Sufi Muslims Live In Constant Fear in Machete-Happy Bangladesh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Avijit Roy was hacked to death here by machete-wielding assailants in Dhaka. (Photo: AP)

 

Isis at Real Risk of Losing Territory for First Time since ‘Caliphate’ Declared

China Says Muslim Practices To Be Protected During Ramadan

South Asia

Sufi Muslims Live In Constant Fear in Machete-Happy Bangladesh

Afghanistan Dismiss Skills Endorsement of Taliban Chief by Pakistan’s Sami-Ul-Haq

48 Militants Killed, 36 Wounded In Paktika Airstrikes

Saleh warns NSC for blaming Ata Mohammad Noor for the fall of Kunduz city

Ghani arrives in Herat to inaugurate Salma Dam with Modi tomorrow

Arab World

Isis at Real Risk of Losing Territory for First Time since ‘Caliphate’ Declared

Grand Mufti of Dubai Backs Fatwa Banning Illegal Use of WiFi

Syria: ISIL Storms Terrorist Rivals North of Aleppo

Syria: ISIL Strongholds near Raqqa Hit Hard in Russian Airstrikes

Commander: ISIL Never Dares to Get Near Iran’s Borders

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal became first Arab Muslim join Buffett and Gates’ The Giving Pledge

Southeast Asia

China Says Muslim Practices To Be Protected During Ramadan

Islamic Organizations Establish Anti-Communist Group

Need For Moderate Muslims to Unite Against IS Threat: Indonesian Islamic Activist

Schools take in Tokyo mosque to get unbiased glimpse of Islam

Africa

Libyan Fighters Close In On Islamic State Bastion

Militants Kill 16 at Hotel in Somalia

African Union’s Deputy Chair Speaks of Sabbath and Other Challenges

Monsey men, traveling abroad, find the unexpected in Muslim village

Militants launch attacks in Niger Delta as Buhari cancels visit

Terrorist with rage against the Kenyan State finally killed

Mideast

Soldier Killed in PKK Attack in Turkey’s Southeast

Adviser to PM: Israel has homegrown Islamic State threat in hand

Greek Coastguard Rescues Migrants in Sinking Off Crete

German tourist found dead in hotel in Turkey’s south

Turkish ambassador to Berlin returns on first plane

Turkish PM vows ties won’t be destroyed over Germany’s ‘genocide vote’

Seven soldiers wounded in PKK bomb attack in Turkey’s southeast

Europe

Terror Expert: Americans Should Take Islamic Extremists at Their Word

Germany Arrests 3 Suspected Syrian Terrorists, Foils Possible Islamic State Plot

Islamic Supremacist Threats in Europe and the White House

North America

How the Islamic State Is Benefitting from the U.S. Arming ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels

Hate Group in Texas Threatens to Kill Muslims — And Nobody Asks Where the Group Was Radicalized

Top Canadian soldier says Iraqi army ‘crushing’ Islamic State

India

Gulbarga Society: Vivek Patni Refuses His Muslim Identity as Muzaffar Shaikh

India Is Playing Its Cards Right with Afghanistan: Pakistan Might Not To Be Happy About It

Hamid Ansari offers Indian expertise to train Tunisians in IT and education

Dam as gift, Afghan warlords’ ancient citadel dresses up for PM Narendra Modi

Modi to inaugurate $300 million Salma Dam built by India in Herat

Pakistan

Haj Corruption Case: Former Federal Minister Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison

Blasphemy allegation: Teacher sent to jail on judicial remand

MQM bags easy wins in Karachi by-elections

PAK-COAS- “US drone strikes regrettable”

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/sufi-muslims-live-in-constant-fear-in-machete-happy-bangladesh/d/107520

 

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Sufi Muslims Live In Constant Fear in Machete-Happy Bangladesh

Jun 3, 2016

Dhaka: Each time he hears of the latest deadly machete attack, Ashraful Islam can’t help but think of his father’s gruesome murder and fear his fellow Sufi Muslims will never be safe again in Bangladesh. “The killings are not declining, they’re getting worse. And every one reminds me what happened to my father,” said the 30-year-old medical student. “I’ve no idea why they are doing this but if they aren’t stopped then our future is doomed, we’ll become another Pakistan.”

Islamists have claimed responsibility for around 40 killings in the last three years of foreigners, secular bloggers, gay activists, Hindus and Christians. Many have been slaughtered with machetes.

But no group has suffered as much as Sufis, an offshoot of mainstream Islam whose followers are often denounced as “infidels” for their mystical traditions, including worshipping at shrines.

Fourteen have died since December 2014 in religiously motivated attacks, including Islam’s father Khizir Khan.

More than 100,000 Sufis are expected in Dhaka tomorrow to attend an annual congregation, which this year is both a celebration and an act of defiance. It comes less than a month after local Sufi leader Mohammad Shahidullah was found hacked to death under a mango tree in the northwestern Rajshahi district.

The deep wounds in his neck echoed Khan’s murder last October when he was killed by suspected members of banned Islamist militant group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

Khan had around 2,000 followers, many of whom would turn up at weekly prayers at the family home in Dhaka.

On the night of his killing, he had arranged to meet prospective tenants for a vacant apartment underneath the family’s own flat. But he went downstairs to an ambush by a gang who cornered him in a bathroom and then hacked at his neck until he bled to death.

The killers then burst into the upstairs living-room, tying up Khan’s family, who later managed to escape. “It was my mother who discovered the body in the bathroom. The head was partially severed.

“It was such a shocking thing. Every now and then my mother still breaks down.” Police soon arrested five suspects who allegedly told investigators it was their “religious duty” to kill Khan.

No-one has yet to be convicted for the killing and there have been few arrests in the other murders.

Most have been claimed by the likes of JMB or international jihadists such as the Islamic State organisation or Al-Qaeda’s South Asia wing.

While more than 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s 160 million population are Muslims, it is an avowedly secular state. For most of the first four decades after winning the 1971 independence war with Pakistan, Bangladesh had a reputation for religious tolerance and Sufi Muslim services drew tens of millions of worshippers.

deccanchronicle.com/world/neighbours/030616/sufi-muslims-live-in-constant-fear-in-machete-happy-bangladesh.html

 

Isis at real risk of losing territory for first time since ‘caliphate’ declared

Thursday 2 June 2016

For the first time in the two years since the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed the existence of an “Islamic caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq, the jihadi group is at real risk of losing much of the territory it holds.

Four Isis strongholds – two in Syria and two in Iraq – are now under concerted attack, and in all cases the militants defending them are struggling to contain well-organised and resourced assaults planned over many months.

The attacks are heavily backed by the US, which since April has stepped up its campaign to “destroy and degrade” the terrorist organisation in its self-declared heartland of eastern Syria and western Iraq. A two-year project that had been derided by allies and proxies alike as being too limited and cautious now has military momentum.

In Iraq, an attack on Falluja, where Isis has been holed up since January 2014, has entered a second week. In the north, the bastion of Mosul, which is central to Isis’s fate, now seems less formidable after a peshmerga push from the east. Last weekend, while attention was on Falluja, Kurdish forces seized nine villages that until then had been solidly in the jihadis’ grasp.

In Syria, the de facto Isis capital of Raqqa and its surrounds are the scene of fresh clashes and an exodus of refugees that is clearing the city for an inevitable, but not imminent, ground offensive. And, along the country’s southern border with Iraq, a recently raised unit called the New Syria Army, backed by the US and Jordanian special forces, is asserting itself near a frontier that had been a no man’s land for all other opposition groups since mid-2013.

But even as Isis starts to wither – in some areas surprisingly quickly – splits are fast emerging among those fighting them that could rapidly wind back the gains. What happens next, say tribal leaders, could end up re-invigorating Isis by driving the very communities that the war is trying to liberate right back into their hands.

And looming large over the steadily turning battlefield is the unaddressed but essential issue of how a political process can re-enfranchise the marginalised Sunnis of both countries whom Isis claims to champion. The quicker the group falls without a plan for what comes next, the more real the threat of an irreversible split along ethnic sectarian lines among communities that had still managed to co-exist.

Ethnic rivalries pose a potent threat to the success of the most recent attack, which was launched on Wednesday in the Manbij pocket, running south from the Turkish border, roughly 100 miles east of Aleppo between the town of al-Bab, and the Isis epicentre of Raqqa.

Like an advance on Raqqa last week, which was in part a feint for the Manbij push, the operation is being directed by the US and supported by its warplanes. Those fighting are a US-proxy force dominated by local Kurds and supplemented by nearby Arabs. Despite Washington’s insistence to the contrary, the marriage is not going well.

Tribal leaders in and around Manbij, some of whom offered allegiance to Isis when the group entered the area, say the fact that the assault is being at least jointly led by Kurdish forces is a disincentive to shift loyalties. Relations with the Kurds, whose communities have co-existed with the Arabs in north-east Syria, have deteriorated rapidly over the past year and particularly since Russia launched airstrikes in Syria’s north.

Since then the Kurds, who had hedged their bets during the civil war, started advancing into Arab areas, effectively siding with the Assad regime and its protectors, and alarming opposition groups, local Arab communities and Turkey, which views Syria’s Kurds as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), against whom Ankara has re-intensified attacks inside its own borders.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up mostly of Syrian Kurds with a small number of Arabs, is being championed by Washington as an alliance that can turn the tide of the war against Isis. The Arab component is a pivotal selling point. Yet among its members there is resentment.

One Manbij local, Abu Musaafer, 35, said he had abandoned the SDF because of inter-ethnic rivalries that were subverting the group’s cause. The presence of Arabs in the SDF, he said, was just for PR purposes. “The Arabs are just for the media. In reality they are not important at all.

“A lot of important members for [the Kurds] are coming from Qandil Mountain, and they are really PKK. There is a lot of racism between the Arabs and the Kurds. I’m a sheikh in a big tribe in Manbij, and in reality I want to liberate my area from Isis.”

He added: “Around Manbij, the SDF frequently go to sheikhs of Arab tribes and tell them that they will host a huge dinner, with several lambs, and that if a member of their tribe is not present and does not join the SDF, it means they are Isis and they will kill them.

“This is the same as what Isis does with Arabian tribes in Manbij, and other areas – exactly the same. Isis says if you don’t become with us, you [have betrayed Islam]. The SDF says if you do not fight with us, you support Isis, and we will give you a lot of problems for you and your tribe.

“In reality, they need an Arab tribe to gather a lot of fighters to put them in the frontline when the SDF attacks Manbij, because they have local knowledge of the area, and they need to be able to tell people that they have Arabs fighting with them.”

Ali Shatat, 32, who was exiled by Isis from nearby Deir Azzor, was slightly more positive. “I have been a soldier with the SDF for the past four months. I started working with them because I am from the Shatat tribe, where Isis massacred several members last year. Everyone from my tribe escaped Deir Ezzor as refugees. It was worse than what Israel did to the Palestinians.

“I don’t think that the Free Syria Army can really fight Isis, because they have a lot of problems. Day after day I couldn’t find a way to take my revenge on Isis, only the SDF. There is a huge opportunity to take back our land with them; far more than the rebels could provide. But the problem with the SDF is that I do not feel that I am important, or the Arabs are important.

“My leader is Arab, true, but his leader is Kurdish. When we work with the Kurds, we feel that there is no trust between us, at all. In the media you see SDF as a united front, but in reality, there is a huge difference between the Arabs and the Kurds. We are just few in our numbers, not particularly strong. But still, it is much better at the moment than any of the other groups fighting on the ground.”

theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/02/isis-islamic-state-risk-losing-territory-caliphate-syria-iraq

 

China says Muslim practices to be protected during Ramadan

Friday, 3 June 2016

BEIJING — China’s government won’t interfere with fasting and other standard religious activities in the traditionally Muslim region of Xinjiang during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan that begins this month, officials said Thursday.

Restaurants will be allowed to keep their own hours and authorized activities in mosques and private homes will be legally protected, the officials said at a news conference on religious policy in Xinjiang, despite complaints from rights groups and others of past government interference during the religious holiday.

Xinjiang is home to China’s Muslim Uighur minority group that is culturally, religiously and linguistically distinct from the Chinese majority. It has seen waves of violence against civilians in recent years which authorities have blamed on radicals seeking independence from Beijing.

China maintains tight restrictions over Islamic observances in the area, in part to maintain government control and stem the influence of radical Islam.

However, human rights groups and Uighurs in exile say restrictions on dress, prayer and fasting during Ramadan have exacerbated ethnic tensions, while government efforts to assimilate Uighurs have stoked resentment. President Xi Jinping recently stated that members of the ruling Communist Party should be “unyielding Marxist atheists,” and the state imposes strict rules on participation in religious by students, teachers, public servants and others.

Chinese officials routinely dismiss criticism of religious policies, and Tuergan Pida, director of Xinjiang’s ethnic affairs committee, said at the news conference that religious freedoms are at an “unprecedented” high.

The regional government helped arrange emergency prayer sites following an earthquake during Ramadan last year, while Communist Party officials ate with religious leaders to mark the end of the holy month, Pida said.

Chinese claims of unprecedented religious freedom in Xinjiang are “deeply ironic and troubling” given recent events, said James Leibold, a scholar of China’s ethnic policy at Australia’s La Trobe University.

Leibold cited the sacking last month of Wang Zhengwei, the Muslim chairman of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, amid speculation that top Chinese leaders opposed the building of mosques under his watch.

“This illustrates the deep divisions at the top reaches of the party over the value and place of religious and ethnic diversity within Chinese society,” Leibold said by telephone.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-says-muslim-practices-to-be-protected-during-ramadan/2016/06/02/16331674-28a8-11e6-8329-6104954928d2_story.html

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South Asia

Sufi Muslims Live In Constant Fear in Machete-Happy Bangladesh

Jun 3, 2016

Dhaka: Each time he hears of the latest deadly machete attack, Ashraful Islam can’t help but think of his father’s gruesome murder and fear his fellow Sufi Muslims will never be safe again in Bangladesh. “The killings are not declining, they’re getting worse. And every one reminds me what happened to my father,” said the 30-year-old medical student. “I’ve no idea why they are doing this but if they aren’t stopped then our future is doomed, we’ll become another Pakistan.”

Islamists have claimed responsibility for around 40 killings in the last three years of foreigners, secular bloggers, gay activists, Hindus and Christians. Many have been slaughtered with machetes.

But no group has suffered as much as Sufis, an offshoot of mainstream Islam whose followers are often denounced as “infidels” for their mystical traditions, including worshipping at shrines.

Fourteen have died since December 2014 in religiously motivated attacks, including Islam’s father Khizir Khan.

