General view of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.
(photo credit: CHARLES PLATIAU / REUTERS)
Germany’s federal prosecutor on Wednesday charged Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat based in Vienna, with hiring a Belgium couple of Iranian origin to bomb a Paris- based conference of Iranian dissidents.
In March, Assadi, 46, allegedly commissioned a couple in Antwerp to bomb the annual convention of the Mujahedeen- e-Khalq – an Iranian exile organization that advocates the overthrow of the Tehran regime. The opposition group met June 30 in Villepinte, France.”
German authorities arrested Assadi in Bavaria on July 2. Belgian citizens Amir Sadoni and Nassim Nomeni were also arrested for conspiring to bomb the conference.
The federal prosecutor said the Assadi provided an explosive device to the Belgian couple in Luxembourg.
Assadi served as the number third ranking diplomat in Iran’s embassy in Vienna. The federal prosecutor’s office said Assadi was a member of Iran’s intelligence agency the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. His work for the MOIS involved the “intensive observation and combating of opposition groups within and outside of Iran,” the prosecutor’s office said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
told Sky News Arabia on Tuesday that “Just this past week there were Iranians arrested in Europe
who were preparing to conduct a terror plot in Paris, France. We have seen this malign behavior all over Europe.”
Iran’s state-controlled news outlet Press TV reported that Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi that the allegation by Pompeo was “another attempt by the United States to destroy our country’s foreign relations.”
Two months ago the Netherlands expelled two Iranian diplomats. Iran’s regime has a long history of conducting terrorism and assassinations on European soil. In July the US State Department published a comprehensive chart of Iran’s global terrorism from the birth of the Islamic revolution in 1979 to 2018.
Iranian officials dismissed the charges against Assadi as a “false flag” operation, claiming the MEK itself was behind the scheme. The Iranian regime and its supporters claim that the MEK is a terrorist organization conducting covert operations inside Iran. But a senior State Department official said the Trump administration is skeptical.
The US takes the charges “very seriously,” the official told reporters. “We are working very closely with the Belgians, Austrians and Germans to get to the bottom of this plot to conduct a bomb attack in Paris that had two Americans speaking, attending.”
Asked if the administration believes Iran is responsible, the official responded, “Yes, we do.”
State Department officials met with their peers in Austria, Saudi Arabia and Belgium this week to discuss ways to further pressure Iran economically, in light of President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from an international nuclear deal in May.
The Paris plot, the official said, “exemplifies” the danger of Iran’s government. “We had an Iranian diplomat out of the Austrian embassy as part of the plot to bomb a meeting of Iranian opposition leaders in Paris,” the official said. “And the United States is urging all nations to carefully examine diplomats in Iranian embassies to ensure their countries’ own security.”
“If Iran can plot bomb attacks in Paris, they can plot attacks anywhere in the world,” the official said, “and we urge all nations to be vigilant about Iran using embassies as diplomatic cover to plot terrorist attacks.”