Militant groups clash in Pakistan, 24 killed

Updated 27 January 2013
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Militant groups clash in Pakistan, 24 killed

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Two Islamic militant groups clashed Saturday over control of a prized valley in northwest Pakistan, killing at least 24 people and wounding dozens more, officials said.
Arshad Khan of the Khyber tribal region said the fighting between the two Islamic militant groups began Friday in Tirah valley, near the Afghan border, when the militant group, Tehrik-e-Taleban, captured the base of another militant group, Ansarul Islam. Ansarul Islam tried to retake the base and fighting continued into Saturday.
The Pakistani military has been battling a stubborn insurgency in northwest Pakistan in rugged tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.
The remote valley, tucked in mountainous terrain, is highly valued by militant groups as a base of operations. It’s difficult for the Pakistani military to enter the area, which allows militants easy access to Afghanistan and other tribal areas of Pakistan.
Most of the dead were militants, but some local tribesmen also were killed, according to a Pakistani military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to disclose the information to the media.
In Baluchistan province in the south, government troops have been waging a longtime struggle against Baloch nationalists, who demand a greater share of income generated from mineral and gas resources there.
On Saturday, a large group of armed men attacked a post manned by pro-government tribal militia members in a remote area in southwestern Baluchistan, killing two tribesmen and abducting seven more. The post is 300 miles (500 kilometers) northeast of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Baluch nationalists often target government forces and their supporters.
Local administrator Noor Illahi Bugti said dozens of armed men attacked the post, shot and killed two of the tribesmen and then forced the others to surrender. He said seven of the militia volunteers were then taken away by the armed group.
Bugti said security forces rushed to the area and were searching for the militia volunteers.
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Abdul Sattar in Quetta, Pakistan, contributed to this report.


Indonesian university wages war on Daesh — with animations

Updated 20 April 2018
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Indonesian university wages war on Daesh — with animations

  • Films tapped to counter radical propaganda after earlier efforts to publish two short comics largely failed because of the poor reading habits of Indonesian teenagers
  • 20-year-old Syrian war veteran says she regrets falling victim to Daesh online propaganda

JAKARTA: Ahmad met his friends Udin and Ari at a mosque, and Ari asked him why he had not been around for some time. 

When Ahmad said he had just returned from Syria, Ari replied in awe that he, too, wanted to go there to wage "jihad".

When a teacher approached them and asked Ahmad the same question, Ari replied, saying: “He (Ahmad) just returned from Syria to wage jihad. Isn’t that cool?” But Ahmad told both men the caliphate propaganda was false and many innocent people had been killed in the name of the caliphate.

“They were Muslims just like us,” he said. The teacher closed the conversation by saying that Ari had learned his lesson and should understand he did not have to go far to wage jihad. The teacher then asked Ari to join him assisting elderly people.

“This is also jihad,” he said.

Ahmad, Udin and Ari are characters in an animated film entitled “Kembali dari Syria,” or “Returning from Syria,” produced by the Center for the Study of Islam and Social Transformation (Cisform) at Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University in Yogyakarta. The short film — one of 20 animated clips produced to counter extremism among teenagers — was launched in Jakarta on Wednesday, following the February release of the other productions in Yogyakarta.

Mohammed Wildan, Cisform’s director, told Arab News the films had been made to counter radical propaganda after earlier efforts to publish two short comics largely failed because of the poor reading habits of Indonesian teenagers.

“We decided to develop these animated short clips to expand our reach. They will be more accessible through social media,” Wildan said.

Most of the clips are between 90 seconds and three minutes long, depending on the content.

Wildan said the real challenge was to condense the message with the correct reference to Qur’an and package it in a maximum three-minute clip.

“We are careful when choosing our arguments that cite the Qur’an and the Hadith,” Wildan said.

Lecturers from the university had offered their expertise on specific subjects, he said.

Also present at the film launch was 20-year-old Nur Shadrina Khairadhania, who went to Syria as a teenager with her extended family. She shared her own account of emigrating to the so-called caliphate and explained why going to Syria to wage jihad was wrong.

Speaking to an audience of high school students, Khairadhania said that after her interest in Islam began to grow, she fell victim to Daesh online propaganda introduced to her by an uncle.

“I watched their videos, which showed that life would be really good in the caliphate. I was enticed to join,” Khairadhania said.

She convinced her father, Dwi Djoko Wiwoho, a high-ranking civil servant in Batam, Riau province, as well as her mother and two siblings, to migrate to Syria.

A group of 26 extended members of her family, including two uncles and a grandmother, left for Syria in 2015. After 19 managed to cross the border with Turkey, they quickly discovered that life in the caliphate was very different to the propaganda.

“Everything is contrary to Islamic teaching. A male family member was forced to fight and was put in detention for months when he refused,” she said. 

The family tried for a year to leave and finally returned to Indonesia in August 2017. 

Family members completed a rehabilitation program run by the national counterterrorism agency, but now her father and uncle are facing terrorism charges. 

Rebuilding her life had been difficult because of the stigma of her past, she said.

“But God gave me a second chance to live. This is probably my jihad, to tell the truth to people so no one will be deceived like us,” she said.