More than 100,000 Sufis are expected in Dhaka tomorrow to attend an annual congregation, which this year is both a celebration and an act of defiance. It comes less than a month after local Sufi leader Mohammad Shahidullah was found hacked to death under a mango tree in the northwestern Rajshahi district.

The deep wounds in his neck echoed Khan’s murder last October when he was killed by suspected members of banned Islamist militant group Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB).

Khan had around 2,000 followers, many of whom would turn up at weekly prayers at the family home in Dhaka.

On the night of his killing, he had arranged to meet prospective tenants for a vacant apartment underneath the family’s own flat. But he went downstairs to an ambush by a gang who cornered him in a bathroom and then hacked at his neck until he bled to death.

The killers then burst into the upstairs living-room, tying up Khan’s family, who later managed to escape. “It was my mother who discovered the body in the bathroom. The head was partially severed.

“It was such a shocking thing. Every now and then my mother still breaks down.” Police soon arrested five suspects who allegedly told investigators it was their “religious duty” to kill Khan.

No-one has yet to be convicted for the killing and there have been few arrests in the other murders.

Most have been claimed by the likes of JMB or international jihadists such as the Islamic State organisation or Al-Qaeda’s South Asia wing.

While more than 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s 160 million population are Muslims, it is an avowedly secular state. For most of the first four decades after winning the 1971 independence war with Pakistan, Bangladesh had a reputation for religious tolerance and Sufi Muslim services drew tens of millions of worshippers.

deccanchronicle.com/world/neighbours/030616/sufi-muslims-live-in-constant-fear-in-machete-happy-bangladesh.html

 

Afghanistan dismiss skills endorsement of Taliban chief by Pakistan’s Sami-ul-Haq

Thu Jun 02 2016

An influential Pakistani religious scholar who was once labeled as the ‘Father of Taliban’ has endorsed the war skills of the newly-appointed Taliban chief.

The Afghan defense officials dismissed the skills endorsement by Sami-ul-Haq and said the Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada is neither a religious cleric nor he has skills in military.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defense Dawlat Waziri said Mullah Akhundzada would not kill the civilians if he was a military expert and had religious knowledge.

Sami-ul-Haq warned that Afghanistan would see a surge in violence following the ascension of new Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah.

“Those who think that Haibatullah is a mere cleric and a seminary preacher will soon bear witness to his skill as a militant commander,” he told Dawn after a Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) meeting in the capital on Monday.

He blamed the United States for the persistent violence and said “It was America that resorted to violence again; the assassination of Mullah Mansour is nothing short of murder.”

Mullah Mansoor was killed in a drone strike in Balochistan province of Pakistan last month as he was travelling reportedly from Iran.

The Taliban group announced the appointment of Mullah Akhundzada as its new chief shortly after the death of Mullah Mansoor was confirmed.

khaama.com/afghanistan-dismiss-skills-endorsement-of-taliban-chief-by-pakistans-sami-ul-haq-01152

 

48 militants killed, 36 wounded in Paktika airstrikes

Thu Jun 02 2016

At least 48 militants were killed in separate airstrikes in Paktika province in southeastern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.

The airstrikes targeted the hideouts of the militants in Giyan and Zeruk districts, MoD said, adding that a commander of the group identified as Henzullah was among those killed.

The defense ministry further added that 36 militants were also wounded in the airstrikes and various weapons, ammunition and explosives belonging to the militants were destroyed.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the report so far.

Paktika is among the relatively volatile provinces in southeastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in a number of its districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

Militants belonging to the Taliban group as well as the notorious Haqqani terrorist network are operating in this province.

The network is accused of staging numerous cross-border attacks from their base in North Waziristan, including the 19-hour siege at the US Embassy in Kabul in September 2011.

The Afghan intelligence operatives arrested a group of 7 Haqqani network militants who were busy in terrorist activities in Gardez city recently.

khaama.com/48-militants-killed-36-wounded-in-paktika-airstrikes-01150

 

Saleh warns NSC for blaming Ata Mohammad Noor for the fall of Kunduz city

Thu Jun 02 2016

The former Afghan Intelligence Chief Amrullah Saleh has slammed the National Security Council for blaming the acting provincial governor Ata Mohammad for the fall of Kunduz city.

Saleh criticized Tawab Ghorzag the spokesman for the National Security Council for blaming Ata Mohammad for the instability of Kunduz province.

He warned to release the 200 classified documents and audio clips prepared by the factfinding team regarding the fall of Kunduz city if Ghorzang did not amend his remarks.

Ghorzang earlier posted in his official Facebook account that a security commander who was fully supported by influential leaders in Balkh province was one of the major reasons behind the fall of Kunduz city last year.

Responding to criticisms by Saleh, Ghorzang issued another statement saying he did not mention any specific individual in his post.

Noting the findings of the team led by Saleh, Ghorzang said the role of local influential leaders were mentioned as oen of the reasons behind the fall of the city.

The Taliban militants briefly captured the control of the strategic Kunduz city last year but the Afghan forces recaptured it from the militants.

The factfinding team led by Saleh concluded their investigation late in the month of November last year and blamed government’s failure in leadership and structural complexity for the fall of the city.

khaama.com/saleh-warns-nsc-for-blaming-ata-mohammad-noor-for-the-fall-of-kunduz-city-01151

 

Ghani arrives in Herat to inaugurate Salma Dam with Modi tomorrow

Fri Jun 03 2016

The Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani arrived in Herat today to inaugurate the Salma Dam together with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Office of the President in an online statement said President Ghani will meet with the provincial officials and inaugurate Salma Dam with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

“Pres.@AshrafGhani & PM @NarendraModi will inaugurate ‘Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam’ (Salma) tomorrow in Herat,” a Twitter post by the ARG Palace said.

A spokesman for India’s External Affairs Ministry Vikas Swarup earliersaid “Prime Minister and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the Afghan-India Friendship Dam on June 4, Saturday, in Herat province. The completion of the dam project represents the culmination of work by 1500 Indian and Afghan engineers and other professionals in very difficult conditions.”

The government of Afghanistan has renamed the name of Salma dam to Afghan-India friendship dam earlier this year in a sign to show appreciation to the robust investment by India in reconstruction of the dam.

Built on Harirod river, the dam is expected to produce 42 megawatt of electricity and will irrigate around 75,000 hectares of agricultural land.

khaama.com/ghani-arrives-in-herat-to-inaugurate-salma-dam-with-modi-tomorrow-01155

Arab World

Isis at real risk of losing territory for first time since ‘caliphate’ declared

Thursday 2 June 2016

For the first time in the two years since the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed the existence of an “Islamic caliphate” straddling Syria and Iraq, the jihadi group is at real risk of losing much of the territory it holds.

Four Isis strongholds – two in Syria and two in Iraq – are now under concerted attack, and in all cases the militants defending them are struggling to contain well-organised and resourced assaults planned over many months.

The attacks are heavily backed by the US, which since April has stepped up its campaign to “destroy and degrade” the terrorist organisation in its self-declared heartland of eastern Syria and western Iraq. A two-year project that had been derided by allies and proxies alike as being too limited and cautious now has military momentum.

In Iraq, an attack on Falluja, where Isis has been holed up since January 2014, has entered a second week. In the north, the bastion of Mosul, which is central to Isis’s fate, now seems less formidable after a peshmerga push from the east. Last weekend, while attention was on Falluja, Kurdish forces seized nine villages that until then had been solidly in the jihadis’ grasp.

In Syria, the de facto Isis capital of Raqqa and its surrounds are the scene of fresh clashes and an exodus of refugees that is clearing the city for an inevitable, but not imminent, ground offensive. And, along the country’s southern border with Iraq, a recently raised unit called the New Syria Army, backed by the US and Jordanian special forces, is asserting itself near a frontier that had been a no man’s land for all other opposition groups since mid-2013.

But even as Isis starts to wither – in some areas surprisingly quickly – splits are fast emerging among those fighting them that could rapidly wind back the gains. What happens next, say tribal leaders, could end up re-invigorating Isis by driving the very communities that the war is trying to liberate right back into their hands.

And looming large over the steadily turning battlefield is the unaddressed but essential issue of how a political process can re-enfranchise the marginalised Sunnis of both countries whom Isis claims to champion. The quicker the group falls without a plan for what comes next, the more real the threat of an irreversible split along ethnic sectarian lines among communities that had still managed to co-exist.

Ethnic rivalries pose a potent threat to the success of the most recent attack, which was launched on Wednesday in the Manbij pocket, running south from the Turkish border, roughly 100 miles east of Aleppo between the town of al-Bab, and the Isis epicentre of Raqqa.

Like an advance on Raqqa last week, which was in part a feint for the Manbij push, the operation is being directed by the US and supported by its warplanes. Those fighting are a US-proxy force dominated by local Kurds and supplemented by nearby Arabs. Despite Washington’s insistence to the contrary, the marriage is not going well.

Tribal leaders in and around Manbij, some of whom offered allegiance to Isis when the group entered the area, say the fact that the assault is being at least jointly led by Kurdish forces is a disincentive to shift loyalties. Relations with the Kurds, whose communities have co-existed with the Arabs in north-east Syria, have deteriorated rapidly over the past year and particularly since Russia launched airstrikes in Syria’s north.

Since then the Kurds, who had hedged their bets during the civil war, started advancing into Arab areas, effectively siding with the Assad regime and its protectors, and alarming opposition groups, local Arab communities and Turkey, which views Syria’s Kurds as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), against whom Ankara has re-intensified attacks inside its own borders.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up mostly of Syrian Kurds with a small number of Arabs, is being championed by Washington as an alliance that can turn the tide of the war against Isis. The Arab component is a pivotal selling point. Yet among its members there is resentment.

One Manbij local, Abu Musaafer, 35, said he had abandoned the SDF because of inter-ethnic rivalries that were subverting the group’s cause. The presence of Arabs in the SDF, he said, was just for PR purposes. “The Arabs are just for the media. In reality they are not important at all.

“A lot of important members for [the Kurds] are coming from Qandil Mountain, and they are really PKK. There is a lot of racism between the Arabs and the Kurds. I’m a sheikh in a big tribe in Manbij, and in reality I want to liberate my area from Isis.”

He added: “Around Manbij, the SDF frequently go to sheikhs of Arab tribes and tell them that they will host a huge dinner, with several lambs, and that if a member of their tribe is not present and does not join the SDF, it means they are Isis and they will kill them.

“This is the same as what Isis does with Arabian tribes in Manbij, and other areas – exactly the same. Isis says if you don’t become with us, you [have betrayed Islam]. The SDF says if you do not fight with us, you support Isis, and we will give you a lot of problems for you and your tribe.

“In reality, they need an Arab tribe to gather a lot of fighters to put them in the frontline when the SDF attacks Manbij, because they have local knowledge of the area, and they need to be able to tell people that they have Arabs fighting with them.”

Ali Shatat, 32, who was exiled by Isis from nearby Deir Azzor, was slightly more positive. “I have been a soldier with the SDF for the past four months. I started working with them because I am from the Shatat tribe, where Isis massacred several members last year. Everyone from my tribe escaped Deir Ezzor as refugees. It was worse than what Israel did to the Palestinians.

“I don’t think that the Free Syria Army can really fight Isis, because they have a lot of problems. Day after day I couldn’t find a way to take my revenge on Isis, only the SDF. There is a huge opportunity to take back our land with them; far more than the rebels could provide. But the problem with the SDF is that I do not feel that I am important, or the Arabs are important.

“My leader is Arab, true, but his leader is Kurdish. When we work with the Kurds, we feel that there is no trust between us, at all. In the media you see SDF as a united front, but in reality, there is a huge difference between the Arabs and the Kurds. We are just few in our numbers, not particularly strong. But still, it is much better at the moment than any of the other groups fighting on the ground.”

theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/02/isis-islamic-state-risk-losing-territory-caliphate-syria-iraq

 

Grand Mufti of Dubai backs fatwa banning illegal use of WiFi

June 3, 2016

JEDDAH: Dr Ahmed Al-Haddad the Grand Mufti of Dubai and director of the Dubai Fatwa Administration with the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities has issued a fatwa in Dubai that prohibits the use of WiFi without the paying subscriber’s consent.

The fatwa issued on the matter as it comes under stealing from the person paying for the service from an Internet provider.

He was quoted as saying by a local publication on Wednesday that It was only permissible to use WiFi if it is opened for public use by shopping centers, government departments and hotels. Hacking a system was strictly forbidden.

Mufti Al-Haddad had a debate about the permissibility of singing and the use of musical instruments rages on in the Kingdom, with various scholars weighing in on the subject.

Prominent Saudi scholar Sheikh Saleh Al-Maghamsi said that there was no verse in the Qur’an expressly forbidding music which has created a stir on social media last month.

He said.“If God wanted to speak on music in general, he would have given a verse on this, but there is no such verse,” he said about music’s permissibility. “There’s no consensus.”

Al-Raid magazine published a long article In 1961 by Abu Turab Al-Zahiri entitled “Qur’an and Sunnah does not forbid singing, musical instruments and flutes, or listening to them.”

Various scholars had a debate on the article based on the writings of 12th century scholar Sheikh Mohammed Al-Ghazali, who said music is allowed only under certain circumstances.

And then in 2009, Sheikh Adil Kalbani, the former imam at the Grand Mosque, was quoted as saying by Al-Arabiya: “There is no clear text or ruling in Islam that singing and music are prohibited.”

He then told an online newspaper: “I am talking about decent singing, which contains decent words, and supports morality.”

siasat.com/news/grand-mufti-dubai-backs-fatwa-banning-illegal-use-wifi-966252/

 

Syria: ISIL Storms Terrorist Rivals North of Aleppo

June 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The ISIL terrorist group struck the strongholds of its rival group of al-Shamiyeh Front in the Northern countryside of the town of Marea, sources said adding the clashes inflicted a heavy death toll on both sides.

“The ISIL began the assault before dawn on Friday, when they stormed al-Shamiyeh Front’s positions near Marea from two Southern and Northern directions, resulting in a violent series of firefights between the terrorist groups,” the sources said.

“In the meantime, the Turkish Army’s artillery units shelled the ISIL’s positions near the village of Talalin in Northern Marea,” they added.

“Clashes are still ongoing in Northern and Southern Marea,” the sources went on to say.

Earlier this week, several terrorists were killed in clashes between the ISIL and its rival militant groups in the Northern territories of Aleppo province.

The rival militant groups tried to break the ISIL’s siege of the city of Marea, but the ISIL killed 13 of them.

The ISIL is trying to penetrate into Marea from the direction of the town of Talalin, but the rival militants have prevented it from achieving its objective.

The ISIL terrorists also occupied the villages of Kafr Kalbin and Jabrin near Marea city.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950314000294

 

Syria: ISIL Strongholds near Raqqa Hit Hard in Russian Airstrikes

June 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian fighter jets carried out several combat flights over ISIL’s positions in Southwestern Raqqa and targeted them heavily.

The Russian warplanes targeted the ISIL positions along the Salamiyah-Raqqa Highway, which ended in the killing or wounding of tens of the militants.

The Syrian Army troops advanced towards East Raqqa under very good coverage of the Syrian air fleet.

In relevant developments in the province on Thursday, the Syrian army, backed by the Desert Hawks brigade, started full-scale military operations to drive back the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group from its de-facto capital of Raqqa.

According to field sources, the Syrian forces started the operations from Ithriya region which links Aleppo to Hama, a strategic area which separates the Syrian army and the ISIL’s positions.

The army and its allies began the offensive by artillery attacks, supported by airstrikes, against the Eastern parts of Raqqa.

Field sources said that the operations were aimed at taking full control of Raqqa province concurrently with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)’s advance in the Northern borders of the province.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950314000249

 

Commander: ISIL Never Dares to Get Near Iran’s Borders

June 3, 2016

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Border Guards Commander Brigadier General Qassem Rezayee underlined security along the Iran’s borders, and said that the Takfiri terrorists are unable to pose a threat to the Islamic Republic.

“Knowing well about Iran’s high capabilities and power, specially along the country’s borders, the ISIL Talfiri terrorist group does not dare to penetrate and get near Iran,” General Rezayee said on Thursday night, addressing a ceremony.

The Iranian border guards commander pointed to the presence of the ISIL in the neighboring countries of Iraq and Syria, and said, “Iran monitors the borders within a range of 100 kilometers and the enemies are well-aware about it.”

General Rezayee stressed that his forces are fully prepared to confront any possible threat of the terrorist groups or drugs-traffickers.

“Iran has 8,755 kilometers common borders with 15 countries and is fully ready to confront insecurity on the borders,” Rezayee said.

He reiterated that no one can threaten Iranians’ solidarity and unity.

In early April, Iran’s Ground Force Commander Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan announced that the country’s border guards killed two ISIL terrorists who planned to conduct suicide attacks in late February.

“An ISIL-affiliated group entered Iran in February and we confronted them and killed two of them who had come with suicide vests,” Pourdastan told reporters in a press conference in Tehran.

Stressing that Iran has equipped and prepared its border guards to stand and prevent terrorists’ sneaking into Iran, he said, “Certain regional states want the terrorist grouplets to extend their threats to our borders but we don’t see any threat.”

Late February, a provincial authority announced that a number of terrorists who were planning to strike the capital city following the parliamentary elections were killed after crossing Iran’s Western borders.

“The security and military forces disbanded a terror cll in the Soumar and Naft Shahr region yesterday morning,” Director of Kermanshah Governor-General Office for Security and Law Enforcement Affairs Nosratollah Moradi told reporters.

He said the terrorists were armed with bombs, suicide and explosive vests, grenades, pistols and some US dollars.

“They were planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Tehran,” Moradi added.

His remarks came after Deputy Interior Minister for Security and Law Enforcement Affairs Hossein Zolfaqari said on February 28 that security forces disbanded a terrorist cell in Western Iran.

“This morning two terrorists crossed the Western borders (in Soumar region). They were killed by border guards and security forces on the spot,” Zolfaqari told reporters in Tehran.

He said several other terror plots were also foiled before and during the February 26 elections.

en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13950314000284

 

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal became first Arab Muslim join Buffett and Gates’ The Giving Pledge

June 2, 2016

Riyadh: Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has become the first Arab Muslim to join Buffett and Gates’ Giving Pledge this year.

Alwaleed Philanthropies (AP), chaired by Prince Alwaleed was inspired by the Gates Foundation, set up by Bill and Melinda Gates in 1997 pledges in commitment to giving more than half of their wealth to good causes.

This comes after 60-year-old prince’s announcement last July that he would pledge his entire $32 billion fortune to good causes.

Self-proclaimed “Warren Buffett of Arabia”- Alwaleed nephew of King Salman is one of the world’s richest people.

“More than three decades ago when I founded Alwaleed Philanthropies, I made a commitment to help build a more peaceful, equitable and sustainable world for generations to come,” Prince Alwaleed was quoted as saying to the Arab News.

“It is this same commitment that has driven me to take the Giving Pledge today. I am honored to be the first Arab to do so, and it is my sincere hope that many more Arabs and Muslims will join in Giving Pledge. I have been blessed with a great deal of good fortune in my life. For me, the Giving Pledge is an expression of my desire to give back, both to my community and to the wider world.”

With the addition of 17 new members this year, The Giving Pledge brings the elite group’s membership to 154 signatories from 16 countries around the world.

Here is the full list of the 17 new members announced Wednesday:

  • Margaret and Sylvan Adams (Israel)
  • HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz AlSaud (Saudi Arabia)
  • Lynne and Marc Benioff (United States)
  • Nathan and Elizabeth Blecharczyk (United States)
  • Brian Chesky (United States)
  • Scott Cook and Signe Ostby (United States)
  • Jack and Laura Dangermond (United States)
  • Henry Engelhardt, CBE and Diane Briere de l’Isle-Engelhardt, OBE (United Kingdom)
  • Joe Gebbia (United States)
  • Sir Tom and Lady Marion Hunter (United Kingdom)
  • Robert and Arlene Kogod (United States)
  • Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (India)
  • PNC and Sobha Menon (UAE)
  • Gary K. Michelson, M.D. (United States)
  • Gensheng Niu (China)
  • Liz Simons and Mark Heising (United States)
  • Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim (United States)

siasat.com/news/prince-alwaleed-bin-talal-became-first-arab-muslim-join-buffett-gates-giving-pledge-966094/

Southeast Asia

China says Muslim practices to be protected during Ramadan

Friday, 3 June 2016

BEIJING — China’s government won’t interfere with fasting and other standard religious activities in the traditionally Muslim region of Xinjiang during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan that begins this month, officials said Thursday.

Restaurants will be allowed to keep their own hours and authorized activities in mosques and private homes will be legally protected, the officials said at a news conference on religious policy in Xinjiang, despite complaints from rights groups and others of past government interference during the religious holiday.

Xinjiang is home to China’s Muslim Uighur minority group that is culturally, religiously and linguistically distinct from the Chinese majority. It has seen waves of violence against civilians in recent years which authorities have blamed on radicals seeking independence from Beijing.

China maintains tight restrictions over Islamic observances in the area, in part to maintain government control and stem the influence of radical Islam.

However, human rights groups and Uighurs in exile say restrictions on dress, prayer and fasting during Ramadan have exacerbated ethnic tensions, while government efforts to assimilate Uighurs have stoked resentment. President Xi Jinping recently stated that members of the ruling Communist Party should be “unyielding Marxist atheists,” and the state imposes strict rules on participation in religious by students, teachers, public servants and others.

Chinese officials routinely dismiss criticism of religious policies, and Tuergan Pida, director of Xinjiang’s ethnic affairs committee, said at the news conference that religious freedoms are at an “unprecedented” high.

The regional government helped arrange emergency prayer sites following an earthquake during Ramadan last year, while Communist Party officials ate with religious leaders to mark the end of the holy month, Pida said.

Chinese claims of unprecedented religious freedom in Xinjiang are “deeply ironic and troubling” given recent events, said James Leibold, a scholar of China’s ethnic policy at Australia’s La Trobe University.

Leibold cited the sacking last month of Wang Zhengwei, the Muslim chairman of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission, amid speculation that top Chinese leaders opposed the building of mosques under his watch.

“This illustrates the deep divisions at the top reaches of the party over the value and place of religious and ethnic diversity within Chinese society,” Leibold said by telephone.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/china-says-muslim-practices-to-be-protected-during-ramadan/2016/06/02/16331674-28a8-11e6-8329-6104954928d2_story.html

 

Islamic Organizations Establish Anti-Communist Group

FRIDAY, 03 JUNE, 2016

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Several Islamic organizations in Indonesia have established the Indonesia Communist Extermination Group (Barisan Ganyang Komunis Indonesia – BGKI). “We will take firm action against the spreading of attributes related to communism,” said Alfian Tanjung, BGKI National Coordinator in a press conference on Friday, June 3, 2016.

Alfian said that the BGKI was established by people with anti-communist background to suppress any communism-related movement in Indonesia and to urge the government to take action against the spreading of communism ideology.

Alfian said that the organization has been established in 12 regions in Indonesia, namely in Pacitan, Jakarta, Malang, Bogor, West Sumatera, South Sulawesi, South Kalimantan, Bekasi, Tangerang, Lampung, Depok, and Sukabumi. Alfian said BGKI will disseminate information on the dangers of communism in the 12 areas.

“For the first step, we will socialize [the dangers] of communism,” Alfian said.

Alfian ascertained that currently, the communism ideology has been resurrected by young people in universities and several organizations.

en.tempo.co/read/news/2016/06/03/055776598/Islamic-Organizations-Establish-Anti-Communist-Group

 

Need For Moderate Muslims to Unite Against IS Threat: Indonesian Islamic Activist

Friday, 3 June 2016

JAKARTA: The IS group is driven by the rivalry between Sunni and Syiah Muslims, says Indonesian Islamic activist Yenny Wahid), who is also the daughter of former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid or Gus Dur.

“The ‘apolitical’ Muslims cannot see that (Sunni-Syiah rivalry). They have been fed all these misguided (Islamic) verses to justify supporting IS and all these radical movements, and we feel that this is not correct.

“Nowadays, we see more and more prosecution and intimidation against minorities. But this is due to the global political dynamics.

“In Sunni majority countries, the Syiahs are being persecuted while for decades, we were living in harmony. Our religious and theological teachings are quite different but it doesn’t mean we have to persecute them,” said Yenny.

“We have been telling our people not to get involved in this (Sunni-Syiah rivalry) because this is not our war.

“We are calling for politics to be taken out from the dynamics of so­­ciety. If you take out politics, people will find a way to live side by side.”

She said there was a need for all moderate Muslims to work together to counter IS and its twisted ideology, which is marked by brutal beheadings of hostages and dissidents.

“We need all moderate Muslims in the world to hold hands, fight back and reclaim the space that the radicals have captured,” said Yenny.

As part of the effort, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, Nahd­la­tul Ulama, organised the Interna­tional Summit of Moderate Islamic Leaders last month to find solutions to conflicts considered to have emerged from misinterpretation of Islamic teachings.

“What the radicals do is promote verses that were issued in the context of war … and of course, they contain passages of violence because they tell the story of war.

“We are in a situation of peace (in Indonesia). We are not at war with anyone at the moment. Muslims are not being persecuted for their beliefs.

“We don’t have to wage ‘jihad’ against anyone. They (youths) need to understand this basic concept,” said Yenny, a director of the Wahid Institute which works to seed pluralistic Islam.

There is a need for a support system that Muslim youths can turn to for answers to their questions about their faith, and that steers them towards Quranic verses that promote peace and tolerance, she said.

“So, when a young person starts feeling a calling for more religiosity, he has a support system that guides him to a better way of practising the religion,” said Yenny.

“We need to steer them (youths) to a peaceful way of looking at the verses (in the Quran).”

She said Indonesia was not “doing too badly” in terms of dealing with extremism. Of about 225 million Muslims in the country, only 500 had joined IS.

“When David Cameron visited Indonesia (last year), he asked how it was possible that in a country of over 200 million Muslims, only 500 went to Syria while in the United Kingdom, 800 out of two million Muslims joined IS,” said Yenny.

“I think we are doing not so badly if you look at the numbers.

“Indonesia has a lot to share with the world in terms of the way we live our lives and the way we carry out our traditions.

“We feel that we can inspire other Muslim from different countries – that you can reconcile Islamic teachings with a tradition of tolerance and moderation.”

thestar.com.my/news/nation/2016/06/03/need-for-moderate-muslims-to-unite-against-is-threat/

 

Schools take in Tokyo mosque to get unbiased glimpse of Islam

Friday, 3 June 2016

A recent wave of terror has fueled anti-Muslim hostility worldwide, fostering a negative image of Islam — a faith still unfamiliar in Japan.

But Japan’s youth have been seeking answers to questions including what Islam really teaches and why it is blamed for violence.

Many schools have introduced visits to Tokyo’s largest mosque in the belief that the cultural experience will provide students with a tangible, unbiased grasp of Islam. The visits already have proved effective.

Shunya Senaga, 17, called the opportunity to watch Muslims pray a “precious experience,” adding it made him understand how important Allah is to their culture.

Senaga said he knows one Muslim, but only on a greeting basis.

“That person is so accustomed to Japanese culture that I didn’t think of differences between us,” he said.

Although basic knowledge of Islam is part of the school’s curriculum, he said, news reports concerning issues involving the Islamic State group and the impact it’s had “make us perceive Islamic culture negatively.”

Senaga was one of 36 students from public Omiya Kita High School in Omiya, Saitama Prefecture, who in late April visited Japan’s largest mosque — the Tokyo Camii & Turkish Culture Center in Shibuya Ward.

“All th news about IS jumps into your subconscious, but apparently Muslims are really good people. Only some are acting against their values,” said Senaga’s 16-year-old classmate Naoto Takaku.

The visit to the mosque came ahead of a trip this fall to Singapore and Malaysia, where they plan to spend a day observing Muslim families in rural Malaysia.

“In a place like this they can get a glimpse into the Islamic world and see what kind of religion Islam is,” teacher Akiko Kobayashi, who will be in charge of the trip, told The Japan Times.

“I want students to see how people in Islamic communities co-exist, support each other, and show them their everyday life to help them understand it’s a religion advocating for peace,” she said. “I want them to get rid of biases.”

For nearly all of the students it was their first close encounter with Islam.

Before stepping into the mosque, some were hastily taking off their shoes, while female students, with apparent excitement on their faces, took snapshots with their heads covered.

“I believe school education is one of the best ways Japanese can get more familiar with Islam … and all teachers who bring their students here are more than welcome,” the mosque’s spokesman, Shigeru Shimoyama, said.

Shimoyama, a Muslim convert who served as their guide that day, believes young people need more exposure to religion at an early age so they can deepen their understanding about religious facts.

He invites students to learn about the religion’s values, including that in the eyes of Allah, all people are equal, and about the achievements of Islamic civilizations, still present in daily life, that have been overshadowed by media reports on terrorist acts carried out by radicals with Islamic backgrounds.

Shimoyama said that in the past, Tokyo Camii only drew attention from elderly people or fine arts students who would come with sketchbooks to study the mosque’s architecture.

