Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Abdolmajid (Abdolmalek) Rigi


Age: 31
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: June 20, 2010
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God; Corruption on earth

About this Case

News of Mr. Abdolmajid (Abdolmalek) Rigi’s execution was published by Tehran General and Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office News Outlet (June 20, 2010), ISNA (June 20, 2010), and other media. Additional information was obtained from the IRNA website (June 22, 2010), ISNA (June 20, 2010, and February 23, 2010), and other news sources.*

Mr. Abdolmajid Rigi was probably born in 1979-80 in the city of Zahedan in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province. He was born into a very large and relatively poor family of the Rigi tribe (one of the Baluch tribes). Mr. Rigi had six brothers, one of whom was killed in an armed skirmish in the Saravan region. His youngest brother was killed in a suicide mission at the Saravan Police Force garrison, and his older brother was executed in Zahedan in 2010. Mr. Rigi’s case concerns his leadership of the Jondollah Group and the carrying out of a number of lethal operations during which a number of civilians as well as members of the Police Force were killed.

Based on available information, Rigi was castigated at school for “disorderly conduct and repeatedly getting into fights with his classmates” in 1995-96 (when he was in seventh grade) and quit school to start work as a street vendor. His parents took him back to school when they discovered this, but the principal refused to let him back because he had been absent for two months. He worked as a street vendor in Zahedan for six months but stopped after several run-ins with the police.

After giving up peddling, Mr. Rigi went to rural areas as a part of “Jama’at Tabligh” [1] groups for a short while, in order to promote the Sunni Islam faith. He showed interest in becoming an Emir (“head”) of the Jama’at Tabligh, which was a religious position and title, but he was ignored due to his lack of religious knowledge and so became disillusioned. Mr. Rigi then turned to religious studies. He studied at a Sunni seminary in Zahedan for two months and subsequently went to Saravan’s Gasht Seminary. Based on available information, he was expelled for “being disorderly and raising subject matters outside the scope of the seminary’s customs”, and stayed home for three months. He then went to Makki Seminary in Zahedan, from which he was also expelled for similar reasons. His consecutive expulsions adversely affected Mr. Rigi and his family’s morale.

Based on published information, Mr. Rigi unofficially exited the country in 1997-98 and joined the Mohammad Rassul Allah Army [2] headed by Mollabakhsh Derakhshan, and three months later joined the Al-Forghan Group [3] headed by Molavi Abdoljalil Qanbarzehi for three weeks. Crossing the border without undergoing the legal formalities was customary in the region and was not considered to be a significant illegal occurrence. Following successive blows by the Islamic Republic of Iran’s armed forces and police force, the Mohammad Rassul Allah Army engaged in political and armed combat with the latter through transporting unofficial cargoes that were said to contain drugs. The Al-Forghan group had also declared its activity to consist of “religious combat with the Islamic Republic”.

Based on available information, Mr. Rigi and several of his friends went to the Faruqiah (Binuria) Madrasah [or seminary] in Karachi, Pakistan, which held Salafi views, to continue his religious education, and studied there for two years. Based on available information, during that period, he and his friends reached the conclusion that Shi’a Moslems were “Kafer” (“infidels”). Mr. Rigi was able to establish contact with Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces, who frequented the madrasah, given their comings and goings there. He returned to Zahedan at the end of this two-year period, got married, and went to various provinces under the auspices of Jama’at Tabligh for six months.

In the spring of 2001, he and several of his friends went to Bagram, Afghanistan, with an eye to joining Al Qaeda. He underwent a two-month training in guerilla warfare and use of heavy and semi-heavy weaponry, and officially became a member of Al Qaeda. He subsequently went to Quetta, Pakistan, under the auspices of Al Qaeda to continue his religious education, and while doing so, went back and forth for a three-month period between Al Qaeda’s base in Afghanistan and Quetta’s religious madrasahs. After the events of September 11, 2001, he gathered members of his family in Zahedan, as well as other individuals who held the same beliefs as he did, and left for Qonduz, Afghanistan, leading a 37-member group, in order to assist the Taliban in fighting American forces. After a two-month war, he was captured by the Northern Alliance forces following the Taliban’s defeat. His Iranian nationality was discovered and recognized in the winter of 2002, and upon expressing regret and pledging not to support the Taliban and Al Qaeda, he was released in the spring of 2002 and returned to Iran.

Based on available information, Mr. Rigi was stricken with mental and psychological illness during this period and underwent treatment. His illness was amplified upon his brother’s death in the course of an armed drug-related skirmish. In order to rid himself of this psychological illness, he gathered with 15 of his friends in a village of the town of Sarbaz under the pretext of religious studies: this group formed the core of the organization that was later named Jondollah.

Jondollah (Popular Resistance Movement of Iran) is a paramilitary group that was established in July-August 2003 in southeastern Iran. This group considered itself the protector of the Baluch people’s (the ethnic minority in southeastern Iran) rights, and declared as its objectives the defense of the Baluch people’s culture, improvement of Sistan and Baluchestan Province’s social and economic conditions, and protection of the religious rights of the adherents of Sunni Islam from the Shi’a government of Iran. It took up arms against the Iranian government in order to achieve its goals, and was therefore considered a terrorist group. Abdolmajid (Abdolmalek) Rigi was the leader of this group from its inception until his execution.

The Tassuki Incident [4], the Darzin operation [5], the bombings in the city of Zahedan, suicide attacks, the taking hostage of wealthy and influential people in the region, and the ransoming of foreign tourists were some of the activities attributed to the Jondollah group.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Abdolmajid Rigi was arrested on February 23, 2010 in an operation conducted by Iran’s information and security forces. Mr. Rigi was a passenger on a Kyrgyzstan Airlines Boeing 737 airplane going from Dubai to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Having traced Mr. Rigi abroad and identified him and his itinerary, as well as his and his companion’s fake identification papers, Information forces planned his arrest. According to available information, a number of Iran’s security forces were on that same flight, incognito, accompanying Mr. Rigi. In mid-flight, two Iranian fighter jets escorted the airplane carrying Mr. Rigi and his bodyguard, and forced an emergency landing of the plane in Bandar Abbas Airport. Upon getting off the airplane, Mr. Rigi was taken to an unspecified location by security forces.

Mr. Rigi was forced to make a televised confession while in detention, in which he alluded to having contacts with NATO commanders in Afghanistan and adding that “he had been given a list of individuals to assassinate by American or Israeli representatives, when he was in Morocco”. He further stated that he had met with certain people in Casablanca, Morocco, who introduced themselves as NATO representatives but seemed to be working for Israel and the United States. They had asked him to take Jondollah’s operations from Sistan and Baluchestan’s border region to Tehran.

A video of Mr. Rigi addressing the Jondollah Group was broadcast when he was in detention, in which he told his forces to avoid taking retaliatory and vengeful measures.


Mr. Rigi was tried in a Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court branch. Pursuant to the Head of the Judiciary’s order and with the Supreme Court’s agreement, adjudication of the charges against him was entrusted to Tehran Prosecutor’s Office and Tehran courts.

Based on available information, in addition to the judge and the defendant, the prosecutor’s representative, Mr. Rigi’s and the plaintiffs’ attorneys, as well as the families of the victims and individuals injured by the Jondollah Group’s operations, were also present at the trial session. The prosecutor’s representative read the indictment against Mr. Rigi in court and asked for “the maximum sentence” for the defendant.


The court charged Mr. Rigi with “Moharebeh (“waging war against God”) and Efsad fel-Arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”)”. He was charged with “79 counts of criminal action” at the trial session. According to the Tehran General and Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office’s report, some of the actions attributed in court to Mr. Rigi were as follows:

  1. “Establishment and management of the terrorist grouplet named Jondollah Popular Movement, for the purpose of combating the Islamic Republic of Iran and creating instability and insecurity in the region and across the country.
  2. Being the principal in and ordering 15 counts of armed kidnapping.
  3. Wholesale transportation and keeping of arms and ammunition, and trafficking weapons and ammunitions into the country.
  4. Creating six counts of armed road blocks and spreading fear and terror on roads and among the population.
  5. Expressly confessing to being the principal in three counts of intentional murder.
  6. Ordering the intentional murder of dozens of citizens, military and police officials, etc., through bombings and armed operations.
  7. Multiple counts of armed robbery of weapons, ammunition, and automobiles, as contained in the case file.
  8. Illegal acquisition of property through various means such as kidnapping, hostage-taking, stealing state funds, receiving dollars from foreign intelligence services, obtaining funds from drug traffickers.
  9. Propaganda against the Islamic Republic of Iran through numerous interviews with enemy and anti-revolutionary networks.
  10. Contact with foreign intelligence services operatives, including American intelligence officers and intelligence officers of the Zionist regime under the cover NATO, intelligence officers of certain Arab countries, and anti-revolutionary groups abroad such as the Monafeqin (MKO) grouplet.
  11. Unauthorized entry into and exit from the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Based on available information, Mr. Rigi was accused of the following: Since 2003-04, the group had committed “35 counts of hostage-taking from among Iranian and foreign nationals, 25 counts of extortion, and more than 40 counts of armed road blocks combined with bombings” under his direction, in the course of which 154 members of the police force as well as civilians were killed and 320 injured.

Evidence of guilt

Based on available information, Mr. Rigi accepted responsibility for the group’s actions at trial, and declared that he had been the principal in some of the murders and had ordered others. According to the Tehran General and Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office’s report, Mr. Rigi accepted all the charges in the indictment and said that he made the decisions to carry out destructive acts, conduct bombings, commit murders, etc., and took full responsibility for them.


Based on available information, Mr. Rigi stated in his own defense at trial that his actions had been wrong and in conflict with Islamic and human principles, and asked the members of his group not to repeat the mistakes he had made. He also asked for the plaintiffs’ forgiveness. The details of Mr. Rigi’s defense at trial are not available.


Mr. Abdolmajid (Abdolmalek) Rigi was sentenced to “death by hanging in the presence of the injured and the families of the victims of the operations conducted under his command.” Accepting the ruling, Mr. Rigi also asked to be pardoned but the head of the Judiciary opposed his request. The day before the sentence was implemented, security officials arranged for a meeting between the families of the Jondollah Group’s victims and Mr. Rigi, during which he answered their questions, expressed his sorrow and regret, and asked for their forgiveness.

Mr. Rigi was hanged at dawn on Sunday, June 20, 2010, in the Evin Prison yard in the presence of a number of the families of the victims.


*Other news sources: Fars (February 23, March 11, and 16, 2010, April 12, 2010, May 29, 2010, June 14, 2010, and June 17, 2013), Jam-e Jam (May 19, 2009), Borna (June 1, 2010), Jahan-e Emruz (July 20, 2010), Sistan and Baluchestan Province Judiciary website (February 23, 2010), Persian BBC (February 23, 2010), Andaryari website (June 21, 2010), Popular Resistance Movement of Iran website (June 20, 2010), Habilian website (July 22, 2013), Rahmatulalam website (January 9, 2014), Start website (February 2015).

[1] Established in 1305 (1926-27) by Molana Mohammad Elias, Jama’at Tabligh is one of the most influential and extensive contemporary Islamic movements. This movement’s work initially consisted of promoting Islam in a region called Mivat near Delhi, but gradually extended to all of India and the Indian subcontinent, and even to other countries. Today, Jama’at Tabligh is well-known across the world.

[2] The Mohammad Rassul Allah Army, led by Molabakhsh Derakhshan, was one of the groups in which religion was emphasized as an important factor and a fundamental motive for armed struggle. This guerrilla group conducted violent operations against police forces on roads and in border posts in southern Sistan and Baluchestan Province. Molabakhsh Derakhshan believed that armed operations must focus on the regime’s military and security forces (The article “The Facts of Abdolmalek Rigi’s Life, Rise and Fall” by Abdolsattar Doshouki, Andaryari website, June 21, 2010).

[3] The Al-Forghan Group, which had Salafi tendencies, was established by Molavi Abdoljalil Qanbarzehi, also known as Salahuddin, in 1995-96. The Group declared religious struggle against the Islamic Republic as its objective, and conducted a series of terrorist and bombing operations in the city of Zahedan. With the formation of the Taliban and their dominance in certain regions in Afghanistan, this group began supporting them. The Al-Forghan group financed itself by engaging in drug trafficking and hostage taking.

[4] The Tassuki Incident occurred on March 16, 2006 in the Tassuki region (between the cities of Zabol and Zahedan). 21 people from Zahedan were killed and five were injured in the incident. Armed individuals posing as police officers, in cars and with equipment resembling that of the police force, stopped citizens under the pretext of identity and automobile control. They handcuffed and blindfolded the men and shot them in front of the women and the children, and took seven people hostage (ISNA, June 20, 2010).

[5] The Darzin Incident occurred on May 13, 2006. On Saturday at around 9 PM, armed individuals killed 12 citizens at Darzin Junction located on the Bam-Kerman road, kilometer 35. Armed individuals, estimated to have been eight in number and wearing police uniforms, stopped four passing cars, got the passengers out, and shot them in the head. Two eyewitnesses in a passing car were able to flee the scene, in spite of their car being shot, and get themselves to the nearest police post to inform authorities of what had happened. Once they arrived at the scene in the Darzin area, the police found the bodies of the victims in a ditch somewhere close to the Bam-Kerman road. The armed attackers had left a 12-year-old boy alive and tied him to an electrical post as the only eyewitness of the massacre (ISNA, June 20, 2010).

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