Iran arrests head of U.S.-based terror group

Cheryl Sanders
August 2, 2020

"The surveillance of the unknown soldiers of Imam Zaman (Iranian intelligence forces) on a terrorist group based in the US has led to the arrest of this terrorist group's ringleader", ISNA reported on Saturday.

Sharmahd allegedly heads the group's militant wing, which is called Tondar.

Iran's foreign minister blamed the USA and Europe for funding and protecting terrorists Saturday following the arrest of the leader of a US-based anti-regime group.

However, they provided no details on how Sharmahd, who was operating out of the U.S. state of California, ended up in Iranian custody.

It said that Tondar had planned to blow up a dam in Shiraz, use "cyanide bombs" at a Teheran book fair, and plant an explosive device at the mausoleum of the Islamic republic's founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

State TV later aired footage of Sharmahd interspersed with footage from the moment of the 2008 explosion at the Shiraz mosque.

Sharmahd last appeared in an online livestream video on December 29.

It said further details of Sharmahd's detention would be announced later.

Zam was sentenced to death on security charges in June.

It did not elaborate on where or when the leader of the opposition royalist group known as the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, or Tondar (Farsi for Thunder), was detained. The group's founder disappeared in the mid-2000s. An alleged Iranian government operative who allegedly tried to hire a hit man to kill Sharmahd disappeared in 2010 before facing trial in California, likely having returned to Iran. The US has refused requests by Tehran to shut down Tondar's operations.

According to the group's website, Sharmahd is an electronics engineer who was born in March 1955.

The website says he is Iranian-German and lived in Germany before moving to Los Angeles in 2003. "Because we have heard that once upon a time some people were living in the region who were able to build an empire".

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi reacted to the news by criticizing the US for allowing Sharmahd and others to live in America.

In recent years, Tondar terror group has been planning to carry out a number of big terrorist operations in Iran, it added.

Iran's intelligence ministry published a picture later on Saturday of a grey-haired man in a blindfold it said was Sharmahd. The group is also believed to be responsible for the 2010 bombing assassination of Iranian nuclear physicist Masoud Alimohammadi. Iran long has maintained its programme is for peaceful purposes.

Other reports by iNewsToday