Afghanistan: Several Killed, Scores Wounded in Blast Outside Kabul University

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Several Killed, Scores Wounded in Blast Outside Kabul University

Friday, 19 July, 2019 – 11:30
Workers clean the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, July 19, 2019. A powerful bomb exploded outside the gates of Kabul University in the Afghan capital on Friday, according to police and health officials. (AP Photo)
Asharq Al-Awsat
A deadly bomb exploded outside the Kabul University in the Afghan capital on Friday.

At least eight people were killed, while almost 33 were wounded, according to police and health officials, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

A number of the wounded are reported to be in critical condition.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest to target Kabul. However, both the Taliban and ISIS often stage large-scale bombings in the city.

The early blast also set two vehicles ablaze although it wasn’t clear if the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber or a remotely detonated bomb, stated Kabul police spokesman Ferdous Faramarz.

The casualty tolls were released by the Health Ministry spokesman, Dr. Wahidullah Mayar over Twitter.

“All the wounded patients were evacuated to our hospitals and have been receiving the required treatment,” he tweeted.

According to AP, after initial reports of six dead, Mayer said two people died of their wounds and that the number of wounded rose to 33, following reports from hospitals around the city.

The university compound houses several hostels where many students stay over the summer, attending classes and working on research projects.

In a 2016 attack, 13 people were killed, mostly students, and more than 40 people were wounded when militants attacked the American University in Kabul. In that attack, a car bomb exploded outside the university gates, followed by a blistering, hours-long attack in which gunmen roamed through the compound shooting at students and teachers.

Russia Expresses Serious Concern over Decline in Number of Refugees Leaving Rukban

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Russia Expresses Serious Concern over Decline in Number of Refugees Leaving Rukban

Thursday, 11 July, 2019 – 11:30
Humanitarian aid is prepared to be delivered to Syria, in the town of Ramtha, Jordan, July 2, 2018. (File Photo: Reuters)
Moscow – Raed Jabr
Russia has renewed its accusation of the US hindering the exit of refugees from al-Rukban camp in southern Syria, and expressed serious concern about the humanitarian situation in the region.

The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria issued a statement strongly criticizing Washington’s actions in the region, accusing it of turning a blind eye to militants in Rukban using civilians as “human shields”, a move that aggravates the humanitarian situation.

The Center also expressed “serious concern about a decline in the number of refugees leaving the Rukban camp, due to the desire of militants controlled by the United States to keep them as human shields.”

It explained that militants have constantly increased the financial cost of allowing people to move from al-Tanf zone to the Jleb checkpoint, which falls under the control of the Syrian government.

“We draw to the attention of the international community that further retention by the United States and its allies of Syrian territories, the Rukban and al-Hol refugee camps only delays the end of the conflict in Syria, aggravates the criminal situation, hampers the repatriation of Syrians,” the statement added.

Rukban is located within a 55-km so-called deconfliction zone established by the Pentagon with the aim of shielding the Tanf garrison from attacks.

Moscow has repeatedly called for removing the displaced from the camp and announced with the Syrian authorities the establishment of two crossings for refugee exit, but they failed to convince the displaced to go to areas under regime control.

Washington is ignoring the situation, said Chief of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria Major General Viktor Kupchishin, adding that refugees abstain from leaving the camp because of the fuel crisis in the region and the increase in crossing fees imposed by US-affiliated militants.

Washington, in turn, accuses the Russians of blocking access of UN humanitarian aid to the region.

As of June 10, 2019, 13,539 refugees have left the Rukban camp, including 2,842 men, 3,817 women and 6,880 children, according to Russian estimates.

On the other hand, a number of Russian military and security experts believe it is time for the Russian tankers to replace Iranian tankers to cover oil shortage to Syria.

Recently, Vladimir Mukhin wrote in Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper saying escalation by Washington and its allies against Damascus and Tehran by trapping oil tankers will have major repercussions if Moscow does not intervene quickly to settle this issue.

Mukhin viewed the seizure of an Iranian tanker by the British Royal Marines as a plan “carefully organized in Washington and London,” recalling a statement by White House national security adviser John Bolton in which he welcomed Britain’s seizure of the tanker loaded with Iranian oil bound for Syria.

