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November 6, 2019 3:36 pm

Top Iranian Official Targeted by New US Sanctions Is Wanted by Argentina for 1994 Bombing of AMIA Jewish Center

avatar by Ben Cohen

Ali Akbar Velayti (C). Photo: Hossein Mersadi via Wikimedia Commons.

One of the nine top Iranian officials targeted by new US sanctions on Monday is wanted by the Argentine authorities for his alleged involvement in the 1994 terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in downtown Buenos Aires.

Ali Akbar Velayati was among the list of senior aides to the Tehran regime’s so-called “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, sanctioned by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in order to “block funds from flowing to a shadow network of Khamenei’s military and foreign affairs advisors who have for decades oppressed the Iranian people, exported terrorism, and advanced destabilizing policies around the world,” an OFAC statement said.

Velayati was Iran’s foreign minister at the time of the AMIA atrocity on July 18, 1994, when 85 people died and hundreds more were wounded when a van packed with explosives was driven into the Jewish organization’s main building in the Argentine capital. He was also alleged to have been present at a meeting of Iranian security officials in the city of Mashhad on Aug. 14, 1993, where the decision to bomb the AMIA building is understood to have been taken.

In July 2018, Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral requested Velayati’s arrest by Russian authorities while he was on an official visit to Moscow. Velayati met with Russian President Vladimir Putin one day after Corral’s request was issued.

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Judge Corral originally issued international arrest warrants in 2006 for Velayati and seven other Iranian and Lebanese operatives wanted in connection with the AMIA bombing. Corral also tried unsuccessfully to secure Velayati’s arrest under the same warrant in 2016, when the Iranian visited Singapore and Malaysia.

Toby Dershowitz — a senior vice president for government relations at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank who has written widely on the AMIA bombing and its aftermath — told The Algemeiner that the US sanctions on Velayati proved that he could be held accountable even 25 years after the attack.

“Velayati has for too long operated with impunity, traveling in the last few years to countries that include Russia, Syria, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, China, Lebanon and Singapore,” Dershowitz said. “The US action signals that his malign activities, including being the ideological mastermind behind the AMIA murders, will not be forgotten, and that it’s not too late to hold him accountable.”

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