Skip to main content

Iran’s new challenge: The Islamic State in Persia?

Though Iran has announced that it has killed the Islamic State’s "emir" in the country, it continues to face serious security threats from a variety of militants.
Iranian soldiers participate in military manoeuvres on the outskirts of the northeastern Iranian town of Torbat-E-Jam, near Mashhad, on November 17, 2015. Iran started military manoeuvres to respond to possible attacks by armed groups, such as the Islamic State (IS) group, a military commander said according to ISNA. AFP PHOTO / ISNA / HOSSEIN HOSSEINZADEH        (Photo credit should read HOSSEIN HOSSEINZADEH/AFP/Getty Images)

When Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced on June 29, 2014, his self-styled caliphate, its borders were only about 20 miles from those of Iran. IS-controlled territory extended to the Iraqi border province of Diyala, posing a serious threat to Iranian national security. Tehran wanted to keep its borders far from the direct reverberations of the IS phenomenon, therefore hundreds of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) troops poured into Iraq to fight their first battle in Jalawla alongside Iraqi Kurdish forces and members of the Iraqi Badr Organization, which is known for its close ties to the Islamic Republic.

The fight to eliminate IS has continued in Iraq, with ever more Iranian involvement. Yet it seems as if the group has managed to find its way into Iran. On several occasions this year, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has announced that terrorist plots within the country’s borders have been foiled. Two major announcements were made in June and August revealing, according to Iranian security officials, plans to attack the capital Tehran and other cities.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.