The expert said Moscow is currently facing in Syria a new phase of war against the Syrian regime and Iranian leadership.

He added that aside from the blockade on transferring goods to Syria, the United States has unofficially imposed a ban on the purchase of oil produced in Syrian territories occupied by the US forces, which is an attempt to further stifle the Syrian economy.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that last month, five underwater pipelines in Syrian coastal waters from Tartus to Banias were targeted, resulting in a huge oil spill.

The experts agreed that this was a “sabotage act” carried out by militants close to “one of the major military forces hostile to the Assad regime.”

The newspaper believes Moscow should deal with current developments because it reflects an attempt to intensify the pressure on Damascus and block Russian efforts to normalize the situation in Syria.

Should Trinidad and Tobago repatriate the families of ISIS recruits?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

(OPED: Just my opinion but here it is>Security protocols should be followed on all of the adults. If a woman joined of her own free will give them to the Syrian government for them to deal with. If a woman or a child were kidnapped then yes, allow them to come back home. But any child 12 or older who went willingly to be with ISIS then no, do not allow them back into your country unless it is somehow proven that they are not a future security risk. Any adult who went willingly should have their passports and visas terminated at once. They wanted to help bring hell on earth, let them live in that hell that they wanted for others to have to live in for themselves, turn them over to the Syrian government and the non-Islamic countries need to clear out of Syria as soon as it is possible to do so.)(oldpoet56)  

Should Trinidad and Tobago repatriate the families of ISIS recruits?

A screenshot from a YouTube video titled “Walk through Syria’s al-Hawl camp where thousands of Islamic State brides are held,” uploaded by ABC News (Australia), which shows the living conditions for the thousands of women and children inside the camp.

ISIS, the al-Qaeda offshoot that used to control large parts of Iraq and Syria using brutal, oppressive and violent tactics, lost control of these territories in January 2019. Since then, the families of many foreign ISIS militants have been left stateless.

Approximately 130 citizens from the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago have joined ISIS abroad —  the highest per capita source for recruits for the militant group in the Western hemisphere, catapulting Trinidad and Tobago into a debate over the repatriation of the dependents of ISIS recruits.

The exodus of fighters from the small Caribbean nation has declined since Syrian and American forces declared defeat over ISIS. Many of the militants, mostly men, have been arrested or killed, leaving behind wives and children. Their abandoned families now seek shelter and food in detention camps in Syria, most notably the al-Hol refugee camp in northeast Syria.

When Trinidad and Tobago’s parliament met on July 2, 2019, Senator Wade Mark asked whether or not the government plans to facilitate the return of the families of foreign nationals who joined ISIS. National Security Minister Stuart Young replied that he had not yet received confirmation as to whether or not there were Trinidad and Tobago nationals at the camp.

The group Con­cerned Mus­lims of Trinidad & Tobago (CMTT), which maintains there are at least 40 children and 16 women at the al-Hol camp with ties to Trinidad and Tobago, has asked the government to assist in the return of these nationals. However, Minister Young has made it clear that the country must go through security protocols before making any decisions on their return:

This al-Hol refugee camp houses persons who fled from ISIS war zones, and the first thing the government has to do is a verification exercise. The government has policies and procedures which we have implemented, including the use of Team Nightingale, which is a multi-agency task force comprising the Children’s Authority, Counter Trafficking Unit, counter-terrorism units, TTPS, TT Defence Force, Immigration, persons from Ministry of National Security and other agencies [and] our intelligence services.

Young could not say how long the process would take, but some members of the local Muslim community have voiced their concerns about the women and children, who are reportedly living in uninhabitable conditions at the camp. Describing the situation as a hu­man­i­tar­i­an cri­sis, Trinidadian Imam Sher­az Ali recently made a TV appearance in which he said that many of the women and children who went to Syria did so against their will.

In a March 2019 report, The New York Times said that the camp held 72,000 people. More recent investigations by France 24 say that the number has increased to 100,000 people, in the camps and surrounding areas. The al-Hol camp dwellers comprise people from all over the world, some of whom refuse to return home and others who are desperate to leave.

