Sunday, February 7, 2016

Music Video - Beyoncé - Run the World (Girls)

Video - The Obamas talk Super Bowl Sunday


A Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher says Saudi Arabia is at war with rights activists, blasting the West for remaining “notoriously” tight-lipped over Riyadh’s abuses.
The Saudi regime has imprisoned “practically their entire human rights community. There is almost no one left who is not in jail,” Adam Coogle, a Middle East researcher with the HRW told Deutsche Welle in an interview.
He said almost all independent rights activists are serving long-term sentences behind bars in the kingdom.
“It has been terrible for about four or five years now. Ever since the Arab uprisings in 2011, the Saudi authorities have clamped down on all dissents,” he said.
The researcher also criticized unfair trials under Saudi Arabia’s flawed judicial system.
“Saudi justice is arbitrary. The country has no written penal code. Generally, there is no written law," he said, citing “breaking allegiance to the ruler” as a common charge against political dissidents and activists.
"If you are accused of criticizing Saudi authorities and facing a jail sentence based on that, there is no way to defend yourself," he said.
"In Saudi court trials you never get an analysis of whether what the person said was actually a crime, because by definition it shouldn't be a crime.
"The only thing you can argue is whether or not you made the statement you are accused of making," Google said.
The kingdom sent shockwaves throughout the world by the January 2 execution of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was a vocal critic of Riyadh’s policies.
He was convicted to death for making anti-government speeches and defending political prisoners.
In in a recent interview with the CNN, his son Mohammed al-Nimr said the cleric was killed merely because he spoke against Al Saud’s tyranny.
“He was steadfast that he would not change his statements; he would not acquiesce to them even at the threat of death," he said.
Coogle likewise said, “In terms of basic rights, such as free expression, free association, free assembly and freedom of religion, it could not be worse.” “The situation is absolutely dismal.”
West mum
The researcher further slammed the West for letting Riyadh get away scot-free with its rights violations, saying “Western countries have always been notoriously silent on Saudi human rights abuses.”
“Westerners have always been scared of offending the Saudis. The truth of the matter is: No country has leverage over Saudi Arabia,” he went on to say.
He touched on the German opposition's criticism of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier for traveling to Saudi Arabia only a few weeks after the execution of Sheikh Nimr.
"That kind of criticism is new. If he had gone five years ago nobody would have said anything. At least in Europe things are actually becoming more contentious," he said.

Riyadh More ‘Interested in Helping Rebels Than Fighting Daesh’ in Syria

US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said at a press briefing on Friday that Washington was discussing the parameters of Saudi Arabia’s offer to deploy troops to Syria.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia expressed readiness to send its ground forces to Syria to fight Daesh.
Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with an expert on the Middle East and Islam, President of the Middle East Forum Daniel Pipes.
“What everyone is doing is saying that they are going to fight ISIS but the real interest is the Syrian civil war. The issue is who controls the central government. Will it continue to be the Assad regime or the Sunni rebels and the Sunni state of Saudi Arabia is interested in helping the rebels against the Iranian backed central regime. So ISIS is secondary it’s an excuse.”
Pipes further went on to say that most of the forces involved are primarily interested in taking control of the country. He said that he thinks that Syria is divided into three parts.
“Between the Shia orientated central government, the Sunni rebels and the Kurds. I don’t see that changing.”
The expert further spoke about how the central government is doing well in fighting off the rebels and possibly it will manage to take Aleppo. Due to this progress the Saudis and even the Turks are talking about entering Syria.
“ISIS is a target, it is horrid and it must go but in fact others have other priorities hence, ISIS hasn’t been destroyed yet and it may continue for a while. Should there be an actual coalition against ISIS, it is doomed because the recent estimate shows that 25 to 30,000 fighters they are not well armed and they are taking on the combined forces of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Russia, United States, France. How can they do that?”
Kirby said that if the coalition was really against ISIS it would have gone very quickly.
“Saudi’s direct involvement in Syria will help the rebel cause. I don’t know how much though but if the Turks get involved it would help it even more.”

Read more:

Why 'It Will Be Risky for Saudi Arabia to Deploy Ground Forces to Syria'

Saudi Arabia may send its ground troops to fight Daesh militants in Syria, the country’s defense ministry said on Thursday. Riyadh is ready to participate in any ground operation of an anti-ISIL coalition.

