Miscellaneous Press conference of the National Council of Resistance of Iran with Ingrid Betancourt, John Bercow and former US Senator Robert Torricelli

Press conference of the National Council of Resistance of Iran with Ingrid Betancourt, John Bercow and former US Senator Robert Torricelli


On September 16, at the Press Club Brussels Europe, the National Council of Resistance of Iran held a press conference to introduce a new book, “Diplomatic Terrorism, Anatomy of Iran’s State Terror,” providing a full account of the terrorist plot against the Free Iran World Summit in June 2018 near Paris.

Several civil parties to the case of the Iranian terrorist-diplomat Asadollah Assadi, who were among the hundreds of leaders and lawmakers targeted in the 2018 Free Iran gathering, participated in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) conference.


The speakers drew international attention to the looming threats for Europe as well as the world that will result from the implementation of a treaty between the Belgian government and the Iranian regime that aims to release convicted state terrorists.

They highlighted Europe’s crucial responsibility either to stop or re- instigate a new wave of Iranian state terror and hostage-taking that has plagued the green continent in the past few decades.

During his opening remarks, the conference moderator and NCRI deputy director in London Hossein Abedini said: “I myself was a victim of the terror attempts of the Iranian regime and target of an assassination attempt and I narrowly escaped death. I was shot in the chest and abdomen. I was also one of the civil parties in Assadi’s case.

“This was the evilest terrorist plot in Europe, targeting the 2018 Free Iran summit, which could have left hundreds or thousands dead.”

“The new book of the (NCRI) is a full account of the terrorist plot, since its inception to its planning and steps carried out in Europe. It involved a very vast network of agents in Europe. It was directed by the highest levels of power in Tehran.”

Former Colombian senator and presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt said:

“I was one of the targets of this bombing plot. The main target was Mrs. Rajavi. There were thousands of people who had gathered to support the freedom movement in Iran. They could have died in that plot. It is important that we speak about this.”

“I knew many things about what had happened in this bombing plot. But the book made me realize something that is very disturbing, the human part of who is behind the plot. We have to ponder on who we’re talking about.

We’re talking about one man. His name is Assadollah Assadi. This is not a prisoner among many. He is a criminal, more than a criminal, a mass murderer. When you see who he is, you can follow how he has been trained to kill. His job is to kill. He’s a leader of killers. He hires killers. He is one of the most important terrorist agents of the Iranian regime in the world.”

“This is the first Iranian diplomat convicted by a European tribunal for a mass crime. It’s important to think about this. We as plaintiffs against Assadi have been very keen on asking for justice. It was not easy to get him detained because he was a diplomat. It took a lot of effort by several agencies from different countries to place information on a judge and bring about the decision to detain this diplomat. And coming to the decision of sentencing him to 20 years. This is a high-profile case. The reason he was sentenced to 20 years is that he is a very dangerous person, here, in Iran, and around the world.”

“As a European individual, with the effort, we have placed to bring this man to justice, we’re now seeing a shadow organization doing things behind the scenes and telling us that for humanitarian reasons, this person has to be returned to Iran.”

“With this treaty, we’re going to give a passport to Iranian criminals around the world. Any Iranian criminal under the protection of the Iranian regime will know that in Europe they will be able to go wherever they want.”

“They succeeded through horrible human blackmail. I know what it is to be a hostage. I know how families suffer, as mine did for six years. Fifteen years after being released, we’re still dealing with the traumas of being a hostage.”

“I know the price of freedom. When I was a hostage in the hands of FARC, we Columbians never surrendered. I was backing the position of not negotiating. I was freed by a military operation, which opened the path for the peace treaty between the Columbian government and the FARC.”

“If we surrender to blackmail, we’re opening Pandora’s box. Here in Brussels, London, Paris, and Madrid, we have been targets of explosions, mass killings, and terrorist attacks. Their common trait is Iran. If we agree to negotiate and exchange innocent people for criminals, the criminals will know that they have a way out.”

“Of course, we have to find a way to release the prisoners. We need diplomacy. We’re not just saying there’s no solution. We need to fight. But we can’t exchange them for criminals.”

Belgian Senator Mark Demesmaeker told the conference: “We’re unhappy and oppose this deal. We have an unfortunate tradition that the parliament coalition votes in favor to maintain party discipline. This will be detrimental to democracy. Parliamentarians should be able to express their will, especially on matters where their country and the principles of the rule of law are at stake.”

“The government should listen to the voice of experts. Belgium was criticized when Abdul Salam and his gang fled to Iran after committing terrorist crimes. Now we have a similar case where terrorists have been arrested. Which is good. But we’re sending them back to Iran? That is a bad signal to the international community. A terrorist who was condemned to a maximum penalty of 20 years? This is really tragic for our country. We will receive no guarantee for our security in the future.”

“Our judiciary worked very hard for four years to close this case. Their efforts will be ruined, and our democracy will be damaged.”

“The book reveals that Assadi was really not an ordinary terrorist. He was led by the Iranian regime and employed by the Ministry of Intelligence. For many years he carried out his activities across Europe.”

“The show is not over. A great number of MPs oppose this deal. Many questions must be answered regarding Belgium’s responsibilities under UN Security Council resolutions.”

“We are circulating letters in parliaments saying that this treaty should not be applied to convicted terrorists. They pose threats to our society and the world, and they should stay in jail.”

“The way we uphold these principles, if we don’t succeed, will have detrimental consequences for the world and our children. We don’t want the Iranian regime to abuse our democratic system through blackmail and hostage-taking.”

Former US Senator Robert Torricelli stated:

“I come as a simple citizen who has shared your experience. There’s a fundamental flaw in how we govern ourselves. We learn by suffering. Can we not learn by experience and knowledge?”

“This law will ultimately be repealed, but only because a terrorist attack will happen that traces back to Belgium and we learn our lesson.”

“I read this book. As much as I thought I knew, I was shocked. It is so detailed and transparent. It is not a rogue actor. Not a common criminal. The government of Iran decided to use your country to kill people.”

“On that day in June, I sat only a few seats away from Madam Rajavi, the main target of the attack. The only reason I stayed alive was the courage of Belgian, German, and French authorities. But the skill of Belgian authorities needs to be commended, not canceled. What you achieved in law enforcement you will negate in your political process.”

“The courage to repeal a mistake is rare. But this would not be the first time a law would be repealed or canceled. It is not too late before Assadi boards a plane to Tehran. The moment he reaches Tehran, Brussels will become a base for terrorism.”

“What happened in the parliament of Belgium will have implications for every European country. Tehran will base its activities on Belgium. If a criminal is caught, they will be returned.”

“This remains in such contradiction with everything that is happening in the Western alliance. We have stood against Putin. Our greatest test as Western democracies, we have passed. What a contradiction. It is not too late.”

“I’ve spent nights thinking about my mistakes. I wish we could do them again. Life doesn’t give us such affordances. You will one day think about the terror that was unleashed because of this legislation. It is not too late.”

Former Speaker of the British House of Commons John Bercow said:

“We are horrified both by the act that we are denouncing and the response to that act to date. It is hard to think of anything more heinous. We are not talking about an act of terrorism in relation to which there was a casual indifference to the extent of the expected casualties. We’re talking about an act premeditated, planned, rehearsed, and with government endorsement over a period of at least many months. It was coldly, calculatedly, and illegally planned to commit mass murder.”

“I don’t think it is possible to overstate the significance of this. We all here are aware of the impact of terrorism and the mindset of terrorists from particular incidents that have happened in our countries. But this was conceived by a diplomat, with the full support of his government, and undertaken while ostensibly undertaking a family holiday. That’s the level of cowardice and depravity underlining and underscoring all of this.”

“Had it not been foiled by the efforts of agencies across Europe, the number of victims would have been several thousand.”

“Alongside the plot itself it might seem minor, but to be subject to a charge in a criminal court and to adopt a policy of silence for significant periods and then to say I assert my right to diplomatic immunity is the most egregious insult to the thousands of people engaged in diplomacy. A diplomat is an official representative of a government in another country. The Iranian regime’s notion of diplomacy is to slaughter en masse people whose opinions differ from theirs.”

“This legislation is absolutely deplorable. This is a pitiful state of affairs. If you seek to appease the monster, the monster will devour you and others. This is something which we will not put up with. This legislation must be set aside and repudiated. We have to act multilaterally. But if you give the monster what he wants once, he will come back for more.”

“This is something that deserves massive media attention. It is plainly wrong. It can’t be justified in any way.”

“I must tell you that no other opposition force has been resolute and concerted and effective as the NCRI. This book, which is their book, is very serious, academic work. It is outstanding and deserves to be respected.”

NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mohammad Mohaddessin stated:

“The terrorist attack in Paris in 2018 was not an act of a rogue individual or a few rogue people. It was not an individual initiative. It was an act of state terrorism. The decision to carry out this plot was made at the highest levels of the Iranian regime, the Supreme National Security Council, headed by then-regime president Hassan Rouhani. It was approved by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and assigned to the Intelligence and Foreign ministries to be implemented.”

“As the book details, the execution of this terrorist attack was with the full cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As the former foreign minister said, the main task of the Foreign Ministry is security, not diplomacy.”

“Assadi was a senior diplomat at the Vienna embassy. He brought the bomb himself, professionally made in Tehran, via a commercial flight. By using a diplomatic cover, he ran a widespread network of terrorist activities across Europe. In his notebook, there were more than 190 names and addresses of individuals in European countries who were in contact with him.”

“The Foreign Ministry coordinated this plot at the highest levels. The intelligence minister was personally involved in this case, as was then Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. After the plot was foiled, Zarif went into damage control mode, trying to cover up the crime by claiming that it was a false flag operation. Even after the court ruling, European countries failed to take proportionate measures, which further emboldens the regime’s terrorism.”

“Today, the regime is resorting to hostage-taking to release Assadi. The regime publicly states that it does not recognize the ruling of the Belgium court. If he is returned to Iran based on this treaty, not only will he be released and rewarded, but it will provide the regime with a carte blanche for terrorism in Europe.”

“By using Assadi, other agents will be emboldened for more terrorist attacks in Europe. European countries must disclose all information about the Iranian regime’s agents in EU countries. The regime’s embassies in Europe must be shut down. This is necessary for peace and security in Europe and around the world.”

Shahin Gobadi

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