But in the past few years, the number of visitors from junior high and high schools has risen significantly, he said.

The second-year students from Omiya Kita High School represented the largest non-Muslim youth group to enter the mosque to date.

“I am happy when young people learn something new here, something they can’t find in textbooks,” Shimoyama said.

During the lecture, Shimoyama spoke about how Japan’s Islamic community has grown since the construction of Tokyo Camii, which in its initial form in the 1930s served as an educational and social service center for Tartar immigrants who fled the 1917 Russian Revolution. Later demolished and reconstructed, it was completed in its current form in 2000.

Shimoyama added that of the roughly 100,000 Muslims living in Japan, about 10,000 are Japanese.

Several adherents arrived to offer prayers. Students raised their heads when a group of Muslims started chanting loudly and, encouraged by Shimoyama, moved closer to observe the ritual.

The fact that prayer is the central element of Islam and Muslims must roll out their prayer rugs five times a day made an impression on the young listeners.

English teacher Tomoko Taga, who accompanied the students, hopes the trip to Southeast Asia will become a chance for them to learn about economic development in other countries, a lesson that may serve them well in their careers.

“I want them to see how life in a culturally different environment looks,” she said. “I know they might experience culture shock … but I hope they can benefit from this experience in the future.”

Shimoyama believes this kind of knowledge is indispensable because the Muslim population is projected to grow and eventually exceed the population of Christians, noting the spread of Islam is already noticeable, even in Japan.

“Of all religions practiced worldwide, only Christianity and Islam have become the world’s largest, but Islam, with world’s second-largest population of 1.6 billion adherents, remains unknown in Japan,” he said.

“Many Japanese insurers are now tapping markets in countries like Indonesia,” where over 90 percent of the population is Muslim, Shimoyama said, adding that Indonesians also constitute the largest Muslim group among visitors to and residents of Japan.

But following gruesome incidents last year, including the execution of Japanese freelance journalist Kenji Goto in Syria and the deadly coordinated attacks in Paris, the Islamophobic attacks on Muslim communities did not spare Tokyo Camii.

“You Muslims get out of here,” Shimoyama recalled one caller telling the mosque over the phone. “But I try to respond and listen to their claims.”

Shimoyama blames the media for evoking a negative perception of Islam, especially among those unfamiliar with the religion.

What drove Shimoyama to convert was the hospitality he found in Muslims he met when traveling.

When Japan-born Shimoyama visited Africa in his university years, he had not heard much about Muslims before. But their hospitality sparked his interest in Islam’s teachings, from which he believed their kindness sprang.

Since his return he has been advocating for Japan’s Islamic community and working to raise awareness and remove misconceptions of the faith caused by radical extremists.

According to Shimoyama, unlike those abroad who feel threatened by the growing presence of Muslims in their countries, today’s Japanese show greater interest and don’t tend to express anti-Muslim sentiment.

Shimoyama also visits schools around Tokyo to talk about Islamic society.

In a letter addressed to Shimoyama, a sixth-grader from an elementary school who attended his lecture wrote: “I used to think of Islam as something scary … that caused so many people to lose their lives.”

In their letters, other classmates, too, admitted to having linked Islam with terrorism, but added that getting to know about Islam made them contemplate why some believers started turning violent.

They felt sorry for their brethren in conflict-torn areas.

“In the future I’d like to become a doctor . . . and go abroad to rescue victims of wars like those . . . in Syria,” wrote one girl.

japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/03/national/schools-take-tokyo-mosque-get-unbiased-glimpse-islam/#.V1FZ-zV97IU

Africa

Libyan fighters close in on Islamic State bastion

June 01, 2016

BENGHAZI, Libya –  A spokesman for Libyan militias loyal to the U.N.-brokered government says fighters have seized a power station 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the Islamic State-held city of Sirte.

Mohammed Shamia told The Associated Press that militias mostly from the western city of Misrata took over the plant and a district called Wadi Jarf, on the outskirts of Sirte, on Wednesday.

He says three militiamen were killed and 14 wounded. He texted a picture showing a militia vehicle next to the plant.

He says the militias are also advancing toward the city’s air base, held by IS militants.

IS has exploited the turmoil gripping Libya since the 2011 uprising that ended Moammar Gadhafi’s four-decade rule.

foxnews.com/world/2016/06/01/libyan-fighters-close-in-on-islamic-state-bastion.html

 

Militants kill 16 at hotel in Somalia

JUN 3, 2016

MOGADISHU • Somali security forces have brought to an end a bomb and gun attack by militants on a central Mogadishu hotel that killed at least 16 people and wounded 55, the authorities said.

The Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab, which is affiliated with Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on the Hotel Ambassador. Two lawmakers were among the dead in the attack which ended yesterday with police shooting the assailants.

“So far, we have confirmed 16 people, mostly civilians, died and 55 others were injured,” Major Nur Mohamed, a police officer, told Reuters.

Another police officer, Major Farah Ali, told Reuters the hotel was now secure after the entire building was cleared of militants.

“National security forces are on every floor. The last fighter on the top roof (was) shot,” Major Ali said.

An eye-witness told Reuters that a man on the hotel’s top floor was crying out “please rescue me”.

Another eye-witness saw the last fighter shot dead, his body falling to the ground from the fifth floor. Eight bodies lay in front of the hotel.

Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab, Al-Shabaab’s military operations spokesman, told Reuters it had lost three fighters in the hotel attack and killed 30 people. Death tolls given by Al-Shabaab are usually much higher than those given by officials.

One of the three fighters drove the car that rammed the hotel while the others stormed the hotel, Al-Shabaab said.

“We killed 30 apostates, including MPs and soldiers… The operation was victorious as planned,” the spokesman said, adding that they had injured 60 during the assault.

The building was extensively damaged during the attack and government forces had blocked off all the main roads near the scene.

Al-Shabaab has been waging an insurgency in Somalia since 2006 in a bid to impose a strict version of Islamic law. An African Union mission helped the nation’s forces drive the militants away from Mogadishu in 2011 and take over territory in the group’s strongholds in the southern and central regions.

The attack came after the Somali authorities said they had killed Mohamed Dulyadeyn, an Al-Shabaab leader who neighbouring Kenya believes was the mastermind of an April 2015 attack on a university in the country that left 147 people dead.

Dulyadeyn was killed in an overnight assault on an Al-Shabaab stronghold in Bulo Gadud, a village 30km from the southern port of Kismayo, late on Tuesday, according to Mr Abdirashid Hassan Abdi, a regional security minister.

Separately, United States forces targeted Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, one of Al-Shabaab’s most senior military planners and a coordinator of attacks in the region including in Kenya and Uganda, in an air strike on May 27, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said on Wednesday.

straitstimes.com/world/africa/militants-kill-16-at-hotel-in-somalia

 

African Union’s Deputy Chair Speaks of Sabbath and Other Challenges

JUNE 3, 2016

A senior African Union official, who is also a Seventh-day Adventist believer, has challenged the international community to step up efforts to track and respond to religious intolerance and sectarian violence.

Erastus J.O. Mwencha Jr., deputy chair of the African Union, told a group of Washington policymakers and thought leaders gathered for the 14th annual Religious Liberty Dinner that complacency has no place when it comes to defending religious freedom.

“We must take a firm stance — not simply look back on how far we have come but press forward to the mark,” Mwencha said.

Mwencha, who has helped lead Africa’s top pan-national organization for the past eight years, described the state of religious freedom in Africa as a “paradox.” While religious diversity has expanded rapidly on the continent, he said, legal protections for freedom of worship have lagged in many jurisdictions.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mwencha described the tragedy wreaked by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in West Africa, where some 40,000 people have been killed and 2.1 million displaced from their homes. He also spoke of increasing tension in Egypt between Muslims and Coptic Christians, and the 2011 separation of Sudan and South Sudan, as a redrawing of the political map of Africa driven in large part by religious differences.

Mwencha, who has spent more than three decades in leadership roles at various Pan-African organizations, also spoke about his personal stake in the cause of religious freedom. He said his own experience as a person of faith in the public realm has tested his convictions and allowed him to better gauge the progress made in Africa and globally in protecting religious liberty.

“From an early stage in my career, I vowed not to compromise on my religious convictions, including keeping the Sabbath,” Mwencha said.

Although this stance sometimes put him at odds with his colleagues and superiors, Mwencha said that “standing firm has allowed me to demonstrate to others the importance of staying true to one’s beliefs.”

“It has also shown me how people can be inherently good and understanding in allowing each other to practice their religion freely,” he said.

The Religious Liberty Dinner, held May 24 at the Newseum in downtown Washington, brought together ambassadors, members of Congress, officials from the U.S. State and Justice departments, faith leaders, and representatives of the religious freedom advocacy community. The annual event is jointly organized by Liberty magazine, the North American Religious Liberty Association, the International Religious Liberty Association, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In a brief speech to attendees, Ganoune Diop, director of public affairs and religious liberty for the Adventist world church, explained why the church commits significant resources to promoting freedom for people of different faiths, or of no faith at all.

Diop called freedom of religion or belief one of the most profound expressions of what it means to be human and a“right to self-determination regarding one’s deepest identity. He warned that the concept of religious freedom shouldn’t be reduced to the one-dimensional idea of just freedom to believe or to worship” Instead, Diop said, it is a multi-faceted, foundational freedom that supports many other civil freedoms.

“Religious freedom presupposes freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, freedom of choice, and freedom of expression,” Diop said.

He said it also encompasses freedom of assembly, the right to own property devoted to worship, and the right to display religious signs and symbols.

Melissa Reid, executive director of North American Religious Liberty Association, has been one of the key organizers of the event for more than a decade, and she says the dinner has become a Capitol Hill tradition.

“These are individuals — public officials, political leaders, representatives from faith groups and advocacy organizations — who in the regular course of business in Washington would rarely come together,” she said. “Yet each year they meet here to acknowledge and celebrate religious freedom as one of our nation’s most fundamental civic values.”

Reid said that, for her, a highlight of this year’s dinner was the attendance of some 50 guests from across North America, including attorneys, religious liberty directors, and interested lay people.

Two people were honored at this year’s dinner for their work in advancing the cause of religious freedom. David Lopez, general counsel for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, received the National Award for Religious Freedom for his “outstanding and consistent advocacy of civil rights, religious rights, and employment rights throughout a remarkable legal and government career of service.” Lopez heads the commission’s litigation program nationwide, and oversaw the progress of its religious accommodation case, EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., decided last year by the Supreme Court.

Also honored was Brian Grim, who received the International Award for his work to educate businesses and governments on the economic benefits of protecting religious freedom. In 2014 Grim left his position as a lead researcher at the Pew Research Center to become founding president of the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation. The organization is founded on the proposition that “religious freedom is good for business and business is good for religious freedom.”

In his acceptance speech, Grim spoke about his partnership with Adventists in promoting religious freedom in many different places around the world and he thanked the church for its advocacy work.

Grim also described the role corporations can play in generating positive social change, and he singled out Sanitarium Health Food Company, an Adventist-owned corporation based in Australia whose mission encompasses more than simply generating profit. Grim praised Sanitarium’s partnership with local churches and other community organizations in promoting public health, especially for socially disadvantaged groups in Australia.

The Religious Liberty Dinner capped a day-long International Religious Liberty Summit, also held at the Newseum.

adventistreview.org/church-news/story4078-african-unions-deputy-chair-speaks-of-sabbath-and-other-challenges

 

Monsey men, traveling abroad, find the unexpected in Muslim village

June 2, 2016

MONSEY – When Rabbi Aaron Lankry helped lead more than 100 men on a pilgrimage to historical and sacred Jewish sites across Europe and Africa in May, he predicted the group would encounter some security issues.

But singing and dancing with a tribe in a remote Moroccan village was not something he could have predicted.

Lankry, 49, said the contingency of men from the Monsey synagogue Ohr Chaim, where he is a rabbi, arrived in Morocco last month after visiting and praying at sites in Europe.

The group traveled to a remote site in Morocco considered to be the 2,500-year-old tomb of a son of King Solomon of Israel, who was known for his exceptional wisdom.

The site was located in southern Morocco more than 400 miles from the capital of Rabat. The group flew most of the way, and then travelled another 25 miles in vehicles on treacherous roads to reach the tomb located in a village maintained by people known as Berbers who were also Muslim, Lankry said.

The New Yorkers, who wore djellabas — traditional Moroccan clothing — had previously arranged with a village leader to visit the tomb and pray, Lankry said. The group also managed to purchase about 30 goats and lambs at a nearby village to bring to the tomb as a gift.

But when they arrived, tensions arose.

Women and children barred the Monsey men from entering the tomb.

It was tradition, Lankry was told, that Jews were prohibited from entering the gravesite.Lankry said the group respected the villager’s tradition, and decided to still offer them the gifts of goats and lambs, as well as candy for the children.

“We didn’t scream and holler,” Lankry said. “We wanted to give them gifts anyway, because they are taking care of the graves of our ancestors.”

That’s when the unexpected happened.

The Muslim villagers began chanting and blessing the travelers from New York, Lankry said. The villagers brought out dates and tea for the Monsey men, and they all began dancing and signing together, he added.

“We didn’t expect to have such a response,” Lankry said.“It was a wonderful experience. A very humanistic experience. Our differences are not so great.”

In the end, Lankry said the group was still not allowed to enter the tomb.

Lankry said he asked a villager why they weren’t permitted, and the man responded: “I don’t know. It’s what my grandparents did.”

In addition to visiting Morocco, the group stopped in Tunesia where they met with the country’s first freely elected president, President Beji Caid Essebsi.

“He gave us a very warm welcoming,” Lankry said of Essebsi. “(The president) gave us treats and drinks and he really went out of his way to express that Tunisia is a democratic state and that Jews, Muslims and Christians are all equal and all welcome.”

Back in the United States this week, Lankry said he and the group originally anticipated there to be more tensions during the trip, but was surprised to find most people were welcoming.

“If the people can meet one-on-one, we can resolve our issues,” he said.  “People want the same things: Peace and tranquility.”

lohud.com/story/news/local/rockland/2016/06/02/monsey-jewish-muslim-morocco/85238498/

 

Militants launch attacks in Niger Delta as Buhari cancels visit

JUNE 03 2016

BODO/ABUJA — Militants launched new attacks in the Niger Delta on Thursday, vowing to bring Nigeria’s struggling oil industry to a halt, and the president cancelled a long-awaited visit to the region.

The army said militants killed six people on Wednesday when they ambushed a boat belonging to state oil firm NNPC in the Warri area.

Separately, the Niger Delta Avengers group said it had attacked two crude pipelines operated by Italy’s ENI.

“At about 2am today @NDAvengers blew up the Ogboinbiri to Tebidaba and Clough Creek to Tebidaba Crude Oil pipelines in Bayelsa State,” the group said on Twitter.

“This is in line with our promise to all international oil companies and indigenous oil companies that Nigeria oil production will be zero.” The group also said on Friday it has again blown up the Forcados oil pipeline, which was under repair after an attack in February.

“At 3am today @NDAvengers blew up the SPDC Forcados 48″ Exportline,” the group said on a Twitter feed it uses to claim credit for attacks.

“We warned SPDC not to go ahead with repair works,” the group said.

Nigeria’s oil minister said in April that repairs to the Forcados pipeline, controlled by Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited, would be completed in June.

Royal Dutch Shell could not be immediately reached for comment.

But the NDA said in a statement late on Thursday that it was not responsible for the boat attack.

“Killing of sleeping soldiers is not our style,” the NDA said in an emailed statement.

The Avengers group has claimed responsibility for other recent attacks on Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell facilities. A wave of such attacks have helped drive the country’s oil output to a 20-year low.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari cancelled at the last minute a visit planned for Thursday to the Delta, source of most of Nigeria’s crude.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the trip in Buhari’s place to launch a cleanup programme in an area badly hit by oil spills, vowing to work with community leaders to end militant attacks.

Poverty and pollution

No reason has been given for the cancellation of what would have been Buhari’s first visit to the region since taking office a year ago. Western allies and local officials have told the former military chief that he needs to address poverty and oil pollution in the Delta to stop unrest.

“We are determined to put right the wrongs of the past, where the people of this land were treated unfairly and the environment unduly polluted and degraded,” Osinbajo said in a speech in the town of Bodo in the polluted Ogoniland area.

“The cleanup of this land will require change on the part of all those who deal with the Niger Delta environment -particularly the oil companies and our communities,” he said.

The Avengers have accused Buhari, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, of ignoring the problems of the predominantly Christian Delta.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, joined Osinbajo at the ceremony. He said the cleanup “cannot happen overnight” but he hoped the government, oil firms and locals could work together to reduce pollution.

bdlive.co.za/africa/africannews/2016/06/03/militants-launch-attacks-in-niger-delta-as-buhari-cancels-visit

 

Terrorist with rage against the Kenyan State finally killed

Fri, June 3rd 2016

Following reports that Mohamed Kuno Dulyadiin alias Gamadheere has been killed in Somalia, a village in Bura township in Garissa County will now have some kind of closure. Close family members, including several Muslim leaders, relatives and even an MP have suffered at the hands of anti-terrorist police for receiving random telephone calls from Kuno. Kuno has been on the most-wanted list for close to a year after Kenyan authorities blamed him for the April 2, 2015, attack at Garissa University College, which was claimed by Al Shabaab. Kuno, who also went by the name Sheikh Mohamed Muhumed Ali, was a member of Al Shabaab and a fugitive from justice for other crimes in Garissa and Lamu counties, according to Kenyan authorities. The slain fugitive’s flight from Bulla Iftin in Garissa town where he lived with his family for years after returning from university studies in Sudan in the late 1980s or early 1990s, has been a matter of splendid and sordid gossip and conspiracy theories. But many of his relatives have suffered, often, wrongly for receiving calls from him. READ MORE Al Shabaab car bomber strikes hotel in Somali capital, at least 15 dead Garissa University terror attack mastermind killed in raid Al Shabaab commander behind Garissa University terror attack killed in Somalia raid, reports say For years, Kuno taught at Najah Islamic School in Garissa town and also delivered fiery sermons supporting violent jihad at several mosques in Bulla Iftin. Given to fiery temper, he is said to have cancelled his wedding to a bride from Nanighi after she allegedly insulted his parents and family. For embarrassing his family in this manner, Kuno was reportedly cursed by local elders. Birthday unknown Kuno’s date of birth is not known but many sources indicate he was born in Bura town over 50 years ago and received his education in local Islamic schools before ending up in Sudan in the 1980s. He hailed from the Rer Qassim sub-clan, Rer Abdille Aden sub-sub clan of the Abduwak clan which dominates Fafi constituency. Although he enjoyed traditional dances as a child, reports say he grew more austere and rebellious as time passed, eventually choosing a religious career. “He was defiant since his teenage (years) and is known to have beaten up his bride-to-be and refused to tie the knot at the last hour,” according a civil servant in Garissa who knew Kuno before he disappeared. The civil servant, who cannot be named for security reasons, further describes Kuno as a “a brave teacher who kept to himself” upon returning from Sudan. The date of Kuno’s flight from Garissa into Somalia or the short and long-term reasons for his departure are also contested in Garissa and within intelligence circles. Kenya’s intelligence claims to have placed him under its watch as early as 2008 through to 2012, when he allegedly entered Somalia and sneaked back to Kenya many times.

Some accounts suggest he fled his teaching post at Najah Islamic School in Garissa in the mid 1990s to join the defunct Al Ittihad Al Islam in Somalia, the precursor to the Islamic Courts Union, which morphed into the Al Shabaab following an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in December 2006. Yet one account suggests that after his return from Sudan, Kuno appeared to harbour a deep sense of grievances against the Kenyan State. In his sermons in mosques in Bulla Iftin, Kuno is said to have delivered incendiary separatist sermons against the Kenyan and Ethiopian States over their joint treatment of Somalia. And some accounts indicate that Kuno might not have been the first person to join Somalia-based extremist movements. Those who knew Kuno allege he was deeply hurt when an unnamed brother or cousin was killed fighting Ethiopian forces inside Somalia in 2008. Kuno is suspected to have plunged headlong into the jihadi movement after this incident, taking away his entire family to settle in Jilib town on Somalia’s southern coast. Within Garissa, Kuno hated local leaders within the Ogaden religious and political elite who included some relatives, accusing them of supporting Kenya’s military invasion of Somalia. To pay back, he made calls to them from his Jilib hideout in order to set them up.

The fugitive is believed to have visited Kenya several times, including Garissa town, where his close relatives still live, to plan and conduct missions. His allies in these acts were a Mr Mohamed Amin, an ethnic Abdalla fugitive from Ijara and a Mohamed Bilal who are still at large. He underwent military and ideological training in Kismayu but also among ethnic Marehan islamist in Gedo region who would later order the university college attack. The college attack was orchestrated by Kuno’s network in Garissa County. Two allies Bilal was suspected to have masterminded the May 19, 2015, takeover of two villages in Ijara sub-county, which was blamed on Kuno, who was believed to have ordered the attack from Kulbiyow town inside Somalia. The two allies of Kuno’s would be blamed for the attacks on Kenyan soldiers and policemen that began in southern Garissa in May last year, spreading southwards into Lamu County where Kuno had some links with Jaysh Ayman, an Al Shabaab offshoot in Coast blamed for most recent attacks in Lamu County since June 2014. Before the university college attack, Kenya’s intelligence had claimed he had sneaked into Kenya through Masalani many times. Before the September 2013 Westgate Mall attack, Kuno secretly visited Bulla Iftin through Masalani in Ijara sub-county, according to Kenya police. On December 17, 2012, the National Security Intelligence published a report about Kuno, claiming he had entered Kenya through Masalani in Ijara sub county of Garissa on December 9 of the same year to plot terrorist attacks in Mombasa and Nairobi.

standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000203870/terrorist-with-rage-against-the-kenyan-state-finally-killed/?pageNo=2

Mideast

Soldier killed in PKK attack in Turkey’s southeast

June/03/2016

One soldier was killed late June 2 in an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) attack in the Nusaybin district of the southeastern province of Mardin.

PKK militants detonated a hand-made explosive hidden in a building in the Fırat neighborhood while soldiers were conducting searches inside at around 4 p.m. Three security personnel were initially wounded as the building collapsed after the explosion. The wounded were immediately taken to Nusaybin State Hospital, but non-commissioned officer Arif Çakır succumbed to his injuries. The treatment of the other two soldiers is continuing.

Meanwhile, security forces spotted a house on June 2 in the Yenişehir neighborhood where PKK militants were preparing hand-made explosives. Equipment used in making explosives was seized in the operation.

The General Staff said in a statement that a total of 57 hand-made explosives were destroyed on June 2 during security forces’ operations in Nusaybin that have been continuing since March 14.

hurriyetdailynews.com/soldier-killed-in-pkk-attack-in-turkeys-southeast.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100033&NewsCatID=341

 

Adviser to PM: Israel has homegrown Islamic State threat in hand

June/03/2016

JERUSALEM- Israel’s crackdown on Arab citizens trying to join Islamic State in Syria or Iraq or to set up cells at home have prevented the threat reaching the scale seen in the West, an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a magazine interview.

About 18 percent of Israel’s population are Muslim Arabs, many of whom identify with the Palestinian struggle, although they seldom take up arms against the majority Jewish country.

However, a rash of defections to Islamic State-held areas of Syria and Iraq and trials of Israeli citizens for identifying with the militant group prompted President Reuven Rivlin to warn in January that “considerable radicalization” was taking root among Israel’s Arab minority.

Eitan Ben-David, head of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau in Netanyahu’s office, told the bi-monthly journal ‘Israel Defense’ that “more than a few dozen, but not more than 100” Israeli Arabs had joined Islamic State’s ranks – and some might return.

“These foreign fighters can certainly pose a grave danger internally, so the Shin Bet (security service) and all the state system is doing very good work in foiling this threat, which could be a kind of spreading cancer,” Ben-David said.

“To our satisfaction, the situation is reasonable. It is not like any European country, nor even America, or places like China or Russia which have had a great number of homegrown ISIS fighters,” he said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Israel formally outlawed Islamic State in 2014 and negotiated the repatriation for trial of several Arab citizens who had joined or tried to join the insurgents via Turkey or Jordan.

But government policy hardened last year after one Israeli Arab used a paraglider to fly into an Islamic State-controlled part of southern Syria and after another who had served as a volunteer in Israel’s army defected to the insurgents.

Further raising alarm, two video clips surfaced in October in which Islamic State gunmen vowed in Arabic-accented Hebrew to strike Israel. The group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, echoed the threat in an audiotape released in December.

But Ben-David sounded circumspect about that prospect, citing potentially more pressing dangers from Lebanon’s Hezbollah guerrillas or Palestinian militants.

In an incident on Thursday, a Palestinian woman tried to stab an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank and was shot dead, the military said.

In the last half year, Palestinian attacks have killed 28 Israelis and two visiting U.S. citizens. Israeli forces have shot dead at least 196 Palestinians, 134 of whom Israel has said were assailants. Others were killed in clashes and protests.

“When it comes to Islamic State, we worry about terrorist attacks against Israeli or Jewish targets, including abroad, but we are not a main target right now,” he said.

jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Adviser-to-PM-Israel-has-homegrown-Islamic-State-threat-in-hand-455747

 

Greek coastguard rescues migrants in sinking off Crete

June/03/2016

More than 200 migrants were rescued in the south Aegean Sea off the island of Crete after their boat sank, Greece’s coastguard said on June 3 .

“So far about 250 people have been rescued, based on the first data,” coastguard spokesman Nikos Lagkadianos told Skai TV, adding that weather conditions were good.

He said it was not clear how many were aboard the vessel but that based on a first assessment it was unlikely to have carried many more than those rescued so far.

Fleeing war, thousands of mainly Syrian refugees have braved rough seas this year to make the short but precarious journey from Turkey to Greece’s islands, from which most continue to mainland Greece and northward into wealthier western Europe.

However, Crete, Greece’s southernmost island, lies north of Libya and Egypt. A group of 113 mostly Afghan migrants has landed on the island on Wednesday, the first big arrival on the island since the migrant crisis began.

Warm weather and calmer seas in the Mediterranean have led to a surge in recent weeks in the number of people trying to cross to Italy from Libya, where people-smugglers operate with relative impunity.

Boats on this much longer journey risk being blown off course to islands such as Crete.

hurriyetdailynews.com/greek-coastguard-rescues-migrants-in-sinking-off-crete.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100036&NewsCatID=351

 

German tourist found dead in hotel in Turkey’s south

June/03/2016

A German tourist was found dead in a hotel in the Manavgat district of the southern province of Antalya on June 2.

Gabrielle Maria Dietter, 66, arrived in Manavgat with her husband Georg Hans Dietter for a vacation on June 1.

However, the next morning Hans Dietter was unable to wake his wife up and asked the hotel staff for help.

Medical staff at the hospital then determined that Dietter had lost her life.

Her dead body was sent to the forensic medicine institute in Antalya for an autopsy after the prosecutor’s examinations.

hurriyetdailynews.com/german-tourist-found-dead-in-hotel-in-turkeys-south-.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100040&NewsCatID=341

 

Turkish ambassador to Berlin returns on first plane

June/03/2016

Turkish Ambassador to Berlin Hüseyin Avni Karslıoğlu returned to Turkey late on June 2, after the German Parliament approved a bill describing the 1915 massacres of Ottoman Armenians as genocide.

“This is an emotional decision. It is not a decision that was made in a rational framework. All of the speeches [of German lawmakers during the voting session] show this … We had many talks [with the German authorities] before the vote but the decision was already made,” Karslıoğlu told reporters on his arrival at Esenboğa Airport in Ankara.

“Our friendship and our relations with Germany will continue. We will act logically,” the ambassador said, adding that he will now hold extensive meetings at the Foreign Ministry to analyze the decision taken by the German Parliament and decide what measures will be taken.

Asked whether he had a return ticket, Karslıoğlu said “Turkish Airlines doesn’t run out of tickets.”

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-ambassador-to-berlin-returns-on-first-plane.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100037&NewsCatID=510

 

Turkish PM vows ties won’t be destroyed over Germany’s ‘genocide vote’

June/03/2016

Turkey will make a sound assessment before it imposes measures against Germany in reaction to a parliamentary recognition of the 1915 killings of Anatolian Armenians as “genocide,” the Turkish prime minister has said, underlining that Turkey will not totally destroy its ties with an important ally.

“The necessary reaction will be given after an evaluation of the background of this decision. Turkey and Germany are two important allies. No one should expect a full worsening of our relationship with Germany because of this kind of a decision. But this does not mean that Turkey will remain indifferent and silent against such a move,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told reporters before his departure to Azerbaijan on June 3.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Berlin for consultation in a first step of protest against the German parliament’s decision to label the mass killings of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Empire in 1915 as genocide.

Describing the vote as a historic mistake and reiterating that it was null and void in the eyes of Turkey and the Turkish people, Yıldırım said, “Turkish-German relations have been seriously hurt by this decision. But I want to draw attention to one point: The fact that only around 250 lawmakers out of 650 were present at the voting indicates that the majority of the German parliament could not embrace this move.”

