Iran world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism: US

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis speaks while Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada (not pictured) listens during a joint press conference at the defence ministry in Tokyo on Saturday. (AFP)
Updated 04 February 2017
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Iran world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism: US

DUBAI: US Defense Secretary James Mattis has called Iran the world’s “biggest state sponsor of terrorism,” amid rising tensions between the two nations.
His comments come a day after the US imposed new sanctions against Iran in response to a ballistic missile test.
But Mattis said he did not see any need to boost US troop numbers in the Middle East to deal with Iran, reported BBC.
A Revolutionary Guards commander said Iran would use its missiles if its security is under threat, as the elite force defied new US sanctions on its missile program by holding a military exercise on Saturday.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since a recent Iranian ballistic missile test which prompted US President Donald Trump’s administration to impose sanctions on individuals and entities linked to the Revolutionary Guards.
Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn said the Washington was putting Iran on notice over its “destabilizing activity,” and Trump tweeted Tehran was “playing with fire”
“We are working day and night to protect Iran’s security,” head of Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace unit, Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.
“If we see smallest misstep from the enemies, our roaring missiles will fall on their heads,” he added.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards is holding the military exercise in Semnan province on Saturday to test missile and radar systems and to “showcase the power of Iran’s revolution and to dismiss the sanctions,” according to the force’s website.
Dismissing Trump’s comments that “nothing is off the table” in dealing with Tehran, the commander of Iran’s ground forces said on Saturday that the Islamic Republic has been hearing such threats since its 1979 revolution. “The defense capability and the offensive prowess of Iran’s armed forces would make America or any other enemy regretful of any incursion,” Ahmad Reza Pourdastan was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Iranian state news agencies reported that homemade missile systems, radars, command and control centers, and cyber warfare systems would be tested in Saturday’s drill.
Iran has one of the Middle East’s largest missile programs and held a similar exercise in December to showcase its defense systems, including radars, anti-missile defense units, and short and medium-range missiles.
Tehran confirmed on Wednesday that it had test-fired a new ballistic missile, but said the test did not breach its nuclear agreement with world powers or a UN Security Council resolution endorsing the pact.
Iran has test-fired several ballistic missiles since the nuclear deal in 2015, but the latest test was the first since Trump entered the White House. Trump said during his election campaign that he would stop Iran’s missile program.
The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday and recommended the missile testing be studied at the committee level. The new US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, called the test “unacceptable.”
The Security Council resolution was adopted to buttress the deal under which Iran curbed its nuclear activities to allay concerns they could be used to develop atomic bombs, in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
The resolution urged Tehran to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Critics say the resolution’s language does not make this obligatory.
Tehran says it has not carried out any work on missiles specifically designed to carry nuclear payloads.


Egyptian sentenced to death for murder of Christian doctor

Updated 36 min 42 sec ago
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Egyptian sentenced to death for murder of Christian doctor

CAIRO: An Egyptian man affiliated with Daesh was sentenced to death Saturday in the fatal stabbing of an 82-year-old Christian doctor in Cairo in Sept. 2017.
The assailant, identified as 40-year-old Hassan G., pretended to be a patient to gain access to the doctor, identified as Dr. Tharwat. Once admitted to the clinic’s examination room he began stabbing the elderly doctor. When the doctor’s assistant, Susan K., attempted to intervene, she was also stabbed.
During the trial, prosecutors said the defendant had embraced the extremist ideology of Daesh.
At the time of the incident, the Ministry of Interior reported that the defendant’s motivation was believed to be financial. He was unemployed and facing financial difficulties and intended to rob the doctor, it was believed.
Saturday’s verdict will be sent to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric, for ratification. While the Grand Mufti’s opinions are not binding, he is customarily asked to review death sentences and his recommendation is often followed.
Also on Saturday, another Egyptian court sentenced one Egyptian to death and six others to 10 years in prison. The defendants had appealed a similar Dec. 2016 sentence over an attack on policemen and soldiers north of Cairo; most attacks on police, military and civilians in Egypt over the last few years have been claimed by the Daesh.
Daesh, which has gained a foothold in the remote areas of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, has vowed to target Egypt’s Christian minority in retaliation for their support of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
In early November, Daesh claimed credit for an attack on a bus carrying Christian pilgrims outside the Monastery of St. Samuel that left seven dead and wounded 19 – in nearly the same location that another attack killed 28 pilgrims in May 2017. In response, the Ministry of Interior announced two days later that 19 “militants” linked to the attack had been killed.
Elected in 2014, El-Sisi has cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups since coming to power after Muslim Brotherhood ex-President Muhammad Mursi was removed from power in the summer of 2013. Mursi’s ouster came after mass protests calling for the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood. Daesh blames El-Sisi for the ensuing crackdown on Mursi’s followers.
The Coptic Orthodox leadership and many other Christians supported El-Sisi in the wake of Mursi’s ouster, hoping he could protect them against violent attacks by Islamists.
Groups affiliated with Daesh have claimed responsibility for numerous attacks against Christians in the four years since El-Sisi’s election. In 2015, the group posted a video of the beheading of a dozen Christian Egyptians in Libya.
In December 2016, a suicide bomber killed 29 in an attack on St. Mark’s Cathedral compound in Cairo. Daesh took credit for killing nearly 80 Egyptian Christians and wounding over 150 in 2017 in two Palm Sunday bombings and attacks on buses carrying Christians. Last month, an Egyptian military court sentenced 17 to death for the fatal attacks.