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Interview: Prosecutor In 1994 Argentina Bombing Implicates Iran

Pictures depicting the men for whom Argentina has issued international arrest warrants for the bombing
Pictures depicting the men for whom Argentina has issued international arrest warrants for the bombing
RFE/RL's Radio Farda correspondent Mohammad Reza Kazemi interviewed Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor handling the case of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Argentina. The prosecution asserts that the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded 300, can be traced to Hizbullah and Iran. Ahmed Vahidi, recently named to be Iranian defense minister, is alleged to have been involved in planning the attack.

RFE/RL: Who was the man who actually carried out the attack?

Alberto Nisman: Ibrahim Hussein Berro, who was a son in a large family. Several of the brothers were affiliated with Hizbullah. He had a brother, a sheikh, who had been a suicide bomber. Another of his brothers had also died as a militant for the terrorist organization Hizbullah. Now two of his brothers live in Detroit in the United States, and they were interrogated by prosecutors in 2005. These two brothers provided important evidence that it was in fact Ibrahim Hussein Berro who had carried out the [suicide] attack [in Argentina].

RFE/RL: But haven't the brothers in the United States claimed their brother was not killed in Buenos Aires but in Lebanon.

What the brothers said was to repeat the version given by Hizbullah: that he had died in Lebanon one month after the attack. We have managed to prove to the brothers that the incident described by Hizbullah did not exist. We also showed that at Berro's funeral [in Lebanon], there was no corpse at the funeral and there was no explanation as to why the body was not there. The ceremony was attended by Hassan Nasrallah, [the leader] of Hizbullah, who congratulated the father for his son who had died. [The Argentine prosecution] was also able to use photos of Berro taken in Lebanon and have witnesses say that this was the man who was driving the van before the attack on the building [in Buenos Aires].

RFE/RL: How did you arrive at the conclusion that Iran was behind the attack?

This is a long answer, but we have received numerous testimonies that the decision for the attack on the AMIA [Argentine Jewish Mutual Association] building was made one year before, in the city of Mashad in Iran. The motive was that Argentina had decided to interrupt a contract it had with Iran for nuclear energy supplies. Some of the people attending the [Mashad] meeting have had Interpol arrest warrants issued against them.

The decision [to stage the attack] was made in the presence of [Iranian leaders like then-President] Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, [Ahmed] Vahidi, and [then-Intelligence Minister Ali] Fallahian. We have many testimonies saying this, [including that] of the ex-president of Iran, [Abolhassan] Bani Sadr. Also, one of the former co-founders of Iranian intelligence, [Abu al-Kassam] Misbahi, who was knowledgeable about all of the terrorist operations that Iran carried out in Europe. At this meeting in Mashad, functionaries from the Iranian Embassy in Argentina [attended], and afterward they provided active support in Buenos Aires to carry out the attack.

RFE/RL: There is no conviction yet in this case?

One policeman, a Mr. Castaneda, for having robbed 66 [evidence] tapes.

RFE/RL: You said you were angry about Ahmad Vahidi being named [Iranian] defense minister. Why?

I'm not angry at all. It was a grave matter that a government like Iran did not cooperate with the investigation, protects terrorists, and is naming a person minister who has been wanted by the government of Argentina and whom Interpol has given a “red” priority -- the highest level call for his arrest.

RFE/RL: Do you think if you had Vahidi, Fallahian, Rafsanjani and the others in a court you could convince the judge that they were involved in this terrorist attack?

I have no doubt that I could prove it.

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