Western-Backed Jundallah Insurgent Leader Hanged in Iran

Despite Loss of Leadership, Baloch Separatist Group Remains Active

Iran has reported today through its state media that they have handed Abdulmalik Rigi, the longtime commander of Baloch insurgent group Jundallah. Rigi was captured about four months ago, and was executed after a trial and protracted interrogation.

Rigi was convicted on 79 counts including armed robbery, bombings, armed attacks and police and military, and assassination attempts. His brother Abdulhamid Rigi, a lesser leader in the group, had been executed a month earlier after over a year in custody.

A group centered in Balochistan, Jundallah operates in both Iran and Pakistan, with occasional forays into Afghanistan. The Sunni militant group has primarily launched attacks against Iran, however, and US officials have repeatedly acknowledged that they are providing support and encouragement to the group. Despite the capture of Rigi, the group remains active, though they have not attempted any high profile bombings recently.

The exact depth of Rigi’s personal ties to the US and the story behind his capture remains a matter of some contention. He was arrested on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan, after secret peace talks with Iran ended in failure and after Jundallah issued a statement threatening new attacks. According to Rigi’s brother, the two met repeatedly with US officials and were even directed to launch certain specific attacks against Iran by them. The US has officially denied providing “direct support” to the group, which would require Congressional oversight, and said its relationship was “appropriate.”

Jundallah had launched several high profile attacks in 2009, including a May attack on a Shi’ite mosque in Zahedan and an October attack which killed several top commanders in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It is unclear who has replaced the Rigi brothers as leader of the organization.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.