Long standing suspicions that local officials may have been culpable for the two 1990s terrorist attacks that targeted Israelis and Jews in Argentina have been countered by a Mossad investigation. The investigation also found that Iran did not aid the attack on the ground.
Israel’s secret service found that Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia political party and militant group, created a secret cell in Argentina in the 1990s in order to carry out terrorist attacks on the Jewish community. Hezbollah built up a clandestine infrastructure of operatives in Buenos Aires, and South American locations over the course of several years. The Mossad investigation identifies the culpable agents by name. It reports that the attackers are living in Lebanon.
Explosives were smuggled into the country in shampoo bottles and chocolate boxes on commercial flights, and concealed in a Buenos Aires park. These chemicals were made into bombs that were used in a 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy, which caused 22 deaths and 242 injuries, and in a car bomb that destroyed the AMIA (Asociación Mutual Israeli Argentina) building, killing 85 and injuring hundreds.
The perpetrators were never caught or punished. Last week, on the anniversary of the AMIA attack, the Argentine Jewish community lamented that they are still waiting for justice. Amos Linetzky, the AMIA president, said, “These awful, despicable murderers are able to enjoy their daily lives, travelling the world in total freedom.”
Internal obstructions to investigations into the attacks in Argentina have led to suspicions that local officials may have been involved. Some Argentines were prosecuted for impeding inquiries into who was responsible.
Daniel Carmon, an Israeli diplomat who survived the 1992 bomb in which he lost his wife, confirmed that the report proved that, “there were no Argentines involved who were part of the bombing, because the terrorists were all Lebanese and left two days after the attack.” However, in an interview with Agencia de Noticias (AJN), he criticised Argentine outlets for reporting that Iran did not play a role in the terrorist action.
“Tehran was deeply involved,” argued Carmon. “Imad Mughniyeh – a Hezbollah man – who was in charge of the secret Hezbollah unit [which carried out the attack] was in Iran when the decision was made.”
The New York Times wrote, “[While] Israeli intelligence still believes that Iran, a supporter of Hezbollah approved and funded the attacks and supplied training and equipment, the findings counter longstanding assertions by Israel, Argentina and the United States that Tehran had an operational role on the ground.”
The Buenos Aires attacks were some of the deadliest anti-Semitic terrorism since the Second World War. The Mossad report found that the bombings were carried out as revenge for Israeli action against Hezbollah. The New York Times writes that, “Israel sees itself as the protector of Jews across the world.”
The investigation also mentioned the unexplained death of Alberto Nisman, Argentina’s Public Prosecutor, who was found dead in 2015 days after he announced that he intended to bring then president Cristina Kirchner, and the late Former Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman to trial for covering up the AMIA bombing, and making an illegal deal with Iran.