Ahvaz: Unknown gunmen opened fire during an IRGC military parade in the south-western Iranian city of Ahvaz, killing several people and injuring at least 20 people, Iranian state media said on Saturday.
According to initial reports, the attackers shot from a park near the parade and were wearing military uniforms.
The military parade was being held in memory of the beginning of the 1980-88 war with Iraq.
The gun attack lasted for about 10 minutes, but security forces are now in control of the situation, state media says. Eight IRGC personnel have been reportedly killed in the attack while two gunmen were shot dead & two others fled.
Ahvaz was one of the Iranian cities to see large anti-government protests over poor living standards late last year.
Abas Aslani, a journalist focused on Middle East, tweeted a video from the attack site.
Terrorists, after opening fire at #IRGC military parade in #Ahvaz, southwest of #Iran, have escaped. Security forces are after the terrorists. State TV reported that the gunmen are "Takfiri terrorists". pic.twitter.com/rt9sxCincv
— Abas Aslani (@AbasAslani) September 22, 2018
— Abas Aslani (@AbasAslani) September 22, 2018
UPDATE: The attack in Ahvaz, Iran has now been claimed by Ahwazi Democratic Popular Front (ADPF). ADPF is the militant wing of Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz (ASMLA).
Photos of the dead bodies of the two of the four attackers had been circulating on Iranian social media.
The following video obtained by ITCT Newsdesk shows the exact moment ADPF gunmen attacked the IRGC parade:
It was reported that earlier this week, leaders of ADPF called on their members to carry out attacks against the state of Iran.
UPDATE 2: In a tweet, Iran’s Foreign Minister blamed a “foreign regime”, “regional terror sponsors” and the US for the attack in Ahvaz.
Terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime have attacked Ahvaz. Children and journos among casualties. Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks. Iran will respond swiftly and decisively in defense of Iranian lives. pic.twitter.com/WG1J1wgVD9
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) September 22, 2018
UPDATE 3: According to ITCT sources, Islamic State fanboys shared the following poster on Telegram on 12th March 2018, encouraging attacks against the state of Iran.
UPDATE 4: According to latest figures, 10 IRGC personnel have been killed while at least 24 others have been wounded. Initial reports, quoting IRGC officials, said there were no civilian causalities but according to updated reports, multiple civilians have also been injured in the attack.
UPDATE 5: According to updated death toll quoted by CNN, the total number of deaths in Ahvaz attack has reached 24 with 53 others injured.
UPDATE 6: Hours after the incident, Islamic State’s Amaq Agency has claimed responsibility for the attack in Ahvaz, Iran. Amaq Agency’s statement says “inghimasi fighters” of Islamic State carried out the attack.
ITCT Associate Jasmine Opperman points out that in a follow up claim by Islamic State, Amaq Agency clarifies that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was not present at the military parade. In its first claim, Amaq had claimed that Rouhani was present, which was incorrect. Rouhani was in Tehran at the time.
UPDATE 7: ITCT Associate Jasmine Opperman confirms that Iran’s Tasnim News Agency released names and identities of those killed in : 5 IRGC officers, 11 IRGC soldiers, 2 Basij forces, 1 Army cleric, 1 war veteran and 1 four-year-old kid (child of an Army officer), and four other people whose affiliation has not been mentioned but could be most likely civilians.
1- امید فرخی زنگنه
2- علی لویمی
3- اسماعیل شفیع نژاد
4- میلاد جهانگیر نژاد
5- سعید کریمی
6- یونس پور حلو
7- رضا شعیبی
8- امید حسینی
9- علی کمایی
11- حسین ولایتی فر
12- سعید زارع
13- حسین فاروق
14- خلیل هاشمی فرد
15- علی سلمان وند
16- امید نریمسایی
17- محمد عذاری
18- نبی دریس
19- ابراهیم بنداوی
20- محمد افشنگی
21- مهران زرافشان
22- سینا آغاجری
23- حسین منجزی
24- محمد عوذاری
25- مجهول الهویه
Last major Islamic State in Iran was on 7th June 2017, when Islamic State claimed responsibility for at least two coordinated armed assaults in Tehran. Two assault teams of IS, armed with automatic weapons, grenades and suicide vests, entered both the Iranian parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini, carrying out suicide bombings followed by heavy gunfire. At the time, Iranian government reported that a third planned attack was foiled but gave no further details.
