Many European and US personalities, lawyers and experts joined an online conference hosted by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) on October 22, 2020. They condemned the Mullahs’ regime’s terrorism campaign in the Europe and called on the EU to pursue a firm policy against the Iran’s regime.
Participants condemned the regime’s support for terrorism around the world and called on the EU to end the appeasement policy under the pretext of engagement with the mullahs. It is time to make it clear to the mullahs’ regime that their support for terrorism in Europe soil and across the world will not be tolerated.
Mrs. Rajavi’s ten-point plan has widespread support from dignitaries, the majority of MPs from various countries and MEPs for a long time. Maryam Rajavi has long emphasized on the threat of Iran’s regime support for terrorism.
The report of this conference is as follows:
Farzin Hashemi, member of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee
Assadollah Assadi, Iran’s diplomat-terrorist on trial in Belgium for his role in a bomb plot targeting the 2018 “Free Iran” conference held by the NCRI back in 2018, from the very beginning tried to raise Vienna Conventions to escape prosecution. This terrorist plot was ordered and blueprinted in Tehran at the highest level of Iranian regime leadership, including the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).
Despite the fact that the EU has acknowledged the role of the regime, they have so far refrained from taking concrete action. We hope this will change, and they will take a more firm policy toward the Iranian regime.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran(NCRI)
Today, we are dealing with a unique case.
For the first time, a so-called diplomat carrying a bomb with him is being prosecuted in Europe.
As usual, the religious fascism ruling Iran tried hard to put the blame on the victims, meaning the Iranian Resistance.
On July 2, 2018, while a diplomat-terrorist of the regime carrying a bomb had been arrested, the mullahs’ foreign minister commented about the bombing plot at Villepinte saying that this was a “false flag operation” on the verge of the regime’s President’s visit to Austria.
In February 2019, at a conference in Munich, Zarif said: “It could be a false flag operation.
It could have been an entrapment. It could have been a rogue operation.”
The mullahs’ foreign minister had forgotten that he had denied any arbitrary action in the religious tyranny during his remarks on the fifth of November 2018 at the regime’s parliament.
While defending the nuclear deal, Zarif told his adversaries, “We are not an institution to act by ourselves. Is it possible to do something in this country without reporting?”
In my seven-hour testimony during the investigation, I provided details of the decision-making and the enabling process of this operation.
I stressed again that the decision for this operation had been made by Khamenei, Rouhani, Zarif, Alavi, the regime’s intelligence minister, and implemented only afterwards.
This is not something new for us.
I leave a discussion of the legal aspects of the case to the distinguished and competent lawyers.
But I want to make a few points here.
1. European countries must set aside all political considerations in this case. The regime’s leaders must be prosecuted and they must face justice. This is a necessary and a preventive measure against terrorism under the name of Islam with the clerical regime as its central banker.
2. Khamenei and Rouhani took a great risk by sending a diplomat to carry out the bombing and slaughter. The reason is that they are extremely vulnerable in the face of the people’s uprisings, the spread of the Resistance’s influence, and the overthrow of their regime.
3. The policy of appeasement has greatly emboldened the regime over the past 40 years. To the extent that their diplomat, who is arrested, makes threats of more terrorist operations even from inside prison.
Today, the European Union is facing a serious and historic test in the face of terrorism under the banner of Islam.
So, what is the EU going to do with the epicenter of terrorism?
• The entire Ministry of Intelligence and the IRGC must be designated as terrorist entities.
• Agents of the Intelligence Ministry and the Quds Force must be prosecuted, brought to justice, and expelled.
• The regime’s embassies and their so-called religious and cultural centers must be shut down.
These are indispensable to ensure the security of Europe, and especially the security of Iranian refugees and dissidents. This will bring about the friendship and support of the Iranian people.
William Bourdon, renowned lawyer of human rights and international criminal law
I’m extremely honored to be able to take the floor. I was so extremely honored to recall that I have defended NCRI and this team’s movement for about 20 years.
It has been a long story of battle and friendly moments between my team and all the representatives of NCRI. Let’s say without any excess of confidence and excessive pride that for the moment, we won the battle, and we went capacity to obtain the only complete dismissal charged in all the proceedings, which were initiated in France, which has been denounced by the main political underground.
Despite the continuous efforts of Iranian regime to put the pressure on French authorities, despite continuous efforts of Iranian regime to criminalize the Iranian opposition, and especially the NCRI, with all our fine lawyers, fine colleagues to obtain a definitive deeds of the registration of NCRI in the terrorist list. So, it’s still a main pride for me to represent specific parts within a couple of weeks in the city. I do not underestimate the historical, political, symbolical importance of this unprecedented trial for two reasons.
