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Thread: Today's Top Islamic News (DAILY)

  1. #511
    LOS ANGELES: FBI director Robert Mueller on Monday defended the agency’s use of informants within US mosques, despite complaints from Muslim
    organizations that worshippers and clerics are being targeted instead of possible terrorists.

    Mueller’s comments came just days after a Michigan Muslim organization asked the Justice Department to investigate complaints that the FBI is asking the faithful to spy on Islamic leaders and worshippers. Similar alarm followed the disclosure earlier this year that the FBI planted a spy in Southern California mosques. “We don’t investigate places, we investigate individuals,” Mueller said.

    “To the extent that there may be evidence or other information of criminal wrongdoings, then we will ... undertake those investigations,” Mueller added. “We will continue to do it.”

    He called relations with US Muslims “very good,” but acknowledged disagreements without providing specifics.

    The Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan sent a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder after mosques and other groups reported members of the community have been asked to monitor people coming to mosques and donations they make. In the California case, information about the informant who spied on the Islamic Center of Irvine came out at a February detention hearing for a brother-in-law of Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard.

  2. #512
    The first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian US court has arrived in the United States and appeared in a court in New York.

    Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani is accused of involvement in the bombings of two US embassies in Africa in 1998.

    Over 220 people were killed in the bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. Ghailani, a Tanzanian, who is also said to have once been Osama bin Laden's cook, had been held at the Guantanamo detention center since September 2006.

    The US Justice Department says he faces 286 counts including conspiracy to murder, bomb, maim, and use weapons of mass destruction against US nationals. Ghailani could face the death penalty over some of the charges.

    During his brief appearance in a New York court, he pled “not guilty” to the charges when asked by the judge.

    Ghailani has been in detention at a number of secret CIA locations, as well as Guantanamo, since his arrest in Pakistan in 2004.

    "The Justice Department has a long history on securely detaining and successfully prosecuting terror suspects through the criminal justice system, and we will bring that experience to bear in seeking justice in this case," US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

    "With his appearance in federal court today, Ahmad Ghailani is being held accountable for his alleged role in the bombing of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the murder of 224 people,” Holder said.

    The attorney general's use of the term "alleged role" is a switch from past descriptions of Ghailani by the US government, which for years simply stated his guilt.

    Around 240 'terror suspects' are held at the Guantanamo prison, mostly without being charged. Many have been tortured and their defense teams will most likely object to the admission of any information extracted under torture should they ever face a court hearing.

    US President Barack Obama has ordered the closure of the prison. But many US lawmakers are opposed to the decision to transfer the detainees to the mainland United States.


  3. #513
    A powerful blast has rocked a luxury hotel in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least eleven and injuring dozens more.

    The blast ripped through the Pearl Continental Hotel on Tuesday night in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan's North Western Frontier Province, local media reports said.

    Initial reports said that three dozen people were also wounded in the deadly blast.

    The death toll is expected to rise as some of the injured people are said to be in critical condition.

    Sources said officials were trying to establish whether a device had been planted or it was a suicide attack. Some local Television channels quoted witnesses as saying it was a gun and bomb attack.

    The hotel is popular with dignitaries, officials and foreign visitors, and an unconfirmed report suggested that foreign guests were among those hurt.

    The US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has prompted the militants to focus their attention across the border in Pakistan, turning the restive tribal belt between the two neighbors and several cities into the scene of deadly violence.

    Violence in Pakistan has claimed the lives of thousands of people, including civilians and soldiers, since the country joined US-led 'war on terror'.


  4. #514
    LONDON — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a project on Tuesday, June 9, to get schoolchildren from across the world into one global faith-based education program designed to boost ties and foster understanding between people of different religions. "The Face To Faith program provides students with a unique opportunity to interact across continents, to talk about their own faith, and learn more about other religions and cultures," Blair announced launching the program at a video conference in London, reported the BBC News.

    The "Face to Faith" initiative, undertaken by Blair’s Faith Foundation, will involve school students of 11 to 16-year-olds in Asia, Europe and North America

    Covering around 3,500 students in 35 schools across 10 countries, the program aims at promoting dialogue between young people from different faiths and backgrounds.

    The scheme will use online forums and video conferencing to run discussions and debates between groups from different religions.

    As part of the scheme, pupils will explore faith's relationship with a series of topics, including charity, poverty, wealth, the environment, art, architecture, music and sacred scriptures.

    The project, which has its own syllabus, has been accredited for an International GCSE, and has already been piloted by more than 1,000 pupils worldwide.

    In England, Westhoughton Technology College in Bolton is taking part in the project.

    From Pakistan, where a many of Britain’s Muslim population have roots, the City's School in Sindh Province – which has Muslim, Hindu and Sikh students -- is participating.

    Schools are also taking part in India, Singapore, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Thailand, Indonesia, the United States, Canada and Israel.

    Blair, who stepped down as prime minister in 2007 after 10 years in power, launched his Faith Foundation last May.

    The Faith Foundation website says it aims to promote respect, friendship and understanding between the major religious faiths.


    The program’s launching was marked by a video link up involving pupils from Britain, India and the Palestinian Territories who discussed with each other and with Blair the role of faith in today’s world.

    "As the world pushes everyone together, it's important religion doesn't become a means of pulling them apart," Blair, currently the Middle East Quartet’s peace envoy, said.

    He contended that projects of that kind could help resolve many conflicts.

    "If you look round the different parts of the world and you look at conflicts, I would say a very large percentage of them have a religious dimension or a faith dimension to them," Blair said.

    "So to get young people at an early age to be comfortable with people of a different faith is extremely important."

    The ex-Prime Minister was famous for his silent stance regarding personal faith while in office.

    But after leaving office, the practicing former Anglican converted to the Roman Catholic Church last year and became increasingly more open talking about his faith.

    Blair has admitted that religion was of major influence during his decade in power.

    He recently said that political leaders must “do God” if they are to engage properly with the modern world.

    His close friends described him as a very devout Christian, who takes a Bible with him wherever he goes.

    Many doubt that Blair is fit to the role of inter-faith envoy, citing his stalwart support to former US President George W. Bush's "war on terror" which saw the invasion of Iraq in 2003 with Blair’s support.

    Source: IslamOnline

  5. #515
    A deadly Israeli attack on a US ship -- an incident largely kept in the dark by Washington -- receives new attention with survivors reliving the painful memory.

    USS Liberty survivors gathered in Washington on Monday to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the incident and expound on how they were sprayed with bullets by America's "closest ally and beneficiary".

    On June 8, 1967, the unarmed spy ship USS Liberty was on duty in international waters off the Sinai Peninsula when it was bombarded by Israeli fighter jets and torpedo boats.

    The two-hour-long attacks killed at least 34 sailors, wounded 173 others and nearly sunk the ship.

    The attack on the Liberty came at a time when Israel had engaged in a brief but intense war with Egypt and its Arab allies, which coincided with the US war on Vietnam.

    Although the ship was clearly marked as an American vessel, Israelis declared the attack on Liberty as a simple case of "friendly fire" and "mistaken identity".

    Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, former US president Lyndon Johnson accepted the Israeli claim and cancelled all investigations into the incident.

    "It was a case of mistaken identity …I do not care if every man drowned and the ship sank, we will not embarrass an ally," Johnson had told his opponents who demanded an open congressional hearing to address the Israeli claim.

    USS Liberty survivor Rick Almett, however, begged to differ.

    "There was a conspiracy between our government and Israel. So that's the reason why they didn't pursue it and why the investigations were covered up because of the alliance of Israel and the United States," Almetti told Press TV.

    In a separate interview with Press TV, Jim Smith -- another surviving member of the USS Liberty crew -- said the incident was "an intentional act by Israel to sink the ship with all hands and no survivors".

    While there are many conspiracy theories as to why Israel attacked a ship of its top ally, Earnie Gallo -- who heads the USS Liberty Veterans Associations -- told Press TV that the attack was in fact designed to pave the way for an Israeli military incursion into the Golan Heights.

    In 2003, an independent committee comprised of retired high-ranking military officers and a former US ambassador to the Middle East joined forces to investigate the Liberty attack and the subsequent cover-up.

    Their pleas for an investigation, however, have fallen on deaf ears in the Congress as it continues to ignore the facts presented on the Liberty attack.

    Former US military and political officials said they had been ordered to put the lid on the controversy surrounding the USS Liberty attack. "We were never to speak of it and we were to caution everyone else involved that they could never speak of it again," said former court Adm. Isaac C. Kidd.


