Saudi hails US blacklist of Iran's Revolutionary Guards

RIYADH (AA) – Saudi Arabia on Tuesday hailed a U.S. decision to blacklist Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a "terrorist group".

On Monday, the U.S. administration designated the IRGC as a "foreign terrorist group", in a move that marked the first time a government agency has been blacklisted as a terrorist body.

In response, Tehran formally blacklisted the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) as a “terrorist organization.”

The U.S. decision "translates the Kingdom's repeated demands of the international community for the necessity to address terrorism backed by Iran," the official SPA news agency quoted an official source at the Foreign Ministry as saying.

The source went on to describe the U.S. move as a "practical and serious step in the efforts to combat terrorism".

"The international community must take a firm stance to address the role being played by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in undermining the international peace and security," he said.

Iran’s powerful IRGC was initially established to serve as the vanguard of Iran's 1979 revolution. It currently enjoys more autonomy than the rest of the Iranian military, answering only to Iran's supreme leader.

The IRGC is also solely responsible for Iran's formidable ballistic missile program.

Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are regional arch-foes.

Over 20 PKK terror suspects arrested in Turkey

             By Cemal Asan and Huseyin Bagis</p>    <p>VAN, Turkey/ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkish security forces arrested at least 24 PKK terror suspects during two separate operations on Tuesday, according to local officials.</p>    <p>The governor’s office in the eastern Van province said sixteen people were arrested in the province for their suspected links to the terror group.</p>    <p>Meanwhile, anti-terror police arrested eight PKK suspects in simultaneous operations across Istanbul.</p>    <p>Some pistols, documents and digital materials were seized during police search.</p>    <p>In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU -- has been responsible for the deaths of nearly 40,000 people, including women and children.

UK: 'Far-right' stabbing treated as terrorist incident

By Muhammad Mussa

LONDON (AA) – U.K. police are treating the stabbing of a young man as an act of terrorism as the perpetrator was inspired by the far-right.

On Saturday night a 19 year old man was stabbed in the county of Surrey and a 50 year old man was arrested near the scene on suspicion of attempted murder and racially aggravated public disorder.

“Whilst this investigation is still in its infancy, it has hallmarks of a terror event, inspired by the far-right, and therefore it has been declared a terrorism incident" said Neil Basu, head of the Metropolitan Police’s counter terrorism unit.

The victim, who’s identity is yet unknown, was stabbed in the hand and though he remains in hospital, his injuries are not life threatening.

Prior to the stabbing, Surrey police were called to a village near Heathrow Airport, responding to reports of a man behaving aggressively, carrying baseball bat and a knife and shouting racial slurs and comments. Police believe this is the same suspect who stabbed the young man.

Basu said that by declaring the incident an act of terror, police are able to use all the resources available to them in investigating the full nature of the attack and will help them reach a credible conclusion as to causes behind it.

"The investigation is being led by an investigation team based in the Counter Terrorism Policing South East region, who are working closely with our colleagues in Surrey Police in order to build a better picture of what has occurred,” Basu said.

“Police are committed to tackling all forms of toxic extremist ideology, which has the potential to threaten public safety and security” he added.

The incident follows the terrorist attack in New Zealand which killed at least 50 people during Friday's prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, the third-largest city of the country.

Following the terrorist attack in New Zealand, Islamic institutions across the U.K. have urged the government to intensify efforts in protecting the British Muslim community, their places of worship and their community centres as there is a heightened sense of fear of repercussions.

UK media fail to call NZ shootings as terror attack

By Can Erozden

ANKARA (AA) – U.K.'s well-known broadcasting corporation BBC and Daily Mirror came under fire as they did not name the New Zealand mosque shootings as terror attack that killed at least 50 Muslims at their place of worship on Friday.

BBC was unable to name the Christchurch mosque attacks as "terror attacks" but mainly said "Christchurch mosque shootings".

Meanwhile, British daily newspaper Daily Mirror published the terrorist's childhood photo as it remarked "an angelic boy" for the terror suspect, Brenton Harrison Tarrant.

"Boy who grew into evil far-right mass killer as 49 murdered at prayers," Daily Mirror said.

"A photo released of the killer as a child in the arms of his late father shows an angelic boy who former ­associates revealed was a likable and dedicated personal trainer running free athletic programmes for kids," it added.

An Australian gunman, 28-year-old Tarrant — also the accused terrorist — killed at least 50 Muslims in Friday's twin terror attacks in New Zealand.

The terror attack, during the weekly Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, was streamed live on social media. The footage has since been taken down.

However, BBC had called 2017 Westminster attack as "Westminster Terror Attack".

In a terrorist attack in March 2017, Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people on Westminster Bridge when he mowed pedestrians down, before stabbing a police officer who was on duty in front of parliament.

  • Former BBC editor slams broadcaster for its angle

Ex-BBC editor Rifat Jawaid criticized BBC for its perspective and style about the terrorist attack in Christchurch.

"As a former BBC Editor, I feel incredibly disappointed with your glaringly biased editorials. Both Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers have called Christ Church carnage as terrorist attack. But for your TV and online editors, this is only mosque attack! Shameful!," Jawaid said on Twitter.