The Turkish prime minister vowed that Turkey will continue its relations with its allies and friends “no matter what happens,” expressing his hopes that common sense will prevail in Germany as well.

‘Armenia indirectly embraces terror’

Yıldırım was tougher in his remarks against Armenia during the press conference, as he accused Turkey’s eastern neighbor of supporting terrorism while reminding that scores of Turkish diplomats were assassinated by Armenian terror groups in the past.

“Today, it’s not a secret that [Armenia] is embracing terror organizations in an indirect way. These are millions of Armenians who are paying the price of these unconscious moves of the Armenian leadership through isolation, poverty and difficulties. Armenia should now renounce these empty dreams and begin to work for the welfare of its people through good neighborly relationships in the region,” he stressed.

hurriyetdailynews.com/turkish-pm-vows-ties-wont-be-destroyed-over-germanys-genocide-vote.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100039&NewsCatID=510

 

Seven soldiers wounded in PKK bomb attack in Turkey’s southeast

June/03/2016

Seven soldiers were wounded in an outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) bomb attack on an armored military vehicle in the Silvan district of the southeastern province of Diyarbakır on June 3.

PKK militants detonated a hand-made explosive placed on the Diyarbakır-Silvan motorway during the passing of the military vehicle.

According to initial reports, seven soldiers were injured in the attack, with one in a critical condition.

Ambulances have been dispatched to the scene of the attack.

hurriyetdailynews.com/seven-soldiers-wounded-in-pkk–bomb-attack-in-turkeys-southeast.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100034&NewsCatID=509

Europe

Terror Expert: Americans Should Take Islamic Extremists at Their Word

June 2, 2016

The U.S. government has warned travelers to Europe to beware of terrorist attacks plotted by ISIS. France has already extended for another two months the state of emergency it declared after November’s attacks in Paris. And with France hosting the Euro 2016 soccer tournament as well as the Tour de France this summer, the country has an additional big target.

Counter-terrorist expert Philip Haney says Americans should take the alert seriously, because Islamic extremists have largely kept their word.

“Every time they have declared their intentions, they’ve followed through,” he told WND. “You have to assume they mean exactly what they say. With the threat level we see, the primary responsibility of the police and of those working in national security is to accept that, take that threat seriously and protect the general public from that threat.”

According to the head of the international law enforcement agency Europol, the European soccer tournament has been identified as one of the most likely targets of ISIS. As ISIS continues to suffer battlefield reversals in its Middle Eastern heartland, the terrorist group is vowing to launch attacks within the West itself, saying a “month of calamity” will arrive soon.

Haney noted Europe is already a tinderbox, with constant tension between large Muslim populations and the police. He argued the danger is not just a planned attack but a more “spontaneous” outbreak of violence similar to the riots and arson attacks that have plagued European cities in recent years. However, he suggested ISIS itself is deliberately pursuing a strategy of spectacular, large-scale attacks, meaning events like the European soccer tournament are directly in its crosshairs.

“It’s the larger level attacks the authorities are concerned with,” said Haney. “And they know from intelligence they gathered after the last attacks that there was an extensive amount of planning going on before the previous wave. And even some of the terrorists they captured said there were going to be other attacks.”

Haney, who retired last year after serving as a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security, was a highly decorated Customs and Border Protection officer who identified hundreds of terrorists. He was well known for meticulously compiling information and producing actionable reports. But Haney faced fierce opposition from a politically correct administration that made him the subject of nine investigations. He chronicles his experiences – which include his remarkable involvement in the San Bernardino and Boston Marathon investigations – in the book “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad.”

Inherent threat

Haney argues the West is not only facing the threat of terrorism but an ideological threat as well. The veteran national security analyst argues those who believe Islam should be supreme are an inherent challenge to the American way of life and to constitutional government.

“It’s not a matter of First Amendment free speech and exercise of religion,” said Haney. “It’s actually an Article VI issue. Article VI of the Constitution says that the Constitution will be the supreme law of the land. Whereas with Shariah, it would supersede the Constitution. Right there, on that simple basis, taking religion completely out of it, any other system of law that seeks to impose itself on our constitutional form of law should be prohibited.”

wnd.com/2016/06/terror-expert-take-islamic-extremists-at-their-word/

 

Germany arrests 3 suspected Syrian terrorists, foils possible Islamic State plot

June 2 ,2016

BERLIN — Three Syrian men who entered Germany with a wave of migrants were arrested Thursday on suspicion of planning an Islamic State attack on the city of Düsseldorf. The arrests potentially thwarted a deadly operation that appeared eerily reminiscent of recent assaults on Brussels and Paris.

The suspected plot, German authorities said, involved suicide bombers, firearms and explosives — a lethal combination that has become the hallmark of a new spate of Islamist terrorism in Europe. A fourth Syrian, who prosecutors said had informed French officials about the alleged plot, was being held in France.

The arrests highlighted the significant threat to Europe from Islamic State militants posing as migrants. Officials said all four Syrians entered the continent from the Middle East using the same irregular passages by land and sea — Greece via Turkey and then through the Balkans — used by hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers last year. After the attacks in Brussels and Paris, Islamic State officials have claimed that more sleeper cells were incubating in Europe. Thursday’s arrests suggested such threats were not idle.

The German chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement that there were no immediate indications that the men had started taking concrete steps to carry out the plot. But the authorities moved in on Thursday — arresting the men in three German states — after details of the alleged plot were provided by the suspect in France, who first approached authorities in Paris in February.

The plot, officials said, was supposed to involve two suicide bombers. Other assailants “were supposed to kill as many bystanders as possible with guns and other explosive devices,” prosecutors said.

Two of the men were suspected of being active members of the Islamic State, while a third was believed to have at least supported the group. Investigators also suspect that one of the two Islamic State adherents had links to the radical Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is known as the Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda.

Revelations that the suspects had entered Germany as migrants quickly fueled the debate here over the security threat presented by a massive pool of poorly screened asylum seekers. Hundreds of thousands of would-be refugees entered Germany last year after receiving only cursory vetting in near-bankrupt Greece. Over the past six months, more than three dozen suspected militants impersonating migrants have been arrested or died while planning or carrying out terrorism. They include at least seven directly tied to the attacks in Paris and Brussels.

Although a tenuous deal between the European Union and Turkey has largely blocked new migrants from entering Europe via Greece, more than a million have already arrived. Only a small fraction, officials say, present genuine security threats. But on Thursday, critics took aim at a haphazard migrant policy that was riddled with risk.

Gregor Golland, a Christian Democratic Union member of the North-Rhine Westphalia state parliament, called local leaders “naive” for insisting that “no terrorists were coming to Germany via the Balkan route” — a reference to the main land corridor used by irregular migrants last year.

“Until today, we don’t know the identities of all refugees living in Germany,” Golland told the Rheinische Post. “The security authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia must organize an immediate security check of all refugees living in the country.”

Others called for calm, warning against fanning a growing strain of anti-refugee sentiment that has led to a surge in attacks by right-wing extremists on asylum centers and migrants.

“Of course one has to take this very seriously,” Düsseldorf Mayor Thomas Geisel told the local news website Report-D. “But the city must not lose its openness to the world — and tolerance.”

A series of coordinated terrorist attacks killed 130 people in Paris in November. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the massacre, in which at least eight assailants armed with explosives and automatic weapons gunned down people at random at several locations in the French capital.

The Islamic State also claimed a series of attacks in Belgium in March targeting Brussels Airport and a Metro station. Three suicide bombings killed 32 people and injured more than 300 as authorities closed in on suspects wanted in the Paris attacks.

Germany’s chief federal prosecutor identified the three arrested Syrians as 27-year-old Hamza C., 25-year-old Mahood B. and 31-year-old Abd Arahman A.K. It is customary in Germany to withhold the last names of suspects who have been arrested.

The men were apprehended in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg and Baden-Württemberg. Their apartments were being searched, officials said.

The Germans acted based on the information provided by a 25-year-old Syrian identified as Saleh A., who turned himself in to Paris police in February. His testimony alerted authorities to a German terrorist cell seeking to orchestrate an attack in the historic town center of Düsseldorf. The targeted area is known here as “the longest bar in the world” because of its concentration of beer halls and pubs.

Salah A. and Hamza C., authorities said, joined the Islamic State in the spring of 2014. Shortly after, in May, the organization’s leadership gave them fresh orders to carry out an attack in Germany. Two attackers would each detonate suicide vests on Düsseldorf’s busy central boulevard, Heinrich-Heine-Allee. Afterward, other attackers would kill bystanders using weapons and explosives.

With the approval of the Islamic State leadership, authorities said, Saleh A. and Hamza C. traveled to Turkey in May 2014. From there, they entered Europe separately. They first came in through Greece and then used the Balkan route, traversed by hundreds of thousands of migrants last year, before respectively arriving in Germany in March and July of 2015.

No later than January of this year, authorities believe, Saleh A. and Hamza C. persuaded Mahood B. to take part in the attack. The men were later joined by Abd Arahman A.K., another Syrian who had already traveled to Germany in October 2014, allegedly also on orders of the Islamic State’s leadership to take part in the attack.

The men were apprehended in the states of North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg and Baden-Württemberg. Their apartments were being searched, officials said.

The Germans acted based on the information provided by a 25-year-old Syrian identified as Saleh A., who turned himself in to Paris police in February. His testimony alerted authorities to a German terrorist cell seeking to orchestrate an attack in the historic town center of Düsseldorf. The targeted area is known here as “the longest bar in the world” because of its concentration of beer halls and pubs.

Salah A. and Hamza C., authorities said, joined the Islamic State in the spring of 2014. Shortly after, in May, the organization’s leadership gave them fresh orders to carry out an attack in Germany. Two attackers would each detonate suicide vests on Düsseldorf’s busy central boulevard, Heinrich-Heine-Allee. Afterward, other attackers would kill bystanders using weapons and explosives.

With the approval of the Islamic State leadership, authorities said, Saleh A. and Hamza C. traveled to Turkey in May 2014. From there, they entered Europe separately. They first came in through Greece and then used the Balkan route, traversed by hundreds of thousands of migrants last year, before respectively arriving in Germany in March and July of 2015.

No later than January of this year, authorities believe, Saleh A. and Hamza C. persuaded Mahood B. to take part in the attack. The men were later joined by Abd Arahman A.K., another Syrian who had already traveled to Germany in October 2014, allegedly also on orders of the Islamic State’s leadership to take part in the attack.

washingtonpost.com/world/europe/germany-arrests-3-suspected-syrian-terrorists-foils-alleged-islamic-state-plot/2016/06/02/31e29767-6df7-496b-aa47-5b8911459f13_story.html

 

Islamic Supremacist Threats in Europe and the White House

June 2, 2016

Read more: Family Security Matters familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/islamic-supremacist-threats-in-europe-and-the-white-house?f=must_reads#ixzz4AW1W2BtZ

Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

The State Department has issued a travel advisory for Americans in Europe this summer. Presumably, that’s because both the Islamic State and al Qaeda have declared their intentions to target Westerners in nations there.

Unfortunately, these jihadist groups have us in their cross-hairs here, as well. That danger is all the greater on both sides of the Atlantic because of the subversive infrastructure-building by the granddaddy of virtually all contemporary Islamic supremacist groups: the Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood mosques, front groups and influence operations create the sea in which the violent Islamists swim – and hide.

Not to worry, though. President Obama has just appointed as his Muslim American community liaison a third-generation Muslim Brotherhood operative: Zaki Barzinji. The practical effect of this appointment will be more Brotherhood influence in U.S. policy – and less security for Americans in this country, as well as overseas.

familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/islamic-supremacist-threats-in-europe-and-the-white-house?f=must_reads

North America

How the Islamic State Is Benefitting from the U.S. Arming ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels

June 3, 2016

The Pentagon would identify and recruit moderate Syrian rebels — the guys who want to overthrow their autocratic president, Bashar al-Assad, but also don’t want Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists running their country — and train them to be effective fighters.

Once properly trained, they would be armed with top-notch American gear and sent out to impose peace on their country, all without large-scale U.S. troop involvement reminiscent of the war in Iraq. About 5,000 rebels would be trained in 2015, the Pentagon said, and three times that number this year.

But $500 million later, the program is shuttered after it successfully trained just four or five rebels.

Not four or five thousand. Not four or five militias. Four or five people — the only rebels who made it through the training and into the battlefield without defecting to al-Qaeda (and taking their weapons with them), getting kidnapped, or simply deserting altogether.

That small group recruited a few friends and claimed a tiny piece of territory at a southernmost border crossing with Iraq. They have held onto it with reasonable success until, as the Washington Post reported Memorial Day weekend, an ISIS suicide attack did serious damage to the small base. The group’s commander suggests that the attack could have been prevented, or at least its damaged minimized, with better U.S. support. “I’m not saying the Americans let us down, but there is dereliction of duty,” he said. “They are not doing what they could.”

Whether his assessment is fair or not, that this single, struggling outpost is what $500 million gets us is a damning indictment of hubristic efforts to manipulate a situation we clearly do not adequately understand.

And though the original training debacle was canceled back in October after it was revealed to be a rank embarrassment, the Obama Administration just won’t give up on this demonstrably expensive and foolhardy concept. In fact, its new incarnation has the potential to fail more spectacularly than the old.

One reason the original plan never picked up much speed was the extensive individual vetting process applied to each and every fighter. The theory was that this would ensure American time and tax dollars would not be wasted on terrorist sympathizers. (Of course, we’ve seen how well that worked out.) Now, the Pentagon says that learning from its mistakes means it will only vet the leaders of the groups it works with and then focus on giving them free weapons and other equipment.

So since October, our government has been sending massive quantities of guns and ammunition to people it kinda hopes are cool with freedom and stuff.

What could go wrong? If history is any guide, everything.

American weaponry — including but far from limited to $1 billion in U.S. Humvees — has a well-established penchant for ending up in ISIS’s hands even when we give it to known allies. Indeed, one reason the Pentagon has transferred so much equipment to the Kurds is to prevent them from being outmatched by ISIS’s heavy weaponry – weaponry which includes hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of gear and arms the United States originally gave to the Iraqi army.

By one estimate from Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, “Probably 60 to 80 percent of the arms that America shoveled in have gone” to ISIS and other al-Qaeda-linked groups. And even if we take far more conservative tallies, as Rare’s Matt Purple calculates, “every year the United States is spending $100 million to $150 million in weapons, training, infrastructure, and personnel to bolster jihadists.” And that’s just through the CIA.

