Iran publicly executes two over deadly Shiraz shrine attack

Five people were arrested over the attack last year, two of whom were executed while three received prison terms.

Shah Cheragh Shrine personnel clean after an attack in Shiraz, Iran
A lone gunman had entered the shrine, opening fire on pilgrims and staff with an automatic rifle [Amin Berenjkar/WANA via Reuters]

Tehran, Iran – Iran has publicly executed two people over a deadly attack on a shrine in southern Shiraz last year that was claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group.

The two men, identified as Mohammed Ramez Rashidi and Naeem Hashem Qatali, were hanged in the early hours of Saturday after the Supreme Court confirmed their sentences, according to the official news outlet of the judiciary.

The Shah Cheragh Shrine in the province of Fars, one of the most important shrines in Shia Islam, was attacked on October 26, 2022.

Clips from security cameras released at the time showed a lone gunman entering the shrine with an automatic rifle. After opening fire and making his way to the main compound, he shot a group of pilgrims and staff.

Authorities initially said 15 people were killed, but that number was revised to 13, with 40 people injured. The gunman, who officials said was from Tajikistan, was killed after security forces intervened.

ISIL released a video through its Amaq News Agency and accepted responsibility for the attack. The group had also been responsible for coordinated 2017 attacks on the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum of former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran.

Iranian authorities arrested several people for allegedly providing support to the shrine shooter.

The two men who were executed were said to have been in contact with ISIL operatives in neighbouring Afghanistan, provided the gunman with the rifle and took him to the site of the shooting.

Three other men were tried and received prison sentences over the attack.

A man identified as Mohammad Rahmani, said to be a leading ISIL operative in Tehran, was given a 25-year sentence. Mostafa Jan Amani received a 15-year sentence for supporting the armed group while Hamidollah Kaboli was given a five-year sentence, the judiciary said.

The assault on the shrine came as Iran was rocked by nationwide protests that started in September 2022 following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for alleged non-compliance with the country’s mandatory dress code for women.

It took place 40 days after Amini’s death, when thousands had gathered to mark the occasion in her hometown in northwestern Iran.

Iranian authorities blamed “riots” backed by foreign powers for undermining the country’s security and paving the way for the Shiraz attack.

The United Nations has expressed concern over the number of people executed in Iran this year, which at the current pace could go far higher than 582 registered executions last year.

In 2015, 972 death sentences were carried out – the highest in a year so far.

Most of the executions are carried out on drug charges. Seven executions have also been carried out in cases related to the anti-government protests.

Source: Al Jazeera