of New Islamist 'Academies' As Iraqi Jails Fill Up With Extremist Militants
Launch Signature Campaign for Resolution of Ayodhya Dispute
to Return If SC Assures I Will Not Be Arrested Till Conviction: Zakir Naik
Islamic School Reforms Aim to Curb Extremism
Attack Aid Group Office in Kabul, in Setback to U.S. Peace Talks
State Islamic Religious Department Can Probe Ahmadis As Their ICs State They
Are Muslims, Court Told
Evidence Emerges Of Iran-Al Qaeda Ties
Auto-Generates Videos Celebrating Extremist Images
of ISIS Children Suffer in Camps as Countries Grapple With Their Fate
SDF Transfers IS Relatives to Home Countries
than 500 Foreign ISIS Members Convicted in Iraq
Army Liberates Key Town in Hama
forces capture strategic town northwest Syria
SDF militants kill six civilians during raid in Syria’s Dayr al-Zawr
medical volunteers welcome in Ramadan at camp for Syrian refugees
bomber kills at least 8 in Baghdad
Reports of Shortage, Pakistan Govt Offers To Supply Rooh Afza to India
Islamic Preachers in Tamil Nadu, Kerala under Watch
Trail-IV: How India Buried The Domestic Terror Time Capsule
killed in encounter in Shopian in Kashmir
talks wrap up in Doha with 'some progress': Taliban
Muslim cleric Zakir Naik ready to return to India
See TTP Offshoots behind Data Darbar Blast
religious activists force closure of five heatstroke centres in Sukkur
social welfare projects launched, PM informs meeting
wants governor fired for remarks on Sindh’s division
failure to get Pakistani fishermen released from Indian jails slammed
FC officials among five killed in Harnai attack
asking for halt on US drone strikes in Pakistan dismissed by SC
Misinterpret Our Goodwill As Weakness: Abdullah
IS fighter arrested after returning from Syria
Pace Of Talks Is Not Sufficient’, Khalilzad Says After Concluding Talks With Taliban
car bomb explosion foiled in Lashkargah city of Helmand province
Taliban militants killed in Special Forces operations in Farah city, Kandahar
Bumi party welcomes non-Bumi Muslims as ‘associate members’
for non-Muslims': Padang Satpol PP raid restaurants open during Ramadan
Declare Prabowo Supporter Eggi Sudjana a Treason Suspect
Arrest Leader of Terrorist Cell in Bekasi
Grills Religious Affairs Minister in Ongoing Bribery Case
EU complicit in 'whitewash' of Israel’s war crimes against Palestinians: NGO
of century, US recognition of Israeli apartheid: Palestine
and Palestinians clash over US plan for peace with Israel
of Houthi fighters killed in blast at Hodeidah arms depot
terror groups say fighting could soon resume if ceasefire not honoured
envoy slams UN over ‘tired talking points’ on Israel
threatens ‘swift and decisive’ response to any Iran attack
report: Sanaa blast that killed children was not caused by coalition strike
in range of Palestinian rockets forced Israel to offer Gaza truce: Hamas
Beating Drums Of War with Iran with Fake Intel: Muslim Congresswoman, Ilhan
officials: Iran official OK'd attacks on American military
man pleads guilty to recruiting for terror group
Flash Point Between America and Iran Could Be Iraq's Militias
I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me’: Trump
Government Threatens To Suspend Foreign Firms To Pressure Europe
Security Council to meet on Libya amid offensive on Tripoli
Haram kills nine in Nigeria attacks, torches village
Hundreds of Militants, Terrorists Surrender
air strike kills 13 ISIS terrorists in Somalia
killed as Daesh storms town in southern Libya
air strike kills 13 Daesh fighters in Somalia
Reject Any Ultimatums': Europe Responds Firmly To Iran's Nuclear Deal Threat
Slams French Weapons Sales To Saudi, Says Paris No Longer Trusted
convicted of terrorism over Australian mosque arson attack
police arrest 4 over ‘terrorism’ in Northern Ireland
urges diplomatic solution with Iran
shares 'grave' concerns on Libya
works insistently for full EU membership:
by New Age Islam News Bureau
of new Islamist 'academies' as Iraqi jails fill up with extremist militants
(AFP) - As Iraq tries thousands of locals and foreigners accused of joining the
Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, experts warn that its jails could
once again become "academies" for Islamist militants.
was a pivotal moment for many prominent Islamist militants - not least of them
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS' Iraqi supremo who remains at large despite the
collapse of his "caliphate" in March.
was held in Camp Bucca, a sprawling United States-run complex in the southern
Iraqi desert, where he is thought to have essentially "come of age"
as an Islamist leader.
many members of such groups, prison was one of multiple stages of extremism,
said Mr Hisham al-Hashemi, an expert in Iraqi Islamist movements.
ran their own religious studies courses and even planned attacks on civilians
or ordered assassinations of security forces from within the prison walls.
cells become the equivalent of academies - even if there's just one prisoner
with extremist thoughts, he can recruit the rest," Mr Hashemi said.
has already condemned hundreds of its own nationals as well as scores of
foreigners to life in prison for joining ISIS.
has begun trial proceedings for another 900 Iraqis recently repatriated from
neighbouring Syria and has offered to try foreigners stuck in legal limbo
its prison system is the subject of fierce criticism.
groups accuse security forces of using circumstantial evidence to detain people
on terrorism charges, extracting confessions under torture and keeping suspects
in overcrowded cells with no access to lawyers.
built to hold around 20 detainees are often packed with 50, a source working in
the jails told AFP, and prisoners are often caught smuggling phones or passing
on information during family visits, especially to their wives.
arrested for petty crimes are often held with hardened extremists, which has
facilitated recruitment in the past, said security analyst Fadel Abu Raghif.
of those detained were Islamic jurists and thinkers. They're able to argue,
provide evidence, brainwash and persuade people," he said.
recruited in jail are typically not religiously orthodox to begin with, but
have instead been drawn by "rhetoric playing on a narrative of
oppression", Mr Abu Raghif added.
the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's toppling by US-led forces in 2003, insurgent
groups seized on the feeling of marginalisation among the country's Sunnis as
fodder for recruitment.
than 15 years later, observers fear that same perception of persecution is
Soufan Centre, a New York-based think tank, said Iraq "suppressed, but
never actually addressed" the grievances of its Sunni communities.
deployment of the mostly-Shi'ite Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary units in
Sunni-majority areas recaptured from ISIS "has fuelled sectarian
resentment among local populations", the Centre wrote this month.
anger could pave the way for a repeat of the mid-2000s.
happened before with Camp Bucca, these detention centres are becoming breeding
grounds for radicalisation," the Centre wrote.
government has declined to provide figures on detention centres or prisoners,
including how many are facing terrorism-related charges, although some studies
estimate that 20,000 are being held for purported ISIS links.
facilities have shut down in recent years, including the Abu Ghraib complex
that became infamous for prisoner abuse during the US-led occupation.
were rocked by riots and prison breaks that allowed detainees accused of
terrorism to escape.
with more repatriated fighters expected to arrive in the coming months,
observers fear an already-strained system will be flooded.
prisons that are being used definitely are insufficient in capacity to hold
potentially, thousands of extra people that will be transferred," warned
Ms Belkis Wille of Human Rights Watch (HRW).
has called on the international community to help Iraq improve its judicial
processes and revamp its jails - but Iraq may have something else in mind, Ms
authorities are very conscious, and do not want something like Abu Ghraib or
Bucca to happen again," she said.
is a part of the reason why so many of the suspects are getting the death
penalty or life (in) prison. I think the intention is that these people would
not come out of prison, so you would not have the same dynamic."
launch signature campaign for resolution of Ayodhya dispute
by the failure of past such attempts, a group of Muslim professionals and
intellectuals have embarked on a signature campaign for a negotiated settlement
of the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmbhoomi land dispute.
of the groupmembers Aftab Ahmed Khan, the man who has undertaken the
initiative, is no stranger to the task he has cut out for himself. As DIG CRPF
– the force entrusted with the security of the disputed site in Ayodhya – from
1990 to 1992, he has been in the thick of action and seen the events related to
the row, up close and personal.
settled in Lucknow, Khan, who retired from the services recently, is not alone
in his endeavour. The All India Muslim Forum for Ayodhya Dispute Settlement,
which he has floated to convince Muslims to give up their claim on the disputed
land as a ‘goodwill’ gesture, has former Allahabad High Court judge justice BD
Naqvi, ex-commissioner, customs and central excise, Tariq Ghauri, former UP
minister Moid Ahmed, businessmen and other distinguish Muslim professionals.
have been holding discussions with not only my friends and colleagues but with
Muslim litigants in the case also, whose names I would not like to reveal at
the moment. I can say for sure that Muslims are willing to give up their claim.
It is only a handful of leaders with vested interest and a section of the
clergy, which is an obstacle in finding an amicable settlement to the problem,”
who claims to have obtained the signature of more than 1,000 Muslims, has now
started an online petition to take his campaign to other states to create
consensus and for an amicable solution acceptable to all parties.
is an attempt to bring minority and majority communities together and reach a
final settlement as soon as possible, without interference of the vested interests,
whose only interest is to prolong the dispute to harvest political gains. We
will handover this signed petition to the Supreme Court appointed mediation
panel on Ayodhya once the campaign gets over,” he said.
Forum has shortlisted four main points after discussions with a cross-section
of the community members.
Muslims of this country, as a goodwill gesture, may voluntarily offer to give
disputed land at Ayodhya for construction of a Ram temple at that site.
In exchange, sufficient land (say approx. 10 acres) be allotted to Muslims at a
suitable place at Ayodhya for construction of a beautiful mosque (and other
suitable structure) there as per wishes of Muslims of this country.
Further and most importantly, an assurance from Hindu brothers, backed by the
Supreme Court or approved by the President of India may be given to the effect
that no further dispute shall be raised for and about any other Muslim
religious place in the country, i.e. status quo as on the eve of independence
is to be maintained for all time to come.
At the same time, it may also be prescribed and responsibility for enforcing
fixed on certain persons, like local MP, MLA, DM and SP, to strictly enforce
the provisions of the law passed in 1991, namely The Places of Worship (Special
Provisions) Act, 1991. Any infringement of the provision of this Act may
attract both administrative and legal action against the erring party.
to return if SC assures I will not be arrested till conviction: Zakir Naik
Islamic preacher Zaik Naik has said he is ready to return to India if the Supreme
Court gives an assurance that he would not be arrested till his conviction.
is living in Malaysia after fleeing from India in 2016. He has been given
permanent resident status by the Malaysian government.
an interview to ‘The Week’ magazine, the preacher said he has faith in the
judicial system, but it was better before than it is now, he added.
the BJP government came, you could speak against the government, and at least
80 per cent of the times you would get justice. Today, the chances are 10-20
if we see the history, more than 90 per cent Muslims who faced terror charges
have been let free after 10-15 years. So if I look at an average, I will be
behind bars for about 10 years, and my entire mission would get disrupted. Why
should I be a fool,” he said.
preacher said the NIA can question him in Malaysia if they want. When asked
whether he will return to India if he has an assurance of justice, Naik said,
“If there is an assurance from the Supreme Court of India, that if Dr Zakir
Naik comes, they will not arrest me till I am convicted, I will come.”
preacher was booked by the NIA after his name cropped up during the probe of a
terror attack on Gulshan’s Holey Artisan Bakery (cafe) in Dhaka’s posh
diplomatic area, claimed by the Islamic State terror group.
people, mostly foreigners, were killed in the brutal late-night attack on July
1, 2016 after the attackers took diners and restaurant staff hostage. The NIA
had registered a case against him and his organisation Islamic Research
Foundation (IRF) under anti-terror laws and for allegedly promoting enmity
between groups on the basis of religion and race.
said he has never told anyone to resort to terrorism.
they [the arrested persons] said that I told them to do the bombing? The answer
is no. I challenge anyone to say that he was inspired [by me] to kill innocent
people. If he is saying that then he is lying,” he said when asked about the
attackers in Dhaka, Sri Lanka and now a Kerala youth, arrested for planning
terror attack, taking his name.
the allegations of money laundering by the Enforcement Directorate, Naik said
he has one bank account. “I have several companies and I am actually doing
business. Is there a restriction in Indian law that a person cannot own
companies? People have 50 companies and sometimes there are no transactions in
some,” he said.
said they are also alleging that he sent money into his personal account. “Now
all that money I sent into my account was Rs 49 crore in seven years. I told
you my earning is more than a crore a month and I have got a lot of businesses
in real estate and other ventures.
will be a crime if I use some of the money for drugs or terrorism. They said
Harmony Media is a factory of terrorism. If it is promoting terrorism then how
come the US allowed my channel for so many years,” he asked.
in Pakistan say Islamic organizations have agreed to put some 30,000 madrassas,
or seminaries, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education as part of
the government's efforts to curb violent extremism in the country.
blame madrassas for the rising radicalization of Pakistan's youth and for
serving as breeding grounds for transnational terrorist networks. The Pakistani
military also has long been accused of covertly supporting some of these
madrassas to train and send fighters to fuel conflicts in Afghanistan and a
Muslim insurgency in the India-ruled portion of the disputed Kashmir region.
agreement has outlined rules and regulations for all madrassas in Pakistan to
be registered with the education ministry and those who oppose the process will
not be allowed to work,” Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood told the local Geo
News channel. Under the deal, the government will assist madrassa operators in
opening their bank accounts and processing visas for foreign students seeking
admission in Pakistani seminaries, the minister explained.
say the measure will enable the government to audit finances being provided to
the seminaries in the name of donations and charities to deter
terrorism-related transactions, and monitor activities of foreign students
attending the institutions.
rare understanding comes days after the chief military spokesman Major General
Asif Ghafoor, in an unusual move, unveiled government plans to bring
much-sought reforms to madrassas to put them under state control.
say the military's lead to announce the plan was apparently aimed at deterring
any possible backlash from Islamic organizations and at sending a strong
message to these entities that the state is determined to press ahead with its
seminaries are largely ill-equipped. Children spend most of the time memorizing
the Holy Quran, with almost no access to modern subjects. They can only get the
job of a prayer leader at a mosque after finishing the madrassa education.
of the madrassa system say they are offering free education to around 2.5
million children of poverty-stricken families in Pakistan, where an estimated
25-million children are unable to receive any education.
says government scrutiny of all the seminaries has determined "less than
100” are suspected of involvement in promoting “violent extremism and
Islamic education will continue to be provided, but there will be no hate speech,”
the army spokesman said while announcing the reform program about two weeks
ago. “We want to end violent extremism in Pakistan and that will only happen
when our children have the same education and opportunities,” he stressed.
by past Pakistani governments to mainstream the madrassa education system have
faced strong resistance and threats of street agitation from religious groups
for what they denounced as anti-Islam Western plot.
Amir Rana of the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS)
explained the reason for the military to take the lead and announce the
madrassa reform program.
is quite a sensitive and critical issue and there is this thinking among the
security institutions that no civilian government can handle it all alone and
they need some harder perusal approach to implement the madrassa reforms,” Rana
Minister Imran Khan, who took office last August, has vowed his government
would not tolerate extremist or militant outfits operating on its territory.
noted that there has been no retaliation, so far, from Islamic groups to
madrassa reforms because the announcement has come from the military, the
institution long suspected of creating and patronizing some of the seminaries.
think this may be one of the factors behind this new approach by the security
institutions that they always have been blamed for supporting these kind of
extremist elements in the country whatever the purpose was, whatever the
complicated history we have. But now they have decided to deal with it by
themselves,” Rana noted.
senior Pakistani official told VOA that Islamic leaders and clerics from all
schools of thought will be barred from delivering sermons or speeches in their
respective seminaries that fuel sectarianism among various Sunni sects and the
rival minority Shi’ite Muslim community. The official requested anonymity
because he was not authorized to speak to media on the subject.
noted the government has allocated an initial amount of $3.8 million (2.7
billion rupees) for the reform program. The process of hiring 100,000 new
teachers to teach contemporary subjects at madrassas has started. Regional
government officials will be appointed to support and coordinate with madrassa
operators in mainstreaming the schools.
any madrassa are found involved in activities beyond their stated mandate the
responsibility will rest with the religious leader running them,” the official
authorities in recent weeks have also taken control of hundreds of hospitals,
seminaries and other facilities linked to banned organizations, including those
designated as global terrorists by the United Nations.
Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) militant groups were also among
them. Indian officials blamed JeM for orchestrating a deadly suicide car
bombing in February that killed 40 paramilitary forces in India-ruled portion
of the disputed Kashmir region.
move comes at a time of increased pressure on the country to act against Islamist
groups that continue to operate religious seminaries and other facilities
despite being designated as global terrorists by the United Nations.
is widely believed that Pakistan’s steps against Islamist groups and entities
stem from pressure the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is
putting on Islamabad to take effective steps against money laundering and
FATF identifies jurisdictions with weak measure to combat money laundering and
terrorist financing. Countries with inadequate controls for curbing money
laundering and terrorism financing appear on the watchdog's "grey
list." The group's "blacklist" is reserved for countries that
fail to meet international standards in stopping financial crimes.
watchdog is due to meet next month to review Pakistani measures before a
critical meeting in September where a final decision will be taken to either
remove the country from FATF's grey list or to place it in its blacklist. In
the event of being blacklisted, analysts say, Pakistan’s economic woes will
worsen because international financial dealings and trade will face
David Zucchino and Fatima Faizi
Afghanistan — Taliban militants attacked the compound of an American-run
contractor in the Afghan capital on Wednesday, killing at least five people and
sending a stinging message to the United States as it engages in peace talks
with the group.
attack in Kabul, the capital, which the Interior Ministry said also wounded 24,
was a clear signal about the state of the peace process even after the Taliban
leadership met with American negotiators last week in the sixth round of peace
talks in Doha, Qatar.
American charity CARE said three employees in its Afghanistan office were
killed. CARE maintains a compound near the site of the contractor that was
targeted, Counterpart International, which said all of its employees were safe
and accounted for.
attack showed that the Taliban don’t believe in peace — it was a direct message
to the Americans that the Taliban will be the winner of the Afghan war,” said
Atiqullah Amarkhel, a retired Afghan Army general and military analyst.
Amarkhel said the Taliban were declaring that “they are the leader of the peace
talks and the Americans should listen to them and accept their demands.”
Central to those demands is the United States’ agreement on a timeline for the
withdrawal of American troops.
five-and-a-half-hour siege on Wednesday began with a car bomb and ended when
security forces killed all four armed infiltrators, said Nasrat Rahimi, a
spokesman for the Interior Ministry. Among those killed during the attack were
an officer from an elite police response unit and an Afghan woman, and one of
the wounded was a foreign national, he said.
employees of the humanitarian nonprofit CARE were also killed in the attack,
the organization said in a statement.
attackers targeted a compound operated by Counterpart International, which is
primarily funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The
group has operated in Afghanistan since 2005, focusing on civic engagement
projects, according to its website.
a Twitter post claiming responsibility for the attack, a Taliban spokesman,
Zabihullah Mujahid, described Counterpart as “a U.S. network,” indicating that
it was singled out because it is an American-led organization.
Mujahid accused Counterpart International of conducting “harmful Western
activities inside Afghanistan.” He said it employed “foreign advisers” who had
engaged in “various aspects of brutality, oppression, terror, anti-Islamic ideology
and promotion of Western culture.”
