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Terror Expert: Iranian Agents in Argentina Must Be Investigated

The role of Iranian agents in perpetrating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, and then covering up the investigation, must be fully probed now that the new Argentine government has scrapped plans for a joint “truth commission” with Iran, Matthew Levitt, a leading expert on Hezbollah wrote Monday in an analysis for The Hill.

Now that newly inaugurated President Mauricio Macri has announced that he will scrap the controversial commission, it’s time to investigate “the Iranian agents in Argentina who pursued the deal on Tehran’s behalf,” wrote Levitt, the director of the Stein program on counterterrorism at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The truth commission was widely viewed as an attempt by Iran and the government of former Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to whitewash Tehran’s role in the deadly attack on the AMIA Jewish center.

Evidence compiled by Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who died under mysterious circumstances in January, identified two Argentines, Jorge Khalil and Abdul Karim Paz, as working for Mohsen Rabbani, the fugitive Iranian mastermind of the AMIA bombing. After the attack, investigators established that Rabbani had used Shiite spies to pick out possible American or Jewish targets. Iran funded the operation by sending money to Rabbani’s accounts in three different banks. Rabbani also helped obtain the van used for the bombing.

Rabbani was indicted for his role in the bombing and fled to Iran, though he continued running intelligence operations for Ian in the Western Hemisphere. According to court papers, he helped the plotters of an aborted attempt to bomb John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2007. In 2013, Nisman released a 500-page indictment documenting Iran’s efforts to established a terror network in South America and Rabbani’s role in those efforts.

Nisman’s wiretaps established a connection between Khalil, Karim Paz, and Rabbani as part of an effort to cover up Iran’s involvement in the AMIA bombing. According to Nisman, “Khalil has been Rabbani’s man of confidence who has constantly reported back to him from Buenos Aires.” Rabbani’s involvement in the AMIA plot, wrote Levitt, was “the most powerful proof against Iran was evidence of Rabbani’s own role in the plot, from running a network of intelligence agents in Buenos Aires to purchasing the van used as the car bomb in the attack.”

Now that the Macri government has squelched the the truth commission and with it the attempt of Rabbani, Khalil, and Karim Paz to create phony evidence to cover up Iran’s role in the bombing, Levitt calls on the government to “investigate the roles Iranian agents in Argentina played in this near travesty of justice.”

Tower contributing editor Eamonn MacDonagh reported last week that Hector Timerman, the foreign minister in Fernández de Kirchner’s government, had admitted in secret recordings that Iran had been responsible for the AMIA bombing, even while he was simultaneously negotiating to ensure Iran had a place in the truth commission. Tower senior editor Ben Cohen later noted that the election of Macri and the cancellation of the truth commission meant that Fernández de Kirchner and Timerman could conceivably face jail time for lying to protect the Iranian regime.

[Photo: NTN24 / YouTube ]