Iranian security forces have detained the man suspected of masterminding the 2008 Shiraz mosque bombing which killed 14 people and wounded 215, officials said on Saturday.
They accuse Jamshid Sharmahd, the head of pro-monarchy militant group Tondar, of “leading armed and sabotage operations inside Iran.”
The officials claim Tondar had planned several other “big operations” which have failed or have been foiled by Iranian officials, including plots to blow up a dam in Shiraz, use “cyanide bombs” at a Tehran book fair, and plant a bomb at the memorial of the late Ayatollah Khomeini.
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The US-based Sharmahd is “now in the powerful hands” of Iran law enforcement, the authorities said.
However, they provided no details on how Sharmahd, who was operating out of the US state of California, ended up in Iranian custody.
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Iran views Tondar (Farsi for thunder) as a terrorist organization and the militant wing of the little-known monarchist opposition group called the Kingdom Assembly of Iran. The authorities have asserted links between the group and several people who have already been executed over the 2008 bombing. Iran said some were taking orders from an Iranian US-backed “CIA agent” who was preparing an assassination of a high-ranking official.
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In 2010, a suspected Iranian operative vanished before facing trial in California for allegedly trying to hire a hitman to assassinate Sharmahd. Observers believe the suspect most likely managed to flee back to Iran.
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While it was not clear how Iran captured Sharmahd, its operatives are known for using family members and tricks to lure exiles back to Iran or to Tehran-friendly countries.
The country’s opposition made a similarly cagey announcement regarding the arrest of former opposition leader Ruhollah Zam in October last year.
dj/mm (dpa, AFP, AP)