Erdogan Aide Warns Saudi King against Executing Muslim
Palestinian PM Calls on Britain to Recognize Sovereign
In Kabul, a Moderate Cleric Hailed For Denouncing
Extremists, Is Mourned After Mosque Bombing
Scholars Gathering In Makkah Stress Importance of
Moderate Islamic Discourse
Arab Parliament Speaker: Mecca Summits to Unify
Islamic, Arab Stance
Imams Are the Messengers of Islam: King Abdullah of
In A Survey Of American Muslims, 0% Identified As
Lesbian Or Gay. Here's the Story behind That Statistic
Pakistan Honors a Dominican Priest for Promoting
Malaysian Muslims Break Ramadhan Fast at Sikh Temple
Why Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque matters for Muslims
Yemen’s Houthis Launch Fundraising Drive For Cash-Strapped
Iran Slams U.S. After Middle East Troop Buildup Is
Iran can sink U.S. warships with 'secret weapons',
military official says
Turkish military launches operation against militants
in northern Iraq
Arab Coalition targets Houthi positions in Sanaa
Kushner, Greenblatt in Middle East to seek support for
Trump's 'peace' plan
Gaza’s Omari Grand Mosque: A combination of
Attacks by Extremists on Afghan Schools Triple, Report
Officials: Taliban attacks kill 10 Afghan troops, four
3 Injured In Blast at Bangladesh's Dhaka, ISIS Claims
Senior Afghan Taliban leader says insurgents want
Taliban kill 23 in two attacks on Afghan forces
In makeshift homes, Rohingya recall Ramadan in Myanmar
Social Media Usage Peaks during Ramadan in Muslim
ISIS bombing kills 5, injures 10 who were
extinguishing fire in disputed Kirkuk: source
Iraqi troops kill two Islamic State terrorists in
Saudi Arabia shoots down Houthi drone targeting Jizan
S. Arabia Plans to Set Up US-Backed Military Power in
Syrian Army, Air Force Heavily Pound Terrorists'
Centers in Aleppo
US sets up $75 mln grant to combat Iranian
‘disinformation’ in Syria
Iraq sentences two more French citizens to death for
Nechirvan Barzani elected president of Iraq’s
Militants Kill 25 Nigerian Soldiers, Some Civilians,
ISIS commander arrested in Libya, Interior Ministry
Boko Haram Kills 7 Villagers In Borno, Steals Food
Five dead in Boko Haram attack on Chadian army base
U.S. airstrike kills 3 IS fighters in northern Somalia
Somalia's frightening network of Islamist spies
Four killed in new church attack in Burkina Faso
Report: Top militant suspect transferred to Egypt from
Kushner in Mideast to drum up support for peace plan
Bolton: Ships sabotaged off UAE coast attacked ‘almost
certainly by Iran’
US calls for end to violence in Syria's Idlib
Turkish aid body hosts fast-breaking meal in Cuba
UN chief's aide rips Security Council over Idlib
Truce only when US declares exit timetable, Taliban
Pakistan Arrests 6 for Collecting Funds for Militant
Pak's Nukes Make Its Defence 'Invincible', Says Sharif
PM Imran to lead Pakistani delegation at OIC summit in
Militants hit army post in northwest Pakistan, kill
3 ISIS and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Terrorists Arrested in
Internal politics stopped India’s invite to Modi's
swearing-in: Pak FM
Rights groups call for investigation of killing of
Defence secretary traces terror link to N. Waziristan
Militants Attack Soldiers in Southern Philippines,
Leaving 2 Children Dead
JB Umno Youth condemns PKR MP for gurdwara ‘buka
Indonesian plotters aimed to kill four top security
Three killed in Ramadan violence in restive Thai south
Danish Prof Equates Islam with Nazism In Controversial
France Blasts ‘Dirty’ Saudi-Led War, But Keeps Arms
A Nazi Sympathizer Pleaded Guilty To Defacing A
Synagogue. His Lawyer Says Conservatives Helped Radicalize Him.
Taliban visits Moscow as Russia plays increasing role
German Jews Demand Ban on Hezbollah after Kippah
UK watchdog probing Islamophobia in ruling party
Turkey congratulates Azerbaijan on 101st Republic Day
Easter Sunday Blasts: NIA Team Lands in Colombo to
Probe Islamic State Link
Indian High Commission in Pakistan invites President
Alvi, PM Imran for Iftar
Pakistan National among 2 JeM Terrorists Killed In
Encounter in J&K's Anantnag
Two terror suspects detained near military station in
India issues fresh advisory on visiting Sri Lanka
after Easter bombings
Pakistan downplays Imran snub by India, pushes for
Compiled by New
Age Islam News Bureau
Erdogan aide warns Saudi king against executing Muslim
May 29, 2019
An advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
has written to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, warning that
the planned execution of Muslim scholars would bring nothing but “disaster” to
In an open letter to King Salman published by Turkish
daily Yeni Şafak on Monday, Yasin Aktay raised concerns about plans by the
Riyadh regime to execute three imprisoned dissidents, Sheikh Salman al-Ouda,
Sheikh Awad al-Qarni and Ali al-Omari, after the holy Muslim fasting month of
The Saudi king, he said, would achieve nothing by
executing the scholars.
“That which will bring disaster to you is executing
Islamic scholars, which was recently announced. Scholars are the inheritors of
prophets, and each scholar is a world on their own. The death of a scholar is
like the death of the world. The killing of a scholar is like the killing of
the world,” Aktay added.
He also noted that scholars are treasures of the
Muslim community and their case is not a domestic issue.
“The matter of Islamic scholars is not an internal
affair. The scholars in question are assets who are acknowledged and revered by
the whole Muslim community. They are not your subjects; they are our common
treasures, whose advice we heed, and who are beacons of light with their
knowledge and stance. The sin of detaining them even an hour in the dungeon,
let alone executing them, is enough to destroy an entire life,” Aktay said.
Erdogan’s aide further said that he had met with Ouda
and believed that “he does not bear a grain of the extravagance” the Saudi
regime had attributed to him.
“The claim of extremism toward Salman al-Ouda is a
great slander. On the contrary, he is an extremely sympathetic and logical
Islamic scholar who has made Islam appealing to youth and modern-day people
with his familiar discourse,” he explained.
Contrary to Ouda, he added, official Saudi scholars —
who advocate the radical Wahhabi ideology — encourage people to wage attacks in
Afghanistan, ban women from driving and sow discord among Muslims and
“While your official scholars claimed women were
prohibited from driving, he (Ouda) said Muslim women rode camels and horses
back in the time of our prophet, and that he did not understand why this was
any different from driving a car. It was your official scholars that
indoctrinated animosity when they said Muslims can never be friends with
non-Muslims, while he said that being kind to and getting along well with
non-Muslims who do not have animosity towards you, and co-existing in peace
with them is the command of God,” Aktay said.
‘Turkey not an enemy, only seeks justice in Khashoggi
Elsewhere in his letter, the Turkish official called
on King Salman to deliver justice in the case of the murder of Saudi dissident
journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate in October
2018, which is reported to have been ordered by the king’s son, Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman.
Aktay stressed that he and other Turkish officials do
not wish ill to the Saudi kingdom although bin Salman “may not like” him
because of his role in the investigations related to Khashoggi’s case.
“There is the case of a person who was cruelly and
savagely murdered. It is a necessity of justice to find and punish whoever
killed him or had him killed. Justice, when served, is what will revive us,
even if it is against our self and loved ones," Aktay said.
‘Use your wealth to end sufferings of Muslims’
Erdogan’s aide also urged the Saudi King to use his
wealth to solve the problems of the Muslim world and bring an end to their
He said that the guardianship of the two holy cities
of Mecca and Medina does not consist solely of their maintenance, but makes the
kingdom duty-bound to alleviate the sufferings of the Muslim world.
“The great wealth and blessings God has granted you
give you more than ample opportunities to fulfill this responsibility to the
fullest. The tragic contradiction between the wealth under your responsibility
and the state of Muslims suffering from starvation and poverty across the world
draws everyone’s attention. It is God, the owner of the two holy cities of
which you are protector, that rules that the poor have a right over the wealth
we own,” Aktay pointed out.
Palestinian PM calls on Britain to recognize sovereign
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has
called on Britain to implement its parliament's recognition of the Palestinian
state on the ground.
British move “will be so important in light of
Israel's intention to annex parts of the West Bank,” Shtayyeh said in a
statement on Tuesday after meeting with a British parliamentary delegation in
the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
He also urged Britain to send a technical team to
Palestine to investigate the Israeli deduction of Palestinian tax revenue dues.
Back in October 2014, the British Parliament
overwhelmingly voted in favor of the government recognizing Palestine as a
The ayes had it when 274 MPs voted to adopt the
non-binding motion and only 12 voted against it.
The original motion stipulated that “this House
believes that the government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside …
Then Labour Party legislator Grahame Morris said
recognizing a Palestinian state could help break the impasse in peace
negotiations between the Palestinians and the Tel Aviv regime before it was too
Conservative lawmaker Nicholas Soames also said that
“to recognize Palestine is both morally right and is in our national interest.”
Britain does not designate Palestine as a state, but
asserts it could do so at any time if it believed it would help the
long-stalled talks peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
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.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future
independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital.
In Kabul, A Moderate Cleric Hailed For Denouncing
Extremists, Is Mourned After Mosque Bombing
By Pamela Constable
May 25, 2019
KABUL — The killing of a prominent pro-government
cleric in a mosque bombing has left the Afghan capital shaken and prompted U.N.
officials Saturday to denounce a marked escalation of civilian casualties
during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Samiullah Raihan, a Sunni Muslim preacher who often
appeared on television and condemned violence as not Islamic, was killed Friday
while leading weekly prayers in the Al Taqwa mosque. A hidden explosive device
detonated in the sanctuary.
Kabul police said Raihan and three worshipers were
killed and at least 16 people were injured. No group has claimed responsibility
for the blast, but it came amid a surge in attacks by Taliban insurgents and
Islamic State militants, both in rural areas and high-profile urban settings.
“Deliberate and indiscriminate attacks against
civilians . . . amount to war crimes,” Tadamichi
Yamamoto, the U.N. special representative for Afghanistan, said in a statement.
“An attack in a mosque, especially at a time of prayer during Ramadan, is
The bombing followed a protracted spate of violence
hitting civilians as well as security forces. It has seen no letup during
Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and are encouraged to avoid
provoking others. The violence also has coincided with meetings between Taliban
and U.S. officials seeking a settlement to end the war.
Civilian casualties have remained high for several
years. Between January and March, the United Nations said 581 civilians were
killed and 1,192 were injured in conflict situations. That was lower than the
same period last year, it said, but worrisome because more deaths were caused
by pro-government attacks and airstrikes. Earlier this month, U.S. airstrikes
in two embattled provinces mistakenly killed 14 civilians and 17 Afghan police.
Yamamoto lamented the “recent intensification of
conflict” that has continued to take a “heavy toll” on civilians, and he urged
“every party to redouble efforts” to protect them.
In the eastern Nangahar province, a raid by Afghan
security forces against Taliban fighters mistakenly killed at least six
civilians, including two children, provincial officials said Saturday, the
Associated Press reported.
Attahullah Khogyani, the provincial governor’s
spokesman, said 10 insurgents were also killed in the Friday night attack in
In Kabul on May 8, a brazen insurgent attack on a
building used by a U.S.-based development agency left nine people dead.
But the death of Raihan came as a personal shock to
many Afghan Muslims who admired his stance against terrorism and violence.
The Islamic State has often attacked Shiite mosques,
but assaults on Sunni targets are rare. The Islamic State and Taliban are Sunni
groups. Security sources said Raihan had recently received death threats and
traveled in an armored government vehicle. On Saturday, his body was flown by
military helicopter to eastern Jalalabad city, his home base, for burial
“Mawlawi Raihan’s valor in the face of religious
extremism, intolerance and misuse of Islam by terrorists was unmatched,” Javed
Faisal, a former government spokesman, posted online Friday.
On Saturday, outside the heavily damaged mosque in a
gritty industrial zone, dozens of men watched grimly while a Kabul TV crew
filmed the scene. One factory worker named Isaak, 25, said he had just entered
the mosque Friday when the bomb went off and people stampeded out.
Raihan, he said, “spoke the truth and said Muslims
should not behave badly with others. He said the Taliban were not good because
they kill innocent people.”
In an online video of his preaching, Raihan criticized
the Taliban for vowing to disband the army.
“I am proud of my army, proud of my security, proud of
my police,” Raihan said in Pashto. “I belong to this country. This is my
homeland. I will live here and I will die here.”
Sayed Salahuddin and Sharif Hassan contributed to this
Scholars gathering in Makkah stress importance of
moderate Islamic discourse
MAKKAH: Scientists and intellectuals on the second day
of sessions of the Makkah conference on the Islamic values of moderation,
stressed the importance of moderate Islamic discourse and preserve the rights
of minorities in non-Muslim countries.
They also hailed the active role of the Kingdom in
reuniting Muslims, rejecting extremism, instilling moderate discourse and
preserving the rights of Muslims and keeping them away from terrorism.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Dubyan, director general of the Islamic
Cultural Center in London, noted that the conference organized by the Muslim
World League convenes in difficult conditions witnessed throughout the Muslim
world, which have been caused by an intellectual deviation that resulted in
scourges, calamities, deviation in thoughts and attacking others.
Mohamed Salah Dinov, president of the Islamic Council
of Russia, called for inculcating common denominators linking Muslims at the
economic, cultural and social levels.
Scholars called for reuniting the ranks of the Islamic
nation so that no one can destabilize and undermine it. This can be achieved by
rejecting turmoil, encouraging moderation and equality, communicating with each
other, strengthening the bonds of love between Muslims and fighting the wrong
perceptions about Islam.
They also called on all Muslims to study their
religion properly as sent down by Allah, a religion of love, moderation and
authentic values that have contributed to the spread of Islam around the world.
Earlier on the first day of the event, the mufti of
Tripoli and northern Lebanon, Sheikh Malik Al-Shaar, said the conference
responds to all the conspiracies being plotted against Islam and Muslims.
Al-Shaar said that the words spoken at the conference
were fit to be a curriculum contemplated by intellectuals and scholars.
He stressed that the Qur’an addressed the other,
acknowledged their existence and established a common goal for coexistence.
The former mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mustafa
Ibrahim, highlighted the importance of Muslim unity and said: “We have come to
support Saudi Arabia in its attempts to unite Muslims, strengthen relations and
Alfredo Milesi, the Italian minister for Middle
Eastern affairs at the International Parliament for Safety and Peace and
president of the European Muslim League, said that bringing together
institutions, organizations and scholars in this holy month is a global
phenomenon for which Saudi Arabia should be thanked.
He added that this conference sends a direct message
to the whole world about the tolerance of Islam and the important role of
Muslims in building civilized societies in Europe and the world.
Adviser to the Portuguese Minister of Defense Imran
Mohammed said the conference shows the whole world that Muslims are united,
which wins them the respect of the world.
He added that the importance of the timing and
location of the conference, as well as its role in discarding disagreements and
producing a united stance, should be taken into account.
Arab Parliament Speaker: Mecca summits to unify
Islamic, Arab stance
29 May 2019
The summits called by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin
Abdulaziz in Mecca have come at a crucial time considering the serious
challenges facing the Arab and Islamic worlds, Speaker of the Arab Parliament,
Dr. Mishal bin Fahm al-Salami, said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, al-Salami said
that the summits are a great opportunity to unify the Arab and Islamic
positions and ensuring the security of these countries.
He said that this is an important step toward
confronting the challenges facing the region, preserving the sovereignty of
these countries and ensuring the security of their people, according to the
Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
Dr. Mishal al-Salami expressed appreciation for “the
leading and pivotal role played by Saudi Arabia and its keenness to protect the
Arab and Islamic national security”.
He condemned as “acts of terrorism” the use of drones
against pipeline booster stations in Saudi Arabia and the attack on four
commercial vessels in the UAE’s territorial waters, adding that such incidents
can potentially destabilize the global economy.
