Afghan spymaster claims Russia, Iran are assisting Taliban

In this file photo, Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai speaks during an interview in Kabul December 31, 2012. (REUTERS)
Updated 06 February 2018
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Afghan spymaster claims Russia, Iran are assisting Taliban

KABUL: The head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence agency, Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai, claimed over the weekend that Russia and Iran are aiding the Taliban.
The militant group is currently regaining its grip on the country, with the BBC reporting last week that it is now openly active in 70 percent of Afghanistan — “much more territory than when foreign combat troops left in 2014.”
“There is evidence that Russia and Iran are somehow helping the Taliban, but not to the extent that the propaganda reports claim,” Stanekzai told the BBC’s Dari service in an interview this week.
Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told reporters this week that Iran is not interfering in Afghanistan’s “internal affairs.”
The Russian Embassy in Kabul did not respond to Arab News’ requests for comment.
Moscow has, in the past, confirmed ties with the Taliban, but claims it maintains that relationship solely to safeguard Russian nationals in Afghanistan and in the hope of restarting stalled Afghan peace talks.
Afghan officials have repeatedly accused Moscow and Tehran of providing both money and weaponry to the Taliban. However, Stanekzai is the first high-level government official to publicly accuse them of supporting the insurgents.
The emergence of Daesh in Afghanistan and its expansion in pockets of northern areas in recent months has been a source of concern not just for Afghans, but also for regional players, including Russia and Iran.
Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told Russia’s Sputnik news agency at the end of last year that pro-Daesh militants fleeing Iraq and Syria were entering Afghanistan.
Members of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission told Arab News at the time that it had no evidence of the migration of foreign fighters into Afghanistan from Syria or Iraq.


Religious hate crime surge brings call for action from Muslim Council of Britain

Updated 18 min 26 sec ago
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Religious hate crime surge brings call for action from Muslim Council of Britain

  • Number of recorded hate crimes in England and Wales has more than doubled in the past five years, official data shows, with a substantial rise in offenses directed at Muslims
  • Findings come after a separate report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that 70% of Muslims surveyed nationally say they have experienced religion-based prejudice

LONDON: The number of recorded hate crimes in England and Wales has more than doubled in the past five years, official data shows, with a substantial rise in offenses directed at Muslims.

Religiously-motivated hate crime has risen by 40% in just the past two years with more than half (52%) being directed at Muslims in the community, according to the Home Office.

The findings come after a separate report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that 70% of Muslims surveyed nationally say they have experienced religion-based prejudice in their daily lives.

The Home Office said the increase in hate crime was largely driven by improvements in the way police record hate crime. But it also noted “spikes following the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017.”

The Labour Party MP David Lammy, who is part of the pro-Europe Best for Britain campaign, blamed the rise in hate crime on the rhetoric of Brexiters. “The extent to which hate crimes have risen in recent years is shameful. It comes from the very top. Divisive, xenophobic rhetoric from politicians and leaders trickles down into abuse and violence on our streets,” he said.

“It is no surprise that Islamophobic attacks on Muslim women who wear veils rose in the days following Boris Johnson’s ‘letterbox’ insult. Similarly, it is no coincidence that the type of anti-immigrant language used by some mainstream politicians has corresponded with spikes in hate crimes,” added Mr. Lammy.

Announcing the review, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “Hate crime goes directly against the longstanding British values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect, and I am committed to stamping this sickening behavior out. Our refreshed action plan sets out how we will tackle the root causes of prejudice and racism, support hate crime victims and ensure offenders face the full force of the law.”

The Muslim Council of Britain repeated calls for meaningful and proactive Government action as new figures reveal a rise in Islamophobic hate crime.

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “For years, Muslim communities have called for meaningful Government action against the rise in Islamophobia, yet this has been met by a tepid response at best.”

Mr Khan continued: “No longer can the Government sit back and watch as the far-right rises, Islamophobia is mainstreamed and vulnerable Muslim communities are attacked. There has been little action against bullying of Muslim children, minimal funding for security for Muslim institutions (and only during specific periods) and no support to Muslim communities to encourage reporting of hate crime. And the list of inaction continues.”

Mr Khan said: “We welcome the Ministerial Roundtables on antisemitism and Islamophobia to be chaired in late 2018 to listen and respond to concerns from within communities, but unlike in the past two years, we hope that warm words will be followed by strong action.”