Terrorism in Iran

Terrorism in Iran

Numerous civilians, including women, children, government officials, activists, secular intellectuals and clerics have been victims of terrorism, or violence against civilians, over the course of modern Iranian history. [ [http://www.iran-interlink.org/?mod=view&id=2343 Iran, victim of terrorism and discrimination] ]

Several Iranian prime ministers, president, ministers were assassinated by militant groups during the 20th century. Some notable victims are Haj-Ali Razmara (Prime Minister), Dariush Forouhar (Minister of Labor), Mohammad Ali Rajai (President of Iran), Mohammad Javad Bahonar (Prime minister), Mohammad Beheshti (Head of Judiciary), Shapour Bakhtiar (Prime minister), Amir-Abbas Hoveida (Prime minister), Abdolhossein Hazhir (Prime minister), Haj Ali Razmara (Prime minister) and Ali Sayad Shirazi (Chief commander of the Army).

Other deaths of civilians in Iran thought to be acts of terrorism, or thought by some to be terrorism, include the Cinema Rex Fire, the 1994 Mashhad bombing, the 1998 Serial Murders of Dissident Intellectuals and the Iran Air Flight 655 event.

Attacks on Iranians

Assassinations in Qajar era

Shah Mohammad Khan Qajar was assassinated in 1797 in the city of Shusha, the capital of Karabakh khanate, after about 16 years in power. While Mohammad Khan Qajar's assassination might be called part of the ancient practice of palace intrigue, or motivated simply fear and/or revenge, the May 1, 1896 killing of Shah Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar [Clay, Catrine (2006), "King, Kaiser, Tsar". London: John Murray] conforms more closely to the modern phenomenon of terrorism as a tool of a political movement. Nasser al-Din was shot and killed by Mirza Reza Kermani, a follower of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, an early promoter of modern Pan-Islamism. Al-Afghani is reported to have said of the assassination, “surely it was a good deed to kill this bloodthirsty tyrant.” [Nikki R. Keddie, Sayyid Jamal ad-Din “al-Afghani”: A Political Biography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1972), p.412]

Fadayan-e Islam

Fadayan-e Islam was an Islamic fundamentalist secret society founded in Iran in 1946, by "a charismatic theology student" named Navab Safavi. Safavi sought to "purify Islam" in Iran by ridding it of `corrupting individuals` by means of carefully planned assassinations of certain leading intellectual and political figures. [Taheri, "The Spirit of Allah", (1985), p.98] Some of its targets in the late 1940s and early 1950s included secularist author Ahmad Kasravi, former premier Abdul-Hussein Hazhir, Education and Culture Minister Ahmad Zangeneh, and Prime Minister Haj-Ali Razmara. Such was the groups influence and success that it was able to use its powerful clerical supporters to free its assassins from punishment. In the mid-1950s, after the consolidation of the power of the Shah, the group was suppressed and Safavi executed. The group survived as supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution of Iran.

The 1988 shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655

On July 3, 1988 the USS "Vincennes" shot down an Iranian Airbus A300B2 on a scheduled commercial flight in Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, resulting in 290 civilian fatalities from six nations, including 66 children. The United States government denies the attack was deliberate and on February 22, 1996 agreed to pay Iran $61.8 million in compensation for the 248 Iranians killed in the shootdown.

tate terrorism and the 1998 "Chain murders"

Since the founding of the Islamic Republic, dissidents in Iran have complained of unsolved murders and disappearances of intellectuals and political activists who had been critical of the Islamic Republic system in some way. In 1998 these complaints came to a head with the killing of three dissident writers, a political leader (Dariush Forouhar) and his wife in the span of two months, in what became known as the Chain murders or 1998 Serial Murders of Iran. ["Killing of three rebel writers turns hope into fear in Iran", Douglas Jehl, "New York Times", December 14, 1998 p.A6] [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/iran/2001/5-050201.html RFE/RL Iran Report ] ] [ [http://www.greenleft.org.au/2003/556/29471 Green Left - Regular Feature: Write On: Letters to Green Left Weekly ] ] of Iranians who had been critical of the Islamic Republic system in some way. [Elaine Sciolino, "Persian Mirrors : the Elusive Face of Iran", Free Press, 2000, p.241] Altogether more than 80 writers, translators, poets, political activists, and ordinary citizens are thought to have been killed over the course of several years. ["Killing of three rebel writers turns hope into fear in Iran", Douglas Jehl, "New York Times", December 14, 1998 p.A6] The deputy security official of the Ministry of Information, Saeed Emami was arrested for the killings and later committed suicide, although many believe higher level officials were responsible for the killings. According to Iranterror.com, "it was widely assumed that [Emami] was murdered in order to prevent the leak of sensitive information about Ministry of Intelligence and Security operations, which would have compromised the entire leadership of the Islamic Republic." [ [http://www.iranterror.com/content/view/33/52/ A Man Called Saeed Emani] ]

Attacks by Taliban and Sunni extremists

1994 Mashhad bombing

On June 20, 1994 explosion of a bomb in a prayer hall of Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad [ [http://openweb.tvnews.vanderbilt.edu/1994-6/1994-06-20-ABC-16.html ABC Evening News for Monday, Jun 20, 1994] ] that killed at least 25 people. [ [http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-16070232.html Explosive circles: Iran. (Mashhad bombing)] ] The Iranian government officially blamed Mujahedin-e-Khalq for the incident to avoid sectarian conflict between Shias and Sunnis [ [www.windsofchange.net/archives/004697.php] ] . However, the Pakistani daily The News International reported on March 27, 1995, "Pakistani investigators have identified a 24-year-old religious fanatic Abdul Shakoor residing in Lyari in Karachi, as an important Pakistani associate of Ramzi Yousef. Abdul Shakoor had intimate contacts with Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and was responsible for the June 20, 1994, massive bomb explosion at the shrine Imam Ali Reza in Mashhad." [ [http://www.saag.org/papers5/paper484.html SIPAH-E-SAHABA PAKISTAN, LASHKAR-E-JHANGVI, BIN LADEN & RAMZI YOUSEF ] ] According to the Jamestown Foundation Terrorism Monitor, "a report produced by the [Iranian] Ministry of Intelligence in October 1994 identified the culprits as operatives of Pakistan's "Lashkare Jhangvi"-the sister organization of Sepahe Sahaba." [ [http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?issue_id=2960 The Iranian Intelligence Services and the War On Terror By Mahan Abedin ] ]

1998 Mazari Sharif killings

In August 8, 1998 the Taliban assisted by Al-Qaeda, attacked the Afghan city of Mazari Sharif killing 11 Iranian diplomats and journalists along with thousands of Afghan civilians, in what was considered an attack motivated by takfir against Shia. [Human Rights Watch Report, `Afghanistan, the massacre in Mazar-e-Sharif`, November 1998]

More infuriating for Iran was the fact that

Tehran had earlier contacted the Pakistan government to guarantee the security of their Consulate, because the Iranians knew that ISI officers had driven into Mazar with the Taliban. The Iranians had thought that Dost Mohammed's unit had been sent to protect them so had welcomed them at first. .... At first the Taliban rescued to admit the whereabouts of the diplomats but then as international protests and Iranian fury increased, they admitted that the diplomats had been killed, not on official orders but by renegade Taliban. But reliable sources said that Dost Mohammed had spoken to Mullah Omar on his wireless to ask whether the diplomats should be killed and Omar had given the go-ahead." [Rashid, Ahmed, "Taliban : Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia", Yale University Press, 2000 p.74-5]

