Books and Documents

Islamic World News (30 Aug 2018 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Egypt’s Al-Azhar Slams Those Who Attempt to ‘Justify’ Sexual Harassment

"Justifying sexual harassment with the behaviour or clothing of the woman is a misunderstanding, for sexual harassment is an assault on the woman and her freedom and dignity,"



Egypt’s Al-Azhar Slams Those Who Attempt to ‘Justify’ Sexual Harassment

Kerala Madrasa Opens Doors to House Government School

Pakistan Islamists Rally Against Anti-Islam Cartoon Contest

US Lawmakers Call For Sanctions over Xinjiang Camps

US, Israel Form New Joint Task Force to Take on Iran


Arab World

Egypt’s Al-Azhar Slams Those Who Attempt to ‘Justify’ Sexual Harassment

White Helmets' Chemical Cargo Transferred to Terrorists' Warehouse in Idlib

Another Mass Grave of US Air Raids Victims Found in Northeastern Syria

Fourth License To Operate Cinema Awarded To Lux Entertainment Company

Egypt Army Says 20 Extremists Killed In Operations

Netherlands expresses regret to Egypt over Dutch anti-Islam cartoon contest

Car bomb attack kills 11 in Iraq's western Anbar Province

Syria’s Idlib province at risk of ‘humanitarian catastrophe’: UN chief

Syria presents UN with data on militant plans to stage false flag gas attack



Kerala Madrasa Opens Doors to House Government School

Hope Pakistan’s New Govt Will Make South-Asia Terror Free: India at UN

Scholars, Islamic Clerics to Be Part of Counter-Terror Plan: Union Home Minister

NIA arrests Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin's son in Srinagar

NIA arrests Syed Salahuddin’s son in terror funding case

India, Pakistan hold talks on Indus Waters Treaty, first bilateral meet since Imran Khan became PM

Nagpur Muslims’ Innovative Community Empowerment Campaign

Terrorist killed in encounter in J&K's Bandipora

Again, J&K policemen targeted: Four shot dead after top Hizbul commander is killed



Pakistan Islamists Rally Against Anti-Islam Cartoon Contest

Govt to Expedite Seminary Reforms, Says Awan

Presidential Election: Maulana Fazlur Rehman Hopeful of Aitzaz’s Withdrawal in His Favour

Prime Minister Khan arrives at GHQ for security briefing

Ex-MTV presenter was not converted to Islam after Imran Khan became PM

US military chief coming with Pompeo to Pakistan for talks on terrorism

Interpol not ready to issue red warrants for Musharraf, court told

Gen Bajwa commends stabilisation operations on visit to South Waziristan

Pakistan still hosting 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees

16,000 arrested for terrorism, 1,900 punished, 346 sentenced to death in 2013-17, Senate told


North America

US Lawmakers Call For Sanctions over Xinjiang Camps

US Government-Wide Cover-Up of Saudi Complicity in 9/11 Revealed In New Book

US, Israel form new joint task force to take on Iran

3 ‘extremist Muslim’ New Mexico compound suspects released after judge drops all charges

Man pleads guilty in attack against Muslim teen on Canada Line

US soldier pleads guilty to trying to help Islamic State



US, Israel Form New Joint Task Force to Take on Iran

Turkey Detains Over Dozen Gulen-Linked Gendarmerie Officers

Israeli court rubber-stamps new settlement in occupied West Bank

US envoy to UN questions Palestinian right of return to Israel-occupied homeland

Israel renews threat to attack Iran targets in Syria

Yemeni minister lambasts Iran, Houthis for killing 1,372 children

Yemeni forces shoot down Saudi reconnaissance drone over Hudaydah



Far-right AfD, Anti-Islam Pegida to Rally after Violent Protests in Western Germany

UK to Train Nigerian Army Counterterror Squads to Fight Boko Haram under New Security Partnership

UK minister urges more support for Rohingya refugees

France restricts travel by diplomats to Iran

French FM urges for a political solution in Syria


South Asia

ISIS Leader Yasir Khurasani Killed With 5 Comrades in Nangarhar Drone Strike

4 ISIS Khurasan members arrested in Kabul city

Afghanistan concerned over disdainful cartoons contest of Prophet Mohammad

Myanmar Rejects UN Probe Findings of Rohingya ‘Genocide’


Southeast Asia

DPM Says ‘Haram’ As A Muslim to Support LGBT

Malaysia Defends UN's Report on Myanmar

Harakah apologises for ‘Darul LGBT’ headline, but not article

Indonesia’s Widodo deflects criticism with clerical running mate



5 Soldiers Killed, 10 Injured In Kenya Blast

Muslim cleric proposes Interfaith Centre instead of 'Christian' National Cathedral

US air strike in Somalia kills 3 Al-Shabab militants

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/egypt’s-al-azhar-slams-those-who-attempt-to-‘justify’-sexual-harassment/d/116241



Egypt’s Al-Azhar Slams Those Who Attempt To ‘Justify’ Sexual Harassment

29 August 2018

Egypt's highest Sunni Muslim authority has said there can be no justification for sexual harassment, in a country where many people often blame women themselves for the widespread problems they face.

In a statement Al-Azhar blasted all forms of harassment as "a forbidden act and deviant behaviour" and said "the one who carries it out is a sinner".

"Criminalizing sexual harassment must be absolute and free from any condition or context," the statement released Monday said.

"Justifying sexual harassment with the behaviour or clothing of the woman is a misunderstanding, for sexual harassment is an assault on the woman and her freedom and dignity," it said.

Some 60 percent of women in Egypt said they had been victims of some form of sexual harassment during their lifetimes in a 2017 report from UN Women and Promundo.

Three-quarters of men and 84 percent of women polled said that women who "dress provocatively deserve to be harassed".

The divisions have been highlighted by a recent debate over a video posted on the internet by an Egyptian woman showing a man making unwanted advances on her in a Cairo street.

The footage of the man parking his car and approaching a woman to go for a coffee went viral and drew wide-ranging reactions online.

Some commentators said it definitely constituted harassment given the hostile atmosphere of the Cairo streets.

But others described the approach as normal given the man made no obscene gestures, and there were even suggestions the woman was at fault as she was welcoming advances by standing in the street.

Public debate over harassment intensified in the aftermath of the January 2011 uprising against former president Hosni Mubarak.

The protests demanding Mubarak's ouster centered around Cairo's Tahrir Square, where constant media coverage also highlighted sexual attacks and helped show public denial of the phenomenon.

Following the 2011 uprising, anti-harassment graffiti spread around downtown Cairo, volunteers organized to rescue women from mob attacks, and more women shared their own stories publicly.

In February 2013, women took to the streets brandishing knives in a symbolic protest against sexual violence.

Authorities directly criminalized sexual harassment in June 2014, days before President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's inauguration, however many women complain that officials still turn a blind eye to the problem.




Kerala Madrasa Opens Doors to House Government School

Aug 30, 2018

WAYANAD: The government lower primary school at Kurichiarmala in the district will remain testimony to the nature’s fury that has left a trail of death and destruction across the state.

A landslide on August 9 had torn through the school’s one-acre compound and created two craters near the building and making it inaccessible.

Until Monday, the teachers and villagers were unsure of the future of the institute’s 92 students.

In two days, the uncertainty gave way to a new-found confidence—now seen across the state—as the exuberant students started school on the top floor of a Madrasa, barely a kilometre away.

The temporary establishment has become a symbol of communal harmony and determination of a resilient village that refused to be cowed down by adverse conditions, despite their debilitating effect.

There was an effort to clean up the three-foot mud and slush from the school building, so that the classes could commence.

Recurring landslides, however, posed a constant risk, forcing the authorities and volunteers to abandon their efforts.

Realising the need for continuing the school, the local mahal committee stepped in and offered space in the Hayathul Islam Madrasa building. Local residents and volunteers swung into action and made necessary arrangements on the top floor of the building.

They converted the top floor into a full-fledged school with four classrooms and a staffroom in 72 hours.

As the classes restarted on Wednesday morning, the building earned the distinction of having a Madrasa, a mosque and a government school under the same roof.

The school, meanwhile, adjusted its working days. It would be closed on Fridays—so that the faithful would have enough space for their prayers—and instead, would work on Saturdays. The arrangement would continue for the rest of the academic year.

Authorities said the school would function in the Madrasa until it a new building somewhere nearby.

Among the students who attended school on Wednesday, five have been rendered homeless by the landslides. A Facebook community, Human Being Collective, Malabar Flood Relief Forum and Green Palliative Volunteers had raised around Rs 4 lakh and helped the villagers recreate the school, which now sport brand new furniture, blackboards, teaching aids and colourful walls with animated characters and even indoor plants.

The pre-primary section has been accommodated in the Madrasa’s courtyard, where the Hayathul Islam mosque is also located.

“Even the children hailing from families who had suffered huge losses in the landslide were so happy on seeing their new school. It will immensely help them in erasing their traumatic experiences,” district collector Keshvendra Kumar said.

The school it is also a reaffirmation of the secular credentials of Kerala where everyone is helping each other, cutting across religious, social and other barriers,” who spent around three hours at the school, added.

The school's PTA President Mohammed Aslam, also the vice president of the mahal committee, said the entire mahal was very forthcoming in opening up its premises for the school. “Though properties worth crores were lost in the landslide, our biggest loss was the Kurichiar Mala LP School. Most of the people in the village work in the nearby tea plantation and the school was their only hope for a better future of their children,” Aslam said.

School headmaster Sasi P K said the deputy director of education has sanctioned the changes in the school working days to facilitate the Friday prayers at the mosque.

C K Saseendran, representing Kalpetta in the state assembly, said the school would be upgraded to a upper primary school with Rs 1 crore from the MLA fund and a Rs 49 lakh grant from the central government’s multi-sectoral development programme. The Tata Group, meanwhile, has promised to construct a new building for the school on identifying a new location.

The district collector said the damaged school building would be converted to a memorial to showcase how the people overcame the natural calamity.




Pakistan Islamists rally against anti-Islam cartoon contest


Aug 29, 2018

Thousands of Islamists in Pakistan launched a march toward the capital on Wednesday to protest a far-right Dutch lawmaker's plans to hold a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest later this year.

Pakistan's newly elected government has denounced the contest, calling it an attempt to defame Islam. Physical depictions of God or the prophet, even positive ones, are forbidden in Islam and considered deeply offensive.

The protest was organized by Islamist groups that made surprising gains in Pakistan's July elections. An estimated 10,000 protesters took part in the march, chanting "we will die to protect the honor of the prophet."

The protesters refused demands from authorities to confine their rally to the eastern city of Lahore, where it began. They are expected to reach Islamabad on Thursday.

The cartoon contest is being organized by Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch lawmaker with a history of incendiary remarks about Islam. The Dutch government has distanced itself from the event while saying it is committed to free speech.

Pakistan's new prime minister, Imran Khan, has largely sided with the protesters, vowing to take the matter to the United Nations. His government has summoned the Dutch ambassador to lodge a formal protest, but has so far dismissed calls to expel the envoy.

Tehreek-i-Labaik, a hard-line Islamist group that helped organized the protests, supported Khan's bid to be prime minister.

Tehreek-i-Labaik disrupted life in Islamabad with a three-week rally last year against an omitted reference to the prophet in a constitutional bill. Organizers say this time they will disperse after a daylong protest.

On Tuesday, Dutch news reports suggested that a man who was detained there on suspicion of threatening to attack Wilders and parliament was a Pakistani national. Police said they detained a 26-year-old suspect who is likely to be arraigned on Friday. Wilders has for years lived under round-the-clock security due to repeated death threats linked to his criticism of Islam.

Emotions have been running high in Pakistan, where blasphemy is punishable by death and where the mere accusation of it can cause lynchings.

A former Pakistani cricketer, Khalid Latif, has offered a $28,000 reward for anyone who would "kill the Dutchmen" behind the blasphemous contest.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has spoken with his Dutch counterpart about the "abominable and sacrilegious competition" this week, according a statement released by the ministry.

He said "such acts must be prevented as they spread hate and intolerance in societies."




US lawmakers call for sanctions over Xinjiang camps

August 30, 2018

WASHINGTON: US lawmakers on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump’s administration to slap sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the internment of a Muslim minority in the country’s far-west Xinjiang region, Florida senator Marco Rubio announced.

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, the members of Congress – from both parties – called for sanctions against seven officials and two surveillance equipment manufacturers, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Today I & a bipartisan group of 16 members of Congress asked @POTUS to use the Global Magnitsky Act to freeze the assets & ban the entry of Chinese officials responsible for the mass roundup of Muslims in internment camps in the #Xinjiang region,” Rubio said on Twitter.

China has denied allegations that one million of its mostly Muslim Uighur minority are being held in internment camps.

