There might be more to McChrystal’s removal than meets the eye. From Press TV:
Kabul circles say the dismissal of US commander was over leaking information including NATO’s connection with the executed leader of the Jundallah terrorist group, Abdolmalek Rigi.
Head of Press TV’s office in Kabul, Mohammad Ruhi, says US commander General Stanley McChrystal was sacked for acknowledging NATO’s connection with the executed leader of the Pakistan-based Jundallah terrorist group, Abdolmalek Rigi.
He dismissed the official reasons for the firing of McChrystal, saying his growing friendship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and intelligence leaks may have triggered the replacement.
The move caused a scandal, and a British minister was sacked. In retaliation, London is believed to have released confidential statements by McChrystal to White House officials, paving the way for the commander’s removal from his post.
Abdolmalek Rigi was the founder and leader of Jundallah, an insurgent or terrorist – depending on whom you ask – organistation active in Iran but based in Balochestan, Pakistan.
According to Wikipedia, Jundallah is a militant Islamist Sunni organization based in Balochistan that claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni Muslims in Iran, is responsible for numerous attacks in Iran, which targeted both civilians and military personnel. It is believed to have 1,000 fighters and claims to have killed 400 Iranian soldiers and many more civilians.
Rigi was captured by Iran in February and recently executed. The Guardian wrote in February:
Tehran official claims head of Jundallah had visited a US military base hours before his arrest
Moslehi said Rigi had been in a US military base 24 hours before his arrest and was carrying an Afghan passport supplied by the US. In Washington a US official rejected the claim as “totally bogus”. Moslehi also blamed the BBC and the Voice of America for covering Rigi’s “achievements”.
Tehran presented Rigi’s capture as a major coup and a blow to the countries it alleges have been backing Jundullah. “We are warning America and European countries that the intelligence services of the west should stop support for such groups and their terrorist acts,” said Iran’s intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi. “We have clear documents proving that Rigi was in co-operation with American, Israeli and British intelligence services.”
According to one official, Rigi’s plane was forced to land by Iranian aircraft while on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan. But other accounts said he had been arrested inside Iran or Pakistan. Al-Jazeera TV reported that he had been handed over by the Pakistan authorities.
Iranian state TV showed a handcuffed Rigi being escorted by four masked commandos off a small aircraft, but there were conflicting accounts of how and where he was seized.
Jundullah (Soldiers of God) has claimed responsibility for bombings that have killed scores of Iranians, including five senior commanders of the Revolutionary Guards, in recent years.
Iran trumpeted a significant security success today with the capture of Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of Jundullah, a Sunni insurgent group accused by Tehran of mounting terrorist attacks with the support of the US, Britain and Pakistan.
Rigi was recently executed. As Press TV writes on June 20, 2010:
Jundallah leader Rigi executed in Iran
Iran says it has executed ringleader of the Pakistan-based Jundallah terrorist group Abdolmalek Rigi arrested while preparing to launch a new round of attacks on the country.
Rigi was hanged on Sunday morning in Tehran’s Evin prison upon a ruling issued by the country’s Islamic Revolution Court, Fars news agency reported.
The Jundallah ringleader was charged with 79 counts of various crimes including armed robbery, bombing operations in public places, armed attacks on the army, police personnel, and ordinary civilians, assassination attempts, disrupting regional stability, kidnapping and murder.
Rigi’s execution comes as Iranian security forces arrested him on February 23 in eastern Iran while he was on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan.
Following his arrest, Iranian Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi said that Rigi was at an American base 24 hours before his capture, and that the United States had forged an Afghan passport for him.
Rigi, accompanied by his lawyer, appeared in court for the first time on May 27 in the presence of the families of the victims killed by his terrorist group.
The ties between Jundallah and the US seem to be quite well documented. Here’s some spilling of beans by Abdolhamid Rigi, brother of executed Abolmalek from Antiwar.com:
In particular, Rigi confirmed that Jundallah previously had ties with al-Qaeda for operations in Pakistan, and that the groups split in 2003 over differences of opinion about strategy in Iran. Not long after severing its ties with al-Qaeda, the group started a relationship with the United States government.
That fact has never been disputed, indeed US officials have repeatedly confirmed that the government has secretly encouraged and advised Jundallah as it fights the Iranian government. But Rigi insisted the US ties went well beyond encouragement.
Rigi insisted that five years ago when the relationship began the US government gave the group $100,000 and promised to provide it with “everything we needed.” He also claimed that the US was directing the group’s attacks, saying “they told us whom to shoot and whom not to. All orders came from them.”
Previously US officials had insisted the government was deliberately avoiding direct funding to avoid Congressional oversight, but the Bush Administration did funnel considerable money into “covert” operations against the Iranian government. As Jundallah has been launching high profile suicide bombings for years, any verification of direct US funding or ordering of the movement is likely to produce a considerable scandal.
I do wonder from where the Iranians knew which plane to intercept…
Of course, that’s conspiracy theory stuff, but somehow would make more sense then the being-relieved-because-of Rolling-Stone-interview narrative. The Rolling Stone interview is here, by the way.