India troops kill Kashmir militant linked to Al-Qaeda

Above, Indian paramilitary troopers stands infront of closed shops during a one day strike in downtown Srinagar on May 17,2019. (AFP)
Updated 24 May 2019
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India troops kill Kashmir militant linked to Al-Qaeda

SRINAGAR, India: Government forces in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed a top militant commander linked to Al-Qaeda in the disputed region, officials said on Friday.

Zakir Musa was killed Thursday evening in a gunfight after police and soldiers launched a counterinsurgency operation in the southern Tral area, said Col. Rajesh Kalia, an Indian army spokesman.

Musa refused to surrender and fired grenades at the troops after they zeroed in on his hideout in a civilian home, police said.

His killing triggered violent anti-India protests in many places. No one was immediately reported injured.

Authorities cut off Internet on mobile phones in a common tactic to make organizing anti-India protests difficult and discourage dissemination of protest videos. They also imposed a curfew across much of the Kashmir Valley, including in the main city of Srinagar, in anticipation of more protests and clashes, and ordered schools and colleges to remain closed.

In mid-2017, an Al-Qaeda linked propaganda network said Musa joined an affiliate militant group, Ansar Ghawzat-ul-Hind, as its head. He had left Kashmir’s largest indigenous rebel group, Hizbul Mujahideen, and was believed to be joined by less than a dozen others.

He instantly became a media sensation, particularly with New Delhi-based television news channels using him to showcase that Kashmiri struggle for self-rule was part of a global militant agenda. Previously, no global militant groups have openly operated in Kashmir, a territory divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both entirely.

All Kashmir rebel groups rejected Musa and his Al-Qaeda affiliate, some even calling him inimical to their cause.

Separatist leaders, who challenge India’s sovereignty over Kashmir, have repeatedly rejected the presence of outside groups, including Al-Qaeda, and have accused India of portraying the Kashmiri struggle as extremist.

Musa was a close aide of Burhan Wani, a charismatic Kashmiri rebel leader whose killing in 2016 triggered open defiance against Indian rule.

Wani’s death and the resulting public fury brought the armed rebellion into the mainstream in Kashmir and revived a militant movement that had withered in recent years to only about 100 fighters in scattered rebel outfits.

Officials say since Wani’s killing, hundreds of young men have joined rebel ranks, some of them after stealing weapons from soldiers and police. Wani’s death also cemented a shift in public behavior, with people displaying anger at Indian rule openly and violently when troops raid villages to hunt rebels.

Rebel groups have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Nearly 70,000 people have been killed in the armed uprising and the ensuing Indian military crackdown.

Anti-India sentiment runs deep in Kashmir’s mostly Muslim population, with most people supporting the rebel cause that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.


Greta Thunberg to Congress: ‘Don’t listen to me. Listen to the scientists’

Updated 52 sec ago

Greta Thunberg to Congress: ‘Don’t listen to me. Listen to the scientists’

  • Thunberg was invited to a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis
  • She has been in Washington since last week to join US and indigenous activists to build up support for a global climate strike on Friday and pressure lawmakers to take action on climate change

WASHINGTON: Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has inspired a global movement for climate change, delivered a pointed message before a US congressional hearing on Wednesday: “I don’t want you to listen to me. I want you to listen to the scientists.”
The 16-year-old founder of the “Fridays For Future” weekly school walkouts to demand government climate-change action submitted a 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the hearing in lieu of testimony. It urged rapid, unprecedented changes to the way people live in order to keep temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) by 2030.
“People in general don’t seem to be aware of how severe the crisis” is, Thunberg said, urging lawmakers to “unite behind the science” and take action, pleading that people treat climate change “like the existential crisis it is.”
Thunberg was one of four students invited to a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, to provide the next generation’s views on climate change.
She has been in Washington since last week to join US and indigenous activists to build up support for a global climate strike on Friday and pressure lawmakers to take action on climate change.
Her first appearance took place in front of the White House on Friday, where she encouraged fellow young activists to keep fighting to be heard. She did not mention US President Donald Trump, a climate change denier who moved to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Change Agreement early in his tenure, in her remarks.
On Wednesday, Trump announced he plans to revoke California’s ability to set its own more stringent emissions standards for vehicles — the latest move in his administration’s multipronged attack on the state’s efforts to reduce vehicle emissions that could slow the deployment of electric and more efficient vehicles.
At the hearing on Wednesday was also 21-year-old conservative climate-change advocate Benji Backer from Wisconsin. He told lawmakers that young conservatives also favor climate change action, but through an approach focused on technology and allowing the continued use of fossil fuels. “As a proud American, as a life-long conservative and as a young person, I urge you to accept climate change for the reality it is and respond accordingly. We need your leadership,” he said.
While he praised Thunberg and other climate activists for putting the issue at the forefront of politics, he said there was time to take more measured action.
In addition to meetings on Capitol Hill, Thunberg met former President Barack Obama on Tuesday. Obama described the teenager on Twitter as “already one of the planet’s greatest advocates.”
Later on Wednesday, she joined seven young Americans who have sued the US government for failing to take action on climate change on the steps of the Supreme Court. They urged political leaders and lawmakers to support their legal fight and take action to phase out the use of fossil fuels.
At the panel, Republican representatives praised the students for raising awareness about climate change but disagreed over what action the US should take.
Representative Garret Graves from Louisiana, said his state was affected by rising sea levels and that he supported the US emission reduction target enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, but he criticized the pact for allowing emerging economies like China to continue to emit greenhouse gases.
“I think that signing on to an agreement...that allows for China to have a 50% increase in greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2030 is inappropriate,” he said.
Thunberg responded that in her home country, Sweden, people similarly criticize the United States for not taking enough action.
Another activist on the panel, 17-year-old Jamie Margolin from Seattle, called out lawmakers for taking too long to enact climate change policies.
“The fact that you are staring at a panel of young people testifying before you today pleading for a livable earth should not fill you with pride; it should fill you with shame,” she said.
Thunberg and the youth leaders also met with Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Thunberg is expected to make a speech on Wednesday evening in the House.