WHAT IS LEFT OF MOSUL IRAQ FOR CITIZENS TO COME BACK TO, TO TRY TO REBUILD?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

WHAT IS LEFT OF MOSUL IRAQ FOR CITIZENS TO COME BACK TO, TO TRY TO REBUILD?

Sufian stood in the gateway of the bullet-pocked villa, sheltering from the rain. Around him were other men and teenage boys waiting to be cleared by Iraqi intelligence officers who were on the lookout for ISIS sympathizers and suspects.

Sufian was in his late teens, perhaps early twenties. When I shook his hand, it was warm and soft. The skin under his scruffy, juvenile beard had the same pallor of many people fleeing Mosul, who had spent weeks huddled indoors, often in dark basements, as the battle raged outside.
I greeted him in Arabic. He responded in English.
“Hello, how are you?” he said, smiling nervously, eying the intelligence officers nearby.
“You speak English?” I asked.
“I am capable of expressing myself adequately,” he said.
Attack helicopters clattered overhead, occasionally firing missiles and heavy machine guns into the old city. Gunfire, mortar and artillery fire boomed a few blocks away.
We were trying to convince the Iraqi soldiers to let us go forward, so I left Sufian and went back to the group of intelligence officers nearby.
Our producer, Kareem Khadder, was trying to charm them. They were a tough crowd, suspicious by profession. Kareem handed out another round of cigarettes, making jokes in the hopes they would warm to us.
I knew this would take a while, so I walked down the muddy road with camerawoman Mary Rogers to have a look around Tayaran, the battered neighborhood just north of Mosul’s equally battered airport.

Smoke rises over west Mosul's old city. Iraqi forces are fighting street-by-street, house-by-house. The Iraqi government doesn't publish casualty figures but the CNN crew saw many ambulances rushing toward the battle zone.

I turned around and saw Sufian again, struggling to push his mother in a wheelchair through the muck.
“A real disaster,” Sufian told me, breathless. “We lost everything: our hearts, our beliefs, our belongings. We don’t belong here any more. We want peace.”
“Will you come back?” I asked.
“No, I can’t,” he said. “No more. I can’t. I’m so scared. They will kill us.”
I stopped to let them go, saying in Arabic “khair, in sha Allah,” which roughly translates as “God willing, all will be well.”
“We have Jesus,” responded Sufian. “We are going to Jesus.”
“What did Sufian say?” interjected his grandfather in Arabic, hobbling on a cane over to me.
I didn’t respond. I couldn’t fathom why someone with the very Sunni Muslim name of Sufian would say that.
Is this what he meant when he had said we lost our beliefs?

People fleeing west Mosul.

In the meantime, Kareem’s charm bore fruit. The intelligence officers were laughing, asking us to pose for group pictures. They were ready to take us deeper into the city. This would be our second try that day.
Earlier, we had driven with members of the Rapid Response Unit of the Iraqi Federal Police to a park next to the Mosul museum. But as we were driving up, our car shook with a massive blast. The shock wave rattled the shutters on the shops lining the road.
When we exited our car, we saw a cloud of black smoke rising about 150 meters (492 feet) away.
One by one, ambulances were going forward. The soldiers were on edge. A pickup truck rushed by in the opposite direction, several wounded soldiers in the back.
We later learned an armored ISIS suicide earthmover had exploded, killing and wounding many of the soldiers.

With the little they could carry west Mosul residents are streaming out of the city. "It's a catastrophe," one young man told the CNN crew.

Our escort, a man named Captain Firas, decided we had seen enough. He barked for us and the other journalists to get back in our cars. Protests fell on deaf ears.
We drove back to the ruins of Mosul airport, losing Captain Firas along the way.
There we saw hundreds of Mosul residents walking out of the city. Leading the group was Saleh Jassim, a man in his early thirties, a white calf draped over his shoulders, other cows following him.

Saleh Jassim, seen above, braved ISIS snipers and mortar fire to get his family and his herd, his only livelihood, out of harms way in western Mosul.

While others appeared exhausted and disoriented, Saleh was smiling broadly, waving, giving a V-for-victory sign with his fingers.
“Thank God for your safety,” I told him in Arabic. In response, he kissed my cheeks.
Saleh and his family had walked for two hours from their home in the Bab Al-Baidh district of Mosul’s old city.
“The shelling was violent,” he told me. “I haven’t slept in two days.”
The cows, he added, belonged to a neighbor.

