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Maryland Man Pleads Not Guilty to Terrorism-Support Charges in New York

A Maryland man arrested on charges he fought on behalf of an al-Qaida-affiliated terror group in Somalia pleaded not guilty Wednesday and his lawyer said he will fight the charges.

A soft-spoken Maalik Alim Jones, 31, entered the plea in Manhattan federal court to five terror-related charges, including that he trained with and supported al-Shabaab, an ultra-conservative Islamic militant group seeking to run Somalia under a strict interpretation of Shariah law.

The plea to charges that could carry a potential life prison sentence came a month after Jones was turned over to U.S. authorities by Somalia authorities who arrested him Dec. 7 as he allegedly tried to get a boat to travel to Yemen.

According to court documents, Jones, a U.S. citizen born in Maryland, confessed to FBI agents that he fought Kenyan government soldiers in a battle until he was injured by a missile strike and was taken to a hospital. The FBI said he admitted he was paid $100 monthly by al-Shabaab while he worked for them from August 2011 to December 2015.

The FBI said al-Shabaab announced it had merged with al-Qaida in 2012 and it’s Al Qaeda which is financing Al shabab in Somalia.alsh
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A series of bomb blasts have rocked the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, followed by reports of continuing gunfire and at least three people killed and injured.

Blasts hit several locations, including the Sarinah shopping centre, near the presidential palace and UN offices.

A BBC reporter at the scene said police have cordoned off the area. He said they were occasionally taking cover behind cars.


There is no indication yet of who might be behind the assault.

Indonesia has been attacked by Islamist militant groups in the past and has been on high alert on the same.

National police spokesman told AFP people had been warned to stay indoors in case of further explosions.

A UN official, Jeremy Douglas, told the BBC had been about 150m away from one of the blasts near the UN building.

“Then we ran into the building. We heard a third explosion. We got up to our office on the tenth floor and we heard a fourth, a fifth and a sixth.

“There is gunfire going on in the street right now.”

A Reuters photographer said one explosion had been at a Starbucks cafe, with its windows blown out.

He said police appeared to be aiming guns at a man on the roof of the building.

This is the first major attack on Jakarta since the 2009 bombing of the Marriot and Ritz hotels.

The BBC’s reporter Karishma Vaswani says Jakarta police had been warning of a possible attack for some time, but that this appears to be a very different style of attack from those seen in the city before



France open mosque days hailed but racism fears remain

Non-Muslims visit mosques across the country to foster integration as France marks anniversary of Charlie Hebdo attacks.


A weekend that saw mosques across France fling open their doors in bid to foster integration and overturn negative stereotypes about Muslims has been hailed as successful first step, but fears remain over the wellbeing of a community which has suffered “retaliatory” violence and increased racism over the past year.

From Saturday morning, visitors of all and no religious background have walked into some of the approximately 2,400 mosques from Paris to Toulouse during the open-house event for tours, talks, and to meet and speak to Muslims over tea and snacks.

The weekend was organised by the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), which is supported by the government.

It came as France marks the one-year anniversary of attacks at the Paris-based offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine, and a Jewish supermarket in which 17 people were killed.

On Sunday in the capital, thousands gathered at the Place de la Republique to mark the anniversary.

The open-house weekend also came two months after November 13, when attacks in the French capital left 130 people dead.

Both waves of attacks were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, triggering a backlash on France’s Muslim minority.

“I think at a time when Muslims are the target of the government, but also of the extreme right wing, anti-Muslim sentiment is constantly growing. It’s a very good thing to see that Muslims are willing to reach out and show people they’re part of this country, they are French, they stand for peace and also show that they shouldn’t be afraid,” Rim-Sarah Alouane, a researcher at the Toulouse 1 University Capitole, told Al Jazeera.

“This initiative is a first step towards something bigger.”

Alouane’s research focuses on religious freedom, civil liberties and human rights



As aid agencies prepare to deliver food to Madaya, on the outskirts of Damascus, and two other besieged towns in Idlib province, an estimated 400,000 people are living under siege in 15 areas across Syria, according to the UN.

A deal struck on Saturday permits the delivery of food to Madaya, currently surrounded by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the villages of Foua and Kefraya in Idlib, both of which are hemmed in by rebel fighters.
 photo taken AL-haji    children protesting against malnutrition

Due to a siege imposed by the Syrian government and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, an estimated 42,000 people in Madaya have little to no access to food, resulting in the deaths of at least 23 people by starvation so far, according to the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

Reports of widespread malnutrition have emerged, some of them suggesting that Madaya residents are resorting to eating grass and insects for survival.

