Friday, November 27, 2020, is a day that will go down in the history books as the first time that an agent of Iran has gone on trial in Europe for terrorism. According to reports, the Belgian Judiciary demanded a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment for Assadollah Assadi for orchestrating a bomb plot against the Iranian opposition rally in Paris on June 30, 2018.
While there will be four defendants in the dock, it will essentially be the Iranian government on trial because a high-ranking diplomat will be tried for the attempted bombing of the 2018 Free Iran rally in Paris, something he did under the orders of the highest levels of the government.
Assadi, who was then serving as the third counselor at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, not only masterminded the operation but also arranged the delivery of an explosive device into Europe, personally handed it off to an Iranian-Belgian couple in Luxembourg and gave them instructions to drop it off at the rally site in Paris.
European investigations tracing the device back to its origin determined that the plot was known about and approved of by Iran’s top officials, including President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Belgian state security service’s chief said the plot was “not a matter of Assadi’s personal initiative” but instead “conceived in the name of Iran and under its leadership”, while the Belgian judiciary spokesperson said that “practically all” Iranian embassy employees are members of the Iranian Secret Service.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), whose rally Tehran targeted, wrote: “The June 2018 terror plot simply stands apart from others of its kind because the fingerprints of higher authorities are more clearly impressed upon the evidence. This is apparently a testament both to the perceived value of the target in that case and to the vulnerable situation that the regime found itself in when attempting to confront that target.”
That vulnerable situation was the threat of overthrow by an angry populace, who had staged nationwide protests in December 2017 and January 2018 with help from the pro-democracy group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), something that even Khamenei was forced to admit.
The rally, attended by 100,000 people and hundreds of dignitaries, was a prime place for the regime to target because of the horrific damage that could have been done, not just to NCRI members but also its President-elect Maryam Rajavi and those sitting near her, like former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani and former US Ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson.
This was a big risk that Tehran took as if Western countries would not respond to the assassination of their dignitaries on Western soil by the ayatollahs. It shows that mullahs were desperate and vulnerable.
The international community will be able to (and should) exploit that because they have the moral imperative to react strongly when their own is targeted by terrorists. The West can use this trial as an impetus to dismantle diplomatic relations between Iran and themselves, knowing that Iran’s embassies are the breeding grounds for terrorism. They must close the embassies and expel Iranian diplomats.