Iran says leader of US-based ‘terror group’ arrested in intelligence operation

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"The surveillance of the unknown soldiers of Imam Zaman (Iranian intelligence forces) on a terrorist group based in the USA has led to the arrest of this terrorist group's ringleader", ISNA reported on Saturday. His biography on Tondar's website claims he emigrated to Los Angeles in 2003.

Tehran has accused Tondar of being behind a number of terrorist attacks, including a 2008 bombing of a mosque in the southern city of Shiraz, which killed 14 people and injured 202.

Sarmahd was apprehended while "leading armed and sabotage operations inside Iran", AFP reported, citing a government statement.

It was not clear how Iran arrested the US-based Sharmahd.

No comment was immediately available from the German foreign ministry.

It said Iranian intelligence aborted several other plots in more recent years, including blowing up the shrine of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Republic.

Iran's intelligence ministry said in a statement that Jamshid Sharmahd had orchestrated the April 12, 2008 bombing in Hosseynieh Seyed al Shohada Mosque in Shiraz, Iran.

The report also alleged without providing evidence that Tondar, or "Thunder" in Farsi, plotted attacks on a dam and planned to use cyanide bombs at Tehran's annual book fair.

The Intelligence Ministry has not said what charges Sharmahd will face.

Golsan discharged its cargo of food and medical supplies at the Venezuelan northern port of La Guayra on June 21 to supply the Iranian supermarket.

A 2010 US diplomatic cable from London later published by WikiLeaks shows that a Voice of America commentator said that same operative earlier had been in contact with him.

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

Iran's Defense Ministry said the Etka company has opened the supermarket in Caracas offering Iranian products.

Iran's foreign minister blamed the USA 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 programme, which the West fears could be used to develop a nuclear bomb.

The supermarket, called Megasis, has been established with the objective of boosting the production and export of Iranian commodities. Iran responded by launching a ballistic missile attack on United States soldiers in Iraq that injured dozens.

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