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Europe should leave no quarter for Tehran’s terrorism: conference

Online panel discussing Iran's state terrorism & European Union policy
Online panel discussing Iran's state terrorism & European Union policy

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

January 27, 2021—In an online conference held on Thursday, a panel of European politicians discussed the ongoing trial of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat who is charged with a bombing attempt against a gathering of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in France in 2018.

Assadi and his accomplices, the Belgian couple Nassimeh Naami and Amir Saadouni, and a fourth operative, Mehrdad Arefani, were arrested by European authorities before they were able to stage the attack. Their trial started in Antwerp, Belgium, in November 2020, and the court’s verdict is due February 4.

The Belgian prosecutor demanded the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for Assadi and his co-conspirators for an attempted terrorist murder and participating in activities of a terrorist group.

The key message of the conference was that the only way to stop the Iranian regime’s terrorist activities on European soil is to adopt a firm policy toward Tehran, something that has been sorely lacking in the European Union’s foreign policy branch.

“We have been very critical of the appeasement policy toward Iran simply because it doesn’t work. This policy does not work, has never worked, is not working and will always be counterproductive,” said Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of the European Parliament and moderator of Thursday’s panel.

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014

Alejo Vidal-Quadras, former Vice-President of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014

 

Vidal-Quadras, who had been present at the Paris gathering, reiterated that the main target of the attack was NCRI president-elect Maryam Rajavi, and had it been successful, it would have caused numerous deaths. “I was sitting very close to Madam Rajavi. First-rank political figures were sitting in a space of a few meters around her. You can imagine the consequences if such an attack succeeded.”

Vidal-Quadras also emphasized that this attack was not a rogue operation and was coordinated and approved at the highest levels of power in the Iranian regime.

“We know that the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the regime President Hassan Rouhani and the always-smiling Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, all three knew about the attack, all three agreed to the attack, and all three ordered it. If you reflect on this, you can imagine the scope of this attack,” Vidal-Quadras said.

He also reminded the audience that the individuals arrested in the Assadi case are part of a much larger terror network that expands across 11 European nations.

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Vidal-Quadras said.

Vidal-Quadras ended his remarks by reminding the need for a firm policy toward Iran’s terrorism: “Regardless of the final outcome, we must fix our attention to the importance of this case. Because this is a ring on the bell of the European Union and European states. If they do not treat this seriously, it will be repeated. If there’s another attack, it might succeed. It might be of a bigger dimension. All these governments, and the people of the External Action Service, the High Representative, the Council, they must be very attentive to the result of this trial. If they ignore it and go on with business as usual, there will be another worse attack.”

Former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi

Former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi

 

“This is not a case among others, not just a judiciary event. It is a turning point for understanding in full of how Iran and its criminal structure of terrorist activity threaten Europe,” said former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi.

Terzi also highlighted the need to further investigate Tehran’s terror network in Europe. “Only four people have been discovered. What about the other people on this network who remain in Europe? A considerable network of criminals are waiting for orders to carry out terrorist activities,” he said.

Terzi stressed that the European Union should shed its “business as usual” approach and its penchant to dismiss the Iranian regime’s aggressive behavior for the sake of economic and political interests. And this is a sentiment that is growing stronger among European lawmakers and politicians.

“Europe’s lack of proper action has emboldened Iranian authorities in pursuing their malign activities. The Iranian government has been convinced that it has impunity no matter what it does in Europe,” Terzi said. “There are clear reasons for the EU to review our approach. European-Iranian relations must be made contingent on Iran taking concrete measures to stop its malign activities in Europe. We must also adopt practical measures to give Tehran the message that we are serious. This means closing Iranian embassies and expelling Iranian diplomats when there’s serious evidence of terrorist activities.”

Former MEP Struan Stevenson.

Former Member of European Parliament Struan Stevenson

 

“As a diplomat you can’t make hundreds of visits to different countries without permission from your ambassador,” said former MEP Struan Stevenson, referring to Assadi’s track record of constantly visiting European countries to coordinate with his network of agents. “And the ambassador takes his command from Tehran. There’s no doubt that this plot was ordered by Khamenei, Rouhani, Zarif, and Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi. The EU must hold all of them to account. But there has been a deafening silence from Europe. [High Representative of the European Union Josep] Borrell has typically said nothing.”

Stevenson stressed that the EU’s policy to continue offering concessions has “sent a catastrophic signal to Tehran” and has helped the mullahs’ regime develop a sophisticated network of terror across Europe through its diplomatic facilities. “The trial of Assadollah Assadi is the tip of a massive terrorist iceberg. The regime uses its embassies as terror cells for bomb attacks and kidnappings,” he said.

Stevenson reiterated that Borrell’s policy to engage with the Iranian regime is endangering the security of European citizens, and the clear path to dealing with the regime’s terrorism is to close down its embassies and designate the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) as a terrorist entity.

“When the verdict of the terrorist diplomat will be announced, the eyes of the world will be on Borrell,” Stevenson said.

Former MEP Paulo Casaca

Former MEP Paulo Casaca

 

Paulo Casaca, former MEP from Portugal, also emphasized that the Iranian regime has banked on the “lack of political courage and honesty of those in charge in European countries” to expand its terror activities.

“The European External Action Service remains silent on the heinous attack of the Iranian regime against Europe. The European Union has rewarded the regime’s aggressive behavior by rewarding them with a revived nuclear agreement,” Casaca said. “European institutions should reinforce European unity, uphold the rule of law, and ensure the protection of values that keep our countries together, including freedom and protection from terrorism. They must not bow to foreign terrorist powers that want us to bow before them. The regime must not enjoy impunity in causing terrorism.”