The 2018 global rally in support of freedom and democracy in Iran had been targeted by Iranian terrorists, but were arrested just before the event. The mastermind behind it all, Assadollah Assadi, faces trial on November 27, the first time a diplomat in Europe has been tried on terrorism charges. This is an opportunity for the West to recognise Tehran's political violence, writes Linda Chavez.

In June 2018, I participated in a global rally in support of freedom and democracy in Iran, a very noble cause indeed. I was part of a bipartisan American delegation, and hundreds of other political dignitaries joined from throughout the world. Many delivered speeches before the crowd of roughly 100,000 Iranian expatriates, second and third-generation immigrants who had traveled from 65 countries to a convention space outside of Paris.

In the weeks following the event, its participants began to learn details of how close that day had come to being their last. As it turned out, the Iran Freedom rally, organized by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), had been targeted by Iranian terrorists under the command of a high-profile diplomat working out of the Iranian embassy in Vienna.

Two would-be bombers were arrested just ahead of the event as they attempted to carry 500 grams of highly explosive material and a detonator across the Belgian border into France. A co-conspirator was later arrested at the venue. And the mastermind, Assadollah Assadi, was grabbed by German authorities the following day while he was outside of the diplomatic protection of Austria.

Assadi's trial is now scheduled to begin in Belgium on November 27, and the international community would be well-advised to keep a close eye on the proceedings. The case represents the first time a diplomat has been tried in Europe on terrorism charges. It is tremendously significant to every observer's understanding of the Islamic Republic and proper strategies for dealing with the regime.

This understanding is something that the Iranian Resistance have been trying to foster for a very long time. While no one who attended the 2018 rally expected to come directly within the mullahs' line of fire, virtually all of them understood that such bold political violence was a regular feature of the Iranian regime.

All of them were also aware of the recent political violence that had been directed at the Iranian people themselves in the wake of a nationwide uprising at the beginning of that year. And few were surprised to learn that Tehran had responded to that unrest by lashing out at the coalition it views as the main source of organized resistance inside Iran.

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Despite the failure of the 2018 terror plot, the potential for similar foreign provocation has only continued to grow over the ensuing two years.

The plot itself was presumably intended to bring an end to the "year full of uprisings" that had by then come into full swing as a result of a call to action by Maryam Rajavi, the president of the National Council of Resistance of Iran who was also the keynote speaker at the June 2018 event. Instead, Iran's domestic unrest continued for months afterward and ultimately set the stage for a second nationwide uprising in November 2019.

An estimated 1,500 participants in that uprising were shot dead in a matter of days by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. But even this failed to bring a conclusive end to the unrest, which erupted across multiple provinces less than two months later. Then, as in the two prior uprisings, the activist community was heard to chant slogans like "death to the dictator," thereby leaving little question about the popular desire for regime change.

All of this goes to show that there is a potentially history-altering conflict brewing between the Iranian regime and its people. The very survival of the theocratic system is at stake, and it is safe to say that Tehran will risk practically anything to prevent the democratic opposition from securing an upper hand. In fact, this is the only reasonable conclusion to draw from the 2018 terror plot, which exposed crucial details about how Iran's diplomatic networks and its terrorist infrastructure are inextricably intertwined with each other.

If the international community ignored those revelations, it would be doing so at its own peril by repeating seriously questionable foreign policy decisions, particularly by European powers whose numerous concessions have been guided by delusions that Tehran will one day change course on its own and act like a normal state.

In light of such past mistakes, the forthcoming trial of Assadollah Assadi is an opportunity to do much more than just hold a single terrorist-diplomat accountable for his attempt to murder thousands of pro-democracy activists.

It is also an opportunity for Western policymakers to promote broader recognition of Tehran's ongoing embrace of political violence, and to begin taking measures to oppose it.

The trial is arguably the clearest such opportunity in recent memory. But even more importantly, it may be the last chance for the Western world to align itself against the mullahs' regime in advance of a final showdown between that regime and a beleaguered population that is calling out for international support in their fight for freedom and democracy.

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