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Jundallah (Soldiers of God)
جندالله
Leader Abdolmalek Rigi
Founder Unknown
Founded 2003 (2003)
Headquarters Pakistani Balochistan
Ideology Militant Islam, Baluch nationalism, Islamist, religious conservatism

Jundallah or Jondollah (Arabic: جندالله litreally meaning Soldiers of Allah‎) also known as People's Resistance Movement of Iran (PRMI) not to be confused with People's Mujahedin of Iran, is a militant Islamist Sunni organization based in Balochistan that claims to be fighting for the independent nation and is responsible for numerous attacks in Iran, targeting both civilians and military personnel. It was founded by Abdolmalek Rigi who was captured in Iran in 2010.[1] It is believed to have 1,000 fighters and claims to have killed 400 Iranian soldiers [2] and many more civilians.[3] It is a part of the Baloch insurgency in Pakistan and in Iran's Sistan and Baluchistan Province. The group started under the name of Jundallah and later renamed itself as the People's Resistance Movement of Iran. The group has been designated a terrorist organization by Iran, and has been linked to and taken creidt for, numerous acts of terror, kidnapping and smuggling narcotics.[4] Many observers believe the group is linked to al-Qaeda.[5][6][7] Iran has long alleged that the U.S. government is supporting Jundallah. Several other sources such the ABC News, Daily Telegraph, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh have also reported that Jundullah has received support from United States against the government of Iran.[8][8][9][10] However, the US denies any involvement.[8]

Contents

Background

Jundallah is an Islamist Sunni Baloch militant organization believed to have emerged on the scene in 2003 and it is known for attacks against high-profile Iranian targets, both military and civilian. Its origin and structure remain murky.[11] It's been suggested that it might be an offshoot of Baluchi Autonomist Movement, which was created and supported by Saddam Hussein along with other militant groups like Mujahideen-e Khalq , to wage a proxy war on Iran during the Iran-Iraq war.[12] There appears to be at least another militant organisation with the name of Jundallah operating independently in Pakistan.[13]

Iran accuses the United States[11] and other foreign elements of backing Jundallah, possibly from Pakistani territory with Islamabad's support, despite Pakistan's apparent history of cooperation with Iran to suppress trans-border militant, whereas Jundallah denies any connections to al-Qaeda or the Taliban, as well as foreign governments such as the United States and Great Britain. The United States also denies any support or involvement with this group.

In an October 17, 2008 interview aired on Al-Arabiya TV, its leader Abdolmalek Rigi stated the group had given "over 2,000 men" military, political and ideological training but that the number of its members "in the mountains does not exceed 200."[14] [15][16] It has also been alleged that Jundallah is involved in smuggling Iranian diesel fuel to Afghanistan and Pakistan, price of which is more than five times cheaper than the diesel fuel in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The diesel fuel is then bartered with opium, which is smuggled into Iran from Afghanistan and Pakistan to be sold in Iran.[17]

Views and goals

The group's leader Abdolmalek Rigi, in a telephone interview with Rooz, (Iranian online newspaper), defended Jundallah's use of violence as "just means to defend Baloch and Sunni Muslim interests in Iran and to draw attention to the difficult economic situation and ethnic discrimination of the Baloch people"[citation needed] Dan Rather, on the US cable channel HDnet's television news magazine Dan Rather Reports, also 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"[18][19]

In an October 17, 2008 interview aired on Al-Arabiya TV, Abdolmalek stated, "the only thing we ask of the Iranian government is to be citizens. We want to have the same rights as the Iranian Shiite people. That's it." He described his group as an Islamic awakening movement but denied any ties with Al Qaeda or the Taliban. He also told the interviewer that despite the fact that "many of us have been martyred ... we are prepared to reach an understanding" with the Iranian government, Insha Allah."[14]

Capture of Rigi

On February 23, 2010 Iran captured Abdolmalek Rigi.[20] On February 26 Rigi appeared on Iranian TV, claiming that the U.S. promised him financial and military aid to fight the Iranian government, which the U.S. denied.[21] In the wake of Rigi's capture, alarab website claimed that Jundallah has named Muhammad Dhahir Baluch as his replacement.[22]

Alleged international support

United States

A report by Brian Ross and Christopher Isham of ABC News in April 2007 alleged that Jundallah "has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials" to destabilize the government in Iran,[23] citing U.S. and Pakistani tribal and intelligence sources.[11] The report alleges that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney discussed the activity of the group against Iran during his visit to Pakistan.[11] In a blog, the network stated that the support was believed to have started in 2005 and been arranged so that the U.S. provided no direct funding to the group, which would require congressional oversight and attract media attention, drawing parallels between American support for Jundallah and U.S. involvement in Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra Affair.[24]

