.” The former president’s counsel also submitted an affidavit in court on his behalf.

Justice Nisar then asked, “Are there different laws for Musharraf? Provide a reply on whether or not he will return to the country within a week.”

Earlier, details pertaining to assets owned by Musharraf were presented in the apex court. The court then adjourned the hearing of the case for one week.

Nominating Musharraf, Zardari and Qayyum as respondents, petitioner Feroz Shah Gilani had requested the court in April to order recovery of ‘huge amounts of public money’ misappropriated and wasted by them through unlawful means ‘already on record in different judgements’.

Full report at:






Crackdown on Nigerian Muslim group could spark militancy

SEPTEMBER 25, 2018

ABUJA, Nigeria (RNS)—Two years ago, Modu Bukar, a leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, was gunned down in Potiskum, a city in northeastern Nigeria.

“We spoke only about five minutes before. He had just said the late evening prayer and was just chatting with some people outside when gunmen shot and killed him,” said Mala Mohammed, a 24-year-old student at Bayero University Kano. He is a member of the Movement, led by Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, a radical Shiite cleric who has called for an Iranian-style Islamic revolution in Africa’s most populous country.

Authorities investigated Bukar’s shooting. But Mohammed and others believe it was an extrajudicial killing—a security officer executing the religious leader without due process.

Analysts worry such killings could convince the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to follow in the footsteps of Boko Haram, the militant group that has wrought havoc in Nigeria for years, killing people indiscriminately, kidnapping girls and displacing thousands.

Killing of leaders can radicalize followers

The alleged extrajudicial killing of Boko Haram founder Mohammed Yusuf in 2009 and other leaders led to that group’s full-scale uprising in northern Nigeria.

In 2015, Nigerian security forces arrested Sheikh Zakzaky, also known as Ibrahim Yaqoub El Zakzaky, after 350 of his followers clashed with Nigerian troops in Zaria in northwestern Nigeria. Two of Zakzaky’s sons were killed in the fracas. Another Islamic Movement leader, Sheikh Umar Sokoto, was shot and killed by police during a protest in January.

Since the 2015 arrest, Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention on charges of murder, and the government has refused to let him go, despite a December 2016 court order for his release.

“It is quite possible for the Islamic Movement of Nigeria to transform into militancy like the Boko Haram,” said Ishaq Akintola, a professor and director of the Muslim Rights Concern, an advocacy group for Nigerian Muslims. “There is a serious security implication for the continued detention of Zakzaki.”

Muslims make up about half of Nigeria’s almost 200 million people but suffer discrimination, according to the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. Analysts see it as a legacy from the colonial era, when Christian missions established Nigeria’s educational institutions, including the Muslim north. The country won independence from Britain in 1960.

“We have been maltreated, oppressed,” said Abdullahi Musa, secretary of the Academic Forum of the Movement, a branch of the group based at universities. “And many of us have been killed by the police.”

Christians in Nigeria subject to severe persecution

At the same time, Open Doors ranks Nigeria No. 14 on its World Watch list of countries where persecution of Christians is most severe, due both to attacks by Boko Haram and radicalized Hausa-Fulani Muslims.

Last month, The Guardian reported gunmen attacked Nasara Baptist Church in Guguwa in the state of Kaduna, killed the pastor, Hosea Akuchi, and abducted his wife.

The Nigerian Baptist Convention is the largest Baptist World Alliance member organization in Africa, with 3 million baptized members and 6.5 million worshippers in more than 10,000 churches.

Authorities stress national security

Sidi Sani, a longtime disciple of Zakzaky who lost two brothers in the Zaria violence, said: “Our struggle was not built on the foundation of militancy. Even our leader said members will not carry arms.”

After the court order to end Zakzaky’s detention, the sheikh’s only surviving son, Mohammed Ibrahim Zakzaky, petitioned the Nigerian Bar Association to compel the government’s justice minister to advise President Muhammadu Buhari to release his parents.

In an apparent response, Buhari, in a speech to the bar association, urged the country’s legal practitioners to seek to prioritize national security above the rule of law.

“The rule of law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest,” said Buhari, who ruled the country as a military dictator in the 1980s but calls himself “a converted democrat.”

“The individual rights of those allegedly responsible must take second place in favor of the greater good of society.”

Hezbollah provides military training

In June, the Middle East Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., claimed members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria have received military training from Hezbollah, the Shiite Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon.

“Tall men, in long, traditional African garb specific to northern Nigeria are sometimes spotted in Dahieh, a predominantly Shiite suburb south of Beirut where Hezbollah runs a cultural center,” wrote the institute in an analysis. “The Shiite Nigerians initially receive a religious training before a military one that is provided in two camps in the Lebanese Bekaa.”

Akintola, at Muslim Rights Concern, said his group initially defended Zakzaky after the 2015 incident, but he and his organization have pulled back.

“The Movement has become a huge security threat, the cause of discomfort, with bullies intimidating fellow Muslims,” said Akintola. “For these reasons, we found that in good conscience, we could not continue fighting their cause.”

Meanwhile, fears continue to mount over the group’s activities in Nigeria even as the crackdown continues.

In April, authorities sought to prevent the group from using the Unity Fountain in Abuja as a venue for sit-ins to protest the detention of their leader. A fight erupted and police killed a Movement follower.

Movement members say they will continue to fight.

“Our struggle has been carried out in Lebanon, Syria and Iran,” Mohammed said. “It’s now ongoing in Nigeria and Ghana.”




Hospitals cautioned against treating injured Shabaab militants


Security agencies hunting Al-Shabaab militants who fled on Monday at Taksile in Pandanguo have cautioned hospitals in Lamu, Tana River, and Garissa counties against treating individuals with gunshot wounds.

On Monday, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) soldiers operating in Lamu am-bushed Al-Shabaab militants at Taksile, deep inside Boni Forest, and killed 10 while others fled with gunshot wounds.

During the 6.45am attack, seven AK-47 rifles and assorted ammunition were recovered. Three KDF soldiers sustained injuries.

Speaking to Nation on Tuesday, Linda Boni Operation Director Joseph Kanyiri said security personnel in areas earmarked for the multi-agency operation are on high alert.


Mr Kanyiri said health facilities, especially those in Lamu, Tana River and Garissa, should report individuals seeking treatment with gunshot wounds to security agencies.

He said some of the terrorists who were wounded during the Monday attack might seek medical assistance from such facilities.

“The health facilities should also check on pharmaceuticals and bandages that may end up with the enemy to attend to gunshot wounds sustained in the attack. This goes to both public and private facilities,” said Mr Kanyiri.

He added that the security men were also processing details relating to the Monday incident, and called on citizens to cooperate with them.

“We must commend our security men for the good work. The community should as well collaborate with our security officers by reporting any suspicious persons with gunshot wounds as well as those they suspect are a threat to security,” said Mr Kanyiri.

The Linda Boni boss’ sentiments come a month after he cautioned locals, particularly those in counties covered by the multi-agency security operation, against harbouring Al-Shabaab militants and giving them information that has to some extent enabled the terrorists to launch attacks in the region.

Full report at:




Nigerian troops repel Boko Haram attack on base: sources


Nigerian troops repelled another attempt by Boko Haram jihadists to overrun a military base in northeast Nigeria, military and civilian sources told AFP on Tuesday.

Dozens of jihadist fighters from an Islamic State-backed Boko Haram faction attacked the base on Sunday in the village of Kekeno, near the garrison town of Monguno, in Borno state.

Recent months have seen repeated attacks on military bases in the northern part of Borno, although Nigerian commanders have strongly denied reports of heavy troop casualties.

The authorities maintain the group, whose insurgency has left more than 27 000 dead in northeast Nigeria since 2009, is on the verge of defeat, despite the ongoing violence.

