“These elements that had received CIA-funded training in various countries to gather information under the guise of citizen-journalists had been monitored for quite a long time,” the director general of the counter-intelligence directorate of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said on Wednesday.
He added that they had received orders to attend the riots and to prepare exact reports, especially videos.
“Six of them were arrested while attending the riots and carrying out orders of (US) intelligence services and two others were identified and apprehended while trying to … send information abroad before they could leave the country,” the official said.
According to the official, the ministry was monitoring other members of the network across the country and would deal seriously with them if they think of carrying out any act against the national security of the country.
Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee had also on Wednesday blasted the US for involvement in the recent.
“It is fully clear that the current US government is responsible for some of these incidents. They officially announced that they will pursue the policy of pain in Iran. Today they officially declare that they are attaining their goal,” Rabiyee told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Tehran.
He said the US measures are in violation of all international agreements and treaties, and added, “Regime change has long been a US tradition in Iran’s history since different coups in the past. Certainly, the foreign ministry will pursue the issue with the international bodies. These remarks will be recorded.”
In relevant remarks on Monday, Head of the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Public Relations Department Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif revealed that Washington and Tel Aviv played a role in masterminding the recent riots in Iran by abusing people’s peaceful protest rallies.
“Israel and the US were behind these incidents,” General Sharif said, addressing a forum in the Southern province of Kerman.
He added that enemies thought that they had found a ground to ride on the popular protest rallies after the hike in gasoline prices which pressured people.
“We witnessed ISIL-like behavior during these riots by those who showed highly violent and organized behavior, and use of females to provoke clashes was a new experience in these incidents,” General Sharif said.
He said after enemy failed to confront Iran in the military field, it has now resorted to abusing people’s peaceful protest rallies and using the remnants of Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as the MEK, PMOI and NCRI) terrorist group to attain its goals.
On November 15, the government raised Iran’s extremely cheap gas price in order to moderate the national consumption rate, which stands at 110 million liters per day, 40 million liters above the maximum domestic requirement.
The government also announced a number of aid and subsidiary programs to protect vulnerable households from the adverse effects of the measure.
The price reform, required by Iranian legislature and essential as US-imposed sanctions seek to deplete Iran’s budgetary resources, had been long delayed due to concerns regarding the move’s probable backlash.
The measure’s adoption prompted initially peaceful protests, but riotous elements, abusing the situation, quickly entered the scene, destroying public property, setting ablaze banks and gas stations among other facilities, and opening fire on people and security forces.
Last Friday, IRGC Lieutenant Commander Brigadier General Ali Fadavi said that the US was disappointed that its perpetrated violent riots in Iran did not last more than 48 hours, adding that reports from all four corners of the country indicate that peace and calm has been restored much to Washington’s chagrin.
“Based on information we have received, the Americans have gone mad that the riots were over within 48 hours and are disappointed that there is no more disorder in Iran,” Fadavi added.
However, Fadavi said that in numerous calls with other IRGC officials in the country no further riot attempts had been reported.
“Attacking homes, shops, hospitals, banks and gas stations is a malicious act which is not an act of protest nor rioting, but an act of thievery,” Fadavi said.
“This is the difference between protest and disorder,” he said.
The IRGC deputy commander added that peaceful protests were “natural” given the recent price hike and that the government has to adopt additional measures to reduce pressure on the general population.
Fadavi added, however, “The fact that the malicious actors of the world are targeting Iran in issues that are by no means related to them is a matter to note.”
Deputy Head of Iran’s Basij volunteer forces Brigadier General Salar Abnoosh said last Friday “a full-fledged war” had been meant to be waged against the country, only to be quelled early on.
Abnoosh added that interrogations of arrested rioters had revealed that a “coalition of evil” made up of “Zionists, America and Saudi Arabia” had joined forces to organize destructive riots from abroad.
Addressing worshipers during weekly Friday prayers in Tehran, senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said certain foreign countries had spent “three years” preparing for an opportunity to wreak havoc in Iran, training specific elements to that end.
