Iran’s Revolutionary Guards say Saudi Arabia supported ISIS in the deadly twin attacks in Tehran on Wednesday, an accusation likely to infuriate the Saudi kingdom amid high tensions in the region.
At least 12 people were killed when six attackers mounted simultaneous gun and suicide bomb assaults on Iran’s Parliament building and the tomb of the republic’s revolutionary founder, in one of the most audacious assaults to hit Tehran in decades. The targets were highly symbolic.
The ISIS media wing, Amaq, claimed “fighters with the Islamic State” carried out the assault. It was the first time that ISIS, a Sunni Muslim group fighting Iranian-backed militias in Syria, has claimed responsibility for an attack in Iran, which is predominantly Shiite.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vowed revenge for the attack, and tied it to the visit of US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia in May.
“World public opinion, especially in Iran, sees the fact that this terrorist act was perpetrated soon after the meeting of the US president with the heads of one of the reactionary regional states that has always supported … terrorists as to be very meaningful,” the statement read, according to Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency.
The statement did not explicitly name Saudi Arabia, but the implication was clear. It continued to say that the as ISIS’s claim of responsibility for the attacks showed the country’s “complicity in this wild move.”
Trump issued a written statement saying he felt for Iranian civilians, but the government has itself to blame for the attack.
“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,” Trump said. “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.”
The Revolutionary Guards’ accusation comes at a time of heightened Saudi-Iranian tensions following a regional rift with Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates cut ties with Qatar this week and has blocked several of the country’s media outlets. The rift was over comments allegedly made by Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Al Hamad Al Thani hailing Iran as an “Islamic power” and criticizing Trump’s policy toward Tehran.
The Emir’s alleged comments appeared on Qatar’s official news agency, but Qatar said the website was hacked and the report fabricated by the culprits.
Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia and Shiite-majority Iran have had strained relations throughout their history and have stood on opposing sides of a sectarian feud for more than 1,000 years.
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SOURCE: CNN, Shirzad Bozorgmehr and Angela Dewan