Only a few official reports indicate Trinidadian women and children in the camp — actual numbers are not known. In early 2019, however, a Trinidadian mother finally reunited with her two young sons after their father abducted them and took them to Syria. Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith organised the rescue mission and later criticised the Trinidad and Tobago government for its lack of support, even though a press release by the Ministry of National Security claimed a role in the rescue operation. Calling the release “insulting drivel”, Stafford Smith said that the government’s specialised team meant to deal with nationals in Syria was “utterly useless” and of no help to the mother in her search for her boys.

While many citizens were happy for the young boys’ return, others are a bit skeptical about the return of others — mainly adult women — from the camp.  Countries like France have made the decision to only repatriate children; adults would have to go through an investigation before any talk of a return:

CCN TV6@tv6tnt

Two boys, aged 11 & 7 who were kidnapped by their father (a deceased ISIS fighter) and taken to Syria, are due to return to their mother in Trinidad. Do you welcome their return?

83%Yes
17%No

Shari Paul 🧜🏾‍♀️@ShariKimmyDee

So we’re supposed to jeer at two young, possibly deeply traumatized children, because of their father’s actions? Are you serious?

See Shari Paul 🧜🏾‍♀️‘s other Tweets

Some members of the local Muslim community have kept up their appeals. Until official numbers can be determined and strategies put into place, the futures of any Trinbagonian women and children will remain in limbo.

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher not guilty of murder in ISIS detainee’s death

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher not guilty of murder in ISIS detainee’s death

San Diego (CNN)Decorated Navy SEAL team leader Eddie Gallagher was found not guilty of premeditated murder in the death of an ISIS prisoner in Iraq.

While Gallagher was serving Mosul in 2017, Navy prosecutors said he killed a young ISIS fighter who was being treated by US medics, posed for photos next to his corpse and then pressured other SEALs not to report him. Fellow SEALs testified that he also shot at noncombatants.
Gallagher was found not guilty of all but one charge, posing for a photo with a human casualty. He faces a maximum sentence of four months, although he has already served 201 days.
Navy Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, left, and his wife, Andrea Gallagher arrive at military court Monday.

Sentencing begins Tuesday afternoon.
Gallagher’s defense portrayed him as an “old-school, hard-charging warrior” who was targeted by younger “millennial” SEALs who harbored “personal animosity” toward him.
The case took an unexpected turn when a key prosecution witness testified that he caused the prisoner’s death, not Gallagher.
Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a SEAL medic, said that he saw Gallagher pull out his knife and stab the prisoner under his collar bone at least once.
On cross-examination, Scott told the defense that he never saw any blood after the stabbing. That’s when Scott claimed he caused the prisoner’s death by holding his thumb over his trachea tube until he suffocated.
Scott described the killing as an act of mercy because he was concerned the boy — a prisoner of the Iraqi forces — would be tortured by the Iraqis.
Scott did not admit to killing the prisoner in previous interviews with investigators and prosecutors. He testified that he was only doing so now because he was granted immunity, which means he cannot be prosecuted for his testimony.
An angry prosecutor called him a liar. He might now face a perjury charge.
In total, the chief special warfare operator was accused of seven criminal counts: premeditated murder, willfully discharging a firearm to endanger human life, posing for a photo with a casualty, retaliation against members of his platoon for reporting his alleged actions, obstruction of justice, and the attempted murders of two noncombatants, a man in June 2017 and a young girl the next month.

Tunisian Security Forces Arrest 3-Member Terror Cell

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Tunisian Security Forces Arrest 3-Member Terror Cell

Monday, 3 June, 2019 – 11:15
Tunisia’s counter-terrorism forces uncovered a three-member takfiri terror cell. (Reuters)
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
Tunisia’s counter-terrorism forces uncovered a three-member takfiri terror cell that was plotting operations in the central-eastern areas between the Mahdia and Sfax regions.

It was headed by an ex-convict affiliated with the banned radical Ansar al-Sharia group and who was indicted in what is known as the Suleiman 2006 terror case.

Counter-terrorism task forces succeeded in arresting all members of the group while they were attempting to rob a wealthy residence.

