Argentina Formally Accuses Iran of Terrorism

Argentine prosecutor says Iran opened secret intelligence stations in several South American countries to plan and conduct terror attacks.

Elad Benari ,

Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman
Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman

A top Argentine prosecutor formally accused Iran on Wednesday of opening secret intelligence stations in several South American countries to plan and conduct terror attacks, AFP reported.

Prosecutor Alberto Nisman filed a 502-page indictment detailing the accusations in federal court.

"I legally accuse Iran of infiltrating several South American countries to install intelligence stations -- in other words espionage bases -- destined to commit, encourage and sponsor terror attacks like the one that took place against AMIA," Nisman told reporters, according to AFP.

Nisman is in charge of investigating the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Charities Federation (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people in the worst attack of its kind ever in Argentina.

He singled out Mohsen Rabbani, the former cultural attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires at the time of the attack, as the main person responsible.

He also accused Iran of "making dual use of diplomatic agencies, as well as cultural and charitable associations to conceal terrorist activities."

"The immediate result was building intelligence stations to provide logistical, financial and operative support for possible attacks planned by the Islamic regime as it seeks to ‘export the revolution,'" he added, according to AFP.

Jewish political umbrella group DAIA president Julio Schlosser said that Nisman's filing "reinforces the sentiment that Iran is an unreliable interlocutor that finances and promotes terrorism."

Argentine courts have charged eight current and former senior Iranian officials in the bombing, including Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and ex-Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezai -- both candidates in the June 14 presidential elections -- along with former president Ali Rafsanjani.

Tehran and Buenos Aires withdrew their ambassadors after the charges were filed against the Iranians. Iran has denied that its former or current officials were ever involved.

A bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires two years earlier, in 1992, killed 29 people and wounded 200 others.

Nisman urged Interpol to "take further measures in order to ensure the arrest of all eight defendants in the AMIA bombing with an international arrest warrant."

A copy of his filing will be sent to legal authorities in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago, reported AFP.

In those countries, "there are strong... indications that said infiltration and installation of intelligence stations have taken place," Nisman said.

"We warn about... the possibility" that attacks could take place in those countries, "but those countries are the ones that must decide how to proceed."

The prosecutor's filing came after Iran approved a memorandum of understanding with Argentina last week on forming a truth commission to investigate the AMIA bombing.

Argentina's Congress approved the agreement on February 28, after President Cristina Kirchner assured that it would allow the Argentina judge in charge of the case to question the Iranian accused. Iran has denied that any Iranians facing international arrest warrants over the bombing would be questioned by the Argentine judge.

The Argentine opposition and representatives of the country's 300,000-strong Jewish community strenuously opposed the agreement.

Washington has cast doubt that any solution will emerge from the deal between Iran and Argentina.