BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – JULY 18: People hold signs during a manifestation as part of the 19th anniversary of the bombing of the Jewish centre AMIA on July 18, 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1994 this assault claimed the lives of 85 people and left 300 seriously injured. (Photo by Juani Roncoroni/BrazilPhotoPress/LatinContent via Getty Images)
By Danny Eisen
Last September, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri made a request of the international community that Canada and other western countries should accede to. It relates to a matter of growing international concern – anti-Semitism and the violent targeting of Jews.
In his speech before the UN General Assembly, Macri asked his colleagues for help in pursuing the perpetrators of two devastating attacks against Jewish targets in Argentina.
The first was the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy which killed 29 people and injured 242. The second was the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, which left 85 dead and 300 wounded.
About a month after Macri’s appeal, Jews were targeted once again, this time in the United States, when a single anti-Semitic assailant gunned down 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue. But, unlike the Pittsburgh gunman, the culprit in Argentina was not a single hate-filled individual, but a hate-promoting foreign state – the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Unlike the Pittsburgh shooter, who was apprehended and charged with multiple counts of murder, none of those responsible for the Argentinian attacks have been brought to justice, even though the identities of the AMIA bombers are widely known.
The compelling evidence compiled by authorities points unwaveringly to Iran’s orchestration of the atrocity.
Based on this evidence, INTERPOL issued red notices, akin to international arrest warrants for: Ali Fallahian, then Iran’s intelligence minister; Mohsen Rabbani, then-cultural attaché at Iran’s embassy in Buenos Aires; Ahmad Reza Asghari, also a diplomat at its embassy; Ahmad Vahidi, a former Iranian defense minister; and Mohsen Rezai, then-commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
These notices remain in force, but unsurprisingly Iran has refused to cooperate. Argentina issued its own arrest warrants for Ali Akbar Velayati, a former Iranian foreign minister, and for the now deceased former president of Iran Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.
Bringing the culprits to justice
Noting that Argentina will soon mark the 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombing, Macri declared that his country “will not waiver from its goal” of bringing those involved in these attacks to trial, and requested countries friendly to Argentina to assist by “avoiding hosting or sheltering under diplomatic immunity any of those accused which have international arrest requests and red notes from INTERPOL….”
The Argentinian president will face an uphill battle.
Unlike the anti-Semitic Pittsburgh attacker and his ilk who have been denounced and reviled across the western world, Iran continues to be pursued if not courted by Canada and other European countries. Hardly if ever is there mention of Iran’s lethal assaults on the Argentinian Jewish community. Matters will be made even more difficult for Macri by virtue of the status of the Iranian culprits.
Prosecutor killed for uncovering damning evidence
As noted by Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman: “The decision to carry out the attack was made not by a small splinter group of extremist Islamic officials.” It was “extensively discussed and ultimately adopted by a consensus of the highest representatives of the Iranian government” at a meeting on August 14, 1993, which included three senior political figures and Iran’s current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.
The committee discussed three potential targets, but the multi-storied AMIA centre was ultimately chosen as the preferred objective.
The evidence against Iran was damning, but Nisman uncovered other information related to the attack which would eventually cost him his life. He was found shot to death in January 2015 one day before his scheduled appearance before Congress to present his new evidence.
Originally declared a suicide, his death was later determined to be a homicide, and a “direct consequence” of his well-researched indictment of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, then-president of Argentina, for conspiring with Iran to derail the investigation and obscure the regime’s role in the AMIA attack.
Fernandez now faces charges that include treason while other officials in her government face other charges for their collusion with Iran. The investigation into Nisman’s murder is ongoing.
How Canada can help
The current Argentinian president therefore is to be lauded for attempting to restore the integrity of the AMIA investigation and Canada should assist him, utilizing the tools provided under Canadian law to do so. The weapon of choice for Mr. Trudeau would be the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act, more commonly known as the Magnitsky Act.
The law bars human rights abusers and corrupt foreign officials from entering Canada, freezes their assets, and outlaws any dealings with them.
Canada’s public listing of the AMIA killers would ensure that as a matter of Canadian law, the AMIA perpetrators are denied anonymity and impunity. Once listed, they would be unable to shelter themselves or their finances in Canada, which, according to parliamentary testimony in May 2018, has become something of a haven for the families and finances of Iranian regime insiders.
Trudeau’s promise to fight anti-Semitism
This would also lend some legislative substance to Prime Minister Trudeau’s recent apology addressing Canada’s abysmal record in closing its doors to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis.
In those remarks before Parliament, Mr. Trudeau also promised to do more to fight the upsurge of anti-Semitism and the violent targeting of the Jewish community.
The Prime Minister cannot undo the deaths of those Jews refused entry to Canada. Nor can he retroactively give sanctuary to the Jewish refugees forced to return to Hitler’s Europe. But he can publicly and formally close Canada’s gates to those like the AMIA killers who wantonly murder Jews as a matter of ideological principle. He can refuse physical and financial shelter to the proxies of an egregiously anti-Semitic Iranian regime that targets Jews only because they are Jews.
Doing so would also constitute the first step in fulfilling his government’s promise of implementing a “robust sanctions regime|” to hold Iran accountable for its human rights violations.
Given Trudeau’s recently-stated and very legitimate concerns regarding the ubiquity of anti-Semitism and the targeting of Jewish institutions, the listing of the AMIA perpetrators would seem to be an appropriate place to begin.
Danny Eisen is co-founder of the Canadian Coalition Against Terror.
First appeared in the Post Millennial at: