Threat to India, Bangladesh; New 'Emir' Named In Bengal
for American Diplomacy’: Mike Pompeo on Terror Tag for Masood Azhar
Weeks, A U.S. Army Veteran Planned a Terror Plot across L.A., Authorities Say
Education Foundation Declared Banned Outfit
Court to Hear Sisters in Islam’s Challenge against ‘Deviant’ Fatwa Again
Want Catholic Bishops To Denounce Pope As Heretic
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Remember the Day Masood Azhar Was Released,’ Recalls Former Jailor
as Harkat man after Kandahar, Masood Azhar set up Jaish, became India’s
in terror: List of terror attacks carried out by Masood Azhar and his
aftermath of Sri Lanka attacks, India must realise very real threat posed by
radical Islam points to bleak future ahead
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Poway Synagogue Attack Brought The Terror I Experienced In Israel Home To
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US newspapers warn against designating Brotherhood
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Azhar hidden in a safe house in Islamabad by Pakistani agencies
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Afzal Qadri says sorry to Gen Bajwa, judges, resigns from movement
religious narratives to combat violent extremism
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by New Age Islam News Bureau
remember the day Masood Azhar was released,’ recalls former jailor
the UN Security Council on Wednesday finally declared Jaish-e-Mohammad founder
Masood Azhar a global terrorist, Chanchal Singh, the then superintendent of
Jammu’s high security Kot Bhalwal prison recalled the day in December 1999 when
the dreaded terrorist was freed from the prison.
still remember the day. The then DIG Jammu Dr SP Vaid, who later became DGP of
the state police and is now Transport Commissioner, came to the prison at 10 am
that day. He handed me a government order and after fulfilling the formalities,
we handed him Masood Azhar and two other terrorists, who were lodged in the
prison,” said Singh.
a motorcade in tight security straightway headed for Jammu airport, he added.
other terrorists - Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar and Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh – were
released from the prison along with Azhar. The JeM chief was kept in Kot
Bhalwal jail until December 31, 1999 before being taken to Kandahar.
retired superintendent said that Masood Azhar and his aides were segregated and
kept in a separate room in the prison.
was no preferential treatment to him and he and his aides were treated like
other prisoners. In fact, we always treated them like terrorists,” said Singh.
“Every morning I used to visit all the barracks of the prison as part of my
duty and therefore had to visit Masood’s room.”
recalled that most of the time Masood used to stay inside his room and kept
couple of days before he was released, he had come to know about what was going
to happen -- that he and two other terrorists would be freed,” said Singh.
said, “Though Masood Azhar spent around five years in Kot Bhalwal jail, I was
given the charge of the prison in May 1999 when I was transferred from Srinagar
and he was released in December that year. He remained under my custody for
around eight months before being freed and taken to Kandahar.”
a senior prison official, who pleaded anonymity, said that during Masood’s
confinement at the prison, some officials used to call him “Masood Sahib” or
his years in Kot Bhalwal prison, he continued to radicalise fellow prisoners
before being segregated,” he added.
was arrested in January 1994 when he visited Kashmir Valley to meet JeM foot
December 1999, an Indian Airlines Flight 814 (IC814) from Kathmandu to New
Delhi was hijacked and eventually taken to Kandahar.
hijackers had demanded the release of Azhar, Zargar and Sheikh.
February 14 attack in Pulwama by a JeM suicide bomber in which 40 CRPF troopers
were killed led to fresh efforts to designate Azhar a global terrorist. In
March, China blocked a UN effort for the fourth time with a technical hold
before it lifted it on Wednesday to ensure that Azhar was blacklisted.
threat to India, Bangladesh; new 'emir' named in Bengal
developments after the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka which claimed 253
lives, an Islamic State (IS) affiliate group, "Al-Mursalat", has been
reportedly planning to carry out similar attacks in India and Bangladesh with
its announcement of appointing a new "emir" (chief) in Bengal,
emir of the Islamic State group, an intelligence official said, has been named
as Abu Muhammed al-Bengali who has been given the responsibility of planning
terror attacks and recruiting new members.
a poster released by the Islamic State, the official, requesting anonymity,
said the group has warned that their "soldiers of Khalifa in Bengal and
Hind are not silenced" and that the "thirst for revenge is never to
be faded away."
threat came to light soon after a minor explosion near Gulistan theatre in
Dhaka on Monday evening, in which a few police personnel suffered injuries. No
casualties were reported in the blast.
two developments followed a "propaganda" video released for the first
time in five years by the fugitive Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in
which he acknowledged the terrorist group's defeat in the Syrian town of
Baghuz, another anti-terror official said.
heavier than when he proclaimed the existence of the now-collapsed caliphate in
mid 2014, Baghdadi blamed its demise on the "savagery" of Christians
in the 18-minute video in which he was seen sitting cross-legged alongside a
Kalashnikov rifle and appeared to be limited in his movements.
the battle of Islam and its people against the cross and its people is a long
battle. The battle of Baghuz is over. But it did show the savagery, brutality
and ill intentions of the Christians towards the Muslim community,"
Baghdadi said in the video.
IS released a statement in Arabic in the early hours of Tuesday through its
intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring the developments in
Bangladesh and they suspect that the Islamic State may carry out
"jihadi" attacks in Bangladesh or West Bengal.
close to the investigation have raised an alarm that some Bengali posters were
in circulation in West Bengal and Bangladesh to radicalise those who were
pro-Islamic State sympathisers.
poster, officials said, read "Shighroi Aschhe (coming soon),
posters are being circulated on Telegram flashing the logo of a group called
Al-Mursalat. The threat cannot be ignored as a little-known Islamist group,
National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ), affiliated to the Islamic State was
instrumental in the Sri Lanka bombings and their links have been found in a
recent unearthed group in Kerala's Kasaragod," another official said.
said that another group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, which also reportedly
pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, was also active in Bangladesh for
years and may be a threat to West Bengal where Bangladeshi people frequently
April 21 attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo and
elsewhere killed 253 people, including 11 Indian nationals and some foreigners,
besides injuring 500 others.
people, including three suicide bombers, died during a raid by Sri Lankan
security forces on April 26 and nearly 100 people have been detained in the
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings and released a video that
showed alleged plot organiser and suicide bomber Zahran Hashim and seven other
men pledging allegiance to IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
for American diplomacy’: Mike Pompeo on terror tag for Masood Azhar
designation of Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist by
the UN demonstrates the international commitment to rooting out terrorism in
Pakistan and bringing security and stability to south Asia, the White House has
of State Mike Pompeo also welcomed the move and said that it is a victory for
the American diplomacy and the international community against terrorism.
also congratulated the US mission in the UN which took the lead in America’s
diplomatic effort to designate Azhar as a global terrorist, after China finally
lifted its nearly 10-year technical hold on such an effort by India, the United
States and other permanent members of the Security Council including Britain
to our team @USUN for their work in negotiating JEM’s Masood Azhar’s #UN
designation as a terrorist,” Pompeo tweeted.
long-awaited action is a victory for American diplomacy and the international
community against terrorism, and an important step towards peace in South
Asia,” Pompeo said.
UN sanctions committee on the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda on Wednesday announced
the designation of Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), over its ties to
JeM has claimed responsibility for the Pulwama suicide attack that killed 40
CRPF soldiers and led to a spike in military tensions between India and
to the development, Garrett Marquis, spokesperson of the National Security
Council, White House said: “Designating Azhar demonstrates international
commitment to rooting out terrorism in Pakistan and bringing security and
stability to south Asia”.
US commends the United Nations Security Council 1267 Sanctions Committee for
the designation of Azhar, the leader of JeM, a UN-designated terrorist group
that was responsible for the February 14 terrorist attack in Kashmir that
killed over 40 Indian security personnel, Marquis said in a statement.
State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said that the JeM has been
responsible for numerous terrorist attacks and is a serious threat to regional
stability and peace in South Asia.
JeM was designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization and
Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) in 2001 and has been listed by the
UN since 2001,” she said.
JEM’s founder and leader, Azhar clearly met the criteria for designation by the
UN. This listing requires all the UN member states to implement an asset
freeze, a travel ban, and an arms embargo against Azhar. We expect all
countries to uphold these obligations,” Ortagus said.
designation is an important step in promoting a peaceful and stable South Asia,
line with this vision, we appreciate Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s stated
commitment that Pakistan, for the sake of its own future, will not allow
militant and terrorist groups to operate from its territory,” Ortagus said.
spokesperson said that the US looks forward to further and sustained actions
from Pakistan as outlined in its National Action Plan consistent with its
US, France along with the UK had moved the proposal to designate Azhar as a
“global terrorist” in the UN Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions
Committee in February, just days after the deadly Pulwama terror attack.
veto-wielding permanent member of the UNSC, China was the sole hold-out in the
15-nation body on the bid to blacklist Azhar, blocking attempts by placing a
“technical hold” and asking for “more time to examine” the proposal.
weeks, a U.S. Army veteran planned a terror plot across L.A., authorities say
targets kept changing, but investigators say Mark Steven Domingo’s mission
remained as bloody as it was simple.
one conversation, prosecutors said, the 26-year-old U.S. Army veteran spoke of
spraying a Los Angeles police cruiser with bullets. Other times, his rage
allegedly redirected toward a nearby synagogue. Sometimes he wanted to kill
Christians, authorities said, and at least once, he considered bombing the
Santa Monica Pier.
believed he should “start small,” considering one killing practice for the
next, according to court documents. He hoped to learn about police response
times and build toward a large-scale attack, possibly an explosion that would
end with “hundreds and maybe thousands of U.S. citizens injured.”
then what?” an informant asked Domingo.
the fun starts,” Domingo responded.
finally set his sights on a right-wing rally that was scheduled to take place
Sunday in Long Beach’s Bluff Park, authorities said; he hoped to detonate an
explosive device and gain vengeance for Muslims killed in other corners of the
globe. But after receiving what he believed to be a pressure-cooker bomb while
scouting the attack site, Domingo was arrested Friday by the FBI before his
violent fantasies could become reality.
investigators and local law enforcement leaders announced Domingo’s capture
Monday, expressing relief that they were able to intercept a terror suspect
they described as “consumed with hate, and hell-bent on mass murder.”
not inconceivable that I’d be standing here today, beginning my remarks by
offering condolences to victims of a horrific attack,” said Ryan Young, special
agent in charge of counterterrorism for the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
“But not today.”
Army infantryman who once served in Afghanistan, Domingo was charged with
attempting to provide material support to terrorists. If convicted as charged,
he faces 15 years in prison and remains in federal custody pending a May 31
of the thwarted attacks comes as Southern California is still reeling from an
eruption of gunfire that left one woman dead and three others injured inside a
synagogue near San Diego on Saturday. That attack is being investigated as an
anti-Semitic hate crime, and federal investigators said Monday that religion
was at the heart of Domingo’s motivations as well.
who recently converted to Islam, had been under surveillance for weeks after he
expressed a desire in an online post to commit acts of violence, according to a
30-page affidavit unsealed Monday. Specifically, he wanted revenge for Muslims
killed during a mass shooting in New Zealand last month, according to court
feel like I should make a christians life miserable tomorrow for our fallen
bros n sis in new zealand ... maybe a jews life [I don’t know] ... they shed
our blood,” he wrote in a post after the shooting, according to the affidavit.
“no Muslim should have to experience this, a message needs to be sent.”
weeks of online chats and recorded conversations with an undercover law
enforcement officer and an FBI informant, Domingo settled on a target, which he
described as a “white nationalist” rally scheduled for Bluff Park in Long Beach
on Sunday. The event had been organized by United Patriots National Front, whom
extremism experts describe as a far-right organization with a dozen members,
though they are not explicitly considered white nationalists.
before the rally, Domingo purchased 8 pounds of 3½-inch-long nails and asked an
FBI informant to connect him with a bomb-maker who could build an explosive
device similar to the pressure cooker bombs that maimed dozens of people at the
finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. According to the affidavit, Domingo
chose nails that “would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture
that the rally might be canceled unnerved Domingo, according to court records.
He considered two alternative targets: a Saturday demonstration against
California’s so-called sanctuary state law in Huntington Beach, and an attack
on the Santa Monica Pier where he would set off an explosive and then spray
survivors with gunfire before he died a martyr.
records show, Domingo settled on the Long Beach event. He drove to Bluff Park
on Friday with the informant and an undercover officer, whom he believed to be
the bomb-maker. After scouting the park, he took possession of an inert device
which he thought was a “weapon of mass destruction” and was arrested by FBI
enforcement officials did not warn organizers at either rally because they
believed Domingo was the only credible threat to either event. The far-right
group did not show up at Bluff Park, according to Long Beach Police Chief
Robert Luna, who said about 200 counterprotesters descended on the park without
investigators said the rapidly evolving nature of Domingo’s plans concerned
biggest fear is this is what we call a rapid radicalization, a rapid
mobilization, to violence,” the FBI’s Young said. “Sometimes, we get asked what
keeps you up at night? This is a case that keeps us up at night.”
who lives in Reseda, had been assigned to Fort Campbell in Kentucky and served
in Afghanistan from September 2012 to January 2013. Authorities said he left
the armed forces shortly after. A Department of Defense representative did not
immediately respond to a request for comment. A law enforcement official, who
spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Domingo did not receive an honorable
was unclear when Domingo converted to Islam. According to the affidavit, he
first posted a video declaring his faith on March 2. He began expressing a
desire to see Americans killed a short time after.
needs another vegas event [to be honest] something to kick off civil unrest,”
he wrote on March 3, referencing the 2017 mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest
music festival in Las Vegas. “its not about winning the civil war its about
weakening America and giving them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all
over the world.”
FBI made contact with Domingo online within the next two weeks, and he was
under near constant surveillance until his arrest, officials said. During discussions
with the informant, Domingo repeatedly suggested using one of the three rifles
he owned to carry out a violent attack.
Ayloush, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the
Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement that the group is
“grateful the alleged plans to hurt and kill innocent people were foiled. There
is absolutely no justification for such murderous intent.”
synagogue shooting, Newsom supports $15 million to secure religious facilities
Ayloush noted, he was “concerned by the FBI informant’s tactics, which seemed
to encourage and spur this veteran to plot these attacks.”
comment echoes those who have criticized the FBI’s online terror stings in the
past, believing agents prod mentally ill suspects into involving themselves in
plots they would otherwise have been unable to carry out. But court records
show the informant repeatedly tried to talk Domingo out of his plans.
don’t need to, like, you don’t have to do this. You know that, right?” the
informant told Domingo on March 22.
in each conversation, Domingo’s violent desires seemed to escalate. He showed
up to an April 19 meeting wearing camouflage and carrying a semiautomatic
rifle, according to court records. When discussing the potential bombing,
Domingo seemed to find joy in possible carnage.
human body is very easy to break. A grenade can do a lot of damage but a big
[improvised explosive device] in a backpack, in a crowd?” he said, according to
the affidavit. “You’re looking at at least 20 people dead, maybe 30 people
injured... If we do this L.A. is going to be locked down.”
education foundation declared banned outfit
The government has declared Pak-Turk International CAG Education a proscribed
organisation, bringing the total number of banned outfits to 71.
is the fifth addition to the list made by the present government and the first
after retired Brig Ejaz Ahmad Shah assumed the office of interior minister.
Informed sources told Dawn that a notification to this effect had been issued
the day Ejaz Shah assumed new responsibility on April 18.
first addition to the list by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had been
made on Dec 13, 2018, when Yemen-based Al-Rahmah Welfare Trust Organisation was
National Front (Abdul Hameed Khan Group) was the first organisation to have
been proscribed in 2019, with the issuance of a formal notification on Feb 26.
decision to ban Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation (FIF) was
taken at a meeting of the National Security Committee, headed by the prime
minister and comprising key cabinet members and military leaders, on Feb 21,
but a notification by the interior ministry to that effect was issued on March
February last year, then president Mamnoon Hussain had promulgated an ordinance
amending the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, with regard to proscription of terrorist
individuals and organisations to include entities listed by the UN Security
Council — in a move to declare JuD and FIF proscribed groups. However, the
ordinance lapsed after the expiry of 120 days and was neither re-promulgated
nor brought to parliament as a bill.
process of maintaining a list of proscribed organisations started on Aug 14,
2001, when Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Sipah-i-Mohammad Pakistan were outlawed.
Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, Tehreek-i-Islami
and Tehreek-i-Nifaz Shariat-i-Mohammadi were banned on Jan 14, 2002.
Pakistan was put on the list on Jan 28, 2002, followed by Al Qaeda on March 17,
2003, Millat-i-Islamia Pakistan and Khuddamul Islam on Nov 15, 2003 and Islami
Tehreek Pakistan on Nov 15, 2003. Three more organisations — Jamiatul Ansar,
Jamiatul Furqan and Hizbut Tehrir — were banned on Nov 20, 2003, while
Khair-un-Naas International Trust was proscribed on Oct 27, 2004.
Liberation Army was placed on the list on April 7, 2006, and Islamic Students
Movement of Pakistan on Aug 21, 2006.
Ansarul Islam and Haji Namdar Group were banned on June 30, 2008, and
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan on Aug 25, 2008.
militant organisations from Balochistan — Balochistan Republican Army,
Balochistan Liberation Front, Lashkar-i-Balochistan, Balochistan Liberation
United Front and Balochistan Musallah Difa Tanzeem — were put on the list on
Sept 8, 2010.
organisations from Gilgit — Shia Tulaba Action Committee, Markaz Sabeel
Organisation and Tanzeem Naujawanan-i-Ahle Sunnat — and Peoples Aman Committee
(Lyari), Karachi, were placed on the list on Oct 10, 2011. Ahle Sunnat Wal
Jamaat, a reincarnation of Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, was banned on Feb 15, 2012,
followed by Al Harmain Foundation and Rabita Trust on March 6, 2012, and
Anjuman-i-Imamia and Muslim Students Organisation (both from Gilgit-Baltistan)
on April 24, 2012.
Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Gilgit-Baltistan) was placed on the list on June 5,
2012, while Balochistan Bunyad Parast Army, Tehreek Nafaz-i-Aman, Tahaffuz
Hadudullah, Balochistan Waja Liberation Army, Islam Mujahideen, Jaish-i-Islam
and Balochistan National Liberation Army were banned on Aug 4, 2012.
list was widely expanded in 2013, with the addition of Khana-i-Hikmat
Gilgit-Baltistan on March 13 and Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat, Tehreek-i-Taliban
Mohmand, Tariq Jeedar Group, Abdullah Azam Brigade, East Turkmenistan Islamic
Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Islamic Jihad Union, 313 Brigade,
Tehreek-i-Taliban Bajaur, Amar Bil Maroof Wa Nahi Anil Munkir (Haji Namdar
Group), Baloch Student Organisation-Azad, United Baloch Army and Jeay Sindh
Muttahida Mahaz on March 15, 2013.
then, the list remained unchanged till July 15, 2015, when the name of Daesh
(the Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group) was placed on the
list of banned organisations. This was the only addition to the list during the
last two-and-a-half years.
and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al-Alami were added to the list on Nov 11, 2016, followed
by Ansarul Hussain on Dec 30, 2016.
Jammu and Kashmir was the only addition made to the list in 2017. The
organisation was outlawed on June 8, 2017. Jundullah was the last addition made
by the then PML-N government in 2018.
to the list, Ghulaman-i-Sahaba and Maymar Trust continue to be on watch-list.
Al-Akhtar Trust and Al-Rasheed Trust have been on the list under the UN
Security Council resolution No. 1267 since December 2005.
Court to hear Sisters in Islam’s challenge against ‘deviant’ fatwa again
LUMPUR, May 2 ― The High Court will today hear Sisters in Islam’s (SIS)
challenge against a fatwa, or religious edict, declaring it “deviant” ― three
years after it dismissed the Muslim women’s rights group’s initial judicial
review in 2016.
Federal Court had decided in favour of SIS last year, sending the lawsuit back
to the High Court for SIS to challenge the fatwa by the Selangor Islamic
Religious Council (Mais) against any persons or groups “professing liberalism
or religious pluralism”.
challenge is mounted on the basis that the fatwa violates certain provisions in
the Federal Constitution, certain federal laws and the Selangor administration
of Islamic law enactment itself,” SIS’s lawyer A. Surendra Ananth told Malay
judicial review application was first filed on October 31, 2014 by three
applicants ― the company SIS Forum (Malaysia) Bhd which operates SIS; the
group’s co-founder Zainah Anwar; and Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, with the three
respondents named as the Selangor Fatwa Committee, Mais, and the Selangor state
fatwa, gazetted on July 31, 2014, had singled out SIS by name, in addition to
“any individuals, organisations or institutions” deemed “liberal”.
also deemed any publication with elements of liberalism and religious pluralism
as “haram”, or prohibited, and liable for seizure by religious authorities.
addition, the fatwa had urged local Internet regulator Malaysian Commission of
Multimedia and Communications to block “any social websites” opposed to Islamic
teachings and laws.
are opinions issued by Islamic clerics on a multitude of issues. Although these
are advisory in nature, Malaysia occasionally gazettes some into law.
SIS’s challenge against the fatwa in 2014 had antagonised Islamists, drawing
rebuke and protests such as PAS Youth then declaring SIS as an “insolent” and
“extremist” group out to challenge the monarchy and Federal Constitution.
addition, SIS was also recently attacked by PAS after receiving RM20,000
contribution from deputy minister Hannah Yeoh to fund its Telenisa free legal
group’s lawyer Datuk Malik Imtiaz Sarwar had, however, clarified last year that
the lawsuit by SIS was not regarding Islamic law, but merely on whether the
fatwa issued against it was done legally and according to proper procedures.
said SIS was not implying that the fatwa was wrong in Islamic law, but that it
had gone beyond the legal limits and infringes on fundamental freedoms.
will argue today among others that religious authorities have no jurisdiction
over companies like SIS, as they only have jurisdiction in respect of persons
professing the religion of Islam.
will also argue that the fatwa is an unlawful fetter on SIS’s freedom of expression.
fatwa does not define what amounts to ‘liberalism and pluralism’. Further,
disobeying a fatwa is a criminal offence,” Surendra said.
encompasses a wide array of ideas, but its proponents commonly espouse notions
such as civil rights, freedom of speech and of religion, free trade, private
property, and free and fair elections.
“religious pluralism” maintains that no one religion holds the sole and
exclusive source of truth, often promoting harmonious co-existence and understanding
between all faiths and their adherents.
religious authorities under the previous administration had derided liberalism
and pluralism, with Friday sermons nationwide claiming a conspiracy by “enemies
of Islam” to manipulate Muslims through ideas like secularism, socialism,
feminism and positivism, in addition to the two.
December 2014, then High Court judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad had granted SIS leave
for the judicial review to be heard on its merits.
High Court judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah had on June 24, 2016 dismissed the
case based on a preliminary objection by the Selangor religious authorities on
the issue of which court had jurisdiction, ruling that only the Shariah courts
have the powers to deal with the fatwa.
led to SIS appealing successfully to the Court of Appeal to reinstate the
lawsuit and for it to be sent back to the High Court to be heard before another
judge. The Selangor religious authorities later filed its appeal, and had on
July 11, 2017 obtained leave from the Federal Court to proceed.
a seven-man panel at the Federal Court led by the then Chief Justice Tan Sri
Richard Malanjum had on September last year directed the High Court to start
the case afresh and decide on all issues raised by the parties.
want Catholic bishops to denounce pope as heretic
group of 19 Catholic priests and academics have urged bishops to denounce Pope
Francis as a heretic, in the latest ultra-conservative broadside against the
pontiff over a range of topics from communion for the divorced to religious
most prominent of the group is Father Aidan Nichols, a 70-year-old British
priest of the Dominican order who has written many books and is one of most
recognised theologians in the English-speaking world. The others are less well
take this measure as a last resort to respond to the accumulating harm caused
by Pope Francis's words and actions over several years, which have given rise
to one of the worst crises in the history of the Catholic Church," they
said in a 20-page open letter.
letter attacks Francis for allegedly softening the Church's stance on a range
of subjects. They say he has not been outspoken enough against abortion and has
been too welcoming to homosexuals and too accommodating to Protestants and
was published on Tuesday by LifeSiteNews, a conservative Catholic website that
often is a platform for attacks on the pope. Last year, it ran a document by
the Vatican's former ambassador to Washington, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano,
calling on the pope to resign.
Vatican spokesman had no comment on the letter, which includes dozens of
footnotes, Bible verses, pronouncements by previous popes, and a separate
bibliography. The letter invites people to join an on-line signature drive.
the bishops, the letter says "We therefore request that your Lordships
urgently address the situation of Pope Francis's public adherence to
asks them to "publicly to admonish Pope Francis to abjure the heresies
that he has professed".
whether a Church member is a heretic is the job of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog department.
Faggioli, a well-known professor of historical theology at Villanova University
in the United States, said the letter was an example of the extreme polarisation
in the Church.
is overwhelming support for Francis in the global Church on one side, and a
tiny fringe of extremists trying to paint Francis as a pope who is heretic. The
problem is that there is very little legitimate, constructive critique of
Francis' pontificate and his theology," he said in an email.
significant part of the letter concentrates on "Amoris Laetitia" (The
Joy of Love), a 2016 papal document that is a cornerstone of Francis' attempt
to make the 1.3 billion-member Church more inclusive and less condemning.
CONSERVATIVES TAKE AIM
it, Francis called for a Church that is less strict and more compassionate
towards any "imperfect" members, such as those who divorced and later
remarry in civil ceremonies.
Church law they cannot receive communion unless they abstain from sex with
their new partner, because their first marriage is still valid in the eyes of
the Church, unless they have received an annulment. The Church does not allow
has opened the door to some exceptions, allowing the decision whether the
person can be fully re-integrated and receive communion to be made by a priest
or bishop jointly with the individual on a case-by-case basis.
Amoris Laetitia was published, four conservative publicly challenged the pope,
accusing him of sowing confusion on important moral issues. He has thus far not
responded to their demands that he clear up their doubts.
new letter lists pages of what it calls "Evidence for Pope Francis being
guilty of the delict (crime) of heresy".
attacks him for having once said that the intentions of Martin Luther, the
father of the Protestant Reformation, "were not mistaken". It says he
has not condemned abortion strongly enough and is too lenient with homosexual
letter criticised Francis for signing a joint statement with Lutherans in 2016
in which the pope said Catholics were grateful for the "theological
gifts" of the Reformation.
attacked the pope for a common statement with a prominent Muslim leader in Abu
Dhabi in February which said the pluralism and diversity of religions was
"willed by God". Conservatives say the Roman Catholic Church is the
only true one and that members are called to convert others to it.
survivors of Cyclone Kenneth find refuge in Mozambique church
Mozambique — Next to a marble pulpit inside a Catholic church, a young Muslim
girl chases around with other children.
church has become a home for her and nearly 1,000 others from different faiths
as they wait out the aftermath of Mozambique’s latest devastating cyclone.
in the heart of this predominantly Muslim but diverse city ravaged by Cyclone
Kenneth, the Maria Auxiliadora parish houses those displaced by the storm in
Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost province.
don’t ask about people’s religions, human life is all we value,” the Rev.
Ricardo Filipe Rosa Marques, the 41-year-old priest in charge, told the
government has said 41 people have died after the cyclone made landfall
Thursday, and the humanitarian situation in Pemba and other areas is dire. More
than 22 inches of rain have fallen in Pemba since Kenneth arrived just six
weeks after Cyclone Idai tore into central Mozambique.
is the first time two cyclones have struck the country in a single season, and
Kenneth was the first cyclone recorded so far north in Mozambique in the era of
danger is not over. More rain was expected and rivers were expected to reach
flood stage by Thursday, the United Nations humanitarian office has said,
citing a UK aid analysis. It is the end of the rainy season and rivers already
were running high.
is a top priority for most cyclone survivors and this is what the church is
providing, promoting itself as a safe space even before the storm.
a region where little-known Islamic militants reportedly have killed dozens of people
in recent months, a certain amount of tension might be expected. But for some,
what matters most is shelter.
had never been in a church before … but as long as I am safe, I don’t mind,”
said Aamilah Felciano, who is Muslim. “It doesn’t mean I have abandoned my
faith, I am just saving my life.”
church has suspended Mass and other routine programs. There is no space or time
for such activities, the priest said.
can be no better Mass than giving people shelter and hope. That is the church’s
mission,” he said.
and children have taken up residence inside the main hall. The few belongings
they could carry as they fled, mainly clothing and plastic buckets, are tucked
climb over the pulpit and the priest’s chair, playing. In one corner, a woman
breastfeeds her baby. Church pews have been turned into washing lines. Outside,
shielded from the pounding rains, girls and boys take turns stirring huge pots
of rice and soup.
nightfall approaches, people prepare reed mats or pieces of cloth. Some will
sleep on the bare floor. Men sleep on the hall’s balcony.
than 900 displaced people are sheltering here, while about 200 others are
staying at church centers elsewhere in the city, according to Joao Paulo, an
official with Caritas, a Catholic relief agency.
people are still arriving. But getting people to leave their homes was not easy
difficulty was that a lot of people here are Muslims, some said they cannot
stay in a Catholic church,” said Rosa Marques, adding: “Some refused and
preferred to stay at their homes. My heart broke because these people chose to
face death over safety.”
there are few religious tensions among city residents, he said, and many of the
people arriving at the church with food, medicine and other aid are Muslim. “It
is not as difficult as in other areas,” he said.
he spoke, the Muslim call to prayer blared from speakers at one of the numerous
mosques nearby, and people left the church to pray.
Kenneth is not the first calamity to bring people of different faiths together
in the province. When the Islamic extremists intensified their attacks on local
communities last year, Muslims and Christians organized joint prayer meetings
and opened an inter-faith dialogue center, the priest said.
here have suffered a lot. They have been through (Portuguese) colonialism,
civil war and the recent killings. They have been living with scars for years
yet their love and sense of sharing is amazing,” he said.
am learning from them. The people here are teaching me how to be a true
December 31, 1999, Masood Azhar, a top commander of Pakistan-based
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM), was released in exchange for passengers of IC-814
flight hijacked by Pakistani militants. Azhar returned to Pakistan, but not to
he set up a new militant outfit, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), whose audacious
attacks brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war on more than one
50, was born in Bahawalpur, in Pakistani Punjab. One of 11 children of a government
school teacher, his family ran a dairy and poultry farm in their native city.
father, a disciple of Deobandi school of thought, sent Azhar to a seminary in
Karachi. After completing his course, the young man went on to teach at the
same madrassa, where he had his first brush with militants, who were part of
the “jihad” in Afghanistan.
and many students of the madrassa also went to Afghanistan to fight. In their
book ‘The Meadow’, authors Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark write that Azhar
was once injured in a friendly fire in Afghanistan when he left the camp to
relieve himself and forgot to utter the pass code on his return.
was sent back to Karachi. Recognising his oratory skills, he was appointed head
of HuM’s ‘Department of Motivation’ – seen as the terror group’s best orator,
he rose to become its general secretary.
withdrawal of Russian forces from Afghanistan, HuM focussed on Jammu and
Kashmir. In 1994, Azhar entered India on a Portuguese passport, disguised as a
businessman to attempt a patch-up between different HuM factions.
most militants, he did not cross the LoC. Instead, he flew into New Delhi from
Dhaka, posing as a Gujarat-born Portuguese national under the fictitious name
Wali Adam Issa. He checked into Ashoka Hotel and later moved to Janpath Hotel,
from where he left for Deoband with two HuM men from Kashmir. He flew to
Srinagar and met Harkat’s then chief in the Valley, Sajjad Afghani.
February 1994, Afghani was taking Azhar to a mosque in south Kashmir to deliver
a Friday sermon when their car broke down. They took an auto-rickshaw, which
was stopped by the Army in Anantnag. Both Azhar and Afghani were arrested after
a brief chase.
Afghani was a big catch for the security agencies, they didn’t know much about
Azhar. Azhar’s arrest, however, rattled HuM in Pakistan. In less than a year,
Harkat planned his release.
October 1994, four foreign tourists were kidnapped from New Delhi and the
abductors sought the release of 10 militants, including Masood Azhar. The plot
failed and Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin, was
July 1995, Al Faran kidnapped five foreign tourists from Kashmir and demanded
release of Azhar in return. In 1999, Afghani planned a jailbreak by digging a
tunnel inside Kotbalwal jail in Jammu. While Azhar failed to escape through the
tunnel, Afghani was killed while trying to escape.
months later, Harkat militants hijacked Delhi bound IC 814 – 180 passengers and
crew were on board — and took it to Kandahar, Afghanistan, then under the
Taliban’s control. The hijackers initially demanded release of 35 militants
jailed in Kashmir, including Azhar, a ransom of $200 million and Afghani’s
exhumed body. They later scaled down the demands to release of Azhar, Kashmiri
militant commander Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar and Omar Saeed Sheikh. On December 31,
Azhar, Mushtaq and Sheikh were taken to Kandhar and released by the government
in exchange of the passengers.
returning to Pakistan, he set up JeM. Just a couple of months on, JeM marked
its arrival in J&K with the Valley’s first ever human bomb when 17-year-old
Afaq Ahmad drove an explosives-laden Maruti car to the headquarters of Army’s
15 Corps in Srinagar. On Christmas Day the same year, the militant group sent a
24-year-old British citizen driving another explosives-laden Maruti car to the
entrance of the 15 Corps headquarters. Eleven people, including five soldiers,
were killed in the attack.
December 13, 2001, Jaish fidayeen stormed Parliament Complex in New Delhi.
After a fierce gunfight, five Jaish attackers, six Delhi Police personnel, two
Parliament security service personnel and a gardener were killed. The attack
brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war and the stand-off on the border
continued for several months.
IC-814 Hijack: On December 24, an Indian Airlines flight carrying 176
passengers from Kathmandu was hijacked by terrorists from Pakistan who later
turned out to be relatives of Masood Azhar. The flight was taken to Kandahar in
then Taliban-administered Afghanistan. Following days of negotiations,
passengers were released after Masood Azhar, then incarcerated in India, was
handed over to the terrorists.
J&K Assembly Attack: After reaching Pakistan, Masood Azhar formed the
Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). On October 1, a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist drove an
IED-laden vehicle to the J&K Assembly and blew it up. The explosion killed
Parliament Attack: Five terrorists of the group breached Parliament’s security
in a car carrying a Home Ministry label on December 13 and opened
indiscriminate fire. Over a hundred politicians were in Parliament when the
attack took place. The terrorists were killed but seven people, including
security personnel and a gardener, lost their lives. The attack brought India
and Pakistan to the brink of war.
in Kashmir during 2014-15: Following the hanging of Parliament attack convict
Afzal Guru, JeM became active in Kashmir again after a prolonged lull. It
formed the ‘Afzal Guru Shaheed Squad’ which carried out a series of attacks on
police stations and Army camps in Kathua, Samba, Handwara and Pulwama, leading
to the deaths of over a dozen security personnel.
Pathankot attack: Four heavily-armed members of the Afzal Guru squad entered
the high security premises of the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot on January
2. Six security personnel died in the attack.
Nagrota attack: On the morning of November 29 at around 5.30 am, three JeM
militants in Indian police uniform attacked a unit of the Army’s 166 Field
Regiment in the town of Nagrota, near Jammu city. Four Army soldiers, including
an officer, were killed.
