Security forces unearthed 45 dead Hindus, including six children, near Ye Baw Kya village in northern Maungdaw Township, Rakhine State, according to a statement issued by the government’s Information Committee and later reports from a Hindu community leader.
The government’s statement — based on Hindu community leader U Ni Mal’s testimony — on Sunday said members of Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) arrested some 100 men and women from several Hindu villages in Kha Maung Seik village tract on Aug. 25 and killed the majority of abductees.
U Ni Mal told The Irrawaddy this afternoon after he and villagers assisted security forces in searching for additional burial sites.
The community leader claimed the 45 deceased were brutally killed and some were beheaded or had their throats slit. Among the bodies were 20 women, 19 men, and six children. A mass grave of 28 was found of Sunday, with 17 discovered on Monday afternoon.
U Ni Mal said that the Hindu community had verbally and officially requested that authorities and Arakan National Party lawmakers looks into the deaths, but that there were delays due to security concerns.
The UN estimates that some 500 Hindus fled to Bangladesh after Muslim militants attacked border police posts on August 25 and resulting Myanmar Army security clearance operations have followed. The refugees are sheltering in makeshift camps on the Bangladesh border alongside a UN-estimated 420,000 self-identifying Rohingya Muslims.
U Ni Mal expressed that the Hindu community “wants justice” for these attacks.
Some 30,000 Hindus and Buddhists in Maungdaw were also displaced to other areas in Rakhine State after military clearance operations began following Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army attacks on border police posts.
During a visit by The Irrawaddy’s reporter in early September, some Hindus expressed that they would no longer live alongside Muslims in Maungdaw if the government planned to relocate them.
“We are not comfortable living alongside them anymore,” said U Ni Mal.
Rome, September 25 - A 24-year-old Malaysian national was arrested Sunday night for allegedly attacking a couple who were walking hand-in-hand and kissing near an Islamic centre in Rome's Esquilino quarter.
The man reportedly told them "you can't kiss in front of the mosque" before pushing the young woman and punching and kicking the young man.
The assailant also allegedly attacked police who came to the scene. A Carabiniere was slightly hurt.
photo: Rome's central mosque
Wednesday, September 20, a Christian couple were arrested by security forces after being summoned to the Iranian regime's intelligence office in Tehran. These new Christians are accused of acting in a burial ceremony in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra cemetery according to Christian rituals and Christianity.
According to the report, on September 10 this year, while the burial ceremony was held at section 300 of Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, Mehrdad Houshmand and his wife Sarah Nemati participated as new Christians in the ceremony. During the ceremony, they held a ritual and prayer according to their religious way.
An informed source said: "During the ceremony, some strangers came to the scene and filmed Mr. Houshmand and his wife during the rituals and prayers and after the end of the ceremony, confiscated Mr. Houshmand's identification documents.”
The day after the ceremony, they were summoned to the Intelligence Office to get their documents and answer some questions.
Mehrdad Houshmand and Sarah Nemati were arrested after a few hours of interrogation at the same place and then transferred to an unknown location. No information is available on the fate of these individuals after detention.
An influential landlord abducted a girl and made her subject to gang-rape while later declared her as "vani" through a panchayat to avenge her brother for contracting love marrige with the landlord's daughter.
The Takhat Mahal Police appeared to have colluded with the accused in the entire episode and did not take any action to avert the incident and bring the culprits to the book, despite complaints by the affected family.
According to the affected girl Tasleem, daughter of Allah Rakha, the incident occurred in Mauza Noor Muhammad Bhangran, tehsil and district, started with her abduction on January 31, 2017.
Tasleem informed that her brother Fayyaz got love marriage with Parveen Bibi, daughter of Hakim Ali, influential landlord of Mauza Noor Muhammad Bhangran, against the consent of elders of both the families.
The marriage took place on January 15, 2017, upon which Parveen's family hurled threats to Fayyaz's family of revenge. To settle a score with Fayyaz and his family "for the disgrace caused to the family," Hakim Ali, Arif and some others members of the girl's family raided house of Tasleem Bibi and abducted her at gunpoint on January 31, 2017. The victim informed that the culprits took her to an undisclosed location where she was gang-raped during six days captivity.
In meanwhile one Shabir reported the abduction to police through a call on emergency service 15, but the police did nothing to recover the girl or go after the influential culprits. The victim family also approached the Takht Mahal Police, in person, for justice, but the police turned a deaf ear to the complaint.
Seven days later, the abductors with the connivance of influential persons of the area, convened a panchayat and declared the abducted girl as "vani." Influential landlord Muhammad Ali also forced Allah Rakha, Tasleem's father to accept the panchayat decision, lest he would have to pay a penalty of Rs5 million. They also got sign of the affected father on a written reconciliation agreement forcibly. On the other hand, the abductors who had subjected Tasleem to gang rape, forcibly married off to Khuda Yar, nephew of Hakim Ali, in a bid "to sweep the entire episode under the carpet." The victim family, however, managed to get an FIR registered through a court order, six months after the incident. Despite lodging the FIR, the Takhat Mahal Police "sided with the influential accused" and neither included appropriate sections i.e Vani and gang rape in the case, nor arrested any of the accused allegedly after receiving bribe.
The accused approached the court of Additional District and Sessions judge for bails, but the court rejected their application. Later, the accused approached the High Court Bahawalpur bench for bail, but the apex court rejected their petition and upheld the sessions court verdict. The learned court also directed the police to add vani section (310A) to the case.
When contacted newly-posted DPO Ataur Rehman claimed that justice would be done in the case and anybody found involved in the case would be bring to the book. He also ordered the police to add vani section to the FIR and arrested the panchayat head.
Meanwhile, District Police PRO Asif Saeed informed that that after rejection of bail pleas of 10 accused including Alam Ali, son of Haji Ghulam Ali; Zahoor Ahmad, son of Haji Ghulam Qadir; Hakim Ali, son of Haji Ghulam Qadir; Qasim Ali, son of Haji Ghulam Qadir; Muhammad Iqbal, son of Dhulay Khan; Muhammad Khan, son of Dhulay Khan; Dhulay Khan, son of Manjay Khan etc are on remand in police custody. He said that special team have been formed to arrest head and other members of the Panchayat, who are at large so far.
A woman in Nasarawa State, Aisha Isa, 20, who is the second wife of her husband, has shown herself to be an incarnate of the devil. She is alleged to have killed the two daughters of her husband’s first wife.The two girls, four-year-old Zainab and Ramatu, 2, were bound, hands and feet, and allegedly thrown into a well by Aisha and they drowned. The absolutely wicked act was committed in Yelwabassa village in Kokona Local Government Area, Nasarawa State.
