'Iran ready to identify AMIA bombing perpetrators'

Tehran continues to deny involvement in the 1994 attack on BA Jewish community center that killed 85, injured hundreds.

AMIA Buenos Aires bombing (photo credit: Esteban Alterman)
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.
The 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.
Foreign 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 bombing.
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 perpetrating it.
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 Mughniyeh.
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.