The U.S. State Department announced yesterday that it has designated the Iranian Baluch group Jundullah a terrorist organization. This makes a lot of sense considering that Jundullah is known for suicide bombings, beheadings and other hallmarks of many of the other radical groups the U.S. designates as terrorists. The Baluch separatist group might even have ties to al Qaeda.
The State Department release said:
Since its inception in 2003, Jundallah has engaged in numerous attacks resulting in the death and maiming of scores of Iranian civilians and government officials, primarily in Iran’s Sistan va Balochistan province. Jundallah uses a variety of terrorist tactics, including suicide bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations. In May 2009, Jundallah attacked the crowded Shiite Amir al-Mo’menin mosque in Zahedan, destroying the mosque and killing and wounding numerous worshipers. An October 2009 bomb attack which killed more than 40 people was reportedly the deadliest terrorist attack in Iran since the 1980s. Following the February 2010 capture by Iranian authorities of Jundallah’s ex-leader, Abdul Malik Rigi, the group selected a new leader, al-Hajj Mohammed Dhahir Baluch, and confirmed its commitment to continue its terrorist activities. In July 2010, Jundallah attacked the Grand Mosque in Zahedan, killing approximately 30 and injuring hundreds.
What the State Department doesn’t mention, however, is that it’s commonly believed that the CIA supports Jundullah’s activities in an attempt to destabilize the Iranian government. Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker in July 2008 that Jundullah (and other domestic Iranian rebel groups) receive funding and support from Langley.
Maybe the Obama administration has cut back on its predecessor’s covert programs like support for Iranian terrorist group. Politico cites an unnamed Washington-based Iran expert saying that the designation of Jundullah as a terrorist group shows that “one bureaucratic fight in favor of engagement was won.” It’s a place to start.