Prophet Muhammad Ordered Me to Leave Mosul: Al-Baghdadi
March 16, 2015
Mosul- Head of ISIS Abu-Baker Al-Baghdadi has claimed that he dreamt of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) who asked him to evacuate Mosul, Al-Sharq.com reported yesterday.
He claimed that the Prophet asked him to leave the province with all of his men without fighting.
Local Iraqi sources in Mosul reported that ISIS militias would withdraw from the city upon receiving orders from their leader Al-Baghdadi.
The Kurdish Democratic Party's electronic site reported that "Baghdadi ordered his fighters to withdraw from the city following a dream that he met Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), who ordered him to leave Mosul."
Egypt Sentences To Death Brotherhood Chief, 13 Others
Mar 17, 2015
CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Monday condemned to death Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie and 13 other senior members of the banned movement, state media and lawyers said.
The 14 members of the Brotherhood, which was declared a “terrorist organisation” in 2013, were found guilty of “plotting attacks aimed at sowing chaos” across the country, state news agency MENA reported.
Also read: ‘Sisi regime is more authoritarian than that of Hosni Mubarak’
The court found Mr Badie and his co-defendants, who include the Brotherhood’s former spokesman Mahmud Ghazlan, had set up an “operations room” to prepare attacks against the state in the weeks after the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
But lawyer Ahmad Helmi branded the verdicts as “farcical”.
A total of 51 suspects, including the 14 sentenced to death on Monday, are being tried in the case, 31 of whom are behind bars.
The court said it would announce the verdicts against the other defendants on April 11.
Iraqi forces: over 50 ISIS militants killed in Anbar air strike
16 March 2015
More than 50 ISIS militants have been killed in an airstrike that targeted their meeting in the north of Ramadi, the operations command of al-Anbar province said on Monday.
Citing the Anbar command of the Iraqi military, Al Arabiya News Channel reported that those killed included foreign militants with senior command posts within ISIS.
The Iraqi armed forces said they need the help of international airforce to dislodge ISIS militants from Tikrit as the campaign to retake Saddam Hussein's home city stalled for a fourth day due to homemade bombs and booby traps.
Iraqi security forces and mainly Shi'ite militia pushed into Tikrit last week but have struggled to advance against the militants who are holed up in a vast complex of palaces built when Saddam was in power.
Government forces are in control of the northern Qadisiya district as well as the southern and western outskirts of the city, trapping the militants in an area bounded by the river that runs through Tikrit.
“We need air support from any force that can work with us against IS,” Deputy Minister of Defense Ibrahim al-Ilami told Reuters, declining to say whether he meant from the U.S.-led coalition or Iran, which is playing a role in the assault.
The U.S.-led coalition has been conspicuously absent from the offensive, the biggest to be undertaken by Iraqi forces since Islamic State overran around a third of the country last summer including Tikrit.
More than 20,000 troops and Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia are taking part in the operation, which began two weeks ago, supported by a relatively small contingent of Sunni fighters from the area.
“We have been saying we need more air support for all of the operations,” the Prime Minister's spokesman Raid Jubbouri told Reuters. “We welcome air support for all our campaigns against IS.”
Syria raids on ISIS bastion kill scores of civilians
17 March 2015
The Syrian government killed more than 100 civilians in a series of "ruthless air strikes" on a bastion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group last year, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
In a new report, the London-based human rights group said some of the strikes launched by the regime in November 2014 on the city of Raqqa gave "every indication of being war crimes".
The group said the strikes carried out between November 11 and 29 killed 115 civilians, including 14 children, and hit non-military targets including a mosque, a transport hub and a busy market.
Raqqa city is the self-proclaimed capital of the brutal ISIS jihadist group in Syria, but Amnesty said there was no indication that militant positions were the target of the series of strikes.
"Syrian government forces have shown flagrant disregard for the rules of war in these ruthless air strikes," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa director Philip Luther.
"Some of these attacks give every indication of being war crimes," he added.
"The government appears indifferent to the carnage caused by these strikes, refusing even to acknowledge civilian casualties they have caused."
Luther acknowledged that Raqqa is a stronghold of ISIS jihadists, but said their presence did not justify attacks on civilian targets.
The group repeated a call for the war in Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court, saying it would "send a message to all warring parties".
It also urged an arms embargo to "stem the flow of weapons being used to commit these crimes".
More than 215,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011, when anti-regime protests began, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.
The government put down the demonstrations with force and the situation spiraled into a brutal civil conflict.
Nearly a third of those killed in the conflict are civilians, and around half of Syria's population has been displaced by the war.
No Palestinian state if re-elected, says Netanyahu
Mar 17, 2015
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday there would be no Palestinian state if he were re-elected, in a last-ditch effort to woo rightwing voters on the eve of a general election.
With his rightwing Likud trailing the centre-left Zionist Union in the final polls, Netanyahu said that if his rivals were elected security would be compromised and they would give up total Israeli control over Jerusalem.
“We will continue to build to fortify Jerusalem so its division will not be possible and it will remain united forever,” he said on a tour of Har Homa, a settlement neighbourhood of annexed east Jerusalem.
LAUSANNE/RIYADH - Any terms that world powers grant Iran under a nuclear deal will be sought by Saudi Arabia and other countries, risking wider proliferation of atomic technology, a senior Saudi prince warned on Monday in a BBC interview.
“I’ve always said whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same,” said Prince Turki al-Faisal, who has previously served as head of Saudi intelligence and Riyadh’s ambassador to Washington and London but is no longer a government official.
Saudi Arabia sees Iran as its main regional rival and fears that an atomic deal would leave the door open to Tehran gaining a nuclear weapon, or would ease political pressure on it, giving it more space to back Arab proxies opposed by Riyadh.
“If Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that,” the prince was quoted as saying by the BBC.
Although Prince Turki is not a Saudi official, his comments are widely understood to reflect the thinking at senior levels of the Al Saud ruling family.
“The whole world will be an open door to go that route without any inhibition, and that’s my main objection to this P5+1 process,” said the prince, who is a brother of Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.
The United States and Iran inched closer to a political deal that would set the stage for a landmark nuclear agreement, but a US official warned on Monday that Iran must make tough choices to allay fears about its atomic ambitions.
ISIL terrorists desecrated Christian church in Iraq’s Mosul
Mar 17, 2015
ISIL Takfiri militants have vandalized a church in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a screen grab from a video released by the terrorists shows.
The images show members of the group desecrating the historic Mar Korkis Church, Al Arabiya News reported on Monday.
The militants are seen in the footage removing crosses from the church’s structures and replacing them with the ISIL flag.
Other religious or historical objects such as paintings and statues are also vandalized by the group.
Last December, the terrorists torched a 1,800-year-old church and demolished mosques as well as shrines of Sunni Arab or Sufi figures in Mosul.
In November 2014, the Takfiri terrorists also blew up the historical St. George’s church and the holy shrine of Prophet Yunus in the then ISIL-controlled city.
ISIL destroying real artifacts
Iraq’s General Director of the Department of Media and Relations at Ministry of Tourism and Antiques has confirmed that the artifacts destroyed by ISIL militants were authentic.
“Everybody knows that ISIL is fighting a man, a culture, a history. ISIL is the enemy of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Assyria and Nimrud are real historic sites and cultural heritages. So, the artifacts ISIL destroyed in the two cities are real,” the Sputnik news agency quoted Qassem Taher Al-Soudani as saying on Monday.
A recently released ISIL video allegedly showed ISIL militants destroying irreplaceable ancient statues and artifacts with hammers.
According to reports, after viewing the video the curators at the Baghdad Museum claimed that the artifacts that appeared to have been destroyed were actually inside their museum.
Saddam Hussein’s tomb destroyed
According to footage released by the AP news agency, the tomb of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in the village of al-Awja has been almost completely destroyed during fighting in the northern city of Tikrit.
