The Islamic State group is the creation of Israel's Mossad, Iran's deputy foreign minister said Tuesday, accusing the spy agency of aiming to "tarnish the image of Islam," the Iranian news outlet Fars reported.
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Hossein Amir Abdollahian's statements were in some contrast with previous allegations made by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who said that Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, was actually created by the U.S. and Britain.
The Iranian deputy foreign minister did toe the line, however, by blasting the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, and saying the West and their regional allies use the militant group in order to promote Islamophobia.
"Unfortunately, these states are playing with the security of the region and the world by using terrorism," Amir Abdollahian said in a meeting with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende in Tehran on Sunday, Fars reported.
This is not the first time an Iranian senior official has pointed a finger at Israel for supposedly standing behind Islamic State, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq. In October, former Minister of Intelligence Heydar Moslehi said the group was created by a "triangle of Mossad, MI6, and the CIA."
As mentioned earlier, Khamenei himself surfaced similar theories, albeit not involving Israel, accusing Washington and the "wicked government of Britain" of creating the group in order to sow dissent between Sunnis and Shi'ites. The supreme ayatollah's comments could be perceived, however, as a response to British Prime Minister David Cameron, who suggested in the United Nations in September that Iran "is part of the problem" in the Middle East.
According to Time magazine, the inception of the conspiracy theories may lie with a July report by the Iranian news agency IRNA, which cited NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden as purportedly saying that the U.S. and Israel hatched a joint plan to create a "terrorist organization capable of centralizing all extremist actions across the world."
The aim of the plan, Snowden purportedly said, was to protect Israel by diverting attention to the new threat of Islamic State.
The Time said that no shred of evidence can be found in Snowden's leaked intelligence files of the "Beehive" plot, as it was called in the IRNA report. However, Iranian officials and analysts have since repeatedly cited the interview as definite proof of Israeli and U.S. complicity in Islamic State.