Tuesday 20 October 2009

Iran leaders divided on who is behind Baluch bombing

The Jundullah Iran logo

The Jundullah Iran, which carried out the suicide bombing in Sarbaz in south-eastern Iran on 18 October that killed six senior Revolutionary Guards and around 40 other people has published a statement explaining the action.
It names the suicide bomber at Abdul Wahid Mohammadi Srawani, saying he acted in response to the crimes of the Iranian regime, "which has killed hundreds of young people during the past year alone, through firing squad, hanging or martyrdom under torture."
The Iranians do not appear to have a clear line on who is behind Jundallah. On Tuesday Iran's police chief, Brigadier General Ismail Ahmadi Moqaddam, blamed "foreign intelligence agencies" for the attack,which killed a Lieutenant Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, the Sistan and Baluchistan Revolutionary Guards commander and commanders from Sarbaz and the Amiralmoemenin Brigade.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki chose to blame "criminals, traitors, mercenaries and agents of foreign enemies", before he announced he was going to call his Pakistani opposite number to discuss the attack.
Intelligence minister Hojjatoleslam Heidar Moslehi also chose to blame Pakistan, while President Ahmedinejad announced that he had had a conversation with Pakistan's President Zardari.
However, Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran's Expediency Council, was clearly off message, choosing instead to blame Israel, the Iraq-based Mojahedin-e Khalq Organisation and Britain.
A statement from Teheran calling on Interpol to arrest Jundallah's leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, says proof that the organisation is supported by America comes from "confessions" made by Rigi's brother, who is in Iranian custody - having been handed over by Pakistan.
It is true that there has been some speculation that the CIA is financing extreme Baluchi Islamists to attack Iran, and the Sunni Baluchis (as well as some ethnic Arabs in the south of Iran) have always been seen as easy allies for anyone who wants to upset Teheran. Saddam Hussein supported the Baluchis during Iraq's war against Iran and further back it is possible that there was some US involvement.
Yet it is much more likely that this group is primarily influenced by the Taliban and al-Qaeda than by any intelligence agency. All that could change, however, if it became evident (as some have suggested) that Iran was in any way supporting the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan,. If that were to happen, there is little doubt that Iranian Baluchistan would become the venue for a proxy war.
Update: In late October the Pakistani government told its Iranian counterparts that Jundallah was supported by both the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Iranian officials were also told that Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi had met recently with senior TTP figures.

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