“But their schemes were neutralized,” he said, adding that the riots ceased to continue despite the fact that countries such as Saudi Arabia had spent many resources and had provided much media coverage in order to instigate disorder.
Following the Friday prayers, numerous rallies were also held across Iran to condemn the recent riots.
The protesters condemned the US, Israel and seditionist elements for fueling the unrest and chanted slogans in support of the Islamic establishment.
Addressing recent riots during a speech, Iran’s Judiciary Chief Ebrahim Rayeesi said those “who have abused the concerns and troubles of the people in order to create disorder and insecurity” will face severe consequences.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran is known as the safest country in the region due to the sacrifices of our martyrs and our wounded,” he said.
“We will never allow the smallest breach in the security of our people,” he added.
Riots by a small number who had taken advantage of legitimate public protests against the government’s gas price hike plan in Iran were directed at sowing chaos through targeted attacks on public and private properties, forcing law enforcement to step in to stop saboteurs.
Early estimates of an intelligence body showed that a sum of nearly 87,000 protesters and rioters had taken part in protest rallies and gatherings since Friday night, mostly (over 93%) men. A large number of protesters had only been present in the gathering centers and avoided joining the rioters in sabotage attacks on public and private properties.
“The identical methods of the main core of violent rioters discloses that they are fully trained individuals who have been prepared and looking forward for the situation to rise, unlike most people who have been taken off guard by the sudden hike in gas price,” the report said.
The report showed that gatherings have been comprised of 50 to 1,500 people held in 100 regions of the country out of a number of 1,080 major towns and cities. The report says violent raids and damage inflicted on properties has been larger than what happened in February 2018 unrests.
Most cases of damage to properties had happened in Khuzestan, Tehran, Fars and Kerman provinces. The report says most casualties have resulted from armed outlaws’ attacks on oil storage and military centers, adding that a number of police and popular forces have been martyred in these attacks.
Nearly 1,000 people were arrested across the country while over 100 banks and 57 big stores were set on fire or plundered in just one province.
The Iranian intelligence ministry announced in a statement on November 17 that it had identified several rioters who misused the recent protest rallies against the gasoline price hikes to destroy public and private properties.
“The main culprits behind the riots in the past two days have been identified and proper measures are being adopted and the honorable nation will be informed about its result later,” the statement said.
Hundreds of thousands of people in the capital city of Tehran poured to the streets on Monday to show allegiance to Supreme Leader and the Islamic Republic and support for the country’s security and might.
The rallies started at 14:30 local time (1100 GMT) with demonstrators moving towards Enqelab (Revolution) Square in Central Tehran.
The demonstrators shouted ‘death to the US’, ‘death to Israel’, ‘death to Britain’, ‘death to the plotters’ and ‘death to the rioters’ slogans.
They also carried the Iranian flags and placards with Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei’s images and remarks.
The ralliers also voiced their opposition to the hike in gasoline prices and other goods in Iran, but meantime, voiced hatred for the rioters who misused the recent protests to set ablaze the public and private properties and loot the big stores.
In similar rallies on Sunday, tens of thousands of people in Northern, Western and Southern Iran demonstrated to show allegiance to the Islamic Republic and Supreme Leader after the recent riots.
Demonstrators in the towns of Pardis and Baharesten in Tehran province, Nour, Savadkouh, Behshahr, Neka, Qa’em Shahr and Sari in Mazandaran province, Ahrom in Bushehr, Imam Khomeini port city in Khuzestan province and Sahneh, Sarpol Zahab, Gilan Qarb, Qasr-e Shirin, Kermanshah and Javanroud in Kermanshah province held massive rallies to condemn the rioters who misused the popular protests to destroy and set fire at public properties last week.
They shouted slogans, including ‘death to the US’ and ‘death to Israel’ to deplore their officials’ interfering remarks against Iran as well as ‘death to the rioters’ and ‘death to plotters’ to condemn their acts of sabotage during the recent unrests.
The protestors also carried placards which called on the government to show more attention to people’s welfare and living conditions and urged the judiciary to sue and seriously punish those who distorted security and tranquility of people in the recent riots.
Similar demonstrations have been underway throughout the country in the past few days.