The men wanted by Argentina . Top row, left to right: Ali Akbar Heshemi Bahramie Rafsanjani, Ali Fallahijan, Ali Akbar Velayati, Mohsen Rezai. Bottom row, left to right: Imad Moughnieh, Mohsen Rabbani, Ahmad Reza Asghari, (also known as Mohsen Randjbaran), Ahmad Vahidi. Picture from the Argentinean Attorney General’s Website. International extradition warrants were not issued by Interpol for Ali Rafsanjani (top left) and Ali Velayati (top third from left), most probably out of political considerations.
Development of events
1. Interpol’s general assembly, held in Marrakesh on November 7, 2007 , rejected Iran ‘s request to cancel the warrants for five senior Iranians (from among the six warrants filed). 1 The Iranians are accused of involvement in the suicide bombing attack at the Jewish Community Center in Argentina of July 8, 1994 , which killed 85 and wounded 240 .
2. On October 25, 2006 , the Argentinean District Attorney released the findings of the investigation of the attack, which he called " a crime against humanity .” Two weeks later Argentina asked Interpol to issue warrants for the arrest of eight senior Iranians and one senior Lebanese Hezbollah operative who had been involved in planning and carrying out the attack.
3. Interpol’s Executive Committee decided to accede to the Argentinean request and issued international extradition warrants (Red Notices) for five Iranians and one Lebanese. However, it did not issue warrants (probably out of political considerations) against former Iranian president Ali Rafsanjani, former foreign minister Ali Velayati and former Iranian ambassador to Argentina , Hadi Suleimanpour.
4. The warrants would have gone into effect on March 31, 2007 , unless Iran or any other country lodged an appeal. Iran did appeal, and in accordance with Article 24 of Interpol’s rules international police cooperation, the decision was postponed until the next general assembly, to be held on November 5, 2007 . The general assembly rejected the appeal and activated the warrants against the six.
5. The six involved are the following:
1) Ali Fallahijan , former Minister of Intelligence and Security, today advisor to Iranian leader Khamenei.
2) Mohsen Rezai , former commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and currently secretary of the Expediency Council.
3) Ahmad Vahidi , former commander of the Qods Force 2 and today acting minister of defense.
4) . Ahmad Reza Asghari , third secretary of the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires at the time of the attack.
5) Mohsen Rabbani , Iranian cultural attaché in Buenos Aires at the time of the attack.
6) Imad Fayez Moughnieh , Hassan Nasrallah’s military deputy and head of Hezbollah’s external security service. He is an internationally-known terrorist and behind many attacks on Western, Israeli and Jewish targets in Lebanon and elsewhere, and is wanted by the United States as well.
6. Argentinean district attorney Alberto Nisman said he was satisfied with the Interpol decision. He said it showed that even after 13 years justice could be achieved using the means provided by the legal system to fight terrorism. (Agence France Presse, November 7).
7. Iranian spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini deplored Interpol’s decision, calling it "an immoral measure.” He also said that Iran expected that "the expert body would not stain its professional and legal international status by acceding to the demands of the Zionists and certain hegemonic forces [i.e., the United States ]. ” He added that the Argentinean legal system had caved in to Zionist and American pressure. (IRNA News Agency, November 8).
8. A member of the Iranian delegation to Interpol’s general assembly said that the Argentinean legal system was the most corrupt in the world. He added that the decision was political, and meant to exert additional pressure on Iran regarding what he called "nuclear energy for peaceful uses”. (BBC TV, November 8).
1 Interpol Website, November 7. For further information about the attack and Iran’s part in it, see our November 14, 2006 Bulletin entitled "Argentina accuses Iran of responsibility for the Hezbollah terrorist attack which destroyed Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, 1994.”.
2 For further information, see our March 28, 2007 Bulletin entitled "Following an appeal from the Argentinean Attorney General, Interpol issued international extradition warrants for five senior Iranians and one senior Hezbollah operative” .
3 The force is headed today by Qassem Suleimani, and is responsible for directing and supporting Hezbollah and other terrorist groups in Lebanon and abroad. For further information on the Qods Force, see our April 2, 2007 Bulletin entitled "Using the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards as the main tool to export the revolution beyond the borders of Iran” .