With Balochi separatist group Jundallah's leader Abdolmalek Rigi captured, the United States is issuing denials of involvement or support for the organization.
In his purported confession, Rigi suggested that when his plane was intercepted, he was on his way to a meeting at a U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan with a senior U.S. official, identified in some Iranian news reports as Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration's special diplomatic representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.And from the Pentagon:
State Department chief spokesman P. J. Crowley told Declassified that such reports were "complete nonsense."
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Iranian allegations that Rigi had ties with U.S. officials were incorrect. Iranian intelligence officials said Rigi was at a U.S. base in Afghanistan the day before his arrest.US support for Iranian separatist groups, including Jundallah along Iran's eastern border and Pejak, a Kurdish group in western Iran had not been a big or vehemently denied secret until Rigi's capture. It was widely reported by US news organizations.
"Iranian claims that Abdolmalek Rigi was at a U.S. military installation prior to being apprehended are absolutely false," said Morrell.
During the Bush administration, a debate raged between White House advocates of “regime change” in Tehran, who favored large-scale covert action to break up the country, and State Department moderates who argued that all-out support of the minorities would complicate negotiations on a nuclear deal with the dominant Persians.Here from Seymour Hersh's 2008 New Yorker piece about the US' covert war against Iran:
The result was a compromise: limited covert action carried out by proxy, in the case of the Baluch, through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate or, I.S.I., and in the case of the Kurds by the C.I.A. in cooperation with Israel’s Mossad. My knowledge of the I.S.I.’s role is based on first-hand Pakistani sources, including Baluch leaders. Evidence of the C.I.A. role in providing weapons aid and training to Pejak, the principal Kurdish rebel group in Iran, has been spelled out by three U.S. journalists, Jon Lee Anderson and Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker and Borzou Daragahi of the Los Angeles Times, who have interviewed a variety of Pejak leaders.
One of the most active and violent anti-regime groups in Iran today is the Jundallah, also known as the Iranian People’s Resistance Movement, which describes itself as a resistance force fighting for the rights of Sunnis in Iran. “This is a vicious Salafi organization whose followers attended the same madrassas as the Taliban and Pakistani extremists,” Nasr told me. “They are suspected of having links to Al Qaeda and they are also thought to be tied to the drug culture.” The Jundallah took responsibility for the bombing of a busload of Revolutionary Guard soldiers in February, 2007. At least eleven Guard members were killed. According to Baer and to press reports, the Jundallah is among the groups in Iran that are benefitting from U.S. support.And ABC News in 2007:
A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News.The recent US denials of this support probably are not convincing to anyone with even a hint of skepticism about US policies and motivations. US calls for containment of Iran likely envision support for these groups continuing and, to the degree the US can manage, increasing as Iran develops a credible capability to create a nuclear weapon if it was to choose to.
The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran.
It has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.
U.S. officials say the U.S. relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the U.S. provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or "finding" as well as congressional oversight.
Tribal sources tell ABC News that money for Jundullah is funneled to its youthful leader, Abd el Malik Regi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states.
The lever that Iran can use most readily to inflict pain on the United States, Iraq, is currently focused on elections that present Iran with important objectives that it does not, at the moment want to be distracted from. After the elections, I expect Iraq to resume its position as a primary outlook for Iranian expressions of displeasure with US policies.