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Iranian Religious Leader Warns Against U.S. Military Action

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned the United States on Thursday that Iran would retaliate against American interests worldwide if it is attacked — the latest volley in an escalating rhetorical war between the countries.

Speaking to a group of air force commanders about rumors of an imminent American military strike, Khamenei said the “Iranian people should not get scared of such issues,” the ISNA student news agency reported. “Our enemies know very well that any aggression will have a response from all sides by Iranian people on their interests all over the world.”

He added, “No one would commit such a blunder and jeopardize the interests of his country and people.”

Separately, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said Thursday that as part of a war games exercise they had successfully test fired a land-to-sea missile capable of sinking large warships.

“These missiles, with a maximum range of 220 miles, can hit different kinds of big warships throughout the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman and the northern Indian Ocean,” Ali Fadavi, a senior Revolutionary Guards naval commander, said on state television.

The speech was Khamenei’s first major public appearance since the U.N. Security Council approved limited sanctions against Iran on Dec. 23, because of its refusal to halt efforts to enrich uranium. The United States and some European countries accuse Iran of having a secret weapons program, but Iran contends that its program is only for peaceful purposes.

Family of Police Shooting Victim Protests Prosecutor’s Actions

A plan by the district attorney to seek murder charges against three narcotics officers involved in the shooting death of an 88-year-old woman during a bungled drug raid may jeopardize a broad, federal investigation into civil rights violations by the Atlanta Police Department, a spokesman for the victim’s family said Thursday.

Paul Howard, the district attorney for Fulton County, sent a proposed indictment against the officers, Gregg Junnier, Jason R. Smith and Arthur Tesler, to their lawyers on Wednesday. A spokeswoman for Howard’s office said he had informed federal authorities of his intentions.

Howard’s action “stunned and disappointed” family members of the victim, Kathryn Johnston, said the Rev. Markel Hutchins, a spokesman for the family.

Johnston was shot after she fired a handgun at the narcotics officers, who pried open burglar bars on her home and broke down her door on Nov. 21. The officers have been accused of lying to obtain the search warrant for the home.

The day before copies of the proposed indictment were released, Sarah C. Dozier, Johnston’s niece, sent a letter to Howard asking him to recuse himself from the case. She cited concerns that the federal civil rights investigation into her aunt’s death would likely extend to his office and create a conflict of interest, Hutchins said.

Police in Britain Arrest Advocate of Islamic Militancy

The British police on Thursday arrested an outspoken advocate of fiery Islamic views, a week after seizing nine people accused of a separate conspiracy to kidnap and kill a Muslim British soldier.

The arrests brought accusations on Thursday of a witch hunt against Muslims, but a procession of high government officials rejected the idea.

The man arrested on Thursday is Abu Izzadeen, a 31-year-old former spokesman for the militant and now outlawed Al Ghurabaa group.

Izzadeen initially achieved prominence after the July 2005 subway and bus bombings in London, when four Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 travelers on London’s transit system. At that time, he refused to condemn the attacks, calling them “praiseworthy” and saying they would force Britons to “wake up and smell the coffee.” Earlier this week, a British television report said Internet images showed Izzadeen saying in 2004 that Muslims who joined the British army should be beheaded under Islamic Shariah law.

His arrest on Thursday, however, was related to a speech in Birmingham last summer, the police said, and was carried out under counterterrorism laws forbidding the encouragement of terrorism.

Izzadeen, who was born with the name Trevor Brooks to a Christian family from Jamaica, seized headlines in September when he confronted the home secretary, John Reid, at a meeting in east London, after Reid had suggested that British Muslim parents should watch their children for signs of radicalism, but Izzadeen accused him loudly of being “an enemy of Islam and Muslims.”

Anna Nicole Smith, Tabloid Celebrity, Dies at 39

Anna Nicole Smith, a former Playboy centerfold, actress and television personality who was famous, above all, for being famous, but also for being sporadically rich and chronically litigious, was found dead on Thursday in her suite at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla. She was 39, and the cause of her death was not immediately known.

A personal nurse traveling with Smith called the hotel operator at 1:38 p.m. to report she had found Smith alone and unconscious in her sixth-floor suite, the police said. Smith’s bodyguard arrived a few minutes later, and paramedics who arrived after 2 p.m. tried to revive her with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, they said, but she was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 2:49 p.m. The office of the Broward County Medical Examiner was to perform an autopsy on Friday morning.