Iran said on Saturday that it had arrested the head of a US-based “terrorist group” accused of being behind a fatal 2008 bombing in the southern city of Shiraz and other unsuccessful attacks.
The group’s “Jamshid Sharmahd”, who led armed and sabotage operations in Iran, is now in the powerful hands of the Iranian security forces, state TV said in a report quoting a statement by the intelligence agency.
The statement did not specify where or when the leader of the opposition royalist group known as the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, or Tondar (Farsi for Thunder), was arrested.
According to the statement, he staged the April 12, 2008 bombing in a crowded mosque in Shiraz that killed 14 and injured 215 people.
Iran hanged three men convicted of the bombing in 2009 and said they had ties to the monarchist group.
It was said that they had been ordered by a US-backed Iranian “CIA agent” to murder a senior official in Iran.
They were 21-year-old Mohsen Eslamian and Ali Asghar Pashtar (20) – both university students – and Rouzbeh Yahyazadeh (32).
The three were found guilty by a revolutionary court in Tehran for being “Mohareb” (enemies of God) and “corruption on earth”.
Iran hanged two other convicted members of the group in 2010 who “confessed to having obtained explosives and wanted to murder officials”.
The statement released on Saturday said Tondar had planned several other “major operations” that had failed.
It was said that Tondar had planned to blow up a dam in Shiraz, use “cyanide bombs” at a Tehran book fair and place an explosive device in the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic Republic, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
It was not clear how Iran arrested US-based Sharmahd.
The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence announced the arrest of a former opposition person in similarly mysterious circumstances last October.
Ruhollah Zam, described by the Iranian authorities as “counter-revolutionary”, was sentenced to death last month for “corruption on earth”.
Zam, who was reportedly living in exile in Paris, ran a channel in Amadnews’ telegram messaging application and was accused of causing unrest in protests against the government last year.