Khuzestan is located on the Northern edge of the Gulf, on the Iranian side of the Euphrates. The region stretches on about 64,000 km and has a population of about 5 millions (10/2008). The region is inhabited by Shiite Arabs, the same people as on the Iraqi side of the Euphrates, with strong family and tribal ties between the two populations. The region controls most of Iran oil reserves, the center of the Iranian oil industry and the source of foreign currency for the Iranian regime.
In the time of the Iraq-Iran war, in the 80s’, the region was in the epicenter of the heaviest fighting and both sides used the relation between the two populations to infiltrate its agents to the other side.
Ahvaz, Khuzestan’s capital, suffered in 2005-6 a string of bombings in its oil facilities, which killed about two dozens Iranian, wounded several more and caused little damage although specifically designated to disrupt the Iranian oil industry.
* On 06/12/2005, three days before the general elections, at about 09:00, 3 bombs exploded in different locations in Ahvaz, one in a car, which was parked outside the governor’s office building and two in local restaurants. Eight people were killed and about 75 injured. No organization took responsibility on the bombings.
* On 09/01/2005 five bombs exploded in different oil installations around Ahvaz. No one was hurt but five oil pumps were, temporarily, shut down.
* On 10/15/2005, two bombs exploded in a local commercial center. Six people were killed and about 100 wounded. Two weeks later, on 10/30/2005 the Iranian authorities announced the arrest of 30 suspects and said the explosives were smuggled to Iran from neighbor Basra in Iraq, hinting that UK forces, then in control on Basra, are behind the bombings.
On 03/02/2006 two convicted, Ali Afravi and Mhadi Nawasri, who were described as “individuals with Wahhabi and Salafist tendencies” (general term for Sunnites), were hanged in the scene of the bombings. Onlookers shouted anti-USA and anti-Israeli slogans as the two men were executed. Nine other, who pleaded guilty, said, in a confession broadcasted in the Iranian TV, that they received their instructions through the web from a separatist Arab group located in Canada.
* On 01/24/2006 morning, two bombs exploded in Ahvaz at the time that the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was scheduled to visit the place. After the explosions the Iranian President changed the course of his tour. The next day Iranian officials blamed the British Intelligence, operating from Basra, for the bombings. Eight people were killed by the double blasts.
* On 02/27/2006, two bombs exploded in Khuzestan, one in the oil harbor town of Abadan, on the North of the Gulf, and the second in the town of Dezful. There were no casualties and only minimum damage was done.
There are clearly two directions to the Ahvaz string bombings: one direction was to disrupt the oil industry, the second to cause panic through terror. Therefore there were, probably, two elements behind the bombings. One element was a foreign Intelligence apparatus and the second, a genuine religion motivated Islamic Sunni terror group.
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