Monday, December 20, 2010

Iran hangs 11 Jundullah Sunni militants

20 December 2010

Iran has hanged 11 members of a Sunni militant group Jundullah for murder and terrorism, the country's justice ministry said.

The men were executed at dawn in Zahedan, the capital of the south-eastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan.

Officials said they belonged to Jundullah, which said it was behind an attack on a mosque last week which killed 39 people.

But it is not clear whether those executed were involved in that attack.

In June, Iran killed Jundullah's leader, but attacks have continued.

"The people of Sistan-Baluchestan province, in their continuing campaign against the elements of cruelty and insecurity, hanged 11 people at Zahedan prison," the justice ministry said in a statement on Fars news agency.

Ebrahim Hamidi, head of the provincial justice department, told state news agency Irna that the group had received a fair trial and had been charged with "corruption on earth, fighting against God and the Prophet and confronting the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran".
Deprived province

The deadly suicide bombing outside the Imam Hossein Mosque in the city of Chabahar on 15 December killed and wounded scores.

Founded in 2003, Jundullah (Soldiers of God) says it is fighting for the culture and faith of the ethnic Baluch people.

The majority of Iran's ethnic Baluchi population live in Sistan-Baluchistan and adhere to the Sunni branch of Islam. They claim that as a minority in a Shia state, they are persecuted by the authorities.

Sistan-Baluchistan is one of Iran's most deprived provinces and its location also makes it a key route in the international drugs trade.

Iran caught Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi while he was on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan in February, and executed him in June.

“The perpetrators of such terrorist attacks are in Pakistan who are led by foreign intelligence services,” Commander of the IRGC Ground Forces Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour told reporters on Monday.

He criticized the Pakistani government for not cooperating with the Islamic Republic in identifying and eradicating terrorist groups in Pakistan, calling on Islamabad to find the people behind the terrorist attack.

Iran Warns Pakistan to Control Borders

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian military commander urged Islamabad to tighten control over its shared borders with Iran, and warned of Tehran's unilateral action in case Pakistan shows any further negligence in this regard.

"If Pakistan fails to control and prevent terrorist measures at its borders like recent years, we will make use of our legitimate rights," Iran's Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hassan Firouzabadi cautioned on Monday.

Stressing the age-old friendship between Iran and Pakistan, he stressed that the Islamic Republic of Iran has always paid attention and interacted with the brotherly country of Pakistan, but "Pakistan unfortunately does not control and stop terrorists".

"The terrorist incidents at border areas with Pakistan make us revise the related issues," Firouzabadi added.
He made the remarks after a suicide attack near a mosque in Southeastern Iran killed at least 37 and wounded 95 people in a mourning ceremony held to commemorate the martyrdom anniversary of Shiites' third Imam on Wednesday.

The attack took place outside Imam Hossein Mosque in the port city of Chabahar, in Sistan and Balouchestan province, near the border with Pakistan.

The Pakistani-based Jundollah terrorist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Following the incident in Chabahar on Wednesday, Iranian Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said that the terrorists in charge of the bombing had received training in Pakistan.

"A number of terrorists that are being trained beyond (Iran's) Eastern borders in Pakistan have carried out this terrorist attack," Najjar said.

Also, after Iran arrested Jundollah's number one Abdolmalek Rigi in late February, the criminal ringleader confessed that he was traveling to Bishkek to meet with a high-ranking US official at a nearby military base to discuss new terrorist attacks on Iranian territory. Rigi was executed in June.

Iran says that there are few remaining elements of the group that the United States and British intelligence services are supporting. Tehran has arrested or killed a large number of the Jundollah terrorists, including the ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi and his brother and Jundollah's number two man Abdolhamid Rigi.


FACTBOX-Jundollah, Iran's Sunni Muslim rebels

Dec 15 (Reuters) - Here are some key details about Sunni Muslim rebel group Jundollah which said on Wednesday it was behind an attack which killed dozens in southeastern Iran, according to Al Arabiya television. [ID:nLDE6BE0KQ]


* Iran, which is predominantly Shi'ite, has linked Jundollah (God's Soldiers) to the Sunni Islamist al Qaeda network. It also accuses the United States of backing Jundollah in order to create instability in the country. Washington denies the charge.

