Showing posts from June 21, 2015

China strikes back at U.S., pointing out American human-rights abuses

The country that tortures political prisoners, censors speech, holds secret trials and forces Muslims to violate Ramadan rules is once again criticizing the human-rights record of its rival, the United States. China on Friday accused the U.S. of discriminating against minorities and said its 5.7-per-cent January unemployment rate poses a “threat to people’s basic right of survival.” The Chinese report was published a day after the U.S. State Department released its annual report on human-rights conditions in the world. It included criticism of China, saying “repression and coercion were routine” and accused criminals “face executions without due process.” The tit-for-tat battle of reports is not new. This is the 16th time China has responded, and it did so in a strident tone: “The U.S., a self-proclaimed human rights defender, saw no improvements in its existent human rights issues, but reported numerous new problems,” the report said, according to the Xinhua news agency. The

Indian funding report: MQM leader's statement to London police leaked

Tariq Mir, a senior leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), has been revealed as one of the senior leaders of the party who told UK authorities about the nexus between his party and the Indian government. Mir, whose association with MQM in recent months cannot be established with certainty, told London Metropolitan Police at a police station located in Edgeware road that Indians used to pay 800,000 pound sterling to the party on a yearly basis for running operations. Interestingly, according to transcripts of an interview conducted by the UK police on May 30, 2012, the MQM leader had made the statements ‘voluntarily’ and was ‘not under arrest’. The transcript of the interview was released by a senior journalist. Read: Karachi unrest: MQM received funds, training from India, BBC Mir told the British police that the party through couriers initially received the Indian money. “At some stage our expenses (of the secretariat) were about 100,000 pounds per month. I was awar

Friend or foe? US lines up with Shiite militias and former Sunni rebels in Iraq

On Monday, Bloomberg  carried a story  citing two unnamed Obama "administration officials" that asserts that US troops are sharing a base in Iraq's Anbar province with two Shiite militias. Two questions come to mind: Is it true? And what, if anything, would it mean if it is? The US says the report is mostly, but not entirely, false. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman  told reporters this week  that a US condition for sending 450 soldiers to Taqaddum Air Base in Anbar – midway between Islamic State-controlled Fallujah and Ramadi – was the removal of most of the Shiite militias and any Iranian officers or soldiers stationed there. Some liaison officials remain, but the US forces are separated from them and Iraq's government "is helping to coordinate the separation of these two groups," according to Col. Warren.  Recommended:  Sunni and Shiite Islam: Do you know the difference? Take our quiz. It's a reminder of the uncomfortable choices that

Kuwait boosts oil sector security after mosque bombing

KUWAIT CITY:  Kuwait said on Saturday that it had raised security at oil facilities in the emirate to maximum level after a deadly mosque bombing claimed by the Islamic State group. Friday’s suicide attack on a mosque in the capital used by members of Kuwait’s Shia minority killed 26 people and wounded 227, and was one of the deadliest in the emirate’s history. “Kuwait Petroleum Corp. and its subsidiaries have raised security measures to the maximum level following the terrorist bombing on Friday,” the state-owned firm’s spokesman Sheikh Talal Khaled Al-Sabah said in a statement. “All refineries, oilfields and oil sector operations have been placed under heightened security measures to maintain normal operations without being affected by the terrorist threat,” he added. Read: IS suicide bomber kills 25 at Kuwait Shia mosque Security at oil facilities had already been beefed up in March following the launch of a Saudi-led air campaign against Shia rebels in Yemen in which Ku

US ignored 'unique mayhem' of gun violence for too long: Obama

US President Barack Obama delivers the eulogy for South Carolina state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney during Pinckney's funeral service June 26, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. PHOTO: AFP CHARLESTON:  US President Barack Obama made a fresh pitch for tighter gun controls Friday as he eulogised the pastor killed in the Charleston church shootings, saying Americans had ignored the toll of gun violence for too long. “We’ve been blind to the unique mayhem that gun violence inflicts upon this nation,” Obama said at the funeral in the South Carolina city. “The vast majority of Americans, the majority of gun owners, want to do something about this.” Obama gave a rousing speech in front of thousands of mourners who came to pay their last respects to Reverend Clementa Pinckney, who was one of the nine people gunned down last week during a Bible study class at the Emanuel AME Church. The alleged gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, has been charged with nine counts of murder

Neighbourhood watch: Afghan Taliban uphold Qatar office’s authority amid peace talks

A file photo of the Taliban political office in Qatar. PHOTO: REUTERS ISLAMABAD:  The Afghan Taliban decided to distance themselves from peace talks in Urumqi, China this week, hours after Pakistan’s foreign affairs adviser said the country had facilitated negotiations. For many members of the group, Pakistan’s sponsored dialogue is an attempt to discredit the authority of its Qatar office. In response, the Taliban leadership council said no one had granted them permission to discuss political affairs with anyone as a representative of the Islamic Emirate or the political office. Furthermore, the council said the political office has been responsible for handling all internal and external political activities related to the Islamic Emirate since the inauguration. As a result, only the Qatar office can represent the group in all deliberations with the international community, intimated the council. This principle has been reiterated time and again by various Taliban leaders.

