History repeating as Iran exports terrorismPublished by International Liberty on February 23, 2016
By Hossein Abedini
Argentinian Prosecutor Alberto Nisman fingered Iran as being behind the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association community centre. Nisman was found dead of a gunshot wound the day that he was supposed to present evidence against the regime, and this has brought back into focus Iran’s long-standing state sponsorship of terrorism. It has also highlighted the lack of a proper response to that by the West.
Nisman had been investigating the attack since 2005 and concluded that it was carried out by Iran and its Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. He indicted seven senior Iranian officials, including former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former Iranian minister of information and security, a former foreign relations minister, and Ahmad Vahidi, a former commander of the Quds force, and Iran’s defence minister from 2009 until 2013. Mohsen Rabbani, the former Iranian cultural attaché in Buenos Aires, was also named. The suspicious death of the daring prosecutor opened a Pandora’s box regarding Iran’s terrorism.
I was one of the victims of Iranian terrorism during the same period as the AMIA bombing, although I miraculously survived.
My case was in Turkey. In mid-afternoon on March 14, 1990, I was sitting next to the driver taking me to the Istanbul airport when we were ambushed in the broad daylight and a car carrying four men blocked our path. Another car pinned us in from behind. Seconds later, two men, one from the front car and one from the car behind, raced out with automatic weapons. As they approached, I opened the car door and rushed at them carrying only a small briefcase. One of the men fired nine bullets; the other man’s gun jammed. I was shot in the chest and stomach and gravely wounded. The assailants fled.
Luckily, I was rushed to Istanbul’s International Hospital, which was nearby. I was in a coma for 40 days, and unconscious for two months. With 80 percent of my liver gone, I barely survived and was written off by my doctors more than once. One bullet hit very close to my heart. I went through 14 operations and was given 154 units of blood.
I am a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the coalition of Iranian opposition movements. The assailants were acting at the behest of the clerical regime, the world’s main state sponsor of terrorism. The Iranian television announced this assassination attempt in its main news bulletin and wrongly stated that Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the NCRI, has been targeted and killed in this attack.
Even so, this didn’t end the attempts to kill me; there were two efforts to finish me off in the hospital. Once, assassins disguised as Turkish police approached the hospital; but, the actual Turkish police came to the hospital at the same time and foiled the plot. Another time, two men pretending to be friends came to my room. They were the mullahs’ men. Once again, I was fortunate; several real friends came to visit me at the same time, and the murderers fled.
During the same period, Iran’s regime was engaged in a terror spree the world over. Professor Kazem Rajavi, Iran’s most renowned human-rights activist, was gunned down in broad daylight by the mullahs’ hit men while driving near his house in Geneva in 1990. The Swiss implicated 13 Iranian officials with passports stamped “Special Mission.” Documents released by Mr. Rajavi’s family showed that in 1997 a Swiss magistrate “clearly” had enough evidence to justify an international arrest warrant against Iran’s then-Intelligence Minister, Ali Fallahian. He was also a culprit in the Buenos Aires bombing.
Several Iranian Kurdish leaders were murdered in Vienna in 1989 and in Berlin in 1992. A Berlin court ruled in 1997 that a secret committee comprising supreme leader Ali Khamenei, Mr. Rafsanjani, then-Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Velayati, and Ali Fallahian had ordered the 1992 assassinations.
Targets of the mullahs’ terror have not only been Iranians as it is evident in the Argentinian case. The FBI assembled undeniable evidence that Tehran had masterminded the bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, resulting in the deaths of 19 American servicemen. Ironically, during the same period the West was trying to warm up to the ostensibly moderate President Hashemi Rafsanjani. Equally interesting, history seems to be repeating itself at the time of this latest assassination, with the US pursuing friendly relations with another supposedly moderate president, Hassan Rouhani.
Tehran’s terror machine and its infrastructure for exporting terrorism are still working at full speed. It is now dispatching its Quds Force terrorists in huge numbers to Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere, without any worries as to the consequences.
For too long the West has looked the other way. For too long Tehran has carried on with impunity.
And who paid the price? The Iranian people, Iranian dissidents (in particular the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, 120,000 of whose activists were massacred in Iran), and democratic people the world over.
As the world is waking up to the threat of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, it is time for the West to show some spine. The tragic and suspicious death of the Alberto Nisman is another reminder that the terror machine will not stop on its own. It has to be stopped. First there is the need for an impartial, international investigation into Iran-sponsored terrorism including the bombing in Argentina and the death of the Prosecutor. But it should go beyond investigations and judicial aspects. It should be complemented with proper political steps.
It is time to toughen up on Iran. Prevent it from retaining the means to export terror. Bring the masterminds of Tehran to courts, instead of dealing with them as normal partners.
Abedini is member of the Parliament in exile of the Iranian resistance (NCRI) and belongs to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). He was seriously wounded by the death squads of the Iranian regime in Turkey in March 1990 and is one the few survivors of the terrorism of the Iranian regime. Follow him on twitter @HoAbedini