As Sunday Sun gathered from the Commissioner of Police, Nasarawa State, Mohammed Kura, the suspect, who is now in the custody of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Nasarawa State Police Command, claimed in a confessional statement to police detectives handling the case that she committed the alleged homicidal act because the mother of the two little girls forbade them from running errands for her.
Trouble began six years ago when she got married to Alhaji Isa, as the Nasarawa State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Mohammed Kura told Sunday Sun. It was not long before the new wife began to quarrel with the mother of the two girls.
In April 2017, Aisha killed the first victim, two-year-old Ramatu, whose hands and legs she tied and threw into the well, where the little child died. The family simply buried her corpse and nobody found out how it happened. But nemesis caught up with her when she did the same thing to four-year-old Zainab in August.
At the headquarters of the State Criminal Investigation Department where she is in custody, pending arraignment in court, Aisha, who lost her own six-month-old baby gave a chilling account of what happened.
Her words: “It was the devil that used me. I took Ramatu, tied her two hands and legs and threw her into the well. In August 2017, I also took Zainab, tied her hands and legs and threw her into the well. After sometime I raised alarm, I shouted and attracted the attention of neighbours. My husband and the first wife rushed out. They asked what happened and I confessed immediately to them what I did.
“I have been having misunderstanding with my co-wife. She caused the problem. Whenever I sent the children on errand, she would tell them in my presence not to run errands for me. So, each time I called them, they ignored me. I decided to teach her children a lesson.”
Continuing, she said: “I got married six years ago. I gave birth to a baby six-months ago, but the baby died. Since then I had no baby and I have been telling Allah to give another baby.”
After she confessed to her husband, he quickly went with a neighbor to report the crime at the Garaku Police Station.
With the enormity of what she did having hit home, a sense of remorse has overwhelmed Aisha and she pleaded: “I want the family to forgive me for what I did; I have regretted my mistake and want my husband to forgive me.”
The Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Lafia, Mr. Mohammed Akeera said that the suspect would be charged to court soon for the alleged murder.
A recent Global News investigation provided a rare glimpse into the life of an alleged former jihadist who is back in Canada, living freely in Toronto.
The Pakistani-born Canadian citizen graduated from a Toronto high school in 2012. He then moved to Pakistan to go to university and began attending a mosque affiliated with an Islamist terrorist group.
His mosque told him to join the jihad, so he travelled to Syria and took up arms with Islamic State (ISIS). He became an officer in ISIS’ so-called “morality” police.
ISIS practices draconian Sharia law. His job was to enforce it.
Under ISIS rule, thieves have their limbs chopped off and women are beaten for talking to men or not completely covering their faces.
Men accused of homosexuality are throw off rooftops.
Apostates — those who are disloyal or questioning of Islam — are publicly executed. The morality police impose these medieval punishments and uphold this cruel set of laws.
Eventually, this ISIS officer with ties to Canada became scared and decided he no longer wanted to be a jihadist.
So, he fled in the middle of the night, making his way to Turkey, where he was arrested and deported to Pakistan.
In an interview with Global, the man said he was in Pakistan for two years before coming to Canada.
In the summer of 2016, he hopped on a flight to Pearson Airport and “went through a passport check without any trouble. He told the immigration officer he’d been in Pakistan.”
So this man lied to border agents to enter our country, but was able to breeze back into Canada.
The only reason authorities became aware of this former ISIS agent’s presence in Canada was due to a social media post he wrote about how he had once been part of the terrorist army.
Even after that, Canadian officials merely paid him a visit and began monitoring him more closely.
He wasn’t arrested or detained.
He wasn’t charged with treason or put on trial for any alleged crimes he may have committed while imposing ISIS’s evil Sharia law.
He’s a free man. And according to the Global report, he’s living quite well — “in a spacious house with a satellite dish and a two car-garage
Non-Muslim children at Christian schools may have been fed halal meat from animals that were not stunned before slaughter without their parents’ knowledge, according to a county lawmaker.
Conservative leader of Lancashire County Council Geoff Driver has said he has been contacted by parents from the several Church of England and Catholic schools in the county over concerns their children may be eating meat prepared according to Islamic law without them knowing.
“They are asking, ‘My child goes to school where there are a lot of Muslims. Is my child eating meat from animals that weren’t stunned?’ I am afraid the answer may be yes,” Mr. Driver told The Times.
The Tory lawmaker said schools should be obliged to obtain the consent of parents before serving non-stunned halal to non-Muslim pupils. “My suspicion is that some schools are simply just buying all halal meat because it’s the easiest thing to do,” he said.
The church schools are amongst 27 schools, with a total of 12,000 pupils, in Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn, Clitheroe, and Preston, who are serviced by a supplier under a contract with the council which supplies unstunned halal meat.
Members of Lancashire County Council are set to vote on whether to ban halal meat from animals that have had their throats slit without being stunned, with the council still supplying halal meals for Muslim pupils produced from animals that have been humanely slaughtered.
However, this fails to meet the Lancashire Council of Mosques’ (LCM) interpretation of Islamic law, with Muslim families and pupils threatening to boycott the school meals.
The LCM named several Catholic and Anglican schools that served non-stunned halal meat. Chairman Abdul Qureshi claimed Councillor Driver was on a “crusade” and asserted that the Christian faith schools had “many, many Muslims now. Some of them are 50 per cent Muslim, some may be even more.”
The Times reached out to the Christian schools listed by the LCM, but none were able to respond definitely if halal food was being fed to non-Muslim or Christian pupils, with one headteacher responding that he did not know because the decision was made by the dinner ladies.
A 39-year-old Somalian asylum seeker who fled Sweden after attempting to kill his wife with an axe has been found and arrested in the Austrian capital of Vienna.
The 39-year-old Somalian had carried out the attack on his wife in June of last year in the remote municipality of Torpsbruk. He hit his wife with the axe repeatedly and only stopped after waking up their children and then fled, Kronen Zeitung reports.
The victim was rushed to a hospital shortly after the attack and managed to survive thanks to emergency surgery. Police lost track of the Somalian man who then turned up in Austria a month later with no form of identification and claimed that he was actually 29-years-old and requested asylum.
He told Austrian authorities that he had fled from Somalia and had lost his identification documents while he was on his way to Europe.
One of the reasons he was not caught earlier was that his fingerprints were not in the Swedish database as he had not claimed asylum there. Interpol and Europol put out international warrants for his arrest and posted his picture on the website Europe’s Most Wanted but had few leads on his location.
By January of 2017, the Somalian had gained asylum status in Austria and was living in a flat with his new girlfriend in the heavily migrant-populated Vienna district of Favoriten.
Earlier this week police from the special Cobra unit was able to confirm his identity and placed the 39-year-old under arrest for attempted murder.
In recent years there have been many cases of asylum seekers murdering their wives. In one particularly brutal case, a Chechen migrant murdered his wife by first throwing her out of a window and then stabbing her to death afterwards.
In another case, a Syrian woman was killed by her husband after he beat her to death following an argument between the pair. The investigators in the case were shocked to find out that the couple’s children had been present when the murder took place and had regularly witnessed the man beating his wife in the past.
A prominent Syrian opposition activist named Orouba Barakat, 60, and her journalist daughter Halla Barakat were found murdered in their home in Istanbul’s Üsküdar district on the night of Sept. 21.
The incident was allegedly discovered when Halla Barakat’s friends came to their home after not being able to reach the 22-year-old. After no one answered the door, they notified the police about the situation, who had the door opened with the help of a locksmith. The police homicide teams then found the dead bodies of the Syrian activist along with her daughter.
After an analysis, the police determined the two women were stabbed to death about two or three days ago, and their throats showed traces of being strangled.
The murder suspects were also determined to have poured detergent over the women’s bodies to prevent odor. The bodies were then taken to the institution of forensic medicine.
Barakat was a well-known figure, especially for her articles on Syrian opposition figures exposed to torture in the country’s prisons. She reportedly first fled to the U.K., then Saudi Arabia and finally to Istanbul after the Civil War broke out in Syria.
The activist was reportedly working as an editor for Orient News, a Syrian media group owned by Syrian businessman, journalist and opposition figure Ghassan Aboud, based in Dubai.
Meanwhile, a neighborhood resident spoke with reporters about the murder. “We saw the police at the door [of the Barakats’ home]. They had killed the mother and the daughter by cutting their throats. Since it was night, we do not have much information either. They are said to be Syrians,” they said.
“They had poured lime over their bodies and their beds, as far as we have heard. It has been said their corpses were in the home for four days. They were nice people and did not harm anyone,” another neighborhood resident was heard saying.
The police launched an investigation into the incident to catch the assailants.
ISIS reportedly blows up Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul; it was from there that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled 'caliphate,' ruling over parts of Syria 3 years ago.
Islamic State (also known as ISIS) militants blew up on Wednesday the Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its famous leaning minaret, an Iraqi military statement said.
It was from this medieval mosque that the militants' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled ''caliphate'' rule over parts of Syria and Iraq three years ago.
Islamic State's Amaq news agency accused American aircraft of destroying the mosque.
"The ISIS (another name for the Islamic State—ed) terror gangs committed another historical crime by blowing up the al-Nuri mosque and its historical al-Hadba minaret," the Iraqi military statement said, .
The explosions happened as Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Service units, which have been battling their way through Mosul's Old City, got to within 50 meters (164 ft) of the mosque, the statement said.
Iraqi forces earlier on Wednesday said they had started a push towards the mosque. A US-led coalition is providing air and ground support to the Mosul offensive which began in October 2016.
The forces had encircled on Tuesday the jihadist group's stronghold in the Old City, the last district under their control in Mosul.
Al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself "caliph," or ruler of all Muslims, from the pulpit of the mosque on July 4, 2014, after the insurgents overran parts of Iraq and Syria. His black flag had been flying over its leaning minaret since June 2014.
Iraqi officials had privately expressed the hope that the mosque could be captured in time for Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month. The first day of the Eid falls this year on June 25 or 26 in Iraq.
The fall of Mosul would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate" even though Islamic State would continue to control territory west and south of the city, the largest they had control of in both Iraq and Syria.
Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria, according to US and Iraqi military sources.
In Saudi Arabia, where women cannot drive, a senior state cleric has ruled women should not be allowed behind the wheel because they have "a quarter the brainpower of men".
Sheikh Saad al-Hajari, the head of the government's religious edict authority in the southern province of Assir, recently made the comments at a lecture on "the evils of allowing women to drive", Saudi daily Sabq reported on Wednesday.
"It is not their fault, but women lack intellect do they not?" Hajari asked an audience.
"Their lack of intellect does not harm their piousness because they are made that way," he said, explaining that in Islam a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's.
"Would you give a man with half an intellect a driving licence? So how would you give one to a woman when she has half an intellect," he said.
"And if they go out to the market this gets halved again! So they now have a quarter of an intellect," Hajari said without giving an explanation for his reasoning.
He then argues that because women pray less than men - during menstruation women are prohibited from prayers - they also have half the "faith" of men.
The sheikh's comments have been circulated widely by social media users in the conservative kingdom with many people harshly criticising his reasoning.
A hate preacher who told children as young as three that martyrdom is the "supreme success" while encouraging support for ISIS at his charity-funded mosque is facing jail.
Iman Kamran Sabir Hussain, 40, asked Allah to "give the Islamic State the victory" during a sermon in Stoke-on-Trent during Ramadan .
His audiences included Asian men and young children aged between three and 15, according to an undercover law enforcement officer named Qasim who recorded some of the meetings.
Toddlers could be heard babbling as Hussain talked about bullets, sword wounds and killing on one of the tapes.
He said: "What's the nature of life? That you are killed, that you kill and that you are killed. This is your part of the contract...to fight in the way of Allah, to kill and be killed.
"In return for this Allah will give you an everlasting life of pleasure."
Hussain also referred to an "eternal life of enjoyment" before claiming that martyrdom was "the supreme success".
Children's voices were also heard as Hussain referred to going before Allah on Judgement Day "with the bullet wounds and the sword wounds and you are raised in that situation with the blood still coming from your body".
Hussain was found guilty of six counts of encouraging terrorism and two counts of encouraging support of a proscribed organisation following an Old Bailey trial.
The court heard he was jailed for 14 months in 2008 for perverting the course of justice by intimidating jurors outside a trial he was due to give evidence in as a defence witness.
Hussain, who is linked to Ahmed Musa Jibril, the US preacher said to have influenced the London Bridge terrorists, told jurors he had "absolutely blagged" his sermons after taking over an imam who had a stroke in 2010.
"I didn't imagine it would be like that, I imagined it would be quite bland," he told the court.
"It was somewhat of a surprise to me."
Hussain said martyrs were "standing on the front line defending Islam and the Muslims they answered the call of Allah and the messenger".
Three children aged around five years old were also part of the congregation on August 5 2016 when Hussain allegedly referred to the Islamic State.
Hussain told the crowd: "They stand a black flag and establish the law of Allah over the necks of the people whether they like it or don't like it.
"The King, the Queen, the Prime Minister, whoever it is, they are not in a position to say you are not allowed to establish the law of Allah."
Two weeks later the crowd included 25 Asian males, a young girl aged between two and three years old and ten to 15 children aged between five and 15.
Hussain told the audience that the British Government had created and funded the English Defence League (EDL) and Britain First "to come into your area and attack you and to insult you and to put you down".
