Argentina Chief Prosecutor Alberto Nisman: Iran Behind Bombs at Israeli Embassy, Jewish Center

Nisman, speaking in Israel, says Iran, with Hezbollah aid, was behind the blasts.

Yossi Melman head
Yossi Melman
Rescue workers searching through the rubble of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community center after a deadly bombing on July 18, 1994.
Rescue workers searching through the rubble of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community center after a deadly bombing on July 18, 1994. Credit: AP
Yossi Melman head
Yossi Melman

Iran was behind the bombings over a decade ago in Argentina against the Israeli embassy and Jewish community center, according to the country's chief prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who served as a special prosecutor investigating the attacks.

"I have no doubt that the most senior Iranian leadership, with the help of Hezbollah, is responsible for the attacks in Buenos Aires against AMIA [the community center in 1994] and the Israeli Embassy [in 1992]," Nisman said Tuesday night at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.

While investigating the two attacks, Nisman found the necessary legal evidence pointing directly to former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani and his chief of intelligence, Ali Falahian, for their role in the decision to target the community center.

Argentina has issued an international arrest warrant for Rafsanjani, Falahian and a number of Iranian diplomats for their suspected role in the attack. A special Interpol conference approved the warrant at an international gathering in Marrakesh last month.

Nisman told Haaretz that the Iranians had tried to bribe many countries, mostly from Africa, to vote against the Interpol decision.

He said Israel contributed to his investigation and that some of the information held by the Argentine Secret Service originated in the intelligence communities of Israel and the United States.

Nisman was appointed to head the investigation after it emerged in an Argentine court that the previous investigating judge, Jose Galiano, had paid some $400,000 to a key witness in the case to incriminate former policemen, while diverting blame from Iran and Hezbollah.

'Corrupt investigating judge'

Nisman said he did not know whether Galiano was bribed by the Iranians, "but there is no doubt that he was a corrupt investigating judge who did everything possible to distort the investigation and lead it to a dead-end."

He said that the breakthrough in the case came when he and his team identified with certainty the terrorist who carried out the truck bombing near the community center building in July 1994 - a Lebanese man, Ibrahim Hussein Berro. In the attack, 85 Argentines were killed and 230 were injured. Berro is believed to have come to Argentina a week or two before the attack.

Another important figure in the case was Muhsin Rabani, the senior Shi'ite cleric in Argentina.

Rabani, an Iranian, had lived in Argentina since 1983, and four months before the attack was issued a diplomatic passport by the Iranian government and the title of cultural attache at the embassy in Buenos Aires.

According to Nisman's investigation, Rabani opened an account at Deutsche Bank in Buenos Aires, where $150,000 was deposited, and which is believed to have been used to buy the vehicle the suicide bomber used.

Rabani had been under surveillance after the attack on the Israeli Embassy in 1992, which claimed 29 lives, seven of them Israelis.

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