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Tehran's reign of terror requires a rapid response

Iranian flag waving with cityscape on background in Tehran, Iran
Iranian flag waving with cityscape on background in Tehran, Iran | Getty images/stock photo

In the aftermath of Tehran's recent warmongering in the Middle East last month, the ominous specter of the Iranian regime's designs materialized once more in a chilling act of terrorism on the streets of Madrid on Thursday. Prominent Spanish politician, Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras, president of the International Committee in Search of Justice and former vice president of the European Parliament, was shot in the face in broad daylight. The audacious act of terror serves as a stark wake-up call to the escalating audacity of Tehran's mullahs.

This heinous assassination attempt demands a resolute response. It lays bare the unsettling reality that the Iranian regime, renowned as the world's premier state sponsor of terrorism, has not only persisted but dangerously grown emboldened.

For over two decades, Dr. Vidal-Quadras has been a staunch advocate for the human rights of the Iranian people. The recent assault, carried out by assailants on a motorcycle, has resulted in his hospitalization and subsequent surgery — a reprehensible act that requires swift and unequivocal condemnation from the global community.

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His steadfast commitment to the Iranian people's struggle for freedom positions him as a formidable adversary to the ruling religious fascism in Tehran. Tehran's motives to silence international supporters of the Iranian people are clear. Dr. Vidal-Quadras's pivotal role in supporting the main opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) and ensuring the protection of MEK members in Camp Ashraf attests to a lifetime dedicated to the cause of liberty and democracy.

In October 2022, at the height of nationwide protests against the regime, Tehran's foreign ministry branded him a supporter of "terrorism" and "riots," and placed sanctions on him.

Now a year later, police investigations ominously hint at an Iranian connection to his assassination attempt. A police source close to the investigation disclosed to The Associated Press that Vidal-Quadras himself had raised suspicion regarding the regime's involvement.

The regime, adept at concocting propaganda and slandering dissidents, has long vilified the MEK in the West, considering it an existential threat. In September, Dr. Vidal-Quadras unequivocally declared at an international conference in Brussels: "I have been working with the MEK and the NCRI for 21 years now, and I visited them in Ashraf 1 in Iraq, in Ashraf 3 in Albania, in the headquarters in Overs-sur-Oise, countless times."

"That means that I know the MEK," he added, "much better than all foreign ministries of the European Union ... I can tell you that all propaganda, fabrications, and slander of the Iranian mullahs against the MEK are just lies, malignant falsehoods, and pure rubbish."

Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), a coalition including the MEK, swiftly and unequivocally denounced this act of terror. Her call for the prosecution of the perpetrators and masterminds echoes beyond national borders.

The Madrid attack is not an isolated incident but a grim chapter in the Iranian regime's extensive history of state-sponsored terrorism. From the infamous Marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983 to the foiled plot at the Free Iran World Summit in 2018, Tehran's fingerprints are etched on a pattern of terrorism, which it harnesses as an enduring instrument of statecraft.

The troubling manipulation of the Belgian judiciary in June, leading to the release of terrorist diplomat Assadollah Assadi, who masterminded the foiled terrorist plot against the Free Iran World Summit in Paris in 2018, is a stark illustration of Western appeasement. This display of weakness has emboldened Tehran, encouraging its nefarious practices and placing dissidents, resistance leaders, and even foreign nationals at greater risk.

The world must absorb the profound lesson that capitulating to terrorism only begets more terrorism, emboldening the Iranian regime to engage in hostage-taking across Europe and beyond.

The unchecked machinations of the Iranian regime pose an escalating threat, and the world's collective conscience cannot afford the luxury of indifference. A blind eye turned to the menace emanating from Tehran is an unwitting endorsement of more peril that looms on the horizon.

As Western governments grapple with this undeniable threat, a pointed question must be posed: Will Tehran be permitted to stifle democracy and support for dissents beyond its borders through brazen shootings on the streets of Europe in broad daylight?

The time has arrived to sever the shackles of appeasement that have long constrained the Western response to the actions of the world's leading state sponsor of terror.

The Iranian people and their organized opposition, yearning for a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic, deserve the unwavering support of the international community to rid the world of Tehran's rulers once and for all.

Mr. Blackwell is the former mayor of Cincinnati and undersecretary of the  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

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