Unable to defeat rebel Kurds in their mountain strongholds in Northern Iraq, the Iranian regime has launched a campaign of terror against its own Kurdish citizens in an effort to paint regime opponents as terrorists.
On Dec. 1 a bomb exploded in the heavily-populated downtown area of Sanandaj, a major city in Iranian Kurdistan. According to the state-run Fars News Agency, the blast at Azadi Square injured four people, and was the work of guerillas from the Party of Free Life of Iranian Kurdistan, also known as PJAK.
But Newsmax sources in Iran with close ties to senior Iranian government officials involved in the campaign against PJAK say the bombing was carried out by agents provocateurs on orders from the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.
“The regime is planning to blame this attack on PJAK, even though their own agents carried it out,” a well-placed Iranian source tells Newsmax. “They did the same thing in Sistan-va-Balouchestan province earlier this year, then went to [neighboring] Pakistan demanding the extradition of Balouchi activists.”
A PJAK liaison representative in Washington, D.C. denied that the group had any involvement in the Sanandaj explosion, calling the allegations “an Iranian fabrication.”
“PJAK does not carry out operations against civilians,” Saif Badrakhan tells Newsmax. “Iran is behind this kind of operation to terrorize the Kurdish population.”
Sources in Tehran said that the regime intends to challenge Europe to expel or arrest PJAK leaders in the coming weeks, and will file papers with Interpol, the international police organization, demanding that international arrest warrants be issued against PJAK leaders.
PJAK President Rahman Haj-Ahmadi, the prime target of the Iranian regime effort, has lived in Germany for the past 35 years and is a German citizen. He regularly meets with European leaders and human rights groups, and came to the United States this past summer to meet with U.S. officials and journalists.
According to German law, Germany would have to convict him of crimes in a German court and strip him of his citizenship, before they could send him back to Iran — controversial steps that are sure to arouse intense opposition from a well-organized human rights lobby that has championed the rights of Kurds in Turkey, Iran, and Iraq.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax recently in Berlin, Ahmadi says that Iran was now working hand-in-glove with Turkey to get PJAK labeled as a terrorist organization.
“Iran knows they can’t make trouble for us directly because they have such bad relations with Europe. That’s why they are going through Turkey.”
The Iranian regime has been telling journalists and diplomats that PJAK and the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers Party) are the same. “But we are an Iranian party, and have nothing to do with Turkey,” he says.
PJAK has become a serious threat to the regime in Tehran because it is fighting to overthrow the clerical regime in favor of a secular republic and because it favors equality between men and women, Ahmadi asserts. The group has around 2,500 armed guerilla fighters, 40 percent of whom are women. “We have created a new culture, and I am sure we will succeed in overthrowing this regime if the West is serious in what they want.”
PJAK warned Turkey on Sunday against attacking their bases in northern Iraq, and revealed that over the past year they had taken over camps in the mountainous region along the Turkish and Iranian borders previously controlled by the PKK.
Newsmax visited two of those camps in October, and found no PKK presence in the area. Guerilla fighters interviewed in the camps were training to carry out operations inside Iran, not Turkey, where the PKK operates.
In a statement released on Sunday, PJAK. claimed that Turkey was jointly preparing military attacks against Kurdish rebel bases in northern Iraq.
“The Turkish plan to attack Qandil mountain [in northern-eastern Iraq] is an action to help Iran eliminate the PJAK forces and replace them with Ansar Al Islam-al-Qaida forces, trained and supported by Iran, to launch attacks against the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq in order to destabilize Kurdistan and Iraq,” the statement said.
The Turkish military acknowledged over the weekend that it had launched a commando-style operation into northern Iraq using helicopter gunships, in pursuit of Turkish Kurdish guerillas loyal to the PKK.
Since mid-August, Iran and Turkey have conducted joint operations against the Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, jointly shelling different areas of the mountainous border region, according to PJAK sources in northern Iraq and Iranian government reports.
But an attempt by Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops at that time to launch a commando assault on a PJAK base in the Qandil mountains failed, with PJAK guerillas shooting down an Iranian helicopter inside Iran, killing five Iranian troops on board and another 20 on the ground.
The lack of military success against PJAK, and the growing popularity of the group inside Iranian Kurdistan, has prompted the Iranian regime to change tactics in recent weeks, Newsmax has learned from confidential sources in Tehran.
Now Tehran is hoping to convince the European Union and the United States to crack down on PJAK as part of an international anti-terror campaign.
The Iranians scored their first victory on Nov. 21 when they signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Germany Ministry of Interior that committed Germany to expelling Iranian exiles deemed as ‘terrorists” by the regime.
As part of the pact, Germany also agreed to release Iranian government agents now serving jail sentences in Germany for terrorism-related crimes.
Top on Iran’s wish list for release are the four Lebanese and Iranian nationals convicted of assassinating Iranian Kurdish leaders at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin in 1992.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Germany had agreed to release two of the convicted assassins later this month.
Kazem Darabi, an Iranian, and Abbas Rhayel, a Lebanese, were both sentenced to life in prison in 1997 for their roles in murdering Kurdish leader Sadeq Sharafkandi.
The German court caused an uproar when it also found that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and then-president Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani had ordered the murders, and asked that Interpol issue international arrest warrants for them.
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