Militant leader hanged by Iran

Monday, June 21, 2010

Iran hanged the leader of the militant group Jundallah, Abdolmalek Rigi, yesterday, after he was found guilty of nearly 80 criminal charges.

Rigi was the founder and leader of Jundallah, which have carried out numerous attacks in Iran since 2003, killing 154 people and injuring 320 more. Charges against him numbered 79, including armed robbery, contacting intelligence agents from the United States, NATO, and Israel, kidnapping, and the founding of a terrorist group, which the Iranian government classified Jundallah as.

Jundallah says its attacks are intended to protest the alleged discrimination of Sunni Muslims in Iran, whose government is largely Shi'ite. Although Iran has claimed that the group has the backing of the United States, and a video of Rigi while in custody shows him admitting the same, the US has denied that it has any ties to the group. Both the United Kingdom and Pakistan are also claimed to have ties to the group by Tehran; both governments deny the allegations.

According to Iranian authorities, Rigi was arrested while traveling from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan, and state TV ran a video of Rigi being taken from a plane by men in masks.

Rigi was apparently hanged in a prison in Tehran early on Sunday, according to state media. His hanging is the latest in a string of executions of Jundallah members by the Iranian government.