Uri attack: On September 18, four JeM militants attacked an Indian Army Brigade
headquarters in Uri near the Line of Control in a pre-dawn ambush. They were
said to have lobbed 17 grenades in three minutes. As a rear administrative base
camp with tents caught fire, 17 Army personnel were killed during the attack.
terror attack on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday and the
blasts and events of the following days once again reminded us that the threat
posed by radical Islam is closer than it appears. Radicalisation and terrorism
is not a problem faced by Sri Lanka alone. As a victim and target of Islamic
terrorism, India should take precautionary measures to avoid the sort of
unpleasant events that have unfolded in the neighbourhood.
cross-country connection of radicalisation and the movement of men and material
is a reality. According to reports, people inspired by radical Islam in south
India visited or used the Island Nation as a breeding ground or as a transit
point. Preachers from south India are said to have visited there on a regular
basis to radicalise the youth. For instance, P Jainalabdeen — the leader of
Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ), a purported part of the NTJ that plotted the
attack in Sri Lanka — was deported from Sri Lanka in 2005 for hate-mongering.
In 2015, he was denied a visa for fear of a backlash.
to sources, Merin Jacob (from Kochi) and Bestin Vincent (from Palakkad), who
converted to Islam and later joined the Islamic State, visited Sri Lanka on
multiple occasions under the pretext of a carpet business before crossing over
to Afghanistan in 2015. A petition filed by Bindu Sampath, the mother of
Nimisha (from Thiruvananthapuram) who converted to Islam and changed her name
to Fatima, says that her daughter moved to Afghanistan via Sri Lanka along with
a larger radicalised group. Moreover, Nimisha's husband Bexen also known as
Issa is the brother of the aforementioned. In a private conversation, Sampath
alleged that it was due to the interference of a powerful Kerala politician
that the police turned a blind eye to her daughter's case.
from the radical Islamic groups, Pakistan's spy agency ISI also uses Sri Lanka
as a hub for operations in South India. The Pakistani High Commission in Sri
Lanka is the control centre of such activities. Muhamad Sakir Hussain, a Sri
Lankan national arrested in 2014 at Chennai for possible subversive activities,
told his investigators that he was handled from the Pakistani High Commission
in Sri Lanka and his mission was to organise deadly attacks in south India. In
2012, the Tamil Nadu Police filed an FIR in a Trichy court against Amir Zubair
Siddiqui, a diplomat posted at the Pakistani High Commission in Colombo for his
alleged spy activities in India. In 2017, a Pakistani national came to India by
boat from Sri Lanka was arrested in Ramanathapuram ahead of the visit of Prime
Minister Narendra Modi.
two crucial factors — radical Islam and Pakistani interference — are a threat
to the peace and stability of the region. The focus of the radicalised elements
these days appears to be the peninsular region. And the threat is live and
imminent. According to reports, Riyas Abubakar, who was arrested in Palakkad by
the NIA, claimed that he was willing to act as a suicide bomber. Sources says
that although he was operating silently he was a key functionary of Islamic
State in Kerala with the nickname Abu Dujane. It is believed that he was
radicalised in Tamil Nadu while working there. Although his house is located in
an influential PFI/SDPI area, people say he was not seen associated with any
people get radicalised via the internet and social media. Online preachers and
handlers plays a major role in this radicalisation process. Where the handlers
are involved, they teach the new recruits how to carry out jihad and also how
to make the necessary weapons via online tutorials. They also guide people to
certain training centres for further training. It is believed that Abdul
Rasheed, a key Islamic State handler from Kerala, who is now operating
somewhere in Afghanistan, plays a vital role in the recruitment and training
are also agents in south India to recruit people and send them abroad. And it's
not just conversion and radicalisation. Human-trafficking involving women is a
major problem associated with this. Akshara Bose from Ranni in Kerala's Pathanamthitta
district is a perfect example. According to her, after her forced conversion,
her husband tried to take her abroad and sell her to the Islamic State.
is not limited to extreme activities alone. In the past decade alone, Islamic
fringe elements have been involved in creating their own pockets, where they
can impose a lifestyle based on their ideals. The first step of this process is
capturing administrative control of local mosques. According to sources, they
are succeeding at this in many places. The ramifications of this process are
fearsome. For instance, in some pockets they are not willing to even allow the
simple vaccination of kids to protect them from deadly diseases. Recently,
violent protests against vaccination were reported from some such pockets in
the Malappuram district of Kerala.
may lead to the reemergence of many eradicated diseases in future. The increase
in numbers of radicalised youths and their reluctance to continue the study of
non-Islamic curriculum (according to them) and also their reluctance to
communicate with non-Muslims pose a real threat to social cohesion and harmony.
Muslim youths are increasingly becoming attracted towards radical organisations
like PFI and SDPI. It curtailed the influence of traditional and outwardly
non-fanatical organisations like the Muslim League.
leaders in India have intensified their call to make churches safer after
police arrested a man and accused him of having links to Islamic terror groups
and planning to attack religious places in Kerala state.
arrested 28-year-old Riyaz Aboobacker, alias Abu Dujanan, at his house in
Kerala on April 29 as part of their investigation into the so-called Islamic
State (IS) terrorist network in the southern state, local reports said.
to police, a four-member IS-linked group was planning suicide attacks at
tourist destinations and religious places in Kerala similar to the attacks on
churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday that killed 252 people.
Indian government should pre-empt any attacks planned against minorities
including Christians in the country, said A.J. Philip, a Christian political
observer based in New Delhi.
simply cannot shut our churches. We cannot stop a person who comes with a bomb
to blow us all up. The government must prioritize to nip these evils in the
bud,” said Philip.
has claimed responsibility for the Sri Lankan attacks. Its Amaq News Agency
said they were in response to the group’s call to attack citizens of the
international coalition that fought IS in Syria.
transnational terror group was nearly decimated after a U.S.-led coalition in
September 2014 began to fight them in their strongholds in Iraq and Syria. But
since 2016, IS has claimed responsibility for several bomb attacks around the
world, including spots in Asia where Western tourists gather.
killed in Sri Lanka were local Christians, giving rise to the idea that Islamic
terrorists are targeting Christians to avenge their anger on the Western world,
which they associate with Christianity.
said places of worship cannot be closed to worshipers and the government should
ensure safety at religious sites and thwart any nefarious attempts aimed at
targeting innocent devotees.
IS threat in India, and South Asia in general, is real, according to research
done in 2018 by the Observer Research Foundation, an independent Indian think
does not come from an organizational pattern from the so-called caliphate or
[IS leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi himself, but the ecosystem that has been
created that allows open-source access to ISIS as a brand, which is a powerful
enough tool to make global headlines with the smallest incident, committed even
by a petty criminal,” the research stated.
example, churches in Kerala, where Christians form 18 percent of the state 33
million people, overflow on Sundays with worshipers. An explosion in any major
church could kill hundreds to gain global attention, observers say.
say Aboobacker, the man arrested in Kerala, has been in online contact with IS
terrorist Abdul Rashid Abdulla for a long time and has been following his audio
clips instigating others to carry out terror attacks in India. He also has
contacted Abdul Khayoom Abu Khalid, believed to be in Syria, according to a
arrest and the police revelations are a shock to Christians all over India,
said Christian leader Joseph Dias, who is based in Mumbai.
real threat to Christians in India doesn’t come from IS but from Islamic fundamentalism.
Radicalization of local Muslim youth could prove calamitous for all, including
Muslims,” Dias said.
agencies must swing into action and stop these fundamentalist groups from
expanding their wings.”
police in the past two years have arrested 112 people with suspected links to
IS terrorists, government figures show.
Williams, an educationalist in New Delhi, told ucanews.com that Muslims and
Christians must stand together to defeat divisive elements and foil their
IS version of Islam is something new in our region. Traditionally in South
Asia, Muslims and Christians have been living as brothers. Muslims are largely
peace-loving people, especially in India, and therefore this is something
absolutely new,” said Williams.
India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, Muslims and Christians form tiny minorities in
dominant Hindu or Buddhist populations.
David, a senior member of the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the threat of
extremism is not for the Christian community alone “but for everybody and for
people of all faiths.”
said Hindu communalism is more dangerous for Indian Christians than Islamic
threats. “Hindu communalism boosts Islamic extremism in the country and
leaders say that since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 after
his pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won national elections, Christians
and Muslims have been targeted by Hindu groups who took the poll mandate as a
license to push for their goal of making India a Hindu-only nation.
to various independent surveys, there were 219 incidents of targeted violence
reported against the Christian community by Hindu fanatic groups in India in
Poway synagogue attack brought the terror I experienced in Israel home to
moved to Jerusalem 15 years ago this spring, drawn by a coveted position as a
Middle East bureau chief and a chance to live life in one of the most exciting
cities on Earth.
the time, it was also a place where terrorism made you think twice about doing
mundane things like meeting a friend in a cafe, going to a festival or a market
— or really, anything that put you in the midst of a large crowd that could be
an enticing target for a suicide bomber. When I made plans to eat out with
friends or go on dates, the question wasn’t how well-reviewed the restaurant
was, but how well-guarded.
time, Israel became my second home. I married and gave birth to my two children
there. But covering another mini-war between Israel and Gaza, as I did in the
summer of 2014, felt extraordinarily different with two toddlers in tow. Having
adventures as a journalist was one thing — I had only myself to be responsible
for. Though I cared deeply about Israelis and Palestinians, the brunt of the
conflict was borne by people whom I didn’t know.
over a summer of hurrying my kids into shelters during rocket attacks and
attending the funeral of a teenage soldier whose mother was my son’s pre-school
teacher, the realities of raising a family in Israel hit home. When I received
an offer to join the faculty of a public university in Florida, I jumped at the
opportunity to enter a new phase of life, reconnect with family and rediscover
America for myself after nearly 20 years abroad, which included assignments in
Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and Japan. When you leave Israel for America, some
Israelis view it with awe and envy, others with a sense of desertion. They
often assume you’re choosing the easy life over a life of purpose. That America
is a safe place for Jews — safer, oddly, than the nation-state that was set up
to be the safe haven of the Jewish people — has long been a given.
when for the second time in half a year, a hate-filled gunman walks into a
synagogue and starts shooting, the givens may be starting to give. It’s not
just the horror of an extremist stalking our houses of prayer, first in
Pittsburgh and now in Poway, California, but an overall trend that’s getting
harder to dismiss. Violent attacks against the Jewish community in the United
States doubled last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League, while
attacks including vandalism and harassment remained near record-high levels.
America I returned to looks different from the one I left in other ways as
well. Some things have progressed in the nearly two decades I was away — more
Americans have health care, LGBT citizens can now legally marry — but other
things seem to be moving backward. Hatred toward racial and religious
minorities suddenly became socially acceptable, and calling it out is now the
domain of the dreaded politically correct. Americans are being told that immigrants,
particularly Muslims and Mexicans, are stealing jobs, bringing crime to America
and opening a door to terrorism on our soil.
from where I sit, it looks like the terrorism is growing from within.
Saturday I spent my morning in a synagogue much like the one in Poway — not the
Conservative egalitarian one we belong to, but a Chabad “shul,” to use an old
Yiddish term. That I was greeted by an armed guard who wanted to check my bag
seemed like a formality. Hours later, I learned what had happened at a
synagogue on the other side of the country and found myself thinking, again?
The feeling that took over was disbelief rather than fear. I felt the urge to
minimize the horror, whether to refuse to give a murderous hater center stage,
or to deny that it could have been any of us in synagogue that day. This is
random and this is marginal, right?
if I’m honest I have to admit: It’s becoming more difficult to dismiss the rise
of violent white supremacy and virulent anti-Semitism in America as the work of
a lunatic fringe and lone wolves. Both the Poway and Pittsburgh attacks were
committed by extremists encouraged by the ability to share racist screeds on
sites like 8chan, and were buoyed by the new air of permissiveness about white
nationalist views on full display at the “Unite the Right” rally in
Charlottesville in August 2017 — an event never properly condemned by President
admit that when I made a decision to return to America, the thought of taking
my little family to live in a place where I wouldn’t have to think about cafes
being blown up was attractive. I would not, as I did in Jerusalem, need to
worry about the upkeep of the bomb shelter in my building nor the location of a
safe room to get to in case of a rocket or missile attack. Friends poked fun at
my decision to move to Florida, teasing me about golf courses and wondering if
I, in my mid-40s, was headed into early retirement.
Florida, with multiple mass shootings that seem to put it at the heart of the
American story, has dragged me into the kind of up-close encounters with
terrorism I thought I’d left in the Middle East. I covered the Pulse Nightclub
shooting in 2016, and last year, I covered the disaster down the road, the
shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
difficult to keep telling my children, now seven and eight, that despite these
events happening at schools near them and synagogues like ours, there’s nothing
for them to worry about. I want to believe that these events are random and far
away, but the truth is they are closer and more connected than any of us care
feeling that the very place that should serve as one’s spiritual refuge is
actually a target is an experience that’s already been felt by many in this
nation — most recently by Muslims attending mosques and African Americans going
to church. As Jews we’ve had our share of this hatred over the millennia, but
seeing it follow us into our sanctuaries on American soil is something new.
am concerned but not afraid. I feel resolved to keep forming alliances and
build community within the interfaith organization I am part of and to share in
the struggle against hatred and intolerance. I am privileged to have an
opportunity to teach journalism, which exposes students to a wide variety of
narratives and expands their worldviews far beyond their front doors.
despite the president’s recent pronouncement, is not full. It still needs
immigrants from all walks of life to keep coming in search of the American
dream. All of our families and faith traditions are part of that story. The
America that welcomed my grandparents and great-grandparents and all the
hard-working immigrants I know — from my Israeli-born husband to my students
struggling to be the first in their families to earn a college degree — is the
America I am proud to still call home.
Under Attack by White Supremacists Acting Like ISIS
alleged killer at a Southern California synagogue this weekend worked alone,
according to law enforcement, but behind him is a sprawling, digital network of
white supremacists spurring each other on to murder.
before allegedly opening fire at worshippers in Chabad of Poway on Saturday,
white supremacist John Earnest previewed his plans on 8chan, just as his
supposed inspiration did. Last month, a white supremacist in Christchurch, New
Zealand used 8chan to share a link to a livestream of him killing 50 Muslims at
a mosque. In between the attacks, the anonymous forum with a large fascist
presence called for people to carry out more shootings. The calls for violence
also spread across fringe platforms like Gab, and messaging apps like Telegram.
It’s reminiscent of calls online for followers of ISIS and al Qaeda to strike
out at the enemy, counter-terrorism experts said.
the New Zealand shooting, 8chan users decorated the alleged killer as a “saint”
and encouraged each other to commit shootings of their own, including against
synagogues, to prepare for the “third world war” against Jews, or to kill a
journalist critical of the forum.
a lot of people have noted over the past few days, 8chan is an awful cesspool
of encouraging violence and hatred,” said Sam Jackson, an assistant professor
focusing on online extremism at the University of Albany. “That hate and
encouragement of violence might be a sort of baseline, background noise, but
periodically someone moves from participating in this online awfulness to
committing offline actions.”
real-life actions appear to have spiked over the past six months, with at least
three white supremacists announcing attack plans on 8chan or Gab, before
opening fire at Jewish or Muslim houses of worship. Three such attacks—at a
Pittsburgh synagogue, a Christchurch mosque, and at the Poway synagogue—have
killed a combined 62 people in the past six months.
background noise can act as a war drum for violence. White supremacist
communities often use memes to normalize extreme violence. Almost immediately
after the San Diego shooter warned of his attack on 8chan, forum-goers treated
the mass-shooting like a game.
first response to his 8chan post urged him to “get the high score,”
investigative outlet Bellingcat noted. (When only one person, 60-year-old Lori
Gilbert Kaye, was murdered, some 8chan users lamented the attack’s “low
online-inspired terror, and its instant repackaging as propaganda, was
pioneered by ISIS and al Qaeda. And
unlike Islamic extremism, white supremacist terror appears to hold a place of
middling concern in the Trump administration.
interesting: we fretted so much about al Qaeda and ISIS online, and we’ve got a
massive white supremacist network online right now,” said Clint Watts, a former
FBI agent on the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
technology has evolved over the last few years,” said Watts, who traced in
real-time propaganda from groups like ISIS and Al-Shabaab in his role a
distinguished research fellow covering terrorism and social media at the
Foreign Policy Research Institute.
like al Qaeda “used to film their attacks, or parts of them. Some good examples
are the Westgate attack of al-Shabaab in Nairobi in 2013. They were
live-tweeting out updates during the attack. Fast forward to ISIS a couple
years later—they would be shooting video and quickly uploading it during
2013-2014. But ISIS was mostly kicked off the mainstream platforms by the time
live video uploads were available.”
meanwhile, have found more staying power online.
like Gab and 4chan’s far-right /pol/ board appear to have grown steadily more
hateful since President Donald Trump’s election, research by the
Anti-Defamation League found earlier this month.
these forums and others, users can be observed spreading anti-Semitic
conspiracy theories with the stated goal of inciting a reader to violence.
the San Diego shooting, Twitter user AntiFash Gordon uploaded screenshots of
members of a violent white nationalist Telegram channel agitating for
the thing with memes about jews,” one user wrote on Telegram. “does it matter
if theyre true? their consequences are pogroms and thats what matters at the
end of the day.”
even experts can predict who will kill next. Studies of so-called “lone wolf”
terrorists have produced few common characteristics besides “young and male,”
added that researchers at University College London conducted “a study where
they found lone wolf actors have a slightly higher chance of having some sort
of mental illness, but it’s not even a huge number.”
surprisingly, the series of terror attacks have happened in a slow moment for
open white supremacist organizing. After 2017’s deadly white supremacist rally
in Charlottesville, Virginia, a number of the movement’s stars have fallen and
its most prominent groups have imploded or gone underground. Opposition from
anti-fascists in the streets and lawsuits in the courts has smeared the
public-friendly face some racists hoped to present before 2018.
movements under pressure will resort to terrorism, Watts said, comparing the
movement to al Qaeda after a law enforcement crackdown.
the time it was like 2009, the real threat was inspired terrorism,” he said, by
extremist preachers “like Anwar al-Awlaki. He’d post a message telling people
to do attacks at home, and people would pick up arms and do attacks at home.
You’re seeing a refined version of that.”
meanwhile, attributed the apparent spikes in white supremacist attacks to “a
contagion effect,” adding that “it’s also possible that the attention that
previous attackers have got from mainstream sources encourages others to make a
name for themselves in similar sorts of acts.”
white supremacist movement’s online footprint is a sign of its terror
potential. Whereas ISIS supporters might succeed in uploading a limited number
of ISIS videos to social media, footage of the Christchurch shooting went viral
immediately after the attack. In the 24 hours after the mass shooting, Facebook
recorded 1.5 million attempts to upload the video.
might be a favorite Trump talking point, but the 1.5 million Christchurch video
uploads suggest a much larger following for white supremacist terror.
and Turkey have both criticized a US plan to designate the Muslim Brotherhood
as a terrorist organization.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in Doha on Wednesday that
“the US is not in a position to (..) start naming others as terror
organizations and we reject by any attempt by the US in this regard.”
US is supporting the biggest terrorist in the region, that is Israel,” Zarif
meanwhile, said on Tuesday that if the United States designated the Muslim
Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization, it would hamper democratization
efforts in the Middle East and serve militant groups like ISIS.
Celik, the spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK
Party, said such a decision by the US would “undoubtedly yield extremely wrong
results regarding stability, human rights, basic rights and freedoms in
countries of the Islamic world”, he said.
the same time, (Trump’s move) is the biggest support that can be given to the
propaganda of Daesh,” he said, referring to ISIS.
New York Times and Washington Post newspapers have published pieces critical of
ongoing considerations aimed at designating the transnational Muslim
Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organization.
the Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Group?" the New York Times asks.
"Even experts critical of the Brotherhood agree that the organization does
not meet the criteria for a terrorist group."
newspaper pointed to legal difficulties the decision poses, noting that the Trump
administration would have to present evidence the group engages in
"terrorist activity" that threatens America or its interests, and
that rationale would have to be vetted through an interagency process that
includes the State, Justice and Treasury departments.
the designation is made Congress would have a week to block it, and the
brotherhood would have a month to appeal the decision in court.
White House confirmed Tuesday the Trump administration is seeking to blacklist
the group following a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Egyptian
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
push to designate the brotherhood would open the door to U.S. sanctions for any
group, nation or entity that does business with it, or otherwise provides loosely-defined
material support to the group.
is unclear if the administration is seeking to designate Egypt's Muslim
Brotherhood, its worldwide offshoots or a combination thereof.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who had the brotherhood's backing, won
Egypt's first democratic elections in 2012, but was removed from power by the
Egyptian military following mass demonstrations roughly a year later.
helped lead the coup that removed Morsi from power.
first mulled the idea of designating the Muslim Brotherhood when he assumed
office in 2017, but then decided to drop the matter.
addition to Sisi, the designation would squarely place the U.S. alongside Saudi
Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain who all oppose and have
blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood.
its op-ed, the Washington Post said: "While the Brotherhood may be accused
of promoting political extremism, it cannot be equated with organizations such
as al-Qaeda, the Islamic State or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)
that actually carry out acts of terrorism."
and Jewish communities in the U.S. need to unite against hate caused by white
supremacy, congresswoman Ilhan Omar said Wednesday.
know that many of the people who are targeting the Jewish community for
anti-Semitism are also targeting the Muslim community for Islamophobia,"
Omar said in an interview with Democracy Now radio program.
so we have to collectively work together to uplift our voices and say no to
hate. We know that both our communities here in the United States are targeted
by white supremacists."
to a Pew Research Center poll earlier this month, the majority of Americans say
Muslims face discrimination, and the number of people who say Jews face
discrimination doubled since 2016.
gunman opened fire Saturday on a synagogue in California, leaving one dead and
user online, with the same name as the suspect John Earnest, posted an
anti-Semitic letter earlier in the day. The writing was similar in style and
tone to, and even mentioned, another letter posted by Brandon Tarrant, the
perpetrator of the terrorist attacks on mosques in New Zealand that killed 50
worshippers in March.
know the conservatives are doing everything they can to distance themselves, to
disinform the public about the monsters that they helped feed, that are now
causing devastation in mosques and synagogues," Omar said.
we are not collectively wising up to that reality then we will suffer the pain
Afghanistan — The American military command in Afghanistan has halted regular
assessments of how many people and districts the government and insurgents
there control, it emerged on Wednesday — eliminating what has long been an
important public measure of progress in the war.
military said the assessments had “limited decision-making value” for commanders.
As recently as November 2017, the previous American commander in Afghanistan
had called them “the metric that’s most telling in a counterinsurgency.”
decision to end the assessments, which have been produced in various forms
since at least 2010, was published in the latest quarterly report by the
American special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.
troubled by it,” the inspector general, John F. Sopko, said in an interview.
“It’s like turning off the scoreboard at a football game and saying scoring a
touchdown or field goal isn’t important.”
military command in Afghanistan told the inspector general that the
assessments, which had covered each of the country’s 407 districts, were
“subjective” and were plagued by “uncertainty in the models” that produced
them, the report said.
are focused on setting the conditions for a political settlement to safeguard
our national interests,” Col. Dave Butler, a spokesman for the American-led
military mission in Afghanistan, said in a statement to The New York Times. The
assessments “did little to serve our mission of protecting our citizens and
allies,” he said.
Butler added that the information in the assessments was already provided to
Mr. Sopko by intelligence agencies.
Sopko said that while United States and Afghan forces, along with the Taliban,
knew what was happening on the ground in Afghanistan, ending the assessments
cut off vital public information. He said he and many members of Congress had
access to classified information unavailable to the public.
only people who don’t know what’s going on and how good or bad a job we’re
doing are the people paying for it — the American taxpayers,” he said.
John W. Nicholson, Jr., center right, then the American commander in
Afghanistan, with Jim Mattis, center, then defense secretary, in Kabul last
Roggio, a military commentator whose assessments have challenged the Pentagon’s
analyses, said the assessment reports had recently reflected a shrinking in the
territory the government controlled, particularly outside urban areas.
district assessments highlight failure, which is contrary to the U.S.
military’s desired message of success,” Mr. Roggio said in an email. “Make no
mistake, if these assessments showed the Afghan military retaking lost ground,
the U.S. military would continue to publish the information.”
Sopko’s report said the assessments had limitations but were “the only
unclassified metric” provided by the military “that consistently tracked changes
to the security situation on the ground.”
the public assessments is the latest move by the military command in
Afghanistan to limit public dissemination of information about the war, which
is now in its 18th year. In October 2017, the military stopped reporting
casualty figures for Afghan security forces at a time when casualties were
approaching what the Pentagon now considers unsustainable levels.
classified or restricted are performance assessments for Afghan security forces
and information about the operational readiness of Afghan Army and police
equipment; anticorruption efforts by the Afghan Ministry of the Interior; and
progress by the Afghan military on certain security-performance benchmarks.
H. Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies, said ending the assessments “means there now is no
official estimate of progress in the war since late 2018.”
he added in an email, “There is no reliable way to know who is ‘winning’ or the
level of ‘stalemate.’” That included the assessments, which he said had often
seemed too positive.
John W. Nicholson, Jr., the American commander in Afghanistan until September
last year, told reporters in November 2017 that district and population data
were “the key factor that we’re looking at.” He said that he hoped the Afghan
government could extend its control to 80 percent of the population by the end
most recent American military assessment, released in January for the three-month
quarter ending in October, showed that the government in Afghanistan controlled
territory containing 63.5 percent of the country’s population. That represented
a 1.7 percent decrease from the previous quarter.
report said gains by the Taliban had given the insurgents control over
territory that was home to 10.8 percent of the population. The remaining
population areas were considered contested.
Pentagon said at the time that the assessment was “not indicative of
effectiveness” of American military strategy, citing “uncertainty” and
“subjectivity” in the data. Mr. Sopko said that had been the first time the
military had criticized its own metric.
States Marines walking to guard stations at a military camp in Helmand
Province, Afghanistan, in 2017.
analysis co-authored by Mr. Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the
Defense of Democracies, published in the Long War Journal, found that territory
controlled by the Afghan government covered 48 percent of the population and
that held by the Taliban 9 percent, with the rest contested.
inspector general’s report said Afghan defense force casualties rose by 31
percent from December through February compared with the same period a year
ago. Insurgent attacks increased by 19 percent from November through January
compared with the quarter ending in October, the report said.
figures reflect a higher tempo of combat operations in the conflict as both
sides seek leverage in the peace talks between the United States and the
Taliban in Doha, Qatar. The Taliban announced their spring offensive on April
report said that the Afghan army and national police force were below
authorized strength levels. The army was 36,000 personnel below its authorized
level of 227,000, and the police force 6,600 below its authorized level of
forces have been plagued by corruption, poor leadership, desertions and “ghost
soldiers” — the practice by some commanders of producing inflated strength
numbers and pocketing the extra salaries.
the United States, training classes for Afghan pilots were shut down by the
Pentagon after more than 40 percent of the student pilots went absent without
leave, the report said. Mr. Sopko said Afghan military trainees have higher
A.W.O.L. rates than those from any other country.
report warned that even if a peace agreement were reached, the American
military and reconstruction effort in Afghanistan would continue to confront
longstanding obstacles. It listed eight areas of concern, among them widespread
insecurity, endemic corruption, threats to advances in women’s rights and
rampant drug trafficking.
report said the United States had spent $9 billion since 2002 to combat opium
production and trafficking, a trade that helps fund the Taliban. Yet Afghanistan
remains the world leader in poppy cultivation — reaching a record in 2017,
according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
United States has spent $780 billion in Afghanistan since 2001, with $133
billion of that amount earmarked for reconstruction, the report said.
and Taliban negotiators have reached an agreement on the framework of a deal
for the withdrawal of American troops in exchange for a Taliban guarantee that
terrorists would not launch attacks from Afghan soil. But widespread combat and
insurgent attacks against civilians have continued.
administration of madrassas in Punjab to remain unchanged
curriculum and administration of the madrassas taken over by the Punjab
Education Department from proscribed militant groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and
Jaish-e-Muhammad in 36 districts will remain unchanged, Punjab government
decided on Wednesday.
provincial government had taken over the control of dozens of
madrassahs/schools run by the militant groups in March and the Punjab Education
Department had appointed its administrators at these schools while introducing
a blend of secular and religious subjects.
will be no change in syllabus and administrative system of these taken over
madrassahs/schools for the time being and till further orders,” according to an
internal memo of the Punjab Education Department. The memo further states that
the instructions should be followed in letter and spirit.
the government is currently reviewing the syllabus of these educational
institutions in an effort to modernise it. The development comes two days after
military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said that seminaries in the
country were working under the Ministry of Industries and that the government
would place them under the Ministry of Education.
a background of seminaries in Pakistan, he said at the time of Partition,
Pakistan only had 247 madrassas. That number went up close to 3,000 in 1980,
which had now swelled to 30,000. However, he added that out of the 30,000, only
100 or so seminaries were involved in promoting militancy.
Plans To Integrate Islamic Seminaries Into State Education
Pakistan has announced it will take control of about 30,000 madrassas, or
Islamic seminaries, and bring them into the country’s broader school system.
have allocated 2 billion rupees to bring these madrassas into the mainstream
education system, and one billion annually to operate them,” Maj.-Gen. Asif
Ghafoor, head of the Pakistan Armed Forces Media Wing, said at a news
conference in Rawalpindi on Monday.
subjects will be included in the curriculum, and all of the madrassas will be
administered by the Ministry of Education.
offer eight years of studies in Shari’a law and related subjects, but when
[students] come out of these madrassas, what job opportunities await them?”
Ghafoor asked. “That is why we are trying to turn these seminaries into
reformed institutes so that children studying there have the opportunity to
become doctors and engineers, just like the children studying in mainstream
is also the matter of extremism.
Shahid Masood, a prominent lawyer and member of Awami Tehreek, a political
party aiming to strengthen democracy in Pakistan, told The Media Line that the
introduction of secular courses in madrassas would only be of slight value
unless there were major changes in the religious curriculum to end the
promotion of violent sectarianism and self-proclaimed jihad.
however, claimed that of the 30,000 madrassas, fewer than 100 were found to be
pushing their students toward extremism. What’s more, he claimed that the armed
forces had broken up the country’s militant outfits.
can now say with confidence that there is no terrorist organization in Pakistan
anymore. We have proscribed violent extremist organizations and we have been
working to curb terrorism in Pakistan," he said.
such, he continued, some of the funding necessary for the overhaul will come
from budgets that had been earmarked for the fight against terror. He added
that Prime Minister Imran Khan had formed a committee with the coordination of
the Interior and Education ministries to come up with a syllabus in which
religious education will continue, but without hate speech.
Fazal Rehman, head of the right-wing Jamiat ul Ulema Islam party and a former
opposition leader, told The Media Line that changing curriculums could not be
imposed on the madrassas, although he agreed that action should be taken
against seminaries involved in sectarian and extremist activities, including
shutting them down.
Baluch, a former senator and deputy chief of the Jamat e Islami party, told The
Media Line that the country’s current education system would be unable to run
or administer Islamic schools.
students are more loyal and patriotic when compared to other [students],”
Abrar ul Haque, a senior official in the Education Ministry, told The Media
Line it was a “bitter reality that our current education system is derived from
the British colonial era,” explaining that the system was divided into three
categories: Urdu, English and the madrassas.
children have no choice but to take the version imposed on them without even
having the chance of thinking otherwise,” Haque said. “Thus, we sow the seeds
of division right from the birth of the child.”
Muhammed Sajjad Sajid, a prominent Sunni scholar, told The Media Line that
madrassas in Pakistan had become symbols of sectarianism, extremism and
terrorism, although they also provide free education and meals to millions of
bringing them in the mainstream education system, every teacher and every
student will be registered with the government, making it easier to monitor
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) head Senator Sirajul Haq on Wednesday said Pakistan needed
Islamic system of governance and not a presidential form of government.
was speaking at the workers’ convention here at the Grassy Ground.
provincial head Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, district chief Muhammad Amin and
other leaders of the party were present as well.
Haq said exploitation of the nation had continued for the last 70 years, adding
that the government was not different in approach and governance from previous
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leadership was criticizing Hafeez Sheikh and his
economic policies when he was finance minister in
Yusuf Raza Gilani’s cabinet. In total frustration, they have now inducted
Hafeez Sheikh to come up with economic plans,” he said.
JI chief said the PTI government was totally directionless in its plans and
scoffed at the government for failure in legislation in the last nine months.
Haq said the presidential form of the government was not the solution for the
development of the state. The Islamic system is the only way out, he added.
government has failed to deliver. Is it prosperity to take more loans and
negotiate with International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he asked.
JI chief said that the “Child Marriage Restraint Bill was against the
injunctions of Islam.
Delhi: Designated as a global terrorist by the United Nations, Jaish-e-Mohammed
(JeM) chief and Pulwama terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar has been shifted
to a safe house in Islamabad from his residence in Bahawalpur by Pakistan’s
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), sources have said.
dossier prepared by the government on the global terrorist which has also been
shared with the international community, says that the Azhar was “put under
house arrest at Markaz Subhan Allah in Bahawalpur, post ‘Balakot Attack’ and
has been recently shifted to a Safe House in Islamabad.”
has been hiding Azhar and his relatives from the public glare ever since he
carried out Pulwama attack against CRPF personnel in February this year in
which 40 jawans were killed and has been hiding fearing a direct Indian strike
the dossier, sources said Jaish head has not only intensified terrorist
operations against the Indian government, security forces and civilians in
Jammu and Kashmir but has also broadened Jaish’s operational focus by joining
Afghan Taliban in attacks against government and coalition forces in
has undertaken a recruitment drive through its students and charity fronts.
Talba Al-Murabitoon (Students Movement for Ideological and Geographical Defence
of Islam and Pakistan), along with other wings such as Al Rehmat Trust and
Preaching Wing, regularly organises events in close coordination in order to
urge people to wage Jehad according to Sunnat and Shariah and support their
action against India,” the dossier says.
also decides on the deployment of terrorists along with his brother and
Operational Commander of JeM, Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar. On their direction and
supervision, ‘high-value operatives,’ particularly trained terrorists belonging
to their family are infiltrated into J&K to conduct spectacular terror
killings of such high-value targets by Indian Security Forces are then
projected as “Shahadat” and leveraged for aggressive recruitment and fund
collection activities in Pakistan and PoJK. Pamphlets, books dedicated to
killed terrorists, photos, posts over social media, speeches of JeM
functionaries and audio messages are released to further intensify recruitment
and to radicalize for terror operations,” sources said.
Masood Azhar is also head of the swimming course projected by JeM as ‘Samundari
Jehad,’ which has been started at JeM’s Markaz Subhanallah in Bahawalpur,
Punjab, during mid-2018. This training has also been incorporated in JeM’s
curriculum of advanced training towards its preparation to gain maritime
capability in the medium to long run, to undertake sea/river-based operations.
said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
played a key role in getting Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist by
the United Nations Security Council.