No place for Assad in Syria talks, U.S. officials say
16 March 2015
The United States insisted on Monday it would never negotiate directly with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, edging away from comments made by Secretary of State John Kerry, and it cast doubt on any immediate prospects for third-party talks to resolve Syria’s civil war.
Kerry’s apparent suggestion in a CBS television interview on Sunday that there could be a place for Assad in efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict drew swift criticism from European and Arab allies.
France said that possible talks with Assad would be a “scandalous gift” to the ISIS and Britain a day earlier sad Assad would have no place in Syria’s future.
Seeking to calm the diplomatic storm, State Department and White House officials sought to clarify Kerry’s remarks and show that Washington’s position on Assad had not softened.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that while the United States accepted the need for representatives of Assad’s government to participate in any negotiations, “it would not be and would never be - and it wasn’t what Secretary Kerry was intending to imply - that that would be Assad himself.”
“We continue to believe ... that there’s no future for Assad in Syria,” Psaki told reporters.
Earlier Monday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said any role for Assad would be a “scandalous gift” to ISIS.
Kurds probe 2 possible ISIS chemical weapon attacks
16 March 2015
Kurdish forces in Iraq are investigating two other possible chemical weapons attacks by the Islamic State group, a top official said Monday, as authorities put an Iraqi offensive to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown on hold.
The two purported chemical weapon assaults resemble one claimed Saturday by Kurdish officials who say an independent laboratory concluded the militants used chlorine gas against its peshmerga forces in a Jan. 23 truck suicide attack. However, their claims were not immediately verified by international authorities.
Iraqi officials and Kurds fighting in Syria have made similar allegations about the militants using the low-grade chemical weapons against them. The Islamic State group, which controls a third of Syria and Iraq in its self-declared caliphate, has not commented on the claims.
Gen. Aziz Wesi, in charge of a Kurdish special forces brigade, told journalists Monday that authorities declined to immediately discuss the two newly announced attacks when they happened on Dec. 26 and Jan. 18 out of fears of causing a panic.
Kurdish officials have offered footage of the aftermath of the Dec. 26 attack, which shows fighters coughing and pouring water over their heads after another suicide truck bombing that authorities say wounded some 60 men.
“I put a wet scarf on my face because when I saw the gas, I felt it,” said Capt. Mohammad Sewdin, who leads the Kurdish special forces unit targeted in the December attack. “I was afraid it might be something like (chemical weapons). So I told my men to do the same.”
Sewdin told The Associated Press he was temporarily blinded for six hours after the attack and coughed up blood. He and others were hospitalized.
Powerful ‘bus barricade’ photo in Syria goes viral
17 March 2015
An incredible picture showing buses being used as a barricade to protect Syrian civilians from sniper fire is being widely circulated on the anniversary of the bloody conflict, which has now entered its fifth year.
Three single-decker buses were turned vertically upright in a street in Aleppo to protect civilians from sniper fire. In the viral photo, a young child walks past the makeshift barrier undeterred.
Four years on, images taken in the war-ravaged country continue to highlight the plight of civilians.
Anonymous reveals list of ISIS-linked Twitter accounts
16 March 2015
Three leading hacktivist groups have released the largest list of social media accounts related to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), IBT reported Monday.
Anonymous ,GhostSec and Ctrlsec revealed the list that gathers 9,200 accounts online.
“This is historic amongst the digital world as it’s the first time these groups have come together for something this large,” a member of Anonymous involved in the operation said.
“Usually they are very closed off and not willing to work outside of their circles but this has become so large of a problem they’re willing to form an alliance for what is seen as a greater good,” the source said.
Bahraini security forces have attacked anti-regime protesters marking the death anniversary of two people killed in regime crackdown.
On Monday, police forces clashed with protesters on the island of Sitra, southeast of the capital city of Manama, and fired tear gas to disperse them.
The protesters were holding a rally to remember anti-regime protesters Issa al-Radhi and Jawad Ahmed al-Haawi.
Radhi, 47, was killed during a raid by regime forces in 2011. His body was returned to his family with a broken skull, shotgun wounds to his legs and multiple bruises.
Forty-nine-year-old Haawi died in 2014 after developing respiratory complications due to the inhalation of poisonous teargas that riot police used during a protest.
Also on Monday, demonstrators in the villages of al-Daih and al-Musalla demanded the release of political prisoners, including Sheikh Ali Salman, who is the secretary general of Bahrain’s main opposition bloc, the al-Wefaq National Islamic Society.
ISIL used CWs against Peshmerga fighters thrice: Kurdish general
Mar 16, 2015
A Kurdish general says he has evidence that the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group has subjected Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, to chemical attacks three times.
Speaking on Monday, Chief Commander of the Zerevani Peshmerga Major General Aziz Waisi said the attacks had taken place in northern Iraq, with the group using chlorine as a chemical weapon against the forces.
The head of the Kurdistan Regional Government's police force enumerated a December attack in the Sinjar area and two others in January west of Mosul.
One of the January attacks took place on the 23rd day of the month.
The government of Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region also said on Saturday that it was in possession of evidence that showed the terror group had used chlorine gas against Peshmerga forces during the attack.
RIYADH: A remark by US Secretary of State John Kerry that President Bashar Assad should be included in negotiations on a Syrian political transition provoked alarm and dismay on Monday among commentators close to Gulf governments opposed to his rule.
“Bashar has no legitimacy after killing his people and driving 11 million out of their houses. How can you sit down and talk to him and keep him in power? It’s a big joke for us,” said Abdulaziz Al-Sager, head of the Gulf Research Center based in Jeddah and Geneva.
“We have to negotiate in the end,” Kerry said. “We’ve always been willing to negotiate in the context of the Geneva I process,” he added, referring to a 2012 conference which called for a negotiated transition to end the conflict.
One major US ally appeared to differ. France said it was sticking to its opposition to talks with Assad, saying these had to include Syrian opposition members and elements of the exiting regime — but not Assad — to pave the way to a unity government.
Other Gulf countries, which have backed Syrian rebels against Assad, worried about Kerry’s remarks.
“The fact that Assad is still in the picture is something we have lived with and accepted as an interim arrangement. If Mr. Kerry was talking about this same interim arrangement — one year or two years until negotiations reach some fruit — we understand,” said Sami Al-Faraj, a Kuwaiti adviser to the GCC.
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Ulema Council curses attack on Christians
March 17, 2015
LAHORE - Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi alleged on Monday that some elements were trying to portray the Youhanabad tragedy as a clash between Muslims and Christians.
However, he said at a news conference, these elements would not succeed in their designs.
He said Sunday’s attack was not on Christians, but on all Muslims.
Condemning the incident in the strongest terms, the PUC chief said Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs would have to live together peacefully.
Religious minorities feel insecure in the country, NA told
Mar 17, 2015
ISLAMABAD: Members of opposition and treasury benches in the National Assembly on Monday said religious minorities are feeling insecure in the country due to the deteriorating law and order situation.
Commenting in the National Assembly regarding the terrorist attacks on churches in Lahore, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Syed Naveed Qamar said on Monday: “Government has failed to control terrorism as militants are able to strike at any place”. The terrorists carried out suicide attack on churches to defame Pakistan, he added.
Muttahidda Qaumi Movement (MQM) lawmaker Syed Asif Hasnain said the terrorist attacks on minorities are damaging the image of the country, while the people have started to believe that Pakistan is no more a secure country for the minorities.
Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) legislator Asiya Ansar said it was the responsibility of intelligence agencies to counter such heinous plans as people have been facing terrorism for over a decade now.
She said minorities are feeling insecure in their own country. “People believe they will fail to get justice that’s why they are taking law in their own hands,” the JUI-F MNA said.
Ruling party’s MNA Khalil George demanded of the government to establish a separate task force to protect worship places across the country.
“The media should call those as ‘martyrs’ who lost their lives in the terrorists attack in Lahore,” he requested.
