|1994 AMIA Bombing|
The aftermath of the terrorist attack
|Location||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Date||July 18, 1994
|Target||Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina|
|Deaths||85 (+ 1 bomber)|
|Perpetrators||Unknown, Argentina has accused Hezbollah and Iran of being responsible.|
The AMIA bombing was an attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA; Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building. It occurred in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds. It was Argentina's deadliest bombing ever. Argentina is home to a Jewish community of 200,000, among the largest in Latin America (see Demographics of Argentina).
Over the years, the case has been marked by incompetence and accusations of cover-ups. All suspects in the "local connection" (among them, many members of the Buenos Aires Provincial Police) were found to be "not guilty" in September 2004. In August 2005, federal judge Juan José Galeano, in charge of the case, was impeached and removed from his post on a charge of "serious" irregularities due to mishandling of the investigation. In 2005, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who would later become Pope Francis, was the first public personality to sign a petition for justice in the AMIA bombing case. He was one of the signatories on a document called “85 victims, 85 signatures” as part of the bombing’s 11th anniversary.
On October 25, 2006, Argentine prosecutors Alberto Nisman and Marcelo Martínez Burgos formally accused the government of Iran of directing the bombing, and the Hezbollah militia of carrying it out. According to the prosecution's claims in 2006, Argentina had been targeted by Iran after Buenos Aires' decision to suspend a nuclear technology transfer contract to Tehran. This however, has been disputed, because this contract was never terminated, and Iran and Argentina were negotiating on restoration of full cooperation on all agreements from early 1992 until 1994, when the bombing occurred.
The thirteenth anniversary of the bombing was commemorated on July 18, 2007. In addition to nationwide exhibitions and ceremonies, radio and television stations and police cars all across Argentina sounded sirens at 9:53 am, the time of the bombing.
On July 18, 1994, a Renault Trafic van bomb loaded with about 275 kilograms (610 lb) of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil explosive mixture, was detonated in front of the Jewish Community Center located in a densely constructed commercial area of Buenos Aires. The explosive is thought to have been arranged to focus the blast on the building 3 to 5 metres (9.8 to 16 ft) away, exhibiting a shaped charge or explosively formed penetrator effect. The exterior walls of this five story building were of brick masonry construction, which supported the floor slabs. The air blast from the bomb totally destroyed the exposed load-bearing walls which, in turn, led to progressive failure of the floor slabs and virtually total collapse of the building. Such bearing-wall buildings are notable for their tendency to be brought down in this manner by localized damage.
Eighty-five people died, the majority of whom were Jewish (although many non-Jews were also killed). More than 300 others were wounded.
In the days following the bombing, Israel sent Mossad agents to Argentina to investigate. The Israeli Police also sent a team of four forensic scientists to assist with the building of ante mortem files and victim identification; the IDF sent personnel to help the Argentines with body extrication. Argentina closed its borders after the attack, fearing more terrorists could enter. It was thought possible that the bombers entered Argentina through the Triple Frontier, where the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet. Argentina's intelligence agency, the Secretaría de Inteligencia (SIDE), is said to have set up a network of surveillance called "Centauro" in Paraguay.
Other bombings 
The bombing came two years after the March 17, 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires which killed 29 and wounded 242, and was Argentina's deadliest attack until the AMIA bombing. The Islamic Jihad Organization, which according to Robert Baer operates under the umbrella of Hezbollah and is linked to Iran, claimed responsibility for that bombing. Some[who?] suspect that the AMIA bombing was connected to the embassy attack. To date, authorities have been unable to locate those responsible for either of the two bombings.
The day after the AMIA attack, a suicide bombing on a Panamanian commuter plane killed all 21 passengers, 12 of whom were Jews. Investigators determined that the bombing was perpetrated by a "Lya Jamal" – thought to be "an Arab traveling under an alias, using fraudulently obtained Colombian documents."
Eight days after the AMIA attack, the Israeli embassy in London was car-bombed, and thirteen hours later a similar car bomb exploded outside a Jewish community centre in London. No one was killed but 22 were injured and "millions of pounds of damage" was done. Five Palestinians were later arrested in London and two convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison in connection with the bombings. No links between any of these bombings have been proved by investigations, and the motive behind such attacks have not been disclosed.
Investigation and responsibility 
No suspects have been convicted for the bombing and there have been many allegations made, including those blaming the government of Iran. The investigations were marred by incompetence; former President Néstor Kirchner called them a "national disgrace" in 2005. In 1999 an arrest warrant was issued against Hezbollah member Imad Mugniyah in connection with the attack. Argentine justice accused Tehran in 2006 of being behind the attacks, allegedly because of Buenos Aires' decision to suspend a nuclear material delivery and technology transfer.