May 28, 2019
His Majesty King Abdullah met a select group of imams
and preachers earlier this week to emphasise their importance in teaching and
sending the correct message of Islam, based on tolerance towards other
religions, promoting mutual respect for other faiths, ending all forms of
discrimination against fellow man and woman and upholding compassion towards
Imams and preachers are the messengers of Islam, and
unless they truly understand in depth the true teachings of Islam and its
spiritual values, their sermons would fall short of their objectives, and worse
still, could do more damage than good.
Islamic countries live in an era when Islam's true
teachings have been willfully hijacked by extremists, who are bent on
distorting its inner values for alien goals. This is where the role of imams
and preachers comes in to reverse the tide of distortions perpetrated in a bid
to distort the role and message of Islam for political gains or serve the
geopolitical agendas of foreign powers.
Reshaping the minds and souls of imams and preachers
in the right direction is no simple mission. By the time a correct policy is
introduced to rectify the existing challenge facing preachers, it is often too
late, as a man's mode of thinking and religious values have been hardened to
the point they become immune to any enlightened religious doctrine.
It would seem that the process of reforming preachers
and imams must begin in earnest. Enlightening preachers and imams must,
therefore, begin at elementary and secondary levels of education and continue
to the level of higher education. This process of reformation must also
envisage having imams and preachers address in their sermons everyday concerns
of people, including how to deal with high inflationary trends and how to make
In other words, contemporary sermons must show the way
how the true teachings of Islam and its inner values can be invoked in the
search for solutions to mundane economic, social and even political challenges.
This is after all what Islam is all about.
In a survey of American Muslims, 0% identified as
lesbian or gay. Here's the story behind that statistic
In the United States, you could count the number of
mosques like Masjid al-Rabia on two hands. It's a small community built on
"five pillars of inclusivity," including pledges to be
"women-centered," anti-racist LGBTQ-affirming and welcoming to a
variety of Islamic traditions.
Mahdia Lynn, a transgender woman, helped found the
mosque in Chicago in 2016.
For several years, Lynn attended a mosque in a small
conservative Muslim community in Oklahoma, where people believed she was a
straight, cisgender woman.
"There was always the risk of being outed,"
said Lynn, a Shiite Muslim. "But at the time, I just wanted to focus on my
There are a few mosques like Masjid al-Rabia around
the world, notably in Berlin and Toronto. But the number of LGBT-affirming
mosques and Islamic centers in the United States remains small.
Muslims for Progressive Values has eight
"inclusive communities" in the United States, from Atlanta to San
Francisco. Berkeley's Qal-bu Maryam Women's Mosque, which calls itself
"America's first all-inclusive mosque," opened in 2017. Other
like-minded mosques have struggled to find consistent congregants in recent
years and closed down.
Imam Daiyiee Abdullah, 65, is one of the few openly
gay Muslim clerics. For four years, he labored to build a mosque for LGBT
Muslims in Washington, DC.
Frustrated, tired and running out of money, Abdullah
gave up and moved to the mountains of Colorado, where the nearest inclusive
mosque is an eight-hour drive away.
Liberal Muslims say there are hints of change. The
percentage of American Muslims who said society should accept homosexuality has
doubled in the last decade, to 52%, and is even higher among Millennials.
Still, for many LGBT Muslims, coming out of the closet
to their families and religious communities can be a fraught decision.
Ani Zonneveld says she receives calls regularly from
young gay and lesbian Muslims who have been threatened by their family or are
afraid to reveal their sexual identity.
"I tell them that, unless you have a fantastic
relationship with your parents, keep it in the closet until you finish high
school and can leave the house," said Zonneveld, who heads Muslims for
Religious spaces can be just as alienating, Zonneveld
said. "What we have seen is that LGBT Muslims are not comfortable going to
a mosque, and if they do, they definitely keep closeted."
They may even be reluctant to tell anonymous
pollsters. According to a recent survey of more than 800 American Muslims, 0%
identified as gay or lesbian.
'Islam is too important to leave anyone behind'
Muslims in the United States are among the most
diverse religious communities in the world. While 82% are American citizens,
nearly a third have been in the country for less than two decades. A plurality
(41%) are white, but no racial or ethnic group makes up a majority of Muslim
That diversity also applies to attitudes towards gay,
lesbian and transgender people. According to a recent survey by the Institute
for Social Policy and Understanding, 31% of Muslim-Americans said they hold a
favorable opinion of LGBT people, 23% said "unfavorable" and 45% said
they had "no opinion."
Among the Catholics, Jews and Protestants polled, only
white evangelicals held less favorable views of LGBT people, the survey found.
Some Muslims have, like Lynn, hidden aspects of their
identity for fear of being alienated or even endangered. But she said bigotry
is no worse among American Muslims than in society at large.
"To act as if discrimination is unique to
American Muslims is to buy into the Islamophobic narrative pushed by the right
wing in this country, which is ironic, because it's the right wing that is
systematically erasing transgender people's rights."
Lynn transitioned as a teenager, and converted to
Islam later on, during a particularly painful period. Islam's spiritual
regimens and rules for living offered a scaffolding on which to rebuild her
life, the 31-year-old said.
"Islam saved my life, so I made the decision to
give my life over to Islam."
She founded Masjid al-Rabia with two other Muslims in
"Part of our role as a community center is to
create a space for those healing from spiritual violence," Lynn said.
This year, it's celebrating its first Ramadan as a
fully operational community center.
Lynn described her community as both idealistic and
incremental. It's small -- Friday prayers draw about a dozen worshipers to its
downtown Chicago space -- but its very existence makes a radical statement.
While pushing for greater inclusivity in American
mosques, she said it also provides a hospitable space where Muslims can
practice their faith openly, regardless of race, gender, sect or sexual
"We believe that everyone has a right to come to
Islam as they are. Islam is too important to leave anyone behind."
Support in society, but not in mosques
Muslims disagree on how to interpret the Pew survey
that showed an increasing acceptance of homosexuality.
Some said it signals growing support for LGBT
political rights, but not in religious spaces like mosques and Islamic centers.
LGBT activists have broadly supported
Muslim-Americans, rallying to their side in recent years to protest Trump
administration policies. Prominent Muslim activists have argued that they need
all the political allies they can muster.
"I will fight for anyone who fights for our
community," activist Linda Sarsour said during a contentious panel
discussion at an Islamic convention last year.
"And everybody is created by Allah and deserves
to be treated with dignity and respect. That is how we Muslims have to show up
in these United States of America."
But Yasir Qadhi, an influential scholar and dean of
academic affairs at the new Islamic Seminary of America in Dallas, said
pro-LGBT-rights political activists are confusing young Muslims.
"You are sending a mixed message," he said
at the Islamic conference. "Because at the end of the day, we do not
believe that it is morally healthy to engage in intercourse outside of the
bonds of marriage."
In a recent interview, Qadhi said that he is grateful
for LGBT Americans' political support. While he hasn't changed his theological
views, he said he has softened his rhetoric.
"I will be the first to admit that we were overly
harsh and perhaps we did marginalize people and make them feel as if they were
not human or worthy of love," the scholar said.
Now, Qadhi often prefaces his remarks about
homosexuality by noting that "feelings and inclinations" are not
themselves sinful, and that homosexual acts should not be singled out for
LGBTQ Muslims should be welcomed at mosques, he said,
but should not push for changes in Islamic theology or practice on mosque
"Whatever anyone does in their private life is
not our business," Qadhi said. "I am never going to single out anyone
in sermons for any sinful conduct. At the same time, in the mosque I am a part
of, there is a clear red line: They cannot preach onto others that this is part
of Islam, the same way I would not let a person sell liquor on our
The Fiqh Council of North America, a body of scholars
who issue legal opinions based on Islamic texts, will take up transgenderism
this year, said Qadhi, a council-member. Sexual reassignment surgery is
permitted in Shiite Islam, but not among Sunnis, who comprise the majority
In most mosques, the genders are separated, and there
have been conflicts about where Muslims in the process of gender transition
should sit, Qadhi said. "Gender identity issues will be the big questions
for the next several years."
But external and internal tensions can make it hard
for Muslim-Americans to directly address contentious questions, said Dalia
Mogahed, director of research for the Institute for Social Policy and
"This is a huge source of division in the
community right now," she said. "There are a lot of different
opinions and, frankly, there is a lack of space to discuss it."
"When you have a community that is so under the
microscope and being subjected to litmus tests for civility and tolerance,
people become afraid and self-censoring"
Mogahed herself came under attack several years ago
after a Gallup survey showed that no British Muslims -- as in, 0% -- said
homosexuality was morally acceptable. Right wing provocateurs such as Milo
Yiannopoulos seized on the survey to portray Muslims as a threat to gays and
But Muslims in the United States and Britain have not
mounted political or social campaigns against the LGBT community, Mogahed said.
"To conflate a religious belief with one
community being a threat to another is unfair."
Behind the 0%
Like a lot of pro-LGBT Muslims, Imam Abdullah has
migrated to online projects. He now runs the Mecca Institute, an Internet-based
program to train a new generation of likeminded clerics. The program has three
Because of media attention on his life and work, he
said he draws attention when he visits American mosques.
"Sometimes people make derogatory remarks, like:
There's that gay imam," Abdullah said.
"I've been asked in different parts of the
country to leave the mosque, which is fine. I'm not going in to any mosque to
try to change them. I am going there to pray."
In Washington, DC, weeks would go by without anyone
showing up at his former mosque. Some closeted LGBT Muslims feared of being
associated with "the gay mosque," he said.
"The personal trauma that so many went through
made it hard for them to be public about their identity," Abdullah said.
The ISPU survey provides statistical backing for that
sentiment. Of the 804 American Muslims polled, not one identified as gay or
lesbian. Four percent identified as bisexual, 2% said they were "something
else" and another 2% refused to answer the question.
Asked about the 0% statistic, Mogahed offered a
nuanced interpretation. If 92% of American Muslims identified as straight, she
said, then the remaining 8% may be lesbian or gay, even if they're reluctant say
"The fact that there is a segment of Muslims who
identify as something other than straight means that, even though they may not
be acting on that inclination or orientation, they have negotiated a space
where they can still be Muslim," Mogahed said.
"There is enough space within the theology to be
able to do that."
Pakistan Honors A Dominican Priest For Promoting
A Catholic priest has been honored by the Pakistan
government for his “exemplary services” to promote interfaith harmony and peace
in his own country and worldwide.
Father James Channan, a Dominican who has spent 50
years following the spirituality of St. Dominic, received an award at the
Interfaith Conference 2019 in Lahore on May 17 that was attended by more than
300 people including Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs.
Noor-ul-Haq Qadri, Pakistan’s federal minister for
religious affairs and interfaith harmony, presented the award.
“Many people helped me to reach this place. I praise
God, the Church, my community of Ibn-e-Mariam Vice Province of Pakistan, and
all my friends,” said Father Channan.
“I especially thank my Muslim friends who always
supported me and my work and keep on appreciating me to continue my mission to
promote peace and harmony among the people of Pakistan.
“I am actively serving in this mission to build
bridges between Christians and the people of other religions, especially with
our Muslim brethren, but still I see there is an urgent need for interfaith
Father Channan said his work to promote peace and
interfaith harmony brings him peace and mental satisfaction.
“I keep on thinking about ways to bring people of
various faiths together, to help them to nurture and strengthen peace among
them,” he said.
“Everybody is my neighbor, and being a follower of
Jesus Christ I have to love everybody — it keeps me motivated and zealous. We
always have to share this message that we are one human family, following
different religions and faiths but living our faiths we have to promote love,
unity and peace.”
Father Channan is the director of Lahore’s Peace
Center, which was inaugurated by the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, then
president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
“I work to provide facility to the people of various
professions and age groups to come together for dialogue, which helps to remove
discrimination, fundamentalism and extremism from our society,” he said.
Father Channan also serves as a regional coordinator
of United Religions Initiative (URI) in Asia. URI is serving in 109 countries
“We have 63 active groups of religious leaders,
lawyers, journalists, youth, women and children. Our Peace Center is always
available for programs or events to promote peace, interfaith harmony,
interreligious harmony and Christian-Muslim dialogue,” he said.
Father Channan, who holds a licentiate degree in Islam
and Arabic studies, said he had set his aim to promote Christian-Muslim unity
when he was studying theology in Karachi in 1978.
“Looking at discrimination in society, I decided that
I would work to break these walls of hatred and to promote acceptance and
brotherhood among people belonging to various religions, cultures and ethnic
backgrounds,” he said.
Malaysian Muslims break Ramadhan fast at Sikh temple
Despite criticisms by many right wing Muslims, a
Malaysian member of parliament has gone ahead to break his Ramadhan fast at a
Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasrullah Nasir said he was
invited by the temple committee and as a gesture of goodwill, he agreed.
The reason? The mosque and the Sikh temple are located
next to each other.
Akmal brought along several of his friends after they
had performed their evening prayers at the An-Nur mosque before breaking his
fast at the Johor Baru Gurdwara Sahib.
However, his acceptance to the gesture of goodwill by
the Sikhs were criticised by several people online. Some even said that what he
was doing was unIslamic.
But that didn't deter the 31-year-old lawmaker.
"I am aware of the comments and debates on social
media," Akmal says.
"Anyone who wishes to instill a sense of respect
(between races), the challenge is huge, and as a member of Parliament, I honour
the invitation while upholding any concerns pertaining to religion and
akidah," he adds.
This is not the first of his visit though. Akmal had
done the same last year during Ramadhan as well.
Despite being a multi-cultural and multi-faith secular
country, Malaysia has gradually seen the rise of Muslim fundamentalists among
its major demographic, the Malays.
Thankfully, there are folks such as Akmal who preserve
to struggle against the grain to bring awareness on the importance of being
AMMAN: “There is a spot just in the center of Al-Qibli
Mosque where you feel so light when you stand in it.”
This is the way Wasfi Kailani, of the Hashemite Fund
for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa Mosque, describes his favorite spot within
Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the UNESCO World Heritage site also known to
Muslims and Palestinians as Al-Haram Al-Sharif.
The spot that Kailani refers to is not far from
Saladin’s pulpit, rebuilt by King Abdullah II of Jordan after it was destroyed
in a 1969 arson attack.
“I feel that the holiest spot in the entire compound
is in the center of the mosque,” he told Arab News. “It is the place from where
Prophet Muhammad ascended to the heavens to meet God Almighty with all the
prophets with him.”
For Ziad Khalil Abu Zayyad, a spokesman for Fatah, the
Palestinian political party, the most special spot is a small room under the
Dome of the Rock mosque.
“It is called the Souls Cave,” Abu Zayyad told Arab
News. “I like it for the high level of energy and spirituality that can be felt
while praying inside it.”
His views are echoed by Ahmad Budeiri, a former BBC
staffer, who was born in Jerusalem and has spent all his life there. “I enter
the mosque to experience the beauty of its architecture,” he said. “Then I go
down to the cave and I get the feeling that all the spiritual meaning in the
mosque is condensed in that small space.”
Abla Rweis, a mother of three from Nablus, told Arab
News that her favorite spot is the mosque itself. “It has a special holiness to
it as it is where the holy prophet Muhammad spent the night on his ascent to
Rweis is talking about Al-Isra wa Al-Miraj, the two
parts of a Night Journey that Prophet Muhammad took. In Islam, Al-Isra wa
Al-Miraj signifies both a physical and spiritual journey.
A little more than a decade on, Caliph Omar was in
Jerusalem and he began building the first Al-Aqsa Mosque. Al-Aqsa means “the
farthest,” a reference to the distance of Islam’s third holiest shrine from
Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia.
For Khalil Attiyeh, a Jordanian parliamentarian, the
feeling while going down the stairs from the Dome of the Rock to Al-Aqsa Mosque
is special. But for many worshipers and visitors, the entire 144 dunum
(144,000sq meters) of the Al-Aqsa compound is sacred.
Political activist Hazem H. Kawasmi said that his
spot is across from the water fountain, where
worshipers come for the ritual washing. “I have been coming to Al-Aqsa since I
was a child. I love to sit on the stairs across from the mosque and gaze at the
water fountain,” he said.
