The Ministry of Intelligence implicates ISIL but says the operatives’ sophistication indicates a potential connection with Israel.
Tehran, Iran – Iran says it has thwarted 30 explosions that were planned to go off simultaneously in the bustling capital, Tehran, to create chaos.
The 30 “terrorist explosions” were meant to go off in crowded city centres, but all were prevented and 28 individuals were arrested in connection with the planned attacks during raids in Tehran, Alborz and West Azerbaijan provinces, according to a statement by the Ministry of Intelligence carried by state media on Sunday.
“The explosions were planned with the aim of breaking the country’s security authority, creating an unstable image of the country, sowing despair and fear in the society, and instigating chaos and protests exactly during the anniversary of last year’s riots,” it said.
That was a reference to months-long protests and unrest across Iran, which began in mid-September 2022 after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in police custody following her arrest for alleged non-compliance with Iran’s dress code.
The Intelligence Ministry said the unnamed arrested individuals were all linked with ISIL (ISIS), and some of them had a history of cooperating with “takfiris in Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Kurdistan region in Iraq”. Takfiri is a term used to describe a Muslim who accuses other Muslims of being apostates or infidels, with the implied death sentence that that entails.
The ministry added that even though they were with the armed group, the technical nature of their operations showed a “meaningful match with the known methods and workings” of Iran’s arch foe Israel.
Large quantities of explosives, electronic devices to detonate them, 17 US-made pistols and corresponding ammunition, communication devices, military-grade clothing, suicide vests and foreign currencies were confiscated, the ministry said, adding that two of its agents were wounded during the raids.
Footage released by state media showed how the individuals were surveilled by drones before their locations were stormed and they were arrested by intelligence operatives. Suspects were also shown digging up parts to make explosives that they had buried to keep hidden.
The clips showed handguns and explosive vests that were confiscated and a group of bound and blindfolded suspects.
ISIL claimed responsibility for an attack on the holy Shah Cheragh shrine in October that killed 13 people and injured dozens.
The shrine in the southern city of Shiraz came under a second gun attack in less than a year in August, which killed two people.
Iran blamed the second attack on ISIL as well and said a number of foreign nationals were arrested in connection with the operation.
For carrying out last year’s attack, two men from neighbouring Afghanistan were convicted of being ISIL agents and publicly executed in early June.
For the second attack, the shooter, identified as Rahmatollah Nowruzof from Tajikistan, was given two death sentences, Iran’s judiciary said on Thursday.
Two other suspects, who were not identified, were sentenced to five years in prison and expulsion from the Islamic republic.