Iran intelligence chief: no evidence yet of Saudi involvement in Tehran attacks

By Rudaw 24 minutes ago – 8 June 2017 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iran’s minister of intelligence has said that it is too early to say that Saudi Arabia was involved in Tehran’s twin attacks on the parliament building and the Khomeini shrine on Wednesday that killed 17 people and injured more than 40.

“In this case, since we do not want to make slogans and unsubstantiated remarks, it is early to say that it was from the Saudi Arabia. We cannot yet make a judgement and therefore we are studying the subject,” Iran’s intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi said.

The authorities have released the name of five gunmen, Iranian citizens who were said to have fought in Mosul and Raqqa. Alavi said that despite the obvious links between the Arab gulf country and terrorism in both Iraq and Syria, Tehran does not have any evidence at this stage that could point to Saudi involvement in the attacks, according to a statement from the ministry. Earlier on Wednesday, the country’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGGC) stated that Saudi Arabia and the United States had a hand in the twin attacks that targeted the Iranian parliament in the center of the city, and the mausoleum of the founder of the Islamic revolution Ayatollah Khomeini in southern Tehran.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also pointed a finger at Riyadh, though he did not call the country by name Wednesday night.

“Terror-sponsoring despots threaten to bring the fight to our homeland,” Javad Zarif said in a tweet making reference to an earlier statement from the Saudi deputy prince that they will take the fight into Iranian territories. “Proxies attack what their masters despise most: the seat of democracy,” Zarif added with reference to elections that are held in Iran as opposed to the dynasty rule in Riyadh.The Saudi prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who is also the defense minister, accused Iran in May of seeking to occupy the Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

“We won’t wait for the battle to be in Saudi Arabia. Instead, we’ll work so that the battle is for them in Iran,” the prince said in an interview with an Arab channel.

The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei downplayed the implications of the attacks, calling the gunmen “fire-crackers” who would have no impact on the will of the people of Iran.President Hassan Rouhani on his part called for a united international fight against global terrorism, extremism and violence. The ministry said that the gunmen had a record in “terrorism” with links to the Sunni extremist groups, who had then joined the ISIS group and fought alongside the ISIS militants in Mosul and Raqqa.

ISIS claimed the attacks on Wednesday, also publishing a video hat it claimed was from the parliament building.  It added that the group returned to Iran last year trying to commit acts of terrorism in the holy cities of the country but they failed to do so since the security forces inflicted damage on their network while killing the ringleader named as Abu Aisha. The five gunmen remained in the country until they committed the two coordinated attacks, three of them attacking the parliament, and the other two attacking the shrine. Intelligence Minister Alavi said that the terror threats had intensified against the country in the last month and few days during they arrested groups of two, three or individuals every week.