Argentina Finds Iran, Hezbollah Guilty of 1990s Terror Attacks Against Israeli Targets

Jewish men, right, look on as rescuers sift through the rubble at the site of a car-bombin
Diego Levy/Bloomberg via Getty

Argentina’s Federal Criminal Cassation Court ruled on Thursday to formally declare Iran and the Shiite jihadist organization Hezbollah responsible for the 1994 bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires.

The Cassation Court’s ruling, which described Iran as a “terrorist state,” determined that Hezbollah carried out both attacks on behalf of the Islamic regime. The court declared both terrorist attacks crimes against humanity, which places them beyond statutes of limitations despite the passage of time and the lack of judicial results in the past three decades.

The ruling, signed by three of the court’s judges, urges the Argentine state to present a formal complaint at international courts against Iran over the two attacks and calls for a reform to Argentine law to allow local courts to conduct in-absentia trials against the seven Lebanese and Iranian nationals suspected of having participated in the attacks. All of the suspects have active Interpol “red notice” arrest requests on their names, but remain protected in their respective countries.

The attack on the AMIA Jewish community center occurred on July 18, 1994. On that day, terrorists drove a van filled with explosives into the center’s building in Buenos Aires, leaving 85 dead and hundreds injured. The 1994 AMIA bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack in the Western Hemisphere prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks. 

People hold up pictures of the victims of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center on the 21st anniversary of the terror attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Friday, July 17, 2015. (Victor R. Caivano/AP)

The court also declared Iran and Hezbollah responsible for the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, a similar suicide bombing attack that left 29 dead and 242 injured. 

Despite the existence of decades’ worth of documented evidence linking Iran and Hezbollah to both attacks, no individuals have yet been convicted.

In Thursday’s ruling, the court determined that both attacks “responded to a political and strategic design” of the Iranian regime while Hezbollah “acted under the inspiration, organization, planning and financing of state and state-sponsored agencies subordinate to the ayatollahs’ government.”

The three judges stressed that international responsibility should also fall on Iran, “which could be classified as a ‘terrorist'” state. Identifying the state of Iran’s “control or direction” of the attack implies the existence of an obligation to fully indemnify the damages caused to the victims at international courts.

Argentine President Javier Milei celebrated the court’s ruling in a statement applauding the sentences as an end to decades of “postponement and cover-up” around the two attacks. Milei also condemned the leftist administrations that preceded him for “covering up” Iran’s involvement in the attacks.

“The Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation has been able to exercise its function with complete freedom, without political pressure, to deliver the justice that both the victims and their families have been waiting for for decades,” the statement read.

“On December 10, 2023, the era of impunity in the Argentine Republic came to an end,” the statement concluded.

During the administration of socialist former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Argentina signed a widely-panned “memorandum of understanding” with the Iranian regime in 2013 that made the rogue Islamic regime a participant in the AMIA bombing investigation, essentially allowing Iran to investigate itself.

Both Fernández de Kirchner (2007-2015) and her predecessor and husband, late President Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007), fostered friendly ties with Iran during their back-to-back presidencies.

Argentina's Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner attends the inauguration of the 140th period of ordinary sessions at the Congress in Buenos Aires, on March 1, 2022. (Photo by JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONI / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Argentina’s Vice-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on March 1, 2022. (JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONI/POOL/AFP via Getty)

Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused Fernández de Kirchner of helping Iran cover up its involvement in the AMIA bombing in exchange for beneficial trade deals. Nisman was found dead of a gunshot wound on January 18, 2015, hours before he was slated to give testimony to Congress as part of his investigation against the former socialist president. Argentine authorities ruled Nisman’s death a “suicide.”

Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, talks to journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Nisman accused Iran on Wednesday of infiltrating South American countries and installing a network that aims to carry out terrorist attacks in the region. (Natacha Pisarenko/AP)

Fernández de Kirchner’s successor, former President Mauricio Macri, rescinded the memorandum of understanding with Iran shortly after he took office in December 2015. While the AMIA bombing cover-up investigation against Fernández de Kirchner continued after Nisman’s death, the case was controversially dismissed in October 2021 at a time when  Fernández de Kirchner served as vice president during the administration of former socialist president Alberto Fernández (no relation).

Citizens rally in front of the headquarters of the AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association), in Buenos Aires on January 21, 2015, to protest against the death of Argentine public prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was found shot dead earlier, just days after accusing President Cristina Kirchner of obstructing a probe into a 1994 Jewish center bombing.  (Maxi Failla/AFP via Getty Images)

The president of the Delegation of Israelite Associations of Argentina (DAIA) Jorge Knoblovits applauded the court’s ruling Thursday in remarks to Argentina’s Radio Mitre, stressing that “this was the ruling we needed” after three decades.

“We have been waiting for years for a ruling to determine who is responsible, which we all knew, but the justice [officials] had to say it,” Knoblovits said.

“We must applaud these judges, who have had courage and probity,” he continued, noting the importance of the ruling, as it opens the door for legal claims against Iran at home and at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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