A Chinese official told a UN human rights committee in Geneva earlier this month that tough security measures in Xinjiang were necessary to combat extremism and terrorism, but did not target any specific ethnic group or restrict religious freedoms.

China has branded reports of such camps “completely untrue”, saying that the “education and training centres” to which “minor criminals” are assigned serve merely “to assist in their rehabilitation and reintegration”.

But multiple NGOs and China experts believe the reality is far more sinister, saying accounts from former detainees and official documents point to a massive program of political and cultural indoctrination.

Last year, China banned “abnormally long” beards and Muslim veils in Xinjiang – which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan – and ordered all car owners in the region to install GPS tracking devices.

Meanwhile in December 2017, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported that Xinjiang authorities were planning to collect bio data from all residents.




US, Israel form new joint task force to take on Iran

Aug 29, 2018

The United States is teaming up with the Israeli regime to enforce economic sanctions against Iran in the wake of Washington’s withdrawal from the internationally backed nuclear deal with Tehran.

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed to set up a joint team for that purpose after meeting in Washington Tuesday.

This was the fourth time Mnuchin, also a Jew, was meeting with Kahlon in the past 12 months.

“The meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is intended to deepen our strategic-economic ties with the US. The joint task force which we established will be crucial in tightening sanctions on Iran," said the Israeli minister, further claiming that “The economic sanctions that the US imposed on Iran are proving themselves."

‘Israel thankful to US’

The administration of US President Donald Trump illegally re-imposed sanctions on Iran earlier this month after pulling the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May despite Tehran’s compliance with the agreement, which is still supported by the UK, Russia, Germany, China and France.

Kahlon cited “Israel's security,” asserting that “we should be thankful to the US” for reintroduction of the illegal sanctions.

With an estimated 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, the TEl Aviv regime has refused to allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities or sign the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

On February 22, 2012, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said that Iran considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons “a grave sin” from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint.

Washington’s recent attempts to pile up economic pressure will face defeat, according to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“We need to tell the Iranian nation that we will not allow the United States' plots to succeed. The nation should be sure that we will not allow a bunch of anti-Iranians, who have gathered at the White House today, to plot against us,” Rouhani said during his comments to Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday.




Arab World


White Helmets' Chemical Cargo Transferred to Terrorists' Warehouse in Idlib

Aug 29, 2018

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik quoted Head of Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria Alexi Siganokov as reporting that a number of the White Helmets Organization members have transferred a large cargo of poisonous materials to a warehouse in the town of Saraqib that is under Ahrar al-Sham's control.

It further said that the consignment was transferred on two large trucks from the village of Afas to Saraqib.

Siganokov told the Arabic Sputnik that a part of the consignment was transferred to Southern Idlib in plastic barrels, adding the barrels of poisons will be used by terrorists to stage a fake chemical attack against civilians to further accuse the gov't forces of the gas assault.   

The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV Channel quoted well-informed sources as disclosing that more than 250 members of the pro-militants White Helmets were preparing to take part in a fake rescue operation after a false-flag chemical attack by terrorists in Idlib province.

It went on to say that the White Helmets transferred poisonous materials from Turkey to Syria via al-Hassani'yeh passageway, storing a portion of the materials in the village of Halouz near Jisr al-Shughour in Western Idlib.

Al-Mayadeen further said that vast presence of the White Helmets aid workers were detected in Jisr al-Shughour prison, where poisonous materials have been stored.

The TV further quoted the sources as disclosing that the terrorists were to stage a false-flag chemical attack in Idlib a week after the army's upcoming operation in the region.




Another Mass Grave of US Air Raids Victims Found in Northeastern Syria

Aug 29, 2018

The sources said that a mass grave of civilians, containing the bodies of a sum of 50 civilians killed in the US air raids, was discovered in al-Jameh al-Qadim Ataq in Central Raqqa.

At least a dozen mass graves of civilians have thus far been unearthed in Raqqa after the city's occupation by the US forces and their allied militias.

Also, some seven bodies of other civilians killed in the US air raids on Raqqa were discovered on Tuesday.

Bodies of five civilians killed in the US air raids were taken out of debris in a market in Raqqa city.

Full report at:




Fourth license to operate cinema awarded to Lux Entertainment company

29 August 2018

Saudi Minister of Information Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, who is also Chairman of the General Authority for Audiovisual Media, handed over here on Wednesday, the fourth license for operation of cinemas to Lux Entertainment Company, in partnership with Al-Hokair Group for Tourism and Development, Sinopolis International and Al-Taeir Group.

These alliances seek to establish about 300 theaters, at various venues, in 15 cities and towns, across the Kingdom, within five years.

The Board of Directors of the General Authority for Audiovisual Media has approved on December 11, 2017, issuance of licenses for those wishing to open theaters and multiplexes, in order to support the film sector to stimulate growth and economic diversification and provide job opportunities, within new industries, in line with the Vision 2030 of the Kingdom.




Egypt army says 20 extremists killed in operations

29 August 2018

Egypt’s army said Wednesday it has killed 20 extremists in the latest round of military operations in the Western Desert and Sinai Peninsula.

The military launched a sweeping operation in February focused on Sinai in eastern Egypt aimed at wiping out militants, including from ISIS extremist group, who have been waging a bloody insurgency.

Operations over the past few days had “resulted in the elimination of seven extremely dangerous” militias close to Egypt’s western border with Libya, the army said in a statement.

It said 13 militants were also killed in shootouts with government forces during army raids in central and northern Sinai.

Security forces in Sinai had arrested 18 wanted suspected militants and destroyed 18 hideouts.

On Sunday, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on an Egyptian police checkpoint in northern Sinai, the group’s Amaq news agency reported, saying 15 soldiers were killed or wounded in what it described as an infiltration operation.

Since 2013, extremists have been launching attacks, mainly concentrated in the Sinai Peninsula but militants have also struck elsewhere across the country.

Full report at:




Netherlands expresses regret to Egypt over Dutch anti-Islam cartoon contest

29 Aug 2018

The Netherlands has "expressed its regret" to Egypt over a Dutch politician’s intention to organize a cartoon contest depicting anti-Islam cartoons, Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

In an official statement, the Egyptian foreign ministry said Minister Sameh Shoukry received a phone call from his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok, who expressed his country’s sorrow over controversial Dutch nationalist politician Geert Wilders’s plan to hold the anti-Islam cartoon contest inside parliament.

Wilders' Dutch Party for Freedom, known for their hatred and opposition to Islam, is the second-largest party in the Dutch parliament.

He announced the contest last June, and said it will be open next November in the PVV’s parliamentary offices.

Blok said Wilder’s plan does not in any way represent the positions of the government or Dutch community, stressing his government’s refusal to all manifestations of hatred, incitement, and disrespect of religions.

Shoukry affirmed the necessity that freedom of expression should not be confused with the adoption of hate and incitement speech.

He described it as a mix up which would have a dangerous impact on the relations between nations and people with different religions.

Shoukry also said that the world needs to support and spread values of tolerance and respect of other’s opinions, as well as a respect of beliefs and religions to repel religious extremism, terrorism, and violence.

Since Tuesday, the Netherlands has distanced itself from the competition to several Islamic majority states opposing the contest, yet defending the right to hold it on foundations of freedom of expression.

Pakistan has been leading the line of opposition to Wilder’s contest, calling for an emergency session by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over the contest.

The outrage comes after protests and riots made 13 years ago in several Arab and Muslim countries after a Danish newspaper published several offensive cartoons of Islam Prophet Mohamed in 2005.

In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten provoked protests across the world and riots in some Muslim countries by publishing several cartoons of Muhammad, including one depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban.

Full report at:




Car bomb attack kills 11 in Iraq's western Anbar Province

Aug 29, 2018

A car bomb attack has hit a security checkpoint in Iraq's western Anbar Province, leaving at least 11 people dead and over a dozen others wounded.

Local officials said an assailant had driven an explosives-laden vehicle into the checkpoint in the town of Qa'im near the Syrian border on Wednesday.

Police Captain Mahmud Jassem told AFP that 11 people, five of them security personnel, had been killed and 16 others sustained injuries in the incident.

The checkpoint was jointly manned by the Iraqi army soldiers and pro-government fighters.

Both Iraqi fighters and civilians have been among the casualties.

The death toll is expected to climb because some of those injured are in a critical condition.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but it bears the hallmark of Daesh.

The Takfiri terrorist group unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks. Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters then launched operations to eliminate Daesh and retake the lost territory.

Full report at:




Syria’s Idlib province at risk of ‘humanitarian catastrophe’: UN chief

29 August 2018

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Wednesday that full-scale military operations in Syria’s Idlib province could lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe” and cautioned against the use of chemical weapons.

Guterres’s warning came amid fears the Syrian government is mobilizing for a military offensive to retake Idlib, the last province still held by the country's beleaguered rebels.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the growing risks of a humanitarian catastrophe in the event of a full-scale military operation in Idlib province in Syria,” a UN statement said.

Full report at:




Syria presents UN with data on militant plans to stage false flag gas attack

Aug 29, 2018

Syria provides the United Nations with evidence revealing yet another plot by Takfiri terrorists to carry out a chemical attack in militant-held Idlib Province and pin the blame on Damascus with the aim of justifying an ensuing act of aggression against the Arab country by their foreign supporters.

Speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said that Jabhat al-Nusra and its affiliated terrorist groups are preparing to use chemical weapons against civilians in Idlib, the last major militant stronghold that is subject to an upcoming major counter-terrorism operation by the Syrian army.

The Western states, which support terror outfits operating in Syria, would then use the chemical attack as a pretext to launch an offensive against the country, he added.

Ja’afari also stressed that any aggression against Syria would constitute an act of  aggression against regional and international peace and security, amount to supporting terrorism and undermine efforts to combat the scourge.

Certain Western states, he said, are using their “black flags and White Helmets” to stage new chemical attacks in order to obstruct the political process and justify their aggression against Syria, he said.

The Syrian envoy further called on countries capable of influencing terrorists to prevent their agents from taking any action against the Syrian people.

On April 7, 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.

Western states blamed the Syrian government for the incident, but Damascus firmly rejected the accusation.

One 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.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Ja’afari reaffirmed that Syria considers the use of chemical weapons immoral and had already had all its chemical arsenal destroyed.

He also said that Israel’s nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenal is waiting for the “blessing” of the UN Security Council.

Syria surrendered its entire chemical stockpile in 2013 to a mission led by the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN.

Russia issues warning

Additionally on Tuesday, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya told the Security Council that White Helmets “volunteers” had transferred two toxic gas containers to Idlib, where they already had eight containers, with the intent of using them against civilians in order to justify a new strike by Washington, London and Paris.

"We are deeply concerned of the warnings of our Western partners on the possible use by the Syrian Regime - as they call - it of chemical weapons. We consider it as an invitation to the armed rebel groups to stage another chemical attacks as they did in Eastern Ghouta and Douma early in April or early in Khan Shaykhun, as a pretext of military strikes against Syria. We see these preparations, we see the military build-up and we strongly warned against it," he said.

Full report at:






Hope Pakistan’s new govt will make South-Asia terror free: India at UN

August 30, 2018

India on Wednesday said it hoped that the new Pakistan government, led by Prime Minister Imran Khan, will help in ensuring that the South Asian region is free of terror and violence. Addressing a debate on ‘Mediation and Settlement of Disputes’, India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Syed Akbaruddin said, “regurgitating a failed approach, which has long been rejected, is neither reflective of pacific intent nor a display of Pacific content. We hope that the new government of Pakistan will, rather than indulge in polemics, work constructively to build a safe, stable, secure and developed the South Asian region, free of terror and violence.”

Referring to Pakistan’s repeated references to the disputed territories along the border, Syed Akbaruddin said, “I take this opportunity to remind Pakistan, the one isolated delegation that made unwarranted references to an integral part of India, that pacific settlement requires pacific intent in thinking and Pacific content in action.”

Akbaruddin also added that United Nations cannot be made the centre of mediation efforts and instead the international community should “lend encouragement to those most motivated and having the capacity to do so to settle these, as appropriate.”

Pakistan’s newly-appointed Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed his willingness to improve relations between the border nations and said that his government would like the leaders of the two sides to resolve all disputes, including the “core issue” of Kashmir, through talks. According to Pakistan’s senior minister, Khan is also preparing a proposal to resolve the Kashmir issue. “We will prepare the proposal within a week and circulate it among all the stakeholders,” Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said. “If the draft is approved, we will move forward on it,” she added.




