Saturday, June 10, 2023

Iran: Bomb Toting Diplomat

Assadollah-Assadi-696x435-1Would you take a commercial flight from Tehran to Vienna if you knew there was a powerful bomb on board without the crew ever knowing it? And if you knew it consisted of half a kilogram of TATP, a homemade explosive that is “very sensitive to heat, friction, and a shock” according to Belgium’s bomb disposal unit (DOVO)? Probably not, primarily if you could have known that the bomb would destroy a police remote anti-bomb robot and injure a Belgian police official standing a hundred meters away just one week later in Brussels.
But 240 people on board the Austrian airlines flight on June 22, 2018, from Tehran to Vienna were not aware: the same bomb was on board in a diplomatic suitcase belonging to Assadollah Assadi, third counselor in the Iranian regime’s embassy in Vienna. Assadi was returning hurriedly to Vienna on a deadly mission he had to carry out in Europe.
Six days later, in a Luxembourg Pizza Hut, Assadi handed over the bomb to two operatives working with him since 2012. He also gave the couple €12000 as a down-payment for the operation.
Assadi had previously recruited the couple, Nasimeh Noami and Amir Saadouni, to spy on the Iranian opposition organization MEK. In March 2018, in a short meeting on a train in Salzburg, Assadi had told them he wanted a field operation to be undertaken by them: bombing the big gathering of the Iranian Resistance in Villepinte, north of Paris, on June 30.
The main objective was Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, supposed to speak at the gathering. Scores of high-ranking dignitaries were also attending.
Assadi took the bomb, in his car, with his two sons and his espouse, from Vienna to Luxembourg. Himself an explosives expert, it was customary for him to carry the risk, even in the family. Their diplomatic passports were supposed to protect them against all inspections in case of trouble. After having handed the bomb to the two operatives, the happy family was stopped by Luxembourg police for an identity check, where they produced their diplomatic passports to avoid trouble.
But two days later, when the German police stopped them just short of the Austrian border, the game was over.
The Belgian police had arrested the couple on June 30, and their “bomb” had exploded when a Dovo robot tried to defuse it, well before it would reach the grand meeting, which was its objective.
Having strolled freely through several European countries, the “diplomat” was still sure he could easily get away given his diplomatic status. The same illusion was shared by the mullahs’ regime foreign ministry.
Javad Zarif, the mullah’s foreign minister, dismissed the affair as a “false flag” operation by those trying to drive a wedge between Tehran and the West. The regime called Assadi’s arrest “fundamentally illegal.”
So much sure they were of the outcome that they summoned the French, the Belgian, and the German ambassadors in Tehran to the foreign ministry to officially protest the arrest of their “diplomat.” The mullahs’ deputy foreign minister told the three ambassadors that “the Iranian diplomat arrested in Germany should be released immediately according to impunity articles of the Vienna Conventions.”
German courts had no ear for such claims. During more than two months, the mullahs went all the way through the German judicial hierarchy to fight the eventual extradition of Assadollah Assadi to Belgium, to no avail. Assadi was handed to the Belgian judiciary on October 9, 2018, to stand trial.
It took more than two years of investigation to bring to light aspects of the drama. On November 27, Assadi and the couple Saadouni-Noami and a third accomplice are to stand trial in Antwerp, Belgium.
The mullahs’ regime has, however, followed along its trail of claiming “diplomatic immunity” for its diplomat-terrorist. When they saw it did not work, they reverted to threats.
According to Reuters, during questioning in March, Assadi threatened the Belgian police. He said armed groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, and Syria, as well as in Iran, were interested in the outcome of his case and would be “watching from the sidelines to see if Belgium would support them or not.”
The mullahs’ foreign ministry’s spokesman followed much on the same path, saying: “We consider the lack of respect for Assadi’s diplomatic status and his standing trial in Belgium an unacceptable precedent. We consider all countries implicated in this case as violators of our diplomatic rights.”
The spokesman had his share of menacing: “We reserve the right to retaliate appropriately.”
The bold yet dumb position of the mullahs’ regime reflects the consequences of an erroneous policy followed by the West vis-à-vis the mullahs for at least three decades. Although the mullahs have undertaken scores of terrorist operations against dissidents and other countries’ interests in the past, in several cases, the police apprehended their “diplomats,” never have they stood trial. In all cases, the culprits were permitted to slip through justice’s fingers.
Dr. Kazem Rajavi, the Resistance’s representative in Switzerland, was gunned down in Geneva in 1990 by 13 people who came to the country on mission passports and fled back home the next day. Two of the gang were arrested in 1991 in France, but the latter sent them to Iran despite formal Swiss demand of extradition.
Mullahs’ embassies in Italy, Germany, Austria, Holland, the UK, Scandinavia, Turkey, and several other European countries engage systematically in terrorism. Still, to this day, no direct agent or “diplomat” has stood trial in any country.
The reason the mullahs seem not to understand the change is that they are so used to the three-decade-long kowtowing they tend not to understand the boot is on the other leg now.
This a regime which takes a right to immunity as the right to carry bombs on passenger airplanes, on the highways, and place them where they can endanger scores of innocent lives.
The first step by the West should be, apart from legal venue, to curb the role and freedom of action of the mullahs’ embassies and official representatives in Europe. Mullahs’ diplomats, beginning with the foreign minister Javad Zarif, should be put on sanction lists preventing them from moving freely around.
This is an efficient way to curb terrorism.