Iran contradicts itself over claims of US support for Jundallah


Jundallah leader Abdul Malik Rigi, after his capture by Iranian intelligence.

Just three days after Iran captured Abdul Malik Rigi, the government is claiming that the US supports Jundallah, Rigi’s terror group, which conducts suicide and other attacks in southeastern Iran. Here is what Rigi said during an interrogation, according to the Iranian-government owned and operated PressTV:

“After Obama was elected, the Americans contacted us and they met me in Pakistan.They met us after clashes with my group around March 17 in (the southeastern city of) Zahedan, and he (the US operative) said that Americans had requested a meeting.”

“I said we didn’t have any time for a meeting and if we do help them they should promise to give us aid. They said they would cooperate with us and will give me military equipment, arms and machine guns. They also promised to give us a base along the border with Afghanistan next to Iran.”

“They asked to meet me and we said where should we meet you and he said in Dubai. We sent someone to Dubai and we told a person to ask a place for myself in Afghanistan from the area near the operations and they complied that they would sort out the problem for us and they will find Mr. Rigi a base and guarantee his own security in Afghanistan or in any of the countries adjacent to Iran so that he can carry on his operations.”

There is more at the link. To summarize the account, Rigi was traveling to the US base in Manas in Kyrgyzstan to seal the deal; the US is supporting Jundallah and other groups because it cannot defeat Iran militarily; Iran is the prime target in the Middle East, and not al Qaeda or the Taliban; etc.

But there is a major problem with Abdul Malik’s story. His brother, Abdul Hamid Rigi, was captured last year by Iran. And according to statements made by Abdul Hamid Rigi at the time , the US has been meeting with Jundallah since 2005, and the latter accepted support then.

Abdul Hamid Rigi said that in 2005 he himself had met with the Americans once in Islamabad, where they had asked about the activities Jundallah was carrying out in Iran, their numbers, their positions and their requests.

After the meeting, he added, Malik had called the Americans to only contact him not any other ring members.

Abdul Hamid said that from 2005 onwards Malik had held several “confidential” meeting with FBI and CIA agents in Karachi and Islamabad.

He added that during one of the meetings in the Pakistani capital, two female US agents had offered weapons, safe bases in Afghanistan, and professional trainers, while inquiring about how many people the group could gather for military training.

“We said we could bring two to three thousand, but we can’t fund them,” said Abdul Hamid Rigi, adding that they had finally accepted the US proposal.

So which is it? Did the US begin supporting Jundallah in 2005, as Abdul Hamid “said”? Or only after President Obama took office, as has brother Abdul Malik has now “said”? Perhaps the Iranian intelligence official should have checked with what Abdul Hamid supposedly said just last year before formulating his brother’s statements, so the two could be consistent. And here I thought the Iranians are always playing chess while the US plays checkers.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Alexander says:

    I don’t see the contradiction.
    It’s been claimed (both by Iran and by American investigative journalists at ABC News and the New Yorker, amongst others) that the U.S. was providing support to Jundullah since at least as early as 2005 under the Bush administration, but the question is whether Obama continued that support or ended it. Rigi claims that the U.S. contacted him offering support, including providing a base in Afghanistan, after the Obama election. He did not say that this was the first time Jundullah was contacted by the U.S., and in fact I have not seen any Iranian sources claiming that. If the U.S. did continue support after Obama’s election, it would make sense for them to reach out to Jundullah, as the Obama administration similarly reached out to other foreign allies or partners of the U.S. (such as Israel) to assure them that the relationship they enjoyed with the U.S. under Bush would not change under Obama. I believe Rigi (or, more likely, the Iranian government) made a point of mentioning that the contact took place after the Obama election specifically to demonstrate their view that U.S. policy towards Iran had not changed since the election.
    You’re grasping at straws here; there is no contradiction between saying that the U.S. supported Jundullah since 2005 and that the U.S. reached out to them again after 2008 and made them additional offers. If you can find an Iranian source claiming that the support began after 2008, then that would contradict Iran’s earlier claims, but I don’t think Iran has made any such contradiction.

  • Bill Roggio says:

    Rigi never discusses renewal of aid, he characterizes this as a first time meeting. Read this statement:
    “I said we didn’t have any time for a meeting and if we do help them they should promise to give us aid. They said they would cooperate with us and will give me military equipment, arms and machine guns.”
    Rigi doesn’t talk about the continuation or extension of aid. He explicitly says “If we do help them” and not “IF they want us to continue helping them”; and “They said they would cooperate with us” and not “They said they would continue to cooperate with us.”
    The Iranian news outlets are controlled by the governemnt. The Iranian news outlets – PressTV, etc. printed what they were told to print, which was Abdul Malik’s confession. Why didn’t a single one take the time to compare his statement to his brother’s from 2009?
    You are free to take Sy Hersch’s word for the reports of US support of Jundallah (did you know, according to Sy we’ve attacked Iran like 20 times during the Bush admin and have domestic assassination teams right?), or the ABC News reporter who was fired for falsifying his history as an intel agent and analyst.
    Iran committed the primary sin of lying: keep your story simple and straight.


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