Iran’s security forces have reportedly killed the designated emir of the Islamic State in Iran, according to an Iranian media outlet’s report citing unnamed sources published on Sept. 27. The Islamic State has yet to confirm or comment on the report, which cannot be independently verified by The Long War Journal.
The circumstances surrounding the attack are consistent with one conducted and reported in August in which authorities claimed to kill a high-ranking Islamic State member, though the details were murky.
Iranian authorities have announced a series of operations against alleged Islamic State operatives attempting to infiltrate Iran to launch attacks. These announcements, however, follow the Islamic Republic’s pattern of exploiting sectarian sentiment to bolster its regional adventurism.
“The biggest security measure to prevent the formation of the nucleus of DAESH [a pejorative term for Islamic State] in Iran has taken place,” claimed Pars News, a media outlet affiliated with Iran’s radical “principlist” camp.
“Some time ago in one of the border cities of Kermanshah an individual who was supposed to be announced the Emir of DAESH in Iran was killed in a complex and massive operation with the hard work of the Unknown Soldiers of the Imam,” in a reference to Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) agents.
“Some internal sources [MOIS] have not revealed his name, but some local sources have called him ‘Abu Ayesheh,’ which is not his real name and was only called so in the organization under this name.”
“It is said that Shafi’i Sunnis live in that area [and] that the Shafi’i ulema [clerics] and the people of this region highly cooperated in the success of this operation.”
“Abu Ayesheh was the self-declared leader of DAESH for all of Iran, and DAESH had entered Iran multiple times for operations, but fell in the trap of the Islamic Republic and security systems in all of these operations.”
“This time, Abu Ayesheh himself came to Iran to form DAESH in Iran and was detected during this operation. In this pursuit, a sniper killed him.”
Pars claims that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Law Enforcement Forces (LEF), and the regular Army cooperated in the operation. The LEF Counter-Terrorism Special Forces (NOPO) snipers had “serious roles” in this operation, according to the report. MOIS was credited for tracking the alleged Islamic State operative from within Iraq in cooperation with the IRGC, which has its own Intelligence Organization. This would indicate cooperation between the Islamic Republic’s intelligence agencies and law enforcement.
The Pars report appears to match some of the details of back-to-back operations last month in Kermanshah Province against two purported Islamic State teams in the city of Kermanshah, which is predominantly Shiite Kurdish, and Javanrud County, a Shafi’i Sunni Kurd area close to the border with Iraq.
On Aug. 16, Iranian media first reported that security forces killed three members of a “takfiri terrorist” cell in the city’s Baq-e Abrisham neighborhood. The Kermanshah province LEF chief confirmed to reporters that LEF-NOPO, in coordination with MOIS, raided the safe house of the “takfiri” team after it crossed from Iraq, killing all three team members and confiscating one AK-47 rifle, two magazines, and a suicide-bombing belt.
Government officials then revealed that a second operation had taken place on the night of Aug. 15 in Javanrud. They said that six perpetrators were arrested, and that the one suspect killed was a high-ranking Islamic State member and an “influential” element based out of Iraq.
The Pars report that cites unnamed intelligence and local sources matches official accounts from the operation in Javanrud. Iranian authorities have yet to publicly speak about whether they have killed the alleged emir of the Islamic State in Iran attempting to form a cell in the country. However, Iran’s intelligence minister, who does have a penchant for exaggeration, did say that one of the individuals killed was a regional emir. It is also puzzling that major Iranian outlets have not picked this up yet.
Islamic Republic authorities and major state-affiliated media would have every reason to disclose such information, unless, say, sensitive operations are in play.
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