Paris (October 03, 2018): France accused Iran´s intelligence ministry on Tuesday of being behind a foiled plot to bomb an exiled opposition group near the French capital in a move that risks straining already complicated ties between Paris and Tehran.
The French government announced it was freezing assets belonging to two suspected Iranian intelligence operatives, as well as others belonging to Iran´s ministry of intelligence and security. France´s decision to take retaliatory measures and go public with the accusations was taken three months after the alleged plot to bomb a meeting of the People´s Mujahedeen of Iran (MEK) in a suburb of Paris.
“This extremely serious act envisaged on our territory could not go without a response,” France´s interior, foreign and economy ministers said in a rare joint statement.“In taking this decision, France underlines its determination to fight against terrorism in all its forms, particularly on its own territory.”
A French diplomatic source told the journalists that the security forces had concluded that “the head of operations at the (Iranian) intelligence ministry ordered it”.
Iran immediately denied any involvement. “If there is a misunderstanding… about a thing that does not exist, be it a conspiracy by others or a mistake, we can sit down and talk about it,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said in an interview on Tuesday.Earlier on June 03, an Iranian diplomat had been arrested along with two people accused of plotting to blow up a rally of opposition activists calling for regime change in Tehran, Belgian authorities said.
Three other arrests were made in France but two of them were later released. The diplomat works at the Austrian embassy in Vienna, and was detained in Germany. He is a contact of a married Belgian couple of Iranian origin who were arrested in Brussels with 500 grams of the chemical explosive TATP and a detonation device.Amir, 38, and Nasimeh, 33, “are suspected of having attempted to carry out a bomb attack” on Saturday in the Paris suburb of Villepinte, during the rally organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the Belgian federal prosecutor said.
Three other people were arrested in France in connection with the bomb plot. Merhad , 54, was detained on Saturday afternoon near the event, and the other two who were arrested in Senlis, north of Paris, were released due to a lack of evidence against them, a French judicial source said.Tehran has long called for a crackdown on the NCRI in Paris, Riyadh, and Washington. The group is regularly criticized in state media.
“A plot by the religious dictatorship ruling Iran to carry out a terrorist attack against the grand gathering of the Iranian resistance in Villepinte was foiled,” said NCRI spokesman Shahin Gobadi.
Following the arrests, Belgian authorities also conducted five raids in different parts of the country but did not elaborate on whether anything was found.Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on Twitter thanked police and intelligence officers for their work. “Once more the good cooperation between countries has borne fruit,” Michel wrote.
About 25,000 people attended Saturday’s rally in Paris. They waved the red, green and white flag of the NCRI, cheered its leader Maryam Rajavi and called for regime change in Iran.
Among those at the rally were US President Donald Trump’s legal adviser, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, the former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, and other leading politicians from the US, Europe and the Middle East.