A former senior Iranian diplomat based in Oslo, Norway, and a Lebanese national is at the center of accusations of being involved in the assassination of Norwegian publisher, William Nygaard. According to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK), the Norwegian National Criminal Investigation Service (Kripos) has been investigating the case since 2009.
Nygaard, who was the former head of the publishing company Aschehoug and the former chairman of the NRK, was responsible for publishing the Norwegian edition of Salman Rushdie’s controversial novel, The Satanic Verses.
Based on a fatwa by Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian regime’s founder and first Supreme Leader, against Salman Rushdie, Nygaard was targeted in 1993 by several fanatics for publishing Rushdie’s novel.
Tehran’s first Secretary at the Iranian regime’s Embassy in Oslo, unidentified by the NRK, and Lebanese national, Khaled Moussawi, who lived in Oslo during the 1990s, are the main suspects in Nygaard’s assassination. Tehran’s diplomat reportedly visited Norway just after Rushdie’s book was published but left the country four days before the assassination.
This wasn’t the first time that the Iranian regime’s embassy in Oslo has been involved with terrorism and espionage. Three years ago, Mohammad Davoudzadeh Lului was arrested by Swedish authorities for his affiliation with the regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
Davoudzadeh was involved in a terrorist plot against Iranian Arab citizens in Denmark. Davoudzadeh had obtained refugee status and later Norwegian citizenship and was in regular communication with the regime’s embassy in Oslo and then-ambassador Mohammad Hassan Habibolahzadeh.
In September 2021, it was reported in Swedish newspapers that former Swedish security police chief, Peyman Kia had been arrested and charged with spying on Iran’s behalf between 2011 and 2015. Having obtained Swedish citizenship, he worked as a director for the Swedish Security Police (SPO), and as an analyst for the Swedish military whilst spying on behalf of the regime and relaying information back to them.
Another spy case came to light in August when an Iranian couple was also arrested in Sweden after obtaining refugee status in the country using false Afghan identification documents.
Recent arrests of the Iranian spies suggest that Tehran has a vast network of terrorism and espionage in Europe. During the trial of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat, in Belgium, it was revealed that he oversaw Iran’s network of terrorism in Europe.
Assadi, along with three accomplices, who had gained Belgian citizenship, were attempting to bomb the Iranian opposition’s rally in France in 2018. Assadi was arrested in Germany as he tried to get back to Austria where he served as the third secretary in the regime’s embassy in Vienna. German authorities discovered a notebook in Assadi’s car detailing the bomb plot, travel plans, and money he had paid to various operatives.
The regime has used its diplomatic privileges to spread terrorism in Europe. The regime’s agents have been able to settle down in the European countries, acquire citizenship. They are Tehran’s sleeper cells.
Despite Europe being in danger of the regime’s terrorist activities, EU leaders continue to converse with regime officials with policies of appeasement. While the arrest, trial, and convictions of Assadi and his co-conspirators are a step in the right direction, these actions are not enough to fully dismantle the regime’s terrorism network in Europe. Yet, European leaders have been reluctant to punish the regime for its terrorist activities.
Closing the regime’s embassies, expelling its so-called diplomats, identifying, and expelling the regime’s agents in Europe who operate while holding dual nationalities or refugee status are as necessary as they are delayed. This would not only end the regime’s threats against Iranian dissidents abroad, but it would also certainly add to the European citizen’s security.