A TONDAR member in Iranian custody tells the State-run media his connection to the group originated through a U.S.-run media corporation.
Ali Motlaq, who is under arrest in Iran for “planting bombs and orchestrating the assassination of top Iranian figures”, was put in touch with the Los Angeles-based Royalist Association of Iran (TONDAR) through the U.S. State Department, he recently told Press TV:
In an exclusive interview with Press TV’s IRAN TODAY, he said he first got in touch with the group through Radio Farda—a Persian language radio station funded by the U.S. State Department.
TONDAR, a group represented by a former representative to the late-Shah of Iran’s, public objective is to re-institute the Shah leadership in Iran—but hold elections for the post after whatever amount of time is necessary to ‘re-educate’ the Iranian people. It is “a terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for the attacks across Iran in the last 5 years”, according to the Iran-government-run television station, which has “killed and wounded hundreds”:
In January 2010, the group claimed responsibility for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Masoud Ali-Mohammadi, who was killed by a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle outside his home in north Tehran.
The terrorist group had earlier claimed responsibility for the April 12, 2008 bombing of a religious compound in the city of Shiraz, which left 14 people killed and more than 200 others wounded.
Mehdi Eslamian, a TONDAR member, was recently executed by the Iranian government for participating in the Shiraz bombing. Mohsen Eslamian, his brother, was executed last year, but the group said in a statement, “Similar to his brother, he was never a part of armed resistance.”
On January 28, two TONDAR members were hanged after confessing to “obtaining explosives and planning to assassinate officials”, Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi “said at the time”, the AFP reported in mid-May. Mr. Dolatabadi linked Mehdi to the four members of the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), hanged on the same day, Press TV reported.
This is significant, as Iran has been “shelling” the semi0autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan for almost two weeks now, killing at least one civilian—a 14-year-old girl.
This is “nothing new”, Jason Ditz wrote yesterday at AntiWar News, as “both Iran and Turkey have been launching salvos intermittently basically since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq”.
“The attacks are aimed at Kurdish rebel groups that use the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan as a staging area, and generally have been shrugged off by the Iraqi national government and the U.S. occupation forces,” he added.
Iran has “begun constructing a small fort in Iraqi territory, suggesting they plan on staying for a while”, as Asso Ahmed reported today at the Los Angeles Times, according to “Kurdish officials”. Add this to the long-looming theory that the U.S. is fighting a proxy war with Iran in Iraq. Past evidence has extended this war into the Islamic republic to depose the government via terrorist groups—notably, Jundallah and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (M.E.K.).
Then again, this whole story could just be another case in the long list of belligerence by the Iranian government, with the latest threat to send ships to break the Gaza blockade. Israel’s ready to start World War III if it does and has recently prepared to station three nuclear-armed submarines off of the Iranian coastline—whether or not they’re there yet, I’m not aware. On the other hand, this could be another case where Iran’s belligerence is—yet again!—easily baited into geopolitical pissing contests, as it is with economic sanctions against the Iranians due to pass the U.N. Security Council, tomorrow.
A Facebook group, claiming to be run by TONDAR, displays it as the type of group the U.S. typically wants to make efforts toward deposing the Iranian hard-liner regime. It is secular, mutli-faceted and inclusive. The page claims its members include: “guerrilla fighters, news correspondents, legal activists, and thousands of active Iranians who say NO to the terrors of this Mullah regime”.
The administrators and officers of the group are pretty savvy in 21st propaganda methods—with YouTube channels, syndicated broadcasts and surprisingly far-reaching access—when one considers the methods of its “guerilla fighters”. Of course, a large reason for this is probably that—today’s Press TV report notes—the U.S. government has not recognized TONDAR as a terrorist group, as it has not with Jundallah. The M.E.K. is on the U.S. State Department’s “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” list.
The group aims to “rebuild” Iran “by using our great traditions in a modern way and getting help from new technology”, TONDAR’s English site claims. Though, it dislikes being dubbed a monarchist group, it aims to re-institute the Shah—but with electoral political methods—and spokesman Forud Fuladwand “worked with [Reza Pahlavi, the former crown prince of Iran and eldest son of the late U.S.-puppeteered Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi] for twenty two years to help him to be the future Shah”.
When I read this story on Press TV, it seemed like a ridiculous stretch. It didn’t take much digging to begin bursting into laughter and wondering why the U.S. government wouldn’t back such a group, let alone aid it in recruiting.