Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Details on the three financiers/facilitatorsShafi Sultan Mohammed al-Ajmi Al-Ajmi operates regular social media campaigns seeking donations for Syrian fighters and is one of the most active Kuwaiti fundraisers for ANF. In July 2014, he publicly admitted that he collected money under the auspices of charity and delivered the funds in person to ANF. Al-Ajmi also acknowledged purchasing and smuggling arms on behalf of ANF. Hajjaj Fahd Hajjaj Muhammad Shabib al-'Ajmi Hajjaj Al-'Ajmi serves as a funnel for financial donations to ANF facilitators in Syria, traveling regularly from Kuwait to Syria to engage in financial activity on behalf of ANF and deliver money to the group. He agreed to provide financial support to ANF in exchange for installing Kuwaitis in ANF leadership positions. In early January 2014, he offered ANF money to lead a battlefield campaign in Homs, Syria. 'Abd al-Rahman Khalaf 'Ubayd Juday' al-'Anizi Since at least 2008, al-'Anizi worked with a senior ISIL facilitator and ISIL financial official to transfer funds from Kuwait to Syria. He also worked with an ISIL facilitator to pay for the travel of foreign fighters moving from Syria to Iraq. Al-'Anizi worked to smuggle several foreign fighters from Kuwait to Afghanistan, likely to join al Qaeda and was involved in extremist facilitation activities with Iran-based al Qaeda facilitators, including the movement of extremists to Afghanistan via Iran. Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2014/08/us_adds_nusrah_islamic_state_f.php#ixzz39dmjw0yi
A video clip received by Pajhwok Afghan News shows Urdu-speaking Pakistani militants leading the battle for the Sangin district in southern Helmand province. Recorded by a reliable security source, the video shows Pakistan insurgents giving directives to fighters in Urdu language. The battle erupted after the fighters mounted attacks in different parts of Sangin on May 22. In the video clip, rebels order fighters to look at the target before shooting. One rebel leader tells his men in Panjabi language: “The man standing in front of us is our target; get ready he is coming.” He concludes his conversation by saying Allah-o- Akbar (God is great). A group of militants in a green area encourage fighters to attack a tank in the village. Mohammad Shoaib, a resident of the Bahawalpur district of Punjab province, says he was sent to the Kotli town of Kashmir, where he was trained by Harakat-ul-Mujahidin for 40 days. He was sent to Afghanistan via Quetta for jihad. Exact casualty figures are not available, but sources say around 500 security personnel and civilians have been killed in the battle. Around 380 injured people were shifted to hospital during the battle. Helmand police chief, Brig. Gen. Juma Gul Himmat, said the battle had intensified due to weak security leadership.
A protest is being held by the Sikh community after they were attacked here on Wednesday. Unidentified armed men opened fire at three shops located in a market in Hastnagri killing a Sikh trader and injuring two others. The Sikh community staged a protest in the city and had placed the body of the deceased trader on GT Road blocking traffic. Members of the community burnt tyres and chanted slogans seeking justice. Later, the Sikh community entered the red zone and tried to take the body to the Chief Minister and Governor House.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire at three members of Sikh community in Peshawar’s Hashtnagari killing one of them on spot, while two others were injured in the attack, ARY News reported on Wednesday. The injured were transferred to Lady Reading Hospital for medical attendance. The attackers opened fire when three Sikh shopkeepers were opening their shop. The deceased was identified as Jagmohan Singh. The members of Peshawar’s Sikh community held sit-in with coffin at GT Road and chanted slogans against the provincial government. They also demanded immediate arrest of the attackers. Chief Minister’s advisor for minorities held talks with the head of the Sikh community Surjeet Singh, which resulted in failure. The sit-in at GT Road has caused worst traffic jam at the road and adjoining areas causing hardships to citizens. - See more at: http://arynews.tv/en/one-killed-two-hurt-in-peshawar-sikh-attack/#sthash.3OGR6Weo.dpuf
Dunya news-North Waziristan: US drone strike... by dunyanews The attack came in North Waziristan, where for the past two months the Pakistani military has been fighting to wipe out longstanding bases of Taliban and other militants. According to sources, the drone fired two missiles on a house, killing five people. US drone strikes have picked up since the military offensive in Waziristan after a near six month hiatus. Since 12 June at least seven drone strikes have been reported in the tribal areas. The assault by Pakistan s military was launched after a dramatic attack by militants on Karachi airport which killed dozens of people and marked the end of a faltering peace process with the Pakistani Taliban. More than 400 militants and 25 soldiers have been killed in the assault so far, according to the military, though the area is off-limits to journalists, making it impossible to verify the number and identity the dead independently. Pakistan routinely protests against US drone strikes, saying they are a violation of sovereignty and counterproductive in the fight against terror. More than 800,000 people have been forced to flee from North Waziristan by the assault, with most ending up in the nearby town of Bannu.