A defense ministry spokesperson said that thousands of Saudi Special Forces could be deployed to Syria in coordination with Turkey. Both countries are staunch opponents of the Assad government and insisted on his removal since the start of the crisis in Syria.
At the same time both Riyadh and Ankara came under heavy criticism from Russia, Greece, Israel and other countries for their relations with extremist groups.
Turkish authorities have been more than once accused of doing business with Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS). President Erdogan’s son-in-law has been linked to oil trade with the jihadist group. As for Riyadh it has always been dubbed the incubator for violent extremism.
Chris Doyle, academic expert in Arabic and Islamic Studies and Director for the Council for Arab-British Understanding, told Radio Sputnik in an exclusive interview that the international community must address the political issues in Syria; otherwise it would be impossible to deal with Daesh.
At the same time he noted that in order for peace talks to go forward Russia and the anti-ISIL coalition should stop its bombing campaign against the jihadist group.
“Groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda flourish in areas of weak state control where there is no governance. They are able to exploit the grievances in this case Syrian Sunni Arab communities who feel that they have no one to represent and protect them.”
Talking about who would invite Saudis and the Turks to Syria, Doyle said that if this would happen it would be agreed by an anti-ISIS coalition which is a coalition of 60 countries.
“I think there is a long way to go between what are very weak statements at the moment. We have the United Arab Emirates in November saying that they might be prepared to put forward ground forces and its actually happening on the ground because the Saudis know very well that it would be highly risky to put ground forces on the ground due to killings and kidnappings, if their forces are executed publically that would be massively damaging to them so there is a long way to go for them in all of this.”
However, the expert also noted that the pressure for Saudi Arabia to do something is growing as more and more nations are joining the anti-Daesh fight despite the fact that according to Doyle the bombing and fighting is not doing well in alleviating the pressure.
“There is a need to address the underlining political issues in order to really have a united front against ISIS. One of the challenges we see not only with Saudi and Turkey but with other countries also is that while nominally most of these countries are opposed to ISIS nearly all of them have in their own view a bigger threat. So for Saudi Arabia whilst it doesn’t like ISIS, it sees Iran as a bigger threat. For Turkey the bigger threat is the Kurds, so in that way you see that ISIS is not always the number one priority,” Doyle said.
The expert further spoke about how Turkey has turned a blind eye to some of Daesh’s dealings through the border and how conflict with the Kurds has taken a priority.
“The Kurdish issue is a bigger threat to them therefore; Turkey has allowed weapons and arms, money, funds and fighters to cross its border all too willing until more recent times, so they are very much responsible for the growth of that group and some other extremist groups as well,” Doyle concluded.

Read more:

Video - People around China celebrate Lunar New Year

Video - Happy Luna New Year! Fireworks over Beijing

Henry Kissinger: Russia should not be considered a threat to the US

Speaking at the Gorchakov Fund in Moscow on Feb. 4, leading U.S. political thinker Henry Kissinger encouraged American and Russian policymakers to move beyond the differences and misunderstandings to confront the larger challenges that face both countries in the years ahead.

Pyongyang once again neglects international law norms - Russian Foreign Ministry

Pyongyang did not listen to calls from the international community, and once again demonstrated the provocative negligence of the international law norms, Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement published following DPRK's launch of a rocket.

"Clearly, actions of the kind case a dramatic aggravation of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and generally in North-Eastern Asia, they favor those who relies on a bloc-based policy and building up of the military confrontation, damage greatly the security of the region's countries, first of all of the DPRK itself," the ministry said.

The trend, Pyongyang has chosen, "cannot fail to cause decisive protests."

"We strongly recommend to the DPRK leaders to think whether is responding to interests of the country the policy of own opposing to the international community," the document reads.
A carrier rocket, made in North Korea, earlier on Sunday took to the target Earth orbit Kwangmyongsong-4 satellite, KCNA reported, saying the apparatus was launched from the Sohae pad in the country’s western region. The DPRK "will continue in future taking satellites to the Earth orbit," the agency said. The local media reported the launch was made at 09:00 local time (03:30 Moscow time). Pyongyang reports in 9 minutes and 46 seconds after the start the space apparatus reached the orbit. The satellite makes a loop around the Earth in 94 minutes. North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un signed an order on the launch on Saturday, February 6.


