Iran says it arrested head of US-based ‘terror group’


Tehran (AFP)

Iran said on Saturday it arrested the head of a US-based “terror group” accused of being behind a deadly 2008 bombing in the southern city of Shiraz and other abortive attacks .

The “Jamshid Sharmahd, which led armed and sabotage operations in Iran, is now in the powerful hands” of Iranian security forces, state television said in a report citing a statement from the intelligence ministry.

The statement did not specify where or when the leader of the royalist opposition group known as the Assembly of the Kingdom of Iran, or Tondar (Farsi for Thunder), was arrested.

According to the statement, he had orchestrated the April 12, 2008 attack in a crowded mosque in Shiraz which killed 14 people and injured 215.

Iran hanged three men convicted of the 2009 bombing, claiming they had ties to the monarchist group.

He said they received orders from a US-backed Iranian “CIA agent” to attempt to assassinate a senior official in Iran.

They were Mohsen Eslamian and Ali Asghar Pashtar, 21, both university students, and Rouzbeh Yahyazadeh, 32.

The three were found guilty of being “mohareb” (enemies of God) and “corruption on earth” by a revolutionary court in Tehran.

Iran hanged two other convicted members of the group in 2010, who had “confessed to obtaining explosives and planning to assassinate those responsible.”

The statement released on Saturday said Tondar had planned several other “major operations” which failed.

He said Tondar planned to blow up a roadblock in Shiraz, use “cyanide bombs” at a Tehran book fair and plant an explosive device at the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic, fire Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

It is not known how Iran arrested US-based Sharmahd.

Iran’s intelligence ministry announced the arrest of a former opposition figure under equally mysterious circumstances in October last year.

Ruhollah Zam, described as “counter-revolutionary” by the Iranian authorities, was sentenced to death last month for “corruption on earth”.

Zam, who is believed to have lived in exile in Paris, ran a channel on the Telegram messaging app called Amadnews and has been accused of sparking unrest during anti-government protests last year.


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