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Iran Executes Top Sunni Rebel

Monday, 21 Jun 2010 06:53 AM

TEHRAN — Abdolmalek Rigi, head of the Sunni rebel group Jundallah which has waged a deadly insurgency in Shiite Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, was executed on Sunday, state media reported.

Rigi, whose group has been accused of deadly attacks against security forces including Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, was hanged in Tehran's Evin prison in the presence of victims' families, state television said.

"After the decision of the Tehran revolutionary tribunal, Abdolmalek Rigi was hanged on Sunday morning in Evin prison," Iran's official news agency IRNA said, quoting a court statement.

"The head of the armed counter-revolutionary group in the east of the country ... was responsible for armed robbery, assassination attempts, armed attacks on the army and police and on ordinary people, and murder," the statement said.

Rigi was captured in a dramatic operation in February while on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan, when Iranian warplanes forced the plane he was travelling on to land in Iran.

His hanging comes less than a month after his brother Abdolhamid was executed on charges of "terrorism."

Rigi led the shadowy Jundallah (Soldiers of God), a group he said was fighting to secure rights for Sunni Baluchis who form a significant population in Sistan-Baluchestan bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The latest attack claimed by the group was a suicide bombing last October that killed at least 42 people, including seven Revolutionary Guards commanders in the town of Pisheen.

A top Sunni cleric who represents the province in the Assembly of Experts -- the body which supervises the activities of Iran's supreme leader -- said the people of Sistan-Baluchestan were "very happy" with Rigi's execution.

"The execution of Abdolmalek Rigi is the result of his shameful acts, and other criminals should be aware that if they continue with their outrageous acts against Islam in the country, they will meet the same fate as this criminal," IRNA quoted Nazir Ahmed Salami as saying.

IRNA, quoting the court statement, said Rigi's group was "responsible for the killing of 154 members of security forces and other innocent people and wounding of 320 people since 2003."

It said Jundallah was "linked to members of foreign intelligence services, including members from US and Zionist regime's intelligence services under the cover of NATO."

Rigi, who the statement said had appealed for clemency, was also charged with forming the "terrorist group Jundallah which was fighting the Islamic republic."

"He collaborated and ordered 15 armed abductions, confessed to three murders, and ordered the murders of tens of citizens, police and military personnel through bombings and armed actions," it added.

Soon after his arrest, Jundallah claimed it had appointed Muhammad Dhahir Baluch as its new leader, the US-based SITE monitoring agency reported.

A few days after Rigi's arrest, Iranian state media alleged that the United States had offered to provide the militant aid to battle the Islamic regime.

"They (Americans) said they would cooperate with us and will give me military equipment," Rigi said in a taped statement broadcast on state-run English-language Press TV.

Tehran has long accused the group of being trained and equipped by American and British intelligence services as well as by Pakistan in a bid to destabilise the government. Washington denies the charges.

Rigi's brother Abdolhamid was hanged in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, on May 24, state media had reported.

He was convicted of "Moharebeh" (waging war against God) and being "corrupt on earth by membership in a terrorist group."

The Iranian authorities have resorted to increasingly tough measures against the group which analysts estimate has about 1,000 militants trained in small arms and explosives.

In July 2009, they hanged 13 of its members in a mass prison execution, terming them "enemies of God" after convicting them of a string of offences, including kidnapping foreigners.

The hanging of Rigi brings to at least 82 the number of people executed in Iran so far this year, according to an AFP count based on media reports.

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TEHRAN — Abdolmalek Rigi, head of the Sunni rebel group Jundallah which has waged a deadly insurgency in Shiite Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, was executed on Sunday, state media reported.
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2010-53-21
 
 

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