Analysis: Iran has its own terrorism problem

Analysis Now Iran has i

Iran, the country "credited" with being the world's No. 1 state-sponsor of terrorism, has a terrorism problem of its own. Indeed, Iran received a dose of its own medicine, when a shadowy Sunni separatist group named Jundullah targeted a group of high-level Iranian security officials with a lethal suicide bomb attack on Sunday. The attack killed the deputy commander of the Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards Ground Forces, Gen. Noor Ali Shooshtari, as well as Rajab Ali Mohammadzadeh, deputy commander of the Guard in the restive Sistan-Baluchistan province, and at least 29 others. Dozens of people were wounded. It was one of the harshest attacks sustained by Iran in recent years. The Islamic republic has the motto "Death to Israel" etched onto its flag, and ensures that the lifeblood of terrorist organizations - weapons and cash - continue to flow into the hands of Hizbullah and Hamas. Teheran is responsible for Hizbullah's very existence: It was intelligence agents from the Islamic republic who helped Lebanese Shi'ites found the organization in the early 1980s. Terror experts have named Hizbullah as the first Middle Eastern terrorist organization to employ the technique of suicide bombings, setting a bloody precedent which would go on to gain worldwide notoriety. Meanwhile, Iran's current defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, is wanted in Argentina for his role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. Vahidi was head of the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force when the bombing occurred - the same Guards that found itself on the receiving end of a bomb attack on Sunday. Jundallah, or "soldiers of God," which said it was behind the attack, is a Sunni separatist organization, which objects to Persian Shi'ite rule in Iran's southwest Sistan-Baluchistan Province, where many Sunni Baluchis reside. The attack represents a major escalation by Jundullah in its longstanding war with the Iranian regime. Jundullah, which operates from bases in neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been linked to many elements. Some analysts believe it is funded by Saudi Arabia, while others believe Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence service helps operate the group. Others, including Iranians, have tied the group to al-Qaida. Iran has frequently blamed the US and Britain for aiding the organization, and renewed the charge on Sunday, though Washington was quick to deny any involvement. Whatever its base of operation, Jundullah's attack has exposed Iran's intolerable terrorism hypocrisy.