Taliban also said Counterpart International promoted “open intermixing” of
Afghan men and women. Before the Taliban regime was toppled in 2001, women were
prohibited from meeting with men and could not leave home unless accompanied by
a close male relative.
International has recently promoted participation in the Afghan election
process. The Taliban bitterly oppose elections, depicting them as a Western
concept imposed on the Afghan people. The militants have refused to include the
Afghan government in the peace talks, calling it illegitimate.
attack underscored the importance of contractors to the American-led
international effort in Afghanistan. Thousands of contractors support the
military and provide crucial manpower for relief and civil society programs,
easily outnumbering the 14,000 American troops deployed in the country.
Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, accused President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan
of working directly with Counterpart International. In a statement, Mr. Ghani
condemned the attack, calling it “an unforgivable crime” that violated Afghan
and Islamic values.
Ghani held a five-day peace assembly last week that drew 3,200 Afghans but
angered the Taliban, who rejected his call for a cease-fire for the Muslim holy
month of Ramadan. Mr. Ghani is seeking a second term as president in elections
scheduled for September, but his political rivals have suggested installing an
Taliban sent a direct message that they don’t believe in peace and they will
keep fighting,” said Nazifah Zaki, a former member of Parliament who served as
a general in the Afghan security forces.
said the attack was intended to pressure American negotiators into agreeing to
a timeline for withdrawing troops.
bombing came on the third day of Ramadan, a monthlong observance of fasting and
charitable giving. The Taliban warned last week that they would continue
attacks during Ramadan but said they would take care to avoid harming civilians.
the Counterpart International compound, in the Shahr-e-Naw neighborhood of
Kabul, was filled with dozens of civilian employees when the car bomb exploded
shortly before noon. Four gunmen made their way on foot to the fourth floor of
a building used by Counterpart and engaged in gun battles with security forces,
said Mr. Rahimi, the Interior Ministry spokesman.
Rahimi said security forces rescued people from the compound as they battled
the attackers. Counterpart International staff members took cover in two
fortified safe rooms, according to security officials who spoke on the
condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with
number of adjacent shops and cars were badly damaged during the attack.
are incredibly saddened by this attack and are working as quickly as possible
to account for our staff,” Counterpart International said in a statement.
Khalilzad, the American peace envoy at the Doha talks, has said that one of his
goals is a permanent, comprehensive cease-fire. But the Taliban delegation has
refused to discuss a cease-fire and other issues until the United States agrees
to a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops.
United States and the Taliban have agreed on a framework for the withdrawal of
troops in exchange for a Taliban guarantee that terrorist groups will not mount
attacks from Afghan soil. The United States invaded Afghanistan following the
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which were planned by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan when
the Taliban ruled the country.
Khalilzad has not yet commented on the Kabul attack. No Americans were reported
among the dead.
State Department said last month that the Taliban had committed to cut ties
with Al Qaeda and to fight Islamic State loyalists in Afghanistan.
analysts said the attack in Kabul showed that the Taliban do not want a
cease-fire because they are convinced they have the upper hand in the war. The
militants control or contest more territory in Afghanistan than at any time
since the 2001 invasion. John R. Bass, the American ambassador, condemned the
attack as an act of “senseless violence.”
targeted organization helps local communities, trains journalists and supports
the Afghan people,” Mr. Bass wrote on Twitter.
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan called the attack
“particularly deplorable, hitting civilians helping Afghans & taking place
May 10 — The Selangor State Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had the right
to investigate the Ahmadiyya community and call them to the state’s Syariah
Court as some of them are identified as Muslims in their national registration
identification card (IC).
the Court of Appeal today, Selangor state Legal Adviser Datuk Masri Mohd Daud
argued that there were reasonable grounds for the arrest of 39 Ahmadis
including eight Pakistani asylum seekers, two Indian nationals, one Indonesian
and three minors in 2014.
now is this; there is reasonable ground for the raiding officer in our case
here to arrest them because according to their IC it is stated there the word
‘Islam’. We are saying Islam here, they (Jais) have the power or jurisdiction
over you to investigate.
you are Ahmadiyya or not yet, it needs to be investigated first. You don’t stop
the investigation. Our contention is that we have no idea whether you are
Ahmadiyya on that very day. We have no idea, no knowledge about it.
should allow the investigation first, because based on your IC, you are a
Muslim,” Masri told reporters after the hearing by Justices Datuk Badariah
Sahamid, Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Datuk Nor Bee Ariffin.
April 11, 2014 Jais had raided a shoplot in Dolomite Park in Batu Caves,
Selangor and accused the group of performing Friday prayers in a place that was
not a mosque, contrary to Section 97 of the Administration of the Religion of
Islam (State of Selangor) Enactment 2003.
Ahmadis, who are derogatorily called Qadianis here, adhere to the same beliefs
as the Sunni branch of Islam, but also believe that their founder Mirza Ghulam
Ahmad was the Imam Mahdi, Islam’s prophesied redeemer.
a judicial review in July last year, Justice Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera
declared at the High Court in Shah Alam that Jais has no rights to stop the
community from worship, nor to charge them with Shariah offences.
also ruled that the Syariah Court has no jurisdiction over members of the
Ahmadiyya community, as the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) has
refused to recognise the Muslim sect as adherents.
Jais had filed an appeal against the decision.
also argued that the High Court judge had no power to declare anyone as
apostates as the Selangor Enactment has a specific law to deal with the issue.
High Court Judge has no power to declare them as apostate because we have a
specific law under Selangor’s enactment which is Section 61 of the Selangor
Enactment Act — Administration of the Religion Islam.
Selangor, only the Shariah High Court can decide if someone is an apostate. If
there is any loophole here, a judicial review may be invited to look into it,”
the hearing, the Ahmadis’ legal counsel Aston Phillip Paiva had argued that
even though the community consider themselves Muslims, the Selangor state
through a fatwa had already excommunicated them and considered them to be
Jais and the Selangor Shariah Court have no jurisdiction over the community and
they should not be charged.
pointed out to the court that officially, no charges have been made against any
of the 39 who were arrested. They were merely accused and were asked to present
themselves at the Syariah Court, which they did not comply.
three-man panel said they will make a decision in about one month’s time but
did not specify the date.
evidence emerges of Iran-Al Qaeda ties
the Trump administration doubles down on the contention that Tehran is cooperating
with Al Qaeda, another former Iranian commander has reportedly come forward
with allegations about an Iran-Al Qaeda link.
Qasemi, a now-retired spokesperson for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
(IRGC), told Al Arabiya that IRGC deployed undercover soldiers to
Bosnia-Herzegovina during its conflict in the 1990s under the pretense that
they were members of Tehran’s state-endorsed Red Crescent.
is alleged to have been in cooperation with an Al Qaeda unit operating in the
region, as confirmed by another IRGC official, whereby the two groups were able
to engage in joint weapons training.
has long and persistently denied long-running claims by the international
community, however, of any associations between the two factions -- who view
the U.S. as a staunch enemy – even as more claims and documents to the contrary
have piled up over the years.
annual Country Reports on Terrorism issued by the State Department last year
reinforced global assessments that not only does Iran enable Al Qaeda to
conduct international operations from within its borders, it also remains
“unwilling to bring to justice senior Al Qaeda members residing in Iran and has
refused to publicly identify the members in its custody.”
United Nations report released last July noted that “Al Qaeda leaders in Iran
have grown more prominent” and were specifically working to erode the Al
Qaeda-connected Sunni rebel group Hayat Tahir al-Sham, which continues to
dominate in the last remaining opposition bastion in the Syrian province of
2017, documents obtained during the 2011 raid of Usama bin Laden’s Pakistan
compound – which also killed the Sept. 11 financier and Al Qaeda leader – were
finally declassified and revealed various instances of cooperation between the
terrorist outfit and Tehran.
year earlier, the U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on several Al
Qaeda operatives who had alliances with Iran, with the department having stated
earlier that Iran had served as a “core pipeline” to maneuver resources and
personnel between the Middle East and its South Asia hub of Afghanistan and
almost 30 years now, Iran and Al Qaeda have collaborated in their war against
the Great Satan, America,” John Wood, longtime Iranian weapons and intelligence
analyst, told Fox News. “Centered on and from the safety of Lavizan, a suburb
of Tehran, the leadership of Al Qaeda and its key lieutenants have been
payrolled, trained, planned and executed, attacks on the United States,
including heir apparent, Hamza Bin Laden, military mastermind, Saif al-Adel,
and Al Qaeda's nuclear chief, Abdel al-Aziz al-Masri.”
also pointed to the notion that within “walking distance of a training camp
supervised by trainers from Hezbollah and Al-Quds Force, and frequented by
members of Al Qaeda, Taliban, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as the Los Zetas
drug cartel, Venezuelan and Cuban intelligence, who learn their murderous
terrorist tradecraft, including the making of IEDs and decapitating people, as
well as money laundering.”
the corner is the headquarters of Iran's nuclear weapons program, FEDAT, as
well as its principal R&D complex, Physics Research Center (PHRC) based at
Malek Ashtar University, and last, but by no means least, underground nuclear
weapons production facilities,” Wood continued.
nuclear weapons program is allegedly run by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh-Mahabadi, a
senior officer in the IRGC. Mohsen is also said to teach classes on physics at
Imam Hossein University, “which is just down the street, off Shahid Babaei
Highway. In short, if Iran is the state sponsor of terrorism, then Lavizan
represents its epicenter, and Al Qaeda is at its heart,” he said.
the surface, such an alliance seems nonsensical, given that the Iranian
government is a staunch follower of the Shi’a branch of Islam while Al Qaeda
espouses an extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam and views Shi’a as ultimate
betrayers of the faith. Analysts contend, however, that it’s a relationship of
convenience that has benefits for both sides.
allows Al Qaeda to move personnel, funds and communications to and from South
Asia. This 'core pipeline' connects Al Qaeda's senior leadership in Afghanistan
and Pakistan with the organization's arms throughout the Middle East,” said Tom
Joscelyn, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), and
senior editor of its Long War Journal. “From Iran's perspective, it provides
insurance against a possible Al Qaeda attack inside Iran, as any attempt to
attack would lead the Iranians to shut down the network.”
withdrawing the United States from the controversial 2015 JCPOA, commonly
referred to as "the Iran Deal," a year ago, President Trump has
maintained that Iran is “supporting proxies and militias such as Al Qaeda.”
other experts have argued that such ties have been exaggerated and are largely
study released last August by the Washington-based think tank New America,
which also examined the 2011 documents seized from the Bin Laden abode,
concluded that there was next to no evidence that Tehran and the terror
organization have worked together to carry out attacks. The report instead
contended that Iran had grown “increasingly uncomfortable” with Al Qaeda’s
presence in its country and, after the U.S invaded neighboring Iraq in 2003,
took action to detain its members and deny them permission to exit is borders.
auto-generates videos celebrating extremist images
Desmond Butler and Barbara Ortutay
— The animated video begins with a photo of the black flags of jihad. Seconds
later, it flashes highlights of a year of social media posts: plaques of
anti-Semitic verses, talk of retribution and a photo of two men carrying more
jihadi flags while they burn the stars and stripes.
wasn’t produced by extremists; it was created by Facebook. In a clever bit of
self-promotion, the social media giant takes a year of a user’s content and
auto-generates a celebratory video. In this case, the user called himself
“Abdel-Rahim Moussa, the Caliphate.”
for being here, from Facebook,” the video concludes in a cartoon bubble before
flashing the company’s famous “thumbs up.”
likes to give the impression it’s staying ahead of extremists by taking down
their posts, often before users even see them. But a confidential
whistleblower’s complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission obtained by
The Associated Press alleges the social media company has exaggerated its
success. Even worse, it shows that the company is inadvertently making use of
propaganda by militant groups to auto-generate videos and pages that could be
used for networking by extremists.
to the complaint, over a five-month period last year, researchers monitored
pages by users who affiliated themselves with groups the U.S. State Department
has designated as terrorist organizations. In that period, 38% of the posts
with prominent symbols of extremist groups were removed. In its own review, the
AP found that as of this month, much of the banned content cited in the study —
an execution video, images of severed heads, propaganda honoring martyred
militants — slipped through the algorithmic web and remained easy to find on
complaint is landing as Facebook tries to stay ahead of a growing array of
criticism over its privacy practices and its ability to keep hate speech,
live-streamed murders and suicides off its service. In the face of criticism,
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spoken of his pride in the company’s ability to weed
out violent posts automatically through artificial intelligence. During an
earnings call last month, for instance, he repeated a carefully worded
formulation that Facebook has been employing.
areas like terrorism, for al-Qaida and ISIS-related content, now 99 percent of
the content that we take down in the category our systems flag proactively
before anyone sees it,” he said. Then he added: “That’s what really good looks
did not offer an estimate of how much of total prohibited material is being
research behind the SEC complaint is aimed at spotlighting glaring flaws in the
company’s approach. Last year, researchers began monitoring users who
explicitly identified themselves as members of extremist groups. It wasn’t hard
to document. Some of these people even list the extremist groups as their
employers. One profile heralded by the black flag of an al-Qaida affiliated
group listed his employer, perhaps facetiously, as Facebook. The profile that
included the auto-generated video with the flag burning also had a video of
al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri urging jihadi groups not to fight among
the study is far from comprehensive — in part because Facebook rarely makes much
of its data publicly available — researchers involved in the project say the
ease of identifying these profiles using a basic keyword search and the fact
that so few of them have been removed suggest that Facebook’s claims that its
systems catch most extremist content are not accurate.
mean, that’s just stretching the imagination to beyond incredulity,” says Amr
Al Azm, one of the researchers involved in the project. “If a small group of
researchers can find hundreds of pages of content by simple searches, why can’t
a giant company with all its resources do it?”
Azm, a professor of history and anthropology at Shawnee State University in
Ohio, has also directed a group in Syria documenting the looting and smuggling
concedes that its systems are not perfect, but says it’s making improvements.
making heavy investments, we are detecting and removing terrorism content at a
far higher success rate than even two years ago,” the company said in a
statement. “We don’t claim to find everything and we remain vigilant in our
efforts against terrorist groups around the world.”
to the AP’s reporting, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the chairman of the House
Homeland Security Committee expressed frustration that Facebook has made so
little progress on blocking content despite reassurances he received from the
is yet another deeply worrisome example of Facebook’s inability to manage its
own platforms — and the extent to which it needs to clean up its act,” he said.
“Facebook must not only rid its platforms of terrorist and extremist content,
but it also needs to be able to prevent it from being amplified.”
as a stark indication of how easily users can evade Facebook, one page from a
user called “Nawan al-Farancsa” has a header whose white lettering against a
black background says in English “The Islamic State.” The banner is punctuated
with a photo of an explosive mushroom cloud rising from a city.
profile should have caught the attention of Facebook — as well as
counter-intelligence agencies. It was created in June 2018, lists the user as
coming from Chechnya, once a militant hotspot. It says he lived in Heidelberg,
Germany, and studied at a university in Indonesia. Some of the user’s friends
also posted militant content.
page, still up in recent days, apparently escaped Facebook’s systems, because
of an obvious and long-running evasion of moderation that Facebook should be
adept at recognizing: The letters were not searchable text but embedded in a
graphic block. But the company says its technology scans audio, video and text
— including when it is embedded — for images that reflect violence, weapons or
logos of prohibited groups.
social networking giant has endured a rough two years beginning in 2016, when
Russia’s use of social media to meddle with the U.S. presidential elections
came into focus. Zuckerberg initially downplayed the role Facebook played in
the influence operation by Russian intelligence, but the company later
says it now employs 30,000 people who work on its safety and security
practices, reviewing potentially harmful material and anything else that might
not belong on the site. Still, the company is putting a lot of its faith in
artificial intelligence and its systems’ ability to eventually weed out bad
stuff without the help of humans. The new research suggests that goal is a long
way away and some critics allege that the company is not making a sincere
the material isn’t removed, it’s treated the same as anything else posted by
Facebook’s 2.4 billion users — celebrated in animated videos, linked and
categorized and recommended by algorithms.
it’s not just the algorithms that are to blame. The researchers found that some
extremists are using Facebook’s “Frame Studio” to post militant propaganda. The
tool lets people decorate their profile photos within graphic frames — to
support causes or celebrate birthdays, for instance. Facebook says that those
framed images must be approved by the company before they are posted.
Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley,
who advises the Counter-Extremism Project, a New York and London-based group
focused on combatting extremist messaging, says that Facebook’s artificial intelligence
system is failing. He says the company is not motivated to tackle the problem
because it would be expensive.
whole infrastructure is fundamentally flawed,” he said. “And there’s very
little appetite to fix it because what Facebook and the other social media
companies know is that once they start being responsible for material on their
platforms it opens up a whole can of worms.”
Facebook auto-generation function gone awry scrapes employment information from
user’s pages to create business pages. The function is supposed to produce
pages meant to help companies network, but in many cases they are serving as a
branded landing space for extremist groups. The function allows Facebook users
to like pages for extremist organizations, including al-Qaida, the Islamic
State group and the Somali-based al-Shabab, effectively providing a list of
sympathizers for recruiters.
the top of an auto-generated page for al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the AP
found a photo of the damaged hull of the USS Cole, which was bombed by al-Qaida
in a 2000 attack off the coast of Yemen that killed 17 U.S. Navy sailors. It’s
the defining image in AQAP’s own propaganda. The page includes the Wikipedia
entry for the group and had been liked by 277 people when last viewed this
part of the investigation for the complaint, Al Azm’s researchers in Syria
looked closely at the profiles of 63 accounts that liked the auto-generated
page for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, a group that merged from militant groups in
Syria, including the al-Qaida affiliated al-Nusra Front. The researchers were
able to confirm that 31 of the profiles matched real people in Syria. Some of
them turned out to be the same individuals Al Azm’s team was monitoring in a
separate project to document the financing of militant groups through
also faces a challenge with U.S. hate groups. In March, the company announced
that it was expanding its prohibited content to also include white nationalist
and white separatist content— previously it only took action with white
supremacist content. It says that it has banned more than 200 white supremacist
groups. But it’s still easy to find symbols of supremacy and racial hatred.
researchers in the SEC complaint identified over 30 auto-generated pages for
white supremacist groups, whose content Facebook prohibits. They include “The
American Nazi Party” and the “New Aryan Empire.” A page created for the “Aryan
Brotherhood Headquarters” marks the office on a map and asks whether users recommend
it. One endorser posted a question: “How can a brother get in the house.”
supremacists flagged by law enforcement are slipping through the net. Following
a sweep of arrests beginning in October, federal prosecutors in Arkansas
indicted dozens of members of a drug trafficking ring linked to the New Aryan
Empire. A legal document from February paints a brutal picture of the group,
alleging murder, kidnapping and intimidation of witnesses that in one instance
involved using a searing-hot knife to scar someone’s face. It also alleges the
group used Facebook to discuss New Aryan Empire business.
many of the individuals named in the indictment have Facebook pages that were
still up in recent days. They leave no doubt of the users’ white supremacist
affiliation, posting images of Hitler, swastikas and a numerical symbol of the
New Aryan Empire slogan, “To The Dirt” — the members’ pledge to remain loyal to
the end. One of the group’s indicted leaders, Jeffrey Knox, listed his job as
“stomp down Honky.” Facebook then auto-generated a “stomp down Honky” business
media companies have broad protection in U.S. law from liability stemming from
the content that users post on their sites. But Facebook’s role in generating
videos and pages from extremist content raises questions about exposure. Legal
analysts contacted by the AP differed on whether the discovery could open the
company up to lawsuits.
a minimum, the research behind the SEC complaint illustrates the company’s
limited approach to combatting online extremism. The U.S. State Department
lists dozens of groups as “designated foreign terrorist organizations” but
Facebook in its public statements says it focuses its efforts on two, the
Islamic State group and al-Qaida. But even with those two targets, Facebook’s
algorithms often miss the names of affiliated groups. Al Azm says Facebook’s
method seems to be less effective with Arabic script.
instance, a search in Arabic for “Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula” turns up
not only posts, but an auto-generated business page. One user listed his
occupation as “Former Sniper” at “Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula” written in
Arabic. Another user evaded Facebook’s cull by reversing the order of the
countries in the Arabic for ISIS or “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”
Kostyack, a lawyer with the National Whistleblower Center in Washington who
represents the anonymous plaintiff behind the complaint, said the goal is to
make Facebook take a more robust approach to counteracting extremist propaganda.
now we’re hearing stories of what happened in New Zealand and Sri Lanka — just
heartbreaking massacres where the groups that came forward were clearly openly
recruiting and networking on Facebook and other social media,” he said. “That’s
not going to stop unless we develop a public policy to deal with it, unless we
create some kind of sense of corporate social responsibility.”
the digital forensics expert, says that Facebook built its infrastructure
without thinking through the dangers stemming from content and is now trying to
policy of this platform has been: ‘Move fast and break things.’ I actually
think that for once their motto was actually accurate,” he says. “The strategy
was grow, grow, grow, profit, profit, profit and then go back and try to deal
with whatever problems there are.”
