A key commander of a banned Iranian sectarian extremist group was arrested by security forces from the outskirts of Quetta Saturday morning. Jundullah commander Abdul Salam Rigi was taken into custody from the Lak Pass area, security sources told The Express Tribune.
Rigi was the senior most commander of Jundullah after the capture and subsequent execution of the group’s former chief Abdolmalek Rigi by the Iranian government in 2010. The Jundullah extremist group, which is based in Iran’s southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province, has been blamed for some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Iran.
“He [Abdul Salam Rigi] was coming in a passenger bus from the Pak-Iran border town of Taftan to Quetta when he was identified by security forces and taken into custody,” a security source said. Rigi has been taken to an undisclosed location for questioning, he added. Reuters identified Rigi as leader of “ethnic Baloch Sunni group Jaish al-Adl (Army of Justice)”. Quoting an unnamed security official, the wire service added that Rigi was seized by security forces who were tipped off to his movements. Another security official confirmed the arrest, saying Rigi offered no resistance.
Rigi is accused of involvement in suicide bombings in Iran and Pakistan, as well as sending fighters to the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. It was not immediately clear whether Pakistan would hand over Rigi to Iran. Officially, Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani confirmed the arrest of a ‘suspect’ but did not say he was Abdul Salam Rigi. “The suspect is being interrogated,” he added. The paramilitary Frontier Corps did not confirm Rigi’s arrest either.
The security forces launched coordinated search operations in Lakpass, Hazarganj and adjoining areas on Saturday and detained an unspecified number of suspects. “A man was arrested in one of the raid and hand grenades and a weapon were recovered from his possession,” a security official said. He didn’t say the arrested man was Abdul Salam Rigi.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2015.