An adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denied involvement in the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994. Argentine courts accused Iran of sponsoring the massive terror attack.
By: AP and World Israel News Staff
Iranian officials are again denying that the Islamic Republic was behind the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994.
An adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is dismissing accusations that he masterminded Argentina’s worst terror attack, claiming innocence.
Ali Akbar Velayati, foreign minister of Iran at the time of the bombing, is now an adviser to Khamenei.
Former Iranian officials have been on an Interpol capture list for years, but Argentine prosecutors have never been able to question them. Iran has long denied any role in the unsolved bombing that left 85 people dead.
Velayati said in an interview with Argentina’s C5N TV late Monday that he was innocent of the accusation that he masterminded the attack, insisting that there was no Iranian involvement. “We believe that this is a baseless accusation, false — a lie,” he stated.
“Argentina is under the influence of Zionism and the United States,” he declared.
Asked if he would be willing to appear before an Argentine court, Velayati responded that there was no reason why an Iranian official should have to respond to any other nation.
Argentina struck a 2013 accord with Iran, seemingly in order to reach the truth behind the attack, but AMIA and some other groups have criticized the deal, saying Tehran has failed to turn over suspects in the bombing. The joint “truth commission” was approved by Argentina’s Congress but was not been implemented because two Argentine courts ruled it was unconstitutional. It is now under review.
Days before he was found dead on January 18, Alberto Nisman, the chief prosecutor investigating the case, accused President Cristina Fernandez of helping shield the Iranian officials allegedly behind the bombing. Federal judges dismissed the case against Fernandez.
Nisman accused the truth commission of trying to get Interpol’s arrest warrants dropped against five Iranian suspects as a step toward normalizing bilateral relations between the two countries.
Mohsen Rabbani, the former Iranian cultural attache in Argentina who is also suspected in the bombing, was also interviewed on Monday.
He claimed that Nisman’s investigation was based on “the inventions of newspapers without any proof against Iran.”
Four months after his death, authorities have not determined whether Nisman took his own life or murdered. Conspiracy theories have multiplied regarding the case. While some politicians and analysts believe that Nisman likely killed himself because he felt that his claims against the president lacked proof, others say he was murdered because he was a threat to the Argentine and Iranian governments.
“They see this AMIA case as something that must continue to condemn Iran internationally. Every day, they make something up,” said Rabbani, who is wanted by Interpol.
A History of Cover-Ups
On July 18, 1994, a bomb exploded in front of the AMIA Jewish center, killing 85 people and wounding hundreds more.
Iran’s specific motivation for the AMIA bombing, according to Nisman’s investigation, was to punish Argentina for suspending nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic.
Over the years, the case has been marked by incompetence and accusations of cover-ups. Argentine courts have accused Iran of sponsoring the 1994 bombing, a charge that Iran denies.
Since 2006, Argentine courts have demanded the extradition of eight Iranians, including former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and former defense minister Ahmad Vahidi over their alleged involvement in the bombing.