Scholars, Islamic Clerics to Be Part of Counter-Terror Plan: Union Home Minister

By Rahul Tripathi

August 30, 2018

To counter radicalisation among youth, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has sought to rope in experts with the help of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to build a counter-narrative. Singh, along with Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, took up the issues of de-radicalisation and counter-radicalisation at a review meeting on Monday.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has arrested many youths over the last few months across the country for alleged affiliation to the Islamic State.

Besides scholars and researchers, Singh said that clerics who can counsel young people about Islam should be engaged in this counter-radicalisation move. The civil society should ascertain the reasons behind the youth taking up radical beliefs and then use the influence of community interventions, he is learned to have said in the meeting.

Singh also sought to modernise police forces to provide an elaborate insight into religious radicalisation and all forms of extremism, counter-insurgency, and cyber and economic crimes.

During the review, Singh also discussed proposed amendments to the National Investigation Act, 2008. The amendments, which give broader powers to the NIA, is pending before the Cabinet and was to be introduced in the recent Monsoon Session of Parliament but was delayed due to objections raised by some states for giving powers to the director-general of NIA for seizure and attachment of property representing proceeds of terrorism, said officials who were part of the meeting.

At present, the NIA requires the approval of the D-G of the state police concerned.

The draft provisions of the Bill include mandating the NIA to launch parallel probes into terror attacks on Indians and their properties abroad. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has similar powers that were exercised to conduct a parallel probe after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed six American nationals.

The Bill also proposes to designate any individual suspected of having terror links in the list of terrorist entities.

The decision was taken after a surge in the number of youths joining the Islamic State, following which the Home Ministry held consultations with central agencies and state governments. The amendment, according to officials, will lead to a ban on individuals who may not be associated with any terrorist organisation but are indulging in terror acts independently.

At present, there are 39 groups in the list of banned terrorist organisations under Section 35 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (UAPA), the latest being NSCN (Khaplang), which carried out an attack on Indian Army personnel last year.

Full report at:




NIA arrests Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin's son in Srinagar

Aug 30, 2018

SRINAGAR: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday arrested Syed Shakeel Yousuf, son of globally wanted terrorist Syed Salahuddin, in connection with a 2011 terror funding case for allegedly receiving money from his father.

An NIA spokesperson said in Delhi that Shakeel, at present working as a laboratory assistant at a prestigious government hospital, was picked up from Rambagh locality of Srinagar and placed under arrest.

The spokesman said, "In an operation today morning, NIA team along with the police and CRPF arrested Shakeel in a terror funding case".

He is the second son of Salahuddin who has been arrested by the NIA in connection with the case. Earlier in June this year, his another son, Shahid, who was working in the agricultural department of the Jammu and Kashmir government, was arrested in the same case+ .

The NIA alleged Shakeel used to receive funds through a US-based international wire transfer company from Aijaz Ahmed Bhat, another accused in the case who is absconding and based in Saudi Arabia The agency alleged Shakeel was "one of several Indian contacts of Bhat" who had been in telephonic contact with him for receiving money transfer codes The case, registered by the NIA in April 2011, relates to transfer of money from Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir through hawala channels via Delhi, which the agency believed was used in funding terrorism and secessionist activities.

The NIA has so far filed two charge sheets against six people including G M Bhat, a close aide of pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mohammed Siddiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmed Dagga. All four are in judicial custody Two others -- Mohammed Maqbool Pandit and Bhat -- were also charge sheeted by the NIA but are absconding. An Interpol Red Corner notice has been issued against them Shakeel's father Mohammed Yusuf Shah -- better known as Syed Salahuddin -- was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of State.

Besides heading terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, he is the chairman of the United Jehad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of terrorist outfits operating in the Kashmir Valley.

The NIA had also registered two others cases related to terror funding -- one in November 2011 and the other in May this year.

The agency had filed a charge sheet against 10 people including Syed Salahuddin in the April 2011 case.

Full report at:




NIA arrests Syed Salahuddin’s son in terror funding case

Aug 30, 2018

August 30, 2018The National Investigation Agency (NIA) today arrested Syed Shakeel Yousuf, son of globally wanted terrorist Syed Salahuddin, in connection with a 2011 terror funding case for allegedly receiving money from his father.

An NIA spokesman said in Delhi that Shakeel, at present working as a laboratory assistant at a prestigious government hospital, was picked up from Rambagh locality of Srinagar and placed under arrest.

The spokesman said, “In an operation today morning, NIA team along with the police and CRPF arrested Shakeel in a terror funding case”.

He is the second son of Salahuddin who has been arrested by the NIA in connection with the case. Earlier in June this year, his another son, Shahid, who was working in the agricultural department of the Jammu and Kashmir government, was arrested in the same case.

The NIA alleged Shakeel used to receive funds through a US-based international wire transfer company from Aijaz Ahmed Bhat, another accused in the case who is absconding and based in Saudi Arabia

The agency alleged Shakeel was “one of several Indian contacts of Bhat” who had been in telephonic contact with him for receiving money transfer codes

The case, registered by the NIA in April 2011, relates to transfer of money from Pakistan to Jammu and Kashmir through hawala channels via Delhi, which the agency believed was used in funding terrorism and secessionist activities

The NIA has so far filed two charge sheets against six people including G M Bhat, a close aide of pro-Pakistan separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mohammed Siddiq Ganai, Ghulam Jeelani Liloo and Farooq Ahmed Dagga. All four are in judicial custody

Two others — Mohammed Maqbool Pandit and Bhat — were also charge sheeted by the NIA but are absconding. An Interpol Red Corner notice has been issued against them

Shakeel’s father Mohammed Yusuf Shah — better known as Syed Salahuddin — was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US Department of State.

Besides heading terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, he is the chairman of the United Jehad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of terrorist outfits operating in the Kashmir Valley.

The NIA had also registered two others cases related to terror funding — one in November 2011 and the other in May this year.

The agency had filed a charge sheet against 10 people including Syed Salahuddin in the April 2011 case.

Full report at:




India, Pakistan hold talks on Indus Waters Treaty, first bilateral meet since Imran Khan became PM

August 29, 2018

India and Pakistan today commenced crucial talks on various aspects of the Indus Waters Treaty here, the first bilateral engagement since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office. The first round of the two-day meeting is being held at the National Engineering Services Pakistan.

The water commissioners of Pakistan and India are required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to projects’ sites and critical river head works, but Pakistan had been facing a lot of problems in timely meetings and visits.

The Indian side is being represented by a delegation of the Indian Water Commission led by Commissioner P K Saxena whereas Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Meher Ali Shah and his delegation are representing Pakistan, it said. Both the countries are expected to present their reports during the talks. After the meeting, a joint notification would be issued.

Yesterday, Shah and additional commissioner Sheraz Jamil received the nine-member Indian delegation led by Saxena on its arrival here via Wagah border.

The talks will be the first official engagement between India and Pakistan since Khan became prime minister on August 18.

The last meeting of the Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission was held in New Delhi in March during which both the sides had shared details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

India and Pakistan signed the treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory. The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers. However, there have been disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the treaty.

Shah yesterday said Pakistan has raised objections on 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on River Chenab and a detailed discussion will be held during the talks. “We had also raised concerns over construction of dams on Pakistani rivers and India did not bother about it and continued doing the same,” Shah said, adding India will reply to Pakistan’s queries on controversial water projects.

Former Pakistan Indus Water Commissioner Syed Jamaat Ali Shah told PTI that the successive Pakistani governments had given much importance to its water disputes with India. “India does not bother Pakistan in this regard. It begins work on building hydro power projects on the Pakistani rivers and the Pakistani government raises objections afterwards. Unless the Pakistani government seriously takes up these matters with India it will not get relief,” he said and added that Pakistan also needs to plead its case in the World Bank.

According to an official of the Pakistan Water Commission, Pakistan has been raising reservations over the designs of the two projects – 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on River Chenab – and would like India to either modify the designs to make them compliant to 1960 Indus Waters Treaty or put the projects on hold until Delhi satisfies Islamabad.

“The two sides will in talks also finalise the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners,” the official said.

Full report at:




Nagpur Muslims’ Innovative Community Empowerment Campaign

August 30, 2018

Nagpur: If there’s one overarching lesson from the past few decades about how to break the cycles of poverty and unemployment, it’s the power of mentoring — and of intervening early, ideally in the high school age ,that is the time a child’s career is being formed. A new wave of Muslim social entrepreneurs have embarked on path-breaking initiatives in Nagpur and neighbouring Kamptee township with a potential to redefine the community’s social, developmental and educational agenda. A number of innovative initiatives have been launched and their synergy is expected to help the community address a number of critical issues. Nagpur’s model of synergizing multi sectoral approaches is emerging a game changer for the community and has the potential of becoming a replicable model.

Several Commissions were appointed by the government to study the socio economic conditions of Muslims in India. The Sachar Committee and the Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission (2008) recommended a series of affirmative actions to be taken by the Government in order to restore justice to Muslims and improve their plight to the level of national averages.

In order to create awareness about various socio-economic and educational issues of the community specific to the region, and working out local applicable solutions, a think-tank, the Centre for Social Research and Empowerment (CSRE) was launched under the mentorship of Zafar Mahmood, Chairman of Zakat Foundation of India. CSRE is a non-governmental, non-political and non-profit organization.

One of the key objectives of CSRE is to sensitise people to the new changing economic, educational and social environment and to empower them to successfully navigate it. CSRE identified that quality education and proper choice of careers could underpin all these areas and an increase in the community’s participation in various services would have a multiplier effect for generating a life- changing transformation for the community.

The CSRE has been promoted by senior professionals drawn from a vas diversity of professions. It functions unlike the usual career guidance centres being run by government or community organisations. It is managed by sectoral experts and is designed to assist individuals in making and implementing informed educational and occupational choices. Since these professionals are familiar with the governance processes they can enable the aspirants to take the right step on the right ladder.

Among the key mentors at CSRE are : Syed Wasif H. Naqvi (IFS), Ex. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt of Maharashtra Abdul Rauf Shaikh, Ex. CEO Maharashtra Waqf Board, Mohd Ishaq Shaikh, Ex Director General of MERY, Water Resources Department, Bashir Ahmed Shaikh, Retd Principal District Judge and Judicial Member State Consumer Forum, Aftab Alam Khan, former Sr. Manager Bank Of Maharashtra, Majeed Parekh, Islamic scholar, Mujib Khan, Ex. Dy. Commissioner, Zafar Iqbal and Hamid B.K. Quraishi , both senor technocrats with the State Govt, Khwaja Rabbani Ex-, Director of Archaeology, Mujeebuddin Siddiqui, Senior Mineral Economist, Abdul Waheed, former AGM, State Bank of India, Zafar Khan, former Principal, Qidwai High School and Jr.College, Faiz Waheed, technocrat and social entrepreneur, Rizwan Mirza, Chartered Accountant. Mushtaque Ahsan Quraishi, prominent social organizer and Qutub Zafar advocate and social activist. Irshad Khan, a young research associate handles the backroom pertains

A R Shaikh and S W H Naqvi are the key architects of the centre and are steering a series of free Career Guidance Camps and Seminars s in local schools and colleges apart from guiding students on career choices experts from concerned fields also providing useful on various competitive examinations.

Shaikh feels that if the financial strength of Wakfs is properly tapped it can solve all major problems of the community. Most of the 27 state Waqf boards are headed either by not-too-highly qualified CEOs or by government officials holding the post as additional charge.

The Sachar Committee had said, “Up to 200 Group A officers are needed to service the Waqf affairs across India” and recommended, “The government may, therefore, consider creating a new cadre of officers to be recruited by the UPSC so that they can deal with the specific affairs of the Waqfs efficiently.”

The centre has become an established brand in Nagpur. It offers extension services in the field of student scholarships, career counseling, career selection, and entrance exams for professional and technical courses, recruitment in Govt. and Public Sector, job alerts, financial support and guidance for education, online services at nominal charges, etc. Afroz Jahan Memorial Trust, Amravati is a philanthropic partner, providing financial support to the Centre.

A Public Library cum Study Centre has been set up at Jafar Nagar Line with the support of local citizens and the Jafar Nagar Mosque The centre is expected to be a one point reference and guidance interface for career and competitive examinations. It will soon be upgraded to a digital library with virtual class room facility.

CSRE recently climaxed its third career expo with focus on competitive examinations. Sarfaraz Ahmad IAS Distt Collector of Karimnagar, Telangana and recipient of the 2017 Prime Minister’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay Grameen Kaushal Yojana (DDU-GKY) award for achieving the best performance in employment for unemployed youth, emphasized that aspirants for civil services should shed they myths about civil services.

Ahmed said that the civil series examination is basically aimed at selecting administrators and not subject expert’s .Hence it is focused on assessing the students’ contextual approach to the subject and his analyltical abilities. He also said that most of the successful candidates make the grade not in their first attempt but in later attempts .it was therefore necessary that a candidate should work hard and determinedly with a mission approach to the examination.

