Global Insights: What Lies Behind Iran’s Spy Claims

Global Insights: What Lies Behind Iran’s Spy Claims

Iranian officials have recently accused the United States of plotting to use a Sunni terrorist group, Jundallah, to overthrow the Islamic Republic of Iran. Though Tehran has made such charges before, this is the first time the Iranian government has explicitly tied the alleged efforts to President Barack Obama. Several reasons explain both the motivations behind Tehran's accusations as well as their timing.

On Feb. 23, the Iranian government reported that it had captured Abdolmalek Rigi, leader of the Jundallah terrorist group. A Kyrgyz airline later confirmed that one of its planes had been intercepted in Iranian air space and forced to land in the southern Gulf port of Bandar Abbas, where Rigi's arrest took place.

Iranian TV broadcast a confession by Rigi in which he alleged that U.S. representatives had contacted his organization last March with offers of arms and training. According to Rigi's account, the CIA officials with whom he allegedly met stated that they considered Iran, rather than the Taliban and al-Qaida, as their regional adversary. They explained that since attacking Iran with conventional forces would prove extremely difficult, American policymakers had instead decided to provide extensive assistance to all terrorist movements that would wage war inside Iran against its government. They offered Jundallah access to a military base near the Iranian border, along with weapons, advanced communications equipment, and training facilities.

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