In this file photo shows Iranians wear protective masks in the capital Tehran. AFP
Iran on Saturday said it detained an Iranian-American leader of a little-known California-based militant opposition group for allegedly planning a 2008 attack on a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200 others.
Iran's Intelligence Ministry also alleged Jamshid Sharmahd of the Kingdom Assembly of Iran planned other attacks around the Islamic Republic amid heightened tensions between Tehran and the US over its collapsing 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
It was unclear how the 65-year-old Sharmahd, whom Iran accused of running the opposition group's Tondar militant wing, ended up detained by intelligence officials. The Intelligence Ministry called it a "complex operation,” without elaborating. It published a purported picture of Sharmahd, blindfolded, on its website.
Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi later appeared on state TV, saying Sharmahd had been arrested in Iran, without elaborating.
Requests for comment sent by email to the Glendora-based Kingdom Assembly of Iran were not immediately answered and a telephone number for the group no longer worked.
The US State Department, which mentioned how Sharmahd earlier had been targeted for assassination in a recent report called "Outlaw Regime: A Chronicle of Iran's Destructive Activities,” acknowledged reports of his detention.
"The Iranian regime has a long history of detaining Iranians and foreign nationals on spurious charges,” the State Department said in a statement. "We urge Iran to be fully transparent and abide by all international legal standards.”
Iranian state television broadcast a report on Sharmahd's arrest, linking him to the 2008 bombing of the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in Shiraz. It also said his group was behind a 2010 bombing at Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's mausoleum in Tehran that wounded several people.
The report also alleged without providing evidence that Tondar, or "Thunder” in Farsi, plotted attacks on a dam and planned to use cyanide bombs at Tehran's annual book fair.Associated Press
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The suspect was later tracked down in Matrouh governorate, west of the capital, where he "committed suicide by shooting himself with the same weapon" used in the murder.
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