Full report at:




Terrorist killed in encounter in J&K's Bandipora

Aug 30, 2018

SRINAGAR: A terrorist was on Wednesday killed in an encounter with security forces in Hajin area of Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir, the police said.

Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Hajin area following information about presence of terrorists there, a police official said.

He said the search operation turned into an encounter after terrorists opened fire towards security forces positions.

One terrorist was gunned down in the operation, the official said, adding searches were still going on.




Again, J&K policemen targeted: Four shot dead after top Hizbul commander is killed

by Bashaarat Masood

August 30, 2018

Hours after a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander was gunned down by security forces at Anantnag in J&K, terrorists Wednesday ambushed and killed four policemen outside a vehicle workshop in Shopian.

This marks the third high-profile attack on police personnel this year and comes just a week after an inspector and two constables were shot dead while on leave for Eid.

The four policemen killed Wednesday were part of an officer’s security detail and were out getting a police vehicle repaired when they were fired upon.

After the attack, the militants took away three rifles of the slain policemen and escaped.

Earlier in the day, security agencies said top Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Altaf Ahmad Dar and an associate Umar Rashid were killed in an early morning operation in Anantnag’s Muniward village.

“Altaf Ahmed Dar was currently operating as one of the most important terrorist commanders of proscribed terror outfit HM,” a police spokesman said. “He had a long history of criminal records since 2007.”

Barely five hours after Dar was gunned down, militants attacked the police party.

“Terrorists, in the afternoon, fired indiscriminately upon a police party at Arhama in district Shopian. Four policemen sustained gunshot wounds and were evacuated to a nearby hospital for medical attention. However, all the four injured policemen succumbed,” a police spokesman said.

The slain policemen were identified as Constable Ishfaq Ahmad Mir, Constable Javid Ahmad Bhat, Constable Mohammad Iqbal Mir and Special Police Officer (SPO) Adil Manzoor Bhat.

Militant attacks on police in the Valley have surged this year and Wednesday’s attack is the third such in 2018. Director General of Police (DGP) S P Vaid Tuesday had said that 1,660 policemen have been killed by militants since the start of militancy in the Valley three decades ago.

In January this year, militants killed four policemen when they detonated a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Sopore; last week, militants in one day killed three policemen — home on leave for Eid — in separate attacks in south Kashmir’s Kulgam and Pulwama districts.

In an interview to The Indian Express new Governor Satya Pal Malik had said that the “the issue of J&K policemen being targeted and killed came up” in a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

“The Home Minister has also agreed that the compensation for families in case of the death of a J&K policeman is going to be increased and brought at par with the CRPF and the Army. This has also been cleared,” he said.

Malik also indicated that funds for construction of safe housing clusters for police personnel, of which there has been an acute shortage, had been given “in-principle” clearance.

Sources said that the four policemen killed were part of a senior police officer’s escort and had gone to repair their vehicle at Bonagam in Shopian. While the policemen were waiting outside the vehicle, a group of militants fired on them indiscriminately wounding four critically.

Police sources said that the militant attack was so sudden that the policemen had no time to retaliate. Only one policeman, sources said, survived the attack as he was inside the vehicle when they were attacked.

A wreath-laying ceremony of the slain policemen was held at District Police Lines (DPL) Shopian. Top police officers including DGP Vaid, ADGP Law and Order Muneer Ahmad Khan, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir S P Pani and Deputy Inspector General (DIG) south Kashmir Amit Kumar participated in the wreath-laying ceremony with top civil officers.

Police earlier had hailed the killing of Dar as a huge success and said that he was a deputy to Hizbul’s operational chief Riyaz Ahmad Naikoo and was second-in-command of the militant outfit. Dar alias Moin was categorized as an A++ militant and carried a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head. Last year, when the Army released the list of most wanted militant commanders, Dar figured at serial number 5.

A resident of Hawoora village in south Kashmir’s Kulgam, Dar first joined the militant ranks in 2006 but was arrested after some time. After his release in 2010, Dar recycled into militancy in 2011.

“Considered as a long time surviving terrorist in the area, he (Dar) was involved in a series of terror crimes in the area,” police said. “He was involved in several attacks on security forces and killings of civilians and policemen in the area.”

Police sources said that Dar was working as a militant over ground worker from a young age. “He was working with the militants much before he formally joined them,” said a senior police officer. “Since he recycled into militancy in 2011, he has kept the security agencies on tenterhooks.”

His father, Ghulam Mohammad Dar, was also a militant and was killed in the early Nineties when he was infiltrating into the Valley after arms training in Pakistan.

On Wednesday morning, a joint team of the J&K Police, Army and paramilitary forces cordoned off the Muniward village in Anantnag after specific inputs about the presence of militants. As the joint team zeroed in on the target house, militants opened fire triggering a gunfight in which both the trapped militants were killed.

The other slain militant was identified as Umar Rashid, a resident of Khudwani in Kulgam, who had joined militant ranks only last year.

Full report at:






Govt to expedite seminary reforms, says Awan

Aug 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Advisor to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan on Wednesday said the federal government was committed to expediting seminary reforms to ensure equal rights to the students.

He told Senate that the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) along with relevant departments had already started the process of registration of seminaries; however, some seminaries were not willing to register.

As many as 689 seminaries have been registered in FATA, he said, adding that 179 seminaries were been registered in other parts of the country.

Awan said the government was responsible to bring change in lives of students of seminaries and to provide them equal rights in education and job opportunities in order to bring them into the mainstream.

He said our vision of change was to provide equal rights to every person of the country without any discrimination. He said the process of registration of seminaries was continued and rest would also be registered in 90 days.

Speaking on a point of order, Leader of the House in Senate, Shibli Faraz vowed finalising cybercrime bill soon.

Responding to questions of Senator Agha Shahzaib Durrani and Senator Nauman Wazir, Awan said FIA had the capacity but there was a need to enhance it further.

Cyber Crime wing Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had so far registered 388 cases, he said, adding that as result of these cases, 350 accused persons were arrested, of which there were 65 convictions and 45 acquittals and a fine amounting of Rs 12.72 million had been imposed by the courts.




Presidential Election: Maulana Fazlur Rehman Hopeful Of Aitzaz’s Withdrawal In His Favour

Zubair Ashraf

August 30, 2018

KARACHI: The Opposition's presidential aspirant Maulana Fazlur Rehman is hopeful that the Pakistan Peoples Party would withdraw its candidate Aitzaz Ahsan in his favor.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, the chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, said the opposition nominated him for being acceptable to the PPP which is at odds with the other parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz. Three bigwigs are in the run to become the 13th president of Pakistan for which the voting will be held on September 4 in the Parliament.

Consensus has so far eluded the opposition parties to field a joint candidate against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's Dr Arif Alvi. Now two days after the formal nomination, Rehman flew in to the metropolis to call on the Pakistan Muslim League – Functional, Grand Democratic Alliance and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan to elicit their support. They have an electoral college of 20 and nine respectively. Following meeting with the GDA leaders at the Kingri House, Rehman said the PML-F chief Pir Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi has given a positive response, though he will apprise of his final decision after consulting other allies of the GDA. He said: “If the PML-N had agreed over Aitzaz then there would not have been any issue at all. But the delay in choosing a unanimous opposition’s candidate, is caused by the rift between the two parties. However, we are trying to convince the PPP for a joint candidate.” To a question if the PPP has fielded their candidate "as part of a deal" to reduce the prosecution's pressure against the party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari in the alleged cases of corruption, Fazl parried the reply saying:“I cannot answer this difficult question.” The JUI-F said although the PTI is the largest political party in the parliament but it lacks the majority required to bring in the new president.

He said while the JUI-F has strong reservations over the conduct of the general elections and its results, they decided to sit in the parliament, after the PPP and PML-N resolved to do so in the larger interests of democracy. Later, Rehman visited the MQM-P headquarters. Briefing media about the outcome of the meeting, he said he made his case before the party while highlighting the problems faced by the country and expressed the hope they will make the right decision. He said the MQM fully understands the dimensions of the country’s politics. Referring to the issues put before him by the MQM, Fazl said “we want to see all the cities and towns of the country marching towards progress together.”

Full report at:




Prime Minister Khan arrives at GHQ for security briefing

August 30, 2018

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at General Headquarters, Rawalpindi on Thursday morning for a security briefing, the army's media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a tweet.

"Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived to visit GHQ. Received on arrival by COAS [Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa]. PM being briefed on defence, internal security and other professional matters," ISPR said.

"Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Finance, Information and Minister of State for Interior are accompanying the PM," it added.

The Thursday meeting follows PM Khan and Gen Bajwa's first-ever official interaction as chief executive and army chief on Monday this week at the Prime Minister's Office.

A statement following their meeting had stated that the two had pledged to work closely for establishment of peace in the country and the region.

They “expressed resolve to bring enduring peace and stability in the country while also continuing efforts for regional peace”, the Prime Minister Office had said in a statement.

Full report at:




Ex-MTV presenter was not converted to Islam after Imran Khan became PM

August 29, 2018

An online posts states former MTV presenter Kristiane Backer was inspired to convert to Islam by Imran Khan after he was sworn in as Pakistan’s prime minister on August 18, 2018. Backer has repeatedly said publicly that Khan influenced her conversion to Islam, but she became a Muslim in 1995.

The August 26 post on theislamicinformation.com website is headlined: “MTV Girl Converts To Islam and Performs Hajj After Inspiring From Pakistani PM Imran Khan”.

The post states: “PM Imran Khan is a newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan and after few days of taking an oath, he made MTV Presenter Kristiane Backer accept Islam”.

Backer has said many times, such as in an interview posted on Youtube in 2013, that Khan taught her about Islam and influenced her decision to become a Muslim.

Backer’s official website also states that she became a Muslim in 1995 following a “fateful meeting” with Khan.

Full report at:




US military chief coming with Pompeo to Pakistan for talks on terrorism

Anwar Iqbal

August 30, 2018

WASHINGTON: The US military chief will accompany the top US diplomat when he visits Islamabad next week and the need to fight terrorists would be “the primary part” of their discussions with Pakistani leaders, says US Defence Secretary James Mattis.

At a Tuesday afternoon news briefing at the Pentagon, Mr Mattis also rebuffed suggestions that private military forces could join the fight in Afghanistan, and possibly replace regular US troops.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Joseph F. Dunford, who also attended the briefing, said the US had “permanent interests in South Asia” and wanted to “maintain a presence (there) to have influence in that region”.

Pompeo, Dunford set to hold meetings with Imran next week

“The secretary of state and the chairman are going to fly in to Islamabad to meet with the new government that’s in place there now,” he said.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Gen Dunford are expected in Islamabad in the first week of September for talks with their counterparts.

They are also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In their talks with Pakistani officials, the delegation will “make very clear what we have to do, all of our nations, in meeting our common foe, the terrorists,” Secretary Mattis said. “And make that a primary part of the discussion.”

Gen Dunford said that the US would maintain both diplomatic and security presence in South Asia and the form of that presence was going to change over time.

Gen Dunford’s inclusion in the delegation dispels the impression that this was not a proper visit but just a stopover, as US state and defence secretaries were both going to be in New Delhi next week for the first two-plus-two talks between the United States and India.

But Secretary Mattis’ emphasis on the need to fight terrorists reignites the controversy stirred last week after Secretary Pompeo’s call to the prime minister.

The US Department of State issued a statement after the call, saying that “Secretary Pompeo raised the importance of Pakistan taking decisive action against all terrorists operating in Pakistan”. Islamabad rejected the US statement as incorrect, saying that this issue was not discussed.

At the Pentagon briefing, Secretary Mattis avoided whipping up the controversy and did not comment when a journalist asked if he trusted the new Pakistani leadership’s commitment to fight terrorism.

Mr Mattis, however, said that Secretary Pompeo and he were going to New Delhi for talks aimed at further strengthening a growing partnership with India.

“We see the strengthening of India’s democracy, its military, its economy as a stabilising element in the world,” he said. “And we want to make certain that where we have common interests, we are working together.”

Full report at:




Interpol not ready to issue red warrants for Musharraf, court told

August 30, 2018

ISLAMABAD: The special court hearing treason charges against former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf was informed on Wednesday that Interpol had refused to issue red warrants for his repatriation from the United Arab Emirates where he has been living since 2016.

Interior Secretary Yousuf Naeem Khokhar told the court comprising Lahore High Court Chief Justice Yawar Ali and Justice Nazar Akbar that Interpol had explained to Islamabad that the high treason case being a political one in nature did not encompass the charter of the international law enforcement organisation.

The special court, however, asked the secretary to furnish copies of the correspondence between Islamabad and Interpol before postponing the proceedings till Sept 10.

