WASHINGTON — Iranian allegations that a top Sunni militant had been to an American military base in Afghanistan prior to his capture are “totally bogus,” a senior US official said Tuesday.
Iran hailed the arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi as a major blow to the US, saying he had travelled to Europe and met with a NATO military chief in Afghanistan, while accusing the US and Britain of constant plotting in the region.
“This is of course a totally bogus accusation,” a senior US official told AFP when asked whether Rigi had been to an American base in Afghanistan, where the Iranians allege he was issued with an Afghan passport.
Rigi, Iran’s most wanted fugitive who is accused of launching deadly attacks from Pakistan, had been tracked by Iranian agents for five months before his arrest, Iranian intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi said in Tehran.
It was not immediately clear how Iranian authorities were able to remove the leader of the shadowy rebel group Jundallah (Soldiers of God) from a flight they said was between Dubai and Kyrgyzstan.
Iran says Jundallah receives backing from the intelligence services of Pakistan, Britain and the United States, a charge those countries strenuously deny.
Rigi, whose group claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in Shiite majority Iran, is accused of masterminding a string of attacks in the restive province of Sistan-Baluchestan.
In October 2009, Jundallah claimed it was behind a brutal suicide bombing in the provincial town of Pisheen that killed 42 people, including seven commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and several tribal leaders.
The attack was one of the deadliest against the Guards, the elite force set up to defend Iran’s Islamic revolution from internal and external threats.
The Guards are increasingly being targeted by US sanctions over Iran’s suspected nuclear activities and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned last week that Iran was becoming a “military dictatorship.”
Iran’s Press-TV reports that Iranian officials grounded the plane to take custody of Rigi.
As initial reports indicated that Iran’s most wanted man was captured on a flight en-route to Kyrgyzstan from Dubai, a source talking to Press TV on condition of anonymity confirmed that Rigi and one of his deputies were captured after their plane was brought down by security forces in an airport in the Iranian Persian Gulf city of Bandar Abbas.
Iran’s intelligence minister says the leader of Jundallah terrorist group was at a US base in Afghanistan 24 hours before his capture, in possession of a US-issued, forged Afghan passport.
Iran’s Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi said Tuesday that the leader of Jundallah terrorist group was at a US base in Afghanistan 24 hours before his capture, in possession of a US-issued, forged Afghan passport.
According to Moslehi, the country’s intelligence apparatus had been tracking Rigi for five months prior to his Tuesday arrest.