Iran on Trial in Belgium

Diplomat Charged for Planning Terrorist Operation

THE PLOT

Amir Saadouni, and his wife, Nasimeh Naami, of Iranian origin sat down with Assadollah Assadi, who handed them a small package. In this package, an artisanal bomb was stacked in a woman’s beauty bag, usually easy to smuggle through airport security. Naami put the package in her handbag and the couple headed back towards their grey Mercedes parked nearby.

Nasimeh Naami and Amir Saadouni were to target the annual gathering of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) organized in Villepinte, a suburb of Paris. The conference had Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the NCRI as a key note speaker. It is believed she was the main target of this foiled attack.

Other speakers at the event in Paris included Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Bill Richardson (former US Ambassador to the UN), a number of former US generals, Bernard Kouchner (former French Foreign Minister), Stephen Harper (former Canadian Prime Minister), and a host of other luminaries including a cross-party delegation of British MPs, Giulio Terzi, former Foreign Minister of Italy, Sid Ahmad Ghozali, former Prime Minister of Algeria,  Dr. Riyadh Yasin, Ambassador of Yemen to France and the former Foreign Minister.

According to the Belgian Federal Prosecutor’s Office, “During the search of the terrorists’ vehicle, approximately 500 grams of TATP and an ignition mechanism were found in a small beauty bag.” Triacetone Triperoxidea, or TATP, is a very powerful explosive that is more difficult to detect. Had the plot not been foiled in the final hours, it would have been the Iranian regime’s biggest terrorist act and deadliest terrorist operation ever carried out in Europe.

PORTRAIT OF TERRORISTS 

On July 1, an Iranian diplomat was arrested in Germany based on a warrant issued by the anti-terrorism judge in Antwerp. The individual, Assadollah Assadi, a senior diplomat (the Third Counselor of the Iranian Embassy in Vienna) was arrested close to the Austrian border as he was trying to return to Vienna. Assadi, had been the Iranian regime’s Intelligence Ministry station chief at the embassy in Vienna since 2014.
A spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor said to NBC News on July 5 that “the couple had picked up the TATP in Luxembourg from the Iranian diplomat and were fully aware of the risk involved of using this unstable explosive; they had every intention of using it…”.
The German federal prosecutor corroborated these details on July 11 and said Assadi had personally handed over the explosive to the couple at the end of June 2018 in Luxembourg City.
 

Farzin Hashemi (4thL), a representative of the People's Mujahedeen for international organisations and lawyers of National Council of Resistance of Iran William Bourdon (3rdL) and Georges-Henri Beauthier (2ndL) answer questions from journalists at Antwerp courthouse, on November 27, 2020. (Getty)


WHO IS ASSADI?

He is a member of the Iranian intelligence community and held key positions in the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence. He has a long history in terrorist operations, especially against the PMOI. Assadi was born in 1971 in the city of Khorramabad, west of Iran. His father Ali, was in charge of the support committee in the city during the Iran-Iraq war in the eighties, later becoming the deputy mayor of Khorramabad.

Assadi participated in the Iran-Iraq War as a teenager and was trained to manipulate explosives. At the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, he joined the Ministry of Intelligence and Security and began working in the Intelligence Department in Khorramabad.

ASSADI’S MISSION IN IRAQ

After the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Assadi was appointed in Iraq as the third consul at the Iranian regime’s embassy in Baghdad.
According to opposition sources in Iran, Assadi's mission was to collect intelligence about the presence of the international coalition forces in Iraq and their headquarters and main centers. He worked in coordination with the Shiite groups in Iraq loyal to the Iranian regime and actively participated in organizing terrorist missions against the coalition forces.

He has been stationed in Vienna since 2014 as a third consul at the Iranian regime’s embassy. 

The regime tried to prevent the extradition of Assadi to Belgium from Germany but to no avail. Assadi was extradited to Belgium on October 9, 2018. Assadi, who went on trial on Nov. 27 warned authorities of possible retaliation by unidentified groups if he is found guilty, according to a police document Reuters reported. “You do not realize what is going to happen, in the event of an unfavorable verdict,” the minutes, taken by the Belgian police, say.
CHARGES

On July 15, a court in Antwerp, Belgium, upheld the indictment of the federal prosecutor against Assadi and his three accomplices (Amir Saadouni, Nasimeh Naami and Mehrdad Arefani) and agreed with the request of the federal prosecutor to put Assadi and his accomplices on trial on two charges of "attempted terrorist act with intention of murder" and "participation in a terrorist group.”

Nassima Naami, is a trained agent working for the Ministry of Intelligence. She travels regularly to Iran. Amir Saadouni, is also a secret intelligence agent of the Iranian regime assigned to infiltrate supporters of the People's Mujahideen. Mehrdad Arefani, a Belgian Iranian was arrested in connection with the terrorist plot.

The investigation conducted by the police reveals the three suspects Assadi, Naami and Saadouni have communicated on numerous occasions. The three received a large sum of money for their activities, records show. European security officials have intercepted communications that suggest Assadi “was not only involved in an alleged plot last year to bomb a meeting of Tehran opponents outside Paris, but coordinated efforts with colleagues back in Iran.”
The National Council of Resistance of Iran claim the decision was taken by the Supreme Security Council headed by the President of the Iranian regime, Hassan Rouhani, and approved by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Accordingly, the Ministry of Intelligence and Homeland Security was assigned to implement the decision, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

It is believed that the decision to bomb the conference held in Villepinte was made after the major nationwide anti-regime uprising in Iran in December 2017 and January 2018 that shook the regime to its foundations. In January 2018, Khamenei had pointedly underscored the role of the MEK and its network in leading the uprising. IRGC Admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the regime's Supreme National Security Council, said on January 1, 2018: "The hypocrites will receive an appropriate response from Iran from where they do not expect." 

Although Assadi failed to appear on November 27 for the opening of his trial nevertheless the prosecutors called on the court to sentenced him to 20 years, which is the maximum sentence according to the law. Amir Saadouni and Nasimeh Naami who were assigned to bomb the event to 18 years and Mehrdad Arefani to 15 years. The court was also asked to withdraw the Belgian nationality of three of the defendants.

The Iranian regime has engaged in terrorist acts outside Iran over the past 40 years. The Amia bombings in 1994 and the bombing of the marine’s barracks in Beirut all carry the signature of the Iranian regime. In addition, the regime conducted numerous assassinations of opponents outside Iran, using proxies often or Iranians holding dual citizenship. However, this is the first time that one of the regime’s diplomats has been caught planning a terrorist operation arrested and tried on terrorism-related charges. For years, Europe had accommodated the regime in Iran because of business related interests. The secret services of Germany, France and Belgium have thwarted what would have been a massacre. This action from the regime needs to be met with severe measures. Today it is imperative that all European countries take practical steps to stop the Iranian regime's terrorism in Europe.