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.