The report was denied by Pakistan official sources.[25] But despite their denial ABC stood by their claim.[26] Alexis Debat, one of the sources quoted by Ross and Isham in their report alleging US support for the Jundullah, resigned from ABC News in June 2007, after ABC officials claimed that he faked several interviews while working for the company.[27] Ross went on to say the Jundullah story had many sources, adding, "We’re only worried about the things Debat supplied, not about the substance of that story." According to Ross, ABC had found nothing that would undermine the stories Mr. Debat worked on. However, he acknowledged that as the stories of fabrications continue to roll in, the network "at some point has to question whether anything he said can be believed."[28] This caused the network in 2007 to send a second team of producers to Pakistan investigating the original reports.[26]

Fars News Agency, an Iranian state run news agency, reported that the United States government is involved in PRMI's terrorists acts.[29]

Gholamali Haddadadel, Iranian parliament speaker in 2007, speaking to reporters said, Jundallah is part of pressure tactics used by United States to subdue Iran and hoped with Pakistani help, Iran would be able to defeat Jundallah.[30]

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.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38]

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh revealed another report in July 2008 that US congressional leaders had secretly agreed to former president George W. Bush's USD 400 million funding request, which gives the US a free hand in arming and funding terrorist groups such as Jundullah militants.[23]

Iranian speaker of parliament Ali Larijani, three days after the 2009 terror attack against Zahidan mosque revealed, that Iran had intelligence reports regarding the United States links with certain terrorist groups operating against Iran and accused the United States, of commanding them. He implicated the United States in trying to start a civil war between Shia and Sunni segments of Iranian society.[39][39] Regarding the investigation of the terrorist act he added that Iran would want Pakistan to cooperate fully and not become a mere part of the designs against Iran.[40]

According to The Daily Telegraph Jundallah is just one part of a Black Operation Plan involving psychological operations and other covert operations to support dissents among minorities (Baloch, Arab, Kurds, Azeris, etc.) in Iran, which along with tactics of military posturing, risky maneuvers and occasional conciliatory gestures are designed to improve United States bargaining position in any future negotiation with Iran.[8][11][11][41] Furthermore these Black Operations build upon a coordinated campaign consisting of disinformation, placement of negative newspaper articles, propaganda broadcasts, the manipulation of Iran's monetary currency and international banking transactions.[8][42][43]

Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, has said, United States intelligence operatives have been meeting and coordinating with Anti-Iranian militants in Afghanistan as well as encouraging drug smuggling into Iran.[39] Jundallah is currently not included in the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign designated terrorist groups. Inclusion on the list would prohibit US citizens, companies, or government agencies from supporting the group, and trigger criminal or civil penalties for doing so.[44][45] A former Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army General Aslam Beg has accused the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan of training and supporting Jundallah against Iran.[46]

After Rigi was arrested on 23 February 2010 Iran's intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi at a press conference in Tehran 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".[47]

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.[48][49]. 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.” [50]

Saudi Arabia

Iran considers Jundallah as a group connected to Taliban and their opium revenues, getting financial as well as ideologic support directly from Saudi Arabia in collusion with ISI as well as other hard-line elements within Pakistan and Afghanistan. Others point to the fact that United States has for long supported Low intensity conflict and assassinations with Saudi money, especially against nationalists, socialists and Shias.[44][51][52][53]

Sweden

American journalist Dan Rather has traveled to Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Sweden and France investigating Jundallah and its funding sources. On the US cable channel HDnet's television news magazine Dan Rather Reports, he indicated that support comes from Balochis in Sweden where Radio Baloch FM is broadcast from Stockholm.[18][54][55]

United Kingdom

Iranian authorities also blame United Kingdom for supporting Jundallah.[56][57] In BBC production "Panorama: Obama and the Ayatollah", a terrorist organisation which has carried out acts of terror leading to death of civilians and children in Iran is briefly mentioned but not named, with the official prosecution files and their Interpol warrants blacked out in video. The international warrants call for their arrest under international anti-terrorism laws, which has not happened and Tehran blames western governments particularly British government for protecting them from an international arrest.[58]

Pakistan

Hossein Ali Shahriari, Zahedan's representative in parliament, rhetorically asked, "Why does our diplomatic apparatus not seriously confront the Pakistani government for harboring bandits and regime's enemies? Why do security, military and police officials not take more serious action?".[59] It has been claimed, Jundallah can not operate with at least some degree of support from within Pakistan and that elements from within Pakistani security establishment, particularly ISI with financial support of Saudi Arabia and its supplementation through the largest opium black market in the world have woven a complicated web of drug smugglers and terrorists to project power in the region and beyond.[15] General Hasan Firoozabadi of Iranian Army said, one of the main bases of Jundallah has been identified and pointed out to Pakistan and Iran is awaiting for Pakistan's action on the matter.[60] In a rare criticism Iranian Intelligence minister after the Saravan attack claimed Pakistan is not meaningfully cooperating with Iran on the issue of Jundallah.[61] At least some Iranian analysts believe this huge transnational web comprising of economic, political and military dimensions is ultimately being run by CIA (Special Activities Division), aiming to topple or at least weaken Iranian government; with Pakistan just being a pawn much like the earlier United States support for Mujahedin against Soviet Union with collaboration of Pakistan. These analysts believe the ideological element supporting Jundallah and similar groups come from religious madrassah's of Pakistan supported religiously and financially by Saudi Arabia.[39][44][62][63][64]