Doug Bandow The world is aflame. Religious minorities are among those who suffer most from increasing conflict. Pakistan is one of the worst homes for non-Muslims. The U.S. government should designate that nation as a "Country of Particular Concern" for failing to protect religious liberty, the most basic right of conscience. Religious persecution is a global scourge. Many of the worst oppressors are Muslim nations. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Bahrain, Iraq and Egypt are all important international actors. All also mistreat, or acquiesce in the mistreatment of, anyone not a Muslim. A few of them even victimize Muslims -- of the wrong variety. Islamabad is another frequent offender. The State Department's report on religious liberty in Pakistan noted that "The constitution and other laws and policies officially restrict religious freedom and, in practice, the government enforced many of these restrictions. The government's respect for and protection of the right to religious freedom continued to be poor." Minority faiths face violent attack. Believers are killed, churches are bombed, buses are attacked, homes are destroyed, social gatherings are targeted. Warned the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its recent report: "In the past year, conditions hit an all-time low due to chronic sectarian violence targeting mostly Shia Muslims but also Christians, Ahmadis and Hindus." Last year the Commission cited a spike in violence against Shiites as well as "numerous attacks against innocent Pakistanis" of other religions. Although Islamabad did not launch these assaults, it did little to prevent or redress them. Even when scores or more are killed at a time there often is no response. Indeed, top government officials have been gunned down for defending freedom of conscience with no one arrested, let alone convicted. Explained State: "The government's limited capacity and will to investigate or prosecute the perpetrators of increasing extremist attacks against religious minorities and on members of the Muslim majority promoting tolerance, allowed the climate of impunity to continue." The most common tool of persecution may be a charge of blasphemy. Said USCIRF: "The country's blasphemy laws, used predominantly in Punjab province, but also nationwide, target members of religious minority communities and dissenting Muslims and frequently result in imprisonment." Two years ago a mentally handicapped 12-year-old Christian girl was charged; after an international outcry even the authorities became embarrassed and the case was dismissed, an unusual outcome. The blasphemy laws are made for abuse. Explained the Commission, "The so-called crime carries the death penalty or life in prison, does not require proof of intent or evidence to be presented after allegations are made, and does not include penalties for false allegations." In fact, courts hesitate to even hear evidence, lest doing so also be considered blasphemy. With evidence unnecessary, the charge has become a weapon routinely used in personal and business disputes, including a means to exact revenge for imagined offenses. Between 1986 and 2006 695 people were charged with blasphemy. Today 16 people are on death row and another 20 are serving life sentences. Three Christians have been sentenced to death in the last few months. Many other Pakistanis are in prison waiting for trial, including English professor Junaid Hafeez, accused of blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed. Penalties are not limited to the law. Explained the group Freedom House: "Regardless of the motives behind their charges and the outcome of their cases, those accused of blasphemy are subject to job discrimination, ostracism from their communities and neighborhoods, and even physical violence and murder at the hands of angry mobs, forcing many to live in fear." Since 1990 at least 52 people charged with blasphemy have been killed before reaching trial. Judges who acquitted defendants and politicians who talked of reforming the blasphemy laws also have been assassinated. In May gunmen killed Rashid Rehman, a human rights lawyer who was defending Hafeez. Previously fellow attorneys threatened Rehman, "You will not come to court next time because you will not exist any more." A pamphlet circulated after the murder asserting that Rehman met his "rightful end." He was the first defense lawyer killed. He probably won't be the last. Pakistan has jailed more people for blasphemy than any other nation, but it is not the only country which religious free speech. An incredible 14 of 20 countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa criminalize blasphemy. Nine of 50 in the Asia Pacific, seven of 45 in Europe and three of 48 in SubSaharan Africa also do so. Eleven of 35 nations in the Americas have blasphemy laws. In the U.S. several states, including Massachusetts and Michigan, retain blasphemy laws, though they do not enforce them. The group Freedom House published a detailed report on the detrimental impact of blasphemy laws on human rights. Put simply, these