Archive | March, 2015

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American lobbyist summoned in Benazir murder case again

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

Publication Date : 31-03-2015

 

 An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Rawalpindi on Monday again summoned US lobbyist Mark Siegel in Benazir Bhutto murder case.

During the hearing of the case on Monday, ATC judge Pervez Ismail Joeya directed Siegel to appear before the court to record his statement on Tuesday.

However, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) – the prosecution agency in the high-profile murder case – expressed its inability to produce Siegel, a witness against former president Pervez Musharraf.

Sources in the FIA told Dawn that the American lobbyist cannot be produced before the court in such a short notice.

In January 2013, Siegel refused to testify before the ATC citing security concerns.

The prosecution agency at that time had requested the court to record his statement through a video link.

The FIA sources said since the security situation in the country had improved, Siegel may be asked to appear before the court.

The FIA would provide him adequate security during his stay in Pakistan, the sources added.

As per the joint investigation team (JIT) constituted to probe the murder case, Siegel was the key witness against the former military ruler.

In his statement recorded before FIA’s JIT in 2009, Siegel had accused Gen Musharraf of threatening Bhutto about her safety and security in Pakistan.

According to the statement, Siegel claimed that on September 25, 2007, in his presence at the office of Congressman Tom Lantos in Washington, Bhutto received a telephone call which she later described as a very ‘bad call’ from Musharraf.

The statement said the former military ruler had warned Bhutto that “her safety depends on the state of their (Musharraf and Benazir’s) relationship.

Siegel alleged that Musharraf had also warned Bhutto that her security would only be guaranteed if she returned to Pakistan after the 2008 general elections.

According to Siegel, Bhutto sent him an email on October 26, 2007, in which she expressed her sense of insecurity.

She also said if something happened to her, she would hold Musharraf responsible apart from individuals mentioned in her letter to Musharraf on October 16, 2007.

In the October 16 letter, Bhutto named Brigadier Ejaz Shah (a former ISI official and the then director general of Intelligence Bureau), retired Lt-Gen Hameed Gul and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, the then incumbent deputy prime minister.

FIA seeks action against its director

The FIA on Monday filed an application with the court against its director Yasin Farooq for backtracking from his statement recorded in the Benazir murder case against former city police officer (CPO) Saud Aziz.

Aziz is currently serving as the director general National Crisis Management Cell.

The ATC in January this year declared Farooq as a hostile witness and discarded his testimony at the request of the prosecution after he changed his statement against Aziz.

Aziz was Rawalpindi police chief when Bhutto was killed in a gun-and-bomb attack outside Liaquat Bagh on Dec 27, 2007.

It was alleged that Aziz had removed DSP Ashfaq Anwar who was assigned to Bhutto’s security detail and also ordered the crime scene to be hosed down within a few hours, erasing credible evidence.

According to the prosecution, Farooq had stated in 2010 that Aziz sent DSP Anwar to the Islamabad Expressway where someone had opened fire on a convoy of Nawaz Sharif.

The prosecution alleged that Anwar was responsible for Bhutto�€™s ‘box security’ along with 36 commandos from the Elite Force.

It said Aziz removed him from Liaquat Bagh while the rally was in progress.

The prosecution contended before the ATC that Farooq was a public servant and should not have disowned his earlier statement.

The court issued notice to Farooq and adjourned further hearing of the matter till Tuesday.

