opens 'Al Quran Park' featuring miracles of Islam
Qaeda Official Calls For Algeria to Become Islamic State Governed By Sharia Law
Park Opens in Al Khawaneej in Dubai Aims to Bridge Cultural Differences in This
Year of Tolerance
Of Morocco Trip, Scholar Looks At Religious Freedom In Islam
Religion and Rhetoric Ramp Up In ‘New Malaysia’
Proof Is ‘Blown In the Wind’, Pakistan Doesn’t Want To See It, Says IAF Chief
Naik Diverted Rs 193cr Islamic Funds for Buying Flats, Mutual Funds: ED Probe
Report Urges Reintegration of Taliban Fighters into Afghan Society
Peace Establishment Possible Only Through End of Palestine's Occupation: Iran
US Soldier Planning To Kill Muslims Converts to Islam
China Warn Against Politicising UN Anti-Terrorism Regime
Revelation of Boko Haram Insurgents’ ‘Wives’: ‘We Saw Hell in Sambisa Forest’
nabs UN official on suspicion of ‘spying’
Says To Coordinate Arab Response to US Move on Golan Heights
document shows Kenya seeking to close Somali refugee camp
Army Pounds Tahrir Al-Sham Positions in Hama, Idlib
Expert: US Plots to Revive ISIL in Western Iraq
of Hundreds of ISIL, US Victims Found in Raqqa
Arabia rejects Trump decision on Golan Heights, Jerusalem
role in countering extremist narratives highlighted at Riyadh forum
Belgium planning false flag Syria chemical attack: Russia
leader says there’s ‘consensus’ on US troops presence
Says UK Complicit In Saudi War Crimes, Can’t Be Peace-Broker
Tories Concerned about Gove’s Views on Muslims: Lady Warsi
extends ban on Saudi arms sale by 6 months despite France, UK criticism
welcomes Romania’s position on its EU ties
repatriated children from Syria after legal pressure
Election Is A ‘Clash Between Pluralism And Fundamentalist Islam’
Pakistan Reaffirm Commitment to Work Closely On Islamic Issues
Muslim youth find new heroes in Instagram preachers
urged to abolish death penalty by inmates’ families
and Tolerance Missive In Namaz In Assam Before Polls
terror monitor for Jammu and Kashmir
Apologists’: At UN, India Blasts Pakistan Inaction
defers Kartarpur meet over Khalistan row
Attaches Assets of Shabir Shah, Fines Three More in Terror Funding Case
wants UK's leading role in UN to end Rohingya crisis
Corps of the Afghan military to be inaugurated in coming weeks: Khalid
kills ISIS-K commander Sardar Wali in Nangarhar province
Taliban militants killed, wounded in Helmand and Paktika operations
talks and the fate of TAPI pipeline
90 Saudi Mercenaries Killed In Sa’ada: Yemen Military
backs Egypt proposal for calm on Israel border
deploys reinforcements near Gaza ahead of ‘Great March of Return’ anniversary
envoy to UN: Israel, terrorists 'evolving into coalition'
belief that Golan Heights belongs to Israel is ‘delusion’: Scholar
Mideast strategy includes expelling Iran from Syria, Pompeo says
asks US to act carefully on issue of blacklisting Masood Azhar at UN
warns UN against using FATF as political tool
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Qaeda official calls for Algeria to become Islamic state governed by sharia law
leading official of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has called on
Muslims to “unite” to ensure Algeria is ruled according to Islam “alone” in a
speech designed to take advantage of continuing street protests against the
20-year rule of President Abelaziz Bouteflika.
speech by Abu Ubaydah Yusuf al-Anabi, widely reported on social media on 9 and
10 March, describes the conditions that would lead to the formation of an
Islamic emirate governed according to sharia law.
called Algerian Muslims to reject any regional or tribal identities and said
that people are all the “sons of Islam”. He added that there is no difference
between Arabs and foreigners as long as they share the same faith.
a “terrorist” by the US State Department in 2015, Al-Anabi encouraged the
Algerian people to take up his religious demands and employ “Islamic morals and
sharia ethics” in their street demonstrations.
speech was delivered days before 82-year-old Bouteflika announced on 11 March
that that the general election due to be held on 18 April would be postponed
indefinitely, at the same time stating that he would not stand for a fifth term
as president. The president suffered a stroke in 2013 and is rarely seen in
22 February, hundreds of thousands of Algerians across the country have been
staging weekly protests, taking up the chant “leave means leave”.
has been president since 1999 when he became a “unity” candidate after the
civil war between the government and Islamists. In 2006 the country’s
constitution declared Islam the state religion (Article 2) but also declared
that “freedom of creed and opinion is inviolable” (Article 36).
religious groups in Algeria are required to be registered to conduct services
and are restricted to approved locations. In practice, authorities have
typically allowed churches registered with official religious organisations,
and even non-registered Christian groups, to meet without needing specific
permission. However, a number of churches have been shut down since the start
of 2018, either for alleged breaches of health and safety, or because
authorities claim they are not properly registered.
fast growing Algerian Church is comprised mainly of first generation converts
from Islam, many of whom are Berbers. There have been ups and downs in their
experience of freedom or harassment over the last 30 years. Al-Anabi’s call to unity in Islam, rejecting
“tribal identities”, refers to the deep divide between the Arab community
(about 70%) and Berber community (about 30%) in Algeria.
Berber are descendants of the original peoples of the Maghreb region of North
Africa. The Arabs are descendants of the invading Muslim conquerors in the
seventh century, under whom the original Algerian Church was wiped out. It was
not until the nineteenth century that a small Algerian Christian presence was
re-established. The Berbers’ resentment of Arabs has been cited by some as a
factor in the dramatic Church growth amongst Algerian Berbers in the last few
decades, as they turn from Islam, the religion of the Arab majority, to follow
Park Opens In Al Khawaneej in Dubai Aims To Bridge Cultural Differences In This
Year Of Tolerance
Al Quran Park was officially opened in Al Khawaneej in Dubai on Friday.
60-hectare park, which is free to enter, aims to bridge cultural differences in
this Year of Tolerance and educate visitors about Islam and the Holy Quran.
well as areas that detail the miracles of the Quran (the Cave of Miracles) and
an Umrah corner, there is also an outdoor theatre and Glass House, along with
facilities akin to most parks, like children’s play areas, a lake, running and
notable features however are the 12 Islamic gardens, which house 54 plants
mentioned in the Holy Quran, such as figs, pomegranate and olives.
park has solar panels, wifi and phone charging stations, as well as shaded seating
are also kiosks to display information about the plants and their use in food
and medicine as mentioned in verses of the Quran. Although the park is free to
enter the Caves of Miracles and Glass House cost Dh10 to enter.
of Morocco trip, scholar looks at religious freedom in Islam
his new book, Religious Freedom in Islam: The Fate of a Universal Human Right
in the Muslim World Today, Notre Dame scholar Daniel Philpott considers the
status of religious freedom in the world’s 47 Muslim majority countries.
of Pope Francis’s trip to Morocco this weekend, Crux spoke with Philpott about
the status of religious freedom in that country, his expectations of the trip,
and why “the Muslim landscape is also diverse and contains grounds for hope.”
For starters, why do you believe it necessary to consider if religious freedom
is compatible with Islam?
Much hinges on the question of religious freedom and Islam. Here in the West, a
culture war has raged over Islam at least as far back as the attacks of
September 11, 2001, pitting “Islamoskeptics,” who say that Islam is hard-wired
for violence and that the West must gird up for a long civilizational struggle,
against “Islamopluralists,” who say that Islam is as peaceful as any religion
and that westerners ought to avoid provoking extremists. The culture war takes
place on talk radio, the internet, and cable news, but also in higher brow venues
like The New Republic and the National Review. Much is at stake.
Trump and Hillary Clinton fought out this culture war in the election of 2016,
and, once Trump took office, he undertook both policies and rhetoric that
demeaned Muslims and almost certainly encouraged hate crimes against Muslims.
There are other reasons why religious freedom matters, too. It is correlated
inversely with religious terrorism and civil war and positively with democracy,
peace, economic development and the advancement of women, goods that are
disproportionately lacking in the Muslim world.
religious freedom is a matter of justice, plain and simple. When Bahais, Jews,
or Christians suffer repression in Muslim-majority countries, just as when
Muslims are mistreated in western countries (think only of the recent
atrocities in New Zealand), human dignity and human rights are diminished.
the majority of countries in the world with low levels of religious freedom are
“Islamist,” what are we to make of that?
finding supports the Islamoskeptics. Countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia,
Pakistan, and Sudan are religiously repressive on account of “Islamism,” an
ideology that calls for the state to promote a conservative form of Islam in
all walks of society. Islamoskeptics are also strengthened by the finding that
Muslim-majority states are in the aggregate considerably less religiously free
than the global average or than Christian majority states. Other findings in my
new book, though, bear out the Islamopluralist perspective.
percent of the Muslim-majority countries that have low levels of religious
freedom are “secular repressive,” which are governed by a western-inspired
ideology that calls for privatizing religion in the name of achieving a modern,
economically developed nation-state. Religious freedom falls victim to the
French Revolution nearly as often as it does to the Iranian Revolution.
Finally, my profile of the Muslim world was filled out by the discovery of
eleven (out of 47) Muslim-majority countries that are in fact religiously free,
most importantly the “West Africa Seven.” These are not outliers and
demonstrate the possibility of genuine religious freedom in Islam. So, yes,
there are Islamist states, but the Muslim landscape is also diverse and contains
grounds for hope.
Francis has dedicated significant time traveling to Muslim majority countries.
What motivates this and what do you believe has been the effect to date?
have engaged the Muslim world since the Second Vatican Council called for
interreligious dialogue in the great document of 1965, Nostra Aetate. Pope
Francis has taken up this call with particular vigor. He has been a bridge
builder and a reconciler, which goes with his stress on mercy and peace. His
trip to the UAE last month was significant in being the first visit of a pope
to the land where Islam was founded. The visit was a success, building trust
and friendship between the two religions and raising the profile of Christian
minorities who inhabit the Arabian Peninsula. He also raised the issue of
religious freedom, much to his credit.
my last answer indicated, this human right is widely compromised in the
Muslim-majority world and is one in which the Church has a great interest and
stake, and it would be remiss to see the Holy Father simply having his picture
taken with Muslim leaders and failing to raise this critical issue. He did
raise it, though, and we can be thankful for that.
then, do you believe we can expect to hear from Pope Francis in Morocco?
Francis will speak of friendship between Catholics and Muslims; the Moroccans
will speak similarly; pictures will be taken. Pope Francis will encourage the
tiny Catholic community in this country whose population is 99 percent Muslim.
I hope and expect that he will bring up religious freedom, too. In my
categories above, Morocco is in the “secular repressive” category, though it is
not an extreme version of it, as are Egypt and Syria, whose repression of
traditional Muslims makes them among the worst practitioners of torture in the
there are problems in Morocco. Tiny communities of Christians, Shia Muslims and
Bahais are harassed by the government and fellow citizens and often cannot
worship without fear. The Muslim community can favor a harsh Islamism. In 2017,
Morocco’s Supreme Ulema Council put out a fatwa declaring that leaving Islam no
longer merited the death penalty - this was progress, but also draws attention
to the kinds of harsh measures that prevailed heretofore.
hope is that Pope Francis will not only speak about religious freedom but also
will demand some real concessions that will set an example for other Muslim
countries-perhaps by way of increased protections for minorities. Pope Francis
is holding the cards. Diplomatically, the Government of Morocco stands to gain
far more in international prestige from Pope Francis’s visit than does Pope
Francis, who is already renowned for his foreign travels.
instances such as the brutal killing of Father Jacques Hamel - the French
priest who was slain while celebrating Mass - or on other occasions, Pope
Francis has denounced such tragedies by labeling it as “absurd violence” and
denouncing hatred, yet he always steers clear of identifying it with Islam.
What’s his strategy here?
suspect that Pope Francis is trying to avoid repeating a scenario like that
following Pope Benedict XVI’s Regensburg Speech of September 2006, when Muslims
took to the streets around the world and in many places carried out violence,
even killing a Catholic nun in Somalia. Given the emotions typically
surrounding violence, he probably wanted to let things cool down rather than
risking to appear linking Islam wholesale to the killing of Hamel. If my
interpretation is correct, Pope Francis’s reaction may have been wise.
the Church’s commitment to justice and to religious freedom, stemming from its
landmark declaration of 1965, Dignitatis Humanae, call for raising the issue of
religious freedom in the Muslim world. To be silent about religious freedom is
to fail to keep solidarity with the vulnerable - religious minorities as well
as Muslims who suffer at the hands of both Islamist governments and secular
repressive governments that are often propped up by Western powers.
religion and rhetoric ramp up in ‘New Malaysia’
recouping the Semenyih state legislative assembly seat, it comes as little
surprise that the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and the
Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) are finally formalising their cooperation.
The implication of this is that political discourse will only regress further
to the right. The hardening of racial and religious divides on the back of
perceived Malay-Muslim victimhood is another consequence.
legislation the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government introduces will be scrutinised
through racially-tinted lenses. Policies perceived as affecting the interests
of Malay-Muslims can expect stronger challenges from now on. At best this would
come at the cost of significantly increased political effort to pass
much-needed reforms — at worst, it could see an increase in the wielding of
this new political landscape, UMNO are no longer shackled by the Barisan
Nasional consociational model of power-sharing and PAS are free to up the
stakes rhetorically. This collaboration will demand even more exclusivist
policies when it comes to the Malay-Muslim agenda.
