Terrorists are busy working

13 Min Read
Terrorists are busy working

The terrorists are busy at work.

We lack security.

The terrorists are busy with dual suicide bombings in Kerman, once again exposing the vulnerability of Iran’s security structure to terrorist operations within its borders. This heavy incident, which is difficult for the Iranian society to digest based on the positioning observations, once again reveals that Iran’s government’s claim to justify regional interventions based on countering insecurities beyond its borders is baseless.

Political, security, and military authorities of the Islamic Republic argued that confrontation with ISIS is inevitable and that it is necessary to fight them outside Iran’s borders to neutralize their attacks. However, after years, it became clear that ISIS did not have plans to carry out operations within Iran’s territory in the early years after the establishment of the caliphate.

Although within the discourse and politics, ISIS was considered an irreconcilable enemy of Shia and Iranian civilization, they decided for certain reasons to engage with the Iranian government within the territories of Iraq and Syria during the peak of their power.

A limited and low-intensity change in strategy occurred in 1396 when two groups affiliated with ISIS attacked the building of the Islamic Consultative Assembly and the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini. This attack came after ISIS bombings in the cities of London and Manchester, two weeks prior to the terrorist attacks that resulted in the death of 22 people. Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, the spokesperson of ISIS at the time, wrote on Twitter: ‘Get ready, be prepared.’

Afterwards, ISIS took responsibility for the armed attack on the armed forces parade in Ahvaz in 1397, as well as two attacks on Shahcheragh in Shiraz in 1401 and 1402, which resulted in nearly 40 human casualties. However, the latest terrorist attack by ISIS within Iran had significant differences in terms of method and scale. The previous four attacks were suicide bombings, while this attack was carried out as an armed assault. Furthermore, its scope was limited and all the killed forces were non-military, totaling roughly half the number of casualties in the similar Kerman incident.

This incident has raised the alarm that firstly, the timeline of ISIS operations inside Iran has become shorter and their intensity of destruction has increased. The organization has also moved away from a simple and pattern-based wolf-like organization towards a coordinated organization composed of semi-autonomous nuclei. Previous operations were at an elementary technical level and were almost designed and executed by amateur forces, but the terrorist incident in Kerman was more complex.

The expansion of ISIS terrorist attacks and heinous violence inside Iran is notable from two perspectives. Firstly, it seems that in the new organization of ISIS, Iran has gained a special position for its return to power and strengthening itself. The deadly confrontation with Shiites, who are considered polytheists by ISIS, has existed since the formation of this organized criminal group.

Now, the massacre of Shiites in a country that has been the center of Shiites in the world for the past five centuries has become a more serious priority for ISIS. The difficulty faced by ISIS in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria has led to operations in other countries and regions receiving attention. In the meantime, the growth of the Khorasan branch in ISIS has also had an impact on increasing attention to Iran.

The Khorasan branch of ISIS has had the most conflicts with Shia and Iranians, and has a greater motivation to stabilize and annex the northeastern regions of Iran to the desired caliphate in Greater Khorasan. This group is also known for its brutality and ruthlessness. Therefore, ISIS saw the increase in tensions in the Middle East after the Gaza war as an opportunity to seek revenge against Qasem Soleimani and catch the Islamic Republic off guard. The behavior of ISIS shows that, in their view, the evil of Shia and the Islamic Republic is greater than that of Jews and the Israeli government.

On the other hand, the incompetence and incorrect mindset of the Iranian security apparatus have made the country vulnerable to terrorist attacks. It faces difficulties in dealing with terrorist groups, but a capable security system can create effective deterrence after repeated terrorist operations and either stop or mitigate security incidents.

The security failure in Kerman and the spread of ISIS terrorist attacks have multiple layers. Firstly, there was a failure to create deterrence against suicide bombings occurring within a kilometer of Qasem Soleimani’s grave. The establishment of inspection gates near Soleimani’s grave and insufficient security coverage for officials and close associates were not enough.

However, the second layer of information incapability was in their lack of awareness of the dual martyrdom operation. They were completely caught off guard, when they should have been aware of ISIS’s methods of deploying forces, transferring military equipment and financial resources, and locating the residence of the authorities, after previous operations.

After the terrorist operation, the dissemination of a large amount of false and conflicting information caused public confusion and created an environment for further terrorist operations. Apparently, this possibility was not considered in ISIS’s design, otherwise the mass gathering in front of Shiraz hospitals could have been an opportunity for the expansion of the terrorists’ evil intentions.