  6. #516
    The Scotland Yard has opened an investigation into the conduct of six officers accused of waterboarding drug suspects after arresting them last year.

    The police have confirmed that the officers face "serious allegations" in connection with arrests of five suspects in the north London borough of Enfield on November 4, 2008.

    London's police force did not provide details of the misconduct. "Whilst the investigation is on-going it is not appropriate to make assumptions," it said in a statement.

    Media outlets, however, have reported that in addition to waterboarding, the officers are alleged to have repeatedly ducked the suspects' heads in buckets of water.

    Furthermore, the officers are accused of fabricating evidence and of stealing the property of a number of suspects during a drugs-related investigation, which did not result in a trial.

    None of the suspected police officers have been arrested, pending investigations, said the newspaper.

    Waterboarding is a method of torture which simulates drowning and has been condemned by human rights organizations worldwide. It achieved notoriety after its widespread use on suspected militants captured by the US and its allies.

    "Any allegations of such behavior are treated very seriously ... and if found true the strongest possible action will be taken," Scotland Yard said in a statement.

    The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) also is investigating the charges.

    The United Kingdom is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture and has treaty obligations to prosecute those who commit torture.

    These serious allegations may be a test case to assess London's commitment to its anti-torture legal obligations.

    Over the past 30 years, more than 1,000 people have died while in the custody of British police, yet not one police officer has received a custodial sentence for these deaths.


  7. #517
    The Indian Air Force says a military plane with 12 personnel on board has gone missing along India's disputed border with China.

    "The aircraft went missing after it took off from Mechuka air base," Indian Air Force spokesman Ranjit Sahu said on Tuesday.

    Eight infantry soldiers and four plane crewmen were on board the Russian-built transport aircraft, he added.

    There is speculation that the plane might have crashed due to heavy rains in Arunachal Pradesh.

    Sahu said a search was on across the militarized Indian sector, but no wreckage of the missing plane has been found, AFP reported.

    The two Asian giants fought a border war in 1962 and have still not resolved their dispute over Arunachal Pradesh.


  8. #518
    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has empathized with Sudan over 'foreign interference' in the country's war-ravaged western Darfur region.

    Al-Assad told visiting Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor on Tuesday that he rejected outside meddling in Khartoum's affairs and stressed Damascus' support for peace efforts in Darfur, the official SANA news agency reported.

    Assad "insisted on the need to preserve the territorial and national unity of Sudan and reject all foreign interference aimed at damaging its security and stability."

    The remarks came a day after the country's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, denounced an international arrest warrant against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir over war crimes in Darfur, ridden by six years of civil conflict.

    The International Criminal Court issued the warrant in March, accusing the leader of seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is The Hague-based court's first such proceedings against an incumbent head of state.

    Bashir has not recognized the authority of the court and has paid several visits to other countries in defiance of the warrant, with the latest trip taking him to Zimbabwe for a meeting of Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

    In the SANA report, Muallem was quoted as calling the ICC warrant "an unprecedented act contrary to international law."


  9. #519
    CAIRO — The endeavor of Aussie Muslims in the small town of Camden to build an Islamic school to server nearly 1200 students has been dealt a major, final blow as a superior court ultimately supported the locals who have long rejected the school plan.

    "The commissioner upheld the view that it (the proposed school) was inconsistent with the rural character of the locality and that it would detract from that rural character, Sue Morris, planning and development director of the Camden Local Council told the Brisbane Times on Tuesday, June 2.

    Ruling in the bitter, long wrangle between the Council and Dar Tahfez El-Quran Society over the later’s plan for a 1,200 student campus in the Sydney suburb, the Land and Environment Court commissioner Graham Brown embraced residents' concerns about planning matters in the judgment.

    "Other matters raised by local residents as being in the 'public interest' have been given no weight in the consideration of the development application as they are irrelevant considerations," Brown stated in the judgment.

    Camden locals, represented in the Camden-Macarthur Residents Group, have strenuously fought the proposal.

    Camden Council, which has voted against the school proposal in 2007, has always maintained the school would not meet planning requirements.

    In July, the college took a revised development plan to the Land and Environment Court (LEC), which asked the council to comment.