The military authorities are contemplating transferring the cases of all
suspected terrorists arrested over a period of time to the federal government
in case military courts are not given another extension through constitutional
case of the transfer of these cases to the federal government, they may be
assigned to the sessions courts or antiterrorism courts, legal experts believe.
military courts set up under the National Action Plan (NAP) in 2015 to try
civilians on terrorism charges ceased to function after their second two-year
constitutional term expired at the end of March.
legal of the defence ministry Brigadier Falak Naz had, in response to a
petition seeking release of under-trial accused Abdullah Saleh, submitted to
the Lahore High Court a report stating that the accused was being tried by a
military court and his case was pending as the authorities were awaiting
further extension in the tenure of the military courts. The report further
states: “However, in case of non-extension of military courts by parliament,
his case for trial along with other accused will be at the disposal of the
federal government for appropriate disposal.”
Saleh is the son of retired Major Mohammad Saleh who has challenged the arrest
of his son, saying he has been in the custody of secret agencies since Aug 28,
Naz informed the court that Abdullah Saleh was allegedly involved in terrorist
activities and his case was processed for trial under the military court.
“Presently, his case with other cases is pending, subject to further extension
of military courts.”
to former officer of the military’s legal branch retired Lt Col Inam-ur-Rahim,
in case these cases are transferred to the federal government, these will be
given to the sessions courts or antiterrorism courts of the respective
for Law and Justice Dr Farogh Nasim, when asked about the fate of pending cases
in the military courts, told Dawn that it was a complicated issue and it needed
some legal interpretation.
he was reminded that after the antiterrorism law — Protection of Pakistan Act
(PoPA) — had lapsed, the cases registered under PoPA were transferred to
antiterrorism courts, he said PoPA was a different law and it could not be
compared with the amendment to the Pakistan Army Act that empowered the
military courts to try terrorists.
there are no official statistics available about military court cases, Defence
Minister Pervez Khattak, in response to a question raised by MNA Mohsin Dawar,
had informed the lower house of parliament in November last year that the
military courts had to decide 185 terrorism-related cases before the expiry of
their two-year term in March this year.
minister had said that since the launch of the Zarb-i-Azb operation, the
interior ministry had referred a total of 717 cases to the military courts. Of
the total cases, 185 were still under process and these had to be decided by
March 30, he added. The minister had said a total of 478 cases had been decided
by the military courts, which meant that the conviction rate of the cases was
more than 60 per cent.
Khattak had said that 284 convicts had been awarded death sentences and 56 of
them had been executed. Similarly, he added, 192 convicts had been awarded
rigorous imprisonment, two accused acquitted and 54 cases dropped due to
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government, which has already decided in
principle to give another extension to the military courts for two more years,
is still struggling to seek cooperation of the opposition parties over the
issue as it does not have the required two-thirds majority in any of the two
houses of parliament to carry out the constitutional amendment for the purpose.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz seems to be willing for the extension of the
military courts, but it wanted the PTI government to convince the opposition on
Senator Pervaiz Rashid blamed the PTI for the expiry of the military courts and
delay in their revival. Talking to Dawn, he said that in this case the PML-N
was ready to support the bill for the extension of the military courts, but it
appeared that “complainant is lazy and witness is active” in the current
asked the government to formally engage the opposition in discussion on the
revival of the military courts, but the PTI leadership seems not interested as
they did not contact Nawaz Sharif or Shahbaz Sharif,” he added.
Firebrand Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) patron-in-chief Pir Afzal Qadri, who
is currently on judicial remand pending multiple cases against him, has
announced his retirement from the movement and issued an apology for incendiary
remarks made by him against Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and
the superior judiciary during a protest against the Supreme Court’s acquittal
of Asia Bibi.
was booked under sedition and terrorism charges in Gujrat and taken into
“protective custody” by the government during a crackdown in November after the
TLP announced it would observe martyrs’ day on Nov 25, 2018.
the Lahore High Court (LHC) is hearing a bail plea filed by Qadri and TLP chief
Khadim Hussain Rizvi since their earlier applications were rejected by an
anti-terrorism court. In the last hearing of the case, the court had asked
police to submit a record of proof that led to the arrests of Rizvi and Qadri.
Afzal Qadri read out a statement announcing his retirement in a video shared on
accompanying press release stated that the TLP patron-in-chief is sorry for
“hurting the sentiments of the government, the judiciary and the chief of army
am a patient of heart disease, paralysis, kidney disease, high blood sugar, and
high blood pressure etc, and when the verdict of the Asia Masih case was
pronounced, my religious sentiments got hurt and I delivered a speech. I am
very sorry for hurting the sentiments of the government, the judiciary and the
chief of army staff,” he said.
also distanced the TLP from an incident at a university in Bahawalpur earlier
this year, in which a teacher was killed by a student allegedly associated with
a senior TLP leader.
directed party leaders and workers to propagate their viewpoints in a manner
consistent with the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah, and also in
line with the law and the Constitution of Pakistan.
one will be allowed to resort to arson, vandalism and destroying public and
private properties,” he said, adding: “Terrorism, killings, discord and armed
sectarian actions will be discouraged.”
the institutions, the law, the Constitution of Pakistan will be honoured,” he
vowed, adding that that the party workers would stand by the Pakistan Army to
defend the country.
TLP leader called on party workers to “behave well, remain peaceful, and
refrain from engaging in any activity against the integrity of the state”.
said that he had decided last year to retire from the movement and had informed
his friends, but had announced the decision now as his health had further
November 2017, TLP workers demanding the resignation of the then law minister
Zahid Hamid had staged a weeks-long sit-in at the Faizabad interchange that had
virtually paralysed the federal capital and led to several people losing their
Nov 21 of the same month, the apex court had taken notice of the sit-in and
directed the defence and interior secretaries to submit a detailed report on
later, the PML-N-led government had launched against the protesters an
operation which, when failed, had forced the authorities to cave and Hamid to
Nov 23, 2018, the top TLP leaders, including Khadim Rizvi and Afzal Qadri, were
taken into “protective custody” as they had announced holding a public rally in
Islamabad. The were arrested amid a massive crackdown against workers of the
TLP and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA).
crackdown came ahead of the party’s call to party members to observe martyrs’
day on Nov 25, 2018. The party had asked workers and supporters to gather at
Faizabad in the federal capital — the same venue where the party had staged in
certain Muslims use their potential to destroy so much of what our merciful and
kind God has given to us, all of us? Does it really help anyone when more
suicide bombers die and their families are left behind? Why is so much energy
spent on creating havoc and death instead of a better life?
a related note which depicts a sad fact is more Muslims today are dying at the
hands of Muslims than by acts of white supremacist, Israelites, Americans or
any other perceived enemies — whether it’s from weekly suicide bombings in
Pakistan, intra-Palestinian fighting, or sectarian violence in Iraq.
we mourn together with loved ones of the victims who were attacked in places of
worship, the moderate Muslims should take a stronger, bolder stand against all
this madness in the name of Islam.
need to stand up zealously for civilians who are harmed by Muslim violence. We
need to reflect on our internal dysfunction. Religions don’t make choices.
have been done, country against country, no doubt about it. But are we going to
hold onto that resentment and hate for the rest of our lives at the expense of
trying to create a religious exclusivism of future generations? What about our
conception of Islam, of a “Muslim” society, of our “Muslim values”?
we have the key to knowledge and righteousness just because we are Muslims? And
what is Islam? Do we practise it in the right way? What is the right way?
need to ask ourselves these questions first. That is what ijtihad (independent
thought) is advocating, questioning of our values and practices as rational
to ijtihad, jihad now appears to be a term with its meaning taken out of
context. In the Arabic language, the word jihad basically means to strive and
exert your utmost effort for any given objective.
Islam, jihad can be classified into several realms; jihad by the heart, tongue,
hand and finally, by the sword. Unfortunately, the latter is usually the level
that is most publicised and exposed due to its wide misinterpretation and
misuse by extremist Islamic groups for their own interest.
misinterpretation of this term has unleashed far-reaching consequences even on
Muslims worldwide and even in Malaysia.
to a study on tolerance and susceptibility to extremism in South-East Asia by
the Merdeka Centre, the main drivers for extremism were religious narratives
such as the pursuit of “purist” Islamic goals like jihad or hudud, as well as
religious literalism in which respondents take the word of their Islamic
study reported that 28% of Malaysian Muslims demonstrated “violence-receptive”
tendencies, meaning that they did not directly reject violence.
Faisal S Hazis, an academic who co-authored the survey said, the respondents
showed support for extremism or justified violence in the name of Islam.
survey measured two areas of extremism: Violent extremism and “self-sacrificial
tendencies” or the willingness to sacrifice their lives, freedom or belongings
to defend Islam.
and Thailand recorded the highest levels of self-sacrificial tendencies.
Merdeka Centre also found that support for global and regional terror groups
such as Jemaah Islamiyah was present across all four countries surveyed and
Malaysia was the highest at 18.1%.
are many mullahs and prominent Islamic leaders who condemn the extremists and
stood by the fact that Quran condemns violence against civilians and against
the words of Prophet Muhammad.
to them and to most of the moderate Muslims, the Hadith never approved any
violence and has clearly stated that jihad in the sense of physical warfare is
only of minor significance as the last resort for self- defence purposes, and
for fighting back against aggression.
in the bigger picture encompasses a wider concept of noble struggle to ensure
the wellbeing of the family, community, the nation and ummah.
Quran said if someone kills a person, it is as if he had killed the whole
extremists who lean towards violence read and believe the same Quran as these
mullahs and Islamic leaders have. So, what went wrong with the way these
extremists interpret the Quran here?
the violence in extremists were taught about a vengeful God, but the God of
these mullahs, Islamic leaders or moderate Muslims worship is a compassionate
and loving God?
we intend to think that the education level is the cause of misinterpretations,
how do we explain that most of the attackers of the Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday
bombings were “well educated” and had come from “middle- or upper middle-class”
families, as what reported by the Sri Lankan government?
a little quote from the Quran of the Chapter Five, Verse 32, that reads, “If
you kill a human being, it is like killing all of mankind, unless you are
killing that human being as punishment for violence, or murder, or other
villainy in the land.” (This verse might be being literally or blindly quoted
by the extremists as the best citation of Quran to service killing sprees.)
the mullahs and Islamic leaders need to get real, need to be honest, and need
to offer bold and competing re-interpretations of what is actually in the
problem is not with Islam, as a religion, as much as a problem with us the
Muslims. If we go back to what happened in all those attacks worldwide, those
people who did that, they believed they were performing an act of jihad. Not an
act of terrorism. And if you look at
most of the videos which have been sent by those terrorists, they were doing
that in the name of Allah, and in the name of Islam.
these extremists who lean towards violence operated from religious conviction.
Religion was not the cause of extremism but could serve either as an enabler or
moderate Muslims cannot deny that there is a problem in the way certain Muslims
interpret and understand the Holy Book and its way of life.
cannot condemn violence committed in Islam’s name, but reflexively recite that
“Islam has nothing to do with it”.
is what Muslims make it. Just as Christians and Jews have reinterpreted the
troubling passages of their scriptures for new centuries, Muslims must do
Muslims need to bear the responsibility for re-interpretation. It is not a call
to rewrite the Quran, but more of a call to update interpretations of existing
is a baby step to take away certain malignant interpretations from terrorists.
violent extremists need to be reminded of the Quran’s unambiguous reminder that
God alone has the full truth and there’s not only just one approach that can
of certain religious narratives to harness the potential for compassion,
tolerance and peaceful coexistence within Islam is just one tool in the toolbox
of a complex, multi-pronged strategy to combat violent extremism.
Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today dismissed claims by Perlis mufti Mohd Asri
Zainul Abidin that government leaders are not proactive in addressing offensive
remarks aimed at Muslims, saying the police are currently investigating 53
added that eight individuals who insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad had
been hauled to court.
to say that we are not taking action or not doing anything is not true at all.
Some have been fined, some have been jailed.
we will continue to do so. We view this matter very seriously and we would like
to put an end to such things,” he said in a special interview with the media to
mark Pakatan Harapan’s one-year anniversary.
also said he had issued many statements cautioning the people against making
provocative statements, especially on social media, as it would “create a lot
is not good for us. It will not benefit anyone at all,” he added.
Monday, Asri accused government leaders of keeping mum on remarks which he said
were offensive to Muslims, following the arrest of a close associate in Perlis,
Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu, last month.
Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad then labelled the popular preacher as “deaf” to
the good that Putrajaya had done for Islam and Muslims.
Asri defended his remarks, saying the authorities had not acted against
government leaders who insulted Islam.
today, Muhyiddin also rubbished claims that the status of Islam under Pakatan
Harapan is under threat.
is the religion of the federation as stipulated in the Federal Constitution, so
such claims are not true at all,” he said.
added that the rally reportedly organised by Ummah (Gerakan Pembela Ummah) this
Saturday on such grounds would likely fan racial flames and provoke Muslims.
LUMPUR, May 2 — Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md
Yusof said Malaysia will soon spearhead a move to unify halal certification
Redzuan said the halal industry has always been one of the main agendas that
his ministry has focused on and the aim to achieve a single halal certification
was made after several countries agreed with Malaysia that the unification was
obtained feedback from several countries.. and they agreed with Malaysia for
the unification of the halal certification for the world.
is a major consensus on this though it has yet to be formalised, which is to
have Malaysia to lead Muslim countries for the unification so that we are
borderless in terms of applying halal lifestyle,” he told a special interview
in conjunction with Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) first anniversary in power.
Redzuan said if the halal unification is successfully implemented it would mean
that one single halal certification will govern everything in the entire world.
said most Muslim countries have recognised that Malaysia has the highest
standards set when it comes to halal certification guidelines.
our high standards being recognised by most Muslim countries, they want to use
as a basis to unify the certifications so that we are more open to the entire
are seen as champions to spearhead he halal unification,” he said.
Rezuan cited as an example that there will be no difference between Saudi
Arabia and Malaysia in the future if the halal certification is the same.
the moment there are some products accepted in other countries but not in
Malaysia because it doesn't meet Jakim's requirement.
a unified halal certification it will no longer be like that,” he said.
Redzuan said his ministry will streamline all effort to pursue this with other
was announced during the 11th World Halal Conference (WHC) here last month that
the global halal market is currently valued at RM7 trillion.
April 4, Economic Affairs Deputy
Minister Senator Mohd Radzi Md Jidin urged Malaysian halal industry players to
strengthen their efforts to tap into the RM7 trillion global halal market
said with over 1.8 billion Muslims globally, Malaysia has a huge chance to
capitalise on this market considering it has been recognised as the champion of
the Global Islamic Economic Indicator by the Dubai Islamic Economy Development
Centre in its report released in October 2018.
JAYA: Muslim preacher Zamri Vinoth is in trouble with the law apparently
because he made a passing reference to what he described as “illogical” Hindu
practices in a talk that was largely critical of Muslims.
leader of the group that made the first police report against him, Arun
Doraisamy, told FMT that Hindus were offended by a remark about their worship
of a multiplicity of deities.
that segment of the talk, Zamri said one of the reasons he left Hinduism was
that he couldn’t make sense of a belief in “330 million gods” and the “worship
of stone objects to which food is then offered”.
was arrested last Sunday for allegedly insulting Hinduism while giving a talk
at a mosque in Kelantan on Dec 30.
speaking of a Muslim’s duty to introduce the religion to others, he referred to
his own angst over his failure to convert members of his own family and some of
his close friends.
said some of them had better morals than many Muslims. “I don’t feel they
deserve to go to hell,” he added.
criticised Muslims who didn’t care to preach the religion, calling them
“selfish”, and he denounced those whose attitudes were repellent to
said: “Have you seen newspaper reports about two non-Muslims entering a mosque
and being chased away with a broom?”
also spoke of Muslims who would try to shut up non-Muslims approaching them
with questions they could not answer because of their failure to educate
themselves about their own religion.
won’t ask the easy questions,” he said. “They’ll ask questions that are
important to them. For example, why did Prophet Muhammad marry a nine-year-old
girl? How would you answer that?”
ignorant Muslims, he said, would respond with aggressive statements like, “You
are not Muslim. It’s not your business to ask about Islam.”
said many Muslims did not embody the real teachings of Islam in their daily
a non-Muslim looking at Muslims in Malaysia. Do you feel they would come
towards or keep away from the religion?”
who leads a Hindu group called Agamam Ani Malaysia, said Zamri’s insulting
remarks about Hinduism had “no place in peaceful Malaysia”.
also criticised Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin’s stance on the issue as
“an insult” to the institution of muftis.
arrest triggered a Facebook post by Asri in which he said “current political
realities” allowed Muslims to be bullied.
accused the Putrajaya administration of holding a double standard, saying it
had not acted against government leaders who made statements offensive to
JAYA: Days after being labelled as “deaf” by the prime minister, Perlis mufti
Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin today questioned why Putrajaya had turned a “deaf ear”
to a proposal on interfaith dialogue he once shared with them.
to Facebook, Asri recalled how Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the minister in charge of
Islamic affairs, had proposed a meeting between him and Penang Deputy Chief
Minister II P Ramasamy last July.
was after Asri and Ramasamy had been involved in a public spat over allegations
of terrorism following Ramasamy’s call to Putrajaya to deport controversial
Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik.
said he attended the meeting, “despite the majority of Muslims” not in favour
of him doing so, as he wanted to “maintain the peace of Islam and respect the
authority of national Islamic management”.
some of my suggestions during the meeting that the YB minister seemed agreeable
to, and YB Dr Ramasamy, who agreed with it as well, was a platform for national
dialogue represented by leaders of the various religions,” he said.
was proposed that issues involving religious sensitivities be discussed there
said the platform was to avoid tension among the people, and it was proposed
that the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) would head it.
said Mujahid appeared to “very agreeable” with the proposal but “sadly, this
never came to be, even until today. I do not know (at which point) it got
said statements sensitive to and relating to Muslims were being made daily,
“making many feel nervous”.
is nothing proactive being done,” he said.
am not sure if this administration intends to take steps to control the
had on Monday suggested that the government practised double standards,
following the arrest of an associate, preacher Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu,
over remarks allegedly insulting Hinduism.
statements insulting Muslims were made by individuals who are part of the
current government, creating racial tension, but they were only called to give
a statement,” he claimed.
for his response, Dr Mahathir Mohamad labelled the mufti “deaf” while defending
the Pakatan Harapan administration’s Islamic credentials.
he could hear, we do many things for Muslims and Islam but he does not hear
it,” the prime minister said.