Iran was also angry at the lack of support from Western countries, particularly America, which considered Iran an enemy. Referring to the attack, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei alleges that "neither the Americans, nor the Europeans, who are now pursuing Al-Qaeda agents as members of the most dangerous terror organization, showed any reaction at all." [ [http://www.khamenei.ir/EN/News/detail.jsp?id=20040712A We Cannot Believe Muslims Are Behind Terrorism in Iraq: Leader] ]

The Taliban were also thought to have "secretly" backed anti-regime Iranian groups, such as the Iranian Sunni militant group Ahl-e-Sunna Wal Jamaat from Khorasan and Sistan provinces. The group received weapons and support from the Taliban and "Iranians were convinced that the Pakistanis were also sponsoring them." The group sought to overthrow the Shia Iranian government, despite the fact that Iran was overwhelmingly Shia. [Rashid, Ahmed, "Taliban : Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia", Yale University Press, 2000 p.203]

Iran responded to the killings by putting its forces on alert and moving troops to the Afghan border, though tensions would subside.


Jundallah, a Sunni Islamist Baloch insurgent organization based in Balochistan, claims to be fighting for the rights of Sunni in Iran. [ [http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/07/080707fa_fact_hersh?printable=true Preparing the Battlefield] ] It is believed to have 1,000 fighters and claims to have killed 400 Iranian soldiers.cite news
last = Massoud
first =Ansari
coauthors =
title =Sunni group vows to behead Iranians
work =
pages =
language =
publisher =Washington Times
date = January 16, 2006
url =http://www.washtimes.com/world/20060116-124019-6619r.htm
accessdate = 2007-04-05
] The group has been identified as a terrorist organization by Iran and Pakistan [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/02/16/iran.bombing/index.html 2nd blast in 3 days hits Iranian city, 16 February 2007] [http://www.newsline.com.pk/NewsAug2004/cover1Aug2004.htm Al-Qaeda's New Face, August 2004] ] and many believe it is linked to Al-QaedaThe group has been identified as a terrorist organization by Iran and Pakistan [ [http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/02/16/iran.bombing/index.html 2nd blast in 3 days hits Iranian city, 16 February 2007] [http://www.newsline.com.pk/NewsAug2004/cover1Aug2004.htm Al-Qaeda's New Face, August 2004] ] and many believe it is linked to Al-Qaeda. [ [http://www.atimes.com/atimes/south_asia/fg20df05.html The legacy of Nek Mohammed By Syed Saleem Shahzad ] ] It is also believed to receive support from the US government. [ [http://irancoverage.com/2008/07/08/seymour-hersh-us-training-jundullah-and-mek-for-bombing-preparation/ Seymour Hersh: US Training Jundullah and MEK for Bombing Preparation] ]

2007 Zahedan bombing

A car filled with explosives stopped in front of a bus full of Revolutionary Guards in Ahmabad district, Zahedan, Sistan-Baluchestan Province at 6:30 a.m. on 14 February, 2007. The car, parked in the middle of the road, forced the bus to stop. The car's driver and passengers then got out of the car and used motorbikes to leave the scene while they shot at the bus. A few seconds later the bombs exploded, killing 18 Guards. Guards commander Qasem Rezaei said, "This blind terrorist operation led to the martyrdom of 18 citizens of Zahedan." Rezaei attributed the attack to "insurgents and elements of insecurity." Majid Razavi, an Interior Ministry official, said Iranian police arrested a suspect within an hour of the bombing. [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/14/AR2007021400039.html Report: Bomb kills 18 Revolutionary Guardsmen in Iran] The Washington Post]

Jundallah, an organization some alleged to be affiliated with Al Qaeda, [http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=560152005 Al-Qaeda gains Palestine foothold] Scotsman] claimed responsibility for the attack on 15 February and said it is retaliation for the executions of those accused of carrying out the Ahvaz Bombings Fact|date=August 2007. The Iranian government has arrested five suspects, two of whom were carrying camcorders and grenades when they were arrested, while the police killed the main "agent" of the attack. [http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=132850&version=1&template_id=37&parent_id=17 11 Guards killed in Iran bomb attack] Gulf Times]

Hossein Ali Shahriari, Zahedan's representative in parliament, rhetorically asked, "Why does our diplomatic apparatus not seriously confront the Pakistani government for harboring bandits and regime's enemies? Why do security, military and police officials not take more serious action?"

