Of­fi­cials say Tehran at­tack­ers had fought for Is­lamic State.


TEHRAN | Five of the men who launched an at­tack in the heart of Iran’s cap­i­tal pre­vi­ously fought for the Is­lamic State group, the coun­try’s In­tel­li­gence Min­istry said Thurs­day, ac­knowl­edg­ing the first such as­sault by the ex­trem­ists in the Shi­ite coun­try.

The at­tacks Wed­nes­day on Iran’s par­lia­ment and the tomb of its rev­o­lu­tion­ary leader shook the coun­try’s sense of se­cu­rity and killed at least 17 peo­ple and wounded over 40.

The min­istry is­sued a state­ment on its web­site with bloody pic­tures of the men’s corpses. It iden­ti­fied them by their first names only, say­ing they didn’t want to re­lease their last names due to se­cu­rity and pri­vacy con­cerns for their fam­i­lies.

It de­scribed them as “long af­fil­i­ated with the Wah­habi,” an ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive form of Sunni Is­lam prac­ticed in Saudi Ara­bia. How­ever, it stopped short of di­rectly blam­ing the king­dom for the at­tack, though many in the coun­try ex­pressed sus­pi­cion Iran’s re­gional ri­val had a hand in the at­tack.

The men had left Iran to fight for the ex­trem­ist group in Mo­sul, Iraq, as well as Raqqa, Syria — the group’s de facto cap­i­tal, the min­istry said. It said they re­turned to Iran in Au­gust un­der the com­mand of an Is­lamic State leader and es­caped when au­thor­i­ties ini­tially broke up their ex­trem­ist cell. The min­istry did not iden­tify the men’s home­towns, nor say how they were able to evade au­thor­i­ties. A wo­man sus­pected to be in­volved in the at­tack was ar­rested Wed­nes­day.

Reza Seifol­lahi, an of­fi­cial in the coun­try’s Supreme Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, was quoted by Ira­nian me­dia as say­ing that the per­pe­tra­tors of the at­tacks were Ira­nian na­tion­als. He did not elab­o­rate.

Com­muters in the Ira­nian cap­i­tal no­ticed po­lice on street cor­ners and mo­tor­cy­cles, more than usual as dawn broke. That came af­ter Mo­ham­mad Hos­sein Zolfaghari, a deputy In­te­rior Min­is­ter, told state TV that “law en­force­ment ac­tiv­i­ties may in­crease.”

The at­tack Wed­nes­day as law­mak­ers held a ses­sion in par­lia­ment and at the shrine of Ay­a­tol­lah Ruhol­lah Khome­ini shocked Ira­ni­ans who so far had avoided the chaos that has fol­lowed the Is­lamic State group’s rise in Syria and Iraq. Ira­nian forces are back­ing em­bat­tled Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad while the Shi­ite power also is sup­port­ing mili­tias fight­ing against the ex­trem­ists in Iraq.

The at­tack came as em­bold­ened Sunni Arab states — backed by Pres­i­dent Trump — are hard­en­ing their stance against Shi­ite-ruled Iran.

Af­ter re­port­edly a lengthy in­ter­nal dis­cus­sion Wed­nes­day, the White House re­leased a state­ment from Mr. Trump con­demn­ing the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Tehran and of­fer­ing con­do­lences, but also im­ply­ing that Iran is it­self a spon­sor of ter­ror­ism.

“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,” the state­ment said. “We un­der­score that states that spon­sor ter­ror­ism risk fall­ing vic­tim to the evil they pro­mote.”

The com­ments sparked anger from Ira­ni­ans on so­cial me­dia, who re­called the vig­ils in Tehran that fol­lowed the Sept. 11 at­tacks. For­eign Min­is­ter Mo­ham­mad Javad Zarif in a tweet on Thurs­day called the White House com­ments “re­pug­nant” and ac­cused Wash­ing­ton of sup­port­ing ter­ror.

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