Asri published several lines from Mahathir’s autograph in his memoir “A Doctor
in the House”.
ignore the truth due to fear. A true struggle is not without challenges and
opposition,” Asri quoted from Mahathir’s note.
accuses European nations of ‘refusing’ to take back ISIS prisoners from their
Trump on Tuesday accused European nations of “refusing” to take back ISIS
prisoners who originally were from their countries, as he said decisions are
“being made” as to what to do with the nearly 2,000 ISIS fighters captured in
the final assault on their now-destroyed caliphate.
have 1,800 ISIS Prisoners taken hostage in our final battles to destroy 100% of
the Caliphate in Syria. Decisions are now being made as to what to do with
these dangerous prisoners,” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
countries are not helping at all, even though this was very much done for their
benefit. They are refusing to take back prisoners from their specific
countries. Not good!” he said.
president’s tweets come amid a months-long effort to convince European
countries to take back their citizens captured on the battlefield in the Middle
East. The topic is a complicated one, as Islamic State prisoners held in Syria
and Iraq are subject to the death penalty or torture if they remain in jail.
The European Union, though, opposes the death penalty.
president has been met with resistance from European nations, as they consider
how to bring their citizens fighting in Syria home for trial.
February, the president first asked Britain, France, Germany and other European
allies to “take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put
them on trial.”
Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will
be forced to release them,” Trump warned earlier this year.
U.S. does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe, which is
where they are expected to go. We do so much, and spend so much - Time for
others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are
pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!” he tweeted in February.
the time, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said to CNBC that the return
of potential terrorists to the EU would be “a challenge for all of us.”
on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blasted the EU and the U.S.
western colleagues from Europe first of all and from other parts of the world
do not want to take international terrorists and members of militias that were
captured by Americans and Kurds at the east brink of the Euphrates,” Lavrov
said Tuesday according to Al Masdar News.
threaten that they will free them, and this would be an awful crime, I think.
The Europeans refuse to take these criminals although they are citizens of
European states. The last I heard is that they are trying to persuade the Iraqi
authorities to take them. It is not funny,” he added.
(B Faso), May 2 German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday arrived in Burkina
Faso where she promised aid to strengthen security in the jihadist-hit West
who also attended a G5 meeting of Sahel country leaders, is due travel on to
Mali and Niger.
talked about the deteriorating security situation and we want to be on the side
of Burkina Faso, especially in terms of cooperation on security," Merkel
told reporters after a meeting with Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian
is necessary because in the east and north of the country there is a situation
where children cannot go to school, where populations seem to live in
insecurity," she said.
need to end these problems as quickly as possible," she added.
Kabore said the aid would help Burkina Faso to tackle the closure of schools
due to jihadist attacks which have seen teachers forced to flee.
has announced 46 million euros ($51 million) in aid which should enable us to
take better charge of the security issue in the north and east and take action
that will strengthen the resilience of these populations," he said.
presidents of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Abdel
Aziz, Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou and Chad, Idriss Deby Itno were also in
Ouagadougou to attend the G5 meeting.
Kabore also spoke of the situation in Libya, accusing the West of not listening
have asked the big nations to take their responsiblity to solve the Libyan
question. It is clear that the African vision... was swept aside... The
solution that was chosen was to get rid of (Libyan leader Moamer) Kadhafi and
his ouster has led today to a fragmentation of the country into several
sub-groups with large quantities of arms....
must take a common position, so that we can find a definitive solution which
will freeze the supplies to these terrorist groups across Libya," he
Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a
number of jihadist groups, including the Ansarul Islam group, the Group to
Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Islamic State in the Greater Sahara.
raids began in 2015 in the north before targeting the capital Ouagadougou and
other regions, notably in the east.
total of 350 people have been killed since 2015 -- mainly in hit-and-run raids
-- according to an AFP tally.
4.3 million people have been driven from their homes in the worsening violence
that has engulfed the entire Sahel region, including one million over the past
year, according to UN humanitarian officials.
first of two brothers charged with plotting to bring down a flight from Sydney
to Abu Dhabi with a crude bomb concealed in a meat grinder was found guilty on
brothers Khaled and Mahmoud Khayat were charged in July 2017 with planning to bring
down an Etihad Airways passenger jet in a plot police alleged was under the
instructions of ISIS.
improvised device, using “high military-grade explosive,” was due to be
smuggled onto a July 15 service from Sydney, but the attempt was aborted before
they reached security.
claimed that communications with ISIS began in April 2017, with the group
sending the men components and propellants through international cargo from
opened a formal investigation Tuesday against three adults and a teenager
accused of planning an attack on security forces in the coming days, which the
French interior minister had said would have been “extremely violent”.
four were arrested on Friday as part of an investigation into a terrorist
were handed over to a court in Paris on Tuesday, where a judge opened a formal
investigation against them, prosecutors said.
day earlier, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner had said that the four
suspects were being held “over a plan to carry out an extremely violent terror
of the suspects is a minor serving a probationary sentence at an educational
facility after being sentenced to three years, two suspended, for trying to
travel to Syria, the Paris prosecutors office said.
other three are known for common law offences, according to a source close to
the inquiry which was opened by prosecutors on February 1 and is being handled
by the DGSI, France’s domestic intelligence agency.
source put the suspects’ ages at 17, 26, 38 and 39.
said they had become convinced that the attack may have been planned to
coincide with the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting which starts
next Sunday and Monday.
was the reason why the authorities had decided to arrest them now, the source
close to the inquiry said, adding that “possible scoutings had been made and
(they) were looking to procure weapons”.
Europe 1 radio station reported that a Kalashnikov rifle had been found among
the weapons seized.
the four days they had been held so far, the suspects had not contested their
adhesion to radical Islamist thinking, the source said.
has been on high alert since the start of a wave of jihadist attacks began in
2015, leaving more than 250 people dead, with ISIS urging followers to target
soldiers and police in France.
the collapse of ISIS’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria last
month, the threat of further attacks inspired by the group remains high.
surprise appearance of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a video recording earlier
this week has raised questions in Libya that it may be linked to the ongoing
battle for Tripoli.
made his first purported appearance in five years in a propaganda video
released Monday, acknowledging ISIS's defeat in the Syrian town of Baghouz
while threatening "revenge" attacks.
also acknowledged that ISIS supporters had attacked the al-Fuqaha town in
southern Libya in October. The attack left civilians and Libyan National Army
(LNA) members dead.
MP Ibrahim Abu Bakr told Asharq Al-Awsat that the ISIS leader’s appearance is
“damning” evidence that the LNA operation against Tripoli was primarily a
battle on terrorism.
LNA, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, had launched its operation to liberate the
capital of terrorist and criminal gangs on April 4. It has pitted his forces
against militias loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA).
remarks proved that terrorist groups are the main enemy of the LNA,” continued
political official disagreed and said that the Tripoli operation was not linked
security agencies in Tripoli have been countering ISIS militants for years in
both Sirte and the capital,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity.
also noted that just this week an ISIS member was arrested in Tripoli.
has been targeted by ISIS in the past, said the official who is close to the
Tripoli-based Presidential Council. He referred to the bombing of the foreign
minister and higher elections commission headquarters last year that were
claimed by ISIS.
Saeed Amghib, however, remarked that ISIS has been in control of Tripoli under
the guise of various militias.
group has taken advantage of the poor conditions there,” he added.
he noted that Baghdadi’s appearance at this time reveals that the militias were
nearing their demise, saying that he sought to offer them moral support by
emerging in his video.
called on the residents of Tripoli to rally around the LNA to help it quickly
capture the capital and counter the terrorist threat.
leader of ISIS Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi appeared on Monday in a video for the first
time since his last appearance in Mosul, Iraq in 2014.
video went on for 18 minutes in which ISIS leader talked about many countries
including Libya and several militants sitting with Al-Baghdadi said they could
be effective in Libya despite losing Sirte in 2016.
hailed the terrorists' attacks in Fuqahaa town in Libya, saying they were part
of the reaction to the attacks on ISIS in Al-Baghuz in Syria.
called on ISIS militants in Libya to carry out a war of attrition so they can
destroy logistics, kill people and damage the economy in the country.
officials at the Presidential Council's government said over the last weeks
that Khalifa Haftar's military operations in southern Tripoli had opened door
for ISIS sleeper cells who always take advantage of security vacuum caused by
Nigeria — Victims’ relatives said suspected Boko Haram extremists attacked a
village in northeastern Nigeria, killing at least 25 people who had just
returned home from a wedding.
Malgwi said two of her brothers-in-law were killed in the attack on Kuda-Kaya
village in Adamawa state on Monday night.
said the attackers went from house to house, and that many people could not
escape because the shooting came from all directions.
local government official Yahaya Muhammed confirmed that 25 people were killed.
April 18, Islamic State claimed its first attack in the Democratic Republic of
Congo. Not only did it strike in a new location, but ISIS attributed the attack
to an entirely new province, Wilayat Central Africa. Before this claim and even
before the fall of the jihadist group’s ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria, there
was evidence of growing ties between ISIS and the DRC-based militant group
Allied Democratic Forces. Just how lasting this new province will be remains to
video released by al-Furqan media on April 29, ISIS leader Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi, in his first appearance for five years, is seen handling documents
about some global affiliates, including one entitled “Wilayat Central Africa.”
April 18 claim issued through the Amaq propaganda agency said that ISIS
fighters had killed and wounded several Congolese soldiers in an attack on the
town of Kamango, near the border with Uganda. This was followed by a statement
from Nashir News Agency and another from Amaq saying “Soldiers of the
Caliphate” had attacked an army base in Bovata, around 5 km from Kamango,
killing three Congolese soldiers and wounding five.
Nashir claim attributed this attack to “Wilayat Central Africa,” the first such
claim for this province. However, a Central African province was previously
mentioned by Baghdadi in an August 2018 speech, meaning ISCAP had existed for
almost a year before ISIS first publicly attributed an attack to the wilayat.
reported the attack killed two soldiers and a civilian, and that it had been
carried out by the ADF, a Ugandan-led but DRC-based militant group mainly
operating in the eastern North Kivu province.
ADF was founded in 1995 with a stated goal of overthrowing the Ugandan
government, but has since drifted to carrying out attacks and massacres in DRC
against military and civilian targets. The ADF did have Islamist roots, with
many of its leaders and early members coming from Uganda’s Salifist movments,
but the extent to which religion is important to them has been unclear.
179 of ISIS’s weekly Al-Naba newsletter released on April 25 claimed a second
attack by ISCAP, saying fighters killed three soldiers and wounded another in
the Butembo area four days earlier.
also published the first known image of ISCAP. Around 15 militants are present
in the picture, standing in a circle with their hands together in the center.
This pose appears similar to one often made by militants when pledging
allegiance to Baghdadi, for example the recently published pledge by Sri Lankan
suicide bombers and one from Saudi Arabia, so the picture could be a still from
a bayah video.
militants are armed with a variety of weapons identified for The Defense Post
by Calibre Obscura, including FN MAG and Type 80 general purpose machine guns,
and Type 3 AK-47 and AKM assault rifles. A PG-7V warhead which appears to have
a hole in it can also be seen. Tents and buildings in the background suggest
the picture could have been taken at the edge of the militant’s camp.
the ADF would have carried out the attack is not surprising – much of ISIS’s
expansion around the world has come from working with local militant groups,
which establish ties with ISIS and pledge allegiance to Baghdadi. If the bayat
is accepted, they become an ISIS affiliate, and some later become official
provinces. Examples include Boko Haram becoming Islamic State West Africa
Province, various militant groups in the Philippines and Indonesia evolving
into Islamic State East Asia Province, and Ansar Beit al-Maqdis becoming
Islamic State Sinai Province.
every ISIS affiliate becomes an official province. Tunisia has been an active
ISIS affiliate for years but has only ever remained an affiliate, never being
designated a full wilyat. This could suggest ISIS sees greater potential in
is evidence ISIS has repeated this model with the ADF. Several signs point to
the building of tentative ties between them before the creation of ISCAP.
book published by the Islamic State’s Office of Research and Studies, which
produces texts espousing the group’s ideology, was found on the body of a dead
ADF militant in February 2018.
report by the Congo Research Group published in November 2018 suggests the ADF
has undergone a radicalization with a “shift in the rhetoric employed by the
movement, from a war against the Ugandan government to a broader struggle for
of this shift included adopting the name Madina at Tauheed Wau Mujahedeen (the
City of Monotheism and Holy Warriors) as well as a flag incorporating elements
used by many jihadist groups including ISIS. The Congo Research Group argued
the ADF was “making a tentative attempt to align itself with other militant
Islamist groups.” This attempt appears to have succeeded with the inclusion of
“Central Africa Province” in the Baghdadi video.
significantly, the U.S. imposed sanctions on two Kenya-based ISIS financiers
who it says were responsible for sending funds to ADF fighters in DRC. Waleed
Ahmed Zein and Halima Adan Ali allegedly set up an extensive financial network
spanning Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas, and between 2017
and early 2018 they moved $150,000 to ISIS fighters in Libya, Syria, and
Central Africa. Some of this funding was reportedly supplied to the ADF, with
the Congo Research Group saying that Zein moved money from the United Kingdom,
South Africa and Syria to the DRC-based group.
governments have also warned about the possible expansion of ISIS into DRC.
Last May, the Director-General of Uganda’s Internal Security Organization
Colonel Kaka Bagyenda said ISIS had collaborated with the ADF. However, Uganda
has in the past attempted to define the narrative around the ADF to suit its
recently, DRC’s newly elected President Félix Tshisekedi warned at the start of
April that ISIS may attempt to expand into the country, and Major Karl J.
Wiest, a spokesperson for U.S. Africa Command, said the ADF is considered to
have “meaningful ties to the Islamic State,” the New York Times reported.
this is not a recent move, according to the Hiraal Institute, a security think
tank based in Somalia. As early as 2016, “ADF members are said to have reached
out to the Islamic State in Libya and Syria to discuss a formal relationship
between the two groups,” it said in an October report. If accurate it suggests
a long period developing a partnership, before the creation of ISCAP and
evidence of growing ties before attributing attacks and declaring a province
suggests this was not purely a reactionary move. In particular, the mention of
ISCAP in August 2018 shows the expansion wasn’t specifically in response to the
loss of the final piece of ISIS territory in Syria in March. However, defeats
in Iraq and Syria certainly influenced a shift in focus to regions outside Iraq
and Syria. ISCAP may be part of that.
the August 2018 speech that first mentioned ISCAP, Baghdadi also mentioned
Wilayat East Asia, which had first been referred to as a province in al-Naba a
month earlier. Around the same time, ISIS consolidated its province structure,
changing countries that previously contained multiple provinces – such as
Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen – to single, larger provinces. The similar timing
suggests the decision to create ISCAP came at the same time as these other
this, how enduring and active this new ISIS province will be is not certain.
Some previous ISIS provinces such as Algeria have ceased to be viable, with the
affiliate there no longer conducting operations, while others such as Caucasia
do not frequently carry out attacks.
key factor will be the proportion of ADF militants who have joined ISCAP, if
that is the case. Without a public bayah, or pledge of allegiance, it remains
unclear if the leader of the ADF has joined ISIS along with the entirety of the
group, or just some factions within it – the sole ISCAP image released by ISIS
only shows around 15 militants out of an estimated ADF membership in the
claim itself indicates communication between ISCAP and ISIS central, as
information must be relayed from the province to be published by the centrally
controlled propaganda agencies. However, the long period between the first
mention of ISCAP and the first attack claim suggests difficulties in
communication. Unreliable communication
could have a significant impact in the future, limiting ISIS central’s
ability to claim ISCAP attacks and communicate with fighters in Central Africa.
the long-term prospects of ISCAP are hard to estimate, there is evidence this
apparent ISIS expansion into the DRC has already had an effect.
U.S. closed its embassy in the capital Kinshasa in western DRC in November. CNN
reported the closure was due to a threat from an ISIS-affiliated group, and
citing diplomats, Reuters said it was due to the arrest of an ADF cell. Such an
attack would have been unprecedented – the ADF had been limited to militant
activity in northeastern DRC, and a major shift such as this may have been due
to the developing links with ISIS.
the ISIS affiliation may encourage foreign fighters to travel to DRC, and there
is evidence that this had already started to occur.
video that the Congo Research Group said showed an attempt to “align with other
militant Islamic groups” directly called on foreign fighters to travel to the
country. In it an Arabic-speaking militant called on people to migrate to DRC,
saying “I swear to God that this is Dar al Islam [abode of Islam] of the
Islamic State in Central Africa.” This video was shared by multiple pro-ISIS
groups on social media.
the last year, we have debriefed a South African, a Tanzanian, a Kenyan, a
Rwandan, a Burundian, a Brit and a South Sudanese,” Laren Poole, one of the
co-authors of the Congo Research Group report, told the New York Times earlier
Hiraal institute report said that the ADF “began to emerge as a new destination
for would-be Islamic State recruits in Africa” in 2017.
fueled by extremists is on the rise in the West African nation of Burkina Faso
and appears to be getting worse.
