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August 26, 2021 11:53 am
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Iran’s New Cabinet Includes Two Fugitives Wanted in Connection With 1994 Bombing Atrocity at Buenos Aires Jewish Center

avatar by Ben Cohen

Mohsen Rezaei, Iranian conservative politician affiliated with the Resistance Front of Islamic Iran and senior military officer in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attends the Iranian Interior Ministry building to register as a candidate for Iran’s June 18, presidential elections, in central Tehran on May 15, 2021. Photo: Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto

Iran’s new crop of political leaders includes two individuals wanted by international law enforcement authorities for their roles in the 1994 terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires, in which 85 people lost their lives and more than 300 were badly wounded.

Both men — Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and Vice-President for Economic Affairs Mohsen Rezaei — were among the cabinet nominees of newly-installed hardline President Ebrahim Raisi who were approved on Wednesday by the regime’s consultative assembly, the Majlis.

Vahidi and Rezaei were the subjects of two of the six “red notices” issued in 2007 by Interpol, the international law enforcement agency, for the Iranian and Hezbollah operatives sought in connection with the AMIA atrocity. No person has ever been convicted in connection with the bombing, which has been the subject of a series of judicial and political scandals in Argentina, including an initial sham trial that resulted in the impeachment of the presiding judge in 2005, and the unsolved murder in 2015 of Alberto Nisman, the federal prosecutor appointed a decade earlier to take over the AMIA investigation, whose efforts led to Interpol issuing its red notices for the main executors of the attack.

A veteran of the 1979 Islamist revolution, Vahidi is returning to the Defense Ministry for the second time in his career, having served in the Minister’s post between 2009-13 under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Rezaei, meanwhile, served as commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) between 1980 and 1997, a period that witnessed the bloody eight-year war between the Islamic Republic and the Ba’athist regime in neighboring Iraq.

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Toby Dershowitz, a Washington, DC-based analyst who has written extensively on the AMIA case, told The Algemeiner that the appointments of Vahidi and Rezaei signaled Iran’s determination to “normalize mass murder.”

“Iran’s cabinet is shaping up to be a who’s who of men meant to serve jail time rather than ostensibly serving the people of Iran,” said Dershowitz, who is a senior vice-president at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) think-tank.

She added that the Iranian regime “is clearly seeking to normalize mass murder and is testing the will of the international community.”

Iran’s new foreign minister, meanwhile, is another hardline Islamist ideologue who retains close ties with Hezbollah in Lebanon and other terrorist proxies of the regime in the region.

In terms of outward style, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is something of a contrast with his predecessor Javad Zarif — a US-educated diplomat who couched his hardline Islamist beliefs in rhetoric designed to appeal to western audiences.

In Nov. 2020, a viciously antisemitic tweet posted by Amir-Abdollahian, which remains online, condemned what he called “Zionist pigs.”

Commenting on the visit of Bahrain’s foreign minister to Israel in the context of the peace agreements forged between the Jewish state and conservative Gulf Arab states, he declared: “The presence of the Bahraini Foreign Minister in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is the follow-up to the circus at the the White House’s balcony.”

In a barely-veiled threat of violence, Amir-Abdollahian continued: “In this path, [former foreign minister Khalid bin Ahmed] Al Khalifa will share destiny with the Zionist pigs. Traitors to al-Quds [Jerusalem] and Palestine will have no future.”

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