- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

IRAN

13 Sunni rebels hanged

TEHRAN | Authorities in southeastern Iran on Tuesday hanged 13 members of a Sunni Muslim rebel group convicted of bombings and killings in the area, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

The report said Abdulhamid Rigi, brother of Abdulmalik Rigi, leader of the group known as Jundallah or Soldiers of God, had been scheduled to be hanged along with the 13 men on Tuesday but his execution was postponed. It gave no reason for the postponement.

Earlier Tuesday, state radio reported that Abdulhamid Rigi was one of 14 men hanged. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

The executions, according to the state radio, took place in the city of Zahedan, about 930 miles southeast of Iran’s capital, Tehran, and the scene of some of the deadliest attacks blamed on Jundallah, which has carried out bombings, kidnappings and killings in the area in recent years.

ISRAEL

Warships sail Suez

JERUSALEM | Two Israeli warships sailed through the Suez Canal on Tuesday, Israeli and Egyptian officials said, a move that appeared to be a new signal to Iran that Israel’s reach could quickly extend to its archenemy’s backyard.

The Suez Canal is a strategic waterway linking the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, the gateway to the Persian Gulf.

Israeli vessels regularly use the canal, but noteworthy in recent weeks was that the navy’s moves have been publicized, albeit unofficially, by Israel.

Two of Israel’s Saar class missile boats crossed through the Suez Canal and into the Red Sea, Israeli defense officials said.

Earlier this month, Israeli defense officials said one of the navy’s Dolphin class submarines had also sailed to the Red Sea through the Suez Canal in June, returning July 5.

YEMEN

Officials warn of attack plan

SAN’A | Security was upgraded in Yemen’s capital this week after intelligence reports warned of attacks planned against the U.S. Embassy, a senior security official said Tuesday.

The intelligence official said the unconfirmed reports indicated attacks were being planned against the U.S. embassies in Algeria and Yemen.

The move came as a Yemeni court sentenced six al Qaeda militants to death after convicting them of a string of attacks a year earlier, including a deadly assault on the U.S. Embassy in September, which left 19 people dead.

IRAN

Singer jailed for disrespect

TEHRAN | An Iranian singer and composer who has been likened to Bob Dylan has received a five-year prison sentence in absentia for disrespecting religious sanctities, according to Iranian television.

An Iranian Koran scholar filed a complaint against Mohsen Namjoo, who also plays a traditional Persian lute, for the way he had performed using verses from Islam’s holy book, English-language Press TV said on its Web site late Monday.

The TV quoted the singer’s brother and attorney as dismissing the accusation. Press TV said Mr. Namjoo, who apologized a few months ago for the incident, was abroad but did not say in which country.

EGYPT

Poem on Mubarak lands clerk in jail

CAIRO | An Egyptian civil servant who wrote a satirical poem about President Hosni Mubarak has been imprisoned for three years after a colleague turned the verses over to authorities.

Mounir Said Hanna Marzuq was given the maximum sentence for insulting the head of state, a judicial source said Tuesday. He wrote the poems for friends in the hope that one day they would be turned into songs.

Mr. Marzuq was jailed in Maghagha, southern Egypt, in May after a colleague lodged a formal complaint about the poem deemed insulting to Mr. Mubarak, in power since 1981.

The case came to light after the poet’s brother appealed to Mr. Mubarak, 81, for clemency, the independent Al-Masri Al-Youm reported. Egyptian law says anyone insulting the president can be jailed for between 24 hours and three years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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