measures "impose undue restrictions on freedom of expression" and are "prone to arbitrary or overly broad application, particularly in settings where there are no checks and balances in place to prevent abuses." Freedom House highlighted Algeria, Egypt, Greece, Indonesia, Malaysia and Poland, as well as Pakistan. In March the Commission made much the same point, issuing a special report entitled "Prisoners of Belief: Individuals Jailed Under Blasphemy Laws." Victims include three atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, numerous Iranian Bahai's, Christians and Sufi and Sunni Muslims, 63 Sunnis and Christians in Egypt, an atheist writer in Kazakhstan, scores of Indonesians and a Saudi blogger. Even Greece and Turkey have charged people with blasphemy. The Arab Spring was supposed to bring liberty to the Mideast, but it had the opposite effect in many countries. For instance, in Kuwait, perhaps the most liberal Gulf State, the Islamist-dominated Assembly elected in early 2012 voted to impose the death penalty on Muslims convicted of blasphemy. The Emir blocked the law and later changed the election rules, resulting in a more moderate legislature. Blasphemy prosecutions were initiated in post-revolution Egypt and even Tunisia, viewed as the most successful participant in the Arab Spring. USCIRF commissioners Zuhdi Jasser and Katrina Lantos Swett wrote: "Rather than giving rise to greater individual liberty, this trend could turn the Arab Spring into a repressive winter, with forces of intolerance and tyranny dashing hopes for genuine freedom and liberal democracy." Nevertheless, Pakistan remains a particular problem. The country's founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, emphasized the importance of religious liberty. But Pakistan became more Islamic over time, a process accelerated by dictator Mohammed Zia ul-Haq. His government not only criminalized blasphemy, but, noted Freedom House, enacted new laws which imposed "harsh Shari'a punishments for extramarital sex, theft and violations of the prohibition of alcohol." The impact of such laws fell most heavily on religious minorities and liberals. Discrimination, intolerance and violence have become pervasive. Noted Freedom House: "it is clear that Pakistan's blasphemy laws are used politically and applied disproportionately to non-Muslims. Although many other countries have laws against blasphemy, the situation in Pakistan is unique in its severity and its particular effects on religious minorities." Intolerance has become the norm -- in a strategically placed nation possessing nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, there are spillover impacts from abusive blasphemy prosecutions. Warned Freedom House, in practice the blasphemy laws have led to "extended arbitrary detention." The process also has undermined even limited due process, with convictions rendered on minimal to nonexistent evidence. Along the way defendants have suffered from official torture and private vigilante injustice. Blasphemy laws threaten basic individual liberties around the globe. The measures are bad in Western nations. They are far worse in the Muslim world. The problem is particularly severe in Pakistan. Warned Freedom House: "Pakistan's blasphemy laws foster an environment of intolerance and impunity, and lead to violations of a broad range of human rights, including the obvious rights to freedom of expression and freedom of religion, as well as freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention; the right to due process and a fair trial; freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment; and the right to life and security of the person." Obviously, there is little the U.S. can do directly about policy in Pakistan. However, the International Religious Freedom Act allows the State Department to designate countries as Countries of Particular Concern. Noted USCIRF: "Pakistan represents the worst situation in the world for religious freedom for countries not currently designated" as CPCs. Unfortunately, in its latest designation announced last month State continued to leave Islamabad off of the list. The Obama administration should remedy that lapse. For some, religious liberty is but an afterthought, an esoteric principle with little practical impact. However, the willingness of foreign governments to respect freedom of conscience acts as the famed canary in the mine. A state which fails to protect the right of individuals to respond to their belief (or unbelief) in God is more likely to leave other essential liberties unprotected. And a society in which life and dignity of the human person is not respected is more likely to become a hothouse to ideas and beliefs hostile to America. As we see in Pakistan today. Rising religious extremism, exemplified by abusive blasphemy prosecutions, threatens the integrity of the Pakistani state -- and the security of its nuclear program. Although Americans cannot control policy in Pakistan, they can help highlight a problem that threatens people in that nation and ultimately this one as well.