Lawmaker from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Dr Darshan Punshi said religious minorities should refrain from violence in such difficult situations. He urged the government to compensate families of the victims on a priority basis.
Peshawar: A bomb planted in a toy exploded in Swat district on Tuesday, killing two children and their father while injuring three others.
According to police, the explosion took place in the Bashigram area of Tehsil Madyan in Swat district. Police confirmed that the toy bomb killed Zor Muhammad and his two kids while three children of the same family were injured.
Twelve convicts executed in various jails across Pakistan
Mar 17, 2015
KARACHI/MULTAN/FAISALABAD/GUJRANWALA/RAWALPINDI: At least twelve death row prisoners have been hanged in various cities across Pakistan, on Tuesday morning, while the hanging of one condemned prisoner has been halted in Multan.
Two death row prisoners, Zafar Iqbal and Waqar Nazir, were scheduled to be hanged in Multan Central Jail but at eleventh hour, heirs of Waqar Nazir produced an agreement between the plaintiff and defendant parties before the jail authorities. The hanging of Nazir has subsequently been postponed.
The case will now be referred to the trial court for further proceedings.
Nazir was found guilty of killing a man during a robbery bid in 1996. A sessions court had awarded him the death sentence. The Lahore High Court (LHC) and the Supreme Court (SC) had upheld his sentence.
Zafar Iqbal was awarded the death sentence as he was found guilty of raping and murdering a six-year-old girl. An anti terrorism court (ATC) had declared him guilty in 1996.
Two condemned prisoners, Muhammad Faisal and Muhammad Afzal, have been hanged to death after an ATC dismissed their compromise application, terming it as non-maintainable.
Both the convicts were found guilty of killing a man, Abdul Jabbar, during a robbery bid in Karachi's Korangi area in 1998. The victim was killed upon offering resistance to the robbers.
Know more: No pardon: Fresh black warrants for two death row inmates
An ATC had awarded the death sentence to the robbers in 1999, along with their third accomplice. The third accomplice had died in jail in 2006.
Faisal and Afzal were to be hanged on Mar 5, 2015, but their hanging was halted as their heirs moved the Sindh High Court (SHC) against their execution with a compromise application. The SHC had then referred their case to the trial court.
Execution of Saulat Mirza in Machh jail challenged in SHC
ABDUL SHAKOOR KHAN
Mar 17, 2015
KARACHI: The sister of death row prisoner Saulat Mirza challenged an anti-terrorism court's (ATC) decision to hang her brother till death in Balochistan's Machh jail.
Mirza's sister Samira Wajahat petitioned to the Sindh High Court (SHC), saying that the ATC's orders regarding implementation of her brother's execution in Machh jail should be stopped.
Her application further said that her brother should be hanged in Karachi's Central Jail.
Last week, the SHC had disposed of a petition filed by Wajahat challenging his death warrant and had advised her to approach the Supreme Court.
Examine: SHC disposes of plea challenging Saulat Mirza death warrant
Separately, the family of the condemned prisoner reached Machh jail to meet him for one last time.
SC reserves decision on Saulat Mirza’s petition against execution
The Supreme Court reserved its verdict on the petition filed by Saulat Mirza against his impending execution.
Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk presided over an in-chamber hearing of an appeal against a decision of the Supreme Court office to return the second review petition by target killer Saulat Mirza who is to be hanged on March 19 at Machh Jail in Balochistan.
Advocate Sardar Latif Khosa represented Saulat Mirza during the hearing.
The court’s verdict on his appeal is expected in a few hours.
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said that action would be taken against those who burnt two people alive and damaged public and private property in Lahore on Sunday.
Briefing the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Interior on his ministry’s performance on Monday, he said an FIR would be registered against people who took law into their own hands.
The minister condemned terrorist attacks on two churches in Lahore and said those who had committed this act did not belong to any religion because no religion tolerated such heinous crimes.
He said terrorists wanted to create division in society. The noose around terrorists was being tightened and attacks on soft targets like mosques, churches and schools were an expression of their frustration, he added.
Chaudhry Nisar said the overall law and order situation had improved in the country as a result of an effective counter-terrorism policy adopted by the PML-N government.
Know more: Lahore lynching victim identified as local glass cutter
In reply to a demand of MQM legislator Asif Hasnain for formation of a commission to investigate alleged insulting behaviour of the Rangers with him and some other lawmakers and women during the recent raid at his party’s headquarters, Nine Zero, the minister assured him that he would probe the matter himself.
He said the government had no plan to push any political party to the wall and told the house that the Rangers were operationally under the control of the GHQ and majority of its officers were from the military.
It was decided at a meeting presided over by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Karachi that terrorists would not be spared irrespective of their political affiliation, Chaudhry Nisar recalled.
Respect of all religions essential for peaceful society, Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani addressed crowded Press Conference outside Parliament House
Islamabad / Karachi (March 17, 2015): Patron-in-chief Pakistan Hindu Council and Member National Assembly Dr. Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, while condemning the Youhunabad Church Attack, has assured full support to the brave armed forces, on behalf of Hindu community living across the country. He was addressing a crowded press conference outside the Parliament House, here on Tuesday. He also termed the reaction of violent mob to kill suspected persons as "unjustified murder" and demanded to take action against the culprits, adding that bravery of Punjab Police officers should be acknowledged.
Dr. Ramesh Vankwani further said that teachings of all religions emphasize to respect each other and in a peaceful society, it is essential to have freedom of faith. He was of the view that the aim of terrorists behind such bloodiest attacks is to damage the image of Pakistan in international community. "Immediate implementation of the Supreme Court Orders of June 19 regarding the protection of minorities rights could stop these incidents," he said, urging the need to finalize the Security Plan to protect all religious holy places on Governmental level. On the occasion, Dr. Ramesh was also acknowledged due to his valuable contributions for the presentation of Hindu Marriage Act in the Parliament.
Dr. Ramesh, while answering a question, also mentioned the Quad-e-Azam 's Fourteen Points related to effective representation of minorities in every province, under the British India, without reducing the majority in any province to a minority or even equality. "Full religious liberty, i.e. liberty of belief, worship and observance, association and education, shall be guaranteed to all communities," Dr. Ramesh quoted the famous Fourteen Points, which was presented by the founder of Pakistan Quad-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, to protect the rights of minorities Indian Muslims.
He also demanded to complete ban on the sale and purchase of Alcohol in the name of non-Muslims, emphasizing that all religions discouraged to drink wine. Dr. Ramesh also regretted on the rejection of his bill in the National Assembly.
"A member shall permanently be disqualified to be elected as member of Majlis-e-Shoora or of a Provincial Assembly if he is elected or attempts to be elected or elects or attempts elect a member by way of bribery of any kind," The bill statement said. On the occasion, he also briefed the media about his other bills introduced in the National Assembly. A large number of journalists belonging to print and electronic media attended the press conference.
Church attacks condemned
Mar 17, 2015
KARACHI: Not just Christians but Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs also came out Monday to protest the bomb attacks near two churches in Lahore’s Youhannabad area a day earlier.
Showing solidarity with the Christian community outside the Karachi Press Club, Allama Siddiq Ahsan said they should all unite and raise their voice together to make it clear to the world that “we are one”. “Pakistan belongs to all of us. We take ownership of all the places of worship in this land of ours, be it mosques, imambargahs, churches or temples,” he said.
Also read: 15 killed in Taliban attack on Lahore churches
Zafar Abbas of the Civil Society Against Terrorism lamented that on the 16th of the month they were mourning the deaths of the Youhannabad churches victims besides those killed in the Peshawar school tragedy and the imambargahs bomb blasts of Rawalpindi and Shikarpur.
In a message, patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council and member of the National Assembly Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani termed the attack an act of cowardice and prayed for operation Zarb-i-Azb’s success. He also called for the immediate preparation and implementation of the Security Plan for minority worship places as per orders of the Supreme Court for the protection of minorities across the country. “Terrorists being defeated by the brave armed forces are trying to prove their existence through such cowardly acts,” he said.
