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Abdolmalek Rigi (Abdulmalik Rigi)
Born 1979[1]
Abdolmalek Rigi.jpg
Nickname Rigi
Place of birth Iran Sistan & Balochistan, Iran
Allegiance Jundallah (Soldier of God)
Years of service 1998 - 2010
Rank Commander-in-chief
Battles/wars Insurgency in Iran

Abdolmalek Rigi (also spelt Abdul-Malek Rigi or Abdulmalik Rigi) (Persian: عبدالمالک ریگی) is the leader of Jundallah, an Islamist Sunni militant organization based in the southeastern area of Iran.

Contents

Biography

Born in 1979[2], Abdolmalek Rigi is from the Regi tribe who are an ethnic Baloch people. Prior to founding Jundallah, while a teenager, Rigi was convicted of assault with a knife, for which he served time in prison.[3]

Although lacking any formal secular education[3] , Rigi had been educated at Karachi’s Binnori Town seminary, a Sunni Madrasah which was school to many of the Taliban leaders. [4]

Rigi and his group have been the main cause of the killing of civilians in Iran in recent years. In 2006 Rigi and his group blocked the Zabol - Zahedan road in eastern Iran and killed 22 civilians who were passengers of vehicles using the road, just before the New Years' holidays. A list of other attacks and insurgencies of the group can be found on the Jundallah article.

In recent years, there has been considerable controversy over their support and international ties. Jundallah is believed by many experts to be linked to Al-Qaeda[5]. There are also claims that Jundallah has had contact with the US government and receives funding from Baluchi Iranians abroad.[6]

Dan Rather, on the US cable channel HDnet's television news magazine Dan Rather Reports, interviewed Rigi and showed a video of Rigi personally cutting off a captive's head. In the same interview, Rigi described himself as "an Iranian" and denied that his goal is to form a separate Baluch state. He claimed that his goal is to "improve conditions for ethnic Baluchis", and that his group is "fighting exclusively for the rights of Sunni Muslims in Iran"[7][8] According to the IRIB, Rigi "is personally responsible for the death and injuries to more than 50 Baluchi Iranians."[9] Abdolmalek Rigi has accused and criticized Sunni Ulemas of Balochistan for supporting the Iranian government against him and his group.[citation needed]

On April 2, 2007, Abdolmalek Rigi appeared on the Persian service of Voice of America, the official broadcasting service of the United States government, which identified Rigi as "the leader of popular Iranian resistance movement" and used the title of "Doctor" with his name. This incidence resulted in public condemnation by the Iranian-American community in the U.S, many of whom are opponents of the Iranian government, as well as the Iranian government.[10][11]

According to a former hostage, Rigi never slept in one place for two consecutive nights and did not shake hands with other people without wearing gloves. He is also reported to emulate Al-Zarqawi in his conduct and videos of hostage executions.[3] It has also been reported that he has killed his brother's wife, shooting her to death while she was asleep.[12][13][14]

The Iranian newspaper Kayhan incorrectly reported on 7 April 2005, "Abdolmalek Rigi, leader of the terrorist group, the Jundullah... was killed in an operation on the border with Afghanistan."[15] A video surfaced on 11 April showing Rigi alive.[16] Rigi's brother Abdulhamid Rigi has accused his brother to be working with Americans against Iran.[17]

Capture and Arrest

According to the Iranian sources, on 23 February 2010, “Rigi was arrested in Persian Gulf waters while he was traveling on a plane via Dubai to Kyrgyzstan.” According to one Iranian official, “His plane was ordered to land, and then he was arrested after the plane was searched.” [18] The New York Times later reported that the flight was from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan. At a later time, Bishkek airport confirmed that Kyrgyzstan Airways flight QH454 from Dubai had arrived several hours late yesterday after being intercepted by Iranian fighter jets over the Persian Gulf and told to land in Iranian territory, adding that “a number of foreign passengers were forcibly removed”.[19]