A child's voice can be heard in the background as Hussain said: "I am saying stand up and be ready to sacrifice, be ready to spill blood and have your blood spilt in the way of Allah."
Several children were also present on August 26 when Hussain attacked the counter-terrorist Prevent programme, saying: "They want to make Islam intolerable."
Hussain was convicted of encouraging terrorism and encouraging support for ISIS during the sermons between June and September 2016.
He also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings which left 52 dead and more than 780 injured on London's public transport network by writing "martyrs are blessed" in a social media post on 7 July 2015.
Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse, QC, said: "This can only mean those who carried out the bombings are going to be blessed by Allah.
"The date, you may think, gives it all away- the 10th anniversary of 7/7, talk of martyrs being blessed."
During legal argument it emerged that Hussain had Jibril's phone number and shared one of his videos on Facebook.
Hussain, of Stoke-on-Trent, denied but was convicted of six counts of encouraging terrorism between June 24 and September 16 2016 under section 1(2) of the Terrorism Act 2006 and two counts of encouraging support of a proscribed organisation under section 12(3) of the Terrorism Act 2000.
He stood in the dock wearing a skullcap as the jury announced their decision after nine hours and 44 minutes deliberation.
In an untoward development, renowned Muslim speaker Nouman Ali Khan has been accused of making inappropriate advances toward his female followers, here on Friday.
The allegations against the popular American speaker were hurled by Omer M. Mozaffar who claims to be a friend of the speaker for the last twenty years.
In a detailed Facebook post, Mozaffar claimed that he was working on a case related to Nouman Ali Khan in which the scholar confessed to having made inappropriate interactions with various women.
Mozaffar expressed that apart from confession, the speaker told lies and also threatened multiple parties to further hide his misconduct although he was advising him to seek repentance and reform himself.
Mozaffar also claimed that when the matter heated up, the local scholars of Dallas intervened and started investigating the matter with Mozaffaffar as arbitrator.
The investigations also included family members of Nouman who also admitted to “some of the accusations, though the evidence was worse,” claimed Mozaffar.
Moreover, as investigations continued, Nouman met the scholars and agreed to stop public speeches and stop contacting all the women until further notice.
The adjudicator Mozaffar was assigned the responsibility to keep an eye on Nouman who allowed him to post previously recorded lectures, so long as they were not about marriage or gender matters.
The developments in this case were also communicated to Muslim community leaders so that no one should become a victim at the hands of the scholar.
Mozaffar stated that the victims were also informed about an organisation that dealt with matters related to abuse and were encouraged to utilise all legal channels for justice.
According to Mozaffar, he also got in touch with a mutual friend to make sure that he was not hurling shaky allegations, however, as the interrogation continued, Nouman started to hit back with allegations that a campaign was being run against him by the Dallas-based scholars.
Mozaffar further claimed that now Nouman was sending threats against each of investigators through his attorney, however, he reiterated that ‘predatory behaviour against these students and conference attendees should be neither tolerated, nor replicated, nor ignored’.
Mozaffar also quoted references from Islamic principles and the life of last Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) to affirm that faith comes from God and not from a charismatic leader.
Although Nouman has not responded to the scathing allegations publicly, what adds weight to the observations of Mozaffar is the fact that Director of Religious Education and Social Services at the Islamic Information Society of Calgary, Navaid Aziz also substantiated the claims while confirming that the allegations against Nouman have been verified by multiple people, and some of them have even been confessed by him.
Aziz, through a Facebook post, stated that the details regarding the scandal were the “right” of the victims and they would be shared.
The speaker maintained that Islam did not revolve around the personalities and ‘your Imaan should not plummet because of such shenanigans’.
The official also confirmed that no one wanted to air the details of this episode, however, Nouman breached a contract and it was necessary to make the allegations public in a bid to protect women members of the community.
Navaid Aziz also clarified that a single case against the said speaker should not be utilised as a tool to malign all the Muslim public figures as those who did not commit mistakes should be held in high-esteem and learned from.
The scholar has yet to confirm or refute the allegations, however, social media buffs were left in utter disbelief and shock over the information recently released about the scholar.
Militants attack a police convoy in the Sinai Peninsula with roadside bombs and machine guns, killing 18 policemen and wounding 7 others in one of the deadliest attacks this year in the restive region bordering Israel.
Islamic State militants ambushed a police convoy in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula on Monday, killing 18 policemen and wounding seven others in one of the deadliest attacks this year in the restive region bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Police and military officials said roadside bombs destroyed and set ablaze four armored vehicles and a fifth carrying signal-jamming equipment. The gunmen later opened fire with machine guns and commandeered a police pickup truck.
Among those killed were two police lieutenants. The wounded included a police brigadier general. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on its Aamaq news agency.
The attack took place about 30 kilometers (nearly 19 miles) west of el-Arish in northern Sinai, the epicenter of a long-running insurgency now led by an IS affiliate. The Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, issued a statement confirming the incident, but its account of the incident provided no details on casualty figures or how many vehicles were destroyed.
It said police traveling in the convoy fired at a car that rushed toward them, causing it to blow up and damage several of the convoy's vehicles. That was followed by an exchange of gunfire with "terrorist elements" hiding in the desert on both sides of the road.
"That led to the martyrdom and wounding of some of the convoy's personnel," it cryptically added.
"Reinforcements were swiftly sent and a security ring was erected around the site while combing operations were underway," it said.
Monday's attack was the deadliest against security forces since July, when IS militants attacked a remote army outpost in the border town of Rafah, killing 23 soldiers. That was the deadliest attack in two years.
In March, the military said militants killed 10 soldiers during an army raid in Sinai's central region.
Egypt has battled militants in Sinai for years, but the insurgency became far more deadly after the 2013 military ouster of Mohammed Morsi, an elected Islamist president. It has since waged a number of high-profile attacks on the mainland, including areas near Egypt's porous and desert border with Libya. Egypt maintains that militants attacking its security forces and minority Christians sneak into the country across the border with Libya carrying weapons.
In recent years there has also been a wave of attacks, mainly targeting security forces, blamed on splinter factions of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group.
Monday's attack came a day after authorities said they had busted a militant cell planning attacks in Cairo. Police said they killed 10 militants in two simultaneous raids on apartments in a densely populated Cairo neighborhood. They said the militants sneaked into the capital from northern Sinai, but did not say whether they were members of the IS group.
Iran said on Saturday that it had successfully tested a new medium-range missile in defiance of warnings from Washington that it was ready to ditch a landmark nuclear deal over the issue.
State television carried footage of the launch of the Khoramshahr missile, which was first displayed at a high-profile military parade in Tehran on Friday, the 37th anniversary of the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war. The missile was named after a city in southwestern Iran that was a ravaged in that war and liberated by the Iranians after a month of fierce fighting.
The footage also carried in-flight video from the nose cone.
The broadcaster gave no date for the test although officials had said on Friday that it would be tested "soon".
"You are seeing images of the successful test of the Khorramshahr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 km, the latest missile of our country," state television said.
"This is the third Iranian missile with a range of 2,000 km," it added.
Previous Iranian missile launches have triggered US sanctions and accusations that they violate the spirit of the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
President Donald Trump has threatened to bin the agreement over the issue, saying that Iran's missile program could give it the technical knowhow for a delivery system for a nuclear warhead when a sunset clause in the deal expires in 2025.
He is due to report to Congress on October 15 on whether or not he believes Iran is in compliance with the nuclear deal.
If he decides that it is not, it could open the way for renewed US sanctions and perhaps the collapse of the agreement.
Trump said on Wednesday he had made his decision but was not yet ready to reveal it.
A SUICIDAL beast sexually assaulted a woman in a deranged plot to provoke her into killing him.
Garry Brand, 49, told his victim he’d confessed to his psychiatrist about wanting to rape her so she’d murder him.
And he held her at knifepoint in his home while begging her to take the blade and stab him — before dragging her to his bed and abusing her.
Perth Sheriff Court heard yesterday Brand knew the 50-year-old and had warned her on the phone about his sick fantasy.
Prosecutor Michael Sweeney said the victim was “concerned”.
But she accepted his offer of a coffee and a chat at his city centre home five days later.
When she arrived, Brand told her he was unhappy with life.
Mr Sweeney said: “She told him she didn’t know what she was supposed to do, and he said she should just kill him and it would all be over. She stood up and said she wanted to leave.”
But security guard Brand pulled the weapon and demanded she stab him, telling her “take it, do it”.
He pushed her on to a sofa and held the blade to her throat.
Mr Sweeney added: “She was shouting and screaming for help, so he covered her mouth and told her to be quiet. He took her phone and threw it on to a table.”
Brand marched the woman to the bedroom with the blade still at her neck before carrying out a sex assault.
Mr Sweeney said: “She was too frightened to move.”
Muslim convert Brand, also known as Yusuf, was remanded and put on the sex offenders register after admitting abduction and sexual assault in June.
Sentence was deferred.
Significant losses suffered by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in its dwindling Middle East-based caliphate have not translated into victories for authorities in the United States and Europe struggling to defang the jihadist organization’s successful online propaganda efforts, warns a new report by the U.K.-based Policy Exchange think-tank.
As it continues to lose fighters and territory in its so-called caliphate in Iraq and Syria, primarily to the U.S.-led coalition, ISIS has also managed to expand its campaign in Europe, an analysis conducted by the United States-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has also found.
Citing an internal French police report, the Daily Mail cautions that new ISIS propaganda is urging terrorists to attack tourist attractions, churches, and other “symbols of western life.”
“Extremists have also called on ‘lone-wolf’ assailants to carry out train derailments, poison food and start forest fires across Europe,” the Daily Mail learned from the document.
Described as a component “of the militant group’s efforts to regroup on Europe’s doorstep,” the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Libya is experiencing an ISIS resurgence fueled by an estimated 500 terrorists.
According to Europol, the E.U.’s law enforcement agency, there was a total of 142 terrorist attacks and attempts in eight countries in the region last year alone, with the majority of them concentrated in Britain, reports the Independent.
The Journal noted that the regenerating ISIS branch in Libya is seeking to exploit the ongoing migrant flow into Europe to carry out attacks in the region.
However, the ISW study determined that there is no evidence that the jihadist organization is systematically using the refugee crisis to smuggle terrorists into Europe or directly infiltrate asylum seekers for radicalization.
Europol pointed out that some refugees could be vulnerable to ISIS propaganda but also maintained that no direct link has been found, notes the Independent.
Various analysts have determined that the ISIS ideology will outlive the organization’s caliphate and remain a threat long after the group’s imminent defeat in Iraq and Syria.
“ISIS is waging a social and informational campaign to gain support among Western populations—Western states will not be able to kill and arrest their way out of this problem,” reported ISW.
“That struggle [against global jihad] has increasingly been contested not just on the ground, but in a new domain of warfare, cyberspace,” explained American Gen. David Petraeus in a foreword to the Policy Exchange report.
Petraeus, the former director of the CIA who also served as the top commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, cautioned that ISIS would continue to inspire atrocities around the world by targeting the most vulnerable sections of society with its “poisonous ideology” after the U.S.-led coalition defeats it on the ground.
The U.S.-led alliance and local forces, including Iranian and Russian-backed forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, have nearly pushed ISIS out of Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, the Policy Exchange report revealed that “ISIS and other terrorist groups are winning an ongoing ‘netwar’ against authorities trying to stop the spread of extremist material online,” reports the Independent.
According to the analysis, content affiliated with ISIS and other jihadists group is accessed more frequently in Turkey, the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the U.K., respectively.
The U.S. government has acknowledged that it is losing the online propaganda war against ISIS.
While ISIS has claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks carried out by refugees, including the recent bombing against the London subway system, ISW concluded that there was no evidence of “coordinated ISIS involvement”.
Instead, authorities should be more concerned about the threat stemming from the estimated 2,500 foreign fighters within ISIS’s ranks in Iraq and Syria “who are able to form links with jihadi and criminal networks in their home countries even if they do not return,” notes the Independent.
The young woman was riding in a taxi to the airport when she decided to make the call. She had just left her home in Russia's southern Chechnya region -- for good, she thought, first on a flight to Moscow to pick up emigration documents and then on a plane out of the country.
But the taxi driver was eavesdropping. And when the woman told her friend she had run away, he locked the car doors and drove her back home, fearing potential consequences for his role in her planned escape.
The 22-year-old woman was a lesbian who claimed that her relatives had beaten and threatened her with death after learning of her sexual orientation. Within a week of the fateful taxi ride, she was dead. Her family says she succumbed to kidney failure. Some who knew her believe she was poisoned; but a close friend rejects that claim, telling RFE/RL that she had indeed suffered from kidney problems.
The woman's case, first made public in a July report by a Russian rights group, highlights the often terror-filled double lives that lesbians are forced to live in mainly Muslim Chechnya, where homosexuality is publicly condemned and rights groups accuse authorities of carrying out a campaign of torture and murder targeting gay men.
There are no indications that such a campaign has been undertaken against lesbians in the region, which Kremlin-backed strongman Ramzan Kadyrov has ruled for a decade. Instead, lesbian and bisexual women often lead personal lives in complete secrecy -- if at all -- communicating with girlfriends via pseudonymous social-media accounts and dedicated SIM cards, and limiting their real-life contacts to a tiny circle of verified people.
