US urges Argentina to continue investigating AMIA bombing, Nisman death
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US urges Argentina to continue investigating AMIA bombing, Nisman death

Marking 23 years since deadly attack, State Department says Iranian-linked perpetrators must still be brought to justice

The aftermath of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires. (Newspaper La Nación (Argentina/Wikipedia Commons)
The aftermath of the 1994 AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires. (Newspaper La Nación (Argentina/Wikipedia Commons)

The US State Department on Tuesday called on Argentina to continue investigating the Iran-linked 1994 AMIA Jewish center bombing in Buenos Aires and the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was investigating the deadly attack.

“For the past 23 years, we have joined the Argentine government and victims of this terrorist attack in seeking justice. We continue to believe that the Iranian government has a responsibility to cooperate fully with Argentine authorities in bringing the perpetrators to justice,” US State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement marking the anniversary of the terror attack that killed 85 people and injured hundreds more.

“On this occasion, we also reflect upon the significant contributions of prosecutor Alberto Nisman in investigating the AMIA bombing, and note the importance of clarifying the circumstances of his tragic death,” she added.

Nisman was discovered shot dead in his apartment in January 2015, hours before he was scheduled to appear in Congress. Nisman had been about to present allegations that then-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner orchestrated a secret deal to cover up Iranian officials’ role in the AMIA bombing. Kirchner denied the allegations and judges threw out the case.

It was reopened one year ago, though no conclusions have yet been announced. Argentinean President Mauricio Macri, who replaced Kirchner, has said he is “determined” to solve the mysterious death.

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

Argentina has previously accused the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group of carrying out the attack at the direction of Iran. No arrests have been made, and the investigation has been plagued with charges of incompetence and corruption.

Six Iranians have been on the Interpol international police agency’s most wanted list in connection with the bombing since 2007.

Earlier this month, the AMIA Special Investigation Unit of the Argentinian General Prosecution, which Nisman headed prior to his death, announced that newly analyzed DNA evidence from the bombing could provide a definitive link to suicide bomber Ibrahim Berro, the Hezbollah terrorist who carried out the attack and whose body was never found or identified until now.

The final report after two years of investigation by a forensics team, reveals for the first time the existence of a genetic profile among the preserved remains in the laboratory of the Federal Police that “doesn’t belong to any known victims.”

With this information prosecutors have taken steps “in the field of international cooperation to try to match the profile obtained with that of samples of relatives of the suspected individual.”

In 2005 special prosecutor Nisman identified Berro as the suicide bomber who carried out the attack. Berro’s brothers denied he was involved, claiming he was killed in fighting in Lebanon. Some Argentinian journalists also cast doubt on the assertion.

A man walks over the rubble after a bomb exploded at the Argentinian Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 1994. (AFP/Ali Burafi)
A man walks over the rubble after a bomb exploded at the Argentinian Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 1994. (AFP/Ali Burafi)

In addition to the AMIA bombing, Iran also sponsored the March 1992 attack in which a suicide bomber killed 29 and wounded hundreds in front of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, in the deadliest-ever attack on an Israeli diplomatic mission.

A group with ties to Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah took responsibility for the bombing.

JTA contributed to this report.

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