“The two terrorist teams were detained in Khuzestan (province in Southwestern Iran),” Alavi said while visiting the bordering areas in Southern Iran which are the main passageway of the Iranian pilgrims that participate in Arbaeen walk, the largest religious gatherings in the world, which comes 40 days after Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of the third Shiite Imam, Imam Hossein (AS).
He added that the terrorist teams intended to conduct sabotage operations during Arbaeen, noting, “50 weapons have been discovered and seized in the intelligence operations.”
Alavi also said that the intelligence forces in Khuzestan have defused two bombs planted on the way of Iranian pilgrims heading towards Iraq.
Huge numbers of Iranian Muslim pilgrims are walking towards the holy city of Karbala for the annual Arabaeen mourning ceremonies despite attempts to magnify security concerns after the recent unrests in Iraq.
Each year, millions of Shiites flock to Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) is located, to perform mourning rites. Many of them also visit Imam Ali’s (AS) holy shrine in Najaf.
In the past few years, around 20 million pilgrims from all over the world, including Iran, have taken part in the mourning ceremonies in the Iraqi holy cities marking Arbaeen.
Unofficial reports say that the number of Iranians applying for a visa to go on the pilgrimage has, at least, tripled so far. The unrests in a number of Iraqi cities is suspected by Iranians to have spiraled by the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia to deter the Iranian people’s Arbaeen pilgrimage and Iranian pilgrims intend to show that they are undeterred.
Imam Hossein (PBUH) was martyred in the 680 A.D. battle fought on the plains outside Karbala, a city in modern Iraq that’s home to the Imam’s holy shrine.
In the battle, Imam Hossein (PBUH) was decapitated and his body mutilated by Yazid’s armies. All of Imam Hossein’s male family members, relatives, friends, soldiers who all together formed a 72-member army were beheaded in an unequal war with a 30,000-strong army of the enemy in the desert of Karbala.
The occasion is the source of an enduring moral lesson for the Shiites.
Imam Hossein’s martyrdom – recounted through a rich body of prose, poetry and song – remains an inspirational example of sacrifice to Shiites, who make up a majority of the Muslim population in Iran, Pakistan, Iraq and Bahrain.
This year’s Arbaeen ceremonies are held amid the western and Arab media’s negative propaganda and exaggeration of the recent unrests in Iraq to dissuade the pilgrims from traveling to the country but the bordering areas of Iran near Iraq are full of eager pilgrims trying to arrive in Karbala for Arbaeen ceremonies.
Iraqi officials announced that calm has been restored in all regions.