A senior military officer in the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, said the Islamists were equipped with anti-aircraft guns and rocket-propelled grenades on Sunday.

But they were unable to breach defensive ditches surrounding the facility, he added on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Boko Haram "met stiff resistance, which led to a battle that lasted for hours", he said.

Details of the attack were slow to emerge as telecommunications infrastructure has been destroyed by fighting and there are strict controls on movement in rural Borno state.

People from the area were only able to reach Maiduguri on Tuesday as the military shut the main road for 24 hours as they searched for rebels in the bush.

"Boko Haram attacked at about 1645 GMT on Sunday. They came in several trucks and on motorcycles," said bus driver Sani Madaye.

Madaye said he and other drivers were sitting in a shed near the military base at the time. He was on his way to the fishing town of Baga, on the shores of Lake Chad and was forced to stop.

"The gunmen used a herd of cattle as cover to attack the base but they were detected in nearby bushes as they approached their target," he said.

"A truck carrying fighters attempted to break (through) the barrier but the driver was shot and the truck swerved and crashed," added another witness, who gave his name as Abdullahi.

"Suddenly, there was heavy shooting from Boko Haram and soldiers responded with fire, and it lasted for around one hour."

Troop reinforcements were sent from Monguno, eight kilometres away, and a fighter jet was deployed that forced the jihadists to withdraw.

Further attempts were made to storm the base until Boko Haram finally withdrew at about 22:30, said Madaye, adding there were no military casualties.

Full report at:




At least 12 dead in Mali attack near Nigeria

September 25, 2018

BAMAKO, Mali: At least 12 Tuareg civilians died Tuesday in an attack by gunmen in eastern Mali, a region hit by chronic unrest between local tribes and militants, sources said.

About 200 people, many of them civilians from the Fulani and Tuareg tribes have been killed in the area this year as militants claiming allegiance to Daesh clash with local groups backing a French security force and the Malian army.

The attack took place 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Menaka according to a local official, a security source, and a statement by ex-rebels in the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA).

“Armed men on motorcycles killed at least 12 civilians,” the official told AFP, citing a resident of the town who claimed to have seen the bodies.

The official, who asked to remain anonymous, added that “for now we do not know exactly who did it. I don’t know if it was the result of a dispute between tribes or a terrorist act.”

The security source said some of his sources spoke of 12 dead, while others put the toll at 16.

The MSA statement said “armed individuals on motorcycles had executed 17 civilians” from two Tuareg camps.

Mali’s unrest stems from a 2012 Tuareg separatist uprising which was exploited by extremists in order to take over key cities in the north.

Full report at:




Pro-government forces assume control of Libyan capital


By Walid Abdullah


The “Tripoli Protection Force”, affiliated with Libya’s UN-backed unity government, assumed control of the capital’s southern districts on Tuesday, according to a local security source.

The force assumed control of Tripoli’s Al-Naklia military camp following the withdrawal of forces loyal to Libya’s former government of national salvation.

Abdul-Basid Marwan, a military commander in Tripoli, told Libya’s Al-Ahrar television channel that all fighting in the city had ended while all roads had been reopened.

Since August 26, Tripoli has seen fierce clashes between armed groups loyal to the unity government and others said to be opposed to it.

Libya has remained dogged by turmoil since 2011, when a bloody NATO-backed uprising led to the ouster and death of long-serving President Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power.

Full report at:




Christian and Islamic Groups Sign Peace Agreement on 2019 Elections

September 26, 2018

By Segun James

The Legacy Initiatives International (LII) has commended the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) for fashioning out an agreement that would ensure a peaceful and conducive atmosphere for the 2019 general election.

The Grand Patron of the LII, Dr. Kenny Martins praised the leaders of CAN and JNI for “their wisdom, courage and patriotism to seat down with each other and fashion out a wonderful agreement, unprecedented in our political history for the peaceful conducts of the 2019 general elections in such a manner that the elections will not be a source for wanton killings and brigandage in any part of the Federal Republic of Nigeria before and after the elections.”

According to him, they have done this “as great servants of the Most-High God” without fanfare and without drawing attention to themselves during the long negotiation period until the final agreement was signed on the September 18 under the auspices of the Nigerian Interfaith Action Association (NIFAA) in collaboration with Local and International Partners.

“This is a great lesson to the politicians to learn and imbibe in the conduct of their political affairs in the interest of our country Nigeria. Nobody’s interest or group interest is superior to the National interest. In the words of a former Nigerian President, nobody’s political ambition should be worth the blood of any Nigerian,” said Martins.

He praised the leadership style of “the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, and Chairman of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, and his counterpart, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Supo Ayokunle and their worthy representatives Dr Shehu Chindo Yamusa, Emir of Keffi and His Eminence, Dr Samuel Uche, Prelate, Methodist Church of Nigeria, for allowing God to direct their actions in reaching this historic agreement that will become a reference point for all Nations of the World on the strategies to prevent sectarian violence before and after general elections in developing countries. Our prayer is that God will crown their efforts with success so that peace will reign in Nigeria in the run-up to the general elections and afterwards.

Full report at:




North America


After long silence, US calls Myanmar crimes against Rohingya ‘extreme’

Sep 25, 2018

The United States, long mum on Myanmar’s crimes committed against the minority Rohingya Muslims, has released a report blaming only the Southeast Asian country’s military for the “well-planned and coordinated” atrocities.

The US State Department released the findings of what it called a survey of the atrocities on its website on Monday.

“The survey reveals that the recent violence in [Myanmar’s] northern Rakhine State was extreme, large-scale, widespread, and seemingly geared toward both terrorizing the population and driving out the Rohingya residents,” the 20-page report read. “The scope and scale of the military’s operations indicate they were well-planned and coordinated.”

United Nations (UN) investigators said in a report earlier in September that the Rohingya Muslims had faced four of five prohibited acts defined as genocide at the hands of Myanmar’s military in Rakhine State. Another UN report had concluded that the military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya Muslims with “genocidal intent” and called for the prosecution of Myanmar’s military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing and five other generals.

Yet, senior State Department officials were cited in a Reuters report as insisting that the objective of the US “survey” had not been to determine whether genocide had occurred but to “document the facts” on the atrocities to guide Washington’s policy “aimed at holding the perpetrators accountable.”

The official report suggested no new steps toward that end, either.

More than a thousand survivors interviewed in the course of the US probe described in horrific detail what they had witnessed, including government troops killing infants and small children, the shooting of unarmed men, and the burying alive of victims. They also offered accounts of widespread sexual assault by Myanmar’s military against Rohingya women, often carried out in public.

Later on Monday, the Public International Law and Policy Group, a Washington-based human rights law firm contracted by the US State Department to carry out the interviews with the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, issued a companion report declaring that it had provided 15,000 pages of documentation of “atrocity crimes.”

Nearly 80 percent of the refugees said they witnessed a killing, most often by military or police, according to the report.

“Reports of mutilation included the cutting and spreading of entrails, severed limbs or hands/feet, pulling out nails or burning beards and genitals to force a confession, or being burned alive,” it read.

Government and military

The UN has previously said that Myanmar’s military should be removed from politics and stripped of further influence over the country’s governance. The military has members in the Myanmarese parliament.

Aung Hlaing, the military commander-in-chief (seen below in an AFP photo), has defiantly hit back at the UN.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims were killed, injured, arbitrarily arrested, or raped by Myanmarese soldiers and Buddhist mobs mainly between November 2016 and August 2017, when many of the surviving members of the community started fleeing to Bangladesh en masse.