Russia's Long Romance with Patriotism

Love of one's land, people and way of life has certainly existed in Russia for as long as there have been Russians. Patriotism, however, is a relatively new word. The word itself, патриотизм, comes to Russian from the Greek via French, either during the reign Peter the Great or a few decades later — once loyalty to the local Grand Prince was replaced by loyalty to the Emperor and country.
There are a few native Russian words for "love of the fatherland," although they are all quite archaic: отчизнолюбивый, отчизнолюб, отчизник. These are so old fashioned your Russian friends would blink if you used them; even the spell-checker doesn't recognize them.
So we've really only got патриотизм and патриот. What do they mean to Russians? Good question. On one web site a young person writes, это чувство гордости за свою страну (it's a feeling of pride in one's country). That sounds good until you come across the word псевдопатриот – pseudo-patriot. As far as I can tell, this can be defined as "someone who considers himself a patriot but whose political views are different from mine." This gets complicated fast. As someone rightly asks, Как будем решать, чей патриотизм патриотичней? (How are we going to decide whose patriotism is more patriotic?)
When a patriot is crosses the line from healthy love of homeland to unhealthy nationalism, Russians call him квасной патриот (a super-patriot). One dictionary defines this as "nationalism falsely perceived as patriotism." Another expressive set of words is ура-патриот and ура-патриотизм (flag-waver, flag-waving, literally a "hurrah-shouting patriot").
In English this is all nicely conveyed by the words jingoism and jingoist – except for the slight problem of their derivation. They come from a music hall song popular during the British-Russian confrontation over Turkey in 1878: "We don't want to fight, yet by Jingo if we do, we've got the ships, we've got the men, and got the money too!" People who wanted to go to war against Russia were "Jingoes," which came to mean nationalistic patriots. It's a bit odd to translate the word for flag-waving, hurrah-shouting Russian patriot with a word that once meant someone who wanted war against Russia. On the other hand, let's look at the Russian: ура is from the Tatar language and means "beat" or "hit," (presumably the Tatar battle cry). So if Russian patriots are shouting in Tatar and using a French word to describe themselves, I guess jingoism is just fine.
With regard to patriots you can also hear the phrase Россия – родина слонов (Russia is the homeland of elephants.) This is from a joke poking fun at Stalin's rewriting of history to "prove" that the lightbulb, airplane, and steam engine were all invented by Russians. Ты знаешь его патриотизм: Россия – родина слонов. (You know his kind of patriotism: Russians invented the wheel.)
Then there's the marvelously expressive шапкозакидательство (literally "tossing-caps-at-them-ness"). This means an arrogant faith in victory or success; the image is a bunch of guys tossing their caps at the enemy and shouting, "Whipping you lily-livered toads will be a piece of cake!" Like most marvelously expressive Russian words, it is miserable to translate. Шапкозакидательство выглядело как бесстрашие перед лицом противника, а трезвая оценка его сил воспринималась подчас как неверие в силы Красной Армии. (Certainty of an easy victory seemed like confronting the enemy without fear, while a sober assessment of the enemy's forces was at times perceived as lack of faith in the power of the Red Army.)
Russians can be fiercely critical of what one person calls извечное русское шапкозакидательство (eternal Russian cap-tossing). Шапкозакидательство — это наша, к сожалению, национальная особенность. (Acting as if victory were already in the bag is, unfortunately, a national trait.)
Here I disagree. The belief that a war can be won in an afternoon seems to be a universal patriotic belief.
Originally published on July 22, 2005

Video - The Nightly Show - Panel - Bernie Sanders Makes His Case for 2016

Video - Clinton laughs about Albright's 'special place in hell' remarks, says folks get offended too easily

Video - Albright rips Sanders fans: There's a 'special place in hell' for women who don't support each other

Video - Hillary Clinton responds to student's question about being 'boring'

Fact Checking the Republican Debate in NH

What happened in Iowa didn't stay in Iowa. And when it reached the stage in the latest Republican presidential debate, Ted Cruz had some explaining to do.
Cruz wasn't quite square with the facts Saturday night when he explained why and how his campaign spread the false insinuation that rival Ben Carson was quitting the race after the Iowa caucuses. The episode was among a number of fumbles from the field in the intense confrontation before Tuesday's New Hampshire primary.
Among them:

—Chris Christie misstated the U.S. policy on paying ransom to hostage-takers.
—Donald Trump botched tax numbers.
—In his zeal to condemn the Obama administration's immigration record, Cruz once again vastly overstated deportations under the previous two presidents.
Some of the claims and how they compare with the facts:
CRUZ on why his campaign spread inaccurate suggestions to voters on Iowa caucus night that Carson was quitting: "My political team saw CNN's report, breaking news, and forwarded that news to our volunteers."
THE FACTS: Cruz's campaign took accurate reports from CNN and twisted them to make it appear that Carson was quitting. The motive: to convince caucus-goers that support for Carson would be wasted and they should back the Texas senator instead. Even while apologizing to Carson for the tactics, Cruz tried to deflect blame.
CNN on air and in tweets said Carson, in an unusual move, planned to go home to Florida after the caucuses, instead of directly to New Hampshire to campaign for the next contest. But that information was coupled with assurances from the Carson campaign that he was not getting out of the race, but rather planning to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington after Florida.
Based on that, the Cruz campaign pushed out its own story line, saying Carson would reportedly "stop" campaigning after Iowa and would be "making a big announcement next week." In addition, a key Cruz supporter, Rep. Steve King, tweeted that Carson was planning "the equivalent of suspending." Candidates who quit a primary race "suspend" their campaigns.
TRUMP: "Right now, we're the highest taxed country in the world."
THE FACTS: Far from it. The U.S. tax burden pales in comparison with that of other industrialized countries.
Taxes made up 26 percent of the total U.S. economy in 2014, according to the 34-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That measure looks at the entire tax burden, which is different than tax rates that can be gamed through loopholes, deductions and credits.
In Sweden, the tax burden is 42.7 percent of the economy. It's 33.6 percent in Slovenia (Trump's wife, Melania, was born in the part of Yugoslavia that became Slovenia). Britain clocks in at 32.6 percent, while Germany's burden is 36.1 percent.
Where is the tax burden lower than the United States?
South Korea, Chile and Mexico.
CRUZ on whether waterboarding is torture: "Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems, so under the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture."
THE FACTS: One generally recognized definition, the United Nations Torture Convention, does not limit the meaning of torture to physical, disabling pain. It defines torture as "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental," and mental anguish is at the core of waterboarding, which simulates drowning and now is banned by the U.S. Even so, there is no consensus that waterboarding, for all its severity, constitutes torture in legal terms.
The U.N. convention, for example, says suffering inflicted as part of "lawful sanctions" may not fit the definition of torture.
Cruz would not rule out restoring waterboarding as president. He said it would not be commonplace, and he would not let low-level officers do it.
CRUZ, defending his vow to deport 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally: "I would note that in eight years Bill Clinton deported 12 million people. In eight years George Bushdeported 10 million people. Enforcing the law. We can do it."
THE FACTS: Statistics from Immigration and Customs Enforcement show that roughly 1.6 million were deported under Bush, not 11 million. Under Clinton, about 870,000 immigrants were deported, not 12 million, according to the Migration Policy Institute. So far, about 2.4 million have been deported under the Obama administration.
To get the swollen figures, Cruz appears to be combining deportations with arrests made by the Border Patrol in the previous administrations, according to the institute.
RUBIO: "Under Chris Christie's governorship of New Jersey, they've been downgraded nine times in their credit rating. This country already has a debt problem, we don't need to add to it by electing someone who has experience at running up and destroying the credit rating of his state."
CHRISTIE: "Incorrect and incomplete information."
THE FACTS: Incomplete, perhaps, but Rubio is right that the state's credit rating has been downgraded nine times since Christie took office, a reflection of concern by the major rating agencies about New Jersey's fiscal health and pension system. It did not go down nine notches, however. Each of the three major agencies downgraded the state's rating three times.
CHRISTIE: "The president and his former secretary of state are for paying ransoms for hostages. When (you) do that, you endanger even more Americans around the world to be the subject of this type of hostage-taking and illegal detention."
THE FACTS: President Barack Obama said exactly the opposite in June, when the White House reaffirmed its opposition to paying ransom to terrorist groups that hold American citizens hostage.
The president said such payments only serve to endanger more Americans and finance "the very terrorism that we're trying to stop" — points that Christie actually echoed during the debate.
Though the new White House policy precludes ransom payments by the U.S. government, the Obama administration did leave open the door to communication with hostage-takers — whether by the government, families of victims or third-parties — and said relatives who on their own decide to pay ransom won't be threatened with prosecution.
RUBIO on fighting the Islamic State group: "The Kurds are incredible fighters and they will liberate the Kurdish areas, but Kurds cannot and do not want to liberate and hold Sunni villages and towns."
THE FACTS: The Kurds are overwhelmingly Sunni. Rubio did not distinguish between Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds. The areas predominantly held by IS fighters are in Sunni Arab territory. They did infiltrate Kurdish regions in both Iraq and Syria, but it is problematic to paint this picture with a broad sectarian brush.

Hillary Clinton: Rubio's abortion attacks "pathetic"

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said Sunday that Marco Rubio's attacks on her beliefs about abortion are "pathetic."
Rubio, the Florida senator and 2016 Republican presidential candidate, said during Saturday night's GOP debate that Democrats are the "extremists" on abortion and that Clinton supports the procedure "even on the due date of that unborn child."