Well-informed sources said that the terrorists had accused the rich figures of the eastern coast of Tunisia with apostasy and plotted to systematically plunder and pillage their assets.

During preliminary investigations, the suspects confessed to plotting multiple robberies against a host of victims.

They also confessed to abducting a wealthy resident and demanding a ransom from their family in return for their safe release.

After legal proceedings are concluded, it is likely that the suspects will be convicted and face jail time.

Separately, a Tunisian man in his thirties was tried in a criminal court on terror-linked charges.

Investigations revealed that he was in contact with senior leaders in the terror group, ISIS, and was involved in provoking attacks against security forces.

Iraq: Two French Men Sentenced to Death for Joining ISIS

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Iraq: Two French Men Sentenced to Death for Joining ISIS

Sunday, 2 June, 2019 – 11:00
FILE – in this May 23, 2018 file photo, suspected ISIS militants wait their turn for sentencing at the counterterrorism court in Baghdad, Iraq. AP
Asharq Al-Awsat
Two French men were sentenced to death by an Iraqi court after they were found guilty of being ISIS members, a prosecutor said.

Iraq is conducting trials of thousands of suspected ISIS fighters, including hundreds of foreigners, with many arrested as the group’s strongholds crumbled, Reuters reported.

Sunday’s sentences bring the number of French citizens facing the death penalty in Iraq to nine, the prosecutor noted, adding that another three are due to stand trial on Monday.

“There was sufficient evidence to hand down a death sentence. They both were fighters of the terrorist IISIS organization,” the prosecutor said of the convictions, which can be appealed.

All the nine French men convicted so far were extradited to Iraq in February.

According to Reuters, military sources at the time said that 14 French citizens were among 280 Iraqi and foreign detainees handed over by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Egypt’s Dar Al Ifta: ISIS Issued Controversial Fatwas in Ramadan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Egypt’s Dar Al Ifta: ISIS Issued Controversial Fatwas in Ramadan

Saturday, 11 May, 2019 – 09:45
AAAWSAT AR Website
Cairo – Waleed Abdurrahman
Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah, an Egyptian body which works to keep contemporary Muslims in touch with religious principles, said that 10 religious edicts released by the terror group ISIS are highly controversial.

For the time during Islam’s holy month of fasting, Ramadan, the terror group outlawed keeping special calendars, allowing women outside homes during the day, decorating homes, and lighting incense.

“Hardliners and radical groups are the furthest away from the guidance and teachings of the prophet (pbuh) and his family. Prohet Mohammad, the messenger of Allah, taught values of compassion. He did not come to order us to kill or slaughter, nor to corrupt the earth,” a Dar al-Ifta source told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Egyptian scholastic body is used as a global reference for Muslims looking for clarity on the “the right way,” the removal of doubts concerning religious and worldly life, and religious law for the new issues of contemporary life.

More so, the terror group has exempted fighters engaged in duty from fasting, releasing an edict which justified the exception by saying that fasting exhausts and strains combatants during battle.

Another fatwa prevented women from going out during daytime in Ramadan, so that their departure does not lead to sedition. Female Muslims, only when guided by a guardian, are allowed outside the confines of their houses after the intermittent fasting period is up.

Saying it aims to bolster devotion ahead of Eid El-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Islam’s lunar month of fasting, ISIS released another fatwa ordering the closure of all commercial shops 10 days ahead of the holiday. Its justification was that the closure of shops will help Muslims observe religious affairs more intently.

One of the more extreme ISIS fatwas was one which disclaimed the fasting of non-ISIS Muslims. This outrageously means that Muslim congregations living in ISIS-run neighborhoods could be subjected to punishment if found fasting during Ramadan.

8 LNA Soldiers Killed In Attack In Southern Libya

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

8 LNA Fighters Killed in Attack in Southern Libya

Saturday, 4 May, 2019 – 10:30
Fighters from the Libyan National Army attend their graduation ceremony at a military academy in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi on April 18, 2019. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Eight fighters from Libyan National Army (LNA) were killed Saturday in an attack on their training camp in the southern city of Sebha, announced head of the local municipality Hamed al-Khaiyali.

