Daily Israel Report

Argentina Seizes Assets of Iranian Terrorist-Diplomat

An Argentine court issued an order seizing the assets of a one-time Iranian diplomat who was involved in terrorist bombings of Jewish targets.
By Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
First Publish: 12/18/2008, 10:58 PM

photo: file

An Argentinean court issued an order on Tuesday for the immediate seizure of assets in that country identified as belonging to a one-time Iranian diplomat who was a central figure in deadly terrorist bombings of Jewish targets in Buenos Aires.
The target of the 1994 bombing, the AMIA Jewish community center, was suggested by Rabbani.

The order was part of a civil lawsuit brought against the perpetrators of the 1994 bombing of the Jewish-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded 300. A survivor of the attack is seeking approximately one million dollars in damages from Iran and its agents who were involved in orchestrating the operation, which was carried out by cells of Hizbullah in South America.

Defendant Mohsen Rabbani, the former Iranian cultural attache in Argentina in the 1990s, was found to still own a Buenos Aires commercial property. Prosecutor Alberto Nisman said that the state was surprised to find that Rabbani still held assets in the South American state. If the court ultimately finds in favor of the victim, the building will be sold and the money received will go towards paying the awarded damages.

Rabbani is one of six high-ranking officials of the Iranian regime whom Prosecutor Nisman succeeded in getting onto Interpol's most-wanted list in November of 2007. The others are: the former president of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani; former Iranian Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian; the former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Mohsen Rezai; the current Iranian Deputy Minister of Defense and a former commander of the Qods Force of the IRGC, Brig.-Gen. Ahmad Vahidi; and a former diplomat in the Iranian embassy in Argentina, Ahmad Reza Asghari. Argentine President Cristina Fernandez called for their surrender to law enforcement during a speech she delivered at the United Nations in September of this year. Argentina has issued international warrants for the arrest of the Buenos Aires bombers.

Rabbani was also implicated in a bombing at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in February of 1992. In that attack, a car bomb killed 29 people and wounded over 250. Among the victims were Israeli diplomats, children and clergy from a church located across the street.

In previous statements related to the case against Rabbani and his cohorts, Prosecutor Nisman has said that both bombings had been "ordered, planned and financed" by Iran's top leadership. The target of the 1994 bombing, the AMIA Jewish community center, was suggested by Rabbani, Nisman charged.

Another Iranian agent involved in the AMIA bombing, according to Nisman and Israeli sources, was Imad Mughniyeh, known as the Hizbullah "operations officer". In February of this year, Mughniyeh was killed in Damascus when his car exploded following a clandestine meeting with Syrian agents. Hizbullah blamed Israel for the assassination, saying, "He has been a target of the Zionists for 20 years."

In 1994, approximately one month before the AMIA bombing, Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah declared, "A thousand suicide bombers are ready to strike Israel all over the world." In reaction to the Mughniyeh killing, Nasrallah has made similar threats.