This is the reality:
A career diplomat crossing European borders in a rented car while carrying a professionally-made bomb, which bears a design favored by jihadists.
In Luxembourg, he hands over the bomb to two would-be terrorists, long-standing residents of Europe who just look like any ordinary young married couple.
They accept it with a clear mission in mind: to bomb a political rally in the largest convention center in France, located in the suburbs of Paris.
If the plot is successful, it will kill many among the tens of thousands of people in attendance, among who were hundreds of dignitaries and parliamentarians from the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
The couple put the bomb in the trunk of their Mercedes and the woman hides the detonator in her make-up bag. They head off toward the rally.
This may sound like the opening sequence of the latest James Bond film, but the chilling reality is that this really occurred in June.
The explosives expert who doubled as a career diplomat is a real person called Assadollah Assadi - he is presently detained in Germany while the recipients of his bomb and one other operative are in jail in Belgium.
With the prospective bombers having been stopped by Belgian authorities at the French border and the bomb being harmlessly detonated by special army units, this incident had a fortunately happy ending, but…
Assadi himself narrowly failed to escape back to Austria, where he enjoys diplomatic immunity in line with his multiple years of work in the Iranian embassy. Consequently, it appears likely that he may face justice for his attempts to facilitate the mass killing of Iranian expatriates and their Western supporters.
But as with any fictional spy thriller, the given scene is only the prologue. It surely defines a larger challenge involving similar terrorist threats at the heart of Europe. Will it, however, be a fight that is resolved through political and diplomatic channels with appropriate press intervention or will Europe casually succumb to a saga of Manchester-type terrorist outrages.
In the aftermath of the arrests, a spokesperson for the Belgian judiciary remarked that nearly every Iranian diplomat in Europe is, in fact, like Assadi, is an operative of the Iranian secret services, working and residing in Europe as a sort of sleeper cell.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) — the organisation behind the rally that Assadi’s terrorists were targeting — was quick to echo this sentiment and to recommend that the nations of Europe prosecute the arrestees to the fullest extent of the law and then proceed to investigate and expel other potential terrorist diplomats throughout Europe.
The U.K. set a potential precedent with Russian terrorism in Salisbury but has, almost dismissively, sought to ignore this Iranian-backed conspiracy... the press has been unstirred by the lack of blood on the carpet!
Overall, the European response to the foiled terror plot has been muted so far, even though the incident on the French border was neither the first nor, potentially, the last of its kind.
In March, authorities in Albania arrested two Iranian operatives who were planning a terror attack on the residence of more than 2,000 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main constituent group in the NCRI coalition.
The prospective targets had been relocated to Albania in 2016 after the Iranian regime and its regional proxies failed to destroy the PMOI community in Iraq before it was relocated under UN supervision to safer territory.
The arrival of PMOI leaders in Albania spurred a dramatic expansion in the number of diplomatic personnel at the Iranian embassy. Surely this leaves little doubt about the role of such embassies as part of the regime’s terrorist infrastructure.
As such, it underscores the need to address that persistent threat, and to at least, listen to the advice of the PMOI and the NCRI in pushing Iranian “diplomats” out of Europe altogether.
But it bears noting that this course of action would not exactly eliminate the Iranian terror threat. In August, two other Iranian operatives were indicted in the United States for spying on individuals and groups associated with the NCRI.
The indictment against them suggests that the defined purpose of this intelligence gathering was to carry out attacks against dissidents inside the United States, a country that has not had diplomatic relations with Iran since the immediate aftermath of the Islamic revolution.
Combating the Iranian terrorist threat begins with a broader severance of diplomatic ties, but it ends with coordinated, multilateral pressure by all the peaceful, democratic nations of the world, involving economic sanctions, international criminal proceedings, and more.
The United States called on the international community to adopt relevant strategy to counter Iran’s terrorist activities at a meeting of the United Nations Security Council and at the U.N. General Assembly last week.
Although European nations may be disinclined to listen to the American sales pitch on this topic, they would do well to think back on recent close calls involving Iranian terrorism on European soil. With this in mind, it would surely be criminally negligent to disregard the appeal for adequately co-ordinated pressure on the Islamic Republic. There is simply too much at stake.