The Secret War Against Iran
Brian Ross and Christopher Isham, ABC News
3 April 2007
A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News.
The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran.
It has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.
U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "finding" as well as congressional oversight.
Tribal sources tell ABC News that money for Jundullah is funneled to its youthful leader, Abd el Malik Regi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states.
Jundullah has produced its own videos showing Iranian soldiers and border guards it says it has captured and brought back to Pakistan.
The leader, Regi, claims to have personally executed some of the Iranians.
"He used to fight with the Taliban. He's part drug smuggler, part Taliban, part Sunni activist," said Alexis Debat, a senior fellow on counterterrorism at the Nixon Center and an ABC News consultant who recently met with Pakistani officials and tribal members.
"Regi is essentially commanding a force of several hundred guerrilla fighters that stage attacks across the border into Iran on Iranian military officers, Iranian intelligence officers, kidnapping them, executing them on camera," Debat said.
Most recently, Jundullah took credit for an attack in February that killed at least 11 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard riding on a bus in the Iranian city of Zahedan.
Last month, Iranian state television broadcast what it said were confessions by those responsible for the bus attack.
They reportedly admitted to being members of Jundullah and said they had been trained for the mission at a secret location in Pakistan.
The Iranian TV broadcast is interspersed with the logo of the CIA, which the broadcast blamed for the plot.
A CIA spokesperson said "the account of alleged CIA action is false" and reiterated that the U.S. provides no funding of the Jundullah group.
Pakistani government sources say the secret campaign against Iran by Jundullah was on the agenda when Vice President Dick Cheney met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February.
A senior U.S. government official said groups such as Jundullah have been helpful in tracking al Qaeda figures and that it was appropriate for the U.S. to deal with such groups in that context.
Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the U.S. government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilize the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.
ABC News video podcast of story(m4v) (44Mb)
Last year, this group calling themselves Jundullah stopped a bus, took ordinary citizens including women and children off the road, dug up a big hole, and shot them dead inside the hole.
The group is not fighting only Iranian government, but also killing innocent civilians. But I suppose this is called "collateral damage" , right ?
When the report says they're funded by exiled Iranians living in Europe, do they actually mean by the internationally known terrorist organization called "Mujahedin e Khalgh" ??
Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization operated from Iraq getting support from former Iraqi government. They fought in the Iran-Iraq war against Iran, also during peace time with odd bombs killing civilians. Now it seems they are funding the Pakistani radical group...
CIA hires terrorist group to operate inside Iran
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has hired a Pakistani terrorist group that has carried out a series of deadly terrorist attacks inside Iran, ABC News has reported on Wednesday.
The group, members of the Baluchi tribe, operates from Pakistan's province of Baluchestan, just across the border from Iran.
ABC cited US government sources it did not identify as saying the US has maintained close ties to its leader, Abdel-Malik Regi, since 2005.
The group, called Jundullah, has carried out raids, resulting in the deaths or kidnapping of Iranian ordinary people as well as soldiers and officials.
The large Iranian community residing in the US protested strongly to Voice of America (VOA)'s live interview with Regi recently in which the terrorist claimed responsibility for the operations.
Regi admitted to have personally executed some of the Iranian captives, the ABC News report said.
Alexis Debat, a senior fellow on counterterrorism at the Nixon Center and an ABC News consultant, told the program that Regi used to fight with the Taliban, adding "he's part drug smuggler, part Taliban, part Sunni activist".
"He is essentially commanding a force of several hundred guerrilla fighters that stage attacks across the border into Iran on Iranian military officers, Iranian intelligence officers, kidnapping them, executing them on camera."
The group claimed responsibility for an attack in February that killed at least 11 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard riding on a bus in the Iranian city of Zahedan.
Iranian television last month broadcast confessions by those responsible for the bus attack.
They admitted to being members of Jundullah and said they had been trained for the mission at a secret location in Pakistan.
The only relationship with the group that US intelligence acknowledges is cooperation in tracking al-Qaeda figures in that part of Pakistan.
ABC cited Pakistani government sources as saying the secret campaign against Iran was on the agenda when Vice President Dick Cheney met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February.
Asked about the report, Cheney spokeswoman Megan McGinn responded: "We don't discuss conversations between the vice president and foreign leaders."
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