For Arafat Amro, the Islamic Museum located within the
compound is special because of its priceless contents. “It is a window to
civilizations and history,” said Amro, who is also the musuem’s director.
“Everything here, from parchments, wooden works and
metal items to stone carvings, reflects different times. Visitors who came to
this mosque down the ages from different locations went back with the history
of their Arab and Muslim forefathers etched in their memories.”
The Islamic Museum is located close to both Al-Buraq
Wall and a gate through which groups of Jewish extremists often make uninvited
incursions with an armed Israeli security escort.
The area was cleared of Palestinians soon after the
capture in 1967 of East Jerusalem by Israel, marking the beginning of the
For Hazem Shunnar, a respected Palestinian economist,
Al-Buraq wall is what he often thinks about “because the Israelis took it by
Yemen’s Houthis launch fundraising drive for
May 27, 2019
A Yemeni radio station broadcasting in support of the
Yemeni rebel Houthi movement has launched a fundraising drive on behalf of
Hezbollah, which has come under pressure from ramped-up sanctions.
Sam FM (99.1) on Friday called on its listeners to
“support the masters of the mujahideen in this world, the purest people,
Hezbollah” and donate to the “From Yemen the Faithful to the Resistance of
Lebanon” campaign during the final 10 days of Ramadan.
The pro-Houthi station’s effort presents an unusual
about-face in the relationship between the Houthis and Hezbollah, which is
usually the provider of support to its Yemeni allies.
Last July, an Arab diplomat told The National on
condition of anonymity that Hezbollah fighters and advisers were working
alongside the Houthis in parts of Yemen. Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan
Nasrallah has voiced support for the Iran-backed Houthi insurgents.
On Sam FM, broadcaster Hamoud Mohammad Sharaf said his
station’s fundraising efforts for Hezbollah would “have a significant impact in
strengthening the Axis of Resistance,” in reference to the Tehran-led alliance
that includes Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas. His comments were made in an
interview with the Houthi-run Saba news agency, which was republished by Sam
FM’s Telegram account.
Mr Sharaf, who has also worked as a correspondent for
Hezbollah’s Al-Manar Television, said the campaign for Hezbollah was the latest
in a series of fundraisers inspired by Houthi leader Abdulmalik Al Houthi.
The pro-Houthi station raised more than 200 million
Yemeni rials (Dh2.93m) for rebel military efforts during Ramadan in 2018 and
2019, Saba said.
Last week, Sharaf tweeted a statement stamped by the
Houthi rebels’ drone, missile, air defence, navy and military industrialisation
departments thanking Sam FM for a donation of 30.3 million Yemeni rials
Saba news agency said it expected the radio station’s
collection effort for Hezbollah would also attract wide participation from the
public and private sectors “in light of Hezbollah’s current stage of distress
following the financial sanctions imposed by the United States.”
Hezbollah is blacklisted by numerous countries, including
the US, UK and Gulf states, as a terrorist group. The US Department of Treasury
imposed more sanctions on Hezbollah-related individuals and entities in 2018
than in any previous year. That same year, US President Donald Trump signed
into law a Congressional bill expanding sanctions on foreign entities that
support Hezbollah and its agents.
Sham FM’s announcement of its fundraising drive
directed the station’s listeners to donate to an account held at
Houthi-controlled Yemen Post, which advertises money transfer services in
addition to its postal work.
The Houthis have used Yemen Post in the past to
facilitate their activities, including a fundraising campaign to support a
rival institution to the Central Bank after the internationally recognised
government of Yemen under Abdrabu Mansur Hadi moved the institution from Sanaa
Full report at:
By Palko Karasz
LONDON — Iranian officials lashed out at the United
States on Saturday after the Trump administration said it would allow the sale
of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan and deploy
about 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East to counter Iran.
“If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will send
these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes using two
missiles or two new secret weapons,” Gen. Morteza Qorbani, an adviser to Iran’s
military command, told the semiofficial news agency Mizan on Saturday.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, also
told the state news agency IRNA that the move to send troops to the Middle East
was “extremely dangerous and it threatens international peace and security.”
“This should be addressed,” Mr. Zarif added.
The pending arms deal had drawn sharp criticism from
American lawmakers angry over civilian deaths from the Saudi-led air campaign
in Yemen. Analysts said that officials in Tehran were likely to see it as a
further deterioration in relations between the two countries, already worsening
since President Trump’s decision last year to leave the Iran nuclear deal.
In response to that decision, rather than exiting the
deal, which is still supported by European nations, President Hassan Rouhani of
Iran this month announced a series of small steps to resume nuclear production
restricted under the agreement. The White House then announced additional
sanctions on Iran’s steel, aluminum, iron and copper sectors, accounting for 10
percent of the country’s exports.
The American troop increase is far less than the
20,000 forces that United States commanders in the region had sought. It
includes 600 troops whose deployments will be extended, alongside 900 being
newly sent to the Middle East.
Under White House plans revised after pressure from
hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, the president’s national security adviser,
if Iran were to accelerate work on nuclear weapons, defense officials envision
sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East.
Still, Mr. Trump — who has been keen to disengage from
conflict zones in the Middle East —was seen as unlikely to boost troops by more
than 100,000, and Iran tends to exaggerate its successes when it comes to
state-of-the art weaponry, according to experts.
Amid what many say are echoes of the buildup to the
Iraq war in 2003, calls have intensified for Mr. Trump to walk away from the
prospect of conflict with Iran. Trapped between the United States and trying to
keep the Iran nuclear deal alive, European allies have also voiced opposition
to a conflict.
And a few days ago, Mr. Trump himself sought to put
the brakes on open confrontation, telling the acting defense secretary, Patrick
M. Shanahan, that he did not want to go to war with Iran.
The latest surge in tensions comes just more than a
week after some small signs of de-escalation. United States officials presented
evidence that Iran had been removing missiles from small boats, which had been
seen as a potential threat to American naval ships in the Persian Gulf and
MAY 25, 2019
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran can sink U.S. warships sent to
the Gulf region using missiles and “secret weapons”, a senior Iranian military
official was quoted as saying by the semi-official news agency Mizan on Saturday.
The United States on Friday announced the deployment
of 1,500 troops to the Middle East, describing it as an effort to bolster
defenses against Iran as it accused the country’s Revolutionary Guards of
direct responsibility for this month’s tanker attacks. “America.. is sending
two warships to the region. If they commit the slightest stupidity, we will
send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes
using two missiles or two new secret weapons,” General Morteza Qorbani, an adviser
to Iran’s military command, told Mizan.
The U.S. actions were the latest by the Trump
administration as it highlights what it sees as a threat of potential attack by
Iran, and follows decisions to speed the deployment of an aircraft carrier
strike group as well as send bombers and additional Patriot missiles to the
28 May 2019
Turkey’s military launched an operation with
commandos, backed by artillery and air strikes, against Kurdish militants in
northern Iraq, the defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The military action began with artillery and air
strikes on Monday afternoon and the operation by commando brigades began at 8
pm (1700 GMT) to “neutralize terrorists and destroy their shelters” in an area
across the border from Turkey’s most southeastern region, the ministry said in
In a related development, Turkey has equipped Syrian
armed factions it backs with fresh supplies of weaponry to help them try to
repel a major Russian-backed assault, senior opposition officials and other
The Arab Coalition has targeted Houthi positions in
the Yemeni capital Sanaa, including Houthi weapons stores in the al-Dulaimi air
base, north of the capital.
Arab Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malki had
said that they are continuously targeting Houthi posts in the air base as the
militias have turned it into a base to manufacture and maintain drones, as well
as to store weapons.
The Arab Coalition had announced in mid-May that it
has launched an operation on Houthi military targets in Yemen to
"neutralize the ability of the Houthi militia to carry out acts of
On Tuesday, Arab Coalition spokesman Colonel Turki
al-Malki said that they will not tolerate the Iran-backed Houthi militias
targeting civilian facilities with drones.
Speaking at a press conference in Jeddah, al-Malki
confirmed that the coalition has information about all the locations from where
drones are being launched toward Saudi Arabia.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner has gone to
the Middle East to push the US-backed Israeli-Palestinian peace deal on behalf
of hi father-in-law, US President Donald Trump.
Media agencies cited a White House official as saying
on Tuesday that Kushner was leading a diplomatic delegation to Morocco, Jordan
US Middle East special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, was in
the delegation accompanying Kushner during the trip.
The official said one reason for this week's trip is
to garner regional leaders’ support for a June 25-26 conference in Manama,
At the Manama conference, the US is set to unveil the
first part of Trump's so-called “deal of the century”.
Trump’s Middle East peace deal is said to hugely favor
the Israeli regime, and Palestinian leaders have been sharply critical of it.
Most Palestinian factions have dubbed Trump’s deal as
“the slap of the century,” and boycotted the Manama conference.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected
Trump’s deal, saying it would “go to hell.”
The participants in the conference in Manama were
expected to be some 300 to 400 representatives and business executives from the
Middle East, Asia and Europe. Possibly, a few Palestinian businessmen and
representatives from G7 countries, Egypt, Jordan and Oman would be attending.
GAZA CITY: Previously a pagan temple and then a
church, the Omari Grand Mosque in Gaza City was converted to a Muslim place of
worship under Caliph Omar ibn Al-Khattab.
During Roman and Greek rule, the site was a temple to
worship the god Marna, said Heyam Al-Bitar, head of the tourism and archaeology
department at the Tourism Ministry in Gaza. It was built during the reign of
Roman Emperor Hadrian.
The temple was converted to a church in 406 AD, and
then into a mosque in 634 AD, said archaeologist Dr. Salim Al-Mubaid.
“It was the first mosque to perform Friday prayers in
Gaza after the Islamic conquest,” he added.
During the Crusades, it was turned into St. John’s
Cathedral in 1149 AD. It was converted back into a mosque in 1192 AD, but
retained its Gothic architecture.
It was expanded by Mamluk Sultan Nasser Muhammad
during Ottoman rule. Large parts of the mosque were destroyed during World War
I, said Al-Mubaid. Historian Othman Mustafa Al-Tabbaa said it has 38 marble
Al-Bitar said the mosque’s minaret, a model of Mamluk
architectural style, is one of its most famous features. Its lower half is
square and its upper half is octagonal.
The mosque’s library, built under Mamluk Sultan
Al-Zaher Baybars, was a scientific beacon for scholars.
Having contained thousands of books and manuscripts on
various sciences, the library was destroyed during the Crusades and World War
By Thomas Gibbons-Neff
KABUL, Afghanistan — Attacks on Afghan schools tripled
from 2017 to 2018, a Unicef report said Tuesday, as the Taliban and other
extremist groups in Afghanistan continue to wage a campaign of violence against
so-called softer targets, far from the battlefield.
The number of attacks increased to 192 from 68, a
surge not seen since 2015, according to the report by the United Nations agency
for children. The number of children not attending school also increased last
year for the first time since 2002.
It is yet another sign of the deteriorating security
situation across Afghanistan. To some Afghans, the report offered concrete
evidence that the repressive Taliban regime is again on the rise, even as the
United States attempts to negotiate a peace settlement with the group.
Nooria Nazhat, a spokeswoman for the ministry of
education, said the government did not have any specific statistics to back up
the Unicef report. But she added: “Every week we have a report about schools
getting attacked in Afghanistan.”
In the last several months, 431 schools for both boys
and girls have closed for “security issues,” Ms. Nazhat said, and the
government is trying to reopen them.
The Unicef report noted that the use of schools as
polling centers during the 2018 parliamentary elections was one reason for the
uptick in attacks.
Henrietta Fore, Unicef’s executive director, said that
education in Afghanistan was “under fire,” in a statement.
“The senseless attacks on schools; the killing, injury
and abduction of teachers; and the threats against education are destroying the
hopes and dreams of an entire generation of children,” Ms. Fore said in a
More than a million children are unable to attend
school across the country, according to the report, most of them girls.
Last month, in the western Farah Province, armed men
set fire to two girls’ schools just outside the provincial capital, damaging
both structures and burning the teaching materials within. The attacks ended
classes for nearly 1,700 girls. Four other girls’ schools were also recently
attacked in the province.
Before being ousted in 2001, the Taliban did not allow
girls to attend school, and women were confined to their homes unless escorted
by a male relative. During the course of the nearly 18-year-old war, Taliban
fighters would often booby-trap schools or burn them outright to keep them from
reopening after NATO and Afghan forces established control over an area.
There are roughly 17,500 schools across Afghanistan.
About 1,000 of them remain closed because of the ongoing conflict, according to
the Unicef report, a number that is roughly unchanged from last year.
Fatima Faizi contributed reporting from Kabul.
KABUL, Afghanistan — A roadside bombing claimed by the
Taliban killed 10 Afghan soldiers in the country’s west while insurgent attacks
on security checkpoints in northern Afghanistan killed four policemen, local
officials said Monday.
The soldiers were driving back to base after picking
up their salaries in the country’s western Farah province. They were travelling
in a Humvee when the explosion took place Sunday afternoon in the Bala Buluk
district, said Shah Mahmmod Nahimi, a provincial councilman.
“The blast was so intense that no one in the Humvee
survived,” he added.
Elsewhere, the Taliban targeted several checkpoints in
northern Sari Pul province on Sunday night, killing four members of the
security forces and wounding 22, said Zabiullah Amani, the provincial
The attacks took place on the outskirts of the
provincial capital of Sari Pul and triggered gun battles that lasted for hours,
he said, adding that 15 Taliban fighters were also killed.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Farah
attack in a statement on their website but did not make any announcements about
the Sari Pul attack.
Meanwhile, a sticky bomb attached to a minibus
carrying government workers in Kabul detonated on Monday morning, wounding 10
people, said police spokesman Ferdus Faramarz. One of the wounded was in
Arab Haidari, from the religious affairs ministry,
said all the wounded are ministry employees who were on their way to work when
the explosion took place. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the
attack. Both the Taliban and Islamic State militants regularly stage attacks in
On Sunday, gunmen shot and killed a prominent
religious scholar, Mawlavi Shabir Ahmad Kamawi, in Kabul, and last week, a
mosque bombing killed another religious scholar during Friday prayers, also in
Attacks have increased recently as Washington’s peace
envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, presses ahead with talks with the Taliban, who refuse
to negotiate directly with the Kabul government.
The talks so far have focused on a timetable for US
troop withdrawal as well as Taliban guarantees that they won’t harbor terrorist
groups or allow Afghanistan to be used as a staging ground for global terror
3 Injured In Blast At Bangladesh's Dhaka, ISIS Claims
DHAKA: A police officer and two others were injured in
a powerful blast claimed by ISIS in Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
The explosives that led to the blast in a police
pick-up van in Dhaka's Malibagh area on Sunday night might have been planted,
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said on Monday.
"We think it (the explosive) was kept in the car
and not hurled at the police," he said while talking to reporters after
visiting the injured at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
"Based on primary investigation, we think it was
an improvised bomb, but it was more powerful than the usual ones used
here," he said.
An assistant sub-inspector and two others were injured
in the explosion.
He said police have yet to identify the culprits.
Meanwhile, US-based SITE Intelligence Group said that
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the blast targeting the police van in
Terming the incident as an act to spread fear, the DMP
chief said: "If they (the attackers) wanted, they could have killed our
"Attacking a police vehicle or checkpost is a
move to break down the police's morale and its initiative to oust terrorism
from Bangladesh," he said.
The government has consistently ruled out the presence
of the dreaded terror group in the Muslim-majority nation though experts have
been maintaining that series of brutal attacks on minorities and secular
activists had the hallmarks of ISIS group.
Bangladesh launched a crackdown on Islamist terrorists
following the July 2016 terror attack in which terrorists stormed a Dhaka cafe
and killed 22 people, including 18 foreigners, by firing indiscriminately. ISIS
claimed responsibility for the attack.
Senior Afghan Taliban officials including the group's
top political advisor met with Afghan political figures in Moscow on Tuesday,
saying they were committed to peace in Afghanistan — even as US-led talks
appear to have stalled.