* Jundollah says it is fighting for the rights of Iran's minority Sunnis. Iran rejects allegations by rights groups that it discriminates against ethnic and religious minorities.


* Jundollah chief Abdolmalek Rigi said in a 2007 interview that his group was fighting for the rights of the Baluch people facing what he called "genocide" in Iran, but denied it harboured any separatist or radical sectarian agenda.

* Jundollah has evolved through shifting alliances with various parties, including the Taliban and Pakistan's ISI intelligence service, who saw the group as a tool against Iran, according to Lahore-based Pakistani analyst Ahmed Rashid.

* Jundollah, which also calls itself the Iranian People's Resistance Movement, was founded in 2002 and launched its armed campaign in 2005.

* Since early 2005 the group has sought to expand operations in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan.

* The group probably numbers fewer than 100 militants armed with explosives and small arms in Sistan-Baluchestan which borders both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

* Last month the United States named Jundollah for repeated attacks within the Islamic Republic to its list of foreign terrorist organizations.


* In June 2005, The Sunni Muslim Jundollah Baluch militant group, which Iran says has linked to al Qaeda, kidnapped Revolutionary Guard officer Shahab Mansuri and sent a video of him to al-Arabiya. He was killed on July 13.

* On Dec. 14, 2005, an assassination attempt was carried out against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while on a visit to Sistan-Baluchestan. This attack was also blamed on Jundollah.

* In 2007, Jundollah claimed responsibility for several attacks. On Feb. 14, 11 members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards were killed in an attack on a bus in the city of Zahedan.

* In Dec. 2008 there was a suicide attack in Saravan on a security forces headquarters. This was the first such suicide attack in Iran and was carried out by Abdul-Ghafoor Rigi, a brother of the group's leader.

* On May 28, 2009, a suicide bomber killed 30 people and wounded more than 120 in an attack on a mosque in Zahedan. Jundollah claimed responsibility for the attack.

* An Oct. 18, 2009 bombing by the group killed 40 people. Fifteen Revolutionary Guards members were among those killed, including the deputy head of ground forces. Jundollah said it was behind the deadliest attack in Iran since the 1980s.

* On July 15, 2010 powerful bombs exploded near Zahedan's Grand Mosque scattering body parts around the holy site. At least 28 people were killed and more than 169 injured. The Sunni Muslim Jundollah militant group claimed the blast in revenge for the execution of its leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, on June 20.

* Two people including a hostage were killed on Sept. 18 during an operation to free six Iranians taken captive from a bus. Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the Iran's Revolutionary Guards' ground forces said Jundollah was behind the abduction of the five soldiers and a bank employee in Sistan-Baluchestan.

* Dec. 15 - At least 30 Iranians were killed and over 100 wounded in a suicide attack in the city of Chabahr in Sistan-Baluchestan province, near the Imam Hussein Mosque, during a Shi'ite mourning ceremony. Jundollah claimed responsibility for the bombing.


* On May 30, 2009 three men were hanged in public for involvement in the Zahedan bombing. Two more were hanged on June 2. Iran executed 13 more men accused of membership of Jundollah in July 2009.

* On Nov. 3, 2009 Iran executed Jundollah member Abdolhamid Rigi.

* The leader's brother also called Abdolhamid was hanged in on May 24, 2010.

* The group's leader, Abdolmalek Rigi, was arrested in February 2010. He was convicted by a Revolutionary court of various charges, including armed robbery, kidnapping, drug smuggling, assassination attempts and murder and was executed on June 20.

* Iran arrested three Jundollah members in October who played "a major role" in the July mosque explosion IRNA news agency reported.

Sources: Reuters/Janes World Insurgency and Terrorism (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Maria Golovnina)

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