A source from the LNA accused the ISIS terrorist group and Chadian opposition fighters of being behind the attack.

The LNA, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, had launched last month an operation against Tripoli to liberate it from terrorist gangs and militias loyal to the Government of National Accord.

Haftar’s forces have been marching steadily on the capital, with the LNA bringing in reinforcements in recent days.

Iraq: Large-Scale Operation Against ISIS Remnants In Kirkuk

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Large-Scale Operation against ISIS Remnants in Iraq’s Kirkuk

Thursday, 2 May, 2019 – 10:00
A military vehicle of the Iraqi security forces is pictured near the University of Anbar, in Anbar province July 28, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer
Baghdad – Fadhel al-Nashmi
A commander in Iraq’s Joint Operations Command has confirmed that Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition warplanes have launched a military operation against ISIS remnants in Kirkuk province.

The commander, who refused to be identified, spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat a day after the US Central Command announced that two US Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft conducted an air strike at Wadi Ashai, Iraq, in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve on April 30.

He said that Wadi Ashai has a rugged terrain that ISIS militants can turn into hideouts.

The US Central Command said on Tuesday that the April 30 strike marked the F-35A’s first combat employment.

The F-35As conducted the airstrike using a Joint Direct Attack Munition to strike an entrenched ISIS tunnel network and weapons cache deep in the Hamrin Mountains, a location able to threaten friendly forces, said the statement.

“The F-35As, recently deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, joined the Combined Forces Air Component team in the US Central Command area of operations on April 15,” it added.

A member of Kirkuk’s council told Asharq Al-Awsat that the operation against ISIS remnants is considered the largest since Iraq announced the organization’s defeat late 2017.

“At least 35 terrorists have been killed and more than 8 ISIS hideouts have been destroyed,” the source said.

“The operation was launched after Iraqi authorities received information that extremists have infiltrated into uninhabited areas in Hamrin Mountains and Wadi Ashai after escaping the battles in Syria,” the source added.

Libyans Link ISIS Leader’s Surprise Appearance To Tripoli Battle

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Exclusive – Libyans Link ISIS Leader’s Surprise Appearance to Tripoli Battle

Wednesday, 1 May, 2019 – 09:00
Libyans debate whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s video appearance was linked to the battle for Tripoli. (AFP)
Cairo – Khaled Mahmoud
The surprise appearance of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a video recording earlier this week has raised questions in Libya that it may be linked to the ongoing battle for Tripoli.

Baghdadi made his first purported appearance in five years in a propaganda video released Monday, acknowledging ISIS’s defeat in the Syrian town of Baghouz while threatening “revenge” attacks.

He also acknowledged that ISIS supporters had attacked the al-Fuqaha town in southern Libya in October. The attack left civilians and Libyan National Army (LNA) members dead.

Libyan MP Ibrahim Abu Bakr told Asharq Al-Awsat that the ISIS leader’s appearance is “damning” evidence that the LNA operation against Tripoli was primarily a battle on terrorism.

The LNA, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, had launched its operation to liberate the capital of terrorist and criminal gangs on April 4. It has pitted his forces against militias loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA).

“Baghdadi’s remarks proved that terrorist groups are the main enemy of the LNA,” continued the MP.

A political official disagreed and said that the Tripoli operation was not linked to Baghdadi.

“The security agencies in Tripoli have been countering ISIS militants for years in both Sirte and the capital,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity.

He also noted that just this week an ISIS member was arrested in Tripoli.

Tripoli has been targeted by ISIS in the past, said the official who is close to the Tripoli-based Presidential Council. He referred to the bombing of the foreign minister and higher elections commission headquarters last year that were claimed by ISIS.

MP Saeed Amghib, however, remarked that ISIS has been in control of Tripoli under the guise of various militias.

“The group has taken advantage of the poor conditions there,” he added.

Moreover, he noted that Baghdadi’s appearance at this time reveals that the militias were nearing their demise, saying that he sought to offer them moral support by emerging in his video.

He called on the residents of Tripoli to rally around the LNA to help it quickly capture the capital and counter the terrorist threat.