Iranian Front of Two-Prong Anti-Baloch Offensive

Situation In Iranian Balochistan: An Update

by B. Raman

(July 20, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) “The Iranian authorities have been projecting the Jundallah as a surrogate of the US intelligence operating from sanctuaries in Pakistani territory. They have been alleging that the periodic terrorist strikes in Iranian Balochistan are being mounted from Pakistani territory. While they accuse the Pakistani authorities of inaction against the anti-Iranian Sunni elements operating from Pakistani territory, they have never accused the Baloch nationalist organisations of Pakistani Balochistan of backing the Jundallah. They have been suspecting the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), the anti-Shia organisation of Pakistan which is allied with Al Qaeda, to be training the suicide bombers of the Jundallah. Some of the statements attributed to the Jundallah are disseminated from London. This has created some suspicion in the minds of the Iranian authorities that the UK is also probably backing the Jundallah in its anti-Teheran activities. The capture of the Amir of the Jundallah is a major blow to this organisation. With the two brothers who were the moving spirit of this organisation now in the custody of the Iranian authorities, the organisation has definitely suffered a set-back at least temporarily. But the anti-Shia and anti-Teheran anger in Sunni Sistan-Balochistan is so intense and so widespread that it is only a question of time before a new leadership emerges. Ant-Shia organisations of Pakistan such as the LEJ would also see that the anti-Shia movement in the Sunni majority frontier areas of Iran is kept alive.” – Extract from my article of February 24,2010, titled ” Iranian Intelligence Captures Anti-Tehran Baloch Sunni Leader“.

Iranian satisfaction over the arrest and execution of Abdolmalek Rigi, the Amir of the Iranian Jundallah, and his brother, Abdolhamid Rigi,who were in the forefront of the resistance movement in Iranian Balochistan known as Sistan Balochistan, has proved short-lived. The resistance movement was partly Sunni extremist directed against the Shias in Iranian Balochistan and partly Baloch nationalist directed against the members of the Iranian security forces deployed in the province.

Abdolhamid Rigi was reportedly arrested by the Pakistani authorities in 2008 and handed over to the Iranian authorities. Abdolmalek Rigi was captured by the Iranian intelligence towards the end of February last as he was travelling by air from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan. The plane was forced to land in an Iranian airport and he was taken into custody. It was reported that information about his plan to travel by this flight was passed on to the Iranian authorities by the Pakistani Government. After the capture of its Amir by the Iranian intelligence, the Jundallah announced that Muhammad Dhahir Baluch would act as the Amir in his place.

The Iranian authorities executed Abdolhamid Rigi in May last and Abdolmalek Rigi in June last. The two brothers were accused, inter alia, of being mercenaries of the US and Israeli intelligence. The Jundallah warned of retaliation against the Iranian and the Pakistani authorities. The retaliation came promptly—- first from the Lashksar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) in Pakistan. On the night of July 1,2010, over 40 worshippers were killed in twin suicide blasts in a highly venerated sufi shrine of Lahore popularly known as Data Darbar. While there has been no authentic claim of responsibility for these blasts, the needle of suspicion pointed to its probably being an act of reprisal against the Pakistan Government by the Jundallah of Iranian Balochistan and the anti-Shia and anti-Iran Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) of Pakistan in retaliation for the suspected collaboration of Pakistan with Iran in the arrest of Abdolmalek Rigi.

The retaliation against the Iranian authorities came on July 15, the birth anniversary of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the time of the prayers in the Grand Mosque of Zahedan, the capital of the Sistan Balochistan province. Twenty-seven Shia worshippers, many of them officers of the Revolutionary Guards, were killed. A suspect dressed as a woman was stopped by the security authorities at the entrance for personal search. The person blew himself up. As people rushed to the area to help those injured, a second bomber blew himself up.

The Jundallah has claimed responsibility for the suicide explosions and has named the suicide bombers as Abdolbaset Rigi and Mohammad Rigi, both reportedly related to Abdolmalek Rigi. In a message sent to al-Arabiyya TV, Jundallah said it carried out the attacks to avenge the hanging of Abdolmalek Rigi. The Governor of the province, Mr. Ali Mohammad Azad, has blamed foreign intelligence services for the terrorist attack. He said in a statement: “It is obvious that the intelligence services of certain states and arrogant powers are behind the twin blasts outside the Zahedan Grand Mosque…. Enemies outside Iranian borders are making every effort to undermine Iran’s security.”

6.President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reported to have alleged at a Cabinet meeting on July 18 that US forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan were backing bombings such as the two suicide attacks and that the Pakistani Government was also accountable. ISNA, the State-owned news agency, quoted him as having told the Cabinet as follows: “If (US President Barack) Obama is unaware of actions of American forces, then we tell him that American forces based in Afghanistan and Pakistan back such actions. NATO and US forces back terrorists with equipment and funds to launch such attacks in Iran.Despite this support, the US President sends a message of sympathy.Islamabad must also be held accountable for such actions. We are friends of Pakistan and we are by its side, but at any rate the Government of that country should be accountable.” Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani told the Parliament the same day that the Pakistan Government must be answerable for the presence of evil people in its territory. The Chairman of Iran’s Parliament National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, Mr. Alaeddin Boroujerdi, said on July 17 that Pakistan must be answerable for sheltering terrorists.
“Terrorism needs to be confronted more seriously.Given the fact that Pakistan is terrorists’ shelter, Pakistani officials must be held accountable for the issue.” Without naming Pakistan specifically, Mr.Ahmadreza Radan, Iran’s deputy police chief, has issued a tough warning to “neighbors on the eastern borders” of Iran. He said: “The Islamic Republic considers it its right to deal with insurgents who disappear into the other side of the border.,”

From these statements and warnings, it is evident that the Iranian authorities suspect that the new leadership of the Jundallah was also operating from the Pakistani territory and that the two suicide bombers had come from Pakistani territory. They seem to suspect that the Jundallah continues to have its volunteers trained for suicide terrorism in Pakistani territory. In the past, they had accused the Jundallah of having links with Al Qaeda, without mentioning specifically the LEJ, which is an associate of Al Qaeda. It is likely that the LEJ continues to train the Jundallah in its camps in North Waziristan. The fact that the Jundallah suicide bombers, after training, are able to cross into Sistan Balochistan without being detected by the Iranian border guards speaks of some local support on both sides of the Pakistan-Iran border.Zahedan, with an estimated population of 5,80,000, is located near the border and is easily susceptible to suicide attacks and hit and run raids across the border from Pakistani territory. Iranian authorities periodically warn Islamabad they would undertake hot pursuit and cross-border raids, but avoid carrying out the threats lest it spoil their state-to-state relations with Pakistan and lead to more anti-Shia incidents in Pakistan. Sunni extremist organisations of Pakistan such as the Sipah-e-Sahaba and the LEJ tend to attack the Shias of Pakistan to express their anger against Iran. They look upon the Shias of Pakistan as the fifth columnists of Iran.

It is difficult to assess what support the Jundallah has inside Sistan Balochistan. However, it is evident from a study of its strikes so far that while it is in a position to indulge in sporadic acts of terrorism, it is not in a position to organise a sustained insurgency which could endanger the Iranian position in the province.

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

Balochistan: Former Senator condemns Tactics of Pakistani Army

Balochistan: Former Senator condemns Tactics of Pakistani Army

Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Former Pakistani Senator and Baloch leader Sanaullah Baloch calls attention to the use of force, violence, murder and disappearances carried out by the Pakistani army against the Baloch population. The abuse of military power is a serious obstacle to peace in the province.Below is a statement by Sanaullah Baloch published on jang.com.pk:

Despite the tall claims, in last six decades, no Pakistani government has ceased its policy of exploitation, extermination and elimination of Baloch people.

The cold-blooded murder of Habib Jalib Baloch, the sectary general of Balochistan National Party, including recent target killing of Maula Bakhsh Dashti in Turbat, Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in August 2006, Mir Balaach Marri in November 2007, Zahid Baloch in 2008, brutal daylight abductions and killing of three senior Baloch leaders in April 2009 and assassination attempt on prominent Baloch intellectual Jan Mohammad Dashti in February 2009 are a fraction of systematic and slow-motion “genocide” in Balochistan, a process that has been taking place since 1948.

Habib Jalib, a former Chairman of Baloch Student Organisation (BSO) was a committed fellow. He was not just a Baloch nationalist, but a human rights defender, intellectual, author, Supreme Court lawyer, ex-parliamentarian and an active political campaigner.

With the inclusion of Ghulam Mohammad Baloch’s cold-blooded execution-style murder in April 2009, the total count of assassinations of former BSO chairmen comes to three in a short period of 16 months, all under a so-called democratically-elected government.

There cannot be a greater loss to the Baloch nationalist movement than the cold-blooded murder of ideological, educated and rational leaders. Jalib was a highly educated leader of the Baloch movement who had a clear sense of Baloch nationalism. Along with Ghulam Mohammad Baloch and Maula Baksh Dashti, he also belonged to a middle-class family. He was purely a self-made man who was widely respected in the BNP cadre as well as in other political parties. The killing of Dashti and now that of Jalib proves that NP and BNP face a common threat which needs to be fought with unity.

