The Iranian government says five of the militants who carried out a double terrorist attack in Tehran Wednesday were Iranian members of the Islamic State and noted that they had joined the Sunni group and joined the jihad in Syria and Iraq.
The terrorists raided Iran’s parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s iconic shrine, leaving 17 dead and dozens injured.
“They earlier left Iran and were involved in the crimes of the terrorist group in Raqqa and Mosul,” Iran’s ministry said, “referring to Islamic State’s effective capital in Syria and a city it captured in Iraq,” according to Reuters. The ministry reportedly added on Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA, “Last year, they returned to Iran… to carry out terrorist attacks in the holy cities of Iran.”
Entekhab News listed the alleged surnames and graphic images of the dead bodies of some of the terrorists.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) accused Saudi Arabia (which has a Sunni majority) of being involved in the terrorist attack, which Saudi Arabia denied. The IRGC linked the United States’ meeting with leaders of Saudi Arabia — which has “constantly been supporting” terrorists — to the deadly Wednesday morning attacks.
President Donald Trump is considering designating the IRGC a terrorist entity.
Although Iran is a Shiite majority country, it is most likely the Iranian Islamic State militants were Sunni.
In late March, the Islamic State released a 36-minute-long video in Farsi titled, “The Farsi Land: From Yesterday Until Today,” in an attempt to recruit Sunni Iranians. In the video, the Sunni militant group threatened the country with attacks, accused Tehran of persecuting Sunni Muslims who live there, and chastised Iran for its supposed tolerance towards Jews.
The video was published in the group’s online propaganda publication Rumiyah (which means Rome in Arabic).
According to the AFP, in one part of the video, the narrator said, “Iran raised its slogans against the US and Israel to deceive the Sunnis, while Iranian Jews live safely in Iran under its protection, and it has provided them with temples and churches as seen in Tehran and Isfahan.”
Vocative noted that several captured soldiers, who wore a “Ya Hossein” badge to indicate they were Shiite, were decapitated in the video. Also in the video, the Islamic State reportedly alleged that Iran has executed over 18,000 Sunnis living there since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which put the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in power.
Another Islamic State militant featured in the video said, “We will conquer Iran and restore it to the Sunni Muslim nation as it was before.”
However, Gandhara, a news agency based out of Afghanistan and Pakistan, noted that “analysts have suggested that the group’s ideology holds little appeal for Sunni Iranians, who are estimated to compose 5-10 percent of a total population of 81 million and are routinely discriminated against or harassed.”
Ali Vaez, a senior Iran analyst with the International Crisis Group, told Gandhara, “Salafism and Persian culture are like oil and water, they don’t mix.” He added, “groups like IS exploit disorder. There might be discontent within Iran’s Sunni community, but that’s not quite the same as disorder.”
The Islamic State has released four more videos in Farsi since its first one came out in March.
President Donald Trump issued his condolences to the Iranian people for the atrocity that befell them on Wednesday, saying, “We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times.” However, Trump also blasted the Iranian regime, saying they shared in the blame for supporting and funding terrorism worldwide. “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif rejected Trump’s message, calling it repugnant on his Twitter account. “Repugnant White House statement,” he wrote. “Iranian people reject such U.S. claims of friendship.”
Repugnant WH statement & Senate sanctions as Iranians counter terror backed by US clients.Iranian people reject such US claims of friendship
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) June 8, 2017