A Belgian couple of Iranian origin has been arrested near Brussels in a multi-country terror investigation that also resulted in the arrest of an Iranian diplomat in Germany. The couple have been charged with planning to detonate a homemade bomb at a meeting of the National Council of Resistance (NCRI) of Iran, which took place on Saturday in a Paris suburb. The NCRI is widely held to be a front organization for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), also known by its Persian name Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).
Belgian federal prosecutor named the suspects as Amir S, born on April 26, 1980 and his wife, Nasime N, born on September 29, 1984, both Belgian citizens of Iranian origin. They are residents of the city of Wilrijk in the Belgian province of Antwerp.
According to the local press, the couple were known to the police for some time and were arrested when they took steps to execute their plans to bomb the Paris meeting. They were arrested in the Brussels municipality of Sint-Pieters-Woluwe and the homemade bomb and detonators were found in their car.
The meeting in Villepinte was attended by 25,000 people (many reported to be Eastern Europeans and Syrian refugees, bused in for the event, without knowing the nature of it). Maryam Rajavi, widely believed to be the cult leader for the MEK, and President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, both spoke at the event. Giuliani called for regime change in Iran and said he hoped next year’s rally would be held in Tehran, with Rajavi having replaced Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
Authorities also raided five house in the Belgian cities of Mon, Wilrijk, Boomb, Ukel and Leuze-en-Hainaut, but so far there has been no news about what, if anything, police found at the properties.
As part of the same investigations, arrests were also made in France and Germany. In Germany, authorities arrested an Iranian diplomat working for the embassy in Vienna. He has been named as Asadollah A, born on December 22, 1971. In France, Mehrad A, born on July 31, 1963, was arrested as an accomplice of the Paris attack.
The Belgian prosecutor praised the work of the VSSE, Belgian security services, which made possible the arrest of the suspects before they arrived on French territory. He also thanked the cooperation of French and Belgian judicial officials.
Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon took to Twitter to assert that the suspects were not known to have targets in Belgium and the country’s terror alert level remained unchanged.
The country’s prime minister, Charles Michel, also went on Twitter to thank the country’s security and intelligence forces for foiling a possible attack. “Cooperation with our European partners has paid off once more,” he wrote.