Ahmadiyya TimesThe United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed deep concern today as Sri Lanka continues deporting the Pakistani, and Afghan asylum seekers back to their own countries from where they fled. Sri Lanka's Department of Immigration and Emigration said that Pakistani, and Afghan nationals visiting Sri Lanka will no longer receive tourist visas upon arrival at the airport and the asylum seekers who are staying in the country without visa for a long time will be deported. The Department said the process will commence with the deportation of 147 Pakistani, and 85 Afghan nationals arrested by Sri Lankan Authorities. UNHCR said that it has learnt that a total of 36 Pakistani asylum-seekers have been deported from Sri Lanka since last Friday. More could follow, including women and children. The refugee agency urged the Sri Lankan authorities to stop the deportations and grant them access to refugees and asylum-seekers still detained in Colombo. The deportations took place between August 1 and 5 following two months of arrests and detentions of people of concern to UNHCR, the agency said adding that most of the deportees have arrived in Pakistan and released but the agency was unable to monitor their return conditions. UNHCR said the reports that the families of deported men including women and children who were not detained will also be sent back to Pakistan have caused a great deal of anxiety among the refugee and asylum-seeker population in Sri Lanka. Meanwhile 205 Pakistani, Afghan and Iranian refugees and asylum-seekers remain in detention in Sri Lanka, the agency said adding that it continues to seek access to them to assess their protection needs. Sri Lanka said last week that there are about 1500 Pakistani, and Afghan nationals who were staying in the country illegally draining the island's resources. The government said the influx of asylum seekers, mostly Pakistanis has resulted in serious law and order, security, as well as health related issues for the authorities while the country is burdened and the UNHCR is too slow to process their cases and resettle them. The government said it has asked the UNHCR to expedite the process of resettlement to ensure its completion within a short period of time and ensure that asylum seekers are provided with adequate facilities and monetary assistance to live in Sri Lanka until their claims are processed or resettlement is found but the UNHCR has not addressed these issues and too slow to work on refugee requirements. Responding to the Sri Lankan government's reasons, the UNHCR said the agency, which conducts refugee status determination in the country, is taking steps to increase its capacity to enable the efficient and timely processing of these asylum claims. "We are also exploring ways to assist the most vulnerable asylum-seekers, including by setting up referral networks for greater support as they await a decision," the refugee agency said. "UNHCR recognizes the Sri Lankan government's wish for quicker solutions for the refugees. However, resettlement to a third country is not a right and is a limited solution due to the small number of resettlement countries and places globally," it said. Meanwhile, thhe refugee agency appealed to the Sri Lankan authorities to respect the principle of non-refoulement by not sending people back to a place where their lives could be in danger without the opportunity to assess their needs for international protection.
BY KATHARINE HOURELD AND SYED RAZA HASSANPakistan's civilian government is bracing for a wave of protests this month, days after the military took responsibility for securing the capital amid the threat of militant attacks and the specter of a political showdown. Some Pakistanis fear that the country's traditionally powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half of its history, may use the protests to buttress its position at the expense of the fledgling civilian government. "It's not something that the military has choreographed, it is just benefiting from the civilian government's weakness," said columnist Ejaz Haider. Activist and cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, known for his passionate monologues, will hold a protest on Aug. 10. He has vowed to topple and jail government ministers by month-end. Charismatic cricketer turned opposition politician Imran Khan has also announced that his supporters will hold a sit-in in the capital on Aug. 14. He wants the government to resign and new elections to be held. "This will be the biggest demonstration in the history of Pakistan," Khan told a news conference late on Tuesday. Both Qadri and Khan have at times been seen by some Pakistanis as close to the military, or even as being used by the military to pressure the government. Both of them deny that and the military denies such meddling in politics. Pakistan has weathered such protest marches before. Last year tens of thousands of Qadri supporters camped out along the main road in the capital for four days. Yet the upcoming protests have sent ripples of unease through the nuclear-armed nation of 180 million because of its history of coups, corruption and militancy. The stock market has dipped and the government has postponed a planned increase in electricity rates. MILITARY RELATIONS Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's landslide election win last year marked the first time one elected government had handed power to another since independence from Britain in 1947. Just after elections, his government pursued policies that were known to have angered the military. He promoted better ties with neighboring India, whom the army still considers to be Pakistan's biggest threat. Sharif also put Pervez Musharraf, the former army chief and president, who deposed him in 1999, on trial. There was also disagreement on how to handle militants attacking the state with the army favoring military action and the government holding out hope for peace talks. The army eventually won the argument and launched an offensive in June. Last week, the government handed responsibility for securing the capital to the military, a move Khan insisted was an attempt to co-opt the army and intimidate protesters. "The government is trying to protect itself by bringing in the army and hiding behind it," he said. "It is totally undemocratic." The ruling party strongly denies his accusation. It says troops were deployed for 90 days outside key buildings in Islamabad to prevent Pakistani Taliban revenge attacks for the military offensive against them. "This is purely to prevent Taliban blowback," said Senator Tariq Azeem. "It's nothing to do with the opposition, they are just trying to make themselves seem important." "The government is not going to fall." Whatever the reason for the government's call on the military to take over security in Islamabad, many Pakistanis have seen it as an indication of weakness on the part of the government. "You had a prime minister who was determined to keep the military out (of politics) but now he has invited them in," said the columnist, Haider.
