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Family tells AP: Iran abducted California man while in Dubai

Iran hasn’t mentioned the way it detained Sharmahd, although the announcement got here towards the backdrop of covert actions performed by Iran amid heightened tensions with the U.S. over Tehran’s collapsing nuclear take care of world powers.

Iran accuses Sharmahd, 65, of Glendora, California of planning a 2008 assault on a mosque that killed 14 folks and wounded over 200 others, in addition to plotting different assaults by means of the little-known Kingdom Meeting of Iran and its Tondar militant wing. It aired an interview of him on state tv — footage that resembled many different suspected coerced confessions broadcast by the Iranian authorities in the final decade.

His household, nonetheless, insists Sharmahd solely served as a spokesman for the group and had nothing to do with any assaults in Iran. Sharmahd, who helps restoring Iran’s monarchy that was overthrown in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, already had been focused in an obvious Iranian assassination plot on U.S. soil in 2009.

“We’re in search of assist from any democratic nation, any free nation,” his son Shayan Sharmahd advised the AP. “It’s a violation of human rights. You’ll be able to’t simply decide somebody up in a 3rd nation and drag them into your nation.”

Iran’s Intelligence Ministry has not elaborated on the way it detained the elder Sharmahd, apart from to disclaim he was arrested in Tajikistan. The ministry and Iran’s mission to the United Nations didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Sharmahd had been in Dubai, attempting to journey to India for a enterprise deal involving his software program firm, his son mentioned. He hoped to get a connecting flight regardless of the continuing coronavirus pandemic disrupting world journey.

Sharmahd’s household acquired the final message from him on July 28. After that, he now not responded to their calls and messages, his son mentioned. Phone location knowledge confirmed his cell phone that day on the Premier Inn Dubai Worldwide Airport Resort, the place he had been staying.

It’s unclear how the kidnapping occurred. A lodge operator mentioned Sharmahd had checked out July 29. Monitoring knowledge confirmed Sharmahd’s cell phone traveled south from Dubai to town of Al Ain on July 29, crossing the border into Oman and staying in a single day close to an Islamic faculty in the border metropolis of al-Buraimi.

On July 30, monitoring knowledge confirmed the cell phone traveled to the Omani port metropolis of Sohar, the place the sign stopped.

Two days later, on Saturday, Iran introduced it had captured Sharmahd in a “complicated operation.” The Intelligence Ministry printed {a photograph} of him blindfolded.

His son mentioned he believed that in the state TV footage, Sharmahd hurriedly learn no matter Iran needed him to say.

“Think about your personal father being tied up at some point on tv and also you see that,” Shayan Sharmahd mentioned.

Western officers consider Iran runs intelligence operations in Dubai and retains tabs on the a whole bunch of 1000’s of Iranians dwelling in the city-state. Iran is suspected of kidnapping and later killing British-Iranian nationwide Abbas Yazdi in Dubai in 2013, although Tehran has denied involvement.

It isn’t simply Iran that maintains a presence in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, dwelling to some 5,000 U.S. troops and the U.S. Navy’s busiest port of name exterior of America. The U.S. State Division runs its Iran Regional Presence Workplace in Dubai, the place diplomats monitor Iranian media reviews and discuss to Iranians.

Dubai’s inns lengthy have been focused by intelligence operatives, similar to in the suspected 2010 assassination by the Israeli Mossad of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Dubai and the remainder of the UAE have since invested much more in an elaborate surveillance community.

Dubai police and officers, in addition to federal officers in Abu Dhabi and the Omani Embassy in Washington, didn’t reply to requests for remark.

The UAE has lengthy been attempting to de-escalate tensions with Iran after President Donald Trump’s most strain marketing campaign noticed him pull out of the nuclear deal. On Sunday, Emirati Overseas Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan held a videoconference with Iranian Overseas Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Nevertheless, over the past yr, a sequence of escalating incidents have shaken the broader Mideast, resulting in a U.S. drone strike in January that killed a prime Iranian normal in Baghdad and an Iranian ballistic missile assault that injured dozens of American troopers in Iraq. Additionally, there have been explosions on oil tankers off the Emirati coast that the U.S. Navy has blamed on Iranian limpet mines.

Final month, an oil tanker seized by the UAE after being suspected of smuggling Iranian crude oil was hijacked, probably by Iran. In June, Iran sentenced to loss of life one other opposition journalist dwelling in Paris it detained beneath unclear circumstances.

For now, Sharmahd’s household mentioned they contacted the federal government in Germany, the place he holds citizenship, and the U.S. authorities as he’s lived for years in America and was on observe for citizenship after the 2009 assassination plot.

The German Embassy in Tehran has requested Iranian authorities for consular entry, in keeping with the Overseas Ministry in Berlin, hoping to know how Sharmahd was arrested. Nevertheless, Iran doesn’t enable consular entry for its twin nationals, contemplating them solely Iranian residents.

The State Division, which mistakenly referred to Sharmahd in an earlier report as an American citizen, acknowledged his arrest and mentioned Iran “has a protracted historical past of detaining Iranians and international nationals on spurious fees.”

While Iran has but to say what fees Sharmahd faces, others detained over the 2008 bombing have been convicted and executed. Sharmahd’s son mentioned his father suffers from Parkinson’s illness, in addition to diabetes and coronary heart hassle that require remedy and cautious monitoring.

“He’s very a lot in danger,” his son mentioned. “All of us are extraordinarily involved.” ___

Related Press author Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.

Observe Jon Gambrell on Twitter at

Copyright 2021 The Related Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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