Iran’s Jundallah militant group on Thursday slammed a U.S. decision to designate it as a terrorist organization and threatened to retaliate; meanwhile Iran welcomed the U.S. decision as a “step in the right direction.”
“We condemn the (U.S.) Foreign Ministry's inclusion of Jundallah resistance movement's name in its terrorism list and we consider this as encouraging the regime in Tehran to commit further crimes,” Jundallah said in statement obtained by AlArabiya.net.
The movement said it would respond against the U.S. move by causing it “problems and damages” in the strategic Baluchistan region, southeast of Iran, and across its borders with Afghanistan.
"The United States has always supported criminals and murderers, like Sharon and Zionists, and supports also criminals (In the Iranian regime) to advance its interests," the statement added.
The United States has had classified the main Iranian opposition movement, Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), as a terror organization since 1997 when the Clinton administration sought to placate the Iranian regime and change its policy.
“This shows that Iran is a friend of the United States,” the statement added.
Iran has consistently accused the United States of supporting Jundallah, a charge the movement often rejected.
Tehran welcomed the U.S. decision to designate Jundallah as a terrorist group saying the move was a “step in the right direction."
"Fighting against terrorism is the responsibility of all nations, and the Islamic Republic of Iran believes that classifying the terrorist group (Jundallah) in the list of terrorist organizations by the United States is a step in the right direction," said the spokesman of Foreign Affairs, Ramin Mehmanparast, according the Fars agency.
"Iran will evaluate the change in U.S. policy towards terrorist groups like Jundollah, Tondar (Monarchist), or PJAK," he added.
Jundallah claims to fight for the ethnic and religious rights of the Baloch who are Sunni Muslims. It was founded by Abdolmalek Rigi who was captured and hanged in Iran in June.
Jundallah said Riggi was captured in Afghanistan by the U.S.-backed government in Kabul and was transferred to Iran.
*(Written by Mustapha Ajbaili)