 

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c�/f/566602/s/44f5c874/sc/16/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E734780Bhtml/story01.htm

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Cambodian editor’s death is ‘tragic loss’

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

» Other News

 HANOI: Short supply of clean water puts 1m Vietnamese at risk

 SAN FRANCISCO: China should stop reef reclamations, US senators say

● KUALA LUMPUR: M’sian journalists, NGOs slam arrest of editors

● BEIJING: Beijing eyes new emergency smog plan

�Â YANGON: Suu Kyi, KNU leaders discuss peace, amending charter

 JAKARTA: Sons of Indonesia jihadists flock to Syria

 SERANG: Bali bomber’s grave becomes touchstone for extremist

 KATHMANDU: 4 Koreans among 5 dead in Nepal bus collision

 JAKARTA: Indonesia students who agree with IS are few, but worrying: Rights group

 ISLAMABAD: American lobbyist summoned in Benazir murder case again

 SINGAPORE: S’pore teen charged with 3 offences against Christianity and LKY

 HANOI: Lymphoma cancers increasing in Vietnam

 BEIJING: Xi appoints trusted allies to key security posts

 KOTA KINABALU: M’sia does not recognise Manila’s Sabah claim

 

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 SINGAPORE: Family says farewell to LKY in private ceremony

 MANILA: Asean officials keen on regional TIN

 KARACHI: Pakistan’s stagnant exports

 NEW DELHI: After Germanwings: Do you trust your pilot?

 JAKARTA: Indonesia govt may pay fuel subsidies

 JAKARTA: Cracks in Jakarta’s sea wall project

 TOKYO: Japan sees sharp rise in asylum seekers

 HANOI: Demand for food additives rising in Vietnam

 BANDUNG: Landslide kills 12 in Sukabumi, West Java

BEIJING: Chinese official under probe said to have 6 mistresses

 KUALA LUMPUR: IS threatens India’s spiritual leader Ravi Shankar

● JAKARTA: Indonesia’s poorly skilled youth

 


Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/񽕏/f/566602/s/44f7fe3e/sc/19/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bne҈Cnews0E734970Bhtml/story01.htm

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S’pore teen charged with 3 offences against Christianity and LKY

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

» Other News

 PHNOM PENH: Cambodian editor’s death is ‘tragic loss’

 HANOI: Short supply of clean water puts 1m Vietnamese at risk

 SAN FRANCISCO: China should stop reef reclamations, US senators say

 KUALA LUMPUR: M’sian journalists, NGOs slam arrest of editors

 BEIJING: Beijing eyes new emergency smog plan

 YANGON: Suu Kyi, KNU leaders discuss peace, amending charter

 JAKARTA: Sons of Indonesia jihadists flock to Syria

 SERANG: Bali bomber’s grave becomes touchstone for extremist

 KATHMANDU: 4 Koreans among 5 dead in Nepal bus collision

 JAKARTA: Indonesia students who agree with IS are few, but worrying: Rights group

 ISLAMABAD: American lobbyist summoned in Benazir murder case again

 HANOI: Lymphoma cancers increasing in Vietnam

 BEIJING: Xi appoints trusted allies to key security posts

� KOTA KINABALU: M’sia does not recognise Manila’s Sabah claim

 

» Most Viewed

 SINGAPORE: Singapore bids farewell to founding father

 SINGAPORE: Police arrest S’pore teen behind anti-LKY video

�� TAIPEI: China’s M503 route takes off amid protests in Taiwan

 SINGAPORE: Family says farewell to LKY in private ceremony

 MANILA: Asean officials keen on regional TIN

 KARACHI: Pakistan’s stagnant exports

 NEW DELHI: After Germanwings: Do you trust your pilot?

� TOKYO: Japan sees sharp rise in asylum seekers

 JAKARTA: Cracks in Jakarta’s sea wall project

 JAKARTA: Indonesia govt may pay fuel subsidies

 KUALA LUMPUR: IS threatens India’s spiritual leader Ravi Shankar

 BANDUNG: Landslide kills 12 in Sukabumi, West Java

 BEIJING: Chinese official under probe said to have 6 mistresses

● JAKARTA: Indonesia’s poorly skilled youth

 BANGKOK: No turning back for Myanmar’s economy

 


Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/44f5c877/sc/16/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E734760Bhtml/story01.htm

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Bali bomber’s grave becomes touchstone for extremist

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

Publication Date : 31-03-2015

 

As the only grave without a tombstone in the Lopang Gede cemetery in Serang, Banten, the resting place of Imam Samudra, one of the masterminds of the first Bali bombing, appears deserted and forgotten. 