One, the exceptional vote plan, which could have been devastating for the numbers of oppression and unprecedented also because we know, thanks to the Belgium prosecutor, that the direct implication of Iranian states in this awful disgusting crime is now established.
So, in a couple of weeks, we will be there with all our determination to defend… who is my friend, and we will be there also to assure that the judge wonders decisions that reflects the seriousness of the crime and fairly establish, as it is a case to direct implication of the Iranian authorities. For everyone in Europe and abroad, it couldn’t be clear that close to the four indicted with six the Iranian regime itself, the Iranian regime will be at the main scrutiny of the judge, of the lawyers, of the prosecution.
And we’re absolutely sure that as it is clearly indispensable, that diplomats acted as a diplomat representing the states. So, just an unnecessary confirmation to my friend, of NCRI, I will be there with all the determination and competence. I’m able to mobilize and I will mobilize them.
Rik Vanreusel, criminal law lawyer
Thank you, Mr. Hashemi, for introducing me. I didn’t really get what you were saying because I believe, to the audience, you were still muted, but I did understand that you asked me to take the floor, which is, of course, in consequence to what Mr. Bourdon already said, a great honor to defend privileges of the Iranian democratic opposition.
We are entering the final phase of the correctional procedure before the Antwerp Correctional Court. As already mentioned, on the 27th of November, the case will be heard by the court and probably also, on the 3rd of December, the case will go on for probably two days. The investigation has taken a long time, more than two years, and exceptional long protective custody for the four defendants, who have, in the beginning, always insisted on being released. I believe their hopes have gone out the window. Together, I also believe with their hopes to remain out of prison after the trial.
We have introduced our first written memoranda. We already received the arguments of the defense, which are of course known to everybody who is involved in the case. And that is the absolute, and to me personally, a bit surprising hiding as a secret agent behind the Vienna Convention. Of course, you cannot call upon immunity for being a diplomat when you are in disguise, when you are a secret agent, when you are trying to bomb for the 5,000 innocent people inside the Villeurbanne exposition hall. And actually, this is a symbolic attack on the values of our Western civilization, on the values of democratic free speech, on the values of democratic free opposition. We believe and it is our established opinion, I believe, together with the prosecution, that the four defendants will be held accountable for their actions. And as Mr. Bourdon William already said correctly, the fifth party, or maybe the first party on the defendants bench will be indeed the Iranian regime.
This is a grace of criminally sponsored state terrorism, I believe Mr. Sano and Ms. Moniquet will also have a few words to say about this topic. We expect the verdict to be pronounced at the end of November, the beginning of December. And of course, then we will analyze what this result will be. Needless to say, this is a symbolic case, the case that symbols the determination to protect the European and Western values against an authoritarian political regime. We are not only defending the NCRI, but every Iranian opposition present in [inaudible 03:21], and also our civilians in Europe. Of course, we are not here to allow diplomats or secret agents under the cover of diplomacy to act in a terrorist way.
We are proud to be representing the civil parties, amongst them the NCRI, but also 18 dignitaries who were present and whose lives were actually critically endangered at that time. Finally, I think it is also our duty, myself as a Belgian criminal defense lawyer to thank the Belgian authorities who have cooperated with the European national security services and other European countries, and we have established a firm case against the four defendants and against the Iranian regime. It is through the Western and European cooperation that we were able to foil this attack. And I believe the Belgian authorities played a vital role together with the German, the English, and the French, of course. So, thank you for giving me the floor and I will pass the word back to Mr. Hashemi.
Christophe Marchand, lawyer of international criminal law
Thank you very much for giving me the floor. I’m very happy to represent NCRI and the other civil parties in this case with my colleagues and friends, Rik Vanreusel and William Bourdon. I must say I’m quite new in the case, and my first eye was on the importance of this case. I think is the most important case of the 21st century related to terrorism that we are now facing in Europe. Why that? Because it’s really an attack on democracy.
It’s an attack on human rights. And in the first writings we presented to the court, we recalled a lot of reports from Amnesty International, even the last report of September 2020, reports from the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the protection of the freedom to persons in Iran.
Those reports are very clear, but the fact that the victim, the persons who are attacked in this case, NCRI, have been the subject of systematic attacks from these authoritarian regimes for decades. It fails because NCRI was protected in the European Union. And because it was protected, the Iranian regime had no other opportunity as a last resort to use terrorism, to use an attack trying to harm these democratic movements.