While the UN and Western governments have been blaming the Myanmarese military only, the head of Myanmar’s so-called civilian government, Aung San Suu Kyi, has herself sided with the military in the atrocities against the Rohingya.

The UN’s own former rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, hinted last month that Suu Kyi was complicit in the crimes against the Rohingya.

The developments come amid US reports of increasing American aid to the government of Myanmar.

The administration of US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has been widely censured by human rights institutions and a number of American lawmakers for its guarded response to the harrowing atrocities in Myanmar, and could now encounter further pressure to adopt a tougher position.

“What’s missing now is a clear indication of whether the US government intends to pursue meaningful accountability and help ensure justice for so many victims,” said the head of Human Rights Watch’s Washington office, Sarah Margon.




US NSA to Warn Iran’s Clerics: ‘There Will Be Hell to Pay’

26 September 2018

US national security adviser John Bolton is set to warn Iran’s clerics on Tuesday that “if you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens ... there will indeed be hell to pay.”

“The murderous regime and its supporters will face significant consequences if they do not change their behavior. Let my message today be clear: We are watching, and we will come after you,” Bolton will tell anti-Iran conference in New York, according to prepared remarks.

Bolton on Tuesday dismissed an EU plan for a special payments plan to circumvent US sanctions against Iranian oil sales, saying the trading bloc was long on rhetoric and short on follow-through.

Full report at:




Canada calls out China for treatment of Uighur Muslims

Sep 26, 2018

New York: Canada has called out China for its human right abuses, notably of the Muslim Uighurs, officials said Tuesday.

“Every single time I sit down with any world leader, but particularly ones where there are human rights concerns, I bring up human rights,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Up to one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in internment camps in China’s far western Xinjiang region, according to estimates cited by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said she met on Monday with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, “and I did raise the issue of the Uighurs.”

“We who live in freedom do have an obligation to stand up for people who don’t,” she said.

Beijing has disputed the findings of the UN report, saying the actions were necessary to combat extremism and terrorism on the country’s western frontier, on the border with Pakistan.

Authorities in China have long denied the existence of internment camps despite mounting evidence from both official documents and testimonies from those who have been held in them.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday denounced Beijing’s religious repression.

“Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uighurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” Pompeo said.

Full report at:




Trump hails Saudi achievements, criticizes Iran in UN speech

25 September 2018

King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman are pursuing bold new reforms in Saudi Arabia, US President Donald Trump said during his speech to the annual United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

Trump added that the US is working with Gulf nations, Jordan and Egypt to set up a regional strategic alliance.

“Following my trip to Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries opened a new center to target terrorist financing. They are enforcing new sanctions, working with us to identify and track terrorist networks and taking more responsibility for fighting terrorism and extremism in their own region,” Trump told the crowd of world leaders.

“The United States is working with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jordan, and Egypt to establish a strategic alliance so Middle Eastern nations can advance security and stability across their home region,” he added.

Trump also said that foreign aid would now only be given to “friends” from now on.

“Moving forward we are only going to give foreign aid to those who respect us and frankly our — our friends. And we expect other countries to pay their fair share for the cost of their defense.”

Trump also blasted Iran as a “corrupt dictatorship” that is plundering its people to pay for aggression abroad, using his speech to the United Nations General Assembly to threaten more sanctions against Tehran.

“Iran’s leaders sow chaos, death and destruction,” Trump told the annual gathering. “They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations.”

Trump’s speech in the green-marbled UN hall, while relatively low key, was aimed at Iran, which the United States accuses of harboring nuclear ambitions and fomenting instability in the Middle East through its support for militant groups in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Trump compared US relations with Iran to what he called improved ties with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who Trump had met in Singapore in June as part of a still-unfulfilled drive to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

Full report at:




Trump: ‘No plans’ to meet Iran’s Rouhani ‘despite requests’

25 September 2018

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he had no plans to meet with Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations “despite requests” to do so.

“Maybe someday in the future. I am sure he is an absolutely lovely man!” Trump tweeted just hours before both leaders were set to speak at the UN General Assembly, and four months after the US president ditched the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in May to the dismay of European allies, Russia and China which had invested years in negotiations to achieve a milestone agreement on keeping Iran’s nuclear ambitions in check.

Rouhani earlier said that as a precondition for any dialogue, Trump would need to repair the damage done by exiting the nuclear deal. “That bridge must be rebuilt,” he told NBC news.

The United States maintains that it is seeking to ramp up pressure on Iran which it accuses of sowing chaos in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

Full report at:




Muslim, Lebanese-American police officer files discrimination lawsuit against SJPD

SEP 24 2018

SAN JOSE (BCN) A 21-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department has filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination from multiple officers in the days and years following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Nabil Haidar, who is Lebanese-American and Muslim, said police officers subjected him to endless racist accusations, calling him "Bin Laden," "Taliban" and "Beirut Bomber" while at work.

Haidar is being represented by the law firm of Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli & Brewer in the lawsuit against the city, Police Department, Police Chief Eddie Garcia and five other named officers. The lawsuit provides Haidar the option of including additional defendants.

The lawsuit says the harassment "escalated to a new height" when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 to begin the Iraq War. Police officers allegedly said, "You're not gonna blow up are you?" and imitated his accent while saying, "I'll kill you all."

Haidar was repeatedly referred to as ISIS, according to the lawsuit, and finally decided to pursue legal action in November 2017 after he allegedly was harassed at a meeting honoring veterans.

Briefing Sgt. Robert LaBarbera allegedly said, "Captain, you forgot to mention Nabil. He is an ISIS veteran. He was with ISIS for two years," to Capt. Johnson Fong. Fong allegedly laughed and allowed the harassment.

Both men are named as defendants in the lawsuit, and an additional defendant was allegedly captured on body-worn camera making an explosion gesture and pretending to be a suicide bomber. Haidar alleges in the lawsuit that he now faces retaliatory behavior and emotional distress at work.

Haidar filed an administrative claim with the city in May of this year, then filed a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in July. After exhausting his administrative options, he received a "right to sue" letter from the state.

City Attorney Richard Doyle said in a statement Monday evening that "The City and the Police Department take seriously all allegations of race or religious discrimination."

He added the city hasn't yet been served with the lawsuit.

Full report at:




Trump says Iran ‘funds’ Middle East slaughter and urges regime’s isolation

September 25, 2018

US President Donald Trump singled out Iran for harsh criticism on Tuesday in his second speech to the United Nations General Assembly, accusing it of “funding havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen” and calling on the world to isolate the country’s “corrupt dictatorship”.

Hours after tweeting that he would not meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani even though he was probably an “absolutely lovely man,” the American leader launched a scathing criticism of Tehran and its spreading of “mayhem” across the Middle East and around the world.

No other country faced as much criticism in his speech. He vowed to continue Iran’s isolation through crippling sanctions that he is reinstating after pulling out of the landmark nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers in 2015.

Mr Trump, arriving late to his second UNGA speech, used the opportunity to amplify his “America First” agenda, reject globalism, dismiss the International Criminal Court, the and UN Human Rights body, while emphasising US sovereignty and “standing up for America and for the American people”.

The speech, which started with laughter from the audience over Mr Trump’s claim that his administration “has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country”, took a more bombastic turn thereafter.

Mr Trump moved to criticising a series of countries including China, Iran, Germany, and Venezuela. His harshest lines were aimed at Iran, accused its government of sowing ”chaos, death and destruction” and “funding havoc and slaughter in Syria and Yemen”. "They do not respect their neighbours or borders or the sovereign rights of nations. Instead, Iran's leaders plunder the nation's resources to enrich themselves and spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond” Mr Trump said.

He said Iranian leaders had embezzled “billions of dollars from Iran’s treasury, seized valuable portions of the economy, and looted the people’s religious endowments, all to line their own pockets and send their proxies to wage war” across the region.

