AMMAN: The US will reach its target this week of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees in a year-old resettlement program, the US ambassador to Jordan said yesterday, after meeting families headed to California and Virginia. The resettlement program has emerged as an issue in the US presidential campaign, with Republican nominee Donald Trump alleging displaced Syrians pose a potential security threat. Alice Wells, the US ambassador to Jordan, said yesterday that keeping Americans safe and taking in some of the world’s most vulnerable people are not mutually exclusive.
“Refugees are the most thoroughly screened category of travelers to the United States, and Syrian refugees are subject to even greater scrutiny,” she said. Wells said the target of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in the US in the 2016 fiscal year will be reached Monday, as several hundred Syrians depart from Jordan over 24 hours. The Jouriyeh family, which attended Sunday’s short ceremony, is headed to San Diego, California. Nadim Fawzi Jouriyeh, 49, a former construction worker from the war-ravaged Syrian city of Homs, said he feels “fear and joy, fear of the unknown and our new lives, but great joy for our children’s lives and future.”
Jouriyeh, who suffers from heart problems, will be traveling with his wife, Rajaa, 42, and their four children. Their oldest son, 14-year-old Mohammed, said he is eager to sign up for school in San Diego and hopes to study medicine one day. The resettlement program focuses on the most vulnerable refugees, including those who were subjected to violence or torture or are sick. Close to 5 million Syrians have fled civil war since 2011. Most struggle to survive in tough conditions in neighboring countries, including Jordan, which hosts close to 660,000 Syrian refugees.
Only a small percentage of Syrian refugees have been resettled to third countries. Instead, donor countries are trying to invest more in job creation and education for refugees in regional host countries to encourage them to stay there instead of moving onward, including to Europe. Wells said the US has taken in more refugees from around the world over the years than all other nations combined. – AP
WASHINGTON: The father of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq posed a question to Donald Trump: Have you read the Constitution?
To rapturous cheers, Pakistan-born Khizr Khan fiercely attacked the billionaire businessman Thursday at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, saying that if it was up to Trump, his son never would have been American or served in the military.
Khan said that Hillary Clinton, by contrast, "called my son the best of America".
The address was the latest effort by Democrats to highlight their diversity and criticise Trump's most contentious plans. Beyond his proposed wall across Mexico, the billionaire businessman has threatened to ban Muslims from entering the United States if he becomes president.
Capt. Humayun Khan died in 2004 when a car loaded with explosives blew up at his compound. He was 27.
Honouring his son, Khizr Khan pulled a copy of the Constitution out of his suit pocket and offered to lend it to Trump.
“Look for the words 'liberty' and 'equal protection of law', he said standing next to his wife, waving the paperback document vigorously.
"Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery?” he then asked. “Go look at the graves of brave Americans who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing.“
Khan, who moved to the US in 1980, said he and his wife were "patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country."
“Like many immigrants, we came to this country empty handed,” he said, believing that with hard work he could raise his three sons "in a nation where they were free to be themselves and follow their dreams".
Trump, Khan argued, was imperilling that ideal with his smears of Muslims, women, judges and other groups. He urged Muslims, immigrants and all patriots to “to not take this election lightly“.
“Vote for the healer,” Khan said, "not the divider".
TOKYO: Eiko Ishiyama, a Japanese-Kuwaiti woman, has fulfilled one of her goals by raising the Kuwaiti flag on Mt Fuji, Japan’s highest and most iconic mountain. “It was a tough journey because the weather got colder the higher I climbed.”
Ishiyama, who conquered the 3,776-meter peak last week, said yesterday. Living in Kuwait, Ishiyama teaches Japanese to Kuwaiti students, including in Japanese language courses at Kuwait University’s (KU) Center for Community Service and Continuing Education.
“One of my former Kuwaiti students tried to raise the Kuwaiti flag at the summit of Mt. Fuji a few years ago, but he did not make it to the top. Ever since then, I was inspired to take the Kuwaiti flag to the top myself, and I set it as one of my personal goals for 2016,” said Ishiyama.
