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Argentina: 17 Years After AMIA Attack, Case Remains Unsolved

July 18, 2011, commemorates the 17th anniversary of the attack on the Asociación de Mutuales Israelita de Argentina [es] (Israelite Argentinean Mutual Aid Association), better known as the AMIA [es], where a vehicle loaded with explosives crashed against the building killing 85 people.

Previously, in 1992, the Israeli Embassy in Argentina also suffered a similar attack where the building was completely destroyed causing 29 deaths.

Memorial to victims of the 1994 attack, AMIA, Buenos Aire. Image by Flickr user andysternberg (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Memorial to victims of the 1994 attack, AMIA, Buenos Aire. Image by Flickr user andysternberg (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

The AMIA [es] web page tells what happened in the building:

18 de julio de 1994. 9:53 hs. Una fuerte explosión, seguida por un gigantesco hongo de humo y polvo, destruyó 85 vidas, 85 historias, 85 familias.En cuestión de segundos arrasó con la sede de la organización judía más emblemática de la Argentina y todo lo que estaba a su alrededor.Pánico. Ambulancias. Gente corriendo. Vidrios rotos cayendo de las ventanas de los edificios, cubriendo toda la calle. Gritos que surgían de la multitud mezclaban historias milagrosas y trágicas casualidades del destino.

July 18, 1994. 9:53 am. A strong explosion followed by a gigantic plume of smoke and dust, 85 lives destroyed, 85 histories, 85 families. In a matter of seconds the headquarters of the most well known Jewish organization in Argentina were destroyed as was everything around it. Panic. Ambulances. People running. Broken glass falling from building windows, covering the entire street. Screams that came from the multitude mixed miraculous stories and tragic casualties of fate.

Blogs de Tea y Deportea [es] also shares the story:

Más de 1000 viviendas y comercios cercanos quedaron destruidos, la pérdida de gas en la zona fue de gran magnitud, la onda expansiva arrasó con toda la cuadra , lanzando autos, arboles, carteles y personas por los aires; los vidrios de las ventanas de las viviendas y negocios estallaron hasta seis calles a la redonda.

More than 1000 houses and nearby shops were destroyed, the loss of gas in the area was very large, the blast devastated the entire block, throwing cars, trees, signs and people in the air; the glass in the windows of homes and businesses broke up six surrounding blocks.

While to date the investigations continue, after 17 years no one has claimed the attack nor has anyone been found guilty. Carlos Braverman [es], an Israeli political scientist and psychologist, writes in his blog:

Este 18 de julio se cumplió un nuevo aniversario del atentado contra la AMIA y la impunidad miserable sigue envolviendo en un sentimiento de impotencia a los familiares de los 85 muertos y más de 300 heridos por el mayor ataque terrorista que vivió Argentina.

The 18th of july completes a new anniversary of the attack against the AMIA and impunity remains wrapped in a miserable feeling of powerlessness of the families of the 85 dead and 300 wounded in the largest terrorist attack that Argentina has experienced.

The commemoration was attended by national authorities and among them President Cristina Fernandez. The President of the AMIA [es], Guillermo Borger, in his speech called for justice. Perfil comments on fragments of this speech:

También criticó que no haya nuevos avances en la causa judicial por el atentado. Es que a más de dos años del fallo de la Corte Suprema de Justicia, que promovió un nuevo juicio contra los responsables de la denominada conexión local, no hubo todavía “un solo nuevo imputado, ni pistas ni pruebas” en tal sentido.

En su discurso pronunciado en la puerta de la sede de la mutual judía, su titular agradeció la presencia de la presidenta Cristina Fernández, pero dijo que la comunidad judía “necesita justicia”.

He also criticized that there haven't been new advances in the judicial case for the attack. It has been more than two years since the failure of the Supreme Court of Justice, which promoted a new trial against those responsible for the so-called local connection, there wasn't yet “one new defendant, or clues or evidence” in this regard.In his speech given at the threshold of the headquarters of the Jewish mutual association, the AMIA president acknowledged the presence of Argentine President Cristina Fernández, but said that the Jewish community “needs justice”. 

With respect to the AMIA case, a 800 page report supported by the Argentine Supreme Court implied a request for the international arrest of eight Iranian officials. The blog El Rejunte.il [es] comments on the steps that followed:

En el 2006, el fiscal Alberto Nisman tomó la causa AMIA. El 16 de julio del 2009, presentó un dictamen de 800 páginas donde está demostrado judicialmente que la República Islámica de Irán financió, organizó y perpetuó el atentado a la mutual judía. Este informe fue abalado por la justicia argentina y posteriormente por Interpol, que emitió un pedido de captura internacional para 8 funcionarios iraníes actualmente protegidos por Irán.

