Argentina demands arrest of Iran ex-prez

From AP, Oct. 25:

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine prosecutors asked a federal judge on Wednesday to order the arrest of former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani and seven others for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center that killed scores of people.

The decision to attack the center “was undertaken in 1993 by the highest authorities of the then-government of Iran,” prosecutor Alberto Nisman said at a news conference.

He said the actual attack was entrusted to the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah.

The worst terrorist attack ever on Argentine soil, the bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and injured more than 200 when an explosive-laden vehicle detonated near the building.

Iran’s government has vehemently denied any involvement in the attack following repeated accusations by Jewish community and other leaders here.

Iranian authorities contacted here by The Associated Press said they would have no comment.

Prosecutors urged the judge to seek international and national arrest orders for Rafsanjani, who was Iran’s president between 1989 and 1997 and is now the head of the Expediency Council, which mediates between parliament and the clerics who rule the country.

They also asked the judge to detain several other former Iranian officials, including a former intelligence chief, Ali Fallahijan, and former Foreign Minister Ali Ar Velayati.

They also urged the arrest of two former commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, two former Iranian diplomats and a former Hezbollah security chief for external affairs.

Nisman and fellow prosecutor Marcelo Martinez Burgos said they suspected that Hezbollah undertook activities outside Lebanon only “under orders directly emanating from the regime in Tehran.”

Federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral had no public comments following the news conference. The judge, under Argentine law, is allowed an indefinite amount of time to accept or reject the recommendations.

The two prosecutors head a special investigative unit probing the attack, which flattened the former Jewish center, since rebuilt into a heavily guarded fortress-like compound.

The investigation unit was created after Argentina’s federal courts in 2004 which halted a botched investigation into the case by then-judge Juan Jose Galeano. Galeano was removed from the case and later stripped of his judgeship.

Nisman announced in November 2005 that investigators believed a suspected 21-year-old Lebanese Hezbollah militant had been identified as the suicide bomber.

The attack on the seven-story Jewish center, a symbol of Argentina’s more than 200,000-strong Jewish population, was the second of two attacks targeting Jews in Argentina during the 1990s.

A March 1992 blast destroyed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people in a case that has also been blamed on Hezbollah.

Some speculated the bombing was inspired by Argentina’s support for the U.S.-led coalition that expelled Iraq from Kuwait during the Gulf War in the early 1990s. Others said Argentina’s Jewish community, one of the largest in Latin America, represented an obvious target for Israel’s opponents.

Although Jewish community leaders and others have suspected the involvement of Middle East terrorists, a lack of progress in tracking down the masterminds has made families of the victims increasingly bitter.

In 2004, about a dozen former police officers and an accused trafficker in stolen vehicles were acquitted of charges that they had formed a “local connection” in the bombing.

Jewish center leaders said Wednesday they had no immediate statement.

Iran responds, in inimitable manner, via its official IRNA news agency, Oct. 27:

Iran’s Prosecutor General said here on Friday that reopened file of Argentina’s 1994 Jewish AMIA charity fund blasts was aimed at pleasing the Zionists and the Americans, while diverting the world public opinion.

Twelve years ago following the suspicious fatal bomb blast at AMIA’s Buenos Aires building the Zionist lobby in the West through tight secret negotiations and lobbying with Argentina’s top judiciary officials tried to allege the Islamic Republic of Iran of having plotted the terrorist attack, but the move soon failed due to absolute lack of evidence.

Hojjatoleslam Qorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi made the remark in his pre-sermon address at this week’s Tehran Friday prayers, adding, “It was revealed a few years ago that the top judge in AMIA case had been bribed by the Zionists and the Americans in a bid to accuse Iran of having plotted the 1994 Argentina blast.”

He added, “It was also made clear that the documents and evidence that witnesses had presented at the court had been fake and forged, and thus all their plots against Iran had faced total defeat.” The Prosecutor General further explained, “After the passage of so many years and having declared the file as closed, under such conditions that Iran’s former Ambassador has been acquitted of all allegations both in Argentina and in Britain, in order to divert the world public opinion, at the threshold of the International Qods Day a new judge reopens that stinking file anew.”

He reiterated, “To our great sorrow, Argentina is one of the main centers of the Zionists’ lobby, but all the same we expect the Judiciary Force of that country not to permit a judge to put under question its entire credibility.”

Dorri-Najafabadi added, “In order to make new allegations, the alleged country should be informed and its judiciary force should be provided with the copies of the documents related to the new allegations through diplomatic channels, since otherwise a sovereign state’s diplomats and officials enjoy political and social immunity.” He attributed the reopening of AMIA file to the massive Qods Day rallies throughout the world, as well as the scientific advancement of Iran, particularly in its peaceful nuclear program.

He also assured the nation that the sanctions, as the late Imam had once stressed, would merely lead to the Iranian nation’s faster independence, and the Iranian youth’s blossoming.

The Prosecutor general also asked for broad presence of the nation at all three elections ahead.

On Wednesday, Argentine prosecutors charged Iran with the 1994 attack on AMIA (the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association) that killed 85 people and injured 300.

AMIA, supported by Israel and the United States, had long accused Iran of organizing the attack.

