In a statement released on Thursday, the Intelligence Ministry said Farajollah Chaab also known as Habib Asyud, the ringleader of the so-called Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz terrorist group (SMLA), had been identified and arrested on the back of a set of “specialized and combined measures” by Iranian intelligence forces.
Chaab had planned several abortive terrorist operations in Tehran and Khuzestan in recent years, the statement read, adding that he was planning a new assault when he was taken into custody.
The militant group is directly supported by the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and Israel. It managed terrorist operations inside Iran despite international arrest warrants against its ringleaders, according to the statement.
“The main perpetrator of the bloody terrorist attack on September 22, 2018 in Ahvaz is now in the hands of the Intelligence Ministry,” it added.
The terror outfit has been after separating the southwestern province of Khuzestan — home to the country’s Arab population — from the rest of Iran through engaging in armed conflict against the Iranian government.
In September 2018, it claimed responsibility for the attack on military parade in Ahvaz, Khuzestan’s provincial capital. The assault killed 25 people, including members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and civilian bystanders, and injured 70 others.
Cooperation with Saudi intelligence
After his arrest, the terrorist admitted to cooperation with the Saudi intelligence service.
“At that juncture, we started the job together with the Saudi intelligence chief, and we had several sessions with them (the Saudis),” Chaab said.
Chaab further confessed to other crimes as well, including the armed robberies of a contracting company and a bank in Ahvaz.
Elsewhere in his comments, Chaab said the regime in Riyadh spent €30 million for the establishment of Iran International, a London-based anti-Iran TV channel, which raised controversy on the day of the Ahvaz attack by allowing a spokesman of Al-Ahwaziya terrorist group — a faction of the SMLA — to go live on air to defend the bloodshed.