In June 2018, agents of the Iranian regime attempted to carry out a major terrorist attack on European soil. The bomb plot was fortunately thwarted by European authorities, but if it had gone forward it would have almost certainly resulted in hundreds, if not thousands of deaths, including high-profile political figures from the United States and Europe.
The unraveling of that plot led to the arrest of an Iranian-Belgian couple who had been tasked with carrying the 500 grams of TATP explosive, as well as a third operative who had previously gained access to the target venue, the international and annual “Free Iran,” gathering of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Soon thereafter, the plot’s mastermind – a high-ranking Iranian diplomat stationed at the regime’s embassy in Vienna – was detained in Germany and then extradited to Belgium.
Assadollah Assadi’s trial is scheduled to begin on November 27. And as his court date approaches, the world continues to learn new details about his actions both before and after he became one of the first Iranian diplomats to be formally implicated in the regime’s terrorist activity. It has come to light, for instance, that Assadi personally obtained the explosives that were to be deployed against the NCRI gathering, then delivered them to his co-conspirators.
These facts have not stopped Tehran from defending him or loudly protesting the Belgian government’s efforts to bring him to justice. The regime’s attempt to interfere in his extradition was a sobering reminder of the extent to which Iranian officials have come to expect impunity from the international community. But it was only in recent days that Assadi’s own conduct revealed just how far the regime is willing to go to assert that impunity.
Transcripts of his conversations with Belgian authorities include apparent threats by the terrorist-diplomat on behalf of various armed groups that operate as proxies for the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). At one point, Assadi identified such groups as being based in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and also Iran itself, and he declared that they would all be “watching from the sidelines to see if Belgium would support them or not.”
Casual observers might find it quite difficult to understand why Assadi or his allies would expect this sort of support. But Assadi’s threats are due to the longtime appeasement policy that has emboldened a terrorist regime. While the November 27 Assadi’s case will be the first of its kind, it is not as though there haven’t been other opportunities for authorities in Europe to prosecute high-profile contributors to Iranian terrorism. In most cases, however, they have declined, leaving the regime as a whole, even in cases where it has actually killed people on European soil.
For example, in 1990, the NCRI’s representative to the United Nations, Kazem Rajavi, was gunned down in traffic near his Geneva home. Two of the perpetrators of that crime were later detained in Paris, but rather than hold them pending a Swiss extradition request, French authorities opted to promptly send them back home and avoid the diplomatic tensions that would have inevitably arisen with Tehran.
The assassination of Dr. Rajavi has stayed unpunished for nearly 30 years, even though his killers and their political overseers have been rather definitively identified.
Stories like this one are surely contributors to Assadi’s expectation that he can escape justice for his own contribution to Iranian terrorism. To deter Assadi’s threats, the EU should hold them and his masters in Iran to account for their systematic terrorism. The appeasement policy has created this notion for the mullahs’ terrorists that they can escape justice.
It is vital that the international community disabuse Assadi and his colleagues of this notion, especially now that he’s attempted to pepper blackmail into the case as well. If Tehran doesn’t come away from the current situation with the clear understanding that it can no longer expect impunity for its malign activities, then those activities will continue to accelerate.
In a nutshell, Assadi’s threats, the whole process of this foiled bombing plot and the regime’s efforts to use the appeasement policy for getting Assadi out of prison, confirm the regime’s state-sponsored and systematic terrorism. And the only way to stop this is taking a firm action by not only holding Assadi to account, but prosecute all the regime’s top leaders, who are deeply involved in terrorism.