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Iran cracks down on Salafists in wake of Tehran attacks


Iranian authorities have rounded up at least 150 people in Tehran and in the Kurdish areas in the west of the country following the June 7 terrorist attacks in the capital, which claimed 18 lives, al-Monitor reported on Saturday.

The five young attackers who pledged allegiance to ISIS in a video released shortly after the attacks appear to have traveled from Kermanshah province to Tehran undetected in early June. The rare but deadly strikes targeted two of the most guarded locations in the capital: the parliament and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

How these men obtained firearms and explosives to carry out the attacks is not clear, but Iranian officials have admitted that the country's security establishment was taken by surprise. On June 27, parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission held its second closed-door session to examine the June 7 attacks. "In this session, the new plan to maintain the security of the parliament and the ways to confront future possible incidents were discussed and necessary measures were taken," the semi-official Iranian Students'.

Iran has held ISIS directly responsible for the attacks, but it ultimately blamed the US and "regressive" regimes in the Persian Gulf region for supporting the group.

As a symbolic gesture, on June 18 Iran fired several missiles from the Kurdish areas in the west of the country, where the attackers came from, at an ISIS position in northeast Syria. "Our enemies should know that Tehran is not London or Paris; this was a small measure, and if they make another mistake, we will strike them with deadlier attacks," said Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Aerospace Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Since the June 7 attacks, security forces have taken no chances and have rounded up a large number of individuals mainly associated with Salafist groups in a bid to crack down on their activities, sources inside Iran and human rights activists from outside the count said.

"More than 50 individual terrorist backers were arrested in Kermanshah province following the terrorist incident in Tehran, and a number of explosive belts, electronic detonators and weapons were discovered," Mohammad Hossein Sadeghi, the prosecutor of Kermanshah province, said on June 25.

"No one has been freed apart from two women," said a source from the town of Paveh, where four of the attackers came from and where the Iranian authorities are said to have arrested more than 50 individuals. At least one of the attackers, Saryas Sadeghi, was reported to have been on the radar of the intelligence services, said sources in Paveh, but it is not clear how he managed to travel to Tehran to carry out the strikes along with four other attackers. "One of Saryas' brothers has been arrested, and he is still in custody," an activist who monitors the human rights situation said.

In prisons across the Kurdish region, authorities have reportedly taken severe measures even against Salafist prisoners who were imprisoned before the attacks on Tehran.

A total of 150 people have been detained since the attacks in Tehran. While the real number could be much higher.

The identity of 45 individuals has been identified who have been taken into custody across the Kurdish region in western Iran.
These individuals were arrested on charges of connections with Wahhabi groups, and according to witnesses, they were beaten during the arrests.

On June 24, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi confirmed that several people have been arrested in the capital and are under investigation in connection with the attacks, but he refused to divulge information about the cases to the press due to "security and intelligence reasons."

While government officials have maintained that terrorists cannot cause damage to the security of Iran because of the readiness of the IRGC and other security forces, some officials have admitted that ISIS took them by surprise.

Given the huge improvement in the level of security in our country in recent years, ISIS terrorists used the element of surprise, but I am confident now that the security and intelligence forces will maintain a safe environment and will not allow another terrorist attack to take place," Seyed Qassem Jassemi, a member of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said , adding, "If it was not for the defenders of the shrine , no doubt we would have had to fight ISIS in Kermanshah and Hamedan."

Jassemi's remarks echo claims repeatedly made by Iranian officials that to avoid fighting terrorist groups inside Iran, they need to be fought in Syria and Iraq. To this end, thousands of Shiite fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Lebanon, supported by Iran have been deployed to Syria since 2011 to shore up President Bashar al-Assad's forces against terrorist groups, including ISIS. Iran also provides military assistance and advisers to the Popular Mobilization Units in Iraq to fight ISIS militants in the country.

But while the battles in Syria and Iraq are important for Iran, the attacks in Tehran appear to have been a wake-up call for Iranian officials, reminding them that domestic threats are as important as those from abroad. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that blowback from the military interventions in the region may be a very real and serious prospect. In the meantime, perhaps the most immediate question is whether Iranian security forces have cast too wide a net in the search for terror suspects. If so, it has the potential of causing more trouble than it seeks to thwart.



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Muslim Global: Iran cracks down on Salafists in wake of Tehran attacks
Iran cracks down on Salafists in wake of Tehran attacks
Muslim Global
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