Lebanon — Many of them were barely school age when their parents took them to
the Islamic State’s so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Thousands of others
were born there.
children are the most vulnerable of the Islamic State’s captured followers —
the remainders of the more than 40,000 foreign fighters and their families who
came from 80 countries to help build the caliphate. Many are now detained in
camps and prisons across eastern Syria, Iraq and Libya.
have these kids done?” said Fabrizio Carboni, a Red Cross official, after
witnessing the misery surrounding him on a recent visit to Al Hol camp in
even when it comes to the children, the foreign governments whose citizens are
marooned in the camps and prisons have struggled with what to do with them.
Islamic State, researchers say, employed children as scouts, spies, cooks and
bomb-planters, and sometimes as fighters and suicide bombers. Propaganda videos
showed young children beheading and shooting prisoners.
have had years of ISIS indoctrination and, in the case of older boys, military
victims of the situation because they went against their will,” said Peter
Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization
at King’s College London, “but that doesn’t mean that they’re not, in some
cases at least, a risk.”
figuring out what to do with the children is that complicated, deciding what to
do with the women and men is even more difficult.
are at least 13,000 foreign ISIS followers being held in Syria, including
12,000 women and children. That number does not include the estimated 31,000
Iraqi women and children detained there. Another 1,400 are detained in Iraq.
only a handful of countries — including Russia, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Indonesia
and France — have intervened to bring back some of their citizens.
debate is more pressing than ever.
overflowing camps in eastern Syria, the wives and children of ISIS fighters who
fled the last shreds of ISIS territory are dying of exposure, malnutrition and
sickness. Children are too spent to speak. Women who have renounced the group
live in dread of attacks from those who have not.
local militias running the camps say they cannot detain other countries’
the border in Iraq, government authorities are administering hasty justice to
people accused of being Islamic State members, sentencing hundreds to death in
trials that often last no longer than five minutes.
most foreign governments are reluctant to take them back, leaving them
international pariahs wanted by no one — not their home countries, not their
wants to be the politician who decides to repatriate Individual A who, two
years down the road, blows himself up?” said Lorenzo Vidino, the director of
the George Washington University Program on Extremism.
fact is, Mr. Vidino said, few extremists return to stage attacks in their home
countries. But the exceptional cases — including the 2015 Paris attacks that
killed 130 people and two of Tunisia’s deadliest terrorist attacks — have made
the idea of repatriation politically toxic in many countries. At least one of
the bombers who carried out the attack in Sri Lanka on Easter was a Sri Lankan
who had trained with the Islamic State in Syria.
countries, like Britain and Australia, have revoked the citizenships of their nationals
suspected of joining the Islamic State abroad, effectively abandoning them and
their children to indefinite detention without charge and potential
statelessness. Britain alone has canceled the passports of more than 150
people, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, has said.
bringing them home could pose an obvious danger, so could leaving them in the
camps, desperate and disenfranchised.
fighters who gained experience with one extremist group have been the ones who
seed new ones, said Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of the George Washington
we ignore the problem because it’s easier in the short term?” he said. “If so,
it’s going to become a problem in the long term.”
bringing them home requires foreign governments to answer virtually impossible
questions, like how to separate those who committed crimes from those who did
not, and those who still pose a threat from those who do not.
puzzle has been hardest to solve when it comes to the tens of thousands of
women and children affiliated with the Islamic State.
once common view that ISIS women were passive prey, “jihadi brides” seduced
into joining the caliphate and marrying its fighters, crumbled as evidence
emerged that women had served as enforcers for the caliphate’s morality brigade
or, in some cases, taken up arms in battle.
rhetoric from the media and politicians is they’re brainwashed, they’re
deceived, they’re lovestruck, they don’t know what they’re doing,” said
Meredith Loken, an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst who has studied women who join violent extremist groups. “But even if
they didn’t pick up guns,” she said, many were “actively contributing to this
were reluctant accessories while others were violent zealots. Some were both
victims and perpetrators, experts say.
like Shamima Begum, a British teenager, and Hoda Muthana, a young American-born
woman, have drawn headlines in recent weeks partly because it is so difficult
to size up their roles and the risk they pose.
Begum was unrepentant when a journalist found her in a Syrian camp in February,
asking to return to Britain for her unborn child’s sake while insisting that
the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, in which 22 were killed, was justified. Ms.
Muthana later said she regretted joining the Islamic State, insisting that she
had been “brainwashed.”
contend that bringing ISIS members home to be prosecuted or monitored is
smarter, safer and, in most countries, more humane than leaving them stranded
in the desert or outsourcing their prosecution to the Iraqi justice system.
Trump administration has called for foreign governments to repatriate their
citizens, though officials have suggested that some detainees who cannot be
repatriated could be sent to the military prison at Guantánamo Bay.
are your citizens, and, for better or for worse, you’re responsible for the
mess they’re creating,” said Tanya Mehra, a researcher at the International
Center for Counter-Terrorism at The Hague.
countries say that Iraq should be able to prosecute foreign ISIS members for
crimes against Iraqis committed on Iraqi soil. The American-backed forces in
Syria have handed over at least 150 Iraqis and foreigners to be tried in Iraq.
Iraqi due process standards fall glaringly short of Western ones. Many
defendants have been convicted on the basis of confessions extracted through
torture, including, according to Human Rights Watch, teenagers who said that
they were beaten until they confessed.
Supreme Judicial Council has said that at least 185 foreign children had been
convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to prison by the end of 2018. Iraq
is also negotiating with the Kurdish-led militias who oversee the camps in
Syria for the return of the 31,000 Iraqi women and children but Iraq’s
government has been unable to decide what to do with them.
ISIS followers to the camps or to Iraqi justice, experts argue, may only
postpone a reckoning later on.
you leave them there and you lose track of them, sooner or later they’ll try to
come back and you have no clue what’s happened with them,” Ms. Mehra said. “At
least it’s a controlled risk if you bring them back.”
countries have proposed an international tribunal to try ISIS suspects. While
the idea has gained some traction among countries eager to avoid handling the
problem themselves, other international tribunals — which have generally tried
only top officials — have proved unwieldy, expensive and of limited effectiveness.
Experts view the prospect as unrealistic.
at home is also complicated.
countries were so unprepared to deal with returnees that they did not have laws
to prosecute them until a few years ago; even now, those laws generally carry
sentences of only a few years.
prosecution often requires resources that are hard to scrape up and evidence
that has long since disappeared on the battlefield.
have also struggled with imprisoning former ISIS fighters in a way that
prevents them from radicalizing other prisoners, and then reintegrating them
into society once they are released.
no nation has yet developed a large-scale, tried-and-true model for detention —
to say nothing of deradicalization, which remains an elusive goal — Mr.
Neumann, the radicalization expert, said that those that have developed a more
sophisticated approach have found that it often requires labor-intensive,
governments have appeared more willing to repatriate children than their
parents, though few seem ready to send people to Syria and Iraq to collect
them. Several countries require children born in the caliphate to undergo DNA
testing to prove their parentage, and therefore their citizenship, before
Russia and Kazakhstan are among the few countries that have retrieved children
on a large scale, with the Chechen ruler, Ramzan Kadyrov, organizing the return
of dozens of Russian-speaking children and, in some cases, their mothers. In
the largest one-time repatriation to Europe so far, Kosovo flew 110 of its
citizens back from Syria last month, including 32 women and 74 children.
help reintegrate them into society, some countries have favored separating
children from radicalized parents and placing them with relatives or in foster
or adoptive homes. While this approach may be the fastest way to rescue
innocent children, it also means tearing them away from their mothers, many of
whom refuse to part with them.
which had one of the largest contingents of foreigners to join ISIS, has balked
at repatriating its citizens, leaving at least 200 Tunisian children and 100
women marooned in Syria and Libya, according to Human Rights Watch.
has taken months of urging by activists and families for Tunisia to repatriate
three children, including a 4-year-old who was orphaned when his parents were
killed in airstrikes and two children whose mother remains detained in a camp,
the rights group said.
day they spend in the camp is one more day outside of school and their
fundamental rights,” said Khawla Ben Aicha, a member of Tunisia’s Parliament
who has pushed the government to retrieve the rest of the children. “They
didn’t choose where they were born, or to have a jihadist parent.”
the fragile Tunisian government has stalled, despite calls from Ms. Ben Aicha
and others for it to take responsibility.
in an election year,” Ms. Ben Aicha said. “It’s not something people want to
Blaise contributed reporting from Tunis, and Oleg Matsnev from Moscow.
Syrian forces have handed over more than 100 women and children of Islamic
State (IS) fighters to their home countries, local officials told VOA.
Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led military alliance, said Wednesday
that Kazakhstan and Sweden were the latest countries that had agreed to take
some of their citizens held in northeast Syria.
handed over 70 children and 32 women to representatives of the Kazakhstan
government yesterday," Kamal Akif, a spokesman for the Kurdish-led
administration in northeast Syria, told VOA. "Sweden took seven children
on the same day."
in Sweden confirmed the transfer of the children.
of IS relatives
is holding more than 1,200 IS militants from nearly 50 countries, local
officials said. There are also about 8,000 IS family members who have been
settled in an overcrowded camp in northeast Syria, the same sources said.
SDF declared victory over the so-called IS caliphate on March 23 after
defeating the terror group in its last stronghold in eastern Syria.
SDF officials said they could not bear the responsibility of dealing with IS
captives alone and that other countries should step in by taking back their
citizens, particularly those who have fought with IS.
region is still unstable, so any major turmoil could offer an opportunity for
these dangerous individuals to escape prison and pose yet another threat to the
entire world," Abdulkarim Omar, co-chair of foreign relations in the
Kurdish-led region in Syria, told VOA in a previous interview.
President Donald Trump also has urged European countries to take back their
citizens who had joined IS in Syria.
such as France so far have been reluctant to respond. But French officials said
they're considering taking in more parentless children who are now in the
custody of Kurdish forces in Syria.
are trying our best to bring back these orphans," French Armed Forces
Minister Florence Parly told a Monte Carlo radio station Wednesday. "We
must first make sure they are indeed orphans."
added that the French "Foreign Ministry had sent representatives [to
Syria] to clearly determine these cases so that we can conduct more
March, France took back five children who had been either orphaned or separated
from their parents during the war on IS in Syria, according to the AFP news
Kurdish officials said that in April, Kosovo took back 100 Kosovar citizens who
were children and wives of IS fighters.
believe that many European governments have been under pressure at home to
address the issue of children and women left behind by IS militants after the
defeat of the terror group.
is something that they have to deal with sooner or later," said Sadradeen
Kinno, a Syrian researcher who follows Islamist groups in the region.
Iraqi judiciary has tried and sentenced more than 500 foreigners since the
start of 2018 for joining ISIS, the country's Supreme Court announced on
said "514 verdicts were issued, for both men and women, while another 202
accused are still being interrogated and 44 are still being tried."
11 were acquitted and released, it said.
statement referred to "different nationalities" but did not list any
said interrogations were taking about six months for those simply accused of
ISIS membership, but anyone accused of actively taking part in the extremist
group's operations could be questioned for up to a year.
declared victory over ISIS in late 2017 and began trying foreigners accused of
joining the militant group the following year.
has condemned many to life in prison, including 58-year-old Frenchman Lahcen
Ammar Gueboudj and two other French nationals.
has also issued death sentences for other foreign ISIS members, although they
have not yet been carried out.
those awaiting trial in Baghdad are 12 accused French ISIS members, who were
caught in Syria and transferred to Iraqi custody in February.
sources have told AFP that Baghdad would be willing to try all foreigners
currently held in Kurdish detention in northeast Syria for a price.
1,000 suspected foreign ISIS militants are in detention in northeast Syria, in
addition to around 9,000 foreign women and children in camps there.
statement by the court "urged all trials of foreign terrorists to be moved
to Baghdad, as most of the embassies are in the capital and so embassy
representatives from the terrorists' countries can attend the sessions."
has also already tried thousands of its own nationals arrested on home soil for
joining ISIS, including women.
Arabic-language service of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights
(SOHR) reported that the Syrian army troops and their allies continued
operations in Northern Hama on Thursday and could liberate Qal'at al-Maziq in
Sahl al-Qab region.
added that Tahrir al-Sham militants started leaving Qal'at al-Maziq on
Wednesday night after their defense lines in the town collapsed in the Syrian
a relevant development on Wednesday, a large number of Chinese terrorists of
the Turkistani Party were killed in the Syrian Army's ambush operations in
Northwestern Hama, the Arabic-language media outlets said.
Party's Chinese terrorists launched an attack on the Syrian Army's military
positions in Taleh Bakir in Sahl al-Ghab region in Northwestern Hama, the
Arabic-language version of the Russian Sputnik news agency quoted a military
source as saying.
source noted that the Syrian Army troops ambushed the terrorists in Taleh Bakir
and brought their movements under heavy artillery and missile attacks, killing
a number of them and foiling their offensives.
government forces have captured the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in northwest Syria,
some of its residents and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor
said on Thursday.
government is pressing an offensive against the biggest remaining militants’
territory in Syria.
militants from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by
helicopters from the US-led coalition, have reportedly stormed a town in
Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, killing and injuring a number of
sources, requesting not to be named, told Syria’s official news agency SANA
that the US-sponsored militants laid siege to the al-Katef neighborhood of
al-Shuhayl town for more than two hours on Thursday, before raiding the area
and firing at people indiscriminately.
sources added that six civilians lost their lives and four others sustained
injuries as a result. SDF militants rounded up a number of local residents as
in late April, hundreds of people took to the streets in the northeastern
Syrian towns of al-Busayrah, Masheikh, al-Tayyana as well as the villages of
Tal al-Dhaman, al-Namliyah and Tayyeb Al Faall to protest the presence of SDF
militants, rising cases of abduction and assassination in their areas and
plunder of Syria’s oil wealth by the US-sponsored forces.
protesters closed the main roads to their areas, burning tires and demanding
the expulsion of SDF militants from their hometowns.
sources said the Kurdish-led militants fired indiscriminately at demonstrators
in al-Tayyana to disperse the protest. There were no reports about possible
development came only a day after dozens of people staged demonstrations in the
towns of al-Shuhayl, al-Sur and al-Hissan as well as Mweileh village against
the presence of SDF militants in their areas.
residents, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Kurdish-led forces
opened fire on protesters in Hissan, injuring a number of them.
militants illegally transport Dayr al-Zawr’s crude oil to neighboring Hasakah
province in Syria’s northeast, a move that has angered local people.
United States has long been providing the SDF, a Kurdish alliance, with arms
and militants, calling them a key partner in the purported fight against the
Daesh terrorist group.
observers, however, see the support in the context of Washington's plans to
carve out a foothold in the Arab country.
Selfless Saudi medical experts have given up Ramadan time with their families
to volunteer their specialist help at the world’s largest camp for Syrian
group of 15 young doctors from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief
Center (KSRelief) traveled to Jordan to offer their time, knowledge, and
expertise at the sprawling Zaatari settlement.
part of the “Our Brothers” aid initiative, the team members opted to spend this
important time of the Islamic year dedicated to the service of people in need.
of joining their families at home for the run-up to Ramadan, the specialists
have been busy working in KSRelief’s hospital clinics at the giant camp,
located near the city of Al-Mafraq, which is about 80 km north of Jordan’s
was the fourth medical trip run by KSRelief to the Zaatari camp, with the
latest group of volunteers covering dentistry, dermatology, psychiatry,
physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
specialist services offered at the hospital include general medicine,
pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology.
fully equipped test laboratory is also situated on the site.
day, the Saudi doctors have examined hundreds of patients living at the camp,
which houses around 80,000 people. All the residents of Zaatari are allowed
free access to the camp hospital’s medical services, visits, consultations,
medication, and surgical facilities.
Whaishi, a nutritionist on her third trip to Zataari, said: “Volunteering gives
me joy when I see people smiling. Once I get that pure feeling, I feel like I
want to give more and more and more.”
specialist, Dr. Mushari Al-Khalidi, said: “This has been a trip unlike any
other I’ve participated in. It truly reflects the high level of detailed
logistics, organization, and supervision done by the Saudi government to
support the Syrian people.
trip is a great addition to my medical experience, and I’ve dealt with rare and
special cases that I have only seen here at the camp.”
medics have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of gratitude from the refugee
patients. “This is our duty, it’s the least we can do for our brothers and
sisters from Syria, and we would all do more if we could,” added Al-Khalidi.
well as treating many conditions not only rare to the region but the world too,
Al-Khalidi also witnessed some of the terrible injuries of war, including one
young man who lost most of the skin off his back as a result of an explosion.
is now receiving daily treatment for his wounds at the KSRelief hospital.
therapist Dr. Mohammed Al-Qahtani told Arab News about a case he dealt with. A mother had waited for
hours outside the psychiatric clinic hoping for her three disabled children to
when Al-Qahtani saw her, he realized she was suffering from stress and needed
medical care herself.
said sometimes stress made people forget about themselves when they were busy
caring for others, and as the woman spoke it emerged that she was a mother of
dentistry team which traveled from the Kingdom was made up of a group of
friends. Doctors Eyad Alduwayghiri, Omar Alkasir, Yasir Alyahya, Abdul Aziz
Al-Rebdi, Abdullah Al-Jabr, Ahmad Al-Bahoth, and Turki Al-Mutairi, all
volunteered for the opportunity to join up with KSRelief.
a joint statement, the team said: “We all studied together, we work together,
and our friendship literally brings us here together to help others.”
dentists ran three clinics and screened more than 700 patients during the week
of their visit. They also put on workshops for students from KSRelief’s school
and training center, teaching them how to maintain oral hygiene.
team of physical therapists included Abdulrahman Al-Qahtani and Dr. Ahmed
Al-Ghamdi, both in Zaatari for their third time, and Shahad Hamdan. Reflecting
on his visits to the camp, Al-Qahtani said: “We rise by lifting others.”
the youngest member of the team, was just grateful for the experience, and
said: “I feel blessed to have such an opportunity to serve the Syrian
beneficiaries along with the center and the rest of the medical team.”
the latest medical mission was KSRelief volunteer programs specialist Shams
well as providing encouragement to members of the delegation, she also engages
with patients at the hospital.
can be seen helping in clinics, sitting down to chat with patients as they wait
for consultations, and playing with children, while all the time still working
to manage the team logistically and professionally.
is the Kingdom’s official platform for Saudis to volunteer internationally.