"I think it's pretty pathetic," Clinton said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "This is something that illustrates how Senator Rubio has just been going as far as he can to try to, I guess, buttress his credentials with certain parts of the Republican constituency. I've been on record for years about where I stand on making abortions safe and legal, the exceptions that are appropriate that should be looked into. And the very difficult choices that very few women have to confront that lead to excruciating kinds of decisions."
She said Rubio was engaging in a "tried and true tactic by those on the right" to try to convince voters that he would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and defund Planned Parenthood.
She pushed back on the notion that she support unfettered abortions even when they are not medically necessary.
"Reasonable kinds of restrictions can be imposed as long as the life and health of the mother are taken into account and that's what the law is today," she said.
Clinton also returned to a topic that dominated the last Democratic debate: How tough she will be in reigning in Wall Street relative to her opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton said she has the "toughest, most effective effort to reign in financial abuse" of anyone running for president, and criticized Sanders for suggesting that she has been corrupted by donations from the financial industry.
"What the Sanders campaign is trying to do is link donations to my political campaign or really donations to anyone's political campaign, with undue influence with changing people's' views and votes. I've never ever done that and I really do resent the implication or as I said the other night the insinuation," Clinton said. "That would be like saying President Obama who took more money from Wall Street than certainly any Democrat ever had in 2008, with his successful campaign, was therefore automatically disqualified. Well in fact we know that's not true. He's signed the toughest financial regulation since the 1930s with the Dodd-Frank bill."
The Washington Post calculated that Clinton has received at least $21.4 million in donations from donors at hedge funds, banks, insurance companies and other financial service firms. Clinton said, "That's not just the calculation that we've done" but said she wouldn't argue with it.
When moderator John Dickerson asked her whether people in the financial services industry have had greater access to her than others, Clinton responded, "I am available to and open to listening to people from all walks of life. I always have been and always will be."
She also continues to dispute the notion that in the Democratic race, she is the candidate of the establishment and Sanders is the outsider, a position that has proven appealing to voters this election cycle.
"Senator Sanders has a lot more time in elective office than I do. I find that sort of an amusing contrast," she said. "I think I bring a great mix of experience and I think being a woman is a big part of how I see problems, how I think about solving problems."
Clinton said she took on drug companies, the financial system and the gun lobby during her career.
"I think I've shown I've got a lot of experience taking on the establishment," she said.

Video - Hillary Clinton says she's going to Flint when asked for Super Bowl prediction

Video - Hillary Clinton speaks at town hall meeting in Flint

Hillary Clinton: What happened in Flint is immoral

Kathleen Gray and Katrease Stafford

 Solving the problems of contaminated water in Flint has to remain a local, state and national priority for the foreseeable future, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told city residents gathered in a Baptist church Sunday afternoon.
"Clean water is not optional. my friends. It’s not a luxury," she said."This is not merely unacceptable or wrong. What happened in Flint is immoral. Children in Flint are just as precious as children in any part of America."
Pastor Kenneth Stewart told his congregation that hope is alive in Flint.
"Right now, Flint is in a different season. That same season you once enjoyed will come back again," he said. "Flint is in a position now that hope is alive. Hope is a feeling that whatever you wanted or desired, you can have."
Clinton said she's been meeting with Michigan's congressional delegation to make sure that the federal government kicks in at least $200 million to fix the city's lead-damaged infrastructure.
Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady, left the campaign trail in New Hampshire a day before the pivotal primary election to highlight the Flint water crisis yet again, framing the issue as one of failure, especially by Republican leadership in Lansing.
"We don’t know how many children have been affected by lead poisoning," she said. "We know that even a single child suffering from lead poisoning due to the state’s neglect is one child too many. We need action now."
Clinton has been pounding on the Flint water issue for weeks, calling on both the state and federal government to make the situation right. She even suggested Sunday that Flint residents be given the opportunity to do the work to replace the city's pipes or that workers with the federally-funded Americorps program could come in and help try to solve the problem.
And she spoke about being a new grandmother and how she would feel if the situation was happening to her family.
"For me, this is a personal commitment. I will stand with you every step of the way. I will not for one minute forget about you. I will do everything I can to help you get back up, get your strength and resilience flowing through this community again," she said. "Do not grow weary doing good. The road is long and I know there will be a lot of bumps along the way. But this is the most important work we’re ever called to do."
Clinton has been focusing on Flint for weeks, giving multiple interviews on the subject, bringing the issue up during a Democratic debate and sending two aides to Flint to meet with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. On Jan. 30, she called for one of the Democratic presidential debates to be held in Flint before Michigan’s primary election on March 8. And the Democratic National Committee agreed, announcing that CNN will broadcast a debate in Flint on March 6.
"For nearly two years, Flint’s water was poisoned, for nearly two years, mothers and fathers were voicing concerns about the smells and the colors of the water ... the rashes of those who were bathing in it. And for nearly two years, you were told the water was safe," she said.
And while Pastor Stewart said that in nine months "the United States of America is going to give birth to a president ... and I hope it's a girl," and the enthusiastic congregation rose in agreement, not everyone was a Clinton fan in Flint. A few yard signs for Republican presidential candidate  Donald Trump were seen on Carpenter Street leading up to the church.
And a semi-truck was parked about a half mile from the church with a hand-painted message, complete with a drawing of Trump, which read: "Vote Donald Trump for president. Make America Great Again,"
And the Michigan Republican Party said Clinton was exploiting the crisis in Flint for political gain.
“Families and residents in Flint deserve better than being used as political pawns by a Presidential candidate," said Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel in a statement. "This visit is not an act of benevolence; it is a calculated campaign tactic - an attempt to grab headlines by a struggling campaign.";postID=8987673019295815233

