In Brief

Five British MPs escaped death after Iran diplomat ‘smuggled bomb on flight’

Trial begins today over alleged terror plot that ‘could have triggered World War Three’

Five MPs cheated death after an Iranian diplomat smuggled a bomb onto a commercial flight for a planned attack in Paris, according to court documents.

The agent had intended to use the “Mother of Satan” explosive device at a rally in the French capital that was attended by a 35-strong delegation of British politicians and officials, The Sun reports. The same type of bomb was used in the Manchester Arena attacks and during the 2015 massacre in Paris.

Conservative MPs Bob Blackman, Matthew Offord, David Amess and Theresa Villiers and Labour’s Roger Godsiff attended the rally, in June 2018, along with other high-profile guests including Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani. But the target of the plot was Maryam Rajavi, the head of an exiled Iranian opposition group. 

Blackman told the newspaper that had the device been detonated, “the US would undeniably have declared war on Iran - and it was only because the plot was foiled, World War Three was averted”.

The Iranian alleged to have masterminded the plot, Asadollah Assadi, was “an undercover intelligence operative who brought the explosive device to Vienna from Tehran in his baggage”, Politico reports.

According to court papers, Assadi carried the bomb in a diplomatic bag, exempt from security searches, on an Austrian Airlines flight, and then drove the device to Luxembourg. But the terror plot was foiled when a married couple allegedly tasked with then transporting the device to France and carrying out the bombing were arrested in Brussels.

Assadi was arrested at a petrol station in Germany, while driving back into Austria.

He goes on trial in Antwerp today alongside the couple, Amir Saadouni and Nasimeh Naami, and a fourth man.

Assadi’s lawyers have argued that he is protected by diplomatic immunity and should not have been arrested. Iran has “denied any connection to the alleged bomb plot”, which Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has described as a “false flag” operation.

The case will have “grave ramifications for EU-Iran relations, renewing attention on Tehran’s record of state-sponsored terrorism” at a time when European leaders are hoping to revive the Iran Nuclear Deal alongside president-elect Joe Biden, says Politico.

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