In retaliation for a series of setbacks in the European courts, the fundamentalist Iranian regime has been accused of instigating terrorist threats to attack an annual rally of anti-regime dissidents and their supporters in Albania, leading to the postponement of the event on security grounds.
The rally was scheduled to take place over the weekend of 23 and 24 July in Ashraf 3, headquarters of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/ Mojahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK). In January 2020 Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama expelled the Iranian ambassador and his first secretary for planning a terrorist bomb attack on the PMOI/MEK.
The Albanian government called for the last-minute postponement of the event on Friday 22 July, due to “terrorist threats and conspiracies.” Ashraf 3, in Durres, is 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Albania’s capital, Tirana, and is home to over 3,000 members of the main Iranian democratic opposition movement.
The “Free Iran World Summit 2022” was due to be attended by dozens of U.S. Senators, Congressmen, world leaders and distinguished international politicians and personalities.
The theocratic regime in Tehran has been infuriated by the jailing in Sweden on 14 July of Hamid Nouri, a senior Iranian official, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the notorious 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners.
Nouri was tried under universal jurisdiction for crimes against international law and murder, due to his active role as an executioner and torturer of PMOI/MEK supporters in Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran. Nouri had worked there as assistant to the deputy prosecutor during the 1988 massacre.
Nouri’s life sentence followed the 20-year jail-term imposed in Belgium last year on Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat caught red-handed in a terrorist plot to bomb an NCRI rally near Paris in 2018. In an appalling attempt to appease the mullahs and resurrect the zombie nuclear deal with Iran, abandoned by Trump in 2018, the Belgian Prime Minister signed a scandalous treaty with Tehran that will likely enable Assadi to be returned to his home country in exchange for the release of Belgian prisoners held hostage in Iran on false charges.
But last Friday the Brussels Court of Appeals temporarily banned the Belgian state from extraditing Assadi to Iran, thwarting the mullahs. Three of Assadi’s co-conspirators also recently had their appeals rejected and their long jail-terms extended by the Belgian courts.
As the full impact of European justice came home to roost in Tehran, the mullahs reacted in their normal way, by plotting lethal terror attacks on the planned mass gathering in Albania, causing its last-minute postponement.
In a separate move they also announced the apparent arrest of several spies, allegedly working for Mossad. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) claimed that the “Israeli spies” had been caught after crossing the border from Iraqi Kurdistan, apparently carrying weapons, explosives, and communication equipment. The MOIS has so far failed to provide the names or number of those seized.
Alarmed that Europe will face a fuel crisis this winter due to the severance of oil and gas supplies from Russia, following the war in Ukraine, EU political leaders have desperately sought ways of establishing new energy sources. The theocratic regime in Tehran has demanded the lifting of all sanctions as a pre-condition for resurrecting the nuclear deal and recommencing gas and oil supplies to the West.
The EU’s main appeasers are bending over backwards to appease the mullahs. They seem oblivious to the litany of bomb plots, assassinations and terrorist attacks planned and carried out by the clerical regime’s agents and so-called diplomats.
The latest threats and conspiracies uncovered in Albania should have sounded the alarm, but kick-starting oil and gas supplies seem to take precedence over the safety and protection from terrorist attacks of European citizens.
The scandalous prisoner-swap deal negotiated between Belgium and Iran was clearly part of this appeasement package demanded by the mullahs. Despite worldwide protests, the Belgian Parliament last week voted to approve the arrangement.
Plaintiffs in the original case against Assadollah Assadi then immediately lodged their demand for the Belgian Court of Appeals to ban Assadi’s repatriation, although the Brussels government is now seeking to overturn the ban. If they succeed, Assadi will be hailed as a hero and promoted on his return to Tehran.
Meanwhile European justice and the courage and diligence of our intelligence service, police and judicial system will be shockingly undermined. The mullahs will regard Belgium as a safe-haven for planning and executing future terror attacks on European soil, in the full knowledge that the perpetrators will always be repatriated under the prisoner-swap treaty.
Lifting sanctions on Iran will also have further deleterious impacts, breathing new life into the mullahs’ collapsing economy and enabling them to rekindle funding and sponsorship of their proxy-wars in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.
None of the economic benefits will be enjoyed by Iran’s beleaguered 80 million citizens, the majority of whom now try to survive on daily incomes below the international poverty line.
Appeasing the mullahs will be regarded as a blatant act of betrayal by ordinary Iranians who have suffered abuse and neglect by the theocratic regime for more than four decades. What they want from the West is support in their struggle to oust the hated ayatollahs and restore freedom, justice and equality to their nation.
Struan Stevenson is the Coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change (CiC). He was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).