Video - Hillary Clinton NH. Rally 2/6/16

Urdu Music - Ae ishq Humein Barbaad Na kar - Nayyara Noor


"I cannot sleep at night. I feel like my soul has been wrenched out of my body," says Kiran Abrar, the mother of a 14-year-old girl, Khansa, who has reportedly gone to Syria to join Daesh. "Her picture is etched in my mind. I wake up screaming at night, remembering my daughter. Where is she? Is she alive or dead? Is she in safe hands or suffering in misery?"
There are no answers to Kiran’s questions. And deep down, the inconsolable mother knows this. Had she been aware of her daughter’s fate, she says she would have never let her go. “My husband died when Khansa and our other three children were very young. I had to work extremely hard to raise them. I even asked for fitraana, sadqa and zakaat at times. Now, she has left me to bear the cruelties of life alone,” she says of her radicalised teenage daughter.
Kiran married Abrar Haider around 15 years ago, but Haider died of an electric shock some 10 years later. After her husband’s demise, Kiran lived with her in-laws at their house in Gulshan Park on Multan Road, Lahore. In August last year, she moved in with her parents, who live near Sutar Mills in Manawan, and took her children along.
In the first week of September, Khansa’s paternal grandmother, 70-year-old Fatima Bibi, and a family friend, Farhana Hamid, approached Kiran and requested to take the teenage girl with them. “Initially, I refused, but they kept insisting,” shares Kiran. Presuming then that Khansa was going to help her aging grandmother, she allowed her daughter to go. “Three days later, I received a call from Fatima Bibi saying Khansa had gone missing.”
Kiran subsequently rushed to Hanjarwal police station and registered a complaint over the abduction of her daughter. She says police registered a case against Farhana Hamid on the complaint of Fatima Bibi. Upon investigating, police found that Farhana Hamid of Wahdat Colony had escorted Khansa to Syria. Farhana had taken her four children along too, they learnt. Moreover, one Bushra Cheema of Johar Town also accompanied them along with her children.
Tariq Kiyani, who is DSP of the anti-terrorism squad of CIA Lahore, is investigating the case. He says they are yet to make a breakthrough in terms of tracing the suspect responsible for travel and other arrangements. To a question about uncovering ISIS recruitment networks, the DSP said they were still looking to find a lead.
Fatima Bibi claims she had no idea their family friend was plotting to take her granddaughter to Syria. But then, this is not the first time Fatima Bibi has lost a family member to Daesh. In April last year, her daughter Irshad Bibi left for Syria to join the militant outfit, while Irshad’s younger son Bilal is also suspected to have fled to Syria in February 2015 on the pretext of leaving Pakistan to work in Dubai.
“I have had a lifetime of suffering. My son Abrar was just five years old when my husband died,” shares Fatima Bibi, a mother of three. “I worked as a maid to raise my children. When my son was old enough to feed me, he died of an electric shock. After Abrar and Irshad, my other daughter Salma took care of me.”
Irshad’s husband, too, died when the children were still young. Fatima Bibi says Irshad had always been very pious and obedient. She prayed and recited the Holy Quran regularly. She even taught at a madrassah near Sakeem Mor and would visit places outside Lahore to attend dars.
Fatima Bibi says Irshad Bibi had left her home in March saying she was going to attend aDars-e-Quran in Okara, but never returned. Irshad’s daughter Ammara later found a diary in which Irshad had written a goodbye note to her mother and daughter. Fatima Bibi shares her daughter sometimes calls her from Syria, asking for forgiveness and prayers. She says Irshad told her that she has left for the service of Islam and asks her mother to do the same.
While Fatima Bibi’s wounds seem to have become somewhat less painful with time, her daughter-in-law Kiran is finding it hard to comprehend what has happened. There’s one thing that boggles her mind to no end: how could she have been living in the same house and not know what was happening?
 The rise and rise of Daesh in Punjab
When news of three families leaving for Syria from Punjab to join Daesh started making headlines, senior officials of the Lahore police were quick to deny it.
On New Year’s Eve, Lahore CCPO Amin Wains told The Express Tribune there was not any presence of Daesh in the city, claiming they did not have substantial evidence to ascertain the families had indeed gone to Syria to join the militant outfit. He reiterated his claim at a news conference held at his office on January 15.
