Abdolmalek Rigi (/ / (listen) ahb-dəl-mah-LEK REE-ghee; also spelt Abdul-Malek Rigi or Abdulmalik Rigi) (Balochi: عبدالمالک ریگی) (c. 1979 – 20 June 2010) was the leader of Jundallah, a terrorist group based in the Sistan and Baluchestan Province of southeast Iran. In 2010, he was captured and executed by the Iranian government.
Rigi on trial in Islamic Revolutionary Court, 18 June 2010
Sistan & Balochistan, Iran
|Died||20 June 2010|
Evin Prison, Tehran
|Allegiance||Jundallah (Soldier of God)|
|Years of service||1998–2010|
|Battles/wars||2005 Attack on Iranian President|
2007 Tasooki Attack
2007 Zahedan bombing
Chah Bahar kidnappings
2009 Pishin bombing
Early life and educationEdit
Born in 1979, Abdolmalek Rigi was from the Rigi tribe who are ethnic Baloch. Prior to founding Jundallah, while a teenager, Rigi was convicted of assault with a knife, for which he served time in prison.
In recent years,[when?] there has been considerable controversy over their support and international ties. Jundallah is believed by many experts to be linked to Al-Qaeda. There are also claims that Jundallah has had contact with the U.S. government and receives funding from Baluchi Iranians abroad.
Dan Rather's U.S. cable channel HDnet's television news magazine Dan Rather Reports, interviewed Rigi and showed a video of Rigi personally cutting off his brother in-law Shahab Mansouri's head. In the same interview, Rigi described himself as "an Iranian" and denied that his goal was to form a separate Baluch state. He claimed that his goal was to "improve conditions for ethnic Baluchis", and that his group was "fighting exclusively for the rights of Sunni Muslims in Iran".
According to a former hostage[who?], Rigi never slept in one place for two consecutive nights and did not shake hands with other people without wearing gloves. He was also reported to emulate Al-Zarqawi in his conduct and videos of hostage executions. The Iranian newspaper Kayhan incorrectly reported on 7 April 2005 that Rigi had been killed in an operation on the border to Afghanistan. A video surfaced on 11 April 2005, showing Rigi alive. Rigi's brother Abdulhamid Rigi accused his brother of working with Americans against Iran. Iranian authorities claimed that Rigi had murdered an Iranian general and carried out terrorist attacks in Iran. These allegations led to his arrest in February 2010.
There are two conflicting versions of Rigi's arrest. According to the Iranian government, on 23 February 2010, Rigi was aboard a flight from Dubai, United Arab Emirates to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, travelling with a forged Afghan passport. When the plane was crossing the Persian Gulf, Iranian fighter jets intercepted it. The Iranian jets ordered the pilot to land in Iranian territory and "a number of foreign passengers were forcibly removed." When the plane landed at Bandar Abbas International Airport, Iranian forces identified Rigi and arrested him. After his arrest, Iranian TV showed Rigi, with hands tied, being escorted by four masked Iranian commandos.
According to a former U.S. intelligence officer, on the other hand, 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."
On 20 June 2010, Iranian and international media reported that Rigi had been hanged in Evin Prison in Tehran. The Islamic Republic News Agency stated that the execution was carried out following a decision of the Tehran revolutionary tribunal. It quoted a court statement saying: "The head of the armed counter-revolutionary group in the east of the country was responsible for armed robbery, assassination attempts, armed attacks on the army and police and on ordinary people, and murder." His execution was described as a "severe blow" to Jundullah.
In response to the execution, Iran's then Interior Minister, Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar, said "Over the past 30 years, our enemies faced defeat in every instance and their latest ploy was [inciting] the seditionists who wanted to break our ranks. With the execution of this villain, who was backed by several Western spy agencies and the Israelis, complete peace has returned to the region."
Rigi was buried in Khavaran cemetery in southeast Tehran.
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