Israel’s Mossad spy agency thwarted a terror attack in a Paris suburb last month, giving authorities in France, Germany, and Belgium crucial intelligence that led to arrests of a cell headed by an Iranian diplomat, Hebrew media reported Thursday.
The cell, headed by an Iranian diplomat at the Austrian embassy in Vienna, also consisted of two Belgian nationals and an alleged accomplice in France. They planned to bomb a June 30 conference organized by an Iranian dissident group, the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran.
About 25,000 people attended the rally in the Paris suburb of Villepinte.
The Mossad, in conjunction with their counterparts from Belgium, France, and Germany, led a hunt that crossed several European borders and prevented the bombing, Hadashot news reported, without giving sources.
The operation included tracking the suspects and eavesdropping on them, Hadashot said.
The Belgian nationals, a husband and wife identified as Amir S. and Nasimeh N., were charged earlier this month with their role in the plot.
The couple, described by Belgian prosecutors as being “of Iranian origin,” carried 500 grams (about a pound) of the volatile explosive TATP along with a detonation device when an elite police squad stopped them in a residential district of Brussels.
The arrests came days before Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif met with European nations to try to shore up the 2015 nuclear accord, after US President Donald Trump walked away from the deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alluded to the operation ahead of the meeting.
“There is a meeting this week by the P4 without the United States…” and “the P4 invited Iran’s President Rouhani to attend,” Netanyahu said derisively at an event to mark US Independence Day.
“At the same time, in recent days, this same regime dispatched a terrorist cell to carry out a major terrorist action in France. The commander of this terrorism cell was an Iranian diplomat in Austria… This Iranian terror plot was planned on the soil of Europe on the same week that the European leaders are supposed to meet the president of Iran about circumventing the sanctions on Iran,” Netanyahu said.
The newspaper Bild identified the Iranian diplomat as 47-year-old Assadollah A.
Iranian diplomat arrested in Germany over terror plot: Allegedly instructed an Iranian couple from Belgium to bomb MEK rally. https://t.co/VC3EckhIgb
— Björn Stritzel (@bjoernstritzel) July 2, 2018
Police carried out five raids across Belgium linked to the affair, authorities said, though they refused to detail any results of the operation.
The People’s Mujahedeen (MEK), formed in the 1960s to overthrow the shah of Iran, fought the rise of the mullahs in Tehran following the 1979 Islamic revolution.
It earned itself a listing as a “terrorist organization” by the US State Department in 1997 and was only removed from terror watchlists by the European Union in 2008 and by Washington in 2012.