UPDATE 8: Al-Arabiya English reports:
The spokesman of the “Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahwaz” Yaquob Hurr al-Tisteri said in an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel that “ISIS claims of the attack are not true”.
He then said that the attack was executed by national resistance individuals without specifying whether his group had any specific knowledge on which group carried out the attack.
The spokesman told Al Arabiya that civilians were killed due to random shooting by the Iranian security forces and that sources on the ground said individuals “responded in retaliation”.
UPDATE 9: Islamic State’s Nashir News Agency has issued detailed claim for the attack on Saturday in Ahvaz, Iran, saying that more than 100 people were killed and injured in the attack. Nashir statement attributes the attack to Islamic State’s Khorasan branch, also referred to as ISKP.
In another new detailed claim released by Amaq Agency, IS publishes photo of four masked fighters. But ITCT sources confirm that these four fighters are most likely not the fighters who carried out the attack. In fact, this photo has been used a stock photo by the Islamic State in the past, as pointed out by researcher on Jihadism C. Anzalone.
Amaq statement calls it a “revenge attack” and mentions Iran’s activities in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The updated death toll of the attack, according to local authorities in Iran, has reached 29 and at least 60 are injured. The death toll is expected to climb as time passes.
A statement released by US State Dept on the attack in Iran said:
“We stand with the Iranian people against the scourge of radical Islamic terrorism and express our sympathy to them at this terrible time. The United States condemns all acts of terrorism and the loss of any innocent lives.”
UPDATE 11: In a detailed statement released by ASMLA, the group has rejected responsibility for the Ahvaz attack and blamed a “suspicious small group that claims to be a part of the ASMLA organization”.
UPDATE 12: On 23rd September, Islamic State’s amaq Agency released a video featuring 3 of the 4 men who took part in the attack in Ahvaz, Iran. The video appears to have been filmed from a smartphone and shows three individuals in the uniform of the IRGC. Two individuals can be heard speaking in Arabic and one in Farsi.
Aside from the last perpetrator who speaks in Persian, the first two attackers speak in Arabic although it is clear that Arabic is not their native language. This supports the claim that they were sent by Islamic State’s Khorasan branch ISKP.
A man wearing a baseball cap emblazoned with what appears to be an IRGC logo can be heard speaking in Farsi in the video. “We are Muslims, they are kafirs (non-believers),” the man says.
“We will destroy them with a strong and guerrilla-style attack, inshallah (God willing),” he adds.
Also interesting is the fact that none of the three men make any mention of Islamic State or pledge allegiance to Al-Baghdadi in the entire video. Pledging allegiance to Al-Baghdadi is generally a typical thing to do for militants in such videos released by Amaq.
The full video can be watched here.
UPDATE 13: Ahvaz National Resistance (ANR), the faction that was apparently disowned by ASMLA, doubled down on its claim for the attack and released names of the attackers.
ANR leaders say that Islamic State stole the video of the attackers from their Telegram channel.
Iranian intelligence ministry on Tuesday claimed that it has raided what it calls the hideout of the terrorists who facilitated the Ahvaz attack, arresting at least 22 people. A video was also released of the suspects. Iranian dissidents have accused the government of using the attack as an excuse to carry out mass arrests of activists critical of the government.
On 26th September 2018, Islamic State’s Al-Furqan Media released new audio tape of IS spokesperson Abu Hassan Al-Muhajir, in which he glorifies the Ahvaz attack and doubles down on IS claim for the attack.
On 28th September, Islamic State released issue no. 149 of its weekly Al-Naba magazine which featured photos of the five attackers who, according to IS, carried out the Ahvaz attack. It also carried an infographic on the attack.
On 30th Sept, pro-IS channel Al-Abd Al-Faqir Media released a video further capitalizing on the Ahvaz attack, discussing Iran’s weaknesses and the economic impact of the attack.
On 1st October 2018, Iran said it has carried out missile strikes in Syria against masterminds of Ahvaz attack.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said that it fired six medium-range missiles into Syria from bases in western Iran at 2 a.m. local time, striking east of the Euphrates River and killing and wounding several militants. A statement on the IRGC’s website described the targets as “takfiri terrorists,” a term it often uses to refer to the Islamic State.