A Brief History of the Sunni Jundu’llah Terrorist Group in Iran

The USG Open Source Center translates a Salafi history of the Sunni, Baluch terrorist group Jundu’llah in Iran, which is accused of carrying out anti-Shiite bombings. The Iranian regime maintains that the United States is behind Jundu’llah’s terrorist activities, as a means of destabilizing or even partitioning Iran.

Jihadist Forum Member Posts Profile of Iranian Sunni Group ‘Jund-Allah’
Jihadist Websites — OSC Summary
Monday, July 20, 2009
Document Type: OSC Summary

Terrorism : Jihadist Forum Member Posts Profile of Iranian Sunni Group ‘Jund-Allah’ On 17 July, a forum member posted an item on a jihadist website entitled “The Sunni Jund-Allah Group in Iran…Introducing the group and its productions.” A history of the group, its political aims, and accounts of some its operations are given. . .

“Jund-Allah is an armed Islamic movement. Most members are from the religious Sunni Baluchi minority who live in the Sistan-Baluchistan Province, which lies in southeastern Iran at the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was founded in 2002 by Shaykh Abd-al-Malik Righi, who was a student of religion, in order to defend the rights of Sunnis in general and Baluchis in particular. It called for more autonomy for Sunni regions, and to force the Iranian regime to deal with it as an official political party. They also call for more fair distribution of wealth, and more freedom for Sunnis to build mosques and schools. The group accuses the government in Tehran of repressing Sunnis, killing their clerics, demolishing mosques, and shutting down schools. In its beginning, the group concentrated on distributing books and pamphlets in Sunni towns in order to draw the attention of Sunnis to what was happening to them and their social, political, and sectarian rights in Iran. Government authorities, however, arrested the members of the group and executed some of them. This drove the group to hasten to the use of weapons and resist the repression it was suffering.

Cont’d (click below or on “comments”)

“Jund-Allah regards Iran as a racist country that is based on the ideology of one man, (Ayatollah) Khomeini, with its foundation being the philosophy of clerical rule, and nothing more. While some describe it as a fundamentalist Salafi group, the movement denied this about itself. It claims that it calls for the establishment of a democratic secular system that respects the beliefs and sects of the people. This is why the leader of the group, Abd-al-Malik Righi, announced the change of its name from Jund-Allah (Soldiers of God) to the Popular Resistance Movement. Righi says: ‘Our struggle does not only rely on armed action. We have demands and rights.’ He noted that his stance rejects radical positions, whether they are Sunni or Shiite. Jund-Allah however, stresses that it does not want a government that is hostile to religion. The movement is active in a hot triangular border area, with the Baluchistan Mountains as its refuge. The ruggedness of the mountains it takes refuge in is probably the secret to its strength and its ability to continue its opposition to the poweful government. The movement has more than 1,000 fighters. Since its establishment, the group has not ceased carrying out attacks and abductions targeting government soldiers, members of the Revolutionary Guard, and the Basij Militia. It makes use of capturing soldiers in order to negotiate with the government regarding their release, and receives monetary ransom and sometimes rifles and military equipment.

“Tehran views Jund-Allah as a perverted sect or a rebellious group. Its amir Abd-al-Malik Righi, who is in his thirties, is considered to be number one on the wanted list for execution because he is involved in the abduction and killing of soldiers, the establishment of an armed group that is opposed to the Islamic Republic, and uses Pakistani territory as its base. Jund-Allah denies this, basing this on the ability of the mountains (which are in Iranian territory) to provide complete protection for its members. In press statements, Righi said: ‘We do not need safe havens in Pakistan. Most of our military centers and men are inside Iran. Thanks to God Almighty, the Baluchistan Mountains are still free until now.’ The Iranian military cannot engage in skirmishes there.

“With the support it has among the Baluchi people, the Islamic movement has become one of the strongest and most notable movements active in the province. It is classified as the largest political and military movement opposing the regime domestically. It has been able to strike painful blows to Iranian forces, whether through military operations or media activities. One of the most notable operations carried out by Jund-Allah wa s in December 2005. It abducted nine soldiers near the city of Zahedan. It released eight of them and killed the ninth, an intelligence officer named Shihab Mansuri. It issued a video showing the carrying out of the execution judgment against him. In March 2006 the group killed 26 and injured 12 from the Revolutionary Guard, who were in vehicles moving near the Pakistani border. Jund-Allah also claimed responsibility for the explosion in a bus that killed 11 members of the Revolutionary Guard and injured 31 others. Recently (one of the notable claims of responsibility) there was an ambush on a government convoy in the middle of this past March on the Tasuki (as received) road between the city of Zahedan, the center of the province, and the town of Zabil, the second largest city in Baluchistan. This led to the death of the governor of the city of Zahedan and 22 others, as well as the capture of seven other officials. The group stressed its ability to conduct operations in the interior of Iran, all the way to the capital Tehran. Abd-al-Malik Righi says: ‘Most of our programs are for the training of youth and sending them in.’

“Jund-Allah is one of the Baluchi resistance movements, and its leaders and most of its members are from this group of people. It is noteworthy that the ethnic background of the Baluchi people is different from the rest of the ethnicities. The Baluchistan Province maintained the unity of its lands throughout the centuries, until it was divided between Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan after the British invasion. This led to the establishment of Iranian Baluchistan, Pakistani Baluchistan, and Afghan Baluchistan. The Baluchi people in the three areas maintained their allegiance to their ethnic identity, as well as their Baluchi language and Sunni Islam. Therefore, Baluchi movements called for the secession of Baluchistan from the countries it was divided among (Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan) in order to create their own unified country. Sabah Al-Musawi, the Ahvazi writer and expert on Iranian affairs, says that faced with this, Iran has worked to force the Shiite beliefs on the Baluchi people. For example: ‘The city of Zahedan, before Khomeini’s revolution, did not have a single Shiite except the soldiers and administrators, but now, after more than 30 years, the demographics in the city have changed, and it is now majority Shiite.’ In general, the percentage of Sunni Muslims in Iran, with all their ethnicities, according to semi-official numbers, is between 14 and 19 million, or about 15 to 20 percent of the Iranian people. They are divided into four main ethnicities: Kurds, Baluchis, Turkmen, and Arabs. They live near the borders that divide Iran from the neighboring countries with a Sunni majority, such as Pakistan, Iraq, and Turkmenistan. Musawi says: ‘Despite Sunnis being the largest ethnic minority in Iran, their political representation in Parliament and the cabinet is not representative of their numbers. There are only 12 representatives in Parliament, who lack any real weight. Their presence is used for political purposes that are counter to their benefit. The Sunnis that do reach Parliament are allied to the regime, and do not represent Sunnis.’

“To know more about the group, here are excerpts from an interview that the media office of the Arab Ahvazi Revival Party conducted with Abu-Salim, the spokesman for the Baluchi Jund-Allah:

“Excerpt:

” Abu-Salim, the spokesman for the Baluchi Jund-Allah stresses in an interview with the Media Office of the Arab Ahvazi Revival Party… ” Abu-Salim, the spokesman for the Baluchi Jund-Allah stresses that we are not terrorists or smugglers and that we are striving to achieve the rights of millions of Baluchis and Sunnis in Iran. ” The Baluchi people are one of the oldest Islamic peoples in the region. They have a culture and history that is filled with resistance against British colonialism and the dictatorial regimes in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, where these people live, who were divided a nd spread over these three countries and lost the right to establish their own independent state, with sovereignty over themselves, just like all other peoples. Despite the repression and oppression that has befallen them from the dictatorial regimes, this has not prevented the Baluchi people in general, and those in Iran in particular, from continuing their struggle to achieve their legitimate rights. The Baluchistan Province under the control of the Iranian state witnessed last month important incidents that were highlighted in most international media. The most important of these was the attempted assassination of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad while he was travelling in the province, as well as the abduction of nine Iranian soldiers on the border with Pakistan by the Baluchi Jund-Allah movement. The media office of the Arab Ahvazi Revival Party was able to conduct an important interview, the first of its kind, with the brother Abu-Salim of the Jund-Allah movement.

The interview:

” Question 1: In a recording, your organization has claimed responsibility for the abduction of Iranian border guards. What is the goal of this? Do you think that such an operation will be beneficial to you?