Ibrahim Hussein Berro 
Israeli diplomatic sources who read the "final" report by SIDE on the attack said in 2003 that the attack was a suicide bombing carried out by Ibrahim Hussein Berro, a 29-year-old Hezbollah operative who has been honored with a plaque in southern Lebanon for his martyrdom on July 18, 1994, the date of the bombing. This investigation was carried out jointly with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hussein had been identified by FBI and Argentine intelligence, and corroborated by at least three witnesses.  According to official Argentine government prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, Hussein's two US-based brothers had testified that he had joined the radical Shia militant group Hezbollah. "The brothers' testimony was substantial, rich in detail and showed that he was the one who was killed," Nisman added. 
However, a BBC correspondent reported that "independent" investigators were skeptical, and they pointed out repeated incompetence and deception in the official investigation. No proper autopsies or DNA tests were done. The police had also simply dumped a head, thought to be that of the bomber, into a bin.
Juan José Galeano's investigations 
Federal judge Juan José Galeano followed investigations concerning the "local connection", which included members of the Policía Bonaerense (Buenos Aires Provincial Police). He quickly arrested Carlos Telleldín, alleged to have provided the van used in the bombing, and some 20 officers from the Bonaerense. But a video broadcast on Argentine TV showed him offering Telleldín $400,000, in return for evidence, which led to Galeano's removal from the case in 2003, and his impeachment in August 2005.
Judge Galeano had also issued warrants for the arrests of 12 Iranians, including Hade Soleimanpour, Iran's ambassador to Argentina in 1994. The latter was arrested in the UK on August 21, 2003, at the request of the Argentine authorities. He was later released because, according to the Home Office, there was not even enough evidence presented to make a prima facie case for the extradition to proceed.
Judge Galeano also interviewed Abolghasem Mesbahi, aka "Witness C", an alleged former Iranian intelligence officer who reportedly said a former Argentine president accepted a $10 million payment from Tehran to block the investigation. Former President Carlos Menem denied the claims, but admitted he had a secret Swiss bank account following a report in the New York Times. Menem claimed in 2004 that the attack had been related to his support to the US during the First Gulf War and to his visit to Israel during his mandate. Abolghasem Mesbahi claimed to the Argentine court that Iran had planned the bombing, thinking the centre was a base for the Israeli secret service.
On September 2, 2004, all suspects in the "local connection" (among whom members of the Buenos Aires police) of AMIA case were found to be not guilty. Five persons, including four policemen, were therefore acquitted because of lack of evidence.
On August 3, 2005, Judge Galeano's impeachment was successful, and he was formally removed from his post as a federal judge for "serious" irregularities and his mishandling of the investigation. Argentine newspaper Clarín reports that charges will be pressed against him shortly. Judge Galeano has denied these allegations.
In March 2005, Swiss judge Jacques Antenen, in charge of investigations concerning the murder of an Iranian dissident, re-opened the case concerning Iranian intelligence service bank accounts in Switzerland. The same account would have been used both for this assassination and for the alleged payment of ex-President Carlos Menem. Swiss Justice had already been notified of the existence of an account owned by the Red Spark Foundation (based in Liechtenstein), in which Ramón Hernández, former secretary of Carlos Menem, had authority to sign documents. Six millions dollars would have been deposited in this account, although in some moment the exact amount was said to be of $10 million.
Investigations under Néstor Kirchner's government 
Néstor Kirchner's government issued a decree in July 2005 formally accepting a share of the blame for the failure of investigations about the attack. He called the unresolved investigations a "national disgrace.". President Kirchner said governments had covered up facts, and that the decree established a mechanism for victims to receive compensation. Shortly after assuming his functions in spring 2003, he opened up Argentine intelligence files on the case, and lifted a decree preventing SIDE agents from testifying in the case.
Argentina's justice, Israel, and the United States suspected in 2005 that Hezbollah was behind the attack, with backing from Iran. Hezbollah has denied responsibility. The Iranian government maintains its innocence, condemning the terrorist attack and calling for urgent punishment of those responsible.
On October 25, 2006, prosecutors in Buenos Aires formally charged Iran and Shi'a militia Hezbollah with the bombing, accusing the Iranian authorities of directing Hezbollah to carry out the attack and calling for the arrest of former President of Iran Ayatollah Rafsanjani and seven others, including some who still hold official positions in Iran.
Speaking on state radio, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hoseyni described the accusations against the country as "a Zionist plot". Both Hezbollah and Iran deny any involvement in the bombing. According to Hoseyni, the accusations were intended to divert "world attention from the perpetration of crimes by the Zionists against women and children in Palestine".
On March 6, 2007, former Congressman Mario Cafiero and former government official Luis D'Elia provided evidence at a press conference that Abolghasem Mesbahi, along with two other Iranians that gave alleged evidence implicating Iran in the bombing, were members of the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK), which is an Islamic Marxist organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is designated as a terrorist organization by the US. They also said that there were arrest warrants issued by Interpol for the other two Iranians, Hadi Roshanravani and Hamid Reza Eshagi.
