Bodies of Copts killed by Daesh on Libyan beach ‘will be returned to Egypt’

Relatives of Egyptian Coptic Christian workers who were kidnapped in the Libyan city of Sirte, take part in a protest to call for their release, in Cairo, February 13, 2015. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 16 March 2018
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Bodies of Copts killed by Daesh on Libyan beach ‘will be returned to Egypt’

CAIRO: The remains of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by Daesh militants on a beach in Libya three years ago will be repatriated, local media has reported.
Egypt’s state-run Al-Ahram newspaper quoted a senior Libyan official as saying that DNA taken from the bodies of the victims had been handed over to Egypt’s top prosecutor so they could be matched with samples from the victims’ families.
Al-Seddik Al-Sur, director of the attorney general’s office, reportedly told a press conference: “Libyan authorities will repatriate the remains of the martyred Copts to Egypt.” He did not specify a date for their repatriation.
Twenty-one Coptic Christians working in Libya were beheaded by Daesh militants on a beach near the city of Sirte, then a militant stronghold, in February 2015. Their bodies were found more than a year later.
The case shocked Egypt and underlined the extremists’ growing reach across the Middle East and North Africa.
Twenty of the victims were found to be Egyptian, while one of them was of unknown African nationality. Reports said he was Ghanaian.
Soon after carrying out the killings Daesh posted a graphic video of the incident, vowing to fight those they described as “crusaders.”
Dressed in orange overalls, the Copts were forced to the ground and then decapitated by the masked, knife-wielding militants.
The horrific footage prompted Egypt to launch retaliatory airstrikes against Daesh affiliates in Libya, a country that has been mired in turmoil since a popular uprising backed by a NATO-led military intervention in 2011 toppled leader Muammar Qaddafi.
“Our martyrs can finally lay to rest now, in their home country,” Samir Girgis, a Cairo-based Coptic accountant, told Arab News. Most of the victims came from the Minya governorate in Upper Egypt.


US imposes new sanctions on Iran over weapons programs

Updated 6 min 54 sec ago
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US imposes new sanctions on Iran over weapons programs

  • Among those designated for sanctions was the Shahid Karimi group, which works on missile and explosive-related projects for the SPND, and four associated individuals
  • The move freezes any US assets of those targeted and bans US dealings with them

WASHINGTON: The United States said on Friday it was imposing sanctions on 14 people and 17 entities connected to Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), a body it said had played a central role in Iran’s past nuclear weapons effort.
Among those designated for sanctions was the Shahid Karimi group, which works on missile and explosive-related projects for the SPND, and four associated individuals, the US Treasury Department said in a Statement.
“The US government is taking decisive action against actors at all levels in connection with Iran’s Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND) who have supported the Iranian regime’s defense sector,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
“The United States will continue applying maximum pressure to the Iranian regime, using all economic tools to prevent Iran from developing weapons of mass destruction. Anyone considering dealing with the Iranian defense industry in general, and SPND in particular, risks professional, personal, and financial isolation.”
It said the steps targeted current SPND subordinate groups, supporters, front companies, and associated officials. The move freezes any US assets of those targeted and bans US dealings with them.
"Today’s action serves as a warning to individuals and entities considering dealing with the Iranian regime’s defense sector in general, and SPND in particular: by engaging in sanctionable activity with designated Iranian persons, you risk professional, personal, and financial isolation," the Treasury statement said.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday that Tehran was determined to boost its defense capabilities despite mounting pressure from the United States and its allies to curb its ballistic missile program.