The Iranian government has tried everything to stop its agents from standing trial on terrorism charges in Europe, even threatening the Belgian authorities with retaliation from armed militias.
However, after a two-year investigation into the foiled bomb plot designed to blow up the 2018 Free Iran rally in Paris, Assadollah Assadi and his three accomplices will be tried on November 27 in Antwerp.
Assadi, a diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, wanted to bomb the Free Iran gathering, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which would threaten the lives of all 100,000 people in attendance, including hundreds of foreign politician and dignitaries.
He received the 1lb of TATP explosives and drove them to Luxembourg, where he posed as a tourist in a Pizza Hut restaurant to make the handoff to the two terrorists that he’d hired. They then headed for France, while he headed back to Austria.
European agents arrested the terrorist couple in Belgium, uncovering their car bomb quickly and detonating it safely, while more agents arrested Assadi in Germany.
This is important because has he crossed the border into Austria he could have claimed diplomatic immunity. It might not have worked because he committed the crime outside Austria and Austria could revoke that immunity, but he’d definitely have claimed it.
Assadi did not make this plan on his own. Indeed, he was acting on the direct orders of the highest-ranking members of the Iranian government, who wanted to punish the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), a popular pro-democracy group that is the main party of the NCRI coalition, for their role in the December 2017-January 2018 protests that threatened to unseat the ayatollahs.
Jaak Raes, the head of Belgium’s security service, said recently that the terror plot “was not a matter of Assadi’s personal initiative” but had been thought up and approved at the highest levels of the government.
This is evident from the open threats made by Iranian officials, which basically admit that all Iranian embassies are terrorist centers that threaten their host country and those around it.
This is not simply a terrorism trial, it is a state-sponsored terrorism trial and the penalty for getting the outcome wrong will be dire.
“In response to this terrorist act on European soil, the Western governments should increase relevant economic pressures as well as closing the embassies through which terrorist-diplomats like Assadi have been allowed to operate for so long,” the NCRI stated.
“They should also stop welcoming Javad Zarif, as the main person in charge of the regime’s embassies and their terror acts, on their countries and they should designate him and his ministry as a terrorist organization,” the statement reads.