The second attack consisted of two people entering the Imam Khomeini Mausoleum, a tribute to the founder of the Islamic Republic that houses the remains of numerous political figures. In a nearly-identical scenario, one of the attackers, a female suicide bomber, blew up her vest, while the other was killed in a shoot-out. On Wednesday, The Guardian’s Simon Tisdall provided an analogy to explain the significance of the attack. For Iranians, he said, “the attack on Khomeini’s tomb is the equivalent of somebody trying to blow up the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.”
In total, at least 12 people were killed and 46 wounded. In a video posted Thursday on Amaq News, the ISIS media channel, five men and their leader, who some believe to be Sadeghi, claimed responsibility for both attacks. The men can be heard speaking in Arabic and Kurdish, lending credence to the all-but-confirmed theory that Iranian Kurds were behind the incident. “This is a message from the soldiers of Islamic State in Iran, soldiers of the first brigade of Islamic State in Iran which, God willing, won’t be the last,” the leader in the video says. “This brigade will mark the start of jihad in Iran, and we call on our Muslim brothers to join us.”
While the attacks represent ISIS’s first strike inside Iran, the nation has long been a suspected target of the Islamic State. In March, the group released a video saying they would “conquer Iran and restore it to the Sunni Muslim nation as it was before.” The majority of Iranian citizens are Shiites, whom ISIS regards as apostates. ISIS, on the other hand, subscribes to a strict version of Sunni Islam that comprises a mere five percent of Iran’s population. The fact that Wednesday’s attackers were most likely Sunni Iranian Kurds could signal the beginning of a larger insurgency within the nation. Indeed, that seems to be ISIS’s very goal. On Friday, Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, an Arabic affairs analyst, told The New York Times that “the border towns and villages and tribes along Iran’s east, west, and southern borders are poor and vulnerable to extremism,” with “young unemployed men” particularly susceptible to recruitment.
Even with ISIS claiming responsibility for the attacks, Iranian officials have been quick to blame the incident on their international rivals: Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the U.S. On Friday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the attacks would “only increase hatred for the governments of the United States and their stooges in the region like the Saudis.” While the White House said it was “grieving and praying” over the victims of the attacks, it scornfully noted that “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.” In a Thursday tweet, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called the statement “repugnant,” arguing that the terrorist incident was “backed by U.S. clients.” “Iranian people reject such U.S. claims of friendship,” he added.