Pakistan May Turn Over U.S. Spies to Iran
- View SourcePakistan May Turn Over U.S. 'Spies' to Iran
Jundullah Militants, Led by Abdel Malik Regi, Are 'Spies' for the
By RICHARD ESPOSITO and BRIAN ROSS
May 23, 2008
In another sign of growing tensions with the United States,Pakistan
is threatening to turn over to Iran six members of a tribal militant
group Iran claims are "spies" for the CIA.
Iran claims the militant group, Jundullah, led by Abdel Malik Regi,
pictured bottom right, are "spies" for the CIA.(ABC News)
The group, Jundullah, operates in Baluchistan on both sides of the
border between Iran and Pakistan and has carried out a number of
violentattacks on Iranian army facilities and officers inside the
country. The CIA has denied any direct ties with the group, but U.S.
officials tell ABC News U.S. intelligence officers frequently meet
and advise Jundullah leaders, and current and former intelligence
officers are working to prevent the men from being sent to Iran. The
six Jundullah members were taken into custody by Pakistani
authorities last week, and the Iranian Mehr News Agency reported
Pakistan would soon extradite the men to Iran, where they would
likely be put on trial as spies and face execution.
Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran
Officials said the group's leader, Abdel Malik Regi, was not among
those arrested by Pakistan. U.S. intelligence officials say they are
aware of thedevelopments with the Jundullah members and are said to
be trying toblock the extradition.
In addition to causing turmoil in Iran, the officials say the group
has been helpful in tracking al Qaeda figures trying to move through
the Baluchistan region to Iran.
"The new Pakistan leaders have said they are going to do it, but
they aresaying a lot of things and trying to make a lot of deals,"
said one U.S. official.
"If they are seeking stability inside the country, why would they
want to inflame people in this region?" the official asked.
Iranian officials claimed this week that the U.S. had "a hand" in an
April 12 bomb attack at a mosque in Shiraz that killed 14 people,
according to Mehr News Agency, quoting Iranian Intelligence Minister
Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei.
"The U.S. is behind many events in Iran and the region with theaim
of bringing insecurity," the intelligence minister reportedly said.
"We have proper documentations in this regard," the minister told
thenews agency's reporters. A senior U.S. official said Iran's
claims "are nonsense, ludicrous."
The capture of the Jundullah members is seen by intelligence sources
in the region as another indication that Pakistan's new government
is distancing itself from the U.S. and U.S. intelligence operations
in the country.
Other such steps by Pakistan in recent days include an accord
between Pakistan's government and militant tribal leaders in the
country's Swat Valley region where Taliban figures are believed to
be hiding. Increasingly, U.S. sources say, Pakistan is effectively
handcuffing U.S. ground efforts against al Qaeda in the border
region and emboldening the Taliban.
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