CAIRO, Egypt – The man Iran’s president has named to be defense minister is wanted in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, and his nomination drew an outcry Friday from Argentina and Jewish groups.
Ahmad Vahidi, who commanded a unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force at the time of the attack, was nominated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday along with others named to fill Cabinet positions. The Quds Force is involved in operations abroad, including working with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is accused of carrying out the Buenos Aires attack.
Argentina Prosecutor Alberto Nisman told the Associated Press on Friday that Vahidi is accused of “being a key participant in the planning and of having made the decision to go ahead with the attack against the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association.”
Nisman has led the investigation into the July 18, 1994, bombing. The bomb exploded in a van outside the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association, killing 85 people and wounding 200.
“It has been demonstrated that Vahidi participated in and approved of the decision to attack AMIA during a meeting in Iran on Aug. 14, 1993,” when he led the Quds Force, Nisman said.
Argentine officials claim that Iran orchestrated the attack and that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah carried it out. The United States and Israel also say Iran is behind the bombing, but Iran has denied it.
Ahmadinejad submitted his 18 Cabinet nominees late Wednesday to parliament, which must approve the list. Most of the nominees were close Ahmadinejad loyalists or little-known figures.