Argentina seeks arrest of 4 Lebanese suspects in 1994 bombing of AMIA Jewish center

Suspects are ’employees or operational agents’ of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, long believed to be behind attack that killed 85, with Iran’s help

Mourners hold up pictures of people who died in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center that killed 85 people on the 25th anniversary of the attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 2019. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)
Mourners hold up pictures of people who died in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center that killed 85 people on the 25th anniversary of the attack in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 2019. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentina on Thursday sought an international arrest warrant for four Lebanese citizens suspected of involvement in a devastating attack at a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in 1994.

The AMIA Jewish center bombing, allegedly carried out by Hezbollah terrorists funded by Iran, killed 85 and injured hundreds.

A judge granted a prosecutor’s request to seek a warrant from Interpol based on reasonable suspicion that the four were “employees or operational agents” of Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy.

The four are Hussein Mounir Mouzannar, Ali Hussein Abdallah, Farouk Abdul Hay Omairi and Abdallah Salman (aka El Reda).

They are thought to reside in either Paraguay, Brazil, or the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

El Reda is suspected of “the coordination of the arrival and departure of the operational group” that carried out the attack, according to court documents.

The men for whom Argentina issued international arrest warrants in connection with the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA building. (AFP)

In the attack on July 18, 1994, a van packed with explosives crashed into the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, in the country’s deadliest-ever attack. It came just two years after a bombing of the Israeli embassy killed 29 and wounded 200.

Iran and Hezbollah have long been suspected, though nobody has ever been brought to justice, and Iran has denied claims that its diplomats in Buenos Aires aided the operations.

Based on the investigations of Argentine Jewish prosecutor Alberto Nisman, six Iranians and one Lebanese have been on Interpol’s most-wanted list since 2007.

In 2015, Nisman was found dead under mysterious circumstances in his apartment just hours before he was to present evidence against the then-President, now Vice President Cristina Kirchner for ignoring and covering up Iran’s involvement in the bombing. She was absolved of charges last year.

In this photo from July 18, 1994, a man walks over the rubble left of the Argentinian Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires after it was targeted in a deadly bombing. (Ali Burafi/AFP)

Nisman’s efforts to prosecute five Iranian officials, including Mohsen Rezaei, an ex chief of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, were cut short when Kirchner’s administration signed a deal with Iran in 2013 to set up a Tehran-based joint commission to investigate the attacks.

Iranians accused of involvement in the plot are still able to move about freely.

In January 2022, a public appearance of Iranian official Mohsen Rezaei, one of the suspects, at the investiture of Nicaragua’s president angered Argentina and drew a harsh response from its foreign ministry, which called Rezaei’s presence “an affront to Argentine justice and to the victims of the brutal terrorist attack″ in the Argentine capital.

Alberto Nisman, the late prosecutor who investigated the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, talks to journalists in Buenos Aires, Argentina, May 29, 2013. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

In October, Argentina asked Qatar to arrest Rezaei.

Argentina is home to Latin America’s largest Jewish community. It also is home to immigrant communities from the Middle East — from Syria and Lebanon in particular.

JTA contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: