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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tens of Thousands of British Muslims to Pledge Allegiance to Caliphate

Published: 

Thousands of British Muslims from cities, towns and villages across the UK will next week travel to the Hampshire countryside where they will join Muslims from across the world in pledging allegiance to Caliphate and in seeking spiritual guidance.

More than 30,000 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) will next weekend offer their pledges at a three-day international event, known as the ‘Jalsa Salana’, in Alton, Hampshire. The Jalsa Salana is the largest and longest standing Muslim convention in the UK, with 2014 marking the 48th year that the event has taken place in the UK.

Those attending the event will offer their pledge of allegiance to His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Worldwide Head and Caliph of the AMC. They will also listen to a series of speeches delivered by His Holiness on a variety of subjects promoting spirituality, peace and compassion.

The AMC is a peaceful Islamic movement, established in the UK for more than 100 years. Its founder, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, claimed to be the Mahdi and Messiah prophecised in the Christian, Jewish and Islamic scriptures. He stood against all forms of cruelty, reaffirming that true Islam is a religion of peace.

The event’s participants will travel from 89 different countries to attend the Jalsa Salana. Those taking part in the pledge of allegiance from the UK will be travelling to Hampshire from the following locations:

SCOTLAND

Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, Forfar, Perth, St. Andrews, Stirling, Fife, Rosyth, Dunfermline, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

NORTH OF ENGLAND

North West: Manchester, Stockport, Bolton, Liverpool, Rochdale, Stoke-On-Trent, Oldham, Blackburn, Preston, Blackpool, Bury, Salford, Wigan, Darwen, Chorley, and Accrington.

North East: Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham, Hartlepool, Stockton-on-Tees, and Darlington.

Yorkshire: York, Scarborough, Leeds, Bradford, Keighley, Huddersfield, Spen Valley, Barnsley, Sheffield, Rotherham, and Doncaster.

Humberside and Lincolnshire: Scunthorpe, Hull, Grimsby, and Skegness.

THE MIDLANDS

West Midlands: Birmingham, Halesowen, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Burton, Warwick, Coventry and Leamington Spa.

East Midlands: Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Northampton, Peterborough, Milton Keynes, and Cambridge.

SOUTH-EAST ENGLAND

Oxford, Reading, Luton, Watford, Langley, Slough, Maidenhead, Guildford, Aldershot, Farnham, Southampton, Bournemouth, Ashford, Crawley, Brighton, Gillingham, Rochester, and Canterbury.

GREATER LONDON

Harrow, Greenwich, Lewisham, Wandsworth, Merton, Kingston, Croydon, Richmond, Walthamstow, Enfeild, Aldgate, Woodford, Redbridge, Newham, East Ham, Ealing, Southall, Housnlow, Slough, Greenford, Wembley, Feltham, Staines, Uxbridge, Hayes, Northolt, Langley, Maidenhead, Chiswick, Fulham, and Hammersmith.

WALES & SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND

Rhyl, Cardiff, Swansea, Newport, Bristol, Cornwall, Plymouth, Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Key features of the event include:

30,000 people – Largest Muslim Convention in the UK

48 years – Longest standing Muslim convention in the UK

89 countries – Delegates attend from 89 countries across the world (North America, South America, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, South & East Asia, and Australasia)

Pledge of allegiance to the Caliph – With a participation of 30,000 and tens of millions via satellite on Sunday

200 acres – The site is a Hampshire farm, which is turned into a global village in the two weeks prior to the event and taken down within a week. The facilities include accommodation, kitchen, food, bazar, library, book stalls, TV and radio stations

5,000 volunteers – The gathering is organised by volunteers from across the UK (2,000 women and 3,000 men)

80 million people – All proceedings are transmitted to more than 80 million people worldwide and simultaneously translated into more than a dozen languages

His Holiness delivers five speeches across the three days

Flag hoisting of the Union Jack by the National President of AMC UK

300,000 rotis (slices of Asian bread) – All cooking is done on-site by volunteers. This includes the running of a bread factory that produces 300,000 rotis at a rate of 10,000 an hour

Exhibitions on the community and human rights is held throughout the three days

Half the Brit jihadists who fought with Isis are back in UK

ITV News has learned that half of the 500 British jihadists believed to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic State militants have returned to Britain.

The Government has insisted it is taking tough action to prevent any more returning and creating a threat here, but its detractors claim not enough is being done.

ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Shipreports:

More British Muslims fighting for ISIS than the British Army

AP

This undated image shows a frame from a video released by Islamic State more

LONDON — It is likely that there are now more British Muslims fighting for the Islamic State than for Britain's military.

Britain's Ministry of Defense confirmed to USA TODAY that there are approximately 600 British Muslim servicemembers in its armed forces of almost 200,000 people. Official government estimates put the number of British Islamic State fighters operating in Syria and Iraq at up to 800. The Foreign Office cautioned Thursday that it is difficult to provide precise numbers.

The militant who beheaded American journalist James Foley in a horrifying video released this week spoke with a British accent. United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond acknowledged that the militant in the video could be a British national. And he knows the problem of British jihadists is not a new one.

"This is something we have been tracking and dealing with for many, many months and I don't think this video changes anything," he said. "It just heightens awareness of a situation which is very grave."

Khalid Mahmood, a member of Parliament from an area with a high proportion of Muslim residents, said government estimates of the number of British Islamic State fighters currently in the Mideast is far too conservative. He told Newsweek magazine this week that at least 1,500 extremists are likely to have been recruited to fight in Iraq and Syria over the last three years.

"There are an unacceptable number of Britons fighting for jihadist forces," he said.

Experts say the number of Americans fighting for the Islamic State is much lower. Joseph Young, a criminology professor at American University and expert on political violence, said simple geography and the complex cultural differences between the U.S. and Europe are primary reasons why.

Young, who said common estimates put the number of American fighters for IS at 100 to 150, said just getting to Syria or Iraq is extremely complicated from North America. However, the Islamic State's home region is practically next door for Europeans.

"We also do a better job of integrating our minority communities," Young said. "Isolation of minority groups is a much bigger problem in Europe."

Raffaello Pantucci, a researcher at Royal United Services Institute in London, said many young men facing poor job prospects in the U.K. find the IS narrative of defending Islam hard to resist. He agrees with Young -- Syria and Iraq are relatively accessible from England.

"These people can go look online and just decide to participate," he said. "With its proximity to Europe it's just so easy to do."

Ghaffar Hussain, of the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank in Britain, said the lure could be empowerment for many British Muslims with grievances over their treatment in a predominantly non-Muslim society.

"It makes them feel like they are part of something that is important to the world," he said. "If you feel like you don't really fit in or if Muslims are being attacked and a narrative comes along that explains all that away in a simple way, that is attractive."

Hussain said a task force was set up – called Channel – to identify people who have been flagged in schools and institutions as being at risk of being drawn into extremism. Channel then pairs them with a mentor who assesses their needs and tries to offer support. But, he said, a major failing of the program is that it only works if individuals are flagged by the system.

"When it comes to the hard-edge, counterterrorism stuff, a lot of good work has been done by the government in terms of thwarting a hell of a lot of plots in recent years, but there are a lot of gaps outside of Channel," Hussain said. "Taking it seriously is one thing, knowing what to do is another."

Hussain said that extremism of the kind that is leading British nationals to Iraq and Syria is not limited to Britain but is a western European phenomenon seen in Holland, France, Denmark and other places. He said would-be fighters probably enter Syria through Turkey, though it's not exactly clear how.

Christopher Davidson, a Mideast expert at Durham University, said there's been a massive lack of attention to the flow of Westerners headed to the region. "As long as they have been supposedly fighting the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime, authorities have turned a blind eye to it. Now that they are going to Iraq we are starting to experience the blow back," he said.

Young noted that completely stopping the flow of Westerners is probably asking too much.

"Young men throughout time and space have done these kinds of things," he said.


Despite Renewed Gaza Fighting, UK Allows British Companies to Continue Exporting to Israel

As reported by the Times of Israel, British companies are still being allowed to export arms and weapons components to Israel, despite the United Kingdom’s announcement last week that it was going to suspend export licenses in regard to the Jewish state if military hostilities would start up again between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. “We said we would suspend licenses if there was a significant resumption of hostilities,” a spokesperson for the British government stated. “We are closely monitoring the situation. Our assessment so far is that the resumption of hostilities has been limited.”

While the government of England has mostly been supportive of Israel in its public statements, Cable’s statement came in the aftermath of massive public protests in Britain against Israeli military action in Gaza, along with pressure from many government officials and activists to institute a total arms embargo on Israel  with or without the resumption of fighting. Britain has also experienced a rise in acts of anti-Semitism during Israel’s military campaign to quell Hamas terrorism, as well as demands that stores in England boycott the sale of Israeli products.

“It is a very weak position and it will be seen as a sign of political support for the Israeli government,” Andrew Smith, from Campaign Against Arms Trade, asserted regarding the UK’s continued permission of exports to the Jewish state by its country’s companies. A spokesperson for Cable’s Liberal Democrat party told the BBC that the faction wanted to see a complete national embargo on arms to Israel, but was forced to negotiate with the main governing Conservative party.

The latest developments occurred two weeks after Foreign Office Minister Sayeeda Warsi resigned from her post to protest British policy toward Israel. Warsi called Britain’s arms sales to Israel “morally indefensible.” The issue of export licenses has proved to be a major point of disagreement between Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond, against Cable and Liberal Democrat head Nick Clegg, according to The Guardian.


British Supermarket Chain: “Kosher Items Will Never Again Be Withheld”

According to an article in the Jewish Chronicle, British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has pledged to never again remove kosher products from its shelves. The statement was issued after Jewish customers had reacted with anger to the kosher food being hidden by the manager of a central London branch in anticipation of reprisals from anti-Israel activists.

At first, the company said it would not institute a national policy instructing managers on how to handle protesters. However, after being contacted by the Jewish Chronicle, Sainsbury’s altered its position and claimed it wanted to reassure its Jewish customers. “This will not happen again,” corporate affairs director Trevor Datsun stated. “Managers will be told not to move kosher food because of some perceived threat. It should not have happened and, explicitly, it cannot happen again.”

The supermarket chain, which operates 1,200 stores throughout England, had previously apologized after kosher items were removed from a refrigeration display in Holborn as a precaution against potential attack by anti-Israel protesters last Saturday. A spokeswoman said on Monday that the store’s manager had made an “error of judgment”. Other kosher items, though, such as meat and fish, were kept on sale elsewhere in the store. The spokeswoman suggested that recent violent incidents and demonstrations outside stores had contributed to the manager’s concern and consequent action.

Staff members from the Board of Deputies put on a “buycott” outside Sainsbury’s on Monday, encouraging shoppers to purchase more Israeli goods. Conservative members of the British Parliament condemned Sainsbury’s actions, and MP David Burrowes said, “How was the threat to the kosher food linked to the nearby protest about Israel?” MP Andrew Percy commented, “Sainsbury’s should never have given in to thugs and bullies… It is a very sad day for Sainsbury’s and for the UK.”

In a  major disturbance by an anti-Israel group at a Tesco store in Birmingham on Saturday – which resulted in the arrest of one man – protesters who were yelling and waving Palestinian flags entered the store and violently threw products around, threatening staff and customers before clashing with police. “The demonstration took place mainly outside the store. There was some minimal damage to a few goods inside,” maintained a Tesco spokesman. “Police were on the scene and the store reopened after just a few minutes.”

The Labour Party — whose leader Ed Miliband has repeatedly expressed his opposition to boycotts targeting Israel — said it had spoken to MP Shabana Mahmood,  who had joined a demonstration outside a Sainsbury’s store three weeks ago, and it would not take action against her. Mahmood had been filmed celebrating the store’s temporary closure and calling for more action of the same nature, but, following the violent episodes in Tesco this week, she appealed for protests to remain peaceful.

“Once again we see the ugly side of Labour and the weakness of Miliband,” remarked Mike Freer, Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green. “His unwillingness or inability to rein in a front-bench spokeswoman who is encouraging these sort of targeted attacks speaks volumes.”


Baruch Hashem

Decades of terror.. Ended in less than 15 seconds.
IDF releases video of strike eliminating 3 top Hamas commanders.
youtu.be/-yq7mtleyGE

Exclusive: Militants, weapons transit Gaza tunnels despite Egyptian crackdown

Photo

AL-SARSOURIYA Egypt (Reuters) - A third of the houses on the main street of this Bedouin town near Egypt's border with Gaza look derelict, but inside they buzz with the activity of tunnel smugglers scrambling to survive a security crackdown by the Egyptian army.

Smugglers and tunnel owners, who once publicly advertised their services, have taken over the nearly two dozen single-storey concrete structures and boarded up their doors and windows to avoid the attention of the authorities.

While tunnels used by Gaza's dominant Hamas militants to infiltrate Israel were a priority target of an Israeli offensive in the Palestinian enclave this summer, many smuggling conduits into Egypt have skirted detection.

That has allowed transports of weapons, building materials, medicine and food to continue to and from the small, coastal territory that is subject to blockade by both Israel and Egypt, tunnel operators say and Egyptian security sources acknowledge.

