This article is part of our series that explores Tehran’s terror activities and Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi‘s role in a bombing plot against the opposition rally in Paris in June 2018.
On June 30, 2018, he was detained by German authorities for being involved in a bombing attempt against the annual gathering of the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Evidence revealed that he personally orchestrated the terror plot and abused his diplomatic status for delivering 500 grams of TATP explosives to his operatives in Luxemburg. This piece sheds light on Assadi’s background as an agent of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
In the 1980s, Assadi joined the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a member of the paramilitary Basij force. During the war, he obtained explosives training in IRGC bases. After the war, in 1989, he was transferred to the MOIS.
Assadi started his career as an MOIS intelligence agent in the general office in Khorramabad city, the capital of Lorestan province. The Iranian main opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) previously exposed Assadi’s role in detaining its supporters in this province.
Due to his crimes against the regime’s dissidents, mainly PMOI/MEK supporters, he was promoted in his organizational position. Afterward, he was transferred to the capital, Tehran, and continued his oppressive activities.
From 2005 to 2008, authorities appointed him as the MOIS representative— under diplomatic coverage— in the Iranian embassy in Baghdad. According to the PMOI/MEK, he later became the chief of the regime’s intelligence station in the embassy.
During this period, Assadi was following several goals, including the following:
- Collecting information about the multi-national coalition troops in Iraq
- Identifying and assassinating Iraqi dignitaries who opposed Iran’s influence
- Supervising oppressive measures of the Iran-backed government of Iraq against the PMOI/MEK members in Camp Ashraf, northwestern Baghdad
- Organizing terror squads to cause instability in this country
Notably, Assadi’s official position was third-secretary of the Iranian embassy in Iraq. Before Assadi, several chiefs of the regime’s intelligence station were Hashemi, Esmaeil Pourmahdavi, and Rasoul Moeini. All were high-ranking officers in the MOIS.
In 2008, Assadi was replaced with Kiumars (Gholamali) Reshadatmand— alias Haj Ali Navidi—as the chief of the regime’s intelligence station in Iraq. In 2013, another MOIS agent Kianmehr— alias Sajjad—replaced Reshadatmand.
In August 2014, Assadi was deployed to the regime’s intelligence station in Vienna. He was officially appointed as third-secretary of the Iranian embassy in Austria. However, he was truly the chief of the mullahs’ intelligence station in entire Europe.
For four years, Assadi was coordinating activities and tasks of different MOIS stations across Europe. In this respect, he held the lead position of Iran’s intelligence apparatus on European soil, and he was considered the MOIS’s top agent.
In this period, he monitored and coordinated the regime’s operations against political refugees and dissidents, mainly members and supporters of PMOI/MEK. Moreover, because of his expertise in explosives, he planned the bomb attack against the Iranian opposition’s annual gathering, in which 100,000 Iranians and hundreds of prominent dignitaries from different countries attended.
On July 20, 2020, at the Free Iran Global Summit, U.S. Senator Robert Torricelli mentioned the regime’s foiled attack in Paris. He affirmed that the NCRI’s president-elect Maryam Rajavi was the target. “We can all assume that the target of the attack in Paris was Maryam Rajavi. An attack on her was an attack on every western democracy. It would be an act of war,” Senator Torricelli said.
.@bobtorricelli at #FreeIran2020 Rally— #Terrorism:
“#Iran’s embassies are covers for terrorist activity. It also uses them to procure nuclear material. Do these governments really want that embassies in their countries were used to take lives?”https://t.co/7hhHIDOcGm
— IranNewsUpdate (@IranNewsUpdate1) July 20, 2020
Three days earlier, during the most significant virtual global gathering of the Iranian resistance, which connected 30,000 locations from over 100 countries across the globe, Ms. Rajavi said, “The Iranian regime’s leaders planned to launch a major terrorist attack against the Free Iran Grand Gathering in Paris, in 2018.”
“Two days ago, the trial of this diplomat and his three accomplices began in Belgium. For the first time, a serving diplomat faces trial in Europe for direct involvement in terrorism. This is a great disgrace for the regime and it shows that the regime spares to effort and will commit any crime and pay any price to annihilate its alternative,” she added.
“I emphasized when I testified as a witness for seven hours and provided ample documents and evidence; the real decision-makers were Khamenei, Rouhani, Zarif, and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi. This is indispensable to stop the mullahs’ unbridled terrorism,” Ms. Rajavi concluded.
It is worth noting that from 2005 to 2018, Assadi had no preferment and served as “third-secretary of the embassy.” This issue reveals that the regime abuses diplomatic coverage for MOIS agents.
Previously, former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian admitted that the MOIS frequently disguises its agents as journalists, businessmen, etc. “The MOIS needs cover for gathering information, both inside Iran and abroad. It means that we will not send an intelligence officer, for example, to Germany, Russia, or America to go there and say, ‘give me your information.’ Under the cover of business, or mostly journalism. Most of the journalists are agents of the MOIS,” said Fallahian in an interview on July 16, 2017.
This interview with former Iranian intelligence minister Ali Fallahian is self-explanatory.pic.twitter.com/mUzhYPt786
— Heshmat Alavi (@HeshmatAlavi) April 3, 2019
For the bombing plot, Assadi recruited a young couple, Amir Sadouni and his wife Naimeh Noami, who styled themselves as PMOI/MEK supporters. He intended to portray the crime as an internal conflict within the PMOI/MEK. However, Belgian authorities uncovered Assadi’s role in the foiled attack.
“There was a meeting in Luxembourg that was under surveillance and everyone worked together quickly to discover the bomb and arrest Assadi. It seems like the [Iranian] regime hoped a bombing would be seen as an internal MEK matter, which would be a plausible theory except we caught their guy in the act,” BuzzFeed News quoted a Belgian police official as saying on July 11, 2018.
“Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat who German prosecutors claim is an intelligence operative who’d lived undercover in Vienna and whose assignments primarily include the intensive observation and combating of opposition groups inside and outside of Iran,” the website reported.
Earlier, on July 2, 2018, Bild wrote, “He is said to have ordered a terror attempt against the opposition in Paris. Assadollah Assadi had a diplomatic passport that identified him as the third consultant of the Islamic Republic’s embassy in Austria. According to the investigation, Assadi is a member of Iran’s secret service, MOIS.”
The German Federal Prosecutor announced in its statement on July 11, 2018: “Assadi was a member of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, whose tasks primarily include the intensive observation and combatting of opposition groups inside and outside of Iran.”
Notably, the MOIS’s intelligence stations in Iranian embassies are under the command of the “Organization of Intelligence and Foreign Movements.” This institution is known by the code number 210 in the ministry’s internal correspondence and communications.
In February 2017, this institute was upgraded and became an organization. Reza Amiri Moghaddam was the chief of the organization and Assadi was under his direct command.
This evidence shows the necessity of focusing on the Iranian regime’s exploitation of diplomatic privileges for targeting dissidents. In this context, the mullahs have a notorious background, and footprint of Iranian embassies have been discovered in approximately all acts against the Iranian opposition groups, particularly the NCRI and PMOI/MEK, in Europe and the U.S.
In this respect, as many prominent dignitaries called for a firm policy against the mullahs’ terrorism, the international community should recognize the mullahs’ embassies as terrorist nests and shut them down as soon as possible. Furthermore, it should expel all of Iran’s diplomatic delegations to make the world safer and more secure. Previously, in December 2018, Albania expelled the Iranian ambassador Gholamhossein Mohammadnia and his first deputy for involving in a bomb plot against the PMOI/MEK, which made this country as a role model in this regard.