Joe Biden announces US killed Al-Qaeda chief al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan

Agencies
August 2, 2022

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Washington, Aug 2: President Joe Biden announced Monday that the United States had killed Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, one of the world's most wanted terrorists and suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In a televised address, Biden said the strike in Kabul, Afghanistan had been carried out on Saturday. "I gave the final approval to go get him," he said, adding that there had been no civilian casualties.

"Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more," Biden said.

A senior administration official said Zawahiri had been killed on the balcony of a house in Kabul in a drone strike, and that there had been no US boots on the ground in Afghanistan.

The official said that Zawahiri's presence in the Afghan capital Kabul was a "clear violation" of a deal the Taliban had signed with the US in Doha in 2020 that paved the way for the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

It was the first known over-the-horizon strike by the United States on an Al-Qaeda target in Afghanistan since American forces withdrew from the country on August 31, 2021.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who grew up in a comfortable Cairo household before turning to violent radicalism, had been on the run for 20 years since the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in the United States.

He took over Al-Qaeda after Osama bin Laden was killed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011, and had a $25 million US bounty on his head.

Over the weekend the Afghan interior ministry denied reports circulating on social media of a drone strike in Kabul, telling AFP a rocket struck "an empty house" in the capital, causing no casualties.

Early Tuesday in Kabul, however, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that an "aerial attack" was carried out on a residence in the Sherpur area of the city.

"The nature of the incident was not revealed at first. The security and intelligence agencies of the Islamic Emirate investigated the incident and found in their preliminary investigations that the attack was carried out by American drones," his tweet said.

In recent months the Taliban have largely barred media from covering the aftermath of security incidents and frequently deny or downplay any casualties.

The news comes a month before the first anniversary of the final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, leaving the country in the control of the Taliban insurgency that fought Western forces over the preceding two decades.

The US withdrew after the Taliban signed the deal in Doha in 2020 in which they promised not to allow Afghanistan to be used again as a launchpad for international jihadism, but experts believe the group never broke their ties with Al-Qaeda.

Zawahiri, 71, lacked the potent charisma that helped bin Laden rally jihadists around the world, but willingly channelled his analytical skills into the Al-Qaeda cause.

He was believed to be the main strategist -- the real mastermind who steered operations, including the September 11 attacks, as well as bin Laden's personal doctor.

Zawahiri's father was a renowned physician and his grandfather a prayer leader at Cairo's Al-Azhar institute, the highest authority for Sunni Muslims.

He became involved with Egypt's radical Muslim community at a young age and published several books on Islamic fundamentalism, which came for many to symbolize the radical Islamist movement.

He left Egypt in the mid-1980s and headed for Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar where the resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was based.

It was at that time, when thousands of Islamist fighters flooded into Afghanistan during the 1980s, that Zawahiri and bin Laden met.

In the early 1990s Zawahiri is believed to have lived in Europe before joining bin Laden in Sudan or Afghanistan.

In 1998 he was one of five signatories to bin Laden's "fatwa" calling for attacks against Americans and he began appearing regularly at the Al-Qaeda leader's side. 

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News Network
August 14,2022

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A nine-year-old Dalit boy, a student of a private school in Rajasthan's Surana village died on Saturday, August 13, days after he was brutally beaten by his school teacher for touching a drinking water pot.

40-year-old teacher Chail Singh, an upper caste Hindu, who allegedly beat the boy has been arrested and charged with murder and under sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Police said the reason for beating up the Class 3 student Indra Meghwal that he touched a drinking water pot is being investigated.

The incident took place on July 20, the victim's father said. The boy suffered a serious injury to his face and became unconscious after receiving the beating. The boy was taken to the district hospital from where he was referred to a hospital in Udaipur. But even after a week, there was no improvement. The family decided to take him to Ahmedabad where he succumbed to the injuries. The photo of the boy with swollen eyes and an injured nose has surfaced on social media.

"He remained admitted at the hospital in Udaipur for about a week, but seeing no improvement, we took him to Ahmedabad. But his condition did not improve even there and he finally succumbed on Saturday," the boy's father Devaram Meghwal said.

The state education department has initiated an inquiry into the incident. Two officials have been asked to submit a report to the block education officer.

Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said the incident is tragic and the state government will ensure that the victim's family gets justice at the earliest. The CM has also announced an assistance of ₹5 lakh to the family of the deceased.

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Agencies
August 12,2022

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New York, Aug 12: Controversial author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck at an event in New York, US, on Friday. Details were scarce about his condition and the attacker, who has been detained. The 75-year-old author's writings have in the past led to threats.

The New York State Police confirmed the stabbing and said he was taken to an area hospital by helicopter. The attacker is in custody, police said. Social media posts showed people rushing to his aid on stage at Chautauqua Institution, about 100 km from the city. A person interviewing him suffered minor head injuries in the attack. 

Mr Rushdie fell to the floor immediately after the attack, and the attacker was restrained. A small group of people surrounded the author, holding up his legs, presumably to send more blood to his chest, AP reported. Hundreds of people in the audience gasped at the sight of the attack and were then evacuated.

Rabbi Charles Savenor, who was in the audience, told AP: "This guy ran on to platform and started pounding on Mr Rushdie. At first you're like, ‘What's going on?' And then it became abundantly clear in a few seconds that he was being beaten." He said the attack lasted about 20 seconds. 

The attack happened around 11 am local time (8.30 pm IST) as Mr Rushdie was being introduced before he was to speak. The Chautauqua Institution, located in a rural part of New York, is known for its summertime lecture series. Mr Rushdie has spoken there before.

Delhi-based British writer William Dalrymple was among the first to react, hoping that Mr Rushdie wasn't hurt. "A terrible day for literature, for freedom of speech and for authors everywhere. Poor poor Salman: I pray he's not hurt and recovers quickly," he tweeted.

Mr Rushdie, 75, faced threats particularly in the late 1980s over his book, The Satanic Verses, which is banned in Iran since 1988 as it is alleged to be blasphemous towards Islam. There was also a reward out on his head by the Iranian top leader, though by 1998 the Iranian government said it wasn't seeking to enforce that 'fatwa' or edict. It wasn't clear if the attack is linked to that.

A British citizen of Indian origin, Mr Rushdie has lived in the US for the past 20 years. After the controversy over his fourth book, The Satanic Verses (1988), he remained out of the public eye, mostly living in the UK. Despite the threats, he produced several novels throughout the 1990s.

His first novel came out in 1975, but one of his seminal works is about modern India, Midnight's Children (1981), for which he won the Booker Prize. 

In 2007, he was knighted — given the ceremonial title of 'Sir' — by Queen Elizabeth II for services to literature. He has produced over a dozen works, including non-fiction.

In 2012, after an Iranian religious outfit renewed the bounty on him, he dismissed that threat, saying there was "no evidence" of people being interested in the reward, said the AP report. That year, he published a memoir, Joseph Anton, about the fatwa. The title came from the pseudonym he had used while in hiding.

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News Network
August 17,2022

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New Delhi, Aug 17: Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad -- long upset with the party -- has resigned from a key party post in Jammu and Kashmir, signalling a revolt within. Made the chairman of the party's campaign committee, he stepped down from the post shortly after his appointment. He has also resigned from the party's Jammu and Kashmir political affairs committee.

Sources indicated that Mr Azad saw the appointment as a demotion as he is already a member of the party's all-India political affairs committee. A veteran leader, he is also a former Chief Minister of the erstwhile state, served as a union minister and held many important party posts. He was also one of the group of 23 leaders who wrote an explosive letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi two years ago, seeking organisational changes

The resignation of Mr Azad came shortly after his close aide, Ghulam Ahmed Mir, was dropped from the post of the chief of the party's Jammu and Kashmir unit. Mr Mir had stepped down last month.

The party had effected a thorough organisational shake-up in the Union Territory and appointed Vikar Rasool Wani in place of Mr Mir.

Sonia Gandhi had also formed the campaign committee, political affairs committee, coordination committee, manifesto committee, publicity and publication committee, disciplinary committee and Pradesh election committee with immediate effect, reported news agency Press Trust of India.

The assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will be held after the finalisation of electoral rolls and completion of the delimitation exercise. There is, however, concern that the polls cannot be held this year as delimitation and electoral rolls revision cannot be completed before the deep winter sets in.

A timeline for the election is yet to be announced.

The Election Commission, however, has recently revised the date of final publication of voters list to November 25. This would be the first voters' list of the Union Territory after the boundaries of assembly seats were redrawn in the delimitation exercise.

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