Through its portal, anyone interested in volunteering can register online based
on their fields of work, study, and/or interest.
At least eight people were killed and 15 wounded in a suicide bombing at a
market in eastern Baghdad on Thursday, a security official said.
suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt blew himself up close to stalls at the
crowded Jamila market," said the senior police officer, who asked not to
was no immediate claim of responsibility.
medical source confirmed that the nearby Al-Kindi hospital had received eight
attack took place at around 9 P.M., at a time when many Iraqis have broken
their Ramadan fast and take to the streets.
by years of conflict, Iraq in 2017 declared victory over Daesh after a
gruelling months-long campaign to dismantle their self-declared
sleeper cells have remained active, attacking civilians and security forces
across the country.
in several Shiite-majority districts in Iraq's capital in November killed six
people, most of them civilians.
reports of shortage, Pakistan govt offers to supply Rooh Afza to India
Pakistan government on Thursday offered to send Rooh Afza, the staple Iftar
drink, to India, following reports of short supply of the popular
rose-flavoured beverage in the Indian market.
the supply of Rooh-Afza from Pakistan quenches their (Indians) thirst, then we
will certainly want to do so,” Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal told
reporters during his weekly media briefing here.
in the day, RoohAfza-maker Hamdard Laboratories India said in New Delhi that
its popular drink is now available in the market after a temporary shortage due
to short supply of certain herbal ingredients.
Tuesday, Hamdard Laboratories Pakistan also offered to supply Rooh Afza to
India via Wagah border in Amritsar in view of its shortage for the ongoing
can supply RoohAfza and RoohAfzaGO to India during this Ramdan. We can easily
send trucks through Wahga border if permitted by Indian Government,” Usama
Qureshi, MD and CEO of Pakistani Hamdard, tweeted.
Hamdards in India and Pakistan have common ancestry. In 1906, Hakeem Hafiz
Abdul Majeed had laid the foundation of Hamdard Dawakhana in one of the by
lanes of Old Delhi and in 1907 launched RoohAfza.
partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, his elder son stayed in India,
while the younger one migrated to Pakistan and started Hamdard in Karachi and
launched RoohAfza there.
Hamdard Laboratories India in a statement said, “RoohAfza is now available in
the market and can be bought from major retail stores and grocery outlets across
organisation urges discerning consumers and the trade not to be misled by
incorrect information being circulated online and in print about
non-availability of RoohAfza,” it added.
Afza, a popular beverage in Pakistan as well as India, has been reportedly in
short supply in the Indian market. According to reports published in Indian
publication, The Print, the staple Iftar drink Rooh Afza is not available for
purchase in India for over four months now. And this has prompted the beverage
producer in Pakistan to offer help.
Islamic preachers in Tamil Nadu, Kerala under watch
intelligence and security agencies which have been tasked to look for possible
Islamic State modules in Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the wake of the April 21
suicide bombings in Sri Lanka have identified over two dozen radical Islamic
preachers in these two states who are spreading venom in the name of religion
and their speeches and motivating young people to join the jihad or holy war,
two top counterterrorism officials said.
officials, both of whom asked not to be named, clarified that there is no case
or terror charge against any of these preachers as of now but that “they are
Intelligence Bureau officer, one of the two, said there are 25-26 Islamic
preachers who regularly give provocative lectures on religious fundamentalism,
hand out jihadi literature, belittle other religions in their speeches and
encourage young Muslims to propagate the Sharia law.
this person added, go far enough to support the activities of global terror
outfits like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
preachers, the IB officer added, operate from different mosques, Islamic centres
and offices of different
Muslim organizations based across both states.
some cases, the agencies zeroed in on the preachers because some terror
suspects arrested spoke of them. In others, it was on the basis of videos and
audio speeches analyses in the past few weeks.
two officials declined to divulge the names of the preachers but admitted that
there is a list and that a crackdown in the near-future cannot be ruled out.
is suspected that the man suspected of being the mastermind behind the Sri
Lanka attacks, Maulvi Zahran Bin Hashim, was in touch with some radicals in
Kerala and Tamil Nadu and these people planned to have a separate Islamic
confederation in the region, as first reported by HT.
agencies have previously come across instances where Islamic State draftees in
India were self radicalized after listening to speeches of different radical
preachers within the country and abroad.
most controversial name, already charged by the National Investigation Agency
(NIA), is that of Zakir Naik, who fled the country following a crackdown and is
currently residing in Malaysia on a permanent residency status even as New
Delhi works on his extradition.
a charge sheet filed on July 25, 2016 in a case against ISIS suspects — Sheikh
Azhar ul Islam (from J&K), Adnan Hassan (Karnataka) and Mohammad Farhan
Sheikh (Maharashtra) — NIA referred to 14 globally recognized preachers, based
in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and Zimbabwe, whose lectures/sermons
directly or indirectly influenced the terror suspects.
of the well-known names mentioned in the NIA chargesheet (not as accused) who
inspired the terror suspects were the UK based Anjem Choudhary, Hamza Andreas
Tzortzis, Imran Mansoor, Mizanur Rahman and Abu Waleed, US-based Yasir Qadhi,
Yusuf Estes, Hamza Yusuf and Ahmad Musa Jibril, Australia-based Musa
Cerantonio, Shaikh Feiz Mohammad and Omar El Banna, Zimbabwe-based Mufti Menk
and Canada-based Majid Mahmood.
be sure, many of these preachers openly condemn the terror activities of
outfits like IS and Al Qaida while some others openly support and justify it.
Trail-IV: How India buried the domestic terror time capsule
there is only one bullet in the chamber, you don't want to expend it
needlessly, you want to ensure that you claim a victim with it. Indian deep
state has been behind the eight ball for a long time in quelling terror, but
26/11 metamorphosed it and since then it has strong-armed the terror modules in
a stone cold manner, enjoying win after win as documented by the earlier three
parts of this series. Barring Kashmir Valley, where it continues to grapple
with local and proxy fidayeen and mujhaidheen, it has pretty much bottled up
the terror genie in the rest of the country and impressively enough made gains
across the immediate neighbourhood.
bloodhounds have busted linkages between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Pakistan and
southern India and Pakistan and Bangladesh. All the zealots have been buried in
time capsules, hopefully never to return. The challenge, however, remains
because the danger is clear and present.
at mainstreaming Kashmiri militancy and thought process to the national
consciousness have been made sporadically and sometimes successfully, but
agencies have been alive to them. The one thing that Indian deep state is fully
aware of is that Pakistan will remain Janus faced and duplicitous and never
ever to be trusted.
while they display a sense of victimhood over domestic terror, the reality the
world has come to realise that this narrative is a chimera. As a haven for
alleged non-state actors fully backed by the military-ISI-jihadi establishment,
Pakistan simply is a toxic and rogue state. Elements nurtured and supported by
the ISI C Wing-jihad complex now have a free run within and outside Pakistan.
many ways the Frankenstein that they created has come back to haunt them like
Banquo's ghost did to Macbeth in the Bard's much acclaimed theatrical
gargantuan. By creating Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan
(TTP) and unleashing them to foment terror in FATA since 2007, what started out
was as a B Team for the Afghan Taliban has pushed pure political Islam theology
and ideology across Pakistan.
LeJ has claimed responsibility for various mass-casualty attacks against the
Shias in Pakistan, including multiple bombings that killed over 200 Hazara
Shias in Quetta in 2013. It has also been linked to the Mominpura graveyard
attack in 1998, the dramatic abduction and slaying of Daniel Pearl in 2002, and
the spectacular attack on the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore in 2009 using
the now signature buddy-pairs attack teams.
victim, Pakistan's polity has portrayed the LeJ as one of the country's most
virulent terror outfits. Tehrik-i-Taliban, alternatively referred to as the
Taliban, is a radical extremist armed group which is an umbrella organisation
of various militant groups based on Afghan side of the Durand line. Most
Taliban groups in Pakistan coalesce under the TTP.
December 2007 about 13 groups united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud to
form the Tehrik-i-Taliban. Among the Tehrik-i-Taliban's stated objectives are
resistance against the Pakistani state. The TTP aim is overthrow government of
Pakistan by waging a terrorist campaign against the Pakistan armed forces and
the state. The TTP depends on tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border
to draw its recruits. The TTP drew ideological guidance from Al Qaeeda.
Affairs' explained the phenomenon: The Federally Administered Tribal Areas
(FATA) - South Waziristan and North Waziristan -- a 10,500-square-mile strip of
land wedged between Afghanistan and the Pakistani province of Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa is governed not by Pakistani law but a century-old set of
regulations that leave the enforcement of law and order to locals...What has
enabled Pakhtunwali to flourish is a 1901 law called the Frontiers Crimes
Regulations (FCR) that governs FATA. Its original title, when enacted by
British colonial officers, was the "Frontier Murderous Outrages
is the equivalent of the lawless Wild West or western UP's badlands and during
Raeel Sharif's time as Pakistan Army Chief, a brutal push-back was planned with
Operation Khyber 1 and 2 to neutralise the menace of Pakistani Islamists. In
July 2015, 'Dawn' reported: The military has successfully brought to a close a
massive offensive in Khyber tribal region, effectively flushing out militants
and blocking their crossing points on borders with Afghanistan.
the officials said questions remained whether the military gains in the plains
of Bara and upper reaches of Tirah valley could be sustained over a long period
in the absence of administrative and auxiliary support systems. The military
formally brought Operation Khyber-2 (after Khyber 1) to a close on June 15,
2015, significantly enough, on the first anniversary of Operation Zarb-i-Azb in
days later, Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif visited the troops in Tirah to take
stock of the military offensive and the gains made in the nearly
three-and-a-half month long operation. Knowledgeable sources told 'Dawn' that
the military had gained control of strategically important areas, depriving
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-i-Islam of space in one of their
toughest strongholds in the tribal regions.
military, the sources said, had also taken physical control of the three passes
from Afghanistan into Tirah - Mzatal, Kandao Gharibi and Dramudrad situated at
7,300 to 9,300 feet altitude above the sea level. Two of the passes have been
physically taken over by the military, while the third is under direct fire
power, thus putting an end to any movement through that pass.
the success did not come easily. The military lost more than 50 men, including
officers, in the second phase of Operation Khyber, while another 100 or so were
wounded. While the Pakistan Army has been raining hell on the TTK and LeJ to
rein them with successive operations, it is impossible to have a cogent
counter-insurgency doctrine in a nation where jihad has become a way of life.
has to remain vigilant at all times. Zarb-e-Azb was followed by Operation
Radd-ul-Fassad which began in February 2017, following a resurgence in
terrorist incidents. The operation entailed the conduct of Broad Spectrum
Security (Counter Terrorism) operations by Rangers in Punjab, continuation of
ongoing operations across the country and focus on more effective border
disarmament and explosive control were also given as additional objectives of
the operation. The National Action Plan was pursued as the hallmark of this
operation. Further, given the nature of the beast unleashed against India and
the brutalised psyche of Pakistan which wants revenge for the vivisection of
Pakistan in 1971, the Kashmir pot will continue to be stirred. India cannot sit
on its haunches, it has to be watchful at all times.
deep state is now priding itself for its human intelligence across the country
and immediate neighbourhood. In fact such is its efficacy that in 2014, a group
of Sikh extremists who were undergoing training in Thailand under the aegis of
LeT at a Rohingyas camp were shut down by a Thai counter-terrorism team with
inputs from New Delhi.
cooperation and information sharing with several countries is resulting in
these wins. The swoopdown by the Thais at the Rohingya camp led to arrest of
Jagtar Singh Tara and Harminder Singh Mintoo. Last year, Tara, who is
undergoing life imprisonment till death for the assassination of former Punjab
chief minister Beant Singh, expressed threat for his life in Burail jail,
Chandigarh. Tara said this while expressing doubt over the death of Khalistan
Liberation Force chief Harminder Singh Mintoo who died of cardiac arrest in
Patiala Central Jail. Three others had been sent back by the Thais, including Bathinda
resident Ramandeep Singh, alias Sunny, who was arrested in November 2014 with a
handmade bomb and explosives.
was allegedly provided training by Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence in
Bangkok and Malaysia as he was in touch with Tara who was absconding at that
time and was arrested later. Authorities in Thailand arrested Babbar Khalsa
International (BKI) militant, Gurmeet Singh alias Jagtar Singh Tara, convicted
for his involvement in the 1995 assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister
who escaped from Chandigarh's Burail Jail, entered Thailand in October 2014 and
was arrested in the eastern province of Chonburi at a Rohingya camp. The
tip-off came from Punjab intelligence which reported ISI-trained Khalistani
terrorists in Thailand (2014) were planning to launch strikes in India.
of the things that PM Modi doesn't get adequate credit for the Indian
diplomatic encirclement of Pakistan by cutting off the intellectual and
monetary feed stock from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and even Qatar.
An unidentified terrorist was killed Friday in an encounter with security
forces in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.
and ammunition were recovered from the scene of the encounter, a police
identity and group affiliation of the slain terrorist is being ascertained,"
& Kashmir: One terrorist killed in exchange of fire with security forces in
Shopian today; arms & ammunition…
The latest round of US-Taliban talks ended in Qatar on Thursday, an insurgent
spokesman said, after "positive and constructive" negotiations that
continued even as the Taliban bombed a US-funded aid group in Kabul.
Shaheen, the Taliban's political spokesman in Doha, tweeted that "some
progress" had been made at the sixth round of peace talks and that the
foes would meet again for another round of discussions.
general, this round was positive and constructive. Both sides listened to each
other with care and patience," Shaheen wrote on Twitter.
US embassy in Kabul did not immediately comment, nor did US peace envoy Zalmay
Khalilzad, the Afghan-born former US ambassador to Afghanistan who is leading
negotiations for the Americans.
told AFP on Sunday that peace negotiations were stumbling over the fundamental
question of when foreign forces would depart Afghanistan.
the US agrees to any withdrawal as part of an eventual deal, it is demanding
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.
Taliban, however, insist they won't do any of these things until the US
announces a withdrawal timeline.
the end of a large peace summit in Kabul last week, President Ashraf Ghani offered
the Taliban a ceasefire to begin on the first day of Ramadan, but the
Wednesday, a Taliban suicide bomber and four gunmen attacked Counterpart
International, a non-profit group working with marginalised people in
Afghanistan, killing nine people.
preacher Zakir Naik has said he is ready to return to India if the Supreme
Court gives an assurance that he would not be arrested till his conviction.
an interview to THE WEEK, the preacher said he has faith in the judicial
system, but it was better before than it is now, he added.
preacher said the NIA can question him in Malaysia, if they want.
asked whether he will return to India if he has an assurance of justice, Naik
said,”If there is an assurance from the Supreme Court of India, that if Dr
Zakir Naik comes, they will not arrest me till I am convicted, I will come.”
people, mostly foreigners, were killed in the brutal late-night attack on July
1, 2016 after the attackers took diners and restaurant staff hostage.
NIA had registered a case against him and his organisation Islamic Research
Foundation (IRF) under anti-terror laws and for allegedly promoting enmity
between groups on the basis of religion and race.
they (the arrested persons) said that I told them to do the bombing? The answer
is no. I challenge anyone to say that he was inspired (by me) to kill innocent
people. If he is saying that then he is lying,” he said when asked about the
attackers in Dhaka, Sri Lanka and now a Kerala youth, arrested for planning
terror attack, taking his name.
the allegations of money laundering by the Enforcement Directorate, Naik said
he has one bank account.
have several companies and I am actually doing business. Is there a restriction
in Indian law that a person cannot own companies? People have 50 companies and
sometimes there are no transactions in some,” he said.
said they are also alleging that he sent money into his personal account.
all that money I sent into my account was Rs 49 crore in seven years. I told
you my earning is more than a crore a month and I have got a lot of businesses
in real estate and other ventures.
see TTP offshoots behind Data Darbar blast
With the death toll in Wednesday’s Data Darbar shrine blast rising to 11 on
Thursday, law enforcement agencies shifted focus to three major terrorist
networks of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Punjab to lay
their hands on handlers/facilitators.
the four critically wounded, Elite Force man Saddam Hussain succumbed to his injuries
at the Mayo Hospital, though he underwent complicated surgeries.
a resident of Kasur, had sustained multiple head and chest injuries in the
suicide blast carried out on Wednesday morning at the gate of Hazrat Ali
three critically injured at the Intensive Care Unit of the teaching hospital
were not yet out of danger.
about investigation into the suicide blast, a senior police officer told Dawn
that two high-profile teams of the law enforcement agencies had been assigned
the task to go after three offshoots of the TTP and their facilitators.
he said, the major focus was on Hizbul Ahrar which claimed responsibility of
sending the teenage suicide bomber to hit the target at Data Darbar on
said the law enforcement agencies were using available resources to track down
handlers who dropped the boy (suicide bomber) at the shrine.
official said the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), Punjab, had examined the
record of the three terror groups, including the Ghaiz Force and Jamatul Ahrar.
said the Hizbul Ahrar, which claimed responsibility for the attack, was the
splinter group of Jamaatul Ahrar headed by militant Muqarram Shah from
Ahrar had separated from Jamaatul Ahrar due to some internal rifts. It started
operating separately to target primarily the law enforcement agencies in
various parts of Pakistan.
addition to that, the CTD, which was leading the entire investigation process,
was also following other leads like the possibility of involvement of Daesh as
well, he said.
official further said the probe was being conducted on the pattern of the 2017
Mall Road blast investigation in which the LEAs had arrested the facilitator
who had dropped the suicide bomber near the target site a few minutes before
many as 14 people, including two DIGs and other personnel of the police, had
embraced martyrdom when the suicide bomber blew himself up on The Mall in
February 2017 when the officials were holding a dialogue with protesting
official said some 93 privately installed CCTV cameras in addition to those of
the Safe City Authority had led the investigators to the handler, Anwarul Haq,
who had dropped the suicide bomber on The Mall. He was arrested from a rented
house in R.A. Bazaar of Lahore within 72 hours of the Mall Road blast.
LEAs later arrested 13 more facilitators of Jamatul Ahrar and dismantled the
group’s network after it claimed responsibility for The Mall attack. He further
said the notorious group Hizbul Ahrar, which claimed responsibility for the
Data Darbar blast, had last carried out a gun-and- bomb attack on a bus
carrying personnel of a security agency in Attock in May 2018.
many as six of them, including the facilitators, were arrested later in a
marathon intelligence-based operation by the LEAs, he said.
CTD officials would also grill the militants of Hizbul Ahrar arrested in the
Attock case in connection with the Data Darbar blast.
said the Punjab government was also discussing a proposal to form a joint
Armed men, believed to be activists of some radical religious group, on
Thursday stormed a heatstroke centre in the city and resorted to firing into
the air, forcing its operators to take to their toes.
water outlet, set up at Ayub Gate, is one of the many centres set up by the
Sukkur Municipal Corporation (SMC) to provide immediate relief to victims of
heatstroke as the maximum temperatures in certain upper Sindh areas in recent
days remained between 40 and 47 degrees Celsius. Such centres normally function
at peak hours ie from 10am to 5pm.
radical religious activists, taking it as a violation of the Ehteram-i-Ramazan
Ordinance, objected to the operation of such centres during the fasting hours.
They told operators of several centres to shut them “or face the consequences”,
according to Mr Taufiq Bandhani, SMC’s contractor of the centres.
the operators under threat appeared not convinced by their argument that people
not suffering from heatstroke were largely being served water.
repeatedly issuing such threats and getting annoyed by the operators’ defiance,
a group of armed radicals stormed the Ayub Goth centre and forced its operators
to shut it down. They fired into the air making the operators flee.
Prime Minister Imran Khan chaired a high-level meeting on Thursday and
announced that the government had initiated 36 social welfare projects in the
said Ehsas, the government’s flagship programme, would not only help fulfill
the state’s responsibility to address issues like poverty, joblessness and
health, but it would also ensure effective utilisation of government resources
on welfare of the people.
to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), heads of different departments briefed
Imran Khan about the progress made on targets given to them regarding corporate
prime minister stressed the need for highlighting the country’s tourism
potential, introduction of comprehensive local government system for complete
empowerment of the people, taking measures for economic improvement and
provision of better facilities to businessmen. Talking about the government’s
efforts to provide better facilities to the poor, the prime minister said:
“Setting up Panahgahs (shelters homes) all over the country demonstrates that
the government realises its responsibilities towards the poor and downtrodden.”
Khan directed the authorities concerned to keep people apprised about welfare
projects launched by the government.
meeting was attended, among others, by the PM’s Special Assistant on Media
Fairdous Ashiq Awan, Benazir Income Support Prgramme (BISP) chief Sania
Nishtar, Finance Secretary Younus Dhaga, and the heads of National Database
Registration Authority, National Bank, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), Bank
of Punjab (BoP) and Bank of Khyber (BoK).
ZTBL president informed Imran Khan that the bank had launched a project of
e-credit to provide interest-free loans to farmers, especially small growers.
The bank had so far disbursed Rs11 billion in loans to farmers, he added.
bank’s president further said the scheme had recently been extended to Azad
Kashmir and talks were under way with the governments of Sindh, Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan so that it could be extended to these regions as
is being done on digitalisation of the bank and provision of ATM card service
to farmers,” he added.
head of Bank of Khyber informed the prime minister that his organisation was
making efforts for creation of jobs in erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal
Areas (Fata). Attention was also being paid to provision of scholarships to
students and for launch of projects that economically empowered women, he
The opposition in the Senate on Thursday demanded resignation of Sindh Governor
Imran Ismail for his remarks about division of the province while Pakistan
Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers defended the view, saying there was room in the
Constitution for creating more administrative units in a province.
issue was raised by the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Sassui Palijo who, speaking on
a point of public importance, said the Sindh governor had rendered his
constitutional position controversial by making such irresponsible remarks. “We
will not let him even dream of it [Sindh’s division],” she added.
chairman of the Senate Mian Raza Rabbani said under the Constitution the
governor was a representative of the federation, but since taking the oath of
this office Mr Ismail was behaving like a chief minister.
Rabbani said President Arif Alvi, who had appointed Mr Ismail governor of
Sindh, himself was making irresponsible statements. He quoted President Alvi as
saying in an interview on March 12 there was no harm in replacing the present
system with a presidential form of government. “This is nothing short of an
attack on the parliamentary system”, he remarked.
said the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also had said a presidential system was
better because compromises had to be made in the parliamentary system.
Rabbani said nobody would tolerate division of Sindh and advised the Sindh
governor to step down before making such remarks.
parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman also said sensitive and
dangerous remarks were being made to divert attention from the crisis
prevailing in the country. She also called for resignation of Governor Ismail.
pointed out that an IMF official had been appointed the governor of the central
bank and said there were indications of further devaluation of the rupee.
Rehman lamented that the parliamentary form of government was being made
Bux Chandio of the PPP termed the PTI another face of the Muttahida Qaumi
Movement as the latter too wanted to divide Sindh.
parliamentary leader in the Senate Mushahidullah Khan alleged that President
Alvi and the then federal minister for national health services Amir Kiyani had
met pharma tycoons at Sindh Governor House before an unprecedented increase in
prices of drugs.
said the Sindh governor should be removed from office for his remarks about
division of Sindh.
response, Faisal Javed of the PTI said there was no harm in a debate about
creating more administrative units. “Your past tells us that you divided the
country on ethnic lines,” he said without naming anybody.
Aziz of the same party said the PPP and the PML-N were two sides of the same
coin. He defended appointment of Reza Baqir as governor of the State Bank of
Pakistan, saying he was a son of the soil. “Why do we forget where Mohammad
Yaqoob, Dr Ishrat Hussain and Yaseen Anwar came from”, he remarked.
Fishermen’s Cooperative Society (FCS) chairman Abdul Bar on Thursday said the
federal government had failed to get Pakistani fishermen released from Indian
prisons despite the fact that it had freed 360 Indian fishermen who were
detained for violating Pakistan’s territorial waters.
federal government sends off 360 Indian fishermen to their country as a
goodwill gesture, yet it has failed to get a single Pakistani fisherman from
the Indian jails,” said Mr Bar while speaking at a press conference at his
office. He said it was nothing but “our government’s bad diplomacy and utter
Indian government’s hands are stained with the blood of our fishermen. The jail
authorities there are doing everything inhuman directed towards our innocent
people incarcerated in cells. They are killing them,” claimed the FCS chief.
are sending us gifts in the shape of the bodies of our innocent people.”
said Pakistani fishermen were not fed well and there was no medical facility in
the Indian jails.
said Mohammad Sohail, a young fisherman, had been detained by the Indian
authorities three months after his marriage, who was subjected to brutal
torture until he died.
has left a baby who was born weeks after he was arrested by the Indians.”
said Noorul Amin, a resident of Korangi, was another fisherman who succumbed to
the worst torture before Sohail’s murder.
said that instead of getting 108 Pakistani fishermen languishing in Indian
jails released in return of 360 Indian fishermen, the Pakistani government had
not yet taken up the issue of the killing of its citizens by Indian jailers.
At least five people, including three Frontier Constabulary (FC) officials,
were killed in two separate terrorism-related incidents here on Thursday.
per details, at least two labourers were killed when unknown armed assailants
opened fire on a coal mine on Harnai’s Khosat area.
the incident, FC officials rushed to the spot and a vehicle carrying FC
officials collided with mine. As a result, three FC officials embraced
to sources, the deceased labourers were identified as Syed Shah and Habib
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday upheld an earlier verdict of the Peshawar
High Court (PHC) and dismissed a petition filed to halt US drone strikes in
petition was dismissed by a three-member bench, led by Chief Justice Asif Saeed
Khosa, which stated that such issues are overseen by the government.
people are killed in the drone strikes,” said the petitioner’s lawyer to which
the chief justice said that the drone strikes have now stopped.
last suspected US drone strike in Pakistan occurred in December 2017 along the
apex court further added that the Ministry of Defence and the government can
approach the US on the issue as the court can not ask the US to halt such
PHC had earlier forwarded the issue to the Defence Ministry.
petition had been filed in the SC by Raja Saad Sultan challenging the decision
of the PHC for stopping of US-led drone strikes.
diplomatic row broke out between Islamabad and Washington last year in January,
over the a US drone strike in Kurram Agency with both sides publicly rejecting
each other’s claims on the actual target.
claimed that the drone targeted a commander from the Haqqani network and his
two accomplices in the Kurram Agency. But Pakistan was quick to challenge the
reports, insisting that the predator strike actually hit the Afghan refugee
an unusual move, the US embassy issued a statement, calling Pakistan’s
assertion as ‘false’.
misinterpret our goodwill as weakness: Abdullah
Chief Executive of the Government of National Unity Abdullah Abdullah reacted
to Taliban attack on aid international aid group’s office in Kabul, saying
‘Taliban misuse our goodwill as weakness.’
‘Taliban’ embody crime, which is not amenable to peaceful conflict resolution
initiatives. They misinterpret our goodwill as weakness and misuse peace
negotiations to seek legitimacy for heinous crimes of the sort they committed
yesterday in #Kabul,” Abdullah said in a Twitter post.
attack on Counterpart International was launched at around 11:40 am on
Wednesday in the 10th police district of the city when a group of militants
armed with suicide bombing vests and weapons detonated a car packed with
explosives near the office of Counterpart International.
Ministry of Interior has confirmed that the casualties toll from yesterday’s
attack in Kabul city has climbed to 29 dead or wounded.
ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said Thursday that 9 people including a
special forces soldier, 4 public protection forces personnel, 1 security guard
of Counterpart International and 3 civilians lost their lives in the attack.
further added that 20 civilians have also sustained injuries.
Taliban militants group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Saudi Arabia-born Bangladeshi, who returned to the country after fighting for
the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, has been arrested by the counter-terrorism
police for alleged plans to establish a caliphate in the Muslim-majority
in Saudi Arabia to a Bangladeshi father and a Pakistani mother, 33-year-old
Motaj Abdul Majid Kafiluddin Bepari was arrested by Dhaka Metropolitan Police's
(DMP) Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit near a mosque in
Dhaka's Uttara neighbourhood on May 5, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
to the first information report (FIR) of the case recorded under Anti-Terrorism
Act with Uttara (West) police station, Motaj and five or six unnamed people
were accused for planning sabotage with different militant organisations to
establish caliphate by displacing the government.
launched a major crackdown against extremists following an attack by local
outfit New Jamaat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) on a cafe in the capital in
2016 that killed 22 people, including an Indian and 17 other foreigners.
the arrest on Wednesday, CTTC Deputy Commissioner Mohibul Islam Khan said
interrogation is underway to know his motive.
also seized a passport, a Saudi Arabian ID card, Saudi driving licence, an
iPhone, and Bangla translations of several essays on caliphate in Bangladesh
from Motaj's possession, the daily reported.
took a Bangladeshi passport in 2014 from the Bangladesh embassy in Saudi Arabia
and then went to Turkey in 2016 using it, the FIR stated.
was influenced by the IS ideology and was trying to get in touch with the
terror group, after which he attempted to enter into Syria several times, but failed.
Later in 2017, he tried to enter Syria via Egypt and Turkey from Saudi Arabia,
but failed again.
in 2018, Motaj succeeded, but it was too late, as the IS regime had been ousted
from Syria by then.
this, he fled to Turkey where his plan was to flee to any European country via
Greece. But as Turkish police began a drive against terrorists, Motaj decided
to return to Bangladesh and arrived in Dhaka.
to the case files, police was aware of his entry and was tracking his movements
to arrest him.
findings from the primary inquiry, the FIR said Motaj believed in the ideology
of banned militant outfit New JMB.
police official agreed to publicly comment on Motaj's matter. However, CTTC
chief and Additional Commissioner Monirul Islam recently said Bangladeshis
returning home after joining IS would face legal action.
also said a section of youths have been going to join IS since late 2014. They
suspect some aspiring militants were arrested and some were killed. But he
acknowledged the lack of statistics regarding the matter.
pace of talks is not sufficient’, Khalilzad says after concluding talks with
U.S. envoy for Afghanistan for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay
Khalilzad has said the current pace of talks is not is sufficient as he
informed of steady but slow progress during the sixth round of negotiations
with the Taliban group representatives in Qatar.
concluded a round of talks in #Doha. We made steady but slow progress on
aspects of the framework for ending the #Afghan war. We are getting into the
‘nitty gritty.’ The devil is always in the details,” Khalilzad said in a
also added “However, the current pace of talks isn’t sufficient when so much
conflict rages and innocent people die. We need more and faster progress. Our
proposal for all sides to reduce violence also remains on the table.”
Taliban group has also confirmed that negotiations were made on foreign troops
withdrawal schedule and prevention of barring terrorist groups to use Afghan.
deadly car bomb explosion was foiled in Lashkargah city, the provincial capital
of southern Helmand province, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Thursday.
to a statement released by MoI, the car bomb was destroyed in an airstrike
which was carried out in the vicinity of Nad-e-Ali district.
statement further added that the militants were looking to detonate the car
bomb in Lashkargah city.
anti-government armed militants including Taliban have not commented regarding
the airstrike and destruction of the car bomb so far.
least 13 Taliban militants were killed in separate operations of the Afghan
Special Forces which were conducted in Farah city in the West and Shahwali Kot
district of Kandahar in the South.
special forces conducted an operation in Kanahgan and Raj villages of Farah
city in Farah province killing 7 Taliban fighters, including a commander, and
wounded 8,” informed military sources said Thursday.
sources further added that the Afghan Special Forces conducted a similar raid
on Taliban leadership in Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province killing 6
Taliban fighters and detaining 2 others.
LUMPUR, May 9 — Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), founded by Perkasa
leader Datuk Ibrahim Ali, today welcomed non-Bumiputera Muslims to join the
Muslim members, however, will not be allowed to hold positions in the party or
given voting rights, similar to the practice in Islamist party PAS for members
of its PAS Supporters Wing (DHPP) made up of non-Muslim and non-Malay members,
and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).
party’s membership is open to all Malay, Bumiputera Malaysians aged 18 years
and above. Party members can be elected to any positions in the party in the
Clause 512 says membership is open to all non-Malay, non-Bumiputera Malaysians
who are Muslims, aged 18 years and above as associate members.
they won’t have voting rights,” Ibrahim said in a press conference today.
had, in August last year, announced the formation of Putra and subsequently,
applied for it to be recognised as a political party.
received the green light from the Registrar of Societies (RoS) yesterday.
Public Order Agency officers (Satpol PP) on Tuesday conducted raids on
restaurants that were open during the day in the fasting month of Ramadan,
media reports say.
PP found 10 restaurants that were open, but that failed to announce they only
served non-Muslims. The raid was conducted in the Pondok area, from Jl. Hayam
Wuruk, Jl. Nipah and Jl. Niaga to Jl. Klenteng.
Muslims are observing Ramadan, when they do not eat or drink from dawn until
officers immediately put banners on these restaurants," the head of Padang
Satpol PP Al Amin told Kompas.com on Tuesday. Writing on the banner reads:
"Only for the non-Muslims."
in West Sumatra, Padang is a Muslim-majority city.
Amin argued that the raid was justified by a circular issued by Padang's mayor.
week, Padang Mayor Mahyeldi Ansharullah ordered that restaurants should only
open close to the hour when people would break their fasts, according to
tribunnews.com. In daytime, he ordered, restaurants should close or only serve
of entertainment, including karaoke centers, are also required to close during
who are not fasting should respect those who do," he wrote.
Political activist Eggi Sudjana has been declared a treason suspect, a police
spokesman said on Thursday.
interrogated Eggi for several hours as a witness in April after a member of the
public filed a police report against him over a statement he allegedly made on
April 17, encouraging supporters of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and
his running mate Sandiaga Uno to embark on "people power" to overturn
the result of last month's presidential election.
allegedly made the statement while addressing a crowd outside Prabowo's
residence in South Jakarta. He stated that if the election result was not in
favor of Prabowo-Sandiaga, it would be an indication of fraud.
as our guru, Mr. Amien Rais, has said, we must embark on people power. Do you
agree? Are you brave [to do it]? When people power is implemented, we don't
need to follow [legal] steps, because it will be the people's
sovereignty," Eggi allegedly said at the time.
is maybe the way of Allah for Mr. Prabowo to be inaugurated [as president]. We
don't need to wait until Oct. 20," he added, amid chants of "Allahu
akbar!" ("God is greatest") from the crowd.
addressing the crowd, Eggi introduced himself as an advisor to the so-called
212 alumni, in reference to participants in a rally by hardline Muslims on Dec.
2, 2016, which led to the defeat in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election of
the then-incumbent, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese
investigators decided to name Eggi a suspect after examining all evidence in the
case and considering expert opinions, Chief Comr. Argo Yuwono told Metro TV on
Sudjana's legal status was upgraded to a suspect and he was called for further
questioning on Monday next week," Argo said.
faces multiple charges, including under articles 107 and 110 of the Criminal
Code on treason, which carry a maximum penalty of 20 years' imprisonment.
accused law enforcers of unfair treatment while participating in the television
talk show Mata Nadjwa, following his initial questioning.
Thursday, Eggi attended a rally in Central Jakarta to urge the Election
Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) and General Elections Commission (KPU) to
disqualify candidate pair Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Ma'ruf Amin from
the presidential election.
is one of the initiators of the rally, along with Kivlan Zein, who was also
reported for treason in a separate case.
Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto reiterated on Thursday
that law enforcers would act firmly against anyone working against the national
public must understand that we will take strong action, without discrimination,
against any rally that is clearly violating the law," Wiranto said in
said there was no political, but legal nuance in the decision, which aims to
ensure the security of the state and public order.
held its first simultaneous presidential and legislative elections on April 17,
with the KPU scheduled to announce the official result on May 22.
Prabowo has declared victory at least three times, claiming to have won 62
percent of the vote, based on his camp's internal count, which has yet to be
Jokowi-Ma'ruf camp meanwhile expressed confidence on Wednesday that their
nominee had won the presidential election after an internal count showed the
pair having received more than 80 million votes, or more than 50 percent of the
Police anti-terror unit Densus 88 has arrested the leader of Islamic
State-affiliated organization Jamaah Ansharut Daulah, or JAD, in Bekasi, West
Java, on Wednesday. The terror suspect, named by police as E.Y. a.k.a. Rafli or
Eky, is reportedly a bomb maker and financier for the organization, a police
spokesman said on Thursday.
arrest was linked to last weekend's raids in Bekasi and Tegal, Central Java,
during which Densus 88 captured six suspected terrorists including Solihin, who
founded JAD cells in Bekasi and Poso, Central Sulawesi, after the 2016 Thamrin
bombing in Jakarta.
88 arrested Rafli in Kalimalang, East Jakarta, and 18-yer-old Y.N., a.k.a.
Kautsar, in Bekasi on Wednesday, National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi
the last week, Densus 88 has arrested eight terror suspects. Another one killed
himself when he detonated a home-made bomb while police tried to capture him.
is the amir [leader] of JAD's Bekasi cell. His predecessor was arrested a few
years ago after the Thamrin bombing. He is also the financier for S.L.
[Solihin]. He provided the money for Solihin and his group to buy
explosives," Dedi said.
