MARRAKECH, Morocco, (AP) – An Israeli official said Wednesday that Interpol was putting five Iranians and a Lebanese man on its most-wanted list in connection with a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people at a Jewish community center in Argentina.
Delegates to an annual Interpol general assembly in Morocco voted by a two-thirds majority to issue wanted notices for the six suspects, said Israeli delegate Anat Granit, head of special operations for the Israeli police.
Iranian envoys had strongly objected, accusing Israel and the United States of turning Interpol into a political tool.
Argentine prosecutors alleged that Iranian officials orchestrated the bombing in Buenos Aires — Argentina’s worst terror attack — and entrusted the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah with carrying it out.
Former Iranian intelligence chief Ali Fallahian, former Revolutionary Guard chief Mohsen Rezaei and Hezbollah militant Imad Moughnieh are among the six suspects.
Moughnieh, whose whereabouts are unknown, is wanted for his alleged role in the kidnapping of Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s, and suicide attacks on the U.S. Embassy and a Marine base in Lebanon that killed more than 260 Americans.
The Interpol decision would not force countries to arrest or extradite the suspects.
In March, Interpol’s executive committee backed Argentina’s request to put out red notices for the six. Iran objected, which sent the issue to a general assembly vote.
In Marrakech, Iranian delegates lobbied counterparts, mainly from African and Asian countries, by handing out dossiers written in several languages and explaining their case.
Among their arguments: Argentina’s investigation was flawed, if not corrupt; some witnesses cited in that investigation were themselves wanted by Interpol; Iran quickly condemned the bombings; a bilateral resolution would be better.
Mohammad Ali Pakshir, a legal adviser in Iran’s delegation, claimed that the United States and Israel “want Interpol to issue the red notices to be able to tell the world ‘Look, they are terrorists.'”
Delegates from the United States, Argentina and Israel declined comment before the vote, with some saying they did not want to be drawn into Iran’s accusations about politicizing the issue.
No one has been convicted in Argentina in connection with the blast, in which a van stuffed with explosives leveled the seven-story Jewish center and shook Argentina’s 200,000-strong Jewish community.