US intelligence links Daesh’s Afghan branch to Iran blasts: Report

According to US intelligence intercepts, the Afghanistan-based branch of Daesh, also known as the Islamic State, orchestrated the recent bombings in Iran that killed nearly 100 people, Reuters reported, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

“The intelligence is clear-cut and indisputable,” said one of the sources, as quoted by Reuters. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information, referenced communications intercepts but did not provide further details.

Wednesday’s bombings in Iran, the deadliest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, have escalated regional tensions amidst the Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza and Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.

On Thursday, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted a memorial service for Qassem Soleimani, a senior military commander killed in a 2020 U.S. drone strike in Iraq. However, ISIS did not explicitly state that its Afghan affiliate, ISIS-Khorasan (ISIS-K), executed the bombings in Kerman, southeastern Iran.

“The U.S. has pretty clear intel” that ISIS-K conducted the attack, the first source added.

The Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment on the matter.

ISIS, predominantly Sunni Muslim, vehemently opposes Shi’ites, Iran’s majority sect, viewing them as apostates. The group previously claimed responsibility for a 2022 attack on a Shi’ite shrine in Iran and 2017 bombings at the Iranian parliament and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s tomb.

Following Wednesday’s attack, Iranian authorities reported the arrest of 11 suspects and the seizure of explosives and vests. Despite Taliban efforts to suppress ISIS-K, the group remains active, with some members relocating from Afghanistan to neighboring countries and continuing to plan international attacks, U.S. officials report.