In a message the Taliban have not altered since talks
with the US started last autumn, Taliban co-founder and political leader Mullah
Abdul Ghani Baradar said the insurgents want an end to 18 years of conflict —
but would only sign a deal after foreign forces quit Afghanistan.
The Taliban are “really committed to peace, but think
the obstacle for peace should be removed first”, Baradar said in a rare
televised appearance at the start of the two-day meeting marking 100 years of
diplomatic ties between Russia and Afghanistan.
“The obstacle is the occupation of Afghanistan, and
that should end,” Baradar added.
Baradar — who helped Mullah Omar found the Taliban —
was appointed its political chief in January following his release from a
Examine: Which way the Afghan peace process is headed
Tuesday's Moscow meeting once again cut out senior
members of President Ashraf Ghani's government, which the Taliban consider a
US-backed puppet regime, though the head of the Kabul administration's high
peace council had been slated to attend.
Other Afghan politicians — including former president
Hamid Karzai and candidates challenging Ghani in a presidential election slated
for September — were also present.
The talks mark the second time Taliban leaders have
met with Afghan figures in Russia, following a February summit that saw the
former foes praying together and chatting over meals.
Former warlord Atta Muhammad Noor said the previous
Moscow meeting had yielded “quite positive results”. “We are for having good
relations with our brothers, with the Taliban,” Noor said.
“Let's step back a little, embrace each other and
create conditions for the start of peace”.
Moscow appears to be gaining influence in the ongoing
process, with the US announcing last month that Washington had reached a
consensus with China and Russia on the key formula for a peace deal it is negotiating
But a recent sixth round of talks between US peace
envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban ended in Doha this month with no
tangible progress cited by the negotiating teams.
While the Taliban insist foreign forces must leave
Afghanistan before it can agree to peace, the US has refused to agree to a
withdrawal until the Taliban put in place security guarantees, a ceasefire, and
other commitments including an “intra-Afghan” dialogue with the Kabul
government and other Afghan representatives.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who opened
Tuesday's meeting, said Russia and Afghanistan have “a shared aim — fighting
terrorism” and reiterated that Moscow supports a complete withdrawal of foreign
KABUL: Afghan officials said on Tuesday that two
Taliban attacks targeted Afghan security checkpoints in the country’s west and
east, killing at least 23 members of the security forces.
In western Ghor province, Abdul Hai Khateby, the
governor’s spokesman, says 18 policemen and pro-government militiamen were
killed and seven were wounded in hours-long gunbattle with insurgents near
Feroz Koh, the provincial capital. No group immediately took responsibility for
In eastern Logar province, Mohammad Naser Ghairat, a
provincial councilman, said insurgents overran an army checkpoint in the
district of Baraki Barak on Monday, killing five soldiers there.
Ghairat said four soldiers were also wounded while the
Taliban captured four others. He says the insurgents stole a Humvee and
ammunition from the checkpoint. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the
Attacks against Afghan schools soar
The number of attacks on schools in Afghanistan nearly
tripled last year, Unicef said on Tuesday, cutting children’s access to
education amid worsening security in the war-torn nation.
Attacks on Afghan schools increased from 68 in 2017 to
192 in 2018, the first increase in such incidents since 2015.
Afghanistan’s ongoing war, now in its 18th year,
resulted in more than 1,000 schools being closed by the end 2018, Unicef said,
depriving some 500,000 children of their right to learning.
“Education is under fire in Afghanistan,” Unicef
Executive Director Henrietta Fore said in a statement.
“The senseless attacks on schools; the killing, injury
and abduction of teachers; and the threats against education are destroying the
hopes and dreams of an entire generation of children.” Using schools as voter
registration centres for parliamentary elections last year was one factor in
the increase in attacks, Unicef said.
About 3.7 million school children between the ages of
seven and 17 — accounting for almost half of all school-aged children in
Afghanistan — do not attending school, according to the UN agency.
It blamed insecurity, poverty and discrimination
against girls — who make up about 60 per cent of children not in education.
The Taliban opposed education for girls when they
ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
After the Islamist extremists were toppled in a US-led
invasion, millions of girls began to receive an education.
But schools, students and teachers have been coming under
For the past two years, during Ramadan,
an overwhelming sadness takes over 15-year-old Ahmed Kamal, a Rohingya refugee
at the Cox’s Bazar camp in Bangladesh.
He says it is at this time, specifically during iftar,
that he misses his mother, Halima Begum, the most.
Begum was brutally killed in September 2017 by the
Myanmar army during a crackdown on thousands of Rohingya — many of whom fled to
Bangladesh to escape the persecution.
“My mother used to prepare so many homemade foods
during iftar and we all used to enjoy it. But everything is lost now,” Kamal
told Arab News.
For many of the Rohingya living at Cox’s Bazar,
Ramadan brings with it a sense of nostalgia and memories of days well spent.
“We used to have a get-together with relatives during
Ramadan at our home in Mongdu township. All year, I used to wait for this
Ramadan get-together with our maternal cousins, grandparents and uncles,”
Saleha Khatun, a 13-year-old refugee girl from Kutupalang Rohingya camp, said.
“Some of our relatives were killed in September 2017,
a few of them stayed in Rakhine and some fled to Cox’s Bazar. Our greater
family is now completely scattered and I miss my relatives a lot in this
Ramadan month,” she added.
More than 1.1 million Rohingya are currently lodged at
various refugee camps, with nearly 750,000 taking shelter in Bangladesh since
August 2017 when the violence escalated in the northern Myanmar province of
Rakhine. For most of the Rohingya, this is their second Ramadan in Bangladesh
since the great exodus.
“Last year we didn’t get enough food for iftar to
break the fast. Sometimes we had to drink only water but this year there is
enough — we have received food from the World Food Program (WFP),” Rashid Khan,
a refugee from Balukhali camp, told Arab News.
The WFP also distributed dates to families in refugee
camps specifically for Ramadan, which were donated by Qatar.
Gemma Snowdon, the WFP’s communications officer at
Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News: “We have scaled up our e-voucher food assistance
system in time for Ramadan, which means families have access to a wider range
of food. Using an electronic card, families can shop at one of the WFP
e-voucher outlets in the camps, and access things such as fresh fruit and
vegetables, eggs, dried fish, spices, and the usual staples.”
She added that the program gave the Rohingya a greater
range of choice for Ramadan, as opposed to basic rice, lentils and oil they
were previously receiving. There are also special offers on food from retailers
who operate the WFP e-voucher outlets so people can receive more than they
People in the Middle East spend close to 58 million
more hours on Facebook during Ramadan and watch more YouTube videos —
everything from beauty tips and recipes to sports and TV dramas — than any
other time of the year, making the holy month not only the most important one
for Muslims, but also the prime time of the year for advertisers.
For Facebook, which also owns Instagram, and Google,
which owns YouTube, Ramadan brings a welcome boost of business in the region.
"Consumption and time spent on our platforms does
indeed increase," said Ramez Shehadi, Facebook's managing director for
Mideast and North Africa.
People stay up a lot more at night during Ramadan and
have more downtime — especially before iftar, the evening meal that breaks the
daylong fast, and the sabur when people gather to eat before another day of fasting.
All that translates to 5% more time spent on Facebook's platforms, or what is
nearly 58 million more hours, Shehadi said. Put another way, there are almost 2
million hours of additional time spent daily on Facebook in the Mideast during
Ramadan. Ramadan is also the peak season for advertising in the region, as TV
dramas and soap operas get a 151% increase in viewership on YouTube during the
holy month, according to Google.
"Our revenue is a function of people's
engagement," Shehadi said. "The more that they engage on our
platforms, the more that advertisers want to be able to reach those that are
engaging. That's what drives our revenue."
Google does not disclose total watch time for YouTube
during Ramadan, but says that in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates, for example, viewing of sports videos jumps by 22%, travel videos by
30%, and action games, simulation and video games by 10-20% during the holy
People also spend 27% more time watching religious
content on YouTube in Ramadan.
"To us, YouTube brings people together. We see a
lot of people wanting to watch things together," said Joyce Baz, Google's
head of communications in Mideast and North Africa.
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An alleged Islamic State bomb
late Saturday killed five people who were going to their farm fields in the
disputed province of Kirkuk to put out fires that had also been started by the
terrorist organization, local media reported.
“An improvised explosive device (IED) exploded in the
evening, in the al-Abbasi sub-district of the al-Hawija district of Kirkuk,
killing four civilians and wounding two others,” Alsumaria reported, quoting a
One of the injuries seemed to have been fatal as
shortly after another source told Kurdistan 24 that five “farmers and
firefighters” had died in the incident. It added that 10 others had been
injured. All were transported to the nearest hospital in Hawija city.
The victims were attempting to put out a major fire at
an agricultural farm, which Islamic State members had set ablaze, the source added.
The flames had spread quickly, carried by strong winds in the rural area.
Hours before the incident, local officials told Iraqi
media that similar fields had been burned in other parts of the province, south
of the capital city of Kirkuk between the towns of Tuz Khurmatu and Bashir.
As the harvesting season begins, Islamic State sleeper
cells seem to be employing a new extortion tactic in areas with weak security,
demanding “taxes” from farmers or their fields would be torched. So far, they
have burned thousands of acres of land.
Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi troops killed on
Saturday two Islamic State terrorists, who planned to carry out a motorbike
bomb attack in Nineveh province.
Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jubouri, the commander of Nineveh
Operations, told AlSaumaria News that an army force received intelligence information
on the presence of two IS terrorists in Tal Abta district in Nineveh.
Backed by federal police and tribal fighters, the army
force managed to kill the pair and seized a booby-trapped motorbike, which they
planned to use in a terrorist attack, Jubouri said.
He added that the motorbike was successfully
dismantled by the explosives experts.
Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s
territorial influence in November 2017 with the recapture of Rawa, a city on
Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq.
26 May 2019
Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it shot down a bomb-laden
drone deployed by the Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack an airport in the
kingdom, the latest in a series of attacks targeting the kingdom.
The Saudi air force intercepted and destroyed the
drone that targeted Jizan airport, close to the southern border with Yemen, the
Saudi-UAE-led coalition fighting the rebels said.
"While we confirm our right to defend our
country, we stress that the terrorist Houthis will pay a dear price," said
alliance spokesman Colonel Turki al-Malaki, according to the official Saudi
The Saudi announcement came hours after the Houthis
said they used an armed drone to attack warplane runways at Jizan airport. The
airport is used by thousands of civilians every day, but the coalition reported
The attack comes after the Houthis on Thursday
targeted Najran airport, also near the Yemeni border, with an explosives-laden
That attack - the third against Najran airport in 72
hours - targeted a Patriot air defence system, rebel-run Al Masirah TV
reported. Civilian airports throughout the Middle East often host military
The kingdom said the last Najran attempted drone
attack was also intercepted by its air defences and destroyed.
A Houthi leader said on Sunday the group resumed drone
attacks deep inside Saudi Arabia this month in response to what he called the
coalition's spurning of "peace initiatives" by the rebels.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi also dismissed Saudi
accusations the attacks had been carried out on the orders on Iran - at a time
of growing tension between Tehran and Riyadh alongside its Western and regional
"We are independent in our decisions and ... we
are not subordinated to anyone," Houthi told Reuters news agency by phone.
He said the rebels had agreed to halt air raids last
year "in good faith" and had been ready to take more steps.
"But unfortunately the aggressor countries
misinterpreted these efforts [as weakness] and regarded them with contempt and
indifference," Houthi, the head of the group's Supreme Revolutionary
He said the Houthis had unilaterally withdrawn from
three Red Sea ports and he accused the Saudi-led coalition of failing to
There was no immediate reaction to his statement from
Riyadh, which has not yet recognised the port pullout.
Worst humanitarian crisis
The Saudi-led coalition intervened in Yemen in March
2015 to push back an advance by the Houthis, who still hold the capital Sanaa,
and to restore to power President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
Since then, the conflict has killed tens of thousands
of people, mostly civilians, relief agencies say.
The war triggered what the UN describes as the world's
worst humanitarian crisis with 24.1 million - more than two-thirds of the
population - in need of aid.
Earlier this month, the Houthis attacked an oil
pipeline in Saudi Arabia with a series of drone attacks.
The Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV network quoted
tribal sources in Eastern Euphrates as saying that Saudi Arabia intends to
start and sponsor a military force with financial and military back up through
a number of tribes in the region.
It pointed to Saudi Arabia's military and financial
backup to reinforce Deir Ezzur military council affiliated to the Syrian
Democratic Forces in the region, and said Riyadh plans to once again bring to
the scene the militants affiliated to al-Ghad that operate under the command of
Ahmad al-Jarba in Eastern Syria allegedly to fight Turkey's aggression.
Since the beginning of the Syrian War, the US has been
looking for setting up a tribal army in Eastern Syria comprising 40,000
combatants with billions of dollars of financial support by Saudi Arabia.
Meantime, the Arabic-language al-Watan Online news
website reported that a new military convoy comprising 50 trucks carrying
weapons as well as military and logistical equipment arrived in areas under the
control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir Ezzur province via
Simalka crossing from the Iraqi territories.
In a relevant development earlier this monht, tens of
trucks carrying US military and logistical aids have been dispatched to the
areas under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Eastern
Euphrates despite declaring the end of the ISIL by Washington, media sources
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported
that a convoy comprising 60 trucks containing logistic and military
consignments as well as prefabricated houses was sent to Eastern Euphrates via
Simalka crossing in Northern Iraq.
The Syria Army engaged in fierce clashes with Faylaq
al-Sales terrorists as artillery units pounded the Ankara-backed militants'
military positions near the town of al-Bab in Northern Aleppo, the
Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported.
Field sources, meantime, reported that several
military vehicles of the Turkey-backed terrorists were destroyed in clashes
with the Syrian army, adding that several militants were killed in exchange of
The sources further said that the Syrian Army's
artillery units also pounded the terrorists' military positions in the town of
Khalseh in Southern Aleppo.
The Syrian Air Force carried out several airstrikes
over territories South-West of Aleppo province, AMN reported.
According to a military source in Aleppo city, the
Syrian Air Force specifically targeted the Regiment 46 Base that is located
just North of the provincial borderline of Idlib.
The heavy bombardment by the Syrian Air Force came
just days after the Syrian Army sent a large number of reinforcements to the
Southern Aleppo town of Al-Hadher.
In a relevant development on Sunday, Kurdish media
said that the Syrian and Russian armies had dispatched a large number of troops
to Northern Hama and built new military positions there to confront a possible
aggression by the Turkish Army.
The Xber24 news website reported that the Russian
troops have built four military points in the city of Tal Rafat in Northern
Syria to support the Syrian Army in the war on terrorism.
It pointed to the arrival of a large number of Russian
Army forces together with heavy weapons to the military points and equipment of
these bases, and said that these forces have reinforced their military points in
the town of Kashta'ar in Northern Aleppo and some new commanders have also been
appointed to the mission.
Meantime, it said that the Russian military
reinforcements came as differences have intensified between the Turkish and
Russian sides after Ankara supported Tahrir al-Sham in its attacks on the
According to a military source in Aleppo, the Syrian
Army has also sent reinforcements from the capital, Damascus, and Homs to the
Southern countryside of the province. The reinforcements have reportedly
arrived at the key town of Al-Hadher.
The United States State Department has set up a $75
million grant to be spent in Syria to combat ISIS and the “disinformation”
carried out by Iran inside the country.
According to the Department of State Bureau of Near
Eastern Affairs, the grant opportunity – Supporting Local Governance and Civil
Society in Syria – will be given to the eligible NGOs and will help advance the
US government’s policy in the war-torn country.
The grant is meant to ensure the defeat of ISIS and to
counter violent extremism in Syria and achieve a political resolution to the ongoing
conflict in the country under the auspices of the UN Security Council
Resolution 2254, the report said.
An Iraqi court has sentenced two more French citizens
to death after they were found guilty of joining the Daesh Takfiri terrorist
group and involvement in acts of terror across the conflict-ridden Arab country
and neighboring Syria, bringing the total number of former French terrorists
condemned to death this week to six.