"During the Gaza war, business has flourished," said a Bedouin guide who gave Reuters access to one of the tunnels and a rare look at how the illicit, lucrative industry has evolved since Egypt began trying to root out the passages in 2012.

Egypt sees a halt to the flow of weapons and fighters as important to its security, shaken in the past year by explosions and shootings by an Islamist insurgency based mainly in the Sinai Peninsula bordering Gaza and Israel.

Humanitarian supplies and building materials headed in the other direction have provided a vital lifeline to the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza who have been living under the Israeli-imposed blockade since Hamas seized the enclave in 2007.

Cairo mediated talks this month between Israel and Palestinian factions led by Hamas to try to end the war in Gaza but refused to discuss easing its tight control of the Rafah border crossing as part of the deal Hamas seeks.

A 10-day ceasefire expired on Tuesday without a deal to extend it indefinitely, with Israel resuming air strikes on Gaza and Hamas and other Islamist militants their rocket salvoes into the Jewish state.

The guide who accompanied Reuters and requested anonymity estimated the total number of functional tunnels in about 10 border villages like Al-Sarsouriya at nearly 500 - down from about 1,500 before the Egyptian clamp down began.

Most of the bigger tunnels - the kind that can accommodate cars and even trucks - have been destroyed by the Egyptians, but smaller ones ranging 1-2 meters (yards) in diameter survive.

The guide said that as many as 200 new tunnels had been built in the past two years, dodging Egyptian security sweeps, with new ones coming onboard each week.

The smaller tunnels are still big enough to allow weapons, building materials and humanitarian supplies to pass under the heavily guarded land crossing.

"Each day, about 3 or 4 people cross with weapons, and each one carries about 6 or 7 guns," the Bedouin guide said, without specifying what type of arms were being transported.

A senior Egyptian security officer confirmed that while the biggest and longest tunnels were no more, smaller ones remain operational.

"The situation is much more controlled. It's not 100 percent but we are trying to reach this percentage," he told Reuters. He said the army had achieved a noticeable reduction in smuggling of weapons, fuel, food and drugs over the past two years.

Egypt accuses the Islamist Hamas of supporting the Sinai insurgents, which Hamas denies. For its part, Israel has long wanted Egypt to end arms smuggling from Sinai to Gaza militants.

LUCRATIVE TUNNEL BUSINESS BEHIND SHOWER CURTAIN

A shower curtain is all that conceals the entrance ramp to the tunnel which Reuters visited. Two sheep and a cart in an adjacent room gave the impression that the house was abandoned, should security forces come searching.

The tunnel owner and his teenage son sat on cushions around a small wooden table beside the curtain. A photograph of the pair hung on the wall overlooking their cash cow.

The concrete-lined entrance to the 600-metre (0.37 miles) tunnel turns to dirt after a few steps. Posts support a wooden ceiling as deep as 10 meters (33 feet) below the surface, and energy-saving bulbs every few meters light the way.

The Egyptian owner accompanies passengers to the midpoint where a sentry checks on the security situation on the other side and then brings them to meet the Palestinian co-owner.

"This tunnel is a partnership between us," said the Egyptian. "Building it cost us $300,000. He paid half and I paid half. The profit is split between us 50-50."

The tunnel regularly brings the men profits of $200 a day. Shipping rates vary, starting at $12 for one-meter crates of medicine or food and topping out at $150 for weapons, building supplies or fuel.

People can pass for $50 each but the rate increases if they are armed. Most of the passengers are men, the owner said, but women and children also use the tunnels. Farm animals occasionally make the journey as well.

"If someone is passing with one or two guns, we charge $60 to $70. But if someone has more weapons, it's a special operation and might cost as much as $1,000 or $2,000 depending on the type of weapon," the Egyptian owner told Reuters.

He said he does not check the identification of people who pass and even allows masked men to use his tunnel if his Palestinian partner vouches for them. "As long as they give me $50, I let them through," he said.

The owner said he also does not seek to know the affiliation or destination of militants and weapons for fear that displeased customers will use another tunnel or report him to the security forces. "I just deliver the weapons and take the money," he said. "I'm not concerned with where they're going."

In Gaza, Hamas has disputed Israel's claim that it demolished all of the militants' infiltration tunnels during the current conflict, and granted a rare tour to a Reuters news team last week to back up its assertion.

(The name of the correspondent is being withheld for security reasons; Additional reporting by Yasmine Saleh in Cairo; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Mark Heinrich)