Iranian Kurdish party claims it arrested Iranian agent on ‘espionage’ mission, plotting attack

In a confession tape the party released, the alleged agent says: “When the mission was done, I was told to flee to the nearest Iraqi or Iranian base.”

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iranian Kurdish Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) on Friday announced they had arrested an alleged Iranian operative near the Kurdistan Region’s town of Pirde, purportedly assigned by Tehran to spy on and assassinate senior leaders in the Kurdish opposition party.

PAK members captured the agent on July 4 in Pirde, located to the south of Erbil province, a statement from the party said. It accused the suspect, among others, of being a spy that sought to weaken the party’s standing and of being a “possible assassin.”

The party said the man “intended to pass on information to the Iranian intelligence service,” and “in addition to espionage,” also aimed to “cause anxiety and infighting among the Peshmerga and the members of the party.”

It should be noted that all Iranian Kurdish opposition groups refer to their fighters as Peshmerga, and they are distinct from the Kurdistan Region’s official defense forces.

On Tuesday, PAK posted a video it said was a confession tape of the purported spy. In it, the man admits he is a member of Iran’s Basij units, a voluntary force that is a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He also appears to corroborate the allegations leveled at him.

“I Mohammed Mokhtari, joined the Basij [IRGC] when I was 11,” a man is heard saying in the video. He adds that he was “strictly trained and educated” in psychological manipulation techniques “in the Shahid Fahmida institute of the Iranian Intelligence service.”

“I was sent directly by the Iranian Intelligence on June 5, 2018, to PAK for two reasons: to cause anxiety, psychological conflicts among PAK Peshmerga, and to weaken their interest in the party. By the end of the mission, I would assassinate important commanders of PAK.”

According to the man, he was “told to flee to the nearest Iraqi or Iranian base” when the mission was complete. The IRGC gave Mokhtari hundreds of dollars for “reaching” the PAK, hinting that the man had infiltrated the ranks of the group.

“I was promised more by the completion of the mission.”

The announcement comes amid heightened tension as deadly clashes took place this week between IRGC soldiers and various Kurdish opposition groups in the Iranian provinces of Kermanshah (Kermashan) and West Azerbaijan. Iran responded to the killing of multiple members of its military with an extensive shelling of alleged positions of the various groups.

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PAK is a Kurdish political party established in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) in 1991 by Ali Qazi, son of Qazi Mohammed, who was the first President of the short-lived Kurdistan Republic of Mahabad in 1945.

PAK fighters have assisted the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces along the Kirkuk and Bashiqa fronts since 2014. They also played a vital role in defending the south of Erbil in Pirde when the Iraqi army and Iran-backed militia forces attacked Kurdish positions in October 2017.

In August 2018, Iranian security forces arrested two PAK Peshmerga fighters, broadcasting their confessions on state television.

The two members of the PAK – Hoshmand Alipour, from Sardasht, and Mohammed Ostadqader, from the town of Saqqez – were arrested on Aug. 3, 2018, and were accused of plotting attacks in the Khuzestan and Kurdistan Province.

Both are still in prison and have been tortured by the Iranian government, according to PAK sources.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany

(Kosar Nawzad contributed to this report)