Iranian diplomat sentenced to 20 years prison in European terror plot

Diplomatic immunity does not extend to terrorism, and that is very bad news for Iran's embassies.  [Update: David Keasey makes the important point that Assadollah Assadi was diplomatically accredited to Germany, but not to France. Hence, his criminal activities in and against Freance were not covered by diplomatic immunity.]

On February 4, 2021, a court in Antwerp, Belgium delivered a guilty verdict with 20 years of imprisonment in the case of Assadollah Assadi, a career Iranian diplomat who plotted a bombing attack against a major gathering of Iranian opposition members in France.  The attack was thwarted by authorities across multiple countries, resulting in Assadi's arrest, along with his co-conspirators.


Assadollah Assadi (YouTube screen grab).

The case's details highlighted the Iranian regime's terror-based foreign policy and how its policies threaten global peace and

The case's details highlighted the Iranian regime's terror-based foreign policy and how its policies threaten global peace and security.  First, Assadi was the third counsel at the Iranian regime's embassy in Vienna, but historically, he has ties with the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.

According to documents obtained by German police, Assadi had made hundreds of trips to eleven European countries and had paperwork documenting cash payments made to dozens of Iranian operatives.  "The trial of Assadollah Assadi is the tip of a massive terrorist iceberg," said Struan Stevenson, a former European Parliament member.  "As a diplomat, you can't make hundreds of visits to different countries without permission from your ambassador.  And the ambassador takes his command from Tehran.  There's no doubt that this plot was ordered by Khamenei, Rouhani, Zarif, and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi."

The Iranian regime has attempted to shrug off responsibility for the bombing plot, calling it a rogue operation and a false flag operation.  According to information obtained by the European authorities and the Iranian Resistance, the attack was planned and ordered from Tehran's highest levels of power.

"We know that the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the regime President Hassan Rouhani, and the always-smiling Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, all three knew about the attack, all three agreed to the attack, and all three ordered it.  If you reflect on this, you can imagine the scope of this attack," said Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former vice president of the European Parliament.

During an online conference held in October, Cristophe Marchand, a lawyer specializing in international criminal law, stated, "[Assadi] claims to have diplomatic immunity.  But if he does so, then he also accepts responsibility by the regime for this horrible act."

Much of this activity throughout Europe is based around the regime's need to suppress any attempts to create a pro-democratic government in Iran.  The regime has a long history of targeting and assassinating Iranian dissidents abroad.  In this case, if the bombing had succeeded, then the victims would have included dozens of politicians and prominent figures from different countries who had attended the event.

"I was sitting very close to Madam [Maryam] Rajavi.  First-rank political figures were sitting in a space of a few meters around her.  You can imagine the consequences if such an attack succeeded.  The attack could have caused hundreds of deaths.  The consequences would have been catastrophic," said Vidal-Quadras.

The targeted conference was attended by thousands of Iranian dissidents and supporters, including the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).  According to confessions from Assadi's accomplices, they had been instructed to plant the bomb as close as possible to Rajavi's location.

Assadi also told Belgian authorities that his case was being watched by undisclosed groups in Iran and that there would be consequences if he was found guilty.

This attempt is not the first one where the regime targeted the Iranian resistance.  In March 2018, there was another Iranian bombing plot planned for the Persian New Year in Albania.  That event was also attended by politicians and international supporters of the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), a member of the NCRI.  This thwarted bombing was also traced back to the regime's embassy in Tirana.  The Albanian government eventually expelled the Iranian ambassador and another diplomat for their roles in undermining the security of Albania.  These are just two examples from decades of the regime using its embassies and diplomats as a cover for its activities.

In tandem, the regime has engaged in its old tactic of arresting foreign nationals in Iran and using them as bargaining chips in its negotiations with the West.  Just a few days before Assadi's trial began in November 2020, the regime announced that it would be executing jailed Iranian-Swedish doctor Ahmad-Reza Djalali, as part of its bid to put pressure on the European authorities.  This tactic shows that the target and potential victims of Tehran's terrorism are not just Iranian political refugees, but also all European citizens.

Throughout the past few decades, the appeasement policies of Europe and the international community have enabled Tehran to expand its terrorist tentacles throughout the continent.  These cases show the failure of a policy that centers on containing Tehran's malign behavior through continuous concessions and letting the regime get away with crimes and violations of international norms and values.

While the Belgian court will pass its verdict shortly, this case should be viewed within the broader picture of international policy toward Iran.  It should serve as a wake-up call, particularly for European leaders who have straddled the fence.  This is not an isolated case or the end of the story.  A terror machine is threatening the security of all European citizens.

The only way to stop this Iranian terror machine is when Europe acts in a concerted manner to shut down the regime's embassies, cultural centers, and front organizations involved in these activities.  All diplomats and agents of the regime found involved in spying and terror plots are a threat to global security.  As such, they need to be expelled from European countries.  If they are posing as political refugees, they must be stripped of their legal status and expelled back to Iran.

A firm policy, both from Europe and Unite State as a whole, will bring the Iranian regime's terrorism apparatus to heel.  If anything less is attempted, then Tehran will exploit those cracks and continue to bring terror, fear, and death into the Middle East, Europe, and the larger global community.