Turkey hosts Iranian tied to Jewish center bombing in Argentina
Just days before President Donald Trump’s slated meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday at the White House, Ankara hosted an Iranian official linked to the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. Erdogan declined to enforce an arrest warrant for the alleged terrorist Hadi Soleimanpour.
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) first reported on its website in a detailed policy brief about Soleimanpour, who was Iran’s ambassador to Argentina at the time of the AMIA bombing and has an Argentine warrant out for his arrest.
“Turkey’s activities antithetical to US interests go beyond hosting Soleimanpour. Erdogan provided refuge and hospitality to violent jihadists, including Saleh al-Arouri, the West Bank commander of Hamas’s Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, who boasted about the kidnapping and slaying of three Israeli teens,“ wrote Toby Dershowitz, senior vice president for government relations and strategy at FDD.
Dershowitz added in her policy article that “Erdogan has deepened his ties to a wide range of terrorists and extremists.” FDD is a non-partisan national security think tank based in Washington D.C.
In July 1994, Hezbollah terrorists directed by senior Iranian officials, bombed the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The bombing resulted in the murder of 85 people and injured hundreds more.
Dershowitz revealed that on Saturday, Soleimanpour appeared in Antalya, Turkey, along with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.
The Iranian official appeared at the annual meeting of the Economic Cooperation Organization.
“While President Trump has a warm relationship with Erdogan, Erdogan’s toxicity may not be Teflon-coated – as evidenced by the recent across-the-board condemnation of the Turkish president by Trump supporters in Congress, leading evangelicals, and supporters of Trump’s tough Iran policy. A red carpet for Erdogan is unjustified until he ceases Turkey’s malign activities rather than covering them up, “ wrote Dershowitz.
Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who led the AMIA investigation until his murder in 2015, outlined in his indictment that Soleimanpour was responsible for the intelligence activities in Iran’s embassy in Buenos Aires that facilitated the bombing, noted the FDD expert.
Soleimanpour was previously a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The US designated the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization.
Dershowitz said that “ while serving as Tehran’s ambassador to Spain from 1985–1989, he reportedly oversaw a sleeper cell there and maintained contact with Hezbollah activists. This reportedly led him to be ‘invited to leave’ the country.”
Spain, like the European Union, refuses to outlaw Hezbollah’s entire organization. The UK, the Netherlands, the Arab League, Israel, Canada and the US proscribed Hezbollah a full-blown terrorist movement. The EU has divided Hezbollah into so-called “military” and “political” wings.
In July, Argentina included Hezbollah in its terrorism list along with individuals believed to have financed the bombing.
Dershowitz said that “While the Shah was in power, Soleimanpour reportedly planted a bomb at an Iranian university. In addition, Soleimanpour was reportedly involved in the illegal procurement of military equipment of US origin.”
The FDD expert noted that “Erdogan has also bankrolled affiliates of al-Qaeda. In Syria, Turkey-backed militias have committed atrocities against America’s Kurdish allies as well as against ethnic and religious minorities.”