No evidence found that Arab coalition forces in Yemen attacked fishing boat

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Updated 06 February 2020

No evidence found that Arab coalition forces in Yemen attacked fishing boat

  • The investigation found that Saudi naval ship Makkah and the Egyptian naval ship Alexandria were in the vicinity of the reported attack on Aug. 11 and 14, but did not engage with any surface targets

RIYADH: The Joint Incident Assessment Team in Yemen on Wednesday said it found no evidence to support a report published by the New York Times in Dec. 2018 that claimed Arab Coalition Forces attacked a civilian fishing boat, killing 11 of the 14 crew members.

JIAT spokesman Mansour Al-Mansour said that a reporter from the newspaper contacted the coalition about an alleged attack on the fishing boat Afaq on Aug. 11, 2018. When the story was published, the stated date of the attack was Aug. 14, 2018.

According to the newspaper story: “The first sign of trouble was the helicopter that hovered over the small Yemeni fishing trawler as it cut across the Red Sea. Then a warship appeared, its guns pointed at the boat.

“Bullets thumped into the water around the boat, the Afaq, then rippled through its flimsy wooden hull ... The engine caught fire.”

Al-Mansour said that given the discrepancy regarding the date of the attack in the reporter’s message and the published story, JIAT investigators looked at both dates. They examined the official record of events and operations carried out by naval forces, event logs from naval units and daily intelligence reports. They also interviewed specialists in the Western Fleet and reviewed the rules of engagement for coalition forces and their adherence to the principles and provisions of international humanitarian law and customary norms.

The investigation found that Saudi naval ship Makkah and the Egyptian naval ship Alexandria were in the vicinity of the reported attack on Aug. 11 and 14, but did not engage with any surface targets.

Al-Mansour said that an unarmed helicopter from the Makkah took off at 7:50 a.m. on one of the days to carry out a medical evacuation from the Alexandria. It returned to the Makkah at 10:11 a.m.

The Saudi ship Al-Farouq was docked at Jazan Port and left set sail at 6:04 pm on one of the days. However, there were no aircraft on board.

The investigation team therefore concluded that coalition forces did not attack a civilian fishing boat in the Red Sea on either of the dates.

The investigation was one of six discussed by Al-Mansour. He said that in three cases, it was found that coalition forces had acted correctly in pursuing legitimate military objectives. In the remaining three, investigators concluded that coalition forces did not carry out any attacks or operations.

Al-Mansour said that JIAT has examined 182 incidents since the launch of Operation Decisive Storm. The team's role is to establish whether the incidents happened, whether coalition forces were involved, and whether their actions were correct and complied with international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement, he added. If mistakes or inappropriate action are discovered, he continued, the responsible individuals are held accountable and the findings revealed with full transparency.
 


Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. The 86-year-old is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2020

Uthman Taha: ‘I wish the verses about heaven would never end’

  • The Syrian Qur’an writer, regarded as one of the world’s finest calligraphers, is on the road to recovery following his recent hospital admission

MAKKAH: Syrian calligrapher Uthman Taha is in good health and recovering at home after a 13-day stay in a hospital where he was treated for what he and his wife initially suspected to be the novel coronavirus COVID-19, although he ultimately tested negative for the virus.

Taha is the official calligrapher of the Qur’an at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. His wife, Fatimah Umm Al-Nour, said Taha had a chest infection during his stay at the hospital and stressed that he had been “careful and took all the precautionary measures” and that he had not left the house for five months before his hospital visit.
The 86-year-old calligrapher is still in the recovery phase, his wife said, and has been advised to rest and to avoid stress. She praised his doctors, who have consistently checked in with the couple since Taha returned home, and added that she has tested negative for COVID-19 too.
Taha is regarded as one of the most skilled calligraphers in the Arab world. Al-Nour told Arab News that he continues to practice calligraphy daily.
Taha, who has written the Qur’an 12 times at the King Fahd Complex, was born in 1934 and attended school in Aleppo. His father was also a skilled calligrapher, who used the Ruq’ah script, and Taha studied with several of Syria’s finest calligraphers including Mohammed Al-Mawlawi, Mohammed Al-Khatib, Hussein Al-Turki, and Ibrahim Al-Rifai.
When he moved to Damascus for university, Taha began to learn other scripts, including Thuluth, Naskh (in which he is now considered a master), and Farsi. He received his calligraphy certificate from master calligrapher Hamed Al-Amadi in 1973.
He arrived in Saudi Arabia in 1988, and began work as a calligrapher at the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an in Madinah. He writes the Qur’an in the Ottoman script, and copies of his work have been distributed throughout the Islamic world.
What makes Taha’s work unique is that each page of the Qur’an that he writes concludes at the end of a verse. The secret, he explains, is to simplify the words — which is the origin of the Kufic script in which the Qur’an has been written since the days of Prophet Muhammad’s companions — keeping the letters close to one another.
Taha spent years perfecting his technique of evenly distributing the words in every line so that the space between the lettering is consistent throughout every page of every book, which means eliminating many of the script combinations that make such consistency difficult.
He explained to Arab News that when he is working on his Qur’an calligraphy he is transported: “When I begin writing the Holy Qur’an, I resort to solitude to allow myself to be invested in the verses and their interpretation, forgetting about the world around me,” he said. “I wish the verses about Jannah (heaven) would never end, and my hand trembles when I write the verses about Jahannam (hell).”