In Kefraya and Foua, about 12,500 people are cut off from access to aid supplies by rebel groups, including al-Nusra Front.

On December 26, Syrian government forces set up a checkpoint and sealed off the final road to Moadamiyah, a rebel-controlled town on the outskirts of Damascus,  demanding that opposition groups  lay down their arms and surrender.

The Moadamiyah Media Office, run by pro-opposition activists, estimates that 45,000 civilians are stuck in the area for more than two weeks.

source: Al jazeera



Governors have threatened to go to court should the national government fail to transfer all devolved functions to counties by March 4, 2016.

Speaking at Mugae in Buuri Sub-County during the launch of a land adjudication exercise on Saturday, the Council of Governors (CoG) chairman Peter Munya said failure to hand over all devolved functions by March will be a breach of the constitution.

The Meru County governor also opposed the extension of the Transition Authority’s (TA) term saying governors will not engage in any negotiations over the matter.

His sentiments come after Devolution Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri supported extension of the term of the TA, the body overseeing the transfer of devolved functions to counties.

“The Sixth Schedule section 15 of the Constitution says that all devolved functions shall be transferred by the last day of the third year of the transition period,” Mr Munya said.

“So all pending county functions must be transferred regardless of the opposition, we want all the roads and other functions devolved alongside their budgetary allocation by March 4,” said the governor adding that the law is clear on which roads should be devolved and that the court has ruled in favour of county governments.

“If the Transition Authority does not comply, we are going to go to court for contempt, we are not interested in any negotiations with the TA any more. Their time is up and the law requires that they transfer and gazette all devolved functions by March 4,” Mr Munya said.

Mr Munya said the Authority should accomplish all restructuring by the expiry of its term to comply with the law.

The CoG chairman noted that only a county government can approve the retention of devolved functions by the national government through a written agreement.




“No one should make noise in Nairobi saying that wananchi do not want the functions to be fully devolved,” said Mr Munya.
The TA had three years from 2013 to oversee a fully devolved system, but by 2015, a number of its assignments had not been completed.

Its tasks include auditing and transfer of assets and liabilities, rationalising human resources between the national and county governments, as well as establishing county pensions and declaring county governments’ public service.



Saudi authorities on Sunday executed an Ethiopian woman convicted of murdering a Saudi female with an axe, the 50th death sentence carried out in the kingdom this year, the interior ministry said.

Jinat Farid was found guilty of killing Ghalia Eida al-Harithi by striking her repeatedly with an axe as the victim knelt to perform Muslim prayers, the ministry said in a statement carried by state news agency SPA.

After killing Harithi, the Farid stole two gold rings and an unspecified amount of money, the ministry said.
She was executed in the western city of Taif.
The ministry did not specify any connection between the culprit and the victim, but the kingdom hosts large numbers of domestic workers that come from African and South Asian countries.

On January 2, the kingdom executed 47 men convicted of “terrorism”, including Al-Qaeda-linked militants and Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, whose death has prompted a diplomatic row with Iran.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia executed 153 people convicted of various crimes, including drug trafficking, up from 87 in 2014, according to AFP tallies.

Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia last year was the highest for two decades.

However, the number is way behind that of Iran and China.

Under the kingdom’s strict Islamic legal code, murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, rape and apostasy are all punishable by death.

Most executions in the kingdom are carried out by beheading with a sword.



Unidentified attackers have beaten up and wounded a Somali journalist in northern Somalia on Friday, the latest in series of attacks against media workers in the horn of Africa nation.

Hussein Hassan Adde, a reporter for the Puntland TV based in Buhodle town is recovering from heaal1d injuries sustained during the attack at a hospital in Lasanod town.

Witnesses told local media that the unidentified men have beaten the reporter with woody sticks, metal objects, leaving him for dead.

“I received no complaint nor did I receive any death threats – I don’t know who to blame.” the reporter told local media from his hospital bed.

His mother Khadra Mohamed said that she was told that her son was lying dead, expressing relief to have found him responding and barely speaking before they took him to the hospital.

“My hope got restored when I saw him lying on the ground but moving and trying to sit up.” She said.

No group has claimed the responsibility for the attack which is seen as an assassination attempt against the journalist.

According a recent CPJ report, Somalia is the most dangerous places media workers operate. Dozens of journalists have been killed in the past few years, forcing many to flee the horn of Africa nation where political parties vying for Somali politics, government and militants are often blamed for journalists’ deaths.

CPJ says 30 journalists have been killed with impunity in the last 10 years alone. Very few perpetrators have been so far been charged with the cold-blood murders which sent shockwaves across media industry.