” Answer: In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate…Prayers be upon our master Muhammad, his home, and all his companions. First of all, we stress that this is not the first time that the Jund-Allah movement carried out such a brave operation. We conducted similar ones in the past. They have resonated well in the Baluchistan Province and affected the officers, security leaders, and government officials in the area. We consider such operations to be a great and important deterrent in the face of the officials who commit inhumane activities that are contrary to the laws of God. This will make them think a thousand times before they commit any act in the future against Sunni Muslims in general, and the Baluchis in particular. The other matter is that the Iranian government is continuing its sectarian oppression of the Baluchis, and there must be some action to end this oppression and repression…And so that is why operations were carried out: in order to end these aggressive actions. ”

Question 2: Pardon me for the question, but the Iranian Government is accusing you of being smugglers, and that you abducted the soldiers in order to trade them for some money and some of your members it is holding. ”

Answer: The Iranian Government is always trying to falsify truths. It is doing this in order to cover up for its crimes against the Baluchi people and its injustices against Sunnis in Iran. It knows, and the Baluchi people know as well, that we are neither smugglers nor terrorists. We are struggling to defend the rights of millions of Baluchis and Sunnis. If you follow the statements by Iranian officials, you will notice the contradictions in what they say. As they accuse us of smuggling drugs, somewhere else, they announce that our movement has captured three members of an international drug smuggling network from Afghanistan. We fight the drug gangs in our area, the majority of whom are protected by government-allied elements in the region. ”

Question 3: The Iranian Minister of Interior Muhamadi Bur (as received) accused you of being a group influenced by the ideology of the Taliban movement. His deputy Ali Janati (as received), also accused you all of being supporters of Al-Qa’ida. He threatened that if you went ahead with your threats to kill the abducted soldiers, the Iranian Government would take punitive measures against the members of your group being held by them. What is your response to this? ”

Answer 3: There is clear contradiction in what Iranian officials are saying. They attach us to the Islamic Taliban movement, then to the Al-Qa’ida organization, and then they call us smugglers. We have said in past statements that these claims are lies. What they say is of no importance to us. What is important to us i s our people. Many Sunni clerics know well the truth about us, and that we are a peaceful Muslim movement that is struggling to end the injustices against the Baluchi people and the Sunnis in Iran. Regarding the recent threats by the Deputy Interior Minister, they reveal the pre-planned intents of the Iranian Government to execute the mujahidin and innocent Baluchis who were arrested after the armed incident that the convoy of the president of the regime Mahmud Ahmadinejad was subjected to on the 15th of the past month, in which one guard and a driver were killed. After that incident, security agencies conducted a wide campaign of arrests in the cities of Baluchistan, in which dozens of innocents were arrested. We have given the Iranian Government enough time to give in to our demands, which include the release of the captives from our group. The government knows very well that we are serious in what we say, and it has experienced us before. ”

Question 4: What if the Iranian Government refuses to give in to your demands? Will you carry out your threats to kill these soldiers? ”

Answer 4: Our message about this was clear, and the government realized that. It has now sent messages and intermediaries to negotiate. It seeks to trade its soldiers for money, but we refuse this, and insist on the release of the mujahidin. We have given it ample time to think about this matter. ”

Question 5: The Iranian Government is saying that you have moved its captive soldiers to Pakistani territory, and that it has officially asked the Pakistani Government to intervene and search for these soldiers. Is this correct? ”

Answer 5: This is completely untrue. The captured soldiers are on Iranian soil and have not been removed from the Baluchistan Province. We have enough locations to hide hundreds of adducted soldiers and military officials. As for what happened, or is happening, between the Pakistani and Iranian governments, we are not concerned with that. That is their business. ”

Question 7 (as received) : What is your opinion of the struggle of other Iranian peoples, such as the Kurds, or the struggle of the Arab Ahvazi people? Do you have connections or ties with those movements? ”

Answer 6: The sectarian and racist government in Iran has, in truth, distributed its injustice to everyone. We believe in the rights of these people and support their legitimate struggles. We see that responsibility entails that everyone unite to face this injustice and aggression. We have good ties with our Arab brethren, and we have been cooperating for a while now with one of the parties there. They are suffering injustice and oppression like us, and Islamic duty obliges us to help them, and them to help us. This cooperation is present, thanks be to God. ” Interview conducted by the Outside Media Office of the Arab Ahvazi Revival Party ” 8 Kanun al-Thani (January) 2006 (End of interview excerpt) . . .

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