February 10, 2015
Guest blogpost by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, professor of Atomic and Nuclear Physics and former vice-president of the European Parliament (1999-2014).
The recent assassination of Alberto Nisman, the top Argentinean prosecutor in charge of the investigation into the bombing of AMIA Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 – one of the biggest terrorist attacks in the Western hemisphere before 9/11 – has created furious reactions around the world.
Some have called this murder on 18 January 2015 more serious than the AMIA bombing itself as it is one of the country’s highest judicial authorities, tasked with the investigation of the initial crime, who has been ruthlessly eliminated.
Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has claimed that Nisman was murdered as part of an internal plot against her Government.
What has been less noted in the media is the main party who would benefit most from Nismans’ death: The Iranian Government. Eight of the Iranian regimes’ top officials were listed as suspects and received Red Notices by Interpol for the AMIA bombing, a case that had been studied in detail by Nisman for the past 11 years.
In an interview with the Iranian opposition TV (IranNTV) on Sunday 25 January, Mr Hadi Roshanravani, a veteran security expert of the Iranian opposition PMOI-MEK, and one of the witnesses of the AMIA file, revealed chilling details about the circumstances of the 1994-bombing.
The decision to bomb AMIA, according to him, had been made a year earlier at the National Security Council of Iran with the participation and approval of current president Hassan Rouhani. A special fatwa for this bombing had been issued by the office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The bombing was a response to several blows that Iranian dominated Lebanese organization Hizbollah had received at the time.
The AMIA bombing proposal was the second point on the agenda of the National Security Council meeting on Saturday 14 August 1993 at 4.30pm in Tehran. The meeting was presided by then-president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. A fatwa for the bombing had been issued by Ayatollah Hejazi at the Special Operations Office of the Supreme Leader. Hassan Rouhani, who at the time was the Special Representative of the Supreme Leader and Secretary of the National Security Council, was among the decision makers in the meeting. The minister of Intelligence as well as the commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the terrorist Quds force were also in the meeting when the decision to proceed with the bombing was taken. The Council’s verdict had to be confirmed and signed by Ayatollah Khamenei himself before being transmitted to operational units.
The IRGC and the Ministry of Intelligence (VEVAK) were jointly tasked to make the terror plan operational. From August 1993 till July 1994, the IRGC and Iranian intelligence members made over 70 trips to Argentina to prepare this plot. Their operation was facilitated by the Hezbollah who had contacts with people of Lebanese descent living in Argentina.
The cultural attaché of the Iranian embassy at the time, a mullah with the name of Abd Khodayi, was tasked with organising the local units. Khodayi held secret preparatory meetings with the local supporters.
But because the regime had a hint that the activities of Khodayi had been noticed by the Argentinian services, they decided to replace him few months before the attack with Mohsen Rabbani, another mullah. Rabbani was personally involved in the coordination of the final terrorist action. Another agent of the Iranian intelligence, named Asghari, was also involved in directing and carrying out the bombing plot.
Therefore as it was later revealed, the decision, planning and operation of this crime was directly conducted from Tehran.
All this information and much more was known to Nisman when he was preparing his testimony to the Parliament in which he had accused Argentinean authorities of trying to shield Iranian officials from their terrorist charges in exchange for trade agreements.
The murder of a top judicial authority would be an extremely heavy offence if it was initiated by Argentinian officials accused by the prosecutor. But looking into the nature and the historical precedents, the Iranian regime, with over 450 assassination operations carried out outside of its borders, might have far less to lose.
The cause of Mr. Nisman’s death can only be credibly determined through an independent international inquiry. If President Fernández believes herself to be the target of a conspiracy, she should welcome such an investigation.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a professor of Atomic and Nuclear Physics, was vice-president of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014. He is currently president of the Brussels-based International Committee in Search of Justice (ISJ)Blogactiv Team