Is the enemy of your enemy ever really your friend?
In one of the strangest possible “strange bedfellow” cases in the war on terror, on Tuesday Iran said it forced a Kyrgyzstan Airways passenger airplane to land, and then sent its commandos onboard to remove and arrest Abdol Malek Rigi. Since 2002, Rigi has been the leader of an Iranian militant group called Jundallah (“Soldiers of God”), whose goal is to overthrow Iran’s current regime.
Before his arrest, Abdol Malek Rigi was the most wanted man in Iran. Now he remains in custody of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the very people his organization has focused on killing for eight years.
Here’s where it gets even stranger. Iran says that Abdol Malek Rigi was carrying an Afghan passport supplied by Washington and was recently photographed at an American military base in Afghanistan. Iranian intelligence chief Heydar Moslehi held a press conference during which he showed a photograph that he said placed Rigi outside a U.S. military base with two other men.
No details of “where the base was, or how or when the photograph was obtained,” reported the Vancouver Sun’s Richard Spencer, one of the first North American newsmen on the story. Iran’s Heydar Moslehi also displayed Rigi’s Afghan passport and identity card which he says had been given to him by the United States.
Iran did not limit the finger-pointing to America. Instead, they say that the hidden hands of Britain, Israel, and NATO are also involved. During the press conference, Moslehi claimed that Rigi met with Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the NATO secretary general, in 2008. Tuesday’s arrest of Rigi was “a great defeat for the U.S. and UK,” Moslehi said.
On Thursday, the BBC reported that Iranian state television had broadcast a confession from Rigi in which the leader of Jundallah says he had American support. He also specifically named the U.S. military facility as being the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. Rigi “says he was on his way to a meeting with a ‘high-ranking person’ at the Manas U.S. military base in Kyrgyzstan when he was captured,” according to the BBC.