Father Mario Rodrigues of the St Patrick’s parish said that people from all religions needed to work together for the country to prosper. “We are all like one family here and this family has come out to protest so that we can raise awareness of what the terrorists are doing, trying to break us up,” he said.
Pakistani man accused of planning Toronto attack kept in custody
Mar 17, 2015
TORONTO: A Pakistani man accused of planning to bomb the US consulate in Toronto and other targets in the city's financial district will remain in custody pending an immigration review in April, Canadian media reported on Monday.
Jahanzeb Malik, 33, said little as he appeared by videolink before the brief immigration hearing at a jail in Lindsay, Ontario, northeast of Toronto, the reports said. He was told he would be detained until his next hearing on the grounds he may be “a danger to the public”.
The Canadian government, which has said Malik was inspired by Islamic State, is seeking to deport him as a security threat rather than charge him with criminal offenses.
That strategy has been criticised as irresponsible by human rights lawyers. The deportation process can take months but the threshold for proof of guilt is far lower than in criminal law.
Malik's next review hearing is set for April 14, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said.
Malik was befriended by an undercover Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer during a long investigation into the activities of the former student, who has a record of travel to Pakistan and allegedly underwent combat training in Libya, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said last week.
LAHORE - Christians late on Monday ended their protest against Youhanabad bombings when the government accepted their demands after daylong demonstrations and clashes with police in different parts of the country.
Sunday’s blasts at two churches in Lahore’s largest Christian neighbourhood ignited violent protests by an otherwise peaceful community.
The protests spread from Lahore to Gujranwala, Sargodha, Faisalabad and other cities.
The death toll reached 16 as another victim of the Taliban suicide bombings succumbed to wounds at Lahore General Hospital (LGH).
More than six dozen people were wounded when two suicide bombers unleashed the attack at the churches.
Cops were ordered to observe maximum restraint as the country’s Christian population on Monday took to the streets, blocked roads and attacked private vehicles to vent their spleen over the bomb strikes.
Youhanabad looked like a battlefield as angry protesters clashed with anti-riot police, forcing the authorities to deploy Rangers and use water cannons and teargas to control snowballing situation.
Commander, nine others linked to IS dead in Afghan airstrike
March 17, 2015
KANDAHAR - Afghan forces have killed a militant commander suspected of having links to the Islamic State group in an airstrike, officials said Monday.
Hafiz Waheed, a successor to Abdul Rauf Khadim who died in a US drone strike last month, was killed along with nine others in the Sangin district of Helmand province late on Sunday, according to a defence ministry statement.
“All the militants were associated with Islamic State group,” the statement said, adding that six others were wounded in the strike.
Nato forces, who remain in the country in a limited training mission, were not involved in the operation, a spokesman said.
Zamen Ali, a senior Afghan army officer in southern Afghanistan, told AFP that Waheed took over the anti-government militia, Khadim had commanded, following his death on February 9.
Khadim, Waheed’s uncle, was a former Taliban commander and Guantanamo detainee who allegedly changed his allegiance to IS, raising fears the militant group was seeking to expand its operations in Afghanistan following the end of Nato forces’ 13-year combat mission at the end of 2014.
But IS has never acknowledged having representatives in Afghanistan, and a senior Taliban commander told AFP on condition of anonymity that Khadim had “not formally joined IS and IS had not recognised him”.
The US appreciates Bangladesh's law enforcement agencies' role in countering terrorism and it deserves praise, Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali yesterday stated Secretary of State John Kerry as saying in a meeting during Mahmood's February 17-19 visit there.
The US assured to provide any form of assistance to combat terrorism, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan quoted Mahmood as saying in yesterday's weekly Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Mahmood also informed Kerry that terrorist activities in the name of political programmes in Bangladesh have come down due to the agencies' coordinated efforts, Musharraf told journalists after the meeting.
Police on Sunday pressed charges against 207 BNP-Jamaat men in the case for attacking the convoy of lawmaker and incumbent Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor in Sadar upazila on December 14, 2013.
Sub-Inspector Mostafizar Rahman, also the investigation officer (IO) of the case, submitted the charge sheet to the Chief Judicial Magistrate's Court.
Abu Helal, general secretary of Jamaat district unit, and Khairul Anam, president of Sadar upazila unit of the party, are among the charge-sheeted accused.
Jamaat activists attacked the houses of Hindu families at several villages in Polashbari and Laxmichap unions of Sadar upazila on the night of December 12, 2013, protesting the execution of Jamaat assistant secretary general Kader Molla.
The Jamaat men injured over 100 Hindus, torched around 200 houses and looted valuables.
On December 14, Asaduzzaman Noor visited the villages, talked to the affected people and gave them some assistance for their rehabilitation.
UNITED NATIONS: The reconciliation process initiated by the National Unity government of Afghanistan with the Taliban to bring about peace and stability in the country should be supported by the international community, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations told the UN Security Council on Monday.
In her address during a debate on Afghanistan in the council, Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi said that Pakistan would do all that was possible to facilitate this process. She welcomed China’s closer engagement in promoting reconciliation and economic development in Afghanistan.
Ms Lodhi stressed that the Afghan parties and the international community would need to exercise strategic patience and that those who might desire to disrupt the peace process should be discouraged.
KABUL: Afghanistan has endured more than 30 years of warfare, but recent attacks on minority Muslim sects have raised fears that sectarian unrest could add yet another layer of bloodshed.
On March 7, gunmen stormed a Sufi mosque in Kabul, killing at least six people in an attack on the mystic order of Muslims that is seen as heretical by hardline Sunni factions.
And in late February, a group of 30 people from the Hazara minority group who were travelling by bus through southern Zabul province of Afghanistan were snatched by gunmen after returning from Iran.
Read: Gunmen kill six in Kabul’s Sufi mosque attack
The Taliban, who are waging an insurgency against the government of Kabul, distanced themselves from both incidents, which are more commonplace across the border in Pakistan.
But the rare attacks have sent shockwaves through both communities who see them as chilling reminders of the Taliban's rule from 1996 to 2001, when minorities were heavily persecuted.
Also read: Gunmen kidnap eight Hazaras in Afghanistan
The number of civilians killed and wounded in Afghanistan jumped 22 per cent in 2014, the UN said last month, as Nato troops withdrew from combat leaving government forces to battle a raging Taliban insurgency.
'We have no enemies'
At the Bahaduria Sufi mosque in the west of Kabul, worshippers gather around their new leader Abdul Waheed Bahaduri, the son of slain leader Agha Jan Bahaduri, who founded the order and who was killed along with his other son in the recent attack.
The building is now both a mosque and a shrine with the bodies of the two men buried in the front yard, with several policemen standing guard.
“We had never witnessed such an attack on Sufis in the past, this is the very first time,” the soft-spoken 28 year-old Bahaduri told AFP.
BSF detains 5 Bangladeshis for crossing border illegally
Mar 17, 2015
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) arrested five Bangladeshis after they entered the Indian territory illegally through Burirhat border in Kaliganj upazila of the district yesterday.
The arrestees are Al-Amin Sheikh, 25, son of Abdul Jalil, Palash Chandra Roy, 19, son of Subhas Chandra Roy of Nawdabash village in Hatibandha upazila, Sumon Chandra Roy, 18, son of Dhirendranath Roy, Anil Chandra Roy, 35, son of late Premananda Roy of Latabar, and Santosh Kumar Roy, 28, son of Manoranjon Roy of Gangagachh village in Kaliganj upazila.
A BSF team arrested the five in the morning on charge of crossing the border without valid documents, said Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) sources.
Isis posts video, photos of Malay-speaking children in recruitment drive
17 March 2015
A video and photos of Malay-speaking children training with weapons has been posted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) in a move by the terror cell to coax locals from Southeast Asia to join its cause.