Police Reassure Public After 'IS Plot Foiled'

The threat level in the UK from international terrorism remains unchanged at severe following reports that an Armed Forces Day parade had been targeted by Islamic State, police say. They have encouraged the public to attend events as normal after a plot to explode a pressure cooker bomb at a parade in south London today was foiled, according to The Sun. It comes as the Government's emergency COBRA committee met this morning following  Friday's three terror attacks  . The suicide plot was intended to strike soldiers from the unit of murdered  Lee Rigby , but failed after one of its leaders in  Syria  unwittingly recruited an undercover investigator from the newspaper to carry it out, the report said. It is alleged that a leading figure in IS, whom it named as Junaid Hussain, originally from Birmingham, told the investigator: "It will be big. "We will hit the kuffar (unbelievers) hard InshAllah. Hit their soldiers in their own land. "InshAllah. Soldie

UK faces 'severe terrorist threat'

The UK faces a "severe terrorist threat",  David Cameron  has warned after at least eight British holidaymakers were shot dead on a Tunisian beach. The Prime Minister said there would be "heightened security" as events are held across the UK to mark Armed Forces Day, amid fears of a similar attack on home soil. The UK's terror threat level was raised to "severe" last August in response to conflicts in  Iraq  and  Syria - one level below "critical" when an attack is believed to be "imminent". Mr Cameron said: "There's no doubt we face a very severe threat in our country and we have done for many months and many years, but the level of the threat is identified independently of government and published in the proper way." He said the most important thing is to "carry on" thanking the armed forces for their work "knowing that in our country we face a severe terrorist threat". But he said if

Vulnerabilities Exposed, Islamic State Evolving

PENTAGON — Once bent on advancing at all costs to establish its self-declared caliphate, the terror group known as the Islamic State has increasingly been willing to cede territory in battles with Kurdish forces and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, raising questions about how and where it would draw its line in the sand. On the surface, IS appears to be losing momentum. U.S. defense officials say its recent losses in northern Syria — specifically in Tal Abyad, a key hub for foreign fighters and supplies — were a serious blow. One defense official went so far as to call reports about Islamic State fighters fleeing from Ayn Issa, 50 kilometers from the group’s de-facto capital of Raqqa, an example of the group “breaking under pressure.” “ISIL’s setbacks in northern Syria are notable and show that it is vulnerable, especially to motivated and well-equipped forces,” a U.S. intelligence official told VOA, using an acronym for the group. Islamic State militant areas of control,

Kurdish forces expel ISIS, take back control of Syria's town of Kobane: Monitor

BEIRUT, June 27 (Reuters) - Kurdish YPG forces expelled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters from Syria's Kobane on Saturday and took back full control of the town on the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said. There were still some clashes between the YPG and the militant group to the south of the town, the Observatory's founder Rami Abdulrahman said. ISIS has killed around 200 people in the Kobane area since launching a raid on the town early on Thursday, he added. Overnight, the Kurdish forces and the Syrian army fought separate battles with ISIS around Hasaka city in north-east Syria as the hardline group tried to capture more areas of the major urban centre near the Iraqi border, a monitor said on Saturday - See more at:

More terror attacks imminent in France, says Prime Minister Valls after Lyon attack

Saint-Quentin-Fallavier:   Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned, on Saturday, that France faced more attacks to come after a grisly killing in which a suspected Islamist pinned the severed head of his boss to the gates of a gas factory. The alleged assailant, identified as 35-year-old married father-of-three Yassin Salhi, also caused an explosion by smashing his vehicle into the Air Products factory near France's second city of Lyon. French PM Manuel Valls said that France was at risk of other such terrorist attacks and added that it was difficult for a society to live in constant threat. The grisly killing came on the same day as two other attacks claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, which left 38 people dead at a beach resort in Tunisia and 27 in a suicide bombing in Kuwait. The victim, a 54-year-old local businessman, was found with Arabic inscriptions scrawled on him and Islamic flags were also found on the site at the small town of Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, some 40 kilome

Ramadan ding-dong Foreign conflicts stoke sectarian squabbles among British Muslims

The crescent and the cross BY THE bloody standards of Middle Eastern sectarianism, it is a slight affair. On the fourth day of Ramadan, dawn worshippers in Bradford found the wall of their   husseiniya , or Shia mosque, daubed with the word “KAFIR” (infidel). But flare-ups, once rare, between Britain’s 400,000-odd Shias and 2.3m Sunnis are on the rise.   Safdar Shah, one of the  husseiniya ’s founders, says that 30 years ago, when most of the city’s Sunnis and Shias arrived from the Pakistani side of Kashmir, they often prayed together. But over the past year leaflets denouncing Shias have circulated on city buses, and Sunnis have launched a boycott of two Shia-owned takeaways in Little Horton, a neighbourhood where over half the population is Asian. A flurry of tweets enjoin Sunnis to “stay away from Shia”. Community elders fear the identity politics sweeping the Middle East are seeping into Britain’s school playgrounds, prisons and mosques. “We all condemn atrocities in Palestine, bu