Argentine prosecutor accuses Iran of 'Latin America terror plot'



People hold portraits of victims of the terrorist bombing attack against the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Society (AMIA) institute that killed 85 people and injured 300, during the commemoration of its 18th anniversary, in Buenos Aires on July 18, 2012.



A prosecutor in Argentina has accused Iran of building a spy network across Latin America capable of carrying out "terrorist activities" in the region.

Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who is investigating the 1994 deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, made the accusation in a detailed 502-page report submitted to the federal court.

"I legally accuse Iran of infiltrating several South American countries to install intelligence stations — in other words espionage bases — destined to commit, encourage and sponsor terror attacks like the one that took place against AMIA," Nisman told reporters.

He also accused Iran of "making dual use of diplomatic agencies, as well as cultural and charitable associations to conceal terrorist activities."

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"The immediate result was building intelligence stations to provide logistical, financial and operative support for possible attacks planned by the Islamic regime as it seeks to 'export the revolution.'"

It's not the first time Iran has been accused of attempting to spread Islamic jihad to Latin America, although analysts say the claims have sometimes been exaggerated for domestic political purposes.

The 1994 bombing of Argentine Jewish Charities Federation (AMIA) building killed 85 people.

The prosecutor Nisman singled out Mohsen Rabbani, who was the cultural attache at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires at the time, as the main person responsible.

He also said Rabbani has, over the last two decades, worked to create an intelligence network in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Surinam, and Trinidad and Tobago.

"These are sleeper cells. They have activities you wouldn't imagine. Sometimes they die having never received the order to attack," Nisman said in the indictment.

The report is likely to come as a major embarrassment for Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who earlier this year struck a controversial deal with Iran.

The deal was intended to get to the bottom of the unresolved AMIA bombing but has been heavily criticized as effectively allowing an alleged murderer to run his own trial given that the attack is alleged to have been ordered by the Iranian government.

Iran, which does not currently have an ambassador in Argentina, has repeatedly denied the charge that it ordered the 1994 bombing.

Senior Correspondent Simeon Tegel contributed reporting from Lima, Peru. Follow him on Twitter @SimeonTegel.