An Effort to Whitewash Iran’s Role in International Terror Hits a Legal Snag
In 1994 terrorists struck the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 85 people were killed.
In 2003, an Argentine judge issued arrest warrants for four Iranian officials (but denied warrants for twelve others) for their involvement in the terror attack. In 2007 INTERPOL, an international police organization, issued warrants for five Iranians and one Lebanese for the involvement in the AMIA bombing.
Early last year Argentina’s government reached an agreement with Iran to form a “truth commission” to investigate those who were responsible. The agreement was immediately controversy because, in the words of former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, it was “inviting the murderer to participate in the murder investigation.”
Last week, an Argentine federal court struck down last year’s “truth commission” agreement with Iran to investigate the AMIA bombing. Several senior Iranian officials and Hezbollah have been implicated in the attack that killed 85 people in that Jewish community center.
Thursday’s ruling declared the agreement unconstitutional and ordered Argentina not to go ahead with it. The deal had been delayed anyway by Iranian reluctance to move forward in implementing it. …
Israel and world Jewish groups had denounced the “truth commission” deal with Iran, calling it a diplomatic win for Tehran that offered no benefit to Argentina. The deal would have let Iran review Argentina’s investigation into the bombing.
Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor who took over investigation of the case, established responsibility to the highest level of Iran’s government. Among those implicated were then President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Iran’s previous defense minister Ahmed Vahidi. Vahidi and intelligence officer Moshen Rabbani were among five Iranians who were flagged by INTERPOL for arrest in the case.
(Video from March 2013)
While current Iranian President was a member of the group that ordered the attack, Nisman told David Horovitz of the Times of Israel last year that Rouhani was not present at the meeting where the attack was planned. An English version Nisman’s indictment is here (PDF).
An op-ed in the New York Times at the time of the Argentine-Iranian agreement accused Argentina’s government of doing “an about-face on terror.”
The problem is that any recommendations by the commission would be nonbinding; moreover, some of the suspects in the attack are now high-ranking Iranian officials — including the sitting defense minister, Gen. Ahmad Vahidi — and therefore untouchable. Indeed, Iran has repeatedly refused to cooperate with Argentine investigators and ignored international warrants for the arrest of senior Iranian officials believed to have taken part in planning the bombing.
Mrs. Kirchner’s decision to abandon Argentina’s longstanding grievances against Iran is particularly galling because it comes just weeks after Bulgaria, another country victimized by Iranian-sponsored terrorism, accused Hezbollah of staging a suicide attack on Israeli tourists in the Bulgarian town of Burgas last year. That attack, like the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, was part of a shadow war against Jewish civilians across the world. Bulgaria’s government, unlike Argentina’s current administration, decided to stand up to Hezbollah and forthrightly accuse it of the crime.
The government’s agreement with Iran ” is an insult to the memory of those murdered in 1994 and to all of those killed by Argentina’s dictatorship.” In an ironic twist, Argentina’s foreign minister who denounced last week’s court ruling is Hector Timerman, whose late father, Jacobo was a well known newspaper publisher who was imprisoned and tortured by Argentina’s dictatorship.
While the court’s ruling was apparently not about the substance of Nisman’s charges as much as about the government overstepping its bounds, the decision serves as a reminder that no matter much governments try to overlook it, Iran is a major destabilizing force in the world.
Last year, the State Department tried to downplay Iranian involvement in international terror, but in the face of criticism and a wider ranging investigation by Nisman into Iran’s infiltration into South America decided to take another look.
This year’s State Department report on global terror “singled out Iran as a major state sponsor of terrorism that continues to defy demands to prove that its atomic ambitions are peaceful — even as Washington pursues negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program.”
[Photo: TV Pública - Argentina / YouTube ]