A Belgian court is currently considering an appeal for three individuals who were convicted earlier this year for their roles during a failed terrorist bomb plot on behalf of the Iranian regime. The three men who have Iranian and Belgian dual citizenship were sentenced to between 15 and 18 years in prison, while the mastermind behind the plot, Iranian regime diplomat Assadollah Assadi was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.
During the convictions of the men in February, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) asked the European Union to act and extend the accountability of the terror plot in 2018 beyond just the four individuals. The target of the plot was a political rally in France that had been organized by the NCRI.
Attendance at that rally was estimated at around 100,000, including dozens of European and American political dignitaries. The primary target of Assadi’s plot was NCRI’s President-elect Maryam Rajavi.
According to experts, if the bomb had been detonated at the rally, hundreds of people in attendance would have been killed immediately, with the death toll possibly increasing due to a stampede from mass panic.
The bombs were fortunately discovered in a vehicle belonging to two of the imprisoned men, Amir Saadouni and Nasimeh Naami, and were detonated by a Belgian bomb squad, which slightly wounded one police officer despite the area being cordoned off to a safe distance.
The explosives were exported out of Iran on a flight to Austria, contained in Assadi’s diplomat pouch to avoid security screenings. Once in Austria, the explosives were then transported to the French border by car. Saadouni and Nasimeh were arrested at the French border, while Assadi was apprehended in Germany while traveling back to the Iranian embassy in Austria where he was stationed.
It is now understood that while technically employed as the third counselor at that embassy, Assadi was operating as the European bureau chief for the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.
At the time of Assadi’s arrest, documents were found in his vehicle which contained handwritten notes about associated meetings, as well as receipts for payments he had given to various agents working across his vast terrorist network. His network is said to extend from Austria into neighboring countries in Europe, including Hungary, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, as well as Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
Sweden is where authorities arrested a former Iranian prison official in 2019 and put him on trial for war crimes and his involvement in the 1988 massacre which saw the executions of over 30,000 political prisoners. Hamid Noury’s trial is still ongoing and was recently transferred temporarily from Stockholm to Durres, Albania to hear testimonies from members of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
He is the first person to face legal consequences for that crime against humanity, and activists associated with the MEK have urged the international community to regard his arrest as a test case for universal jurisdiction, a principle that allows serious violations of international law to be prosecuted in any venue.
Despite Assadi’s long prison sentence, it is unlikely that his terror network has fallen apart in his absence. The international community needs to help to dismantle it and make it a priority to fully confront the Iranian terror threats with new diplomatic pressures and economic sanctions.
One thing is clear: the highest officials in the Iranian regime cannot evade accountability for their wrongdoing, least of all when their actions still pose a global threat to this day.