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July 19, 2018 11:37 am

Anniversary of AMIA Atrocity Marked With Commemorations in Argentina, Israel

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Young Argentine Jews visiting Israel on a Birthright tour joined Argentina’s ambassador to Israel, Mariano Caucino, to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the AMIA bombing. Photo: @argenisrael / Twitter.

Ceremonies marking the 24th anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires took place in Argentina and Israel this week.

The ceremonies marked one of the worst terrorist atrocities of the past half-century: 85 people lost their lives and more than 300 were wounded when a truck packed with explosives rammed into the AMIA building in the Argentine capital on the morning of July 18, 1994.

More than a decade after the bombing, in 2007, the global law enforcement agency Interpol issued “red notices” for the arrest of the six Iranian and Hezbollah operatives who planned the attack. The driver of the vehicle used in the AMIA attack was a Lebanese suicide bomber, Ibrahim Hussein Berro.

In Buenos Aires, a commemoration ceremony was held on Wednesday at the Casa Rosada — the executive mansion of the Argentine president. In attendance were Vice President Gabriela Michetti and cabinet ministers Pablo Avelluto, Carolina Stanley, Patricia Bullrich and Sergio Bergman, who also serves as rabbi of the Congregación Israelita Argentina. Israeli Ambassador Ilan Sztulman and US Ambassador Edward Prado were also present.

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In Tel Aviv, Argentina’s ambassador to Israel, Mariano Caucino, presided over a memorial ceremony attended by hundreds of young Argentine Jews participating in a Taglit-Birthright program.

Caucino described both the AMIA attack and the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires as “savage acts against humanity, against Argentina and against the Jewish community.”

“We will never forget,” Caucino declared, in remarks reported by Argentine news outlet Infobae.

In the Argentine media, meanwhile, the anniversary was an occasion to reflect on the extraordinary web of interconnected legal cases generated by the bombing — a crime for which no one has yet been convicted.

Four distinct trials have arisen from the AMIA atrocity. In the first trial, which began in 2015, former President Carlos Menem, Judge Eduardo Galleano and several others face charges that they ordered an end to the investigation of a possible Syrian connection to the AMIA bombing, businessman Alberto Kanoore Edul.

In the second trial, which is pending, former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, former Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and several other senior aides face potential treason charges over a secret pact negotiated with the Tehran regime in 2013 that effectively abandoned the effort to bring the Iranian AMIA suspects to trial.

The third trial, also pending, involves Kirchner as well. Its focus is the January 2015 assassination of Alberto Nisman, the federal prosecutor who was placed in charge of a renewed AMIA investigation a decade earlier. It was Nisman’s efforts that led Interpol to issue the “red notices” in 2007. But as his investigation progressed, Nisman’s attention turned to Kirchner’s alleged collusion with the Iranian regime. That line of enquiry, many Argentines strongly believe, is what lay behind his murder.

Finally, there is the distant possibility of a trial of the AMIA suspects themselves. Of the original six “red notice” subjects, one of them — the notorious Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh — is now dead, having been killed in a 2008 car bombing in Beirut. The surviving five — Ali Fallahijan, Mohsen Rabbani, Ahmad Reza Asghari, Ahmad Vahidi and Mohsen Rezai — are understood to be in Iran.

Separately, Argentina’s judiciary has issued arrest warrants for seven top Iranian officials — among them Ali Akbar Velayati, the Iranian foreign minister at the time of AMIA bombing. Now a senior adviser to  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Velayati was reportedly present at a meeting in the city of Mashhad in 1993, during which top Iranian security officials decided to bomb the AMIA building.

As The Algemeiner reported last week, Velayati’s visit to Moscow on July 12 led to a formal request by the Argentine authorities for his arrest. To the dismay of the Argentine Foreign Ministry, which pointed to a 2014 extradition treaty between Argentina and Russia, the authorities in Moscow ignored the request with what a ministry spokesperson called “bureaucratic evasions.”

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