88 raided Rafli's cellphone and computer accessories shop Wanky Cell in North
Bekasi on Wednesday. At least two small home-made bombs containing the highly
explosive ingredient triaceton triperoxide, also known as the "Mother of
Satan," were found at the shop.
found two high-explosive pipe bombs. They were small but as powerful as the
bombs used in Sibolga,” Dedi said,
was referring to an incident in Sibolga, North Sumatra, in March when a female
JAD member blew herself up and her two children during a police raid.
is a bombmaking expert who taught Solihin and two other terror suspects, S and
T, how to assemble a bomb. Solihin and S were arrested last weekend in Bekasi
and T was the terrorist who blew himself up trying to evade capture.
also recruited new members for the terrorist cell. Kautsar, who just graduated
from high school last year, was recruited by him. According to Dedi, Kautsar
was a champion karate athlete at his school. He was brainwashed by Rafli to
streamed his bai’at [taking the oath ceremony] as the amir of JAD Bekasi on
social media. He is very powerful among JAD members in Bekasi because he has
money and he can recruit new members," Dedi said.
police spokesman did not say which social media platform Rafli used to stream
the bai'at ceremony.
also taught Kautsar how to make a bomb. Police found a bombmaking manual and a
guide on how to use a remote control to detonate a bomb on Kautsar’s laptop,
The national antigraft agency questioned Religious Affairs Minister Lukman
Hakim Saifuddin as a witness in the bribery case involving Romahurmuziy, the
former chairman of the United Development Party, or PPP, on Wednesday.
follows the arrest of Romahurmuziy and religious affairs ministry officials
Haris Hasanuddin and Muhammad Muafaq Wirahadi in a sting operation on March 15.
of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) grilled Lukman about his
authority, the employment selection process in his ministry, money found inside
his office desk drawer, and whether he had communicated or met with
Romahurmuziy regarding the selection process.
approached Lukman as he was leaving the KPK headquarters in South Jakarta, and
asked him about the Rp 180 million ($12,500) and $30,000 in cash KPK
investigators seized during a raid on his office on March 18.
he dodged the question and instead tried to justify the Rp 10 million in cash
he received from Haris, who has been named a suspect in the case.
about the money emerged during a pretrial motion Romahurmuziy filed in the
South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday. The KPK said during the proceeding
that Haris handed Lukman Rp 10 million in cash while visiting an Islamic
boarding school in Jombang, East Java, on March 9.
allegedly gave the money to Lukman as a token of appreciation for the
minister's role in helping him pass the selection process, which had led to his
appointment as head of the religious affairs ministry's East Java office four
admitted that he received the money but said he later reported it to the KPK.
the Rp 10 million, I have told KPK investigators that it has already been more
than a month. I reported receipt of the money to the KPK. I showed proof that I
reported the money to the KPK, because I felt I had no right to receive the
money," Lukman said at the KPK headquarters on Wednesday.
the gratification report his aide delivered to the KPK, Lukman claims that the
money was an additional reward from Haris. The problem, however, is that Lukman
only delivered the gratification report to the KPK a week after the arrests of
Romahurmuziy, Haris and Muafaq.
on the rules, an official must report gratuities within 30 working days after
receiving it. However, this does not apply if the report is made after a case
related to the gratification is already under investigation.
beg all journalists to ask the KPK directly [about the Rp 10 million], because
they know best what the public should know about," Lukman said.
minister said he respected the ongoing legal process by the KPK and therefore
could not disclose matters related to the case.
have to respect the ongoing process, so I feel it is wrong and unethical for me
to disclose matters related to the case under investigation [by the KPK],"
spokesman Febri Diansyah said investigators are still looking into the motive
behind the gratification payment.
United States and the European Union are complicit in the “whitewash” of the
Israeli regime’s “war crimes” against the Palestinian people, an international
International, whose declared primary aim is to work against poverty and
injustice worldwide, made the statement less than a week after Israeli
airstrikes killed more than two dozen Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.
the US and EU have publicly supported Israel’s right to ‘defend itself’ this
week, demonstrating dangerous bias and deliberate obfuscation in their
positions on the war,” the statement
Israel celebrates the 71th anniversary of its creation on Thursday, the latest
figures show Israeli warplanes killed 27 Palestinians in two days and injured
154 more, including three women, two of them pregnant, and two babies, earlier
International hit out at Israel for “deliberately" targeting reporters,
medics, women, children and infants, calling it a war crime.
Israeli airstrikes, which commenced on Friday and continued into Sunday, left
130 houses completely destroyed and 700 more partially damaged, the NGO said.
said 780 Palestinians are now displaced as a result of the recent escalation of
targeted attacks against civilians, 44% of whom are children.
airstrikes also either destroyed or damaged a mosque, four medical facilities,
five media houses and ten civil institutions in the Gaza Strip, whose
“catastrophic living conditions … are unbearable.”
Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since June 2007, causing a decline
in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.
has also launched several wars on the Palestinian coastal strip, the last of
which began in early July 2014. The military aggression, which ended on August
26, 2014, killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians. Over 11,100 others were also
wounded in the war.
Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has strongly condemned
US President Donald Trump’s controversial proposal for peace between the
Israelis and Palestinians, dubbed “the deal of the century,” saying it
translates into Washington’s recognition of the Israeli regime’s apartheid in
the occupied Palestinian territories.
climate and atmosphere, which Americans have created with their statements and
positions vis-à-vis the so-called deal of the century will encourage Israel’s
ruling right-wing coalition and the majority of extremists and settlers to
swallow up the rest of the Palestinian land,” the ministry announced in a
statement on Thursday.
further noted that the decisions made by Trump’s administration and Israeli
authorities are nothing but an attempt to legitimatize and deepen apartheid in
the occupied Palestinian territories.
statement said such remarks and positions fall within an American-Israeli
scheme to dash Palestinians’ hopes and aspirations for freedom, independence
and establishment of a Palestinian state.
Tuesday, Israeli Hebrew-language daily newspaper Israel Hayom, which is close
to Netanyahu, published a leaked document circulated by the Israeli Foreign
Ministry, detailing the elements of the US back-channel peace plan. The plan is
made up of the following main points:
A tripartite agreement will be signed between the Tel Aviv regime, the
Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) as well as the Hamas resistance
movement, which controls the besieged and impoverished Gaza Strip, and
subsequently a Palestinian state will be established that will be called “New
"New Palestine" will be established in the occupied West Bank and
Gaza, with the exception of Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land in
the West Bank.
settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under
international law and UN Security Council Resolution 2334, will remain under
the Israeli regime’s control and will expand to reach out to other isolated
the Israeli-occupied city of Jerusalem al-Quds will not be divided but is to be
shared by Israel and “New Palestine,” with the Israeli regime maintaining
Arab population living in Jerusalem al-Quds will be citizens of New Palestine,
but the Tel Aviv regime would remain in charge of the municipality and
therefore the land.
newly formed Palestinian state would pay taxes and water costs to the Jerusalem
so-called “peace plan” has been dismissed by Palestinian authorities ahead of
its unveiling at the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the formation
of the new Israeli cabinet, most likely in June.
in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on April 16, Palestinian Prime
Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh lashed out at Trump’s initiative, asserting that it
was “born dead.”
NATIONS: A key architect of the long-awaited US plan for Israeli-Palestinian
peace lashed out at the UN’s “anti-Israel bias” Thursday while urging support
for the Trump administration’s “vision” — but the Palestinian foreign minister
dismissed the US peace effort, saying all indications are it will be
“conditions for surrender.”
speeches by US envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt and top
Palestinian diplomat Riad Malki at an informal Security Council meeting ended
up focusing on much broader issues than the chosen topic — Israeli settlements
at the “core” of the “obstruction of peace.”
said it was “surprising and unfair” that Indonesia, Kuwait and South Africa
organized the council meeting and condemned Israel’s behavior when it “was not
even invited to speak at this session.” He added that it was “inspiring” to see
Israel celebrate the 71st anniversary of its independence on Thursday, calling
it “a small brave country” that grew to a “thriving, diverse economically
vibrant democracy,” the only one in the Mideast.
called the council’s “obsessive” focus on Israeli settlements a “farce,” saying
settlements aren’t keeping Israel and the Palestinians from negotiating peace,
and said the council should instead condemn Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad
for recently firing hundreds of rockets into Israel from Gaza.
council should also focus on the Palestinian practice of paying the families of
“terrorists” rather than on how the United States could support the Palestinian
Authority’s budget, Greenblatt said. The Trump administration has drastically
cut its support for the Palestinians to try to spur their return to
Palestinians pre-emptively rejected any peace proposal floated by the Trump
administration amid concerns it would fall far below their hopes for an
independent state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem — which they want as their
capital — and Gaza, lands captured by Israel in the 1967 war. Their demand for
a two-state solution is supported by the UN and almost all of its 193 member-states.
told the council that after President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the
capital of Israel “in blatant violation of international law, it is not
possible to have faith” in the peace plan, which was crafted over two years by
a team led by Greenblatt and the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law
decision the US administration has taken since has simply confirmed its
disregard for Palestinian lives, for Palestinian rights” and for the two-state
solution, he said.
cannot afford not to engage with any peace efforts but the US efforts cannot be
characterized nor can qualify as peace efforts, unfortunately,” Malki said.
“All indicates this far that this is not a peace plan, but rather conditions
for surrender — and there is no amount of money can make it acceptable.”
and Kushner have been tight-lipped about the peace plan’s contents.
week, Kushner said the blueprint attempts to ensure security for Israel and
provide economic opportunity to improve the lives of Palestinians. The plan
won’t be released before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends during the first
week of June, and perhaps not even then.
told the Security Council “the vision for peace that we will soon put forward
will be realistic and implementable” and “lay out the core issues of the
conflict in enough detail that everyone will be able to imagine what peace
could look like.”
is the right package of compromises for both sides to take in order to leave
the past behind and start a new chapter, where there could be tremendous hope
and opportunity in the region,” he added.
called on council members “to support the parties to get together to get behind
the meantime, he said, “we will continue to speak the truth even when it is not
welcome,” starting with the UN’s failure to condemn the “vicious, cynical,
unprovoked attack” from Gaza a few days ago “that was intended to terrify, kill
and maim Israelis.”
who spoke before Greenblatt, told reporters afterward that the US envoy’s
remarks gave him no hope for the US peace plan.
thought I was listening to an Israeli speaker ... rather than an American
official,” he said. “It seems that the American position has been totally taken
by the Israeli position and right now the US administration has no independent
said Greenblatt “attacked the Palestinians and nothing else” and called Israel
the only Mideast democracy while forgetting that Israel is the “only occupying
power ... in the world.”
of Houthi fighters were killed and others injured in a large explosion at a
weapons and ammunition depot on Wednesday.
rebel fighters were at the centre of Al Duraihimi city, south-east of Hodeidah,
said Col Wathah Al Dubaish, spokesman for the pro-government forces.
operations room of the joint forces received a call reporting a huge explosion
at a weaponry and ammunition cache affiliated with the Houthis, who have held
the centre of Al Duraihimi city since August 2018," Col Al Dubaish told
said the depot was placed among the homes of citizens.
soldier from Al Amalikah Brigades told The National that he had heard the
explosion and saw huge flames rise amid more blasts.
on, we saw many motorcycles taking casualties out of the neighbourhood,” he
neighbourhood is thought to be the last Houthi pocket in the city.
forces couldn’t launch a last push to take over this neighbourhood because the
Houthis have taken about 50 of the residents as human shields," Col Al
have been surrounding the city centre trying to put pressure on the Houthis to
surrender, to save the lives of the civilians."
the Southern Resistance and Security Belt forces have recaptured key sites in
the northern Qatabah district in Al Dhalea province, southern Yemen, during
intense battles with the Houthis on Tuesday and Wednesday.
forces were able to recapture Kardah area along with Humar in north-west
Qatabah, and secured Al Sheim highway in northern Al Dhalea province," a
military source said.
Sheim is the main route that links the southern provinces with the Houthi-held
have launched a major campaign to take control of southern Yemen after the
ceasefire in Hodeidah.
terror groups say fighting could soon resume if ceasefire not honored
terror groups in the Gaza Strip warned Wednesday that violence could soon
resume and Tel Aviv could be targeted if Israel does not honor a ceasefire that
ended a major round of fighting over the weekend.
Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also warned that Israel was
preparing for more fighting with Gazan-based groups.
early Saturday, some 690 rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel, killing three
Israelis. A fourth Israeli man was killed by an anti-tank missile fired at his
car near the border.
response, the Israeli military struck over 300 targets in Gaza, including a
rare assassination of a terrorist operative whom the IDF said funneled money
from Iran to terror groups in the Strip. The skirmish ended early Sunday when a
Palestinian-announced ceasefire took effect that is thought to include measures
to ease the Israeli blockade on the Strip.
fighting, which was some of the heaviest in Gaza since a 50-day war in 2014,
came after a number of other flareups over the past year between Israel and the
Strip’s Hamas rulers, leaving many analysts to speculate that renewed violence
in the Palestinian territory was only a matter of time.
a Lebanese daily close to Hezbollah, quoted sources in the so-called joint
command center of Gaza-based terror groups saying they gave Israel a week to
honor parts of the agreement as they were aware of “the existence of
information that the occupation does not wish to implement what was agreed
source in the joint command center said terror factions in Gaza were continuing
to prepare for fresh fighting in light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s
comments that the campaign in the Strip was “not over.” The source said
preparations were taking place to protect against future killings of terror
leaders despite the command center’s assessment that Netanyahu is not looking
for a large-scale conflict.
leadership of the resistance has undertaken many security measures out of
concern that major leaders will be targeted with the goal of the enemy
improving its image in the eyes of its society following the painful blows it
took in the last confrontation,” the source said.
source also said “the next round [of fighting] will be more intense and harsh”
and could include the targeting of major population centers such as Tel Aviv if
Israel carries out targeted killings.
of the ceasefire, which Israel has not officially acknowledged, have not been
published, though reports have indicated it includes the reopening of border
crossings and the expansion of the permitted fishing area off Gaza’s coast.
at a Memorial Day event Wednesday, Netanyahu mourned the four Israelis killed
over the weekend and suggested renewed fighting in Gaza was only a matter of
IDF acted with resoluteness against the terrorist elements in Gaza. I have said
and am saying again — the campaign is not over,” Netanyahu said at a state
ceremony for terror victims at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery.
Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy berated the UN Security Council on Thursday
for “rehashing tired talking points” criticizing Israeli settlements and said
an upcoming US peace plan would provide a fresh approach.
Greenblatt told a council meeting that the United Nations was biased against
Israel, choosing “the comfort of 700 paper resolutions” condemning Israel
instead of confronting the “700 rockets” fired by Palestinian militants.
is time for a new approach,” said Greenblatt, who is working with Trump’s
son-in-law Jared Kushner on an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that is expected
to be unveiled soon.
council met for an informal meeting organized by Indonesia, a strong
Palestinian supporter, about the expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied
Palestinian land, which the United Nations considers illegal.
Trump administration is expected to roll out the long-awaited plan, possibly as
early as next month, but the Palestinians have already rejected it as heavily
biased in favor of Israel.
the council, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki again voiced
opposition to the US plan, which is expected to include economic development as
a key component.
is not a peace plan but rather conditions for surrender and there is no amount
of money that can make it acceptable,” said Maliki.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi described settlement construction as
“unacceptable” and urged the council to take a firmer stance against Israel.
“Inaction is not an option”, she said.
Greenblatt dismissed the view that the expansion of Jewish settlements was an
impediment to Israeli-Palestinian peace and illegal under international law.
stop pretending that settlements are what is keeping the sides from a
negotiated peaceful solution,” said Greenblatt. “This farce and obsessive focus
on one aspect of this complicated conflict helps no one.”
criticized the council for taking aim at Israel over the expansion of
settlements but failing to condemn the Hamas movement and Islamic Jihad for
firing rockets into Israel.
of seeking accountability for Hamas and Islamic Jihad... we are rehashing tired
talking points, some 20 years old,” he argued.
soon-to-be-released peace plan “will be realistic and implementable”, said
Greenblatt, describing it as “the right package of compromises for both sides”.
of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday threatened a “swift and decisive” US response
to any attack by Iran, in the latest of a series of escalating statements and
regime in Tehran should understand that any attacks by them or their proxies of
any identity against US interests or citizens will be answered with a swift and
decisive US response,” Pompeo said in a statement.
restraint to this point should not be mistaken by Iran for a lack of resolve,”
United States has already announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier
strike group and nuclear-capable bombers to the region, saying it had
information of plans for Iranian-backed attacks.
moves have frightened some European allies as well as President Donald Trump's
Democratic rivals, who fear the administration is pushing for war based on
however, said: “We do not seek war.”
Iran's 40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities,
and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend
ourselves,” said Pompeo, referencing the 1979 Islamic revolution that
transformed Iran from close US ally to sworn foe.
massive blast that killed 15 children and injured more than 100 people in the
residential Sawan neighborhood in Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, on April 7, was the
result of an explosion in a Houthi controlled warehouse and not a coalition
strike, revealed human rights organizations.
Rights Watch and Mwatana for Human Rights carried on Thursday a detailed report
which pointed out that a Houthi-controlled warehouse that stored volatile
material near homes and schools caught fire and detonated midday resulting in
the devastation and human toll.
groups could not determine the initial cause of the fire at the warehouse.
Witnesses did not see or hear aircraft, the report said. The report provides
details of what followed: “Scores of Houthi security forces arrived at the site,
fired warning shots, and beat and detained several people who tried to
photograph the warehouse, witnesses said. For several days, Houthi forces
removed large quantities of undisclosed materials from the site on flatbed
trucks, and prevented human rights researchers from accessing the area until
Houthi authorities need to provide credible information and stop storing large
concentrations of volatile materials in densely populated areas,” said Radhya
al-Mutawakel, the chairperson of Mwatana for Human Rights. “The Houthis played
a role in the tragedy and should hold responsible officials to account and
provide compensation to victims.”
and Human Rights Watch determined, based on in-person interviews with
witnesses, videos, and satellite imagery, that the contents of the warehouse
had caught fire and exploded. The groups were unable to identify the warehouse
contents, but available information shows that they were flammable and
explosive, posing a foreseeable danger to civilians living and going to school
in the area.
report said there was no evidence at the site to suggest that it was airstrike
or incoming munition. Four videos of the blast that bystanders recorded and
uploaded to the internet within hours also do not indicate the cause of the
too did not observe craters that might have indicated an aerial bomb when they
were first able to access the site days after the explosion.
the evening of April 7, Al Arabiya had reported that the coalition spokesperson,
Col. Turki al-Malki, stated that the coalition had not targeted residential
areas in Sanaa. The Houthis and some news reports had at that time attributed
the deadly explosion to a coalition airstrike.
Houthis’ decision to store volatile material near homes and schools despite the
foreseeable risk to civilians led to the death and injury of dozens of
schoolchildren and adults,” said Bill Van Esveld, senior children’s rights
researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Houthis should stop covering up what happened
in Sawan and start doing more to protect civilians under their control.”
the basis of field interviews with witnesses, video clips and satellite images,
the two organizations found that the contents of the depot were set on fire and
says Israel scrambled to seek a ceasefire in its recent military aggression
against Gaza through mediators after the Palestinian resistance increased the
range of their retaliatory rockets.
an interview with the Palestinian al-Aqsa TV channel on Wednesday, Khalil
al-Hayya, a senior member of the Hamas political bureau, hailed the Gaza Joint
Chamber of Military Operations — which comprises various resistance factions
—for standing firmly against the enemy in the recent confrontation with the Tel
added that the regime sent representatives for talks with senior members of the
Palestinian resistance front after the range of the rockets fired from Gaza
towards the Israeli-occupied territories surpassed 40 kilometers.