Now, the second thing I want to say is we received the legal written arguments from the defense, which are on one side, it can seem very ambiguous, because one is claiming having diplomatic immunity. He claims immunity but this is a very product sold situation because if he claims diplomatic immunity, it means he claims Iranian responsibility. And that is really a key issue. We now have, in writings, the position of the authoritarian Iranian regime, claiming responsibility for this horrible act.
But this will not help us to go for justice, as we always do as lawyers, and this is what we’re trying to have, and we have a lot of confidence in what will happen in courts, because we have a solid judicial system. And this solid Western judicial system will not accept that this authoritarian regime attacks and try to kill innocent people in a very furious and horrible, and terrorist way.
So, now we are preparing our responses to those legal arguments. And of course, the basic is that immunity is not impunity, and the Iranian people who organized this horrible attack are going to be punished. Thank you for your attention. And of course, this is the demonstration to the contrary to what the Iranian regime said before, that it would be a false flag or a rogue operation. Now, they are claiming that this was an act by the Iranian regime. Thank you very much.
John Sano, Adjunct Professor, The Institute of World Politics; Former Deputy Director, National Clandestine Service, CIA
Good afternoon. And thanks for the opportunity to talk to you today about what by any measure is a serious breach of international law, not to mention a rather heinous act of cowardice and terrorism. I’m speaking about the case that we’ve all been discussing against Asadollah Assadi, a senior Ministry of Intelligence and Security official, who likely was operating on the direct orders of the Supreme Leader.
The case against him is undeniable. As the French government officially stated, without any doubt, the responsibility for this plot falls on the Iranian intelligence ministry, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. As the senior most intelligence officer for Iran in Europe and someone who previously spent a considerable amount of time in Iraq, targeting the MEK, targeting US military forces in the region, he was the person who personally handed the explosives to be used in this attack to Nasimeh Naami and Amir Sadouni.
While Assadi and other MOIS operatives have been indicted, the European Union has put part of the MOIS and two of its senior officials on its sanctions list. Quite frankly, this is not enough. There should be international outrage and a more comprehensive plan to mitigate and eradicate the MOIS, which the US government has officially designated a foreign terrorist organization.
So, in addition to what will inevitably be a guilty verdict, Assadi has had the audacity to threaten authorities with retaliation should or I should say when a guilty verdict is returned. That’s clearly unacceptable and indicative of just how brutal the MOIS can be.
So, let me speak very briefly about the MOIS, they operate worldwide, they use a variety of methods and tactics. They operate undercover as a diplomat, either through official embassy channels or through business organizations. They work very closely with the IRGC and other security agencies. But to label them an intelligence agency, in the purest sense of the word, would be a misnomer. From ancient times, nations relied on intelligence as an essential element of statecraft. And intelligence was a reflection of the culture and the value system of a given society.
But in the modern era, there are changes that have occurred, so that the nature of intelligence moved from survival of the regime to one protecting human rights and freedoms. The MOIS never made that transition, they see their only reason for existence as being the protection of the regime and the eradication of its enemies. So, a legitimate intelligence service should therefore reflect the principles, the aspirations, and the ideals of its people, not oppress them.
So, in terms of how the MOIS operates, basically as I mentioned earlier, a terrorist organization, they are the central organization in Iran that deals with intelligence operations. They are beholding to no one other than the supreme leader. In 1996, by way of background, the Iranian government created an organization called the Supreme Council for Intelligence of theirs, they put this entity under the MOIS. That entity alone has over 25,000 people in their organization. Even the IRGC falls under the mandate to a significant degree. Its external operational wing, the Quds forces are required to report to the MOIS.
So, talking about this trial and how, as you mentioned previously, this information, that’s the largest component in the MOIS, the department of disinformation. They use psychological warfare, they employ thousands of officers, including former members of the MEK and other opposition groups. They infiltrate foreign based operation groups, they basically are attempting, with very little of any success, to manipulate these organizations into either acquiring information on what they’re doing, or, and again, has never been proven successful, try to manipulate that organization into being at a minimum less hostile to the regime or perhaps being more supportive.
So, during my career in intelligence, working for the agency, I’ve encountered a number of MOIS operatives, and while their tactics may be somewhat outdated compared to other Intel organizations, the breadth of their coverage, the capabilities at their disposal, and the unrestricted authorities they have our unmatched, they have been able to intimidate, coerce, kidnap, and even kill opponents of the ruling moves to whom they view as their sole protector.
