April 25, 2024 | Flash Brief

Iran Rebuffs Argentine Request for Extradition of Key Terrorist Mastermind

April 25, 2024 | Flash Brief

Iran Rebuffs Argentine Request for Extradition of Key Terrorist Mastermind

Latest Developments

Tehran on April 24 rejected an Argentine request for the extradition of Iran’s interior minister for his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were killed and more than 300 wounded in the worst act of terrorism ever recorded on Argentine soil.

Argentina had urged Pakistan to arrest the minister, Ahmad Vahidi — who has been the subject of an Interpol red notice since 2007 — during his visit to Islamabad this week with Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi. While the Pakistani authorities ignored the Argentine request, Vahidi nonetheless elected to return to Tehran rather than accompany Raisi on his next stop in Sri Lanka.

In a terse statement that avoided mention of Vahidi by name, Iran’s foreign ministry warned Argentina not to engage in what it called “baseless accusations against citizens of other countries.” In an apparent reference to Israel, which welcomed the decision by an Argentine court earlier this month to assign responsibility for the AMIA atrocity to Tehran, a spokesperson for the Iranian ministry also urged Buenos Aires “not to be influenced by those who are enemies of our bilateral relations.”

Expert Analysis

“While those in Iran’s orbit — including Russia, China, Syria, and Lebanon — have periodically allowed suspects with AMIA-related red notices to travel to their countries, most countries that respect the rule of law have not allowed Iran’s terrorism masterminds on their soil. Argentina is poised to lead its neighbors in denying Iran the welcome it has been seeking in the Western Hemisphere.” — Toby Dershowitz, Managing Director of FDD Action

“As we approach the 30th anniversary of one of the worst acts of terrorism targeting Jews since the end of the Second World War, Iran’s refusal to cooperate with the extradition of Vahidi and other officials involved with the AMIA bombing is a bitter reminder that no one has even been tried, let alone convicted, for this atrocity. AMIA helped to convince the Iranians that they can bomb, kill, and maim around the world with impunity.” — Ben Cohen, FDD Senior Analyst and Manager of Rapid Response

Vahidi’s Critical Role in the AMIA Bombing

At the time of the AMIA bombing, Vahidi was the head of the Quds Force — the foreign operations arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which the United States and other countries have since designated as a terrorist organization. Vahidi was reportedly present at an August 14, 1993, meeting of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in the city of Mashhad, where he was tasked with providing support to Iranian intelligence chief Ali Fallahian, the head of the operation to bomb the AMIA center. According to the late Alberto Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor whose determined efforts led Interpol to announce the red notices for Vahidi and five other Iranian operatives, Vahidi “did not limit himself to participating passively” in the Mashhad meeting, but “played a leading role in proposing that our country be the target of the attack.”

In a statement issued on April 24, Argentina’s foreign ministry said that Vahidi is “currently Minister of the Interior of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is part of a government delegation that is currently in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In this context, at the request of the Argentine authorities, the Interpol Central Office based in Lyon issued a red notice for his arrest.”

Remembering the AMIA Bombing,” by Toby Dershowitz

“Latin America’s Hezbollah Problem,” by Emanuele Ottolenghi and Danny Citrinowicz

“UK Fails to Designate IRGC as Terror Group Despite Iranian Attack on Israel,” FDD Flash Brief


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran in Latin America