Argentine connection in Iran assassination plot alleged

A new allegation has emerged in the supposed plot by agents of Iran's elite Quds Force to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, which resulted in federal indictments being unsealed in Manhattan last week. Reuters reports Oct. 14 that "Saudi officials advised Argentina four months ago of an alleged Iran-backed plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington and possibly attack the Saudi and Israeli embassies in Buenos Aires," according to an unnamed "Argentine diplomatic source." Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Argentine source reportedly told Reuters: "The Saudis advised us four months ago, at the request of the United States."

Washington has imposed economic sanctions on five Iranians, including four senior members of the Quds Force, for planning possible attacks in the US and "another country." The US ambassador to Argentina, Vilma Martínez, declined to comment on the case when queried by Reuters, as did the Argentine government. But media reports point to Argentina as the other country. Court documents indicate that President Barack Obama was briefed in June about the alleged plot.

In July 1994, Argentina was the scene of the deadliest single attack on a Jewish target since World War II, when the Argentina-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA), a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, was blown up, leaving 85 dead and 300 wounded. Argentina has secured international arrest warrants against former and current Iranian officials it suspects were involved in the AMIA bombing. Last month, Argentine President Cristina Fernández publicly urged Iran to make good on its offer to help investigate the bombing, even though Tehran insists it played no role in the attack. The fracas comes amid growing concern in Washington about Iran's presence in Latin America.

Also Oct. 14, a New York Times story cast a rare critical eye on the government's conspiracy claims—pointing out, at least, the inherent double standard. The very week before $49,960 was wired from a foreign bank account linked to Iran's Quds Force in July to "a man posing as a Mexican drug hit man" in the supposed assassination plot, an Iranian scientist was shot dead in front of his home. He was the third researcher with apparent ties to Iran's nuclear program to be assassinated in less than two years. "The Iranians absolutely believe the US and Israel have been carrying out a covert campaign against them," said Gary Sick, an Iran expert at Columbia University. "And clearly they are right."

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