Paris, France — The French government has expelled an Iranian diplomat and frozen the assets of the Iranian Intelligence service over links to a thwarted terrorist attack close to Paris this summer.
The target of the attack was an assembly of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an exiled opposition group with close ties to the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), on July 30. The meeting had numerous high-profile participants, to include Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and President Donald Trump’s lawyer, and several former Arab and European foreign and defence ministers. The planned attack was thwarted through a combined operation by the German, Belgian, and French intelligence and law enforcement services.
The plot was first uncovered by the Belgian authorities. Early in June, law enforcement forces apprehended two Belgian nationals of Iranian descent that carried almost a 1lb of TAPT — a lethal homemade explosive that has been used in numerous terrorist attacks to include the 2005 bombings in London and the 2015 Paris attacks. Almost immediately thereafter, German authorities arrested an Iranian ‘diplomat’ that proved to be the handler of the group.
“We are still following up with Tehran on the Villepinte affair to draw all the necessary consequences, but the political and diplomatic dialogue between Iran and France continues,” said a senior member of the French Foreign Ministry.
The Iranian involved appears to be a diplomat only in title. Evidence suggests that he is a member of the Iranian Intelligence Services. Categorizing a spook as a member of the diplomatic service of a country is a standard approach in international espionage.
During the U.N. General Assembly meeting, the French leadership encountered the Iranian representatives and demanded explanations for the terrorist plot. French President Emmanuel Macron and his Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, decided to restrict travel to Iran and suspended the appointment of the new French ambassador to Iran.
“The foiled attack in Villepinte confirms the need for a demanding approach in our relations with Iran,” said Le Drian.
The Iranians, of course, have declined any involvement in the failed terrorist attack and even went further and blamed the U.S. and Israel for the plot. Further, they denied that any of their diplomats in France have been expelled.
“We call for realism [sic] of French officials vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran and warn once again against vicious hands of those with ill intentions who are trying to destroy old relations between Iran and France and other influential European states,” said an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
Iranian financial and oil are set to receive yet another wave of economic sanctions by the U.S. over the Iranian government’s nuclear program. But European countries have expressed their disagreement with the sanctions. Terrorist activity within their borders, however, is bound to influence the European leaders’ policy making.