On February 4, a criminal court in Antwerp, Belgium, is supposed to issue its final sentence about Iran’s third counselor Assadollah Assadi in Vienna. On July 1, 2018, in a joint operation between European law enforcement, Assadi was arrested in the German state of Bayern for transferring and delivering 1lb of explosive material and a detonator to a terrorist couple in Luxemburg to attack a major gathering of Iranian dissidents in Paris.
The Iranian government has a notorious background of exporting and sponsoring terrorism. However, Assadi is the first Iranian official arrested, and he is now waiting for the court’s verdict.
European security services revealed that the senior Iranian diplomat was the mastermind of a bomb plot against a gathering held by the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Villepinte, a suburb of Paris.
At the gathering, more than 100,000 Iranian dissidents and hundreds of politicians, human rights activists, lawmakers, including members of the U.S. Congress, the European Parliament, and parliaments of Arab countries, had attended to announce their solidarity with the Iranian people’s desire for a free and democratic Iran.
Belgian authorities exposed that the NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi—the gathering’s keynote speaker, was the main target of the bomb plot. Assadi’s accomplices, including Nasimeh Na’ami, 36, and Amir Sadouni, 40, admitted that their boss had affirmed, “Maryam Rajavi is the target.”
Based on undeniable evidence and documents, Belgian prosecutors urged the court to sentence Assadi to 20 years in prison. They also demanded judges sentence Assadi’s accomplices to 15 to 18 years prison, in addition to revoking their Belgian citizenship.
Nonetheless, aside from the court’s verdicts, the Assadi case puts the international community in a historic position. On the one hand, European leaders cannot ignore the Iranian government’s threats against their national security. On the other hand, they are enthusiastic about gaining more economic privileges through the ayatollahs.
Back in November 2020, in a question for written answer E-006258/2020, MEP Gianna Gancia asked the EU High Representative Joseph Borrell about the EU’s response to the Iranian government’s terror activities on European soil.
“On November 27, 2020, Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat based in Vienna, will face court in Antwerp on charges of personally organizing a delivery of TATP explosives to a couple who intended to attack a gathering in Paris in the summer of 2018,” Ms. Gancia said.
“Hundreds of prominent politicians from both sides of the Atlantic attended the gathering, including many European dignitaries. Assadi lost his diplomatic immunity within 48 hours and was handed over to the Belgian authorities. He has been awaiting trial ever since,” she added.
“While being interrogated, Assadi highlighted acts of terrorism carried out by the Iranian regime in the broader Middle East and speculated that there were a number of terrorist groups watching his case and standing ready to launch new attacks on Western soil if Belgium does not ‘support them’ by letting the defendant off.
“1. Does the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy agree that such conduct is powerful evidence of the need for a firmer policy against the Iranian regime’s threatening activities in Europe?
“2. What recommendations has he made to the Government of Iran regarding the threats that its arrested diplomat Assadolah Assadi spoke about in an attempt to influence the outcome of his trial on terrorism charges?” MEP Gancia added.
This is a major test for the EU. The European States and particularly the European Union must clarify their priorities, Iran watchers say. Many MEPs like those who attended the gathering and were potential victims of the plot expect a firm approach toward Tehran.
In this context, in addition to legal consequences, European leaders must penalize the world’s number one state-sponsor of terrorism, shut down its embassies in the European States, and expel its ‘diplomats,’ dissidents say.