Iranian resistance calls for regime leaders to be prosecuted in terrorism case

Supporters of Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) gather to protest against the death penalty in Iran, Berlin, Germany, July 17, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 22 October 2020

Iranian resistance calls for regime leaders to be prosecuted in terrorism case

  • NCRI officials who organized an online pre-trial conference with attorneys and supporters said the planned attack shows that the Iranian regime ignores the principles of peace and freedom
  • Iranian embassy counselor Assadollah Assadi and three accomplices are charged with the attempted bombing of a conference hosted by the Paris-based NCRI

CHICAGO: Leaders of the Iranian resistance on Thursday called on the European Union and Western nations to shutter Iranian embassies as the case against four of the regimes’ operatives — including a high-ranking diplomat — accused of plotting a terrorist attack in Paris in 2018 is set to begin next month in Antwerp.

Iranian embassy counselor Assadollah Assadi and three accomplices are charged with the attempted bombing of a conference hosted by the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), Iran’s parliament in exile, on June 30, 2018 in Villepinte, Paris.

Assadi was based in Vienna at the time and is a senior member of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). The other three accused are Amir Saadouni, Nasimeh Naami and Mehrdad Arefani. Assadi is named as the coordinator of the attempted bombing of the conference and is accused of providing the materials for the bomb. NCRI officials said thousands of conference attendees could have been killed or injured had the attack not been thwarted.

NCRI officials who organized an online pre-trial conference with attorneys and supporters said the planned attack shows that the Iranian regime ignores the principles of peace and freedom.

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Maryam Rajavi, leader of the People's Mujahedin of Iran, an organization seeking to overthrow the Iranian government, and President-elect of the NCRI, said the bombing was handled by Assadi and his three accomplices, but ordered by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, whose power transcends the authority of the President Hassan Rouhani.

“The Iranian regime at the highest level is engaged. The case involves an Iranian diplomat who was carrying a bomb in Europe,” said Rajavi, adding that the bombing would have been the largest in Europe, potentially killing hundreds and possibly thousands of conference attendees.

He urged the European Union to take a firm stand against terrorism and Iran’s policies of violence.

“Europe must set aside all political considerations in this case,” Rajavi, who was one of the conference attendees in 2018, said. “The Iranian leaders must be prosecuted … the cleric regime has become very violent over the past 40 years due to policies of appeasement. What is the European Union going to do with the epicenter of terrorism?”

Officials who spoke at the online conference included the four attorneys representing the NCRI — William Bourdon, Christophe Marchand, Georges-Henri Beauthier,  and Rick Vanreusel.

Also speaking were former CIA Deputy Director of Operations for the National Clandestine Service John Sano, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph, former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, former US Senator Robert Torricelli, and former intelligence agent at the French Directorate-General for External Security and CEO of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center Claude Moniquet.

All agreed that stern action must be taken to punish Iran’s government for the attempted terrorist act, and several cautioned that the trial and potential conviction could result in further terrorist acts perpetrated by Iran.

Two of the suspects in the case were arrested in Antwerp with 500 grams of a highly explosive agent, TATP, in their vehicle as well as a detonator. Another was arrested at the Paris conference, which featured several major American officials including former New York Mayor Rudy Giulani, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and President Trump’s son-in-law and Special Middle East adviser Jared Kushner.

Assadi was arrested while on holiday in Germany and turned over to Belgian authorities for trial.

Tehran has repeatedly dismissed the case as a “false flag” operation orchestrated by Iran’s enemies.

Officials said they are concerned that Iran will launch further terrorist attacks if Assadi and his accomplices are convicted in the Belgium trial.

They noted that Assadi had told police after his arrest that armed groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria, as well as in Iran, were “interested in the outcome of his case” and would be “watching from the sidelines” to see how the trial concludes.

Assadi's trial begins on Nov. 27 in Antwerp with the cases expected to continue through December.


Five UK MPs cheated possible death in 2018 Iranian bomb plot

Updated 1 min 29 sec ago

Five UK MPs cheated possible death in 2018 Iranian bomb plot

  • Thwarted terror attack on Free Iran rally in Paris underscores threat posed by Iranian diplomats abroad: Bob Blackman MP

LONDON: Five British members of parliament (MPs) were among the thousands who escaped a terror plot at a rally for Iranian resistance groups in Paris two years ago, that was allegedly engineered by an Iranian diplomat.

A bomb intended to explode at the Free Iran gathering in the French capital in June 2018 was found in the car of an Iranian couple who were arrested in Brussels.

Among the potential thousands of bombing victims were five British MPs: Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, Theresa Villiers, Sir David Amess, and Roger Godsiff, as well as senior US politicians including American President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

The rally, organized by Iranian umbrella opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), had tens of thousands of people in attendance and was aimed at highlighting the global, democratic, and grassroots opposition to the current regime in Tehran.

An Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi — believed to be the mastermind of the plot as well as an intelligence operative — has gone on trial in Belgium for allegedly smuggling the explosives used in the foiled plot from Iran into Europe by using his diplomatic privileges to avoid airport security checks.

Assadi was an ambassador in the Iranian embassy in Vienna, and his alleged involvement in the bomb plot has prompted discussion as to the true role of Iranian diplomats abroad.

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READ MORE: Belgium tries Iranian diplomat over bomb plot

Two years after failed bomb plot, Iranian opposition rallies backers online

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Bob Blackman, one of the MPs who attended the rally, told Arab News that the plot was an attempt by the Iranian regime to “take revenge” on the NCRI and their leader Maryam Rajavi for the groundswell in support for their group among Iranians inside Iran and abroad.

He reiterated a parliamentary motion in which he urged the UK and European governments to take seriously the security threat posed by Iran’s foreign diplomatic missions.

The politician said he condemned Iran’s “misuse of diplomatic privileges” and “reiterates the need to try the suspects and expel other Iranian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover or as ex-members of the opposition.”

The UK, Blackman added, should “make it clear to the regime that its continued use of diplomatic missions and embassies to facilitate, carry out, and plan terrorist attacks will have serious consequences, including expelling of diplomats and closing Iran’s embassy.”

He also urged the British government to “impose punitive measures on the regime’s leadership including (Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali) Khamenei, (President Hassan) Rouhani, and (Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad) Zarif who decided and were involved in the Paris bomb plot.”

Blackman added: “The UK government must also proscribe the entire IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) and the Ministry of Intelligence as terrorist organizations because these organizations are instrumental in the regime’s export of terrorism.”

The NCRI is frequently referred to as Iran’s “government in waiting” and the body continues to attract high-level attention and endorsements for presenting a credible alternative to the clerical regime in Iran.

Ali Safavi, a member of the NCRI’s foreign affairs committee, told Arab News that the 2018 bomb plot saga once again underscored the threat posed by Iran’s regime not just to its own people and the Middle East, but to the world at large.

He said: “Today’s trial, a culmination of more than two years of investigations, makes it palpably clear that the use of terrorism as a tool of statecraft is part and parcel of the Iranian regime’s DNA.

“This is an imperative and deterrent step to prevent the godfather of international terrorism making the European territory its roaming ground. The Iranian regime’s leaders must be prosecuted and face justice.”