TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran said Saturday it has arrested the head of a U.S.-based "terrorist group” accused of being behind a deadly 2008 bombing in the southern city of Shiraz and of other abortive attacks.
The group’s Jamshid Sharmahd, who was leading armed and sabotage operations inside Iran, is now in the powerful hands of Iran’s security forces, a statement from the intelligence ministry said.
The statement did not elaborate on where or when the leader of the terrorist royalist group known as the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, or Tondar (Farsi for Thunder), was arrested.
According to the statement, he had orchestrated the April 12, 2008 bombing in a packed mosque in Shiraz that martyred 14 people and wounded 215.
Iran hanged three men convicted of the bombing in 2009, saying they had ties to the monarchist group. It said they had been taking orders from an Iranian U.S.-backed CIA agent to try to assassinate a high-ranking official in Iran.
They were Mohsen Eslamian and Ali Asghar Pashtar as well as Rouzbeh Yahyazadeh. The three were found guilty of being "mohareb” (enemies of God) and "corruption on the earth” by a revolutionary court in Tehran.
Iran hanged two other convicted members of the group in 2010, who had confessed to obtaining explosives and planning to assassinate officials.
The statement issued on Saturday said that Tondar had plotted several other big operations which failed.
It said that Tondar had planned to blow up a dam in Shiraz, use "cyanide bombs” at a Tehran book fair, and plant an explosive device at the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder, the late Imam Khomeini.
It was not clear how Iran arrested the U.S.-based Sharmahd. Iran’s intelligence ministry announced the arrest of a subversive element in similarly mysterious circumstances in October last year.
Ruhollah Zam was sentenced to death last month over "corruption on earth”.
Zam, who reportedly lived in exile in Paris, ran a channel on the Telegram messaging application called Amadnews, using it as a platform to instigate riots, acts of arson and armed attacks on security forces during peaceful protests last year.
A statement attributed to Tondar claimed the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist in 2010 by a remote-control bomb. Suspicion long has fallen on the occupying regime of Israel for a string of assassinations targeting scientists.
Sharmahd’s reported arrest comes as tensions remain inflamed by President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to unilaterally withdraw America from the nuclear deal. A series of incidents last year were capped by a U.S. drone strike in January assassinating a top Iranian general in Baghdad. Iran responded by launching a ballistic missile attack on U.S. soldiers in Iraq that injured more than 100 troops.
U.S., British, Saudi and Israeli intelligence services are the key sponsors of terrorist groups operating against Iran, such as the MKO, PJAK and Takfiri groups.
On Saturday, the Law Enforcement Force of the Islamic Republic of Iran announced the martyrdom of two Iranian border guards in an operation in West Azarbaijan near the border with Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.
They achieved martyrdom during an operation to neutralize several smugglers who tried to sneak through the border near Sardasht late Friday.
The two fallen border guards were identified as Sergeant Matin Saedi and Private Mehdi Maleki. Officials said the bandits were captured and their contraband was confiscated.
In May, three Iranian border guards were martyred during clashes with members of a terrorist group in the same region.
Over the past few years, Iranian security forces and border guards have engaged in clashes with foreign-backed terror groups, many of whom cross the country’s borders with Pakistan and Iraq to carry out attacks.