A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, a media report said.
The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran, ABC News reported, quoting American and Pakistani intelligence sources.
The group has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.
According to the report, American officials have maintained that the relationship with Jundullah is so arranged that the US provides no funding to the group as this would require an official presidential order or finding as well as Congressional oversight.
But tribal sources have told the media outlet that money for Jundullah is funnelled to its youth leader, Abd el Malik Regi, through Iranian exiles who have connections with European and Gulf states.
Jundullah has produced its own videos showing Iranian soldiers and border guards it says it has captured and brought back to Pakistan.
Regi claims to have personally executed some of the Iranians, it has been said."He used to fight with the Taliban. He's part drug smuggler, part Taliban, part Sunni activist," said Alexis Debat, a senior fellow on counterterrorism at the Nixon Centre and an ABC News consultant, who recently met with Pakistani officials and tribal members.