The previous government had in April requested the special court to proceed and conclude the treason trial without waiting for the former military ruler’s personal appearance.

But before adjourning the treason case, the court also sought assistance from the parties, including the federal government, asking whether the court could record Mr Musharraf’s statement under Section 342 of criminal procedure code through video facility or Skype — a social media application — when the accused was not appearing before the court, and whether it could proceed in the absence of any statement of the accused under Section 342.

At the outset of the proceedings, the special court accepted an application of senior counsel Akram Sheikh, who was earlier prosecuting Mr Musharraf as head of the prosecution team. Mr Sheikh had sought the court’s permission to withdrawn himself as prosecutor, saying that since the present case involved a fundamental civil-military relationship, the new federal government should have an opportunity to decide how it would like to handle the matter.

The counsel said he had submitted his resignation to the caretaker government on July 30, but did not receive any response.

Full report at:




Gen Bajwa commends stabilisation operations on visit to South Waziristan

August 29, 2018

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday visited South Waziristan where he was briefed on stabilisation operations and progress of fencing along the Pak-Afghan Border in Waziristan at Angoor Adda.

The army chief appreciated the quality and pace of work, said a press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) — the media affairs wing of the military.

Later in the day, General Bajwa addressed a combined jirga of elders from North and South Waziristan in Wana.

Tribal elders thanked the army chief for the restoration of peace in the area as well as the merger of the region formerly known as Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). They also acknowledged the ongoing efforts for the area's socio-economic development.

The tribal leaders assured the COAS their unflinching support for security forces and the state.

Read next: The cold emptiness of South Waziristan

Furthermore, the elders highlighted the need for additional communication infrastructure, electricity, water, educational institutions and upgraded cellular network facilities.

The COAS thanked the local tribal elders for extending their support and cooperation to the security forces.

He said that peace had largely returned in the region. However, he also said that he was aware of a few improvised explosive device (IED) blasts having taken place recently in North Waziristan.

"No conflict ends through kinetic operations alone," he said. "There is always a post-operations rehabilitation and development effort."

General Bajwa said that while stability operations continued alongside border fencing, progress on socio-economic prong was also gaining momentum and expressed confidence that the same shall get more attention through the implementation of merger measures.

"Terrorism and development cannot go together, therefore, collectively we have to make sure that unrest doesn't return," he added.

The COAS asked all the concerned, especially the local population — the main stakeholders to retain the attained peace and stability in the area — to "remain vigilant and safeguard the environment from inimical forces, who were eyeing to reverse the gains".

Full report at:




Pakistan still hosting 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees

August 29, 2018

PESHAWAR: Pakistan was still hosting 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in addition to 850,000 Afghan citizen card holders, a delegation of Thailand was told on Tuesday.

The 16-member delegation comprising senior officials of various ministries and departments of Thailand visited Registration Card Modification Centre for Afghan Refugees in Azakhel, Nowshera on Tuesday, said a statement.

Mr Pichit Boonsud, deputy director general of Department of International Organisations (Thailand), was heading the delegation.

The senior officers of ministry of interior, office of National Security Council, Royal Thai Police, immigration bureau, ministry of social development and human security, ministry of public health and office of the council of state were briefed about process of registration of refugees.

Director General Afghan Refugees Waqar Maroof briefed the delegation on government policy about the refugees.

He informed the delegation that RCM system had been operational since 2002 to facilitate voluntary return of refugees to their country.

He said that manual system was installed before 2002 that was not effective following which RCM was introduced. He said that 4.443 million refugees had been repatriated between 2002 and 2018.

He said that RCM was installed with the financial support of UNHCR to resolve issues related to PoR cards including registration, modification, birth registration and death registration.

Mr Maroof said that Pakistan was still hosting 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees in addition to 850,000 Afghan citizen card holders besides undocumented Afghans. He told the delegation that the government had extended stay of 1.4 million registered refugees.

He said that Afghan Commissionerate with financial and technical support of UNHCR had been providing education and health facilities to refugees in refugee villages.

He said that 17 basic health units were operational at the refugee villages in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The delegation was informed about facilities provided to returnees at voluntary repatriation centre in Azakhel.

Full report at:




16,000 arrested for terrorism, 1,900 punished, 346 sentenced to death in 2013-17, Senate told

Aug 30, 2018

The Interior Ministry has told the Senate that during from 2013 to 2017, over 16,000 people were arrested for terrorism charges and 1,900 were awarded punishments.

Out of the total 16,000 people who were arrested, 10,993 were from Punjab, 2,728 from Sindh, 1,967 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 147 from Balochistan, 126 from Gilgit-Baltistan and 61 from Islamabad.

Out of those who were awarded punishments, 1,970 are from Punjab, 255 from Sindh, 234 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 54 from Balochistan, 10 from Gilgit-Baltistan and 10 from the capital.

Full report at:




North America


US government-wide cover-up of Saudi complicity in 9/11 revealed in new book

Aug 30, 2018

The authors of a new explosive book on 9/11 have revealed a US government-wide cover-up of Saudi complicity in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, claiming that the CIA and Saudi Arabia conspired to keep 9/11 details secret.

In The Watchdogs Didn’t Bark: The CIA, NSA, and the Crimes of the War on Terror, John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski dismissed the official story that 9/11 was merely “a failure to connect the dots.” They wrote several accounts from former US intelligence officials who revealed how American agencies ignored intelligence on Saudis. 

“It’s horrible. We still don’t know what happened,” said Ali Soufan, one of the lead FBI counterterrorism agents whom the CIA kept in the dark about the movements of the future al-Qaeda hijackers.

Soufan and many other former national security officials have said that 9/11 was a bigger event than the assassination of John F. Kennedy, because “9/11 changed the whole world.”

The September 11 terrorist attacks led to the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq, and also allowed some people in Washington, DC to push the US closer to being a virtual homeland-security police state.

“I am sad and depressed about it,” said Mark Rossini, one of two FBI agents assigned to the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit.

He said CIA officials inexplicably blocked them from informing their headquarters about future al-Qaeda plotters present in the United States in 2000 and again in the summer of 2001. “It is patently evident the attacks did not need to happen and there has been no justice,” he said.

In 2004, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States said it found no evidence that the “Saudi government as an institution, or senior Saudi officials individually funded” al-Qaeda.

Steven Moore, the FBI agent who led the bureau’s investigation into the hijacking of the plane that hit the Pentagon, has accused the official 9/11 Commission of misleading the public when it said it “had not found evidence” of Saudi assistance to future hijackers Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi.

“There was clearly evidence that Thumairy provided assistance to Hazmi and Mihdhar,” Moore wrote. And “based on the proof in our investigation,” he added, “Bayoumi himself was a clandestine agent and associated with radical extremists, including Thumairy.”

In their book, Duffy and Nowosielski have presented an update on what’s been learned about Saudi support for Al-Qaeda in recent years.

US investigations have revealed that officials from the Saudi Kingdom’s Islamic affairs ministry helped the hijackers get settled in California.

“Saudi intelligence has admitted that they knew who these two guys were,” said Andrew Maloney, an attorney for families of the 9/11 attack victims who filed suit against the Saudi government in federal court in New York last year.

“They knew they were Al-Qaeda the day they arrived in Los Angeles. So any notion from the Saudi government saying, ‘Oh, we just help out all Saudis here’ is false. They knew. And the CIA knew.”

Saudi Arabia has handed over some 6,800 pages of documents, “mostly in Arabic,” to the US government. Maloney’s team is translating them. “There’s some interesting things in there,” he said, “and some clear gaps.”

Terry Strada, a leader of the group 9/11 Families & Survivors United for Justice Against Terrorism, is angry at the US government’s refusal to release all it knows about the run-up to the 9/11 attacks.

“It’s very sad that we’re still being kept in the dark about it. It’s frustrating. It angers me,” she told Newsweek. “It’s a slap in the face. They think they’re above the law and don’t have to respond to the families—and the world. It’s disgusting.”

Strada tweeted on August 20, “The Saudis promote & finance the most virulent hatred toward Americans than any other nation. Murdered 3,000 on Sept 11.” The “9/11 families,” she wrote, “will #NEVERFORGET. #FreeTheTruth”

The September, 11, 2001 attacks, also known as the 9/11 attacks, were a series of strikes in the US which killed nearly 3,000 people and caused about $10 billion worth of property and infrastructure damage.

US officials assert that the attacks were carried out by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists but many experts have raised questions about the official account.

They believe that rogue elements within the US government, such as former Vice President Dick Cheney, orchestrated or at least encouraged the 9/11 attacks in order to accelerate the US war machine and advance the Zionist agenda.

Dr. Kevin Barrett, a founding member of the Scientific Panel for the Investigation of 9/11, has said that 15 of the 9/11 “hijackers” from Saudi Arabia were actually CIA agents working for the United States government.

Barrett, an American academic who has been studying the events of 9/11 since late 2003, has also said that the CIA is afraid of any serious investigation into the attacks because it would expose the role Israeli and American intelligence played in the 9/11 coup d’état.




US, Israel form new joint task force to take on Iran

Aug 29, 2018

The United States is teaming up with the Israeli regime to enforce economic sanctions against Iran in the wake of Washington’s withdrawal from the internationally backed nuclear deal with Tehran.

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed to set up a joint team for that purpose after meeting in Washington Tuesday.

This was the fourth time Mnuchin, also a Jew, was meeting with Kahlon in the past 12 months.

“The meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is intended to deepen our strategic-economic ties with the US. The joint task force which we established will be crucial in tightening sanctions on Iran," said the Israeli minister, further claiming that “The economic sanctions that the US imposed on Iran are proving themselves."

‘Israel thankful to US’

The administration of US President Donald Trump illegally re-imposed sanctions on Iran earlier this month after pulling the US out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May despite Tehran’s compliance with the agreement, which is still supported by the UK, Russia, Germany, China and France.

Kahlon cited “Israel's security,” asserting that “we should be thankful to the US” for reintroduction of the illegal sanctions.

With an estimated 200 to 400 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, the TEl Aviv regime has refused to allow inspections of its military nuclear facilities or sign the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

On February 22, 2012, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said that Iran considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons “a grave sin” from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint.

Washington’s recent attempts to pile up economic pressure will face defeat, according to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Full report at:




3 ‘extremist Muslim’ New Mexico compound suspects released after judge drops all charges

Aug 30, 2018

Three suspects tied to a New Mexico compound where alleged Muslim extremists reportedly trained children to be school shooters were released from custody on Wednesday, hours after a judge dismissed all of the charges against them, Fox News confirmed.

District Judge Emilio Chavez on Wednesday dismissed charges against three of the five defendants -- Lucas Morton, Subhannah Wahhaj and Hujrah Wahhaj -- ruling that authorities violated the state’s “10-day rule.”

Child abuse charges against them were dropped because prosecutors missed the 10-day limit for an evidentiary hearing to establish probable cause.

During a separate hearing Wednesday, Judge Jeff McElroy dismissed the same charges against fellow defendants, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Jany Leveille. However, charges leveled against them on Friday, in connection to the death of a missing 3-year-old boy, remained.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the boy's father, and Leveille were charged with abuse of a child resulting in the death of a child and conspiracy to commit abuse of a child, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe announced.

The five suspects were arrested by authorities after an Aug. 3 raid following a monthslong search investigating the disappearance of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a 3-year-boy with severe medical issues who went missing from Georgia in December. The occupants of the compound were "most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief," an official said at the time.

Taos County Sheriff's deputies discovered 11 children at the compound, who were taken into the custody of state child-welfare workers. On Aug. 6, a child’s remains were found on the property.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was allegedly training children to commit school shootings, according to prosecutors, who later alleged that the juveniles were taught how to use firearms, as well as tactical techniques, in order to kill teachers, law enforcement and other institutions they found corrupt.

Health officials confirmed earlier this month that the discovered remains were positively identified as the 3-year-old's.

Full report at:




Man pleads guilty in attack against Muslim teen on Canada Line

August 29, 2018

A man accused of attacking a young Muslim woman on the Canada Line last December has been handed a suspended sentence and two-years probation by a Vancouver Provincial Court Judge.

On Wednesday morning, Pierre Belzan pleaded guilty to two counts of assault.

The 47-year-old was originally charged with sexual assault and uttering threats.

Last December, 18-year-old Noor Fadel boarded the Canada Line at Waterfront station. Shortly after she claimed Belzan threatened to kill her and all Muslims before striking her across the face.

Fadel said Belzan grabbed her head, forced it toward his crotch and then tried to remove her hijab.

At the time, Transit Police said Belzan spoke in Arabic and allegedly made obscene remarks, using “extremely offensive language.”

