While the broader Iranian population may not be revolutionary, Iranians have increasingly come out into the streets to protest government abuses and declining living standards. Although nearly three-quarters of Iran’s current population was born after the Islamic Revolution and has no direct experience with the shah’s regime, photos of pro-monarchy graffiti and videos of pro-shah chants increasingly circulate on social media from inside Iran.

It is against this backdrop that the trial of a suspect called “Masmatos,” accused of being a member of royalist terror group “Tondar,” becomes important. In the excerpted article from news media outlet Fars News Agency, the Iranian prosecutor announces the arrest and accuses Tondar of responsibility for the 2008 bombing of a popular Shi’ite congregation hall in Shiraz that reportedly killed 14 people and injured more than 200 others. The article also accuses Tondar of attempted attacks ranging from a bomb plot against the Sivand Dam, trying to use “cyanide bombs” at the Tehran International Book Fair, and an explosion at the shrine of Imam Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic Revolution who died in 1989.

After the Shiraz bombing, Iranian security forces arrested two suspects, Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani and Arash Rahmanipour. Iran accused them of royalist links and subsequently tried and executed them in 2010. Iranian security forces claim to have arrested Tondar leader Jamshid Sharmahd in August 2020; he is still in the custody of the Iranian intelligence service. The Iranian press identifies the mysterious “Masmatos” as the second-in-command of Tondar’s military wing and says he also had knowledge of the assassination plot against Iranian nuclear physicist Massoud Ali Mohammadi, who died in a bombing outside his home in 2010. At the time, the Iranian government attributed that bombing alternately to Israel and to the Mujahedin al-Khalq, an organization that frequently conducts terrorism inside Iran.

The fact that the Iranian government is now seeking to reattribute past attacks to proponents of the past monarchy may reflect the government’s desire to tarnish the image of the monarchy for a new generation of Iranians. At the same time, the fact that the late shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi, the most recognizable opposition figure among Iranians, lives in the United States likely means the Iranian government will use “Tondar” to accuse the United States of being a state sponsor of terror in order to negate U.S. accusations of Iranian state terror sponsorship.

“Tondar is one of the counterrevolutionary groups in which
supporters of the Pahlavi regime are active.”

Source: “Nafar-e Devvom Shakheh Nizami Goruhaj-e ‘Tondar’ Dastgir Shod (Number Two Person in the Military Branch of the ‘Tondar’ Gang Arrested),” Fars News Agency (news media outlet with close ties to Iran’s defense and security establishment), 2 February 2022. https://www.farsnews.ir/news/14001113000785

… The number two member of the military branch of the Tondar [Thunder] group was arrested by anonymous soldiers of Imam al-Zaman [in this context: elite intelligence forces]. The man, identified as “Masmatos” was detained by the intelligence forces. Tondar is one of the opposition and counterrevolutionary groups in which supporters of the Pahlavi regime are active. Some experts believe this group was founded in the first decade of the 21st century or, more specifically, 2005. The more precise name of this group is the Royal Society of Iran. According to available information, Fathollah Manouchehri (also known as Foroud Fouladvand) was the leader of the group in the first years of its establishment up until 2007, after which Jamshid Shahrmad took over the group’s leadership.

On Saturday, 1 August 2020, news broke that the Ministry of Intelligence had arrested Jamshid Shahrmad, the leader of the Tondar terrorist group. Tondar was responsible for many crimes, such as the bombing of the Sayyid al-Shohada Hosseiniyah in Shiraz, a bloody incident in which many innocent people were martyred, as well as the attempt to blow up the Sivand dam in Shiraz. Masmatos was also the first person to publish the news of the assassination of nuclear scientist Martyr Ali Mohammadi.

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