Attacks by Mujahedin-e-Khalq

Mujahedin-e-Khalq, (MeK or People's Mujahedin of Iran) is an anti-clerical Islamist guerilla organization regarded by the Iranian, the U.S. governments, and others as a terrorist organization. However, the MeK and some other observers argue that the MeK itself has been a victim of aggression by its fundamentalist adversaries in the Islamic revolution and by the Islamic government. Hundreds of MeK supporters and members are said to have been killed and some 3,000 arrested from 1979 to 1981. [ [http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=3632 MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) ] ] [Moin, "Khomeini", (2000), p.239] A many as 30,000 mostly MeK political prisoners were executed in 1998 by the Islamic government.

The MeK responded with devastating terrorist attacks. On 28 June 1981, bombs set by the MeK killed 70 high-ranking officials of the Islamic Republic Party, including Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti who was the second highest official after Ayatollah Khomeini at the time. two years after the Islamic Revolution of Iran, the PMOI detonated bombs at the headquarters of the now-dissolved Islamic Republic Party. Two months later, the PMOI detonated another bomb in the office of the president, killing President Rajai and Premier Mohammad Javad Bahonar. Their attacks did not succeed in overthrowing the Islamic government.

In recent years, attacks by, or thought to have been by, the Mujahedin-e-Khalq include:

1998 Asadollah Lajevardi assassination

Two members of Mujahedin-e-Khalq, assassinated Asadollah Lajevardi, a prosecutor and director of Evin Prison, along with his brother and a bystander on 23 August 1998. [http://db.mipt.org/Incident.jsp?incID=11631 Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) attacked Government target (Aug. 23, 1998, Iran)] MIPT Terror Knowledge Base]

1999 Assassination of Ali Sayad Shirazi

On April 10 1999, 6:45 local time Brigadier-General Ali Sayad Shirazi was assassinated outside his house when he was going to work. The People's Mujahedin of Iran claimed responsibility for the assassination of Sayyad Shirazi.In a statement the MKO claiming responsibility and gave as the reasons for his killing his role as commander of Iranian ground forces in Operation Mersad. cite news|title=Ali Sayed Shirazi|url=http://www.irib.ir/occasions/Sayyad-shirazi/en.htm]

2001 attack in Tehran

MEK members fired five rockets at the general command of the Internal Security Forces in Tehran, killing and injuring several, on 7 January 2001. [http://db.mipt.org/Incident.jsp?incID=16088 Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) attacked Government target (Jan. 7, 2001, Iran)] MIPT Terror Knowledge Base] MEK members fired mortar shells at several government buildings, including the Supreme Court, in Tehran on 21 January 2001. [http://www.tkb.org/Incident.jsp?incID=16106 Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) attacked Government target (Jan. 21, 2001, Iran)] MIPT Terror Knowledge Base]

Iranian civilians in 9/11 and 2005 London bombings

Among the thousands of victims of September 11, 2001 attacks were a handful of Iranians. cite web | url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,,557691,00.html | title=Iran takes a wary step towards the west | publisher="Guardian Unlimited"| date=September 25, 2001] Iranian Behnaz Mozakka was among the victims of 7 July 2005 London bombings.

2005 Ahvaz Bombings

The Ahvaz bombings were a series of bomb explosions that took place mostly in Ahvaz, Iran.

