Iran’s security forces have arrested 41 individuals allegedly affiliated with the Islamic State, according to a statement released by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence today. “Following a series of complex intelligence operations and with the cooperation of family members of some terrorists in provinces of Kermanshah, Kurdistan, West Azerbaijan and Tehran, 41 members of Wahabi groups of Daesh [Islamic State] – including their operational teams, communications and logistical bridgeheads, some documents, and equipment for terrorist operations – were arrested and confiscated before they acted,” the statement claimed. Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi added that intelligence officials have also identified the hideout of the perpetrators of Wednesday’s twin terrorist attacks in Tehran.
Deputy Interior Minister Hossein Zolfaqari also confirmed that security forces had conducted extensive operations in the past 48 hours and arrested a large number of alleged terrorists, who he claimed had entered Iran with the help of their regional sponsors.
Comment: The twin attacks in the Iranian capital and the arrest of dozens of alleged terrorists across the country indicate that the Islamic State has managed to infiltrate and establish sleeper and operational cells in different parts of Iran. The Wednesday’s attacks at parliament and the mausoleum of the Islamic Republic’s founder killed 17 and wounded 52 others. The attacks highlighted serious security shortcomings, may have undermined public confidence in the ability of the country’s security and intelligence institutions, and calls into question Iranian leaders’ claim that the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ (I.R.G.C.) military role in regional conflicts has kept Iran as an “island of stability” in a turbulent region. Such sophisticated attacks at the heart of the capital would not be possible without an extensive support network inside Iran.
Iran’s Sunni minority – which accounts for about 10 percent of the country’s 80 million population – has rejected the Islamic State’s call to join the terrorist group despite suffering state-sanctioned suppression and marginalization. But the latest attacks in Tehran and the disbandment of terrorist cells across the country demonstrate that Iran has a growing terrorism problem.