Egypt convicts 65 on terror charges, allegiance to Daesh

An Egyptian court has convicted 65 suspected militants of setting up a terrorist group and declaring allegiance to the extremist group Daesh, sentencing 18 of them to life in prison. (Reuters)
Updated 08 November 2018

Egypt convicts 65 on terror charges, allegiance to Daesh

  • An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced 65 suspected Daesh extremists to between five years and life in prison for setting up a "terrorist cell"
  • The alleged cell had members in various parts of impoverished upper Egypt

CAIRO: An Egyptian court on Thursday sentenced 65 suspected Daesh extremists to between five years and life in prison for setting up a "terrorist cell", a court official said.
The alleged cell had members in various parts of impoverished upper Egypt and was led by an "emir" Mostafa Ahmed Abdelaal.
The militants, charged in 2017, had "set up a terrorist cell in Upper Egypt which declared allegiance to (IS leader) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi", the court official said.
The court sentenced 18 of the defendants to life terms (25 years) and another 41 to 15-year prison terms.
It also handed six minors five years each in jail and acquitted two suspects.
The sentences can be appealed.
Since Egypt's military toppled president Mohamed Morsi in 2014, the government and security forces have cracked down hard on secular opposition and extremism.
The Egyptian branch of Daesh has led an insurgency in North Sinai and carried out attacks across the country.
Egypt's army launched a major offensive in February dubbed "Sinai 2018" to dislodge the insurgents from the peninsula.
More than 450 suspected extremists and around 30 Egyptian soldiers have been killed since the offensive began, the army said in October.
Jihadist attacks in recent years have killed hundreds of police, soldiers and civilians.
Daesh claimed responsibility for an attack last week against Egyptian Christians in Minya province, which killed six Copts and one Anglican.
Egyptian courts have convicted many suspected extremists in mass trials which have been criticised by human rights groups.
An Egyptian military court on Wednesday sentenced eight Daesh members to death for a deadly attack against the army in 2016, officials said.


Lebanon’s Aoun vows to tend to economic, financial reforms

Updated 1 min 54 sec ago

Lebanon’s Aoun vows to tend to economic, financial reforms

  • Aoun said this aimed “to guarantee political stability in cabinet and outside it and to secure the greatest amount of productivity”
  • He expected “the implementation path” to begin “with the start of October"

BEIRUT: Lebanon is expected to begin implementing in October a set of economic and financial measures agreed by its top leadership that will boost economic growth, President Michel Aoun said on Sunday, vowing that he would to tend to this himself.
He was referring to decisions taken at a top-level meeting earlier this month with the aim of reviving an economy that has been growing slowly for years and is struggling with one of the world’s heaviest public debt burdens.
After the Aug. 9 meeting, Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said agreed steps included finishing the 2020 budget on time, drawing up a plan to start $3.3 billion of projects approved by parliament, full implementation of a power sector reform plan, and laws to fight tax evasion and regulate public tenders.
“I will personally tend to the implementation path of the decisions of the financial and economic meeting” in cooperation with Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and other parties in government, Aoun said.
In written comments to Reuters, Aoun said this aimed “to guarantee political stability in cabinet and outside it and to secure the greatest amount of productivity,” including in the implementation of the 2019 budget and its reforms.
Aoun said he expected “the implementation path” to begin “with the start of October after the conclusion of the current preparations ... which will lead to lifting of the growth rates, reflecting positively on the economic and financial situations.”
After years of backsliding on economic reform, the impetus to act has grown due to economic stagnation and a slowdown in the flow of dollars into Lebanon’s banks from abroad. Lebanon has depended on such flows from its diaspora to finance the current account and the state budget deficits.
Foreign governments and donor institutions last year pledged $11 billion in financing to Lebanon for major infrastructure at the so-called Cedre conference in Paris, on condition that it carries out reforms.
Measures to reduce the budget deficit and reform the power sector, which bleeds public funds while inflicting daily power cuts on Lebanese, are seen as two vital tests of the government’s ability to reform.
The International Monetary Fund said in July this year’s deficit is likely to be well above a targeted 7.6% of national output.
It said the power reform plan and a budget to reduce the deficit were “very welcome first steps” and “further substantial fiscal adjustment and structural reforms” were needed.
Aoun said work was underway to approve the 2020 budget in the constitutional timeframe.
It would include “new, resolute reforms” agreed at the Aug. 9 meeting to reduce the power sector deficit, improve tax collection and fight customs and tax evasion.
Aoun also said frameworks must be put in place for implementing a plan drawn up by management consulting firm McKinsey for revamping the economy and this should coincide with the start of projects outlined at the Cedre conference.