In 2005, Ahvaz witnessed a number of terrorist attacks. The first came ahead of the presidential election on 12 June. Interior Ministry official Mohammad Hussein Motahar said at the time::Two bombs were hidden in toilets within the building of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and at the Office of Construction and Civil Engineering. The third bomb exploded in front of the house of the governor of Khuzestan Province. All three of these explosions were in the city center of Ahvaz. Another bomb was hidden in the doorway of the house of a [state] radio and television official in Ahvaz. The bomb went off when the door was opened. [http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/06/7c6b09f2-7e93-4a69-8eb4-0628f350cccd.html]

2008 Shiraz bombing

An explosion outside a mosque in Shiraz in April 2008 killed 12 and injured more than 200. Responsibility for the attack has not been determined.

2008 Convoy bombing

According to Western news reports, an explosion in Tehran in July 2008 was possibly sabotage. The convoy was carrying arms for Hezbollah when it exploded, killing at least 15. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/2455428/Iranian-military-convoy-rocked-by-mystery-explosion.html]


Hassan Kazemi, Iran's ambassador to Iraq, said on 18 January 2007 that Iran is willing to train Iraqi security forces and give them military equipment for counter-terrorism. [http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/1/CD6C79B0-2B5B-4655-814E-F040432D1456.html Iran offers to help train, equip Iraqi forces] RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty]

The Russian government has worked with the United States and Iran in counter-terrorism operations. [http://newsfromrussia.com/politics/2001/10/02/16852.html State Duma Deputy: US Making strategic mistake] Pravda] [http://newsfromrussia.com/politics/2001/10/02/16798.html Russian Defense Minister for cooperation with Iran in countering international terrorism] Pravda]

In 2002, Afghan president Hamid Karzai said, "We will never forget your [Iranian] support of the Afghan nation's struggle against the former Soviet Union and later against terrorists." [ [http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1838368.stm BBC News | MIDDLE EAST | Afghan leader thanks Iran ] ]

Accusations and controversies

The governments of several countries including the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel have accused the Ahmadinejad administration of sponsoring terrorism either in their, or against their, respective countries, as well as against third party nations such as Iraq. [http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/02/08/blair.iran/index.html Blair: Iran sponsors terrorism] CNN] [http://newsfromrussia.com/world/2005/10/31/66629.html Sharon calls Syria and Iran sponsors of terrorism] Pravda] [http://www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-20/0612194917171736.htm Kazakhstan dismisses alleged anti-Iran comments from president] IRNA] [http://www.worldtribune.com/worldtribune/07/front2454132.4243055554.html Fighting breaks out in Yemen with Shi'ite group tied to Iran] World Tribune] Iranians rejected the claims and instead accused these countries of sponsoring terror. For instance the American secret service (CIA) was accused of being one of the main centers behind the terrorism. Iran also claimed that United States and U.K. are abusing the anti-terrorism campaign to gain some benefits and to impose their expansionist policies on others. [ [http://www.netnative.com/news/02/jan/1107.html Khamenei calls on UN to fight against oppression and injustice] ]

Iran and Israel-Palestine conflict

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been accused of supporting Islamic militant groups in Lebanon and Palestine. In response to such accusations Iranian president said: "We have our definition of terrorism and we are against terrorism, and we are a victim of terrorism... Undoubtedly, there is repression in Palestine and there is torture and restriction of freedom." [cite web | url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/monitoring/351829.stm | title=Iran's Khatami on Clinton conciliation, ties with Arab states | publisher=BBC News | date=May 24, 1999]


On 3 February 2007 Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah admitted for the first time that the Government of Iran assists Hezbollah with "money, weapons, and training, motivated by a religious fraternity and ethnic solidarity. And the help is funneled through Syria." [http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c=JPArticle&cid=1170359771711&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull Nasrallah admits 'intelligence failure'] The Jerusalem Post] Hezbollah's status as a terrorist organization, however, is not unanimously accepted by world powers, perhaps most notably the European Union. [ [http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/lebanon/intro/ redirect ] ]

See also

* Ahvaz Bombings
* New Great Game


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