Wednesday, June 7, 2017

ISIS takes credit for major terror attack on Iran's Parliament

Iranian first responders at the scene. Tasnim News/Reuters. 

At least 12 people are dead in two simultaneous terror attack claimed by ISIS on Iran's Parliament and the shrine dedicated to former ruler Ayatollah Khomeini. Reuters. ISIS has claimed the attack at the seat of Iranian power in Tehran and has released video of the attackers. The attackers at Parliament burst through the main entrance where one was shot dead by security forces and the other detonated his suicide vest. Two other attackers survived and were killed after a possible hostage situation. At the same time two more attackers attacked the shire for Ayatollah Khomeini. One was shot dead but the other one also detonated a suicide vest. A third team of terrorists was reportedly arrested before they could carry out their attack. The attack by ISIS was the first targeting the Shia majority Iran. 

My Comment:
I am no fan of Iran, but this story is extremely disturbing. ISIS was able to attack the very center or Iranian power by attacking Parliament itself. I have long argued that ISIS would eventually start attacking world leaders and politicians, ever since they attacked a soccer stadium were Francois Hollande was attended during the Paris attacks. It seems as though that is what this attack was. A direct attack on Iran and it's leadership. If they can strike at the very heart of Iran, than it is very possible that they can do the same thing in other countries, perhaps even western ones... 

Doubly important is the fact that they attacked the mausoleum of former ruler Ayatollah Khomeini. Though ISIS considers all graves and mausoleums to be a form of ancestor worship and thus blasphemous, that isn't the only reason they targeted it. Doing so was a major insult to the legacy of arguably the most important Iranian to ever live. It is an attack on the history of Iran itself. 

There are multiple reasons for ISIS to target Iran. The first and most obvious reason is that they are Shiite Muslims, for the most part. There are a few Sunni minority groups in the country, but Iran is generally considered to be the leader of the Shiite branch of Islam. ISIS has been targeting Shiite groups for their entire existence since they consider them to be apostates and blasphemers and for that reason alone they would be very interested in attacking Iran. ISIS treats Shiite Muslims even worse that Christians, who are sometimes allowed to live if they pay the Jizya tax. Shiite Muslims aren't given that option. 

Secondly, Iran has sent thousands of troops to fight ISIS in both Iran and Iraq and have trained thousands of Shiite militias to further fight them. They also deployed their terrorist allies in Hezbollah to fight in Syria against ISIS. After the governments of Iran and Syria themselves and the Kurds, the Shiite fighters are perhaps ISIS's most dangerous enemy on the ground and striking a blow against their leadership would be a very important goal for ISIS. 

Finally, ISIS will further inflame tensions between Sunni and Shiite governments in the Middle East. The situation with Qatar, which had devolved into a diplomatic nightmare with many Arab countries cutting ties with the gulf nation, is due in part to Qatar's close connections with Iran. Having a major Sunni led terror attack could inflame already high tensions between the Gulf States. It could even lead to a war, which would relieve much pressure from ISIS and accomplish their goal of causing chaos. This would be a disaster for pretty much everyone else though. 

I am also surprised at how sophisticated this attack was. Though we haven't seen too many deaths, it is clear that this attack was on another level compared to recent terror attacks in Europe. Instead of lone wolves or small cells this one had at least six attackers, with an unknown number in the third terrorist team. They were heavily armed with Kalashnikov's and suicide vests and were able to both hit multiple locations at once and even broadcast some of their attacks. Part of that might have been to the geographical location of Iran, but it just goes to show that ISIS can still pull off attacks with core members of their group. And if they can do it in a country as hostile to them as Iran, they can do it elsewhere.

This is the fourth consecutive post about an ISIS terror attack (the attack in the Philippines probably really was just a lone crazy guy with no connection to radical Islam). Ramadan this year has been very bloody and violent throughout the world. So far we have seen attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, the UK, Australia, France and even a case in Canada that didn't get much coverage, but still injured someone. It is starting to become exhausting and more than a little disheartening to keep having to write about these daily atrocities. 

It's clear that ISIS is doubling down on the attacks during Ramadan and I am worried that America might be next. Last year during Ramadan we had our worst terror attack since 9/11 and the worst mass shooting in American history with the Pulse nightclub shooting. It is very possible that we will see an attack this year as well, which may even exceed that attack in the level of violence. Let's all hope that our intelligence services are up for it... 

Finally, it feels strange to be writing a sympathetic post about Iran, They are, after all, a state sponsor of terrorism and their government is brutal and repressive. Still, I don't think anyone deserves an attack like this so for the moment they have at least a little sympathy. The enemy of my enemy might not be our friend, but I do think that defeating ISIS is a common goal that we share... 

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