Showing posts from March 11, 2018

UK experts: Extremism stems from more than just ‘radical religion’

Armed police officers stand on duty in this file photo. (Reuters) LONDON: The idea that “radical ideology” is a core factor in motivating extremism — a notion which has become “quite fashionable” in the UK in recent years — should be treated with caution, UK experts have warned. Jane Kinninmont, deputy head and senior research fellow of the Middle East and North Africa program at Chatham House, said that extremism is driven by a “whole complex of social and political factors,” rather than “deeply religious ideological factors.” Speaking at the launch of a report by the Henry Jackson Society on Thursday, she identified divergent definitions of extremism as a barrier to countering terrorism. “Definitions of terrorism are quite far apart,” both among GCC states, and between Gulf countries and the West. This throws up “problems for international cooperation,” she said at the event, held in the UK parliament’s House of Lords on Thursday. With Gulf states adopting different narratives

Afghanistan's minefields: Living amongst landmines

Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, posing an ever-present danger to civilians. Jennifer Glasse 27 Feb 2018 Afghans have lived through decades of war and instability. One of the biggest threats they face now are landmines, left from either the Soviet invasion or the fight against the  Taliban . In 2017, more than 2,000 Afghans were killed or injured by landmines. That is about five times the number of civilians killed in 2012. The aid group, Halo Trust, estimates there are up to 640,000 landmines laid in  Afghanistan  since 1979. Although most recorded battlefields have been cleared, Afghanistan remains one of the world's most mined countries. Source:

Iran stresses countering violence, extremism

TEHRAN, Mar. 17 (MNA) – Iran stresses avoiding violence and extremism and seeks coexistence, tolerance and moderation between different religions, according to Iran’s ambassador to Thailand. Iran’s Ambassador to Thailand and Accredited ambassador to Myanmar and Laos, Mohsen Mohmmadi made the comments at the 3rd conference on ‘Dialogue between Islam and Buddhism’, which was held through the efforts of Iran’s embassy in Bangkok, Thailand on March 15-16. Mohammadi underlined that Iran always stresses strengthening the shared characteristics of different religions including their divine and human values, friendship between them and avoiding violence and extremism. Referring to the fact that hostility among religions as well as extremism are on the rise in some parts of the world, Mohammadi said that dialogue is the most important and the only way out of hatred and violence. Dialogue is the only logical way that can bring people from different religions and cultures and establi

UAE Armed Forces clear 20,000 landmines across Yemen

UAE Armed Forces have cleared more than 20,000 landmines across Yemen, according to state news agency Wam. The illegal mines were removed from areas stretching across the Red Sea Coast over an eight-month period.  It is suspected the mines first began to be planted by rebel Houthi militias after the Saudi-led Arab Coalition moved forces into the country to restore Yemen’s legitimate government. Specialists within the UAE Armed Force have trained 65 Yemeni volunteers to safely excavate the suspected areas, a de-mining expert told Wam. He said 90 per cent of the explosives dug up are Iranian-made and patterned after the Russian TM-57 mine – that can blast armoured fighting vehicles. "The mines are being detonated in safe areas as per the latest international standards," he said, adding that most of the mines were found in areas adjacent to heavily populated districts. The mines planted in mountainous areas are disguised as rocks but are also concealed in sandy

More Than 2,00,000 Civilians Flee Syria's Afrin in Three Days: Monitor

Turkey and its Syrian Arab rebel allies have waged a nearly two-month offensive on the Afrin enclave, which is held by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG). Beirut : More than 200,000 civilians have fled the city of Afrin in northern Syria in less than three days to escape a Turkish-led military offencive against a Kurdish militia, a war monitor said on Saturday. "There was fierce fighting throughout the night on the northern outskirts of the city as the Turkish forces and their Syrian allies tried to break into the city," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The exodus continued on Saturday with at least 50,000 civilians fleeing the city since the early hours of the morning, according to the Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information. "The situation is terrifying," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. Turkey and its Syrian Arab rebel allies have waged a nearly two-month offensive on the Af

Air strikes on Syria's Ghouta kill 30 civilians: Monitor

BEIRUT: Air strikes on Eastern Ghouta killed at least 30 civilians on Saturday, a monitor said, almost a month into a blistering Russia-backed regime assault on the Syrian rebel enclave outside Damascus. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not say who carried out the strikes on the town of Zamalka in a southern pocket of the enclave. Regime forces have retaken 70 percent of the last rebel bastion on the outskirts of the capital since February 18, carving it up into three shrinking pockets held by different rebels. "Warplanes targeted civilians in Zamalka as they prepared to flee" the southern area of the enclave held by the Faylaq al-Rahman rebel group, Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said. The regime assault has killed more than 1,390 civilians in the enclave, according to the Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground. The offensive has pushed thousands more to flee their homes into government-controlled areas.

The trouble telling aid workers and foreign fighters apart

Omar Hussain travelled to Syria after posing as a charity worker It should be easy to tell the difference between an aid worker and a jihadist, but the war in Syria shows that is not always the case. Finding a solution could help ensure aid still reaches the people who need it in future conflicts. A desire to ease the suffering of ordinary Syrians during its years of civil war has been shared by many people around the world. But getting aid into Syria and making sure it reaches the right people is extremely difficult. The conflict is complex and jihadists took advantage of the ensuing confusion - particularly at the start of the war - with some aid money diverted and foreign fighters entering the country by posing as aid workers. Charities and aid have been exploited by extremists in previous conflicts - in countries from Bosnia to Afghanistan. So, how can they be stopped from doing so in future? In Syria,  research by the Lowy Institute shows how extremists have oft

Terrorists’ endgame was gunning down hostages in Red Square – Putin on 2002 theater siege

Vladimir Putin has recounted the events of the 2002 hostage crisis in Moscow, arguably the low point of his first presidential term. He said the removal of terrorists by using deadly gas prevented a much bloodier outcome. The three-day confrontation at the Dubrovka theater remains one of the worst terrorism incidents in Russia’s history. Some four dozen militants captured over 850 hostages in a theater in central Moscow, rigged the building with powerful explosives and demanded that Russia withdraw all troops from the southern Chechen Republic. Russia mourns victims of deadly Nord-Ost theater attack In an interview shown in a new documentary, Putin said the terrorists’ ultimate intention was a long standoff ending in a bloody finale in the heart of the Russian capital. “Their plan was to get a bus full of hostages, drive to Red Square and to gun them down right in Red Square, throwing the bodies out. They wanted to influence the leadership and the special services by that.

