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MPs Call Ahvaz Terrorist Attack An Intelligence Disaster

This picture taken on September 22, 2018 in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz shows Officials during the terror attack on a military parade.
This picture taken on September 22, 2018 in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz shows Officials during the terror attack on a military parade.

Citing sources affiliated with the intelligence, security, and police forces of the Islamic Republic, Iranian MPs say they have evidence the recent terrorist attack in the southwestern city of Ahvaz was the result of carelessness on the part of the security apparatus.

Gunmen attacked a military parade in Ahvaz September 22, killing at least 25 and wounding up to sixty others. The state-run IRNA news agency reported that the wounded included a woman and a child.

Early reports described the assailants as "Takfiri," a term used to describe the Islamic State militant group (IS). Later, IS officially claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

Brigadier-General Abolfazl Shekarchi, an Iranian military spokesman, told Fars news agency four armed men carried out the attack. Three were killed at the scene while a fourth died in custody from his wounds.

Now Iranian MPs say they have more details about the attack, which they say point to negligence on the part of intelligence and security institutions. They say previous intelligence appraisals indicated an attack on the parade was imminent, and security personnel should have been better prepared.

A closed session of parliament was held October 2. The next day, Representative Gholam-Reza Emen-Abadi said the session had concluded that the intelligence, security, and police forces' response to the attack had been marred with irresponsibility.

"Five months before the attack the terrorists had rented a house only 700 meters (roughly 760 yards) from the podium set for the [Ahvaz Friday Prayer Leader] to watch the military parade,” Emen-Abadi told the pro-reform daily Arman.

"So far, thirty officials responsible for the case have been either summoned to the courts, dismissed from their jobs or brought before their commanders and the Islamic Republic's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for their fate to be decided,”Emen-Abadi said.

The Iran-Iraq war veteran has also insisted, "The intelligence monitoring was poor and when the shooting occurred, the snipers were told to open fire, but they didn't, since they were earlier ordered not to shoot."

The independent MP, backed by the so-called reformist block in Iranian parliament, went on to ask, "If the snipers were not allowed to shoot, one should ask, 'what was the reason for deploying them on the rooftops?’ Even after the terrorists opened fire, the commander of the snipers did not order them to retaliate.”

A member of parliament’s Commission for National Security, Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, also demanded to know why the attackers were allowed to shower people with bullets for twelve long minutes before security forces reacted.

"Footage shows four terrorists easily come and go for twelve minutes, shooting at people, changing the rounds and even finishing off the wounded with death blows,” Naqavi said.

A member of parliament's board of directors, Behrooz Ne’mati, has also said intelligence negligence played a pivotal role during the terrorist attack. Without naming the institutions he believes are responsible, Ne’mati said IS elements are active across the region, adding, “There are porous spots [in the border] that should be blocked to stop takfiri's operations inside Iran."

Another MP, independent-conservative Mehrdad Baouj Lahouti, has also accused intelligence officials of negligence, especially since a number of the assailants had criminal records and would have been known to police.

"Though the security response to the attack was praiseworthy,” Lahouti said, “Their performance before the incident was not smart enough.”

Special Assistant to President Hassan Rouhani for Ethnic and Religious Minorities and former Intelligence Minister Ali Younesi has cautioned, "Without transparency, we will be accused of staging the terrorist attack, ourselves."

The Interior Ministry has promised to compile a comprehensive report on the incident and deliver it to parliament after it is examined by the National Security Council. It is not yet clear whether the promised report will be publicly available or not.

The Islamic Republic has repeatedly argued that its military assistance to Bashar al-Assad in Syria is keeping IS out of Iran, and this recent attack has called the effectiveness of that strategy into question.