Tucked away amid groves of immature bamboo trees, the grave is half-concealed by stones and pebbles.

The word “Imam” is written in blue paint on one of the stones, though the writing is barely visible beneath the fallen bamboo leaves. 

And yet, despite its modesty, visits to the grave have become popular among budding extremists looking to follow in the Imam’s footsteps. 

“There have been unabated flows of visitors who come to see the grave and pray for Imam,” Imam’s younger sister, Mila Jamilah, told The Jakarta Post on Friday. 

â€�Many take some of the soil and pocket the stones from Imam’s grave [for superstitious purposes]. We have to regularly pour new soil and stones at the grave site,” she said. 

Imam was executed in late 2008 for orchestrating the 2002 Bali bombings that killed緊 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Mila said the modest grave was one of her brother’s last wishes before facing the firing squad. 

“He did not want us to put a tombstone at his grave,” she said.

Imam’s mother, Embay Badriah, who lives about 500 meters from the cemetery, said she had regularly received visitors who expressed their sympathy for Imam’s â€�struggle”.

“Visitors usually come to [Imam�™s] grave after dusk. Then they come here to meet me and have a conversation. Some of them ask questions like ‘where are Imam’s children now and what they are doing’,” the 73-year-old mother of 11 said. 

Despite affiliating with the moderate Persis (United Islam) group and the nation’s second-biggest Muslim organisation, Muhammadiyah, Embay said she took the opportunity to sell books about Imam and his radical beliefs to help make ends meet. 

Imam’s name still resonates widely in Serang, a city located some 90 kilometers from Jakarta that is predominately moderate in its religious orientation, with many residents embracing a syncretised form of Islam that incorporates Sundanese animism. 

A group of children playing near the cemetery complex quickly guided the Post to the grave site, accustomed to strangers arriving and wanting to visit the grave. 

Despite their warm welcome, people in the Lopang Gede neighbourhood were reluctant to share their thoughts about Imam and his family members. 

“You’d better talk directly to the family,” said a male resident, pointing to a nearby house belonging to one of Imam’s sisters. 

Having grown up in the neighbourhood, Imam, who was born as Abdul Azis, saw his parent split up when he was a child. 

He later became deeply immersed in Islamic teachings and was nurtured by Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, the leader of the terrorist network, Jamaah Islamiyah (JI). 

In a court hearing, Imam said he had a moral obligation to plant the bombs used in the Bali attack.

He said he had learned to assemble bombs and use weapons during three years of fighting in Afghanistan, Thailand and the Philippines. 

He boasted of having met Osama bin Laden when he joined Afghan Muslims in their fight against Russian occupation.

Imam and two other organisers of the Bali attack — brothers Amrozi and Ali Ghufron — were later convicted and executed in 2008. 

Imam is survived by his wife, Zakiyah Darajat, and four children — Umar Jundul Haq, Salsabila, Tasniem and Iyas Jaisy Muhammad. They live some 20 minutes from Imam’s family house. 

Embay, who now lives with her youngest son and his family in a modest house, said she rarely met Zakiyah and her children after Imam’s execution. 

“They visit me only during the Idul Fitri [holiday period] or on school holidays. But they never spend a night here,â�� she said.

On her living room wall, two large pictures of Imam are hung, covered by green cloth. 

