AMIA Bombing

The AMIA Bombing was an attack on the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association building or Asociación Mutua Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Spanish. It was Argentina's bloodiest terrorist attack and the largest single incident of terrorism against Jews since World War II. Argentina is home to the largest Jewish community in Latin America.

Hezbollah is believed to be behind the attack, with backing from Iran. Israeli diplomatic sources who read the report that SIDE (Argentine State Intelligence Agency or Secretaría de Inteligencia Del Estado made on the attack, told Argentine investigators in 2003 that the attack was a suicide bombing carried out by Ibrahim Hussein Berro, a 29-year-old Muslim who has been honored with a plaque in southern Lebanon for his martyrdom on July 18, 1994, the date of the bombing.

On that date, a powerful bomb made of ammonium nitrate was driven through the front gates of the AMIA building in the Once district near downtown Buenos Aires. The building was a large seven-story place which was the headquarters of Argentina's Jewish community. The bomber detonated the bomb, levelling the building and reducing it to rubble, as well as damaging nearby buildings.

Nobody has yet been convicted of the bombing and there have been many allegations including those blaming the government of Iran. There have been allegations that former president Carlos Menem accepted money from the Iranian government to block the investigation.

86 people died, most of them Jewish. More than 300 others were wounded in the attack, Argentina's worst. Argentina's intelligence agency, SIDE, is said to have set up a network of surveillance called 'Centauro' on the country of Paraguay, where many Muslim extremist cells are said to be located. In the years following the attack, it is said that SIDE stopped another attack on Argentine soil. In the days following the bombings, Israel sent Mossad agents to Argentina to investigate and Argentina closed its borders for fear more terrorists could enter.

The attack came two years after the 1992 Israeli Embassy Attack in Buenos Aires that killed 29, and a day before a bomber blew himself up on a Panamanian commuter plane, killing 21 people including 12 Jews.

A Lebanon-based group called "Partisans of God" claimed the attack, but it is believed Hezbollah was responsible, with backing from Iran. Israel stated this in a 2003 report on the bombing. This claim is further supported by the 1999 arrest warrant issued against Hezbollah member, Imad Mugniyah, in connection with this attack. In September 2003, Britain arrested an Iranian diplomat it said helped plan and finance the 1994 bombing.

Eight days after the AMIA attack the Israeli Embassy in London was car-bombed by two Palestinians linked to Hezbollah.

On September 2nd, 2004, all suspects in the "local connection" of AMIA case were found to be not guilty. As of February 2005, judge Juan Galeano is in the process of being impeached due to his alleged mishandling of the investigation.

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