The Kerman attack showed that there is essentially no counter-terrorism program as part of crisis management within the country. The proliferation of illegal firearms in the country, the neglect of securing the eastern borders of the country, and the displacement of security priorities have turned insecurity in the country into a serious problem. As a result, a significant portion of the citizens do not feel safe and have resorted to self-protection measures.

Following signs and clues for the activities of ISIS and other extremist groups should be done before any incident occurs, and the country’s security system should monitor the situation nationwide, instead of resorting to slogans and deflecting responsibility after innocent people are killed.

Incorrect analysis and the dominance of a political perspective on security issues are factors that prevent the country from taking effective proactive measures against terrorism. The occurrence of two widespread suicide bombings in the neighboring Fars province five months after the second terrorist attack in Shiraz indicates that the country’s defense shield has collapsed, and terrorists can easily infiltrate a government ceremony where security and intelligence should be high priority.

As a result, the ease of operations and the weakness of the security system have reached alarming levels. They are resorting to scapegoating Israel and the United States and engaging in political exploitation by creating a hostile atmosphere. This perspective not only belittles the role of ISIS in the Kerman suicide bombings, but also aims to further political repression domestically and increase participation rates in the upcoming elections by inciting emotions and animosity towards Israel abroad.

The fundamental problem lies in the fact that the Islamic Republic has reduced security to a cemetery-like security and a tool of suppression. From the perspective of the Supreme Leader’s institution, respecting the balance of human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of political parties, freedom of religion, and maintaining security are considered violations. Therefore, this institution has occupied the country’s security capabilities by suppressing independent and dissenting forces.

The security doctrine of the Islamic Republic is based on emphasizing militarism, police control, and hostility. In fact, through the use of coercive power domestically and destabilization abroad, it has sought to dominate and confront the global and Western systems in order to achieve the desired security within the country.

This perception of insecurity undermines the authority of the government at the cost of exacerbating social divisions and deepening the security challenge due to the growing gap between the ruling elite and the oppressed people. Currently, the country has become vulnerable in the areas of terrorism and armed conflicts, resulting in significant damage.

However, the strong negative opinion of the majority of the Iranian people towards terrorism and the killing of innocent individuals and ordinary citizens due to political and religious beliefs is the most important asset of the country in preventing the emergence of a wave of terrorism. Otherwise, Iran could have faced similar conditions to Afghanistan and Syria.

The high volume of destructive operations, continued arrests, establishment of relevant courts, and the relatively large number of convicted individuals on charges of espionage have also raised doubts about the Islamic Republic’s intelligence capabilities and the arrests of forces and networks involved in espionage and terrorist activities.

Currently, not only are the security institutions of the Islamic Republic faced with the challenge of an information tunnel rather than a restorable information gap from the opposing powers or conflicting groups, but also significant gaps have been created within the country’s security structure that have hindered effective action in protecting the people. Infiltrating the governing institutions of the Islamic Republic is not a difficult task, and this reality has increased the government’s weakness in combating terrorism.

Intelligence institutions in democratic countries with rule of law, unlike authoritarian regimes like the Islamic Republic, are dedicated to the public good within the framework of criteria such as maintaining societal and people’s security, convergence among governing institutions, safeguarding citizens’ rights, aiding in sustainable diplomacy, creating a conducive environment around decision-making institutions, and working towards national interests and collective welfare by seizing opportunities and neutralizing threats and striving to create peace and hope in society.

On the other hand, the capability of security and military forces is limited if the priority is given to suppressing and securing non-security issues, and if the opposition of Israel and the United States becomes the main targets of design and security measures. In that case, the preventive power of these forces against organized crime and terrorism decreases, and their legitimacy and acceptance in society are also lost. As a result, this becomes a motivating factor for terrorist groups.

Therefore, the escalation of tensions outside the borders within the framework of ideological ambition and the expansion of organized suppression internally against opponents has not left much room for curbing terrorism and armed robberies within the country by military and law enforcement forces. Examining the positions of key institutions and agents of the government after the Kerman terrorist operation does not show hope for change in terms of security by components such as increasing soft power, public satisfaction, and security through common perceptions and uniform norms.

The continuation of a cemetery security approach and reliance solely on hard power and hardware tools within the framework of value criteria that lack social consensus, escalates the country’s security threats to a dangerous level and spreads instability in society by weakening the foundations of national cohesion.

The threatening statement by ISIS regarding the continuation of operations in Iran under the current situation is extremely concerning. This group, within the current security capabilities and mentality of the Islamic Republic, can threaten not only governmental and religious ceremonies but also the daily lives of Iranian citizens.


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