“My appointment nullifies the Zionists’ wave of propaganda and psychological warfare,” gloats suspected terrorist mastermind Ahmad Vahidi, Iran’s new Defense Minister. The choice of Vahidi was overwhelmingly confirmed by Iran’s parliament on Thursday.
Vahidi has long been wanted by Argentina in connection with the horrific bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center in July 1994, in which 85 people were killed and more than 300 wounded.
Interpol had a “red notice” for his arrest in wake of the bombing of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish Community Center. One step short of an international arrest warrant, it means that the person is wanted by one or more nations and that Interpol seeks to assist in identifying or locating him.
Vahidi said on Sunday that his approval for the post was a sign that the people want stronger Iranian defense and deterrence. "It is also a testimony of the anti-Zionist spirit of the Iranian parliament and Iranian people,” he said, “and a stamp that nullifies the wave of propaganda and psychological war started by the Zionists… Zionist propaganda always creates the opposite reaction in the Iranian government.”
On Thursday, Vahidi said the parliament’s vote was a "decisive slap to Israel."
In a statement two weeks ago, when the suspected terrorist was first nominated to the post, Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the appointment "proves yet again the nature of the Iranian regime and its leaders' intentions."
The United States reacted negatively to the news, calling it a "step backward.”
"Rather than taking a step forward to engage [the world],” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley, “Iran today is taking a step backward by putting into a high office a well-known individual suspected of participation in a terrorist act.”
Jewish Leader in Argentina Calls for Stronger Stand
AMIA’s Vice President, José Scaliter, told the Spanish-language Jewish News Agency (AJ) that Argentina and other countries have economic interests that prevent them from speaking out more forcefully against Iran. Calling the appointment of Vahidi an “absolute shame,” Scaliter said it “shows that the Iranian regime doesn’t care about any representation from the rest of the world. They keep playing their game, they keep moving forward on their nuclear program, and they keep supporting terrorism, without caring about anything.” He said that various countries “have commercial interests with Iran that due to their internal pressures cannot be broken… It is serious that the UN doesn’t condemn effectively a member country [Iran] that is promoting the disappearance of another member country [Israel].”
Speaking specifically about his own government, Scaliter stressed that the “Argentinean Government maintains a balanced policy. On the one hand, it is aware that it needs to criticize the appointment, but on the other, it still has commercial interests. Relations with [Venezuelan dictator Hugo] Chavez become closer and Venezuela is the main country in the region that promotes Iran… Argentina wants to please everybody. In this case, such thing cannot be done. This is a serious issue and it has to set its position.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged the United Nations to bar Vahidi from entry to the UN. The Center's dean Rabbi Mavin Hier wrote to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that the nomination "makes a mockery of all victims of international terrorism, is an offense to Argentine sovereignty and is a scandal for the international community."