Friday, February 26, 2010

Iranian rebel leader received U.S. backing

Oh, no, wait, that's just what he told Iranian authorities after he'd been captured and likely tortured.

Sunni Muslim rebel leader Abdul Malik Rigi, arrested Tuesday by Iran, said the United States had offered to provide him with a base, cash and weapons, according to Iranian state television, which showed him purportedly making the admissions.

Iranian authorities said Rigi's group, Jundallah, was responsible for several deadly attacks in southeastern Iran and is backed by the United States. They said he was provided with an Afghan passport and had been at a U.S. base in Afghanistan 24 hours before the arrest.

U.S. officials, of course, deny anything of the sort.

While I think this guy would probably tell his government tormentors just about anything they wanted to hear, it's fair to note that there were rumblings during the prior administration that the U.S. ought to support Jundullah. Here's what Bob Baer had to say about that in Time last October, after a suspected Jundullah bomb had killed IRGC leadership alongside a number of other people:

"American intelligence has also had contact with Jundullah. But that contact, as Iran almost certainly knows, was confined to intelligence-gathering on the country," Robert Baer, a former Middle East CIA field officer wrote on the Time.com, IRNA reported early on Saturday.

However, he noted that the US-Jundullah relationship "was never formalized, and contact was sporadic."

The news comes amid US denial of any involvement in a recent terrorist attack in Sistan-Baluchestan province in southeastern Iran, which Jundullah claimed responsibility for.

"I've been told that the Bush Administration at one point considered Jundullah as a piece in a covert-action campaign against Iran, but the idea was quickly dropped because Jundullah was judged uncontrollable and too close to al-Qaeda. There was no way to be certain that Jundullah would not throw the bombs we paid for back at us," said the former CIA agent who is a columnist in the weekly, and very probably an advisor in the Middle East.

Baer also noted that Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), has had relations with the Jundullah leader, Abdolmalek Rigi.

"Pakistani intelligence has indeed had contact with Jundullah over the years, but there's no good evidence that Pakistan created Jundullah from scratch. And there's certainly no evidence that Pakistan ordered the attack," Baer said in reference to the terrorist attack that took place in Iran on Sunday, October 18, which killed 42 people including the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps commanders.

There are a million good reasons why our association with Jundullah should never have progressed beyond the point where it apparently stopped (according to Baer), so this explanation has a ring of truth. That the Iranian regime would try to associate Rigi with the U.S. is about as surprising as it is compelling, which is to say not at all.

2 comments:

  1. Odd. When Jundallah struck the IRGC in October, the Mullahs blamed it on the UK.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Odd. When Jundallah struck the IRGC in October, the Mullahs blamed it on the UK.

    Yeah, they have an alternating sense of historical grievance. Depending on what week you listen, the great satan can be either British or American.

    ReplyDelete