The Daily Beast reports: On May 13, 2014, a pickup truck approached a caravan of white vans moving on a road near Baqubah, east of Baghdad, in Iraq. Within few meters of the caravan, the pickup exploded, leaving five Iranian engineers and several of their Iraqi guards dead, according to local news reports. The attack came less than 24 hours after a threat by ISIS spokesperson, Abu Mohammad al Adnani.
ISIS could — and very much wanted to — “transform Iran into pools of blood,” Adnani said. After all, Iran was the “bitterest enemy” of the Islamic State.
But al Qaeda long has been known to have deep, complex relations with Iran. And so ISIS, which grew out of a branch of al Qaeda in Iraq, “held back its soldiers and repressed its rage over the years to preserve the unity” of al Qaeda’s ranks.
“So let history record that Iran owes an invaluable debt to al Qaeda,” he added.
But in May, Adnani announced a change of plans: ISIS would not respect al Qaeda requests any more. And while Adnani did not overtly threaten Iran, the May 13th attack turned out to be one in a string of purported terror attacks against Iran and Iranians. These attacks have been pinned by local media and Iranian officials to ISIS and other Sunni extremist groups.
The American intelligence community has heard the claims. But they’re not sure whether the violence can be blamed on the Islamic State — or some other Sunni militants. “While no one is ruling out the possibility of an ISIL presence in Iran,” a U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast, using the government’s preferred acronym for ISIS, “at this time we are not able to validate reports of any activity there.”
ISIS’s rampage through Iraq has produced collateral damage that’s been largely unnoticed in the West. Iran, on the other hand, has been paying close attention. When ISIS took over the city of Jalawlah near the Iranian border, several Iranian media outlets reported a heavy attack on a border guard post near the city of Qasr-e-Shirin—on Iranian soil. The initial toll was reported four guardsmen killed in the incident. Qasr-e-Shirin’s representative in the Iranian parliament, a hardliner conservative named Fathollah Husseini, denied any casualties. But less than two days later, Iranian media outlets reported on funerals held for privates killed in the incident. Later reports suggested at least 11 Iranian border guards were killed in the incident.
Iranian political and military leaders tend to censor terrorist threats inside Iran, to bolster their reign over the country. But the ISIS threat is so bold inside Iran that even the highest officials have publicly acknowledged it. [Continue reading…]