Jundallah has claimed responsibility for attacking a “unity gathering between Sunni and Shia tribal leaders”. The rising death toll was last reported at 49.
18 Oct 09 | InfoShop News
Jundallah—translated as “Soldiers of God”—has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s suicide attack on a gathering of tribal leaders in Sistan-Balochistan that has killed at least 35 and left 28 wounded, according to Press TV. The Associated Press is reporting over 40 dead with “dozens wounded” in “the most high-profile strike against security forces” in the region. Several commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) were among the casualties.
[UPDATE: RIA Novosti reports the death toll has risen to 49, according to local news agencies.]
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded: “I promise that those who committed such criminal and inhuman acts will receive their response soon.”
“Jundallah is a Baloch separatist group which operates on both the Iranian and Pakistani sides of the border,” AntiWar News editor Jason Ditz writes today. “The group, which once boasted of ties with al-Qaeda, has been supported by the United States since at least 2005.”
The I.R.G.C. headquarters are condemning the attacks as “global arrogance” and a “horrific crime against humanity” committed by—from reports relayed by Ha’aretz—“terrorists” backed by “the Great Satan America and its ally Britain”. “Not in the distant future we (Iran) will take revenge,” Fars quoted a statement as saying.
Ha’aretz adds: “The attack and the allegations of foreign involvement are likely to raise tension between Iran and the West, a day before nuclear talks in Vienna including Iranian, U.S., French and Russian officials.”
“We condemn this act of terrorism and mourn the loss of innocent lives. Reports of alleged U.S. involvement are completely false,” said Ian Kelly, U.S. State Department spokesman.
Though, the U.S. and U.K. have publicly condemned the attack, the U.S. support for Jundallah to spark ‘regime change in Iran is uncontroversial form the reports of Brian Ross at ABC News and Seymour Hersh at The New Yorker. I recently wrote:
[T]he U.S. government already conducts covert operations in Iran and supports militant Iranian “dissident exile groups” such as the Marxist Mujahideen-e-Khalq (M.E.K.) and Jundallah–once “allegedly” headed by the mainstream-accepted 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed….
Abdolhamid Rigi, brother of Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi and a high ranking member of the Balochi separatist movement which “has been launching high profile suicide bombings for years“, claimed, “that the U.S. was directing the group’s attacks, saying, ‘[the U.S.] told us whom to shoot and whom not to. All orders came from them,’ ” AntiWar News editor Jason Ditz wrote last month, adding: “Previously, U.S. officials had insisted the government was deliberately avoiding direct funding to avoid Congressional oversight, but the Bush Administration did funnel considerable money into ‘covert’ operations against the Iranian government.”
Michael Slackman at The New York Times reports: “The bombers struck early Sunday as the Guards prepared to bring together leaders of the region’s Shiite and Sunni Muslim communities to try to reconcile differences.”
“There is no doubt that this violent and inhumane act was part of the strategy of foreigners and enemies of the regime and the revolution to destroy unity between Shias and Sunnis and create divisions among the unified ranks of the great Iranian people,” said a statement issued by the I.R.G.C., relayed by Mr. Slackman.
The meeting to be held in Pisheen was meant to ‘improve the dialogue among the different communities’, according to Iranian media sources.
Mr. Slackman reports: “With regards to Sistan-Baluchistan area, there is an ethnic and sectarian nature to the issue,” said Mustafa El Labbad, director of the East Center for Regional and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Egypt. “There is the Baluchi versus Persian, and there is Sunni versus Shiite. It also lies on the border with Pakistan, which is not totally secured — weapons can come through. So there is a very explosive blend there.”
al-Qa’ida-linked Saudis and Yemenis allegedly commit the attacks on September 11 planned by leadership operating in Afghanistan; the U.S. invades Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban and improvise from there. Would the supporters of that invasion justify Iran invading Washington, D.C.? Would such an invasion be Iran participating in the so-called “Global War on Terror” or an act of aggression?