The Straits Times reported today that the footage depicted at least 20 boys studying, praying, eating and undergoing defence and weapons lessons in territory held by Isis.
The video, titled Education in the Caliphate, follows warnings by experts that the terror cell is beefing up its external operations wing and courting further support in the region.
The Singaporean daily reported that it was posted over the weekend by the Malay-language media division of Isis, as a teaser for a longer piece to be posted later.
It was posted just after Turkey said last week it had detained 16 Indonesians trying to cross into Syria, and two weeks after Malaysian police identified two Malaysians in a beheading video.
The Star Online reported that Bukit Aman identified the two Malaysians in the video.
Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division principal assistant director Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayub Khan was reported as saying that the two are 20-year-old Mohd Faris Anuar from Kedah and Muhamad Wanndy Muhamad Jedi, 26, who is from Malacca.
The report said that the duo are believed to be part of a new group of militants consisting of Malaysians and Indonesians – Majmu'ah al Arkhabiliy.
This group, it was reported, replaced the older wing – Katibah Nusantara Lid Daulah Islamiah – in Syria and Iraq.
Maldives resists pressure to free jailed ex-leader
March 17, 2015
COLOMBO - The Maldives government Monday vowed to resist mounting foreign pressure to free former president Mohamed Nasheed after he was jailed for 13 years but admitted its justice system was below international standards.
Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, the daughter of former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, told reporters in Sri Lanka that her government would not interfere with the decision of courts which she insisted were independent.
The United States, European Union and India have all expressed concern at last week’s jailing of Nasheed for ordering the detention of a judge in 2012 when he was president.
“A free and fair trial has happened.
A verdict has come,” Maumoon said, adding that President Abdulla Yameen - who is also her uncle - “has asked the whole world to respect that”.
Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party has urged international pressure, particularly from neighbouring India, on Yameen’s regime to free him.
The decision to prosecute Nasheed, who was the honeymoon islands’ first democratically-elected president, under terror laws has made his conviction particularly controversial and sparked a series of protests.
Maumoon said no compromise was possible on judiciary matters and denied allegations that criminal court judges were uneducated, corrupt and politically biased.
“I have consistently said that India respects our sovereignty and our independence,” she said.
“While on the basis of the friendship, we can discuss concerns and have a dialogue.
“But I don’t think India nor any other country would be giving us directions.
on a particular matter.
” However, she said Nasheed had the right to appeal.
Maumoon said the Maldives was not the first country in the region to jail an opposition leader and former presidents and prime ministers had been hauled before courts in neighbouring Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh.
Shia Muslims in Indonesia 'forced to recant faith'
March 17, 2015
A group of Shia Muslims detained for more than a month after an alleged altercation at a Sunni mosque has claimed they were forced to recant their Shia faith last week by religious clerics and local police officers.
The incident occurred on February 11 when police say a group of Shia Muslims attacked the Muammar Qaddafy mosque in the Al Zikri housing complex in Bogor district, about 48km south of Jakarta, because of anti-Shia banners posted on and around the mosque.
Ferdi Irwandi from the legal division of the Organization of Ahlulbayt for Social Support and Education (OASE), a non-profit group that mediates conflicts between religious groups in Indonesia, said local police detained 34 Shia Muslims and initially charged them with kidnapping and assaulting the security guard.
A month after their arrest, Irwandi said the detainees were forced last week to recant their Shia faith in a ceremony called ruqyah, which in Islam is used to cast out demons.
“I heard about ruqyah — the recitation of Qur’an for people possessed by evil spirits — and the forced repentance of the detainees,” Irwandi told ucanews.com.
“I am also a brother of one of the detained Shia followers. They were handcuffed and forced to repent. They were passive. They just did what they were told to do,” Irwandi said, adding that the ceremony took place on Monday and Tuesday of last week.
Indonesia is predominantly Sunni Muslim, and sectarian tensions have escalated in past months with anti-Shia banners appearing in several parts of the country — most recently on the streets of Yogyakarta earlier this month, according to a report by the Jakarta Post.
Irwandi said the ceremony violated the Shia group’s right to freedom of religion.
“Why is their religion regarded as heretical? Why were they forced to repent,” he said.
Ita Puspita Lena, a local police spokeswoman, denied that the ceremony and recantation took place.
Non-Muslims struggle to find suitable cemeteries in W. Sumatra
March 17 2015
Non-Muslims in Padang and Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, say they face difficulties finding places to bury their loved ones.
Padang Diocese spokesperson Windi Subakto said the public cemetery, which housed many non-Muslim graves — TPU Bungus — was located some 30 kilometers from the center of Padang and that organizing funerals there incurred a lot of expense.
According to him, a public cemetery is located in the center of Padang — TPU Air Dingin — but it is only for Muslims.
“It is called a public cemetery but non-Muslims are not allowed to be buried there. It should be for all,” Windi told The Jakarta Post recently.
Padang Sanitation and Landscape Agency head Afrizal Khaidir denied that non-Muslims found it difficult to find burial places in the city, saying that the city administration had prepared TPU Bungus.
“If the problem is the distance, [then look at others] who often bring bodies from Jakarta to Padang,” Afrizal said.
He said the administration had three public cemeteries. A 4.5 hectare (ha) cemetery in Tunggul Hitam welcomed non-Muslims but was already full.
The 2 ha TPU Air Dingin, he said, was for Muslims only and was also full.
Another public cemetery was being developed in Air Dingin, he added, also for Muslims. The 2.9 ha cemetery was expected to be ready by the end of this year.
According to Government Regulation No. 9/1987 on the land use for cemeteries, public cemeteries should make distinctions based on religion and citizenship. However, the regulation states that the local administration should consider local customs in arranging cemeteries.
Chinese-Indonesian politician Hasyim has been selected by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDI-P) central executive board (DPP) to head the party’s Medan branch, following deadlock in a branch conference last week.
Hasyim is the first member of the ethnic Chinese community to be entrusted with leading the PDI-P in Medan, and will do so for the 2015-2020 term. Hasyim, 47, is the son of Adi Kurniawan and Roslina, both supporters of the Indonesian National Party Marhaenism (PNI Marhaenisme).
“This is an honor for the Chinese-Indonesian community because it has been given the opportunity to lead the PDI-P in the province,” Hasyim told The Jakarta Post at his home in Medan, North Sumatra, on Monday.
Hasyim said his appointment as PDI-P Medan chairman showed the party still upheld nationalist values and did not question racial elements.
He claimed he had never asked to be chosen as leader. According to him, those who asked for positions had no confidence in their own abilities.
“A position is a mandate and cannot be requested, especially by way of a bribe. That’s not right,” said Hasyim.
He learned of his selection via PDI-P deputy secretary-general Ahmad Basara, who announced the decision at the North Sumatra PDI-P office in Medan on Sunday afternoon.
Besides Hasyim’s appointment, the PDI-P DPP also appointed Sastra as secretary and Boydo Simanjuntak as PDI-P Medan treasurer.
During the branch conference last week, the three PDI-P Medan executives faced deadlock to appoint a leader. All three coveted the branch head position, so the final decision had to be handed to the DPP.
Hasyim said that now the appointment process was over, the time had come to unite to strengthen the party at the community level.
Also a Medan councilor, Hasyim said the branch’s most pressing issue was the Medan mayoral election in December this year. According to him, the PDI-P must win the mayoral election and place its functionaries as regional heads.
Church Attack: Hisar Priest Was Luring Youths with Bride Promise, CM Says
Mar 17, 2015
CHANDIGARH: Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Monday told the assembly that the priest of the church that was demolished in Hisar's Kaimri village had been luring Hindu youths to his faith by promising to get them brides.
The CM, who raised the issue in the House himself, told the MLAs that Kaimri villagers were opposed to the "so-called church". A group of attackers had torn down the under-construction church on Sunday.