April more than 65 people died in ethnic clashes inflamed by Islamist
extremists seeking to gain a stronghold in the Sahel. On Sunday, four
worshippers and a pastor were killed when gunmen targeted a church in the small
northern town of Silgadji, local security sources said.
we fight against, what we see every day is like a toxin,” Lt. Col. Kanou
Coulibaly of the Burkina Faso Armed Forces told VOA.
the arrows below to navigate to Carla Babb's video reports from Burkina Faso.
Faso has seen more than 230 attacks in just over three years, and the United
States is hoping local forces can increase pressure on the militants, even as
the U.S. military decreases its force numbers in the region.
attacks began shortly after the country elected its first new leader in decades,
Roch Marc Christian Kabore, in 2015.
Ambassador to Burkina Faso Andrew Young tells VOA that the violence has quickly
spread across a nation virtually untouched by terrorism just a few years ago.
trying to target the resilience of this community, which has lived in harmony
for thousands of years. There are Muslims and Christians who are in the same
family, and those terrorist groups (are trying) to break down a stable society
and attack a fragile democracy," Young said.
just as instability provided terrorists an opening to infiltrate in Iraq and
Syria, Islamist groups are planting their flags in West African nations like
know that al-Qaida considers the Sahel right here to be a very important area
for them to deliberately and quietly build infrastructure. They've been doing
this for a number of years, and they've been fairly successful," Air Force
Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command
Africa, tells VOA.
on the sidelines of Flintlock, a major U.S.-led military exercise held in
Burkina Faso involving more than 30 African and Western countries that ended in
March, Hicks says, "At this time, we are not winning" the
counterterrorism war in West Africa.
worry that if the terrorists win in Burkina Faso, the country could become a
launchpad for terrorists to expand their influence to West Africa's coast and
why training exercises with Sahel nation forces are critical, Hicks says. African
militaries learn skills ranging from how to plan operations to how to treat and
evacuate the wounded.
Gendarmes First Lt. Robert Compaore says the newly honed skills make a big
difference on the battlefield.
response to the uptick in violence, the U.S. embassy has tripled its funding to
Burkina Faso for security assistance.
instead of bringing in more troops, the U.S. is actually decreasing its numbers
in West Africa. About 1,000 American troops will remain in the region, and
Hicks says that’s still enough forces to help build local security partners.
he does not recommend further cuts and has warned the terrorism threat will be
"a long-term problem."
military is not the only security prong to receive U.S. and international
training in Burkina Faso. The United States also funded training for law
enforcement units who would likely serve as first responders to attacks in the
we move from battlefield to custody, chain of custody, judicial process to accountability
through the rule of law system. That's the key to success in the long term,”
Ambassador Young says.
the U.S. Embassy's Regional Security Officer Rosendo "Rosie" Cedeno
says there is a major hitch in that system -- terrorism cases are not going to
here in Burkina Faso, there are a lot of terrorism cases. And one of the
challenges is that they haven't been able to prosecute a case just yet,” Cedeno
familiar with Burkinabe terrorism cases tell VOA there are about 400 cases
involving nearly 200 terror suspects imprisoned in Burkina Faso with no trial
government of Burkina Faso has not replied to VOA requests for comment.
response to the backlog, the U.S. embassy has sent a U.S. prosecutor from the
Department of Justice to help build and try these cases.
targeted in attacks
United Nations reports more than 100,000 people have been displaced this year
in Burkina Faso because of violence. The threat from jihadist violence is now
so severe in the country that it is preventing about 5,000 teachers and 150,000
children from going to school.
Burkinabe must be concerned because to destroy a country, you just need to
destroy education," education advocate Hawa Bissiri, of Burkina Faso's
IQRA Association, told VOA.
displaced teacher Sia Michael, "It’s a matter of life and death."
he spoke to VOA at a local elementary school playground in the capital, he
remembered the joy of his students before Islamic militants burned down his
school and forced him to flee.
are you going to do? You have to leave. Once they burn down the school, then
your life is next," he said.
school closings have spread across the country’s east and north, where
jihadists from neighboring Mali and Niger have spilled over the borders.
to Western education, the militants destroy some schools like Michael’s. Others
are closed by teachers worried they’ll be targeted next.
Joseph told VOA that Salafists showed up in December at his village near the
country’s northern border with Mali and "warned teachers that if we did
not move or start teaching in Arabic the following day, we better leave the
Union tells Sudan military council to hand power to civilians within 60 days
African Union said on Tuesday that Sudan’s military rulers should hand over
power to a civilian-led transitional authority within 60 days.
a statement, the AU said it noted “with deep regret” that the military had not
stepped aside and handed power to civilians within a 15-day period set by the
AU last month.
60 days were a final extension for Sudan’s Transitional Military Council to
hand over power to civilians, the AU said.
coast guard says it has rescued 96 Europe-bound migrants off the Mediterranean
Ayoub Gassim said on Wednesday that a rubber boat carrying the migrants, mostly
from Africa, stopped Tuesday off the coast of the western town of Khoms.
says the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid and were taken to a
refugee camp in the town.
became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe
after the uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.
and armed groups have exploited Libya’s chaos following the 2011 uprising.
Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s president on Tuesday called for the “immediate” lifting
of a temporary ban on several social media networks, a clampdown that had been
intended to prevent the spread of misinformation after devastating suicide
bombings on Easter.
restrictions, which were put into place quickly after attacks at three churches
and three high-end hotels killed more than 250 people in Sri Lanka, reflected
increasing global concern about the role that American-owned networks play in
spreading hate speech and inciting communal violence.
a statement following President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision, the government
called on the public “to use social media responsibly even though the ban is
lifted, due to the prevailing situation in the country.” According to internet
monitoring groups, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Viber were among those
decision to block networks was not new in Sri Lanka, which has a complicated
history with social media. Last year, the government briefly restricted some
platforms after rumors that spread largely on Facebook appeared to instigate a
wave of anti-Muslim riots and lynchings.
the government’s broad shutdown of social media immediately after the Easter
attacks, which were tied to eight attackers linked to a local affiliate of the
Islamic State, was unusual. Access was shut down before any
social-media-inspired violence was known to have taken place.
is unclear how effective the ban has been at curbing unrest, or whether
information spread on social media has contributed to recent reports of some
attacks on Sri Lanka’s Muslims and refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
the bombings, Muslims, who comprise about 10 percent of the country’s
population, have reported mobs attacking their homes and storefronts and
threatening violence. Some of the blocked media outlets were sporadically
accessible. And many Sri Lankans have simply used V.P.N.s, or virtual private
networks, to circumvent the restrictions.
days, Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, had been on lockdown, with nightly curfews
and army personnel deployed along largely empty roads. Recently, life has
started slowly returning to normal around Sri Lanka, but security forces said
that they are continuing to comb the country in “house-to-house searches” for
people linked to the six attacks on churches and hotels.
Islamic State, in a statement over the weekend, claimed responsibility for
three additional suicide bombings that occurred Friday during a raid by
security forces on a hide-out of National Thowheeth Jama’ath, its local
affiliate, which is believed to have carried out the Easter attacks.
the curfew being lifted in Colombo, security forces remained on high alert. The
police have warned lawmakers that the group could still be planning further
attacks, said a member of Parliament who sought to remain anonymous because of
the sensitivity of the internal communication.
of the 15 people killed in Friday’s raid were identified as the father and two
brothers of Zaharan Hashim, National Thowheeth Jama’ath’s leader, who was one
of two suicide bombers to strike the Shangri-La Hotel on Easter, killing 33
Monday, in rare video and audio messages, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of
the Islamic State, acknowledged that the attacks in Sri Lanka were carried out
by fighters of his group.
in Sri Lanka, aided by at least two F.B.I. teams that have arrived in the
country, have been trying to pin down direct connections between the attackers
and the Islamic State hub in Syria. One lead they are following is possible
travel to Islamic State-controlled parts of Syria by one of the Easter Sunday
American and other Western intelligence officials are sorting through
intelligence strands on the bombers, pinning down exact travel to Syria through
Turkey — the route one of the earlier Sri Lankan members of the Islamic State
had taken — or other countries is a challenging task.
Gunasekara, a spokesman for the Sri Lankan police, said in a statement on
Monday that 59 suspects “with terrorists links” have been detained since the
attacks and investigators are questioning them. The authorities have also
confiscated caches of weapons, explosives, “terrorist literature” and fake
identification, Mr. Gunasekara said.
Mashal and Dharisha Bastians contributed reporting.
(Reuters) - Afghan government forces have launched attacks in a bid to clear
rival militants who have been battling each other for territory near the
Pakistan border in fighting that has forced thousands of villagers from their
homes, officials said on Tuesday.
and Islamic State militants have been fighting for more than a week in the
eastern border province of Nangarhar, since Islamic State fighters seized six
villages in an area where the mineral talc is mined.
has been no comment from Islamic State or information about casualties it has
sustained in the clashes, some of the heaviest between the rival Islamist
factions over the past year.
Taliban said in a statement on Tuesday that Afghan soldiers backed by U.S.
forces had killed seven civilians in raids in Nangarhar, decrying their
“ruthless savagery”. The statement did not give details about the continuing
on Monday, Afghan government forces launched attacks including air strikes to
push the militants out of the area, officials said.
main government intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, said
in a statement that 22 Islamic State fighters had been killed and two of their
weapons caches destroyed.
provincial governor’s spokesman, Ataullah Khogyani, said that while Monday
night’s attacks were aimed at “eliminating” Islamic State in the area, the
government wanted to clear out the Taliban too.
government is fighting both militant groups,” Khogyani said.
Qaderi, a provincial council member in Nangarhar, said more than 9,000 families
had been displaced by the clashes between the militant groups.
also said the government strikes did not appear to have ended the fighting
between them, and that some villagers’ homes had been damaged in the air
province has large deposits of talc and other minerals such as chromite and
marble, and sits on major smuggling routes into Pakistan.
mining of talc, used in products ranging from paint to baby powder, is a major
source of revenue for insurgents in Nangarhar, where Islamic State has its
in Bangladesh say security forces killed at least two people suspected of
belonging to an Islamist militant group behind the 2016 attack on a Dhaka cafe.
say they raided a hideout suspected of belonging to Jamaat-ul-Majahideen
Bangladesh early Monday in the capital's Bosila neighborhood after receiving a
say when security forces knocked on the door, the residents fired at them
instead of opening the door. They say after the firefight, police detained
three people, including the owner of the house.
launched a crackdown on Islamist extremists after the 2016 cafe attack in which
22 people were killed, most of them foreigners.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for the cafe attack, Bangladesh officials
said the attackers were members of Jamaat-ul-Majahideen Bangladesh, a domestic
group that has been banned for more than 10 years.
the attack, Bangladeshi security forces have carried out nationwide raids and
say they have killed nearly 100 Islamist militants. Hundreds of suspects have
least 14 Taliban militants were killed and a kidnapped Afghan soldier was freed
during the military operations which were conducted in the past 24 hours in
various provinces of the country.
military sources said Thursday that the Afghan security forces conducted an
operation in Nerkh district of Wardak province killing 4 Taliban fighters.
sources further added that a similar operation was conducted in Tarin Kot
district during which 18 RPGs and assorted IED components were destroyed.
the meantime, airstrikes in Tarin Kot district of Uruzgan province killed 9
senior leader of the notorious Haqqani Network was killed during the operations
of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces in south-eastern Paktia province.
Ministry of Interior in a statement said the Sher Zaman alias Mohammad Omar, a
senior leader of the Haqqani terrorist network who was in charge of
intelligence activities of the network in Syed Karam district was killed during
the operations which were conducted on Tuesday.
statement further added that the operation was conducted in Kohsin and Adram
Khel villages of Syed Karam district.
least three other members of the network were also wounded during the same
operations, the Ministry of Interior added in its statement.
anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented in this
regard so far.
least ten ISIS Khurasan militants were killed or wounded in a premature
explosion triggered by an Improvised Explosive Device in eastern Kunar
201st Silab Corps in a statement said the incident took place on Saturday in
Pech Dara district.
statement further added that ISIS militants were planting an improvised
explosive device when the incident took place, leaving at least 7 militants
dead and 3 others wounded.
to 201st Silab Corps, two explosives experts of the group were also among those
killed in the explosion.
Lanka’s police Wednesday named nine people who staged Easter Sunday suicide
bombings that killed 253 people, and said the attackers’ assets will be
confiscated in line with anti-terror laws.
spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera confirmed that two of the luxury hotels were bombed
by two brothers from a wealthy Colombo family involved in spice exports.
group of extremists had used one bomber at each of the locations hit on Easter
Sunday, except at Shangri-La hotel where there were two suicide explosions.
of the Shangri-La bombers was Zahran Hashim, the leader of the local extremist
group responsible for the audacious attacks that were claimed by ISIS.
headed the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ) which has since been banned. He
attacked the Shangri-La in the company of fellow extremist Ilham Ahmed Mohamed
elder brother Inshaf Ahmed was the man who bombed the nearby Cinnamon Grand
third hotel to be targeted, the Kingsbury, was bombed by a man identified as
Mohamed Azzam Mubarak Mohamed. His wife was now in police custody, Gunasekera
St. Anthony’s Church was targeted by a local resident named Ahmed Muaz. His
brother has been arrested. The St. Sebastian bomber was Mohamed Hasthun, a
resident from the island’s east where Hashim was based.
Christian Zion church in the eastern district of Batticaloa was hit by a local
resident, Mohamed Nasser Mohamed Asad.
man who failed to set a bomb off at a de luxe hotel, but blasted his explosives
at a guest house near the capital. He was identified as Abdul Latheef who had
studied both in Britain and Australia.
after the hotel bomb attacks, Fathima Ilham, the wife of the younger of the two
brothers, blasted explosives strapped to herself, killing her two children and
three police officers who rushed to the family home in Colombo.
and Taliban officials are meeting on Wednesday in Qatar to resume talks aimed
at ending a 17-year war in Afghanistan, a Taliban official said.
are expecting the meeting to start in the next two hours as the US delegation
has already arrived,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told
sixth round of talks will be led by US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan
Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha. The US delegation will focus on a declaration of a
ceasefire to pave the way to an end to fighting, said a western diplomat who is
closely monitoring the talks.
the Taliban’s demands will focus on firstly the withdrawal of US forces from
the Afghan-born American diplomat heads a team of US negotiators who have held
several rounds of direct negotiations with the Taliban since October.
has earlier acknowledged that both sides had drafted a preliminary agreement on
how and when US-led foreign troops will withdraw from Afghanistan in return for
insurgent assurances that hardline militant groups will not be allowed to again
use Afghanistan to attack other nations.
official working closely with Khalilzad said he is expected to encourage the
insurgent group to engage in Afghan-to-Afghan talks to find a political
settlement to the 17-year-old war in the country.
United States has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led
mission, known as Resolute Support, that is training and assisting the Afghan
government’s security forces in their battle against Taliban fighters and
extremist groups such as Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.
lost heritage stands out in Aleppo’s broken minarets
The pencil minaret of the Ottoman Adliyeh mosque in Syria’s Aleppo lists to one
side and is scored by an ugly gash running down its flank, the result of bombing
in the war.
sorry state of Aleppo’s Old City, a labyrinthine World Heritage Site and a
battlefield from 2012-16, is obvious from a glance across the skyline at its
look down on an area that suffered massive damage in a conflict that brought
down the medieval covered souk, smashed mosque domes and burnt churches.
UN cultural agency UNESCO in December said 10 percent of Aleppo’s historic
buildings were destroyed and more than half the buildings they assessed showed
severe to moderate damage.
restoration work in Syria is controversial. With the exception of Daesh, which
deliberately targeted ancient ruins, all sides in the war have portrayed
themselves as guardians of historical sites and their enemies as vandals.
huge image of President Bashar Assad dangles from the monumental gateway of the
ancient citadel in central Aleppo.
countries that have imposed sanctions on Assad’s government oppose any
reconstruction work until there is a political solution to the conflict,
arguing it would reward him for war crimes they say he has committed but which
that has cut off most funding from the nations that are normally top donors for
cultural work — prompting state media to accuse them of complicity in destroying
few of the most famous monuments are slowly recovering. At the Umayad Mosque,
bullet-scarred walls are being refaced and the stones of the fallen minaret are
piled ready to be rebuilt under a yellow crane.
of the tallest, loveliest stretches of the souk has already been restored, its
collapsed domes rising again high above the cobbled floor using original
materials and techniques.
these sites represent only a fraction of the Old City’s myriad historical
streets and buildings and, without fresh funding, the others risk falling into
yet grimmer ruin.
there are funds I am optimistic that it will all be restored. We only need the
money,” said Bassil Al-Zaher, an engineer who is restoring part of the souk.
the Halawiya Madrasa, part of the dome has already caved in. It was once a
Byzantine cathedral, built on the site of a Roman temple, and was converted to
a mosque by a Muslim ruler during the Christian Crusades. With more rain, the
rest of the dome will fall, an engineer there said.
the roof of the restored Saqatiyeh section of the souk, damaged minarets can be
seen punctuating the Old City’s skyline.
18th-century Kemaliyeh mosque, the Mamlouk-era Siffahiyeh mosque and the
14th-century Tawashi mosque have all suffered considerable damage.
from close up, it is hard to see how the 16th-century Adliyeh mosque’s minaret
is still standing. The hollow interior and tightly wound spiral stairs inside
are clearly visible through a monstrous shell hole on its west side.
best solution is to rebuild it because it is not straight. Even if there’s a
small earthquake, it would collapse,” said Zaher.
on mosques is the domain of the Ministry of Awqaf or Islamic endowments, and it
lacks the money for major repairs.
the medieval Mehmindar Mosque, the minaret above the door is now a stump. In
the courtyard two men, the imam and a friend, were hauling large stones to one
side to clear the floor.
mosque’s dome is also shattered, with only a corner left. They have spent three
months clearing and sorting the stones and have no idea when or if the minaret
will be rebuilt.
covered street in the Old City seems to harbor a dozen alleys, each alleyway
hidden stone courtyards ringed by mosques or shops, with olive and lemon trees
growing in the center.
one street, under a high vaulted ceiling, most shops were empty, their floors
covered in debris and their walls scorched. But a man sat at a table in one,
singing Qur'anic verses, his melodic voice echoing softly through the souk.
