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Jewish Leaders Welcome Interpol Most-Wanted Notice in Argentine Bombing


Interpol has put five Iranians and a Lebanese man on its most wanted list for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. In Miami, VOA's Brian Wagner reports Jewish community leaders says the effort will pressure the Islamic government to stop supporting terrorist activities.

Delegates at Interpol's general assembly in Morocco approved the so-called "red notices" against the five Iranians and one Lebanese suspected in the attack. Argentine prosecutors are seeking Interpol's support in their probe into the bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and wounded more than 200 others. Argentine officials allege Iran ordered the attack and had Hezbollah militants carry it out.

At the Interpol meeting, Iran's delegate Alireza Deihim rejected the decision saying delegates had voted for political reasons.

"They are trying to pressurize against Iran with its peaceful nuclear energy and [its efforts] to be independent in the world," said Alireza Deihim.

Tehran says it has no intention of complying with the Interpol notices, which are not considered international arrest warrants. The notices include a former intelligence chief, the former head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards and Iranian diplomats in Buenos Aires at the time. Argentina also had been seeking former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, but Interpol denied that request.

Israel's government and Jewish community leaders around the world welcomed the decision against Iran, which Israel accuses of backing violence against it. The New York-based World Jewish Congress said the move was a victory for all those seeking freedom from fear or intimidation.

The Buenos Aires representative of the Simon Wiesenthal rights group, Sergio Widder, said the Interpol notices may not lead to arrests, but he says Argentina's government must keep pressing for justice.

Widder says Argentina has recognized the need to continue the investigation and seek the culprits, because impunity can have damaging political consequences.

More than 13 years after the bombing, no one has been convicted in the bombing, which officials in Buenos Aires believe may have included help from Argentine citizens. A separate bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires which killed 29 people in 1992, also has gone unpunished.

In Miami, Argentine Rabbi Mario Rojzman, who lost his sister-in-law in the 1994 attack, says he has become disillusioned with the justice system in his country.

"We want to know who was the local connection, we want to know who paid, we want to know why the policeman left the corner instead of taking care of the building," said Rabbi Rojzman. "These are all questions we will never have [answered]."

He thinks it is too late to get justice because evidence has been lost, including recordings of phone calls between Iran and the government's embassy in Buenos Aires.

Still, Rojzman says the Interpol wanted notices are important to put terrorist supporters on notice they cannot carry out attacks with impunity.

"When you don't resolve a case, you are always open to suffer the same consequences again," he said.

Rojzman says he believes Iran remains a threat to Argentina's Jewish community and others around the world, as long as the government continues to support terrorist activities.

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