The Argentine Foreign Ministry has asked Qatar on Monday to arrest Iran’s Vice President for Economic Affairs, Mohsen Rezai. Former military chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Rezai (68 years old) is accused of being one of the intellectual authors of the attack on the headquarters of the Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, a terrorist attack that left 85 dead and 300 wounded in July 1994. According to diplomatic sources consulted by EL PAÍS, the Argentine government made the request to Doha following a request from the specialized prosecutor’s office investigating the attack. The alert was triggered after a report in the local Qatari press. Rezai, wanted by Interpol since 2007, visits the peninsula to finalize a series of economic agreements between the two countries before the start of the World Cup in November.
Mohsen Rezai arrived in Doha on Sunday night and this Monday he met with the emir of Qatar, with whom he celebrated that “there is no limit when it comes to increasing relations” between the two countries. It is a sign of where the Argentine application may end. And it wouldn’t be the first time. At the beginning of the year, Rezai was one of the important guests at the inauguration of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, who later ignored the demands of the Government of Alberto Fernández.
Argentina has persecuted those presumed responsible for the attack for more than 20 years without finding answers. In 2006, the Prosecutor’s Office formally accused the Iranian government of planning the attack, but until now it has not been able to put any of those involved on the bench. In the public registry of people linked to acts of terrorism of the Argentine Government there are at least 10 implicated in the attack on the AMIA. Six of them have held a high position in the Iranian government, including its current interior minister.
On July 18, 1994, a car bomb exploded outside the AMIA building in downtown Buenos Aires. 85 people died, 300 were injured and an archive with almost 80,000 books, records, paintings, pieces of art and testimonies of the Holocaust and the Jewish resistance in World War II was destroyed. It was the second attack of the decade. Two years earlier, the headquarters of the Embassy in Israel in the Argentine capital was also bombed by a car driven by a suicide bomber. That attack left 22 dead and almost 250 wounded. In July of this year, an internal report by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, attributed the attacks in the 1990s to a Hezbollah cell that operated from Buenos Aires without operational support from the Iranian government, although Israeli intelligence claims that Iran approved and financed the attacks.
The report contradicted the Argentine thesis —supported by Israel and the United States— that Iran had been behind the attacks. The investigations in Argentina concluded that they had been perpetrated by Hezbollah men, but they also advanced against officials of the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires, whom they accused of providing operational support. Another line of investigation charged against what it called a “local connection,” Argentines suspected of helping with logistics. Carlos Telleldín, the seller of the truck that exploded in front of the AMIA, was the only detainee, and was imprisoned between 1994 and 2004. None of the Iranian citizens indicated by the Argentine Justice has been seated in the dock. In September 2003, the former Iranian ambassador to Argentina, Hadi Soleimanpour, was arrested in London accused of being a necessary participant, but the British Justice rejected his extradition.
Mohsen Rezai was the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards when the bomb exploded in front of the seven-story AMIA building. His son, Ahmad Rezai, blamed him for the attack in 1998 after seeking asylum at the US embassy in Vienna, Austria. Ahmad was 22 years old when he declared that the attack was decided by the then president, Akbar Rafsanjani, and that those in charge of carrying it out were trained in Lebanon by the Guard led by his father. He was found dead in a Dubai hotel in 2011. He was 35 years old. The Iranian government, which did not arrest him in 2005 when he returned to the country and declared repentance, blamed Mossad for the murder.
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