POVERTY, POWER AND CORRUPTION Both Khan and Qadri are protesting over issues with relatively narrow national appeal. Khan is urging electoral reforms and investigations into last year's poll. Qadri is protesting after police killed fourteen of his supporters in clashes in June. "If police enter your home, barge into their houses in a mob and crack down on them," Qadri urged supporters at a news conference on Sunday. "We will take revenge for all our martyrs." Both men are also hoping to capitalize on widespread public frustration over the government's slow pace at tackling endemic power shortages, widespread poverty and corruption. Thousands of extra police have been ordered to block sections of the capital with shipping containers and barbed wire. Yet many think the government should just let the marches proceed peacefully.
"If the government tries to stop this, it will just get nasty," said radio talk-show host Murtaza Solangi. "They should just say, come ... now how long do you want to sit in the street in this 45 degree heat?"
The Special Branch has provided a list of 300 leaders and active workers of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) to the Punjab government to detain them to thwart the August 14 rally on IslamabadA senior official of the city district government Rawalpindi (CDGR) told Dawn that the list was prepared after the Punjab government sought the details of the active leaders and workers of the PTI. However, the government has so far not issued any instructions to detain them, said the official. On the other hand, the PTI workers claimed that the police had started harassing their leaders. “I and our MPAs, including Arif Abbasi, Rashid Hafeez, Asif Mehmood, Col Amjad, Wasiq Qayyum and Chaudhry Zubair, have received threatening calls from the Punjab police and there are reports that we would be arrested soon,” said PTI north Punjab president Sadaqat Abbasi while talking to Dawn. He said some police officials visited the residences of Qaisar Abbas and Chaudhry Zubair on Monday night. He said the party had decided that all the leaders would remain at an unknown place to avoid arrest. The senior CDGR official said the Special Branch had prepared the list of 300 PTI workers and sent it to the Punjab government, stating that they would play a major role in bringing the people out to participate in the march on Islamabad. He said the local administration had sought the help of the provincial government to take action to stop the march but the government was of the view that it would issue final instructions within two days. A senior PML-N leader said the provincial government and the PML-N had directed all the party leaders and workers to spend more time in their union councils and constituencies to convince the people to take part in the Independence Day celebrations instead of joining the PTI’s Azadi march. When contacted, former MNA Malik Shakil Awan said: “We have started distributing national flags in every house and the local leaders have started door-to-door campaign to contact the citizens in this regard. The people will enjoy fireworks and illuminations in their localities where artists would also sing national songs on August 14.” He said the PTI and its supporters should stop the unnecessary marches otherwise the government would seal the twin cities. PTI Punjab vice-president Raja Tariq Mehboob Kiani said there were reports about the expected detention of PTI leaders but the party had chalked out its plan to lead the people towards Islamabad on the call of Imran Khan. He said the PTI would hold a workers’ convention on August 9 in the Rawalpindi city. However, the venue of the convention would be announced soon. He said the party had completed arrangements to hire vehicles and also prepared a list of people who would join the march. “Approximately, over 50,000 people have confirmed that they would arrive in Islamabad from different union councils of Rawalpindi city alone,” he said. When contacted, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajid Zafar Dall said the provincial government had not issued any instructions to detain the PTI leaders. He said the local administration had also not decided to impose Section 144 in the district. However, he said arrangements were being made for the Independence Day celebrations.