Although European authorities have long been alert to potential terrorist activities by (non-state) jihadi groups, mostly Sunnis, they may soon be forced to take more attention to state-sponsored terrorist activities by Iran’s ruling theocratic regime.
https://t.co/fDw1tKXyUQ: On June 30, 2018, a sophisticated bomb should have exploded during a meeting of the #NCRI a coalition of movements opposed to the authorities in Tehran. The attack plan had been foiled by extremists. #MEK #Iran https://t.co/Vihck8lA6j
— MEK Iran (Mujahedin-e Khalq) (@MEK_Iran) October 10, 2020
The rally had been organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s (NCRI) an umbrella grouping of opposition organizations led by Massoud and Maryam Rajavi. The major opposition organization is the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) and it was this organization that was specifically targeted by the planned bomb attack.
The Iranian diplomat was a man called Assadollah Assadi, who was the third secretary at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna. Two of the other accomplices were a Belgian-Iranian couple and there was one other whose identity is yet to be revealed.
Belgium Extends Sentence for #Iran'ian Regime Terrorist Involved in Plot Against Opposition Conference
According to Belga news agency, the verdict was given by the first branch of Antwerp’s criminal court. The verdict underlines that Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian regime… pic.twitter.com/u79YaJdjM5
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) January 23, 2019
The details so far revealed allege that Assadi brought 500g of TATP explosive into Vienna secured in his diplomatic bag and had arranged to provide this to the three others who were the ones who were going to actually plant the explosives and detonate them.
Little did the four accused know that European authorities already had suspicions of the people involved and had been watching them for some time.
Whatever the real story, Belgian authorities arrested the couple, together with the explosives they were carrying, while Assadi was arrested in Germany soon after.
There is enough evidence to suggest that the whole affair had been planned and organized in Tehran by elements of the Iranian regime, with full authorization from the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.
If the botched operation had been successful, it could have killed and maimed hundreds, possibly thousands, of attendees at the rally, including foreign politicians and representatives, women, and children.
The Iranian regime and its constituent bodies, especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) are known to have organized attacks of this kind before, wherever they think their enemies are located, so it should be of no surprise that they would be capable of planning such a cold-blooded massacre in the heart of Europe.
Assadi himself, before being posted to Vienna supposedly as a diplomat, had been involved in both the IRGC and the MOIS. He started his diplomatic post in Vienna in 2014.
According to the German Federal Prosecutor, Assadi “was a member of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, whose tasks primarily include the intensive observation and combating of opposition groups the People’s Mojahedin Organization (PMOI / MEK Iran) inside and outside of Iran.”
The trial in Antwerp will be the first time that a serving diplomat will be tried for direct involvement with a terrorist act.
There have been a number of other state-sponsored terrorist attacks in Europe, planned and executed by agents of the MOIS and IRGC as noted below in brief:
- December 2015: Mohammad Reza Kolahi Samadi, a MEK member, was assassinated in the Netherlands.
- July 2016: an academic and former head of the German-Israel Friendship Society, Reinhold Robbe was targeted in Paris by an IRGC operative.
- November 2017: 10 probable IRGC agents watched by German authorities, suspected to have been targeting Israeli and Jewish targets.
- March 2018: Two IRGC agents were arrested in Albania, alleged to have been planning an attack on the MEK base in Albania.
- October 2018: An assassination attempt on an ASLMA official, Habib Jabor, was thwarted and an Iranian national with Norwegian citizenship was arrested.
The trial in Antwerp may reveal more about the background to the planned attack on the NCRI’s rally but has to be seen in context. The real culprits are getting away scot-free in Tehran. Both the new incoming U.S. Administration and European authorities should be taking Iran’s terrorist activities outside its borders into consideration when the nuclear deal made with the Iranian regime comes up for renegotiation.