Argentina bombing anniversary recalls reach of Iranian regime’s terror

This year the world is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed dozens of people and signaled that the reach of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism spanned the globe.

On the morning of July 18, 1994, a Hizballah suicide bomber, backed by the Iranian regime, drove a van filled with explosives to the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society (AMIA) building. The bombing killed 85 people, including 5-year-old Sebastian Barreiro, who was walking past with his mother, and Martin Figuero, a father of six, who was working inside. The explosion injured more than 300 other people.

Speaking at the second Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial in Buenos Aires July 19, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the bombing showed the threat from Iran-backed Hizballah in the West “isn’t abstract. It’s not theoretical. The risk from terrorism today is very real for each and every one of us.”

The Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps funded and provided logistical support for the attack. Iran-backed Hizballah terrorists also bombed the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires two years earlier, killing 29.

On the 25th anniversary of the bombing, Argentina’s Financial Information Unit designated Hizballah a terrorist organization. The United States designated Hizballah a terrorist group in 1997. Pompeo commended Argentina’s decision to designate Hizballah as a terrorist organization. “The world is recognizing Hizballah for what it is — a terrorist proxy of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said in a July 18 tweet.

The ministerial is one of several recent events honoring the victims of the AMIA bombing and calling for the Iranian regime to stop harboring those responsible. Pompeo told those at the meeting that the United States is “recommitting to the cause of justice for those killed in the AMIA bombing.”

Rescue workers searching through rubble of a building (© Diego Levy//Bloomberg/Getty Images)
Iran’s regime backed the July 18, 1994, bombing of this Jewish community center in Buenos Aires and has shielded suspects from prosecution. (© Diego Levy/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

At a recent remembrance at the Wilson Center, a Washington think tank, U.S. and Argentine officials described Iran-backed terrorism as a continuing threat.

Nathan Sales, the U.S. Department of State’s acting under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, told those at the Wilson Center event that the Iranian regime’s financing of global terrorism comes at the expense of the Iranian people.

“The regime in Tehran continues to provide hundreds of millions of dollars every year to terrorists across the world,” including $700 million annually to Hizballah alone, he said. The regime “does this despite ongoing economic turmoil that’s impoverishing many of its people.”

At the Wilson Center, Argentina’s ambassador to the United States, Fernando Oris de Roa, called the AMIA bombing “the most brutal attack” in Argentina’s history.

He blamed Iran’s regime for protecting those responsible. Interpol is seeking several former high-ranking officials in the Iranian regime to stand trial in Argentinian courts on charges related to the bombing.

Suspects include former Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Mohsen Rezai, former Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and former Minister of Intelligence Ali Fallahian.

“The pain will never cease. The wounds will never be completely healed. But impunity makes it a lot worse,” Oris de Roa said. “The Argentine republic continues to request the Islamic Republic of Iran to cooperate with Argentine judicial authorities.”