So, one of the largest public opponents as I said, disinformation. They’re the ones that have spread the false rumors about not just the Iranian regimes’ objectives, but about opposition groups as well. They manipulate the media very successfully, both in terms of providing a more positive image of Iran and planting false stories in the press about opposition groups like the MEK.
So, they blamed the terrorist attacks such as the IRGC force plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States several years ago, and other forces. Even in this most recent incident about Assadi, the attempted assassination, the MOIS tried to shift blame for their for this act on the MEK itself, saying that this was a false flag operation. False flag meaning they are pretending to be someone other than whom they really are.
So, these and other untrue allegations have been made loudly and persistently by Tehran’s functionaries, both witting and unwitting in America, as well as Europe. The MOIS is a sophisticated service and quite subtle when trying to influence the media and policymakers into adopting their lies. These lies are spreading not just in various blogs and social media, but have been picked up by the mainstream media, from CNN to the New York Times.
They are designed to present a different face of Iran, to pick those that stand up for democracy for basic human rights, freedom of expression, freedom of association, to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as torture and depicting them as subversives, as terrorists. And the chain of command, let me conclude with this. The MOIS literally is above the law. They are accountable only to the Supreme Leader. And while the Supreme Leader would normally go through the aforementioned Supreme National Security Council, he can and I believe in this case was actually the example that we’re using, he often goes directly to the MOIS. So, there’s no supervision, there’s no transparency, whatsoever.
And given the fear that the Iranian regime has about the MEK and about pro-democracy movements in the world, it gives the regime you know, great concern. They are so concerned about survival. And if you look at the uprisings that have occurred in Iran over the past few years, looking to not overthrow necessarily, but to change the regimes to a more democratic one, they are extremely frightened, and they see the MEK as the largest entity that represents the will of the Iranian people themselves for free and democratic Iran. So, they are desperate, they continue to see the MEK as a major threat to their survival.
So, it’s imperative that Asadi, his cohorts, and indeed the MOIS, and the Mullahs in Tehran be held strictly accountable for this incident for the continuous atrocities that Tehran continues to perpetrate against their enemies and to the people of Iran. Thank you.
Giulio Terzi, former Italian foreign minister
I believe that it is quite clear, as we have already mentioned up to now that next Friday, 27 November, is the starting date for the trial of the Iranian diplomat indicted of terrorism, Assadollah Assadi, and that these date, this incoming date, in next few days, represents finally a very welcome chance to hold the Iranian regime accountable for its misdeeds. We didn’t need the attempted terrorist attack in Villepinte to prove that the Iranian theocratic state is the number one terrorist state in the world, as we didn’t need another massacre on European soil, perpetrated by this criminal regime to prove the pattern of huge waves of blood soaking the Middle East and even Europe since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini grabbed the power in Tehran 41 years ago.
We didn’t need another huge massacre in Villepinte to prove the regime atrocities, to prove its crimes against humanity, and even genocides like the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners and the other thousands of victims in Iranian jails, political prisoners, opponents, torture, murder, executed, and even the killing of Iranian expatriates in Europe, mentioned by Madame Rajavi in initial presentation. All the elements and the evidence is collected by the Belgian prosecutors.
Thanks to an outstanding coordination, finally, a really outstanding coordination between French, Belgian, German and those in security services are leading up to a historical trial against the terrorists who attempted on the lives of almost 40,000-50,000 persons and the ones of the NCRI leaders and Madame Maryam Rajavi in the 2018 bombing plotting Villepinte. Those kinds of foreign delegations and there were large Italian delegations as well, those are so far the delegations with underlines of dignitaries were attending the gathering that would have been targeted by the attack planned by the Iranian intelligence and by the now very notorious Iranian terrorist diplomat, you Mr. Assadi.
There is an indication in certification of a ranking diplomat who was “serving” his country. “Serving” because we know that it was a terrorist service that he was serving his country in Vienna, is the architect of the plot and that would sound as a case of a deviate behavior of a bad egg, which is among other positive elements is that really the black point and the bad the bad guy in the Iranian diplomatic service, but that was not the case.
Actually, he was a source of normality, his presence as a terrorist in the diplomatic ranks of this country. And it confirms that Iran is the number one terrorist state in the world as I’ve already said. It is unprecedented and that was already noted and underlined in the previous intervention. It is really unprecedented for a sovereign state as a member of the United Nations signal signatory part of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. It is unprecedented to use his diplomatic apparatus, diplomatic immunities, and diplomatic offices in order to develop terrorist activities and to develop them so brazenly.
