Iran arrests top Sunni militant Abdolmalek Rigi
Iran said it arrested top Sunni militant Abdolmalek Rigi, who claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks inside Iran. Tehran claims Mr. Rigi received US support.
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Several news reports have described CIA and other backing for Jundallah, which often operated from Pakistan. ABC News reported in April 2007 that Jundallah “has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005,” based on US and Pakistani intelligence sources.Skip to next paragraph
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“US officials say the US relationship with Jundallah is arranged so that the US provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order,” according to ABC. It quoted “tribal sources” saying that “money for Jundallah is funneled to its youthful leader [Rigi] through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states.”
Rigi’s brother, Abdolhamid Rigi, already in Iranian custody and facing execution, was interviewed by Al Jazeera-English late last year: “In 2004, an American general came to meet Malek in Islamabad. The American general told him to expand the operations beyond the Sistan-Baluchistan border, even to Tehran. Then Malek told the general, 'if you give me enough money and equipment, then we can do these operations.' ”
Months earlier, in August, the brother was put before the media. “The United States created and supported Jundallah, and we received orders from them,” Abdolhamid Rigi said.
Jundallah has claimed a number of high-profile attacks, including a suicide bombing in October 2009 that killed 42 people, among them seven senior officers of the Revolutionary Guards and top tribal leaders gathering for a meeting in the east of the country.
An attack on a mosque in the town of Zahedan on the border with Afghanistan in May 2009 – just a month before presidential elections in Iran – left more than 20 dead. A February 2007 attack killed 11 Revolutionary Guard soldiers riding a bus near Zahedan. In March 2006, militants posing as police killed 22, many of them government employees.
In each case, Iranian officials blamed foreign hands but produced little evidence; Guard commander Mohammad Ali Jafari demanded after the October attack that Pakistan hand over Rigi, saying that Iran had “proof” of support from Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency.
“The arrest has returned complete security to the region, and this province will follow the path of progress rapidly,” said the provincial governor of Sistan-Baluchistan, Mohammad Azad, according to the official IRNA news agency.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that Iran would “cut off the hands” of any nation that attacked it. “No power can harm Iran,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the eastern town of Birjand. “The Iranian nation will chop off the hands from the arm of any attacker from any part of the world.”