Crime & Justice

Argentina demands containment of terrorism on anniversary of AMIA bombing

Buenos Aires, Jul 18 (EFE).- Argentina on Monday commemorated the 28th anniversary of the bomb attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA), which killed 85 people, a terrorist act for which the country’s authorities demanded justice, given that nobody has ever been charged with the attack, and also called for greater efforts against “the terrorist threat” to the region, within the context of which a Venezuelan-Iranian jet has been seized.

“How can so much impunity be explained? The AMIA incident is one of the most shameful events in Argentine history” and is “an image that shows us to (have experienced) a humiliating failure,” said AMIA president, Amos Linetzky, at the ceremony remembering the victims of the attack.

In the matter of the Venezuelan-Iranian jet “riddled with mysteries,” he said that “it has put the focus” on the fact that “regarding the struggle against terrorism, Argentina is exactly the same as it was 30 years ago,” when it suffered its first attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.

“We haven’t learned anything: our borders remain permeable; our controls, weak,” he said.

At the main AMIA remembrance ceremony, which this year was once again an in-person event after two years of the coronavirus pandemic, a siren once again was sounded at 9:53 am, the precise time at which on July 18, 1994, the bomb that killed 85 and injured more than 300 detonated, the worst such attack in Argentine history and for which the judiciary blamed the then-Iranian government and Lebanon’s Muslim radical Hezbollah Party.

Linetzky noted that “the swine, the wretches” accused of staging the bombing, for whom red alerts (i.e. for their arrest) have been issued by Interpol, continue to travel around the world without being apprehended, thus pointing up the inaction of Argentine prosecutors. He went on to note that one of the accused attackers earlier this year participated in the inauguration of the Nicaraguan president standing together with the Argentine ambassador.

“How can we explain that none of those responsible for such an atrocity have been able to be captured?” asked Linetzky rhetorically.

He added that the special prosecutorial unit has not produced anything new in the case, which is being overseen on an ongoing basis by a judge, and noting that last week the Argentina Supreme Court issued a condemnation in the matter after delaying for 17 years: “A painful and caustic sign of our decadent judicial branch.”

Linetzky noted that prosecutor Alberto Nisman – who had been in charge of the case but in 2015 turned up dead with a bullet in the head under circumstances that are still being investigated – had denounced the “Iranian infiltration in the region mainly through its alliance with Venezuela.”

He said that the aircraft incident “is linked to that same situation,” adding that “events with these characteristics” had been verified before the attacks on the Israeli Embassy and AMIA, saying “Today, it’s an airplane, the presence of which in our country nobody can explain” and asking “What are they waiting for until they react?”

The Venezuelan-Iranian aircraft has been held since June at the capital’s international airport and the Argentine judiciary has retained the passports of its crewmembers (five Iranians and 14 Venezuelans), within the context of a case over possible links to international terrorism.

He also asked what had changed along the triple border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, over which the Hezbollah terrorists came to carry out the attack, and noted that Brazil still has not designated that Islamic group as a terrorist organization. “Isn’t it time that Brazil intervene in the matter and do so also?”

Amnesty International echoed these demands in a communique in which it noted the Argentine government’s responsibility in the matter and saying it must end the almost three decades of impunity in the AMIA case.

AI called on the Argentine government to move forward with an appropriate investigation to clarify what occurred and to punish those responsible for it, to guarantee that all relevant documentation in the case be preserved, safeguarded and made accessible and to strengthen the state’s capabilities regarding preventing terrorist attacks.

At the memorial ceremony, photos of the victims carried by relatives were displayed as the siren sounded and then those guests responded “present” when each of the names of the 85 fatalities was read aloud.

Argentine President Alberto Fernandez did not attend the ceremony but wrote on Twitter: “28 years after the attack on AMIA, we once again say ‘present.’ For the 85 people murdered that morning, for their families and for all Argentina.”

Last Friday, Fernandez met with AMIA authorities at the president’s office and reiterated his commitment to clarifying the attacks and to the fight against anti-Semitism, officials said.

“Today we remember the victims and stand with their families. We remember. We demand justice,” tweeted former Argentine President Mauricio Macri, who governed from 2015-2019.

EFE vd/rgm/eat/bp

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