Iran-based jihadist group claims attack on oil pipeline

Ansar al Furqan says this photo depicts an attack on an Iranian oil pipeline.

Ansar al Furqan, an Iran-based jihadist group, claims to have targeted an oil pipeline in Iran’s Khuzestan province. The group’s report has been shared on many al Qaeda-linked Telegram channels, including the Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF). FDD’s Long War Journal could not independently verify the claim, which is plausible but unconfirmed.

Ansar al Furqan states that “a major oil pipeline was blown up in Omidiyeh region of occupied Ahvaz, Iran.” The group added that it had established a new unit, the Ahwaz Martyrs Brigade. The area of Ahvaz has historically had a large Arab population. However, it is unclear if this purported brigade is comprised of Iranian Arabs or Baluchis, as most of its members are thought to be Baluch. The jihadists say the “operation was conducted to inflict losses on the economy of criminal Iranian regime.”

A video of the purported operation was also released, showing surveillance of the pipeline beforehand and the actual explosion itself. However, no independent reporting of the incident appears to exist, making it impossible to confirm Ansar al Furqan’s images. In addition, no date was given for the alleged operation.

That said, videos of oil pipelines on fire in the general area circulated on social media in April and again in October. In April, the military wing of the Arab Liberation Movement of Ahwaz claimed responsibility for a blast. In October, a group calling itself Kata’ib Ahrar al Ahwaz (the Free Ahwaz Battalions) claimed credit. It is unclear what the relationship is, if any, between Ansar al Furqan and the two Ahvaz-based groups.

Ansar al Furqan is an al Qaeda-linked jihadist group that has launched sporadic attacks inside Iran, largely in Sistan and Baluchestan Province. It was formed when two Baluch jihadist groups, Harakat al Ansar and Hizb al Furqan, merged in 2013. Its media is largely shared on al Qaeda-linked channels, including GIMF, a key distributor of al Qaeda-related propaganda.

In recent weeks, Ansar al Furqan has stepped up its propaganda by releasing several videos and photo sets, including photos from one of its training camps (seen below).

Photos from an Ansar al Furqan training camp in Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan Province:

Caleb Weiss is an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a contributor to The Long War Journal.

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