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Iran Sentences IS Gunman to Death Over Shrine Attack
An Iranian court has handed down two death sentences to a Tajik man convicted of carrying out a deadly shooting attack on a major Shiite Muslim shrine in August. The judiciary announced Thursday that Rahmatollah Nowruzof was sentenced for the gun assault on the Shah Cheragh mausoleum in Shiraz.
The attack in August killed two people and injured seven others at the holy site in southern Iran. It occurred less than a year after another mass shooting at the same shrine claimed by the Islamic State group.
Along with the death sentences for "waging war against God", Nowruzof received additional years in prison for sedition and endangering national security. Iran described him as an IS member.
Two other men were jailed and will be deported for participating in gatherings deemed threatening to Iran's security. Footage after the attack showed windows shattered by bullets and bloodstains inside the ornate complex.
The brazen shooting drew condemnations globally, including from the European Union, Russia and Iraq. It was the second serious attack targeting Shiite Muslims at the prominent pilgrimage site in under a year.
13 Killed in October 2022 Attack on Same Shrine
In October 2022, a mass shooting at the Shah Cheragh shrine killed 13 worshippers and wounded 30 others. IS later claimed responsibility for that attack as well.
In July, Iran executed two men convicted for the 2021 killings by hanging. Tehran frequently hands down death sentences for crimes like murder and terrorism. Amnesty International says only China exceeds Iran in total yearly executions.
The Shah Cheragh shrine houses the tomb of a revered Shiite imam's brother Ahmad. It is considered the holiest site in southern Iran and a major pilgrimage destination for Shiites.
The two shootings in less than a year have sent shockwaves through Iran's Shiite community and prompted security shakeups. But sectarian attacks by Sunni extremist groups continue posing risks.
Iran Grapples With Evolving IS Threat
While Iran crushed IS' territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the radical Sunni group still conducts guerilla and terror attacks in the region through underground networks.
Its campaign demonstrates the evolving nature of the IS threat even after its battlefield defeats. While Shiite shrines are obvious targets, IS has also hit markets, government offices and public events.
Just last week, IS claimed responsibility for killing a senior Revolutionary Guards colonel in an ambush in southeast Iran's restive Sistan-Baluchistan province.
For Iran's Shiite Muslim majority, the twin shrine attacks represent a deliberate effort to spread sectarian chaos and discord. Though deadly, the incidents have broadly failed to fracture national unity.
Nonetheless, the brazen strikes on such revered spiritual sites have shaken public confidence in security and intelligence agencies tasked with preempting future plots.
Crackdown on IS Sleepers, But Threat Persists
Following the attacks, Iran announced a crackdown on IS sleeper cells backed by enhanced surveillance capabilities and more robust site protection at sensitive locations.
But the France-based NGO Iran Human Rights says over 380 people have been executed this year, as authorities aggressively confront domestic unrest and extremist violence.
With economic malaise and political tensions roiling society, Iran faces fertile conditions for radicalization even as security forces expand draconian powers. Public criticism simmers over the establishment's handling of crises.
While the death sentences in the latest shrine attack deliver justice, rooting out militancy requires far broader reforms to expand economic opportunity and restore civil rights. Absent meaningful change, groups like IS retain space to spread extremism targeting civilians.
For now, Iranian authorities seem focused on doubling down on their hardline posture both at home and abroad. But doubling down on repression often proves counterproductive in diffusing threats over time, as the resilient appeal of militant ideas demonstrates.
With no political resolution in sight for the region’s sectarian divides, the shadowy threat of more terrorist bloodshed persists for Iranian Shiites with each passing day.
Summarised from the original article by - voanews.com
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