Several Iranian news outlets published reports on Saturday claiming that Iranian intelligence forces arrested the ringleader of a United States-based terror group called "Tondar" in Farsi and "Thunder" in English.
Iranian intelligence forces have arrested the ringleader of a US-based terrorist group called “Tondar”https://t.co/quBGjVrPiN— ISNA International (@Isna_Int) August 1, 2020
"The surveillance of the unknown soldiers of Imam Zaman, Iranian intelligence forces, on a terrorist group based in the US has led to the arrest of this terrorist group’s ringleader," the TehranNews reported, citing Iranian Students' News Agency (ISNA). Yet, it was not made clear when the reported detention took place or where.
The ringleader is Jamshid Sharmahd, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and ISNA reported, citing a statement reportedly released by Iran's Intelligence Ministry on Saturday. The news outlets allege Sharmahd was responsible for leading the 2008 terror bombing of the Hosseynieh Seyed al-Shohada Mosque in the city of Shiraz, during which 14 people were killed and 215 were wounded.
ISNA reported that Thunder had plans to carry out several large scale operations within the last few years, but failed to do so as those plans were "foiled." The news outlet claimed that these plans included bombing Sivand Dam in Shiraz, Imam Khomeini Mausoleum and the Tehran Book Fair, however, they didn't mention who was responsible for preventing the attacks.
Thunder did not confirm the detention. In reaction to what it said were reports of Sharmahd's "abduction," the group said on its website it did not confirm "stories being told by various networks."
However it said in an earlier posting on social media that "Thunder... will continue to fight even in the absence of a commander."
Based in Los Angeles, the little-known Kingdom Assembly of Iran, or Thunder, says it seeks to restore the Iranian monarchy that was overthrown by the 1979 Islamic revolution. It runs pro-Iranian opposition radio and television stations abroad.
According to the group’s website, Sharmahd is an electronics engineer who was born in March 1955. The website said he is Iranian-German and lived in Germany before moving to Los Angeles in 2003.
The Iranian ministry statement said further details of the arrest would be announced later. Iranian state media published a photo purportedly of Sharmahd.In 2010, a Californian businessman was released from a two-and-a-half-year sentence in an Iranian prison after having been accused of passing money to Thunder. Reza Taghavi, 71 at the time of his release, was jailed on allegations that he passed $200 to someone suspected of being linked to the US terror group. Despite being accused, he was never charged and he denied having intentionally supported the faction.
Taghavi's attorney, former US diplomat Pierre Prosper, won Taghavi's release after talks with Iranian envoys, and the businessman was made to visit survivors of the bombing as a condition of his release before his return to California. Reuters contributed to this report.