REUTERS, 05th FEBRUARY, 2018- Islamic State may be on the wane in Iraq and Syria but for Iran, the threat is still strong, centered on Kurdish communities along the Iraq-Iran border where militants have operated in recent years.
The locals even have a nickname for the area, “Tora Bora”, after the mountain hideout al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden fled to after the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, a senior Iraqi security official in the border region said.
In late January, three Revolutionary Guards were killed in the Bamo region fighting 21 Islamic State militants who had sneaked in from Iraq. Three militants detonated suicide vests and two others were killed in the clash, the Guards said.
Days earlier, Iran’s intelligence ministry found a weapons cache in the town of Marivan on the Iranian side of the border that included TNT, C4, electronic detonators, grenades, ammunition clips for AK-47 machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.
The clash and discovery indicate that Islamic State still has the ability to penetrate the tightly controlled security net of the Islamic Republic, which has largely managed to avoid the devastation wrought by the group in neighbouring countries.
“Today (Islamic State) does not control a country ... in order to assert that they exist, they may carry out an attack any day,” Hossein Dehghan, a former defence minister and now an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a recent interview with the semi-official Tasnim news agency.