Embay said she usually let visitors pull back the cloth to see the pictures. One of them shows Imam kissing Embay’s hand during the family’s last visit to the Nusakambangan prison island prior to his execution.Â�

“Imam is a mujahid [fighter]. If a mujahid is a labelled terrorist, what should we label infidels who kill Muslims?” said Embay, who spends most of her time attending Koran recitals in Serang and neighbouring cities. – See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015቟/31/bomber-s-grave-becomes-touchstone-extremists.html#sthash.uGUuhLW0.dpuf

 

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/44f5a7c6/sc/11/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E734810Bhtml/story01.htm

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4 Koreans among 5 dead in Nepal bus collision

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

» Other News

 PHNOM PENH: Cambodian editor’s death is ‘tragic loss’

 HANOI: Short supply of clean water puts 1m Vietnamese at risk

 SAN FRANCISCO: China should stop reef reclamations, US senators say

 KUALA LUMPUR: M’sian journalists, NGOs slam arrest of editors

 BEIJING: Beijing eyes new emergency smog plan

 YANGON: Suu Kyi, KNU leaders discuss peace, amending charter

 JAKARTA: Sons of Indonesia jihadists flock to Syria

 SERANG: Bali bomber’s grave becomes touchstone for extremist

 JAKARTA: Indonesia students who agree with IS are few, but worrying: Rights group

 ISLAMABAD: American lobbyist summoned in Benazir murder case again

 SINGAPORE: S’pore teen charged with 3 offences against Christianity and LKY

 HANOI: Lymphoma cancers increasing in Vietnam

 BEIJING: Xi appoints trusted allies to key security posts

â—� KOTA KINABALU: M’sia does not recognise Manila’s Sabah claim

 

» Most Viewed

 SINGAPORE: Singapore bids farewell to founding father

 SINGAPORE: Police arrest S’pore teen behind anti-LKY video

 TAIPEI: China’s M503 route takes off amid protests in Taiwan

 SINGAPORE: Family says farewell to LKY in private ceremony

 MANILA: Asean officials keen on regional TIN

 KARACHI: Pakistan’s stagnant exports

 NEW DELHI: After Germanwings: Do you trust your pilot?

â—� TOKYO: Japan sees sharp rise in asylum seekers

● JAKARTA: Cracks in Jakarta’s sea wall project

 JAKARTA: Indonesia govt may pay fuel subsidies

�� KUALA LUMPUR: IS threatens India’s spiritual leader Ravi Shankar

 BANDUNG: Landslide kills 12 in Sukabumi, West Java

 BEIJING: Chinese official under probe said to have 6 mistresses

 JAKARTA: Indonesia’s poorly skilled youth

 BANGKOK: No turning back for Myanmar’s economy

 


Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/5򅜪/s/44f5a7c8/sc/16/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E򇈈A0Bhtml/story01.htm

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Indonesia students who agree with IS are few, but worrying: Rights group

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

Publication Date : 31-03-2015

 

Amid rising interest among young Indonesians to join the Islamic State (IS) movement, the Setara Institute, a human rights group, has alarmed the nation with reports about the influence IS has gained in high schools in the country.

The rights body unveiled on Monday a study that revealed that 7ǎ per cent of high school students, or one out of every 14 in Jakarta and Bandung, West Java, agreed with the actions and atrocities undertaken by IS in Syria and Iraq.

“Although the percentage of high school students who are interested in intolerant or radical views is small, this does not mean that we can yet pat ourselves on the back and conclude that all Indonesian high school students are tolerant of pluralism. There is still a chance that the percentage could increase depending on the government’s intervention,” said the institute’s deputy chairman, Bonar Tigor Naipospos. 

In the study, conducted from March 9 to 19, Setara found that out of 684 students who attended 114 schools in Jakarta and Bandung, only 75.3 per cent, or 515 students, knew of IS.

Researcher Ismail Hasani said he was relieved to discover that 36.2 per cent of the 515 students who had heard of IS saw it as a sadistic terrorist group, while 30.6 per cent thought that IS fighters abused the name of religion to justify their violent actions. 

However, it also discovered that 16.9 per cent of the 515 students thought that the IS movement was a group of Muslims who were simply trying to fight for an Islamic caliphate.

According to Indonesian authorities, more than 600 Indonesians have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the movement.

The study also revealed that a large number of students were in favour of banning or limiting the activities of Ahmadiyah and Shia groups because they are not in line with the Sunni, who make up the majority of Muslims in Indonesia.

