August 01, 2007

The Iran-Hizbullah Alliance

More on the critical issue of Arab Muslim identity politics. From The Iran-Hizbullah Alliance:

Last week saw the release of a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) warning of an increased likelihood that Hizbullah could attack U.S. soil if it, or Iran, feels directly threatened by the United States. Washington continues to take action against the organization, but given Hizbullah's impressive fundraising capabilities and Iranian support, the task is challenging.

On July 18, 1994, a car bombing carried out by Hizbullah at Iran's behest targeted the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a Jewish community organization, killing 85 and wounding more than 200.

In late 2006, an Argentinean special prosecutor released a detailed report on the AMIA bombing, issuing arrest warrants for high-level Iranian officials and Hizbullah members involved in the attack. According to a U.S. State Department assessment, "members of the Iranian government's highest echelons planned out how the attack would occur and entrusted its execution to the Lebanese terrorist organization [Hizbullah]."

The bombing was an archetypal example of Iran's direct sponsorship of Hizbullah. The Argentinean investigation concluded that Tehran transferred at least $152,812 to accounts controlled by Mohsen Rabbani, a Shiite cleric who at the time held diplomatic immunity as a cultural attache at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires. Rabbani was responsible for coordinating logistical details and procuring materials (e.g., vehicles and explosives) for the attack.

Arrest warrants were issued for nine others, including former Iranian president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Hizballah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh. Rafsanjani was charged with "heading the intelligence office whose main function was to devise a preliminary plan to attack Argentina," Mughniyeh with "overseeing the complex operations of Hizbullah overseas, and was a specialist in recruiting soldiers for foreign operations, reporting to no one else but Iran."

Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department designated a parastatal Iranian organization as a key link between Tehran and Hizbullah, targeting the Iran-based Martyrs Foundation (Bonyad-e shahid) for "provid[ing] financial support to the families of killed or imprisoned Hizbullah and PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] members." In the U.S., a Martyrs Foundation satellite office in Dearborn, Michigan - the Goodwill Charitable Organization (GCO) - was also designated for instructing "Hizbullah members in the United States to send their contributions to GCO."