UMNO and PAS this formalised collaboration also lends credence to its preferred
narrative. They can argue that Malay privilege and the special position of
Islam are only upheld through mutual cooperation of the Malay-Muslim political
parties on one hand and the broad unwavering support of the Malay-Muslim
electorate on the other.
presenting an image of Malay-Muslim interests being under siege by the other
parties, UMNO and PAS can expediently position themselves as defenders of
everything ‘Malay and Islam’ in an attempt to consolidate votes on racial and
novel in Malaysian politics, they mirror the same sense of impending victimhood
as the Democratic Action Party (DAP), a largely ethnically Chinese political
party now part of the PH coalition. The DAP pushed the appointments of
non-Malay-Muslims to the key positions of Attorney-General, Chief Justice, Law
Minister and Finance Minister.
political calculations for this are obvious.
constitute the largest voting bloc in Malaysia but no one political party has a
significant majority over another. The Malay electorate in the 2018 election
were split 25–30 per cent in favour of PH, 35–40 per cent towards UMNO–Barisan
and 30–33 per cent to PAS.
as Article 113(2) of the Constitution states, any re-delineation of
constituencies is only permissible after 8 years. The constituencies allegedly
delineated along racial lines just before the 2018 election will remain so
until the next election. Up for grabs then will be 134 out of the total 222
federal constituencies in Malaysia that have Malay majorities.
with the reality that the non-Malay electorate had almost completely repudiated
UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN) in the previous general election, this cements
the case for UMNO to collaborate with PAS and jointly attempt to capture the
contrast, PH is constrained by its positioning as a multiracial coalition and
by DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang warning that his party will leave the newfound
coalition if the ideals of ‘New Malaysia’ are abandoned. The DAP commands 42
out of 125 of PH’s seats in the Dewan Rakyat, making up almost a third of their
is also the risk that even slight flirtation with any Malay-Muslim political
exclusivism could come at the expense of PH’s non-Malay vote base. This stood
at 95 per cent of Chinese voters and 70–75 per cent of Indian voters in the
to flirt with Malay political exclusivism will only rise further as UMNO and
PAS increase the stakes and rhetoric. PH ought to refrain from knee-jerk
reactions to appease the Malay electorate that play into the hands of UMNO–PAS.
Instead, PH should understand that Cameron Highlands and Semenyih have always
been traditional BN strongholds and not read too much into the results.
of now it remains uncertain how successful the UMNO–PAS collaboration will be,
and whether it poses a genuine threat to PH. In the meantime, PH should view
the current racial and religious groundswell as a manifestation of the Malays’
insecurities, and perhaps, how things have not changed for the better since the
unfortunate fact is that while GDP and foreign direct investment numbers matter
to some in urban bubbles, it means little to many at the grassroots if it does
not improve more direct ‘bread and butter’ issues such as high living costs,
stagnant wages and low employment opportunities.
meaningfully addressing this, the sense of victimhood felt by the Malay-Muslims
will only amplify, making it no wild stretch of imagination for the Malay swing
electorate to revert to the familiarity of UMNO and PAS in the next elections.
lies the foundation of any counter-narrative PH can offer to the electorate.
This counter-narrative also needs to be coupled with nation-building
initiatives to undermine the racial and religious bravado propped up by UMNO
and PAS that seeks to appeal to the baser instincts of race and religion.
would be unrealistic to expect PH to turn the tide around overnight. But with
the elation of the May 2018 election victory quickly fading, PH would be wise
to ignore the cacophony. It should focus on its mandate, remembering that there
can be no legitimate government in Malaysia if it merely represents one ethnic
Proof Is ‘Blown In The Wind’, Pakistan Doesn’t Want To See It, Says IAF Chief
is refusing to acknowledge the damage caused by the Indian Air Force’s
unprecedented, peace-time, cross-border strike against a terror camp in Balakot
on February 26 although the proof exists in front of its eyes in the form of
the bombed-out structures, IAF chief BS Dhanoa said on Friday.
asserted that Indian fighter planes had struck their intended targets with
Chief Marshal Dhanoa quoted lines from an iconic Bob Dylan track in response to
a question on Pakistan downplaying the pre-dawn raid by the IAF’s Mirage 2000
fighters and also denying that any damage was caused by the precision bombing.
is there in front of you (Pakistan), but you don’t want to see it...I can only
recall Dylan, ‘And how many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he
just doesn’t see; the answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind..,” Dhanoa
said, referring to the song, which was part of Dylan’s 1963 album, The
Freewheeling Bob Dylan.
air strikes against the Jaish-e-Mohammed terror base were India’s response for
the Pulwama suicide car bomb attack in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force
(CRPF) men were killed on February 14.
IAF’s Mirages hit three targets in Balakot with five Israeli-origin Spice 2000
bombs with penetrator warheads that allowed them to pierce through the rooftops
before exploding inside to cause maximum damage, two air force officers said on
condition of anonymity.
bomb was carrying around 80 kgs of explosives in a 900-kg steel casing, with
the explosion caused by time-delay fuses sending a lethal quantity of shrapnel
that would have instantly killed the occupants of the buildings, said one of
the officials cited above.
bombs hit their targets in a vertical attack angle, leaving holes measuring 80
to 90 cm in diameter on the rooftops of the structures, the second official
said. “Points of impact are visible to people who know where to look,” Dhanoa
Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at an election rally in Odisha’s Koraput,
slammed Opposition parties for raising questions over the IAF strike.
has been one month, Pakistan is still counting the dead bodies and our rivals
are seeking proof for Balakot strike,” he said, adding, “When India takes
action against terrorists, enters their home and kills them, then some here ask
February 28, the IAF said it had credible proof that the Mirage 2000 strikes
met their objective and the evidence — consisting of satellite and radar
imagery — has been handed over to the government.
Times has seen satellite images of the targets before and after the February 26
strike, and the holes created by the penetrator warheads are hard to miss.
than a month after the Balakot strikes, the air force is still in its highest
state of alert and prepared to scramble fighter jets from its forward bases
within minutes, officials said. Military tensions between India and Pakistan
escalated following the Balakot strikes, with Pakistan Air Force fighters,
including F-16s, making a failed attempt to bomb Indian military installations
on February 27.
air forces lost one fighter plane each in the ensuing aerial engagement, with
IAF’s Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman ending up in Pakistani custody after
his MiG-21 Bison crashed in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. He was returned to India
on March 1.
March 12 , defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the IAF shot down a
Pakistan Air Force F-16 on February 27, but Islamabad would never admit it as
it had always been in “denial” about the losses suffered by it.
Indian Navy cut short a major exercise in the Indian Ocean region after the
Pulwama attack and swiftly redeployed its frontline assets to the north Arabian
Sea for operations. In a rare announcement on March 17, the navy said the
buildup, consisting of an aircraft carrier, nuclear-powered attack submarines
and scores of warships and maritime aircraft, put the Pakistan Navy on the back
combat units are still deployed in the region and the navy is in the highest state
of preparedness, a navy official said on condition of anonymity.
Naik diverted Rs 193cr Islamic funds for buying flats, mutual funds: ED probe
DELHI: Islamist preacher to real estate dealer, the Enforcement Directorate’s
money laundering probe against absconding Zakir Naik has revealed his
undisclosed assets worth over Rs 193 crore — including investments in 20 flats
in Mumbai and Pune besides bank deposits — by diverting funds and donations
received from Islamic countries meant for “welfare of Muslims”.
ED on Friday arrested his close aide Najmudin Sathak, a jeweller, who assisted
Naik in money laundering and organising funds of “dubious origins” from Dubai
to the tune of Rs 79 crore for production and broadcasting incriminating videos
allegedly spreading “hatred and radicalization”.
agency, which is likely to file a chargesheet in the case soon, has already
attached assets worth Rs 51 crore, including multiple properties and mutual
funds worth Rs 9.41 crore. Another close associate Aamir Gazdar was earlier
arrested in the case for aiding Naik in money laundering.
ED, in a status report prepared on Naik, said that the preacher had used his
Islamic Research Foundation, meant for social welfare of the Muslim community,
to organise dubious donations and diverted the proceeds in purchasing
accused raised donations of about Rs 65 crore from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain,
Kuwait, Oman, besides India between 2004 and 2017. The agency has tracked Rs 49
crore received from unexplained sources in Dubai which he further used to book
at least 20 flats in Mumbai and Pune.
ED probe revealed that nine flats were booked in Fatima Heights and Aafiyah
Heights in Mumbai worth over Rs 13 crore in the name of his wife and son and 11
flats booked in Engracia at Pune. “The booking amounts were paid by routing of unexplained
fund received by Naik through the bank accounts of his wife, son and niece,” a
transaction trail also revealed Naik’s investment of Rs 13 crore in three
properties located at Belvedere Road, Mazgaon, Mumbai. The money in this case
was routed through the bank accounts of his mother, father and sister. The
source of funds remained unexplained, according to ED.
Sathak, who is now in ED custody, assisted Naik in organising funds of ‘dubious
origins’ from Dubai to fund production and broadcasting of incriminating videos
allegedly intended to spread communal hatred and radicalisation of the Indian
society, the ED probe says.
is also a director in the Global Broadcasting Corporation which was owned by
the Peace TV channel run by Naik. Peace TV was broadcasting Naik’s speeches
from UAE for Middle East and Africa. The funds were routed through Global Broadcasting
Corporation (GBC), Dubai. “An amount of Rs 79 crore was received from GBC to
Harmony Media Pvt Ltd which was responsible for production of all contents for
the Peace TV. Naik’s sister and another close aide Aamir Gazdar were directors
in Harmony Media,” according to ED probe.
source of funds remitted by GBC to Harmony Media is suspicious as there were no
advertisements run on this channel and Sathak has also not submitted any
details of the same,” a senior ED official said. Both GBC and the Harmony Media
were controlled by Naik through his aides.
was also learnt during investigation that these videos were also exported to UK
by Sathak for uploading the same on Peace TV channel from UK. There was no
monetary transaction in respect of videos exported to UK, which further raises
suspicion,” sources said.
report urges reintegration of Taliban fighters into Afghan society
A failure to reintegrate Taliban fighters and their families into Afghan
society could undermine any peace agreement that the United States and the
militants might conclude, warns an official US report to Congress.
its annual report to Congress, office of the Special Inspector General for
Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) identifies three risks that might persist
after a peace settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government or arise
out of such a deal.
failure to successfully reintegrate Taliban fighters and their families into
Afghan society, a failure to improve civil policing, and a failure to ensure
effective oversight of continuing foreign financial assistance could each
undermine the sustainability of any peace agreement that might be reached,”
SIGAR chief John Sopko warned in the annual report.
2014, SIGAR has developed a “high-risk list” for each new Congress outlining
the threats to US investment in Afghanistan, such as widespread insecurity,
corruption and the illegal drug trade.
2019 report focuses on the risks that might persist or arise in the event of a
peace settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The US and
Taliban are holding talks in Doha, Qatar.
report identifies eight high-risk areas capable of hampering US-funded efforts
for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, which was delivered to Congress and the
secretaries of state and defence this week.
would be welcome news,” the report said. “But a peace settlement could also
bring its own set of challenges to sustaining what has been achieved since 2001
in one of the world’s most isolated, impoverished, and conflict-plagued
report warns that reintegrating anti-government fighters into Afghan society
and a continuing sluggish economy are two other challenges that could undermine
US reconstruction efforts after Taliban reconciliation with Kabul.
peace establishment possible only through end of Palestine's occupation: Iran
has censured Israel's "criminal" actions and the illogical and
unlawful US support for the regime, saying the continuation of resistance until
full liberation of Palestine would play a leading role in the establishment of
"lasting" peace in the Middle East.
Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Friday on the occasion of the
Palestinian Land Day, an annual event to mark the killing of six Palestinians
by Israeli forces during mass protests against Israel’s seizure of their land
late March 1976, Israeli troops killed six Palestinians, wounded 100 others and
detained hundreds more who had held peaceful demonstrations against Israel’s
confiscation of 21,000 dunams (5,189 acres) of their land. Palestinians, both
at home and overseas, have been marking the event known as the Land Day with
rallies and remembrance ever since.
Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the establishment of sustainable and
fair peace in the region will only be possible through the continuation of
resistance until complete end of Palestine's occupation, the return of all
[Palestinian] refugees to their homeland, determination of Palestine's next
system based on [holding] a referendum in the presence of all its main
residents and finally the formation of a united Palestinian government with
East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital," the statement said.
added that the US government's moves in violation of the United Nations
Security Council and its support for the Israeli regime, which was against
international law, prove "futility of efforts by some Arab countries in
the region to normalize ties" with the Tel Aviv regime.
US measures also show that "overt and covert efforts to establish
relations with this regime cannot help restore the Palestinians' rights and end
the occupation of Arab-Islamic lands," it said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry further said US President Donald Trump's decision to
declare Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's "capital," relocate its embassy
to the disputed city and his recognition of Israel's "sovereignty"
over the occupied Golan Heights have all proved that Palestinians' anti-Israel
resistance is a "correct path and the Land Day is one of its
statement also described the Land Day as a "turning point" in the
history, culture and resistance of Palestinians, saying it has played and would
play an important role in boosting the Palestinian people's resistance against
the Israeli regime's occupation.
new report said Israel has so far occupied more than 85 percent or some 27,000
square kilometers of historical territories of Palestine in an expropriation
process which still continues unabated.
Awad, the president of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS),
announced the grim news in a report carried by the Palestinian Ma'an news
agency on Thursday, the eve of the 43rd anniversary of the Land Day.
New Zealand attempts to recover from a brutal attack on two mosques that killed
over 50 Muslims, it has been revealed that a U.S. veteran who was planning to
murder and injure over 200 people at an Islamic centre has become Muslim after
learning about Islam.
becoming the President of the Muslim Student’s Association at Ball State
University in Indiana, and the Vice-President of the Islamic Centre of Muncie,
Richard McKinney was a decorated veteran who had joined the Marine corps for
his love of the “Rambo” action films and served for years in the Middle East,
which he said has contributed to his eventual hatred of Islam and Muslims.
didn’t hate Islam then, but many of the things I saw were a reason why I felt
the way I did later on,” said McKinney.
he returned home, McKinney came extremely close to conducting a terror attack
after planning to make his own improvised explosive device (IED) and blow-up a
mosque with the intent of “killing and injuring hundreds of Muslims” as he
watches from a nearby parking lot.
his wife stumbled across his plans, paving the way for the FBI to investigate
his actions, but that failed to quell his hatred for Muslims, until one day his
daughter was disgusted by comments he made about the veiled mother of one of
his granddaughter’s classmates.
hatred of Islam. It was the only thing that was keeping me alive,” he said.
incident pushed him to seek answers from a local mosque that provided him with
a Quran, and eight weeks later he embraced Islam.
started spending hours and hours in there, and things just made sense to me. I
knew I wanted to take my Shahāda – I wanted to become a Muslim.”
then, he has grown in strength in the community, and has become an
inspirational and integral part of people’s lives. Three years after his
conversion, he became the president of the Islamic Center of Muncie.
now continues to work on promoting Islam and the Muslim community, correcting
any misinformed thoughts and feelings that many have.
China warn against politicising UN anti-terrorism regime
Pakistan has warned that politicising the UN counterterrorism machinery would
only compromise the integrity of the regime, as China also warned against
“forcefully moving” a resolution in the UN Security Council.
in a Security Council debate on “Preventing and Combating the Financing of
Terrorism” on Thursday afternoon, Pakistan’s Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi said that
current structures like FATF and the 1267 Sanctions regimes should not be used
as political tools by some to advance their geopolitical goals.
is also a need to make these institutions more inclusive of the wider
membership in their decision-making processes,” she added.
Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing
in Beijing that “forcefully moving” a resolution directly in the UNSC
undermined the authority of the UN anti-terrorism committee.
is not in line with resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations.
This has reduced the authority of the Committee as a main anti-terrorism body
of the UNSC and this is not conducive to the solidarity and only complicates
the issue,” he said.
Wednesday, the United States directly moved a resolution in the UNSC, seeking
to list Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as a UN-designated global
March 13, the US, Britain and France had moved a similar resolution in a forum
known as the 1267 or the Islamic State and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee. Since
members of this committee are the same as those of the UN Security Council,
China used its discretionary powers to put a technical hold on the resolution.
China also promised to review the situation, including Indian allegations
against Masood Azhar, and reconsider its position on the resolution.
instead of waiting for the final Chinese decision, the United States moved the
resolution in the Security Council. China, as one of the Permanent Five, can
veto the resolution but this will put Beijing in a direct confrontation with
the other four. Both Washington and New Delhi hope that China will avoid a
direct confrontation and let the resolution pass.
in the general debate, Ambassador Lodhi pointed to the several gaps that
existed in the international community’s counterterrorism strategy.
identified the lack of international attention given to foreign intervention
and foreign occupation, denial of the right to self-determination to peoples
living under foreign occupation and continued violations of international law
and the UN Charter as examples of such gaps.
pointed out that continued and persistent violations of human rights
contributed to violent extremism. Yet killings continue in India-held Kashmir
Lodhi said that brutalisation and oppression of people struggling for their
legitimate right to self-determination constituted state terrorism, which
should also be the focus of international attention.
has been the principal victim of terrorism, including that supported, sponsored
and financed from abroad,” she said. “But this has not diminished my country’s
resolve to eliminate this scourge.”
Lodhi also told the Security Council that Pakistan had criminalised terrorist
financing in accordance with the Terrorism Financing Convention and had enacted
laws to eliminate terrorism financing risks and implement its international
obligations, including those arising from FATF recommendations and 1267
Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng said China put a technical
hold on the US move because it wanted to conduct an in-depth assessment and was
“in communication with all parties to seek a settlement through dialogue. We
hope this will be a common goal of all the members of the UNSC.”
about Pakistan rejecting the evidence put forward by India on the Pulwama
terrorist attack, he said, the 1267 committee had detailed and clear
stipulation and requirements on the listing issue.
China has done is in line with the requirement of the UNSC and rules and
procedures of the committee. We are always working in a constructive manner and
stay in communication with the relevant parties and seek a proper solution,” he
Geng said that moving a resolution directly in the UNSC undermined the
authority of the UN’s anti-terrorism committee.
has reduced the authority of the Committee as a main anti-terrorism body of the
UNSC and this is not conducive to the solidarity and only complicates the
issue,” he said. “We urge the US to act cautiously and avoid forcefully moving
forward this draft resolution.”
revelation of Boko Haram insurgents’ ‘wives’: ‘We saw hell in Sambisa forest’
of Boko Haram commanders who returned from Sambisa Forest after their escape
have continued to be stigmatised by their community members who have lost trust
in them. OLUFEMI ATOYEBI and HINDI LIVINUS write
by grief, ‘wives’ of Boko Haram commanders had different tales to tell, even
though they were held in the same confinement by their abductors for years.
Their stories are about human suffering, agonies, survival and ultimately,
triumph. Although they could be inspiring, they are stories of assault on
some point, many of the captives had to eat grass to survive the grueling
starvation so they could see another day. There were those, who in an attempt
to flee and escape the harrowing experience of starvation and malnutrition
suffered by their children, set out at dawn to escape but they did not reach
their destinations as they found death on the way. Some were felled in their
tracks by search parties of Boko Haram fighters who were saddled with the task
of ensuring that anyone who attempted to escape never lived to enjoy freedom.
But for many of them, despite their escape, life remains harrowing.
Hauwa Babajo, who gave birth to a daughter after her union with a Boko Haram
commander, anyone that had a plan to escape risked betrayal if they confided in
any of the fellow captives or even their ‘partner’. She escaped from Sabilu
Huda, a settlement within the forest. She said women who returned from the
forest were also stigmatised by people in the communities who do not seem to
don’t expect any of the wives of the Boko Haram fighters to confide in their
husbands that they plan to flee. In the forest, there were commercial
activities going on. There were tailors, butchers and so on. Most of the
trading was done by Boko Haram commanders who had partners in Michika,
Madagali, Gwoza and Damboa. Living in Sambisa Forest was hellish.
face all manner of abuses from members of our community who call us Boko Haram.
Our children are also not spared; they are called children of vipers. They say
after being chased away from Sambisa, we returned with snakes from our Boko
Haram husbands,” she said.
she wished she had never returned to Madagali because of the stigmatisation she
and her daughter, Zara, have had to endure since their return six months ago.
Her Boko Haram husband was allegedly killed by the Nigerian military in a raid.
off to one of the Boko Haram fighters in Sambisa, Mary Palam, similarly fled
the forest after almost three years in captivity because of the difficult life
she was subjected to. She said many of them begged to survive.
was acute food shortage at the camp and finding clothes to wear was also one of
the biggest challenges of living in Sambisa. Our experience can be described as
living in hell while on earth. It was tough. There were people who lived on
begging in order to survive. Only few families, especially those belonging to
commanders, were able to feed their families,” she said.
Ajuji, who was married off to Umaru Abdullahi, following her abduction in April
2014, said she also escaped from the enclave of Sambisa because of hardship,
adding that she had two children for Abdulahi in the forest.
had known him to be fighting for the group ever since I was taken into
captivity by the sect. When the insurgents stormed our house in Madagali,
Abdullahi indicated interest in taking me and my sister with them. My family
members were initially resistant but the sect threatened to kill our father.
They took us and other ladies to Limankara and later Jaji.
was hell on earth. There were days when we were locked up without food or
water. Those were days that the men would say they were going to do god’s work,
meaning they had gone to either attack a town or wage a war against the
Nigerian Army. My sister was separated from me but we ended up re-uniting in
Sambisa again,” she said.
eldest brother and father had died during the time she was away. She said her
brother had fled to Cameroon with his wife and two kids but was killed by
Cameroonian gendarme, who took him for a member of the sect. He was killed in
front of his wife and children. Mariam said her days in Boko Haram captivity
came to an end in November 2018 when she escaped from Sambisa Forest. After
failing in her earlier attempts, her husband divorced her and threatened to
execute her but took her back as wife before her fourth and final escape plan
succeeded. With a search party launched to find her, a woman came to her
rescue, hiding her in her home until the search was called off.
Bilkisu, her husband, Buba Yusuf, also known as Bubarisko, had no option but to
agree to join the Boko Haram sect as a leader after threats that their two sons
would be killed if he disagreed to abide by the sect’s doctrine. She said one
of the leading figures of Boko Haram, Mamman Nur, visited her husband in
Madagali and took him away. He was only returned after he agreed to do their
the Nigerian soldiers invaded Madagali to liberate it, her husband fled to
Sambisa while one of her sons was killed with 29 other males after they were
identified as Boko Haram fighters. He lost another son in an air raid. After
her return, she was handed over to the Nigerian Army by people who identified
her as the wife of a Boko Haram commandant still in Sambisa.
has never been my husband’s will to join the sect. There was a slim chance we
could get out of their web; we considered the fate of our four middle-aged boys
and what would happen to them if we went against the instructions of the sect
members. My husband was given a leadership role in Madagali and referred to as
Amir. When I survived military onslaught with my two daughters, we returned to
our community but members of the community handed us to the military over
allegations that we had come to spy for my husband.
was put in chains and taken to the military camp in Chibok where I was
interrogated and asked to reveal the identities of other members of the group.
But after a month, they issued me a clearance with documents (which she proudly
brandished),” she said.
of the ‘wives’ of Boko Haram insurgents who escaped
Amina Mohammed, 42, was not married off to a Boko Haram insurgent; she and her
husband were kidnapped by the group. She made her escape from Sambisa Forest
while she was three months pregnant, but she was delivered of her baby during
her journey to freedom.
gave birth while I was fleeing. I saw a Nigerian fighter helicopter hovering
over us during the journey. The soldiers took us to Gwoza which was nearby, but
I told them I could not find my three-year-old son. I left my newborn child
with one of the women with me when the soldiers rescued us and I informed them
I was going in search of my son whom I had left behind in Sambisa.
found the boy playing with the children of my neighbours in one of the Sambisa
settlements. I took him and found my way back to Gwoza. This was after spending
three days inside Sambisa Forest. I made my escape under the cover of
darkness,” she said.
said she was held with her husband, a teacher. According to her, the escape was
not a smooth one because she was twice betrayed by neighbours who told one of
the Boko Haram commanders about her intention to flee. Afterwards, she was
locked in a cell and threatened to be killed if she attempted to escape.
MAY ALSO LIKE: Party’s decision to settle for Lawan shocked, surprised me
of Boko Haram fighters literally live from hand to mouth and those who have
difficulties coping with the deprivation and starvation choose to escape the
suffering by fleeing the forest once the opportunity of escape presents itself,”
Aishatu Usman, her sadness is that even though her daughter, Zainab, was
rescued by the military from Sambisa, she (Zainab) lost her sanity while in
captivity. Zainab was in junior secondary school three when she was kidnapped
with other young girls and married off in the forest to a Boko Haram fighter.
said, “I have spent all I have to see that she regains herself. Right now she
doesn’t like the company of people. She doesn’t also like her hair plaited; at
night she awakens every one with cries of what seem like Quoranic citations. I
have been suffering with her since she returned. My girl was fine before her
abduction. All of her hallucinations started after her return from captivity.”
District Head of Duhu, Mohammed Sanusi, has been a source of succour to many of
the women upon their return to the town. Many of them said that they would have
made their way back to Sambisa Forest but for the love shown to them by Sanusi.
few years ago, Sanusi set up a reconciliation committee named Kabara Committee,
as part of a post-insurgency recovery plan. The committee, which draws its
membership from the headship of the six villages under Duhu District and
representation from Christian and Muslim communities, identifies returnees,
especially women, who were either rescued or had fled Sambisa, for
on his effort, Sanusi said that nearly 60 per cent of the youth from the area
joined the Boko Haram sect, stressing that the community must come up with a
system so that those who joined the sect would have reasons to abandon it and
return home without fear of stigmatisation.
stressed that if the community could be more accommodating; those who felt they
had done any wrong could be encouraged to return.
said, “We have to treat these women well and get them re-integrated into the
communities because we have learnt that many of them have a communication
channel with their husbands and we believe that they will convince them with
time to come out of hiding and stop fighting on the side of the insurgents.
seek partnership with local and international non-governmental organisations
which we relay their needs to and many of them have obliged us with assistance
for the women. It is still work in progress, many of them are trained to
acquire skills that they want and given financial assistance that will enable
them to start their own businesses.”
member of the Kabara Committee, Shinapi Pakka, said returnees were given tests
to ascertain the veracity of their stories.
someone returns from Sambisa Forest, the committee will sit with the person and
find out from them if they were truly from Sambisa. We have links with NGOs
which offer assistance, including livelihood support and some money to start a
trade after proper checks have been carried out to ascertain that the returnee
poses no threat to the peace of the community,” he said.
has arrested a United Nations (UN) official charged with monitoring alleged
violations of an international arms embargo on Libya on suspicion of “spying.”
authorities arrested Moncef Kartas, a member of the panel of experts of the
UN’s Libya Sanctions Committee, after he arrived in the capital, Tunis, on
Tuesday, a UN spokesman told AFP on Friday.
are in contact with the Tunisian authorities to know why he (Kartas) has been
held for questioning,” a UN statement said, noting that Kartas enjoys
to Tunisia website universnews, Kartas has dual Tunisian and German
Tunisian Interior Ministry said in a statement on Friday that two Tunisian
citizens, including Kartas, had been detained on suspicion of “spying for
added that investigations were ongoing.
says to coordinate Arab response to US move on Golan Heights
says it will coordinate with its fellow Arab countries to “contain” any fallout
from US President Donald Trump’s provocative decision to recognize
"Israeli sovereignty" over Syria’s Golan Heights.
will work with fellow Arab countries and the international community to contain
the expected repercussions of this decision in the various regional and
international forums,” Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui said without
elaborating during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in the capital Tunis on
Friday evening, two days before the annual Arab League summit.
