The alleged leader of a US-based Iranian militant group is on trial


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The alleged leader of the militant wing of a US-based Iranian opposition group was put on trial on Sunday, state television reported. He is accused of planning a mosque bombing in 2008 that killed 14 and injured over 200.

In 2020, Iranian intelligence arrested Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German citizen residing in the United States. Iran said it was the leader of Tondar, the militant wing of the opposition group Kingdom Assembly of Iran.

Sharmahd’s family says he is just the spokesman for the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, known in Farsi as Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, and has accused Iran of kidnapping him in Dubai. His hometown is Glendora, California.

Sharmahd admitted to having ties to both the FBI and the CIA, state television reported. It said he had been in contact with nine FBI and CIA agents and his last meeting was in January 2020.

At the time of his arrest, Iran claimed that Sharmahd was behind the 2008 bombing that targeted the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada mosque in the city of Shiraz and that it was planning further attacks in Iran. In addition to the 14 dead from the bombing, 215 were injured.

Sharmahd, who supports the restoration of the Iranian monarchy overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had previously been the target of an apparent Iranian assassination plot on US soil in 2009.

Iran has not said how it detained Sharmahd, which came amid Iran’s covert actions amid heightened tensions with the US over Tehran’s failure of a nuclear deal with world powers.

Sharmahd was in Dubai trying to travel to India for a deal with his software company, his son said. He was hoping to catch a connecting flight despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic disrupting global travel.

Western officials believe Iran is running intelligence operations in Dubai, keeping tabs on the hundreds of thousands of Iranians residing in the city-state. Iran is suspected of kidnapping and later killing British-Iranian citizen Abbas Yazdi in Dubai in 2013, although Tehran has denied involvement.

The US State Department operates its regional presence office for Iran in Dubai, where diplomats monitor Iranian media reports and speak with Iranians.

Hotels in Dubai have long been targeted by Secret Service agents, such as in the alleged 2010 assassination of Hamas agent Mahmoud al-Mabhouh by the Israeli Mossad. Dubai and the rest of the UAE have since invested even more in a sophisticated surveillance network.

The Kingdom Assembly of Iran is trying to restore the Iranian monarchy that ended when the terminally ill Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country in 1979 just before the Islamic Revolution. The group’s founder disappeared in the mid-2000s.

Last week, Iran said its intelligence units had arrested Tondar’s No. 2 leader, or “Thunder” in Farsi, identified only as “Masmatus.”

Iran has also accused the group of being behind a 2010 bombing of the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, injuring several people.

State television said some family members of victims of the mosque bombing attended Sunday’s hearing, chaired by Judge Abolghasem Salavati at Revolutionary Court 15 in the capital Tehran.


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