Separately, Iranian Ambassador in London Hamid Baeidinejad said on social media that knife attack in London means a terrorist attack for BBC managers but the massacre in New Zealand is only an attack.

In addition, French press avoided to say "terror" even though they did for the attacks in France.

French daily Le Parisien didn't say terror attacks but remarked "Attentat de Christchurch" (Christchurch attack).

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison said that the mosque attacks were terrorist attacks.

Ardern told reporters that her country is treating the shootings as a "terrorist incident".

Malaysia to abolish death penalty for 11 offenses

                By Riyaz ul Khaliq </p>    <p>ANKARA (AA) - Malaysian government has decided to abolish death penalty for at least 11 offenses, including terror-related offenses, according to media reports. </p>    <p>The nine offenses fall under the Penal Code and two under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, Malaysian daily The Star said. </p>    <p>According to the daily, Malaysian Deputy Minister Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said that the government had also proposed to give discretionary powers to the courts in commuting sentences for the 11 offenses.</p>        <p>Of 11 offenses, five pertain to terrorism, including directing and committing terror acts. The rest cover murder, hostage-taking, organized crime, offenses against the constitutional monarch and the use of firearms, a report by Singapore-based Straits Times said.

UPDATE – 'Fewer than 700 terrorists in Turkey': Interior min.

             UPDATES WITH MORE REMARKS BY INTERIOR MINISTER

By Can Erozden

ANKARA (AA) – There are now fewer than 700 terrorists in Turkey as the country is taking significant counter-terror measures on its borders to block terrorist entries, interior minister said on Wednesday.

Hosted at the Anadolu Agency’s Editor’s Desk, Suleyman Soylu said: “There are fewer than 700 terrorists in Turkey. The [terrorist] entry into the country is so little, as well. 12 people entered [Turkey] since January. We are taking serious measures at our borders.”

Turkey installed a smart system to control its southern border as part of its counter-terror efforts.

"We set up one of the most modern systems in the world with sensors, cameras, and walls, and we are continuing to install," Soylu said.

The surveillance devices can be monitored from anywhere, he added.

On Turkey’s fight against the terrorist organization PKK, Soylu said that Turkey plans to conduct a joint anti-terror operation with Iran against the group as Turkey has been willing for a mutual operation for a long time.

"I thank Iran as it didn't make any trouble for a wall we are building although it has a firm position in these topics. We did it by reconciliation. This is not a border wall but a security wall, actually," he said.

Turkey has been building a 144-kilometer-long (89.4 miles) wall along its eastern border with Iran as Soylu viewed this wall and security systems on field in Oct. 2018. In May 2017, Tehran welcomed Turkey’s planned border security wall for safety. In Jan. 2018, Turkey completed more than half of it.

Separately, Soylu slammed the PKK for recruiting teenagers in its combat against Turkey.

Soylu said that PKK also recruits teens for sexual abuse and the minors suffer from deviant behaviors.

The so-called ringleaders of the PKK are known for their "perverted" behaviors, surrendered PKK terrorists confessed to Turkish security sources.

"53 PKK terrorists surrendered since January. In 2018, 383 terrorists surrendered," Soylu said.

"Between 1984 and 2007, some 52,025 people joined this terror group. This figure went down to 236 in 2018," Soylu remarked.

Turkey completed 80 percent of its winter operations against terrorists and is now setting new goals for spring, summer and fall operations.

The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU. In its more than 30-year terror campaign against Turkey, it has been responsible for the deaths of some 40,000 people, including women and children.

– Saudi trolls target Soylu

<p><br>

Turkey also carries out joint works with the European and Arab countries to chase terror-linked individuals for safety of tourists, Soylu added. His remarks came after Saudi trolls targeted him by his remarks against terrorism.

The trolls shared a video “Interior Minister Soylu threatens everyone who criticizes Turkey and the tourists” subtitled in Arabic.

Sharing anti-Soylu posts on their social media accounts, they tried to scheme against the Turkish minister by tilting the speech against Arabs, when it actually targets Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) and PKK terrorists.

The trolls falsely attributed quotes to Soylu such as: "Don’t think that this issue will end like this. Those who oppose Turkey abroad and then plan holidays in the Mediterranean cities and Antalya will be arrested. Files have been prepared against them by police at the airports."

The actual speech was about Turkey’s fight against terrorism and explained the problems big states face.

"We, as four, Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry, Interior Ministry, Intelligence Service, are conducting wide-scale operations abroad as well. Not only FETO, but we are also carrying out large operations against PKK,” Soylu said in his speech.

“Let PKK members come to Turkey from abroad, we are arresting them at the airports now. It isn’t like Turkey is not aware of anything. You will talk there, then will come here for a holiday in Antalya… It is not the case anymore.

– FETO bags $800M from charter schools

On the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), Soylu said that it earns $800M alone from charter schools financed by U.S., and the group is able to get $200M in donation.

He stated that Turkey is pursuing the FETO presence in the U.S. as the terror group has charter schools in the military bases in Arizona and Nevada.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

Turkey: 735 PKK/KCK suspects nabbed in anti-terror ops.