In 2006, attorney Alberto Nisman took up the AMIA case. On July 16, 2009, he presented an document of 800 pages where it is proven in court that the Islamic Republic of Iran financed, organized and perpetrated the attach on the AMIA. This report was followed up by the Argentine justice system and subsequently by Interpol that issued an arrest warrant for eight Iranian officials protected by Iran.

In September of 2007, the former President Néstor Kirchner denounced in front of the United Nations the lack of support on the part of Iran to clear up the case. The web site for Channel 3 of Rosariorio [es] informed:

“Esperamos que la República Islámica de Irán acepte y respete la decisión de la Justicia y colabore eficazmente”, aseguró y reclamó a la comunidad internacional que “interceda”. “Estamos pidiendo que Irán cumpla. Nada más, pero tampoco nada menos”, sostuvo.

“We hope that the Islamic Republic of Iran accepts and respects the decision of the Court and collaborates efficaciously”, he assured and called on the international community to “intercede”. “We are requesting that Iran comply. Nothing more, but also nothing less”, he said.

Following the statements of the former president, the Iranian diplomatic corps warned with regard to this issue, according to the newspaper El Litoral [es]:

La decisión del mandatario generó una fuerte advertencia de Irán a Argentina, a cargo de Moshen Baharvand, encargado de negocios de la embajada de Irán en Buenos Aires y máximo representante diplomático de Teherán en el país sudamericano. ”Es posible que, en caso de que el presidente Kirchner acuse (por el atentado) a Irán, muchos países interpretarán que la Argentina está a favor de la guerra”, afirmó Baharvand.

The decision of the president generated a strong warning from Iran to Argentina, by Mohsen Baharvand, charge d'affaires at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires and Tehran's top diplomat in the South American country. “It is possible that in the event that President Kirchner accused (the attack) Iran, many countries will construe that as Argentina being in favor of war,” said Baharvand.

Recently the Argentine Chancellory received an official communiqué from Iran that announced its decision to cooperate in the clarification, ratifying innocence. The online journal Juventud informada [es] republished the words of the Argentine Chancellor Héctor Timerman:

Reconoció que lo tomó “totalmente por sorpresa” el comunicado oficial de Irán en el que si bien se ratifica la responsabilidad sobre el atentado terrorista que sufrió la Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), “tiene una novedad: dice que está preparado para sentarse a negociar con la Argentina un acuerdo de cooperación con las investigaciones para que se encuentren los culpables”.

He acknowledged that it took him by “complete surprise” Iran's official communiqué which confirms that while the responsibility for the terrorist attack suffered by the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), ”is a novelty, it says that Iran is prepared to sit down to negotiate with Argentina a cooperation agreement with the investigations so that they can locate the culprits. “

The response of Attorney Nisman that follows the case was immediate. The Cordoba chapter of the Zionist Organization of Argentina [es] reproduced part of the communiqué:

“Si los iraníes y su Gobierno están dispuestos a cooperar que lo hagan de una vez por todas y de la única manera posible: entregando a todos los acusados de este terrible accionar terrorista que le imputa la Justicia argentina y dejen de efectuar declaraciones de vacías de contenido que nunca condujeron a nada”

“If the Iranians and their government are willing to cooperate, it is best that they do it at once and in the only manner possible: turning over all of those accused of this terrible terrorist act that imputes Argentine justice and stop issuing vague declarations that will never go anywhere.”
AMIA suggested image for Facebook profile picture campaign.

AMIA suggested image for Facebook profile picture campaign.

The web page Atentado al Olvido [es] organized a Twitter campaign inviting users under the hashtag #tweetdeluto [es] where people can recall the victims of the deplorable act with a black band as Teresita FerrariOsvaldo BazanSandra Empereur Cristina Gianferrari y  Emanuel Rebollo have done among others.

Meanwhile Patricia Terranova [es], whose father died in the attack, writes a few words [es] on the Facebook page commemorating July 18th [es]:

Sigue doliendo como hace 17 años atras..Te extraño!!

It still hurts just it did 17 years ago. I miss you!!

And she continues further on the same site:

Este es un homenaje a mi padre que dejo la vida en la puerta de la AMIA…Su ejemplo y amor hacia su familia y su pais es lo que me mantiene aqui , dando mi memoria a la Justicia.

This is an homage to my father that gave his life at the door of the AMIA…his example and love towards his family and his country is what keeps me here, giving my report to justice.

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