Notes on Daesh Threats against Iran

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hossein Bozorgmanesh
Expert on Middle East Issues

Last week, Daesh terrorist group released an online propaganda video in which it had threatened to carry out terrorist operations in a number of countries, including Iran. Since the group has already conducted two complicated and major operations successfully in Egypt and France, the new threat can be considered as a sign of the group’s firm determination to carry out terrorist operations in areas outside Daesh strongholds in Iraq and Syria. As a result of Daesh terrorist attack in Egypt a Russian passenger plane crashed north of Sinai Peninsula, taking the lives of all 224 passengers on board, while in subsequent terrorist operations in the French capital, Paris, 130 people lost their lives and more than 350 were injured. Following these deadly operations, various countries in the world have beefed up security measures in order to stave off similar acts of terror on their soil.

In Iran, as well, citizens in the capital city, Tehran, have been witnessing increased presence of special police forces on the streets, especially at the entrances to subway stations across the city. Brigadier General Hossein Sajedinia, Tehran police chief, took part in an interview with ISNA news agency, noting, “The police have started special exercises across Tehran in recent days in order to boost their readiness to head off any possible threat.” He added, “Special Forces units, relief units, units of the emergency police force, known as Police 110, plainclothes male and female police teams, as well as anti-bomb squads are taking part in these drills.” Due to its ethnic fabric, which is mostly made up of Persian-speaking people, and the prevalence of Shia faith among the majority of the Iranian people, the country is of special importance to such terrorist groups as Daesh. The importance that this group attaches to Iran is due to presence of a great number of former members of Iraq’s Baath party, who are sworn enemies of Iran, among the cadres of Daesh group. The group also has a large number of Takfiri radicals as its members, who consider Shia Muslims as infidels and have a deep faith in the annihilation of Shias. As a result of these reasons, Iran seems to be an attractive target for Daesh group.

The discourse that prescribes hostility against Shias in Iran can be potentially very attractive to radical Sunni elements as well, and basically, an important reason that led to tactical alliance of members of Iraq’s secular Baath party with Sunni Salafist elements was the existence of a common enemy called Iran. Of course, despite its high interest in conducting terrorist operations in Iran, Daesh has so far failed to do so. According to Iran's intelligence officials, the group has made great efforts in order to perform terrorist attacks in the country, all of which have been thwarted thus far due to vigilance of Iran's secret services.

Of course, Iran's security officials have done their best to not to talk a lot about various aspects of the efforts made to foil the plots hatched by such terrorist groups as Daesh in order to prevent a sense of insecurity from spreading through the society. However, in a few cases, security officials, including the minister of intelligence, have talked about this issue. Examples given by them included thwarting a Daesh plan to explode bombs at five points in Iran, a plan by Daesh to carry out suicide attacks during Quds Day demonstrations in the Iranian cities of Zahedan and Shiraz, identification and busting of Daesh terror groups in the Western province of Kermanshah. These instances have been mentioned as major cases in which Daesh has been trying to stoke insecurity in Iran.

Despite dangerous nature of Daesh threats against Iran, the group has not been practically able to carry out any terrorist attacks in Iran. Major reasons behind this issue include Shia majority of the Iranian population, absence of deep-rooted Salafist currents in Iran's Sunni-dominated regions, close cooperation of most Sunni clerics with the central government in order to fight off extremist ideas, and Iran's remarkable intelligence superiority in view of the Iranian government’s 36 years of experience in dealing with operational teams of such terrorist groups as the Mojahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO), Fada’iyan guerrillas, Kurdistan Democratic Party, and Komalah terrorist group, and most importantly, transfer of the experiences gained by countries like Iraq and Syria in their fight against terrorism. As a result, it is easy to foresee that Iran's secret services will continue to tackle Daesh operational teams, which plan terrorist operations in Iran, until complete eradication of Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Key Words: Daesh, Threats, Iran, Terrorist Operations, Iraq, Syria, France, Egypt, Baath Party, Takfiri Radicals, Shia Muslims, Iran's Security Officials, Sunni Clerics, Bozorgmanesh

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