Hovering over them is the pervasive fear of being outed and ostracized in a society where a woman's reputation is considered a linchpin of family honor -- or of falling victim to an "honor killing" in a putative bid to protect the family's name.
The young woman who died in July after trying to flee, whom RFE/RL is not identifying due to the stigma and reported abuses lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people face in Chechnya, assiduously hid her sexual orientation. But somehow screenshots of her online conversations with her girlfriend and other friends ended up in the hands of her relatives, who became enraged.
The Russian LGBT Network, the St. Petersburg-based group that recounted her story in a recent report, quoted her as saying before her death that her brother had given her a gun and begged her to kill herself to save the family's honor -- and that her relatives would say it was an accident, not suicide.
"Kill me yourself if you want," the woman recalled telling her brother, according to the report. "I'm not going to kill myself."
The plight of LGBT people in Chechnya triggered international condemnation following an April report by the respected Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which alleged that gay men in the region were being detained, tortured, and in some cases killed in a coordinated campaign.
After that report, gay Chechens told RFE/RL and other media outlets of the abuses they had fled. Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron raised the issue directly with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, the Canadian government secretly worked with rights activist to exfiltrate more than 20 LGBT people from Chechnya.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that when police in Chechnya returned most of the gay men allegedly targeted, they outed them to their families and indirectly suggested relatives carry out an honor killing.
Kadryov, whom rights monitors accuse of using security forces under his control to impose order and crush dissent, has called the allegations of antigay persecutions in Chechnya "lies," telling the U.S. television channel HBO: "We don't have those kinds of people here. We don't have any gays."
While lesbians may not have been targeted by the alleged campaign of abuse by Chechen authorities, it has heightened fears among lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LBT) women that they could be outed.
"Before the story with gay men, we would interact on social media, but now everyone is lying low," one Chechen lesbian told RFE/RL on condition of anonymity.
Previously, she said, members of the LGBT community would meet for offline connections at secret parties held in rented apartments, obtaining alcohol through trusted contacts and keeping the noise to an absolute minimum so as not to tip off the neighbors. But the alleged campaign of violence against gay men has put an end to these gatherings, she said.
In its July report, the Russian LGBT Network calls LBT women "the most vulnerable group" subjected to the "strict traditions" of the North Caucasus, the mountainous southern Russian region where Chechnya and other mainly Muslim republics are located.
"Women, more often than men, are subjected to honor killings, and they can be judged only based on suspicion, even in the absence of facts," the report notes.
"Relatives aren't only scared that their daughters might be lesbians. They're scared of the terrible shame. Public opinion in Chechnya is the primary court," Irina Kosterina, gender coordinator at Germany's Heinrich Boll Foundation who has conducted surveys of women in the North Caucasus, told RFE/RL.
"If it comes out that your daughter is a lesbian, that means no one will marry your other daughters, and no one will allow your sons to marry their daughters.... In the Caucasus, reputation is collective, and the reputation of that young woman automatically extends to some 60 people," she added.
Earlier this month, a woman from Chechnya who was attempting to flee to Norway was detained in Belarus and handed over to her father, Novaya Gazeta reported. She had received threats after a photograph of her was posted on a social-network account criticizing Chechen women and girls for not wearing traditional Islamic clothing.
The Chechen lesbian who told RFE/RL about the now-defunct LGBT parties said that many women, both straight and lesbian, face enormous pressure to stay close to home and under the close watch of male relatives. Men, meanwhile, can more freely pursue study and work in Russian regions with greater personal freedoms.
She is preparing to tell her parents that she wants to leave Chechnya, though she intends to hide the fact that she wants to move abroad.
"I won't be happy here. I will depend on all of my relatives, on all of the men who know me, knew me, or will know me," she said.
She added, however, that she does not know yet how to make her plan work.
"Leaving the country is as implausible as coming across a unicorn," she said.
One lesbian from Chechnya was quoted in the Russian LGBT Network report as saying that she got married to protect her family's reputation but eventually managed to leave the region.
"My mother shunned me, and my entire family ultimately learned that it was a sham marriage," the anonymous woman was quoted as saying. "After that I got a flood of threats from the men in my extended family. They are still looking for me to punish me for the lie and for how I lead my life."
Many young women in Chechnya of all sexual orientations are refraining from marrying at a young age "so they don't end up in domestic servitude and being a servant their entire lives," Kosterina of the Heinrich Boll Foundation said.
This trend has provided cover for some lesbians in Chechnya who tell their parents that they want financial security, an education, or a job before considering starting a family.
"My parents have wanted to marry me off for a long time already, looking for suitors, playing matchmaker, asking me every day if I have a boyfriend," another lesbian in Chechnya, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL.
"But for me, marrying a man who thinks it's his right to touch you, it's tantamount to being raped every day. A lot of girls would probably rather die."
Kosterina said that she knows of at least two cases in which LBT women in the North Caucasus were forced by their respective families to marry men who were much older and of a lower social status.
In such a situation, "the man can turn a blind eye to certain things, because the marriage gives him status and, in some cases, financial advantages," Kosterina said.
LBT women in Chechnya "are roughly in the same category as young women who have lost their virginity before marriage," she added.
"Parents will typically try to hide [their sexual orientation] and marry them off as quickly as possible so that the husband would be responsible for her behavior," Kosterina said.
One gay Chechen man living in Moscow told RFE/RL of a lesbian friend of his who, at age 19, accepted a marriage proposal from a man and lived with him for two years, all the while trying to avoid sexual relations. Eventually she returned to her parents "and was treated for a long time by a psychiatrist for panic attacks and depression."
Merely finding a private space for sexual relations is exceedingly difficult for lesbians in Chechnya. While men can rent an apartment for such encounters, women of any orientation have no such option.
An open same-sex relationship between women is virtually unheard of in Chechnya. Kosterina told RFE/RL that she knows of just one case in which two Chechen women convinced their parents to let them rent an apartment together. They argued that it was a cost-saving measure but did not reveal that they were in a relationship.
"The parents aren't exactly thrilled that they aren't living at home, but somehow they agreed to it," she said.
The issue of LBT women is so taboo in Chechnya that only a handful of such relationships are known to researchers, rights activists, and journalists who learned of them by chance.
"I've been working in the Caucasus for six years, and many people there know that I also work on LGBT rights," Kosterina told RFE/RL. "During that entire time, almost no one asked for help until the situation with gay men surfaced."
The 22-year-old Chechen woman whose friends believe was poisoned in an honor killing had tried to leave the region several times prior to her failed final attempt in July. After one such attempt, she was placed in forced psychiatric care for three months, according to the Russian LGBT Network.
In May, she managed to convince her parents to let her travel to Moscow, where she contacted rights activists and settled in a shelter for LGBT people fleeing persecution in the North Caucasus. But according to the Russian LGBT Network, circumstances forced her to return to Chechnya for what she thought would be a temporary sojourn.
Instead, her family kept her holed up in a room and under constant monitoring. Describing the final attempt to free the woman, the group's report reads: "Unfortunately, the special operation was unsuccessful and fell apart as it was being carried out."
The Russian LGBT Network report casts doubt on the official explanation of her death, which it described as "kidney failure due to complications after the flu."
"Only her older brother was home at the time. She didn't complain about her heath. People don't die of kidney failure that quickly," an acquaintance of the young woman told RFE/RL.
A close friend told RFE/RL a different story: that the woman's family loved her deeply, especially her father; she had kidney problems and had gone to Moscow to seek treatment; her health deteriorated and she eventually died at home.
"Of course a lot of people want to see a brutal murder due to her connection to the LGBT community, but it's nothing like that," the friend said.
Due to religious considerations, families in Chechnya often bury their dead before autopsies can be conducted. RFE/RL was unable to confirm if the woman had undergone an autopsy.
Alton Nolen, who beheaded co-worker Colleen Hufford at the Vaughn food processing plant with a large knife, testified most matter-of-factly that he was neither radicalized or recruited or influenced by anyone or anything other than the Quran.
Nolen carefully explained his interpretation of the Quran and said no one guided him in the religion and that he came his beliefs on his own.
“If you’re not Muslim, you’re not on my side.”
He also told investigators he did not regret what he did at all and that he would have beheaded a second co-worker if he wasn’t shot by the former owner of the plant Mark Vaughan. He called Hufford a “slave to the devil” and described himself as a “slave to Allah,” stating “You know the Muslim is somebody who submits their will to Allah…Whatever he wants done, that’s what we do…And you know he wants us to get the oppressors out of this place”.
When asked if he felt remorse or regret for his actions, Nolen responded “no.” He said he would go to heaven.
An informant at Nolen’s mosque, the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said the mosque preached hatred and jihad. Was the mosque investigated? On the contrary, President Obama send the mosque a letter of commendation just days after Hufford’s beheading.
An 18-year-old migrant from Afghanistan has been arrested in the Austrian capital of Vienna after police alleged he stabbed his own 14-year-old sister to death in an apparent honour killing.
The 18-year-old is said to have killed his sister on Monday after getting into a heated argument with her because she had complained to her parents about not wanting to go to school.
The young Afghan claimed he had “exploded” after his sister had shouted at their parents and physically pushed him, Kronen Zeitung reports.
Office for Youth and Family spokesman Petra Mandl disagreed with the assessment saying that schooling was very important to the girl and she had wanted to leave the household and live elsewhere. Mandl claimed the girl was under stress from her family who enforced traditional values in the household and say the girl visited a crisis centre to talk about it before she was killed.
The 18-year-old Afghan is not unknown to police in Vienna and is said to have a criminal history consisting of several crimes including fraud, theft, and uttering threats.
According to reports, the young migrant skipped out on court dates relating to previous crimes and a judge ordered the police to take him from his home on September 11th but they were unable to find him at his home in Vienna’s heavily migrant-populated district of Favoriten.
Defence lawyer Astrid Wagner said the young man expressed “regret” and claimed that he did not mean to kill his sister, just to hurt her.
The killing is the latest in a list of migrant perpetrated murders in the Austrian capital in recent years. The most notorious case occurred last year when a cleaning lady was bludgeoned to death by a failed asylum seeker whilst on her way to work in the migrant-populated district of Ottakring.
Another case in 2016 saw a migrant from Gambia, who was slated for deportation, kill a young American woman who had let him stay at her home to avoid being repatriated. The migrant strangled the young woman to death after she rejected his sexual advances.
“Three people have been arrested in a 24-hour period in Wales” in connection to the attack, begins The Times’ article. “Scotland Yard said two men, ages 48 and 30, were arrested on Wednesday under counterterrorism laws.”
Oddly enough, without first divulging anything that ties any of the suspects or the bombing to Islamic terrorism, The Times reported that ISIS had claimed responsibility, but authorities are trying to “piece together the events” to ascertain any influence by “extremists.”
In short, the report comprised of only 11 paragraphs, it wasn’t until the eighth paragraph that The Times provided context in the report by detailing arrests made on Saturday:
An 18-year-old Iraqi orphan who had a reputation for getting into fights and had been in the foster care of a retired couple, and a 21-year-old from Syria who had escaped the civil war there and was working at a fried-chicken shop.
The report left out that both of the suspects arrested were refugees. The 18-year-old was described by The Times’ as an “orphan” from Iraq, and the 21-year old from Syria. Both suspects had attended a foster home well known for taking in refugees.
The third paragraph of the report mentions the arrest of a 25-yearold suspect, but ignores entirely reports that allude to Islamic influence….
London Metropolitan police arrested a sixth suspect in last week's Underground train bombing in the early hours of Thursday morning.
After serving a warrant at an address in Thornton Heath, police arrested a 17-year-old male suspect under section 41 of the Terrorism Act and began a search of the property.
The arrest follows less than a day after a 48-year-old man and a 30-year-old man were arrested in Newport, South Wales, when officers executed a warrant at the address where the two men were located.
A 25-year-old man was arrested Tuesday evening, also in Newport, at a different address.
A 21-year-old man was arrested on Saturday in Hounslow, a borough in West London, by detectives with the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command, and earlier Saturday police had evacuated a house in a London suburb as well as part of the Port of Dover after arresting an 18-year-old man that morning in the southeastern coastal city.
None of the six men who have been arrested in connection with the attack have been publicly identified. All remain in custody at a South London police station.
Thirty people were injured in the September 15 attack on a train at Parsons Green Underground station in London. Police said an apparent bucket bomb exploded during the Friday morning commute, injuring 30 people. All of the injuries were considered minor. Authorities said the bomb did not fully explode, likely limiting the number of casualties.
The terror threat was lowered to severe from critical over the weekend, but police warned the public should remain vigilant.
"This continues to be a fast-moving investigation. A significant amount of activity has taken place since the attack on Friday," said Commander Dean Haydon, head of the Met Counter Terrorism Command.
"We urge the public to report any suspicious activity to the police by calling us, in confidence, on 0800 789 321, or in an emergency by dialling 999," Haydon said in a public statement.
Chief Constable Sara Thornton said resources were being diverted from mainstream policing in England and Wales, leading to backlogs in control rooms and slower response times.
She added "this puts extra strain on an already-stretched service".
The Home Office said it was working with police on the demands they faced.
