Iran says it has arrested head of US-based 'terrorist group'

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"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", it said. His biography on Tondar's website claims he emigrated to Los Angeles in 2003.

Iranian state television broadcast a report on Sharmahd's arrest, linking him to the April 12, 2008 bombing of the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in Shiraz. The Intelligence Ministry called it a "complex operation", without elaborating.

In comments at the opening of the supermarket, Iran's ambassador to Caracas hailed the good relations between Iran and Venezuela, denounced the US' hostile policies against the two nations, and described the opening of the store as a move to "counter the US' policy of economic terrorism and support the Venezuelan nation at the time of heightened sanctions".

Iran said on Saturday its intelligence services have detained a United States-based leader of a pro-monarchist group whom it accused of being behind a deadly 2008 bombing and of plotting other attacks, and that he is being held in Iran.

It said Tondar had planned to blow up a dam in Shiraz, use "cyanide bombs" at a Tehran book fair, and plant an explosive device at the mausoleum of Iran's founder, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 2010. The group reportedly took responsibility for the attack. Prisoners earlier accused in the same attack were sentenced to death and executed. The US has refused requests by Tehran to shut down Tondar's operations.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi reacted to the news by criticizing the USA for allowing Sharmahd and others to live in America.

Iran's intelligence ministry published a picture later on Saturday of a grey-haired man in a blindfold it said was Sharmahd.

Iran's foreign minister blamed the U.S. and Europe for funding and protecting terrorists Saturday following the arrest of the leader of a US-based anti-regime group. Suspicion long has fallen on Israel for a string of assassinations targeting scientists amid concerns about Iran's nuclear program, which the West fears could be used to develop a nuclear bomb. Iran long has maintained its programme is for peaceful purposes. Iran responded by launching a ballistic missile attack on US soldiers in Iraq that injured dozens.



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