Terrorism has been the bread-and-butter of the four-decade rule of the mullahs’ regime in Iran. But Tehran’s bloody history of foreign assassinations and bombings is about to reach a turning point. Next month, a court in Antwerp, Belgium, will try an Iranian diplomat on charges of plotting a bombing attack against the annual gathering of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in 2018. But beyond the trial of an individual, this will be the trial of an entire regime that has left footprints of blood and mayhem all over the world.
In an online conference held on Thursday, members of the NCRI, lawyers and politicians, weighed in on the significance of this trial and the need for a firm policy toward the Iranian regime’s threats to global peace and security.
An unprecedented case
Assadollah Assadi, the Iranian regime diplomat on trial in Belgium, was arrested by German authorities in June 2018 while he was delivering explosives to two other Iranian regime operatives. The two agents, also arrested, were tasked with exploding the load at the Free Iran rally held in Paris, France. A fourth operative was arrested at Villepinte, the venue where Free Iran was being held.
The targeted rally was attended by NCRI president-elect Maryam Rajavi and many prominent politicians and dignitaries from dozens of countries across the world. Tens of thousands of supporters of the Iranian resistance also took part in the rally.
Assadi’s case is unprecedented and unique in several respects:
- This is the first time that a diplomat with diplomatic immunity has been caught redhanded, in the midst of committing a crime.
- This was not an ordinary bombing and assassination attempt against an individual. It was an attempted mass murder against a large gathering which could have had severe implications for dozens of countries represented at the event. Among the plaintiffs of the case are 18 politicians who were at the Free Iran 2018 rally.
- While the main target of the bombing plot was Madam Rajavi, if unfoiled it could have led to hundreds of deaths and many more injuries.
“I think is the most important case of the 21st century related to terrorism that we are now facing in Europe,” Christophe Marchand, one of the lawyers of the plaintiffs in the case, said in his remarks at the event. “Why that? Because it’s really an attack on democracy. It’s an attack on human rights.”
Lies and contradictions
The bombing’s failure triggered a series of events and moves by Iranian officials to hide their traces. But those efforts only further revealed the role of the highest authorities of power in the decision.
Following the attack, the regime first tried to portray the bombing as propaganda by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
After Assadi’s arrest, regime foreign minister Javad Zarif hastily took to Twitter to spin conspiracy theories and raise the possibility of a “false flag” operation. “How convenient: Just as we embark on a presidential visit to Europe, an alleged Iranian operation and its ‘plotters’ arrested. Iran unequivocally condemns all violence & terror anywhere, and is ready to work with all concerned to uncover what is a sinister false flag ploy,” he tweeted shortly after Assadi’s arrest.
Zarif’s comments were echoed by foreign ministry spokesperson Bahram Ghassemi, who said the Iranian diplomat arrested by Belgian authorities was wrongly accused and had nothing to do with the plot. “The claims against the Iranian diplomat are baseless and we categorically reject them,” Ghassemi said.
Ghassemi tried to frame the operation as MEK members turning against the organization, and added that arrested couple to whom Assadi had delivered the explosives were MEK members.
During Thursday’s event(October 22, 2020), Madam Rajavi, who is also one of the plaintiffs in the case, reminded that the regime has a long-standing history of laying the blame on the victims of its assassinations. “When the regime terrorists assassinated Dr. Kazem Rajavi in Geneva, they first tried to put the blame on us, pretending this was a suspicious murder and a purge within the PMOI,” she said.
But the evidence was so clear and undeniable that this hypothesis was outright rejected. Zarif later tried to downplay the plot as a “rogue operation” during a speech at the 2019 Munich Security Conference.
Ironically, Zarif was contradicted his own previous remarks to the regime’s Majlis (parliament), where he had said, “We are not an institution to act by ourselves. Is it possible to do something in this country without reporting?” He had thus implied that he had received orders from higher authorities.
Moreover, French authorities had made it clear that the plot was orchestrated and ordered by the regime and seized assets belonging to the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
“In my seven-hour testimony during the investigation, I provided details of the decision-making and the enabling process of this operation,” Mrs. Rajavi said in her speech. “I stressed again that the decision for this operation had been made by [supreme leader Ali] Khamenei, [regime president Hassan] Rouhani, Zarif, [Mahmoud] Alavi, the regime’s intelligence minister, and implemented only afterwards. This is not something new for us.”
Further complicating the situation for the regime are remarks made by Assadi himself. Per Marchand in Thursday’s conference: “We received the legal written arguments from the defense, which are on one side, it can seem very ambiguous, because one is claiming having diplomatic immunity. He claims immunity… If he claims diplomatic immunity, it means he claims Iranian responsibility. And that is really a key issue. We now have, in writings, the position of the authoritarian Iranian regime, claiming responsibility for this horrible act.”
Iran’s regime is being tried for terrorism
“For everyone in Europe and abroad, it couldn’t be clear that close to the four indicted with sit the Iranian regime itself, the Iranian regime will be at the main scrutiny of the judge, of the lawyers, of the prosecution,” William Bourdon, another lawyer in the case, said. “And we’re absolutely sure that as it is clearly indispensable, that diplomats acted as a diplomat representing the states.”
Rik Vanreusel, a third lawyer who spoke at the conference seconded Bourdon’s thoughts and added, “This is a symbolic attack on the values of our Western civilization, on the values of democratic free speech, on the values of democratic free opposition. We believe and it is our established opinion, I believe, together with the prosecution, that the four defendants will be held accountable for their actions. And as Mr. Bourdon William already said correctly, the fifth party, or maybe the first party on the defendants bench will be indeed the Iranian regime.”
This historic case will mark the first time that the Iranian regime is being tried for what it truly is: the number-one state sponsor of terrorism across the globe. This is a unique opportunity for the European Union and the international community to set a precedent that will ensure the security of their own citizens against future terrorist acts by rogue regimes such as that of the mullahs.
There should be no place for complacency and appeasement toward the regime in this case. Terrorists should be dealt with as what they are.