Iran: Arrest of a terrorist

Print edition : March 26, 2010

ABDOLMALEK RIGI, HEAD of the Jundallah terrorist group, in Teheran after his arrest.-AFP

THE arrest under dramatic circumstances of Abdolmalek Rigi, the head of the Jundallah terrorist group, in the last week of February is being viewed as a remarkable success of the Iranian security services. Rigi was the most wanted man as far as the Iranian authorities were concerned. According to them, the plane in which he was travelling from Kyrgyzstan to Dubai was forced to land in the Persian Gulf city of Bandar Abbas, when it was in Iranian air space.

Irans Interior Minister Heydar Moslehi said that 24 hours before his arrest, Rigi was at the Manas air base near Kyrgyzstans capital, Bishkek. The military base has been leased to the United States. The Minister said that Rigi was in possession of an Afghan passport, which the American authorities had helped him procure. According to him, Rigi admitted to his extensive contacts with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli secret service, the Mossad.

Moslehi said that Iran conducted the operation to arrest Rigi on its own and that no other foreign agency had helped it. Pakistans Ambassador to Teheran, Mohammad Bakhsh Abbasi, had claimed that Islamabad played a role. Moslehi described the arrest as a great defeat for the U.S., Britain and Israel and claimed that his government had clear documents to prove that Rigi acted at the behest of intelligence services of the three countries.

The Jundallah (Soldiers of God) is a Sunni Baloch terrorist organisation that has been held responsible for a series of terror attacks inside Iran, most of them in the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan, bordering the Pakistani province of Balochistan. These included the bombing of a mosque that killed more than 40 people and the killing of 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in October last year. Regis group specialised in staging cross-border attacks targeting Iranian military establishments. Army officers kidnapped by the Jundallah were videographed while being executed.

Iranian television has shown arrested members of the group confessing to receiving training from the CIA in secret Pakistani locations. The American media have quoted U.S. officials as saying that groups such as the Jundallah are important in tracking down Al Qaeda elements and, therefore, it was appropriate for Americans to have contacts with them.

The investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported in July last year that U.S. Congressional leaders had secretly agreed to a request by the George W. Bush administration for a $400-million funding for covert actions against Iran.

The Iranian Interior Minister said that his country reserved the right to sue the U.S. and the United Kingdom for helping the Jundallah stage terror attacks against civilians and government officials in Iran. Not only are we aware of the many crimes against humanity committed by Rigi, but we also have more than enough evidence that this terrorist group was in fact acting on U.S. orders, said the spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

The Pakistani media have speculated that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has cooperated in some way with Iranian intelligence in the arrest of Rigi. Until the events of September 11, 2001, Rigis organisation, like other groups such as the Lashkar i-Jhangvi and the Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami, reportedly had close links with the ISI. In recent months, the ISI has been actively cracking down on the leaderships of militant groups, including the Taliban.

The arrest of Rigi comes on the heels of the arrest of the leadership of the Talibans Quetta Shura by the Pakistani authorities. Last year, after the Jundallah attack on his men, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad-Ali Jaafari, said that Iran would present evidence that would prove that the Jundallah was supported by American and British intelligence services and unfortunately the Pakistani Intelligence Service.

John Cherian
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