AJC: Argentina's Outreach to Iran Endangers Pursuit of Justice in 1994 AMIA Bombing

NEW YORK, Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC is deeply concerned about evolving Argentine-Iranian conversations that could undermine efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the 1994 terror bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

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Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session last Thursday. "The goal is to explore a legal mechanism that does not go against the systems of either Argentina or Iran," they said in a joint statement. "This process will continue until a mutually agreed solution is found to all issues concerning the case." Argentine and Iranian representatives are expected to meet again in the coming weeks to discuss the AMIA investigation.

"Given the firm posture of successive Argentine governments over the past 18 years regarding Iran's culpability in the AMIA bombing, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's decision to engage the Iranian regime is both profoundly disappointing and worrisome," said AJC Executive Director David Harris.

"Placing any trust in Iran's legal system would be laughable if it weren't so tragic," said Harris. "This move plays right into the hands of Iranian leaders. After all, they have feverishly denied any responsibility for the terrorist attack, though both Argentina and Interpol have found abundant reasons to trace the attack to Tehran."

The Argentine move comes at a time of growing international efforts to isolate the Iranian regime for its nuclear program. In addition, the regime's support for Syrian President Assad's atrocities, its aggression towards Jews by denying the Holocaust and threatening to annihilate Israel, and its dismal human rights record "should give any civilized nation pause before engaging Tehran," said Harris. "The net effect of Argentina's move is to provide new legitimacy to a government widely viewed as irresponsible and a threat to global peace and security."

AMIA is an AJC international partner. AJC leaders arrived in Buenos Aires shortly after the July 18, 1994 attack, which destroyed the building, left 85 dead and hundreds wounded, and AJC has returned to Argentina every year since. The government called it an attack not only on the country's Jewish population, but on all of Argentina, and vowed to identify and bring to justice those responsible.

A comprehensive investigation by Argentine Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman unequivocally identified Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, as the responsible parties, including Ahmed Vahidi, currently Iran's defense minister. Interpol has issued red notices for his capture and five others.

SOURCE American Jewish Committee