Iran’s terror plot in Paris raises many questions

An operation such as the Paris plot very likely took about a year to plan and would have never gone ahead without the approval of the country’s top leadership.
Sunday 07/10/2018
Signs of resilience. Supporters of Maryam Rajavi, president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), attend a rally in Villepinte near Paris, on June 30.          (Reuters)
Signs of resilience. Supporters of Maryam Rajavi, president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), attend a rally in Villepinte near Paris, on June 30. (Reuters)

French, German and Belgian anti-terror police units are blaming Iran for an attempt to bomb a convention centre in France last June. The intended target was the leadership of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MeK) — the People’s Resistance of Iran — a Paris-based opposition group vehemently opposed to the regime of the mullahs.

The MeK has been fighting the ruling theocracy in Iran since the onset of the uprising that overthrew the shah. When the revolution began, the MeK was mostly composed of left-leaning students, some of whom supported a Marxist ideology and believed that, once the shah gone, they would distance themselves from the clergy.

However, when the shah left, the mullahs ordered the arrest of tens of thousands MeK supporters, hanging hundreds from construction cranes and others on lamp posts on city streets.

The MeK went underground and found itself on European and American terror lists. It was not until 2012 that it convinced Washington and Brussels to remove it from the terror lists.

Attending the June event were hundreds of political figures, such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former UN Ambassador Bill Richardson, former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

Over the years the threat the MeK posed to the Iranian regime has varied so why would the Iranians choose to saw off the limb of the branch it is sitting on? Why would Tehran commit a terror act in France while suing the United States at the International Court of Justice?

“This proves just how worried the regime is of the MeK,’’ said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the Washington office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Jafarzadeh represents the Iranian opposition group in Washington. His revelations about Iran’s nuclear sites in August 2002 triggered the first inspections in Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Court documents indicate that one of the people targeted in June was Jafarzadeh.

Does the rogue state mindset of Iran’s regime prevail over Iran’s other reflexes?

Jafarzadeh said an operation such as the Paris plot very likely took about a year to plan and would have never gone ahead without the approval of the country’s top leadership, including Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Jafarzadeh said the bomb was very sophisticated, requiring the work of a professional. Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat based in Vienna, allegedly had a couple with Iranian roots transport the bomb in their car. The couple was arrested in Belgium after the explosives were discovered in the vehicle. Assadi has also been arrested.

Does this ruthless approach towards Iran’s opposition trump any other consideration?

This and two other incidents involving Iranian intelligence agents lead one to believe that the internal situation in Iran is far from stable, with people taking to the streets in large numbers in protests across the country having the clerics worried. Following the attack on the Iranian city of Ahvaz, one course of action the regime was likely to take in retaliation was the assassination of dissidents overseas.

“Terror plots by Tehran against its main opposition coalition, the NCRI and its main member organisation, the [MeK], may well be a signal that Tehran is extremely vulnerable inside the country, as a result of the uprising and the key role that the [MeK] plays to ensure the continuation of the protests,” said Raymond Tanter, a senior member on the Middle East desk of the National Security Council staff during the Reagan administration.

Do Iran’s intelligence operators believe they can outsmart the “naive” Westerners? Obviously, in their arrogance, they must believe they can and that at times that they do.

Later this month, the US Marines will commemorate the 35th anniversary of the bombing of the Beirut barracks in which 241 US service personnel, mostly Marines, were killed. The United States accuses Iran of being responsible for the attack against them and the nearby French paratroopers, who lost 59 men in a similar explosion.

Iran wants the international community to abide by international laws where it is concerned while it behaves in a manner as though these rules do not apply to them. You can only play with fire for so long until it starts to burn you, too.

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