Khattar said initially the priest, Subhash Chand, had started preaching from the Bible to the 10 to 12 workers involved in constructing the structure on February 8. "Some people from Kaimri and Hisar had opposed it then, but the village sarpanch had settled the matter," he said, adding that an FIR was registered against 14 people on the priest's complaint.
The CM also gave details of a complaint made by a village youth who alleged that Chand had made objectionable comments about Hindu gods. "The youth was shunted out and beaten up when he opposed the priest's statement," Khattar said, quoting from the youth's complaint.
Soon after Khattar's statement, Congress MLAs, including Karan Singh Dalal, stood up to blame an organization connected with the BJP for the attack on the church. Dalal suggested the constitution of an all-party committee to look into the issue.
"They (Congressmen) have been trying to divide people in the name of communalism," state finance minister Captain Abhimanyu said. He said a person named in the FIR had connections with a senior Congress functionary.
Muslim Scholar Plans School to Spread Scientific Knowhow
Mar 17, 2015
VADODARA: Muhammed Abdul Hakim Azhari, an educationist from Kerala, is planning to set up more schools to promote skill development and scientific know-how along with traditional Islamic education. The scholar, who already runs a school in Karjan taluka of the district under the Jamia Markazu Ssaqafathi Ssunniyya, was in the city on Saturday to discuss the possibilities of setting up an educational institute here.
The prominent south Indian university, Jamia Markaz, runs over 300 educational institutes in the country providing education from pre-school to post-graduate studies and religious training to Muslim students. However, the Markaz group is not limited to Muslim students and is training students from various communities.
As much as 25 per cent of the 200 students who attend Markaz Public School at Karjan are Hindus. Sikh students also form nearly five per cent of the students in the school. Two Hindu students in the school are also covered under Markaz Trust which sponsors orphans and acts as official guardians of the beneficiaries.
India asks UNSC to deal with Afghan terror threat urgently
Mar 17, 2015
UNITED NATIONS: Asserting that terror groups like Pakistan-based LeT cannot remain active in Afghanistan without "systematic state support" from "beyond" its borders, India has asked the UN Security Council to act against this security threat with a sense of urgency.
Reiterating its commitment to "stay the course" in Afghanistan, India told the UN Security Council that the main source of instability in the war-torn nation is terrorism and not ethnic rivalries.
Expressing concern over the security situation inside Afghanistan, India has cited UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's latest report which said the number of security incidents in Afghanistan was the second highest in 2014 after 2011 when al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was neutralized.
The secretary general's report "substantiates our view that it is terrorism, and not tribal differences or ethnic rivalries, which is the main source of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan," India's ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji said at the Security Council debate on United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) here on Monday.
He said that the terrorist groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), are active despite efforts of the valiant personnel of the Afghan National Security Forces and the international coalition forces.
'Ghar wapsi' issue likely to figure at Muslim Personal Law Board meet
Mar 17, 2015
The issue of 'ghar wapsi' programme by some Hindu organisations is likely to figure prominently in the three-day meet of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), scheduled to be held in Jaipur from March 20.
"The Jamaits and the Board have already clarified their stand on the issue. It's only a propaganda," AIMLPB General Secretary Maulana Nizamuddin told PTI.
He said that though the matter has not been included in the general agenda, it would be raised in the meeting.
"Thought should be given whether the country will progress or get destroyed. What does this 'ghar wapsi'programme mean?" he asked.
Mumbai Muslims protest to get back Ismail Yusuf College
17 Mar 2015
MUMBAI: Kicking off its campaign to get the Ismail Yusuf College in Jogeshwari back from government control, members of the Ismail Yusuf College Campus Bachao Sangharsh Samiti held a demonstration outside the college on Monday. "The government must remove all encroachments, declare Ismail Yusuf College a minority institution and hand over the college and its nearly 54 acre land to a suitable Muslim trust to develop it as a world-class university," said Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman (Mumbai), Observer Research Foundation. The protesters announced a massive Morcha at Azad Maidan on March 25.
Again, Obasanjo seeks dialogue with Boko Haram; says sect has legitimate grievances
March 17, 2015
Nigeria’s former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has again advocated dialogue with the insurgent group, Boko Haram, saying the group has legitimate grievances despite its brutal five-year campaign that has killed more than 15,000 people, with hundreds of thousands displaced.
The former president said Nigeria should not rule out talking to the terrorist group which recently pledged allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS) – but he said that should only happen after a sustained military campaign.
Boko Haram’s run of violence against innocent people in schools, places of worship, markets and homes, only slowed relatively in the last few weeks in the face of increased military onslaught from Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroun.
The military has retaken 15 of 16 major towns seized by the group, the latest being Bama in Borno State, recaptured on Monday.
In response, Boko Haram has launched more suicide bomb attacks killing scores of civilians.
In an interview with the International Business Times in Dubai, Mr. Obasanjo advised that in dealing with the terror organization, the Nigerian government should not rule out dialogue if the group is willing to talk. He said that should happen only after sustained military operations against the militants.
Mr. Obasanjo, who spoke at the side-lines of the Global Education Forum conference, said with only 19 per cent of the population in Boko Haram’s stronghold of North-East Nigeria receiving education, [compared to 79 per cent in the South-West and 77 per cent in the South-East], there was no question that the area should feel marginalised.
“We don’t need anyone to tell us that that is a problem; a problem of disparity, a problem of marginalization, a problem because education is fundamental to your employability and to your living conditions. If you are not educated you are handicapped,” Mr. Obasanjo said.
Mr. Obasanjo again criticised President Goodluck Jonathan’s response to the group, saying the incumbent failed to act quick enough in taking the fight to Boko Haram.
That failure, he said, had given the group “false confidence” to spread to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon.
Nigeria wants more Turkish schools to increase quality of education
Dr. Mac-John Nwaobiala, the permanent secretary of the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Education, said on Sunday more Turkish schools must be opened in Nigeria to increase the quality of education.
Speaking with Today's Zaman during a visit to İstanbul, Nwaobiala said Turkish schools in Nigeria have been providing quality education to Nigerians for years but that more are needed, as the present number of schools is not sufficient for a country with a population of approximately 170 million. At present, there are only 16 educational institutions, varying from pre-schools to high schools and a university, run by Turkish company Sürat Educational LTD.
Asking Turkish educators to share their experiences with his country, Secretary Nwaobiala, said, “We want to build an Africa which will contribute to world peace. We also want to build these schools across Africa to help the continent to develop.”
Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu, secretary-general of the Jama'atu Nasril Islam (the Society for the Support of Islam), an umbrella group for the Muslim community in Nigeria, also told Today's Zaman that they are closely watching the Turkish schools in Nigeria and that they are happy the schools are raising a well-educated generation in Nigeria. Speaking about the demands from African nations that the Turkish government close down the schools, Aliyu noted that Nigeria is an independent country and will reject any such demands as being inappropriate. According to Aliyu, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government's fight with the faith-based Gülen movement, popularly known as the Hizmet movement, doesn't affect the educational activities of Hizmet in Nigeria. Aliyu added that he was recently in the Nigerian capital of Abuja to distribute prizes for a Mathematics Olympiad organized by these schools and will continue to support Hizmet activities in his country.
As part of a smear campaign against the Gülen movement, inspired by the views of prominent Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, ruling AK Party government members and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, during their visits in 2014, asked African country leaders and officials to close the Hizmet-affiliated schools in their countries.
BBOG Group Calls For Trauma Counselling Centres For Boko Haram Victims
Chika Mefor, Ejike Ejike
— Mar 17, 2015
As the fight against insurgency continues, the #BringBackOurGirls(BBOG) group has called on the government to provide trauma counselling centres for victims of Boko Haram.
In a press release signed by one of the leaders of the group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili who commended the government for eventually reaching out to families of the Buni Yadi boys who were killed by the Boko Haram sect on February 25, she emphasised the need for appropriate compensations, as well as trauma counselling for the survivors.