Families fleeing the fighting in western mosul carrying the few belongings and their herds as it is their only livelihood. Many residents of Mosul flee the violence under mortar and sniper fire.

While Mary and I were talking to Saleh, Kareem had stopped a Federal Police pick up truck and convinced the men inside to take us back into the city. That’s where we met Sufian.
If this story is starting to sound disjointed, that’s how our days in Mosul usually are. Plan A quickly becomes Plan B, then Plan C, until we get half-way through the alphabet.
After speaking with Sufian and his family, we followed our new-found friends, the intelligence officers, deeper into the city by car where they promised to take us to their commander. He wasn’t there. As we waited, seven soldiers came down the street. There were pulling two men with their shirts pulled over their faces.
“They’re da’eshis,” a soldier next to us said. ISIS.
“How do you know they’re ISIS suspects?” I asked one of the intelligence officers.
“They’re not suspects. They are ISIS,” he shot back.
“How do you know?”
“We have informers,” he said.
“I hope you let them have it,” shouted a soldier by the side of the road.
As the group ran past, I saw red marks, and two black boot marks on one of the captive’s exposed back. They had already “let them have it.” Or to be more precise, had started to let them have it.

Rasoul, a year and a month old, hid out with his family and other relatives -- 23 people in all -- for 12 days in their basement, while the battle raged around them in the Jawsaq neighborhood of west Mosul. As they were in the basement, the house caught on fire after being hit by mortar rounds, says his grandmother, Khadija.

The commander we had come to meet never showed up. Instead, we followed another group of federal policemen into a half-finished building where they said we could see Al-Hadba, the leaning minaret of Mosul next to the Great Mosque of al-Nuri.
It was there that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi made his first and only confirmed public appearance on July 4, 2014, days after the announcement of the establishment of his so-called caliphate.
From the third floor of the building, we had a panoramic view of the old city.
“Be careful,” a policeman warned us. “There are snipers.”
Al-Hadba was just about two kilometers, just over a mile away. To its left, a large column of black smoke rose to the heavens. More gunfire, more blasts.
On the broad boulevard below, a family of eight — two boys, four men and two women — scurried by. One of the women, in a green headscarf, clutched a stick with a piece of white cloth to signal they were not combatants.
“Come,” offered one of the soldiers, “I’ll show you a dead da’eshi.”
We followed him down the stairs, though a courtyard, over an earth rampart to the side of a street.
“We have to run across this street, one by one,” he said. “There’s a sniper.”
Once we gathered on the other side of the street, we heard the whoosh of an incoming mortar round.
Everyone hit the dirt.
It landed with a crash somewhere nearby.
“Quickly, we need to go,” said the soldier. “There might be another mortar.”
Before us was a charred, mangled Federal Police Humvee. Next to it, the burned, twisted wreckage of a car. Probably a car bomb. To its right lay a corpse in combat fatigues and boots, leg splayed. By the stench, it had been there for days.
A black rooster strutted by the body, crowing triumphantly.
All around, there is destruction.
Masonry, glass shards, twisted metal, scraps of clothing, and bullet casings litter the ground.
Machine gun fire rattles down the street.
Another boom.
This is what is left of the great city of Mosul.

ISIS Demons Threatens Attacks Within India And On The Taj Mahal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS AGENCY)

Pro-Islamic State group warns of attack on Taj Mahal

INDIA Updated: Mar 16, 2017 22:17 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Islamic State

Security agencies say about 75 Indians have joined the IS. This includes 45 who went from India, mostly from Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka.(Site Intelligence Group)

A pro-Islamic State media group has warned of attacks in India and published a graphic depicting the Taj Mahal as a possible target.The graphic by the Ahwaal Ummat Media Center was posted on a channel of Telegram, the encrypted communication app, on March 14, according to Site Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi activity on the web.

The graphic features a fighter in combat fatigues and black headgear armed with an assault rifle and a rocket-propelled grenade standing near the 17th century monument to love in Agra.

An inset in the graphic features another image of the Taj Mahal within crosshairs with the words “New target” below it. There is also an image of a van with the Arabic text “Agra istishhadi” (Agra martyrdom-seeker) written in English, implying the threat of a suicide attack.

Read more

This is not the first time a pro-IS group has threatened attacks in India. After terror suspect Saifullah was killed by police in Lucknow on March 8, another pro-IS channel on Telegram had incited attacks in India.

That channel had also posted a photo of Saifullah and described him as a “soldier of the Khilafah from India”.

Indian security officials have said they are yet to procure proof that Saifullah was directly linked to the IS. They noted the photo of Saifullah posted on the Telegram channel was one released by Uttar Pradesh Police and not an image procured by the group before his death. They also said Saifullah was “self-radicalised”.

According to security agencies, some 75 Indians have so far joined IS. This includes 45 who went from India, mostly from Maharashtra, Kerala and Karnataka, while the remainder were Indians living abroad. About 37 more were apprehended while they were making their way from India to territories controlled by IS.

Security agencies have stepped up efforts to prevent the radicalisation and recruitment of youngsters via the internet and communication apps, which are extensively used by the IS.

The US state department too has noted the threat to India from IS.

US Embassy New Delhi warns of an increased threat to places in India frequented by Westerners, such as religious sites, markets..

An advisory for American citizens issued last November said: “Recent Indian media reports indicate ISIL’s desire to attack targets in India.” The advisory warned Americans of “an increased threat in places in India frequented by Westerners”.

Trying To Restore Religious Harmony In The Islamic World

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

Opinion

Restoring the Religious Discourse

Muftis, religious authorities, scholars, professors and politicians from China to the Americas all met in al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss the international crisis facing Muslims and Islam as a religion. They all agreed that extremism and fundamentalism are dangerous threats that must be tackled.

At the conference of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Saudi deputy Minister for Islamic Affairs, Endowment, Dawa and Guidance Tawfiq al-Sudairi made the best and most direct speech. He called for restoring the religious discourse from the extremists and so-called educated people, who as he described had “harmed the religion’s tolerant teachings and who have been manipulated by opportunists.”

Sudairi called for “unifying efforts on the political, intellectual, security and religious fronts to confront deviant ideologies.”

It is unanimous that everyone is agreed against terrorism. This may also no longer need reiteration and reminders, because by far the most important matter which requires consensus and a plan of action is fighting the widespread extremism and fundamentalism.

No one can claim that terrorism can exist without extremism embracing and encouraging it.

It is impossible for a terrorist to grow up in and emerge from a moderate environment.

Even terrorists who have come out of liberal or tolerant societies are always victims of extremist ideologies in their societies in the virtual world, like chat rooms and social networks.

Tens of thousands have joined terrorist groups and all of them without exception are products of extremist rhetoric.

The truth is that terrorists, despite the threat they pose to the world, are less harmful than extremists.

The damage caused by extremists is far more harmful on Muslim societies and other communities. What extremists and fanatics do is worse than the deeds of organizations like ISIS and al-Nusra Front whose members are few among a sea of extremists.

Terrorism is the final step in the ladder of extremism. We cannot neutralize terrorism without fighting extremism. This is a truth that should always be in the mind of those involved in the matter.

Extremism must not be confused with extremist tendencies of some individual Muslims.

Muslim conservatives have the right to their beliefs and to practice their rituals as they deem appropriate. This is their right, as it is the case in all religions. However, this turns into extremism when they try to impose their views on everyone.

The most dangerous form of extremism is the mobile kind. It is usually based on exploiting religious activities that initially had no political purpose in the past, such as education, media, charity and collecting funds, and expanding operations to include students, women and foreigners.

These organized operations travelled to poor and regions and developed countries all over the world where they exploit wars, famine and injustice against some Muslims to plant seeds of extremism. Those seeds remain for a long time and eventually become a local culture.

If you can imagine this, then you can understand how extremism began and how terrorism emerged. You will also realize that combatting extremism is more important than fighting terrorism.