Gaza escalation erupted last Friday following the deaths of four Palestinians
in an Israeli air raid on the coastal sliver and the regime’s live fire
targeting Gaza protesters.
warplanes struck some 350 sites in Gaza, claiming the lives of 27 Palestinian
response, the Palestinians fired some 700 rockets at the occupied lands between
Saturday morning and early Monday morning, killing four Israelis and injuring
“Iron Dome” only intercepted 240 of the 690 projectiles fired from Gaza, raising
serious questions about the effectiveness of the missile system.
three days of deadly Israeli airstrikes and retaliatory Palestinian rocket
attacks, the two sides reached a ceasefire agreement on Monday with the help of
Egyptian and Qatari mediators.
Hamas military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said on Monday that it
had succeeded in overcoming Israel’s so-called Iron Dome missile system during
the latest confrontation with the regime thanks to its new rocket-launching
new tactic saw the Gaza-based resistance fighters overwhelm Israel’s “Iron
Dome” by “firing dozens of missiles in one single burst” towards the occupied
territories, it added.
the truce angered the Israelis living south of the occupied territories, who
were most affected by the flare-up. They censured the Tel Aviv regime for
failing to ensure their security.
won’t bargain over Return rallies’
further said, during the fresh flare-up of Gaza tensions, things went out of
control due to Israel’s procrastination in implementing the ceasefire
understandings and the regime’s firing at Palestinians in the anti-occupation
Great March of Return protests, he added.
also stressed that Hamas would not bargain over the March of Return
demonstrations, which began on March 30, 2018, with the participants demanding
the right to return for the Palestinians driven out of their homeland by
Muslim Representative Ilhan Omar has accused the administration of US President
Donald Trump of preparing the ground for direct confrontation with Iran using
inflated intelligence data.
controversial lawmaker, who has come under fire in the past for criticizing
American foreign policy with regards to Israel and Saudi Arabia, said Wednesday
that the US intelligence community was making up excuses to justify hostile
anti-Iran policies just as it did before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
same people who falsified intelligence before the Iraq War are now beating the
drums for war with Iran. All of us have a responsibility to view their claims
with skepticism,” she wrote.
same people who falsified intelligence before the Iraq War are now beating the
drums for war with Iran.
of us have a responsibility to view their claims with skepticism.
Trump admin is hyping the intelligence on Iran, multiple US officials say
AM - May 9, 2019
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people are talking about this
tweet came in response to a DailyBeast article, which cited US officials as
saying that anti-Iran elements within the administration of President Donald
Trump were inflating intelligence on Iran to pave the way for more aggressive
policies towards Tehran.
to the report, the recent decision by Washington to send a carrier strike group
and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf in response to “troubling and
escalatory” warnings from Iran was a direct result of this policy.
Security Adviser John Bolton, a hawk best known for his penchant for conflict
with Iran, announced the decision last Sunday, reportedly based on false
evidence that Iran was preparing to attack US forces in Iraq and Yemen.
not that the administration is mischaracterizing the intelligence, so much as
overreacting to it,” said one US government official briefed on it.
US official said some administration officials were trying “to tilt the field
in preparation for a possible coming conflict,”
risk is a low-level proxy unit miscalculating and escalating things. We’re
sending a message with this reaction to the intelligence, even though the
threat might not be as imminent as portrayed.”
United States, under Trump, has set out on an aggressive campaign to curb
Iran’s pressure in the Middle East region.
reach that goal, the White House has been trying to zero out Tehran’s oil
exports and cripple the country’s economy using sanctions.
the hostility doesn’t stop there as some officials have openly threatened to
starve Iranian people.
an interview with BBC Persian, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last
November that Iranian officials must listen to Washington "if they want
their people to eat."
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in response to Pompeo that “Iran
will not just survive but advance w/out sacrificing its sovereignty.”
has dismissed Washington’s threats and has pledged to continue pushing back
against the Trump administration’s hostile policies.
— The U.S. decision to surge additional military forces into the Middle East
was based in part on intelligence that the Iranian regime has told some of its
proxy forces and surrogates that they can now go after American military
personnel and assets in the region, according to three U.S. officials familiar
with the intelligence.
intelligence shows that an Iranian official discussed activating Iranian-backed
groups to target Americans, but did not mention targeting the militaries of
other nations, the officials said.
the specific threats the U.S. military is now tracking, officials say, are
possible missile attacks by Iranian dhows, or small ships, in the Persian Gulf;
attacks in Iraq by Iranian-trained Shiite militia groups; and attacks against
U.S. ships by the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
U.S. has accused Iran of moving missiles and missile components through the
region's waterways for years, shipping missiles to the Houthis in Yemen and
others. And Shiite militia groups like Baghdad Katib Hezbollah (BKH) have been
in Iraq for years, acting essentially as sleeper cells. What is new and what
has alarmed U.S. military officials, sources say, is the call to awaken and
activate these existing threats.
U.S. official said Iran usually conceals the missiles and components when
delivering them to the Houthis. These missiles are visible to overhead
surveillance, leading to concerns Iran could attempt to launch missiles from
the dhows. There are some indications they have mobile launchers on board, as
well, one of the officials said.
three officials say that in addition to learning that an Iranian official had
discussed attacks on Americans, the U.S. began seeing the movement of Iranian
and Iranian-backed forces in various places across the region, prompting the
commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, to request
additional forces move to the region.
Sunday, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan approved the request to
accelerate the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a
bomber task force to the region. National Security Adviser John Bolton
announced the movement in a statement Sunday night.
spokesperson for U.S. Central Command declined to provide detailed information
on the threats.
Central Command has seen recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian
proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack U.S. forces in the
region," said the spokesperson, Capt. Bill Urban. "This include
threats on land and in the maritime. We are not going to be able to provide
detailed information on specific threats at this time."
no mistake, we are not seeking a fight with the Iranian regime," Gen.
McKenzie said Wednesday during a speech at the Foundation for Defense of
Democracies, a think tank that favors a tough U.S. posture toward Iran.
"Any attack on U.S. interests will be met with unrelenting force."
the increase in U.S. military heft to the region, Iran has not slowed its
movement of forces or changed its posture, according to the three U.S.
Democrats say they are concerned the Trump administration is trying to provoke
a wider conflict.
intelligence is real," said a senior Democratic congressional official
briefed on the intelligence, "but the response seems wildly out of proportion."
WORTH, Texas – Federal authorities say an 18-year-old Texas man has pleaded
guilty to recruiting fighters on behalf of a Pakistan-based terrorist group.
say Michael Kyle Sewell entered a guilty plea in federal court Wednesday to
conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
admitted to trying to recruit another person to join Lashkar-e-Taiba, the
militant group behind a 2008 attack in India's financial capital of Mumbai that
killed 166 people.
say Sewell put the person in contact with someone he thought would facilitate
joining Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan but was, in fact, an undercover FBI agent.
is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 12. He could face up to 20 years in
the Americans could do was shake their heads as a Shiite militia flag waved
above their base.
troops from the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division were still getting used to
living alongside an old enemy. It was the fall of 2016, the start of a
U.S.-backed offensive to retake the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. Some
Americans who’d come to aid the effort had also fought in the Iraq War, when
the U.S. military suffered hundreds of deaths in battles with Shiite militia
groups. Five years after that war ended, they found themselves at an airfield
south of Mosul, where the Airborne was stationed in one section, and a militia
outpost sat in another. Concrete blast walls separated the two sides. But
someone had climbed a radio tower overlooking the U.S. barracks and tied a
militia flag to its peak.
American soldier pointed out the flag one morning with a wry look that
suggested he appreciated the troll.
global fight against ISIS created strange alliances—and the de facto one
between the U.S. military and Iraq’s Shiite militias, some of whom are backed
by Iran, was among the most striking.
the two sides had a shared interest in defeating the Sunni extremist group, the
alliance was never going to be enduring, and there was always the risk that if
tensions between America and Iran ever ignited, the militias could be a flash
tensions have now spiked.
Sunday, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that U.S. warships had
been dispatched to the Arabian Peninsula in response to unspecified threats
from Iran. Later, U.S. officials reportedly cited the risk to American forces
and allies from Iran-backed militia or proxy forces. Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo canceled a planned visit to Berlin in order to visit Baghdad, where he
said he discussed “the increased threat stream” with Iraqi leaders and stressed
the need to protect U.S. forces there. At the same time, Iran announced that it
will stop complying with some parts of the 2015 nuclear deal, continuing the
pattern of escalation set in motion by the Trump administration’s decision to
walk away from the agreement. (The White House on Wednesday introduced a new
set of sanctions against Iran’s metals sector.)
U.S. officials have so far been vague about the nature of the threat, Phillip
Smyth, an expert on Shiite militia groups, told me he takes the risk they pose
to U.S. forces seriously. The militia groups that act as Iranian proxies in
Iraq, he said, would be an effective tool for further escalation—and for
reviving an old narrative that casts U.S. troops as an occupying force in the
that [ISIS] is more dislodged and not anywhere near its 2015 state, the
narrative of ‘opposing a resisting force’ makes more sense from the Iranians’
ideological and political perspectives,” said Smyth, who is a fellow at the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Iran-backed militias have made open threats against U.S. forces in recent
years, Smyth said. Because of the Trump administration’s aggressive sanctions
against Iran, he added, “the threats take on a new and possibly more dangerous
under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilization Forces and an official part of
the Iraqi security forces, a constellation of Shiite militia groups emerged in
2014 in response to the Iraqi military’s capitulation to ISIS, recruiting
thousands of new fighters. Some militia groups are seen as Iranian proxies and
have been trained by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, while others
oppose Iranian influence and bill themselves as Iraqi nationalists. Kata’ib
Hezbollah, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Smyth noted, are
among those in the former category that U.S. officials may be watching closely.
a 2017 speech, Qais al-Khazali, the leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, claimed that
the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia are enemies of Iraq. Documents
recently declassified by the Pentagon state that during a stint as a U.S.
prisoner during the Iraq War, Khazali admitted to authorizing attacks that
killed American soldiers. In January, Khazali predicted that the Iraqi
parliament would eventually vote to expel U.S. troops from the country — and
said that if they didn’t leave, they could be driven out “by force.”
Shiite militias played a key role in the fight against ISIS, such as when they
helped recapture the city of Tikrit in 2015, and suffered heavy losses. But
they also claimed credit for victories largely won by government troops, and
were accused of massacres, torture, and other abuses against Sunni civilians at
a rate that far outpaced similar accusations against other forces. During the
Mosul offensive, civilians regularly listed the militias among their foremost
concerns in Sunni-majority areas freed from ISIS.
the anti-ISIS campaign, U.S. military planners were wary of inadvertently
providing air cover for the militias when they advanced in concert with the
Iraqi army, worried about aiding forces that worked so closely with Iran.
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps advisers were often on the front lines with
the militia groups they supported, and Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the
IRGC’s elite Quds Force, was occasionally photographed on the battlefield.
(This wasn’t the first time the U.S. military found itself in an unlikely
alliance in Iraq: During the Iraq War, it teamed up with some hard-line Sunni
groups as part of its campaign to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS’s predecessor.)
before the warship move, the Trump administration had designated the IRGC a
terrorist group, prompting the Iranians to respond by declaring U.S. forces in
the region a terrorist group too. Yet 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, in
close proximity to Iran-backed forces.
Bolton’s announcement, I spoke with U.S. military officers who served in the
country during the fight against ISIS, and they made two points. The first is
that the risk the militias pose to U.S. troops in Iraq has been there since the
anti-ISIS campaign began in 2014—and so, in a sense, the threats U.S. officials
are discussing are nothing new. The second is that while they considered the
threats to be manageable, they were real causes for concern.
Shiite militias definitely kept some of us up at night,” one officer, who has
since retired from the military, told me, recalling the feeling of living and
working around the groups even as some continued with “very clear anti-U.S.
were a wild card that we always had to keep an eye on.”
recently retired officer noted an instance in which he suspected that U.S.
troops already had been targeted by militias: A roadside bomb killed a U.S.
service member in October 2017, an incident for which the U.S. military has not
assigned blame. Last year, the State Department evacuated the U.S. consulate in
the Iraqi city of Basra, citing attacks by Iran-backed militias. “That’s always
been there,” he said. “When I hear [U.S. claims of new threats], I’m like,
‘Really, there’s a new threat from Iran-backed militia?’ I remember back in
2004 when we were fighting Iran-backed militias in Iraq. It’s an existing
threat that’s been there for years, but it’s up to Iran to dial it up or dial
it down depending on the political end state they want to achieve.”
of these sources requested anonymity to avoid jeopardizing continued work with
the U.S. government, as did a third officer, who remains with the military.
officer, who also served during the Iraq War, said returning to the country for
the anti-ISIS fight and finding himself posted beside Shiite militias was
alarming at first—“but as we got to live together, not as much.”
the ISIS war winding down, though, the two sides no longer have a common enemy.
“That dynamic of a co-enemy has changed, and the power of the Shia militia
groups has changed as well,” he told me, as militia-allied candidates made
surprising gains in last year’s Iraqi elections.
Scott Rawlinson, a U.S. military spokesman, declined to comment on whether
Shiite militias pose a risk to U.S. troops in Iraq, but he stressed that the
threat from ISIS remains. The group “has lost its territorial caliphate but has
transitioned into a disaggregated network of sleeper cells with the goal of
resurging through intimidation and attacks on civilians, community leaders, and
security forces,” he said.
fact that U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria remain heavily engaged in the fight
against ISIS underscores the risks of a U.S. strategy in the region that seeks
to pivot to a new enemy, in Iran, even as the battle with the old one remains a
work in progress.
as the past few days have shown, both the United States and Iran have levers
with which they can escalate tensions.
Trump leaves Israel in the lurch
like the U.S. maintains and refreshes planning for a variety of contingencies,
so does Iran. This dynamic—of increasing U.S. pressure and Iranian countermoves
amidst mistrust and imperfect information—increases the risk of
miscalculation,” Eric Brewer, a former senior official on the Trump
administration’s National Security Council who is now a fellow at the Center
for a New American Security, told me.
President Donald Trump has said that he wants Iranians to call him, amid
escalating tensions between the United States and Iran over the Trump
administration’s hegemonic policy towards the Islamic Republic.
I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me," Trump told
reporters at the White House on Thursday.
then he said he would not rule out the possibility of military action in Iran
amid escalating tensions before slamming former Secretary of State John Kerry
for his involvement in the issue.
said Kerry should be prosecuted under the Logan Act for speaking with Iranian
officials and denouncing Trump's policy on the Islamic Republic.
Kerry speaks to them a lot, and John Kerry tells them not to call. That’s a
violation of the Logan Act, and frankly
he should be prosecuted on that,” Trump said.
added that his "people don't want to do anything," and that
"only the Democrats do that kind of stuff."
President Trump said today is simply wrong, end of story," a spokesman for
Kerry told CNN. "He's wrong about the facts, wrong about the law, and
sadly he's been wrong about how to use diplomacy to keep America safe."
said last year that he had met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad
Zarif "three or four" times since leaving office for discussions on
the nuclear deal and other issues.
Logan Act, a US law enacted in 1799, criminalizes negotiations by unauthorized
persons with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States
without permission from the US government. Only two people have been indicted
for violating the act in 1802 and 1852.
month, Trump suggested that Kerry, who served as Secretary of State under
former President Barack Obama, helped negotiate the Iran nuclear deal, had
provided Tehran with “very bad advice” and may have violated US law by advising
the Islamic Republic. “Iran is being given VERY BAD advice by John Kerry and
people who helped him lead the US into the very bad Iran Nuclear Deal,” Trump
wrote on Twitter on April 22.
violation of Logan Act?” Trump asked then.
May last year, Trump pulled the US out of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), claiming that it was a bad deal.
who served during the administration of former US President Barack Obama, has
criticized the Trump administration for pulling out of the accord.
who played a main role in the nuclear talks, has described it as the “single
strongest, single most accountable, single most transparent nuclear agreement
anywhere in the world.”
leaving his post, Kerry has had several talks with the Iranian side, advising
them to wait out until Trump leaves office.
made a similar attack against Kerry last year, saying he made “illegal
meetings” with Iranian officials.
brought up Kerry’s potential violation after the White House announced that all
importers of Iranian oil will have to end their imports shortly or face US
November, the US enforced sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s banking
and energy sector, however, it granted waivers from the bans to eight major
importers of the Iranian oil, fearing market instability including China,
India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.
Sunday, US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the deployment of an
American carrier strike group to the Middle East, citing a "credible threat"
was asked about the deployment decision on Thursday. He said Iran had been
government threatens to suspend foreign firms to pressure Europe
Libya (Reuters) - Libya’s internationally recognized government asked 40
foreign firms including French oil major Total to renew their licenses or have
their operations suspended, pressuring Europe to stop an eastern military
offensive against Tripoli.
firms have three months to renew their licenses, the economy and industry
ministry said in a decree, after an official earlier said their operations had
ministry cited legal procedures, but the action comes as the Tripoli-based
government seeks to drum up support to fend off an assault by Khalifa Haftar’s
Libya National Army (LNA) force, which has been trying for one month to take
is home to the recognized administration but some European countries such as
France have also supported eastern military commander Haftar as a way to fight
militants in a country in chaos since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
general also enjoys the backing of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
decree was published a day after Tripoli prime minister Fayez al-Serraj met
French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, coming from Berlin and Rome, to
bolster his case.
had called for a ceasefire but with the condition attached that all armed
groups — including those helping Serraj defend the capital — be monitored.
also would not have to withdraw his troops east, allowing him to book a huge
territorial gain, which upset the Serraj government, said Jalel Harchaoui,
research fellow at the Clingendael Institute in The Hague.
those 40 licenses were scheduled to be expiring now,” he said. “In reality, the
decree is motivated by a desire to show European states that their leniency
towards the eastern-Libyan faction has immediate consequences on their economic
with large-scale oil and gas interests in Libya, is the only company on the
list known to have extensive dealings there. Others include French aerospace
firm Thales, German engineering firm Siemens and telecoms equipment firm
Alcatel-Lucent, now owned by Finland’s Nokia.
month, the Tripoli-based interior ministry suspended security cooperation with
France, accusing Paris of backing Haftar, a commander from the east of the
country where a rival government holds sway.
France’s apparently complex position, the foreign minister of Haftar’s eastern
parallel government visited France, though it was not immediately clear whether
any French officials had received him.
the capital Tripoli, three rockets hit a western suburb overnight close to the
heavily fortified U.N. compound but otherwise there was less fighting than last
week as life slowed down with the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
United Nations has failed to broker a ceasefire after the offensive took it by
surprise. Its special envoy Ghassan Salame has mostly stayed on the ground but
his mission has reduced staffing levels, U.N. officials say.
senior health worker was severely wounded as he traveled in an ambulance car in
a southern Tripoli district that was reportedly attacked by Haftar-affiliated
fighters, the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said in a statement.
countries including Italy and France have taken a strong interest in Libya,
both because of its natural resources and because of its status as the main
departure point for migrants attempting to enter Europe across the
Mediterranean. European countries have backed Libyan efforts that have succeeded
in reducing the numbers attempting the journey.
boats carrying 214 migrants were intercepted by the Libyan coast guard late on
Wednesday and taken back to the shore, the U.N. migration agency said.
clashes continue in the capital, we are concerned about the return and
arbitrary detention of migrants in #Libya,” the International Organization for
Migration said in a tweet.
spokesman Joel Millman said the 107 people on the first boat included 12 women
and seven children, while the 107 people on the second boat were all men, 92 of
them Sudanese, and there had been no reports of missing people or bodies
the south, three people were killed on Thursday in a suspected hit-and-run
attack by Islamic State militants on the town of Ghadwa, residents and a
military official said, the second such attack within days.
UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors to discuss the humanitarian
crisis in Libya as a month-long offensive on the capital grinds on, diplomats
said on Thursday.
requested the Friday meeting so a UN aid official could brief representatives
on the assault that has displaced 55,000 people and left more than 430 dead,
the diplomats said on condition of anonymity.
council has been divided over how to respond to the crisis in Libya, forcing
Britain to put on hold a draft resolution demanding a ceasefire.
Haram fighters have killed nine people in two separate attacks in northeastern
Nigeria, looting and torching a village and ambushing three farmers, officials
and local militia forces said Wednesday.
packed in trucks stormed into the village of Molai just before sunset on
Tuesday, when villagers were preparing to pray and break their fast for the
Muslim holy month of Ramadhan.
jihadist gunmen, loyal to Boko Haram chief Abubakar Shekau, killed six people
and burned dozens of homes.
Kyari, who heads the state Emergency Management Agency, said six bodies were
collected after the attack. All had been shot dead.
insurgents burnt around 40 homes and looted goods," Kyari said.
which is five kilometres (three miles) from Borno state capital Maiduguri, has
been repeatedly attacked by the jihadists.
member of a militia force, which fights alongside regular government soldiers,
said the Boko Haram fighters were too many and they were overpowered.
all withdrew from the village," the militia soldier said.
Nigerian aircraft bombed the area, and the jihadists retreated, he added.
a separate attack, Boko Haram fighters killed three farmers near the town of
Konduga, 38 kilometres (24 miles) outside Maiduguri, militia leader Ibrahim
gunmen slit the throats of the farmers and dumped their bodies," Liman
militants often kill farmers, loggers and herders, accusing them of passing
information to the army.
Haram's decade-long uprising to establish a hardline Islamic state in Nigeria's
northeast has spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
regional military coalition is battling the Islamist group.
in Cameroon say 165 Anglophone separatists and Boko Haram terrorists have voluntarily
surrendered in the past two months, while hundreds of other separatists have
military and groups loyal to the government have been been circulating a video
for the past week of an alleged former separatist fighter named Yannick Kawa.
video, divided into two parts, first shows Kawa saying he would never stop
commanding his fighters to crush the military. However, the second part shows
Kawa telling a crowd that a stranger online convinced him to surrender to the
military's Rapid Intervention Battalion, the BIR.
was in touch with one man online, he started encouraging me," Kawa said in
the video. "Then I decided to surrender myself to the BIR. From that day
up 'til today, I am free."
National Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (NCDDR)
said 56 of the militants who surrendered were from Cameroon's two
English-speaking regions, while 109 were from Mora on the border with Nigeria.
numbers may seem small, but I think we are doing a lot because in addition to
these numbers we have, we have hundreds of them who have laid down their
arms," NCDDR coordinator Francis Fai Yengo said.
said many who surrendered were in a location he could not disclose for security
are raising doubts about the government's evidence.
Medoung of rights group Cameroon Watch says it is difficult to believe that
those who surrendered are separatists and terrorists.
says the rebels and terrorists are equipped with weapons of war, while the arms
authorities presented as allegedly turned over by militants were locally made
and used by common criminals.
gangs and highway robbers are also stealing, killing, abducting and extorting
money from civilians, Medoung said, adding that those who are handing over
their weapons may be armed gang members who fear being killed by the military,
or even separatist fighters.
says the intensity of the conflict reported in the English-speaking regions
within the past two months shows that fighting is still raging.
branch of peace'
coordinator for Cameroon's Northwest, Sixtus Gabsa, says many militants are
still not convinced that the committee wants to help.
major problem we have is the problem of confidence building," Gabsa said.
"Most of the children in the bushes, even the stake holders, are saying
that we are playing tricks to bring the children out and kill them. No. The
head of state [president] has given an olive branch of peace. Nothing is going
to happen to them."
president, Paul Biya, created the committee last year to manage the disarming
and reintegration of militants who surrendered.
have promised that Anglophone rebels and Boko Haram terrorists who disarm will
get professional job training in rehabilitation centers across Cameroon.
However, the rehabilitation centers have been slow to take off, as the rebels
don't trust authorities and some centers have yet to be built.
US air strike killed 13 ISIS terrorists in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland
region on Wednesday, the US military said, days after another strike killed
US military has stepped up its campaign of air strikes in Somalia since
President Donald Trump took office, saying it has killed more than 800
militants in two years.
has gathered recruits in Puntland although experts say the scale of its force
is unclear and it remains a small player compared to Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab
group that once controlled much of Somalia.
Africa Command (AFRICOM) said late on Thursday the latest strike targeted an
ISIS-Somalia camp in the Golis Mountains. “At this time, it is assessed the air
strike on May 8 killed 13 terrorists,” it said.
said in April it had killed Abdulhakim Dhuqubz identifying him as ISIS deputy
leader in Somalia.
has been mired in a civil war and an Islamist insurgency since 1991 when clan
warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other.
least three people have been killed in a suspected hit-and-run attack by the
Daesh terrorist group on a town in southern Libya, residents and a military
said the casualties were caused after heavily-armed militants stormed the town
of Ghadwa and then retreated back into the desert.
attack came after nine troops were killed in the city of Sebha on Saturday in
an attack claimed by Daesh on a training camp belonging to the eastern Libyan
forces of Khalifa Haftar.
is controlled by Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), and is 650 km
south of the capital Tripoli, which the renegade general's forces are currently
fighting to seize.
the attack, the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said Haftar
shouldered direct responsibility for the reemergence of Daesh.
terrorist outfit is active in the south to where it retreated after losing its
stronghold in the central city of Sirte in December 2016.
LNA, whose power base is in eastern Libya, has been unable to break the
southern defenses of Tripoli forces.
UN humanitarian agency OCHA said in a statement that one senior health worker
was severely wounded as he traveled in an ambulance car in a southern Tripoli
district that was reportedly attacked by LNA-affiliated fighters.
United Nations has characterized Haftar’s push on Tripoli as an attempted coup
and warned of a serious upshot.
April 4, fighting has killed at least 432 people, wounded 2,069 and displaced
more than 50,000, according to the UN.
the UN migration agency said two boats carrying 214 migrants were intercepted
by the Libyan coast guard late on Wednesday and taken back to the shore.
clashes continue in the capital, we are concerned about the return and
arbitrary detention of migrants in #Libya," the International Organization
for Migration said in a tweet.
western Libyan coast is a major departure point for mainly African migrants
fleeing conflict and poverty and trying to reach Italy across the Mediterranean
Sea with the help of human traffickers.
has been the scene of increasing violence since 2011, when former dictator
Muammar Gaddafi was toppled from power after an uprising and a NATO military
A US air strike killed 13 Daesh fighters in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland
region on Wednesday, the US military said, days after another strike killed
US military has stepped up its campaign of air strikes in Somalia since
President Donald Trump took office, saying it has killed more than 800 militants
in two years.
has gathered recruits in Puntland, although experts say the scale of its force
is unclear and it remains a small player compared Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab
group that once controlled much of Somalia.
Africa Command (AFRICOM) said late on Thursday the latest strike targeted an
Daesh-Somalia camp in Golis Mountains.
this time, it is assessed the air strike on May 8 killed 13 terrorists,” it
said in April it had killed Abdulhakim Dhuqub, identifying him as Daesh’s deputy
leader in Somalia.
has been mired in civil war and an extremist insurgency since 1991 when clan
warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other.
reject any ultimatums': Europe responds firmly to Iran's nuclear deal threat
EU has responded firmly to Iran's threat to roll back its 2015 nuclear deal
commitments, saying in a statement Thursday that it rejects any ultimatums but
remained committed to the multilateral pact.
reject any ultimatums and will assess Iran's compliance on the basis of Iran's
performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the
NPT," the joint statement from the EU high representative and the foreign
ministers of France, Germany and the U.K. read, referring to the deal itself —
the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action — and the Treaty on the Nonproliferation
of Weapons, respectively.
essence, the EU is saying that inspectors, not declarations, will determine how
it approaches Iran going forward. And that may take some time: Data on Iran's
nuclear activities will be unclear until the International Atomic Energy Agency
publishes its quarterly report in August.
nuclear deal ultimatum
President Hassan Rouhani announced Wednesday his country would end its
compliance with two particular conditions of the nuclear deal if Europe did not
step in to protect the country from U.S. sanctions, re-imposed after the
President Donald Trump administration withdrew from the agreement one year ago.
essentially gave Europe an ultimatum: Choose Iran over the U.S. by resuming
Iranian trade in violation of sanctions, or see Iran return to higher levels of
uranium enrichment. Tehran said it would restart construction on its Arak
nuclear reactor, which was capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium and had
been shut down as part of the 2015 deal.
remain fully committed to the preservation and full implementation of the
JCPOA, a key achievement of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture,
which is in the security interest of all," the EU statement read.
strongly urge Iran to continue to implement its commitments under the JCPOA in
full as it has done until now and to refrain from any escalatory steps."
JCPOA, signed under the Obama administration, saw financial sanctions on Iran
lifted in exchange for curbs to its nuclear program. It has since last year
been on life support as European, Russian and Chinese signatories endeavor to
save it and get around U.S. sanctions.
economy has severely contracted, and Wednesday's announcement was a signal of
Tehran's waning patience for Europe finding a solution.
signatories to the deal in January launched INSTEX, a special purpose vehicle
designed to enable trade with Iran by using currencies other than dollars,
sidestepping U.S. sanctions. The mechanism has so far had limited success, but
is a sign of Europe's determination to defy the Trump administration's efforts.
If Iran breaks its obligations under the deal, however, the EU ministers'
statements suggest that those efforts will end and multilateral sanctions may
also look to Iran to continue to adhere to established JCPOA formats and
mechanisms including the JCPOA Joint Commission," the statement read.
foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini expressed her personal concerns on the
announcements. "We remain fully committed to the full implementation of
the JCPOA nuclear deal, it is a matter of security for us and for the entire
world," she told CNBC's Willem Marx in Sibiu, Romania.
far we have seen Iran fully compliant with all its nuclear-related commitments
under the nuclear deal ... We will continue to see the compliance of Iran to
its commitments to the JCPOA through the lenses of the EEAS (European External
Action Service)," she added.
slams French weapons sales to Saudi, says Paris no longer trusted
International has condemned France's weapons sales to Saudi Arabia despite the
kingdom's deadly war on Yemen, saying Paris cannot be trusted on claims that
the weapons are not being used against civilians.
Thursday, French human rights protesters sought to block the loading of weapons
onto a Saudi vessel that was due to dock in northern France later in the day.
ago investigative website Disclose had published leaked documents that showed
Saudi Arabia was using French weapons including tanks and laser-guided missile
systems, against civilians in Yemen's war.
with Growing criticism, French President Emmanuel Macron admitted that the
weapons were indeed being used in the war but only within Saudi Arabia's
would like to say here that what we reiterated was the guarantee for them (the
arms) not be used against civilian populations," he said.
Elluin, Amnesty's advocacy officer for weapons and international justice, said
Macron's words were no longer trustworthy because France was constantly
changing its discourse.
were told the arms were only used for defensives purposes, and all of a sudden
we're being told 'we never said there weren't any French weapons being used in
Yemen, we said we didn't have proof that French weapons were used to kill
civilians'," she said, "So, France's word is a vast gibberish, we
cannot trust what they say."
world now knows that the weapons are used in violation of humanitarian law with
civilian targets that are deliberately targeted," she added.
of the main arms suppliers of Saudi Arabia, Paris has faced increasing pressure
to review its sales to the oil rich kingdom.
Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly said Wednesday that the vessel would
load French arms ordered years ago.
website Disclose said this week that the shipment included as many as eight
howitzer Caesar cannons, manufactured by Nexter.
today, when faced with information showing that France is delivering Caesar
cannons, one can only contest this because it would be illegal, because it
means France knows its weapons could be used to commit atrocities," Elluin
is while France has yet to even offer public guarantees and has never
offered to say "'French weapons
will never be used to kill civilians.'"
is a signatory of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which oversees the international
trade of conventional weapons.
tracking data showed Saudi vessel the Bahri-Yanbu had been waiting off French
coast since Wednesday evening and had yet to dock at Le Havre. The ship will
leave with its cargo on Friday night.
Australian jury on Thursday found three men guilty of terrorism after they set
fire to a mosque in the southern state of Victoria in December 2016.
Muslims Ahmed Mohamed, Abdullah Chaarani and Hatim Moukhaiber set fire to a
Shiite mosque in a suburb of Melbourne.
had plotted an attack in central Melbourne just weeks later and were convicted
of conspiring to plan a terrorist attack last year.
had bought machetes and explosives and tried to get a gun license before they
were arrested, according to media reports.
three have yet to be sentenced.
a staunch US ally that sent troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, has been on
heightened alert for attacks by home-grown militants returning from fighting in
the Middle East or their supporters.
year, a Somali-born man set fire to a pickup truck laden with gas cylinders in
the center of Melbourne and stabbed three people, killing one, before he was
shot by police.
British police have arrested four men for their suspected involvement in
separatist activities in the province of Northern Ireland.
arrests early on Thursday came less than a month after riots in the Northern
Irish city of Londonderry which left a 29-year-old journalist Lyra McKee dead.
part of this morning’s operation detectives carried out searches at four houses
in the city and arrested four people in connection with the violence which was
orchestrated on the streets of Creggan on the evening of Lyra McKee’s murder,”
said senior police official.
Police Service of Northern Ireland said in a statement that those arrested were
four males aged 15, 18, 38 and 51.
arrests, which came under terrorist legislation, the term used by British
government to describe separatist activities in Northern Ireland, marks a new
escalation in a crackdown in the region where separatists have intensified
their struggle for a merger with the Republic of Ireland.
riots last month came following a major bomb attack in Londonderry in January
and two shootings a month later.
of those attacks have been claimed by The New IRA, an offshoot of the Irish
Republican Army which has been viewed as defunct following a 1998 peace treaty
in Northern Ireland.
new surge in separatist activities comes amid a political vacuum in Northern
Ireland, where political parties have failed to agree on the establishment of a
An Australian jury on Thursday found three men guilty of terrorism after they
set fire to a mosque in the southern state of Victoria in December 2016.
had plotted an attack in central Melbourne just weeks later and were convicted
of conspiring to plan a terrorist attack last year. They had bought machetes
and explosives and tried to get a gun license before they were arrested,
according to media reports.
chancellor on Thursday urged Iran to fully implement the nuclear deal it signed
with world powers, despite growing tensions with the U.S.
a summit of European leaders in the Romanian city of Sibiu, Angela Merkel
underlined the EU’s continued commitment to the nuclear deal with Iran during a
European Union, we do not wish for an escalation, we work for using diplomatic
means. We are also aware of our limitations,” she said.
remarks came a day after Iran threatened to abandon parts of the deal because
of unfulfilled promises of world powers and new U.S. sanctions on Tehran.
expressed hope to find a solution to current problems.
its commitment to this diplomatic solution, Iran has an opportunity to show
very clearly that it has an interest in the peaceful solution. It is a value
added for Iran too, to continue to be committed to this agreement,” she said.
said the deal, also known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was
still the best way to resolve disagreements with Iran on its nuclear program.
think that a negotiated solution is the best possible option. This agreement is
good for both sides. And Iran should also reflect very much as to what it
intends to do in future. Our hand remains stretched out and we want to continue
working for the diplomatic solution,” she said.
powers agreed in 2015 to lift economic sanctions imposed on Iran in return for
Tehran agreeing to limit its nuclear activity to peaceful and civilian
agreement was signed between Iran and Russia, China, France, the U.K., and the
U.S., plus Germany.
President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal last year, accusing
Iran of cheating on the agreement.
British government shares Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Serraj’s concerns over
the latest situation in Libya, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Thursday.
comments came following his and Prime Minister Theresa May’s meetings in London
with the visiting prime minister of Libya.
and Hunt discussed with Serraj “the UK’s commitment to building international
support for a cease-fire and the need for all sides to make compromises in the
pursuit of peace,” according to a government statement.
UK government shares Prime Minister Serraj’s grave concern at the situation
across Libya, where the security and humanitarian situation continues to
deteriorate,” Hunt said.
violence has caused the displacement of thousands of people and blocked
emergency aid to casualties, including civilians. It is imperative that all
parties respect international humanitarian law,” he said.
our discussions today, we called on Prime Minister Serraj to encourage all
sides to commit to a cease-fire, secure humanitarian access for those
desperately in need and return to UN-led political negotiations,” Hunt added.
been clear that there can be no military solution in Libya -- diplomacy is the
only way to bring this bloodshed and uncertainty to a close,” he said.
early April, a renegade military commander, Khalifa Haftar, who commands forces
loyal to a rival government based in eastern Libya, launched a wide-ranging
campaign to take the capital Tripoli.
more than a month of sporadic fighting on Tripoli’s outskirts, however,
Haftar's campaign has failed to achieve its primary objective.
forces have managed to surround the city of Zuwara, located some 100 kilometers
west of Tripoli, from the east and south. Zuwara is of considerable strategic
importance as it controls the Ras Ajdir border crossing with Tunisia.
has also succeeded in taking the city of Garyan, located roughly 100 kilometers
south of Tripoli, allowing his forces to cut the desert road linking Tripoli to
the Dehiba Wazin crossing.
has remained beset by turmoil since 2011, when long-serving leader Muammar
Gaddafi was ousted and killed in a bloody NATO-backed uprising after four
decades in power.
works insistently for full EU membership:Erdogan
Turkish president on Thursday reiterated his vow to gain full membership in the
European Union despite counter-efforts.
proceeds on its way persistently despite those trying to exclude it from the
European family," Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Reform Action Group
meeting in the capital Ankara held to discuss the country's stalled EU
stressed that Turkey has been struggling to become a full member of the EU for
the last 60 years.
all the double standards we have been facing in our accession negotiations,
Turkey is determined to become a full member of the European Union as a
strategic objective,” said Erdogan in a statement on Europe Day.
EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU, Erdogan stressed.
Turkey, it is not possible for the EU to successfully fight the threats to its
core values, he added.
membership is meaningful in the equation in which both sides gain. Nobody can
force Turkey to accept an equation that is harmful," Erdogan said.
applied for the EU membership in 1987 and accession talks began in 2005.
negotiations stalled in 2007 due to objections of the Greek Cypriot
administration on the divided island of Cyprus as well as opposition from
Germany and France.
emphasized that Turkey is continuing to protect its eastern and western
borders, not only for national security, but also for Europe's security,
referring to more than 4 million refugees hosted by the country.
has yet to see how sincere the EU is about visa liberalization when Turkey
fulfills the remaining six criteria out of a total of 72, he said.
2016, Turkey and the EU signed a deal aiming to stem the irregular migration
flow through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human
traffickers and improving conditions for nearly 3 million Syrian refugees in
deal also allows for the acceleration of Turkey’s EU membership bid and
visa-free travel for Turkish nationals within the Schengen area, on the
condition that Ankara meets all 72 requirements set by the EU.
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