France launches major anti-terror raid against Hezbollah-linked group
A German court has ordered the extradition of an Iranian diplomat suspected of involvement in a bomb plot over to Belgium, German media reported. Assadollah Assadi, a diplomat posted to Vienna, was arrested by German police in early July for planning an attack on an Iranian opposition rally in France.
The event organized by an exiled Iranian opposition group was attended by several prominent figures, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
German weekly Der Spiegel covered the details of the extradition case:
The individual is regarded as the mastermind of the failed boom plot against exiled Iranians living in France and is currently sitting in a German prison. On Monday, the Regional High Court in Bamberg accepted the request of the [German Federal] Prosecutor General, allowing the extradition of Assadollah A. to Belgium.
He has been accused of espionage and instigation to murder. According to the Federal Prosecutor General, he instructed the married couple residing in Belgium to carry out a bomb attack and handed over half a kilo of explosives for that purpose.
The attack was targeted at a gathering of exiled Iranian opposition with 25,000 participants in June 30, in the French city of Villepinte. Belgian Special Forces stopped the couple in Brussels with explosives in their vehicle. On July 1, the diplomat was arrested at an Autobahn service station near [the Bavarian city of] Aschaffenburg.
According to the Prosecutor General, Assadollah A. was accredited as the Third Counselor at the Iranian Embassy in Vienna since 2014. He worked for the Iranian intelligence agency MOIS that monitors and targets opposition groups in Iran and abroad. The man could be arrested in Germany on the basis of a European arrest warrant as his diplomatic status only protects him from criminal prosecution inside Austria. [Translated from German by the author]
The German court’s decision comes as France is carrying out a major anti-terror operation against the members of a Shiite Islamic organisation linked to Iranian proxy terror group Hezbollah. Around 200 police officers raided offices and residential properties linked to the Centre Zahra in northern France, French security sources disclose. Operating in a region with high concentration of immigrants, the Islamic organisation’s website purports “to make known the message of Islam through the eyes of the Prophet and his family.”
According to media reports on Tuesday, France has also frozen assets belonging to Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence, citing links to the failed bomb plot.
Paris-based TV network France24 reported the ongoing anti-terror operation:
The operation against the little-known Centre Zahra France in Grande-Synthe, a suburb of the port city of Dunkirk, was staged as part of the “prevention of terrorism” procedures, regional authorities said in a statement.
A security source told AFP that 11 people had been arrested, while French authorities also froze the financial assets of the centre headed by Yahia Gouasmi, who is known for his anti-Zionist views and links to Iran.
Police have been closely following the activities of the Centre Zahra “because of the strong support by its leaders for several terrorist organisations and in favour of movements backing ideas that are contrary to the values” of France.
In recent years, the Iranian regime has expanded its clandestine operation in Europe. Since the nuclear deal came into effect in 2015, Iranian agents have made several attempts to illegally procure WMD technology from Germany. The Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah has infiltrated migrant flows to set up base in Europe. “Since mid-2015 there are increased indications of fighters from Shi’ite militias [Hezbollah] entering Germany as legal refugees,” a 2017 German intelligence report disclosed.
While the European Union is undertaking a huge diplomatic effort to shield the regime in Tehran from the stiff sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, Iran is busy expending its terror footprint in Europe.
President Trump at UN General Assembly: “Iran’s leaders sought chaos, death and destruction”
[Cover image via YouTube]
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