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Glendora, CA and an assassination plot from Iran

According to local police, as well as classified U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks, the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora (map), a city with an exceptionally low crime rate located at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, was the setting of an international assassination plot to kill an Iranian-American dissident, Jamshid Sharmahd, a Glendora resident. Sharmahd is the radio voice of a small group named Tondar, which is devoted to the overthrow of the Iranian government.

The CNN exclusive (more was broadcast on “Parker Spitzer” tonight) states that the would-be killers first planned to use a gun, but later decided that buying a gun was too risky and that they would run down Sharmahd with a used van, instead. Long-time Glendora police veteran, Lieutenant Tim Staab said that he had never, in over 20 years, investigated anything like this case.

A hitman hired by an Iranian national named Reza Sadeghnia “got cold feet” in the summer of 2009 and informed police about the assassination plot to kill Sharmahd on a phone call from a local gas station. The informant provided the police proof of the purchase of the van to be used as a murder weapon and said that he had received $5,000 and that another $27,000 had been delivered to his mother in Iran. The informant told police that Sadeghnia, the mastermind, had left Glendora and was about to leave Los Angeles on a plane. Police found Sadeghnia in an airport hotel registered under his own name and arrested him, seizing his laptop computer and $2,100 in a stack of crisp $100 bills with a bank wrapping labeled in Farsi.

Diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks implicated Sadeghnia in stalking an Iranian dissident in London, Ali Reza Nourizadeh, who had been targeted by Iranian Intelligence. Nourizadeh is a prominent Voice of America commentator based in London. Sadeghnia contacted him several months before his arrest in California.

Sadeghnia’s arrest by Glendora police brought an end to both plans.

Sharmahd has “no doubt” that the plot to kill him involved the Iranian government. He also believes that the plot aimed to replace Tondar’s Web site and radio broadcast with fakes in order to hijack the movement.

Sadeghnia pleaded guilty to a charge of solicitation of murder and was imprisoned for eight months, released from prison on five years probation in 2010, and granted permission on his second request, after his first was denied, “to visit his dying father” in Iran. He was to return to the U.S. no later than October 27. He has not been seen since, and probation officials would not comment.

Meanwhile, back in Iran, a 71-year-old Iranian-American businessman, Reza Taghavi, was held for more than two years after Iranian authorities accused him of giving $200 to the dissident group Tondar, the same group based in Glendora.

Within weeks of Sadeghnia’s arrival in Iran, Taghavi was released from Evin Prison.

The State Department told CNN that there was no link between Sadeghnia’s return to Iran and Taghavi’s release. Taghavi’s lawyer, Pierre Prosper, a former Bush administration ambassador, said that he doesn’t think there is a connection, either, but said in a telephone interview, “But it’s an interesting coincidence, isn’t it?”


Read the CNN article for details.

-Bill at

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