♦ Operation details
On Wednesday morning, June 7th 2017, the Iranian capital, Tehran witnessed terrorist attacks which targeted the Iranian Parliament in Baharistan district, and the mausoleum of Khomeini, twelve miles to the south of Tehran. In the first attack, a militant fired indiscriminately into a crowd of people in the parliament using a Kalashnikov machine gun. The following news press release by the Iranian media was conflicting. They first reported the injury of another attacker – by the hands of the Iranian security forces – while he was planting a bomb, the arrest of a female militant and the suicide of two attackers. One by taking a cyanide capsule and the other through a suicide bombing. At the same time, the Iranian media announced the continuation of clashes between the security forces and attackers without reference to numbers. The second group comprised of four elements and broke into the Iranian parliament carrying a machine gun in addition to a Colt pistol and fired at guards which resulted in three injuries. Thereafter, they headed to the fifth and sixth floors of the parliament building and fired indiscriminately at people inside the building without attempting to gain entry to the main hall of the parliament where the Iranian representatives were residing at the same time of the attack.
The Iranian parliament was surrounded by demonstrators who were protesting due to non-payment of assets and interests of their savings in the Caspian and Arman establishments that belong to the revolutionary guards. Moreover, the transitory teachers were also present, which meant that angry crowds surrounded the Iranian parliament over the past week. 12 killed and 42 injured in the two attacks (one killed and four injured at the mausoleum of Khomeini), in addition to the killing of militants in the operation bar and the woman who was arrested at the mausoleum. The Iranian authorities announced a foiled attack and the arrest of the responsible terrorist group. There were conflicting reports until 12 PM concerning the killing of the attackers and continuation of the hostilities at the parliament vicinity. Aamaq, the ISIS news agency announced that ISIS were responsible for the Tehran twin attacks.
♦ “You think we are leaving?”
This is the statement that appeared in the recordings from the inside of the parliament building raising questions concerning whether the attackers were residing in Iran with the knowledge of the authorities, as it appears they were instructed to leave the country. In addition, what is the significance of talking to Persians in Arabic? Was it to prove that the attackers were Arabs as the Iranian linguistic analysts stated that the attackers’ accent were North African (Algerian and Tunisian), while the recordings demonstrated that the speaker had difficulty pronouncing the phoneme “DH” in Arabic and articulating it instead as “Z” in the word “Atazinoun” as opposed to “Atadhinoun”, suggesting that the ethnicity of the attackers could plausibly be Non-Arab.
The attackers’ techniques differ from that of the ISIS
The twin attacks scenario differs from familiar ISIS techniques. One of the attackers committed suicide by taking a cyanide capsule when he was ensnared at the mausoleum of Khomeini, and in addition, a woman was arrested for involvement. Such incidences are not typical of past ISIS related operations but akin to acts associated Mujahedeen Khalq. As for the attack on the parliament, the attackers broke into the building through its gates and carried out their operation despite the high-security procedures at the parliament building. The second theory concerns the view that past ISIS attacks aimed for the maximum number of casualties so why then did the attackers avoid the main hall of the parliament on the first floor where all Iranian representatives were meeting, and instead headed to the empty offices on the fifth and sixth floors? Indeed, what was the point of breaking into the parliament if the purpose was not to take control of the main hall and target the representatives? Instead, the attackers took two women hostages, who were the representatives’ wives, inside the parliament building.
All these questions cast doubt on the Iranian official story of the twin attacks. However, this does not exclude the attackers’ ISIS links which can be read in the following possible scenarios contrary to the official Iranian version. Who are the attackers and what were their motives?
» 1st scenario: The attacks were carried out by ISIS elements
This scenario raises a crucial question about the time of the operation bearing in mind that Iran has never experienced any ISIS attacks unlike the rest of the countries in the Middle East. Are there current disagreements between the Iranian regime and the ISIS that provoked the ISIS to instigate an attack on Iran despite a long period of cooperation between the two sides?
The Iranian activities in Afghanistan over the last month refer to Russian-Iranian cooperation in this country. The Afghani government seized Russian weapons with the Taliban elements, which reflects the Iranian support for this organization but raises another question concerning whether the attacks were launched on the orders of the former Afghani warlords after the reappearance of Hikmatyar and Abdulrashid Dustum on the Afghani scene or is there Russian pressure on Iran to sever its connections with the ISIS?
» 2nd scenario: The attackers belong to the Iranian internal and external opposition
This scenario links the time of the attacks, the escalation of protests in front of the Iranian parliament, the symbolism of the assault on the legislative body (that is considered by the opposition to be one of the tools used by the regime to deceive the Iranian people), the attack on the mausoleum of Khomeini that serves as a significant symbol of the Iranian regime, the technique used in the attack on the mausoleum of Khomeini through the participation of a woman and the suicide of one of the attackers by consuming a cyanide capsule, a method familiar to the Iranian opposition abroad, and lastly, the attackers evasion of the Iranian representatives due to their publicity in the country. The motive behind the opposition’s attack at this specific time could be related to the passing of Khamenei and the crisis of succeeding the Iranian jurist leader. A power struggle is expected between clerics and the revolutionary guards’ institution. The army’s support of the clerics against the revolutionary guards in the event of the Leader’s passing could lead to chaos and a political vacuum in the country. This theory is supported by Mujahedeen Khalq’s announcement of their presence in the streets of Iran during the presidential elections, painting anti-regime slogans on the walls, and hanging banners for Mariam Rajavi in the Iranian streets despite Iranian security, thus suggesting the return of Mujahedeen Khalq to the Iranian scene.
» 3rd Scenario: Fake Attacks
This scenario concerns the long Iranian history of dealing with its internal crises. It suggests the possibility that one faction inside the regime carried out the attacks to topple another which is reminiscent of the bombing of the Islamic Republic Party’s headquarters in 1981 at the beginning of the emergence of the Iranian regime, which resulted in the killing of tens of men of the revolution. This attack followed by a series of actions, cemented the jurist leadership regime and the clerics’ domination of Iran’s political life.
This scenario also suggests that the regime fabricated these attacks to preclude the idea of any relation between Iran and the ISIS in light of the global stand against terrorism and country’s financial support of terrorist groups discussed in the media. Hence, Iran needs to prove to the world that it is a target of terrorism although it has never been targeted in the last ten years despite being surrounded by countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan that witness at least one attack per week on average. Furthermore, Iran claims that its forces have been fighting the ISIS in Syria for years although the ISIS refrains from carrying out attacks on Iran. Based on that assumption, it is difficult to exclude the scenario of a fabricated attack as a means to either rearrange the Iranian interior as a result of the supreme leader’s will to grant Rouhani a second term of presidency or to substantiate the view of Iran as a target of terrorism similar to other Middle Eastern countries, and as a result, giving the regime the right to tighten up security in the event of terrorist activities outside or protests inside the country.
There is no doubt the international community will show full solidarity with Iran in relation to the Tehran twin attacks. The Iranian regime will use the attacks as much as it can and reject any connection with terrorist groups to limit the widespread international condemnation of Iran for supporting such groups. Also, the Iranian regime has time to oppress the internal protests and any charges of external activities. Nevertheless, Tehran’s questionable view on the twin attacks regarding the attackers’ identities and motives will never mask Iran’s long history of sponsoring terrorist groups.
♦ Operation details