Needless to say, the Pentagon’s impulse to let local forces fix the mess in Syria is a good one. Neighboring countries and Syrians themselves have a vital national security interest in Syrian (and Iraqi) stability in a way that the United States — thousands of miles away and protected by both the biggest moat and the strongest military in the world — simply does not.

But what we also clearly don’t have is the capability of effectively fostering the success of those forces of stability. U.S. intervention has simply, recklessly pumped more arms and ammunition into a region already seething with arms and ammunition, and it has done so at an unacceptably irresponsible cost to Americans.

Training and arming so-called moderate rebels has achieved next to nothing for the United States and quite a bit for ISIS. It is past time to stop pretending we can get this boondoggle right.

breitbart.com/national-security/2016/06/02/islamic-state-benefitting-u-s-arming-moderate-syrian-rebels/

 

Hate Group in Texas Threatens to Kill Muslims — And Nobody Asks Where the Group Was Radicalized

06/02/2016

Where were they radicalized?

That’s the question we should be asking.

An extremist group of white, presumably Christian men in Texas are training against a non-existent Islamic “uprising” by dipping their bullets in pig’s blood and bacon grease to target Muslims. The fact that consumption of pork is forbidden in Islam is well-known.

The extremist group, based in Irving, refers to itself as “Bureau of American Islamic Relations” (BAIR), an obvious mockery of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which carries out crucial work to safeguard the constitutional rights of Muslims in the United States.

Members of BAIR think that lining bullets with pig blood would ensure that their Muslim victims would “go straight to hell”, according to a video released by AJ+. One BAIR member in the video stated, “A lot of us here are using either pig’s blood or bacon grease on our bullets, packing it in the middle so that when you shoot a Muslim, they go straight to hell”. Another member insisted, “Don’t f*ck with white people.”

David Wright, spokesperson for BAIR, said he was “going to start doing something about Muslims… now”. That’s code word for “I’m going to threaten Muslims with violence”.

Clearly, members of BAIR are misinformed and uninformed. One member told AJ+, “the next step in jihad does not involve random, sporadic attacks… They start killing people”.

Actually, no. That’s not true.

I teach the course “Muslims in American Society” at Rice University in Houston, not too far from Irving, where BAIR is based. Our class, composed of Muslims and non-Muslims, looks carefully at the various dimensions of jihad. The students, I should add, get along perfectly fine despite coming largely from Christian and Muslim backgrounds.

Jihad has many meanings. It’s often misinterpreted to mean “holy war”, obvious in the case of BAIR, but jihad really means “to struggle” or “to strive”. A jihad might be waking up when your alarm goes off in the morning. A jihad might be putting up with an annoying relative on a holiday.

A jihad might be turning the other cheek when blatantly Islamophobic groups like BAIR openly calls for the murder of Muslims.

It’s true there is an offensive or “violent” form of jihad, but it’s for the purposes of self-defense. The Quran, the Islamic holy book, calls on Muslims to “jihad” against the use of violence. The Quran (5:32) states, “if anyone slew a person unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land it would be as if he slew the whole of humanity: and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole of humanity”. In another Quranic passage (2:190), Muslims are told, “fight in the case of God those who start fighting you, but do not transgress limits (or start the attack); for God loveth not transgressors”.

Members of BAIR live in a fantasy world where Muslims pose the greatest threat to “civilization”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Since 9/11, white right-wing terrorists have killed almost twice as many Americans in homegrown attacks than “radical Islamists” have, according to research by the New America Foundation.

BAIR’s perception is not reality. The data, as Loon Watch points out, simply does not support their irrational view that Muslims pose a threat to the United States. On the FBI’s official website, there exists a chronological list of all terrorist attacks committed on American soil from the year 1980 all the way to 2005. According to this data, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%).

To put it simply, the threat of Muslim American terrorism is grossly exaggerated.

Funny, too, that members of BAIR consider themselves Christians. Remind me about the passage of the Bible where Jesus asks people to put pig blood on bullets to kill non-Christians. That’s apparently what BAIR members think. That killing people ensures a seat next to Jesus in heaven.

Let me wrap this up by flipping things around. Imagine if CAIR called on Muslims to kill Christians. Imagine the uproar. Imagine the media coverage, the hysteria. Politicians in Washington, DC and elsewhere would head to the press to pose the question, “where were they [CAIR members] radicalized?”

Why aren’t we asking the same question about BAIR?

This is what we call “double standards”.

huffingtonpost.com/entry/hate-group-in-texas-threatens_b_10211790.html?section=india

 

Top Canadian soldier says Iraqi army ‘crushing’ Islamic State

Friday, Jun. 03, 2016

When Brig.-Gen. Greg Smith first touched down in Iraq in February to advise and assist the Iraqi army in its fight against Islamic State militants, he assumed that ISIL had the upper hand.

Instead, what he found — amidst the grit and violence and destruction that has consumed large chunks of Iraq and neighbouring Syria — was an Iraqi army that would not back down.

“They are crushing them in many ways and pushing them back,” said Smith, the Canadian chief of staff of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command for Operation Inherent Resolve, the American-led coalition whose mission is to help guide Iraq’s own forces.

In his first media interview since deploying to Iraq, Smith said he had underestimated the prowess of the Iraqi soldiers.

Much of the Iraq army had collapsed and fled when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — variously known as ISIL, ISIS or Daesh — swept through swaths of Iraq in 2014, capturing its second-largest city, Mosul.

And yet when he arrived, it was the militants of ISIL who were on the run, Smith said.

“I have to admit I was very surprised to see how badly they were doing once I got here and started getting read in on operations,” he said.

“The Iraqi forces, notwithstanding perhaps somewhat of a poor brand based on how activities occurred in 2014, are quite honestly taking it to Daesh.”

Smith said he was “minding my business” as commandant of the Canadian Army Command and Staff College in Kingston, Ont., when “my boss called me one day and said, ‘Hey, you’re promoted and going to Iraq.’ ”

He arrived shortly before Iraq announced the beginning of an offensive to retake Mosul by the end of this year.

Since then, Iraqi forces have been attacking northward toward the city along the Tigris River. They are supported by coalition air strikes and, on the ground, by some 200 U.S. Marines providing indirect artillery support from a base near the town of Makhmour. One Marine was killed in an Islamic State rocket strike in March.

Make no mistake, though: the campaign to capture Mosul will be long and difficult, Smith warned.

“Even if this was the Canadian army trying to do it, this would be a tough fight,” he said in a phone interview from Baghdad.

“But we’re training with the Iraqis right now. We’re doing that ’building partnership’ piece. The Iraqis have begun operations to isolate that part of their forward line of troops. And I’m actually quite impressed with their tactical agility and their speed.”

All of the military operations are planned and led by Iraqis, he pointed out. “This is not a coalition effort. This is us supporting the Iraqi government and the Iraqi forces. We support them with operational fires. We provide surveillance for them. We provide advise-and-assist (support).”

Targets for coalition air strikes are chosen in consultation with the Iraqis, he added.

“We have joint targeting cells. Every one of those targets are approved by the Iraqi army, or if it’s up in the north, it’s potentially by Kurdish forces. That is done hand-in-hand. If the Iraqis or the Kurds say don’t hit that target, that’s not what we do.”

Based in Baghdad, Smith is one of three one-star Canadian generals assigned to Operation Inherent Resolve.

Brig.-Gen. David Anderson leads a team that liaises with Iraq’s defence and security ministries, a job Smith compared to that of the “strategic advisory team” Canada sent to support the Afghan government. Brig.-Gen James Irvine, based in Kuwait, is commander of Canada’s Joint Task Force-Iraq, which includes all Canadians involved in the mission. He will be replaced today by Brig.-Gen. Shane Brennan.

While Smith’s team works mainly with Iraqi regular forces, Canadian special forces are training and advising Kurdish peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq, where the Kurds are holding a line east and north of Mosul. It’s an active front that ISIL often attacks.

Smith says Canadian special forces in the area, who are officially in a non-combat training role, sometimes work “from the forward line of troops.” They have exchanged fire with the enemy. One Canadian soldier, Sgt. Andrew Doiron, died last year in a friendly-fire incident near the front.

The Kurds, however, are unlikely to take part in any direct assault on Mosul. The city lies beyond land they consider Kurdish territory. Most peshmerga, when asked, will say they are fighting for Kurdistan rather than a united Iraq.

That presents complications for Iraq’s international partners.

“We are here supporting Iraq,” said Smith. “This is a one-country policy from a Canadian perspective and from a coalition perspective. I’ve seen on the news plans for Kurdish separation, or whatever. I’ve heard peshmerga and Iraqi regular forces tactically work very well together. It’s a respectful relationship. We’re enabling both sides.

“As for the longer political solution, that is very much an Iraqi democratic problem.”

theglobeandmail.com/news/national/top-canadian-soldier-says-iraqi-army-crushing-islamic-state/article30257081/

India

Gulbarga Society: Vivek Patni Refuses His Muslim Identity as Muzaffar Shaikh

June 3, 2016

Ahmedabad, June 3: Gulbarga society massacre is one of the most horrific episodes of the 2002 Gujarat riots. During the three-days of riots, Gujarat witnessed some of the most ghastly killings that left Indian democracy, secularism and humanity in shame. When the radical Hindus were on hunt to kill every Muslim, a Muslim boy was rescued by a constable. The lonely boy was later raised by a Hindu family. The boy now has refused to accept his religious identity and biological parents.

Two-year old Muzaffar was lost when the violence took place near Gulbarg society in Ahmedabad. The lonely child was rescued by a constable, who handed the boy over to his friend — Vikram Patani in Saraspur locality. Vikram Patani brought up Muzaffar as Vivek Patani. When Vikram died his widow Vani Patani raised the boy along with her four other children. Six years after the Gujarat riots, Muzaffar’s parents Jaibunnisa and Salim Shaikh could trace their child; however they haven’t got the custody of their child.

After tracing Muzaffar, his parents approached SIT to get custody of the child. DNA tests were carried out and it was established that Vivek was the lost Muzaffar. It began a long legal battle between Patnis and Shaikhs. After a lower court denied custody of Muzaffar to Shaikhs as the boy was reluctant to go with the Muslim parents, the biological mother approached Gujarat High Court.

Too young when he had gone missing to remember his biological parents, Muzaffar alias Vivek did not want to go with them. Gujarat High Court eventually refused custody to Vivek’s biological parents and directed the two sets of parents, however, to cooperate with each other in the interests of the boy. Vivek started to visit his biological parents on Sundays, as Muzaffar. Vivek is now 16.

india.com/news/india/gulbarg-society-vivek-patni-refuses-his-muslim-identity-as-muzaffar-shaikh-1233548/

 

India is playing its cards right with Afghanistan: Pakistan might not to be happy about it

Jun 3, 2016

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Afghanistan on Saturday to inaugurate the Salma Dam, in the first leg of a tour which will take him to Qatar, Switzerland, US and Mexico. The Afghan Parliament and the Salma dam are two of India’s showpiece projects in Afghanistan. The Prime Minister was present for the inauguration of the Parliament building last December and he will now also be personally present for the commissioning of the Indian built hydel power and irrigation project. At around $275 million, this is the one of India’s most expensive projects. India has extended an aid of over $2 billion to Afghanistan.

The dam made by Afghan and Indian engineers and workers will irrigate nearly 44,000 hectares of land and add around 30 megawatts of power to the Herat grid. Afghan sources say that the project in Hari Rud river will benefit 50,000 families in four districts of Herat province. The dam is 20 kilometers long and three kilometres in width and has a storage capacity of 640 million cubic meters.

With the commissioning of the Salma dam, now renamed the Afghanistan-India Friendship dam, Delhi will have completed its major commitment to Afghanistan.

India has done well in Afghanistan, and its projects have touched the lives of ordinary people. This is why India has remained popular in Afghanistan, though its aid package is much below that what the US and other Western countries have contributed. Apart from this, India has also built the Delaram to Zarang highway, restored transmission lines from Pul-e-khumri to Kabul.

Indians were under attack while building the Delaram highway and had to have the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force escorting the men at the work site from the camps to the construction site. However, with Saturday’s inauguration of the dam, India would have completed all the projects it undertook in Afghanistan. Should India invest more in Afghanistan right now? Many believe that with Taliban gaining ground, India must be much more careful and choose smaller projects with care.

“The quantum of assistance should not go down, but projects must be selected with the ground situation in mind,” said Vivek Katju, a former ambassador to Afghanistan. “In foreign policy we cannot look for short term gains but for long term strategic interests,” said Katju. So far India has been on the right track.

India’s growing friendship with Afghanistan has always been a major worry for Pakistan. The ISI and the army want to make certain that Afghanistan remains under its sphere of influence. During Hamid Karzai’s term at the helm, his closeness to India was a major irritant and Rawalpindi worried that Delhi was spreading itself out in its backyard. The fact that besides the embassy in Kabul, India had consulates in Kandhar, Herat, Jalalabad and Mazr-e-Sharif irked Pakistan.

When Karzai’s successor, Ashraf Ghani took over he kept aloof from India. Reconciliation with Pakistan was on the top of Ghani¹s agenda since his inauguration in September 2014. Ghani sought to soothe Pakistani concerns about India¹s footprints in Afghanistan. He relegated India to the periphery of his foreign policy. He also began sending his army officers for training in a Pakistani academy unlike Karzai who sent his people to India.

Bent on peace talks with the Taliban, he knew that Pakistan was the only country which could get the Taliban to come to the table. He visited Pakistan in November soon after he took office. He broke protocol to personally call on the army chief Raheel Sharif at his headquarters in Rawalpindi. For a while it was all hunky-dory between the two neighbours. For Ashraf Ghani, it was Islamabad, Beijing, London, Saudi Arabia and Washington. India had to wait till April 2015 before the Afghan President was ready to visit.

It seemed with the new equation, India was completely out of Afghanistan. It would complete the projects it had undertaken during Hamid Karzai’s term and back out. India had no role either in the talks or in further projects in Afghanistan. But Indian officials were not unduly concerned about it. “We are not worried,” was the refrain from the Indian establishment.

Indian officials were confident that Pakistan would continue using the Haqqani network to further their long term strategy of gaining strategic depth in Afghanistan. Sooner or later the equation between Afghanistan and Pakistan would sour. And finally that did happen.

President Ghani is sounding more and more like his predecessor Hamid Karzai and accuses Pakistan of backing a resurgent Taliban. Peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban, with Pakistan, US and China is going nowhere. President Barak Obama had said after a American drone killed Mullah Mansour the Taliban chief that he was opposed to talks with the Afghan government.