Sudairi’s statement at the conference in Cairo and his calls for the reestablishment of the religious discourse are at the core of this crisis. His suggestions should be the conference’s plan of action and agenda that require collective efforts to be achieved.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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Ancient Palace Revealed Under Destroyed Mosul Shrine

(I FOUND THIS ARTICLE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (AP) THAT I THOUGHT SOME OF YOU WHO LIKE HISTORY  MIGHT LIKE)

Associated Press

Ancient palace revealed under destroyed Mosul shrine

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Iraqi archaeologists think that tunnels dug by Islamic State militants under a destroyed shrine in Mosul have revealed the palace of an ancient Assyrian king who ruled some 2,700 years ago.

IS fighters blew up the shrine of the biblical Jonah’s tomb in 2014 after taking control of the city. They started digging tunnels into the side of the hill under the shrine, leading to the discovery.

Ancient inscriptions and winged bulls and lions were found deep in the tunnels, thought to be part of the palace of King Esarhaddon, who ruled the Neo-Assyrian empire in the 7th century B.C.

The militants may have been looking for artifacts to loot. IS was pushed out of eastern Mosul by Iraqi forces in January. The battle continues for western Mosul.

Ancient artifacts are seen inside a tunnel, under the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Ancient artifacts are seen inside a tunnel, under the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Ancient artifacts are seen inside a tunnel, under the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Ancient artifacts are seen inside a tunnel, under the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Ancient artifacts are seen inside a tunnel, under the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Ancient artifacts are seen inside a tunnel, under the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Iraqi security forces guard the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Ancient artifacts are seen inside a tunnel, under the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
Ancient artifacts are seen inside a tunnel, under the rubble of the destroyed Mosque of The Prophet Younis, or Jonah, in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, March 11, 2017. Iraqi archeologists think that tunnels dug under a destroyed shrine in Mosul by Islamic State militants have revealed the palace of the ancient Assyrian king of Esarhaddon. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Syria’s President Assad Calls American Troops In His Country ‘Invaders’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad scoffed and questioned US actions in Syria, calling American troops deploying to the country “invaders” because he hadn’t given permission for them to enter the country and saying there’s been no “concrete action” from the Trump administration toward ISIS.

“Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one,” Assad said.
“And we don’t think this is going to help. What are they going to do? To fight ISIS? The Americans lost nearly every war. They lost in Iraq, they had to withdraw at the end. Even in Somalia, let alone Vietnam in the past and Afghanistan, your neighboring country. They didn’t succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions.”
The Syrian leader made the comments in an interview with Chinese media outlet Phoenix TV. It was published on Syria’s state-news agency SANA on Saturday.
US Marines have arrived in northern Syria with artillery to support US-backed local forces fighting there, US officials said. The US-backed fighters are preparing to move in the coming weeks to assault the city of Raqqa, ISIS’ self-declared capital, according to the officials.
The Pentagon and the Marine Corps have declined to confirm the deployment because of security concerns in the region. They have also declined to specify the exact location of the forces or how many are there.
The US has also deployed approximately 100 Army Rangers in and around Manbij, Syria.
US officials have taken the unusual step of publicly talking about the Ranger deployment and where they are located to protect against them inadvertently coming under fire from forces fighting in the region or Turkish, Russian or Syrian forces.
The US troops in Manbij are trying to deter hostilities due to their visible presence, rather than the typical mission of training, advising and assisting local forces.

Room for cooperation?

In the interview, Assad was asked whether there can be room for cooperation between the United States and Syria.
In theory, Assad said, there could be cooperation between Syria and a Trump-led United States, but that there was no formal ties or outreach so far.
He said the Trump administration’s rhetoric during and after the presidential campaign focused on defeating ISIS and he called that “a promising approach to what’s happening in Syria and in Iraq, because we live in the same area and we face the same enemy.”
But he also said, “we haven’t seen anything concrete yet regarding this rhetoric, because we’ve been seeing now certain is a local kind of raids.”
Assad said the approach toward terrorism needs to be “comprehensive” and not “local.”
“It cannot be from the air, it should be in cooperation with the troops on the ground, that’s why the Russians succeeded, since they supported the Syrian Army in pushing ISIS to shrink, not to expand as it used to be before that. So, we have hopes that this taking into consideration that talking about ISIS doesn’t mean talking about the whole terrorism; ISIS is one of the products, al-Nusra is another product, you have so many groups in Syria, they are not ISIS, but they are al Qaeda, they have the same background of the Wahabi extremist ideology,” he said.
Regarding advances made by Assad’s regime forces, he says they are closing in on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.
“We are very close to Raqqa now. Yesterday, our troops reached the Euphrates River, which is very close to Raqqa city, and Raqqa is the stronghold of ISIS today, so it’s going to be a priority for us,” said Assad said.
He also said his military’s recent recapture of the ancient city of Palmyra blocked ISIS’s supply route between Iraq and Syria, and touted that whether he attacked Raqqa or just blocked the supply routes, “it has the same result”.

