Iran’s government uses public resources to repress dissidents and to enforce hijab rather than ensuring the safety of borders and citizens, critical voices say.
Those responsible for defending the country and its borders “have strayed from their main responsibility” which has created suitable grounds for terrorists, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the conservative former head of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Relations Committee, told the reformist Etemad newspaper about the January 3 terrorist attack in Kerman that killed at least 90 and injured over 200.
“What happened is that the enemies of Iran and Martyr Soleimani were much more prepared than the security officials inside Iran. While the relevant officials in Kerman were preoccupied with propaganda work, the enemies were doing operational planning,” he added.
“There is very high possibility of incidents like this given that Iran has many enemies,” he said while pointing out that local authorities had also failed in planning for Soleimani’s burial ceremony in January 2020 when a stampede killed around sixty participants and injured over two hundred others.
In a statement posted on its affiliate Telegram channels Thursday, a branch of the Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh) in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the explosions. The statement named two suicide bombers as Omar Al-Mohed and Saif Allah Al-Mujahid and said they had detonated their explosive belts in the middle of the crowd, “resulting in the death and injury of more than 300 polytheists”.
Earlier Thursday, the official news agency IRNA had cited an informed source as saying that conclusive evidence, including CCTV footage, indicated that suicide bombing was responsible for the first of the two explosions.
Calling the Iranian government “inefficient and corrupt”, Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, director of the Norway-based Iran Human Rights (IRH) criticized the regime for using its resources to persecute people for hijab and dissent instead of guaranteeing their security and warned about an increase in “executions and repression of citizens under the pretext of this terrorist act as in the past.”
Ahmad Zahedi-Langaroudi, a prominent journalist and member of Iran’s banned Writers’ Association, in a tweet said the government should be held responsible irrespective of who perpetrated the terrorist attack. “They have employed numerous audacious mercenaries to oppress women. Both provincial and national security and military officials have not only failed to take responsibility, apologize, or resign, but they have also been boasting and deflecting responsibility!” he wrote.
Many on social media accused Iran’s own security and intelligence agencies of perpetrating the bombing to buy sympathy for the regime. They claimed Soleimani’s own family and high-ranking Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) officials were warned not to attend the ceremony.
“The government should have at least explained the absence of Qassem Soleimani’s family and IRGC commanders at the Kerman ceremony,” Turkmen Sahra, an account dedicated to Iran’s Sunni Turkmen region tweeted. “The Kerman scenario is an excuse for executions and new arrests.’
Citing various scenarios after the bombing, an IRGC-linked news agency, Tasnim, had claimed Wednesday that the two bombs in handbags or backpacks that tore through the crowd 300 meters apart were hidden inside trash cans and remotely detonated.
Hardliners including some lawmakers and Kayhan daily, known as the voice of Khamenei, had pointed fingers at Israel while others held the Taliban, and various ethnic militants such as the Baluchi Jundullah responsible for the attack.
In a brief message Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei condemned the attack and threatened a hard response and punishment. Accordingly, banners have sprung up all over Iranian cities promising “hard revenge”.