    Since filing the application at the LEC, Residents had waged a vigorous campaign against the school with a total of 4941 submissions made to the court opposing its establishment.

    At the hearing in April, the council's evidence included a letter signed by four Christian churches stating that Islam espoused views that were "incompatible with the Australian way of life".

    "We were always confident of winning," Andrew Wat, spokesman for the Residents Group, said.

    The Camden case has been the most high-profile bid to keep Islamic schools out of residential areas in many parts across Australia.

    A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.

    * Shocked

    Muslims in Camden expressed their shock and disappointment with the court decision, which leaves their community.

    "They are very distraught. They are finding it very difficult to understand the reasoning behind this decision,” Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of Australia, told The Australian.

    "This has cost them (the society) a great deal of money already.''

    Muslims say they will most likely not be fighting this latest decision and have no plans to appeal the ruling.

    "We just take it with an open heart and just carry on with our things," the Dar Tahfez El-Quran Society’s Vice President Issam Obeid said.

    The Muslim Society is also left to mull whether they should seek another site in the area to build their school, which could have accommodated 540 primary school students and 360 secondary school students.

    "I do know they are all hard-working citizens who do want a good education for their children,” the Society spokesman, Jeremy Bingham, said.

    “I don't see them giving up on their objective. But where they go from here I don't know."

    Australian Muslim leaders have warned that repeated opposition by local councils and residents to the building of Muslim schools and worship places is pushing the sizable minority into ghettos.

    Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.5 percent of its 20-million population.

    Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.

    Source: IslamOnline

  10. #520
    CAIRO — A Muslim school in the US state of Tennessee is not content with providing education for its students while helping them stay connected to their Muslim roots, but is striving for academic excellence and recognition. "We are ambitious," Amiri Yasin Al-Hadid, the principal of the Nashville International Academy, told The Tennessean on Tuesday, June 9.

    "We want to offer a world-class education."

    The private preschool through sixth-grade academy, established 13 years ago in Tennessee’s rapidly expanding neighborhood of Bellevue, has laid down two clear objectives to implant in its students from their early ages.

    America's Diverse, Thriving, Striving Muslims "We have to give our children a moral compass," said Al-Hadid, highlighting a focus on promoting values among its students through teaching the basics of Islam. The second goal is to put students on the road of success through helping them excel academically in reading, writing, math, science and social studies.

    "We believe that academic excellence will attract the market." The school, which currently has 84 students, plans for expansion to double its size with a community center, gymnasium and a mosque.

    Al-Hadid, a former Tennessee State University professor, hopes that with the expansion the school would attract more Muslim and non-Muslim students in Bellevue, home to some 1,500 Muslims.

    Karen Keyworth, one of the directors of the Islamic Schools' League of America, says that successful schools like Nashville Academy help shatter stereotypes about Islamic schooling.

    "There isn't a lot of room to teach radicalism when all the parents want their kids to go to Harvard," she said.

    Although Islamic schools in the US date back to the 1930s, there were fewer than 60 in the US by the 1990s. That number has since grown to about 240, including four in Tennessee.


    For parents like Egyptian-born Mohamed Ali, the academy helps their kids more than just academically.

    He makes an exhausting 45-minute drive from Murfreesboro to Bellevue every morning so that his daughter can attend the Muslim school.

    "I want her to know my language," said Ali. "I want her to know my religion."

    Many parents appreciate that along with helping their children excel in different subjects, the school teaches them Arabic, the language of the Noble Qur’an.

    Ather Khan, the school's treasurer, plans to enroll his son next year.

    Khan worries about the challenges faced by young Muslims growing up in the US where the language and culture is different from what that of their countries of origin.

    Though there are no official estimates, there are between six to seven million Muslims in the US.

    "You are trying to fit in to American culture and the way of life here — parents don't have time to spend with their kids," notes Khan.

    Hala Zein-Sabatto knows about that more than anyone.

    Planning to study biology at Vanderbilt University this fall, she credits the Nashville academy for her success in life.

    When Zein-Sabatto, whose parents are Syrian immigrants, started her education at the Muslim school in the late 1990s, she was feeling like an outsider growing up as a Muslim in the US Bible Belt.

    "It gave me a lot of confidence in who I am — especially in wearing a scarf and in being a Muslim,” she said.

    "They gave me roots."

    Source: IslamOnline

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