“Out of the 1Ǧ high school students who knew of Ahmadiyah and Shia groups, 43.8 per cent of them agreed that these minority groups should be banned or have their activities limited so that they don’t become larger,” Ismail explained.

“Only 27.7 per cent of the students disagreed with limiting the minority groups, while 28Ǒ per cent of the students did not answer.”

A 2012 report from the Wahid Institute, which promotes pluralism and a peaceful Islam, reported that incidents of religious intolerance increased during the 10-year tenure of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The report showed religious intolerance cases in 2012 stood at 274, up from 267 in 2011. In 2010, the institute recorded 184 cases, while 121 cases were recorded in 2009. 

Although the Setara Institute discovered that there was evidence of intolerance among students, Bonar said that they could not jump to conclusions on where they had learned it.

“We are still unable to pinpoint the most influential factor that leads to extremist thinking among students. Students change their minds easily, which is why they are very impressionable,” Bonar said.

However, the study noted that 48 per cent of all the respondents said they received their religious education from teachers at school, followed by parents at 18 per cent and the media at 12 per cent. 

The study also showed that 35.4 per cent of the students undertook religious activities out of school.

“This is an early study but we suspect that most extremist influence comes from outside of school, followed by school material and teachers,” Bonar said. – See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/썟/03/31/students-who-agree-with-is-are-few-worrying-rights-group.html#sthash.Qp2fNNuq.dpuf

 

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/44f5a7ca/sc/7/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E734790Bhtml/story01.htm

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Suu Kyi, KNU leaders discuss peace, amending charter

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

» Other News

 PHNOM PENH: Cambodian editor’s death is ‘tragic loss’

 HANOI: Short supply of clean water puts 1m Vietnamese at risk

 SAN FRANCISCO: China should stop reef reclamations, US senators say

 KUALA LUMPUR: M’sian journalists, NGOs slam arrest of editors

 BEIJING: Beijing eyes new emergency smog plan

 JAKARTA: Sons of Indonesia jihadists flock to Syria

 SERANG: Bali bomber’s grave becomes touchstone for extremist

 KATHMANDU: 4 Koreans among 5 dead in Nepal bus collision

 JAKARTA: Indonesia students who agree with IS are few, but worrying: Rights group

 ISLAMABAD: American lobbyist summoned in Benazir murder case again

 SINGAPORE: S’pore teen charged with 3 offences against Christianity and LKY

 HANOI: Lymphoma cancers increasing in Vietnam

 BEIJING: Xi appoints trusted allies to key security posts

 KOTA KINABALU: M’sia does not recognise Manila’s Sabah claim

 

» Most Viewed

 SINGAPORE: Singapore bids farewell to founding father

 SINGAPORE: Police arrest S’pore teen behind anti-LKY video

 TAIPEI: China’s M503 route takes off amid protests in Taiwan

 SINGAPORE: Family says farewell to LKY in private ceremony

 MANILA: Asean officials keen on regional TIN

 KARACHI: Pakistan’s stagnant exports

 NEW DELHI: After Germanwings: Do you trust your pilot?

 TOKYO: Japan sees sharp rise in asylum seekers

� JAKARTA: Cracks in Jakarta’s sea wall project

 JAKARTA: Indonesia govt may pay fuel subsidies

 KUALA LUMPUR: IS threatens India’s spiritual leader Ravi Shankar

 BANDUNG: Landslide kills 12 in Sukabumi, West Java

 BEIJING: Chinese official under probe said to have 6 mistresses

â—� JAKARTA: Indonesia’s poorly skilled youth

 BANGKOK: No turning back for Myanmar’s economy

 


Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/44f59a76/sc/7/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E734830Bhtml/story01.htm

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Sons of Indonesia jihadists flock to Syria

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

Publication Date : 31-03-2015

 

A new generation of Indonesian jihadists seems to have come of age, with the sons of several prominent jihadists leaving for war-torn Syria, lured by the promises of the Islamic State (IS) movement and the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.

