By Syed Zafar Mehdi
It didn't come as a surprise that the Daesh Takfiri group claimed responsibility for the dastardly terrorist attack at the revered Shah Cheragh shrine in Shiraz on Wednesday.
The modus operandi employed by the Kalashnikov-yielding terrorist who went on a rampage at the 12th-century shrine belonging to a descendant of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) was straight out of the Daesh playbook.
So, quite expectedly, the group in a statement posted on their website Amaq News bragged about the carnage, which left at least 15 people dead and dozens of others injured.
Among the victims were 4-year-old Artin's parents and brother, who had gone to the shrine for evening prayers. Artin was lucky to survive and is recuperating from injuries at a local hospital in Shiraz.
A child who was injured in the terror attack on the Shah Cheragh shrine in Shiraz recounts how the deadly attack happened. pic.twitter.com/vD3peUiNSL— Press TV’s Terrorism Tracker (@Tracking_Terror) October 26, 2022
The terrorist, whose identity hasn't been disclosed yet, reportedly aimed to target the congregational prayers inside the main hall of the shrine, but the shrine staff shut the door on him, preventing a bigger massacre.
Let's get this straight. Contrary to popular perception, Daesh hasn't been decimated or consigned to the dustbin of history yet. The group, driven by the toxic Takfiri ideology, is very much active and thriving.
It reminds me of what Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said some time ago. The self-anointed Daesh regime in Iraq and Syria was annihilated by the resistance axis led by Iran's famed anti-terror commander Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
But, as a group and ideology, Daesh is still very much there - in Iraq, in Syria, in Afghanistan - overtly and covertly backed by Western powers.
It's no secret how Daesh fighters were shipped from Iraq and Syria in military helicopters to Afghanistan, to fill the vacuum left by the US-led NATO military alliance. Those who deny this fact need a reality check.
This is the group that wreaked havoc in Iraq and Syria for years and continues to carry out diabolic attacks on religious and ethnic minorities in Afghanistan in line with the roguish agenda of Western hegemonic powers.
The far-right Takfiri ideology that drives these brainwashed terrorists, according to which anything not in sync with their rigid interpretation of religion must be exterminated, is essentially designed to sow seeds of discord among Muslims and malign the image of Islam. That is precisely where the interests of Daesh and Western powers converge.
A terrorist attack on the Shah Cheragh shrine in the Iranian city of Shiraz in Fars province leaves over a dozen people dead. pic.twitter.com/J6Rn4kIr8x— Press TV’s Terrorism Tracker (@Tracking_Terror) October 27, 2022
The criminal collusion between them has been on full display in regional countries in recent years. And now they have shown the audacity to target the Islamic Republic of Iran, attacking the country's sacred religious places and spilling innocent blood to incite sectarian tensions and civil war.
The last time Daesh footprints were spotted in Iran was in 2017 when the group targeted the mausoleum of the late founder of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the parliament building, leaving at least 17 dead and hundreds of others injured.
This is a moment of reckoning for people in Iran, cutting across sectarian, regional, and ideological lines, to thwart evil plots designed to cause social disintegration in the country. It's also important that regional countries join hands with the Islamic Republic to confront and defeat this hydra-headed monster before it swallows them.
The fact that Wednesday's attack came amid foreign-backed unrest and riots in Iran makes it even more sinister and dastardly.
It won't be an exaggeration to state that the anarchy and mobocracy seen across Iran in recent weeks essentially paved the ground for this cold-blooded massacre, which makes the Western powers that instigated rioters directly complicit in this diabolic crime.
As Iran's foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian quite rightly remarked on Thursday, it's a "multi-layered project" by enemies to fuel insecurity in the country.
Viewer discretion is advised!— Press TV’s Terrorism Tracker (@Tracking_Terror) October 26, 2022
New photos emerge from the aftermath of the deadly terror attack on the holy shrine of Shah Cheragh in Shiraz pic.twitter.com/3F3gQQWNiU
What is also worth noting is the target chosen by the terrorist group - a holy shrine in a city known as Iran's cultural capital. Shiraz, the capital of southern Fars province, is among the major tourist attractions in Iran, known for its picturesque gardens, ruins from Achaemenid era, mausoleums of legendary Persian poets Hafiz and Saadi, as well as the city's rich heritage.
The objective appears to be fuelling insecurity, instilling fear, and turning Iran into another Afghanistan or Syria, so that tourists stop coming and locals live in constant fear.
There are very few hashtags for victims of Daesh terrorism in Shiraz, which is not surprising though. It goes to show not all lives matter. Had it been Paris or London or New York, it would be a different story altogether. But this is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country that has singlehandedly challenged the hegemony of arrogant global powers and laid bare their evilness.
Hence, it's only understandable why the corporate Western media, an extended arm of the Western military-industrial complex, has willfully shut its eyes to the bloodletting in Shiraz, treating it as a normal incident.
The same media brazenly distorted facts in the case of Mahsa Amini's death and instigated deadly riots in Iran that cost many precious lives.
The self-righteous human rights advocates in the West, who miss no opportunity to decry Iranian authorities for using force to maintain law and order, especially amid foreign-backed riots, have also been silent. Their silence amounts to both complicity and cowardice.
As Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei and President Ebrahim Raeisi have categorically stated, this terrorist act will not go unanswered. The perpetrators and their backers will have to pay the price. It's important to nip this evil in the bud.
Syed Zafar Mehdi is a Tehran-based journalist, political commentator and author. He has reported for over 12 years from India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir and Middle East for leading publications worldwide.
(The views expressed in this article are author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV.)
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