Attack on Iranian Opposition Group Rally Thwarted

October 3, 2018
Updated

Belgian security authorities thwarted a bombing attack targeting an Iranian opposition group’s rally just outside of Paris on June 30. Some 25,000 attended the “Free Iran 2018-The Alternative” event in Vellepinte. High profile speakers included former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, a former mayor of New York City who is currently President Donald Trump’s attorney. The event was hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an umbrella opposition group considered to be the political arm of the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK). 

The MEK was founded in 1965 as an urban guerilla group opposed to Iran’s monarchy. It participated in the 1979 revolution but split with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and went underground in 1981. The leftist group has sought the overthrow of Iran’s theocratic government. It killed six Americans in Iran in the 1970s and attempted an attack against the Iranian mission to the United Nations in 1992. The State Department then designated it as a foreign terrorist organization in 1997. But the MEK renounced violence in 2001. In 2012, the State Department revoked its terrorist organization designation because no terrorist attacks had been positively linked to the organization for more than a decade. Iran, however, has continued to refer to the MEK as a dangerous terrorist group. 

Iran accused the MEK of orchestrating the appearance of an Iran-backed plot to undermine relations with Europe while President Hassan Rouhani was on a diplomatic tour of the continent. On July 4, Iran summoned the French ambassador in Tehran to underscore its opposition to France allowing the MEK to host activities on its soil.

 

A married Belgian couple identified as Amir S., 38, and Nasimeh N., 33, of Iranian heritage were found with 500 grams of TATP explosive and a denotator when stopped in Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium by special forces. The couple was charged with an “attempt at terrorist murder and preparing a terrorist crime.” Three other suspects were detained in France.  

 

An unnamed Iranian diplomat, who worked for Tehran’s mission to Austria, was also detained in Germany in connection to the foiled attack. On October 10, German authorities named the diplomat as Asadollah Assadi. He was stripped of his diplomatic status and was to be extradited to Belgium for prosecution. 

A statement by the Belgian Federal Prosecutors Office and its Federal Intelligence and Security Agency said that the DGSI French international intelligence service and German judicial authorities were instrumental in “avoiding a terror attack on French soil.” On October 2, French officials said Iran’s ministry of intelligence was behind the plot. The government said it froze the assets of two senior Iranian officials. 

The following are reactions by France, Iran, the United States and the NCRI.  

 

France

“A planned bomb attack was foiled at Villepinte on June 30. This extremely serious attack that was to take place on our territory cannot go without a response.”   

“Without prejudicing the results of a criminal proceedings taking against the initiators, the perpetrators and the accomplices of this planned attack, France has taken targeted and proportionate preventative measures in the form of adopting national measures to freeze the assets of Mr Assadollah Assadi and Mr Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, Iranian nationals, as well as the Internal Security Directorate of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.”

—Oct. 2, 2018, in a joint statement by France’s interior, economic and foreign affairs ministries

 

Iran

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

 

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Ghassemi

"After its failure in its annual meeting and in order to make up for its failure to win political support to advance its anti-human and anti-Iran objectives, and given the Iranian presidents successful trips to Switzerland and Austria, the terrorist Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization began to orchestrate and implement another scenario like before in order to affect the [Iranian presidents] tour of Europe.”

“Once again, we reject the accusations and allegations [levelled against the diplomat], and express the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strong objection to the apprehension of the Iranian diplomat.”

"As the Islamic Republic of Iran has announced time and again, it condemns and rejects any act of violence and terror in any form and in any place across the world.”

"Based on the information available, the individuals arrested in Belgium are among the MKOs notorious and operational elements.”

“Relevant Iranian authorities are prepared to offer the necessary cooperation by presenting the required documents and evidence to shed light on the real dimensions of this pre-planned scenario orchestrated by the terrorist group.”

—July 3, 2018, in a statement

 

“The existing documents reveal the clear role of dissidents, ill-wishers and saboteurs in this farcical show. So, we ask French authorities to be realistic toward the Islamic Republic of Iran, and once again warn about the evil hands of ill-wishers that aim to ruin the age-old ties between Iran and France and other influential European countries.”

—Oct. 2, 2018, in a statement

 

The United States

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

“Authorities in Germany announced yesterday the extradition of Asadollah Assadi, an Iranian official working under diplomatic cover, to Belgium for his role in the disrupted Iranian terrorist plot to bomb a political rally near Paris, France on June 30. The scale of this plot, which involved arrests of numerous suspects across Europe – including in Belgium, France, and Germany – reminds us that Iran remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. This plot also lays bare Iran’s continued support of terrorism throughout Europe. We support our European allies in exposing and countering the threat that Iranian-backed terrorism poses around the world. The United States will continue working with our partners and allies to confront the threat posed by the Iranian regime.” 

—Oct.10, 2018, in a statement 

 

National Council of Resistance of Iran 

The conspiracy of the terrorist dictatorship ruling Iran to attack the Grand Gathering of the Iranian Resistance in Villepinte, Paris was foiled. The mullahs’ regime’s terrorists in Belgium, helped by the regime’s diplomat terrorists, had designed for the attack.

A woman and a man involved in this terrorist act were arrested by the Belgian police. The woman had come from Iran to Belgium in 2009. In this regard, an Iranian regime’s diplomat has been arrested in Germany.

Iranian Resistance had repeatedly warned before about terrorist preparations by the so-called "diplomats" of the regime and the mercenaries of the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) and the Quds Force in various European countries.

—July 2, 2018, in a statement issued by the secretariat

 

Spokesman Shahin Gobadi

“The clerical regime’s terrorists in Belgium, with the assistance of the regime’s diplomats, had plotted this attack.” 

— July 2, 2018, in a statement 

 

Updated