News / Middle East

Iran Hangs Militant Insurgent Leader

Pakistani activists of Baloch Rights Council holds a portrait of top Sunni militant leader Abdolmalek Rigi as they shout anti-Iran slogans at a protest in Karachi (File Photo)
Pakistani activists of Baloch Rights Council holds a portrait of top Sunni militant leader Abdolmalek Rigi as they shout anti-Iran slogans at a protest in Karachi (File Photo)
Elizabeth Arrott

Iran has executed the leader of the Sunni Muslim militant group Jundallah.  Abdolmalek Rigi had been convicted of carrying out attacks against both civilians and the military in southeastern Iran.   

Iranian state media say Abdolmalek Rigi was hanged in Tehran's Evin prison early Sunday.  His was the latest in a series of executions of Jundallah members, including Rigi's brother, Abdolhamid, last month.

The militant group has been carrying out a violent campaign to protest what it says is discrimination of Sunnis by the Shi'ite government.  Jundallah claimed responsibility for a bombing late last year that killed 57 people, among them members of the nation's elite Revolutionary Guard and, last month, an attack on a mosque that killed 25 people.

Iran has accused the United States of backing the group, with the aim of destabilizing Iran.  Washington denies the charge.   In a videotaped confession shown on Iranian television, Rigi, in custody, says the Jundallah campaign is driven by the United States and the West.  

Iran says Rigi was arrested in February while flying from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan.  The militant, who was in his mid-twenties, was also shown confessing to plans to meet with U.S. agents in Bishkek.   

Tehran accuses Britain as well of supporting the group, and says it gets support from a base in Pakistan.  Both London and Islamabad say that is not true.  

The group's area of operations, located in Sistan-Baluchestan province along the Pakistan border, is one of the country's poorest and most underdeveloped regions.  Sunni Muslims make up less than 10 percent of Iran's overwhelmingly Shi'ite population.  It is not clear how widespread support for the group is, nor what affect the executions will have on Jundallah's operations.

Ali Nourizadeh, a senior researcher at the Centre for Arab & Iranian Studies in London, said he believes Rigi's confessions may have been part of an effort to have his brother's life spared.  Nourizadeh adds that he interviewed Rigi several times and said he observed his tactics evolving.   

"At the beginning, he was very brutal," Nourizadeh said. "He killed many, many innocent people.  But lately he was wiser. he would only attack the security forces."

Iranian media say Rigi's execution was carried out in front of relatives of victims of Jundallah attacks.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.

Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More