“Not good,” Mr Trump said.

His attack came after he left the door open to a possible meeting with the Iranian leader in the future.

“Despite requests, I have no plans to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Maybe someday in the future,” Mr Trump tweeted.

Asked by reporters about the potential of such a meeting, Mr Trump said Iran would have to “change its tune” first. But he said there was a chance for a similar track of diplomacy like the one he has pursued with North Korea. He met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at a Singapore summit in June.

On the Middle East, Mr Trump praised Saudi Arabia “where King Salman and Crown Prince are pursuing bold new reforms”. But he criticised OPEC and threatened with punitive measures if oil prices remain that high.

"OPEC and OPEC nations are as usual ripping off the rest of the world, and I don't like it. Nobody should like it,” he said. “We defend many of these nations for nothing, and then they take advantage of us by giving us high oil prices. Not good.”

As Congress considers legislation targeting OPEC, Mr Trump threatened the organisation. “We are not going to put up with it, these horrible prices, much longer,” he said.

Oil prices have reached a $82 high, and there are fears that Mr Trump’s second round of sanctions on Iran’s oil market in November will drive the price to $100, a few days before the US midterm elections.

On Syria, Mr Trump lamented the ongoing tragedy, and reiterated his administration’s willingness to “respond if chemical weapons are deployed by the Assad regime”.

The speech did not reveal any new US plan for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, but took credit for moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

“The United States is committed to a future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. That aim is advanced, not harmed, by acknowledging the obvious facts,” Mr Trump said.

Palestinian officials were quick to denounce the US President’s approach. Senior PLO member Hanan Ashrawi called it “superficial defence of unilateralism, isolationism & plain bullying.”

“He launched arrogant attack on global system from its podium boasted of illegally moving embassy to Jerusalem & leaving HR Council! Condescending ignorance: double flaws,” she wrote on Twitter.

North Korean leader Kim took most of the praise in Mr Trump’s speech.

"I would like to thank Chairman Kim for his courage and for the steps he has taken, though much work remains to be done," Mr Trump said.

“The missiles and rockets are no longer flying in every direction, nuclear testing has stopped,” but “the sanctions will stay in place until denuclearisation occurs”, he told the UNGA.

He said the ICC has “no legitimacy and no authority”, and criticised Germany, saying that it “will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course”.

Full report at:




Arab World


Muslim World League launches advanced halal identification system

September 26, 2018

MAKKAH: The Muslim World League on Tuesday launched an advanced halal identification system, which will help to guarantee that all meat products exported to Saudi Arabia, and a number of other countries, comply with Shariah standards.

The global system, which represents the highest halal standards, will be overseen by the league, which is the only organization in Saudi Arabia, and several other Islamic countries, authorized to issue halal certificates. The Kingdom's grand mufti, Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al-Sheikh, had previously hailed the efforts of the MWL in this field, and the league has signed agreements with a number of Islamic and non-Islamic countries.

“By announcing the launch of the advanced halal identification system,Cthe MWL confirms that it is the only authority responsible for certifying Islamic centers and examination companies working in the halal field across the world,” said MWL spokesman Adel Al-Harbi. He added that he was proud of the new system, representatives of which can be reached at halal@themwl.org.

MWL was declared the only legitimate body authorized to export halal products to Saudi Arabia in a royal decree that restricted the issuance of halal certificates to the league in recognition of its international relations, experience in cooperating and coordinating with local and international bodies, and for meeting the Shariah conditions for producing, manufacturing and marketing halal products. The Council of Senior Scholars had issued, through the Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta, headed by the grand mufti, a fatwa stating that the authority responsible for halal meat exported to the Kingdom is MWL. It is the oldest Islamic organization working in the field of halal food, with more than 30 years of experience and offices, partners and Islamic centers around the world.

MWL has warned against the practices of some authorities and companies that work in the field, who it says provide misleading and incorrect information and lack legitimate specialization. The MWL pledged to continue to expose violations by these companies.




Saudis' High-Speed Train Links Islam's Two Holiest Cities

September 25, 2018

Saudi Arabia King Salman inaugurated a $6.7 billion high-speed railway Tuesday that will link the two holiest cities in Islam, as the country seeks to bolster its tourism industry in the face of declining oil revenues.

The 450-kilometer Haramain railway is one of the largest transportation projects in the Middle East, with a projected annual target of 60 million passengers. It will reduce the time required to travel between Mecca and Medina by half.

The railway will eventually link to a new terminal being built at the airport in the coastal city of Jeddah, streamlining travel for visiting pilgrims.

The project is part of Saudi Arabia's recent appeal to tourists. The government has poured billions into new hotels and a restoration of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

The Grand Mosque is the ultimate destination of the Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca that all adult Muslims are required to make at least once in their lifetime, and the Umrah, a nonmandatory pilgrimage that can be undertaken any time of the year.

Muslims visiting Mecca account for the majority of Saudi Arabia's 20 million annual foreign visitors.

Full report at:




Bahrain accuses 169 of forming another Hezbollah

September 25, 2018

DUBAI: Bahrain charged 169 people on Tuesday suspected of forming “Bahrain’s Hezbollah”, a local version of the armed Shi’ite group, which prosecutors said was trained and backed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

The announcement follows scores of arrests and harsh penalties imposed in the Western-allied Gulf state on defendants accused by the authorities of militancy, who activists say are mostly peaceful opposition members.

Bahrain, a strategic island where the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet is based, has a Shi’ite Muslim majority population but is ruled by a Sunni royal family. It has long accused mainly Shi’ite Iran of stoking militancy, which Tehran denies.

A statement carried by the state news agency BNA said the prosecutor charged 169 defendants, including 111 who had already been arrested. They were accused of forming a terrorist group, planning assassinations and receiving training in handling weapons and manufacturing explosives.

“The Public Prosecution had been informed by the Department of criminal investigation …that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have ordered some of their members to work on unifying different Bahraini militant groups,” the statement said.

“(The groups) would get involved in one terrorist organisation which they called Bahrain’s Hezbollah,” it said, adding the group was planning to send Bahrainis to Iraq, Lebanon and Iran for military training.

A trial is set for Oct 3, BNA said.

Bahrain has stepped up a crackdown on critics, shutting down two main political groups, revoking the citizenship of the spiritual leader of the Shi’ite Muslim community and jailing rights campaigners.

The kingdom has seen occasional unrest since 2011 when authorities crushed pro-democracy protests mainly by the Shi’ite community demanding a bigger role in running the country. Demonstrators have clashed frequently with security forces, which have been targeted by several bomb attacks.

Full report at:




Turkey-Backed Militants Continue Looting People's Assets in Northern Syria

Sep 25, 2018

The sources reported that the Ankara-backed Firqah al-Hamzah has imposed $3,000 as monthly tax on the shopkeepers in the small town of Bastouleh.

They further said that the militants also set fire at the farms of those residents that refuse to pay taxes or bribe.

The sources pointed to the continued looting of farmers' agricultural products in Afrin, adding that the Turkish troops force locals in Afrin to transfer their lands to the terrorists that have been settled in the region.

Well-informed sources said in August that the Ankara forces stole the electrical cables of the control system of Maydanaki Dam North of Afrin, the sources said, adding that the move damaged electrical control system of the Dam.

The sources further said that the Ankara-backed militants had already stolen four of the six pumps of the dam that was supplying drinking water to the town of Afrin.

In the meantime, a former expert of Maydanaki Dam said that the Dam was on the verge of collapse after terrorists looted its electrical cables.