1967, Israel waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it
occupied some two-thirds of Syria’s Golan Heights and annexed the region four
years later, a move never recognized by the international community.
Monday, however, Trump took a markedly controversial move by proclaiming the
Israeli-occupied part of the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, triggering an
international outcry particularly among the Arab nations.
Arab League spokesman Mahmoud Afifi has said the bloc would seek to issue a
proclamation on Trump’s Golan declaration on Sunday, experts expect little more
than a condemnation statement.
will be just a very strong, theatrical, nice, maybe strong statement,” said
Ahmed Abd Rabou, a visiting professor of international affairs at the
University of Denver, expressing doubt that any Arab League statement “will
have a true political effect.”
leaders responded similarly to the US president's other contentious decision
last year to recognize Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” — with nothing
more than statements condemning the move.
including Iran, Russia, Lebanon and Palestinian factions, have unanimously
denounced Washington’s move. The European Union has also said it will continue
to view the territory as occupied.
a Wednesday meeting of the UN Security Council turned into another stage for
the isolation of the US, as other countries on the council opposed Trump’s move
on the occupied Golan Heights.
Kenya — An internal United Nations document says Kenya again seeks to close the
Dadaab camp that hosts more than 200,000 refugees from neighboring Somalia and
is one of the largest such camps in the world.
U.N. refugee agency document obtained by The Associated Press says it
“appreciates” Kenya’s suggestion, made on Feb. 12, to close the camp within six
months. But it notes that security remains “precarious” in Somalia, where the
al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group is based, and says returns must be
calls the refugee camp near the Somalia border a source of insecurity. Some
officials have argued that it has been used as a recruiting ground for
al-Shabab and a base for launching attacks inside Kenya, but the officials have
not provided conclusive proof.
Kenyan court in 2017 blocked the closure of Dadaab, however, saying it was not
safe for refugees to return home.
senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was
not authorized to discuss the issue, confirmed Kenya’s latest plan to close the
decision followed the deadly al-Shabab attack on a luxury hotel complex in
Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, in January, he said.
senior official said plans for the Nairobi attack were made at the Dadaab camp.
In the government’s previous attempt to close the camp, it said plans for the
2013 attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead had been
made in Dadaab, but it offered no proof.
internal U.N. document says Kenya suggested alternatives including moving the
camp to Kakuma, away from the Kenya-Somalia border. The document also notes
Kenya’s national security concerns.
first settlement in Dadaab was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing
conflict in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya, according to the
U.N. refugee agency.
Syrian army forces launched heavy artillery strikes against the positions and
moves of Tahrir al-Sham in the towns of al-Sharia'h and Tal al-Sakhar on Friday
in response to the terrorists' attacks against military areas.
the attacks, the Syrian army smashed several hideouts, military vehicles,
weapons and equipment of the militants, leaving a bunch of the terrorists dead
the artillery units of the Syrian army targeted the terrorists' positions in
Khan Sheikhoun and al-Khuwain, killing a number of the terrorists and
destroying their military equipment.
a relevant development on Thursday, the Syrian army fended off attacks by
Tahrir al-Sham from the demilitarized zone against the military points in
Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.
Syrian army units targeted Tahrir al-Sham's moves from Halfaya, al-Latamineh,
al-Sakhar and al-Sarmaniyeh regions towards the military points in Northern and
Northwestern Hama, leaving several militants dead and wounded and forcing
others to withdraw. Meantime, a military source reported that the Syrian army
forces destroyed the terrorists' hideouts near the towns of al-Latamineh and
Kafr Zita with bomber drones.
in Southern Idlib, the Syrian army forces targeted the terrorists' positions
near Khan Sheikoun, Jisr al-Shaqour, Tahtaya and Basileh in response to their
offensives, killing a number of terrorists and destroying their military
al-Kanani was quoted by the Arabic-language al-Ma'aloumeh news website as
saying on Thursday that the US does not intend to withdraw from Eastern
Euphrates or Western Iraq.
added that the ISIL terrorists have been stationed in US bases in Western Iraq
near the borders with Syria, noting that Washington's presence is aimed at
controlling the region and cutting the Tehran-Baghdad-Beirut road to protect
had also earlier revealed that a large number of ISIL terrorists in Eastern
Euphrates entered Iraq after an agreement with the Syrian Democratic Forces
(SDF) via corridors prepared for them by the US forces.
senior Iraqi expert had also in January warned of Washington's attempts to
increase its influence in Iraq, saying that Israeli spies and ISIL terrorists
were present at the US bases in Iraq.
Al-e Basharah told al-Ma'aloumeh news website that the US was attempting to
boost its presence in Iraq and the American forces have been stationed in the
Southern parts of Baghdad, specially al-Suwaireh and al-Aziziyeh regions.
added that the Iraqi government's assessments that the foreign military
advisors are stationed in the country are outdated, noting that the information
obtained by the resistance forces indicate that combat forces are deployed in
the US bases and their numbers is on rise each day.
Kurdish-language Hawar News quoted Head of Raqqa's Rescue Team Yasser al-Khamis
as saying on Thursday that the corpses of 304 people have been unearthed from a
mass-grave in Fakhikheh region in Southern Raqqa since early January.
added that most of the bodies belong to the civilians, including women and
children, noting that some of the victims had been executed.
media activists reported that bodies of several civilians, most of them women
and children, were pulled out of the debris in al-Adkhar and al-Ta'aminat
districts of Raqqa in the past few days.
said the corpses belong to the people killed by the ISIL terrorists or in the
US coalition airstrikes on Raqqa.
earlier this month, the Syrian army discovered around 30 dead bodies from the
debris of the buildings destroyed in the US-led air raids on Raqqa city and
mass graves of ISIL's victims.
dead bodies of at least 21 civilians, including children and women, massacred
by the ISIL were retrieved from Fakhikheh mass grave South of Raqqa City,"
media activists said.
his opening speech during the ministerial session ahead of the Arab League
Summit due to convene on Sunday in Tunisia, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs
Dr. Ibrahim al-Assaf rejected US recognizing sovereignty of Israel over the
Kingdom rejects any measures that affect the historical status of Jerusalem,”
[Saudi Arabia] support the territorial integrity of Syria and the political
solution based on dialogue between the opposition and the regime.”
further noted that the Kingdom wants to unify the Syrian opposition ahead of
talks with the Syrian regime.
for the ongoing war in Yemen, the minister said: “we hold Iran fully
responsible for what is happening in Yemen.”
also reaffirmed his country’s support for UN efforts and UN envoys in Yemen,
Syria and Libya.
reject the interference of Iran and its militias in a number of Arab
countries,” he added.
ballistic missiles pose a threat to regional and international security,
according to al-Assaf.
the preparatory ministerial session, the Secretary-General of the Arab League
Ahmed Aboul Gheit called for a political solution to the conflicts in Syria,
Libya, and Yemen.
Aboul Gheit said that the “Golan is Syrian land,” rejecting the US decision to
recognize Israel sovereignty over Golan Heights.
his part, the Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs Khemaies Jhinaoui said “the
Trump decision on the occupied Golan is null and void and has no legal effect.”
will work with other Arab countries to contain the impact of US decision to
recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” he added.
Arabia’s counter-terrorism efforts include countering hate speech and violence
by educating people about extremist groups, according to a Saudi official who
spoke at a panel discussion held in Riyadh on Thursday.
country’s efforts include “spreading sermons and lectures to educate the people
about the tactics used by extremist groups whether they are ISIS or the
terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group,” said Dr. Ali al-Shehri, a representative
from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
“Integration in Countering Terrorist Networks Narrative: ISIS as a Model,” the
panel discussion was organized by the Saudi Presidency of State Security and
the Global Coalition Against Daesh.
Arabia is one of the 79 members of the Global Coalition, committed to
degrading, defeating, and dismantling ISIS.
Jamal, the official representative of the Global Coalition, said it was
important to discuss violent video games. “There are a lot of studies which
looked into the psyches of the players and how content from these video games
affect them, how it markets terrorist ideas and instills in them violent
is important to discuss, Nancy said. “A lot of countries are looking into this
now,” she added.
said the forum was important because it included experts from several fields
including defense, media and policymakers.
panel discussions also saw the participation of Etidal, an international center
to combat extremism based in Riyadh.
long-term strategic goal is to build a model which we can spread thoughts of
moderation, not hate. We at Etidal aim to highlight the importance of tolerance
not just on the person or family but as a culture in which the people will
accept that extremism and hatred should no longer be accepted in society,” said
Sultan al-Khuzam, director of global collaboration at Etidal.
has warned that the intelligence agencies of France and Belgium - in
cooperation with terrorists and "pseudo-humanitarian" volunteers -
are preparing to conduct a false flag chemical attack in Syria.
General Viktor Kupchishin, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center
for Syrian Reconciliation, said on Friday that the "provocation"
would be staged in Syria's terrorist-held Idlib Province to pin the blame on
Moscow and Damascus.
organize provocations, representatives of the French and Belgian secret
services arrived in Idlib. Under their supervision, a meeting was held with the
field commanders of the terrorist groups of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Hurras
al-Din, as well as with the representatives of the pseudo-humanitarian
organization ‘White helmets’," he said.
batch of poisonous gas, believed to be chlorine-based, has already been
delivered to a number of Idlib villages, Kupchishin said, adding that the toxic
is packed in canisters disguised as oxygen and natural gas tank.
plotters, he noted, have discussed filming the chemical attack and re-purposing
footage of Russia's recent airstrikes on terrorists' arms depots in Idlib.
14 March to 27 March 2019, the representatives of the Belgian secret services
recorded strikes on video, which the Russian Aerospace Forces targeted at
terror groups' arms depots and footholds of drones on the territory of the
Idlib de-escalation zone, in order to subsequently present them as an
‘evidence’ of the use of chemical weapons," the Russian general said.
further stressed that the “actors” of the false flag attack have been offered
some $100 for playing the roles of chemical victims, warning that the militants
may even poison people for real in order to make their video more
refugees and families held by terrorists could have been forced to take part in
the staged attack, he added.
has on several occasions warned about false flag chemical weapons attacks in
Syria in a bid to justify an ensuing foreign military aggression in the Arab country.
April 7, 2018, an alleged chemical weapons attack hit the Damascus suburb town
of Douma, just as the Syrian army was
about to win the battle against the militants there.
states blamed the Syrian government for the incident, but Damascus firmly
rejected the accusation.
week after the suspected gas attack, the US, Britain and France launched a
coordinated missile strike against sites and research facilities near Damascus
and Homs with the purported goal of paralyzing the Syrian government’s
capability to produce chemicals.
president On Friday said he does not see any “serious” opposition when it comes
to the presence of American forces in Iraq, provided they continue to be there
specifically to assist Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State
Salih said there is “general consensus” that Iraq needs continued collaboration
with the forces, which he said can go on “as long as it is necessary.” He also
warned that the threat from IS extremists is far from over, despite the
announcement of the group’s territorial defeat in Syria last week.
spoke to The Associated Press in an exclusive interview in Baghdad on Friday, a
day before traveling to Tunis to attend an annual Arab summit meeting. Some
5,200 troops are stationed in Iraq as part of a security agreement with the
Iraqi government to advise, assist and support the country’s troops in the
fight against the Islamic State.
overran large parts of Iraq in 2014 after Iraqi forces collapsed, and it
proceeded to declare a self-styled caliphate over territory straddling Iraq and
forces, which had left Iraq in 2011 after invading in 2003, were invited back
to assist the fight against the group, and Iraq declared victory over IS in
late 2017 after a ruinous and bloody war.
are here for the specific mission of empowering and enabling Iraqi forces in
the fight against ISIS. Nothing else. That is the specific exclusive mission,
and in that context, I do not see serious opposition to the presence of these
forces in Iraq today,” Salih said.
comments stand in stark contrast with that of mostly Iran-backed deputies in
the Iraqi Parliament, who say they are preparing draft laws calling for a full
withdrawal of US troops now that the war against IS is over.
unannounced visit to Iraq by Trump in December, during which he failed to meet
with the prime minister, as well as recent comments in which Trump said he
wanted US troops to remain in Iraq to “watch Iran,” have also provoked outrage
in Baghdad and fueled the debate.
said any mission beyond what has been agreed to by the Iraqi government “is a
subject that many political leaders of the country would take objection to.” He
said he recently led a conversation among all the major political groupings of
the country, and there is “general consensus that Iraq needs that collaboration.”
A debate or vote is not scheduled in Parliament for the time being, he said.
he said the territorial defeat of IS was hugely significant, Salih said
remnants of the group were still operating and moving around in both Syria and
threat is far from over. We really need — we in Iraq, Syria and the entire
international community — to be vigilant and to make sure that we deal
definitely with this threat of extremism,” he said.
also said the international community should shoulder its responsibility in
dealing with the thousands of IS detainees and their families currently being
held in Syria and Iraq.
has to be a framework that will bring the international community together,
both legally as well as in terms of the logistics and security ramifications of
dealing with the numbers of ISIS detainees,” he said.
detention centers and courts are already overwhelmed with IS suspects, and the
country has recently begun repatriating IS militants detained in Syria. They
include 13 French nationals who will be put on trial for crimes committed
inside Iraq. Salih said that although he is personally opposed to capital
punishment, he would abide by the Iraqi laws and the constitution if the French
nationals were to be handed the death sentence.
the interview, Salih added that Iraq is advocating the readmittance of Syria
back into the Arab League, and he said he hoped that the remaining Arab
countries would work together toward that goal.
membership was suspended in 2011 in the early days of the uprising against
President Bashar Assad.
some Arab leaders think Syria — a founding member — should be readmitted,
others like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have spent years supporting the insurgency.
better embrace Syria, and hope Syria overcomes the difficulties it has been
facing. Simply isolating Syria is not the way to move forward,” Salih said.
says UK complicit in Saudi war crimes, can’t be peace-broker
senior Houthi Ansarullah official has lashed out at British Foreign Secretary
Jeremy Hunt for supporting continued exports of lethal weapons to Saudi Arabia,
saying that London cannot be a peace-broker in Yemen while it is still arming
remarks were made by Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, the Chairman of the Supreme
Revolutionary Committee of Yemen, in an interview with The Guardian published
sending aid does not change the tragic reality of its arms sales. Jeremy Hunt
cannot promote peace while at the same time acting as an arms salesman,”
al-Houthi said, slamming Hunt for pressing Germany to relax its arms sales ban
on Saudi Arabia. “Mr. Hunt has gone beyond defending British arms sales, by
attempting to pressure other European countries, such as Germany, to sell
arms,” he added.
this month, Germany extended a ban on arms exports to Saudi Arabia imposed over
the kingdom’s deadly campaign against Yemen and the murder of dissident
journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
decision drew criticism of European partners, including France and Britain, due
to the fact that the move has impacted joint defense projects.
