OPINION: Terrorists’ plots backfire on Iran as sanctions intensify


by Reza Shafiee

Tehran has changed its pattern of dealing with its dissidents abroad and has removed the “moderation” mask altogether.

Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen announced January 8, along with other officials on behalf of 28 members EU bloc, new sanctions targeting the Iranian regime’s terrorist plots and assassinations in France, Denmark and the Netherlands. The clerical regime used to getting free rides and actions without consequences in the West was hard hit with the reality. It planned a series of terrorist attacks against its opposition in both sides of the Atlantic last year, but payback time has come in 2019.

In a letter outlining its justification for sanctions, the Dutch Foreign Ministry cited “strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin,” one in 2015 in the city of Almere, and another in 2017 in The Hague.

“In the Dutch government’s opinion, hostile acts of this kind flagrantly violate the sovereignty of the Netherlands and are unacceptable,” the letter said.

To send a strong message, ambassadors from Belgium, Britain, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands visited the Iranian Foreign Ministry in Tehran “to convey their serious concerns” about Iran’s behavior, according to the Dutch letter.

What happened in 2018?

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his cronies in the regime planned a revenge for their main opposition in response to what had happened in late 2017 and throughout 2018 in Iran. Widespread protests in the country were not something that the Iranian regime could take lightly. Khamenei has not missed a single opportunity to remind its base support in Iran paramilitary Basij Force and Revolutionary Guards, of the existential threat the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) poses to the regime.

Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) with its partner in crime, the Intelligence Unit of the Revolutionary Guards, and their sister, the Quds Force, are accomplices in cynical plans against the regime’s opposition. A section of the MOIS is the target of the January 8 sanctions imposed by the EU bloc.

It all began by a failed MOIS plan to hit the Persian New Year Celebration of MEK in their new residence in Albania in March.

Tehran has changed its pattern of dealing with its dissidents abroad and has removed the “moderation” mask altogether.

In the 80s and early 90s, the nascent theocratic regime – not caring about the consequences of its actions – hunted down opposition figures in European capitals such as Paris, Berlin and Rome. Now it seems that the ruling regime is revisiting the old terror tactics in Western cities again.

The second stop in the renewed terror campaign – this time using Iranian trained spies turned diplomats instead of using proxies like Lebanese Hezbollah to do the dirty work – was where a large gathering of Iran’s main opposition the National Council of Resistance (NCRI) took place in Paris on June 30.

Even as the rally unfolded, security forces in France, with the help of their German and Belgian partners, foiled a terrorist plot intending to target it. Timing of the plot was significant because Hassan Rouhani was scheduled to visit Austria the next day.

Assadollah Assadi, with MOIS nickname, Daniel, masterminded the plot while under diplomatic immunity from the Austrian government. He was stationed in Vienna. Assadi was caught red-handed when he was giving the explosives and detonator to a sleeper cell, an Iranian born Belgian couple to carry out the attack. Later Assadi was extradited to Belgium where he is imprisoned waiting for his trail on terror charges.

Assadi is one of two individuals named in the European Union’s first imposed sanctions against the Iranian regime since the nuclear accord was implemented three years ago.

According to diplomatic and security sources last fall, France expelled an Iranian diplomat in response to the failed plot. France’s foreign ministry said on October 2, there was no doubt the Iranian intelligence ministry had been behind the plot against the June 30 rally in Paris.

It subsequently froze assets belonging to Tehran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals. The Iranian regime continued with its campaign of hunting down its opponents in the summer and the next stop was the US.

On August 20, 2018, the US Justice Department announced two arrests on American soil , Ahmadreza Mohammadi-Doostdar, a 38 year old man born in America and from Iranian immigrant parents, and Majid Ghorbani a US permanent resident of California.

The two were charged with spying on members and supporters of Iran’s main opposition group, the MEK.

In July 2018, Dutch authorities said they had expelled two Iranian diplomats, who foreign officials say were linked to the assassinations of two Iranian dissidents. US officials believed Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security was involved.

Back in Albania where the country hosts thousands of MEK members, the Balkan country – finally fed up with the Iranian embassy’s espionage and terrorist plots – made a bold move and expelled the Iranian regime’s ambassador from its soil. Many, including the US President and his close advisers welcomed the move.

What Albania did was setting a good example in dealing with the ruthless regime in Iran. For years, the EU tried to bring the Iranian regime to the table, and showered it with incentive packages. Now, the regime has turned around and bit the hand that has been trying to feed it for years.

How to stop the theocratic regime in Tehran

Mohammad Mohadessien, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) tweeted on January 8th: “To prevent Iranian mullahs’ terrorism in Europe, EU must black list MOIS and the IRGC, and expel its agents and mercenaries. Mullahs must understand their terrorism will have grave consequences for their repressive regime.”

He added: “According to the statement of 29 April 1997, EU must refrain giving visa to intelligence agents of the Iranian regime, expel those agents from Europe, and end meetings between European and Iranian officials at ministerial level.”

In 1997, the EU Council of Ministers issued a declaration for the expulsion of all Iranian Intelligence operatives from European soil. That order came after a trial in Germany found Iranian regime guilty of involvement in the assassination of four Kurdish dissidents in what came to be known as the Mykonos murders.

Reza Shafiee is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). He tweets @shafiee_shafiee.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect The Milli Chronicle’s point-of-view.

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