Full report at:




Russia Starts Sending Advanced Electronic Military Hardware to Syria

Sep 25, 2018

Izvestia reported that the first set of Russia's advanced electronic military instruments has been sent to a Russia-run base in Syria on a Il-76 plane.

It further said that the dispatched electronic military instruments are capable of sabotaging radars, communication devices and navigating boards of intruding aircraft on Syria.

The paper went on to say that the Russian electronic instruments can also sabotage satellite navigating systems, including those that are deployed to regions around the Mediterranean Sea.

In the meantime, another Russian paper, Kommerisant, quoted a well-informed source as reporting that Moscow will send four S300 Air Defense Missile Systems to Syria in the next two weeks, adding that the number of systems can also rise to 6 or 8 if needed.  

During a Monday briefing, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow will deliver the S-300 air defense systems to Syria within two weeks as an adequate response to Israel's role in the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane last week.

"The Syrian Armed Forces will be supplied with the advanced S-300 air defense missile system within two weeks. It is capable of intercepting air threats at a range of more than 250 kilometers and simultaneously hitting several aerial targets," Shoigu stated, adding that the S-300 would significantly boost Syria's combat capabilities, Sputnik reported.

Furthermore, Shoigu emphasized that command posts of the Syrian air defense forces would be equipped with automatic equipment that would ensure the identification of Russian aircraft by Syrian air defenses.

"Command posts of the Syrian troops and military air defense units will be equipped with automatic control system, which have been supplied only to the Russian Armed Forces. This will ensure the centralized management of all Syrian air defense forces and facilities, monitoring of the situation in the airspace and prompt target designation. Most importantly, it will ensure identification of all Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense forces," Shoigu stressed.

The defense minister stated that Russia would jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aviation over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

"Russia will jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in the Syrian territory, in the regions over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea bordering with Syria," Shoigu said.

He proceeded to say that Moscow had stopped delivery of S-300s to Damascus back in 2013 at Israel's request, but the situation around the supplies has changed "through no fault of Russia".

According to the defense minister, an Israeli F-16 jet used the Russian Il-20 aircraft as a shield, which resulted in the downing of the plane by Syrian air defense systems.

"This forced us to take an adequate response aimed at improving the security of Russian troops performing tasks to combat international terrorism in Syria," he added.

Shoigu further stressed that if measures taken by Russia following the Il-20 crash over the Mediterranean fail to cool "hotheads", "we will have to respond in line with the situation".

"We are convinced that the implementation of these measures will cool hotheads and prevent ill-considered actions threatening our servicemen. Otherwise we will have to respond in line with the current situation," Shoigu stated.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Embassy in Russia has refused to comment on the statements made by Shoigu so far.

Earlier this week, the Russian defense ministry accused the Israeli Air Force of providing misleading information about the area of the planned airstrikes on Syrian targets, thereby violating its agreement with Russia. Shortly after that, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated that Tel Aviv would continue its military operation in Syria despite the Il-20 incident.

 “We won’t let Syria be turned into a main Iranian military facility against the Israeli state. We continue to act… and we have all the necessary means and opportunities to this end,” he said.

On September 17, the Russian Il-20 aircraft with 15 servicemen on board vanished from radar screens near Humeimim Airbase in Syria. According to the Russian ministry of defense, the disappearance coincided with an attack by four Israeli F-16 military jets on Syrian targets in the province of Lattakia.

Full report at:




More Turkish Military Hardware Arrive in Northern Syria

Sep 25, 2018

The Turkish army dispatched a long convoy of 40 personnel carriers and military vehicles to the truce monitoring point in Shir Maqar in Nrothern Hama via Bab al-Hawa border crossing in Northern Idlib.

Moscow and Ankara agreed on a demilitarized zone in Idlib a week ago. 

On Sunday, a battalion of the Turkish commandoes entered Idlib crossed Tonkli province border with Northwestern Syria and entered Idlib province.

The elite forces' dispatch to Idlib is allegedly aimed at reinvigoration of truce-monitoring points in the Northwestern province.

In the meantime, field sources in Northern Syria reported that a new convoy of the Turkish troops, including elite forces, personnel-carrier vehicles and canons have been dispatched to Rayhanli region in Hatay province near the border with Western Idlib.




Gargash says UAE will support UN proposals for new Yemen peace talks

26 September 2018

The United Arab Emirates will support United Nations proposals for new peace talks on Yemen, a senior Emiriati official said early on Wednesday after meeting with UN Special Envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

The remarks came two weeks after the collapse of peace talks for Yemen in Geneva when the Iranian-aligned Houthi militia movement delegation failed to show up.

"Very productive discussions on Yemen today in NY with Special Envoy Martin Griffith. Reaffirmed our strong support for UN-led political process after Geneva setback. Will fully support UN proposals for new talks soon", United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted.




Saudi Arabia, Germany agree to turn page after diplomatic row

26 September 2018

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia welcomed the statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, which included his intention to work towards strengthening the bilateral ties and enhancing cooperation in all areas between the Kingdom and Germany.

“In recent months, our relations have witnessed a misunderstanding which stand in sharp contrast to our otherwise strong and strategic ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and we sincerely regret this,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said alongside his Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir.

“We should have been clearer in our communication and engagement in order to avoid such misunderstandings between Germany and the kingdom,” he said.

Jubeir said he welcomed Maas' statement and invited him to the kingdom to intensify their ties.

The Kingdom affirmed the deep strategic ties it enjoys with the Federal Republic of Germany, as it is a historic and important relationship for both countries. The Kingdom and Germany play a leading role in bolstering international security and stability, and the global economy.

His Excellency Adel Al-Jubeir extended an invitation to His Excellency the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany to visit the Kingdom at the earliest opportunity, so that both countries may begin a new phase of close cooperation in all areas to the benefit of both countries.

Full report at:




Lebanese court sentences trio to hard labour for providing intelligence to Israel

Sep 25, 2018

Lebanon's Military Tribunal has sentenced three Lebanese nationals to three years in prison with hard labor on charges of espionage on Hezbollah resistance movement for Israel's Mossad spy agency and collaboration with Israeli authorities.

The tribunal, chaired by Brigadier General Hussein Abdallah, issued the verdicts against Hasan Salemeh, Karam Idris and Kamal Hasan on Tuesday after they were found guilty of providing the Israeli regime with intelligence about Hezbollah’s military arsenal and operations, and with photos of several strategic locations in Lebanon.

The court also stripped them of their rights as Lebanese citizens.

The three were arrested last October and charged with communicating information to Israel. They reportedly possessed Israeli wireless communication devices at the time of their arrest.

Two other defendants, identified as Lebanese nationals H.K. and N.Sh., were separately questioned on Tuesday after they allegedly contacted Israelis through Facebook.

On July 10, Lebanon's Military Tribunal sentenced seven Lebanese nationals in absentia to hard labor on charges of crossing into occupied Palestinian territories, working with Israeli officials and receiving permits to live there.

Back in January last year, Lebanese security forces arrested five people over working for Mossad.

The media office of Lebanon’s General Security Directorate announced in a statement that the quintet had confessed to passing information to Mossad via Israeli embassies in Turkey, Jordan, Britain and Nepal.

The statement stressed that the individuals were arrested following intensive monitoring of Israeli intelligence operations in the country as part of Lebanon’s activities aimed at dismantling similar networks.

It added that the two spies from Nepal were also engaged in recruiting other Nepalese workers in Lebanon.

Full report at:




Bahraini attorney general charges 169 anti-regime activists with terrorism

Sep 25, 2018

Bahrain's attorney general says officials have charged nearly 170 anti-regime protesters with terrorism offenses as the ruling Al Khalifah regime presses ahead with its heavy-handed clampdown on political dissidents and pro-democracy activists in the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom.

