Sistan and Baluchestan insurgency
The Sistan and Baluchestan insurgency, part of the Balochistan conflict, began approximately in 2004 and is an ongoing low-intensity asymmetric conflict in Sistan and Baluchestan Province between Iran and several Baloch Sunni militant organizations which are designated as terrorist organizations by Iran.
- Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, responsible for both military and security actions
- Ministry of Intelligence, doing intelligence operations
- Border Guard Command, engaging border conflicts with insurgent groups
Sunni Baloch rebels
- Jundallah: founded in 2002, was active since 2005, carrying out armed assaults against Iranian armed forces as well as civilians. Since arrest and execution of its leader Abdolmalek Rigi in 2010, they were responsible for a few bombings in 2011 under command of Muhammad Dhahir Baluch.
- Harakat Ansar Iran: founded in 2012, they rose up against the Iranian government and claimed responsibility for attacks on the IRGC Personnel and civilians. The group was disbanded in December 2013 due to a merger.
- Jaish ul-Adl: founded in 2012 by former Jundallah members, there is very little known about the group. They are led by Salahuddin Farooqui who has opposed Iranian support for Syria in the Syrian Civil War. They have claimed responsibility for dozens of operations since 2013.
- Ansar Al-Furqan: founded by December 2013 merger of Harakat Ansar and Pashton group Hizb Al-Furqan. They are linked to Al-Nusra Front and are led by Sheikh Abu-Hafs al-Baloochi.
Role of Pakistan
Pakistan is Iran's neighbour, sharing borders of its Balochistan which is base of Baloch nationalist separatist groups. These Pakistani Baloch militia groups are allied with Iranian groups. Iran and Pakistan historically have a strategic alliance fighting these groups. However, Iran has accused Pakistan of supporting insurgency in Iran several times. In February 2014 the two states signed a pact sharing responsibility for combating militants operating across the border. According to a former U.S. intelligence officer, Jundallah leader Abdolmalek Rigi was captured by Pakistani officials and delivered to Iran with U.S. support: "It doesn't matter what they say. They know the truth."
Allegations of foreign involvement
Iran has long accused foreign states supporting insurgency in Sistan and Baluchestan. Several sources such as the ABC News, The New York Times, Daily Telegraph and Seymour Hersh have reported that Jundallah has received support from the United States. Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom and Sweden are other states allegedly sponsoring the group.
Claims of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) support were debunked by a subsequent investigation showing that the CIA "had barred even the most incidental contact with Jundallah." The rumors originated in an Israeli Mossad "false flag" operation; Mossad agents posing as CIA officers met with and recruited members of Jundullah in cities such as London to carry out attacks against Iran. President George W. Bush "went absolutely ballistic" when he learned of Israel's actions, but the situation was not resolved until President Barack Obama's administration "drastically scaled back joint U.S.-Israel intelligence programs targeting Iran" and ultimately designated Jundallah a terrorist organization in November 2010. Although the CIA cut all ties with Jundallah after the 2007 Zahedan bombings, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and United States Department of Defense continued to gather intelligence on Jundallah through assets cultivated by "FBI counterterrorism task force officer" Thomas McHale; the CIA co-authorized a 2008 trip McHale made to meet his informants in Afghanistan. According to The New York Times: "Current and former officials say the American government never directed or approved any Jundallah operations. And they say there was never a case when the United States was told the timing and target of a terrorist attack yet took no action to prevent it." Mashregh News, which has close ties to the IRGC, has accused Qatar for supporting both Jaish ul-Adl and Harakat Ansar Iran, alongside Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Taliban. Harakat Ansar Iran has made an appeal on Saudi Arabian websites for funding.
Motivations of the insurgent groups
Analysts believe that aim of insurgents may differ from separatism to religious motivations, but they are not entirely clear. The leaders of the groups have maintained different positions: from Baloch nationalism to Salafi jihadism.
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