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Iran: Arrested Sunni Militant Leader Had Help From US


An image grab taken from Iran's English-language official Press TV station shows Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi showing a picture of top Sunni militant Abdolmalek Rigi during a press conference in Tehran, 23 Feb 2010

An image grab taken from Iran's English-language official Press TV station shows Iranian Intelligence Minister Heydar Moslehi showing a picture of top Sunni militant Abdolmalek Rigi during a press conference in Tehran, 23 Feb 2010

Iran says authorities have captured the head of a Sunni militant group in an operation outside the country, and it claims the leader had links to the United States.

The French news agency, AFP, reported Tuesday that a senior U.S. official dismissed Iran's allegations as "totally bogus."

Iranian state media said security forces detained Abdolmalek Rigi Tuesday while traveling from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan in a private jet.

Rigi is the leader of the militant group Jundallah, which has been blamed for deadly attacks in Iran.

It is not immediately clear how Iranian authorities boarded the plane to arrest the militant leader.

Iran's intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, is quoted by state television as saying Rigi was at a U.S. military base 24 hours before his capture and that Americans had issued him an Afghan passport.

Iran has accused the United States of funding Jundallah in an effort to destabilize the Iranian government. Washington denies the charge.

Iran's intelligence minister claims that documents in Rigi's possession indicate that he was in contact with a number of European nations. He also claims Rigi met with the commander of NATO in Afghanistan in April 2008.

Iran, which says the militant group is based in Pakistan, asked that country to hand over Rigi after Jundallah claimed responsibility for a bombing in Iran in October.

Fifty-seven people were killed in the attack in Sistan-Baluchestan province, including members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.

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