An Iranian diplomat will go on trial next week in Europe on terrorism charges, with prosecutors saying that he planned the attack on the Iranian Resistance rally in Paris in 2018, hired the bombers, and handed over the powerful bomb to the would-be bombers.
Assadollah Assadi, 48, who is thought to be an Iranian intelligence agent, is going on trial in Belgium, alongside three other suspects, following a two-year investigation into an alleged plot to target the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)’s annual rally. It was attended by hundreds of diplomats from around the world and 100,000 people total, with NCRI leader Maryam Rajavi thought to be the main target.
This is the first time a serving diplomat has been arrested and charged with terrorism in Europe, with Belgian investigators believing that the actions were approved by those at the top of the Iranian regime.
The regime has denied this and called Assadi’s arrest “fundamentally illegal”, with Assadi reportedly threatening Belgian police with “retaliation” from armed groups if he was convicted, although his lawyer claims that this was a case of “miscommunication”.
The European police believe that Assadi handed over the explosives in a Pizza Hut restaurant in Place d’Armes, Luxembourg, with The Express providing a photo of him looking like a tourist, possibly in an attempt to evade detection.
At the restaurant, the prosecutors say, Assadi met with Amir Saadouni, 40, and his wife, Nasimeh Naami, 36, and gave them the bomb containing over 1lb of TATP (triacetone triperoxide), something that terrorist use because it is difficult to detect. He then apparently paid them €11,710.
Saadouni and Naami have admitted receiving the package to police but denied knowing it was a bomb, saying that they thought it would just make a lot of noise.
Thankfully, the couple was apprehended in Brussels before any attack could take place and the device was found “wrapped in plastic and concealed in the lining of a toiletry bag” with the remote trigger found among menstrual hygiene items in a separate bag.
Assadi was arrested the next day in Germany before he could make it back to Austria where he had diplomatic immunity.
In a letter to the federal prosecutor, Jaak Raes, head of Belgium’s state security service, wrote: “The plan for the attack was conceived in the name of Iran and under its leadership. It was not a matter of Assadi’s personal initiative.”