Iranian president-elect Hasan Rowhani was allegedly involved in plotting the deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, according to the indictment filed in the case. The attack, attributed to Iran and carried out by the terrorist group Hezbollah, killed 85 people and injured hundreds.
The 2006 indictment (PDF) names Rowhani as a member of the committee headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that planned the bombing, the deadliest attack of its kind in Argentinian history. Rowhani’s name in the indictment was first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
The newly elected Rowhani, who raced to a surprise first-round victory on Friday with 50.7 percent of the vote in Iran’s presidential elections, likely served in a subordinate capacity on Khamenei’s committee in the early 1990s.
Though Rowhani was present for deliberations, the final decision to attack the AMIA center was made by Khamenei and then-president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, according to the indictment. In the indictment, Argentinian prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of an Iranian defector, former intelligence official Abolghasem Mesbahi.
Mesbahi testified that Rowhani, who was then serving as the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, was present when the special operations committee approved the AMIA bombing.
“Rowhani’s power at that time comes directly from one individual, and that’s Rafsanjani,” Reuel Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy and an expert on Iran, told the Free Beacon.
“He’s a subordinate,” said Gerecht. “But he certainly would have been aware of all the discussions that led to the attack.”
The specific motivation for the 1994 AMIA bombing, according to the Argentinian prosecutor who investigated the case, was to punish Argentina for suspending its nuclear cooperation with Iran. Once the decision was taken to act against the country, Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor in the case, said, it was a Jewish target that was decided upon — again, a familiar Iranian strategy.
“When they choose to act against a country, the attack is commonly on the Jewish community,” he said. “It’s the first target.”
Speaking with The Times of Israel two weeks ago, soon after he issued a new 500-page report on the bombing and Iran’s wider terrorist infiltration of South America, Nisman said that Tehran had established its terror networks for the strategic long term, ready to be used “whenever it needs them.”