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Alleged leader of Iran militant group goes on trial

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) – The alleged leader of the militant wing of a United States (US)-based Iranian opposition group went on trial yesterday, state TV reported. He’s accused of planning a 2008 bombing at a mosque that killed 14 people and wounded over 200.

In 2020, Iran’s intelligence service detained Jamshid Sharmahd, an Iranian-German national and US resident. Iran said he is the leader of Tondar, the militant wing of the opposition group Kingdom Assembly of Iran.

Sharmahd’s family said he is only the spokesperson for the Kingdom Assembly of Iran, known in Farsi as Anjoman-e Padeshahi-e Iran, and has accused Iran of kidnapping him in Dubai. His hometown is Glendora, California.

Sharmahd confessed to having a relationship with both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), state TV reported. It said he was in contact with nine FBI and CIA agents and his last meeting was in January 2020.

At the time of his detention, Iran alleged Sharmahd was behind the 2008 bombing that targetted the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in the city of Shiraz and that he was planning other attacks around Iran. Besides the 14 killed in the bombing, 215 were wounded.

Sharmahd, who supports restoring Iran’s monarchy that was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, had been previously targetted in an apparent Iranian assassination plot on US soil in 2009.

Iran hasn’t said how it detained Sharmahd, which came against the backdrop of covert actions conducted by Iran amid heightened tensions with the US over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.

Sharmahd had been in Dubai, trying to travel to India for a business deal involving his software company, his son said. He was hoping to get a connecting flight despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic disrupting global travel.