Ahmad al-Hamadi said 169 people, 111 of whom are in custody, will be tried for forming "Bahrain's Hezbollah" – a local offspring of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement, detonating a bomb, training on the use of firearms and explosives in addition to making and using explosives and firearms.

Hamadi added that the Public Prosecution had received a report from the Criminal Investigation Directorate (CID) regarding the formation of the group inside Bahrain.

He further noted that the defendants will be put on trial by the Fourth High Criminal Court on October 3.

Thousands of anti-regime protesters have held demonstrations in Bahrain on an almost daily basis ever since a popular uprising began in the country in mid-February 2011.

They are demanding that the Al Khalifah regime relinquish power and allow a just system representing all Bahrainis to be established.

Manama has gone to great lengths to clamp down on any sign of dissent. On March 14, 2011, troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were deployed to assist Bahrain in its crackdown.

Scores of people have lost their lives and hundreds of others sustained injuries or got arrested as a result of the Al Khalifah regime’s crackdown.

On March 5, 2017, Bahrain’s parliament approved the trial of civilians at military tribunals in a measure blasted by human rights campaigners as being tantamount to imposition of an undeclared martial law countrywide.

Full report at:






Human Rights Watch accuses Houthis of hostage-taking, torture

25 September 2018

Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused the Houthi militias in Yemen of hostage-taking, torture and other serious abuses against people in their custody.

The New York-based watchdog said it had documented 16 cases of illegal imprisonment by the Iran-backed militias, “in large part to extort money from relatives or to exchange them for people held by opposing forces”.

“Houthi officials have treated detainees brutally, often amounting to torture,” HRW said, adding that former detainees described being beaten with iron rods, wooden sticks and assault rifles.

Prisoners were shackled to walls, caned and threatened with rape, it said, noting that hostage-taking “is a serious violation of the laws of war and a war crime”.

“The Houthis have added profiteering to their long list of abuses and offences against the people under their control in Yemen,” said HRW Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson.

“Rather than treat detainees humanely, some Houthi officials are exploiting their power to turn a profit through detention, torture and murder.”




Iran Declares Identity of 5 Terrorists in Ahwaz Attack

Sep 25, 2018

Ayad Mansouri, Foad Mansouri, Ahmad Mansouri, Javad Sari and Hassan Darvishi were the five terrorists who were killed on the scene of the clashes with the Iranian security forces after riddling people with bullets, the intelligence ministry said.

The intelligence ministry also announced that 24 people were killed and 68 others were wounded in the Saturday morning attack by al-Ahwaziya terrorist group during the nationwide military parades in Iran's Southwestern city of Ahwaz.

The terrorists attacked the bystanders watching the annual Armed Forces' parades, marking the start of the Sacred Defense Week, commemorating Iranians' sacrifices during the 8 years of the Iraqi imposed war on Iran in 1980s, in disguise of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and Basij (volunteer) forces, killing and wounding several people, including innocent women and children.

None of the officials participating in the military parades in Ahwaz city in Khouzestan province was injured in the attack.

The number of the terrorists who carried out the attack in Ahwaz had on Saturday been put at 4 by Spokesman of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi. The general had explained that three of them were killed and the last one was captured by security forces.

He told FNA that none of the terrorists could escape, noting that other reports about the details of the attack are not confirmed.

Meantime, Head of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Public Relations Department and IRGC Spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said that the terrorists who attacked people during the Armed Forces' parades in Ahwaz were affiliated to al-Ahwaziya stream which is nourished by Saudi Arabia.

He added that the terrorists aimed to overshadow the magnificence of the Iranian Armed Forces' parades.

General Sharif said that people were also invited to watch the parades and the terrorists both fired at people and the Armed Forces.

Full report at:




Yemeni army units find naval mines planted by Houthis off Midi coasts

25 September 2018

The Yemeni army’s naval teams found naval mines which the Houthi militias planted in the Red Sea.

A military source said the mines were found off the coasts of Midi, adding that the Houthis planted them there before fleeing the city.

He added that the army naval units in the fifth military zone continuously patrol and scout the coasts and islands of the Red Sea to secure them.




Saudi Ambassador to UN: Yemen’s crisis is caused by the Houthis

25 September 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Abdullah al-Mouallimi said Monday that the crisis in Yemen is caused by the Houthis who decided to break international laws and violate the will of the Yemeni people.

The diplomat added: “Let us not forget that the crisis in Yemen is not man-made, but is the work of the Houthis. They decided to break international laws, they chose to topple the legitimate government and to oppose the will of the Yemeni people and the International community.”

For his part, Yemeni Foreign Minister Khalid al-Yamani said that the humanitarian file is being extorted for blackmail and called on the United Nations to release reports on the theft of humanitarian aid by the Houthi militias.

The Yemeni FM said that “Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait provided half of what Yemen needs and the gangs of the Houthi stole a large part of them.”

Full report at:




US 'unilateral, illegitimate' sanctions amount to economic terrorism: Rouhani

Sep 25, 2018

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says "unilateral and illegitimate" sanctions imposed by the United States against the Islamic Republic are tantamount to "economic terrorism" and are in violation of world nations’ right to progress.

“Unlawful unilateral sanctions in themselves constitute a form of economic terrorism and a breach of the ‘Right to Development.’ The economic war that the United States has initiated under the rubric of new sanctions not only targets the Iranian people but also entails harmful repercussions for the people of other countries, and that war has caused a disruption in the state of global trade,” Rouhani said in his address to the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

He added, “The Iranian people have demonstrated their unwavering resilience during the past forty years despite the difficulties and constraints caused by sanctions, and have shown that they can overcome this difficult phase as well. The multi-millennial history of our country demonstrates that Iran and Iranians have never broken in the face of a storm of events—not even been bowed.”

Rouhani further noted that the US policy vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran has been wrong ever since the Islamic Revolution emerged victorious back in 1979.

The Iranian president stated that Washington’s approach of resisting the wishes of the Iranian people is doomed to failure.

“The policy of engagement and cooperation with Iran has produced positive outcomes for other nations, as best reflected in Iran’s cooperation with friendly countries in the fight against terrorism.

“The US understanding of international relations is authoritarian. In its estimation, might makes right. Its understanding of power, not of legal and legitimate authority, is reflected in bullying and imposition. No state and nation can be brought to the negotiating table by force, and if so, what follows is the accumulation in the ‘grapes of wrath’ of those nations, to be reaped later by the oppressors,” Rouhani pointed out.

The Iranian president then advised American statesmen to engage in dialogue and negotiation, stressing that dialogue is a two-way process that should be based on equality, justice, human integrity and honor, and conducted in accordance with the rules and norms of international law.

“The UN Security Council resolution 2231 is not simply a piece of paper. We invite you to return to that resolution. We invite you to come back to the negotiating table that you left. If you dislike the JCPOA (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) because it is the legacy of your domestic political rivals, then we invite you to come back to the Security Council resolution. We invite you to remain in the international institutions. Do not engage in imposing sanctions. Sanctions and extremism are two sides of the same coin. Extremism involves negating the thinking of others, and sanctions negate the life and prosperity of people,” Rouhani said.

He went on to say that the world is currently suffering from the recklessness and disregard of some states for international values and institutions.

“This illusion should be cast away, once and for all, that one can aspire to securing more peace and security at the cost of denying others’ peace and security. Negligence or ineffectiveness of international institutions can endanger world peace. Those seeking dominance and hegemony are enemies of peace and the perpetrators of war,” the Iranian president said.