The men sentenced to death on Tuesday were identified
as Karam Salam Mohammed el-Harchaoui and Brahim Ali Mansour Nejara. They are
among a group of 12 French citizens, who were captured by US-backed and
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria and handed over to Iraq earlier
El-Harchaoui, 33, lived in Belgium before he left for
Syria in 2014. He was wounded in one of the battles he fought alongside Daesh
militants in Syria.
His wife told The Associated Press he joined the
terror group in Syria in 2014, was sent to Iraq to fight, escaped, traveled
back to Syria's northeastern town of al-Shaddadah, then to Raqqah where he was
wounded in an airstrike in 2016. He was jailed for fleeing, and then released.
The two later met and married in October 2015, after which he was arrested
Nejara, 23, helped run a network that apparently
recruited Europeans to join Daesh. He appeared in a video titled "Paris
has collapsed" a week after a series of violent attacks targeting cafes
and a concert hall in the French capital city of Paris on November 13, 2015,
which took the lives of at least 129 people. The video shows a fictitious
destruction of the Eiffel Tower, according to Jean-Charles Brisard of the
Center of the Analysis of Terrorism.
Nejara, speaking before the judge, said that he was
forced to make the video because Daesh was looking for someone who could speak
French. He said he was threatened with prison, when he requested to appear
masked in the video, before the militant outfit agreed to his request.
On Sunday, a criminal court in the Iraqi capital
Baghdad sentenced three French Daesh members to death. A fourth was handed down
the death sentence on Monday. They can appeal their sentences within a month.
Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian
said on Tuesday that his government is working to spare the French men sentenced
to death from execution.
He said the Daesh militants should be tried where they
committed their crimes.
“We are multiplying efforts to avoid the death penalty
for these ... French people,” he said on France-Inter radio station. He didn't
elaborate, but said he had held talks with Iraqi President Adel Abdul Mahdi
about the case.
Iraq has been trying hundreds of suspected Daesh
members, many of whom were detained as the outfit’s strongholds crumbled
throughout Iraq. This includes hundreds of foreigners.
Hundreds of European nationals traveled to the Middle
East to join Daesh after the terror group captured large swathes of territory
in Iraq and neighboring Syria in mid-2014.
Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared
the end of military operations against Daesh in the country on December 9,
On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory
over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in
In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army
soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains
Iraqi Kurdish lawmakers have elected Nechirvan Barzani
as president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
Barzani, who had been serving as regional prime
minister since 2006, won 68 votes from the 81 lawmakers present in the 111-seat
chamber on Tuesday.
The vote was boycotted by members of the parliament’s
second biggest party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and two smaller
parties amid a rift between the main political forces in the region.
The 52-year-old Barzani, the deputy leader of the
Kurdistan Democratic Party, is the nephew of the previous and only other holder
of the office, Masoud Barzani.
The post has been vacant since November 2017, when the
former president resigned after Kurdistan held a controversial independence
In September 2017, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) defied stern warnings from the central government in Baghdad
and several other states, and held a referendum on separation from mainland
Iraq. Kurdish officials said a majority of people had voted ‘Yes’ to secession.
In response, the central government called the vote
“unconstitutional” and adopted a series of bans against Erbil.
MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA —
Islamist insurgents killed at least 25 soldiers and a
number of civilians in an
ambush in northeast Nigeria on Saturday morning, two
security sources said, the second deadly attack on the army this week.
Militants opened fire as the soldiers were escorting a
groups of evacuees from a village in Borno state, where Boko Haram and other
militants have been fighting for a decade.
"They ambushed and surrounded the vehicles of
both the soldiers and the civilians and opened fire on them," said one of
the sources, part of a vigilante group that fights alongside the military
against the insurgencies. "They exchanged fire for some minutes before the
Boko Haram militants overpowered the soldiers."
Nigeria's government has said the Boko Haram
insurgency and the rival Islamic State West Africa Province group are on their
But sustained efforts to eradicate the militants have
failed and the military continues to suffer heavy losses. The war has killed
more than 30,000 people and displaced millions more.
The soldiers were evacuating villages in the region on
Saturday to carry out operations against Boko Haram, the sources said. One said
the civilian convoy had as many as 50 vehicles.
Nigerian military spokesmen did not respond to
requests for comment.
On Wednesday, Islamic State's West Africa branch
claimed responsibility for a raid in Nigeria in which it said 20 soldiers had
been killed, and released a video purporting to show the execution of nine
other Nigerian soldiers.
May 27, 2019
The Ministry of Interior said Sunday that security
forces managed to arrest ISIS Amir Al-Hisbah as well as another militant linked
to al-Qaeda last month, without disclosing further details.
In a statement, the ministry confirmed its cooperation
with friendly and neighbouring states in joint programs to combat crime and
Regarding the war on Tripoli, the ministry said it
will present evidence to the UN Security Council proving the involvement of
warlord Khalifa Haftar's militias in war crimes and the integration of
terrorist and criminal groups into their ranks.
The ministry clarified in the statement that it had
detected some radical groups involved in the aggression on Tripoli, drawing on
a religious fatwa that accuses the party fighting to defend Tripoli as being
MAY 27, 2019
At least 7 persons have been killed and two critically
injured when Boko Haram terrorists attacked Jere local council area of Borno
state on Monday morning, SaharaReporters can confirm.
The terrorists stormed Wulari Bulama-Isa village
behind Bakassi IDP camp near Maiduguri at about 2 am is during Moslem Subhi
prayer, slaughtering no less than seven persons.
Sources in the Civilian Joint Task Force who spoke to
SaharaReporters said those who were killed include members of the CJTF.
The killing they said was selective and the invaders
looted and stole foodstuff from the villagers.
One resident Bulama Bashir who confirmed the incident
said, " We could not bath the deceased as a result of the blood stain,
they slit their throats; none of them were shot.
Four soldiers and a cameraman died on Saturday night
from an attack by Boko Haram on the northern shore of Lake Chad.
Members of the terrorist group attacked Chadian army
base around one o’clock in the morning killing a soldier. Meanwhile a
delegation of the army general staff on the ground, had one of the convoy’s vehicles
reportedly hit a mine killing two soldiers on the spot, while a third one died
a few hours later as a result of his injuries.
Obed Nangbatna, a national television cameraman who
was part of the mission also die from a hemorrhage.
MOGADISHU, May 25 (Xinhua) -- The United States
military said on Saturday that it killed three Islamic State (IS) fighters in
Somalia's Puntland region in an air attack on Friday.
The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement
that no civilians were killed or injured in the strike which was conducted in
cooperation with Somali government targeting ISIS (the IS) encampment in the
The statement said the Golis Mountains are a known
area for al-Shabab camps and ongoing fighting between al-Shabab and ISIS
Robert Huston, deputy director of operations at
AFRICOM, said persistent pressure on the network ensures the threat is
contained while degrading al-Shabab capabilities.
27 May 2019
Somalia's militant Islamists remain relatively
undiminished, despite a 12-year UN-backed campaign against them, largely thanks
to its sophisticated web of spies, writes the BBC's Mary Harper.
Often, when I return to the UK from Somalia, I get a
phone call from al-Shabab. It usually happens even before I talk to my family,
while I am waiting for my luggage or in a taxi on the way home.
Once, after a trip to the south-western Somali town of
Baidoa, I was given a detailed account of what I had done and where I had been.
"You walked to a bank but it was shut. You
knocked on the doors and tried to open them. You took some photos," said
the man from al-Shabab, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.
"Your bodyguards were not at all professional.
They were wandering about, chatting amongst themselves with their guns slung
around their shoulders, instead of keeping watch over you."
When I ask members of al-Shabab how they know all
these things, how they can be so accurate, my contacts simply tell me they have
I tell them I am scared they know my itinerary so
intimately, but they tell me not to worry as they have far more important
targets than me. However, they do say I could be in "the wrong place at
the wrong time" and suffer the consequences.
'They are everywhere'
I presume some of the people who track my movements in
Somalia are part of the militant group's ruthless intelligence wing, the
Amniyat. Others might be people who work on a "pay-as-you-go" basis,
receiving small sums for imparting information.
Even more terrifying is the way the militants track
people they want to recruit, threaten or kill.
"Al-Shabab are like djinns [spirits]. They are
everywhere," said one young man the militants wanted to punish because he
sold fridges and air conditioners to members of the UN-backed Somali government
and the African Union intervention force [Amisom], both considered enemies by
Another man who had defected from al-Shabab explained
how, one day, a member of the group called him to tell him the colour of the
shirt he was wearing and which street he was walking down on a particular day
at a particular time.
Others have spoken about how militants come to their
houses and places of work inside Mogadishu to threaten or try to recruit them.
All this, despite the fact that the group "withdrew" from the capital
in August 2011.
"The Amniyat is the veins of the organisation. It
is all-powerful. If the Amniyat was destroyed, there would be no
al-Shabab," says Hussein Sheikh Ali, a former security adviser to the
Somali president and director of the Hiraal Institute, a Mogadishu-based think
He says the Amniyat is more than an intelligence unit.
"It literally controls al-Shabab. As well as its
core purpose which is intelligence gathering, it deals with sensitive areas of security.
If a senior member of al-Shabab is sick or injured, the Amniyat will deal with
it. It manages finances of a secret and delicate nature, and plans the big
terror attacks inside and outside the country."
People in the Amniyat are better paid than other
members of the movement. They have spread their tentacles far and wide,
including in place considered to be safe.
'At home in enemy territory'
One time, when I didn't leave the heavily protected
international airport, and stayed in accommodation on the base, a militant
called to say it knew I had been in Somalia.
Mohamed Mubarak, a researcher based in Mogadishu,
estimates that the number of people in the Amniyat ranges from between 500 and
"They are designed to live in enemy territory.
They spend most of their time in government territory," he says.
According to Mr Mubarak, women play a crucial role in
helping members of the Amniyat.
"Women support the Amniyat. They are part of its
infrastructure. Al-Shabab wives have to help them by providing a bed for the
night, feeding them, transporting things for them and passing on
The Amniyat is highly secretive. Its members hide
their identities from each other. Mr Mubarak explains how Amniyat cells do not
know the details of other cells. Members cover their faces when they meet
amongst themselves, even within the same cell.
"Only their leaders know their faces," he
'Like Stalinist secret police'
The Amniyat has a number of different departments. The
main one focuses on intelligence and counter-intelligence, while others deal
with bombings and assassinations.
People who defect from al-Shabab are terrified the
Amniyat will track them down.
Defectors in a rehabilitation centre said the only way
they could be safe from al-Shabab would be to flee Somalia.
"Al-Shabab calls me on the phone," said one
man who had fought with the group for six years. "I will try to melt away
in a big city like Mogadishu or Baidoa, but I am scared they will find me
there. I will only be safe if I go to Europe or the Gulf."
Although the US has increased airstrikes in Somalia in
recent months, it is facing great difficulty in destroying al-Shabab. This is
partly because so many members of the Amniyat hide in plain sight in government
territory, making them impossible to target.
According to Richard Barrett, a former director of
British global counter-terrorism operations who now works in Somalia, the
Aminyat is "the elite of al-Shabab, with a reputation both inside and
outside the movement as efficient, ruthless and disciplined".
Four people were killed in an attack on a Catholic
church in northern Burkina Faso, the latest in a string of assaults on
Christian places of worship in the region.
"The Christian community of Toulfe was the target
of a terrorist attack gathered for Sunday prayers," the bishop of
Ouahigouya, Justin Kientega, said in a statement on Sunday. "The attack
left four of the faithful dead."
A security source told AFP news agency "heavily
armed individuals attacked the church … as the faithful were celebrating Sunday
mass" in the town of Toulfe, 240km northwest of the capital Ouagadougou.
"[The attack] caused panic in the village and
many residents sought cover in their homes or in the bush," a local
Last week, gunmen killed four Catholics in a religious
procession, days after a priest and five others were murdered at mass.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks that
threaten to upend traditionally peaceful relations between majority Muslims and
Christians who make up one-quarter of the country.
The government has blamed unnamed armed groups
operating in the country and Africa's surrounding Sahel region.
Raids began in 2015 in the north before singling out
Ouagadougou and other regions, notably in the east.
Nearly 400 people have been killed since 2015 - mainly
in hit-and-run raids, according to an AFP tally.
Armed groups target Christian clergy as well as Muslim
scholar they do not consider sufficiently conservative in a country where
traditionally both religions have co-existed peaceably.
France has deployed 4,500 troops in Mali, Burkina
Faso, Niger and Chad in a mission code named Barkhane to help local forces
flush out fighters.
29 May 2019
Top Egyptian militant suspect Hisham al-Ashmawy was
transferred to Egypt from eastern Libya in a military aircraft, Egyptian state
television said on Wednesday.
Ashmawy, a former Egyptian special forces officer, was
apprehended in the Libyan city of Derna late last year and has been long sought
by Cairo on charges of orchestrating a deadly desert ambush on police and other
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior
adviser Jared Kushner is in the Middle East to drum up support for his as-yet
unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, according to a White House statement
published on Tuesday.
A White House official said that Kushner, along with
Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt and
special Iran envoy Brian Hook, are in Morocco and will visit Jordan and Israel
later this week.
The trip comes as the US prepares to roll out the
economic portion of the plan at a conference in Bahrain in late June.
The Palestinians have already rejected the peace plan
and have urged Arab nations to avoid the conference.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton says the
ships sabotaged off the UAE coast “were navel mines almost certainly by Iran”.
In statements made on Wednesday during his visit to
the UAE, Bolton added that the US is very confident that they, the UAE, and
Saudi Arabia are all on the same page about the priority and risk of an Iran
with nuclear weapons.
Bolton had arrived in the United Arab Emirates on
Tuesday ahead of talks scheduled for Wednesday.
“We are consulting more closely with our allies in the
region to discuss what to do next this is one of the reasons I’m here,” Bolton
Tensions have risen between Iran and the United States
after an attack this month on oil tankers in the Gulf. Washington blamed the
attacks on Tehran, which denied the accusations.
Ongoing hostilities between the Syrian regime and its
allies, and opposition forces in northwestern Syria must end immediately, the
U.S. said Tuesday.
State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told
reporters that Washington "continues to be alarmed" by airstrikes
being carried out by Russia and the Syrian regime in Idlib province.
"Indiscriminate attacks on civilians and public
infrastructure such as schools, markets and hospitals is a reckless escalation
of the conflict and is unacceptable," she said. "The relentless
violence is generating massive civilian displacement in Idlib."
Ortagus estimated that roughly 300,000 people have
been forced to flee violence in Idlib, just hours after the UN said the number
of persons displaced from the ongoing conflict is around 270,000.
Some 1.5 million people currently reside in Idlib,
roughly half of whom have been displaced from other parts of the country.
Turkey and Russia agreed last September to turn Idlib
into a de-escalation zone in which acts of aggression would be expressly
The Syrian regime and its allies, however, have
consistently broken the terms of the ceasefire, launching frequent attacks
inside the de-escalation zone.
Earlier Tuesday, Ursula Mueller, UN Secretary General
Antonio Guterres' top humanitarian affairs official, lambasted the Security
Council for a history of inaction in Syria, questioning what it will do to
prevent another catastrophe, this time in Idlib.
"Can't this council take any concrete action when
attacks on schools and hospitals have become a war tactic that no longer sparks
The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA)
hosted a fast-breaking meal, or iftar, Tuesday in the Cuban capital of Havana.
TIKA has been boosting ties between Turkey and the
Latin American and Caribbean region, Turkey's Ambassador to Cuba, Ayse Berris
Ekinci, said during the event.
The iftar was also attended by students studying in
Cuba from Syria, Yemen, Chad and other African countries, representatives of
the Islamic Council of Cuba, TIKA and Turkish Airlines officials as well as
Turkish businesspeople, diplomatic representatives and officials from Cuban
state television and radio.
A top aide to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
tore into the Security Council on Tuesday, lambasting it for a history of
inaction in Syria and questioning what it will do to prevent another
catastrophe in the country's northwest.
"There is no question today about whether you,
Members of this Council, are aware of the tragic humanitarian situation in
Syria -- you clearly are," Ursula Mueller, Guterres' humanitarian affairs
official, told the council.
"The question today is what you will do to
protect civilians in Idlib -- the latest example of an entirely known,
predictable, and preventable humanitarian disaster unfolding before our
eyes," she added.
Four civilians were killed in a regime attack in the
opposition-held province, Syria's White Helmets civil defense agency said
Tuesday, one day after it reported that 17 civilians were killed in separate
More than 160 civilians have been killed and roughly
270,000 others have been displaced this month alone due to heavy shelling and
aerial bombardment between the regime and opposition forces, according to the
Amid the ongoing attacks, Mueller fumed at the
Security Council during Tuesday's session.
"Can't this Council take any concrete action when
attacks on schools and hospitals have become a war tactic that no longer sparks
A Taliban official on Tuesday categorically ruled out
any immediate ceasefire in Afghanistan, but said it was possible after the
withdrawal of foreign troops.
"The political office in Doha is capable to
establish a ceasefire all over the country. But our policy is that all foreign
forces should leave Afghanistan and for that we are holding talks with
Americans,” Taliban spokesman Mohammad Suhail Shaheen told Anadolu Agency in an
He said after the announcement of a timetable for
withdrawal by foreign forces, the Afghans would sit together to chalk out a
mutually agreed agenda.
“When there is bombardment, when there are night
raids, when the country is occupied, how a ceasefire can be possible?"
Shaheen, said his delegation was in to Moscow to
attend a meeting, marking the centenary of relation between Afghanistan and
Russia. He added that there was no plan to hold talks with representatives of
Afghan government on the sidelines of the meeting.
"This meeting is not about intra-Afghan dialogue,
it is about celebration of 100 years of relations between the two countries.
This was the context. This meeting was only about relations between the two
countries -- Russia and Afghanistan -- to discuss their ups and downs, and
about our expectation of good relations in future with Russia," he said.
Asked about the talks between his group and Afghan
government, Shaheen said Afghans would sit together, only after the withdrawal
of foreign forces. He said it was up to Afghan people to decide who should be
included in that gathering.
"We are talking to Afghans but not to the Afghan
government and that is based on our policy because the country is still
occupied. And the timetable of withdrawal of the foreign forces has not been
announced, yet. When it is announced, then we will talk and sit together with
Afghans and decide about the future," he said.
Mohammad Suhail Shaheen also added that the Taliban
hoped progress in achieving peace in Afghanistan.
"We see some progress in achieving peace. We can
say we hope and expect to reach to a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. That is
why we are talking to Americans."
The Taliban's spokesman described last meetings with
the interlocutors "fruitful".
He said Tuesday meeting in Moscow was a chance for
Afghans to sit together and exchange views about future of Afghanistan in order
to resolve the crisis and address to the problems of Afghanistan.
Pakistan arrests 6 for collecting funds for militant
MULTAN, Pakistan – Pakistani police say six people
have been arrested for allegedly collecting funds for two outlawed militant
Muhammad Ashraf, an official with the Punjabi police's
counterterrorism department, said Saturday that the arrests were part of
crackdown against terror financing in the province.
He said those arrested were raising money for
Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, but did not disclose the amount of
The Pakistan-based group Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed
responsibility a deadly Feb. 14 suicide attack in the Indian-held portion of
the disputed Kashmir region. The bombing sharply raised tensions between India
and Pakistan and brought the two nuclear rivals to the brink of war.
The leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed was added to the United
Nations' sanctions blacklist earlier this month.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been involved in the killing of
Pak's nukes make its defence 'invincible', says Sharif
May 28, 2019
As Pakistan Tuesday marked the 21st anniversary of its
atomic tests, jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said that his decision
to make the country a nuclear power has made its defence
On May 28, 1998 Pakistan carried out five nuclear tests
at Chaghi in Balochistan province during Sharif's tenure as prime minister. The
day is since observed as Youm-e-Takbeer in Pakistan.
Pakistan's nuclear tests came days after India
successfully carried out the atomic tests in Pokhran on May 11.
"May 28 is an unforgettable day in the history of
Pakistan. On this day, the defence of the country was made invincible when
Pakistan emerged on the world map as a nuclear power," 69-year-old Sharif,
supremo of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said in a message which was
shared on his party's Twitter handle.
"Youm-e-Takbeer is a day of nation's honour. A
sign of nation's unprecedented bravery, it also gives a message to the
country's enemies that there would be dire consequences in case of any
misadventure against Pakistan," he said in the message from the Kot
Lakhpat jail where he is currently undergoing a seven-year-sentence in a
Sharif said his government was threatened with
economic sanctions in case of the atomic tests. He also said that Pakistan was
offered billions of dollars for not conducting the tests. "But I accepted
all the challenges and went ahead with the tests," he said.
The PML-N chief claimed that external forces hatched
conspiracies against him for making the country an economic power for his
approval of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor due to which he was being
punished - first forced to go on exile and later sentenced to jail.
"In the solitary confinement, I assure the nation
that I will never compromise on the constitutional rights of the people,
people's right to vote and country's security and sovereignty," he said.
Sharif has been serving a seven-year prison term at
the jail since December 24, 2018 when an accountability court convicted him in
one of the three corruption cases filed in the wake of the apex court's July
28, 2017 order in Panama Papers case.
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on
Tuesday said that Prime Minister Imran Khan will represent Pakistan at the
Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Saudi Arabia on May 31.
Saudi King Salman invited 57 members of the OIC to
attend the summit, Arab News reported, adding that key issues facing the Muslim
world, including “strengthening unity among Muslim states amid rising tensions
in the Arabian Gulf”, will be discussed at the two-day summit.
The fourth session of the summit will be held in
While speaking to media before departing for Saudi
Arabia, Qureshi said he was going to attend a meeting of the Council of Foreign
Ministers of the OIC which would set the tone for the summit.
He said that the situation in Iran and the rising
tensions would be discussed during the meeting, and added that Pakistan would
present its point of view.
Qureshi said that he would speak to his counterparts
and the OIC secretary general at the sidelines of the meeting. He added that a
session of the Kashmir Contact group is also expected.
The OIC summit is among three summits Saudi Arabia is
hosting in Makkah this week to allow US ally Riyadh the chance to present
unified Islamic, Arab and Gulf fronts against its arch-rival Tehran.
Iran itself has not yet confirmed whether it will
attend the meeting of the OIC, of which it is a member.
Tensions have soared in the Gulf, with the United
States deploying an aircraft carrier and bombers there over alleged threats
Washington has reinstated tough sanctions against
Tehran and decided to deploy 1,500 more troops to the Middle East amid sabotage
attacks on oil facilities.
Two Saudi oil tankers, among four vessels, were the targets
of mysterious acts of sabotage off the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this month,
and Iran-aligned Yemeni rebels have stepped up drone attacks on the kingdom —
one of which resulted in the temporary shutdown of a major oil pipeline.
Tehran has repeatedly threatened to close the
strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which 35 per cent of the world’s seaborne
By Munir Ahmed
ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani military said Monday
militants attacked an army post in a troubled region bordering Afghanistan
where ethnic tensions have recently flared up with minority Pashtuns,
triggering a shootout that killed a soldier.
It remained unclear who was behind the attack late
Sunday on the Makki Garh security post in North Waziristan. Five soldiers were
also wounded in the clashes.
Just hours earlier, authorities said a minority
Pashtun group led by two lawmakers attacked another army post in the same
region, the Khar Kamar post, setting off a shootout that killed three
activists. According to the army, lawmakers Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar were
seeking to pressure authorities to release terror suspects arrested recently in
Wazir and Dawar represent a Pashtun rights group that
has denounced what it says is the military’s excessive use of force against
tribesmen in the region. Wazir and eight others were arrested in the Khar Kamar
Dawar said they attacked no one and claimed their
convoy was targeted by the security forces while traveling to a planned protest
rally in the area.
The military later said troops found five bullet-riddled
bodies about a mile away from the Khar Kamar post, but it was unclear who the
victims were and who killed them.
Elsewhere, security officials arrested three suspected
militants in two raids in eastern Punjab province, foiling possible attacks,
the province’s counter-terrorism department said Sunday.
In the first raid, in the district of Dera Ghazi Khan,
a man was arrested for suspected links to the Islamic State group, the agency
said. Grenades and “funds for terrorism financing” were seized during the operation.
In the second raid, two members of the outlawed Sunni Lashkar-e-Jhangvi
militant group were arrested for planning to target minority Shiites.
Lahore: Three terrorists belonging to the Islamic State
(IS) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militant groups have been arrested by the
Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) officials in Pakistan's Punjab province.
According the CTD of Punjab police, separate teams
raided whereabouts of the suspected terrorists in D G Khan and Sialkot
districts and arrested the three terrorists on Sunday.
In the first raid, the CTD said it arrested an active
member of ISIS, Mohammad Sadaqat, in D G Khan, some 400-km from Lahore and
recovered hand grenades and weapons. It said Sadaqat along with his accomplices
wanted to target officials of law enforcement agencies.
It said the suspect is being interrogated and his
other accomplices in the area will also be arrested.
In the raid in Sialkot, some 130-km from Lahore, two
terrorists who were involved in sectarian killings were arrested on Sunday.
The CTD said both suspects are members of LeJ and they
were involved in killing of some people of Shia sect. Weapons have been
recovered from them. They have been shifted to undisclosed location for
The CTD last week arrested six members of the banned
Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) and (LeJ) from different parts of Punjab province for
collecting funds for "financing terrorism".
"The Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) of Punjab
government in a massive crackdown has arrested six activists of the proscribed
organisations from various parts of the province for collecting funds for
financing terrorism," the CTD said.
It said Muhammad Zahid and Irfan Ahmad of JeM were
arrested from Gujranwala, and Zafar Iqbal of JeM from Rawalpindi. Similarly,
Muhammad Hanzala and Hamza of LeJ were arrested from Lahore while Ijaz Ahmad of
the same banned organisation from Multan.
The CTD said those arrested were collecting funds for
terror financing for their proscribed organisations JeM and LeJ.
"No member of any proscribed organisation will be
allowed to collect funds for financing terrorism and extremism under the law of
land, the CTD said.
The Pakistan government had arrested over 100 members
of banned outfits including JeM chief Masood Azhar's son and brother and taken
control of JeM, JuD and FIF properties including seminaries and mosques across
the country following immense international pressure built up after the Pulwama
attack in February.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood
Qureshi said on Tuesday that internal politics in India has stopped New Delhi
from sending an invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan for his Indian
counterpart Narendra Modi’s oath-taking ceremony on Thursday.
Speaking to local media, Qureshi explained that BJP’s
election campaign had focused entirely on Pakistan-bashing. “India’s internal
politics did not permit the government to extend an invitation to Khan. It was
unwise to expect that New Delhi could get rid of this narrative soon,” the FM
He said relations between India and Pakistan were
based on reciprocity and PM Khan had congratulated PM Modi as a goodwill
gesture when his party had secured a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
“The Indian PM had congratulated Imran Khan after he won the general election
last year and wrote a letter as well,” Qureshi said.
The minister said a meeting for the sake of dialogue
to find a solution to the Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek disputes would be more
significant than attending the swearing-in ceremony. “Finding a new way to
resume dialogue is essential if PM Modi wants development of this region. The
only way is to sit with Pakistan and find solutions to the problems through consultations,”
According to diplomatic sources, Modi and Khan could
still meet at a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Kyrgyzstan
An Indian government statement on Monday said the
leaders of Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Bhutan — all
members of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and
Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) alongside India — have been invited to Modi’s
swearing-in. The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius have also been invited.
ISLAMABAD: Human rights groups have called on Pakistan
to investigate the killing of three people by the military during a protest by
ethnic minority Pashtun people against heavy-handed treatment by the security forces.
The army said its troops exchanged fire with
protesters on Sunday when they assaulted a security post in the northwest, near
the Afghan border.
The protesters were complaining about the mistreatment
of a woman by soldiers.
The violence is the most serious incident in a
long-running confrontation between the authorities and the Pashtun Tahaffuz
Movement (PTM), which campaigns for civil rights for the Pashtun people.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it was
alarmed by the use of military force and called for a parliamentary commission
"The Pakistani government should immediately
order an independent and effective investigation into the reported killing of
at least three activists," the rights group Amnesty International said in
The army said 10 protesters and five soldiers were
wounded. The PTM said 30 people were wounded.
Pashtuns live in northwest Pakistan and southeast
Afghanistan, divided by a colonial-era border that Afghanistan has never recognised.
The military has accused the PTM of being funded by
foreign intelligence agencies - a veiled reference to old rival India and its Afghan
allies - to stoke unrest in Pakistan's Pashtun lands after the Pakistani army
defeated Islamist militants there.
The PTM rejects the accusation, saying it is a
grassroots movement working for the rights of Pashtun people, who it says suffered
through years of conflict between the security forces and Islamists.
Two Pashtun members of parliament were at the protests
and one was arrested and the other wounded.
ISLAMABAD/KHAR: Defence Secretary retired Lt Gen
Ikramul Haq on Tuesday informed the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on
Defence that the recent incident in North Waziristan’s Boyya area had its roots
in the arrest of two suspects for their alleged involvement in the terrorist
attack on an army check post last month.
He made it clear that no one would be allowed to
challenge the writ of the state.
According to the military, the Kharqamar check post in
Boyya was attacked by a mob following which the troops retaliated. The incident
left at least three people dead and five soldiers wounded.
The defence secretary said a member of the National
Assembly, Mohsin Dawar, had started a sit-in on May 26 against the detention of
two suspects in connection with the last month’s attack on the army check post.
He said the tribal elders (Mishran) and law enforcement agencies had reached an
agreement to end the agitation and release one of the suspects. However, MNAs
Dawar and Ali Wazir obstructed the deal and stopped the protesters from ending
their agitation, the NA committee was informed.
Both parliamentarians had a heated exchange with the
troops on the scene after which the protesters pelted stones and used weapons
that left five soldiers wounded, he said, adding that the mob later tried to
attack the post, compelling the troops to retaliate.
The committee denounced the incident and said that a
few people could not be allowed to aggravate the security situation.
“The committee unanimously condemned the attack on
the forces at Kharqamar check post in North Waziristan and decided to hold a
meeting of the committee in future in that area,” a statement issued by the
committee on the incident said.
Meanwhile, addressing a jirga of Tharkani and
Utmankhel tribes of Bajaur district at Bajaur Scouts headquarters on Tuesday,
army’s sector commander (north) Brig Naeem Akbar Raja called upon the elders
and religious leaders of the tribal areas to stay vigilant in thwarting the
conspiracy by some anti-state elements against peace in the region.
He said the attack on the Kharqamar checkpoint in
North Waziristan had exposed the real agenda and mission of Pashtun Tahaffuz
Movement (PTM) leaders as they only wanted to sabotage peace that had been
restored with the joint efforts of the tribal people and security forces.
Brig Akbar said the PTM had only been exploiting the
identity of Pakhtun community for vested interests. He said peace and normalcy
had been restored to the region with the joint efforts of the area people and
security personnel. He said neither the security forces nor the area people
would allow them to sabotage peace for their vested interests, adding that he
was optimistic that the tribal people would strongly reject such elements. He
said the writ of the state was the key to peace and prosperity of citizens.
He asked the jirga members to foil the nefarious
agenda of such elements by keeping close watch over their activities. He
advised them to protect the youth from being exploited by the PTM for their
agenda to sabotage peace in their areas.
The officer said the courageous and brave residents of
Bajaur had defeated the anti-state elements in the past as well. They had
received appreciation not only from the security forces but also from the
entire nation. After the defeat of militants and their supporters in Bajaur
some years ago, Brig Akbar said, a significant increase in socio-economic
activities was witnessed in the region. However, he said, some elements for
their vested interests were trying to disturb peace and normalcy in the area in
the name of ‘Pashtun rights’.
The jirga members said they were responsible people of
the region and vowed that no one would be allowed to sabotage peace in the
district, which had faced militancy for years. They said Bajaur residents were
peace-loving people and there was consensus among them not to provide space to
the anti-peace elements in the region.