As authorities scramble to identify the identities of Indonesians fighting in Syria, at least four sons of famous terrorists are widely believed to have joined the two groups, in part to preserve their fathers’ legacies. 

The most prominent is undoubtedly Umar Jundul Haq, 19, the eldest child of the late Imam Samudra, who was convicted of masterminding the first Bali bombing in late 2002 that killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.

Imam, born Abdul Aziz, was executed along with Amrozi and Ali Gufron in late 2008 for his role in the bombing. 

“The information that we received confirmed that he [Umar] has joined IS in Syria. However, we cannot disclose the time of his joining as it is still classified,” National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Anton Charliyan told The Jakarta Post on Monday. 

Anton said the police’s intelligence officers and its counter-terrorism unit, Densus 88, were closely monitoring Umar’s actions.

“We are constantly monitoring his moves,�€ he said. 

Aside from Umar, Imam has three other children: Salsabila, Tasniem and Iyas Jaisy Muhammad. 

Based on information gathered by the Post, Imam�™s wife, Zakiyah Darajat, is currently living with Tasniem and Iyas in Serang and Cilegon, Banten, while Salsabila is enrolled in an Islamic boarding school in Yogyakarta.

“The last time I met Imam’s children was in December of last year. But I did not see Umar then,” Imam’s mother, Embay Badriah, told the Post on Friday. “Maybe he has grown up and needs privacy,” she said. 

Counter-terrorism expert Al Chaidar said children of convicted terrorists in Indonesia could be divided into two camps — those supporting IS and those supporting al-Nusra.

“Imam Samudra’s son is not the only one on the path. Actually, there are many others who continue to uphold their fathers’ legacies,” Al Chaidar said.

Abu Jibril, a former recruiter for terrorist group Jamaah Islamiyah (JI) has several sons that have joined al-Nusra in Idlib, Syria. One of them, Ridwan, was recently killed in Syria, which Abu Jibril himself has confirmed. 

Another JI member, Mukhliansyah, has a son fighting for al-Nusra in Aleppo, Syria, according to Al Chaidar.�

Kang Jaja, the killed leader of the Banten Ring terrorist network who played a role in the bombing of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta in 2004, has a son fighting with IS in Syria. 

Terrorist convicts Aman Abdurrahman and Abu Bakar Ba’asyir, through the recently formed group, Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), have actively recruited for IS. 

In response, Ba’asyir’s sons, Abdul “Iim” Rohim and Rosyid Ridho, as well as his former confidant, Achwan, broke away to form their own jihadist group, called Jamaah Ansharusy Syariah (JAS), in the middle of last year to recruit for al-Nusra. 

In a recent report, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) revealed that as the rift between IS and al-Nusra in Iraq and Syria deepened in late 2013, many imprisoned jihadists in Indonesia began choosing sides, with followers of Aman Abdurrahman generally supporting IS and those affiliated with JI generally backing al-Nusra. 

“The former tends to also support violent jihad in Indonesia, while JI since 2007 has rejected violence at home, saying it is counterproductive,” the report said. 

Former chairman of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT), Ansyaad Mbai, said the zeal with which the children of prominent terrorists were flocking to Syria to fight was no surprise, as they sought “shortcuts to enter heaven”.

“IS in Syria is the most ideal channel for them to fight, as they think they are fighting for the real thing; a caliphate,” said Ansyaad. 

Many fear that once the children return to Indonesia, they will lead and help train fellow jihadists to carry out terrorist activities.