Damascus bombings

Twin blasts in Damascus on Saturday killed at least 40 Iraqi pilgrims and wounding 120 more, according to Iraq’s Foreign Ministry.
The twin blasts were caused by IEDs that targeted buses carrying Iraqi pilgrims visiting the Bab al-Saghir Cemetery in Damascus, according to Iraq’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Jamal in a statement.

Taliban Attack Military Hospital In Kabul Afghanistan: At Least 30 Dead And 50 Wounded

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN NEWS)

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) Gunmen disguised as medical personnel stormed a military hospital near the US Embassy in Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 30 people in a six-hour siege before Afghan security forces killed the attackers, authorities said.

The ISIS-affiliated news agency Amaq said the terror group claimed responsibility for the attack near Kabul’s heavily fortified diplomatic quarter.
First, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the south gate to the Sardar Mohammed Daud Khan hospital, said Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman. Known as “the 400-bed hospital,” it’s the country’s biggest and best-equipped medical facility.
Three gunmen then invaded the hospital, made their way to the second and third floors and opened fire, Sediqqi said. Among those killed were Afghan military personnel recovering from battle wounds, doctors and hospital employees.
Security forces and police mounted a counteroffensive. Heavily armed soldiers and armored vehicles surrounded the facility, a helicopter landed on the roof and a few patients climbed out of windows and stood on a ledge to escape the violence, video shows.
Soldiers killed the attackers about 3:30 p.m. local time (6 a.m. Wednesday ET) after six hours of fighting.
As soldiers cleared the building, they discovered bodies and the number of casualties quickly grew.
More than 50 people were wounded and taken to the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, said Smael Kawosi, media relation officer for the Ministry of Health. It’s not known whether any security personnel or police officers were killed.

Afghan security personnel gather outside the hospital.

The Taliban has claimed credit for other recent attacks. But a Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mojahid, denied responsibility for this rampage in a tweet, saying: “Today’s attack on hospital in Kabul has nothing to do with the Mujahidin of Islamic Emirate,” using the group’s formal name.
In the vacuum of a Taliban claim, Amaq said ISIS claimed responsibility. Though it is credible that ISIS planned and carried out the attack, CNN has not independently verified the claim.
This is not the first attack at the hospital named after Afghanistan’s first president. In May 2011, suicide bombers got inside, and killed six people and injured 26 others. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Explosions, then gunfire

Attackers killed at least 30 people at the hospital.

Witnesses told CNN an explosion was first heard at 9 a.m. local time (11.30 p.m. Tuesday ET).
Afghan National Police special forces rushed in. “At first there was a firing followed by a huge blast,” an employee at a nearby hospital said.
An employee at an Italian restaurant nearby said she heard one explosion, then heard gunfire about 25 minutes later.
The attackers were not immediately killed because security forces were busy evacuating patients, the defense ministry statement said.

Attack condemned

US Army Gen. John Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support and US Forces in Afghanistan, said the attack “is an unspeakable crime.” He praised security forces for the swift response, saying the forces deserve “our highest praise and respect.”
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said the attack shows terrorists “don’t follow rules and laws.”
“According to international humanitarian laws, hospitals are immune from attacks,” he said.
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah tweeted: “I condemn the terrorist attacked on hospital in Kabul. While we work for peace, we’ll avenge the blood of our people.”
The US Embassy in Kabul said, “Targeting a medical facility providing care for the brave Afghans working to protect their fellow citizens has no possible justification in any religion or creed.”

Jordan Executes 15 Terrorists

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

 

Middle East

Jordan Executes 15 Terrorists

Jordan

Amman – Jordan executed 15 people on Saturday morning, including 10 convicted on terrorism charges, according to government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani.

Momani told state media that those executed included those involved in the “Irbid terror cell”, and the terror attack against the General Intelligence Department office in Baqaa refugee camp.

Other crimes included the assassination of columnist Nahed Hattar, terror bomb attack on Jordan’s Embassy in Baghdad in 2003, and the terrorist attack against foreign tourists visiting the Roman amphitheater in Amman.

The men were hanged at Swaqa Prison.

Five of the criminals were involved in an assault by security forces on a militant hideout by suspected ISIS militants in Irbid city in the same year that led to the death of seven militants and one police officer in 2016. They were: Ashraf Beshtawi, Fadi Beshtawi, Imad Delki, Faraj al-Sharif, and Mohammed Delki.

Mahmoud Hussein Masharfa was the executor of the terrorist attack in June 2016 against the General Intelligence Department office in Baqaa refugee camp.

Riyad Ismail Abdullah was executed for assassinating Hattar in September 2016. While, Muammar al-Jaghbir was executed after his conviction in terror bomb attack on Jordan’s Embassy in Baghdad in 2003.

Nabil Ahmad al-Jaoura was convicted for the terrorist attack against foreign tourists visiting the Roman amphitheater in Amman which led to the death of a British tourist in 2006.

Momani added: “This is an attempt to bring justice to the victims of those terrorists who threatened our national security. Anyone who will dare engage in terrorist activities against Jordan will face the same destiny.”

Human rights group Amnesty International condemned the executions by hanging saying they were carried out in secrecy and without transparency.

Samah Hadid, deputy director at Amnesty International’s Beirut regional office, said, “The horrific scale and secrecy around these executions is shocking.”

Amnesty is against capital punishment regardless of the criminal, his crime or whether he was innocent or not, and the execution method.

Amnesty said in a statement earlier: “Jordan had for years been a leading example in a region where recourse to the death penalty is all too frequent.”

In December 2014, 11 men were executed after the capital punishment had been frozen in Jordan since March 2006.

In February 2015, Jordan executed Sajida Rishawi and Ziad al-Karboli. The two inmates were hanged a day after the release of a video showing the killing of Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh by ISIS.

Rishawi was convicted by the State Security Court in September 2006 of plotting terror attacks against three hotels in Amman in November 2005, which had left more than 60 people dead and around 90 injured.

Karboli was convicted of killing a Jordanian truck driver in Iraq in September 2005, possessing explosives as well as belonging to an illegal al-Qaeda-affiliated organization called Tawhid and Jihad.

Over 100 people, including around 10 women, are currently on death row in Jordan.

Jordan is part of the US-led coalition against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

French Government Proves It Will Not Tolerate Free Speech Or Truth Concerning Islamic Terrorism?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN NEWS)

Marine Le Pen loses immunity over violent ISIS images

(CNN)Marine Le Pen’s bid to become the next French president has hit another stumble after members of the European Parliament voted to lift her immunity from prosecution.

The move, formally confirmed on Thursday, will allow French prosecutors to investigate her over tweets she sent in December 2015, which showed images of killings by ISIS militants.
French law prohibits the distribution of violent images or incitement of terrorism.
Announcing the result of the vote on whether to lift the immunity, Parliamentary President Antonio Tajani said a “clear majority” of members backed the motion.
Le Pen declined to comment when contacted by CNN.
As an MEP, Le Pen, leader of the National Front, enjoys immunity which covers freedom of speech — but that immunity can be lifted if a request is made by the authorities of the person’s member state.
In this case, the request was made by a prosecutor in Nanterre, in the west of Paris.
Under French law, the maximum penalty for distributing violent images is three years in prison and a fine of up to €75,000 ($79,000).
The lifting of her immunity relates to this case only and any action is unlikely to occur before the first round of voting on April 23.
Le Pen’s chief of staff under investigation 02:06
This is not the first time Le Pen’s immunity has been lifted by the EU Parliament, which also took a similar step in 2013.
That allowed her to be prosecuted in 2015 with “incitement to discrimination over people’s religious beliefs” after she compared Muslims praying in public to the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War. She was acquitted by the court in Lyon.
Le Pen is already under scrutiny over allegations that members of her staff were paid for non-existent jobs at the European Parliament.
Le Pen initially admitted they had been paid while not working, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) said. She later denied having said so.

