Earlier today ISIL conducted two attacks in Iran with a third being thwarted. The first was at the Iranian majlis or parliament. The second was a suicide bombing at the shrine to Ayatullah Uzma Khomeini. The BBC has the details:
Twin attacks on the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in the capital, Tehran, have killed at least 12 people and injured many more.
The assault on the parliament appears to be over, after hours of intermittent gunfire there. A suicide bomber detonated a device at the mausoleum.
Iranian officials say they managed to foil a third attack.
The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed it carried out the attacks, which would be a first in Iran.
Unlike the attacks we’ve seen throughout Europe, ISIL quickly claimed responsibility.
This is significant as it indicates a directly coordinated attack, rather than actions taken by self radicalized actors on behalf of/in the name of the Islamic State. The New York Times‘ Rukmini Callimachi, who has done a magnificent job in her reporting on ISIL, breaks this down on her twitter feed:
This is a very significant point that Callimachi is making:
Brisard’s and Callimachi’s reasoning is further supported by this piece of analysis from yesterday at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:
The Islamic State (IS) extremist group has recently expanded its campaign to recruit Iranians and disseminate its message to Persian speakers.
In late March, IS published a rare video in Persian in which it called on Iran’s Sunni minority to rise up against the Shi’a-dominated Iranian establishment. The video was dismissed by Iran’s state broadcaster as “nonsense” and an attempt by the group to cover up mounting losses in Iraq.
Since then, IS has published four issues of its online propaganda publication Rumiyah in Persian. Rumiyah, whose title means Rome in Arabic in an allusion to prophecies that Muslims would conquer the West, is already published in several languages, including English, Russian, French, and Indonesian.
Iran has deployed senior military advisers and thousands of “volunteers” in the past six years to help regional ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad battle an armed insurrection that includes IS and other Islamist fighters as well as groups supported by Turkey and the United States.
IS advocates a radical Salafi version of Sunni Islam and regards Shi’a as heretics, and controls parts of Iraq and Syria under what it describes as a “caliphate.”
This attack is significant for several reasons. The first is that even as ISIL is being squeezed on the ground, with the long delayed start of the operation to clear ISIL from Raqqa finally seeming to be under way and operations to finish driving ISIL from Mosul coming to a completion and other parts of northern Iraq well under way, we are seeing an increase of ISIL related attacks well outside of the self proclaimed caliphate. This makes a certain logical sense. It allows ISIL, or those that objectively (have formally joined/under direct ISIL control) or subjectively (consider themselves to be in solidarity with, but haven’t formally joined/not under direct ISIL control) ISIL, to demonstrate that they are still relevant and have significant operational capability even as they lose more and more ground in Iraq and Syria. To a great extent this was always going to be part of the potential negative effects of the US’s strategy of degrading and reducing ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The more successful Operation Inherent Resolve is, the more ISIL inspired and/or directed terrorist activity would be seen well away from the actual declared caliphate in the Levant.