Iranian plot included Israeli embassy in Argentina

An Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States, thwarted earlier this week, also involved an attack the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires. 

American-Iranian Manssor Arbabsiar, arrested Oct. 11in the Saudi ambassador murder plot, was also planning an attack against the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia in Buenos Aires, although U.S. officials did not state it specifically, according to reports.

Acting head of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, Ángel Barman, told JTA that “it´s not surprising that Iran is suspected of committing a new attack.”

After hearing the news that FBI broke up a series of terrorist attacks involving Iranian targets in Argentina, AMIA said in a statement that “whoever is unpunished, reoffends.”  The statement refers to the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in which 85 were killed and hundreds injured. Argentina has accused Iran of ordering the bombing, which it says was carried out by the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

“This only shows the impunity with which Iran operates given its current lack of cooperation to clarify the AMIA bombing, a pending task that leaves the possibility of a third attack in Argentina open,” according to the AMIA.

“I’m not surprised by the fact that Iran´s terrorist attack was ready and organized, because they realized that nothing happens, they can kill and do it again.” Barman told Argentinean TV channel C5N.

In a ceremony for the “Argentine Diplomats Day” on Oct. 11,  Foreign Minister, Héctor Timerman highlighted the “openness” of the Argentinean Government toward Iran after Iran announced recently that it would cooperate with Argentina to bring the AMIA bombers to justice.

“I mean the attitude of openness that we chose at the announcement of cooperation from Iran over the AMIA bombing.  … Because the warrants issued by Interpol against of those accused of heinous attack remain firm,” Timerman said hours before Iranian intention of attacking embassies in Argentina was made public.

Sergio Witis, vice-president of DAIA, Argentine Jewry’s primary umbrella organization, said that “this is a matter of concern, because it affects the safety of all Argentineans. It doesn’t surprise us that Iran stands behind this kind of plan,” Witis told C5N.

The United States reportedly informed the Argentinean government about the Iranian terrorist plan. “Argentina was one of the countries called by the Undersecretary for Political Affairs and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns” to talk about this issue, said a U.S. spokesperson.

At the same time, Clarín Newspaper was told by upper echelon sources that, in parallel, that Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. embassy in Argentina and key man for its diplomatic headquarters, Jefferson Brown, was in Argentina’s Foreign Ministry this week to discuss details of the indictment that the U.S. Attorney filed against two Iranian citizens.

It was also confirmed through diplomatic sources that Argentina appears in the investigations initiated by the FBI and the DEA, as well as other countries whose names were not revealed. The potential attack on the embassies of Israel and Saudi Arabia in Argentina was mentioned initially by ABC News on Oct. 11, and the following day on the front page of the New York Times.

Contacted by JTA, the spokesperson of Israeli embassy in Argentina would not comment about the issue. Israel’s embassy in Argentina was attacked on March 17, 1992, leaving 29 civilians dead and 242 additional injured.

Argentina has the largest population of Jews in Latin America.