The story gained international attention after a Good Samaritan pushed Belzan away.

Full report at:




US soldier pleads guilty to trying to help Islamic State

August 30, 2018

HONOLULU (AP) — A soldier based in Hawaii pleaded guilty Wednesday to trying to help the Islamic State group— admitting he provided secret military information, a drone meant to track U.S. troops and other support to undercover agents he believed were members of the terrorist organization.

Sgt. 1st Class Ikaika Kang, 35, handcuffed and wearing a beige prison jumpsuit, spoke in a clear voice when he told a U.S. magistrate judge he's guilty of all four counts against him.

"Your honor, I provided unclassified, classified documents to the Islamic State," Kang said, adding that he also provided the drone.

He agreed when Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson described other support he provided to undercover agents Kang believed were part of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS.

By at least early 2016, Kang became sympathetic to the group, Sorenson said. The FBI gathered information from sources he knew, worked with or lived with when it began an investigation in August 2016, Sorenson said.

Kang provided voluminous, digital documents that included sensitive information including the U.S. military's weapons file, details about a sensitive mobile airspace management system, various military manuals and documents containing personal information about U.S. service members, Sorenson said.

Trained as an air traffic controller with a secret security clearance, Kang also provided documents including call signs, mission procedures and radio frequencies, "all of which would have been helpful to ISIS," Sorenson said.

At one of the meetings with agents Kang believed were part of the Islamic State, he swore loyalty to the group in Arabic and English and kissed an Islamic State flag given to him by a purported ISIS sheikh, Sorenson said.

He then said he wanted to get his rifle and fight — "just go to downtown Honolulu and Waikiki strip and start shooting," prosecutors said in a news release announcing the plea.

After that, FBI agents arrested him.

"He was clearly enticed. But the law of entrapment is quite complex and often very difficult for the defense to prove," Kang's defense attorney, Birney Bervar, said after the hearing.

In exchange for Kang's guilty plea, prosecutors said they won't charge him with additional crimes, including violations of the espionage act, other terrorism-related laws and federal firearms statutes.

Kang swore to defend the United States as a member of the military, but he betrayed his country, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said.

He was also trained as an Army combat instructor and recorded training videos he intended for Islamic State group members in the Middle East to use, Sorenson said.

A confidential informant told agents Kang was obsessed with videos depicting terrorism beheadings, suicide bombings and other violence, and he watched them in his bedroom for hours daily.

Kang told the informant that if he became an Islamic State member, he would be a suicide bomber and attack Schofield Barracks, a sprawling Army base outside Honolulu, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

Kang watched the videos for four to five hours each weekday and more on the weekends, the informant told agents in 2016. The informant "remembered feeling sick to his stomach, while Kang laughed and insulted the victims," the affidavit said.

Kang began researching Islam in 2014, couldn't wait to move to the Middle East to "join the cause" and was "only in the military for a paycheck," the informant said.

The U.S. government asked a judge to allow a tracking device to be placed on Kang's car in October 2016 and received several extensions. Agents said in their applications for a tracking device that they needed to monitor him continuously because they feared he would carry out an attack.

Officials with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade told the FBI they were concerned about their ability to monitor Kang, noting that he was to return from leave on May 25, 2017 — the same day as a change-of-command ceremony, the affidavit said.

Brigade personnel feared the large gathering "represented a target of opportunity for Kang should he want to harm members of the unit."

Kang is still in the Army, but his duty status is confined, said Lt. Col. Curt Kellogg, with the 25th Infantry Division. Because Kang is in civilian confinement, the Army isn't paying him, Kellogg said.

He has been held without bail since his arrest.

Full report at:






Turkey detains over dozen Gulen-linked gendarmerie officers

Aug 29, 2018

Turkish police forces have arrested more than a dozen gendarmerie officers on suspicion of affiliation to a movement led by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Chief Prosecutor's Office in the capital Ankara had earlier issued arrest warrants for 34 suspects, two of whom were on-duty.

The suspects include six majors, two captains, three lieutenants, 14 low-ranking officers of the General Command of Gendarmerie as well as nine “covert imams” – a term used to refer to the senior members of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETO).

During the 2016 botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.

Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.

Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.

“Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders,” he said in a statement.

The 77-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he says is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”

Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.

Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.

The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.




Israeli court rubber-stamps new settlement in occupied West Bank

Aug 29, 2018

A court in Israel has legalized a settlement illegally built on a Palestinian-owned land in the central West Bank city of Ramallah amid international outcry against the Tel Aviv regime’s land expropriation and settlement expansion policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Judge Arnon Darel at the Jerusalem District Court ruled that settlers at the Mitzpe Kramim settlement had acted in “good faith” and had rights to the property.

The ruling will likely face an appeal at Israel's Supreme Court, which has previously ordered such outposts be forcibly evacuated.

The Israeli anti-settlement group Peace Now condemned the court’s decision, saying, “Granting of property rights to criminals who settled in an illegal outpost ... without permits, on private Palestinian land is outrageous.”

Far-right Israeli minister of judicial affairs Ayelet Shaked, however, hailed the move as an “important achievement” for the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement expansion plans.

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

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

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

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

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

Full report at:




US envoy to UN questions Palestinian right of return to Israel-occupied homeland

Aug 29, 2018

The US ambassador to the United Nations has questioned the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their occupied homeland, a basic Palestinian demand for any future deal with the Israeli regime, claiming the world body’s count of those refugees is an exaggeration.

Speaking on Tuesday at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington-based pro-Israel think tank, Nikki Haley said that the Palestinians’ right of return should not be raised in any future Israeli-Palestinian talks.

Asked whether the issue should be “off the table,” Haley replied, “I do agree with that, and I think we have to look at this in terms of what’s happening (with refugees) in Syria, what’s happening in Venezuela.”

“So I absolutely think we have to look at the right of return,” she added.

The Palestinian right of return is a political position or principle based on which Palestinian refugees are entitled to go back to the territories now occupied by Israel. They also have the right to the property they left behind or were forced to abandon when they were expelled from their homeland in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The Palestinians have for years insisted on their right to return as part of any solution to their decades-long conflict with the Israeli regime.

Haley was in fact suggesting that the highly pro-Israel administration of President Donald Trump would consider an official rejection of that Palestinian demand as it prepares to unveil its so-called “deal of the century” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The US envoy further questioned the UN’s count of Palestinian refugees, which stands at over five million according to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

She stressed that the US funding for UNRWA would only continue if major reforms were implemented, saying “the Palestinians continue to bash America” and yet “they have their hand out wanting UNRWA money.”

“We will be a donor if it (UNRWA) reforms what it does ... if they actually change the number of refugees to an accurate account, we will look back at partnering them,” Haley said.

She further noted that the US cannot be faulted for slashing funding to UNRWA when countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait do not give more money to the agency.

Israeli media had reported recently that the Trump administration is set to announce that it will no longer recognize millions of Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their homeland.

Earlier this month, the American magazine Foreign Policy reported that Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, had been pushing to remove the refugee status of millions of Palestinians as part of an apparent effort to shutter UNRWA.

In January, the US government announced that it would withhold $65 million of a $125 million aid installment to UNRWA.

The Trump administration has stepped up its anti-Palestinian measures prior to the unveiling of “the deal of the century” – which Palestine has already rejected as the “slap of the century” amid reports that the US is seeking to impose the plan on Palestinians in collaboration behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The US-Palestine ties deteriorated last December, when Trump declared Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and announced plans to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to the occupied city.

The contentious move led Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to formally declare that Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator to resolve the conflict because Washington was “completely biased” towards Tel Aviv.

The US embassy relocation took place on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe). The move sparked angry protests by Palestinians and drew severe criticism from the international community.

‘US ignoring intl. law to defend occupation’

In an interview with Press TV, Robert Inlakesh, political analyst, slammed Haley’s controversial comments in support of Israel’s occupation.

He said the Palestinian refugees have the right under international law “to return and be treated as dignified individuals, but they are not.”

Full report at:




Israel renews threat to attack Iran targets in Syria

August 30, 2018

JERUSALEM  -    Israel on Wednesday renewed its hreat to attack Iranian military targets in Syria, after the two Muslim allies signed an accord on security cooperation.

“The accord concluded by (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad and Iran constitutes a test for Israel: Our response will be loud and clear,” Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said on Israeli public radio.

“We will not allow Iran to establish itself militarily in Syria,” he said.

“We will react in Syria with all our might against any Iranian target that threatens Israel, and if the Syrian army’s air defence intervenes against us, it will pay the price.”

Iran’s military attache to Damascus said Tuesday that his country’s military advisers would remain in Syria under the defence agreement signed the previous day. “Support for Syria’s territorial integrity and the independence of Syrian sovereignty were also emphasised in the agreement,” Brigadier-General Abolghasem Alinejad said.

Tehran has provided steady political, financial and military backing to Assad as he has fought back against a seven-year uprising.

Israel has sought to avoid direct involvement in the conflict but acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes in Syria to stop what it says are deliveries of advanced weaponry to its Lebanese enemy Hezbollah.

Full report at:




Yemeni minister lambasts Iran, Houthis for killing 1,372 children

August 29, 2018

A senior Yemeni official has put Iran and Iranian-backed Houthi militias on notice, revealing for the first time that Houthis have ruthlessly killed 1,372 children and 814 women since war broke out in Yemen in 2014.

Mohammed Askar, the Yemeni human rights minister, said: “Hundreds of children and women have been killed also from March to August this year.” The killings are being documented by the ministry in the form of a report to be released soon, he said.

Askar, while appreciating the support of Saudi Arabia and the Arab coalition, said: “The Kingdom and the UAE together have provided half of the humanitarian aid and assistance as per the target set by the UN for 2018.

“Saudi Arabia has also provided a $2 billion bank deposit to curb the collapse of Yemen’s national currency and to stimulate the economy,” said Askar, referring to the continuous humanitarian support extended by Riyadh.

In a toughly worded warning, Askar also lambasted the destabilizing behavior of Iran, noting the observation of a UN panel, which said that the Houthis are using “winning weapons including missiles and anti-tank guns smuggled from Iran.

“Iran has succeeded in turning the Houthis into a military tool that threatens international peace and security, especially in the navigational corridors of Yemen like Bab Al-Mandab and adjoining waters.”

Askar said: “Iran finds in the collapse of countries (like Yemen) an ideal opportunity to export its ideology of Khomeini revolution, and expand its regional influence.”

The Iran-Houthi nexus has led to the killings of more than 814 innocent Yemeni women since 2014 as well as 89 detainees, who died in the Houthi-run illegal prisons due to torture and even executions,” he added.

“Iran has poured funds and arms in a fervent bid to expand their hegemony in the region. The Iranian intransigence has kept the war raging, which has shattered the lives of Yemenis,” he said.

He pointed out that a large number of civilians, including women and children, have been arrested and kept in illegal detention centers by Houthis.

“This year alone until today, 12 detainees have been killed by Houthis in their prisons,” said the minister.

Asked about the systematic genocide committed by Houthi militants, Askar said: “The Houthis have transformed a large number of schools and hospitals into military barracks and prison houses.

“The Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights has documented 13,389 dead, including 1,372 children, since the Houthis declared war and stormed the capital Saana on Dec. 12, 2014, until February this year.”

He said the total number of arrests since the beginning of the coup exceeds 21,706. “The number of detainees, who are still in the prisons of the militias, exceeds 2,652; while a large number of men, women and children are either missing or languishing in secret prisons of the Houthi militants,” said the minister, putting a question mark on the fate of more than 17 journalists abducted and imprisoned by the Houthi militias.

The Houthis, he said, have also abducted 941 people since January. “While these numbers are documented by the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights, undocumented cases will be much higher,” he noted.

Full report at:




Yemeni forces shoot down Saudi reconnaissance drone over Hudaydah

Aug 29, 2018

Yemeni army soldiers, supported by allied fighters from the Houthi Ansarullah movement, have managed to shoot down a Saudi unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) as it was on a reconnaissance mission in Yemen’s western coastal province of Hudaydah.

Arabic-language al-Masirah television network, citing an unnamed official from Yemen's air defense unit, reported that the Saudi reconnaissance drone was shot down as it was flying in the skies over al-Fazah area south of the provincial capital city of Hudaydah, located 150 kilometers southwest of the capital Sana'a, on Wednesday evening.

Earlier in the day, scores of Saudi-sponsored militiamen loyal to Yemen's former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi lost their lives and sustained injuries when Yemeni army forces and allied fighters from Popular Committees struck their positions in the Sadah area of al-Maslub district in Yemen’s northern province of al-Jawf.

Meanwhile, a Yemeni military source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Yemeni forces and their allies had fired a domestically-manufactured ballistic missile at a military base in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border region of Najran in retaliation for the Saudi regime’s military campaign against their crisis-ridden homeland.

