By AVA KHAVARI
10 August 2018
BRUSSELS – The Iranian opposition group in exile, the National Council of the Resistance of Iran (NCRI), plans to launch a civil lawsuit against the perpetrators of a foiled bomb attack during an NCRI rally in Paris earlier this summer, announced the group during a press conference here on 8 August,
The attack was thwarted by Belgium authorities on 30 June 2018 after the arrest of a Belgium couple of Iranian origin who were caught with 500 grams of the explosive TATP (triacetone triperoxide). NCRI, as well as Belgian, French and German authorities, believe that the explosives were given to the couple by the Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, then based in Vienna.
The target of the attack was the NCRI’s “Free Iran” rally, held in the Parisian suburb of Verviers on the same day that the couple, publicly identified only as Amir S. and Nasimeh N, were arrested in Brussels.
Based in Paris, the National Council of the Resistance of Iran is affiliated with the People’s Mujahideen Organisation of Iran and is comprised of expatriated Iranians who oppose Iran’s current clerical Muslim government.
Belgian authorities immediately launched a criminal case against the couple, while Assadi was arreste4d and is currently detained in Germany. Three additional suspects have since been arrested in France and Germany for their alleged involvement in plotting the attack.
During the press conference, NCRI declared that it, along with seven of the rally’s attendees, would pursue a civil case against the couple. Other plaintiffs in the civil case named during the press conference include U.S. Colonel Wesley Martin, Former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi, Algeria’s former Prime Minister Sid Ahmed Ghozali, Columbian politician Ingrid Betancourt and Former US Senator Robert Torricelli.
Belgian lawyers William Bourdon and Rik van Reusel led the briefing here, along with one of the plaintiffs, Ghozali. According to Van Reusel, the goal of the civil suit is to refocus attention on the attempted terrorist attack.
“This [civil case] was necessary in order to have access to certain rights. We have based ourselves on two main accusations: first, the attempted terrorist murder and second, the attempted terrorist attack,” Van Reusel told reporters. “We will try to add our weight and our value to the truth-finding process.”
By launching the civil lawsuit the plaintiffs hope to bring international attention to the foiled attack, though van Reusel also made it clear that case would be a lengthy one that could take over a year to move through the Belgian judicial system.
The NCRI’s rally in Paris saw thousands of attendees, including high profile speakers such as Rudy Giuliani, former New York Mayor and advisor to US President Donald Trump, and Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
The Belgian government is no longer tolerant of Islamic radicalist activity on its territory and keeps increasing its resources devoted to counter-terrorism measures as well. NCRI thus probably has a reasonable chance of seeing its lawsuit carried to a ruling in its favour, though whether Teheran will pay any heed that that is unlikely.
Whether NCRI’s grievances are deeply felt or whether its lawsuits are a play for attention to keep its name in the news is open to debate, however. The organisation obviously has money and has been known in the past to engage high-profile US and European politicians, military leaders and others as “consultants” to its cause who visibly espouse NCRI’s platform in public venues.