Ansyad said that though that concern was valid, most Indonesian jihadists fighting in Syria had pledged never to return to Indonesia. “The ‘second generation’, or whatever you call it, will not pose as threat if they are committed to their belief of not returning to Indonesia and dying for what they claim is the death of a true jihadist.” – See more at: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/Ǵ15/03/31/sons-jihadists-flock-syria.html#sthash.ROR7uQY4.dpuf

 

Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/44f59a7d/sc/11/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E734820Bhtml/story01.htm

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Beijing eyes new emergency smog plan

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

» Other News

 PHNOM PENH: Cambodian editor’s death is ‘tragic loss’

 HANOI: Short supply of clean water puts 1m Vietnamese at risk

 SAN FRANCISCO: China should stop reef reclamations, US senators say

 KUALA LUMPUR: M’sian journalists, NGOs slam arrest of editors

 YANGON: Suu Kyi, KNU leaders discuss peace, amending charter

 JAKARTA: Sons of Indonesia jihadists flock to Syria

 SERANG: Bali bomber’s grave becomes touchstone for extremist

 KATHMANDU: 4 Koreans among 5 dead in Nepal bus collision

 JAKARTA: Indonesia students who agree with IS are few, but worrying: Rights group

 ISLAMABAD: American lobbyist summoned in Benazir murder case again

 SINGAPORE: S’pore teen charged with 3 offences against Christianity and LKY

 HANOI: Lymphoma cancers increasing in Vietnam

â�� BEIJING: Xi appoints trusted allies to key security posts

 KOTA KINABALU: M’sia does not recognise Manila’s Sabah claim

 

» Most Viewed

 SINGAPORE: Singapore bids farewell to founding father

 SINGAPORE: Police arrest S’pore teen behind anti-LKY video

 TAIPEI: China’s M503 route takes off amid protests in Taiwan

 SINGAPORE: Family says farewell to LKY in private ceremony

 MANILA: Asean officials keen on regional TIN

 KARACHI: Pakistan’s stagnant exports

 NEW DELHI: After Germanwings: Do you trust your pilot?

 TOKYO: Japan sees sharp rise in asylum seekers

 JAKARTA: Cracks in Jakarta’s sea wall project

 JAKARTA: Indonesia govt may pay fuel subsidies

 KUALA LUMPUR: IS threatens India’s spiritual leader Ravi Shankar

 BANDUNG: Landslide kills 12 in Sukabumi, West Java

● BEIJING: Chinese official under probe said to haveņ mistresses

 JAKARTA: Indonesia’s poorly skilled youth

� BANGKOK: No turning back for Myanmar’s economy

 


Article source: http://asianewsnetwork.feedsportal.com/c/33359/f/566602/s/44f6a449/sc/31/l/0L0Sasianewsnet0Bnet0Cnews0E734890Bhtml/story01.htm

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China should stop reef reclamations, US senators say

Posted on 31 March 2015 by admin

Publication Date : 31-03-2015

 

Alarmed by China’s extensive reclamation in reefs in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), four influential U.S. Senate leaders have called for “specific actions” to slow down or to stop Beijing’s “aggressive” moves in the disputed areas.

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, urged government to come up with a comprehensive US strategy for addressing China’s increasingly assertive conduct in maritime areas at the expense of smaller Southeast Asian claimants, including the Philippines.

In a letter to State Secretary John Kerry and Defence Secretary Ash Carter, the senators warned that the simultaneous reclamation and building activities at different sites could place “longstanding interests of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, stand at considerable risk.â��

The bipartisan Senate intervention contained in a letter dated Friday (March 20) was also signed by ranking Democratic committee members Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

In a letter to State Secretary John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ash Carter, the senators warned that the simultaneous reclamation and building activities at different sites could place “longstanding interests of the United States, as well as our allies and partners, stand at considerable risk.”

The bipartisan Senate intervention contained in a letter dated Friday (March 20) was also signed by ranking Democratic committee members Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

The Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Taiwan and Vietnam all have overlapping claims in the region, which straddles some of the world’s busiest sealanes and are believed to have rich undersea petroleum and gas deposits.

Threat to US interests

In their letter, the senators observed that China has been reclaiming land in the Spratly archipelago at an “alarming scope and pace” and warned they “are a direct challenge not only to the interests of the United States and the region, but to the entire international community.”

