Details. Twin attacks on Iran’s parliament and Ayatollah Khomenei’s mausoleum in Tehran have left at least 12 people dead and 43 injured. Parliament was in session when gunmen, wielding Kalashnikovs, stormed the building. A suicide bomber also detonated.
World Reaction. Condemnation from across the Western world, including the US State Department.
Terror Claim. ISIS is claiming a first successful attack in Iran. Claims have been made in different online posts and formats over several hours, indicating the importance of an attack on Shite Iran holds in the eyes of the Sunni jihadi terror group.
Live Stream. In addition to ISIS issuing an initial claim DURING the attack, which slightly differs from recent attacks in the West which are claimed a number of hours later, ISIS also live-streamed the attack, posting footage from inside the parliamentary building. Although uncommon for ISIS to claim this way, similar ‘live blogging’ took place during the ISIS attack in Dhaka last year.
Their message. Terrorists are heard shouting, “Thank you Allah. Do you think we will leave? No! We will remain, God willing.” They also issued a message via their Amaq ‘newswire’ that the attack was still in progress as tightly government-controlled Iran media suggested the attack had concluded.
Later Developments. An additional extended post from the terror group later claimed the attack was carried out by five commandos who carried automatic weapons, explosive vests and grenades.
Context: Iran vs. ISIS: Militarily, Iran is fighting ISIS on two fronts in Iraq and in Syria, backing up the government of Assad. On the surface, there appears to be little support for ISIS in Iran and among its foreign fighters. However, ISIS did release a Farsi language propaganda video in March 2017 calling for attacks in Iran.
How Did They Get In? What Does This Mean For The Region? One question burgeoning Iran experts right now is how any alleged terrorists were able to scale and launch an attack inside Iran’s parliament. With everything in Iran under intense scrutiny from its government from workplaces to homes, to mobile phones, it seems doubtful that anyone would be able to infiltrate the parliament. How did they? And what help might they have had? An unnamed official told Reuters the attack will present a blow to newly-re-elected President Hassan Rouhani. Conservative hardliners could use the opportunity to call for more Iran involvement in Syria, a veiled effort, of course, for Iran to keep spreading its hegemony through the Middle East.
Blame Game. Not ones to waste an opportunity, Iran is blaming Saudi Arabia, accusing them of being behind today’s attack. Despite initially being downplayed by Parliament speaker Ali Larijani as a “minor issue” that was under control, a statement by Iran’s IRGC says This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the US president and the [Saudi] backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that [ISIS] has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack.” The attacks also come hot on the heels of region-wide disengagement of Qatar over its support for terror, with Qatar being a Persian Gulf country that maintains relations with Iran.