“When we marked the one year anniversary of the Buni Yadi massacre on February 25, it was necessitated by the neglect the federal government had shown to those directly affected and in keeping with our core values which place emphasis on empathy with fellow citizens. We had called on the relevant authority to take on the responsibility it had ignored.
“We are delighted that during the week, the federal government eventually reached out to the families of the boys who were slaughtered in that school. This initial engagement should not be a one-off affair, as the process needs to be fully explored so that all belated remedial actions are followed to a logical conclusion. This should include a comprehensive inventory of the dead and missing, appropriate compensations, as well as trauma counselling for the survivors.
BERKELEY, Calif. (Christian Examiner) – An Islamic radical in 2008 became one of three founders of Zaytuna College, the first Islamic college in the United States. The school will teach Islamic law and theology, and U.S. history.
Hatem Bazian, the chairman of academic affairs at the school, has been accused of whipping up anti-Semitism on campuses across the nation through another organization he helped establish, the anti-Israel "Students for Justice in Palestine" -- although Hamza Yusuf, cofounder and president is known to be an outspoken critic of extremism.
"Five years ago, we introduced an undergraduate liberal arts program inspired by the idea of restoring the holistic education that had been offered in the great teaching centers of Islamic civilization," wrote Yusuf in an open letter on the college's website.
"Today, Zaytuna's accreditation roots this vision in a reality recognized within American higher education," Yusuf continued. "It gives our community its first accredited academic address in the United States and, we hope, God willing, that there will be more such Muslim colleges and universities to come."
Zaytuna College offers one Bachelor of Arts degree, in Islamic law and theology. Courses offered include several on Islamic law, Introduction to the Koran, Ethics, Mathematics, and U.S. History.
Yusuf, an Islamic scholar adviser at both Stanford University and the University of California Berkeley in addition to being the president of Zaytuna College, has been an outspoken critic of extremism. His speech warranted a death degree from ISIS earlier this year for condemning the Charlie Hebdo cartoon magazine massacre in Paris, according to an article in FOX news.
Bazian in an April 2004 rally in San Francisco, showed support of insurgents in Iraq and in 2008 took to the streets to stir passions on Palestine.
Muslim Students Protest Campus Screening Of 'American Sniper'
Mar 17, 2015
Some Muslim students at the University of Missouri protested an upcoming campus screening of “American Sniper” and clamored to have the film’s debut there canceled.
At the heart of the controversy is a Muslim student activist who declared showing the film on campus would make her feel “unsafe” and demanded an “apology and explanation” as to how and why the movie was even selected for Mizzou audiences.
Philippine troops capture leader of group linked to bombings
March 16, 2015
Philippine troops have captured the leader of a Muslim opposition group in the south who has been linked to bombings and a beheading and accused of protecting two suspects wanted by the United States, officials said Monday.
Army and police forces arrested Mohammad Ali Tambako and five of his men late Sunday while the fighters were traveling in a motorcycle sidecar taxi to a seaport in southern General Santos city. Three grenades and two guns were seized from the men, who did not put up a fight, according to a police report.
Tambako, who formed the group Justice for Islamic Movement with about 70 armed fighters last year, has been suspected by the military of giving refuge in his southern stronghold to top Malaysian suspect Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, and long-wanted Filipino bombing suspect Abdul Basit Usman.
Americans Wonder If Islamic State Is Truly Islamic
March 16, 2015
It was called the Iconoclastic Fury — when Protestants went on a rampage through churches in the Low Countries and elsewhere in 16th century Europe, smashing statues they considered idolatrous.
Sound familiar? Militants in Iraq have been destroying priceless treasures deemed un-Islamic, giving many people around the world the sense of living in a time warp.
“This is not 1015. This is 2015,” Lindsey Graham, Republican U.S. senator from South Carolina, last week told a Senate hearing that focused on the Muslim militants’ killing of Christians and other minorities.
“As I speak, people are being crucified, people are being burned alive, they’re being beheaded,” he said.
The hearing, titled “Protecting Religious Freedom Abroad,” focused on how America should respond to Islamist militant groups.
There is, however, a broader debate in the United States about whether the militant group that calls itself Islamic State should be seen as a natural outgrowth of Islam, or as a perversion of the faith.
“I think we’re making a mistake if we say this is not part of Islamic theology,” said conservative Christian activist and talk show host Jay Sekulow, who testified before the panel. He said Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claims to be the khalifa, or caliph, of a re-established medieval Muslim empire.
“That’s what they call themselves,” Sekulow told VOA after the hearing. “They call themselves the caliphate. Khalifa Ibrahim believes he’s the leader of worldwide Islam. So, whatever we want to call them, in one sense, is irrelevant, because that’s who they are.”
Islamic studies professor John Esposito disagrees.
“From my point of view, what you’ve got is the hijacking of religion,” he said in an interview at Georgetown University.
Esposito, who directs the university’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, said militants have taken the injunction in the Quran to “slay the unbelievers wherever you find them” out of context.
Israelis vote in tight race after last-ditch Netanyahu plea
Mar 17, 2015
JERUSALEM: Israelis voted Tuesday in an election expected to be a close-fought battle between the centre left and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who ruled out a Palestinian state in a last-ditch appeal to the right.
The outcome of the race, in which opinion polls suggest Netanyahu will win fewer seats than the centre-left Zionist Union, is likely to help determine the prospects for new Middle East peace talks and Israel's troubled relations with its US ally.
Around six million voters are eligible to take part in the election for Israel's 120 members of parliament. Polls close at 10:00 pm (20:00 GMT) with exit polls by Israel's main media outlets set to give the first indications of the likely outcome minutes afterwards.
Netanyahu brought the election on himself, calling the snap vote after firing centrist ministers from his fractious coalition just two years into its term.
It will be Israel's third election since 2009 and the biggest challenge yet for the 65-year-old incumbent, who is seeking a third consecutive term. Final opinion polls published on Friday last week gave the Zionist Union of Labour leader Isaac Herzog a three to four seat lead over Netanyahu's Likud party.
But the surveys also suggested Netanyahu will have an advantage when it comes to piecing together a coalition with smaller allies from the right. As he cast his own ballot on Tuesday, Netanyahu ruled out any alliance with Herzog.
“There will not be a unity government with Labour. I will form a national (right-wing) government,” he said.
Netanyahu has warned a vote for the Zionist Union could endanger Israel's security and lead to the division of Jerusalem and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the annexed eastern sector. On Monday he was asked by the right-wing NRG news website if it was true that there would be no Palestinian state established if he was reelected.
“Indeed,” said Netanyahu, who in 2009 had endorsed the idea of two states living side by side.
DUBAI: Torn between a north controlled by Shia rebels and a south dominated by the embattled president’s allies, Yemen is mired in a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, analysts say.
The struggle threatens to push the impoverished Arabian peninsula state further towards the abyss as the Sunni-Shia sectarian divide grows wider.
Amid the chaos, Al Qaeda militants are closing ranks with tribes of fellow Sunni Muslims to counter the expansion of the Shia Huthi rebels.
Take a look: UN calls for immediate ceasefire in Yemen
In an unprecedented show of force, the Iran-backed Huthis, who overran the capital Sanaa unopposed in September, last week staged military exercises near the border with Sunni-heavyweight Saudi Arabia.
“In the face of Iran’s Shia expansionism, Sunni solidarity is building, led by Saudi Arabia,” said one diplomat who requested anonymity.
The kingdom to the north has always played a prominent role in Yemeni politics.
It hosted negotiations that helped end a year of deadly nationwide protests and led to a deal that eased out president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012.
And following a request by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Riyadh is again poised to broker talks aimed at ending Yemen’s latest political impasse.
When Hadi fled Huthi-imposed house arrest in Sanaa in February and resurfaced in Aden, Saudi Arabia was the first country to transfer its embassy there, in an open display of support for the beleaguered leader.
Tehran has openly denounced moves to make the southern port Yemen’s temporary capital.
“Sanaa is the official and historical capital of Yemen and those in Aden who back disintegration or civil war are responsible for the consequences,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said last week.
Houthis lift house arrest on Yemeni prime minister
16 March 2015
Yemen's Houthi rebels on Monday released Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and all his cabinet ministers after nearly two months under house arrest, government spokesman Rajeh Badi said.
Bahah said in a statement on his Facebook page that the move was a goodwill gesture to ease talks on Yemen's political transition, but said he had no intention of resuming his post.
He had resigned in January after the Houthis captured the presidential palace.
President Abderabbo Mansour Hadi, who has resumed power from second city Aden in the south after escaping from house arrest in Sanaa last month, has proposed the crisis talks move to neighboring Saudi Arabia.
Iran's UN envoy warns of increasing terrorism in Afghanistan
Mar 17, 2015
The Iranian ambassador to the United Nations has warned that the recent increase in armed attacks, acts of violence and terror in Afghanistan should be a matter of deep concern for all regional countries.
“Insecurity, instability and poverty provide the most fertile grounds for the rapid growth and reemergence of violent extremist groups and ... even now footholds for ISIL in Afghanistan," Gholam Ali Khoshrou said on Monday in an address to the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Afghanistan.
“We condemn all violent attacks committed by these terrorist groups as well as any cooperation with them, since we believe this will embolden them in their behavior and will be counterproductive to establishing peace in Afghanistan,” he added.
The Iranian envoy urged the international community to remain fully committed to its undertakings and respect the Afghan sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity.
He added that Tehran, considering its deep cultural and historical ties with Kabul, has always supported peace, stability, security and socio-economic development in Afghanistan.
“To us, security in Afghanistan is tantamount to security in our borders and in the region,” the Iranian ambassador said.
Khoshrou further expressed Iran’s readiness to improve cooperation with Afghanistan, particularly on security matters, counter-narcotics efforts, developing projects and durable solution for Afghan refugees.
Dialogue to help solve problems in Yemen: Iran official
Mar 16, 2015
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian says dialogue among all political parties will help resolve the crisis in Yemen.
Amir-Abdollahian said in a meeting with Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah in Oman’s capital, Muscat, on Monday, that continuation of dialogue among all political factions in Yemen will help solve the problems.
Yemen belongs to all Yemenis, the Iranian official stated, adding that Yemeni-Yemeni talks held in a calm atmosphere and with the participation of all parties, groups and politico-social factions is a viable solution to the complicated issues in the country.
“We believe that all sides in the region must avoid measures that intensify extremism. Nowadays, campaign against terrorism and extremism together with the unity of the Muslim world are regarded a necessity. Therefore, Ansarullah’s struggle against al-Qaeda-linked Takfiri groups and ISIL in Yemen is praiseworthy,” Amir-Abdollahian stated, referring to Yemen’s Houthi movement.
The Omani foreign minister, for his part, made a reference to threats that jeopardize Yemen’s national unity, calling for participation of all groups, parties and political factions in national talks.
Events in Syria are part of attempts to destroy Turkey’s power: Erdoğan
Mar 17, 2015
The ongoing tragedy in Syria is part of global attempts “to weaken Turkey’s power and damage Turkey’s position,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 16.
“This is the reason for support given to [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] and also to Daesh [the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, ISIL],” Erdoğan said, speaking at the opening ceremony of a new facility of Turkish defense company Aselsan.
Without going into details, he pointed to “some circles that do not want Turkey’s development.”
The British government has postponed publishing a report into the Muslim Brotherhood, which was due Monday afternoon.
In a written statement sent to the House of Commons Monday, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that a report into the main findings of the Muslim Brotherhood would be published alongside the government’s new counter-extremism strategy.
"As we consider broader policy questions emerging from the review and the wider strategy, it is clear that further, more comprehensive measures will be required in the next Parliament to tackle the threat from extremism in the U.K., and to support communities to challenge those who oppose British values," Cameron said.
Cameron had commissioned an investigation into the movement last April, and had appointed Sir John Jenkins, Britain’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia to lead the review.
The report into the activities of the organization in the U.K. had been expected since summer of 2014.
European Union Foreign Ministers have appointed a new special representative to the Middle East.
The Italian diplomat Fernando Gentilini fills a post that has been vacant for over a year.
It is hoped the appointment will help make real progress towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Gentilini currently heads the EU's Western Balkans and Turkey division and his appointment will have to be confirmed by member states.
The Middle East position was created in 1996 after the Oslo Accords.
The EU also plays a prominent role in what is known as the Middle East Quartet, set up in 2000 by the UN, the EU, the United States and Russia to promote peace efforts but which has also become bogged down.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is the Quartet's special envoy, and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini was asked on Monday about reports that he was scaling back his role.
Rise of far-right in Europe: ‘We are heading to new Third Reich’
March 16, 2015
We are witnessing historical flashback to Nazi Germany as a new generation of white extremists is seeking supremacy and a purer Europe, spreading anti-Islamic sentiment across the region, political analyst Catherine Shakdam told RT.
Clashes broke out in the German city of Wuppertal on Saturday as Salafist Muslims, right-wing extremists and the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement simultaneously held rival protests.
RT: PEGIDA marches are now fairly common in Germany. How worrying is that for society?
Catherine Shakdam: I think it is a worrying development especially since we are kind of witnessing a historical flashback. It looks like the 1930’s Germany, when the Third Reich was getting momentum, and that is what we are witnessing currently not just in Germany, but across Europe.
RT: What is driving these far-right movements, and causing them to target Islam, especially in Europe?
CS: I think you have to go back to 9/11 and the type of narrative that came out of Washington. And then afterwards how it was actually built on from London to Berlin, to Spain, everywhere across Europe we have seen that narrative. Islam has been associated with terrorism. Muslims became essentially by instance radicals and terrorists.
And this is the type of narrative that the media has fed the public in Europe. And now we are seeing the results of this fear and discontent, reinforcement that Islam is something negative, that Muslims are ultimately violent and inherently radicals.
RT: So who would you blame for creating these tensions in the first place?
CS: I would say that again, we need to go back to [those] who are serving those movements and who helped to create radicalism, to begin with. We have to go back to the USA; they are the ones who admittedly created al-Qaeda. This is where everything started back in the 1980’s when they were trying to push back the Russians from Afghanistan, and they tried to use radicals to do their job. Essentially it backfired. Since that time we’ve seen those radicals gaining momentum across not just Europe, but the Middle East and the Islamic world in general. This is something that served their own agenda; they understood that they could use religion as a rallying call to serve their own agenda.
Negotiations between Iran and the Western powers over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme have yielded no breakthrough, and major gaps remain, sources have told Al Jazeera.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart met early on Tuesday in the Swiss city of Lausanne as they continued the talks.
A March 31 deadline looms for Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif to agree the outlines of an agreement, over the objections of US and Iranian hardliners wary of any deal.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that all sides were aware how important it is to seal a good deal and that it was not clear whether "a technical solution" to fill the remaining gaps can be found.
"I see the elements for a deal to be reached but I still see the gaps that need to be filled," Mogherini, who is negotiating with Iran on behalf of the world's five nuclear powers and Germany, said.
"We're still making progress but there is a long way to go if we're going to get there," British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said, after talks in Brussels with his French, German, EU and Iranian counterparts.
The talks were aimed at narrowing gaps in the positions between Iran and the world powers, as part of a 15-month negotiating process that could see Iran freeze its nuclear programme for at least a decade in exchange for the gradual lifting of international sanctions.
Iran says the programme is aimed at generating electricity and at medical research, but some in Europe and the US fear it is trying to covertly build atomic weapons.
"It's always useful to talk but we, the French, want a solid deal," said French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. "Certain points are yet to be resolved, we hope we will be able to resolve them but as long as it's not done, it's not done."