The new Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada is an Islamic scholar and no one yet knows his views on talks.. His two deputies are Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yaqoob, and Sirajuddin Haqqani son of Jalaluddin Haqqani. The Haqqanis are a lethal group and close to Pakistan’s ISI. The Haqqani network is suspected to be responsible for the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul where an Indian diplomat and the defence attaché was killed in 2008. Meanwhile, Taliban continues to launch deadly attacks across Afghanistan. Peace at the moment seems a distant dream.Yet India’s strategic interests dictate that it continues both aid and political ties with Afghanistan. India is playing the right cards here.

firstpost.com/world/india-is-finally-playing-its-cards-right-with-afghanistan-pakistans-isi-army-might-not-to-be-happy-about-it-2814666.html?utm_source=fp_top_internal

 

Hamid Ansari offers Indian expertise to train Tunisians in IT and education

Fri, Jun 03 2016

Tunis: Indian vice-president Mohammed Hamid Ansari has offered India’s expertise in information technology and education to train Tunisian citizens as Asia’s third largest economy looked to deepen ties with the strategically located north African country and the African continent as a whole.

Ansari, who arrived in Tunis on Thursday on the second leg of a two-nation Africa tour, went into talks with prime minister Habib Essid, who was named the head of the government last year following the adoption of a new constitution in 2014, three years after the ouster of president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in the “Arab Spring” protests.

“Our discussions on bilateral relations focussed on our ongoing economic partnership and on incorporating newer areas of collaboration in information technology and education,” Ansari said. “We will be happy to receive 350 Tunisian citizens for training in our institutions in different streams as our guests over the next five years,” the vice-president said.

India’s offer is to be seen in the context of its ties with Africa that rests mainly on capacity building, or skilling of African people. Thousands of African students are studying in Indian universities and private education institutions. Following the second India-Africa Summit in Addis Ababa in 2011, India pledged to establish 10 in-country training institutes—like the India-Africa Diamond Institute located in Botswana, and India-Africa Institute of Foreign Trade run out of the University of Burundi and offering full-time and part-time masters of business administration course to African students. Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who hosted the third India-Africa Summit in New Delhi, announced 50,000 scholarships for African students.

India’s stress on capacity building comes as it tries to beat off competition from China which has some $200 billion in trade with Africa (compared to about $70 billion in the case of India) and is engaged in construction of infrastructure projects like roads, ports and soccer stadia.

Ansari’s six-day visit (30 May to 4 June) to Tunisia and Morocco is aimed as a follow-up to the third India-Africa summit held in New Delhi in October, given that the next summit is to be held after five years in 2020. This is the first visit by an Indian vice-president to Tunisia in almost five decades.

Besides Ansari’s, there are other visits planned to Africa to consolidate ties. PM Modi is set to travel to east Africa in July, where he is to visit Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique, besides South Africa. President Pranab Mukherjee will travel to West Africa later this year to Ghana, Ivory Coast and Namibia.

Ties with Tunisia

According to a note posted on its website by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Tunisia has been a reliable source for phosphates for India, which accounts for around 50% of Tunisia’s global phosphoric acid exports. “This is extremely important to us given our emphasis on food security,” said an official, who did not want to be named. Exports from India include automobiles, electrical items, cotton, rubber and rice, besides spices. The annual bilateral trade during 2015 was worth $34.25 million, the ministry note said.

PM Essid called for promotion of tourism between the two countries. This is significant given that tourism is a key industry in Tunisia and news reports say that Essid has been making efforts to revive the Tunisian economy. However, attacks by the Sunni militant Islamic State (IS) group on presidential guards in November in the capital Tunis, besides on foreign tourists, have reportedly damaged the economy. India’s efforts to train Tunisians could also help in keeping young unemployed Tunisians from joining the ranks of the IS.

According to a statement posted on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) website, dated 2 June 2016, “The IMF has approved a four-year, $2.9 billion loan for Tunisia to support the authorities’ economic agenda aimed at promoting more inclusive growth and job creation.”

“Tunisia faces weak economic activity, low employment, high external imbalances, (the) IMF loan to support the government’s economic vision of more inclusive growth, (the) program includes reforms to tackle high unemployment, strengthen governance,” it said.

Once praised as a model for democratic transition since its 2011 revolt ousted former president Ben Ali, Tunisia has mostly avoided the violent aftermath of other “Arab Spring” countries—like Libya—which also toppled long-standing rulers, but are yet to establish credible governance institutions. But the Tunisian government is seen as yet to come up with a strategy to deal with the IS. News reports also say many young unemployed Tunisians, tired of a slowing economy, are falling prey to IS propaganda and are joining the group.

In his remarks, Ansari on Thursday said that he had conveyed to PM Essid “the felicitations of the people of India… on the successful transformation of Tunisia into a vibrant multi-party democracy and conveyed our good wishes for its continued success.”

On terrorism, Ansari said that the two countries had agreed that successfully dealing with such threats requires strong cooperation among like minded partners. We have… decided to enhance our cooperation in counter-terrorism.”

livemint.com/Politics/8vNnsRbChEcE1rvpTrrX0I/Hamid-Ansari-offers-Indian-expertise-to-train-Tunisians-in-I.html

 

Dam as gift, Afghan warlords’ ancient citadel dresses up for PM Narendra Modi

Jun 3, 2016

Praveen Swami

FESTOONED with giant billboards of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian flags, a city that once served as capital to medieval warlords — from the Sultan of Ghazni to Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Durrani — is preparing to give an Emperor’s welcome to the first ever head of government to visit. And to signal its gratitude for a gift that residents believe will help restore the city to greatness. Modi is scheduled to visit Herat on Saturday to inaugurate the Salma Dam. At over $275 million, the most expensive of India’s infrastructure projects in the region, it is expected to generate 42 MW of electricity for the rapidly growing city of 435,000 and irrigate some 75,000 hectares. Large crowds of young people linked to Herat’s long-standing political patriarch, Ismail Khan, prepared for the Prime Minister’s arrival with drums and dancing tonight.

Herat, a city of broad avenues and new construction fuelled by vibrant transit trade with Iran and Turkmenistan, is considered one of Afghanistan’s few success stories. The dam, the Afghan government hopes, will lay foundations for it to emerge as a centre of industry and agriculture. The Salma Dam is the most ambitious in a series of Indian infrastructure projects meant to help rebuild the war-torn country, which include the $135-million Route 606 highway from Delaram to Zaranj, the $42-million power transmission line from Pul-i-Khumri to Kabul, and the $90-million building that houses the country’s Parliament. “This dam will be standing when no one present at its inauguration is still alive”, said Vivek Katju who, as India’s first ambassador to the new Afghan republic born after 9/11, played a key role in negotiating the project. Estimated to cost a relatively modest $75 million when work began, the dam was to have been completed in 2012. In January 2013, though, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government approved the revision of the cost to $273.3 million and extended the schedule to December 2014. The Government’s Water and Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS) says work was hit because of the extraordinary difficulties of transporting heavy industrial goods to the project site along the 160-km dirt road from Herat to the dam site near Chisht-i-Sharif, with everything from cement to steel having to be imported from Iran and Central Asia. Indian project staff had to be flown to the project site by helicopter after January 2011 because of security threats from Taliban units operating along the road. Taliban terrorists killed Chisht-i-Sharif Abdulqudus Qayam, a key advocate of the dam, in 2010 in what many saw as linked to efforts to gain protection money from construction-related contracts. Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, also blamed the Taliban for a March 2013 attempt to blow up the Salma Dam with 1,300 kg of explosives. However, at least some experts believe the slow pace of work on the dam calls for introspection. “I don’t mean to rain on the parade”, says Rakesh Sood, who succeeded Katju as India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, “as India becomes engaged in strategic projects across the world, it’s going to become ever more important to get a grip on these cost and time overruns, or we’re going to get a bad reputation”. For Afghanistan’s government, though, the dam’s inauguration is one of few pieces of good news in the midst of relentless violence that has seen the collapse of economic projects key to the country’s future. This week, Taliban attacks claimed over a dozen lives targeting bus passengers near Kunduz, believed to have been carried out on the orders of the organisation’s new chief, Haibatullah Akhund. In Kandahar, a long-awaited United States-funded dam project has been stalled for years because of persistent attacks on key logistics routes. The Kajaki dam’s third turbine, set to have been inaugurated last year, was pushed off schedule. The turbine had to brought in under escort from British troops after the contractor responsible for the task pulled out citing security threats. Last year, the Afghan government-run power firm warned that the Taliban controlled one-third of the electricity from the Kajaki plant’s two existing turbines and were taxing residents for it.

indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/afghanistan-government-salma-dam-herat-gift-pm-modi-welcome-2831636/

——-

Pakistan

Haj corruption case: Former federal minister sentenced to 16 years in prison

June 3, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Former federal minister for religious affairs, Hamid Saeed Kazmi, was sentenced to 16 years in jail in the Haj corruption case on Friday.

Judge Malik Nazir Ahmad from special court central, a lower court, also sentenced Director General (DG) Haj Rao Shakeel to 40 years in prison. Joint secretary for religious affairs Aftab Aslam was also sentenced to 16 years.

Kazmi and Aftab were arrested from the court premises after the sentence was pronounced and escorted to Adiala Jail by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) officials. Shakeel is already in custody of the National Accountability Bureau in Lahore.

The verdict was announced Friday after cross-examination of 60 witnesses presented by the prosecution was concluded last week.

The sentenced have the right to appeal the decision in Islamabad High Court.

The investigation team was led by former FIA director and current Additional Inspector General Punjab Hussain Asghar. The final challan was filed in 2012 by Ghazanfar Abbas, an FIA investigation officer.

Between 2010 and 2012, the Haj corruption scandal rocked the national political scene and led to the departure of both Hamid Saeed Kazmi and Azam Swati from the federal cabinet.

The former also spent nearly two years in prison over charges of irregularities in the 2009 Haj operation.

The former religious affair minister was slapped with allegations of involvement in the Haj corruption scandal and inflicting huge losses to the national coffers two years ago. After which a case was registered leading to Kazmi’s arrest on March 15, 2011.

Kazmi was subsequently indicted on charges of corruption in the case on May 30, 2012, to which he pleaded not guilty.

According to the charge sheet issued to Kazmi, DG Haj Rao Shakeel and Raja Aftabul Islam, the men were indicted for fraud, cheating, misuse of authority, and causing losses to the national exchequer and the public at large.

Specifically, they were accused of hiring a substandard building on exorbitant rent (for housing the pilgrims in Makkah) and receiving kickbacks in the process.

dawn.com/news/1262506/haj-corruption-case-former-federal-minister-sentenced-to-16-years-in-prison

 

Blasphemy allegation: Teacher sent to jail on judicial remand

June 3, 2016

MUZAFFARGARH: A teacher of a government school was sent behind bars on judicial remand by a court on the allegation of committing blasphemy.

Police had arrested the Arabic teacher at the Government High School, Gurmani, on May 14 after two brothers (Grade VI) complained that he thrashed them for not coming to class in time.

Their parents complained to the school administration which said the teacher had been suspended from service after an inquiry.

Four days later, their parents went to police and accused the teacher of blasphemy.

Headmaster Qazi Muhammad Ajmal said the initial complaint from the parents did not mention blasphemy. The teacher did beat the students and was suspended but the blasphemy allegation was “baseless”, he added.

On May 14, a case FIR No 198/16 under Section 295C of PPC was registered against the teacher at Mahmoodkot police station. SHO Chaudhry Javed Akhtar said he got information that more than 150 people had besieged the school and were protesting against the teacher who was alleged to have committed blasphemy.

He said initially the headmaster had locked up the teacher to keep him out of harm’s way but the principal handed him over to police after an inquiry by teachers Rasheed and Afzal, who claimed that the only sin of the suspect was punishing his students. He said he talked to a number of students who gave conflicting statements.

DPO Awais Ahmad sent the case to Dera Ghazi Khan SP Investigation Sajjad Gujjar who visited the school on May 16 and 17 and talked to students.

Some students alleged that the teacher had committed blasphemy six months ago but there were those who claimed that he uttered blasphemous words on May 11.

The SHO said police arrested the suspect and found him suffering from “psychological issues” and registered a case against him.

dawn.com/news/1262420/blasphemy-allegation-teacher-sent-to-jail-on-judicial-remand

 

MQM bags easy wins in Karachi by-elections

June 3, 2016

KARACHI: As was highly expected the Muttahida Qaumi Movement re-captured both the constituencies of PS-106 and PS-117 of the Sindh Assembly in by-elections held on Thursday, according to unofficial results.

In PS-106, MQM’s Mahfoozyar Khan bagged 18,137 votes to defeat his closest rival Sardar Abdul Samad of PPP who could manage only 960 votes while PTI’s Nusrat Anwar could muster only 524 votes. Out of over 176,000 registered voters in the constituency, only 19,976 cast vote, with voter turnout recorded at 11 per cent.

In PS-117, MQM’s retd Maj Qamar Abbas emerged victorious with 10,738 out of total 14,235 votes cast. His closest rival Ali Raza of Tehreek-i-Islami secured 1,018 votes, PTI’s Rifaqat Qamar managed to get 950 votes, followed by PPP’s Javed Maqbool Butt (924) and JUI’s Syed Naeem Shah (432).

With total 14,235 votes cast out of over 163,000 voters in the constituency, the voter turnout remained at the lowest at nine per cent. At least 79 votes were rejected on technical grounds.

dawn.com/news/1262350/mqm-bags-easy-wins-in-karachi-by-elections

 

PAK-COAS- “US drone strikes regrettable”

June 3, 2016

ISLAMABAD: PAK COAS General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday said “US drone strikes are regrettable and must stop as they are a threat to the sovereignty and security of the country”

The chief spoke also added that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a national project and must be completed at any cost.

“The security situation in Karachi and Balochistan is improving,” said the army chief.

The COAS further said “Border management with Afghanistan is also improving, and now the responsibility lies with Aghanistan as there are fewer checkposts on the other side.

“Operation Zarb-i-Azb is underway across the country and failure is not an option for us,” said Sharif, adding that the successes gained so far in the operation would be consolidated.

“We have to maintain the victories of Operation Zarb-i-Azb. Terrorists will not be allowed to re-enter into areas cleared in South Waziristan and North Waziristan.”

President Mamnoon Hussain addressed the Parliament in a joint session on Wednesday to mark a new year in Parliament, discussing national security and foreign policy.

The session was also attended by the chiefs of the army, navy, and air force.

siasat.com/news/pak-coas-us-drone-strikes-regrettable-966265/

 

URL: http://newageislam.com/islamic-world-news/new-age-islam-news-bureau/sufi-muslims-live-in-constant-fear-in-machete-happy-bangladesh/d/107520

 

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