Iran says it detains chief of California-based exile group

Iran says it has detained an Iranian-American chief of a little-known California-based militant opposition group for allegedly planning a 2008 assault on a mosque that killed 14 folks and wounded over 200 others

TEHRAN, Iran —
Iran on Saturday stated it detained an Iranian-American chief of a little-known California-based militant opposition group for allegedly planning a 2008 assault on a mosque that killed 14 folks and wounded over 200 others.

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry additionally alleged Jamshid Sharmahd of the Kingdom Meeting of Iran deliberate different assaults across the Islamic Republic amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the U.S. over its collapsing 2015 nuclear cope with world powers.


It was unclear how the 65-year-old Sharmahd, whom Iran accused of working the opposition group’s Tondar militant wing, ended up detained by intelligence officers. The Intelligence Ministry referred to as it a “advanced operation,” with out elaborating. It printed a purported image of Sharmahd, blindfolded, on its web site.

Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi later appeared on state TV himself within the studio, saying Sharmahd had been arrested in Iran, with out elaborating.

Requests for remark despatched by electronic mail to the Glendora-based Kingdom Meeting of Iran weren’t instantly answered and a phone quantity for the group now not labored.


The U.S. State Division, which talked about how Sharmahd earlier had been focused for assassination in a current report referred to as “Outlaw Regime: A Chronicle of Iran’s Harmful Actions,” didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Iranian state tv broadcast a report on Sharmahd’s arrest, linking him to the 2008 bombing of the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in Shiraz. It additionally stated his group was behind a 2010 bombing at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in Tehran that wounded a number of folks.

The report additionally alleged with out offering proof that Tondar, or “Thunder” in Farsi, plotted assaults on a dam and deliberate to make use of cyanide bombs at Tehran’s annual guide honest.


State TV later aired footage of Sharmahd interspersed with footage from the second of the 2008 explosion on the Shiraz mosque. Sharmahd’s face appeared swollen and the model of the footage resembled one in all what a rights group has recognized as over 350 coerced confessions aired by the broadcaster over the past decade.

The Intelligence Ministry has not stated what expenses Sharmahd will face. Prisoners earlier accused in the identical assault had been sentenced to demise and executed.

The Kingdom Meeting of Iran, recognized in Farsi as Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, and Tondar search to revive Iran’s monarchy, which ended when the fatally in poor health Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the nation in 1979 simply earlier than its Islamic Revolution. The group’s founder disappeared within the mid-2000s.


Iranian intelligence operatives up to now have used relations and different tips to lure targets again to Iran or pleasant nations to be captured. An alleged Iranian authorities operative who allegedly tried to rent successful man to kill Sharmahd disappeared in 2010 earlier than going through trial in California, doubtless having returned to Iran.

A 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable from London later printed by WikiLeaks reveals Voice of America commentator stated that very same operative earlier had been involved with him. British anti-terror police later warned the commentator that he “had been focused by the Iranian regime,” the cable stated.

The 2 circumstances marked “a transparent escalation within the regime’s makes an attempt to intimidate critics outdoors its borders, and will have a chilling impact on journalists, teachers and others within the West who till just lately felt little bodily menace from the regime,” the cable stated.


Sharmahd final appeared in a web-based livestream video on Dec. 29, in line with his group’s web site, talking in Farsi whereas sitting in a black chair in entrance of a black background.

“We’re not solely in search of the liberation of the homeland, however we’re additionally shifting in direction of a particular course, and that’s to be Iranian,” Sharmahd stated at one level within the video. “As a result of we’ve heard that after upon a time some folks had been residing within the area who had been capable of construct an empire.”

Whereas overshadowed by different exiled opposition teams, Iran reportedly introduced up the Kingdom Meeting a number of occasions whereas negotiating the phrases of the 2015 deal, which noticed Tehran restrict its enrichment of uranium in change for the lifting of financial sanctions.


Iran’s Overseas Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi reacted to the information by criticizing the U.S. for permitting Sharmahd and others to stay in America.

The U.S. “have to be liable for supporting terrorist teams that are within this nation and perform and lead terrorist acts towards the Iranian folks,” state TV quoted Mousavi as saying.

An announcement attributed to Tondar claimed the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010 by a remote-control bomb, although it later stated it wasn’t accountable. Suspicion lengthy has fallen on Israel for a string of assassinations concentrating on scientists amid issues about Iran’s nuclear program, which the West fears could possibly be used to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran lengthy has maintained its program is for peaceable functions.


Sharmahd’s reported arrest comes as tensions stay infected by President Donald Trump’s 2018 determination to unilaterally withdraw America from the nuclear deal. A collection of incidents final 12 months had been capped by a U.S. drone strike in January killing a prime Iranian common in Baghdad. Iran responded by launching a ballistic missile assault on U.S. troopers in Iraq that injured dozens.


Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.