Turkey releases bombing suspect under pressure from Iran    Tue. 19 Jul 2005


Iran Focus

Istanbul, Jul. 19 - The Turkish authorities released one of the chief suspects in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina that killed 87 people and injured 200 others and sent him back to Iran, a Turkish security official said on Tuesday.

The decision was taken by the Turkish government after intense pressure from
Iran, the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Iran Focus.

Masoud Amiri was identified as a terrorist suspect by undercover officers of Milli Istihbarat Teskilati (MIT), the country’s security agency, when he arrived at
Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport on July 6, according to the Turkish official.

Amiri is one of eight chief suspects sought by Argentine investigators for their involvement in the bombing of Associacion Mutual Israelita
Argentina, the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, on July 18, 1994. On August 13, 2003, an Argentine court issued arrest warrants for the eight suspects. The request for the arrest of the suspects was transmitted to the Turkish authorities by Interpol, the security official said.

Seven of the suspects, including Amiri, were officials of the Iranian government, including former Intelligence (secret service) Minister Ali Fallahian. A German court has also issued an international arrest warrant for Fallahian for his involvement in the assassination of four Iranian dissidents in
Berlin in September 1992. The eighth suspect, Imad Mughnia, is considered the operational mastermind of the Lebanese Hezbollah. United States law enforcement officials believe Mughnia is in Iran.

Iran put a huge amount of pressure on our government to release Amiri immediately”, the Turkish security official said. “Our government didn’t want a full-blown diplomatic crisis with Iran just ahead of the conference of foreign ministers of Iraq’s neighbouring states, which opened here today”.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry notified the security services that Amiri had diplomatic immunity and had to be released immediately, the official said.

The decision to leak the news of the arrest and subsequent release of an Iranian bombing suspect seems to reflect the Turkish security services’ displeasure at
Ankara’s soft approach to Tehran. Relations between the two neighbouring states have been strained in recent months over a number of security and commercial disputes. How to deal with Iran has reportedly become a matter of contention between Turkey’s Islamist leaders and the country’s powerful military and security agencies.

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