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Suspected Planner of AMIA Bombing Named to Iran's Cabinet

Updated: September 3, 2009

Posted: August 21, 2009

A suspected international terrorist with alleged links to the deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina has been named by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to serve as Iran's defense minister.


Ahmad Vahidi, who is on Interpol's Most Wanted List, was one of 18 people approved by Iran's parliament on September 3, 2009, to Cabinet posts for Ahmadinejad's second term in office.  A total of 21 people were nominated by Ahmadinejad in August.    


Vahidi, who served as the deputy defense minister during Ahmadinejad's first presidential term, oversaw the distribution of arms and missiles to terrorist groups including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah, according to a former CIA agent. 


According to media reports, Vahidi previously served as the commander of the Quds Force, the elite unit of the Revolutionary Guards, and the chief intelligence officer of the Guards in charge of terrorist activities outside of Iran.


Argentina accused Vahidi of helping plan of the July 1994 attack on the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which killed 85 people and injured over 250 others. It is widely believed that Hezbollah bombed the AMIA building at the behest of the Revolutionary Guards, which allegedly provided Hezbollah with extensive training and financial and logistical support for the attack.


Other Iranians sought by Interpol for their alleged involvement in the bombing are former intelligence chief Ali Fallahijan; former cultural attaché at Iran's embassy in Buenos Aires, Mohsen Rabbani; a former diplomat, Ahmad Reza Asghari; and former head of the Revolutionary Guards and Presidential candidate, Mohsen Rezai. Iranian delegates labeled Interpol's issuing of a "red notice" to Vahidi and the other Iranian officials as a "Zionist plot."


According to media reports, Vahidi was also associated with Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda's second in command, in the 1990s.  Zawahiri later used this relationship to negotiate a safe harbor in Iran for Al Qaeda leaders trapped in the mountains of Tora Bora, Afghanistan in 2001, according to a European intelligence official.


Vahidi, who is regarded by some observers as the father of Iran's missile program, revealed in February 2009 Iran's completion of an unmanned surveillance drone with a range of up to 600 miles, making the aircraft capable of reaching Israel.

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