Hunt and the French government have been lobbying the German coalition to allow
the arms sales, but there has been an impasse between the Social Democrats, who
oppose the sales, and the Christian Democrats, who back them.
his Friday interview, al-Houthi blamed the joint British, US, Saudi, and UAE
naval forces for the currently “critical” level of famine and the “tragic
humanitarian situation” in Yemen.
Saudi-led coalition, backed by Britain, commits war crimes and does not abide
by, as Britain claims, ‘the most stringent guidelines for the export of weapons
in the world’,” the Yemeni official said.
principles mentioned are solely for political speech and to avoid the legal and
moral responsibility concerning the war crimes and humanitarian situation that
the British government faces as part of such alliance,” he added.
on March 1, Hunt held a rare meeting with chief negotiator for Yemen’s popular
Houthi Ansarullah movement Mohammed Abdul-Salam in the Omani capital of Muscat
to discuss ongoing peace negotiations related to the Yemeni port city of
to Hunt, Abdul-Salam expressed concern about what he described as the Saudi-led
coalition’s attempts to introduce new conditions to a follow-up deal to the
Stockholm agreement, a deal reached in December between the Ansarullah and the
Saudi-backed former regime on a ceasefire in Hudaydah.
on March 3, the British top diplomat paid a rare visit to Yemen, where he
claimed that Hudaydah “was supposed to be cleared of militia and left under
neutral control by the beginning of January.”
remarks were widely condemned by the Ansarullah movement, whose spokesman said
Hunt is distorting the terms of the UN-mediated ceasefire deal reached in
the entry point for most of Yemen’s commercial goods and vital aid, has seen
some of the heaviest fighting in the four-year Saudi war.
Arabia and the UAE launched an offensive against Hudaydah 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.
UK has licensed over £4.7 billion worth of arms exports, including missiles and
fighter jets, to Riyadh since the Saudi regime and its allies launched the war
on Yemen in early 2015.
Tories concerned about Gove’s views on Muslims: Lady Warsi
Hussain Warsi, the former co-chair of the Conservative Party and Britain’s
first Muslim to serve in cabinet, has said she is fearful of the idea of
Michael Gove becoming prime minister. Some view Gove as an
"Islamophobe" due to his anti-Muslim views.
an interview with The Guardian on Friday, Warsi, a member of the House of
Lords, said she and other senior members of the Conservative Party are
concerned about Gove’s views on British Muslims.
Wednesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she was prepared to
step down before the next phase of Brexit negotiations. Gove, the secretary of
environment, is among the leading candidates to replace May.
Warsi said any party that elected Gove as a leader “has got major problems.”
what she thought about the idea of Gove replacing the current prime minister,
she said, “I just don’t even want to imagine it. I’ve sat in too many meetings,
I’ve done everything from rolling my eyes, to thinking, gosh, thank God he’s
not prime minister.”
said there were other senior Conservative politicians who also had serious
concerns about him. “I’m not the only one to raise concerns about Michael. Ken
Clarke has spoken about it, even his friends close to him. Even David Cameron
has spoken about concerns about the way he views the world and the way he views
the 2005 London tube and bus bombings, Gove wrote a highly controversial book,
Celsius 7/7, in which he railed against Muslims. He stated that “a sizeable minority” of
Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims held “rejectionist Islamist views.”
the book, he argued that Islamism is akin to fascism and communism.
has extended its ban on all arms exports to Saudi Arabia for a further six
months, in a move which drew criticism from fellow European arms exporters,
including France and Britain.
government of Chancellor Angela Merkel imposed a temporary halt on arms sales
to Riyadh back in October 2018, citing circumstances surrounding the gruesome
murder of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in
ban will be extended for a further six months to September 30,” government
spokesman Steffen Seibert said in an emailed statement on Thursday. “Over this
period no new export applications will be approved.”
ban restricts not only deliveries of fully assembled products, but also of
components used by weapons companies in other European nations.
has prompted outrage mostly in France and Britain, which have heavily relied on
German high-tech components for producing and assembling fighter jets and
warships for Saudi Arabia.
an attempt to alleviate its partners' concerns, Berlin also agreed to extend
for nine months export licenses that had already been granted, provided the
companies undertook not to deliver any finished weapon systems until the end of
German government also called on France and Britain to ensure that its weapons
systems deliveries to Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates would not be
used in the Yemen conflict.
two Arab regimes and their regional allies in the Middle East have been leading
a deadly military aggression against the people of Yemen since March 2015,
using weapons and intelligence supplied by Western countries, most notably the
United States, France, Britain and Canada.
government has come under pressure from many conservatives at home to end the
ban, who argue that a continued ban could jeopardize projects such as the
development of a Franco-German combat jet and other arms deals.
arms ban, however, has been praised by human rights advocates, who said it had
more effect than expected.
international outrage over both the Khashoggi murder and the war in Yemen,
however, most countries have decided to maintain profitable arms deals with Riyadh.
started the Yemen war with the aim of bringing a former government to power and
crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement. Riyadh has failed to fulfill its
United States, the world’s main arms supplier, has already made it clear that
it would not stop lucrative arms deals with Riyadh, its biggest customer.
President Donald Trump has even brushed off criticism over the Khashoggi murder
and the Saudis’ role in the war on Yemen, defending the kingdom's de facto
ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who has been leading the war.
was recently reported that the Trump administration had even gone further by
approving several authorizations that allow American companies to provide
Riyadh with nuclear technology or technical assistance.
energy secretary does not ‘recall’ nuclear approvals date
number of lawmakers, who have already accused the Trump administration of
complicity in covering up Khashoggi’s murder, raised a question over the date
of the approvals.
a hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee, Democratic senator Tim Kaine
asked Trump’s Energy Secretary Rick Perry if any of his approvals were made
before Khashoggi’s murder in Istanbul.
however, said he cannot “recall” the date he made the approvals.
sign a lot of papers.” said Perry. “I’ve got a pretty good memory, but to
remember every date that I sign a piece of paper might be above my ability to
don't want to give you a date specific," the energy secretary added.
Thursday, the US Department of Energy issued a statement clarifying that it had
issued seven approvals for American companies to “secretly” provide the kingdom
with nuclear technology.
move has raised concern among both parties, who say providing the technology,
without non-proliferation safeguards, could eventually lead to development of
nuclear weapons in the kingdom.
year, bin Salman said that the kingdom would be quick to develop nuclear
weapons if Iran — which Riyadh views as its arch rival in the region — did so.
does not pursue nuclear weapons, and under a 2015 international deal, it has
placed its entire nuclear program under enhanced 24/7 monitoring by the UN
vice president hailed Romania on Friday for supporting Ankara’s efforts to
establish “constructive” relations with the European Union.
welcome Romania’s principled stance and its efforts, which contribute toward a
constructive understanding in EU-Turkey relations," said Fuat Oktay,
speaking at a joint press conference in Bucharest with Romanian Prime Minister
hope Romania’s stance will set an example for other European countries,"
remarks came after bilateral and inter-delegation meetings with Dancila.
had a fruitful meeting with Prime Minister Dancila…We broadly exchanged views
on bilateral relations as well as regional and international developments.
the framework of the EU presidency of Romania, we’ve shared our approach and
expectations to advance the negotiation process of our country's accession to
the EU,” Oktay said, calling Romania a “close ally”.
holds the EU’s rotating presidency until June 30.
our meeting, we confirmed that we are on the same page on further developing
our cooperation in every field and on Turkey-EU relations,” he added.
applied for EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.
negotiations stalled in 2007 due to the objections of the Greek Cypriot
administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from
Germany and France.
the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 coup
attempt, Oktay said: “We place great importance on the continuation of mutual
cooperation in the fight against the structuring of this terror organization,
which also poses a threat to Romania’s security.”
and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July
15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state
through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military,
police and judiciary.
voiced her support for Turkey’s EU membership, calling Turkey a “key partner”
of the EU.
also praised Turkey’s efforts to deter irregular migration by hosting over 3.5
that Turkey and Romania have very “strong” relations, Dancila said the
bilateral trade potential of the two countries was very high.
months, Fatima did not receive any response from the French government as she
pleaded for her 5-year-old granddaughter to be repatriated from a
Kurdish-controlled camp in north-eastern Syria.
response came earlier this month, when France – unlike other western countries
– unexpectedly took the decision to repatriate five orphaned children of ISIS
who withheld her last name, welcomed the news with a sigh of relief. “I was
always terrified that they would one day tell me that she was gone, as they did
with my son,” she said in an interview with French newspaper Le Monde.
son Sofiane was 20 years old when he left Paris to join the extremist group in
Syria back in 2012. After French authorities reported his death, together with
his wife, Fatima contacted Samia Maktouf, a lawyer specialised in helping
victims of terrorism, to seek the repatriation of her granddaughter.
thought it would be evident to the French government that the girl would have
to be brought back,” Mrs Maktouf told The National. “Instead it took over a
French government has long avoided bring back children of extremist fighters
for both legal reasons and for fear of infuriating the public, according to
experts. The return of the five French children on March 15, therefore,
surprised many, including their families.
rights groups estimate that at least 100 French children are stranded in Iraq
and Syria, where ISIS had established a "caliphate" spanning parts of
both countries. Determining their eligibility for repatriation, however, is a
born under the so-called Islamic State lack legally valid birth certificates or
identity documents and their whereabouts may be difficult to ascertain. The
combination of evidence Mrs Maktouf had to collect in order to obtain
repatriation included photographs of the child received on her phone,
information collected by the Red Cross on the child’s whereabouts and,
ultimately, conformation from the intelligence services of the identity of the
information was brought to court together with a written request addressed to
Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, asking for the child to be allowed
request was followed by a long silence. As the months went by, the last sliver
of land held by ISIS came under attack and a stream of dishevelled women and
children poured out in search for safety.
December, nearly 60,000 have arrived at Al Hawl refugee camp in north-eastern
Syria, stretching its capacity to breaking point. At least 29 children have
died, mainly from hypothermia, according to the World Health Organisation.
Maktouf, who represents Fatima as well as another family whose two-year-old boy
is trapped in Syria, said the situation meant she could wait no longer. “We
decided to take action.”
December, she sued the French government to force it to comply with
Marie Dosé and Henri Leclerc, who also represent families with orphaned
children in Syria, referred the case to the United Nations to demand that
France upholds its obligations under international law.
countries, including Russia, Egypt and Indonesia, have taken back about 200
children. With the exception of France, western governments have so far
Belgian state won an appeal in late February against a ruling ordering it to
repatriate six children who are with their mothers in Al Hawl.
also refused to repatriate the children of ISIS militants, until the death of
Shamima Begum’s 3-week-old son forced it to start looking into ways of doing
French foreign ministry has not indicated how many children will be
repatriated, but said its decision would apply only to “orphan and isolated
minors, all aged 5 and less”.
supporters have been returning to Europe since at least 2015, at times bringing
children with them. In February last year the French government sent out a ministerial
circular to clarify the rules on the protection and custody of those children.
others before her, Fatima’s granddaughter has been placed in a foster family as
a court assesses her well-being and Fatima’s suitability as a grandmother.
Ultimately, the goal is to reunite her with her biological family, Mrs Maktouf
steps must be taken and Fatima is aware of that, she will wait,” the lawyer
election is a ‘clash between pluralism and fundamentalist Islam’
(AsiaNews) – Indonesia’s upcoming general elections will be "a political
clash between two opposing ideologies: pluralism and fundamentalist Islam,”
this according to General (Ret) Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono (pictured), who
was the first chief of Indonesia’s State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara, BIN).
the first time in Indonesian history, 190 million eligible voters will elect on
the same day (17 April) their President and Vice-President as well as the
Members of the House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, DPR) and
House of Regions (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah, DPD).
many observers, the election will be a "critical day" for the future
of the country’s young democracy, which is threatened by Islamism.
Hendropriyono is the latest prominent figure to appeal to voters not to shy
away from voting or spoiling their ballot (golongan putih or golput).
yesterday in Kalibata (South Jakarta), the retired military officer explained
that the election is “not a political duel between President Joko 'Jokowi'
Widodo and his rival Prabowo Subianto at the polls, but a battle between
[Indonesia’s state ideology of] Pancasila and fundamentalist Islam.”
a proud supporter of Widodo’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai
Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan, PDIP), Hendropriyono calls on voters to
"go to the polls and make the right choice, to save the nation and
the former BIN chief, the Pancasila pluralist doctrine is what has held
together so far a country so varied in ethnic groups, languages, cultures and
social values, which is now threatened by radical Islamic movements, who are
responsible for the growing support for the establishment of a caliphate in
Indonesia, especially among young people and students.
makes no sense for Indonesians today to be attracted to this ideology,” Hendropriyono
said looking at the tragic example of such a political regime in Syria and
Iraq. “It is not just a concern. We must choose and vote for the good of the
Pakistan reaffirm commitment to work closely on Islamic issues
March 23 — Malaysia and Pakistan have reaffirmed their commitment to
collaborate more closely on issues affecting the Muslim world, including taking
joint efforts in underscoring Muslims’ sensitivities on holy personalities and
a joint statement in conjunction with the three-day official visit of Malaysian
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Pakistan since Thursday, as the
leaders of two peace-loving Islamic nations, Dr Mahathir and his Pakistan
counterpart Imran Khan agreed to increase their collaborative efforts to uphold
the true values of Islam in international fora while strengthening the solidarity
of the Muslim Ummah (community).
the statement, both leaders also stressed that terrorism cannot be associated
with any religion or belief.
