TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian intelligence officials have broken up “the biggest terrorist plot” to ever target Tehran and other provinces in the Islamic Republic, the country’s state television reported Monday.
An anchor on state television read off a statement attributing the information to Iran’s Intelligence Ministry. Officials could not be immediately reached for comment to elaborate.
Several suspects have been arrested and are under interrogation over the plot after agents seized ammunition and bombs, the state TV said.
The report didn’t identify those arrested, though it called them “takfiris,” a derogatory term in both Arabic and Farsi referring to Muslims who accuse others of being “nonbelievers.”
Iranian authorities often refer to followers of the Sunni militant Islamic State group as “takfiris,” though it isn’t clear if this case involved the extremist group that holds territory in Iraq and Syria.
Shiite power Iran has been helping both the Syrian and the Iraqi government in their battles against the Islamic State group. It has warned of possible militant attacks targeting the country, which largely hasn’t seen such attacks since the immediate aftermath of its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
In May, Iran’s Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi announced that 20 “terrorist groups” that planned to detonate bombs and cause insecurity across the country had been dismantled. It’s unclear whether that included the plot announced Monday by state television.
Iran faces threats from several militant groups. Last week, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard battled armed members of an insurgent Kurdish group in the country’s West Azerbaijan province near its border with Iraq and Turkey.
Both sides gave conflicting death tolls from the fighting, as the Guard said its forces killed 12 insurgents while three of its own died. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan said Kurds killed over 12 Guard members, including a colonel.
Iran has warned of possible militant assaults targeting the country, which hasn’t seen large-scale attacks since the immediate aftermath of its 1979 Islamic Revolution. It suffered its worst attack in June 28, 1981, when a blast at the ruling Islamic Republican Party’s central headquarters in Tehran killed at least 72 people, including the party’s leader, four government ministers, eight deputy ministers and 23 parliament members.
Following that attack, Iran’s security agencies and its paramilitary Guard tightened their grip on security in the country. While authorities have announced breaking up other plots in the past, they have not described those plots with the same terms used on Monday.