Bab Al-Nasr, one of the historic gates into the Old City, few of the traders
have reopened their stalls. Metal shutters hang down and the streets are quiet.
local group worked in this area to clear debris and restore parts of the old
gateway and nearby buildings, including two large, protruding, wooden windows.
UN Development Project is also at work, providing traders with aid to clear
shops and buy fittings and stock.
Sabbagh’s pistachio shop has been in his family for generations. He has just
in the Attariyeh souk, the destruction is almost complete. The roofs have
collapsed and old thoroughfares where traders once shouted their wares are now
narrow, overgrown lanes between neatly stacked piles of stone under a hot white
timebomb’: 45,000 children may soon become stateless in post-Isis Iraq, warns
least 45,000 children in Iraq born into the so-called Islamic State may soon
become stateless, in what right groups are calling a “human timebomb”.
they are formally recognised, tens of thousands of minors – one in every five
living in Iraqi camps – are barred from medical care, attending school or
receiving food rations warned the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in a new
report on Tuesday.
its peak the jihadi group controlled nearly a third of Iraq and children born
under the militants’ rule are now missing vital documentation, such as birth
papers issued by Isis are not recognised by the Iraqi state. Others have also
lost their documentation or had it confiscated when they fled their homes.
NRC’s report, Barriers from Birth, found that it can take up a number of years
for these children to receive documentation, but warned it is “nearly
impossible” for those whose families are perceived to be have been affiliated
with Isis to secure paperwork.
said it resulted in collective punishment for thousands of innocent children.
are not responsible for crimes committed by their relatives, yet many are
denied their basic rights as Iraqi citizens,” said Jan Egeland, NRC’s secretary
face a possible human timebomb. Allowing these children to have an education,
healthcare, simply the right to exist, is key to ensuring a sustainable future
for them and for the country,” he added.
society cannot be at peace if it allows a generation of stateless children in
Isis’s rule, the group established its own version of state bureaucracy, which
included registering births, marriages and deaths.
US-backed forces defeated the militant group and its self-styled “caliphate”,
many Isis-affiliated families and civilians who lived under their rule were put
in displacement camps.
estimated 225,000 children are believed to be living in such camps across Iraq.
mother, Hana, who has seven children and now lives in a displacement camp in
Kirkuk, said that her husband “destroyed” her life by taking her eldest son and
joining Isis in Hawija, north of Baghdad. She said she fled the town once the
Iraqi government retook it from the militant group, after which the authorities
confiscated her family paperwork.
husband took the wrong path. He took my oldest son and left us to fight with
Islamic State. They are both dead now, and I am alone in this camp with my
young children,” the widow said.
of them don’t even have identity documents. My husband destroyed our lives; me
and my children suffer,” she added.
in Hawija, another family said their son, Mithaq, who was born four days after
Isis took control of the town in 2014 and is disabled, has also been barred
access to proper documentation. He is also barred from receiving hospital
number of undocumented children is also likely to significantly rise in the
coming weeks with the expected return of more than 30,000 Iraqis from Syria,
the NRC report warned.
per cent of the returnees are thought to be wives and children with suspected
ties to Isis militants.
rights group said as many as 80,000 households across Iraq may have family
members missing at least one form of ID.
total number of children may be even higher.
children risk remaining left on the margins of society if this issue is not
addressed immediately. This seriously undermines future prospects of
reconciliation efforts,” Mr Egeland said.
urge the government to ensure that undocumented children have the right to
exist like any other Iraqi citizen,” he added.
children affiliated with Isis are also at risk and face an indefinite stay in
Iraq, with many countries unwilling to allow them to be repatriated.
Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported on Wednesday that residents of
different parts of Eastern Deir Ezzur have raised the demand in several
contacts with the paper.
underlined that residents of towns and villages of Deir Ezzur are highly
dissatisfied with measures adopted by the occupying US forces and SDF,
including detentions, torture of civilians and seizure of the civilian
newspaper said that the occupied areas in Hasaka and Deir Ezzur do not enjoy
even the minimum living conditions, including electricity, adding that a large
number of residents of the towns and villages in Eastern Deir Ezzur have been
transferred to the Syrian army-controlled areas.
residents of tens of towns and villages in Eastern Deir Ezzur have staged
rallies in the past week against the SDF's actions against civilians and their
hoarding of fuel and closed the roads, demanding for their withdrawal from the
a relevant development last Saturday, a number of civilians holding peaceful
protests were killed and injured by the SDF in Deir Ezzur province in Eastern
Syria, sources said.
of residents of al-Zaman town and the city of al-Basira in Eastern Deir Ezzur
continued their protests against the SDF for the third day in the row, the
Arabic-language media quoted battlefield sources as saying.
sources said that the civilians called for exit of SDF fighters by closing the
roads leading to these regions.
it was reported that at least three civilians were killed and several others
were wounded in SDF's shootout at protesters.
in northwestern Syria has displaced nearly 140,000 people since February, the
UN said on Wednesday, as the regime and its ally Russia have stepped up their
February, over 138,500 women, children and men have been displaced from
northern Hama and southern Idlib,” said David Swanson of the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA.
1 and 28 April, its estimated more than 32,500 individuals have moved to
different communities in Aleppo, Idlib and Hama governorates,” he told AFP.
has been protected from a massive regime offensive by a September deal inked by
Damascus ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
the region of some three million people has come under increasing bombardment
since the militant Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group took full control of it in
escalation has killed more than 200 civilians since February, the UN said last
new wave of shelling and airstrikes this week targeted schools and medical
centers, according to Swanson.
UN is deeply concerned over the recent escalation,” he said.
attacks targeted parts of Hama and southern Idlib, including the village of
majority of the Al-Qasabiyah village residents reportedly displaced to safer
villages due to hostilities in the area,” Swanson said.
correspondents saw intense bombardment of Al-Qasabiyah on Wednesday, with bombs
dropped by warplanes sending huge plumes of grey smoke billowing into the sky.
loaded with mattresses, carpets and even household appliances like
refrigerators and washing machines could be seen leaving villages in southern
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Wednesday said that regime
shelling over the past two days has been the most intense since the agreement
between Moscow and Ankara.
United States on Tuesday urged Russia to abide by its commitments and stop an
“escalation” in Idlib.
violence must end,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a
estimated three million people live in Idlib and adjacent rebel-held territory,
1.7 million of whom were already displaced from other parts of Syria since the
conflict erupted in 2011.
figure for those displaced there since February is more than double the number
of people forced to move during battles against the Islamic State group in
eastern Syria between December and March.
on Wednesday said more than 63,000 people were displaced from territory held by
ISIS in southeastern Deir Ezzor between December and March as a US-backed force
snuffed out its self-declared “caliphate”.
than 80 children have arrived in Tajikistan from Iraq where their parents were
sentenced for joining the ISIS extremist group and other militant outfits,
Tajikistan’s foreign ministry said online Wednesday.
children, all Tajik citizens, had been “forced to join the ranks” of the
militant groups after their parents were recruited, according to the statement
on the ministry’s website.
returned on a special flight from Baghdad to Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe on
April 30, it added.
February Tajikistan’s foreign ministry said it was seeking the repatriation of
75 children marooned in Iraq where 43 Tajik women are serving jail sentences
for extremism-related crimes.
the jailed women would be far more difficult, Tajik foreign minister Sirodjidin
Mukhriddin admitted at the time.
ISIS group seized large swathes of Iraq in a lightning 2014 offensive, before
the Iraqi government dislodged the militants from urban centres and eventually
declared victory in December 2017.
fall of the ISIS’s caliphate in Iraq and Syria has left many countries grappling
with what to do with the militants and their relatives who want to return.
authorities have said over 1,000 citizens left the country to fight on the side
of militant groups in Iraq and Syria after 2011, some after stints working
abroad in Russia.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly offered Palestinian Authority
(PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas 10 billion dollars in return for accepting US
President Donald Trump’s controversial proposal for peace between the Israelis
and Palestinians, dubbed “the deal of the century.”
Lebanese daily Arabic-language newspaper al-Akhbar reported on Tuesday that
Abbas turned down the offer, saying supporting the deal would be “the end of
his political life.”
cited leaked diplomatic reports based on conversations between the two Arab
politicians, noting that the reports -- written by Jordanian envoy to Ramallah,
Khaled al-Shawabkeh -- were based on briefings with a number of Palestinian
to the Lebanese newspaper, bin Salman briefed Abbas on the contents of the
American proposals during the latter’s visit to Saudi Arabia in December 2017,
and asked the Palestinian leader how much his delegation's annual budget was.
not a prince to have my own entourage,” Abbas replied.
much money does the Palestinian Authority, its ministers and employees need?”
bin Salman then questioned.
said that the Palestinians need $1 billion each year, to which the Saudi de
facto ruler was said to have responded, “I will give you $10 billion over 10
years if you accept the deal of the century.”
however, said no, because if he did, it would “mean the end of my political
Salman also told Abbas that Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries would help
them expand their control over Areas B and C in the occupied West Bank, and
provide financial support for projects to boost their economy.
Arabia will support the Palestinian Authority with more than $4 billion,” the
Saudi crown prince reportedly said.
Palestinian Authority chief highlighted that political realities prevent him
from taking the so-called US peace plan, emphasizing that he could not make
concessions regarding Israeli settlements, the so-called two-state solution and
Jerusalem al-Quds. Abbas underscored that the Americans would not provide any
written proposals, but would adopt a tactic similar to the 1917 Balfour
Declaration that led to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
so-called “peace plan” has been dismissed by Palestinian authorities ahead of
its unveiling at the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the formation
of the new Israeli cabinet, most likely in June.
in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on April 16, Palestinian Prime
Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh lashed out at Trump’s initiative, asserting that it
was “born dead.”
United States and Israel are reportedly set to supply anti-aircraft missiles to
Kurdish militants in northern Syria amid tensions between Ankara and Washington
over the latter’s support for the militants, which the Turkish government views
local sources, Turkey’s Yeni Safak daily reported that the US is set to deliver
shipments of Stinger Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) to militants of
the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
PKK, it added, has designated the towns of Rmelan and Shaddadah in Syria’s
Hasakah Province as well as the Jalabiyah and al-Omar regions as launching
points for its American-supplied missiles.
is unhappy with Washington’s support for Kurdish militants of the People’s
Protection Units (YPG), which it views as an extension of the PKK, and has
repeatedly called on the US administration to stop providing them with arms.
PKK has been fighting for autonomy inside Turkey for decades and runs bases in
neighboring Syria and Iraq as well.
report further said the regime in Israel has also vowed to supply the Kurds
with Spike anti-aircraft missiles in the Syrian provinces of Dayr al-Zawr and
Raqqah following high-level meetings between the militants and Tel Aviv.
has long been backing the militants operating against the Syrian government.
The regime has, on several occasions, criticized Turkey for its operations
against the Kurdish militants.
US-Kurdish alliance is closely coordinating the missiles’ deployment to Syria
as part of a “special joint strategy,” according to the report.
further said that a group of 30 PKK militants have already received training to
handle the advanced anti-aircraft missiles.
has since 2016 launched two military operations inside Syria against the
US-backed Kurdish militants and has threatened a third if they fail to leave
the east of the Euphrates.
Turkey, the US has listed the PKK as a terrorist group, but views the YPG as an
ally in its so-called fight against the Takfiri Daesh terror group.
has repeatedly questioned Washington’s deployment of heavy weapons in Syria
despite the defeat of Daesh.
December, US officials said the Pentagon was considering recommending that
Kurdish militants be allowed to keep American-supplied weapons after the
withdrawal of troops from Syria.
wants an end to US support for Saudi war on Yemen
US Vice President Joe Biden has called for a halt to US support of the
Saudi-led war on crisis-hit Yemen.
2020 Democratic hopeful made the announcement through his campaign spokesman
Andrew Bates, who spoke to The Washington Post Wednesday.
President Biden believes it is past time to end US support for the war in Yemen
and cancel the blank check the Trump administration has given Saudi Arabia for
its conduct of that war,” he said.
President Donald Trump has vetoed a resolution spearheaded by Biden’s
Democratic contender Senator Bernie Sanders after it was passed by the entire
Senate Democratic caucus and several Republicans.
Republican-controlled Senate should decide Thursday whether to override
President Trump’s veto of the measure.
has previously attacked Saudi Arabian leaders also over violation of human
rights evident in cases such as the murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal
doubts are that there’s very little sense of rule of law, respect for human
rights, dignity,” Biden said of the Saudi government in a recent interview with
CBS. “The allegations that are made so far … are not inconsistent with the way
the kingdom would act.”
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched the devastating campaign
against Yemen in March 2015.
war has led to a humanitarian crisis sin the impoverished country, where
millions remain in dire need of food in the wake of thousands of deaths caused
by Saudi aggression.
Arab Coalition confirmed it had launched air strikes targeting the al-Dulaimi
air base near Sanaa's airport, sources said.
strikes launched at the al-Dulaimi Air Base targeted a drone maintenance site
and another location in which Houthi experts and operators were present at.
to the coalition, the Houthi militias have been using Sanaa airport to carry
out terrorist and hostile operations.
Saudi-led coalition, which has been waging a deadly war on Yemen, has abducted
more than 150 fishermen in the waters off the embattled port city of Hudaydah.
Houthi-run al-Masirah TV channel reported that the kidnapping of the fishermen
on 15 boats by the "aggression forces" took place southwest of the
Turfa Island on Wednesday.
to the latest report by Yemen's Ministry of Human Rights, the Saudis have
deprived over 50,000 Yemeni fishermen of their right to fish, killed dozens of
them, targeted 93 fishing facilities and destroyed 4,586 boats.
a lifeline for millions of Yemenis, has seen some of the heaviest fighting in
the four-year Saudi aggression against the impoverished nation.
Arabia and the UAE launched the Hudaydah offensive in June 2018, but they have
faced strong resistance put up by Yemeni armed forces – led by the Houthis --
and the city’s residents.
Saudi-led coalition claims that the Houthis are using the port for weapons
delivery, an allegation rejected by the fighters.
December, representatives from the Houthi Ansarullah movement and the
Riyadh-sponsored government of the ex-president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, agreed
to cease fighting in Hudaydah during peace talks in Sweden last December.
the truce deal, the rival parties also agreed to the withdrawal of their troops
and the deployment of UN monitors to the port city.
Houthis have, however, reported numerous truce violations by the Saudi-backed
Saudi aerial assaults
another development on Wednesday, al-Masirah reported that the Saudi-led
coalition had conducted 13 airstrikes on the Sana'a airport and the al-Dailami
Saudi Press Agency (SPA) confirmed the raids on the air base, claiming that it
had targeted drone maintenance sites, a communications system and locations of
drone experts and operators.
have been flying for more than an hour, and sounds of violent explosions rocked
the north of the city where the airport and the military base are located,”
said a Sana'a resident.
Arabia and its allies launched the war against Yemen in March 2015 in an
attempt to reinstall the Riyadh-allied former regime and crush Houthis.
invaders have, however, failed to achieve their objectives in the face of the
Western-backed war on Yemen, coupled with a naval blockade, has destroyed the
country’s infrastructure and led to a humanitarian crisis.
The Israeli military says it struck several Hamas militant sites in Gaza in
response to incendiary balloons with explosives launched from the strip.
military says it hit the sites in northern Gaza Strip early on Thursday. It
says that afterward, two rockets were fired out of Gaza. There were no injuries
on either side.
brief flareup marked the first Israeli strike in more than a month. Egyptian
mediators have been trying to reach a long-term cease-fire during the lull.
previously scaled back the permitted fishing zone off Gaza’s Mediterranean
coast following a rocket attack.
The Houthis have intensified civilian suffering in a number of Yemen's regions,
Saudi state-news agency SPA reported on Thursday.
to a recent report issued by the Higher Relief Committee, the Houthis continue
to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in a desperate attempt to sway the
international community by blocking food supplies to the capital Sanaa and
report, published by the official Yemeni news agency, said that with the
approach of the holy month of Ramadan, the Houthis had stepped up their attacks
on supply lines of these provinces in an effort to disrupt the arrival of food
and intensify the humanitarian tragedy.
Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen have detained and tortured 10 journalists
for nearly four years on trumped-up charges of spying, the human-rights group
Amnesty International said on Wednesday.
10 are accused of working on behalf of the Saudi-led military coalition
fighting on behalf of the internationally recognized government of Abed Rabbo
said the 10 men had been held since the summer of 2015 and that they were
formally charged in December 2018 with a series of offenses, including spying
and aiding the coalition, by a special court that handles terrorism-related
is completely outrageous that these men could face the death penalty simply for
doing their jobs,” said Rasha Mohamed, Amnesty’s Yemen researcher.
men are being punished for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of
expression. The charges against them are false and should be dropped
of the journalists worked for online news outlets affiliated with the Islah
party, which is part of Hadi’s government, Amnesty said. Nine of them were
arrested in a raid on a hotel in Sanaa and one man was detained at home by
the course of their detention the men have been forcibly disappeared, held in
intermittent incommunicado detention, been deprived of access to medical care
and suffered torture and other ill-treatment,” Amnesty said.
accusations are the latest charges of human-rights abuses leveled against the
Houthis. They have also been accused of abducting children and using them as
child soldiers in the conflict, and of illegally deploying mines in civilian
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