At least 12 people were killed and 46 injured in the nearly simultaneous assaults on both the Iranian Parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, father of the 1979 revolution, one of the most sacred places in Iran. The attacks lasted for hours.
According to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, a third attack was foiled. Six of the assailants, two at the mausoleum and four at the Parliament, were killed. Official news media reported that five suspects were detained.
The assailants, including some disguised as women, were armed with Kalashnikovs stormed the parliament building and opened fire.
Meanwhile, nearly 30 km away from the Parliament, the second attack occurred, and along with shooting, included a suicide bombing at Khomeini’s shrine.
A third attack was apparently foiled.
According to Daesh’s Amaq News Agency, “fighters with the Islamic State” carried out the attacks in Iran, a claim that has not been verified. as Daesh has not yet provided credible evidence that it carried out the assaults and Daesh did not mention the third attack.
Questions are being raised as to how the assailants coordinated such sophisticated attacks in highly secure locations in Tehran. The timing and locations of the attacks are significant politically and ideologically. Attacking the Parliament and Khomeini’s shrine symbolically assaults the Islamic Republic’s political identity, revolutionary ideals, core values and principles.
The Shiite political ideology of Wilayat Al-Faqih, as expounded by Khomeini, gives the supreme leader custodianship over the people. The mausoleum is an important tourist destination, and tens of thousands of people have visited the shrine following the 15th anniversary of Khomeini’s death on June 4.
Iran rarely experiences attacks of this nature, because of the presence of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps — including the security forces, secret police, undercover informants and the Basij. In fact, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani recently declared, “Iran is the safest and most stable country of the entire region.”
Some Iranian leaders are downplaying the attacks. The state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani as saying, “some coward terrorists infiltrated a building in the Majlis (Parliament), but they were seriously confronted… This is a minor issue but reveals that the terrorists pursue troublemaking.”
These attacks mark the first major assaults in Tehran since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
Daesh is active in Iraq and Syria, where Iran also plays a critical role. Iran is providing military, financial, intelligence and advisory assistance to Bashar Assad and his forces in the Syrian civil war. Iran also supports various Shiite militia groups in countries including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Iran’s support of Assad, as well as Shiite militia groups across the region, is believed to have widened the gap between Shiite and Sunni, and empowered extremist groups such as Daesh. Several intelligence reports accuse Iran of sheltering leaders from terrorist groups, like Al-Qaeda.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella group for the Iranian Resistance, condemned the shedding of innocent blood under any pretext. “ISIS’s conduct clearly benefits the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Khamenei, who wholeheartedly welcomes it as an opportunity to overcome his regime’s regional and international impasse and isolation. The founder and the number one state sponsor of terror is thus trying the switch the place of murderer and the victim and portray the central banker of terrorism as a victim,” she stated. Mrs. Rajavi also recalled, “The Iranian Resistance has always maintained that the Iranian people and Resistance have the responsibility to overthrow the religious, dictatorship ruling Iran and to dismantle all institutions and symbols of suppression and repression. We, therefore, call for an end to the policy of appeasing the mullahs’ regime and recognizing the just resistance of the Iranian people.”
The NCRI’s President-elect outlined the necessary steps “to uproot terrorism in the region:
• The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) must be designated as a terrorist entity.
• The IRGC and paramilitary proxies of the Khamenei caliphate must be removed from Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.
• The Organization of Islamic Cooperation must expel the mullahs’ regime and recognize the Iranian Resistance for ending religious fascism.”
She continued, “After 38 years of brutal suppression, executions and incarceration, the people of Iran will not be satisfied by anything less than freedom, democracy, and popular sovereignty.”
It is believed that Iranian hard-liners, particularly the senior cadre of the IRGC and Quds Force, will attempt to use the attacks bolster arguments that Iran is fighting extremism and terrorism in the region to justify their military engagements in the region, as well as to gain public support for involvements in Damascus and Baghdad, to increase the military budget, and to heighten domestic security.