In 2012, Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner announced at the UN General Assembly that Iran and Argentina will meet to discuss Iranian involvement in the attacks. Argentina's Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi met on the sidelines of the UN in New York and promised to continue talks until the 1990s bombings are resolved.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post in December 2012, Cynthia Ferman argues that despite Kirchner's announcement, Argentina will "continue to (mis)lead the victims of terror by providing them with false hope for a just resolution." In addition, she writes that "it seems unlikely that Iran will hand over its high-ranking government officials to Argentina."
Official Argentine government findings 
In November 2007, Interpol on behalf of the Argentine government, published the names of six individuals officially accused for their role in the terrorist attack. They were entered in the Interpol red notice list.
- Imad Fayez Moughnieh
- Ali Fallahijan
- Mohsen Rabbani
- Ahmad Reza Asghari
- Ahmad Vahidi
- Mohsen Rezaee 
In November 2008, Carlos Menem was called to testify in an upcoming trial over the AMIA case.
In August 2009, BBC News reported that Ahmad Vahidi had become Iran's defense minister-designate under the 2009 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad administration, and is on Interpol's wanted list over the AMIA bombing. Vahidi led a unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard called Quds Force at the time of the attack, and has been accused of planning the bombings. Iran dismissed this development as a "Zionist plot". On June 1, 2011, Bolivia apologized to Argentina for Ahmad Vahidi's unannounced visit to the country, and announced that he would be leaving Bolivia immediately.
On March 31, 2012, Menem was ordered to stand trial for obstruction of justice in the probe of the AMIA bombing. Menem is accused of helping to cover up the tracks of local accomplices of the attackers.
Memorandum of understanding 
On January 27, 2013, the Government of Argentina announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran to establish a “truth commission” to investigate the AMIA Bombing. According to President Kirchner, the commission was established to "to analyze all the documentation presented to date by the judicial authorities of Argentina and Iran…and to give its vision and issue a report with recommendations about how the case should proceed within the legal and regulatory framework of both parties."
The news generated several criticisms with David Harris from the American Jewish Committee stating that “the idea of establishing a ‘truth’ commission on the AMIA tragedy that involves the Iranian regime would be like asking Nazi Germany to help establish the facts of Kristallnacht”. The U.S. State Department’s top official in charge of Latin American affairs, Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson, said she is “skeptical that a just solution can be found” through the so- called Argentine-Iran “truth-commission.” The Jewish community in Argentina issued the statement "to ignore everything that Argentine justice has done and to replace it with a commission that, in the best of cases, will issue, without any defined deadline, a 'recommendation' to the parties constitutes, without doubt, a reversal in the common objective of obtaining justice."
On February 28 2013, the Argentine Chamber of Deputies approved the memorandum of understanding with Iran by 131 votes in favor to 113 votes against. Israel expressed dissapointment at this development. Guillermo Borger, president of the AMIA, criticized the legality of the memorandum and announced that he would take it to the Supreme Court of Argentina.
Other opinion 
According to a report in The Nation, the author claims that James Cheek,United States Ambassador to Argentina at the time of the bombing, told him. "To my knowledge, there was never any real evidence [of Iranian responsibility]. They never came up with anything." The hottest lead in the case, he recalled, was an Iranian defector named Manoucher Moatamer, who "supposedly had all this information." But Moatamer turned out to be only a dissatisfied low-ranking official without the knowledge of government decision-making that he had claimed. "We finally decided that he wasn't credible," Cheek recalled. 
Cultural depictions 
Ten years after the terrorist attack, a group of 10 Argentine directors, each financed by a different production company, filmed a collection of 10 shorts in tribute to the victims of the attack. The shorts were collected in the film 18-j, dubbed thus in reference to the date of the attack. The directors were Daniel Burman, Israel Adrián Caetano, Lucía Cedrón, Alejandro Doria, Alberto Lecchi, Sergio Renán, Marcelo Schapces, Carlos Sorín, Juan Bautista Stagnaro, Adrián Suar and Mauricio Wainrot; a small introduction was narrated by actress Norma Aleandro. Each short showed a different scene in the lives of those who witnessed the attack first-hand. The film premiered August 19, 2004.
In 2009 Marcos Carnevale directed Anita, a full-length film which portrays a young woman (Alejandra Manzo) with Down Syndrome who is lost in Buenos Aires after her mother is killed in the AMIA bombing.
See also 
- Caso AMIA: los fiscales dicen haber identificado al autor del atentado, Clarín November 10, 2005
- Identificaron al terrorista suicida que voló la AMIA, La Nación November 10, 2005
- "AMIA Bombing Commemorated", Dateline World Jewry, World Jewish Congress, September 2007
- "Argentina marks 1994 bomb attacks", BBC News, July 18, 2006
- "AMIA: destituyeron a Galeano". Clarín (in Spanish). August 3, 2005. Archived from the original on 27 June 2006. Retrieved July 18, 2006.