Punjab Home Minister Rana Sanaullah, on the other hand, told the media from his hometown of Faisalabad that Punjab police have arrested 42 suspected militants feared to have ties with Daesh. He added more than 100 people have left for Syria from the province to join the so-called Islamic State led by self-proclaimed Caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Adding to the conflicting claims, IGP Mushtaq Sukhera claimed on January 8 that there were no known networks of Daesh in Punjab and that those who had left for Syria were individuals inspired by the outfit through social media. The reported activities of Daesh in Punjab, however, belie the assertion of the inspector general of Punjab police.
A senior officer admitted that Daesh had a proper organisational structure in Punjab, including in Lahore. He maintained members of the outfit were well connected to each other and the top hierarchy, adding that they operated under the cover of different religious and banned groups with meticulous planning of the ISIS leadership.
The first case against Daesh in Lahore was registered at Nawab Town police station on November 10, 2014. The secretary of Idara-e-Minhajul Quran, a Shia madrassah and imambargah in Johar Town, told the police in his complaint that unidentified miscreants had written ‘Daesh Zindabad’and hate speech against the Shia community on the walls of the madrassah.  Investigation Officer Liaquat Ali later said they declared the case ‘untraced’ after two months, as was the practice in cases in which the accused were unidentified.
While the police failed to trace those responsible for the wall-chalking on the madrassah, it was attacked a year later on December 18, 2015. Two unidentified motorcyclists lobbed a cracker outside the madrassah, injuring three people.
The wall-chalking incident in Nawab Town was not the first of its kind in Lahore. Similar messages have cropped up in different parts of the city such as Canal Road, Railway Station, Katchery, Nasir Bagh and Mayo Hospital in September and October last year. Little heed, though, was paid by authorities.
A senior advocate of the Supreme Court while requesting anonymity said an incident was also reported in the high court. Unidentified men had painted messages on the doors of the retiring room of high court judges. The incident, however, was ‘handled’ by the then DSP responsible for the high court’s security who did not let the news become public.
In February 2015, teenager Bilal Nazir was the first member of the three families that had reportedly left for Syria to join Daesh. A senior police official said many other individuals and families from Lahore, especially Township area, had also left for Syria during the same period.
This, though, did not mean Daesh was not interested in leaving a footprint in Punjab. Three suicide attacks took place in Lahore from January to May last year. The first occurred in February in front of the Police Lines in Qila Gujjar Singh area, claiming eight lives. The second attack took place in March, targeting twin churches in Youhanabad, while the third was outside Qaddafi Stadium where Pakistan was playing a cricket match against Zimbabwe. Authorities said TTP Jamaatul Ahrar, which had pledged allegiance to Daesh in January, had claimed responsibility for the bombings.
Media in the crosshair
In November 2015, the Punjab Home Department issued an intelligence-based alert to authorities stating that militants linked with Daesh were going to attack important installations, especially media outlets. As a result, security was beefed up at media houses. In the same month, however, three cracker blasts occurred at media houses in Sargodha, Faisalabad and Lahore. Pamphlets of Daulat-e-Islami Khurasan were also distributed at the sites of the blasts.
An intelligence source claimed Daesh was attacking media houses to make their presence felt to the masses. He said the decision was taken after an analysis of the outfit’s planning wing said the government was underplaying their activities by attributing them to the TTP or other banned outfits.
In December last year, the counter-terrorism department of Punjab police arrested eight suspected Daesh militants from Daska in Sialkot. CTD sources claimed they were planning to attack sensitive installations. They also reportedly propagated hatred against the state and army through their videos. A similar cell was busted in Gujranwala in the same month.
The New Year, thus, presents a fresh challenge for the province in dealing with Daesh. And downplaying the group’s presence is a tactic exhausted.
Who is joining Daesh?
Inspired by the perceived success of Daesh in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the world, disgruntled members of banned religious outfits in Pakistan are now eyeing it as a new scope and arena to advocate their ideology.
