Five British MPs may have cheated death by a terrorist bomb at a conference in Paris after an Iranian official allegedly smuggled explosives into his diplomatic bag.
Assadollah Assadi, 48, carried the “Mother of Satan” bomb on an Austrian Airlines flight from Tehran to Vienna in the bag free from security checks, Belgian security sources said.
The device was to explode at a rally attended by a delegation of 35 Britons, including Conservative MPs Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, Sir David Amess and Theresa Villiers and Roger Godsiff of Labor.
Other dignitaries in attendance at the 2018 Iranian Freedom Conference included Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Republican great Newt Gingrich.
Assadi, considered an officer in Iran’s intelligence and security ministry, is one of the first diplomats to face terrorism charges.
MP Theresa Villiers, accompanied by MP Bob Blackman (left) and MP Roger Godsiff (right) speak as the British delegation appears on stage at the Iran Freedom and Democracy Conference on June 30, 2018 in Paris
Assadollah Assadi, 48, is said to have worked undercover at the Iranian embassy in Vienna. He is one of the first diplomats to face terrorism charges
BRITISH DELEGATES: Tory MPs Matthew Offord (left) and Sir David Amess
BRITISH DELEGATES: Labor MP Roger Godsiff (left) and Conservative MP Bob Blackman
He is on trial in Belgium, where intelligence agents foiled the plot, alongside Amir Saadouni, 40, Saadouni’s wife, Nasimeh Naami, 36, and a fourth suspect, Mehrdad Arefani.
Officials say the target of the attack was Maryam Rajavi, leader of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), who held her annual rally on Free Iran in Paris.
The Mother of Satan (Acetone Peroxide) devices are infamous for their use in the Manchester Arena and Parsons Green terrorist attacks, difficult to detect and easy to perform, they are also incredibly volatile.
Ms Villiers, who spoke on behalf of Britain at the conference, told The Sun: “To send a bomb to Europe in a diplomatic bag on a commercial flight is a scandal.
“If the court decides that this is what happened, it will be shocking. I feel like I had a chance to escape.
According to legal documents from the two-year investigation, the Belgian Intelligence and Security Agency (VSSE) claims Assadi operated on orders from Tehran.
In a note to the Belgian federal prosecutor, the agency argued that “the planned attack was designed in the name of Iran and at its instigation”.
The prosecution did not comment on the case because the trial had not yet started.
On June 30, 2018, Belgian police officers made aware of a possible attack on the PMOI meeting in Paris arrested Saadouni and his wife’s Mercedes car.
In their luggage, they found half a kilogram of acetone peroxide explosive and a detonator.
In its report, the Belgian Bomb Disposal Unit said the device was of professional quality.
This could have caused an explosion and a major panic in the crowd, estimated at 25,000 people, who had gathered that day in the French town of Villepinte, in the suburbs of Paris.
Considered by investigators to be the “operational commander” of the attack, Assadi is suspected of having hired the married couple years earlier.
TARGET: Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Iranian Resistance, greets supporters in Villepinte, north of Paris, during the annual conference in 2014
MP Theresa Villiers speaks as the British delegation appears on stage during the Iran Freedom and Democracy Conference June 30, 2018 in Paris, France. The speakers declared their support for the uprising of the Iranian peoples and the democratic alternative, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, and called on the international community to adopt a firm policy against the regime and to support the Iranian people.
According to a note from the VSSE, Assadi is a spy operating undercover at the Iranian embassy in Vienna.
Belgian state security officials believe he worked for the so-called 312 department of the ministry, the Internal Security Directorate, which is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations.
Assadi’s attorney, Dimitri de Beco, told The Associated Press that his client is disputing all the charges against him.
“His defense will raise a number of procedural issues, including the issue of his diplomatic immunity, as it is not disputed that he had diplomatic status, at least at the material time,” de Beco wrote in a statement. short message, expressing his hope that the court case will not be a “political trial”.
The PMOI, once an armed organization based in Iraq, is the most structured among Iranian opposition groups in exile and is hated by Iranian authorities.
He was taken off the EU and US terrorist lists several years ago after speaking out against violence and urging Western politicians to lobby on his behalf.
The MEK supports Trump’s hard line on Iran and supports sanctions against the country.
PMOI chief Rajavi claims Assadi received direct orders from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“The regime’s leaders must be prosecuted and must face justice,” she said last month in a video conference with journalists.
Assadi reportedly recruited the couple – Saadouni and Naami, of Iranian origin but living in Antwerp – to obtain information about the Iranian opposition.
The fourth suspect, Arefani, is a Brussels resident suspected of going to Villepinte on the day of the planned attack.
Investigators discovered that he was in possession of a phone with Assadi’s number.
Travel records obtained by the PA show that Assadi made several trips to Iran in the months leading up to the rally, returning from the last just over a week before the foiled attack.
After arriving on the commercial flight to Austria, Assadi allegedly handed the bomb over to Saadouni and Naami during a meeting at a Pizza Hut restaurant in Luxembourg, just two days before their arrest.
They both denied knowing that the diplomat – codenamed Daniel – gave them a bomb.
Naami said she believed the package contained fireworks.
The Belgian bomb disposal unit said the acetone peroxide in the couple’s Mercedes car was ready for use.
It was “wrapped in plastic and concealed in the lining of a vanity.”
Thousands of exiled Iranians gathered in Villepinte, north of Paris, to listen to the speech by Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Iranian Resistance in June 2014
Iranians applaud Maryam Rajavi, head of the National Council of Iranian Resistance during a rally in Villepinte, a northern suburb of Paris in June 2009
They also found a digital remote control in a small bag belonging to Naami that contained feminine hygiene items.
Upon his arrest, investigators also found a red notebook in Assadi’s car with instructions on how to use the bomb.
Analysis of the suspects’ text messages and e-mails revealed that they were using a code language to communicate, with “PlayStation 4” the alleged name of the explosive device.
The French side of the investigation also established that Assadi visited Villepinte during the PMOI rally in 2017, possibly on a reconnaissance trip.
If found guilty, the four suspects face between five and 20 years in prison for “attempted terrorist murder and involvement in the activities of a terrorist group”.
The hearings will last between two and three days and a verdict is expected to be delivered by the end of next month.