The case on himself reveals volumes about the name nature of the Iranian theocracy. We cannot wait any longer in increasing across the board in all possible sectors of diplomatic relations. We cannot wait any longer to implement a strategy of maximum pressure against this regime of associates. Tehran must understand that it will pay the heaviest of the prices.
The Iranian diplomats who do have the terrorists must be all of them indicted and prosecuted will never be the evidence of a terrorist plot exist, whenever it emerges, and they must be immediately expelled from our countries in case of threatening intelligence activities. And Iranian embassies, governmental offices in institutions directly or indirectly involved in those operations or connected with organizations such as now as IRGC, Hezbollah. I was mentioning Hezbollah. The risk that we have, the force by Hezbollah presence in Europe, all these offices, the Iranian offices, must be promptly closed.
European Union has a solution, for instance, to include senior Iranian intelligence personnel in the EU list of terrorists. It was important. Yes, months ago, but it was no doubt too late or too late. And the European Union still does not entirely see Iran is a fundamental threat against the citizens. And some of the opponents of the regime were assassinated in the past or where the assassination hit, at least, where European citizens and the European Union just didn’t react properly.
So, to conclude, there is no doubt that after the latest revelation by Reuters that Assadi threatened the Belgian judiciary, and after that, the EU did not react to these threats. Now, the European governments, European Parliaments, and all the friends and supporters that freedom of democracy have in the entire world should be very much louder, more clear, and speak up, and act against this intimidation and the intimidation that have been launched by diplomat terrorist and by the criminals who belong to a government, which has dispatched those terrorists to the European soil to kill European people. Thank you.
Robert Torricelli, former U.S. senator
Thank you very much for the opportunity. And let me first congratulate Mrs. Ravaji on her incredible courage of remaining steadfast in the face of what was an attack upon potentially all of us, but in particular, on her and her own life. I also want to praise the police work of the governments of Germany, Belgium, and France, and their judicial systems. It was, in the first instance, an incredibly impressive piece of intelligence and police work, but also the steadfastness of those governments in proceeding with this case in the face of what must be enormous international diplomatic pressure is impressive, and it should be noted by all of us.
I do, however, having complimented each of these governments would like to point out an extraordinary irony, perhaps, to the annoyance of some of our guests and viewers. But it needs to be noted that while a trial is proceeding, on a case in which diplomats accredited by host countries were engaged in potentially alleged terrorist activities. Simultaneously, some of these same governments are arguing an international forum that arms sales should be allowed to Tehran and diplomat show up for work every day all across Europe representing the same government that use the same diplomatic channels, in some cases, the same embassies for a terrorist attack on European citizens themselves, but it should at least be noted.
I think we also all recognize, particularly those of us who spend our lives in the law that while all defendants are equal, all crimes are not. There is the crime against the individual here in an attempt that would have killed potentially hundreds of people. And then there are crimes against the society itself. Its structure, the foundations of principles, by which it governs itself. That is this case. A bomb potentially in the heart of Paris that would have taken some of our very lives is one thing.
But the choice of Paris, which to many of us is the symbol of liberty itself, in the nation, perhaps most identified with the creation of Republican forms of government was not by chain. This was an attack not simply on us as individuals, but on European democracy, Western values, the things that we hold dear. And if in fact, the response of the various European nations is simply to jail these individuals. Well, that will serve justice, but it hardly rises on all European countries and your liberties.
I am impressed that the case has gone this far and been so skillfully handled. But in fact, it is yet to be determined whether we fully meet the challenge. Because let’s be frank, if you sit in Tehran today, well, they did not take our lives, they did not have the mass murder they contemplated. On balance, so far, the attack was a success. There was an element of intimidation to be certain, they’ve paid no price, but a few operatives potentially being jailed, no one in the regime who ordered these attacks has been indicted, no consulates have been closed, no diplomats have been sent home.
Let me contrast this for reference with how Albania handled this with a terrorist act on its soil … and while the relationship continued, they clearly are different. Albania took note of what was going to happen on soil and while I would prefer those relations have been broken, they are clearly in a state of different relations. Now, that is not to say the various European countries have not taken some actions.
But if you’re sitting in Tehran, you launched the attack, it was a statement, it was an act of intimidation, and what’s the price? I am not discounting the actions of our lawyers that I admire greatly in bringing the case, bringing a civil case, I’m so grateful you’re doing so, proud to be a plaintiff in it, but I hope that your courage, your skill, your actions are matched by your governments.
I say only this with admiration for the governments involved. There are a few nations I admire more than France or Germany, or Belgium, but the burden is now on all of us. If we genuinely are going to send the message to Tehran, generally assure that no one else would be victim to this kind of state sponsored terrorism. The burden is on all of us. We can have the trial. We can get verdicts, criminal and civil. But then, thank you.
Robert Joseph, former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security
Appreciate the opportunity to participate in this important event. I’ve been asked on a number of occasions, but I decided to join the case as a civil party.
Part of my response is that I was in tendance at the rally, a peaceful, even joyous gathering, bringing together tens of thousands of participants, who seek a democratic and free Iran, who seek basic respect for human rights, and who seek an end to the religious dictatorship that has committed mass murder of its own citizens, true crimes against humanity.
Given that the intended target of the attack was Mrs. Rajavi, the leader of the democratic opposition, I could well have been one of the victims as I was seated only a few yards from her. But I think, beyond the personal dimension and even more important than the personal dimension, I believe as a matter of principle, it is incumbent upon all of us, individuals and governments, to stand up against terrorism in any form.
If we fail to stand up against the evil that is terrorism, if we seek to appease those who would commit such heinous crimes, we would only encourage more attacks, more crimes, and we would become complicit in that evil. The planned bombing, one that could have been the most massive terrorist attack in Europe today, is not an isolated case or an action of rogue agents. As others have said, it is part of an orchestrated campaign directed at the highest levels of government in Tehran. Since its foundation, the regime has used terrorist acts, directly and through proxies, against its adversaries, foreign and domestic.
This continues today. In Europe alone, in the past few years, Iranian agents have operated and planned lethal attacks across the continent in Albania, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and I could go on. In the current case, the terrorist diplomat, and again I pause every time I use those two words together, the terrorist diplomat was caught red-handed, arrested as he was giving a powerful explosive to his accomplices, as others have said, an explosive that could have caused large scale damage.
Far from expressing concern or remorse about the likely loss of hundreds of lives, the only response from the jailed agent who has been masquerading as a diplomat, assigned to Iran’s embassy in Vienna, has been to threaten more deaths if he is convicted. Truly, this is an evil regime with no regard for how many innocent people it might murder.
So, what is this planned terrorist attack tell us about the regime? First, this is a cynical, desperate regime resorting to acts of mass murder of its domestic opposition, more recently, killing thousands of protesters in the streets across Iran, aligning with the Assad regime against the people of Syria, committing armed attacks against its neighbors in the Gulf. All of these actions reveal the fundamental desperation of the regime.
The planned bombing in Paris is just one more act of desperation. Second, this is not a regime with whom we can do business to borrow the Cold War phrase. The regime is not going to become more moderate or become a responsible stakeholder that respects the norms of a rule-based international order. Third, and perhaps most fundamental in terms of understanding the regimes’ desperation, this is a regime that has lost all legitimacy with its own people.
In fact, the Iranian people are now the greatest threat to the regime. The recent Amnesty International Report, which was punctuated by the tragic and despicable hanging of Navid Afkari, champion wrestler, who was falsely accused and coerced, demonstrates for the world to see the atrocities of the regime, its barbaric torture, and the flagrant murder of those who seek a free Iran. Hoping again and again for the leadership to become more moderate is sheer fantasy. This is a regime that survives only through brutal repression and this will not change no matter how much we may hope for it to change.
Finally, what policies conclusions should we draw? First, as a matter of both policy and principle, we must support democracy and human rights. Expressions of support from heads of state and government leaders for those inside Iran seeking democracy are vital as they uphold the importance of human rights as a principle of the international order and add to the pressure on the regime.
Second, we must support the democratic opposition inside and outside of Iran. We know that regime change must and will come from within. While the Iranian officials and their apologists consistently spin the line, that the current regime is the only alternative to chaos in a failed state, the 10-point plan of the NCRI calling for democracy, respect for human rights, a free and non-nuclear Iran, provides a pathway for the future and an insurance policy against a failed state outcome.
Third, and perhaps most timely, we must not throw the regime a lifeline that will only prolong the regimes’ terrorism, its regional aggression, and the specter of a nuclear breakout. We must not return to the failed policies of appeasement, a path that is often characterized as a choice of diplomacy over war, but this was and remains a false choice. We know that negotiations did not lead to a more moderate Iran.
In fact, the regime took the billions of dollars it gained from the JCPOA and what wasn’t siphoned off through corruption was used to fund foreign aggression, internal repression and terrorist acts, such as we saw in the planned bombing in Paris. The central problem is not the absence of negotiations or the absence of a particular agreement. More agreements will only lead to more aggression and more brutality. The central problem is the regime itself. The parallels to the situation in Europe in the 1930s, at least to me, are striking. Let me stop there. Thank you again.
Claude Moniquet, former intelligence agent at the French Directorate General for External Security
Thank you. I’m dealing with intelligence and security matters for the last 40 years, especially in dealing with Iranian terrorism and Iranian intelligence since ’87. It was just after the Iranian attack in Paris in ’85-’86, and the so-called Lebanon hostage crisis. So, I think I’m a bit familiar with the way Iran and Tehran using terrorism as a political tool.
William Bourdon said at the very beginning of this press conference, that this will be an unprecedented trial and it is very clear it will be, because it will be the first time we have an official Iranian diplomat in the box on the trail. And this will underline something which is extremely important and which was not really understood in Europe, especially in Brussels, in Paris for the last decades.
Terror when it comes to Iran, it’s not an accident. Terror is just the political tool the mullah regime could decide to use at one moment, where it is confronted, to try to advocate its interest and it goes. The Iranian regime has a few possibilities. They could use normal diplomatic operations, they could use commercial relations, they could use, of course, intelligence, as other states do, but they could also use terror. And when they decide to do this, it is not decided just by one man somewhere in Tehran. It’s the whole regime which decided, because everything is the founding of the Supreme National Security Concern, the SNSC.
And inside the SNSC, you will find all the representatives of all the most important centers of power in Iran. You will find, of course, representative of the President of the Republic, of the supreme guide, but you will also find the Speaker of the Parliament, we’ll find the chief justice, we’ll find the chief of general staff, the chief of the army, the Revolutionary guards and so on. So, it is very clear that all those people, they have…, all those people when it comes to using terror as a political tool, our concern, because they’re taking the decision to do so.
It was said by the Iranian that the first defense was that everything was Zionists or a Western plot, and this terror attack was a fake and was never a real terrorist attack. The second line of defense of the regime was to say that Assadi, the most important defendant, was a rogue element, someone acting on his own. It must be very clear that something like a rogue element doesn’t exist in the Iranian regime. When it comes to intelligence, when it comes to terror, when it comes to terrorist things and terrorist concern, there is no independence of people and there is no rogue element able to decide on their own that they will conduct a terrorist operation in Paris or in London, or in Indiana.
I would like to add a few words, to answer a question which was asked a few minutes ago. What can we wait if Assadi is convicted? Very clearly, and all the stories of Iran in the last 40 decades goes in the same direction. Very clearly, we can wait a civil terrorist operation, not only against divergent interests, but probably against the European interest, maybe against France, maybe against Germany, and so on. We know, for instance, that the regime tried to exert considerably and it didn’t try, actually it exerted considerable pressure on the French government to push the government to ask the Belgian authorities not to prosecute Assadi.
So, as France’s faith in what was requested by the regime, France could be a target for the Iranian terrorists, and not only on the French side, but also of course, in the Middle East, in Africa, in South America. This is the nature of the regime. And most of all, it is also a pure product of weakness, I mean the European weakness. Since the 1980s and the 1990s, the mullah regime has conducted numerous terrorist operations against European interests, both in Europe, in Vienna, in Paris, in Berlin, in other places, and in other parts of the world.
So, clearly, there was no real answer to the European answer to those terrorist threats and those terrorist actions. And Tehran understood that it was possible to threaten and even to attack Europe without having any price to pay. All the opposite, those attacks benefited Iran, which got exactly each time what it was looking for. So, I think clearly, that the only question today is, what European Union shall do and what European Union will do after the trial if Assadi is convinced? Meaning that behind Assadi, of course, it will be all the regime and all the global amounts, which must be taken accountable for this terrorist action. I thank you.
Mohammad Mohaddessin, Chair of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee
This was a decision by the entire government, the entire regime. The main reason for this plot, according to documents we submitted to the judicial system, was the MEK’s role in protests and uprisings inside Iran.
In December 2017-January 2018, there was a very extensive uprising across Iran. After the uprising, Khamenei and other officials pointed to the MEK as the main source of this uprising and promised to take revenge. First, they plotted a bombing attack in Albania in a celebration that included Madam Rajavi and foreign dignitaries.