- Pope Francois I
- "Iran, Hezbollah charged in 1994 Argentine bombing". Daily Jang. October 25, 2006. Archived from the original on September 1, 2007. Retrieved October 25, 2006.
- "Iran charged over Argentina bomb". BBC News. October 25, 2006. Archived from the original on 7 November 2006. Retrieved October 25, 2006.
- Acusan a Irán por el ataque a la AMIA, La Nación, October 26, 2006
- Argentina's Iranian nuke connection, Gareth Porter, Nov 15, 2006
- "Discursos". OAS. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
- Protecting Buildings From Bomb Damage: Transfer of Blast-Effects Mitigation Technologies from Military to Civilian Applications
- Interview Robert Baer
- 1992 Patterns of Global Terrorism: The Year in Review
- Norton, Augustus Richard, Hezbollah: A Short History, Princeton University Press, 2007, p.79
- Acquittals in Argentine terror case cast a shadow across Panama, The Panama News, September–November 2004, issue 18
- Two guilty of embassy bombing, December 12, 1996
- Palestinians jailed for Israel embassy blasts, December 17, 1996
- Article Acusan a Irán de haber planeado el atentado contra la AMIA in Argentine newspaper La Nación on 25. October 2006, retrieved on May 31, 2011
- Article AMIA: juicio oral por irregularidades in Argentine newspaper "La Nación" on 13. May 2011, retrieved on 31 Mai 2011
- Article AMIA: el nuevo fiscal acusó a Irán como responsable del atentado in Argentine newspaper Clarin on October 26, 2006, retrieved on May 31, 2011
- "Buenos Aires bomber 'identified'", BBC News, November 10, 2005
- Cormier, Bill. "Hezbollah Militant Identified in '94 Blast". Associated Press, November 9, 2005.
- "Argentine bomb probe judge sacked", BBC News, August 3, 2005
- Argentina removes bomb case judge, BBC News, December 3, 2003
- "UK refuses to extradite Iranian". BBC News. November 13, 2003. Retrieved July 18, 2006.
- "Flashback: Argentina Bomb", BBC News, August 25, 2003
- "Iran blamed for Argentina bomb", BBC News, November 6, 2003
- CRS Report for Congress, RS 21113, March 31, 2005 Argentina: Political Conditions and U.S. Relations Accessed August 17, 2006
- Reabren investigación sobre Carlos Menem, Nueva Sion, March 23, 2005, news-article published on-line by Memoria Activa memorial site
- La Cámara de Casación confirma las gravísimas irregularidades cometidas en la investigación del atentado a la AMIA, May 19, 2006, on Memoria Activa website
- United States Department of State, April 2005
- "Hezbollah again denies involvement in deadly Buenos Aires bombing" BEIRUT, March 19 (AFP)
- Latest condemnation July 19, 2007 by Iran's foreign ministry spokesman
- "Iran denies Argentina bomb charge", BBC News, October 26, 2006
- "D’Elía dice que dos testigos de la AMIA son "disidentes terroristas"", Pagina 12, March 7, 2007
- Argentina and Iran vow to talks until 1990s bombings resolved
- The Argentinian and Iranian tango
- INTERPOL Executive Committee takes decision on AMIA Red Notice dispute
- "Argentine judge links ex-president Menem to AMIA bombing | NowPublic News Coverage". Archived from the original on May 11, 2009. Retrieved April 12, 2009.
- "Terror case lawyer alleges agents tortured him". CNN. March 9, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2010.
- Iran 'minister' on Interpol list
- "Argentina's Carlos Menem faces bombing trial". BBC News. 2012-03-31. Retrieved 2012-04-01.
- Jpost Article AMIA Attack Commission Jan 2013
- Miami Herald Jan 2013
- Miami Herald. Jan 2013
- Amia bombing: Argentina and Iran agree truth commission BBC. Jan 2013
- "Argentina's Congress okays probe with Iran into 1994 Jewish center bombing". Haaretz (in English). Reuters. 28 February 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- Jewish organization pledges to take Argentina/Iran accord to the Supreme Court
- Bush's Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up
- AMIA Case – Assessment of Argentine explosions, developments on AMIA dossier Iran's view from IRNA
- BBC: Pressure on Iran over Argentina blasts
- "Argentine bomb police 'to testify'"; September 17, 2003; BBC News
- "Flashback: Argentina bomb"; August 25, 2003; BBC News
- "Iran denies Argentina blast role"; March 9, 2003; BBC News
- Pictures from the tenth anniversary commemoration
- Memoria Activa, memorial site, (Spanish) (including official documents)