So far in 2017 there have been five terror attacks in the UK, killing 36 people.
Earlier this year, Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley wrote to the home secretary warning that the counter-terrorism policing network was not able to operate at "full strength".
He added that other areas of policing would be at "significant" risk if resources had to be diverted.
In a blog post, Ms Thornton wrote: "Every time there's a terror attack, we mobilise specialist officers and staff to respond, but the majority of the officers and staff responding come from mainstream policing.
"This puts extra strain on an already-stretched service.
"In the response to the Manchester attack, three-quarters of the resources deployed came from mainstream policing."
She said having officer numbers at 1985 levels and crime figures up 10% in the last year created additional pressures.
The current funding for forces across England and Wales is "no longer enough" and the counter-terrorism policing budget will be cut by 7% in the next three years, Ms Thornton added.
She says a response will "never be as good as preventing" attacks in the first place.
"Fewer officers and Police Community Support Officers will cut off the intelligence that is so crucial to preventing attacks.
"Withdrawal from communities risks undermining their trust in us, at a time when we need people to have the confidence to share information with us."
Protecting the public from terrorism may require "difficult and unpalatable" decisions, she added.
BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said this was Sara Thornton's "most significant intervention" in the debate about police funding since the terror attacks in London and Manchester.
The Home Office says the government will do what is needed to keep the public safe.
A spokesman said: "We are increasing funding for counter-terrorism by £3.4bn and the home secretary announced £24m in extra support for CT [counter-terrorism] policing in addition to the £707m already committed for this year.
"We have also protected overall police funding in real terms since 2015 and we are sensitive to the pressures on police forces across the country.
"We are engaging with them on the demands they are currently facing."
Mahmoud Saikal, the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations, told Fox News that the war-embattled nation each day amid the insurgency is losing on average 70 to 80 civilians — only a small percent of whom are military.
Other officials suggested the number of civilian casualties is even higher, up to 120 per day.
Saikal also noted — affirming what President Ghani previously has stated — that Afghanistan is fighting some “20 different terrorist groups” on its soil on any given day.
The U.S. recently declared it was increasing its troop commitment to Afghanistan, and it is expected that around 3,000 more troops will be deployed there in coming weeks. The decision came after months of deliberations — of which President Trump demanded answers as to why the security situation was so dire despite the trillions of dollars spent and lives lost in the seemingly intractable conflict.
Saikal said Trump was “speaking the truth” in wanting answers and welcomed the administration’s policy that U.S. support would be “condition-based” rather than “time-based.” Afghans long have lamented former President Obama’s announcement to draw down troop numbers, which was pinned to end in 2014, with many claiming that the dateline simply empowered insurgents to wait and regroup in the mountains.
Afghanistan strategically remains poised and is often fodder for influence from an array of international players from Iran and Russia as well as Pakistan and China, and Saikal highlighted that their security forces were on the right path to complete self-sufficiency.
He also pointed out that the fiscal cost of the war has fallen dramatically, and remained confident that Afghanistan will become a success story with U.S. and NATO support.
“The cost in 2012 was $110 (billion) to $120 billion. It has come down to one-tenth of that. But we must be able to continue to strengthen our defense capabilities,” Saikal told Fox News about what Afghan officials want from the soon-to-be bolstered troop numbers. “We recently doubled the amount of commandos, and what we really need is a proper Air Force.”
As it stands, the Afghan Air Force is reported to be comprised of just under 7,000 members located in three wings across the country. Last year, NATO leaders announced intentions to boost this to at least 8,000 and the Department of Defense requested over $814 million to begin to re-equip and refurbish the force, transitioning from Russian Mil Mi-17 to Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as well as adding several A-29 attack aircraft and MD 530F helicopters.
Just this week, air refueling tankers arrived in Afghanistan for the first time in five years and the first slate of U.S.-made Black Hawks touched down.
Along with devoting attention and training to the Air Force, Saikal said the best use for these additional American troops would be to continue advising and training and not in combat roles. He said it would be best for the additional troops to have a particular focus on helping them to secure the porous Pakistan border, which notoriously provides a gateway for terrorists to easily come and go.
“The Taliban might be able to get in a place to launch an attack, but as soon as our forces can get there, the Taliban does not stand a chance,” he added. “We must continue making sure we have a strong and sustainable security force and this takes a long time. They are doing the job of the world, they are fighting terrorism for the world.”
Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, who served for several years as Saudi minister of justice in Riyadh and is now secretary general of the MWL, expressed the appreciation of the Muslim world for the pope’s “fair positions” regarding “the false claims that link extremism and violence to Islam,” as well as for his insistence that extremism is not distinctive of Islam but is found among followers of all religions.
The Muslim World League is a Saudi Government-funded Islamic non-governmental organization, founded on May 18, 1962 in Mecca for the propagation of Islamic teachings. Despite the group’s official opposition to violence and terrorism and its pursuit of intercultural dialogue, it has been the subject of several ongoing counterterrorism investigations in the U.S. related to Hamas, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Two months after the 9/11 jihadist attacks on U.S. soil, Newsweek writer Evan Thomas reported that the Muslim World League was one of “two interrelated global charities” directly funded by the Saudi government that were used by Osama bin Laden to finance his operations. The organizations were left off the list of groups sanctioned by the United States “in order to avoid embarrassing the Saudi government,” Thomas wrote.
In 2004, Harper’s Magazine declared that the Muslim World League had been “long known to have funneled money to Al Qaeda” and is financed directly by the Saudi government. “MWL is an evangelical organization that was created to help spread Wahhabism, the Saudi brand of Islamic fundamentalism,” the article stated.
According to the New York Times, an internal, top-secret report from the Treasury Department obtained through the Freedom of Information Act stated that the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), “an offshoot of the Muslim World League,” supported terrorist organizations beginning in the early 1990s “through to at least the first half of 2006.”
The MWL has also come under fire for its alleged anti-Semitism and the Anti-Defamation League claims that the MWL has frequently been a platform for anti-Israeli rhetoric. It has also been accused of using its English-language “Journal” to spread anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
At their first International Islamic Conference on Dialogue in Mecca in 2008, the MWL invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi to speak. During his speech, he said he would “never sit with Jews on one platform and never hold dialogue with those Jews who have committed injustice against us and support Israel.”
On Tuesday, Al-Issa spoke at an international conference in Rome on “Tolerance in Islam” along with Joseph Levi, the former chief rabbi in Florence, and Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
For his audience with the Pope, Al-Issa was accompanied by a delegation of seven people. The Vatican released a series of photographs of the encounter, during which the two men reportedly exchanged views on a number of “issues of common interest” including peace and global harmony, and discussed cooperation on issues of peaceful coexistence and the spread of love….