The source said the short-range Badr-1 missile struck a newly-built base in the western sector of the region, located 844 kilometers (524 miles) south of the capital Riyadh, on Wednesday morning.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating military campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the aim of bringing the government of Hadi back to power and crushing the country’s Houthi Ansarullah movement.

Some 15,000 Yemenis have been killed and thousands more injured since the onset of the Saudi-led aggression.

Full report at:






Far-right AfD, anti-Islam Pegida to rally after violent protests in western Germany

Aug 30, 2018

The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the anti-Islam Pegida movement have announced a joint rally to protest crimes perpetrated by migrants after two similar protests turned violent on Sunday and Monday.

The rally will take place on Saturday at 5 pm (1500 GMT) in the eastern German city of Chemnitz, where the death of a German man - allegedly at the hands of a Syrian and an Iraqi - sparked clashes between rival protesters and random attacks on foreigners. The AfD's chapter in Saxony, the state where the violence took place, said the Saturday rally would allow people to "jointly mourn Daniel H and all of the victims of forced multiculturalism," using a shortened version of the victim's name in line with German privacy laws.

AfD leader Joerg Meuthen earlier told public broadcaster SWR his party was "not fanning the flames - there is a dark mood in the country which is only too justified."

A spontaneous protest in response to the death drew 6,000 anti-immigrant protesters and 1,000 counter protesters on Monday. It resulted in clashes in which 20 people, including two police officers, were injured.

There were no mass street protests on Tuesday evening.

The AfD was founded in 2013 and first gained seats in Germany's national parliament after elections last year.

Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, was founded around the same time and gained traction during the refugee crisis.




UK to train Nigerian army counterterror squads to fight Boko Haram under new security partnership

Aug 30, 2018

British officials will also launch a £13m initiative to train school children caught in Boko Haram’s conflict zone and counter the group’s propaganda.

The announcement comes on the second day of Theresa May’s tour of Africa, also taking in South Africa and Kenya, as Ms May also announced:

•      A new task force to help Nigeria recover stolen assets held in Britain

•      A fintech partnership

•      Proposals to boost the City’s role in the country, with a $10bn (£7.75bn) Nigerian firm committing to list in London

Launching the plan, Ms May said: “No one should live in fear of being targeted by militants or forced from their homes, and no child should lose out on an education because of the threat of terror.

“Insecurity, violence and extremism destabilise countries and regions and undermine growth, holding back entire generations from reaching their potential.

“It is only when people are safe and communities stable that nations have the opportunity to thrive.”

Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa are responsible for the deaths of more than 20,000 people, with almost two million forced to live away from their homes in the northeast of the country.

Earlier this year the group kidnapped more than 100 young girls from their village after pretending to be government soldiers.

Under the new partnership Britain will expand its provision of equipment and training for the Nigerian army to tackle the improvised explosive devices used by the groups.

Boko Haram has adopted the bombs and the insurgency style tactics that the UK faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Until now the UK had only trained Nigerian soldiers individually – not in their full fighting teams – helping to improve the skills of some 30,000 troops since 2015, but the new move to train full units represents an intensification of cooperation.

Ms May signed the partnership in Abuja after flying in from Cape Town on Wednesday morning.

On arrival, she gave the country’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, a personalised miniature infantry sword letter opener and some 10 Downing Street glassware.

Mr Buhari underwent officer cadet training at a school in Aldershot between 1962 and 1963.

Under the new partnership the UK will also deliver a £13m programme to educate 100,000 children living in the conflict zone created by Boko Haram’s activity.

Officials will then show Mr Buhari’s administration how to set up a new Nigerian crisis response mechanism, similar to the UK’s Cobra system, which swings into action in the face of any event requiring urgent action.

The plan will also aim to cut the number of new recruits joining Boko Haram by tackling the false information spread by the group to attract new members.

This will involve working with communities in Nigeria to counter the narrative peddled by the terror group.

UK officials said the work would draw on Britain’s experience of countering Islamic State propaganda at home.

Full report at:




UK minister urges more support for Rohingya refugees


The U.K. minister for the United Nations has urged the international community to support Rohingya refugees.

Speaking at the UN Security Council in New York, Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon also argued that much more needs to be done to end the current crises, such as unrestricted and effective access to the UN and that the international community needs to increase its financial support to the refugees.

Ahmad called for the perpetrators of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in Myanmar to be held to account and brought to justice.

“The U.K. is playing a leading role in bringing an end to this crisis. We need an international political consensus to bring the appalling humanitarian situation to an end,” Ahmad said in a statement on the government’s website.

“Bangladesh has done more than its fair share to help the refugees. Now it’s the turn of other countries to step up, and provide the money that will help support both refugees and the communities that support them, and for international partners to act together to ensure justice for the victims of the crisis,” he added.

The U.K. is one of the largest donors to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and has donated £129 million ($166 million) to support the nearly one million Rohingya in the country’s refugee camps.

On Monday, the UN released a report calling for an investigation into Burma’s top military officials, stating that they should be prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Rohingya Muslims

Coinciding with the release of the UN report, Facebook shutdown the accounts of Burma’s top military chiefs after having concluded that their content violated the platform’s rules and regulations.

In a report, the UNHCR refugee agency said nearly 170,000 Rohingya likely fled Myanmar in 2012 alone.

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

In a recent report, Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience, the OIDA raised the estimated number of murdered Rohingya to 23,962 (± 881) from a Doctors Without Borders figure of 9,400.

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, the OIDA report said, adding that 17,718 (±780) Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police. Over 115,000 Rohingya houses were also burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

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

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

Full report at:




France restricts travel by diplomats to Iran

August 29, 2018

PARIS: France has told its diplomats and foreign ministry officials to postpone indefinitely all non-essential travel to Iran, citing a foiled bomb plot and a hardening of Tehran’s attitude toward France, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters.

Any hardening of relations with France could have wider implications for Iran. France has been one of the strongest advocates of salvaging a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which US President Donald Trump pulled out of in May.

Iran’s economy has been hammered by the prospect of the re-imposition of US sanctions that had been lifted under the deal. European countries including France have pledged to try to soften the economic blow, but have been unable so far to persuade their firms to defy Washington and stay in Iran.

French oil and gas major Total and its carmakers PSA and Renault have led an exodus of European companies from Iran, fearful of the extra-territorial reach of Washington’s sanctions.

The memo cites a foiled plot to bomb a rally held by an exiled Iranian opposition group near Paris that was attended by Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani as a sign of Tehran’s more aggressive stance toward France.

“The behavior of the Iranian authorities suggests a hardening of their position vis-a-vis our country, as well as some of our allies,” Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, the ministry’s secretary general wrote in the notice dated Aug. 20.

“Given the known security risks ... all departmental officers, whether from headquarters or (overseas) posts, are required to defer until further notice, except for urgent work, any travel plans in Iran,” Gourdault-Montagne added.

The instructions were also relayed to officials in government departments outside the foreign ministry to be passed on to staff who intended to travel to Iran, a separate memo obtained by Reuters showed.

The French foreign ministry declined to comment on the memo or say whether embassy staff had been asked to repatriate their families.

Iranian officials at the Embassy in Paris did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday but, reacting on Wednesday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Iran should be vigilant against “enemies” trying to affect ties between the countries.

“The relations between Iran and Europe, especially Iran and France, have some enemies, and we should be vigilant against their actions,” Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA. “The restriction on the French diplomats’ travel (to Iran) is not correct.”

France’s latest travel advisory for its citizens, published on May 10, cautions against visitors entering Iran with electronic equipment such as drones and walkie-talkies and taking too many photographs.

Relations sour

The memo underscores how confidence in the Tehran government has been eroded in Paris as relations between the two become increasingly strained, even as President Emmanuel Macron talks up preserving the nuclear accord.

Iran has said it had nothing to do with the alleged plot to attack a National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) meeting on June 30. Germany has detained an Iranian diplomat based in Austria. Belgium, where the plot was uncovered, has sought the diplomat’s extradition.

French officials have not commented on the matter but diplomatic sources have said privately that if Iran’s involvement were proven then it would be difficult for France not to react strongly.

Since pulling out of the nuclear accord, Trump has expressed a readiness to negotiate a new deal while warning Tehran of dire consequences “the like of which few throughout history have suffered before” if it made threats against the United States.

It was Macron who led efforts to persuade Trump to stick with the agreement, arguing it was the best means Western powers had to check Iran’s nuclear activities.

Rouhani on Monday urged the remaining signatories to the nuclear agreement to act to save the pact.

Macron reiterated France’s commitment to maintaining the accord, but Europe’s leaders have appeared powerless to prevent the US sanctions inflicting pain on Iran’s economy.

The ministry memo said any staffer who traveled to Iran for personal reasons would not be shielded by diplomatic immunity, even if holding a diplomatic passport. It made specific reference to tourism and language classes.

Full report at:




French FM urges for a political solution in Syria


France aligns itself with the United States in the bid to find a political solution in Syria, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Wednesday.

"We have a common stance with the United States that there must be some reassuring measures to restore peace in Syria and to withdraw foreign forces, in order to introduce constitutional reforms allowing all Syrians, including asylum-seekers, to participate," Le Drian said in a speech as part of the 26th Ambassadors' Conference, which opened in Paris on Monday.

"I hope that this dialogue remains the basis for a broader platform, including with Russia and Turkey," he added.

"As for our relations with Russia, some of our partners view that country as an enemy, and they have reasons for this, but France is not seeking to isolate or weaken Russia. In return, we expect respect and cooperation," he said.

France is "not ready to pay" for European countries that do not respect the "fundamental principles" of the EU, Le Drian warned ahead of European elections to be held next May.

"We are not prepared to pay for this Europe, it must be made clear," Le Drian said, referring to Poland and Hungary.

"Each member state is free to elect the leaders it wants, but our vision of the EU as the primary circle of alliances and values is not compatible with governments that do not respect its fundamental principles and do not feel bound by community solidarity," he said.

"Basically, they have a utilitarian approach of the Union in which they would choose only what interests them and in the first place the redistribution of money."

As for the issue of accepting migrants, he said he hoped that a common position would be outlined with Germany before the Salzburg summit planned in September.

Full report at:




South Asia


ISIS leader Yasir Khurasani killed with 5 comrades in Nangarhar drone strike

Aug 30 2018

A leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) Yasir Khurasani was killed with his five comrades during an airstrike in eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East said the U.S. forces carried out airstrikes using unmanned aerial vehicles targeting the ISIS hideouts in Wazir Tangi area of Khogyani district.

The statement further added that the airstrikes left ISIS leader Yasir Khurasani and his comrades dead and a Dshk heavy machine gun was destroyed.

The Afghan forces also discovered and defused two improvised explosive devices during the separate operations conducted in Mohmandara and Rodat districts, the 203rd Silab Corps added.

The anti-government armed militant and terrorist groups including ISIS loyalists have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 but the anti-government armed militants have been attempting to expand their foothold in this province during the recent years.

However, the Afghan armed forces are busy conducting counter-terrorism operations to suppress the militant groups.




4 ISIS Khurasan members arrested in Kabul city

Aug 29 2018

At least four suspected militants having links with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Khurasan (ISIS-K) were arrested from Kabul city.

The Afghan Intelligence, National Directorate of Security (NDS), in a statement said the suspects were arrested during an operation from the vicinity of the 5th police district of the city.

The statement further added that the NDS forces also confiscated some weapons and munition during the operations.

According to the National Directorate of Security, the detained militants were involved in recruiting militants in the ISIS Khurasan ranks from Kabul city.

The detained militants were also involved in smuggling weapons and munitions to capital Kabul, the National Directorate of Security added.

The statement by NDS also added that the detained militants have been identified as Shafiullah, Mohammad Rahim, Mansooruddin, and Rahimuddin.

The National Directorate of Security in its statement also added that the militants were arrested from Qargha area of Kabul.

Full report at:




Afghanistan concerned over disdainful cartoons contest of Prophet Mohammad

Aug 30 2018

The Afghan government has expressed concerns regarding the planned disdainful cartoons contest of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

“Holding of the contest for creating, publishing and disseminating disrespectful cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him), the beloved Prophet of Muslims around the world is not only a source of deep offence for the People and Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan but has also provoked the feelings of all Muslims around the world,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan said in a statement.

The statement further added that “Insulting any religion and sacred values of human beings is an undesired deed. The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan condemns in strongest terms, this heinous and inhumane act and one that is in contradiction of recognized moral, human rights and freedom of speech standards.”

“We seriously call on relevant entities at the United Nations and the International Community to prevent any such acts that cause hatred and turmoil among the followers of religions,” the statement.

