The ISIS attacks in Tehran illustrate, once again, that Iran and ISIS are on opposite sides in the “war on terror” that our government is fond of proclaiming as justification for our never-ending intervention in the Middle East.
Twelve people were killed and 42 others were wounded in a pair of attacks waged by terrorists in Tehran, Iran, on June 7. The attacks were conducted in Iran’s Parliament building and at the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. ISIS claimed for the attacks, through its Amaq News Agency.
A report in the New York Times stated that attacks started around 10:30 a.m., Tehran time, when several men armed with Kalashnikov AK-47 automatic rifles and wearing suicide vests converged on the Parliament building. The attackers killed at least one security guard, wounding and kidnapping several other people. The attack lasted for about four hours until four of the attackers were killed by security forces.
The Times article cited a report from Iran’s state news media that the second attack on the mausoleum, which is about 10 miles south of Parliament, began shortly before 11:00 a.m. and lasted for about an hour and a half. Two terrorists entered the west wing of the mausoleum, which contains the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 and died in 1989. The mausoleum is a popular tourist and pilgrimage site.
Iran’s news agencies reported that at least one attacker detonated explosives in the mausoleum’s western entrance. The BBC cited a statement made by Tehran Governor Hossein Hashemi confirming that one attacker had detonated a suicide vest and a second had been killed by security forces.
The Tasnim News Agency reported that four pilgrims visiting the mausoleum were injured and a worker at the shrine was killed.
“This morning two terrorist groups attacked the parliament and Imam Khomeini's shrine … Members of a third group were arrested before being able to carry out any attack,” the Iranian Intelligence Ministry announced, according to Reuters, citing Persian-language IRIB TV.
Iran’s Mehr news agency (MNA) reported that Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said that the attacks indicate that extremists want to undermine the country’s efforts in its battle against terrorism.
“Iran is an active and effective hub for combating terrorism, and terrorists wish to undermine such activities,” Larijani said.
Larijani said that the shooting inside parliament was a “minor incident” and that security forces are fully capable of handling the “cowardly attackers.”
Since the Tehran attack pitted militants from ISIS against sites connected with Iran’s present government and the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution — two entities that Americans do not hold in very high esteem — the Westerner might be tempted to dismiss this event as the Tehran regime’s comeuppance. However, this would be a misguided assessment.
Most Americans developed a strong dislike of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his followers, whose Islamic revolution caused Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi to go into exile in 1979. By 1982, Khomeini and his supporters had crushed their rivals, defeated local rebellions, and consolidated power. Most Americans might have remained indifferent to the revolution, had it not been for the Iran hostage crisis. This event took place when 52 U.S. diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979, to January 20, 1981 — after a group of Iranian students belonging to the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line, who supported the Iranian Revolution, took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Following the revolution, Khomeini became Iran’s supreme leader, a position created in the constitution of the Islamic Republic. With the “supreme leader” being both the highest-ranking political and religious authority of the nation, Iran became a strict Shia theocracy. Khomeini believed that since Shariah, or Islamic law, is the only proper law, those holding government posts should abide by Sharia.
In addition to Americans' lingering ill feelings toward Iran since the Iran hostage crisis, Iran’s alleged development of a nuclear weapons program has also placed the country in the diplomatic doghouse, as far as the P5+1 group of international mediators (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany) are concerned.
Several articles in The New American in recent years have expressed doubt on assertions made by “the international community” that Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Iran says is being developed for peaceful purposes, is designed for producing weapons-grade isotopes.
In an article in November 2013 for example, we reported that then-Secretary of State John Kerry and leaders from France, Britain, Germany, China, and Russia had reached a nuclear deal with Iran. We stated:
The transcript of a White House conference call with members of the media was released on November 24, summarizing the administration’s assessment of the agreement reached with Iran. The release noted:
First of all, Iran has committed to halt all enrichment above 5 percent and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5 percent. Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near 20 percent uranium, and this is, of course, what has been of principal concern to us in terms of their stockpile. It will dilute below 5 percent, or convert to a form that is not suitable for further enrichment, its entire stockpile of near 20-percent enriched uranium before the conclusion of this six-month phase.
Additionally, noted the release, Iran will also not install additional centrifuges of any type and will not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium, and will not construct additional enrichment facilities.
Iran also promises to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5 percent-enriched uranium stockpile over the next six months, in addition to neutralizing the stockpile of 20 percent-enriched uranium.
And, finally, noted the report, Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at the Arak heavy water plant and will not construct a facility capable of reprocessing spent fuel, preventing it from separating plutonium from spent fuel.
Low-enriched uranium, suitable for powering nuclear reactors, is generally enriched to a level of 3-4 percent U-235. Highly enriched uranium has a greater than 20 percent concentration of U-235; however, the fissile uranium used in nuclear weapons usually contains 85 percent or more of U-235.
We pursued this topic further in another article in January 2015, entitled: “Is Iran Trying to Develop Nuke Weapons? Where’s the Proof?”
In that article, we noted that there are voices in the Senate eager to hit Iran with harsher sanctions, should the Islamic republic fail to toe the line.
We observed that a calmer voice of reason had existed in Congress back in 2012, when former Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) vehemently opposed a bill to impose sanctions on Iran. Paul called the bill, which passed the House 421-6, the “Obsession With Iran Act 2012.”
Paul said in a speech: “What we continue to be doing is obsess with Iran and the idea that Iran is a threat to our national security. Iran happens to be a Third World nation. They have no significant navy, air force, or intercontinental ballistic missiles.”
In other words, Iran is no North Korea — which posses both nuclear warheads and medium range ballistic missiles and is frantically developing ICBMs, as well.
Moving closer to the matter brought home by today’s attack by ISIS on two significant sites in Tehran, we might consider what former Rep. Paul wrote an article in 2015 entitled: “Iran Fighting ISIS — Is it Really a Problem?” In his article, Paul wrote, in part:
As Iran continues to take an active role in helping Iraq fight ISIS, many US neocons are upset that the US military is not over there on the ground doing the fighting. They want Americans to believe that only another US invasion of Iraq — and of Syria as well — can defeat ISIS. But what is wrong with the countries of the region getting together and deciding to cooperate on a common problem?
While the entry of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias into ISIS-occupied areas may not be ideal — there is bound to be revenge killings and sectarian fighting — it is far more likely that the ISIS problem will be solved by the countries in the region than by US bombs and ground troops. Our bombs will continue to make the problem worse because it was our bombs that helped create the problem in the first place. What the neocons who lied us into the Iraq war don’t like to admit is that there was no ISIS problem and no al-Qaeda problem in Iraq and Syria before we invaded Iraq….
Instead of being angered at Iranian help to address the problem of ISIS, perhaps we should send them a “thank you” note.
Iran is certainly no model society, but neither is it a nation that is actively developing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles and threatening to use them, like North Korea. Nor is it run by the Taliban, who provided sanctuary to the al-Qaeda terrorists.
Keep in mind that ISIS has attacked both Iran and Syria.
Not surprisingly, Iran and Syria are allies.