Ken Blackwell: Terror Plot Reveals Iran Is Afraid of Democratic Opposition but Not European Policy

On June 30, several European authorities thwarted an attack on the annual Free Iran rally organized by supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Considering that Assadollah Assadi, the intelligence station chief at the Iranian embassy in Vienna, was arrested along with two would-be bombers, it is abundantly clear that the plot was masterminded in Tehran. While Tehran tried to depict the foiled plot as a “false flag” operation by the opposition, the claim was rejected as ridiculous by a senior US State Department official. In fact, the opposition’s intelligence from inside the Islamic Republic determined that the decision to undertake an attack on the rally was made months earlier by the highest Iranian authorities, including both Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani.

The foiled plot was the most significant Iranian terrorist undertaking in recent years, but not the only one. In March, another plot was thwarted in Albania, where there is a sizeable presence of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main Iranian opposition group and leading constituent of the NCRI coalition.

Terrorist attacks by Iranian operatives and their proxies date back to the 1980s and 1990s. Tehran’s behavior has not changed in any meaningful way over the years. Over roughly the past two years, there have been multiple reports of German authorities disrupting efforts by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force to spy on individuals and groups with links to Israel as well as on MEK activists.

The unraveling of the plots in Albania and France, coming just three months apart, strongly suggest that Iran is stepping up its operations in Europe. This is unsurprising in light of the domestic conditions inside the Islamic Republic, especially when one considers that both plots targeted the NCRI and MEK. The Paris attack would have set off 500 grams of TATP explosive within a crowd of roughly 100,000 and in the presence of hundreds of European and American dignitaries. Its planning began very soon after Iran experienced a mass uprising that took the clerical regime by surprise with explicit calls for regime change.

The larger protest movement was given a boost in March when NCRI President-elect Maryam Rajavi marked the Iranian New Year holiday of Nowruz by praising the nationwide uprising and urging pro-democracy activists to turn the year ahead into “a year full of uprisings.” This statement came right around the time that Albanian authorities made their arrest of would-be terrorists operating on behalf of the Islamic Republic. Protests have continued in different shapes and forms throughout 2018.

The regime’s authorities, including Supreme Leader Khamenei, have variously acknowledged the leading role of the MEK since the protests began. These statements leave little doubt about Tehran’s desperation to disrupt the pro-democracy movement both at home and abroad.

In pursuit of that goal, they are even willing to awaken sleeper cells and put their major diplomats at risk. The foiled plot in France came at a time when Tehran was trying to woo Europeans to stay in the nuclear deal as a last ditch effort to prevent the Iranian economy from collapsing as a result of new US sanctions. It vividly illustrated the ayatollahs’ paranoid towards Mrs. Rajavi’s movement as a viable, democratic alternative to the regime in Tehran.

The new spate of terrorism also undermines the false distinction, pushed by some in Europe, between Supreme Leader and Rouhani and his foreign minister Zarif when it comes to use of terrorism to advance their objectives.

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Source: Christian Post