17:52 GMT03 August 2020
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    On Saturday, Iranian authorities apprehended Jamshid Sharmahd, the leader of the Tondar (‘Thunder’) terrorist group. The US-based group has carried out several terror attacks inside Iran, including the bombing of a mosque and the assassination of a nuclear scientist, and has called for the violent overthrow of the Iranian government.

    US officials were confounded by the Iranian intelligence services’ operation to capture Tondar leader Jamshid Sharmahd, Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi has said.

    “The reason why they first denied [his arrest] was that they knew he was strongly supported by American and Israeli services, and they considered it unlikely for Iran’s Intelligence Ministry to be able to penetrate their umbrella of support…and apprehend him inside the Islamic Republic of Iran through a complicated operation,” Alavi said on Sunday, his remarks quoted by Tasnim.

    “Jamshid Sharmahd and his associates planned some 27 acts of terror, all of which were thwarted thanks to the perseverance, vigilance and knowledge of Iranian intelligence forces,” Alavi added.

    According to the minister, “the Americans still don’t believe that Sharmahd has been arrested in Iran. They still think that he’s located abroad and that these photos are from abroad.”

    Earlier, Iranian media released a photo and video footage of Sharmahd with a black cloth covering his eyes during questioning. In the video clip, he can be heard saying “They needed explosives and we provided it.”

    Protected by the FBI

    Alavi revealed new details about the extent to which Mr. Sharmahd believed that he was protected by US intelligence services. According to the official, in one instance, when an Iranian intelligence operative phoned up Sharmahd and threatened to arrest him, the terror leader boasted that he had an office on the sixth floor in an FBI building and couldn’t be gotten to. He was wrong, Alavi said.

    The intelligence official also offered insight into the specifics of the Tondar organization itself, saying that among the pro-monarchist currents in Iran, Tondar is the “most violence-prone” and the most prepared to commit acts of terror to reach its goal. Other royalist opposition groups have limited themselves mostly to statements and slogans, he added.

    Interpol Request Ignored

    Alavi noted that Iranian authorities had sought cooperation from Interpol in arresting Sharmahd, particularly after the 2008 terror bombing of the Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in Iran, which killed 14 people and injured 202 others. These requests were reportedly ignored, however.

    “Despite our complaint to Interpol, Sharmahd would travel everywhere under his own name. This shows how empty anti-terror slogans by the US and their European allies are,”Alavi suggested.

    “The arrest of the leader of Tondar was not the first complex operation by the Ministry of Intelligence, and won’t be its last, and [our agents] have already made such arrests, but now is not the time to talk about it,” Alavi concluded.

    Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced Sharmahd’s arrest on Saturday, saying he was captured “during a complicated intelligence operation.” No further details about exactly how, when or where he was detained were provided.

    In addition to taking responsibility for the Shiraz bombing, Tondar is also thought to be responsible for the 2010 assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Masoud Alimohammadi. The California-based group has also been accused of planning multiple other terror attacks, including a plot to destroy the Sivand Dam in southern Iran.

    Asked to comment on the arrest on Saturday, a US State Department spokesperson confirmed that Washington was “aware of reports related to the detention of Mr. Sharmahd.”

    “The Iranian regime has a long history of detaining Iranians and foreign nationals on spurious charges. We urge Iran to be fully transparent and abide by all international legal standards,” the spokesperson added.

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    Iran Arrests Leader of 'US-Based Terrorist Group'
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