Bold Attack in Tehran: ISIS Penetrates Revolutionary Guard Wall

By Alex Vatanka

Alex Vatanka is a Senior Fellow at the Middle East Institute and at the Jamestown Foundation in Washington D.C.  From 2006 to 2010, he was the Managing Editor of Jane's Islamic Affairs Analyst. From 2001 to 2006, he was a senior political analyst at Jane's in London (UK) where he mainly covered the Middle East. Alex is also a Senior Fellow in Middle East Studies at the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS) at Hurlburt Field and teaches as an Adjunct Professor at DISAM at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Vatanka is the author of Iran-Pakistan: Security, Diplomacy, and American Influence (2015). He is presently working on his second book The Making of Iranian Foreign Policy: Contested Ideology, Personal Rivalries and the Domestic Struggle to Define Iran's Place in the World.

On Wednesday morning, assailants entered the Iranian Parliament building and the Mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini – founder of the Islamic Republic – armed with assault rifles and explosive vests. Iranian authorities report that both sites have now been retaken and the attackers killed, but the assault has left at least 12 dead and 40 wounded in the worst terrorist attack in Tehran since the turbulent times of Iran’s 1979 Revolution. ISIS’ Amaq news agency quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and circulated a 24-second video of the parliament siege.

In response to the attack, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told reports that the terrorist incident will “strengthen the resolve of the Iranian nation against terrorism,” while Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani downplayed the assault as “not a major issue.” Meanwhile, some prominent Iranian political figures, including officials from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have accused the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and other rivals of complicity in the attacks.

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