In a statement released on Thursday, the Intelligence Ministry said Farajollah Cha’ab also known as Habib Asyud, the ringleader of the so-called Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz terrorist group (SMLA), was arrested on the back of a set of “specialized and combined measures” by Iranian intelligence forces.
“Cha’ab has planned several other major attacks in Tehran and Khuzestan Province in recent years...he has recently been planning to launch a new terrorist operation that failed with the efforts of the Intelligence Ministry,” the statement read .
The militant group is directly supported by the intelligence agencies of Saudi Arabia and Israel. It managed terrorist operations inside Iran despite international arrest warrants against its ringleaders, according to the statement.
“The main perpetrator of the bloody terrorist attack on September 22, 2018 in Ahvaz is now in the hands of the Intelligence Ministry,” it added.
The terror outfit has been after separating the southwestern Khuzestan Province — home to Iran’s Arab population — from the rest of the country through engaging in armed conflict against the Iranian government.
In September 2018, it claimed responsibility for the attack on military parade in Ahvaz, Khuzestan’s provincial capital. The assault killed 25 people, including members of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and civilian bystanders, and injured 70 others.
Iran’s Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said at the time of the parade attack that the assailants were paid by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
After his arrest, Cha’ab admitted to cooperation with the Saudi intelligence service.
“At that juncture, we started the job together with the Saudi intelligence chief, and we had several sessions with them (the Saudis),” he said.
Cha’ab further confessed to other crimes as well, including the armed robberies of a contracting company and a bank in Ahvaz.
Elsewhere in his comments, Cha’ab said the regime in Riyadh spent €30 million for the establishment of Iran International, a London-based TV channel, which raised controversy on the day of the Ahvaz attack by allowing a spokesman of Al-Ahwaziya terrorist group — a faction of the SMLA — to go live on air to defend the bloodshed.
Press TV and Reuters contributed to this story.