Argentinean prosecutor claims Iran set up terror network in Latin America

Report given to foreign government details how 1994 Jewish center attack was carried out

Families of the victims of the attack on the Jewish center in 1994.
Families of the victims of the attack on the Jewish center in 1994. REUTERS

The special prosecutor investigating a 1994 bombing at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires on Wednesday claimed that the attack was just part of a series of terrorist offenses that were planned in Latin America by the Iranian government to help Hezbollah.

In a 500-page report, prosecutor Alberto Nisman said that Iran, which was responsible for the bombing, set up terrorist cells across the region to commit similar attacks in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Suriname.

Before the Buenos Aires incident, Iranian agents tried to recruit future terrorists at mosques across Argentina while the Iranian embassy’s cultural attaché had offered them support, Nisman said.

“These situations could still be occurring throughout Central and South America,” he said. The report was passed to authorities in the countries mentioned so that they could become aware of the findings of his exhaustive inquiry.

Among the suspects is Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's current defense minister

The car bomb that went off outside the Argentinean Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) center killed 85 people and wounded more than 300. In 2006, Nisman and another prosecutor formally accused top Iranian officials of planning the AMIA attack.

Among the suspects is Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's current defense minister, who at the time was a commander of a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The other four named were Ali Fallahian, a former information minister; Mohsen Rezaee, a former government advisor; Mohsen Rabbani, the then-cultural attaché of the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires; and Ahmad Reza Asghari, a former official.

To the dismay of the country’s Jewish leaders and the opposition, four months ago the government of Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed a memo of understanding with Tehran to carry out a joint investigation into the matter. It was later ratified by the Argentinean Congress. On May 20, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad formally ratified the pact without presenting it to lawmakers in his own country.

Among the documents included in the Nisman report is a 2011 interview that Brazilian regional prosecutor Alexandre Camanho de Assis gave to the magazine Veja, in which he claims that Islamic extremist cells in Brazil are growing “without anyone knowing it.” In Paraguay, Nisman said that Hezbollah and other terrorist groups are financing themselves by legal means “to hide their illegal activities.”

The Buenos Aires bombing “wasn’t an isolated incident, but part of a broader series [of terrorist actions],” he said. In 1982, Iranian religious leaders called some 380 clerics from 70 nations for a conference where it was agreed to “to export and extend” the Iranian cultural, political and political revolutions to other countries, he said.

The prosecutor also states that he has evidence in which Iran introduced agents through Rabbani, when he was the cultural attaché. Nissan not only suspects that Rabbani helped organize the AMIA attack but was also coordinator of all of Iran’s intelligence operations throughout South America.

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