Iran says it has arrested the leader of an opposition group operating from the United States. The Iranian state news agency IRNA reports this on Saturday.
It would be Jamshid Sharmahd, who would head the Tondar group. Iran considers this militant arm of the opposition group Kingdom of Assembly to be a terrorist organization. The US has not qualified the group as such.
It is as yet unclear how Iran would have succeeded in arresting Sharmahd, who lives in California. IRNA speaks of “complex operations of the Iranian security services”. In the past, Iran has tried to lure wanted opponents through relatives to Iran or friendly countries, and then arrest them there.
According to Tehran, Tondar (Farsi for ‘thunder’) is behind the attack on a mosque in the Iranian city of Shiraz in 2008, in which fourteen people died and more than two hundred others were injured. According to IRNA, Tondar tried to carry out other attacks in recent years, including at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Tehran, but the Iranian security forces were able to prevent them. In his own words, Tondar wants to restore the overthrown Iranian monarchy in 1979.
Tensions between Iran and the US have risen sharply in the past two years. In 2018, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw his country from the nuclear deal with Iran. In January this year, the conflict escalated further when the US killed Iranian top general Qassem Soleimani in a drone attack.