When this plot failed, they initiated plan B in Villepinte, Paris. The main target in the second plot was also Mrs. Rajavi. The Iranian regime was targeting Madam Rajavi, because its main plan to neutralize the uprisings was to attack the main opposition.
The plan the regime had in Villepinte was an extensive crime against humanity. It was not an ordinary operation. They wanted to conduct a mass killing. At this moment, the reaction of the European Union is very important. While I appreciate the activities of security services in Belgium and other countries, I must reiterate that political decision makers in the EU should have an appropriate reaction to this major crime.
This is a historical test or challenge for the EU, whether they want to stand on their democratic standards or alongside a terrorist regime. This regime will fall.
We call for the embassies of this regime to be closed. All agents of the regime must be expelled from European countries.
Struan Stevenson, former Member of the European Parliament from Scotland
I was present at the gathering in July 2018. I’m speaking as a plaintiff in the trial of Assadollah Assadi, their Iranian diplomat from their embassy in Vienna. Short history, diplomats as the representatives of sovereign states have enjoyed a distinct status. Under the terms of the Vienna Convention, diplomats enjoy special privileges.
Assadi violated each of the core principles of diplomacy in a way that has sent shock waves across the civilized world. He is a known undercover agent for the Iranian Intelligence Service and clearly was the key operative in this attempt to cause death and destruction at the large gathering of supporters of the Iranian opposition near Paris.
Thanks to combined operation by the German, French, and Belgian intelligence services, all four conspirators were arrested in June 2018 and are on trial on charges of terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder. Had the bomb plot succeeded, dozens, if not hundreds of innocent people, perhaps including myself would have been killed or seriously injured. What is also abundantly clear is that Assadi must have been acting under orders.
The Foreign Minister in charge of all diplomatic stuff is Mohammad Javad Zarif, he must have been a key party to the terrorist plot along with the Minister of Intelligence and Security, Mahmoud Alavi, the leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the IRGC, and their extra territorial terrorist option.
Tahar Boumedra, former senior UN official in Iraq
I am Taher Bomedra. I’m the former chief of the United Human Rights Office in Iraq, and former Special Adviser of the SRSG on issues related to Camp Ashraf, where some 3,400 members of the MEK leave as protected persons, and at the four Geneva Convention. I suddenly testify of the following.
During my mission in Iraq and in Camp Ashraf, I have monitored the situation of the MEK members being subjected to all forms of persecution and to numerous armed attacks, on orders by the Iranian authorities, coordinated from the Iranian embassy in Baghdad. Aware of the responsibility of the Iranian authorities of these attacks, I together with the SRIC, namely, first … and then Martin Kobler.
I used to meet periodically with the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad to plead with him to stop the attacks against Camp Ashraf, and to no avail. Camp Ashraf was eventually closed, and its residents moved to Camp Liberty near Baghdad airport. After an ultimatum was given by the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad and the then Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al Maliki to the effect that it could be closed or its residents would face the consequences.
It is public knowledge that even after closing Camp Ashraf and the transfer of its residents of Camp liberty, they were subject to deadly attacks on different occasions. Based on my experience I gained on the ground, dealing with different interlocutors, namely the Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister, the Iranian embassy in Baghdad, the diplomatic community in Baghdad, the Iraqi civil society and the residence of Camp Ashraf, I came to the conclusion that the Iranian authorities consider the MEK as the main serious threat to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Hence, the need to exterminate all members of the MEK who refuse to disband and repent. My conviction is also based on the extended research I have undertaken on the Iranian constitution and its bylaws. Two basic tenants characterize the regime. First, the establishment of the IRGC. Second, the export of its ideology. We have already seen what the regime can do in the 1988 massacre. The regime is striving to obtain nuclear bombs. The act being prosecuted in Belgium stems from the ideology of the regime and was decided at the highest level of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Abolghassem Rezai, senior NCRI member
As one of the lawyers said, this is the most important terrorism case of the 21st century. Because the regime is on the verge of overthrow, they need these acts of terror. They first attempted this attack in Albania, and then they took their crimes to France.
Demonization and terrorism are two sides of the same coin for the regime. In this specific case, the MOIS wanted to pursue both plans at the same time. While they were trying to carry out this terror attack, two known agents of the regime were busy interviewing and spreading false news against the MEK.
In this case, the regime tried to lay the blame for the attack on the Iranian opposition.
European states must define their relationship with the regime based on its terrorist nature, not the appeasement policy.