Iran hangs top Sunni rebel Rigi: Report
Leader of militant group Jundollah executed
Abdolmalek Rigi, head of the Sunni rebel group Jundollah who waged a deadly insurgency in Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, was hanged early Sunday, state news agency IRNA reported.
"After the decision of the Tehran revolutionary tribunal, Abdolmalek Rigi was hanged on Sunday morning in Evin prison," IRNA said.
It quoted a court statement as saying: "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."
Rigi was captured in February while on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgystan. His hanging on Sunday comes less than a month after his brother Abdolhamid was hanged on charges of "terrorism".
A Tehran Revolutionary court sentenced Rigi to death and the Supreme Court upheld the sentence, Iran's semi-official Fars news agency said.
Rigi led the shadowy Sunni militant group called Jundollah (Soldiers of God) that had waged a deadly insurgency in southeastern Iran killing civilians as well as military officials.
Iran says the group was backed by the United States.
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 Jundollah was "linked to members of foreign intelligence services, including members from U.S. and Zionist regime's intelligence services under the cover of NATO."
It was also linked to intelligence services of some Arab countries and counter-revolutionary group People's Mujahedeen, the statement said.
Rigi himself was charged with forming the "terrorist group Jundollah 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," the statement added.
IRNA said he had been sentenced to be hanged in front of the relatives of some of the victims of his attacks, but the report did not specify whether he was actually executed in their presence.
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
A new leader
Rigi's arrest was reportedly a spectacular operation, with Iranian warplanes forcing the flight carrying the militant from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan to land in Iran.
Soon after his arrest, the Jundollah group claimed it had appointed a new leader Muhammad Dhahir Baluch, the SITE monitoring agency reported.
According to SITE Jundollah said in its website posting: "Let the (Iranian) regime know that it will face a movement that is stronger and much more solid than ever before and one whose existence it has not been aware of.
"It will see what our believing heroes among our Baluch children can do to the occupiers, the aggressors and the unjust. The falsehood of the senior leaders of the regime will soon be exposed."
Jundollah says it is fighting Tehran's Shiite rule to secure rights for Sunni Baluchis who form a significant population in Sistan-Baluchestan.
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 Iran's 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 the Pakistanis in a bid to destabilize the government. Washington denies the charges.
Rigi's brother Abdolhamid was hanged in Zahedan, the capital of Sistan-Baluchestan, on May 24 in front of the families of the victims, state media had reported.
Abdolhamid was convicted of "Moharebeh" (armed opposition to the state) and being "corrupt on earth by membership in a terrorist group."
Iran's southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan is an impoverished area near Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bombings and clashes between security forces, ethnic Baluch Sunni insurgents and drug traffickers have increased in recent years in the area.
It will see what our believing heroes among our Baluch children can do to the occupiers, the aggressors and the unjust. The falsehood of the senior leaders of the regime will soon be exposed