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ISIS-K Claims Responsibility for Twin Suicide Bombings in Iran 

Last week in Kerman, a city in southeastern Iran, large crowds gathered to mark the fourth anniversary of the US killing of the top Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) commander, Qassem Soleimani. However, the day ended in tragedy, as scores of supporters of the Iranian rulers lost their lives, and hundreds were injured in a twin suicide bombing. 

ISIS-K’s Involvement 

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The attack, which claimed nearly 100 lives, was a coordinated effort aimed at causing maximum devastation. The first suicide bomber initiated the explosion at the Kerman ceremony, followed by another explosion just 20 minutes later as emergency responders and bystanders rushed to aid the victims. ISIS-K, a branch of the terror network based in Afghanistan and Central Asia, quickly claimed responsibility for the fatal blasts. 

A Series of Attacks 

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This incident is the latest in a series of attacks by the ISIS-K affiliate, which has been targeting Iran for five years. The first major attack occurred in 2017 when the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum in Tehran were targeted, resulting in 16 casualties. 

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Investigation and Apprehension 

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Iranian authorities have identified the alleged ringleader behind these bombings. The Ministry of Intelligence has named the main suspect, operating under the alias Abdollah Tajiki, as a Tajik national who illegally entered Iran last month. Additionally, 35 suspects across various provinces have been apprehended in connection with the bombings. 

Speculation and Blame Game 

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The Iranian intelligence ministry initially sought to blame its old enemy, Israel, for the atrocity and claimed that one of the bombers had Israeli citizenship. However, experts believe that this attack does not bear the hallmarks of an Israeli covert operation. 

U.S. Intelligence Backs ISIS-K’s Role 

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U.S. intelligence agencies corroborated ISIS-K’s role in the attacks. White House spokesman John Kirby stated that the U.S. had no reason to doubt Islamic State’s claim of responsibility. 

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Motive Behind the Attacks 

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The enmity between ISIS-K and Iran can be traced back to the age-old conflict between the two major branches of Islam, Sunni and Shia. This religious schism has deep-seated theological and ideological differences, leading Sunni extremists to detest Shia Iran as a form of apostasy. 

Soleimani’s Role and ISIS-K’s Revenge 

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Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, played a central role in fueling this enmity. He was celebrated as a hero by many in Iran for his efforts in driving ISIS out of Iraq and helping to defeat them in Syria. However, his actions also made him an enemy in the eyes of ISIS-K. 

Revenge for Suppression 

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Experts believe that ISIS-K carried out these attacks as revenge against Soleimani, who actively suppressed Sunni militants throughout his career. Soleimani was killed in 2020 by an American drone strike authorized by then-President Donald Trump. 

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Intelligence Failures in Iran 

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The Stimson Center noted that the extent of these attacks underscored an intelligence failure on Iran’s part. Experts argue that Afghanistan’s porous borders make it relatively easy for hostile elements to penetrate the country. 

Future Threats and Instability 

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Despite the Iranian government’s vow of revenge, experts in ISIS-K and Iran believe that the recent attack in Kerman highlights ISIS-K’s recruitment strategies and its growing ability to strike declared enemies, thereby undermining regional stability. 

Persistent Threat 

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Aaron Zelin, an expert from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told VoA that ISIS-K remains determined to carry out further attacks against Iran, regardless of the circumstances. 

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