On March 23, Jaish al-Adl executed the first of five Iranian guards taken hostage. Iran’s Foreign Minister confirmed on Sunday that one of the kidnapped guards had been executed after being transferred to Pakistan. The hostages who were serving in the Jakigour region had been kidnapped on Februarys 6th 2014 and later transferred to Pakistan. Iran and Pakistan share a 700 km border between the Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran and the Baluchistan region of Pakistan.
On Sunday, Jaish al-Adl took to their Twitter page to release the name of the executed Iranian hostage, Jamshid Danaeifar. Jaish al-Adl operates in the Sistan-Baluchistan province of Iran, and frequently utilizes the Iranian-Pakistani border to carry out attacks. Cross border operations have been practiced during the time of Abdolmalek Rigi’s Sunni Balochi group, Jundallah. After Iran executed Rigi in 2010, Jundallah dissolved and merged with Jaish al-Adl.
On the days leading up to the execution, Jaish al-Adl released a lengthy statement on its website appealing to Balochis serving in the Iranian armed forces. The statement released on March 19, 2014 is intended to reach out to those Balochis in the Iranian armed forces, who according to Jaish al-Adl are drawn to serve as a result of poverty and/or lack of opportunity. There is a slight implication in the statement that these Balochis or “indigenous people” serving are some sort of informers who have infiltrated the Iranian security forces. The statement declares that these informants may strike against the Iranian security forces at any given point.
The statement accredits whatever liberties and political gains the Balochis had made in recent times as the result of the successful mujahedeen waged by Jaish al-Adl. Furthermore, the statement contends that as soon as the regime has realized Balochi youth had been awakened and taken arms, the Iranian government offered the region more autonomy.
In an important point, the statement warns Balochis that it is the politics of the government to arm some Balochis, and give them certain ranks only to use them against their own people, aka other Balochis. The statement ends by encouraging those who are serving in the Iranian security forces to surrender to Jaish al-Adl and not fight them. The timing of the statement is telling. It comes just days before the execution of Danaeifar. In the statement following the announcement of his death, Jaish al-Adl demands that if 50 of their prisoners are not released by Iran then Jaish al-Adl will execute another hostage within 10 days.
The clock is ticking for the four remaining “pasdar(s)” or guards. In the meantime it seems unlikely that the Iranian government will be able to fulfill or want to meet the demands of Jaish al-Adl. A regime that does not succumb to threats and ultimatums by the West is unlikely to make a deal with a terrorist group.
In the grand scheme of things, losing five replaceable pasdars is meaningless to the Iranian regime. However, in some sense of the word, beaten by Jaish al-Adl is something that the Iranian government cannot afford. The regime has been noticeably unable to secure its border with Pakistan, and restore a sense of security to the Sistan-Baluchistan province.
Ultimately, Iran will likely point the finger at Pakistan for its inability to locate the hideout of the group as well as not having tighter border security. In February 2013, Iran and Pakistan signed a security agreement. The agreement requires both countries to cooperate in combating organized crime, fighting terrorism and countering the activities that pose a threat to the national security of either country. Iran has expressed frustrations with Pakistan as it has yet to comply with the terms of the security agreement.
Finally, it is improbable the remaining four pasdars will have a more optimistic fate than Danaeifar, but not impossible if Iran and Pakistan are able to locate their location and rescue them before the 10 day deadline is reached.