US warned Iran that ISIS-K was preparing attack ahead of deadly Kerman blasts, a US official says


WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government privately warned Iran that the Islamic State group's affiliate in Afghanistan was preparing to carry out a terrorist attack before bombings in Kerman earlier this month that killed 95 people, a U.S. official said Thursday.

The official, who was not authorized to comment and insisted on anonymity to discuss the intelligence, said the U.S. was following its longstanding policy of a “duty to warn” other governments against potential lethal threats.

The official did not detail how the U.S., which does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, conveyed the warning about its intelligence on ISIS-Khorasan, known as ISIS-K, but noted that government officials "provide these warnings in part because we do not want to see innocent lives lost in terror attacks.”

Iranian state media did not acknowledge the U.S. giving Tehran the information, and Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Jan. 3 attack on Kerman, about 500 miles southeast of Iran’s capital, Tehran. The dual suicide bombing killed at least 95 people and wounded dozens of others attending a commemoration for the late Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Revolutionary Guard’s expeditionary Quds Force, who had been killed in a 2020 U.S. drone strike in Baghdad.

In the time since, Iran has been trying to blame the U.S. and Israel for the attack amid Israel’s war on Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It has launched missile attacks on Iraq and Syria. It then launched strikes on nuclear-armed Pakistan, which responded with its own strikes on Iran, further raising tensions in a region inflamed by the Israel-Hamas war.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report that the U.S. had provided the warning to Iran.

ISIS-K was behind the August 2021 suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that left 13 U.S. troops and about 170 Afghans dead during the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

ISIS-K has thousands of members and is the Taliban’s most bitter enemy and top military threat. The group has continued to carry out attacks in Afghanistan and beyond since the Taliban takeover.