AMIA Buenos Aires bombing.
(photo credit: Esteban Alterman)
Israel has told Argentina over the last several weeks that it is expected to
prevent Iran from dodging responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish
community center in Buenos Aires, diplomatic officials said Tuesday.
attack left 85 people dead and injured 300 more.
The Argentinian Foreign
Ministry announced on Monday that Iran and Argentina would open bilateral
negotiations to discuss the bombing. Argentina’s Foreign Minister Hector
Timerman met September 27 with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, at the
UN General Assembly meeting where the issue was discussed.
Minister Avigdor Liberman also met Timerman in New York, and made clear Israel’s
expectations. “We want the Argentineans to know that we are following the
issue,” one diplomatic official said.
Two years prior to the AMIA
bombing, the Islamic Jihad organization, believed to be linked to Iran, bombed
the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.
Iran’s Foreign Affairs Ministry
spokesman said on Tuesday that Tehran was ready to discuss the AMIA
Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters during his weekly press
conference in Tehran that the Iranian and Argentinian foreign ministers had
agreed to mutual talks a month ago, the Iranian Students’ News Agency
Persianlanguage service reported.
The spokesman said Iran was ready to
“carefully scrutinize” and identify the perpetrators of the blast, but repeated
denials that Iranian citizens were involved in the deadly terrorist attack. “We
condemn terrorism, we reject any accusations against our citizens and we declare
our readiness to have a detailed review of who the perpetrators of this issue
are. The negotiations are ongoing and will continue until a clear conclusion is
reached,” Mehmanparast said, according to ISNA.
In October 2006,
Argentina’s state prosecutor concluded that the attack had been approved in
advance by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and formally accused
Iran of plotting the bomb attack, and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah of
A month later in November 2006, Argentinian judge
Rodolfo Canicoba Corral issued arrest warrants for eight individuals in
connection with the AMIA attack, among them former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar
Hashemi Rafsanjani, and a former chief commander of the Iranian Revolutionary
Guards Corps, Mohsen Rezaei.
Rezaei currently serves as the secretary of
Iran’s Expediency Council and announced in June that he plans to run in the
country’s 2013 presidential elections.
Argentina also issued arrest
warrants for Ahmad Vahidi, former commander of the IRGC’s elite Qods Force
extraterritorial unit and Iran’s current defense minister; former Iranian
foreign minister Ali Akbar Velyati; former Iranian intelligence minister Ali
Fallahian; former Iranian ambassador to Argentina Hadi Soleimanpour; former
cultural attache at the Iranian embassy in Argentina Mohsen Rabbani; former
embassy official Ahmed Reza Asghari; and leading Hezbollah agent Imad
In 2007, Interpol agreed to issue Red Notices for Rezaei,
Vahidi, Fallahian, Rabbani, Asghari and Mughniyeh, a move that allowed the
arrest warrants to be circulated worldwide.
Buenos Aires’s investigation
into the AMIA attack has also helped reveal the growing influence and threat
posed by Iran and Hezbollah in Latin America, particularly in the triborder area
between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.
According to the Washington-
based American Enterprise Institute, Iran and Hezbollah have expanded their
Latin American operations in recent years. There are at least two parallel and
collaborative terror networks there, the first operated by Hezbollah and the
second by the Qods Force. These networks have over 80 operatives across the
region, primarily focused in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela and Chile, AEI
research has found.
In June, the US Treasury Department named four
Venezuelan and Lebanese drug kingpins as responsible for carrying out a massive
drug trafficking and money laundering operation in South America on behalf of
Hezbollah.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.