They said the people of Bajaur very well understood
the importance of peace as normalcy had been restored to the area after a lot
of sacrifices. They said they would continue to make efforts to strengthen the
peaceful environment in the region.
Militants Attack Soldiers in Southern Philippines, Leaving
2 Children Dead
By Jason Gutierrez
May 26, 2019
MANILA — Militants linked to the Islamic State
attacked a group of soldiers on the southern Philippine island of Jolo, setting
off a clash that left two children dead, the military said on Sunday.
Six militants from the insurgent group, known as Abu
Sayyaf, were also killed in the gun battle on Saturday in a remote village near
the town of Patikul, in Sulu Province, the military said. Five soldiers and two
civilians were wounded.
The soldiers had been sent to the area, where local
Islamist insurgencies have long battled the state, to discuss development
projects with village elders. While those discussions were underway, they were
attacked by about 30 Abu Sayyaf militants.
Capt. Jaime Abibas of the Philippine Army’s Special
Forces unit said the troops had held off the militants and tried to protect
villagers who were caught in the crossfire.
He said the civilians had told him: “Please help us,
the Abu Sayyaf will kill us and raze our village if they are allowed to enter.”
The two children who were killed were identified as
Jahida Usab, 12, and Saiful Abdun, 1.
Brig. Gen. Divino Rey Pabayo Jr., commander of Joint
Task Force Sulu, said the militants were trying to keep the government from
establishing a stronger presence in the area and diminishing the rebels’ sway
“The death of the two innocent children and the
wounding of other civilians are indicative of the A.S.G.’s desperate actions of
sowing fear among the local populace,” he said, using an abbreviation for Abu
The weekend battle on the predominantly Muslim island
of Jolo, which took place during the holy month of Ramadan, came five months
after an Abu Sayyaf faction bombed a cathedral in Jolo, the capital of Sulu
Province, killing 23 people and wounding about 100. The church had been a
frequent target of militants, some of whom have pledged allegiance to the
President Rodrigo Duterte deployed additional forces
in the region to search for the perpetrators of the church attack, for which
officials blamed an Abu Sayyaf leader, Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.
Mr. Sawadjaan is believed to have replaced Isnilon
Hapilon as the regional Islamic State emir after Mr. Hapilon was killed in 2016
during the government’s successful effort to recapture the southern city of
Marawi from Abu Sayyaf.
The military said that the attack on Saturday was not
unexpected, because soldiers had been pursuing Mr. Sawadjaan’s fighters in the
area. In February, militants fired mortar rounds at a group of soldiers
conducting a medical mission in Patikul.
28 May 2019
BY BEN TAN
JOHOR BARU, May 28 — Johor Baru Umno Youth has
condemned a “buka puasa” event that will be organised at a Sikh gurdwara here
later today, claiming it was insensitive to Muslims.
Its chief Hairi Mad Shah said his party also
criticised Johor Baru MP Akmal Nasrullah Nasir’s decision to attend the event.
“Umno Youth understands YB Akmal’s desire to foster
unity among multiracial communities, but what he is doing is not right.
“In Islam, Ramadan is considered a holy month, the
month of Allah SWT. Is it proper for this noble month that Muslims are brought
to break fast in a gurdwara?” questioned Hairi in a statement today.
Hairi, who is also the Johor Umno Youth chief,
explained that there are many more places that Akmal can hold the breaking fast
event, such as in a mosque, surau, orphanage, old folks home and also in his
own parliamentary service centre.
“He can invite multiracial and religious communities
to break fast together, no problem.
“But inviting Muslims to break fast at other religious
worship centres by a Muslim MP is extremely unfortunate.
“What more, when Muslims are in the last 10 days of
Ramadan,” said Hairi.
He said efforts to strengthen and nourish the spirit
of unity among the people in the country which are of various races, religions
and beliefs should not be realised with such a practice.
Hairi said he hoped Akmal could be more sensitive to
the matter so as not to affect the faith of Muslims.
“I hope that the programme’s venue be changed or
cancelled to maintain the good name of the gurdwara,” he said.
Earlier today, Akmal defended his decision to hold a
multicultural iftar programme in a Sikh religious compound, following
criticisms by certain Muslims on social media.
The PKR politician, who was also labelled as crazy
over the programme, explained that he chose a non-Muslim locale for the
breaking of fast programme this evening because firstly, it is a multicultural
event and secondly, it would be held in a community hall separate from the Sikh
The event, titled “Majlis Iftar Muhibbah Bersama YB
Akmal Nasrullah Nasir”, is scheduled to be held at the Johor Baru Sikh Gurdwara
Sahib from 6.30pm today.
Unidentified plotters linked to recent violent
protests against Indonesia’s president planned to kill at least four of the
country’s most senior security officials, police said on Tuesday.
Police announced on Monday they had arrested six
people suspected of plotting to assassinate four officials during chaos
surrounding protests against the confirmation last week of President Joko
Widodo’s election victory.
National police chief Tito Karnavian on Tuesday
revealed the identity of the four allegedly targeted for assassination: the
chief security minister, head of the intelligence agency, chief maritime
minister and a special presidential security adviser.
Karnavian declined to reveal more details of the plot,
or say who was suspected of being behind it.
“We are still looking into who masterminded the plot
and soon we will prosecute them,” Karnavian told a joint news conference with
one of the targets - chief security minister Wiranto.
Last week, eight people were killed and more than 900
hurt in two nights of clashes between supporters of defeated presidential
candidate Prabowo Subianto and security forces.
Security officials said they believe the violence,
which broke out after Widodo was confirmed the winner of last month’s
presidential election, was organized by several groups, including one linked to
ISIS extremist group and another to a retired special forces general accused of
smuggling weapons to Jakarta.
National police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said on
Monday that six suspected assassins had been arrested - five men and a woman -
some of whom had carried weapons at last week’s protests.
He said the six had been paid 150 million rupiah
($10,434) but did not say by whom. They had been charged with possession of
weapons, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
“The assassination plot is intended to create fear ...
we are working according to procedure and our intention is to safeguard
national security,” Wiranto told the news conference.
Police said the suspects had revealed the identity of
the targets - intelligence agency chief Budi Gunawan, Maritime Affairs Minister
Luhut Pandjaitan and special adviser to the president, Gories Mere, as well as
Wiranto, during interrogation.
The suspects had also carried out surveillance on the
head of a private polling firm. On election day, several pollsters had showed
Widodo winning the election based on a “quick count” of a sample of votes cast.
On Monday, police showed reporters a number of weapons
they said they had seized from the suspects including a rifle with a telescopic
sight which they said was homemade.
Calm has returned to the capital after last week’s
protests but 40,000 police and soldiers remain on duty. Restrictions on social
media to prevent the spread of hoaxes have been lifted.
Prabowo’s political party, Gerindra, denied any links
to the clashes and accused the police of brutality against their supporters.
Prabowo alleged “massive cheating and irregularities”
in the election and refused to concede defeat. Election authorities said Widodo
won more than 85 million of the 154 million votes cast.
Two people, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed
in a market place bombing in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south, a military
spokesman said Tuesday -- an apparent retaliatory attack for the killing of a
wanted rebel leader.
Thailand’s three southernmost provinces, Yala, Pattani
and Narathiwat, have since 2004 been plagued with conflict between ethnic
Malay-Muslim rebels and the Buddhist-majority Thai state, which annexed the region
around a century ago.
Around 7,000 people, mostly civilians, have been
killed in violence that rarely makes international headlines despite taking
place a few hours south of some of Thailand’s tourist hotspots.
On Monday afternoon, the insurgents detonated a
motorcycle bomb at a crowded market place in Nong Chik, Pattani province,
killing two civilians.
“A 14-year-old boy and a 38-year-old woman died,”
Colonel Thanawee Suwannathat, spokesman for the southern army, told AFP.
Four military rangers were wounded in the blast.
The bombing appeared to be in “retaliation” for the
death of a fugitive suspected rebel leader in neighboring Yala province earlier
in the day, who was shot dead as authorities surrounded his house, Thanawee
The 37-year-old suspect, named as Abdulloh Lateh, was
“head of operations” in the Yaha district.
The highly secretive rebels, who are pushing for
autonomy from Thailand, operate in small village cells, with their senior
leaders based overseas far from the reach of Thai authorities.
The grinding conflict is characterized by tit-for-tat
attacks that usually target symbols of the Thai state and its security forces
but civilians from both Muslim and Buddhist communities often get caught in the
The region usually sees an uptick in violence during
the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends next week.
Monday’s violence came a day after another bomb attack
in Songkhla province killed a police officer at a checkpoint, wounding three
Video footage of Sunday’s attack showed a plume of
thick smoke as the blast went off, leaving a police officer’s body lying in the
middle of the road.
Thailand’s junta leader Prayut Chan-O-Cha -- who is
expected to return as a civilian prime minister in the coming days -- condemned
the latest attacks as “inhuman”.
Danish prof equates Islam with Nazism in controversial
The Danish anti-immigration party Stram Kurs
("Hard Line"), which idenfies itself as a group of
"ethno-nationalist utilitarians", has presented 82-year-old
psychology professor Helmuth Nyborg as one of its top candidates.
In a film featured on the TV2 website, Nyborg has
argued that Islam is a "dangerous totalitarian system" on par with
socialism and Nazism and warned that it is taking over Denmark.
"My childhood was destroyed by Nazism. I learned
to distance myself from totalitarian systems. When I became interested in
demographics — population forecasting and development — I discovered that
Denmark is being taken over by yet another totalitarian system. Namely,
Islam", Nyborg proclaimed in TV2's project "Speaking from the beer
crate", where candidates share their thoughts while standing on an empty
In 1966 <…> I entered university and entered
Marxist milieus. There, I learned that socialism was as totalitarian as Nazism.
I also had to distance myself from that as well", Nyborg explained in his
"beer crate speech".
On TV2's Facebook page, Nyborg's speech was met with
mixed reactions. Some have accused the professor of holding "fascist"
views, while others had another take on his controversial opinion.
"He is old enough to remember what the resistance
people said after the war: 'never again'. And remember that nationalism only
leads to war and misery", a user commented.
Nyborg is a controversial figure among the Danish
public for his research on topics such as the inheritance of intelligence and
the relationship between sex and intelligence. In one of his pieces, he
reported a five-point average IQ difference in favour of men, which has led to
strong reactions in the Danish public and academia. In another article, he
argued that immigration from third-world countries to Denmark would cause a
dysgenic effect on the country's average IQ over time.
Prior to his career as an intelligence researcher at
Aarhus University, Helmuth Nyborg spent time as a sailor and a world-class
canoeist, winning a bronze medal at the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome.
Despite only being founded in 2017, Stram Kurs has
quickly risen to prominence, first through controversial street performances
such as Quran burnings, which provoked mass unrest. Today, 120,000 Danes are
estimated to throw their weight behind the Islam-critical party, which seeks to
ban Islam and expel the country's Muslims, and according to several
measurements, Stram Kurs may gain seats in parliament.
France blasts ‘dirty’ Saudi-led war, but keeps arms
France has urged Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) to stop the “dirty war” on Yemen, but says, at the same time,
that it will continue its controversial arms sales to the Persian Gulf states.
“Yes, it’s a dirty war, yes it has to be stopped,
Saudi Arabia and the Emirates must stop” the fighting, Foreign Minister
Jean-Yves Le Drian told France Inter radio on Tuesday.
“Yes, we must be extremely vigilant with arms sales to
these two countries, which is what we are doing,” he said.
France is among the top weapons exporters to Riyadh
and Abu Dhabi, two key members of a coalition waging war on Yemen since March
2015. Tens of thousands have reportedly died since the onset of the warfare,
which seeks to restore the former Yemeni officials, who are close to the Saudi
Paris spurns accounts blaming it for selling weapons
that are being used against civilians in the Arab world’s most impoverished
nation. It also insists that the arms are being deployed in the service of
Last month, Disclose, an investigative reportage
website, published findings from a classified French military note that said
French weapons were being used in the war.
Three Disclose reporters were subsequently questioned
by France’s domestic intelligence agency, a move that drew protests from press
freedom advocates, AFP reported.
Disclose has also reported plans for loading weapons
onto two France-bound Saudi-flagged vessels.
Pressure resulting from the first disclosure, which
came earlier in May, prompted Riyadh to decide against picking up the cargo.
Later, the whistleblower said another Saudi Arabian
cargo ship was set to arrive in the south of France on Tuesday to pick up
munitions for French Caesar cannons.
The cargo, it said, would be loaded at the
Mediterranean port of Fos-sur-Mer, near Marseille.
“I learned about the imminent arrival of the Bahri
Tabuk cargo ship this morning,” the French news agency cited Pierre
Dharreville, an MP for the Fos-sur-Mer region, as telling journalists, and
calling for a “moratorium” on arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia.
Nevertheless, the spokesman for Yemen’s Houthi
Ansarullah movement, which has been defending the country against the Saudi-led
invasion, welcomed Le Drian’s remarks, Lebanon’s al-Manar television network
A Nazi sympathizer pleaded guilty to defacing a
synagogue. His lawyer says conservatives helped radicalize him.
By Katie Mettler
After Nolan Brewer pleaded guilty to charges in
connection with painting swastikas on an Indiana synagogue’s property and setting
the yard ablaze, his attorney argued in court documents that the 21-year-old
man did not deserve prison time.
He had been influenced heavily by his wife, Kiyomi
Brewer, his attorney wrote in a sentencing memo filed last week, and putting
Nolan Brewer in prison would only further stoke the prejudiced beliefs that had
inspired the couple to commit those acts.
Prisons are hotbeds for brainwashing by white
supremacists, Nolan Brewer’s lawyer, Samuel Ansell, wrote in a sentencing memo
filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
Probation and significant community service were more appropriate punishments,
But a federal judge sentenced Nolan Brewer to three
years in prison for conspiring to violate the civil rights of Congregation
Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel, Ind., a crime to which Brewer pleaded guilty.
Brewer’s case has found its way to the national
spotlight since the ruling not because of discourse over the length of his
sentence — but because of a name Ansell mentioned in his sentencing memo:
conservative commentator and Daily Wire editor in chief Ben Shapiro.
Ansell argued that Brewer’s radicalization was heavily
influenced by what his wife, who was 17 at the time of the crime, had been
reading online. “According to Nolan, she began with rightwing yet mainstream
views such as those presented on Fox News,” Ansell’s sentencing memo said. “She
then moved on to writings by Ben Shapiro and articles on Breitbart News which
bridged the gap to the notorious white supremacist and anti-Semitic propaganda
Nolan Brewer “bought into the propaganda,” Ansell
Shapiro and other conservative commentators have taken
to social media to defend Shapiro’s work, arguing that his identity as an
Orthodox Jew made him an unlikely source for the Brewers’ anti-Semitic ideals
“Yes, if there’s one thing I’m known for — as one of
the most prominent Orthodox Jews, targets of the alt-right, and critics of the
alt-right in America — it’s directing Nazis to attack synagogues,” Shapiro
wrote in a tweet Sunday. “What garbage.”
Shapiro is a leading conservative voice among
millennials, a Harvard Law graduate with millions of social media followers. He
has criticized President Trump but upholds many of the same views as the
conservatives who support the president do — including outlawing abortion,
repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting taxes for the wealthy. He
previously worked for Breitbart News.
This case is not the first time that Shapiro’s name
has been cited by those accused of hate-motivated crimes.
In the month before Alexandre Bissonnette attacked a
Quebec City mosque in 2017, killing six people and injuring 19, he visited
Shapiro’s Twitter feed 93 times, according to evidence presented at
Bissonnette’s sentencing hearing.
Shapiro, in an interview with Fox News last year,
rejected the insinuated connection, saying:
"Now I have 1.4 million Twitter followers so I
guess the idea from the left is that if somebody sees enough of my tweets
they’re inevitably going to become a terrorist. Weird that I don’t have a spate
of enormous terrorism across the country thanks to my Twitter followers.”
Shapiro has previously claimed that the majority of
Muslims are radicalized, a false assertion citing math that was later debunked
by PunditFact, a fact-checking publication run by Poynter.
