Exclusive interview with Amb. Robert Joseph on the 2018 Paris Terrorist Plot

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On Tuesday, a Belgian court heard the appeal case of three Iranian agents who tried to bomb the Iranian opposition rally in 2018 in France. The head of this terrorist network, Assadollah Assadi, a senior Iranian diplomat, was also arrested.

The “Free Iran” rally, which was the target venue in 2018, hosted hundreds of prominent Western politicians and more than 100,000 Iranians from around the world.

As this plot has been foiled and the Tehran agent arrested, there is growing concern about the Iranian regime’s terrorist and spy network. In this regard, we had an exclusive interview with Ambassador Robert Joseph, who was among the dignitaries who attended the 2018 rally. Amb. Joseph is also one of the plaintiffs in the foiled 2018 bombing case.

Question: Yesou were present at the Free Iran 2018 rally; please take us back to this day.

Amb. Robert Joseph: As I mentioned in my statement to the Belgian court, I remember very well the huge exhibition hall with a large VIP section where I was seated with hundreds of parliamentarians from all over the world, activists renowned human rights and other accomplished guests from all professional fields. Obviously, the main target of the terrorist plot was Ms. Rajavi, head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and sponsor of the meeting. Like others in my section, I was seated near Ms. Rajavi. But there were also thousands of participants a short distance from the VIP section. The results of this savage attack would have been catastrophic, with hundreds of deaths, if not more.

I also mentioned in my official statement that targeting such a large crowd in pursuit of the criminal objective of eliminating the leader of a democratic opposition is a heinous crime that cannot be tolerated by any civilized government. If the leaders of free societies do not hold the culprits to account, in this case the Iranian regime, we will only encourage more attacks and be complicit in them.

Q: After Assadi’s conviction, what were your expectations from the EU?

Amb. Robert Joseph: Appropriate measures had to be taken by the EU and the United States following the heinous nature of the crime committed by Assadi and his accomplices at the request of the Iranian regime.

First, as the court found, it was a deliberate act of state terrorism ordered and carried out by the Iranian regime. Assadi, the main accused, was a senior official in the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, assigned to the Iranian embassy in Vienna and posing as a diplomat.

Second, Assadi was not acting alone. He wasn’t a rogue agent. He was in regular contact with high-level officials in Tehran, receiving his orders directly from them. He personally took possession of the bomb, which was carried by a commercial airline from Tehran. The bomb was professionally designed to cause maximum damage, maximum death and maximum destruction to those who attended the convention in Paris.

Third, Assadi, using his diplomatic status to cover up his criminal activities, ran a network of agents in Europe from his post at the embassy. And there is no doubt that his real identity was known within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making the MFA an accomplice in this terrorist act.

Now the EU and the US must act decisively, knowing that further concessions to the regime will only bring more injustice to the Iranian people and more criminal and terrorist acts. For the EU, this should mean the adoption of a firm policy, including the designation of the VEVAK and the IRGC as terrorist entities, the withdrawal of the legal status of all regime agents in Europe and the dramatic reduction from the level of diplomatic relations until the regime has demonstrated its commitment to renounce terrorist activities.

For the Biden administration, the guilty verdicts of Assadi and his accomplices should weigh heavily in its Iranian policies. This act of state terrorism should be sobering. This should put an end to any attempt to resuscitate the appeasement policies of the past.

Q; Assadi’s three accomplices appealed against the verdict, but not Assadi; Why?

A: I think it was most likely the regime’s decision, not Assadi’s personal choice. With this decision, the regime effectively admitted Assadi’s guilt and his own role in the crime. The regime hopes to avoid further international attention to the case and its role in the sponsorship and commission of terrorist acts. The regime is aware that even if Assadi appealed, he would get nothing but more attention to the affair and to the regime’s terrorism in general.

Q: Usually the Iranian regime uses its proxy groups for terrorist acts, but this time they used their diplomat directly. Why? What is the message of this?

A: It’s true, more often than not the regime has sponsored others to do its dirty work in terrorist activities. It was the first time that an Iranian regime official had been caught red-handed and convicted of an act of state terrorism. This brazen act reflects the desperation of a regime that has lost all credibility, all legitimacy with the Iranian people. It is a regime that has committed crimes against humanity by mass murdering over 100,000 of its own citizens from the 1980s to today. It is a regime characterized by widespread corruption, foreign aggression, the support of dictators like Assad in Syria and the funding of terrorist groups. This religious dictatorship squandered the wealth of the Iranian nation and turned a great nation into a pariah state – a state that has now proven itself to be committing direct acts of terrorism in Europe and around the world.

The mullahs have lost all legitimacy. The Iranian people and their main opposition group, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), are now the greatest threat to the regime. The mass killings across Iran and the regime’s terrorism are acts of desperation, and out of desperation they have chosen to use their diplomats in a blatant and potentially devastating act of terrorism against Madame Rajavi and the Iran rally. free.



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