Notable attacks

2005 Attack on Iranian President

The motorcade of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was ambushed during his visit to Balochistan province, in which at least one of his bodyguards was killed and others injured.[65]

2006 Tasooki Attack

On 16 March 2006, four days before Iranian new year, Jundallah blocks a road near Tasooki and kills 21 civilians. A thirteen year old student on his way for new year holidays was caught in cross fire.[62][66]

2007 Zahedan bombing

On February 14, 2007, a car bomb and gunfire directed at a bus killed 18 members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Guards commander Qasem Rezaei said, "This blind terrorist operation led to the martyrdom of 18 citizens of Zahedan" and attributed the attack to "insurgents and elements of insecurity."[67] Jundallah claimed responsibility for the attack on 15 February.[68]

Iranian security forces also arrested five suspects, two of whom were carrying camcorders and grenades when they were arrested, while the police killed the main "agent" of the attack.[59] Among the arrestees was Said Qanbarzehi, a Balochi, who was hanged in Zahedan prison on 27 May 2007. He had been sentenced to death at the age of 17 along with six other Balochi men—Javad Naroui, Masoud Nosratzehi, Houshang Shahnavazi, Yahya Sohrabzehi, Ali Reza Brahoui and Abdalbek Kahrazehi (also known as Abdalmalek) -- in March 2007,[69] despite the absolute international prohibition on the execution of child offenders.[70] Two days later on Friday, Feb 16 2007, Jundallah bombed a girls school in city of Zahedan and the leader of the group took responsibility for it on the official TV of MEK.[71]

Mass abduction

Jundallah militants kidnapped 21 Iranian truck drivers near Chah Bahar on August 19, 2007 and brought them to Pakistan. Pakistani forces later freed all of them.[72]

Police abduction

On June 13, 2008, 16 police in southeastern Iran were abducted and brought into Pakistan.[73] In December 2008, Jundallah announced that it had killed all the hostages.[74]

Saravan bombing

In a rare suicide bombing in Iran, a car bomb was driven into a security building in Saravan, Iran, on December 29, 2008. The explosion killed four Iranians.[75][76]

Saravan ambush

On January 25, 2009, 12 Iranian policemen were ambushed and killed by Jundallah near Saravan.[77]

Zahedan mosque blast

A bomb blast on May 28, 2009 rocked a mosque in the city of southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan as mourners participated in a ceremony marking the death of the daughter of the prophet of Islam, which killed 25 people and injured 125 others, less than 3 weeks before the Iranian 2009 presidential elections. The Iranian government promptly accused the United States of having financed and orchestrated the attack in order to destabilize the nation in the lead up to its presidential election. Two days after the attack, three men were publicly hanged for smuggling the explosives used in attack into Iran from Pakistan. The trio were already in prison at the time of attack and had been tried for previous attacks by Jundallah including 2007 Zahedan bombings.[78] Interior Minister Sadegh Mahsouli said in a statement posted on the internet Friday that "those who committed the Thursday bombing are neither Shia nor Sunni. They are Americans and Israelis."[79] Abdel Raouf Rigi, the spokesman for Jundallah claimed responsibility on a Saudi Arabian state owned TV channel, Al-Arabiya.[78][80]

2009 Pishin bombing

On October 18, 2009 42 people were killed in a suicide bombing in the Pishin region of Sistan-Baluchistan, including at least 6 officers in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards such as the deputy commander of the Guards' ground force, General Noor Ali Shooshtari, and the Guards' chief provincial commander, Rajab Ali. Jundallah claimed responsibility [81] [82] [83].

See also

References

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External links


Simple English

Jundallah (or Jondallah, translates to Soldiers of God), or People's resistance movement of Iran' (PRMI) is a militant organisation based in Balochistan. The organisation claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni muslims in Iran. Most muslims in Iran are Shi'a, Sunni make up for the largest group that is not Shi'a. Iran says the group is a terrorist organisation. Iran has blamed the organisation for many acts of smuggling illegal drugs, and of kidnapping.[1] The organisation is believed to have 1.000 fighting soldiers.

Many observers believe the group is linked to al-Qaeda.[2][3][4] For a long time, Iran has believed that the U.S. government supported Jundallah. Several other sources such as the ABC News, Daily Telegraph, and journalist Seymour Hersh have also reported that Jundullah has received support from the United States against the government of Iran,[5][6][7][8] although the US denies any involvement.[5]

In August 2007, the Israeli Mossad chief, Meir Dagan, pushed for using ethnic groups (among others, people from Balochistan) in Iran to make the Iranian government weaker and try to change the people in charge of the government.[9]

References








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