This year has been one of the most challenging ones for the security services in European countries as they have yet to form a firm counter-terrorism strategy to halt state-sanctioned terrorist operations across the EU.
If the ISIS targeted people arbitrarily without any operation center in the EU, Iran’s regime uses its embassies to organize terrorist operations across Europe as part of its desperate response to domestic crises and growing dissent inside the country.
The US administration commended this week the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s decision to expel the Iranian ambassador and another diplomat for plotting “terrorist attacks” in Albania, as said by Secretary Pompe.
President Trump thanked Mr Rama for “steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and to counter its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence dissidents around the globe.” It is crucial to know why Albania has become so important for the ruling regime in Iran that it is prepared to take such risks at this decisive moment.
Since members of the Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), moved from Iraq to the Albanian capital Tirana under UN supervision in 2016, the regime has widely expanded its embassy, almost doubling the size and the number of staff.
If the ISIS targeted people arbitrarily without any operation center in the EU, Iran’s regime uses its embassies to organize terrorist operations across EuropeHamid Bahrami
The regime has also appointed a new ambassador, who is a member of the Intelligence Ministry (MOIS), and created a special section within the embassy to organize operations against the MEK.
As the MEK has successfully led daily anti-regime protests in the country, as admitted by senior regime officials, for a political system like current regime in Tehran, it is vital to respond to persistent dissidents across the world.
On March 22, two Iranians were arrested in Tirana, on the charge of plotting a terrorist attack against thousands of MEK members at their Iranian New Year celebration.
Belgium charged an Iranian diplomat and three other individuals on October10 with planning to bomb the grand gathering of the broader Iranian opposition coalition, the NCRI, where MEK is the principal constituent, in France in June.
France’s Foreign Ministry said later that there was no doubt the MOIS was behind the June plot and froze assets belonging to Tehran’s intelligence services and two Iranian nationals, including the Iranian diplomat waiting prosecution in Belgium.
The theocracy has already responded to domestic crisis through a vast and costly demonization campaign against the MEK to legitimize such operations and persecution of its supporters inside the country.
A recent wave of fake news against the MEK in the Guardian, Al Jazeera, MSNBC and Channel 4 spread by Tehran’s apologists appears now to be an organized attempt to exploit respected news outlet as the prologue of such terrorist operations.
Many members of the Iranian communities in Europe attribute this increase of terrorist attacks by Iran’s regime against dissidents and opposition group on European soil to the union’s failed appeasement policy towards Iran, which they highlighted at an international conference in over 40 cities last week. In their view, the current EU Foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and her colleagues are responsible for this emerging threat to EU’s security.
In his remark at the international conference last week, the former Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives Patrick Kennedy pointed to this sentiment among Iranians and said “today response to Iran’s terrorist operations has been weak and inappropriate to emerging threats.”
He also stress that regime’s targeting of the organized resistance movement demonstrates its fear of the NCRI coalition. It is evident that as long as Mogherini holds office, there will not be any serious European counter-terrorism strategy against Iran, ergo, providing the regime further opportunities to organize such activities.
Secretary Pompeo brought attention to this fact by tweeting “European nations have thwarted three Iranian plots this year” and called on the international community to sanction the regime for these terrorist activities.
The Trump administration can further advance its case for a more robust European and global counter-terrorism strategy against the regime in Iran by designating the entire Revolutionary Guards and the MOIS as Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). This is what the Iranian people, dissidents and dozens of prominent western politicians ask and call for.
Hamid Bahrami is a former political prisoner from Iran. Living in Glasgow, Scotland, he is a human right and political activist and works as a freelance journalist as his work cover’s the Middle East affairs. He tweets at @HaBahram and blogs at analyzecom.