Iran says foreign spy agencies behind terrorist attack in southeast

Iranian officials have blamed foreign countries for supporting terrorists that killed 27 border guards belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

al-monitor Relatives of a member of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, who was killed by a suicide car bomb, mourn at Isfahan airport, Iran, Feb. 14, 2019.  Photo by Morteza Salehi/Tasnim News Agency/via REUTERS.

Topics covered

border security, suicide, tel aviv, white house, pakistan, irgc, hassan rouhani, terrorist attacks

Feb 14, 2019

Iranian authorities have vowed revenge after a suicide attack killed 27 border guards belonging to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on its southeastern border.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement saying, “A group who devoted themselves to protecting our borders and guard our security were martyred in an attack by terrorists.” The statement continued, “The connection between the agents of this crime with the spy agencies of some countries in the region and outside of the region is certain. The responsible agencies of [our] country must focus on that and pursue it seriously.”

The al-Qaeda-linked-Salafist extremist group Jaish al-Adl took credit for the attack in the southeastern Sistan and Baluchistan province. Iran has long complained that Pakistan has not taken seriously the threat this group poses to Iran and has not done enough to deter their attacks.

Commander of the IRGC Mohammad Ali Jafari issued a statement requesting that Pakistan take a more aggressive approach to this group on their border. “From the brotherly government of Pakistan and the security institutions and the army of this neighboring country, it is expected — with increasing actions and security measures on the shared borders with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the arena for takfiri terrorists and the mercenaries of the enemies of both countries — to remove the potential from any anti-security and hazardous action from them by confronting them firmly,” read the statement from the IRGC commander.

President Hassan Rouhani vowed a strong response and also blamed foreign countries for the attack. “This crime is another spot of shame on the black resume of the prime supporters of terrorism in the White House, Tel Aviv, and regional agents who both make ludicrous and arrogant actions toward Iran phobia and also claim to be fighting terrorism and creating security in the Middle East,” the president’s statement read.

Rouhani also indirectly addressed Pakistan Feb. 14 when speaking to reporters before traveling to Sochi to meet with his Russian and Turkish counterparts. He asked neighboring countries to not allow “terrorists to take advantage of their territory.” He added, “If this continues and they cannot stop the terrorists, from a legal and international regulations viewpoint it is clear that we have rights and at the necessary time we will use these rights.”

While Iranian officials were vague and indirect in their accusations, Jahan News was far more direct, saying a “powerful foreign backer” had increased its support to terrorist groups in this region in the last few months. The article said the foreign backer could be assumed given the statements coming out of the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The article also noted that the US-led Warsaw summit to discuss peace and security in the region, which was mostly focused on combatting Iran, was linked to the attack, calling the attack the “military branch” of the Warsaw summit.

All of the casualties were from an IRGC unit from Esfahan. The IRGC had previously taken over border control after a number of attacks on conscript border guards. The bus in which they were attacked by a suicide bomber was traveling from Khash to Zahedan. The bodies of the dead arrived in Esfahan Feb. 14 for burial.