UK to open chemical weapons facility to counter Russian threats

Military personnel wearing protective coveralls work to remove a vehicle connected to the nerve agent attack in Salisbury from a residential street in Gillingham, southeast England, on March 14, 2018. (Photo by AFP) The UK government is planning to open a multimillion-pound facility to conduct research on chemical weapons, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson will announce on Thursday, citing threats from Russia and North Korea. Scheduled to speak at an event hosted by Policy Exchange and Rolls Royce in Bristol, Williamson will say that the Ministry of Defense (MoD) is shelling out £48 million ($66 million) to build the facility at the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) in Porton Down. The announcement comes amid heightened tensions between the UK and Russia over a recent nerve agent attack on Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter outside a shopping center in Salisbury. PressTV-‘UK misleads world in poisoning case with no real fact’ Russi

1000s of civilians leave Eastern Ghouta amid Syria army gains against militants

00:00 Syrians from militant-held Eastern Ghouta suburb of capital Damascus arrive at a government-held checkpoint in Adra after escaping the enclave through a corridor opened by the government forces on March 15, 2018. (Photo by AFP) Russia and Syria say thousands of civilians have managed to flee Eastern Ghouta less than a day after government forces advanced into a strategic town south of the militant-held Damascus suburb. The Syrian state television reported Thursday that some 10,000 people have so far left Eastern Ghouta for safe government-held areas as joint Damascus-UN aid delivery operations are underway in the suburban region. The RIA new agency also quoted Russian Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin as saying on Thursday that, "We expect no less than 13,000 people to have left by the end of the day." Earlier in the day, the Russian Defense Ministry extended a humanitarian pause in fighting for two days in parts of Eastern Ghouta to help more c

US punishes 19 Russians over vote meddling and cyber-attacks

Reuters Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef", has denied election tampering The US has imposed sanctions on 19 Russians, accusing them of interference in the 2016 US election and alleged cyber-attacks. They include 13 individuals charged last month by Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin accused the Russians of "destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure".  He said the sanctions would target "ongoing nefarious attacks" by Russia. The tactics of a Russian troll farm The Trump-Russia saga in 200 words The measures are being described in Washington as the strongest action taken by the Trump administration thus far against Moscow. Russia says it has already begun drawing up counter-measures. Who's been targeted? Five entities including the Russian military intelligence agency GRU are targeted in Thursday's sanctions.  Also blacklisted is th

Taliban suicide attack near Nawaz Sharif’s residence kills 9

It was such a powerful blast that its sound was heard several kilometers from the site. A fire ball was seen after the blast at the Nisar Police Check Post. By:  PTI  | Lahore |  Published: March 15, 2018 10:09 am Pakistani police officers cordon off the area of a bomb blast near Lahore in Pakistan. (Source: AP) A teenaged Taliban suicide bomber attacked a police check-post near the residence of Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Lahore, killing nine people, including five policemen, police said. According to rescue officials, the blast took place last night close to a police check post, a few kilometers from the palatial residence of the Sharif family, and next to the congregation of the Tableeghi Jamaat centre. “Five policemen – two inspectors and three constables – are among nine persons killed in the blast,” Rescue 1122 spokesman Jam Sajjad told PTI. Around 14 policemen are among 25 injured. The condition of four policemen is stated to be critical, Sajjad

California teacher accidentally fires gun while taking a class on firearms safety

The latest incident comes nearly a month after the massacre of 17 students and staff in Parkland, Florida. New York: At least one California high school student was injured superficially when a teacher accidentally discharged a gun in class during a firearms safety course, police said on Wednesday. The incident, which occurred Tuesday, came as a police officer assigned to a school in the state of Virginia accidentally fired his service weapon inside his office and was placed on administrative leave. The massacre of 17 students and staff in Parkland, Florida, last month has ignited a nationwide debate over whether some teachers should be armed, with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in favor. Dennis Alexander, a teacher at Seaside High School in California`s Monterey County and a reserve police officer, fired a semiautomatic handgun as it was pointed at the ceiling, police chief Abdul Pridgen said in a statement. Pridgen said no one was hit by gunfir

Pakistan has forced us to live in Stone Age-like conditions, allege Baloch leaders at UN

The members of the Baloch Republican Party (BPR) have raised the issue of human rights violations at the UNHCR. Geneva: The members of the Baloch Republican Party (BPR) have raised the issue of human rights violations carried out by Pakistan in Balochistan at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). "The precious natural resources of Balochistan are being looted and taken away by the Pakistani state while the Baloch people are forced to live in Stone Age-like conditions," said representative of the Baloch Republican Party to the UNHRC Abdul Nawaz Bugti. "Whenever the Baloch people demanded their rights from the Pakistani state, the response has always been military operations and massacre by the army," he added, "300 thousand Baloch have been displaced and 27 thousands more have become the victim of enforced disappearances." He noted that "torture and custodial killings of Baloch activists are common practice. Even women and children