The People of Balochistan are going through a very painful period of their history. The Baloch history is full of violent conflicts. They had a long struggle against British colonialism, conflict with Afghans, Iran and encroachers, but they did not experience such a brutal and inhuman repression by any regime and state that they are experiencing in the beginning of the new millennium by the hands of “rulers” in Islamabad.

The century-long conflict with British started after killing of Khan of Kalat Mir Mehrab Khan in November 1839 and continued till 1947. During the colonial era not a single case of enforced disappearances was reported and neither was there a humiliating case of killing a Baloch elder or political activist. They jailed, punished and even executed several “rebels” but in a very lawful and respectable manner.

But unfortunately, the state of Pakistan and its security apparatus have been employing brute methods to silence the people of Balochistan’s voice for freedom, self-determination and equality.

A fresh episode of Baloch-Islamabad conflict intensified in March 2005. The world watched incredulously as Pervez Musharraf declared an all-out war on Balochistan — on Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Makran, Jalawan and particularly Nawab Bugti. Tanks rolled into Dera Bugti and other parts of Balochistan in January 2005, forces began to smash Bugti’s house and Dera Bugti town, killing dozens of civilians and leaving him besieged in a few rooms without electricity and water.

Then Musharraf came up with a more inhuman plan to use all available air and ground power to eliminate Nawab Bugti. His associates planned a so-called visit to the remote town of Kohlu, bordering Dera Bugti district, to find an excuse to escalate the military operation against the Baloch people and their leaders.

In order to silence political dissidents, he introduced the practice of enforced disappearances, abducting family members, relatives and even female members of top political activists to divert their attention and compelled them to remain quiet during operation in the province.

Islamabad could not get away with strong perception and fact that prevails in Balochistan regarding the discriminatory and abusive role of military and para-military forces in prolong political conflict. There is a common understanding and opinion that certain security agencies and their death squads are involve in assassinating high-profile Baloch leaders.

While in the Musharraf era, focus of establishment was to eliminate patriots from the Baloch tribal elite such as Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and Mir Balaach Marri; the current strategy has shifted to the destruction of the middle strata leadership to weaken the grassroots connections and Baloch intelligentsia.

The impact of Islamabad’s harsh and inhuman policies has been particularly severe in the province. The current and long-term consequences of this practice pose a serious detriment to the living conditions of the Baloch people, including efforts for sustainable development, and to any prospects for peace in the region.

By Sanaullah Baloch

The writer is a Baloch leader and former senator. balochbnp@gmail.com

Another BNP leader killed in Balochistan–July 20, 2010

[Unbelievable as it seems, they have gotten to another Baloch nationalist leader.  These community leaders are not terrorists, they are social democrats.  Perhaps that was their crime.  If this is by the same hand that is behind the 238 targeted killings in Swat (SEE: Pakistani Taliban claims responsibility for attack on army regiment), then it is state terrorism on a monstrous level.  Any government which considers the policy of targeted assassinations as legitimate police work is a criminal terrorist regime that must be contained or removed by the international community, just like Iran.  If the Pakistani Army is really trying to pacify the tribal region, then killing the moderate leaders will have the opposite effect.  Will the return of Musharraf (a.k.a. the “dictator of Balochistan’) make things better or worse?]

Another BNP leader killed in Balochistan

Less that a week after the broad day light murder of Balochistan National Party (BNP) secretary general Habib Jalib Baloch, another senior party leader was shot dead in Kalat District on Tuesday.

According to reports, three unidentified assailants on a motorbike attacked Liaquat Mengal when he was on his way to Kalat city.

Mengal died on the spot, The Dawn reports.

Security officials have sealed the incident site and launched a combing operation to nab the attackers.

Last Wednesday (July 14), unknown attackers had shot dead Baloch outside his residence in Quetta resulting in massive protests in the city.

The BNP had called for a 40-day mourning and a three-day wheel jam strike in Balochistan in wake of Baloch’s murder.

The situation in the restive province is expected to worsen with the latest killing. (ANI)

BNP leader Liaquat Mengal shot dead

Three unknown armed men attacked Liaquat Mengal who was on his way to Kalat city, police said. — Photo by AP

QUETTA: Liaquat Mengal, a senior leader of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), was shot dead in Kalat District on Tuesday.

Three unknown assailants riding a motorbike attacked Mengal when he was on his way to Kalat city, police sources said. Mengal died on the spot.

Area police started an operation to arrest the criminals.

Pakistani Taliban claims responsibility for attack on army regiment

Pakistani Taliban claims responsibility for attack on army regiment

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s failed suicide attack on an army center in the country’s northwest.

A group of three “suicide bombers” tried to enter the army center in Mardan city in northwest Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa but the security guards foiled their attempt and shot them dead, the police chief in the region said, Xinhua reported.

Deputy Inspector General Police Akhtar Ali Shah said that three army guards were injured, who were shifted to an army hospital in the city.

Shah said that the guards at the gate of“Punjab Regiment Center” frustrated the attempt by the bombers and opened fire on them.

A purported Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umer said that the attack was reaction to a recent report by the Human Rights Watch which alleged the Pakistani security forces have carried out 238 extrajudicial killings of people in the Swat Valley since September last year.

Military spokesman Athar Abbas said that the army had sent officials to the area to carry out investigation into the reports.

“Today an attack on the Punjab regiment at Mardan was the first reaction to this report,” said the Taliban spokesman in an email sent to the media.

Umer said that the rights group has called for investigation into the extrajudicial killings of the militant but he said Taliban do not trust the Pakistani institutions to hold a fair probe.

He said the Pakistani institutions have “failed” to investigate the killings of prominent leaders including former military ruler General Zia ul Haq, who was killed in a military plane crash in the mid-80s.

“The government of Pakistan is also not eligible to do any such investigation,” the Taliban spokesman said.

Iranian VP: Iran to file complaint to international organizations

Iranian VP: Iran to file complaint to international organizations

Iran will file a complaint with international organizations against foreign countries involved in the recent blasts at the Zahedan Mosque and the kidnapping of Shahram Amiri, JavanOnline.Ir quoted Iranian Vice President for Legal Affairs Fatimah Bodaghi as saying.

“Some foreign countries are responsible for these recent tragic events, as they support certain security forces,” he said. “But Iran will not retreat from our decision to file an international lawsuit against these countries.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused the United States of invovlement in the blast, which took place a few days ago in the Iranian city of Zahedan.

Meanwhlie, Amiri disappeared during his Hajj in Saudi Arabia in spring 2009. Tehran has accused U.S. intelligence agencies of kidnapping Amiri, and the Saudi Arabian security forces of aiding the Americans. Iran has demanded Amiri’s return, who according to the Iranian side, was taken from Riyadh to Washington.

On July 16, two bomb explosions in quick succession took place outside the Zahedan Mosque. At least 27 people lost their lives and 270 were injured in the terrorist attack.

Greek police suspect far-left group killed journalist

Greek police suspect far-left group killed journalist

 

A Police officer, right, stands guard as others search for evidence outside the house of a Greek journalist who had been gunned down in the Athens’ neighborhood of Ilioupoli

ATHENS: Assailants gunned down an investigative journalist on Monday in front of his home in an attack police blamed on a far-left extremist group.
The authorities said 37-year-old Socratic Guiolias was killed by at least three people firing a pair of nine-millimetre handguns which the Revolutionary Sect group had used to kill an anti-terrorist officer last year.
"Examination of 16 nine-millimetre Parabellum cartridges found on the scene of today’s homicide … shows they were fired by two weapons used in the activities of the Revolutionary Sect group," the police said in a statement.
Although attacks by extremist groups are relatively common in Greece, journalists are rarely targetted.
Guiolias, whose wife is pregnant with their second child, was killed in front of his home in the middle class Athens suburb of Ilioupoli around 5:20 am (0320 GMT), the police said.
According to initial reports, the gunmen asked the journalist to come out of his house, claiming someone had stolen his car, and then opened fire.
Investigators had earlier said they are looking into all possible motives for the killing, including whether by criminals or extremists.
Guiolias was a manager at private Thema FM radio and had previously worked on one of Greece’s main investigative journalism television shows.
He was also a co-administrator at one of the country’s best-known blog sites, troktiko.gr (Greek for rodent), and was lately investigating a story on business corruption, state television NET said.
The Greek government condemned the murder as "cowardly" while the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe called on the authorities to bring the culprits to justice quickly.
"Mr. Giolias was a well-known political blogger in his country, an investigative journalist often very critical of the previous government," the OSCE’s representative for media freedom, Dunja Mijatovic said.
"As the motives of his killing are still unclear, I ask the Greek authorities to ensure that his murder is investigated rapidly and thoroughly, and the public is continuously informed of this process," she said in a statement.
"I hope that the perpetrators of this horrifying murder will be very soon brought to justice," she added.
Revolutionary Sect, which appeared after police fatally shot a teenage boy in December 2008, had in June last year shot dead an anti-terror officer guarding a witness in a left-wing militants’ trial.
The outfit in February 2009 had also machine-gunned a police station and the headquarters of a private television channel in Athens and later warned of further attacks on police and journalists.
Most of the shots against Guiolias were fired from the gun that killed the anti-terror officer Nektarios Savas last June, the police said.
The second gun had been used in all three prior attacks.
The casings also matched a single cartridge found on the grave of the police shooting victim, 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos, whose death in 2008 sparked violent protests across the country. – AFP/fa