The diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, 48, who is believed to be a member of Iran’s intelligence service, will go on trial in Antwerp next week along with three other suspects. A serving diplomat has never before been arrested and charged with terrorism in Europe. They are accused of terrorism offences following a two-year investigation into an alleged plot to target the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)’s annual rally, in Villepinte, in the northeast suburbs of Paris, on June 30, 2018. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and lawyer for Donald Trump and Theresa Villiers, the former environment secretary in the UK, were among those attending the event.
Belgian investigators also believe their actions were approved at the highest level in Tehran.
Tehran has called Assadi’s arrest “fundamentally illegal” and said they had the right to a “proportionate response” against the countries involved.
Assadi allegedly wanted a bomb to be planted at the mass rally as it would be attended by tens of thousands of people opposed to Iran’s theocratic regime.
Express.co.uk has exclusively seen a photo of him that suggests he was wearing a disguise of a straw fedora hat and striped shirt with a camera draped around his neck to give the impression he was a tourist when he entered the Pizza Hut in Place d’Armes, Luxembourg.
He sat down with Amir Saadouni, 40, and his wife, Nasimeh Naami, 36, and handed them a package, which allegedly contained a powerful bomb, containing more than 1lb of TATP, or triacetone triperoxide.
The explosive is used by terrorists due to being difficult to detect.
Assadi is accused of also giving the couple €11,710 in a payment for the operation.
Saadouni and Naami both admitted to receiving the package but they denied knowing it was a bomb and thought it was just a package that “makes a lot of noise”.
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Jaak Raes, head of the VSSE, Belgium’s state security service, wrote a letter to the federal prosecutor outlining the amount of detail that went into the alleged plot.
He said: “The plan for the attack was conceived in the name of Iran and under its leadership. It was not a matter of Assadi’s personal initiative.”
But Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, called the alleged plot a “false flag” operation.
He claimed it was aimed to increase tensions between Tehran and the West, as it also came at a time when there disputes over Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of Iran’s nuclear accord with the West.
The NCRI revealed the existence of nuclear testing facilities in 2002, leading to Tehran being declared in breach of a non-proliferation treaty.
Belgium’s bomb disposal unit, Dovo, said the bomb was homemade that was “very sensitive to heat, friction and shock” and when it was detonated, it also destroyed a remote-control robot and slightly injuring a Dovo officer in the eye.
Assadi was arrested on July 1 in Germany, while he was driving towards Austria and could have gained diplomatic immunity.
In March, Assadi told Belgian police that armed groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria, as well as in Iran, would be “watching from the sidelines to see if Belgium would support them or not”, according to documents obtained by Reuters.
A spokesman for the Belgian federal prosecutor said: “Such threats can occur, but we always take the necessary security measures.”
Assadi’s lawyer, Dimitri de Beco, denied the threats and said: “It is absolutely not a threat of retaliation and if it’s understood that way it’s a misinterpretation. He will explain the sense of his remarks to the court.”