Those accusations, based on biased intelligence gathered by the secret services of Israel and the US, have been consistently rejected by the Iranian government and the Lebanese Hezbollah.

On September 2, 2004, an Argentine court acquitted 21 former police officers and a trafficker of stolen cars who were charged with aiding the attackers, whose ties with Israel were obvious.

The court found that important evidence against the men at Iranian diplomatic center had been “irregularly” obtained, and ordered an investigation of Judge Juan Jose Galeano, who presided over the case for nine years.

Galeano was accused of having paid 400,000 dollars to a key witness to testify against four police officers accused of having provided logistical support in the plot.

Iran’s Ambassador to Argentina, Ali Hosseini in his comments on the issue, said on Friday that “the corruption of Galeano” is another proof that “such claims (against Iran) are totally baseless.”

And what’s all this about “International Quds Day”? From the equally inimitable New York Sun (from a special “MEMRI Report” section produced by the neocon Middle East Media Research Institute), Oct. 25:

Western Press Ignores Iran’s Hate-Filled Quds Day

It is disturbing when the entire leadership of one nation, along with hundreds of thousands of its citizens, comes out with celebrations and parades every year that call for the annihilation of another country.

It is more twisted that no world leaders or international bodies, including the United Nations, have denounced the activities surrounding Quds Day, an Iranian holiday introduced by Ayatollah Khomeini that is marked on the last Friday of Ramadan.

While the world was focusing on North Korea last week, Iran’s mad scientists were hard at work preparing for the annual Quds Day celebrations.

Most of the Western press outlets that reported on the popular holiday simply downplayed it as just another “anti-Israel” day. However, this year’s revelries focused both on calling for the annihilation of America and embracing Iran’s nuclear program.

The celebrations included proclamations by the country’s leaders and activities for university students and artists.

Isfahan University’s Mechanical Energy College took first place in a Quds Day competition for its design of a pilotless plane that can be used for “suicide attacks.” The director of the Iranian Broadcasting Organization of Music Production, Mohammad Mirzamani, composed a symphony dedicated to “the victory over the Zionist regime,” and the country’s religious Web logs were told to report on all the festivities.

Iranian press outlets featured hundreds of photographs from the celebrations in Tehran. Among the notable scenes captured were children in Condoleezza Rice costumes; effigies of President Bush, Prime Minister Olmert, and Prime Minister Blair being lit on fire and dragged through the streets; the burning of American and Israeli flags; and hundreds of posters of Sheik Hassan Nasrallah featuring the caption “I swear to Allah that Israel is weaker than [a] spider house.” The posters called for a boycott of such “Israeli” goods as McDonald’s, Kit Kat bars, Intel, L’Oreal, Nestlé, Disney, and Marlboro.

President Ahmadinejad gave a series of speeches leading up to and on Quds Day. At an Iftar address on October 14, he discussed his “connection with God” and said: “The president of America is like us. That is, he too is inspired … but [his] inspiration is of the satanic kind. Satan gives inspiration to the president of America.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad delivered his Quds Day speech under a banner that read, ” Israel must be wiped off the face of the world.” He described the holiday as “a day for confrontation between the Islamic faith with the global arrogance.”

In another speech, he said Israel was “doomed” and promised that the Israeli “regime will be gone, definitely.”

The words “the Zionist regime is a cancerous gland that needs to be uprooted” were written in a communiqué from the Iranian Foreign Ministry in honor of the holiday. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki held a meeting for other Islamic countries’ ambassadors to Iran and told them that Israel’s existence would be shattered and that death bells were tolling for the Zionists. At the meeting, the Palestinian Arab ambassador to Tehran, Salah Zawawi, said, “The day for the liberation of Quds Day is close at hand.”

A who’s who of the Iranian leadership marched in the main Quds Day parade before crowds chanting “death to Israel” and “death to America.” The marchers included a former Iranian president, Mohammed Khatemi, and a spokesman for the parliament presidency board, Mohsen Kouhkan, who predicted a quick “final and total defeat of America and the Zionist regime.”

The chief of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, praised “the fasting people taking part in the rally [who] are chanting slogans such as ‘death to America’ and ‘death to Israel.'”

“The world arrogance and Zionism today are shivering from Muslim vigilance and are on the threshold of annihilation,” he added.

Information Minister Hholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei explained that the holiday “is a proper occasion for people to declare their hatred of America and Israel,” while a representative of the Islamic Consulate Assembly, Ahmad Pish-bin, promised that the “final defeat for world arrogance” is coming.

The chairman of the Expediency Council and a former Iranian president, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who led Friday prayers, said Quds Day is an important factor “between Islam and unbelief and the stage for Muslims’ jihad.” He added, “The world’s 1.5 billion Muslims back this jihad.”

Mr. Rafsanjani also led Quds Day prayers on December 14, 2001. Then, he warned of a coming confrontation between the “pious and martyrdom-seeking forces” and the “highest forces of colonialism,” which “might inflame a third World War.”

Sadly, Mr. Rafsanjani is considered one of Iran’s more moderate leaders.

See our last posts on Argentina, the politics of the Middle East in Argentina and Iran.

See also WW4 REPORT #s 92, 59, 58 and 46.