Full report at:




Myanmar rejects UN probe findings of Rohingya ‘genocide’

August 30, 2018

YANGON - Myanmar Wednesday rejected the findings of a UN investigation alleging genocide by its military against the Rohingya, after the US and other countries joined growing calls for them to face justice.

Mainly Buddhist Myanmar has come under immense pressure this week over last year’s military crackdown that pushed more than 700,000 of the Muslim minority into Bangladesh.

On Monday the UN probe detailed evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity “perpetrated on a massive scale” against the Rohingya, including acts of rape, sexual violence and mass killings.

In a UN Security Council session a day later, several countries - including the US, Britain, France and Sweden - called for Myanmar’s military leaders to be held accountable. The meeting was one of the most high-profile to date to address the crisis and featured graphic testimony from actress Cate Blanchett, who visited the refugee camps in May as a goodwill ambassador.

“I am a mother and I saw my own children in the eyes of every single refugee child that I met. I saw myself in every parent,” she told the Security Council.

“How can any mother endure seeing her child thrown into a fire? Their experiences will never leave me.”

Myanmar rejected the UN mission’s findings in a typically defiant response to a crisis that has heaped international opprobrium on both its military and civilian leadership.

“We didn’t allow the FFM (the UN Fact-Finding Mission) to enter into Myanmar, that’s why we don’t agree and accept any resolutions made by the Human Rights Council,” said government spokesman Zaw Htay, according to Wednesday’s state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

He pointed to the formation of Myanmar’s own Independent Commission of Enquiry, which he said was set up to respond to “false allegations made by the UN agencies and other international communities”.

The country has “zero tolerance for human rights violations,” Zaw Htay said, but he added that “strong evidence” including records and dates of any alleged abuses must be provided before investigations are undertaken. The government would take “legal action against any violation of human rights,” he said.

Zaw Htay also lashed out at Facebook for shutting down the pages of Myanmar’s army chief and other top military brass on Monday, saying the move could hamper the government’s efforts at “national reconciliation”.

The social media giant has admitted it was previously too slow to react to the crisis, which saw its platform - wildly popular in Myanmar - become an incubator of hate speech against the Rohingya.

Much of Myanmar’s public has vilified the Rohingya since the army’s crackdown, with little sympathy for a minority who have for years been refused citizenship and denied freedom of movement and access to healthcare and education.

Myanmar’s military retains significant constitutional and political power and is essentially free of civilian oversight.

But the country’s civilian leaders, including Nobel laureate and de facto head of state Aung San Suu Kyi, have repeatedly defended the military crackdown as a proportionate response to Rohingya insurgents in Rakhine state who staged deadly raids on police posts on August 25, 2017.

However the UN report agreed with rights groups who say the crackdown was premeditated, a key factor in determining if a genocide has taken place.

It pointed to the large-scale military deployments to Rakhine in the weeks leading up to the campaign in a “broader oppressive context”.

Around a million Rohingya now languish in refugee camps in Bangladesh, which has struggled to deal with the huge influx into an already impoverished country.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have signed a deal to repatriate last year’s wave of refugees but there has been little progress given Rohingya fears of returning without guarantees for their safety.

Meanwhile the drumbeat of calls for accountability is getting louder, with UN investigators calling on the Security Council to refer the Myanmar crisis to the International Criminal Court (ICC) or to create an ad hoc tribunal.

Several Security Council members threw support behind the idea while also calling for a mechanism to “collect and preserve proof” of abuses.

Myanmar’s ambassador to the UN Hau Do Suan questioned the UN report’s findings, reiterating that Myanmar “did not accept the mandate of the mission because we have our concern about the mission’s impartiality.”

China and Russia, holding veto powers as permanent members of the Security Council, have said they prefer to engage in “dialogue” with Myanmar’s leadership to resolve the conflict.

Full report at:




Southeast Asia


DPM says ‘haram’ as a Muslim to support LGBT

30 August 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 — Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today it is haram (forbidden) as a Muslim to support the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and what they are fighting for.

The deputy prime minister said this during an interview this morning with radio station BFM. She was asked to clarify her recent remarks, where she had said that the LGBT community has a right to exist in Malaysia if they keep their “practice” behind closed doors.

“Most important this, for us, as a Muslim, it is haram... I do not condone it,” Dr Wan Azizah said.

She was also asked to comment on the possibility of the new government reviewing laws against homosexuality

“That is part of the thing, you see it was used against my husband but the thing is that it was never used against anyone else.

“Islam is the religion of the federation, so I think certain things are difficult for me to cross,” she said.

In Malaysia, laws such as Section 377A of the Penal Code criminalise “carnal intercourse against the order of nature.”

Dr Wan Azizah’s husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, was charged and sentenced for sodomy under the abovementioned Section, twice. He has maintained his innocence, claiming political persecution.

“There can be a review, but what is important as Muslim country is that it must be based on the Quran and Sunnah.

“At the moment, we have not discussed it,” the Pandan MP added.




Malaysia defends UN's report on Myanmar

Aug 30, 2018

Malaysia, member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Wednesday said it had not turned a blind eye to "the Rohingya crisis".

This week, the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar called on Myanmar’s top military officials, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, to be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide committed against Rohingya Muslims.

"The Myanmar military and government were given ample opportunities to provide their side of the story -- opportunities that they repeatedly did not avail themselves of. Therefore, they cannot now say that the report is biased, unfair and driven by a political agenda," the Malaysian Foreign Ministry said.

"Myanmar must ascribe to the ideals of the ASEAN Charter. These include for ASEAN members to respect the fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice.

"The widespread movement of the Rohingyas creates instability and could easily become a rallying-call for violent extremism in the region.

"All these potentially have deep implications for Malaysia and the region. For this reason, Malaysia cannot be silent, or ignore the Rohingya crisis."

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore are the founding countries of the ASEAN while Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia are the other members.

On Aug. 25, 2017, Myanmar launched a major military crackdown on the Muslim ethnic minority, killing almost 24,000 civilians and forcing 750,000 others including women and children to flee to Bangladesh, according to the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

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

Full report at:




Harakah apologises for ‘Darul LGBT’ headline, but not article

29 August 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — The editors of PAS’ party newspaper Harakah have apologised for an article’s headline in the publication’s latest issue, claiming it could be “misleading”.

The article, titled “PRK Seri Setia: PAS lawan Darul LGBT (Seri Setia by-election: PAS versus Land of LGBT)” was written by Harakah’s veteran columnist Subky Latif, and was criticised as demeaning to the state and its royal house.

“The title is not aimed at the people of Selangor, the royal institution, and so on,” said the editors on Harakah’s online portal.

“At the same time, we have taken into account the misinterpretation that has occurred, and apologise for the printing which has invited numerous perceptions [from the public].”

However, the editors did not apologise for the content of the article, in which Subky had called upon readers to be vigilant about the allegedly ever-growing encroachment of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community on Malaysian life.

He had implied this was due to the “liberal tendencies” of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

Subky wrote that the government ought to be reminded by both the Muslim and non-Muslim public to take a firm and unyielding stance against the LGBT community.

Full report at:




Indonesia’s Widodo deflects criticism with clerical running mate

Aug 30, 2018

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia has been criticised by rights activists and supporters of religious pluralism for picking a conservative Islamic cleric as his running mate in next year’s election.

The choice might seem odd given that Ma’ruf Amin played a central role last year in the jailing of Mr Widodo’s protégé, a Christian who was governor of Jakarta, on a questionable blasphemy charge.

But Mr Widodo, a Muslim who generally wears his religion lightly, has teamed up with Mr Amin because of this incident, not despite it.

More driven by pragmatism than the idealism his most fervent backers see in him, Mr Widodo wants to neutralise criticism from re-energised conservative Muslim groups and political opponents who have tried to paint him as un-Islamic.

Mr Widodo believes that choosing Mr Amin, spiritual head of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s biggest Muslim organisation, will help him again defeat Prabowo Subianto, the tough-talking former general whom he beat in the 2014 presidential election.

The role of Islam in politics is hotly debated in a nation where nearly 90 per cent of the 260m people are Muslims. While electoral support for Indonesia’s various Islamic political parties has not increased substantially — they hold just over 30 per cent of the seats in the House of Representatives — Islamic issues have increasingly infused mainstream politics.

Mr Widodo, the first Indonesian president from outside the political and military elite, has high approval ratings thanks to his popular touch and steady if unspectacular economic management. But he fears that attacks by religious conservatives could chip away at his support.

While Mr Widodo may be a smart political tactician, he is also a cautious gradualist, who, like his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has shown little desire to take on vested interests.

This instinct for compromise over confrontation — in some ways one of Mr Widodo’s strengths — also extends to economic policy. Despite promising root-and-branch reforms that would boost growth to 7 per cent annually, he has struggled to keep it much above 5 per cent.

Economists have praised Mr Widodo for cutting fuel subsidies, curbing red tape and accelerating spending on much-needed infrastructure.

But the former mayor, who likes to brag about his focus on the small details, has done little to improve the bigger picture.

Roland Rajah of the Lowy Institute, an Australian foreign policy think-tank, argued in a recent report that Mr Widodo had failed to improve the paltry tax take, make the economy more competitive and create the jobs required by a fast-expanding workforce.

Mr Widodo has “so far only stabilised what was previously a worsening trajectory, rather than delivered a meaningful turnaround”, concluded Mr Rajah.

The president’s cabinet mixes highly regarded technocratic reformers with politically connected protectionists who want to keep advantages for established conglomerates and state-owned enterprises.

This desire to balance competing interests, rather than aggressively pursue his own agenda, also explains why Mr Widodo picked Mr Amin.

One adviser to the president said such caution was the price of stability in a diverse nation of thousands of islands, with multiple ethnic and religious groups and a heavily decentralised political system.

But other supporters worry that Mr Widodo’s desire for compromise risks worsening religious divisions and leaving the economy unprepared.

Full report at:






5 soldiers killed, 10 injured in Kenya blast

Aug 29, 2018

NAIROBI: Five Kenyan soldiers were killed and 10 wounded on Wednesday when their car ran over a homemade bomb in northern Kenya, the military said.

A Kenya Defence Forces statement did not say who it believed was responsible for the attack in coastal Lamu County although it referenced "lurking terror elements" in the region.

On August 8, five soldiers were killed in an attack claimed by the Somali group al Shaabab in Lamu, according to local officials.

The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab aims to topple Somalia's UN-backed government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam. They have intensified attacks in Kenya since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia in 2011.

The group has launched several attacks, including ones in which they have beheaded people, in the past year in Lamu County.

Kenyan security officials say the militants have used the Boni forest straddling the Kenya-Somalia border as a hideout and base for attacks.




Muslim cleric proposes Interfaith Centre instead of 'Christian' National Cathedral


At a time when the controversy about where the construction of a National Cathedral should be built and how much of it should be borne by the taxpayer deepens, the Chief Imam’s spokesperson is proposing an Interfaith Centre instead.

Sheik Aremeyaw Shaibu believes a National Cathedral will only serve Christians while an Interfaith Centre could have both mosque and church to serve the two largest religions in the country.

President Akufo-Addo announced the scheduled construction of the National Cathedral to mark Ghana’s 60th-anniversary celebrations.

He explained that the Cathedral will be used for all formal state occasions of a religious nature, such as presidential inaugurations, state funerals, and national thanksgiving services.

The Cathedral will sit around a14-acre garden and will have chapels, a baptistery, a music school, an art gallery, a Bible Museum and Documentation Centre.

It is expected to seat 5,000 people in its main auditorium and will be constructed by renowned British-Ghanaian architect Sir David Adjaye.

But some critics believe the decision to build the Cathedral is discriminatory.

Some want government to, after constructing the building for Christians, put up a similar edifice for the Muslims who make up about 23 percent of the country’s population.

Speaking to Joy News’ Elton Brobbey after he joined other religious leaders for a meeting with the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the learned Muslim cleric said the government must provide clarity on the issue.

He believes whatever edifice will be put up should serve both religions, not one.

“If it is in respect of our 60th Independence Anniversary, is the independence for one section of the country or for the whole of the country,” he queried.

He added that “So if I have been requested to propose, I would have proposed that we have a national edifice in the form of a national dialogue or interfaith dialogue centre in which you can have a church, a mosque and then an auditorium.”

In Sheik Shaibu’s view Ghana, which has become a model of interfaith harmony and peace must do things that portray such reputation.

Full report at:




US air strike in Somalia kills 3 Al-Shabab militants

August 29, 2018

NAIROBI: United States forces conducted an air strike in coordination with Somalia’s army that killed three Al-Shabab fighters, the US military said on Wednesday.

“We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed in this air strike,” which occurred approximately 40 km southwest of Mogadishu, US Africa Command said in a statement.



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