Iran and the United States ironically concurred with ISIS Friday that the group’s Afghan branch was behind the deadly twin bombings in Iran on Wednesday.
Iran’s Intelligence Ministry announced that arrests had been made a few hours after the attack, and one of the two alleged suicide bombers was a Tajik national.
“The first operation was carried out in the evening of the day that terror attacks happened,” Iran’s intelligence ministry said in a statement, “resulting in the arrest of those who transported the terrorists into the country.”
A few hours later, Reuters reported that “intercepts” collected by the United States proved that the Afghanistan branch of ISIS had carried out the twin attacks, in which 91 people were killed, a quarter of them children.
“The intelligence is clear-cut and indisputable,” Reuters quoted an anonymous US source familiar with the intelligence who did not offer more details.
The bombers struck a memorial service for Iran’s most powerful –and best known– military and intelligence figure, General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad four years ago.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack for almost 30 hours, when reports appeared –first at Reuters then others– that ISIS (or Daesh) had issued a statement posted on the chat app Telegram.
In the statement, ISIS said two operatives wearing explosive suicide belts had carried out the attack.
Many questions were raised, both from officials and state-affiliated activists –who blamed US and Israel– as well as ordinary Iranians –who pointed the finger at the regime itself.
On Friday, authorities in Iran announced that 11 people had been arrested in connection with the bombings, including people who have helped the perpetrators enter the country and hide in a place outside Kerman.
IRGC’s commander in chief Major General Hossein Salami confirmed the role of ISIS but laid the ultimate responsibility on Israel and the US.
“They [ISIS] can only act as agents and mercenaries of America and Zionism,” he said. “But we give them this warning; if you are brave enough, fight us, why are you killing defenseless women and children?
Israel and the US have not officially commented on the role of ISIS. But officials from the Biden administration have denied any involvement in the bombings.
“The United States was not involved in any way, and any suggestion to the contrary is ridiculous,” the State Department’s spokesperson Matthew Miller said Thursday, “and we have no reason to believe that Israel was involved in this explosion.”
Inside Iran, people seem to be concerned more about the repercussions of the bombings than the identity of its perpetrators. And for good reason.
Barely a day after the attack, cyber agents of the regime started a campaign targeting ordinary Iranians who had ridiculed or criticized Soleimani and his memorial service on their anonymous social media accounts.
The campaign has led to several arrests, as the agents keep identifying and exposing the citizens behind anonymous accounts.
On Friday, Iranian activists launched a counter-campaign to raise awareness about the cyber agents’ activity on X, which they say breaches the platform’s codes.
Thousands have used the hashtag #BanTerroristAccounts, many mentioning X’s owner Elon Musk, hoping that he takes note and moves against Iran’s cyber agents, whose accounts are still mostly active, allowing them to identify more people and effectively hand them to authorities.