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Alleged leader of US-based Iran militant group goes on trial

Published: Updated:

The alleged leader of the militant wing of a US-based Iranian opposition group went on trial Sunday, state TV reported. He’s accused of planning a 2008 bombing at a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200.

In 2020, Iran’s intelligence service detained Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German national and US resident. Iran said he is the leader of Tondar, the militant wing of the opposition group Kingdom Assembly of Iran.

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Sharmahd confessed to having a relationship with both the FBI and the CIA, state TV reported. It said he was in contact with nine FBI and CIA agents and his last meeting was in January 2020.

At the time of his detention, Iran alleged Sharmahd was behind the 2008 bombing that targeted the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in the city of Shiraz and that he was planning other attacks around Iran. Besides the 14 killed in the bombing, 215 were wounded.

Sharmahd, who supports restoring Iran’s monarchy that was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had been previously targeted in an apparent Iranian assassination plot on US soil in 2009.

Iran hasn’t said how it detained Sharmahd, which came against the backdrop of covert actions conducted by Iran amid heightened tensions with the US over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

The Kingdom Assembly of Iran seeks to restore Iran’s monarchy, which ended when the fatally ill Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country in 1979 just before the Islamic Revolution. The group’s founder disappeared in the mid-2000s.

Last week, Iran said its intelligence units arrested the number two leader of Tondar, or “Thunder” in Farsi, identified only as “Masmatus.”

Iran has also accused the group of being behind a 2010 bombing at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in Tehran that wounded several people.

State TV said some family members of victims of the mosque bombing attended Sunday’s hearing, which was presided over by Judge Abolghasem Salavati in Revolutionary Court 15 in the capital Tehran.

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