Abdul Malik Rigi, the Emir of Jundallah, is in Iranian custody.
Iranian security forces have captured the wanted leader of a Pakistan-based terror group that operates in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan-Baluchistan and in neighboring Pakistan.
Abdul Malik Rigi, who is also known as Emir Abdul Malik Baluch, was captured during an operation, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said in a statement.
The details of Rigi’s capture are unclear. According to the Iranian Students News Association, the Intelligence Ministry stated Rigi was captured during an operation in eastern Iran. But PressTV claimed both Rigi and his second in command were captured “on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan.”
Rigi’s brother, Abdulhamid Rigi, is currently on death row after being captured by Pakistani security forces in 2009, who then turned him over to Iran. Abdulhamid’s death was postponed late last year.
Jundallah is a Baluch terror group that operates in Pakistan’s Baluchistan provinces as well as in Sistan-Baluchistan in Iran. The group was founded by Rigi in 2003. He renamed Jundallah the Peoples Resistance Movement of Iran. Jundallah is estimated to have between 1,000 and 2,000 trained fighters.
Jundallah has conducted numerous attacks against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Iranian government. Its most recent high-profile attack took place in the city of Pishin in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan. A suicide bomber killed 28 military officials and civilians, including Brigadier General Nour Ali Shoushtari, the deputy commander for the IRGC’s ground forces, and Brigadier Rajab Ali Mohammadzadeh, the IRGC’s provincial commander for Sistan-Baluchistan. In a press release on its website, Jundallah also claimed that the commanders of Iranshahr Corps, Sarbaz Corps, the Amir al Mo’menin Brigade were also killed in the attack.
Other attacks include the 2005 ambush on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s motorcade in Sistan-Baluchistan; the 2006 murder of 22 civilians in Tasooki; the 2007 ambush on an IRGC convoy that killed 18 officers in Zahedan; the 2008 kidnapping and execution of 16 Iranian policemen; the 2009 ambush that killed 12 policemen in Saravan; and the 2009 bombing at a mosque in Zahedan that killed 25 people.
The Iranian government accuses the United States, Britain, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan of covertly backing Jundallah as part of an effort to destabilize the regime.
There is another group called Jundallah, which is based in Pakistan. This group has links with al Qaeda. Dr. Arshad Waheed, an al Qaeda commander who was killed in a US airstrike in South Waziristan in March 2008, had close links to Ata-ur-Rehman, the former leader of this other Jundallah organization who was detained by Pakistani security forces. Iran deliberately conflates the two groups and accuses the US of backing the al Qaeda-allied group.