On January 3, two explosions in the Iranian city of Kerman killed nearly 100 people and injured 284 others, including children. The attacks targeted mourners gathering at the burial site of General Qassem Soleimani, who was commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, to commemorate the fourth anniversary of his assassination in a January 2020 U.S. drone strike.
Immediately after the explosions, before anybody had claimed responsibility for the attack, top Iranian officials blamed the United States and Israel for targeting the Soleimani memorial ceremony.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi told a crowd in Tehran: “I warn the Zionist regime, don’t doubt it, you will pay the price for this crime. These crimes that you have committed, [you] will deeply regret.”
Soleimani’s successor as head of the Quds Force, Esmail Ghaani, said: “And you will see by the power of God that the one who has failed in this field and will leave this field more disgraced than today is the Zionist regime and the criminal America.”
Raisi’s deputy chief of staff for political affairs, Mohammad Jamshidi, wrote in a post on X:
“Washington says USA and Israel had no role in terrorist attack in Kerman, Iran. Really? A fox smells its own lair first. Make no mistake. The responsibility for this crime lies with the US and Zionist regimes and terrorism is just a tool.”
Iran’s baseless claims against the United States and Israel have proven false.
Yet Iran’s accusatory rhetoric and threats against the U.S. only accelerated, so much so the White House has renewed the protection services for former Secretary of State Mark Pompeo and his aide, whom Iran blames for the killing of Soleimani.
Iran’s anti-U.S., anti-Israel claims proved false 24 hours after the attack in Kerman, when Islamic State’s media wing, Al-Furqan, released a statement on its Telegram messenger claiming responsibility for the attack. IS said two suicide bombers carried out the attack, activating their explosive vests in the crowd.
The New York Times reported that Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group, views the elimination of those it considers “apostate Muslims,” including Shiites, as part of its mission. Iran, a majority-Shiite country, is led by a theocratic Shiite government.
Meanwhile, Iranian opposition figures noted the absence of Soleimani’s family members and top government officials at the memorial.
In a post on X, Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad speculated that the attack might have been orchestrated by Iran.