Attack On Iran Parliament: 4 Killed, 8 Injured, ISIS Claims Responsibility

ISIS terrorists have attacked Iran Parliament and two other places resulting in firing felling four persons and injuring eight persons. Some media houses have put the number of dead at seven.

Tehran (Iran): At least two people were killed and eight people injured in a firing launched on Iran’s Parliament and the tomb of revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini, State media said on Wednesday. A few armed men and a suicide bomber opened firing. Some media houses reported that around seven people may have been killed in the attack.

Meanwhile, quoting a news agency, AFP reported that ISIS took responsibility for the attack.

Unconfirmed reports said that the attackers had taken four hostages inside the Parliament building, said a local news agency.

The lawmakers have been locked in the parliament’s Hall, said some reports. The news is that shooting seems to have ended, but the assailants have not been arrested so far.

When four gunmen burst into Tehran’s Parliament complex, a security guard was killed. And at the Khomeini’s mausoleum ground several armed assailants reportedly killed the gardener and entered the premises, said another news agency.

According to reports, an official at Khomeini’s mausoleum in South Tehran told media that three or four people entered via western entrance and opened fire, killing the gardener and wounding several people. A news agency said female suicide attacker blew herself up outside the shrine and published photos.

Four men armed with rifles and pistols were reported to be inside the parliamentary complex, around 20 kilometres away (12 miles) in the centre of the city.  Lawmaker Elias Hazrati told state television three assailants, one with a pistol and two with AK-47 assault rifles, raided parliament.

News agencies ISNA and Fars had earlier said three people had been shot after the gunmen entered via the north entrance, including at least one security guard.

The city was on lockdown, with streets blocked and the metro closed, and journalists kept away from the shrine by police.

Interior Minister Abdolrahman Fazli told ISNA that he had convened a special meeting of the country’s Security Council.

Iran has been singled out as a target by jihadist groups, including ISIS, but has largely escaped attacks within its urban centres.

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ISIS wake-up call to India

S Madhusudhana Rao

The initial reaction to the kidnapping of four Indians in Libya by suspected Islamic militants on July 29 was, it could be the opening chapter of an ISIS plot to attack India. That could be a weird guess or trying to read too much between the lines. However, when the media reports circulating at that time and the abductions were juxtaposed, they didn’t look like a mere coincidence. On the day the four were seized by armed men, the US press had reported that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was hatching plans to hit targets in India to drag Americans into the conflict with an eye on internalizing the ongoing war between the US, its allies and ISIS in Middle East.

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S Madhusudhana Rao

The 32-page document in Urdu, said to have been prepared by Islamic State militants, obtained through a Pakistani contact and verified and translated into English, was first published by USA Today newspaper on July 28. A detailed report that appeared in the Indian media the next day has confirmed intelligence suspicions that IS terrorists have cast their evil eye on India. In recent days, IS flags have started appearing in some areas of Kashmir, strengthening the feeling that IS sympathizers are becoming active in the Muslim-majority state.

Though it is a known fact that IS propaganda machine is active in recruiting Indian youth through its web sites to train them as jihadis to fight in Iraq and Syria, this was the first time an ISIS document of this nature to surface and appear in the media.

Titled, “A Brief History of Islamic State Caliphate, The Caliphate According to the Prophet,” the document detailed a strategy to attack India in such a way as to draw the US into the theatre of war along with its allies which would ultimately lead to a US-IS confrontation. The booklet didn’t say whether the conflict would be confined to Indian soil or extended to other parts of the world where US interests lay.

Nevertheless, it is a chilling warning since ISIS is spreading its footprint in Iraq and Syria as well as other countries like Yemen and establishing links with militant outfits such as Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan in a bid to unite them and wage a war together against ‘infidels.’ The IS document has also revealed a plot to attack American diplomats and soldiers as they withdraw from Afghanistan.

The fact that American intelligence networks have not dismissed the IS document as a red herring underscores the need to take Islamic State’s threat to India seriously. Whether it is a perceived or real threat, unfortunately, its importance was lost in the din of hanging or not of 1993 Mumbai serial blasts convict Yakoub Memon. Now, the kidnapping of four Indians – two Hyderabadis and one each from Raichur and Bangalore – and release of two later should serve as a wake-up call to New Delhi.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, all the four are academic members of University of Sirte. They were returning to India via Tripoli and Tunis when they were detained at a checkpoint 50km from Sirte, slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s stronghold. The four Indians were believed to have been brought to Sirte by gunmen either belonging to IS which is controlling the second important city after Tripoli or its affiliates in that area.

Though it was not clear whether the kidnapping of Indian nationals was the handiwork of Islamic State militants or some other outfit for ransom, two teachers hailing from Karnataka – Lakshmikant and Vijay Kumar – had been released and are said to be returning whereas the fate of the Hyderabad duo –Gopikrishna and Balram – is not known. Latest reports had suggested that the Indian government was trying to secure their release through its contacts in that region.

Whatever the outcome may be, it is clear that Middle East countries where ISIS is active and has occupied swathes of land are no longer safe to work. A few months ago, thousands of Indian nationals had been evacuated by our Navy and Air Force after ISIS had run over parts of Yemen. Earlier, many workers were brought back from Iraq where ISIS had started its campaign to set up Islamic Caliphate. Despite its success in Yemen, the Indian government is still to locate and bring back 39 Indians believed to have been kidnapped from Mosul by IS fighters more than a year ago. (New Delhi insists they are safe).

Although Saudi Arabia is bombing IS strongholds in Yemen and US and its allies are trying to cripple the terrorist organization in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State is going strong, occupying and imposing its tyrannical rule  on vast territories across Muslim countries. There are enough indications to suggest that IS has India in the crosshairs. It’s time to take a serious note of it by the government as complacency will cost the country heavily.

As a first step, the central government has unveiled a moderate plan to wean Muslim youths from being radicalized through counseling in 12 states, including Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and Union Territories that are considered vulnerable to IS digital propaganda. Is it the carrot before using the stick?

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