By The Free Iranian Staff
On Friday, November 8th, after it had been announced that Ali Akbar Velayati, regime leader Khamenei’s advisor on foreign affairs, would be attending a summit of religious leaders in Baku, Azerbaijan, the government of Argentina asked the Azerbaijani authorities to arrest Velayati, and extradite him to Argentina. It is not known now if Velayati will, in fact, attend the conference, which will take place on the 14th and 15th.
Velayati has been pursued by Argentinian officials since a judge in that country ruled, in November 2006, that the former regime foreign minister had helped plan and carry out a terrorist attack in Buenos Aries. On July 18, 1994, the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), an Argentinian-Jewish community center, was attacked by a suicide bomber driving an-explosives-filled truck. 85 people died and over 300 were injured. Carried out by Hezbollah, Tehran’s Lebanese proxy, it later emerged that the attack had been planned and financed by the Khomeiniist regime, at its highest levels, as Tehran’s form of response to Argentina’s having cancelled a sale of nuclear energy technology to Iran. Velayati was later revealed to have been one of the eight regime leaders, acting directly under Khamenei, who organized the bombing.
In consequence, Argentina issued a warrant for his arrest, and Interpol, the international police agency, added Velayati’s name to its list of international fugitives in 2007. Despite this, Velayati has continued to travel the world, and no country has dared enforce the warrant. Argentina has attempted several times, and failed, to have Velayati apprehended; in , in 2016, and in Russia, last year.
The 74-year-old, Velayati was the Khomeiniist foreign minister from 1981-1997. He has also been implicated in a number of other terrorist attacks committed during those years, such as the 1992 assassination of four Iranian-Kurdish dissidents at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin, Germany, and the 1991 assassination of former Iranian prime minister Shahpour Bakhtiar in Paris, France. His name has also been linked to the downing of Pan-Am flight 103, over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, and to a failed 1986 bombing plot in Saudi Arabia. More recently, in 2017, he personally threatened to kill current Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, if al-Hariri did not obey Tehran’s dictates.
Last week, the United States’ Treasury Department sanctioned Velayati for his role in arranging infrastructure and oil sale agreements between Tehran and the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, in addition to the Argentina terrorism case.
Velayati has been described as one of Khamenei’s closest and most trusted associates, and as the man who actually directs Tehran’s foreign relations. He has played a key role in implementing the regime leader’s foreign policy strategy of “Look East,” meaning a close alliance with Russia and China.
Besides serving as a senior advisor to Khamenei, Velayati hold many other positions within the regime. He is a member of the Expediency Council, a body of clerics appointed by the regime leader to resolve disputes between various regime organs, and the head of that council’s think tank, the Center for Strategic Research. Additionally, he is a member of the board of directors of Islamic Azad University, in Tehran. Last year, Velayati was the target of protests from Iranian students at that university, who consider him a corrupt and inept manager. He has also come under fire from Iranians for living in a palatial estate that was confiscated by the regime after it took power in 1979.