(Reuters) – Iran said on Saturday that its intelligence forces have detained a U.S.-based leader of a pro-monarchist group whom it accused of being behind a 2008 bombing that killed 14, and of planning more attacks.
It was not clear when the reported detention took place or where.
Iranian state TV cited an intelligence ministry statement but it did not say how, where or when the alleged arrest took place, only that it followed a “complicated operation”.
“Jamshid Sharmahd, the ringleader of the terrorist Tondar (Thunder) group, who directed armed and terrorist acts in Iran from America, was arrested following a complicated operation, and is now in (our agents’) powerful hands,’” the statement said.
Tondar did not confirm the detention. In reaction to what it said were reports of Sharmahd’s “abduction”, the group said on its website it did not confirm “stories being told by various networks”.
However it said in an earlier posting on social media that “Tondar .. will continue to fight even in the absence of a commander”.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Based in Los Angeles, the little-known Kingdom Assembly of Iran, or Tondar, says it seeks to restore the Iranian monarchy that was overthrown by the 1979 Islamic revolution. It runs pro-Iranian opposition radio and television stations abroad.
According to the group’s website, Sharmahd is an electronics engineer who was born in March 1955. The website said he is Iranian-German and lived in Germany before moving to Los Angeles in 2003.
The Iranian ministry statement said further details of the arrest would be announced later. Iranian state media published a photo purportedly of Sharmahd.
The statement said Sharmahd planned and directed an explosion at a religious center in the southern city of Shiraz in 2008 that killed 14 people and wounded 215.
It said Iranian intelligence aborted several other plots in more recent years, including blowing up the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic. It did not say when the alleged plot was aborted.
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