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Thursday, June 8

Daesh stages a publicity stunt in Tehran (UPDATED)

UPDATE

RT has "extremely graphic" footage posted today by Iranian media outlets that is taken from CCTV; it shows the terrorists storming into the visitors' hall "in the parliament."  The footage seems to show the first moment of the attack.  The report accompanying the video footage (and stills from the footage) mentions:
Five attackers were Iranian citizens who had joined IS before returning to Iran in summer 2016, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry reported on Thursday, according to IRNA news agency. “The five known terrorists... after joining the IS terrorist group, left the country and participated in crimes carried out by this terrorist group in Mosul and Raqqa,” the ministry said, adding that in 2016 they returned “to carry out terrorist attacks in the holy cities of Iran.”
Also, FARS reports today Iranian Security Forces Arrest 5 Suspects, 1 Female Terrorist after Tehran Incidents. The report also quotes an announcement that one of the terrorists who attacked the shrine area yesterday was captured. 

And there is this eyebrow-raiser from FARS: Saudi Foreign Minister Threatens Iran Hours before Wednesday Terrorist Attacks in Tehran. No wonder the IRGC got the idea that the Saudis were behind the attack. 

END UPDATE 


On June 6 headlines all over the world (and here at Pundita blog) shrieked that terrorists had struck Iran's Parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini. But the attackers, who were quickly announced as Islamic State (Daesh), didn't enter the Parliament building. They entered the Parliament complex, which as you might gather from this graphic from a New York Times report, is large: 

Iranian Parliament Complex in Tehran 


The complex takes up several city blocks; this is even clearer at the NYT page, which adds names to the graphic for the avenues bounding the complex.

But as with virtually all other major publications, the Times report accompanying the graphic stuck with the narrative that gunmen had opened fire and detonated a suicide vest in Iran's Parliament. The Wall Street Journal report, updated June 7, did correctly describe the site of the attack as the "parliament complex." Yet the Western press remained unclear that an office building, not the Parliament, had been struck, until The Los Angeles Times report (emphasis mine):
... The siege at parliament lasted about three hours, and it appeared that not all lawmakers were aware of the extent of the violence at first.
Heshmatollah Falahatpishe, a member of parliament, said lawmakers realized something was amiss at about 10:15 a.m.
“We were holding a regular open session on the floor. Suddenly, a couple of our fellow MPs arrived inside and one of them had bloodstains on his clothes and said, ‘Daesh has attacked,’” Falahatpishe said, referring to a common Arabic acronym for Islamic State.
“We continued reviewing and discussions until 1 p.m., when we heard the shooting.”
He said his bloodstained colleague told them the attackers had entered the parliament building through the western gate, through which constituents normally enter to meet with members of parliament.
He said at least one of the attackers appeared to be dressed in the traditional black robe worn by many Iranian women.
“One of the terrorists wrapped up in a black chador and carrying a gun entered, shot the gate guard and opened the gate for his fellow terrorists. They started shooting,” he said.
He said lawmakers were able to leave through the southern gate when an elite law enforcement force stormed the building after about 1 p.m.
Mohammad Ali Saki, editor of the English-language Tehran Times, said four assailants attacked an administrative building next to parliament, targeting guards, cleaners, and other employees, but never got near the parliament chamber.
“The main door where parliamentarians enter has not been targeted,” Saki said. ...
Obviously if the members of Parliament didn't hear gunshots or commotion before one of their "bloodstained colleagues" warned them, they were some distance from the action. 

And the video that Daesh filmed during their attack (and posted to YouTube) makes it indisputable that the attack took place in a business office, not the Parliament. 

Yet even the LAT reporter was still a little confused when he wrote that the colleague "told them the attackers had entered the parliament building through the western gate ..."  No, they entered the grounds, not the building.

Yet while the Tehran Times headlined the attack as being on the parliament, the report specifically stated that the attack was on "the office building of the parliament."

Why am I engaging in what some would consider hair-splitting? Because sources quoted by a Washington Post report published today, Islamic State claims new reach into Iran with twin attacks in Tehran, are making a big deal about the import of the attacks; e.g.:
An attack inside Iran was “absolutely the realization of a long-term ideological goal” for the Islamic State, said Charlie Winter, a senior research fellow at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College in London.
“Ideologically, the implications are huge,” he said. “Attacking Iran is kind of like attacking the U.S. or Israel.”
Oh please. The attacks were a publicity stunt to impress Islamic State's fast-shrinking fan base and the kind of 'experts' quoted by the Post. It was also a foolish stunt because now the IRGC is really ticked off.

Now as to whether it's certain that Islamic State carried out the attacks -- from Germany's Deutsche Welle (DW):
... while the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, some observers suspect the involvement of different actors, including an Islamist leftist militant group known as thePeople's Mojahedin Iran (MEK), which has called for the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.
In a written response to DW, a spokesperson for the MEK strongly denied that the group was involved.

"The People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI or MEK) denies this claim and any connection with these incidents and condemns efforts to attribute them to the PMOI," Shahin Gobadi said.
And from Sputnik today:
According to the Iranian Security Ministry, five of Tehran attack suspects participated in terrorist attacks in Daesh strongholds in Syria's Raqqa and Iraqi Mosul. ...

"Five of the arrested terrorists earlier left Iran and conducted terrorist activity in Raqqa and Mosul. Last year they returned to the country under the leadership of the commander, Abu Aish, to carry out terrorist attacks in the holy places of Iran," a statement by the Iranian Security Ministry obtained by Sputnik said. The [Iranian] security services eliminated Abu Aish, [the rest] left Iran in fear. Then part of them returned and committed yesterday's attacks."

Moreover, a woman from southern regions of Iran who had supposedly helped terrorists was detained. "She helped others, sent them to their missions after the start of the attacks, a member of the Iranian committee of national security of the parliament told Mehr news agency.
So at this time it looks as if Islamic State can be considered the perp.

As to whether there are any indications the Saudi government was behind the attack, as a statement by the IRGC insinuates (see the WaPo report) --  there is no known evidence of such a connection. From an RT report yesterday, the IRGC considered the timing of the attack to be suspicious given that it came shortly after President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia. 

The report I linked to from the New York Times mentions that "the Parliament" was undergoing renovation for security upgrades. I will assume the upgrades extended to the entire complex. So if there was ever a time to try and mount a successful breach of the Parliament complex and one of its buildings, this was it -- before the upgrades were completed.

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