Despite the Islamic State’s claim of responsibility for the weekend terror attack on the Iranian military parade, Iranian officials are laying the blame on the U.S. and Israel, and vowing revenge.
Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), accused the U.S. and Israel of sponsoring the attack, and promised a “devastating” retaliation from Iran, Reuters reported Monday.
“You have seen our revenge before … You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done,” Salami said in a televised speech ahead of a funeral for the victims.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Deputy Chief General Hossein Salami to the perpetrators of the Ahvaz military parade attack: “You have seen our revenge before… You will see that our response will be crushing and devastating and you will regret what you have done.”
— Evan Kohlmann (@IntelTweet) September 24, 2018
Funeral attendees took to the streets, some shouting “Death to Israel and America.”
At least 29 were killed and another 70 injured after attackers opened fire on the military parade in Ahwaz. The annual event commemorates the beginning of the 1980-1988 war between the Islamic Republic and Iraq.
At least 12 of the dead were reportedly members of the IRGC.
Iran’s Fars news agency reported five attackers, instead of the previously reported four. All five were killed by Iranian security forces.
Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi insisted the attackers were linked to the U.S. and Israel. “They are not from Daesh (Islamic State) or other groups fighting (Iran’s) Islamic system … but they are linked to America and (Israel’s intelligence agency) Mossad,” he told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), according to Haaretz.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed “foreign mercenaries” supported by the U.S., although U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley has denied such accusations. Rouhani also said, “The perpetrators will be arrested and brought to justice.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif took to Twitter to issue his blame, saying, “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.”
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
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed Zarif’s remarks on Sunday. “I saw the comments of Zarif,” Pompeo said, according to CNN. “When you have a security incident at home, blaming others is an enormous mistake. And the loss of innocent life is tragic, and I wish Zarif would focus on keeping his own people secure rather than causing insecurity all around the world.”
Several officials with the IRGC have said Israel and Gulf states trained the militants in the attack, though they were sponsored by the U.S.
Deputy IRGC commander, Ali Fadavi, said, “This terror act is not a sign of power, but one of weakness and a continuation of the actions of Daesh (Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria where they shoot innocent people.”
“Based on reports, this cowardly act was done by people who the Americans come to help when they are trapped in Syria and Iraq, and are paid by Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a written statement.
Both ISIS and the Ahvaz National Resistance group have separately claimed responsibility for the attack.
ISIS media network (al-Amaq) claims responsibility for terror attack in #Ahvaz, Iran. Their statement also falsely claims that President Rouhani was at the scene when it happened. He was at the military parade, but in Tehran. https://t.co/a7T5j8L5Ob
— Hadi Nili (@HadiNili) September 22, 2018
However, ISIS-backed media outlet, Amaq News Agency, released a video reportedly showing three of the four militants behind the attack. In the video, the men spoke of carrying out jihad, their impending death, and spoke praises of God.
ISIS news agency Aamaq releases a video that shows three of the terrorists who
did the #Ahvaz attack talking about how happy they are about what they are about to do. #Iranpic.twitter.com/RnpzAvmb2N
— Walid (@walid970721) September 23, 2018
Both U.S. President Trump and Iranian President Rouhani are attending the U.N. General Assembly this week in New York City, though it is unclear if the two will speak about the terror attack.