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Conflicting Reports Cast Doubts Over Arrest of Iranian Opposition Leader

Conflicting Reports Cast Doubts Over Arrest of Iranian Opposition Leader

Monday, 3 August, 2020 - 08:15

Iranian media outlets shared conflicting stories on the location of a detained opposition leader who supports the return of the Shah regime in Iran and who is accused by authorities of plotting the 2008 explosion in Shiraz a few years ago.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry said on August 1 that it had detained Jamshid Sharmahd of the little-known Kingdom Assembly of Iran, or Tondar.

It said in a statement that security forces arrested Sharmahd in a “complicated operation,” but did not specify how, where, or when the detention took place.

The Intelligence Ministry also said it allegedly thwarted a number of attacks targeting vital institutions in the country.

In its statement, the Intelligence Ministry labeled Sharmahd as the head of a terrorist organization who is accused of running “armed vandalism operations” against Iran from the US.

It alleged that Sharmahd planned and directed an explosion at a religious center in the southern city of Shiraz in 2008 that killed 14 people and wounded 215.

It also claimed Iranian intelligence had foiled several other attacks over the years, including on a dam in Shiraz, at the Imam Khomeini Mausoleum, and the Tehran Book Fair.

According to Reuters, Tondar has claimed responsibility for some attacks, saying on its website it was behind the bombing of a seminary used by Revolutionary Guards in Shiraz in June 2019, and an explosion in a refinery in 2016.

In 2009, Iran executed three men convicted of involvement in the 2008 bombing.

Television showed a video of a man identifying himself as Sharmahd and giving his date of birth. The man was later shown with a blindfold, saying: “They needed explosives and we provided it.”

In a development that highlighted the rivalry between the Intelligence Ministry and the revolutionary guards' IRGC Intelligence Organization, IRGC-linked newspaper Javan in Tehran reported Sunday morning August 2 that Sharmahd was arrested in Tajikistan and was subsequently handed over to Iran.

The Intelligence Ministry had said that Sharmahd was arrested in Turkey.

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