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Manchester Suicide Bomber Salman Abedi’s Brother and Father Arrested in Libya

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Women cry after placing flowers in a square in central Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017, after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left more than 20 people dead. VOA

Manchester, May 24, 2017: Libyan security forces said Wednesday that they had arrested a brother and the father of Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi.

A spokesman for the Libyan anti-terrorism force said Hashim Abedi had recently been in contact with his brother and knew of his plans for the attack.

“We have evidence that he is involved in Daesh [an Arabic name for the Islamic State group] with his brother. We have been following him for more than one month and a half,” the spokesman said.

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Salman Abedi blew himself up in the Manchester Arena, killing 22 people and wounding scores of others, just moments after the ending of a pop music show featuring American singer Ariana Grande.

Armed police officers patrol a police cordon near the Manchester Arena in Manchester, May 24, 2017.
Armed police officers patrol a police cordon near the Manchester Arena in Manchester, May 24, 2017. VOA

Abedi’s father told Reuters he spoke to his son five days ago, and “everything was normal.”

Father condemns terrorism

His son did not have extremist beliefs, the father said in Tripoli, where he lives. However, he added that Abedi did not disclose he was heading for Manchester when he left Libya last week.

The elder Abedi told Reuters he condemned “terrorist acts on civilians and innocent people.”

The top police official in Manchester, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, told reporters Wednesday, “It’s very clear that this is a network that we are investigating,” and that Abedi did not act alone.

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Police made a sixth arrest late Wednesday, a woman who was taken into custody during a raid on an apartment north of Manchester.

Five men are also in custody. Police have given no information about how they may be connected to the bombing.

Bomber traveled to Syria

In France, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Wednesday that British and French intelligence had information that Abedi most likely traveled to Syria.

Collomb told France’s BFM television that Abedi “grew up in Britain and then suddenly, after a trip to Libya and then likely to Syria, became radicalized and decided to carry out this attack. In any case, the links with Daesh are proven.”

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, but British and U.S. intelligence have not confirmed that the extremist group was involved.

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British and American newspapers have printed police images of some evidence left on the floor of the arena where Abedi blew himself up, including shreds of a backpack or vest that apparently held the bomb and a piece of bloodstained metal that may have been the detonator.

Britain raised its terrorism alert level to “critical” — the highest step — after the blast, signaling that another attack could be imminent, and Prime MinisterTheresa May cut short her trip to the Group of Seven meeting in Sicily later this week.

Police officers stand guard in central Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017 after Monday's suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert.
Police officers stand guard in central Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017 after Monday’s suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert. VOA

Soldiers patrol major events

Soldiers are being deployed to such major events as soccer matches and concerts. The prime minister said authorities would do everything possible to protect the public, and she asked people to remain vigilant.

Video from the arena showed the joy in the audience at the end of the concert turning to confusion and then to panic and a scramble to get out of the building as the realization of what had happened spread. Many of the victims of the blast were young girls, including an 8-year-old child.

Witnesses saw blood-covered bodies on the floor as wounded concertgoers who were still able to move staggered toward the exits.

Grande canceled her tour schedule in Europe until June 7, when she is due to appear in Paris. (VOA)

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Syrian Militia: End Is Near for Islamic State in Raqqa

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Syria ISIS
Smoke rises near the stadium where the Islamic State militants are holed up after an airstrike by coalition forces at the frontline, in Raqqa, Syria. voa

Islamic State is on the verge of defeat in Syria’s Raqqa and the city may finally be cleared of the jihadists Saturday or Sunday, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia told Reuters Saturday.

The U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State said around 100 of the jihadist group’s fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and had been “removed from the city,” but it still expected difficult fighting “in the days ahead.”

It did not say how the fighters had been removed or where the fighters had been taken.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said remaining Islamic State fighters were being transported out of Raqqa by bus under a deal between Islamic State, the U.S.-led coalition and the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is dominated by the YPG. There was no immediate comment on that report from the coalition or the SDF.

