Nearly 30 years after a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and injured hundreds, no one has been brought to trial yet.
Argentine courts have blamed the attack on Iran, which denies any role in the bombing, and Argentina’s repeated calls on other countries to detain those accused of involvement have failed.
In vain did Argentina's justice department last month request Qatar to arrest visiting Vice President for Economic Affairs Mohsen Rezaei, so he could be tried in the South American country.
A year ago, Argentina made the same request to Nicaragua’s authorities when Rezaei travelled to the Central American country to attend the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega.
At the request of Argentina, the international police body Interpol in 2007 confirmed the issuance of Red Notices for one Lebanese national, Rezaei and four other Iranians for their allegedly participation in the attack. The Islamic Republic protested against the decision.
A Red Notice is not an international arrest warrant but a request to law enforcement worldwide to provisionally detain a person pending extradition, surrender or other legal action.
Argentina Calls For Rezaei’s Arrest
After learning through the Internet that Rezaei was in the Qatari capital, Doha, on October 16-17, Argentine Prosecutor Sebastian Basso asked the Foreign Ministry to take the necessary steps for the Iranian vice president to be arrested in Qatar and extradited to Buenos Aires.
Argentina does not currently have an extradition treaty with Qatar. But Basso asked the ministry to "activate the corresponding diplomatic and foreign policy mechanisms to comply with the [Argentine] court order for the arrest” of Rezaei.
A diplomatic source told Iranwire that the Argentine Foreign Ministry agreed to the request after confirming Rezaei's presence in the Persian Gulf country. The ministry "requested the collaboration of Interpol for the arrest."
Meanwhile, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero "instructed the Argentine ambassador in Doha to communicate urgently with the Qatari Foreign Ministry and report on the situation," according to the AFP news agency.
Rezaei's alleged role in the 1994 bombing
Argentine prosecutors have charged Rezaei, a senior commander of Iran's powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), with aggravated murder for his alleged participation in the planning of the July 18, 1994 bombing outside the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) building. He is said to have worked together with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and local operatives to plan and carry out the attack. According to the late prosecutor Alberto Nisman, Rezaei was present at a crucial high-level meeting in Tehran at which it was decided to go ahead with the attack.
An economist and a Tehran University graduate, Rezaei is known for his extremist views. In February 2020, he claimed on the Hezbollah-linked Lebanese TV channel Al Mayadeen that the Iranian government was looking for an excuse to "demolish Tel Aviv." "If the United States does something, we can use it as a pretext to attack Israel," he added.
“Strategic” Iran-Qatari ties
Rezaei arrived in Doha on October 18 to meet with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdul Aziz Al Thani, who described the relationship between Shia-led Iran and the Sunni monarchy as "profoundly strategic."
Al Thani stressed that the bilateral agreements signed between the emir of Qatar and the Iranian president in various fields, including the economy and trade, are in full implementation, and that Doha is "prepared to expand these relations to the highest level."
Meanwhile, Rezaei expressed Iran's "full willingness to assist Qatar with any organisational needs during the celebration of the 2022 FIFA World Cup," which will kick off in the Gulf country later this month.
The Iranian vice president's comments came amid a campaign to have Iran ousted from the competition and the Iranian football federation suspended because of the Islamic Republic's brutality during the ongoing nationwide protests.
An Iranian activist has announced that a formal request was submitted to FIFA on October 19 with the cooperation of international lawyers.