Rafsanjani - the 'moderate' candidate for president of Iran

His full name is Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and he's running to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran in the upcoming elections.

By dint of personal charisma, Rafsanjani has ingratiated himself with Western media as a pro-reform, moderate contender.  In touting Rafsanjani, however, many Tehran-based correspondents seem to be going to great lengths to keep readers from knowing his dark side.

So here's an integral part of his biography that should not be overlooked.

In 1994, when Rafsanjani held the president's post, a bombing attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenois Aires killed 85 people and injured hundreds of others. 

At first, Argentinian authorities bungled their investigations, obscuring rather than revealing the identity of the main culprits.  In fact, they're still up to such tactics today, having recently concluded an agreement with Iran for a joint investigation - a laughable undertaking if the issue weren't so serious.

But in between, in 2006, Alberto Nisman, a straight-shooting, courageous Argentinian prosecutor went to work and discovered compelling evidence that the attack on the Jewish center had been ordered by officials at the highest levels in Iran and carried out by Hezbollah terrorists on the orders of Iran.

Nisman issued eight arrest warrants.  At the top of the list was Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's ayatollah-president.  The list also included higher-ups of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.  Interpol followed up by issuing six warrants.  Since then, however, there's a new crew of Argentinian rulers and prosecutors, and Rafsanjani again aspires to become president.

In the meantime, to Rafsanjani's evident delight, there's also a new crew of Western correspondents in Tehran to whom the murder of scores of Jews in 1994 somehow escapes any journalistic interest.  Instead, they've become Rafsanjani's cheerleaders.

But history cannot be so easily erased.  The attack on the Jewish center in Buenos Aires was the worst terrorist atrocity in South American history. It still is.

So, as Iran picks its next president, let's not forget who the real Rafsanjani is.  As Arthur Miller taught us, attention must be paid.

 

LEO RENNERT

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

His full name is Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and he's running to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of Iran in the upcoming elections.

By dint of personal charisma, Rafsanjani has ingratiated himself with Western media as a pro-reform, moderate contender.  In touting Rafsanjani, however, many Tehran-based correspondents seem to be going to great lengths to keep readers from knowing his dark side.

So here's an integral part of his biography that should not be overlooked.

In 1994, when Rafsanjani held the president's post, a bombing attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenois Aires killed 85 people and injured hundreds of others. 

At first, Argentinian authorities bungled their investigations, obscuring rather than revealing the identity of the main culprits.  In fact, they're still up to such tactics today, having recently concluded an agreement with Iran for a joint investigation - a laughable undertaking if the issue weren't so serious.

But in between, in 2006, Alberto Nisman, a straight-shooting, courageous Argentinian prosecutor went to work and discovered compelling evidence that the attack on the Jewish center had been ordered by officials at the highest levels in Iran and carried out by Hezbollah terrorists on the orders of Iran.

Nisman issued eight arrest warrants.  At the top of the list was Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran's ayatollah-president.  The list also included higher-ups of Iran's Revolutionary Guard.  Interpol followed up by issuing six warrants.  Since then, however, there's a new crew of Argentinian rulers and prosecutors, and Rafsanjani again aspires to become president.

In the meantime, to Rafsanjani's evident delight, there's also a new crew of Western correspondents in Tehran to whom the murder of scores of Jews in 1994 somehow escapes any journalistic interest.  Instead, they've become Rafsanjani's cheerleaders.

But history cannot be so easily erased.  The attack on the Jewish center in Buenos Aires was the worst terrorist atrocity in South American history. It still is.

So, as Iran picks its next president, let's not forget who the real Rafsanjani is.  As Arthur Miller taught us, attention must be paid.

 

LEO RENNERT

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers

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