Both leaders exchanged views on the situation in Palestine and in Rakhine
State, Myanmar involving Rohingya Muslims. On the Palestinian issue, both
countries agreed to contribute positively in other forums, especially in the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Committee of Six on Palestine, of
which Malaysia and Pakistan are members,” the statement said.
statement added that Malaysia took note of the massive counter-terrorism
efforts that Pakistan has successfully undertaken in an effort to eliminate
said Malaysia also invited Pakistan to participate in the upcoming Langkawi
International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) from March 26-30, 2019.
statement said the two leaders also took note that the 1st Bilateral
Consultations between the Foreign Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
of Pakistan and the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of
Malaysia, as a mechanism to intensify the engagements between both sides, was
successfully held on Feb 25, 2019 here.
The 1st Bilateral Consultations between both countries had covered various
issues of mutual concerns such as debt management and anti-corruption, defence
cooperation, labour matters, consular matters, as well as, regional and
international dynamics,” it said.
Leaders also acknowledged the successful convening of the 13th Joint Committee
on Defence Cooperation (JCDC) which was held from Feb 26— 27, 2019 in Kuala
Mahathir undertook the official visit at the invitation of Imran, whereby Dr
Mahathir was the guest-of— honour at the Pakistan Day Parade on Saturday.
the visit, Dr Mahathir was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Prime
Minister’s House and both leaders held a restricted meeting as well as fruitful
and in-depth discussions, which took place in a warm and cordial atmosphere,
and covered a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of
Indonesia, the rise of rock star clerics on social media has fueled a movement
known as hijrah, capturing the attention of Muslim youth seeking new ways to
express their faith on social media.
means "migration" in Arabic and refers to the Prophet Muhammad’s
journey from Mecca to Medinah as one of the five pillars of Islam. But in
Indonesia, some are embracing the word to illustrate a new wave of piety.
celebrity Shireen Sungkar, who promotes the hijrah lifestyle as a “happy mom
and wife,” has 14.9 million Instagram followers. Alyssa Soebandono, with 12.7
million followers, also models a modest hijrah-inspired life.
is the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation with six different religions
recognized with equal rights. Most Muslims practice Islam Nusantara, a form of
moderate Sunni Islam mixed with local customs. But as a more conservative Islam
spreads through massive social media networks, some wonder if a strict
interpretation of Islam could shatter Indonesia's pluralistic society.
150 million of 268 million Indonesians actively use social media platforms and
spend more than eight hours per day online, with more than three hours spent
daily on social media alone, according to the 2019 Digital Report by We Are
Social and Hootsuite. Facebook is also extremely popular, but Indonesian users
now tap Instagram and YouTube.
a three-day festival in Jakarta, has grown in popularity since its launch in
2018, primarily through social media. The festival is managed by the event
company of Arie Untung, a former MTV VJ turned entrepreneur who decided that
he’s done with worldly achievements and wants to focus on preparing for the
afterlife through good deeds.
comparing different faiths, [I concluded that] the Quran is the absolute
answer,” Untung said. According to him, social media plays an important role in
today’s preaching and Quranic learning for the masses. Untung himself has 1.6
million Instagram followers.
HijrahFest is like a pious version of the US’ SXSW where, instead of music,
12,000 festivalgoers network, explore a Muslim-themed trade show featuring
modest fashion and halal cosmetics; get free tattoo removal services; and
attend Quranic studies guided by the hijrah community’s top preachers.
Appearances by the Hijab Squad, Indonesian female celebrities who promote a
Sharia (Islamic law) lifestyle, alongside the Hijrah Squad, the male version,
are also a highlight.
movement became popular nearly 10 years ago among Indonesia’s urban youth
underground — punks and skaters — who began to identify with radical,
straight-edge Islam. Instagram accounts like Punk Hijrah and Pemuda Hijrah have
emerged, featuring hijab-clad women riding skateboards and memes quoting
Quranic verses. Cleric Hanan Attaki started Pemuda Hijrah and its media brand,
Shift, with the motto “play hard, be useful, be plentifully rewarded, less
sinning.” Attaki himself is an “Insta-preacher” with 6.9 million followers of
his own, adored by the alternative scene in Bandung, Indonesia’s second-largest
Quranic learning gatherings today can be equated to concerts. All Indonesian
bands combined couldn’t attract the mass as well as UAS and UAH,” Untung said.
He’s referring to two young clerics with foreign education credentials and
charisma who have reached rock star status among Indonesian youth.
there’s Ustadhz (cleric) Abdul Somad, popularly known as UAS, an Indonesian
cleric famous for incorporating comedy into his sermons and Quranic studies.
UAS tours like a rock star and his 8.3 million followers on Instagram can track
couple of years ago, UAS was accused of supporting Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a
hard-line Muslim organization that was disbanded by the government in 2018.
That’s because of claims that HTI supports the re-establishment of an Islamic
caliphate. It’s unclear how many supporters remain today. Rejecting the
anti-nationalist accusation, UAS posted a selfie of himself on Instagram
saluting the nation’s flag.
there’s Ustadhz Adi Hidayat, or UAH, with 1.5 million followers on Instagram.
Amid a recent debate in Indonesia questioning the use of the word kafir
(meaning infidel in Arabic) to define non-Muslims, UAH encouraged his followers
on Youtube never to doubt the Quran, calling those who do “people with
questionable faith.” The word is deemed problematic because hard-line groups
use it to call out Muslim minorities such as Shiite, Baha’i, and Ahmadi,
threatening to disturb Indonesia’s peaceful coexistence.
was born in Pandeglang in Banten province, known as a “hotbed” for Islamic
extremism, and during his formative years in Pandeglang, West Java, he attended
both public elementary schools and a now-defunct Quranic school. In 2010, UAH attended
graduate school at Al-Dawa Islamiya in Tripoli, Libya, when the Arab Spring was
brewing. By 2016, UAH launched his own TV channel, AkhyarTV, to broadcast his
Muslim clerics have embraced Instagram with hijrah-inspired messaging, mobile
apps and messaging apps also help the piously inclined to thrive.
Fitria, 31, a mother of three and follower of UAH, says she became more
committed to Islam during the last semesters of her university studies, after
she met a “big sister” — a senior student who taught her about tawhid (the
concept of monotheism central to Islam) and helped her improve her Quranic
recitation and knowledge. Eventually, Fitria and her friends founded a Quranic
WhatsApp group called Madrassa Khairunnisa for women only.
routinely meet online for Quranic recital, meeting once or twice a month on
WhatsApp. It’s a moderated gathering. We invite a lecturer or ustadzah [a
female cleric] to prepare a topic to reflect and discuss … upload some reading materials, followed by a
Q-and-A session,” Fitria said.
group currently has 178 members. Fitria’s husband made an Android app that
compiles Quranic study schedules in the Greater Jakarta area. According to
Fitria, Instagram and Youtube are effective platforms for online religious
studies, and she and her friends enjoy following various popular clerics on
parents, Fitria and her husband prohibit TV, opting instead for Youtube
channels broadcasted through ChromeCast.
are less and less quality things to watch on TV nowadays, even the ads have bad
influence on kids. To young kids, the best examples are their parents’ deeds. …
My eldest often ask to watch the tales of the friends of the Prophet Muhammad …
” Fitria said.
Dharmaputra, who grew up in a moderate Muslim family, said that he began
pursuing a more pious lifestyle in 2014, shortly after becoming a father.
works for the postal service as a geographer but also started a small catering
business with his wife in 2017 specializing in nasi kebuli, a rice dish similar
to the Yemeni kabsa or South Asian biryani.
ensure that his catering business is sharia-compliant, Dharmaputra attended
Madrasah Al-Filaha, an Islamic agricultural school in Jonggol, West Java, where
he learned to apply Islamic morals and ethics for farming and agriculture
purposes. Lessons included how to slaughter his own goats — one of the main
ingredients in nasi kebuli — the halal way.
me, hijrah means 'back to default.' It’s a continuous process to learn the
ultimate truth until the day we die. It’s an obligation to all Muslims. It’s
crucial to commit and be guided properly through this process and not merely
following a trend,” he said, adding that his hijrah is a personal journey and
the internet facilitated his journey to be a better Muslim.
watched a lot of sermons on YouTube. One of the first sermons I watched was
about the meaning of life: how to be a good child for my parents, on family
Islamic clerics, social media has been a catalyst to spread messages of peace
as well as potentially harmful propaganda like amaliyah (sacrifice or suicide)
and qital (physical war). In 2016, a woman named Dian Yulia Novi, a would-be
suicide bomber who planned to bomb the presidential palace, said in an
interview that she was inspired by the powerful status of clerics she
encountered on Facebook.
strongly objects to violence in the name of religion, however, and sees Islamic
preaching online as part of one’s journey to pursue the truth.
duty as Muslims even our Prophet Muhammad — peace be upon him — is to tell the truth. Faith is entirely
Allah’s prerogative rights. It’s pointless to use violence to convert people.
Too bad lately there are plenty of people who influenced others to perform
qital in return of instant glory. Learning, understanding and applying Islam in
life is way harder than earning glory through the use of violence.”
see hijrah as a benign, positive religious movement. However, a rising trend
toward Islamic conservatism over the last 10 years is a concern for those
tracking domestic terrorism tied to Islamic fundamentalism in Indonesia. While
clerics like UAS and UAH have no known affiliations with extremists like ISIS
or al-Qaeda, experts like Siti Musdah Mulia, a professor of Islamic studies at
Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta, note a fine line between
conservatism and extremism when it comes to the power of social media.
Muslims] are [a] minority in comparison, but they’re vocal. They’re well
organized, highly political and work professionally on concepts and messages
that are appealing to the public, through channels including on social media.
They have clear targets [audiences], preaching to celebrities and children of
cautions against using the word hijrah because it’s been politicized to grab
the attention of Indonesia’s youth. On many occasions, Indonesian President
Joko Widodo has used the term to illustrate positive changes such as economic
improvement and competitiveness, conflating development with the rise of
LUMPUR: Families and friends of death row inmates petitioned the Malaysian
government to repeal its mandatory death penalty on Friday. Earlier this month,
the government backtracked on its decision to scrap capital punishment in the
and kin of more than 20 death row inmates gathered in Putrajaya and sent a
memorandum to the Malaysian Home Ministry, calling on the government to repeal
mandatory capital punishment, and to pardon the inmates, some of whom have been
in jail for decades.
are feeling very sad,” one friend of a death row inmate told Arab News. “Every
family member was expressing their feelings about living without a child or a
husband (to the government).”
man, who asked to remain anonymous, is a friend of Mainthan, a death row inmate
convicted of murder who has served 14 years in jail. Mainthan has maintained
his innocence throughout his sentence and exhausted multiple avenues of appeal.
“I’ve known him for the past two years,” his friend said. “I was really
heartbroken — nobody should live like that. We are in 2019, not the 1990s.”
family is getting worse day by day,” he continued.
a family without a father. Even though the father is alive, he is not there to
guide the family. It’s like there’s food in front of you, but you are not
allowed to taste it. The kids are there (at the prison), but they are not able
to hug … their father.”
October last year, the Malaysian government announced it would abolish the
mandatory death penalty for 33 offenses. However, in early March, Mohamed
Hanipa Maidin, deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, told
Parliament that the government would instead push for the abolishment of the
mandatory death penalty for 11 offenses.
offenses include nine that fall under the Penal Code involving terrorism and
serious crimes, including murder, hostage-taking, organized crime, offenses
against the constitutional monarch, and the use of firearms.
Maidin said that courts would be authorized to decide whether a person who had
committed a serious crime should face capital punishment.
March announcement met with criticism from human rights groups. The Malaysian
Coalition Against the Death Penalty released a statement acknowledging the
progress made by the government in abolishing the death penalty for 11
offenses, but expressing its concern over Malaysia’s justice system.
are concerned that, at the moment, there is still no developed jurisprudence,
protection for the vulnerable, and no sentencing guidelines for the court to
consider in exercising its discretion over whether to hand down a death
sentence,” the group said.
Patto, a politician from the Democratic Action Party who attended last month’s
World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Brussels is an advocate for the
abolition of the death penalty, but emphasized the need for awareness and
education on the matter.
is important to remember that … the death penalty cannot simply be (phrased) as
a yes or no question,” Patto told Arab News. “There must be a series of
questions that empower the person answering them with knowledge about the death
added: “We need to away from a retributive approach and move toward forgiveness
and providing a second chance to death row convicts.”
government has told Patto, she said, that the moratorium on executions would
remain indefinitely, but that the final decision over prisoners’ fates lies
with the Pardons Board.
no government should discount the emotional argument, as a government, we must
also do what is right as per Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, the supreme
law of the land, that the right to life must reign paramount to the act of
extinguishing lives,” she said.
anonymous friend told Arab News that he wants justice for his friend and for
other long-suffering family members awaiting the fate of their loved ones on
the mandatory death penalty is a secondary thing,” he said.
they are going to do with death row inmates should be the priority.”
Manoj Kumar Ojha
is noon. The surroundings of Sadarpatty mosque is filled with the fragrance of
ittar, Jannat-ul Firdoush (aroma). Hundreds of Muslim youths bow down and offer
namaz of jumma (special prayers on Friday) for the peaceful conduct of polls
and the Assam’s all-round development.
is a message of Aman Aur Tarraki (peace and development) from the mosques of
the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Rahman, imam (priest) of the mosque, told The Telegraph, “Insha Allah (God
willing), we offered prayer for the peaceful conduct of polls. We should vote
for a candidate who will ensure peace, prosperity, safety and security and
all-round development of Assam and its people irrespective of gender, caste,
creed or religion. More prayers will be held in all other mosques across the
state over the peaceful conduct of polls.
play an important role in the electoral process of Assam, comprising a
significant 34.22 per cent of the total population. A majority of the
population in nine of 33 districts follow Islam.
has 14 parliamentary seats and will witness polls in three phases.
