A court in Belgium would hear the appeal cases of three Iranian operatives who attempted to bomb the opposition rally in 2018 in France. These three individuals were part of a terrorist cell under Assadollah Assadi’s command. Assadi served as the Iranian regime’s diplomat in Austria.
We have conducted interviews with several renowned politicians who attended the “Free Iran” gathering in 2018. Ms. Ingrid Betancourt, a former Colombian Senator, is one of these plaintiffs. Below is the full text of our interview with Ms. Betancourt.
Q: Almost 40 months after the thwarted terror plot against the “Free Iran” gathering in 2018 and 9 months after Asadollah Assadi was convicted by the Belgian Judiciary, there has been no serious effort by the European leaders to dismantle the Iranian regime’s network of espionage and terrorism made public. What message does that convey to Tehran?
Ms. Betancourt: Security services in Germany, France, Belgium, and perhaps some other European countries carried out a successful joint operation in aborting one of the most horrifying crimes of the century. However, the political reaction and punitive measures did not match such a plot in any way. Worse still, there was hardly any meaningful move by the Europeans when the Iranian regime’s senior diplomat was caught red-handed and convicted by a Belgian court.
The decision to carry out a terrorist plot against Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI and the Free Iran gathering, was taken by the Iranian regime’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), and the most senior officials of the regime were involved in this act, and yet no appropriate political measures were taken by the EU.
There is a massive contrast between what happened and the role of the security services in Europe on the one hand and what the political establishment did in response on the other. One can imagine the extent of concessions given by the West to the regime over the years, which has emboldened the mullahs to such an extent where its diplomat brazenly misused the diplomatic privileges to bring explosives from Iran and hand them over to terrorists in central Europe. This seriously undermines our security in Europe.
Q: During the investigations in Assadi’s case, a green notebook was found with the names of the Iranian agents who were on Assadi’s payroll. What would you expect Western intelligence agencies to be doing with that sensitive information?
Ms. Betancourt: Assadollah Assadi’s case was not the first terrorist plot on European soil, and if European governments don’t take appropriate actions, it will not be the last one.
The main target of the Iranian regime terrorist plots has been the Iranian Resistance and the MEK, and the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence has a network of agents in Europe supported by the regime’s embassies that misuse their diplomatic facilities. Assadi was a so-called diplomat at the head of the Iranian regime’s intelligence network in Europe.
This espionage network in Europe, which is used for terror plots, should have been exposed and destroyed, and the EU should have demanded from Tehran to dismantle its terror apparatus. But unfortunately, due to appeasement policy, this has not happened, and the regime’s terror cells are active in Europe, and the EU is only focused on reviving the JCPOA.
#Iran: Fearing A More Significant Defeat The Clerical Regime Withdrew Its Appeal Against Assadi’s Conviction, His 20-year Imprisonment Is Now Final #NoImpunity4Mullahs #EUTime4FirmIranPolicy https://t.co/i0pcj9AFl5
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) May 5, 2021
Q: What would you expect the Western governments to do now?
Ms. Betancourt: Security must be Western governments’ top priority. To this end, they must not negotiate with a terrorist state as the final outcome will be a concession to terrorists and undermine our security further. The regime will never stop its terrorism as it lives on terrorism abroad and human rights violations at home. This is a proven fact and the experience of the past four decades shows a steady rise in human rights violations in Iran and terrorism in the region and the world over. The West’s policy of appeasement has only contributed to this trend.
Q: If the Belgian Judiciary accepts to soften or ease the punishment for the three convicted accomplices of Assadollah Assadi on November 18, what message would that send to other people on the green notebook or sleeper cells throughout Europe and the United States?
Ms. Betancourt: This would be the most dangerous move. This will not only give the green light to those on that notebook but also to all terrorists around the world that they can get away with their crimes and terrorism. I would personally feel very insecure and question any authority for being soft on terrorists for the price of my life and the lives of innocent civilians.
Q: Sweden has recently arrested an Iranian spy that has been acting as intelligence chief for several years. The 40 years old Peyman Kia was relaying intelligence and classified info to Iran. What does that tell about Swedish security, and how can this be prevented?
Ms. Betancourt: This is shocking but regrettably not surprising. Nor is it an isolated case. Western policy has given the mullahs free reins to infiltrate Western establishments. According to information made public, we have had similar infiltrations in the US and some European countries. No doubt, there are more of these that remain concealed due to the intimidation capacity the Mullahs have been exerting, which unfortunately still prevails. The answer to this is the firmness of the regime or any terrorist state.
Q: It’s clear that the Iranian regime is mostly interested in eliminating its own opposition and dissidents abroad. But how does that impact the security of Western ordinary citizens anyway? Bottom line: are the Iranian sleeper cells any threat to Western citizens?
Ms. Betancourt: The terrorist plot to bomb the “Free Iran” gathering in Villepinte near Paris in 2018 is a clear example of the regime’s threat to the citizens of other countries. Although the primary target in this aborted attack was Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian opposition, NCRI, and the dissidents, the gathering was attended by hundreds of dignitaries and ordinary citizens from across the world, mainly from France, Belgium, Germany, the UK, Italy, and Spain in Europe, but also from North America and the Middle East. Therefore, as I said, so long as a decisive political measure is not taken against the Iranian regime and its terror network in Europe no one worldwide is safe and something must be done about it.