Saudi FM Makes Historic Visit To Iraq

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

Saudi FM Makes Historic Visit to Iraq

Saudi

Baghdad – Saudi Foreign Ministry Haidar al-Abadi reiterated that Saudi kingdom stands at the same distance from all Iraqi components and supports Iraq’s unity and settlement.

Jubeir’s statements came during his historic visit to Iraq during which he met with Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

During his unannounced visit, Jubeir was accompanied by a team of Saudi security and economic experts, according to Abbas al-Bayati, member of foreign relations parliamentary committee.

During the meeting with Abadi, the two discussed issues of common interest in addition to means of enhancing bilateral relations.

Jubeir described his meeting with Abadi as positive and fruitful. He congratulated Iraq on its achievements in countering terrorism, stressing the desire of both countries to eliminate the scourge of terrorism.

“There are also many shared interests starting with the fight against extremism and terrorism in addition to opportunities for investment and trade between the two countries,” he added.

Jubeir’s visit to Baghdad is the first by a Saudi foreign minister since 1990.

Abadi’s office said the two men “discussed cooperation in various fields, including the fight against ISIS.”

Speaking to reporters after meeting Jaafari, Jubeir stated Riyadh’s willingness to help bridge the sectarian divide.

The Saudi foreign minister also met his Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

Jaafari welcomed the strengthening of ties between Baghdad and Riyadh, on both political and economic levels, noting that each side will work to improve trade and other economic cooperation.

During the meeting, they discussed issues of common interest in addition to means of enhancing bilateral relations. Jaafari said: “The ties that bind the two countries are many, and the visit comes to restore bilateral relations to their correct course.”

He also welcomed moves that will benefit both countries, including the reopening of the Jumaima border post between the neighbors and other types of economic cooperation.

The minister hailed the visit of Jubeir especially that he is the first foreign minister from Saudi Arabia’s kingdom to visit Iraq after 2003, showing that Iraq is keen to establish the best relations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

He said: “We have to induce efforts and continue dialogues and exchange visits between the two countries’ officials to build strong relations to could play a strategic role in treating the challenges of the region”.

Jaafari stated that he has commissioned the undersecretary of the Iraqi foreign minister to soon visit the kingdom and follow up the technical issues to activate the dialogues between Baghdad and Riyadh.

From his side, the Saudi FM stressed that the connections between the kingdom and Iraq are many and this visit is to restore the bilateral relations to its right line.

Jubeir called to exchange visits between the officials of both countries and activating the mutual files, showing that there is a will to work on opening Jumaima outlet between Iraq and the kingdom and discussions to open an air bridge and activating the Civil Aviation between both countries.

Egypt: ISIS Terrorizes Coptic Christians In Sinai

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI ARABIAN NEWSPAPER ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Middle East

Egypt: ISIS Terrorizes Coptic Christians in Sinai

ISIS

Cairo- Ismailia Militants taking part in the Egypt-based offshoot of ISIS, located in the Sinai Peninsula, have taken their brutality to the streets of civilian neighborhoods in the city of al Arish, eye witnesses told Asharq Al-Awsat.

ISIS hardliners destroyed monitoring cameras and carried out vandalism against commercial shops, handing down leaflets reading that a local minority of Christian Coptic people will be facing exile soon.

Christian families fled most of Arish areas as violence attacks increasingly targeted the Coptic minority. Neighboring city of Ismailia, west of Arish, welcomed escapees fleeing ISIS brutality.

Over the course of three weeks at least eight Christians were killed in Egyptian city with their homes burnet to the ground, an act that forced dozens to flee the area.

Reuters reporter saw 25 families gathered with their belongings in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia’s Evangelical Church and church officials said 100 families, out of around 160 in North Sinai, were fleeing. More than 200 students studying in Arish, the province’s capital, have also left.

Seven Christians have been killed in Arish between Jan. 30 and Thursday. ISIS, which is waging an insurgency there, claimed responsibility for the killings, five of which were shootings. One man was beheaded and another set on fire.

Sectarian attacks occur often in Egypt but are usually confined to home burning, crop razing, attacks on churches, and forced displacement.

Arish residents said militants circulated death lists online and on the streets, warning Christians to leave or die.

The Coptic Orthodox Church denounced “the recurring terrorist incidents in North Sinai targeting Christian citizens” in a statement on Friday.