Iran defense minister a terror suspect
Vahidi wanted in '94 attack on Argentina Jewish center
By Eli Lake (Contact)
Originally published 04:45 a.m., August 21, 2009, updated 04:28 p.m., August 21, 2009
Ahmad Vahidi, nominated Thursday by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to serve as Iran's defense minister, is a suspected international terrorist sought by Interpol in connection with a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina.
Mr. Vahidi, a former commander of the elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force, was one of 15 men and three women named to Cabinet posts by Mr. Ahmadinejad as he begins his second term in office. The choice is likely to further chill relations between Iran and the international community, especially Israel.
Interpol, the international police agency based in Lyon, France, placed Mr. Vahidi and four other Iranian officials on its most-wanted list in 2007 at the request of Argentine prosecutors, who say the men played a role in planning the July 1994 attack on the seven-story community center in Buenos Aires.
The bombing, which killed 85 people, is thought to have been carried out by members of Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia and political party with close links to Iran.
Kenneth Katzman, a senior analyst on Iraq and Iran at the Congressional Research Service, said that Mr. Vahidi is also suspected of having played a role in a 1996 attack on the U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia known as Khobar Towers.
Mr. Vahidi is not the first prominent Iranian to be wanted in connection with terrorist attacks. Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezai, a former revolutionary guard commander, was among the five Iranians identified by Interpol in 2007, as was former President Hashemi Rafsanjani.
But Mr. Vahidi's ascension to the high-profile post of defense minister suggests that Mr. Ahmadinejad will continue his policy of defiance toward the West.
Iran defense minister a terror suspect - Washington Times