A senior official of the counter-terrorism department (CTD) said “vibrant, efficient and hardcore readicalised elements of different militant, sectarian and pan-Islamist organisations which at some point shared the ideology of Daesh are joining the IS. These outfits include Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Hizbut Tahrir (HuT), al-Qaeda, Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) and even political parties like Jamaat-e-Islami (JI).
The CTD official said some members of these groups are annoyed at the apparent passiveness of their former organisations. He added the recent crackdown on militant elements by the state in Pakistan had put a dent in the operational capacity of banned groups, a majority of which had turned into sleeper cells, particularly in urban areas. Radicals, hence, now see Daesh as an active platform to perform on. Daesh is also getting a lot of funding and is paying hefty amounts to people moving to Syria with their families.
Most people joining the IS are using their former organisations for cover and recruitment. The CTD official claimed members were well-connected and operated under meticulous planning of the Daesh leadership. Dabiq, the official magazine of Daesh, in a recent issue elaborated on the operational system of the organisation. It said the directions of the group’s leaders and commanders were of utmost importance, never to be ignored. The magazine issued a warning citing the incident of a commander who was supposed to go to Afghanistan for training through Pakistan, but was arrested by airport authorities for disregarding the leadership’s directives and calling his family from the airport.
Daesh is a breakaway faction of al-Nusra, the offshoot of al-Qaeda fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Since its split, the IS has become extremely critical of pan-Islamist organisations, claiming itself to be the only legitimate force fighting for a global Islamic caliphate. As a result, some factions of al-Qaeda and other radical groups are aligning themselves with Daesh.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah had said in an earlier news conference that the mastermind of the Safoora Goth attack in Karachi – Tahir Hussain Minhas alias Sain Nazir alias Zahid alias Naveed alias Khalil alias Shaukat alias Mota-matriculate – was a veteran activist of al-Qaeda and had personally met Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri many a time.
The CTD in Punjab has arrested several activists of HuT over alleged links with Daesh. In December last year, the CTD arrested a Punjab University professor. Two weeks later, two more professors and a student were arrested. In the same month, five people were arrested during a raid in Township area of Lahore for having links with Daesh. They, too, had ties with HuT.
The political philosophy of Daesh is greatly inspired by the political thought of Abul A’la Maududi, the founding father of Jamaat-e-Islami. Self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in a speech in July last year, quoted the teachings of Maududi while justifying a global Islamic state.
Since Daesh rose to prominence while fighting Assad’s Shia regime in Sunni-majority Syria, sectarianism and anti-Shia sentiment is an integral part of Daesh’s ideology. As a result, sectarian outfits in Pakistan are now moving closer to IS.
Six commanders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who pledged allegiance to Daesh in November 2015 had sectarian backgrounds. An alert issued by intelligence agencies in June last year stated that a delegation of Daesh had even met leaders of various religious groups including Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). The meetings were arranged by Jandullah, an anti-Shia militant outfit which has also pledged allegiance to Daesh.
The inspector general of Sindh police revealed in a briefing to a Senate committee last year the link between LeJ and Daesh in the Safoora Goth carnage. Some even believe the LeJ chief, Malik Ishaq, was killed because he was going to pledge allegiance to Daesh.
Salafi Islam
Daesh is very close to the interpretation of Salafi, Wahabi and Ahle-Hadith sect. The symbols used by IS are also similar. Many people joining the IS are activists or members of Salafi organisations.
An eight-member cell of Daesh was busted in Daska, Sialkot over a video of a ceremony held to pledge allegiance to the IS. The arrested suspects were from the Wahabi sect. Locals said a foreigner had also attended the ceremony and addressed the gathering in Arabic. The three families that have left for Syria from Lahore to join Daesh also belonged to the Wahabi sect.
Bushra Cheema, who left for Syria with four of her children in September last year, taught at Noorul Huda Islamic Centre, a Salafi girls madrassah. Irshad Bibi, who left with her son and sister-in-law, also taught at a madrassah near Sakim Mor, Lahore. Irshad Bibi’s son Bilal Nazir was a Hafiz-e-Quran from Tanveerul Quran from a neighbourhood madrassah.