She suffered from elevation sickness at the 8th station of the trail, where she was forced to stop and rest. But with remembering the dream of her Kuwaiti student, who could not continue beyond the 9th station, which was only one station away from the peak, Ishiyama stayed motivated to move up.
“I was worried that I could not achieve the same goal either. But after resting, I pushed myself to hike up to the summit while it was still dark.” Ishiyama reached the top just in time to see the sunrise, which she described that the view was absolutely stunning and very rewarding. “I recommend this experience to everyone. It is never too late and you are never too old to fulfill your goals,” she added. Located about 100 kilometer southwest of Tokyo, Mt Fuji has long been a symbol of Japan. It was added to the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site in 2013. – KUNA
MUNICH: Gunmen went on a shooting rampage in a shopping mall in the southern German city of Munich yesterday, killing and wounding many people, police said. Authorities were evacuating people from the Olympia mall but many others were hiding inside. The Bavarian Interior Ministry said three people were dead, NTV television reported. A Munich police spokeswoman said multiple people were killed or wounded. “We believe we are dealing with a shooting rampage,” the spokeswoman said.
More than one gunman was believed to be involved and no one had been arrested, she said. “We believe there was more than one perpetrator. The first reports came at 6 pm, the shooting apparently began at a McDonald’s in the shopping center. There are still people in the shopping center. We are trying to get the people out and take care of them.” Police special forces had arrived at the scene, NTV said. It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack, which took place a week after an axe-wielding teenager went on a rampage on a German train. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack.
The Bild newspaper reported that a gunman ran through the mall near the Munich Olympic stadium, firing on several people before fleeing in the direction of a nearby metro station. Staff in the mall were still in hiding, an employee told Reuters by telephone. “Many shots were fired, I can’t say how many but it’s been a lot,” the employee, who declined to be identified, said from the mall in Munich. “All the people from outside came streaming into the store and I only saw one person on the ground who was so severely injured that he definitely didn’t survive. We have no further information, we’re just staying in the back in the storage rooms. No police have approached us yet.” Munich transport authorities said they had halted several bus, train and tram lines. – Agencies
DHAKA: Bangladesh on Friday moved to regulate weekly sermons in hundreds of thousands of mosques as part of a stepped-up campaign to combat extremism, officials said.
The move comes after the deadly attack in an upscale Dhaka cafe in which 20 hostages were brutally shot and hacked to death in the nation's worst attack by suspected militants.
Since then, authorities have shut down Zakir Naik's Peace TV, and decided to monitor the social media and Friday sermons of local mosques in a bid to prevent radicalisation.
As part of the drive, the state-run Islamic Foundation, which works as a watchdog for mosques and religious establishments, has prepared a sermon for the main national mosque which it has asked other mosques to follow.
The sermon, which was published by the agency ahead of Friday's prayers, invokes holy verses and traditions of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) to rail against murderous extremism.
"Whoever kills a person unjustly, it is as though he has killed all mankind," it said, citing a verse of the Holy Quran.
It also quoted the Prophet (PBUH) as saying the killing of a human being is the biggest sin and urged parents to take good care of their children so they cannot be "brainwashed".
It was not clear how many of Bangladesh's mosques, which are run by independent neighbourhood lay committees, would follow the instructions.
But a senior police official said local administrations, police and regional Islamic Foundation officials would "monitor" the sermons.
Foundation chief Shamim Mohammad Afzal told AFP that the sermon had been distributed to more than 300,000 mosques.
"It is not mandatory but we hope the imams will follow our sermon or take their inspiration from it," he said.
"Our core message is there is no place for terrorism in Islam. We want to make sure our children cannot be brainwashed to commit an act of terrorism."
Islamic parties, who have strongly denounced the cafe siege and a string of other recent attacks on minorities, have criticised the sermon regulation as "undesirable".
"Long before the Foundation issued its instructions, our clerics have been vocal against terrorism," said Mufti Faiz Ullah, secretary general of Islamic Oikya Jote, a faith-based party.
Last month, just ahead of the cafe attack, a pro-government council of clerics issued a fatwa against violent jihad, which was endorsed by more than 100,000 imams.
DUBAI: A suicide bomber blew himself up near the American consulate in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea city of Jeddah in the early hours of Monday, the interior ministry said.
