- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2013

Hasan Rowhani, the president-elect of Iran, was part of a special government task force that plotted in 1994 to bomb a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, a terrorist attack that ultimately left 85 dead and hundreds wounded.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported the connection on Thursday.

Argentine authorities say the Iranian government plotted the bombing while members of Hezbollah actually carried it out. Interpol still maintains a list of ‘most wanted’ Iranians believed to be tied to the attack, Ynet News reported.

A former Iranian intelligence officer who defected in the 1990s said the attack was the brainchild of a special committee tied to the Supreme National Security Council. Mr. Rowhani served as secretary of that council and as a member of the special committee during the formation of the bomb plot, Ynet said.

At the same time, experts on Iranian policy say it’s not likely Mr. Rowhani had the power to approve the attack. Still, he knew of the plot, said Reuel Gerecht, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, in the Beacon report.

“As far as that bombing was concerned … there was no doubt [Mr. Rowhani] was aware of it, and obviously his approval’s not necessary,” he said. “He’s a subordinate. But he certainly would have been aware of all the discussions that led to the attack.”

Present-day Mr. Rowhani has been seen as somewhat of a moderate and a reformer, Ynet reported. But that characterization is deceptive, Mr. Gerecht said in the report.

“There’s nothing in his background that would suggest he has any moral qualms about bombing the enemies of the [Islamic] Republic,” he said. “In all probability, we would have heard about it if [Mr. Rowhani] had risen up and said, ‘Don’t do that [attack], it’s a disgrace.’ We would have known that.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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