ISIS Makes Powerful Statement With Iran Attack
It's the first time the group has struck against its coveted target of Iran
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2017 2:09 PM CDT
Police officers control the scene around of shrine of late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini.   (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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(Newser) – The Islamic State may have claimed responsibility for Wednesday's twin terror attacks in Tehran that killed 12, but Iran has a different culprit in mind: regional rival Saudi Arabia. "This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the US president and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists," says a statement from Iran's Revolutionary Guards, per Reuters. It acknowledges that ISIS was "involved," however, thus insinuating a link between ISIS and the Saudis, notes New York. A look at coverage:

  • Potent symbols: The attackers hit not only the parliament building in Tehran but the mausoleum with the tomb of founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini—"the two most potent symbols of the 1979 revolution," writes Simon Tisdall at the Guardian. For Iranians, this is "deeply shocking," the equivalent of someone attacking the Lincoln Memorial in the US.
  • The attacks: Details on how the coordinated attacks unfolded are at the New York Times.
  • A first: Assuming the ISIS claim is legit, this would be the first ISIS attack in Iran, but the militant group has wanted to strike there for years, explains a Q&A at PRI. ISIS is Sunni, while Iran is a Shia nation, and it's no small distinction: ISIS views Shiites as apostates.

  • The backdrop: The New York Times notes the attacks come not only after Trump's trip (seen as emboldening the Saudis) but after the Saudi move to isolate Qatar, which it accuses of supporting terrorism and Iran. It all relates to the main issue: "Iran and Saudi Arabia are the leading nations on opposing sides of the Middle East split between Shiite and Sunni Islam."
  • Morale boost: Given ISIS retreats in Iraq and Syria, the successful strikes in Iran will clearly be a big morale boost to the group, per an analysis at the BBC. As they lose their strongholds in those countries, they want followers to launch attacks elsewhere, and no target is bigger than Iran.
  • Trump response: It was notably mixed. "We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times," he said in a statement. But then added: "We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote." The US does indeed consider Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, notes Business Insider.
  • Ominous threat: Just hours before the attacks, the Saudi foreign minister had said Iran should be punished for supporting groups such as al-Qaeda, per Al Arabiya English.

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