An earlier report given by Al Jazeera [20] [21] claimed that "[Rigi] had been handed over by the Pakistan authorities". The Tehran-based news analysis site Iran Diplomacy also claimed that Rigi was arrested by, or with the help of, Pakistan. Iran Diplomacy claimed that he was arrested in a hospital "with the help of Pakistani intelligence officials, who took action after `consulting` with the United States".[22][23] Pakistan's ambassador to Tehran, Mohammad Abbasi, has also claimed that "the arrest could not happen without Pakistan's help." without giving any further details, but promising "more details" in the coming days.[24]

On the day of the capture, at a press conference in Tehran, Iran's intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi claimed that Rigi had been at a US base in Afghanistan 24 hours before his arrest. At a press conference he flourished a photograph which he said showed Rigi outside the base with two other men, though he gave no details of where the base was, or how or when the photograph was obtained. Photographs were also shown of an Afghan passport and identity card said to have been given by the Americans to Rigi. Moslehi also alleged that Rigi had met the then NATO secretary-general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, in Afghanistan in 2008, and had visited European countries. He said agents had tracked Rigi's movements for five months, calling his arrest "a great defeat for the US and UK".

Iran has linked Jundullah to the Sunni Islamist al-Qaeda network and accuses Pakistan, Britain and the US of backing the group to destabilize the country. Several western media outlets have also reported that in 2007 CIA provided funding and weapons to Jundullah.[25]

Post-arrest statements

On February 25 Iranian state television broadcast a statement by Rigi stating he had had American support and that

"The Americans said Iran was going its own way and they said our problem at the present is Iran… not al-Qaeda and not the Taliban, but the main problem is Iran. We don't have a military plan against Iran. Attacking Iran is very difficult for us (the US). They [Americans] promised to help us and they said that they would co-operate with us, free our prisoners and would give us [Jundullah] military equipment, bombs, machine guns, and they would give us a base.

BBC News carried a report on the statements, noting that "It is not possible to say whether Abdolmalek Rigi made the statement freely or under duress." The US has denied having links with Rigi's group, Jundullah.[26][27]. Reuters also reported that Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary, dismissed claims by the Iranian government that Mr. Rigi had been at an American military base just before his arrest. Morrell called the accusations of American involvement “nothing more than Iranian propaganda.” [28]

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-273/8812030116104455.htm
  2. ^ http://www2.irna.ir/fa/news/view/menu-273/8812030116104455.htm
  3. ^ a b c [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ Death Toll in Iran Mosque Explosion Rises to 12(FOX NEWS )
  6. ^ Car bomb in Iran destroys a bus carrying Revolutionary Guards The New York Times
  7. ^ HDNet Original Programming - Transcripts
  8. ^ HDNet Original Programming - Dan Rather Reports
  9. ^ http://english.irib.ir/news/print.asp?id=13412&titel=Top%20Stories
  10. ^ http://www.alalam.ir/english/en-NewsPage.asp?newsid=018030120070404130601
  11. ^ Press TV - VoA interviews Iranian terrorist culprit in a sign of backing
  12. ^ http://www.nowpublic.com/world/jundullah-terrorist-organization-1
  13. ^ http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=e17_1247660167
  14. ^ http://www.tabnak.ir/fa/pages/?cid=57190
  15. ^ Iran kills Sunni militant ringleader: press Iran Mania
  16. ^ Iran Sunni rebels video shows killing of officer: TV The Boston Globe
  17. ^ http://www.payvand.com/news/09/jun/1092.html
  18. ^ http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/04-rigi-arrested-qs-01
  19. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/24/world/middleeast/24insurgent.html
  20. ^ Iran captures Sunni insurgent leader Abdolmalek Rigi 23 February 2010, By Ian Black]
  21. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/24/world/middleeast/24insurgent.html
  22. ^ [3]
  23. ^ Was Rigi's arrest by Iran staged? by MEIR JAVEDANFAR in Tel Aviv 24 Feb 2010
  24. ^ statement on 24 February. ANALYSIS - Rigi arrest may show easing Afghan regional tensions By Myra MacDonald, February 25, 2010
  25. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/7300767/Iran-arrests-most-wanted-man-after-police-board-civilian-flight.html
  26. ^ Iran Jundullah leader claims US military support. 25 February 2010
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ Iran Leader Concedes No Ground to Rivals By NAZILA FATHI, nyt.com, 25 February 2010

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