Security officers became suspicious of a man near the parking lot of Dr Suleiman Faqeeh Hospital, which is directly across from the US diplomatic mission.
When they moved in to investigate “he blew himself up with a suicide belt inside the hospital parking” at around 2:15am (2315 GMT Sunday), the ministry said, adding that two security officers were lightly injured.
A picture carried by the Sabq online newspaper, which is close to authorities, appeared to show a large body part lying on the ground between a taxi and the open door of another car, peppered with shrapnel holes.
The blast happened shortly before the dawn prayers after which Muslims begin their daily fast during the holy month of Ramazan. Saudi state news channel Al-Ekhbaria said there was a mosque nearby.
The incident occurred on July 4, which is the American Independence Day holiday.
Investigators are trying to identify the culprit, the interior ministry added.
Most of the consulate's staff had reportedly moved offices to a new location.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman, who declined to be named, said: “We are aware of reports of an explosion in Jeddah and working with Saudi authorities to collect more information. “We can confirm that all personnel under chief-of-mission authority are accounted for at this time.”
A 2004 Al Qaeda-linked militant attack on the US consulate in Jeddah killed five locally hired consular employees and four gunmen.
The three-hour battle on the heavily guarded compound came amid a wave of Al Qaeda attacks targeting Westerners and Saudi security posts.
More recently, Saudi Arabia has been a target of the militant Islamic State (IS) group attacks that have killed dozens of people. The extremist group views the Western-allied Saudi monarchy and government as heretics.
Saudi Arabia is part of the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria.
In June, the Interior Ministry reported 26 terror attacks had taken place in the kingdom in the last two years. Local affiliates of IS have targeted minority Shias and security officials.
The US Embassy in Riyadh regularly issues advisory messages for US citizens in Saudi Arabia. On Sunday, the embassy issued a message reminding anyone taking part in religious rituals or other public events to be aware of their surroundings. The message urged Americans to “remain aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country”.
It also advised citizens to "carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia".
NEW DELHI: India has slipped to 75th place in terms of money held by its citizens in Switzerland’s banks, while the United Kingdom remains on top.
India was placed at the 61st place last year. It used to be among top 50 countries in terms of holdings in Swiss banks till 2007.
The country was ranked highest, at the 37th place, in 2004.
As per the latest annual update on Swiss banks, released by Switzerland’s central bank (Swiss National Bank), the total money held there by foreign clients fell by nearly 4 per cent to Swiss franc (CHF) 1.42 trillion at the end of 2015.
With 1.5bn Swiss francs, Pakistan placed at 69th place
In terms of individual countries, the UK accounted for the largest chunk, at about CHF 350 billion or almost 25pc of the total foreign money with Swiss banks. The US came second with nearly CHF 196bn or about 14pc.
No other country accounted for a double-digit percentage share, while others in the top ten included West Indies, Germany, Bahamas, France, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and Panama.
India was ranked 75th with CHF 1.2bn, which is not even 0.1pc of the total foreign money parked in Swiss banks and is the lowest for the country in at least two decades or since 1996 — the first year for which full comparable data is available.
Pakistan was placed higher, at the 69th place, with CHF 1.5bn — a shade better than 0.1pc of total foreign money parked in Swiss banks.
India was also lowest ranked among the BRICS nations — Russia was ranked 17th (CHF 17.6bn), China 28th (CHF 7.4bn), Brazil 37th (CHF 4.8bn) and South Africa 60th (CHF 2.2bn).
Other countries that ranked higher than India included Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Iran, Chile, Angola, Philippines, Indonesia and Mexico, while a number of so-called tax havens were also placed above, including Jersey, Cayman Islands, Cyprus, Marshall Islands, Bermuda, Belize, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Seychelles and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
All offshore financial centres together held CHF 378bn in Swiss banks. The total for developing countries stood at CHF 207bn, while the same for the developed countries was much higher.
India was ranked in top 50 countries between 1996 and 2007, but started declining after that — 55th in 2008, 59th in 2009 and 2010 each, 55th again in 2011, 71st in 2012 and then 58th in 2013.