By Iran Review
By Seyyed Ali Nejat*
During past years, Iran has been faced with domestic instability and insecurity in three countries, namely Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The most prominent manifestation of this instability has been emergence of Daesh terrorist group. Daesh terrorist group, which has its roots in the Salafist Jihadist-Takfiri discourse, not only gives rise to regional and international threats in general, but specifically poses threats to security and national interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well.
Among the most important threats and challenges caused by the emergence of Daesh in the region for the Islamic Republic of Iran one can mention terrorist operations, security threats against the Iranian government, weakening of the resistance front in the region and creating a safe margin for the Zionist regime of Israel, geopolitical threat, and finally, soft and discourse-based threat.
Before Daesh made its debut in the region, al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) – also known by its Arabic name as Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, which was led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – had frequently threatened Iran with terrorist and suicide operations.
On the other hand, Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, the former spokesperson of Daesh, had threatened the Islamic Republic of Iran by saying that Daesh planned to turn Iran into a quagmire of blood, noting that Daesh considered Iran as its worst enemy. Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, the current official spokesperson of Daesh, also released a voice message titled “And Remain Patient, because God’s Promise Is True,” in which he threatened certain regional countries, including Iran. In addition, Daesh terrorist group released a 37-minute video clip on March 26, 2017, in which it officially threatened the Islamic Republic of Iran.
During recent years, terrorist groups as well as armed elements affiliated with Daesh have made great efforts to implement terrorist operations in Iran, but their agents have been nabbed and their plans have been discovered and thwarted by Iran’s security forces before they were put into action. An example was defusing a major terrorist operation in Tehran last year by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry in which about ten terrorists were arrested.
The success of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s secret services in identifying about 100 terrorist groups in the past two years and causing failure of their measures has prompted some analysts and research centers in Arab countries, especially in Saudi Arabia, to accuse Iran of supporting terrorism and Daesh. This comes despite the fact that Iran has been a major victim of global terrorism during the past four decades.
The hostility and enmity of Salafist and terrorist groups toward Iran, in particular, and Shias, in general, is nothing new and not a secret too. Daesh terrorist groups has been describing Iranians as “apostates,” “Safavids” and “Magi” in his public announcements. On the whole, the Islamic Republic of Iran is considered as one of the most important enemies of Daesh due to ideological differences with this group, on the one hand, and its support for governments in Iraq and Syria, on the other hand.
Daesh has made Shia Muslims one of its main goals, and due to the prominent and vital role that Shiism plays in defining the Iranian identity, one can claim that this terrorist group has targeted the foundation of Iran and its threat for Iran is an existential threat.
Another reason behind hostility of Daesh toward our country is Iran’s presence in the front line of the fight on terrorism and its support for governments in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic Republic of Iran’s timely intervention and its military, intelligence and security presence to help the Iraqi and Syrian armies were among the most important barriers to progress and expansion of Daesh in these two countries, in particular, and across the region, in general. In other words, Daesh considers Iran as the main reason behind its failures in Iraq and Syria and this is why it wants to take revenge on Iran.
Another reason behind Daesh’s terrorist measures against Iran is its consecutive defeats in its battles in Iraq and Syria. There is one principle with regard to terrorist and extremist groups according to which, whenever they feel weak and defeated and are cornered, they embark on terrorist operations in other countries in order to hide their defeats and boost the morale of their supports and forces and also to motivate them and recruit more people.
However, when it comes to timing of terrorist attacks in Iran by Daesh, one can say that this measure came following certain regional developments such as a visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel by US president Donald Trump. It also followed a threat by Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, who is also the country’s defense minister, to the effect that he would take the war into Iran and his threat was finally put into action by Daesh terrorist group.
As for the location of the aforesaid terrorist attacks, it is noteworthy that Daesh targeted two symbols of the Islamic Republic of Iran in his terror attacks. The first location was the mausoleum of Imam Khomeini, who is not only a religious figure respected by all Muslims, but also the founder and symbol of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The second target was Iran’s parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly, which is an important pillar of democracy in the country. In fact, by choosing these targets, Daesh was trying to take aim at two most important pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
In conclusion, it must be noted that following these terror attacks, Daesh is possible to try to make the Islamic Republic of Iran further insecure by carrying out more terrorist and suicide attacks. Paying more attention to regional developments, increasing vigilance inside the country, adoption of necessary security precautions, coordination among all Iranian institutions, and effective cooperation of people with intelligence and security organizations and institutions are necessary steps to be taken in order to stave off such terrorist measures in the future.
These views represent those of the author and are not necessarily Iran Review’s viewpoints.
*Seyyed Ali Nejat
West Asia Analyst