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HomeIran News NowLatest News on Iranian TerrorismIran’s 2018 Terror Plot Reveals Extent of the Regime’s Global Impunity

Iran’s 2018 Terror Plot Reveals Extent of the Regime’s Global Impunity

Iranian diplomat terrorist Assadollah Assadi
Iranian diplomat terrorist Assadollah Assadi

In 2018, two Belgian citizens of Iranian extraction traveled to Luxembourg for a meeting with an Iranian so-called diplomat, Assadollah Assadi. There they received an explosive device that their handler had smuggled into Europe on a commercial flight while traveling on his diplomatic passport. The couple was instructed to carry the device into France, gain access to the rally of Iranian opposition that was taking place on June 30, and place the bomb as close as possible to the Iranian opposition president, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi.

Fortunately, all of this was observed in real time by European law enforcement, which ultimately intervened to arrest the plot’s mastermind, the would-be bombers, and a fourth accomplice in three separate operations. The Iranian-Belgian couple, Nasimeh Naami and Amir Saadouni, were promptly brought up on charges in Belgium, while Assadi was held for a time in Germany, where his arrest took place, before being extradited to face trial alongside his agents.

That trial began just last November, following a more than two-year investigation, during which time Assadi leveled threats of further terrorism against Belgian officials while the Iranian regime tried unsuccessfully to intercede on his behalf. As recently as Sunday, the spokesperson for the regime’s Foreign Ministry, Saied Khatibzadeh, publicly condemned the proceedings and insisted that Assadi’s position as third counsellor at the Iranian embassy in Vienna should make him the beneficiary of blanket diplomatic immunity anywhere in Europe.

Tehran’s argument is, of course, ridiculous on its face. But then again it is not as if the regime has many other options for attempting to evade accountability for the 2018 terror plot. The verdict in Assadi’s case is due next Thursday, and his conviction seems all but guaranteed. Having been directly observed handing off the explosive device and then arrested with a manual for its operation still in his car, there is really not a shadow of a doubt about his guilt. If the regime insists upon standing by him, as it has done up to this point, it can only hope that Belgium or the European Union will decide to drop the case at the last minute, rather than risk harm to their relationship with the regime

That hope may seem desperate and unlikely, but it is not without precedent. Amazingly, despite Iran being widely recognized as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, Assadi is the very first diplomatic official to face prosecution in Europe on terrorism charges. His failure to evade those charges may reflect the strength of the case against him, but it may also stem from a shift in European policy away from one of blanket conciliation.

In the past, European governments have deemed it to be in their national interests to avoid holding high-profile Iranian regime’s officials accountable for malign acts they’d carried out at Tehran’s behest. This was the explanation given, for instance, in 1992 when France released two individuals who had been arrested for their involvement in the assassination in Switzerland of Kazem Rajavi, representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in Switzerland, two years earlier. As a result, no one has ever been held accountable for that killing, and the Iranian regime found cause to reinforce its own assumption of impunity.

Iran’s Terrorist-Diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, Led a Large Espionage & Terrorism Network in EU

That impunity was clearly on display in the context of the 2018 terror plot, which targeted “Free Iran” organized by the NCRI. Hundreds of American and European lawmakers from a wide range of political backgrounds were in attendance at the Free Iran rally when Assadi’s operatives attempted to infiltrate the venue with their bomb. Since many of them were in close proximity to Mrs. Rajavi throughout the event, it is highly likely that some would have been killed or wounded if the plot had gone through to its conclusion.

Assadi was surely aware of this potential for collateral damage, as were his handlers in Tehran. Belgian prosecutors have made it abundantly clear that the diplomat-terrorist was not operating on his initiative but received orders from high up in the Iranian regime.

There is perhaps no clearer symbol of that regime’s impunity than its willingness to not only approve a terror plot on European soil but to willingly risk killing Western politicians in the process. It is difficult to imagine the mullahs doing so if they truly expected to face meaningful consequences. It is even more difficult to imagine them continuing to support Assadi after it was revealed that he had told his interrogators that various Iran-backed terror groups would be watching his case to see if the Europeans would “support them.”

As more information reaches the public in advance of Assadi’s likely conviction, the extent of Iran’s impunity continues to grow clearer. It has lately been reported that the investigation into his activities revealed him to be at the head of a network of operatives that spanned at least 11 European countries and involved him regularly traveling all across the continent to deliver cash payments. Given that all of this activity is connected to just one man, and given that there is nothing especially unique about Assadi as compared to other Iranian consular officials, it stands to reason that there are currently other such networks still operating, any one of which could be the point of origin for the latest terror threat on European soil.

When Assadi’s arrest was first announced, a spokesperson for Belgian law enforcement told the media that there are many Iranian diplomats in Europe who are actually operatives in the regime’s Secret Service.

Whatever counter-intelligence is currently going on, it should be supplemented with direct challenges to Iran regime’s impunity and the underlying system that allows terrorists like Assadi to operate throughout the world.

For the better part of four decades, the international community has been all too willing to deal with Iran regime’s diplomatic networks as if they are no different from those of any country that doesn’t routinely use terrorism as a form of statecraft. In the wake of the Assadi case, that approach simply cannot continue. The democratic nations of the world cannot continue to host Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif or engage him in conciliatory dialogue while fully aware and even involved in his office’s actions and role as the anchor point for all those terrorist networks running through Iran’s European embassies.

The regime cannot be permitted to stand by Assadi and face no consequences. The regime should be isolated on the world stage and its diplomatic networks dismantled to prevent further terrorist attacks from happening.