By Yasemin Kalyoncuoglu

ANKARA (AA) – Security forces arrested 735 PKK/KCK terror suspects on Sunday plotting an attack before local elections in Turkey.

The Interior Ministry said that at least 150 counter-terror operations were carried out against PKK/KCK members and their supporters prior to the polls on March 31.

Turkey is gearing up for the local polls, held every five years, with 13 parties taking part this year.

The terror group members were planning to mark the 20th anniversary of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan's arrest.

Ocalan was arrested by Turkish security forces on Feb. 15, 1999 in Kenya and sentenced to death for forming armed gangs under Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment as the death penalty was abolished in Turkey in 2004.

Ocalan has been imprisoned on Imrali Island in the Marmara Sea since his capture in Nairobi by Turkish forces.

In Sunday's operations, security forces seized long barreled weapons, shotguns, heavy weapon ammo, pistols, mines and handmade TNT explosives.

Turkish forces remanded 61 suspects and released 226.

Procedural acts for remaining 448 suspects are going on.

The PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, waged a terror campaign against Turkey for more than 30 years and has been responsible for the death of nearly 40,000 people.

UPDATE – Turkey to foil any attempts against its goals, interest

             ADD MORE REMARKS FROM ERDOGAN </p>  <p>By Ilkay Guder and Aynur Ekiz </p>  <p>ANKARA (AA) - Turkey will foil any attempts against its interests and goals, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Friday.</p>  <p>&quot;Our homeland, our flag, our state, our nation and our independence is our honor,&quot; Erdogan told a local election campaign rally in Sivas province.</p>  <p>Turkey will prevent every threat to its homeland, flag and state. Turkey devastated terror in the southeastern mountains of Cudi, Gabar and Tendurek, Erdogan said. </p>  <p>&quot;We gave a response to those who wanted to attack Turkey in the Jarabulus city of northern Syria and Afrin, northwestern Syrian city,” he said referring to Operation Euphrates Shield and Operation Olive Branch which brought improved security, supported coalition forces and eliminated the terror threat in the region. </p>  <p>&quot;We will give the necessary response to those who want to launch an operation into Turkey at home and abroad,&quot; Erdogan said. </p>  <p>Erdogan held his first rally for the March 31 elections in Sivas province. </p>  <p>Turkey is gearing up for the local polls, held every five years, with 13 parties taking part this year. </p>  <p> 

58 die in fresh clashes between Taliban, Afghan forces

            By Shadi Khan Saif<br>  </p>  <p>KABUL (AA) - At least 36 members of the Afghan security forces and 22 Taliban rebels have been killed in fresh clashes in the country’s north, officials and local media confirmed Tuesday.<br>  </p>  <p>The renewed fighting coincides with a two-day round of peace talks now underway in Moscow between Taliban representatives and several Afghan officials (not affiliated with the Kabul government).<br>

Safiullah Amiri, deputy chairman of the provincial assembly of Kunduz province on the border with Tajikistan, told Anadolu Agency that the rebels had overrun a number of checkpoints manned by army, police and pro-government militiamen late Monday.

<p>Amiri confirmed that 36 security personnel had been killed -- and at least 20 more injured -- in the attacks.<br>  </p>  <p>The Afghan Defense Ministry, for its part, said the Taliban assault in Kunduz had been repulsed. </p>    <p>“The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces repelled the enemy attack in the Khwaja Pak and Taloka areas on the outskirts of Kunduz city last night at around 1:00 a.m. [local time],” read a ministry statement. </p>    <p>At least 22 rebels were killed and another 18 injured, the ministry added, going on to note that a number of security personnel had been “martyred” in the fighting. <br>  </p>  <p>Similar rebel attacks reportedly occurred in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province, where, according to local Azadi Radio, as many as 10 security personnel were killed in coordinated assaults by the Taliban.<br>  </p>  <p>Claiming credit for both onslaughts, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said in a statement that four checkpoints had been completely overrun. </p>    <p>Mujahed added that at least 40 Afghan forces had been killed in Kunduz and Baghlan.</p>  

Somalia: Car bomb blast kills 5 in Mogadishu

             By Mohammed Dhaysane </p>    <p>MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - At least five people were killed, six others wounded when a car bomb blast targeted a busy shopping mall in the Somalia capital Mogadishu on Monday, officials said.</p>    <p>Police officer Abdihakim Ali told Anadolu Agency over the phone that the attack targeted Mogadishu shopping mall, located near Mogadishu municipality headquarters in the Hamarwayne neighborhood.</p>    <p>“We can confirm that at least five people were killed more than six others wounded who were rushed to Erdogan and Madina hospitals for treatment,” he added. </p>  <p>Somali-based insurgent group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack via its radio station.</p>    <p>The group said it had attacked government officials gathering and killed eight people including officials.</p>    <p>On Oct. 14, 2018, at least 300 people were killed after a truck bomb blast targeted a busy intersection in the Somali capital Mogadishu which officials blamed al-Shabaab for being behind the attack.