Before they vandalized the synagogue in Carmel, a
suburb of Indianapolis, the Brewers had been slowly radicalizing, reading white
supremacist propaganda from the Internet and discussing its meaning,
prosecutors said. Kiyomi Brewer had radicalized first. She participated in chat
forums and would share her findings with her husband when he got home from
work, prosecutors said.
At work, Nolan Brewer was not shy about his views,
either, prosecutors said. Co-workers testified that he tried to recruit them
into Nazi thinking and that he bragged about what he and his wife had done at
In late July, the couple spray-painted red and black
Nazi flags and two iron crosses on the synagogue property, then set the ground
ablaze, court documents state. They had previously planned to set the synagogue
itself on fire with “Drano bombs,” which are “overpressure explosive devices,”
but canceled their plan in the moment, prosecutors said.
The federal judge also ordered Nolan Brewer to pay the
synagogue $700 in damages.
A senior Taliban leader has said the Islamist
insurgency group “wants peace” in Afghanistan, at an event in Moscow
celebrating diplomatic relations between Russia and Afghanistan.
Abdul Ghani Baradar made the comments at the start of
an official visit by a Taliban delegation to Moscow. The visit is the latest
sign that Russia is becoming an indispensable broker in the 18-year conflict in
The 14-member delegation, headed by Mr Baradar, the
Taliban’s chief negotiator, arrived on Tuesday as part of a two-day tour. It
includes an event marking Russia’s diplomatic ties with Afghanistan and
informal talks with Afghan politicians, Russian and Taliban representatives
“We invited both the Taliban and Afghan politicians to
a solemn meeting dedicated to 100 years of diplomatic relations,” Russia’s
special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, told the TASS news agency on
Monday. “They have the right and desire to communicate after that, and they
will have such an opportunity.”
The Islamist insurgent group’s third visit to Russia
in less than one year comes as its leaders have intensified negotiations with
the United States over the past few months to agree a drawdown of international
troops from Afghanistan.
The Taliban, however, has refused to negotiate with
the Afghan government in Kabul, describing it as a “puppet” regime whose terms
are dictated by Western diplomats. Talks between the Taliban and Afghan
government officials fell through at the last minute in May following
disagreements over the size and composition of the Afghan delegation.
The Afghanistan Embassy in Moscow confirmed Ambassador
Latif Bahand’s attendance of the ceremony on Tuesday on behalf of the Afghan
government, marking a century of diplomatic relations between the countries,
but it was not clear whether he would meet members of the Taliban delegation.
Addressing the attendees, former president of
Afghanistan Hamid Karzai said: “We, the people of Afghanistan, appreciate
Russia’s efforts for hosting talks on Afghan peace.”
According to a statement by the Taliban’s spokesperson
Zabiullah Mujahid, the delegation will also meet Afghan politicians and elders
in Moscow on Wednesday. No further details were specified. A spokesperson for
the High Peace Council, a government body responsible for negotiating with the
Taliban, confirmed on Monday that its chairperson, Mohammad Karim Khalili,
would attend on Tuesday.
“It is expected that these efforts will pave the way
for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” HPC spokesman
Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed said.
The US has struck out harshly at Russia’s deepening
role in the conflict in Afghanistan and its increasingly public relationship
with the Taliban. Late last year, the outgoing senior US general in
Afghanistan, John Nicholson, accused Russia of trying to “undercut”
The US and Afghan government officials have also
repeatedly accused Russia of arming the Taliban and providing it with training,
claims that officials in Moscow deny.
German Jews Demand Ban On Hezbollah After Kippah
MAY 28, 2019
The nearly 100,000-member Central Council of Jews in
Germany urged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration to outlaw the entire
terrorist entity Hezbollah.
Just days after Dr. Felix Klein, Merkel’s commissioner
to combat antisemitism and support Jewish life in Germany, said it is not safe
for Jews to wear kippot in public, the council’s weekly German Jewish paper
Jüdische Allgemeine reported on Monday that “The Central Council of Jews in
Germany calls for a ban of the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah.”
Council head Dr. Josef Schuster said that “a full ban
of Hezbollah’s organization has already happened in the Netherlands and the
United Kingdom,” adding that “Hezbollah is heavily financed by Iran, and
Hezbollah poses, in its entirety, a threat to the entire world.”
Germany and the EU merely outlawed Hezbollah’s
so-called military wing in 2013. In addition to the Netherlands and the UK, the
US, Canada, Arab League and Israel classify all of Hezbollah as a terrorist
“A continuation of the distinction between their
individual wings would be negligent and should therefore be corrected as soon
as possible,” Schuster said.
Ibrahim Mousawi, the terrorist group’s own spokesman,
has said that: “Hezbollah is a single, large organization. We have no wings
that are separate from one another.”
Schuster also criticized the Berlin authorities for
allowing the annual al-Quds Day rally to take place on Saturday.
“The al-Quds demonstration conveys nothing but
antisemitism and hatred of Israel,” Schuster said. Jüdische Allgemeine quoted
Schuster saying the rally “is as an Islamist propaganda campaign against Israel
that seeks the conquest of Jerusalem and the destruction of Israel,” and at
which the Iranian mullah regime is praised.
“It’s incomprehensible to us that this demo is
approved year after year,” he said.
Berlin’s Mayor Michael Müller said in 2017 that he
would crack down against the al-Quds Day march in the heart of Berlin, but he
has taken no action to stop the antisemitic rally since that announcement. In May, Müller’s Social Democratic Party
think tank the Friedrich Ebert Foundation hosted an Iranian regime
Holocaust-denial institute in Berlin.
In February, Müller’s social democratic colleagues –
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Niels Annen, an undersecretary at
the foreign ministry – celebrated Iran’s Islamic revolution.
Michael Spaney, executive director of the Mideast
Freedom Forum Berlin, said in a statement on Monday that 1,600 radical
Islamists are expected to attend the al-Quds rally on Saturday. An opposition
protest titled “Against the al-Quds March! No Islamism and Antisemitism in
Berlin” is slated to also be held on Saturday.
At past marches observed by The Jerusalem Post, a
mixture anti-Israel activists – Hezbollah members, pro-Iranian regime
supporters, neo-Nazis, pro-boycott Israel activists and supporters of the
designated terrorist organization the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine – have participated in the march.
“The BMI does not comment on concrete prohibition
considerations in general,” a spokesman for Germany’s Interior Ministry (BMI)
wrote to the Post in March after the UK banned Hezbollah. “This applies
regardless of whether there is reason to do so in individual cases.”
BMI has provided the same answer to Post queries since
2008 about whether Merkel’s administration plans to outlaw all of Hezbollah,
while the EU has banned its “military arm” since 2013.
According to 2018 German intelligence reports analyzed
by the Post, there are 950 Hezbollah operatives in the federal republic who
raise funds, recruit new members and spread Hezbollah’s lethal antisemitic
“According to the case law of the Federal
Administrative Court, the entire Hezbollah is against the idea of international
understanding in the sense of the Basic Law, because it fights the right of
existence of the State of Israel with terrorist means,” BMI’s spokesman said.
“Such an objective is antisemitic in nature.”
The top human rights watchdog in the United Kingdom is
investigating claims the ruling Conservative Party has been beset by an
A spokeswoman of the Equality and Human Rights
Commission (EHRC) said on Tuesday that the body had received complaints about
the increase of hate and abuse attacks against Muslims among members and
supporters of the Tory party.
“We have received complaints regarding the
Conservative party and are considering them in line with our usual processes,”
said the official.
“As part of our standard process, we have written to
the Conservative party to ask for information in order to help assess the
complaints,” she added.
The announcement comes hours after The Muslim Council
of Britain (MCB) filed a complaint to the EHRC about a visible inaction on the
side of the government and the ruling Conservatives on the spread of
Islamophobic comments among senior politicians and party members.
MCB secretary general said the organization was forced
to lodge a complaint as Tory authorities had repeatedly failed to address the
“It is a sad day for us to have brought this complaint
to the doors of the EHRC, but the concerns of Muslims at large about
Islamophobia within the Conservative party have fallen on deaf ears,” said
Harun Rashid Khan.
Khan said Islamophobia had become so prevalent among
the Conservatives and their supporters that it could no longer be tolerated as
a minor problem related top certain individuals within the party.
“We have taken this step after an unprecedented number
of cases have been brought to our attention, suggesting a culture within the
Conservative party where Islamophobia is not only widespread, but
institutional,” he said.
Experts believe senior Tory politician have helped
hate crimes against Muslims in the UK surge through their Islamophobic
Busra Nur Bilgic
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday
congratulated Azerbaijan on its 101st Republic Day.
“I would like to congratulate on the 101st anniversary
of the founding of the Republic of Azerbaijan. I send my greetings to the
friendly and brotherly people of Azerbaijan and to my brother [Azerbaijani
President] Ilham Aliyev,” Erdogan said in a Twitter post.
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also extended
greetings on the Republic Day of Azerbaijan in a Twitter message, wishing
Turkey and Azerbaijan “more beautiful, brighter and stronger days” in the
future as “one nation, two states”.
Easter Sunday blasts: NIA team lands in Colombo to
probe Islamic State link
by Deeptiman Tiwary
A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team is in
Colombo to investigate possible links between two alleged Islamic State modules
it is currently probing with the Easter Sunday attack in Sri Lanka that killed
over 250 people.
“A team of two NIA officers led by an IG is currently
in Sri Lanka to explore links between Easter Sunday bombing mastermind Zahran
Hashim and members of two IS modules busted by the agency recently,” said a
Home Ministry official.
Following the bombings, Indian agencies including the
NIA, began cracking down on suspected IS sympathisers who may have been in
touch with Hashim while he was in India. Investigations have found that before
the bombings, Hashim had spent a few months in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and had
met several young men. Incidentally, on April 29, the NIA arrested a Kerala
youngster for being inspired by Hashim and planning to carry out suicide
Last year, the agency had arrested a few men from
Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu for allegedly being members of Islamic State and from
the phones of one of the accused, the NIA had recovered a provocative video of
Hashim where he allegedly exhorts youth from south India to rise for the cause
of Islam and hints at a big attack in the offing.
It was based on this information, which was further
developed by the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), that Sri Lanka was
given intelligence about the impending attack on churches and hotels.
Similar videos were also found in the possession of
Riyas Abubakar, a Kerala youth arrested by the NIA on April 29 on suspicion of
being an IS recruit and “for conspiring to commit a terrorist act”.
The Palakkad resident was also identified as Abu
Dujana. “He has disclosed that he has been following speeches/videos of Zahran
Hashim… for more than a year and has also followed the speeches of (Islamic
preacher) Zakir Naik. He admitted that he wanted to carry out a suicide attack
in Kerala,” said an NIA statement. It is with regard to these two cases that
the NIA team is in Colombo, said sources.
The Indian Express had reported on April 30 that
intelligence agencies are tracking over a dozen men from Tamil Nadu and Kerala
whose phone numbers were found in the Call Data Records (CDRs) of Hashim.
Hashim is believed to have spent close to three months
in India, possibly from late last year, and the CDRs pertain to this period and
the months since his return to Sri Lanka, sources said, adding that the NIA
team in Colombo will also probe these details.
Investigators, meanwhile, suspect that Hashim broke
away from the Lanka-based National Thowheeth Jamaat (NTJ), which has been
blamed for the blasts, to form his own outfit recently.
“He floated a group of his own named Nation of
Thowheed Jamaat, perhaps alluding to the idea of a Caliphate. He got around 35
young men to join him. The suspicion is that it is these people who carried out
the attack,” a security official said. The NTJ had issued a statement
condemning the blasts.
ISLAMABAD: The High Commission of India to Pakistan
has extended an invitation to President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan
for Iftar dinner on June 1.
Other Pakistani dignitaries invited include Foreign
Secretary Sohail Mahmood, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and National Assembly
Speaker Asad Qaiser.
The Commission invites all dignitaries each year, but
normally prime ministers do not attend the event.
Ties between India and Pakistan were frayed in the
aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack. But on Sunday, Prime Minister Imran
Khan called Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi and congratulated him on his
During the conversation, Modi “stressed that creating
trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism” was “essential for
fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region,”
according to a Ministry of External Affairs report.
The phone call on Sunday was the first conversation
between the two leaders after the Pulwama terror attack on 14th February in
which more than 40 Indian security personnel died.
No invitation has been extended to Imran Khan for the
oath-taking ceremony of Narendra Modi on 30th May.
Pakistan national among 2 JeM terrorists killed in
encounter in J&K's Anantnag
SRINAGAR: Two Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorists,
including a Pakistani national, were Tuesday killed in an encounter with
security forces in the forests of Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district, police
said. Based on specific intelligence inputs, security forces had launched a
cordon and search operation in the Kachwan forest area of Kokernag in the south
Kashmir district, a police spokesman said.
The operation turned into an encounter as the
terrorists opened fire at the search party, he said.
In the subsequent exchange of fire, two gunmen were
killed, the official said.
He said one of them was identified as Faisal Nazir
Mir, a resident of Anantnag, and incriminating materials recovered at the site of
the encounter revealed that the other was a Pakistani citizen.
As per the police records, both were affiliated with
the JeM, the official said, adding that Mir had joined the outfit recently.
"The Pakistani terrorist, as per the police
records, was involved in conspiring and executing a series of terror attacks on
security establishments and many other civilian atrocities. He was wanted by
the law for his complicity in a series of terror crimes, and several terror
crime cases were registered against him," the spokesman said.
He said incriminating materials, including arms and
ammunition, were recovered from the site of the encounter.
JAMMU: Indian Army detained two terror suspects on
Tuesday after they were found moving suspiciously and videographing near the
military station in Ratnuchak, in the outskirts of Jammu city. The duo was sent
to Joint Interrogation Centre for questioning.
The detained were identified as Mushtaq Ahmed from
Kathua and Naseem Akhtar of Rajouri.
Sleuths recovered some videos, pictures and maps from
the two, and suspect they have Pakistani links as could be established from the
seizure. Examination of their phones revealed the duo has recently been in
touch with people from Pakistan and has Pakistani contacts in their phonebooks.
India Tuesday issued a fresh advisory to citizens
travelling to Sri Lanka to be careful and vigilant after a series of
devastating blasts on Easter Sunday killed over 250 people in the island
In its latest advisory, the Ministry of External
Affairs assured citizens that the security situation in Sri Lanka is gradually
returning to normal with the lifting of curfew and restrictions on social media
and the opening of schools.
Indian nationals, however, are advised to be careful
and vigilant in their visit to the country. It also asked Indians requiring any
assistance to get in touch round the clock with the Indian High Commission in
Colombo and Assistant High Commission in Kandy as well as Consulates in Jaffna
In the aftermath of the blasts last month, the MEA had
asked citizens not to undertake non-essential travel to the island nation.
On April 12, nine suicide bombers carried out a series
of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels,
killing 253 people. Several Indians were among the victims of the serial
Pakistan has played down a decision by the Indian
government to not invite Prime Minister Imran Khan to Thursday’s swearing-in
ceremony of his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, saying India’s “internal
politics” did not permit the latter to extend an invitation, Dawn newspaper
reported on Tuesday.
“His [Modi’s] entire focus [during the election
campaign] was on Pakistan-bashing. It was unwise to expect that he can get rid
of this narrative [soon],” foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told a news
On Monday, Indian officials said there were no plans
to invite Khan to PM Modi’s oath-taking ceremony. Hindustan Times reported that
India was keen on leaders from BIMSTEC countries attending the event. This
grouping excludes Pakistan.
An Indian government statement said the leaders of
Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan — all members of the
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation
— had been invited to Modi’s swearing-in.
The government’s decision to invite leaders of BIMSTEC
nations for PM-elect Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony on May 30 reflects
India’s reluctance to engage with Pakistan. The external affairs ministry had
said on Monday the invitations were in line with India’s focus on
‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.
In 2014, Modi had invited SAARC (South Asian
Association for Regional Cooperation) leaders, including then Pakistan prime
minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony, in a move that was seen by
analysts as an initiative by India to reach out to neighbouring countries.
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