The recent twin terror attacks in the Iranian capital Tehran were deadly. But senior Iranian security and military officials say the situation was handled in a proper way so the casualties were minimized and the terrorists were prevented from accomplishing their evil mission.
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Widely hailed as an anchor of stability in a region plagued by violence and insecurity; Iran is believed to be the safest country in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic is one of the main pillars of the fight against terrorism in the region. Tehran has played a major role in combating terror groups in neighboring Iraq and Syria by supporting their governments and sending military advisors to those countries. Monster terror groups which have engaged in horrific acts of terror in regional countries and far beyond the Middle East have suffered devastating blows from Iran. For instance Daesh, perhaps the most blood-thirsty terrorist group the world has ever seen, views Iran as its sworn enemy and has repeatedly threatened to carry out attacks on Iranian soil. The group claimed responsibility for the recent twin terrorist attacks in the capital Tehran which left seventeen people dead and dozens of others injured. But as it seems the attacks have strengthened Iran’s resolve in uprooting the group.
It’s the morning of Wednesday June Seventh. Terrorist teams are about to launch deadly attacks in the Iranian capital Tehran. Their targets: Iran’s parliament building and the mausoleum of the late founder of the Islamic Republic Imam Khomeini. The coordinated attacks which were the first to hit Iran in many years were claimed by Daesh. Heavily armed assailants burst into a waiting room in the parliament building and indiscriminately shot people who were waiting to meet with their representatives. Chaotic scenes erupted in the parliament premises and nearby streets as the gunmen who were wearing explosive belts went up to the fourth floor of the administrative building and began shooting from the window. Security and intelligence forces soon surrounded the building but it took a few hours before the gunmen detonated their explosive belts or were killed by Iranian forces. A top commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps says security forces acted vigilantly to prevent a high number of casualties.
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Ali Asghar Gorjizadeh, Commander of IRGC's Ansar-ol-Mahdi Corps: “The number of martyrs and those wounded was very limited. The building that came under attack is usually packed with people coming from around the country to meet with their representatives. Some days, even hundreds of visitors are registered. The situation was handled in a proper way so we suffered the least number of casualties. Some of those who were wounded or martyred were bystanders in the street who were targeted by one of the terrorists in the building. Had the IRGC's Ansar-ol-Mahdi forces and their colleagues not shown shrewdness in dealing with the situation, we could have suffered dozens of more casualties.”
Narration: The senior commander explained that the anti-terrorism operation lasted hours because security forces did not want to quickly end the standoff at the expense of civilian lives.
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Ali Asghar Gorjizadeh, Commander of IRGC's Ansar-ol-Mahdi Corps: “In my opinion they were very anxious. Based on the available footage, they could have caused much more extensive damage if they were really acting calmly. They acted extremely hurriedly to find cover. We believe they intended to take hostages and commit a massacre, but they got stuck in one floor. Although they managed to martyr or wound a number of people, they got trapped”
Narration: Gorjizadeh noted that the security personnel first evacuated 150 people from the building, some of them with great difficulty out of the windows. Gorjizadeh says the assailants failed to fulfill the goal of their mission which was entering the parliament chamber.
In a simultaneous mission, two other terrorists entered the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini in the south of Tehran. They shot and injured one of the mausoleum’s security guards and then killed a janitor. Minutes later in a confrontation with security forces, one o on of the assailants was killed. The other who was cornered by security forces detonated his explosive belt but the blast left no casualties. A third team also tried to conduct another attack on the same day in Tehran but was tracked down and busted before starting its mission. The leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Wednesday’s attacks would not affect the willpower of the nation or weaken the country's fight against terrorism.
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SOUNDBITE [Persian] Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution: “The Iranian people are moving forward, and today’s fumbling with firecrackers will not affect the will-power of the people. Everyone must realize this, the terrorists are too small to affect the will of the Iranian people and the authorities'. This also reveals that if the Islamic Republic had not resisted, at the center of all this conspiracy, we would have had much more trouble of this sort in the country. God willing, they will "bite the dust.”
Narration: The Iranian Intelligence Ministry soon identified all the terrorists who were recruited by the Daesh terrorist group. According to the ministry the Daesh recruits had taken part in terror operations in Iraq and Syria before returning to Iran. The intensified security operations in the following days led to the arrest of dozens of suspects in connection with the twin attacks. The country also identified and crushed a number of terrorist cells countrywide. Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi later announced that the mastermind behind the twin attacks was tracked down and killed.
SOUNDBITE [Persian] Mahmoud Alavi, Iran’s Intelligence Minister: “The commander of this terrorist group was based in the border regions, but after the attacks left the country. However, with cooperation of (intelligence) services that are close to Iran, he paid the price of his crimes and was killed.”
Narration: Iran’s intelligence minister also pointed out that so many terrorist attack attempts in Iran have been nipped in the bud. Alavi noted that the number of terror cells busted by security forces has been rising sharply. According to the intelligence chief, security forces eliminated about thirty terrorist teams in 2015, 45 teams in 2016 and 25 teams over the past two and a half months. Alavi said in recent weeks, security forces have been identifying terrorist groups on a daily basis. According to Alavi, some of the eliminated terror cells were armed to the teeth possessing heavy machine guns and RPG launchers.
Top officials in Iran and other regional countries like Iraq, Lebanon and Syria have long criticized Saudi Arabia for promoting Wahhabi extremism in the region. They believe Saudi funding for militant groups is the key source of instability and violence in the Middle East. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said the kingdom is backing terrorist cells inside Iran.
SOUNDBITE [English] Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister: “We are aware; we have intelligence that Saudi Arabia is actively engaged in promoting terrorist groups operating on the eastern side of Iran, in Balouchestan using the territory of one of our neighbors against its will. The deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia and its minister of defense about a month ago publicly stated that we will take the war into Iran’s territory, which was a direct threat and a very dangerous provocation.”
Narration: Saudi Arabia’s staunch ally, U-S president Donald Trump caused outrage by commenting about the attacks in Tehran. Trump who recently visited the kingdom to seal a massive arms deal with the Saudis, said Iran has fallen victim to the evil that it promotes. Tehran called the comments repugnant saying Iranians counter terror backed by US clients. Critics inside America also blasted Trump’s comments. Regional leaders blame the United States to a large extent for the Middle East’s insecurity. They say by supporting and arming the autocratic regime in Riyadh, the U-S is adding fuel to the fire in the world’s most volatile region.