Fighting since June

Civilians who escaped from Islamic State
Civilians who escaped from Islamic State militants rest at a mosque in Raqqa, Syria. voa

The SDF, backed by coalition airstrikes and special forces, has been battling since June to oust Islamic State from Raqqa city, formerly its de facto capital in Syria and a base of operations where it planned attacks against the West.

The final defeat of Islamic State at Raqqa will be a major milestone in efforts to roll back the group’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, where earlier this year the group was driven from the city of Mosul.

“The battles are continuing in Raqqa city. Daesh (Islamic State) is on the verge of being finished. Today or tomorrow the city may be liberated,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters by telephone.

In emailed comments to Reuters, coalition spokesman Ryan Dillon said about 100 Islamic State fighters had surrendered in Raqqa in the last 24 hours and were “removed from the city,” without giving further details.

“We still expect difficult fighting in the days ahead and will not set a time for when we think (Islamic State) will be completely defeated in Raqqa,” he said, adding that around 85 percent of Raqqa had been liberated as of Oct. 13.

Some civilians escape

Around 1,500 civilians had been able to safely make it to SDF lines within the last week, he added.

Omar Alloush, a member of a civilian council set up to run Raqqa, told Reuters late Friday that efforts were under way to secure the release of civilians and “a possible way to expel terrorist elements from Raqqa province,” without giving further details.

An activist group that reports on Raqqa, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said on its Facebook page Saturday that dozens of buses had entered Raqqa city overnight, having traveled from the northern Raqqa countryside.

The Observatory said Syrian Islamic State fighters and their families had left the city, and buses had arrived to evacuate remaining foreign fighters and their families. It did not say where they would be taken.

During the more than six-year Syrian war, the arrival of buses in a conflict zone has often signaled an evacuation of combatants and civilians.

The campaign against Islamic State in Syria is now focused on its last major foothold in the country, the eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which neighbors Iraq.
Islamic State is facing separate offensives in Deir el-Zour by the SDF on one hand, and Syrian government forces supported by Iranian-backed militia and Russian airstrikes on the other. (VOA)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Why are Ordinary Citizens becoming ‘Extremists’?

Factors of people dwelling into extremism

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Extremists
Extremists (Representational Image)

Oct 1, 2017: The 21st century is witnessing more and more of extremism, in the form of both verbal and physical assault. The phenomenon of showcasing extreme support is visible in many countries. Groups like ISIL target extremists and through them conduct violent activities in the name of defending ‘Islam’ and Muslim communities.

Who are Extremists?

A person who has extreme political or religious views and lacks the quality of being ‘objective’. The actions of extremists may often be aggressive and violent. Various organisations including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have gauged the factors of people resorting to such measures.

One may wonder as to why do extremists resort to aggression and violence in the name of religion or ideology? What could lead to someone dwelling into such actions? Apart from education and poverty, there are factors which result in such behavior. Various studies and researches indicate factors- loneliness, depression, and need for societal acceptance as some of the reasons.

The FBI in one of its reports has stated some vulnerabilities which lead to terrorists or extremist groups.

Also Read: Muslim Population May Take Over European Dominance In the Coming Decades

The following factors make people more prone to believing in such ideology:

1. Feeling of loneliness.
2. Emotional distress.
3. Hatred towards a sect of society.
4. Disagreeing with governmental policies.
5. The need of being accepted in the society.

Terrorist organisations are in search for these people only. While the reasons for becoming an extremist is mostly a mystery, but terrorist organisations recruit the ones who have these vulnerabilities, as these factors are directly related to a person’s psychology and conscience, and the game can certainly be won by playing with the person’s psychology. These people are dehumanizing those who do not fit into their view, and as mentioned before this extremism is leading to terrorism. Extremism in India, which has lead to terrorism is prevalent in conflicted areas like Jammu and Kashmir, where Islamic militants are conditioning and instigating the citizens of the state to raise their voice against their nation.

The rising extremists is a grave concern that commands immediate actions to be taken. The present actions determine that the future may be very bleak. We need a future which has humanity and objectivity. Extremism needs to be beaten through the power of knowledge, education and right information.