Hussain, a first-time voter, said: “Assam is the land of Ajan Fakir and
Vaishnav saint Srimanta Xankardeb. We have been living together here with peace
and brotherhood for centuries. We want a government that works honestly for the
nation’s happiness and development.”
Hussain, another first-time voter, said, “Islam teaches tolerance and peace.”
Firdaush Ahmed, another young voter, said, “Where there is peace, there is
prosperity and we all want to contribute to Assam’s development.”
are not following Islam. Killing people and dropping bombs are against Islam.
But people have realised that all Muslims are not terrorists,” he added.
Ali, a teacher here in Dibrugarh madarsa, said, “The Muslim youths of Assam are
wise. They want to develop themselves economically and socially. So they pray
for aman aur bhaichara (peace and brotherhood).”
to the 2011 census, the population of Assam is 3.11 crore, of which 1.06 crore
first came to Assam in the early 13th century when Muhammad Bin Bakhtiyar
Khilji led an army to eastern India in 1205.
Centre has constituted a multi-disciplinary terror monitoring group (TMG) to
probe and “ensure synergised and concentrated against terror financing”,
especially in Jammu and Kashmir, according to a government order issued on
will also take action against hardcore sympathisers among government employees,
including teachers, who are providing covert or overt support to terror
activities. The Union home ministry, however, did not clarify why government
employees will be monitored. “Several members of the now banned Jamaat-e-Islami
are suspected to be government employees,” a senior J&K government official
said, explaining why the order has especially mentioned government employees
and school teachers.
top official from J&K Police will lead the TMG that will comprise members
from the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the National Investigative Agency, the
Central Board of Direct Taxes and Central Board of Indirect Taxes, among
others. The Enforcement Directorate that enforces the Prevention of Money
Laundering Act 2002 is not part of the TMG.
TMG has been tasked with coordinating efforts to investigate cases related to
“terror and terror financing” and ensure speedy investigation. It will also
identify organisations and people “who are involved in supporting terrorism in
any form” and “investigate networks and channels used to fund terror,” the
government order, accessed by HT, said. The group has also been asked to
coordinate attempts against “hardcore sympathizers amongst government employees
including teachers who are providing covert and overt support to terror
apologists’: At UN, India blasts Pakistan inaction
has called on the UN Security Council to ensure the implementation of
counter-terror sanctions, saying “apologists for terrorists” or member-states
that support them will continue to make excuses for their inaction.
countries were named when India’s permanent representative Syed Akbaruddin made
the appeal during an open debate at the Security Council on preventing the
financing of terror, but he called out a “serial offender” for its support to
terrorism – a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan.
are going to be ever more creative in finding ways to violate the rulebook,” he
said. “Also the unfortunate reality is that states who are apologists for
terrorists will continue to provide alibis to justify their actions and
inaction too, as was done by a serial offender earlier today.”
Pakistan’s envoy Maleeha Lodhi had said UN sanctions and other instruments and
institutions for combating terror, such as the Financial Action Task Force
(FATF), which has grey-listed Pakistan, shouldn’t be politicised.
also brought up the Kashmir issue, as Pakistan always does at the UN.
appeal for more robust enforcement of sanctions regimes came against the
backdrop of a push by the US in the Security Council to blacklist
Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar, whose group claimed
responsibility for the February 14 suicide car bombing in Pulwama that killed
40 Central Reserve Police Force troopers.
was designated a terrorist group by UN’s Islamic State and al-Qaeda Sanctions
Committee in 2001 and Lashkar-e-Toiba in 2005.
listing by the Sanctions Committee was blocked by China, which put a technical
hold on the latest and fourth attempt two weeks ago. The US, along with France
and the UK, then decided to take the proposal to the Security Council and
circulated a draft resolution on Wednesday, setting off informal discussions
that can lead to an open debate and vote by the full council.
Friday, China, defending its attempts to block Azhar’s listing, rebutted the US
allegation that this action amounted to protecting terrorists from sanctions.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has denounced China’s “shameful hypocrisy”
toward Muslims, saying Beijing abuses more than a million Muslims at home but
protects violent Islamic terror groups from UN sanctions.
foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the practice of placing a hold was
in line with the rules of the Sanctions Committee. “If a certain country
accuses China of sheltering terrorists by putting technical hold, does that
mean all the countries that put such holds are sheltering terrorists,” he
hold, he reiterated, is meant to allow an assessment and to make time for dialogue
the UN Security Council on Thursday unanimously adopted a French-drafted
resolution that was the first stand-alone measure dedicated to countering
terror financing. The resolution urged all states to ensure “their domestic
laws and regulations establish serious criminal offenses” to prosecute those
who collect funds or provide economic resources to terror groups or terrorists.
binding resolution was drafted under chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which means
it can be enforced with sanctions. UN counter-terror chief Vladimir Voronkov
said the measure “comes at a critical time” as recent attacks had shown terror
groups have access to financial flows through legal and illegal means.
resolution urged countries to establish financial intelligence units to
strengthen efforts to track terror financing and to share information. FATF
president Marshall Billingslea said less than a fifth of countries are applying
laws that prosecute suspected terror financiers. The resolution will also help
FATF increase pressure on more than 50 countries to pass new legislation on
argued during Thursday’s debate that while the resolution on terror financing
was a “milestone”, efforts must be made to ensure its implementation. “As the
saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in its eating, the utility of any
council resolution will, therefore, be in its implementation,” Akbaruddin said.
has postponed the second meeting with Pakistan to discuss modalities for the
Kartarpur Corridor, scheduled for April 2, over concerns about the inclusion of
pro-Khalistan activists in a Pakistani committee to facilitate Sikh pilgrims,
officials with knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
external affairs ministry summoned Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner Syed
Haider Shah to convey concerns after the formation of the 10-member Pakistan
Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) and to seek clarifications, they
of the officials, who asked not to be named, said the meeting, to be held at
Wagah in Pakistan, had been “rescheduled”. A ministry statement said the next
meeting on modalities “can be scheduled at an appropriate time after receiving
to the officials, even if Pakistan responds to India’s request for clarifications
before April 2, a decision on the meeting will be made only after examining the
response. Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal expressed regret
at India’s decision and said in a tweet the “last minute postponement...is
corridor will connect Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera
Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district. New Delhi was irked after Islamabad
announced on Wednesday the formation of the PSGPC, which includes pro-Khalistan
activists such as Gopal Chawla, Bisan Singh and Kuljeet Singh. Pakistan said
the panel will facilitate Sikh pilgrims.
said Chawla is associated with internationally designated terrorist Hafiz
Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba. They said there will be no compromise on
“security concerns” and India is open to taking forward discussions once the
concerns are satisfactorily addressed by Pakistan.
attaches assets of Shabir Shah, fines three more in terror funding case
Enforcement Directorate (ED) has attached Kashmiri separatist leader Shabir
Ahmad Shah’s Srinagar property in a terror financing case and imposed penalty
on three people, allegedly involved in funding the banned outfit
Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the agency said on Friday.
ED attached a property located in Effandi Bagh, Rawalpora, Srinagar, it said in
a statement. The property was held in the name of Shah’s wife and daughters.
“He has been involved in carrying out illicit activities along with his
accomplice Mohd Aslam Wani, who is an activist of banned militant organisation
JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad). He was using Aslam Wani as a carrier for collecting
hawala money sent by his Pakistan-based sympathisers through hawala operators
to deliver the same in Srinagar,” the agency said in the statement.
has admitted to ED that he does not have any source of income and failed to
explain any legitimate source of money for his expenses, the ED said.
also revealed that he was in touch with the global terrorist Hafeez Sayeed,
chief of banned outfit ‘Jamat-ud-Dawa’ based in Pakistan. Investigation has
revealed that Shabir Ahmad Shah had been receiving money for carrying out
separatist activities in J&K [Jammu and Kashmir] and has acquired various
properties through a maze of dubious transactions,” it said. Wani and Shah were
arrested by ED in 2017 for the offence of money laundering.
has sought UK’s strong and unremitting support to ensure the Rohingyas’ safe
return to their homeland.
would like to see UK’s sustained diplomatic leadership in the UN, Geneva and
the Security Council for the safe and sustainable return of Rohingyas to
Myanmar,” State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said at the 49th
Bangladesh Independence and National Day Reception in London on Wednesday, UNB
than 700,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh since late August 2017 after the
Myanmar military launched a brutal offensive against the mainly-Muslim ethnic
minority. The UN described the crackdown as “textbook example of ethnic
sheer speed and scale of the influx made it the world’s fastest-growing refugee
crisis. Bangladesh is currently hosting more than a million Rohingyas, many of
them came here over the years to flee persecution in Myanmar.
discrimination against Rohingyas stretches back decades in Myanmar which calls
them ‘Bangalis’ to imply that they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Many
Rohingyas are forced to live in squalid camps in apartheid-like condition.
thanked the British MPs, the people and the media for raising their voices for
Rohingyas and urged them to keep it up until they return to Myanmar in dignity
and rights, said a press release on Friday.
and Myanmar have signed a repatriation deal but no apparent progress has been
looking to re-energise ties with UK’
Bangladesh High Commission organised the reception at the International
Maritime Organisation (IOM).
Leader of the House of Lords and Minister of State for Defence Earl Howe,
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, IMO Secretary-General Kitack
Lim and a good number of members of House of Lords and baronesses attended the
event, among others.
praised Bangladesh’s progress, particularly in economic and social sectors,
under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership.
Minister Alam was in London for a 12-hour transit to Canada via the US. He met
senior British MPs, held meetings with his counterpart Mark Field and
participated in a discussion meeting at the House of Commons on Bangladesh
Independence and National Day.
thanked the UK government, its people and Bangladeshi-British people for their
"unforgettable contribution" to the Liberation War. “The UK continues
to assume a special place in the foreign policy priority of the government of
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” he said.
two countries are looking forward to jointly celebrate 50 years of diplomatic
will especially look towards re-energising its important strategic, trade,
investment and security cooperation with the United Kingdom,” Alam said.
Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem said the government has been championing
development to attain double-digit economic growth and making Bangladesh a
developed progressive and secular country.
hoped that the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the UK would reach a new
height in the days ahead.
acting minister of defense Asadullah Khalid has said that the 217th Corps of
the army will be established in coming weeks.
during a security conference in RS compound in northern Balkh province, Khalid
said considering the vast swathes of territory in the north and large
population living in northern provinces, the leadership of the government and
defense institutions have reached to a conclusion that the existing forces are
not enough to provide proper security to people.
further added that the 217th Corps of the Afghan military will be inaugurated
as per President Ashraf Ghani’s order in coming weeks.
also added that the leadership of the ministry of defense considers segregation
of duties and changes should be incorporated in leadership and opinion to lead
the war in the North.
other parts of his speech, Khalid reiterated that the enemies have plans and
programs for war and preparing to further intensify conflict to gain more
privileges in peace talks.
commander of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) Sardar Wali
was killed in an airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
to informed military sources “An ISIS-K commander, Sadar Wali was killed along
with three other high-profile militants in an airstrike in Achin district,
Nangarhar province March 27, 2019.”
sources further added that another commander, Lal Mohammad was also killed in
the same strike.
anti-government armed militants including ISIS sympathizers have not commented
regarding the killing of Sardar Wali and other ISIS militants so far.
least 12 Taliban militants were killed or wounded during the operations of
Afghan Special Forces and airstrikes in southern Helmand and southeastern
to informed military sources, an airstrike in Bermal district of Paktika
province left 2 Taliban fighters dead.
sources further added that the Afghan Special Forces conducted a raid in Nahr-e
Saraj districtof Helmand province killing 8 Taliban fighters.
airstrike in Musa Qal’ah district of Helmand province killed 1 Taliban fighter
while another militant was wounded, the sources added.
between the United States and the Taliban have now reached an advanced stage.
As reported, representatives from the US and the Taliban are slated to engage
in discussions with their respective stakeholders and leaderships before
proceeding to the next stage of negotiations. The next phase, as reported,
would witness discussions among different stakeholders within Afghanistan and
also for a “comprehensive ceasefire”. Although the specific modalities of the
proposed agreement are not clear yet, within the power corridors of South Asian
capitals, the news of possible US withdrawal has caused a great deal of concern
over the unfolding situation and its ramifications on South Asian security.
addition to influencing the security situation in Afghanistan and the
neighborhood, the possible US withdrawal is bound to have its own set of
consequences on several proposed and ongoing development and economic projects
in the region. One such project whose outcome would possibly get affected as a
result of the evolving power equations in Afghanistan is the
Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project (TAPI). The
project is designed to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and
Pakistan into India. When implemented, the project is expected to bring 38
mmscmd (million metric standard cubic meter per day) of gas to India. However,
as a result of several commercial and security factors, the proposed project
has not fructified yet.
the current context, progress of TAPI project would largely depend on the
outcome of negotiations between the US and the Taliban and the ability of different
parties within Afghanistan to honour their side of the agreement.
its intent to carve out a larger political space within Afghanistan, one
possibility to consider is the fact that Taliban may continue to jostle with
Afghan forces post-US withdrawal. Thus, given the uncertain security
conditions, which are likely to continue to prevail in Afghanistan post-US
withdrawal, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that international financial
promoters would be reluctant to support such a project.
the other hand, construction of the TAPI project may become possible only in
the scenario that the Taliban – which enjoys support from Pakistan’s security
establishment – shows political maturity and expresses its support to the
the pressing energy shortages as a result of inadequate supply of gas in
Pakistan, it won’t be surprising to see Pakistan urging and even pressurising
Taliban to support TAPI gas pipeline’s construction. At this juncture, Pakistan
is undergoing a major energy crisis. The situation is acute particularly in
Sindh province, with the power crisis increasing the possibility of industries
to shut down their operations, also leading to possible unemployment. As of
now, to meet its near-term natural gas requirements, Pakistan has sought import
of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar. Reports in the past have also
indicated about Saudi Arabia’s offer to supply LNG to Pakistan.
light of these developments in Afghanistan’s politics, it would be interesting
to see what position India adopts vis-à-vis TAPI gas pipeline and whether India
would be ready to continue its participation in the project. The presence of a
non-Taliban government in Afghanistan gave India some level of comfort in
agreeing to become a stakeholder in the TAPI pipeline by signing the Gas Sales
and Purchase agreement back in the year 2012.
