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19 October 2009

Did “we“ have a hand in the terrorist attack in Iran?

The Iranians accuse Britain and America

By Mehdi Hasan

Iran has blamed the west for a suicide bombing over the weekend that killed 42 people, including six senior commanders, in one of the harshest terrorist attacks sustained by the country in recent years:

The attack, at a Revolutionary Guard gathering in Sistan-Baluchistan, one of the country’s most unstable provinces, was the worst attack on a powerful unit in recent years.

Inflicting Iran’s worst military casualties in years, it killed the deputy commander of the guard’s ground forces, Noor Ali Shooshtari, and Rajab Ali Mohammadzadeh, the provincial commander for Sistan-Baluchistan.

Responsibility was quickly claimed by Jundullah (“soldiers of God”), a militant Sunni group that regularly attacks the Guard in its rebellion against the government and the Shia majority. Jundullah said the bombing was a response to “the constant crime of the regime in Baluchistan”.

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The Telegraph quotes General Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Revolutionary Guard’s ground forces:

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The terrorists were trained in the neighbouring country by the Americans and British . . . The enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran are unable to tolerate the unity in the country.

Hmm. Are these the normal propaganda and paranoia that we might expect after such an attack? Or might Iran have a case against us?

The United States has denied being involved in the attack, which the state department condemned as an “act of terrorism” and our own Foreign and Commonwealth Office also condemned the bombing. But it has been established that the United States has been secretly supporting and perhaps even arming the Baluchi Sunni terrorist group Jundullah since at least 2005. Here is ABC News’s investigative team, for example, reporting in April 2007:

US officials say the US relationship with Jundullah is arranged so that the US provides no funding to the group, which would require an official presidential order or “finding” as well as congressional oversight . . .

Pakistani government sources say the secret campaign against Iran by Jundullah was on the agenda when Vice-President Dick Cheney met with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in February.

A senior US government official said groups such as Jundullah have been helpful in tracking al-Qaeda figures and that it was appropriate for the US to deal with such groups in that context.

Some former CIA officers say the arrangement is reminiscent of how the US government used proxy armies, funded by other countries including Saudi Arabia, to destabilise the government of Nicaragua in the 1980s.

Shouldn’t we know a bit more about all this? And have we learned nothing from the disastrous experiences of the 1980s, when we backed the Afghan mujahedin — or the “Taliban-in-training” — against the Soviets? There has been a change of US president and British prime minister since these reports first emerged, and so I would argue that it is high time the administrations in Britain and America repudiate their predecessors’ policies and shine a light on the “dark side” of the so-called “war on terror”.

On a side note, I noticed the Jerusalem Post was full of empathy (!) for the dozens of Iranians killed in the horrific suicide bombing, with the analyst Yaakov Lappin pointing out, almost gleefully, that “Iran received a dose of its own medicine”.