Iran says attackers had been to ISIS strongholds

Five terrorists who killed 17 people had been to Mosul and Raqqa, say intelligence officials

A man taking cover during the attack on the Iranian Parliament complex on Wednesday. The attacks there and at the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini were the first in Iran claimed by ISIS.
A man taking cover during the attack on the Iranian Parliament complex on Wednesday. The attacks there and at the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini were the first in Iran claimed by ISIS.PHOTO: REUTERS

TEHERAN • Iran said yesterday that the five Iranians who killed 17 people in twin attacks in Teheran were members of the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who had been to the group's strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

The attacks at Teheran's Parliament complex and the shrine of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini on Wednesday wounded more than 50 people and were the first claimed in Iran by ISIS.

"The five known terrorists... after joining the (ISIS) terrorist group, left the country and participated in crimes carried out by this terrorist group in Mosul and Raqqa," said the intelligence ministry in a statement.

It suggested that there were only five attackers rather than the six originally reported. The ministry released their photographs and first names, and said they were part of a network that entered Iran between July and August last year under the leadership of "high-ranking (ISIS) commander" Abu Aisha intending to carry out "terrorist operations in religious cities".

Abu Aisha was killed and the network forced to flee Iran, the statement said. It was not clear when the five men returned to Iran ahead of Wednesday's attacks.

The attackers were armed with rifles and pistols and at least two blew themselves up with suicide vests, Iranian media reported.

Police said five more people were arrested around the Ayatollah's shrine on suspicion of involvement.

  • S'pore's statement

  • President Tony Tan Keng Yam sent a condolence message to his Iranian counterpart, Mr Hassan Rouhani, after Wednesday's terrorist attacks in Teheran, which the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned as "reprehensible".

    President Tan said he was shocked and saddened by the strikes on the Parliament complex and the mausoleum of former Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

    Said Dr Tan: "On behalf of the people of Singapore, I convey my deepest condolences to the bereaved families and victims. Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Iran during this difficult time."

    The Foreign Ministry, which extended its deepest condolences to bereaved families and wished a speedy recovery for those injured, said there had been no reports of Singaporeans affected or injured in Wednesday's incidents.

In the midst of the unfolding attacks, the intelligence ministry said a third team had been stopped before the attacks started, but no further details have since been given.

"The network of this terrorist group has been identified and some of its members have been arrested," said Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi. "We still cannot judge that Saudi Arabia has had a role in this terrorist incident."

Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards have pointed the finger at regional rival Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, which Iran accuses of funding extremism and groups, including ISIS.

ISIS, a Sunni group, considers Shi'ite Iran to be apostates, and Teheran is deeply involved in fighting the group in both Syria and Iraq.

The Revolutionary Guard promised retribution and noted that the violence came soon after United States President Donald Trump met with "leaders of a reactionary government in the region which supports terrorists" - an apparent reference to the Saudis.

The contest between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the region's main Sunni power, has helped fuel wars in Syria and Yemen. It spread to the heart of the Gulf this week as the Saudis led a drive to isolate Qatar, blaming their neighbour for ties with Iran and militant groups, and closing its land border.

Iran denounced Mr Trump's reaction to the attacks as "repugnant" after he said the nation was reaping what it sowed.

Mr Trump said the US would "grieve and pray" for the victims, but added: "We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 09, 2017, with the headline 'Iran says attackers had been to ISIS strongholds'. Print Edition | Subscribe