The imagery - and the concomitant political message - was compelling. The image of a young man being surrounded by balaclava-clad security officers by the side of a small commercial plane was designed to send the strongest possible message to Western intelligence services, their political masters and the Western public in general. If the West led by the mighty United States has failed in its nearly nine-year pursuit of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, embattled Iran managed to get its man with minimal political and economic cost.
Aside from frustrating American subversion efforts in Iran's southeast, the capture of the Jundallah leader sends an unmistakable message that in the intelligence wars of the Middle East, the Islamic Republic of Iran has once again seized the initiative. The repercussions of this will be felt across all spheres and at all levels, boosting Iran's diplomatic and political posture in the region, and thus making the country less vulnerable to American and Israeli bullying.
The Islamic Republic prides itself on having efficient and adaptive security and intelligence services. Iranian officials often cite the successful experience of these agencies in countering a broad range of security and intelligence threats, including terrorism by left-wing and secessionist groups and intense espionage and subversion activities by Western intelligence services, over the past 30 years to underscore their skills and capabilities. It seems that the full gamut of these capabilities was deployed against Jundallah and its local allies in Iran and Pakistan to great effect, to the extent that the group is now for all intents and purposes decapitated and probably a spent force.
Iranian intelligence had been monitoring Abdulmalik Rigi round the clock since August 2009, but moving against him was difficult due to strong American backing and the fear of exposing invaluable methods and agents.
But the major suicide bombing on October 18, 2009, which targeted a conference hall in the Pishin area of Sistan and Balochistan where senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders were hosting a reconciliation meeting with local tribal elders, killing dozens of IRGC officers, including the deputy commander of the Guards' land forces, forced a decisive move against Rigi.
Security sources in Tehran are keen to highlight Abdulmalik Rigi's jet-set lifestyle, describing constant travel between Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Islamabad, Kabul and Central Asian capitals since early 2006.
In any event, security sources in Tehran tell Asia Times Online that they have "massive" amounts of information and documents in their possession that link Jundallah to the CIA and specialized branches of the United States military operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They also claim that the CIA had prior knowledge of the suicide bombing in Pishin in October (which was a massive blow against the IRGC) but there is an ongoing debate within security circles in Tehran as to whether the Americans had actively instigated the terrorist attack.
The outcome of this debate may well have serious repercussions, possibly prompting IRGC Qods force retaliation against American secret agents operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The IRGC Qods force is believed to have identified every noteworthy component of American intelligence activity in the region and the Qods force has the capability to strike a deadly blow against American intelligence assets in the region and beyond.
By any standard, Abdulmalik Rigi's arrest is a major success for the Islamic Republic's intelligence services. This dramatic operation has boosted the morale of Islamic Republic loyalists throughout the Middle East and caused considerable dismay and embarrassment to Iran's Western enemies.
Rigi's arrest once again tip[s] the balance of confidence in favor of the Iranians, especially since, unlike Mabhouh's assassination [by Israel], the operation was carried out with flawless precision and efficiency and moreover it was neither immoral nor did it violate any international laws.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Mahan Abedin's Perspective on the Rigi Arrest Operation
In today's Asia Times Online, there is a piece written by Mahan Abedin titled Iran's spies show how it's done, detailing aspects of Iran's arrest operation of Rigi. It's well worth the read. Excerpts: