Before the deadly January 3 ISIS terror attack left more than 80 people dead in Iran, the United States sent one of its biggest enemies a warning about a potential impending attack.
On Thursday, high-ranking U.S. officials confirmed to media outlets that they sent Iran a warning about a week before the deadly attack, based on actionable intelligence that they had received.
The attack, which ISIS has claimed responsibility for, was carried out on the anniversary of Qassem Soleimani’s death. He was the one-time head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran, who was killed by a drone strike in 2019 that was carried out under the Trump administration near Baghdad International Airport.
ISIS’ attack a few weeks ago involved two coordinated suicide bombings that happened at Soleimani’s grave site, where supporters of his had gathered to remember him.
One U.S. official commented on the matter to CBS News recently, saying:
“Prior to ISIS’ terrorist attack on January 3, 2024, in Kerman, Iran, the U.S. government provided Iran with a private warning that there was a terrorist threat within Iranian borders. The U.S. government followed a longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy that has been implemented across administrations to warn governments against potential lethal threats.
“We provide these warnings in part because we do not want to see innocent lives lost in terror attacks.”
CBS News reached out to officials in Iran for comment, but they didn’t immediately respond.
No further details about the warnings or the nature of the warnings were provided by the U.S. officials. They wouldn’t go into more detail about the intelligence they received that caused them to issue the warning, or whether Tehran ever responded to it.
It’s also uncertain whether officials in Iran tried to do anything to stop the attacks before they occurred. It has proven to be one of the deadliest attacks in Iran in many decades.
Over the last few weeks, President Joe Biden has publicly acknowledged that America has delivered some private messages to Tehran about the attacks that have been carried out by Houthi militias that are based in Yemen.
However, he didn’t mention communication that revolved around the terror attack in Iran that was carried out by ISIS-Khorasan, also known as ISIS-K, which is based in Afghanistan.
Since the U.S. doesn’t have any direct diplomatic contacts with Iran, messages such as these would typically be delivered through an intermediary country.
ISIS is a radical group of Sunni Muslims who publicly state their hatred of Shiite Muslims — of which Soleimani was a part. More than 90% of the population in Iran, in fact, is Shia Muslim.
While the U.S. government believes that Iran foments hate and instability in the Middle East — especially in the wake of the October 7 attacks by terrorist group Hamas that left more than 1,200 people in Israel dead — they still issue warnings of potential terror attacks to them.