He underlined that the incumbent US administration seems determined to render all international institutions unproductive,

“This government, having withdrawn from a multilateral agreement adopted by the Security Council, in contravention of the rules and norms of international law, invites the Islamic Republic of Iran to bilateral talks… It is ironic that the US government does not even conceal its plan for overthrowing the same government it invites to talks!” Rouhani commented.

The Iranian president went on to say that Tehran’s foreign policy has always been based on multilateralism and in compliance with the established principles of the international law.

“Based on 12 consecutive reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has complied with all of its commitments. The United States, however, has not stayed faithful to its obligations from the very beginning,” Rouhani said.

He emphasized that the United States is pushing other countries to violate the JCPOA, and that it is threatening all countries and international organizations with punishment if they comply with the Security Council resolution 2231.

Rouhani said Iran, as a victim of terrorism, will always remain in the forefront of genuine confrontation with terrorism.

“In Iran we have condemned all acts of terrorism without equivocation and will continue to do so.  We welcome the strong statement from the Security Council on this issue. But why can leaders of terrorist operations live and operate freely in Western countries, and even openly solicit funds?  Are these activities not in violation of international counter-terrorism norms?” the Iranian president said.

He said Iran has repeatedly warned against any foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Syria and the use of unlawful means, including supporting extremist and terrorist groups, to exert pressure on the Damascus government.

“It (Iran) has consistently emphasized that the crisis can only be resolved through intra-Syrian dialogue. The presence of our military advisors in Syria is at the request of the Syrian government and consistent with international law. It is aimed at assisting the Syrian government in the fight against extremist terrorism. Iran, Russia, and Turkey, in cooperation with the government of Syria and other Syrian parties, have succeeded through the Astana talks to play a positive role in reducing tensions in Syria. They managed to prevented escalation and bloodshed in Idlib as part of their last collective effort,” Rouhani said.

He underlined that the ongoing crisis in Yemen can be resolved solely through intra-Yemeni talks and without foreign interference.

The Iranian president also made a reference to the Palestine issue, stating that Israel’s innumerable crimes against the Palestinian nation would have been impossible without the military, political and propaganda support of the United States.

“We believe in the formation of a collective mechanism for the Persian Gulf region with the presence and participation of all regional countries. The security of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz has always been important for us,” noted.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran is the same state that was on the forefront of the fight against Taliban terrorism, and paid in blood for this end. We fought against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban before the attacks on New York.

Full report at:




Saudi-led airstrikes kill 3 people, including child, in Yemen’s Hudaydah, Sa’ada

Sep 25, 2018

At least three people, including a child, have been killed after Saudi-led warplanes hit localities in Yemen’s Hudaydah and Sa’ada provinces, three and a half years after the so-called military coalition began a full-scale war against the impoverished nation. 

The Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported on Tuesday that Saudi-led fighter jets launched an airstrike on the residential area of Ghaferah of Dhahir district in the northern province of Sa’ada earlier in the day that resulted in the killing of child and wounding of several others.

It also said that a separate aerial aggression against a civilian vehicle, traveling from Jarrahi to Zabid cities in the western province of Hudaydah, leading to the killing two people.

Saudi Arabia and some of its allies, including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Sudan, launched a brutal war, code-named Operation Decisive Storm, against Yemen in March 2015 in an attempt to reinstall former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and crush the Houthi Ansarullah movement, which plays a significant role in aiding the Yemeni army in defending the country against the invading coalition.

The movement has also been running state affairs in the absence of an effective administration since the onset of the imposed war.

Since the onset of imposed war, the Yemeni army troops, backed by fighters from the Ansarullah movement, have launched numerous retaliatory attacks against Saudi-led forces and its mercenaries inside Yemen and through ballistic missile strikes deep inside Saudi Arabia.

According to a report by Yemen's Arabic-language Ansarullah news portal on Tuesday, Yemeni snipers have managed to slay or wound more than 67 Saudi-led mercenaries during the past 72 hours.

The imposed war initially consisted of a bombing campaign, but was later coupled with a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces to Yemen. Some 15,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression.

The Saudi-led war has also taken a heavy toll on the country's infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories. The United Nations has said that a record 22.2 million Yemenis are in dire need of food, including 8.4 million threatened by severe hunger.

Full report at:




Israel will continue conducting military operations in Syria: PM Netanyahu

Sep 25, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Tel Aviv will continue to carry out military operations in Syria, two days after Russia held the occupying regime fully responsible for downing one of its reconnaissance aircraft off a Syrian coast last week. The Israeli premier made the provocative remarks on Tuesday before boarding a flight to New York, where he will address the United Nations General Assembly, claiming that Tel Aviv would adopt the measures to prevent Iran from increasing its presence in the Arab country. 

“We will continue to act to prevent Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and we will continue the military coordination” between the Israeli military and that of the Russia, said Netanyahu at the airport.

His comments came as Iran, at the official request of the Syrian government, has been offering advisory military assistance to the Arab country, which is fighting an all-out foreign-backed militancy during the past seven years.

Russia, too, has military advisers in Syria, besides carrying out aerial bombardments on behalf of the Syrian government since September 2015.

The support by Tehran and Moscow has enabled the Syrian army to speed up its gains on various fronts against Takfiri militants.

On the contrary, Israel has frequently attacked military targets in Syria during the past several years in what is considered as an attempt to prop up terrorist groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces. It has also been providing weapons to anti-Damascus militants as well as medical treatment to the Takfiri elements wounded in the Arab country.

On Sunday, Major General Igor Konashenkov, the chief spokesman for the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, held the Israeli military fully responsible for downing a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft off Syria’s Idlib coast by the Arab country’s S-200 missile defense system on September 17.

Based on a detailed account of the tragic event, he added that an Israeli F-16 jet practically deceived the Syrian radar system after it hid behind the Russian reconnaissance plane, showing it as a group of Israeli jets on the Syrian radars, effectively used the big aircraft as a “shield.”

“We will do whatever is necessary to protect Israel’s security,” Netanyahu further said before leaving for the United States.

The plane crash which killed 15 Russian servicemen prompted Kremlin to press ahead with its earlier plan to deliver the modern S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria within two weeks in a bid to boost the Arab country’s air defense capabilities and take “adequate retaliatory measures”.

Full report at:




Save the Children warns against rising civilian casualties in Hudaydah

Sep 25, 2018

Save the Children has voiced alarm over a “dramatic” rise in civilian casualties in Yemen’s Hudaydah since June, when the Saudi-led coalition of invaders launched an offensive to seize the lifeline port city.

“Between January and May this year, there were an average of 44 civilian casualties every month in al-Hudaydah. The subsequent three months (June-August) saw the figure jump to a monthly average of 116 – an increase of 164 percent,” the London-based NGO reported on Monday.

The civilian casualties in Hudaydah accounted for 51 percent of all civilian casualties in Yemen between June and August this year, it added, citing the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data monitoring group.

In the course of the three months, there had been at least 349 civilian deaths in the city, while the national total reached 685, the monitor’s figures showed.

“Save the Children field teams are meeting children who have suffered severe and life-changing injuries caused by explosive weapons, from airstrikes to landmines. Treating these injuries is particularly challenging in Yemen, where the health system has all but collapsed, prosthetics are hard to come by, and there are few surgeons trained to treat traumatic injuries,” the fund said.

The body’s CEO Thorning-Schmidt said, “When children are targeted and killed or when hunger is used as a weapon of war, the world must speak out and do everything in its power to hold those responsible to account.”

He was speaking in New York, where the United Nations General Assembly is holding its 73rd session.

“Attacks on schools and hospitals are up – safe spaces that should never be targeted. This is a War on Children. The world seems to be accepting an outrageous disregard for the conventions of war, and children are paying the price. It’s shocking that in the 21st Century we are retreating on a principle that is so simple – children should be protected,” he added.

