Gunmen launched two attacks in Iran, one at the parliament building and at the tomb of the country’s revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollak Khomeini. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. From Reuters:

The raids took place at a particularly charged time, after Iran’s main regional rival Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers cut ties with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of backing Tehran and militant groups.

Attackers dressed as women burst through parliament’s main entrance in central Tehran, deputy interior minister Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari said, according to the semi-official Tasnim news agency.

One of them detonated a suicide vest in the parliament, he said. About five hours after the first reports, Iranian news agencies said four people who had attacked parliament were dead and the incident was over.

Officials claimed they stopped a third attack and arrested those who wanted to set it off. But ISIS did not speak about a possible third attack in Iran.

CNN reported that parliament speaker Ali Larijani tried to brush off the attack:

“As you know, some coward terrorists infiltrated a building … but they were seriously confronted,” he said in a statement.

“This is a minor issue but reveals that the terrorists pursue trouble-making.”

Witnesses have described the incident. From Fox News:

An Associated Press reporter saw several police snipers on the rooftops of buildings around parliament. Shops in the area were shuttered, and gunfire could be heard. Witnesses said the attackers were shooting from the fourth floor of the parliament building down at people in the streets below.

“I was passing by one of the streets. I thought that children were playing with fireworks, but I realized people are hiding and lying down on the streets,” Ebrahim Ghanimi, who was around the parliament building when the assailants stormed in, told The Associated Press. “With the help of a taxi driver, I reached a nearby alley.”

The Symbolic Nature of the Sites

From The Washington Post:

For Iran, it also sharply raises the stakes because of the importance of both sites.

Iran views its parliament, or majlis, as a symbol of participatory government in contrast to its main regional rivals, including Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies. The expansive complex around the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini is both a spiritual and political testament to the 1979 Islamic revolution.

The parliament building, with a green marble chamber for lawmakers, is in the center of the city, and the tomb complex for Khomeini is about 12 miles to the south near the international airport.

Since Iran treasures these sites, it’s odd how terrorists managed to penetrate them. Iran’s top security guards protect these building’s while the Revolutionary Guard “maintains a vast network of informants and allies around the country through a volunteer force called Basij.”

Sunni vs. Shiite

This is the first time ISIS has attacked Iran. From Fox News:

In a rare and stunning move, ISIS released video from inside the parliament building while the attack was under way. The video, circulated online, shows a gunman and a bloody, lifeless body of a man lying on the ground next to a desk. A voice on the video praises God and says in Arabic: “Do you think we will leave? We will remain, God willing.” Another voice repeats the same words. The two appeared to be parroting a slogan used by IS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani, who was killed in Syria last year.

Iran has mostly Shiite Muslims, which means it does not get along with Sunni terrorist groups al-Qaeda and ISIS. Those groups view the Shiites “as followers of a heretical brand of Islam and have carried out attacks against Shiite targets and Iranian religious pilgrims in Iraq and elsewhere across the region.”