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Iran puts US-based terrorist group’s ringleader on trial

The ringleader of a US-based terrorist group accused of committing terror attacks and counterrevolutionary operations against Iran has been put on trial in Tehran.

Iran’s official news agency IRNA, citing the Judiciary’s media center, reported on Sunday that the trial of Jamshid Sharmahd, the ringleader of the Tondar (Thunder) terrorist outfit, was underway in a plenary court session presided over by Judge Abolqassem Salavati in the capital, Tehran.

The prosecutor’s representative, the families of the victims of the group’s terrorist acts and the defendant and his lawyers were in attendance. Judicial officials said Sharmahd will be tried in two legal and criminal courts.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced in a statement in August 2020 that it had arrested the terrorist ringleader, who had directed “armed operations and acts of sabotage” in Iran from the US.

Upon his arrest, Sharmahd admitted to providing explosives for a 2008 attack against a religious congregation center in the southern Iranian city of Shiraz, Fars Province, in 2008, which killed 14 people and wounded hundreds. 

According to the Ministry, the group had planned to carry out several high-profile and potentially deadly attacks across the Islamic Republic, but its efforts were thwarted by the intricate intelligence operations targeting the outfit.

‘Sharmahd plotted to conduct 23 terrorist acts’

The prosecutor’s representative said in an address to the court on Sunday that Sharmahd intended to carry out 23 terrorist acts, but was successful in only five cases and failed in 18 others.

Behrouz Hassani Etemad said Sharmahd had confessed to committing terrorist acts and deadly explosions in a large religious gathering in Shiraz, Imam Khomeini’s mausoleum, Sivand Dam and Jahan Hotel, and also plotting a bombing attack on the seminary of Iran’s late prominent cleric, Ayatollah Lotfollah Saafi Golpayegani.

“The defendant had plans to conduct 23 terrorist acts, of which he succeeded in five. The bombing in Hosseinieh Rahpooyan in Shiraz on April 15, 2008 was designed and managed by him, which resulted in the martyrdom of 14 people and the injury of 300 people, 15 of whom were children,” Hassani Etemad said at the trial session.

The prosecutor’s representative added that the Tondar terrorist group had leveled slanderous accusations against the noble religion of Islam by using visual, audio, and social media.

‘Sharmahd was linked to FBI, Israel’s Mossad’

During the plenary court session, Hassani Etemad said American officials had contacted the defendant after the explosion in Shiraz, and as Sharmahd confessed, “His first contact with the FBI was after the bomb blast in Shiraz, where they mentioned some security points to the defendant.”

Pointing to Sharmahd’s other meetings with the Americans, the prosecutor’s representative said, “The defendant’s confession states that he met with two local senators and talked to them about the goals and actions of the Tondar group.”

Hassani Etemad said Sharmahd had admitted to being in contact with nine members of the FBI and CIA, whose last meeting dates back to January 2020.

Stressing that Sharmahd had also been in contact with CIA members, the prosecutor’s representative said, “The entire IDs and passwords of the group were in possession of the FBI officers and that the defendant also had correspondence with the secretary of state and the president of the United States.”

Hassani Etemad told the court that Sharmahd, through one of his agents, became acquainted with two Mossad members and tried to gain their support, saying he had met a person named Jacob and tried to send one of his plans for a terror operation to the Israeli regime.

The court said that the date for the next trial session of Sharmahd would be subsequently announced.

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