Taliban slated to now become a recognised stakeholder in Afghan politics, a
whole new set of political and security challenges have arisen for India to
further pursue its participation in the TAPI project.
and the rest of South Asia is yet to witness politically “evolved” conduct from
Taliban, which is immune from any influence of Pakistan’s security
2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Ashgabat had reportedly
proposed to import gas from Turkmenistan via a land and sea route via Iran.
This route for energy exports from Turkmenistan to Iran, which finds its
mention in Ahmed Rashid’s book Taliban: The Power of Militant Islam in
Afghanistan and Beyond, must, in the present context, be once again explored
seriously by India. This strategy will enable India to avoid a politically
volatile Af-Pak region and help leverage Chabahar’s potential as a future
“energy transit hub”. It would be a good idea for India to firm up to the idea
of this land-sea option and actively pursue consultations with Turkmenistan and
Iran to initiate some concrete work on this project. Depending on the evolving
political developments, provision can also be made for Afghanistan to source
gas from this land-sea pipeline at a later stage.
90 Saudi mercenaries killed in Sa’ada: Yemen military
least 190 Saudi mercenaries have been killed or injured in the Yemeni city of
Sa’ada, where a massive attack by the kingdom was foiled, the spokesman for
Yemen's armed forces says.
to Brigadier General Yahya Saree, Yemeni forces foiled the Saudi-led attack on
Baqim District, killing 90 mercenaries and injuring at least 100 others.
said the Yemeni forces also cleansed Naseh heights from Saudi mercenaries.
Sunday, Saree said Yemeni fighters had killed at least 20 Saudi soldiers in a
retaliatory attack as the Riyadh regime’s deadly war against the impoverished
southern neighbor entered the fifth year.
attack by the Yemeni army and Popular Committees targeted two military bases in
the southern Saudi town of Jizan, he said.
on Monday in Najran region located 844 kilometers south of the Saudi capital
Riyadh, several Saudi-paid militiamen were killed in a Yemeni attack on their
soldiers and their soldiers infiltrated militia-controlled areas on the
outskirts of al-Sadis military base, setting off several bombs.
Yemeni forces launched a barrage of artillery rounds at the gathering of Saudi
forces in the kingdom's Asir region.
Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign
against Yemen on March 26, 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of
former Yemeni president Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing Ansarullah.
the fourth anniversary of the war, millions of Yemenis took to the streets of
the capital, Sana’a, and other major cities on Monday to mark the anniversary
of the Saudi aggression.
demonstrators carried placards and Yemeni national flags, chanting slogans
against Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US, which have been providing military
support to the invasion.
offensive initially consisted of a bombing campaign, but was later coupled with
a naval blockade and the deployment of ground forces into Yemen.
to a report by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a
nonprofit conflict-research organization, the Saudi-led war has so far claimed
the lives of around 56,000 Yemenis.
Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas have backed an Egyptian proposal to foster
calm on the Israel border ahead of major expected protests, two Hamas officials
was no immediate comment from the Israeli side on the potential agreement.
of thousands of Palestinians are expected to gather Saturday for the first
anniversary of the often violent protests along the border, which Hamas has
the United Nations and others have been trying to mediate an agreement to limit
the level of violence.
Egyptian delegation held talks with Hamas and other factions in Gaza in
meetings that stretched into the early hours of Friday, the officials said.
Hamas official who took part in the meetings told AFP on condition of anonymity
they had backed an Egyptian proposal that will see protesters stay several
hundred meters from the border.
attacks in the Israeli-occupied West Bank would also cease, the official said.
exchange, the official said, “the Egyptians informed us that the (Israelis)
promised to ease their measures.”
particular the Israelis will not fire on protesters unless they approach the
remarks were confirmed by a second Hamas official, according to AFP.
least 258 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests
began on March 30 last year, most during the border clashes. Two Israeli
soldiers have been killed.
urges Israel, Hamas to avoid violence on Gaza anniversary
a UN official is urging Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers to avoid a violent
escalation on the eve of the first anniversary of the start of weekly border
McGoldrick, the UN humanitarian official for the Palestinian territories,
issued a statement on Friday outlining the “staggering” human costs a year of
demonstrations has inflicted, especially on Gaza’s children, according to the
the eve of the first anniversary of the “Great March of Return” protests,
Israeli soldiers and tanks have been deployed near the fence separating the
occupied territories from the besieged Gaza Strip.
reinforcements were deployed on Friday morning as Gazans planned to stage a
massive protest on Saturday to commemorate the first anniversary of the
demonstrations, in the course of which Israeli soldiers have killed over 260
medical officials said later in the day that Israeli troops shot and wounded 10
Palestinians on the Gaza border on Friday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened on Thursday that Tel Aviv would
wage a broad military campaign on Gaza if needed, after a two-day flare-up of
cross-border fighting that has left several people injured on both sides.
“Great March of Return” protests demand the right to return for those driven
out of their homeland by Israeli aggression. They started on March 30 last
year. Tensions have since been running high on the edge of Gaza. At least
26,000 Palestinians have also been wounded in the protests, according to the
Gaza Health Ministry.
United Nations (UN) fact-finding mission found that Israeli forces committed
rights violations during their crackdown against the Palestinian protesters in
Gaza that may amount to war crimes.
the UN, and others have been trying to broker a deal to limit the level of
agrees to Egyptian-brokered de-escalation deal’
the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas has reportedly backed an Egyptian
proposal to foster calm along the border ahead of the planned protests, two
Hamas officials said Friday.
officials said that a delegation of Egyptian officials had held talks with
Hamas and other factions in Gaza in meetings that continued until the early
hours of Friday. One Hamas official who attended the meetings said the resistance
movement had supported an Egyptian proposal that would see demonstrators stay
several hundred meters from the fence.
return, he said, “the Egyptians informed us that the (Israelis) promised to
ease their [restrictive] measures.” Israel has reportedly vowed not to fire on
the protesters unless they approached the fence and to allow Qatar to increase
the amount of its aid to Gaza, among other measures. A second Hamas official
confirmed the report.
has warned that Israeli occupiers, who are already providing support for
terrorists in Syria, may build a coalition with militants if their threat is
not dealt with in a proper way.
warning by Iran's chargé d’affaires to the UN Es’haq Al-e Habib came in his
address to a Security Council meeting on “threats to international peace and
security caused by terrorist acts: combating the financing of terrorism.”
unchecked, terrorists and occupiers will evolve into a coalition. In fact, it
has already happened. Israel supports terrorists in Syria in different ways,
including healing the wounds of their terrorist sisters and brothers,” he went
on to say.
newspapers have reported on Takfiri terrorists being transferred to Israeli
hospitals for treatment since the beginning of war in Syria. According to
documents from Israeli hospitals, Israel’s army has paid millions of dollars
for the treatment of terrorists injured in Syria.
in January, the Israeli military confirmed long-running reports of its
collaboration with militant groups operating against the Syrian government,
admitting that it had provided weapons to them.
an interview with the British daily The Sunday Times, Lieutenant General Gadi
Eizenkot, the army’s outgoing chief of staff, said the Israeli regime had
supplied “light” weapons to militant groups operating in Syria’s Golan Heights
was the first time Tel Aviv acknowledged supplying arms to militants fighting
in Syria, after numerous reports emerged of the discovery of Israeli-made
weapons, military equipment, and medicine during clean-up operations by the
September, the Jerusalem Post removed an “explosive report,” which revealed the
Israeli military had supplied weapons and ammunition to militants in the Golan
Heights. The paper later told Russia’s RT that the report had been taken down
at the request of the Israeli army’s “military censor.”
Israeli regime is reportedly arming at least seven different terror groups in
Syria’s Golan Heights, including the Fursan al-Joulan militant outfit.
President Donald Trump’s belief that the occupied Golan Heights belongs to Israel
is a “delusion” and underscores the US leader’s mental instability, an American
scholar and political commentator says.
signed a proclamation on Monday recognizing Israeli “sovereignty” over the
Syrian territory of Golan Heights, triggering a global outcry.
signed the decree at the start of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.
belief that the Golan Heights belongs to Israel is very much a delusion, sort
of like [Venezuelan opposition leader] Juan Guaido’s belief that he is the
president of Venezula,” said Kevin Barrett, an author, journalist and radio
host in Madison, Wisconsin.
seems to think that he can just sign a proclamation and change reality,”
Barrett told Press TV during a phone interview on Thursday.
is completely psychotic as he goes around like a bull in a china shop
destroying international agreements like the Iran [nuclear] agreement…but this
one is a very serious one,” he added.
illegal move on the occupied Golan Heights has assured that Israel will be in a
perpetual state of war with its Arab and Muslim neighbors for many decades,
according to experts.
many Arabs, the decision destroyed any hope that there will one day be a
negotiated peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians and increased doubts
that Washington is an impartial mediator, analyst say.
decision, following US recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital in
December 2017, could also tempt other regimes to annex land, undermine
Washington’s so-called peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians and tilt
Israel back into conflict with its Muslim neighbors, Middle East analysts say.
Turkey, Lebanon, Russia, and some European Union (EU) states were quick to
reject Trump’s move, which is an obvious violation of international law.
1967, Israel waged a full-scale war against Arab territories, during which it
occupied a large swathe of Golan and annexed it in 1981, a move never
recognized by the international community.
al-Quds was also occupied by Israel in 1967 and then annexed in a move that is
legally repudiated internationally.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that part of Washington’s overall
strategy in the Middle East is aimed at expelling Iran and its forces and
militias from Syria.
strategy is designed to prevent that from happening,” Pompeo said during his
testimony at a congressional hearing on the State Department’s budget review on
Wednesday in which several congressmen spoke on their concerns about the US
troop withdrawal from Syria and the possibility of Iranian influence
are working with all the allies so that things in Syria will not lead to
strengthening Iran and Russia there. This is a comprehensive strategy,” Pompeo
his testimony, Pompeo defended President Donald Trump’s foreign policy towards
Moscow, adding that the Obama administration is responsible for the challenges
faced by the current one, as the former “invited the Russians to enter Syria
and that is the truth.”
the hearing, Republican Representative Adam Daniel Kinzinger from Illinois,
commented that there was “a perception out there that it is the US and Saudi
Arabia that are creating the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.”
requested Pompeo to clear the air over the situation in Yemen.
is often neglected is that there is an active presence of al-Qaeda in Yemen.
The United States is engaged in trying to crush it there,” Pompeo said.
China has urged the United States (US) to act watchfully on blacklisting of
Masood Azhar issue and avoid bypassing the relevant committee of the UN
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang during his regular briefing on Friday
said that issue of blacklisting chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad Masood Azhar involved
a series of complex factors and China has also been working to seek a proper
solution through dialogue and consensus.
said that US action has reduced the authority of the committee as a main
anti-terrorism body of the UN Security Council.
spokesperson urged the US to act cautiously and avoid forcefully moving forward
this draft resolution.
Shuang said the Security Council should act in a prudential way to play a
constructive role and create necessary time and space for the relevant parties
to conduct dialogue and negotiations.
this month, China had vetoed a resolution tabled by United States, Britain and
France to add Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar on United Nations’s
is the third time China had vetoed such an effort by world powers, which
underlines China’s strong commitment to side with Pakistan in a time when India
is using every international forum against Pakistan.
YORK: Pakistan has warned against politicisation of the United Nations’
counter-terrorism machinery, saying such a course would only compromise the
integrity of the system.
is important that current structures like FATF (Financial Action Task Force)
and the 1267 Sanctions regimes are not used as political tools by some to
advance their geopolitical goals,” Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi told the UN
Security Council on Thursday.
Pakistani envoy was speaking in a debate on “Preventing and Combating the
Financing of Terrorism,” a day after the United States bypassed the Security
Council’s 1267 Sanctions Committee and circulated to the Council’s 15 members a
draft resolution seeking to put the Jaish-e-Mohammed chief, Masood Azhar, on
the UN sanctions blacklist.
her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi underscored the need for a holistic approach to
combat and defeat terrorism and the need for international collaboration to
achieve the shared objective.
pointed out several gaps that existed in the international community’s
counter-terrorism strategy, one being the lack of attention given to issues of
foreign intervention, foreign occupation, the continued denial of the right to
self-determination to people living under foreign occupation and violations of
international law and the UN Charter.
envoy asserted that despite being obvious causative factors, these are ignored
or cast aside.
said that the international community agrees that continued and persistent
violations of human rights contribute to violent extremism.
killings continue in occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine,” Dr Lodhi said,
adding, “Brutalization and oppression of people struggling for their legitimate
right to self-determination constitutes state terrorism. This too should be the
focus of international attention.”
also warned against Islamophobia fanned by extremist groups in some western
must be taken against this deliberate hate mongering which often leads to
said Pakistan has been the victim of terrorism sponsored by external
stakeholders but this only reinforced its will to fight against the menace.
has adopted a multifaceted national counter-terrorism strategy, a 20-point
plan, including prevention and countering of terrorist financing, she said.
a result of various measures, terrorist incidents are at a record low in the
country, the ambassador stressed.
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