Censors pulled back the curtain on Israel's role in detecting an Iranian bomb plot targeting high-profile Paris conference that was orchestrated by the country's embassy in Vienna.
Israel’s spy agency revealed that it helped foil an Iranian terror attack in France last month, which lead to the arrests of a underground network headed by an Iranian diplomat. While the Israeli leader hinted at Israel's role last month, the military censor had suppressed the reports until Friday.
Israel's newspapers said Mossad agents tracked down suspects in several countries, providing crucial intelligence to Belgium, France and Germany in order to foil what was reported to be an Iranian plot to bomb a rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) at Villepinte, just outside Paris.
The rally was attended by thousands. The speakers included President Donald Trump’s adviser and lawyer Rudy Guiliani and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Dozens of retired officials and European politicians were at the event.
Based in France, the NCRI is a coalition of groups exiled from Iran and whom most citizens regard as terrorist organisations for wanting the overthrow of the Iranian government. Some analysts consider the group to be synonymous with the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), which was identified as a terrorist group in 1997. The NCRI itself was listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States, but was delisted in 2012.
Six people were arrested in light of the thwarted terror attack, however two were later released. A Belgian couple of Iranian origin were arrested Sunday, carrying 500 grams of homemade explosive TATP, as well as a detonator in their car. Belgian police also arrested a man who is said to be an accomplice of the couple, taken in by police while acting as an anonymous tip-off.
German police swooped in on an Austrian-based Iranian diplomat, who is believed to have headed up the terrorist cell.
The diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, is believed to be a member of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The prosecutor’s statement said the diplomat was tasked with the “observation and fight against opposition groups inside and outside Iran”. It is believed that Assadi handed the two Belgian men the explosives at a meeting in Luxembourg in June.
While Israel lifted censorship on the publication of the operation on Thursday, earlier this month Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted that Israeli intelligence may have helped foil the attack in France. During a speech marking the 70th anniversary of the Acre prison break, Mr Netanyahu said the Iranian president “met with leaders in Europe in order to try and overcome President Trump's sanctions regime – and I tell you that this attempt will fail – even as Iran planned a terrorist attack on French soil in Europe."
"It was no coincidence that this attack was thwarted.”
Mr Netanyahu went on to call out the “leaders of Europe” for “financing the terrorist regime that is financing terrorism against you on your soil”, saying it to was time to end the “policy of appeasement and weakness regarding Iran."
The Iranian government strongly denied any involvement in orchestrating the foiled attack, calling it a “sinister false flag ploy” to discredit Iran during a time of tense diplomatic ties with the United States.