He also urged that all the parties concerned to make earnest efforts towards bringing about a political solution to the conflict.

Yemen has been in turmoil since 2014 when former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi stepped down and then fled to Riyadh.

To reinstall the ex-Yemeni government, the Saudi regime and a coalition of its allies launched a war against Yemen months later in 2015 against its popular Houthi Ansarullah movement, which currently runs state affairs in the absence of an effective government.

Full report at:




Erdogan: Turkish court will decide fate of detained US pastor

September 26, 2018

NEW YORK: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said a Turkish court, not politicians, will decide the fate of an American pastor whose detention on terrorism charges has roiled relations between Ankara and Washington.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday he was hopeful Turkey would release evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson this month. He was moved to house arrest in July after being detained for 21 months.

In an interview on Tuesday while he was in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly meetings, Erdogan said any decision on Brunson would be made by the court.

“This is a judiciary matter. Brunson has been detained on terrorism charges ... On Oct 12 there will be another hearing and we don’t know what the court will decide and politicians will have no say on the verdict,” Erdogan said.

If found guilty, Brunson could be jailed for up to 35 years. He denies the charges.

“As the president, I don’t have the right to order his release. Our judiciary is independent. Let’s wait and see what the court will decide,” Erdogan said.

US President Donald Trump, infuriated over Brunson’s detention, authorized a doubling of duties on aluminum and steel imported from Turkey in August. Turkey retaliated by increasing tariffs on US cars, alcohol and tobacco imports.

The Turkish lira has lost nearly 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year on concerns over Erdogan’s grip on monetary policy and the diplomatic dispute between Ankara and Washington.

“The Brunson case is not even closely related to Turkey’s economy. The current economic challenges have been exaggerated more than necessary and Turkey will overcome these challenges with its own resources,” Erdogan said.

Turkey’s central bank raised its benchmark rate by a hefty 625 basis points this month, boosting the lira and possibly easing investor concern over Erdogan’s influence on monetary policy.

Erdogan said the decision was a clear sign of the central bank’s independence, adding that as president he was against increasing rates.

He also said Turkey will continue to purchase Iranian natural gas, despite US sanctions on Tehran.

Full report at:






Labour Votes In Favour of UK Arms Ban on Israel

Sep 25, 2018

In a historic move, Britain’s opposition Labour Party has called for a total ban on all UK arms sales to Israel.

The demand for an arms embargo was announced following a discussion on Palestine held at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool on Tuesday.

More than 180 Palestinian protesters have been killed in Gaza since March 30th while Israel remains the UK’s eighth largest market for UK arms companies.

Speaking earlier during the conference, Labour's Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, said London must ensure that Israel does not use British weapons to “attack innocent Palestinian civilians”.

The remarks could be viewed as strong words that many hope will translate into more regulations and fewer licenses for UK arms sales to the likes of Israel.

However, Kamel Hawwash, a British-Palestinian engineering professor and a longstanding campaigner for justice, is skeptical about it, saying such a situation would be highly unlikely.

“The UK does risk assessment before a license to sell arms is issued. But after that there is no follow up. They don’t know if those weapons were actually used to kill civilians or not,” Hawwash said in an interview with Press TV, adding, "They asked the Minister of State for the Middle Alistair Burt if UK-made weapons are being used to kill civilians and his answer was 'we don’t’ know'. Well what we do know is that the UK is selling Israel sniper rifles and Palestinians are being killed with sniper rifles.”

Palestinian flags were seen in abundance at Tuesday's event as the Labour members demonstrated their support for Palestine.

Labour's membership currently consists of many pro-Palestine voices, with 188,000 party members voting for Palestine to be a high priority issue at this year's conference.

The issue of Palestine was put to vote ahead of housing, the National Health System (NHS) and Brexit.

Labour has been embroiled in an anti-Semitism row that has at times bogged down the party, creating a new challenge for pro-Palestine members to keep the Palestinian narrative alive.

Meanwhile, Jewish groups are expressing their disgruntlement regarding the Labour Party’s recent statements.

Labour’s main governing body has decided to adopt the controversial multi-national definition of anti-Semitism in full but has also stressed the right to “free speech” regarding Israel and Palestinian rights.

The fundamental right to free expression, guaranteed by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, is being called into question here.

The Palestinians and their supporters on all levels are demanding Britain show more initiative when it comes to repaying its colonial debt to the Palestinians, while Israeli groups say an emphasis on freedom of speech regarding Israel is unnecessary.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has rejected the anti-Semitism charges against him on a number of occasions and has made additional efforts to protect freedoms of speech over Palestine for party members.




France's Macron urges 'dialogue and multilateralism' on Iran

Sep 25, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for "dialogue and multilateralism" on Iran, shortly after his American counterpart promised hard-hitting sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Speaking at the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, Macron credited the historic nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 despite US President Donald Trump's withdrawal from it.

"What will bring a real solution to the situation in Iran and what has already stabilized it? The law of the strongest? Pressure from only one side? No!" the French leader said.

In his second address to the General Assembly, Trump urged the world to isolate Iran, accusing it of sponsoring terrorism and sowing "chaos, death and destruction," in the Middle East.

"We ask all nations to isolate Iran's regime as long as its aggression continues," the US president said. "They do not respect their neighbors or borders or the sovereign rights of nations."

Trump announced in May that Washington was pulling out of the nuclear agreement which lifted nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran in exchange for restrictions on Tehran's nuclear program. The deal had been signed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China -- plus Germany in 2015.

The US administration reintroduced the previous sanctions while imposing new ones on the Islamic Republic. It also introduced punitive measures — known as secondary sanctions — against third countries doing business with Iran.

A first round of American sanctions took effect in August, targeting Iran's access to the US dollar, metals trading, coal, industrial software, and auto sector. A second round, forthcoming on November 4, will be targeting Iran’s oil sales and its Central Bank.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani late in August urged the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement to act faster and in a more transparent way to preserve it after the US move to pull out of the agreement.

"Iran has fulfilled all its promises in the JCPOA and, taking into account the unilateral exit of America from this agreement, it [Iran] expects the other sides to speed up their plans to safeguard this agreement and make them more transparent," Rouhani said in a phone call to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Pointing to the ongoing crises in the Middle East, Macron further said, "As I was saying a year ago, today we should not aggravate regional tensions but rather through dialogue and multilateralism pursue a broader agenda."

Iran nuclear deal critical for international security: British foreign secretary

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday said the JCPOA plays a leading role in international security.

He pointed to a meeting of foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, France, Russia, China, Iran, and the EU High Representative on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting on Monday, Hunt urged Iran to continue to comply with the its commitments under the JCPOA and expressed London's firm commitment to the deal.

"The UK remains committed to the Iran nuclear deal, which is critical for global security. We will continue to ensure the deal is upheld, and Iran must do the same," he said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on September 23 that Iran is in compliance with its commitments under the nuclear deal, stressing that the agreement should be kept alive.

Full report at:




Israel should end policies that imperil peace: Macron



Israel should abandon policies that undermine the possibility of a peace agreement, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

Addressing the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, Macron stressed the importance of resuming Israeli-Palestine peace talks, adding there is no viable alternative to the two-state solution and living peacefully side-by-side.

Peace cannot be achieved by making unilateral decisions or trampling on the legitimate rights of Palestinians, he said, noting Israel's attitude towards this issue is wrong.

Israeli-Palestinian talks broke down in 2014, due largely to Israel’s refusal to stop building Jewish-only settlement units on confiscated Palestinian land.

Macron also deplored the “deep crisis” of the traditional international order and warned against the temptation towards unilateralism, calling for a “new global balance”.

Full report at:



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