��The United States maintains vested interests in the Indo-Pacific region, including the security of our allies and partners, in the freedom of navigation, in free and unimpeded commerce, in respect for international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” the senators said in their letter.

They said the South China Sea is a critical maritime highway through which some $5 trillion in global ship-borne trade passes each year, adding that unilateral efforts to change the status quo through force, intimidation, or coercion threaten the peace and stability that have benefited all the nations of the Indo-Pacific region.

“China’s land-reclamation and construction activities on multiple islands across the Spratly chain, and the potential command and control, surveillance and military capabilities it could bring to bear from these new land features, are a direct challenge not only to the interests of the United States and the region, but to the entire international community,” the senators said.

Preemptive move

In Manila, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario said Thursday that China has been rushing construction projects, including massive land reclamation, in the disputed areas to preempt any legal moves against its territorial claims.

Del Rosario called China’s expansive maritime claims to almost the entire South China Sea “invalid and excessive and in violation of international law”.

Alarmed by Beijing’s assertiveness, the Philippines sought international arbitration two years ago to challenge the legality of Beijingâ��s claims, Del Rosario said.

He said that although China has ignored the Philippine legal challenge before a U.N.-backed tribunal in The Hague, Manila is confident a ruling would be made as early as next January or February.

He said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is also pursuing proposals for China and Asean to conclude a legally binding “code of conduct” restricting aggressive behaviour that could spark armed confrontations in the disputed areas.

“It is clear to us that China is accelerating its expansionist agenda and changing the status quo to … control nearly the entire South China Sea before the conclusion of the code of conduct and the handing down of a decision of the arbitral tribunal,” Del Rosario said.

The Philippines has protested the reclamation projects, but Beijing has routinely asserted that China the right to undertake any activity in territories it claims.

Multiple reclamations

The senators wrote that they believed most of China’s simultaneous reclamation work had been done in the past 12 months.

They referred specifically to Gaven Reef, saying it had been expanded by 114,000 square metres since March 2014, and to Johnson Reef, a previously a submerged feature that’s been converted so far into 100,000-square-metre island.

Fiery Cross Reef, they said, has increased more 10 times in size since August.

Their letter acknowledged that other states have built on existing land masses, but said China is changing the size, structure and physical attributes of land features.

“This is a qualitative change that appears designed to alter the status quo in the South China Sea,” the letter said.

The senators suggested the US to suspend some cooperation with China if land reclamation activities do not stop.

The senators warned that the reclamation complicates disputes over the archipelago and runs contrary to calls from the US and Asean for parties to exercise self-restraint.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea based on a self-proclaimed horse shoe-shaped nine-dash line map, including several parts administered by its Southeast Asian neighbours.

They said the extensive reclamation and building projects violate the commitments that China made as part of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea with Asean, in which all parties agreed to “exercise self restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes.”

Maritime security strategy

The senators noted that the National Defence Authorization Act of 2015 includes a requirement for a report on maritime security strategy with an emphasis on the South China Sea and East China Sea, where China is also at odds with Japan over uninhabited islands administered by Tokyo called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

The senators said the US strategy in the disputed seas should specifically address a number of key items, namely:

Specific actions the United States can take to slow down or stop China�™s reclamation activities in the South China Sea;

The possible benefits of releasing intelligence more regularly about China’s destabilising behaviour;

What forms of security cooperation with China would be inappropriate to continue if land reclamation activities proceed and what forms of engagement might provide incentives for China to alter its behaviour;

The region’s Maritime Domain Awareness needs; how to help regional partners enhance their own capacity; and

Additional diplomatic engagement with Asean countries or others in the international community to support unimpeded access to the Indo-Pacific maritime commons.

Read more: http://globalnation.inquirer.net/120189/us-senators-china-should-stop-reef-reclamations/#ixzӇVwkkZi2f 

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