(CNSNews.com) – The Iranian government has lodged a complaint with Interpol regarding comments made during U.S. congressional hearings last October, including calls to assassinate top figures in Tehran’s terror-sponsoring security apparatus.
Iran’s national prosecutor general, Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, in a letter to Interpol on Monday called for “legal action” against two Americans, the official IRNA news agency reported.
Mohseni-Ejei told Iran’s Press TV that the judiciary had opened a case and was “providing more documents to the Interpol, so that the two Americans, who have threatened the Iranian commander with assassination, would be prosecuted.”
Interpol does not “prosecute” criminal suspects but it is empowered to issue “red notices” – equivalent to placing a suspect on a most-wanted list – at the request of member states or international organizations.
Queries sent to Interpol about the Iranian request brought no response by press time.
The two Americans in Iran’s sights are former U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Jack Keane and Foundation for Defense of Democracies Senior Fellow Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA operative.
The controversy dates back to an Oct. 26 House Homeland Security Committee subcommittee hearing on “Iranian Terror Operations on American Soil,” held after the exposure of an alleged plot by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ foreign operations wing, the Qods Force, to carry out terror attacks on U.S. soil, including the assassination of the Saudi ambassador in Washington.
The IRGC-QF, led for the past decade by Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, stands accused of numerous covert terrorist activities, including supporting Shi’ite militias carry out deadly attacks against U.S. and British troops in Iraq.
In his testimony, Keane questioned the value of sanctions against Tehran and suggested that cyberattacks, covert actions and assassination would be more effective.
“Why are we permitting the Qods Force leaders, who have been organizing this killing of us for 30 years, to go around, still walking around?” he asked. “Why don’t we kill them? We kill other people who are running terrorist organizations against the United States. These guys have killed almost a thousand of us. Why don’t we kill them?”
“Iran would not look like the country it is today if they were concerned about the bottom line,” Gerecht told the panel. “So I don’t think that you’re going to really intimidate these people, get their attention, unless you shoot somebody – it’s pretty blunt, but I don’t think you get to get around it.”
If the IRGC-QF was held responsible for the foiled assassination plot, Gerecht said, then Soleimani should be held accountable – and targeted.
“Ghasem Soleimani travels a lot, he’s all over the place,” he said. “Go get him. Either try to capture him, or kill him. I think you have to send a pretty powerful message to those who have undertaken this, or I think down the road you’re asking for it. They will read this not as a response of someone who’s strong, but as a response of someone who’s weak.”
‘Significant covert action’
Iranian media reports on the Interpol request also referred to a letter to President Obama last month in which House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King and two subcommittee chairs urged steps against Tehran including “significant covert action against the Iranian regime, including against facilities and personnel responsible for killing our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
At the time of the hearing, the Iranian government reacted angrily to the comments by Keane and Gerecht, summoning the Swiss ambassador – who handles matters relating to the U.S. in the absence of ties between Washington and Tehran – to protest.
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi threatened legal action and Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said the remarks were part of a “devilish triangle of terrorism, human rights violation and use of WMDs” by the U.S.
Ironically, while Iran is seeking Interpol’s help in this matter it has for more than four years ignored Interpol red notices issued for five senior Iranian officials, wanted by Argentina in connection with a deadly bombing in Buenos Aires Argentina 17 years ago.
One of the five is Vahidi, now defense minister but at the time of the bombing the head of the IRGC-QF.
Interpol in 2007 issued red notices for five Iranians and a Lebanese in connection with the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association (AMIA) building in the Argentine capital.
Argentine investigators accused Iran of ordering the attack and its Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, of carrying it out. Eighty-five people were killed in the blast, the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.
Iran has repeatedly denied any link to the AMIA bombing and refused to cooperate with Interpol.
The other subjects of the red notices are Mohsen Rezai, the then IRGC commander; Ali Fallahijan, Iran’s then intelligence chief; and Mohsen Rabbani and Ahmad Reza Asghari, two officials based at Iran’s embassy in Buenos Aires at the time of the bombing.
The wanted Lebanese was Hezbollah terrorist chief Imad Mughniyah, who was later killed in a bomb blast in Syria.
According to Interpol, red notices do not constitute arrest warrants but are “intended to help police identify or locate these individuals with a view to their arrest and extradition.”
The organization says many of its 190 member countries “consider a red notice a valid request for provisional arrest, especially if they are linked to the requesting country via a bilateral extradition treaty.”
Interpol’s constitution prohibits “any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
Attempts to reach Gen. Keane for a response were not successful and a spokesman for Gerecht said he was not commenting on the issue.