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Iran says it arrested leader of US-based “terror group”

(Tehran) Iran claimed on Saturday that it had arrested the head of a US-based “terrorist group” and accused of being behind a deadly attack in a mosque in the south of the country in 2008.

Ahmad PARHIZI

France Media Agency

“Jamshid Sharmahd, head of the Tondar terrorist group (based) in the United States […], is now in the hands” of the Iranian intelligence services, the intelligence ministry said in a statement quoted by television. of state.

The statement does not specify where, how or when Mr. Sharmahd, who usually resides in the United States, was arrested, but referred to a “complicated operation”.

In this context, Iran attacked the United States, its enemy, for having welcomed Mr. Sharmahd, accusing them of “supporting known terrorists who have claimed responsibility for several terrorist acts. inside ”Iranian territory.

“This regime (the United States, Editor's note) must answer for its support for this terrorist group and other groups […] which orchestrate armed and sabotage operations against the Iranian people from America and shed the blood of Iranians, ”the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to the Intelligence Ministry, Mr. Sharmahd organized the attack of 2003 against a mosque in Shiraz which had 14 dead and some 200 injured.

The stated objective of the Tondar group (“thunder” in Persian), also known as the Monarchist Association of Iran, is to overthrow power in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The group advocates violence and openly criticizes the Koran.

Failure

The Iranian authorities had hanged in 2009 three men convicted of the Shiraz bombing, claiming that they had connections with the monarchist group and that they had taken their orders from “an Iranian CIA agent” installed in the United States, to attempt to assassinate a senior official in Iran.

In 2010, two other alleged members of the group, Mohammad Reza Ali Zammani and Arash Rahmanipour, who had according to Tehran “confessed to having planned to assassinate those responsible ”, had been hanged.

According to the press release from the Intelligence Ministry on Saturday, the Tondar group was planning to carry out several “major operations”, such as detonating the Sivand dam in Shiraz or the shrine of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini, in Tehran. But they failed, he said without further clarification.

The ministry then released a photo of a gray haired man blindfolded as Jamshid Sharmahd. He did not say where or when the photo was taken.

According to the Association's website (Tondar.org), Mr. Sharmahd, born in Tehran in 200, grew up in an Iranian-German family before going to live in 1980 in the United States where he is illustrated by his statements hostile to the Islamic Republic and to Islam, on satellite channels in Persian.

Opponents arrested

In October, Iran announced the detention of another opponent once exiled in France, Rouhollah Zam, again without giving details of the circumstances or place of his arrest.

Accused of having played an active role in the demonstrations against Iranian power in 2010 – 2018, Mr. Zam was sentenced to death at the end of June for “corruption on earth”, one of the most serious charges under the Iranian Penal Code.

Iran also captured and then hanged in 2010 Abdolmalek Rigi, leader of the Sunni separatist group Joundallah (“soldiers of God” ), at the origin of a bloody rebellion in Sistan-Balochistan in the south-east of Iran. Rigi was arrested on an airliner that flew from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan when Iranian warplanes forced his plane to land in Iran.

Long-time enemies, Iran and the United States have not maintained diplomatic relations since 1955 . Their strained relations reached a new peak after the unilateral withdrawal in 2017 of Donald Trump's administration from the international Iran nuclear deal and the restoration US sanctions against Tehran.

The two countries regularly exchange invectives and accuse each other of “terrorism”.

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