Monday, July 23, 2012

AMIA, Bulgaria and Iranian terrorism

The 18th anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires came on the same day of the deadly attack on Israeli tourists in Burges, Bulgaria, the latter of which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately blamed on Hizbullah and Iran. Those are routinely described as the main suspects in the 1994 AMIA attack, as well. Netanyahu mentioned the AMIA bombing in connection with the Burges murders. (La misma fecha, el mismo acusado Página 12 19.07.2012) This New York Times report on Netanyahu's statement, 5 Israelis Killed in Bulgaria; Netanyahu Blames Iranians by Nicholas Kulish and Matthew Brunwasser 07/18/2012, is unfortunately typical of how the AMIA attack is referred to in the American press:

"All signs point to Iran," Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement. He and other Israeli officials noted that the explosion came on the 18th anniversary of a bombing of an Argentine Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and wounded hundreds, an attack for which Argentine prosecutors have blamed Iran.
Gareth Porter posts a timely warning about the citations of the still-unsolved 1994 AMIA attack as evidence of Iranian capabilities and methods in foreign terrorist attacks: Why The Buenos Aires Bombing Is A False Indicator On Burgas LobeLog Foreign Policy 07/22/2012.

I attended a talk by Trita Parsi back on April 10 of this year of the National Iranian American Council while he was doing a book tour for his book A Single Roll of the Dice - Obama's Diplomacy with Iran (2012). I asked him about the AMIA attack, mentioning that an Argentine court had recently allowed charges to proceed against former Argentine President Carlos Menem having to do with obstructing investigation of the AMIA attack. He responded that he wasn't familiar enough with that incident to have a strong opinion about whether Iran was likely involved. He did say that the AMIA attack would have been consistent with other actions that Iran was taking around that time. But it was clear he didn't regard it as given that Iran had directed the attack.

Argentina's official theory of the crime still does assume Iranian involvement. The Times is right about that part. Interpol has warrants out for the arrest of five Iranians in connection with the crime.

But these open issues about the AMIA case rarely see the light in US press reports. The column by Dina Siegel Vann in Huffpost Voces, A 18 años del atentado terrorista contra AMIA: la búsqueda de justicia continúa 18/07/2012, uses the AMIA case to frame a polemic against Iran with no indication there might be substantial doubt about Iran's involvement in the 1994 attack.

There was also an even more highly dubious claim of a plot by Iran with the Zetas drug gang last year: Did Iran launch a plot against the US? Gary's Choices 10/12/2011; Robert Mackey, Some Experts Question Iran’s Role in Bungled Plot New York Times 10/12/2012.

The official commemoration this year organized by AMIA was marred by organizational disputes in part having to do with differing opinions on how the Argentine government is approaching the investigation, which has produced not a single conviction in the AMIA killings. The disputes produced the somewhat bizarre result that no family members of actuals victims of the 1994 were invited to speak at the commemoration.

I've posted earlier about the AMIA bombing:

The AMIA Jewish Community Center attack in Buenos Aires, 1994 02/27/2010

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem and the investigation of the AMIA Jewish community center attack of 1994 04/02/2012

Gareth Porter in his research relied heavily on the work of Gabriel Levinas, who wroteLa ley bajo los escombros: AMIA - Lo que no se hizo [Law under the ruins: AMIA - what was not done] (1998) about his own findings in the case.

Gabriel Levinas

The anniversary of the attack produced a number of articles in the Argentine press on the case and the current state of play on the ongoing investigation:

Borger: "Es el turno de la Justicia" Página 12 18.07.2012

Amnistía Internacional pide que el Estado argentino dé respuestas Clarín 18.07.2012

Un lugar donde pudieron hablar Página 12 19.07.2012

Sergio Kiernan, "El silencio es el crimen" Página 12 18.07.2012

Raúl Kollmann, Un acto sin las palabras de los familiares Página 12 18.07.2012: "el caso está lejos del esclarecimiento" ("the case is far from clarification").

Raúl Kollmann, Dos juicios pendientes Página 12 19.07.2012: Kollmann discusses some of the wide gaps in the official theory of the case, which includes the idea that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber for Hizbullah.

Shlomo Slutzky, Israel conmemora los 18 años del atentado a la AMIA Clarín 18.07.2012

Nora Veiras, “Tras 18 años de memoria necesitamos justicia” Página 12 19.07.2012

Mario Wainfeld, Un aniversario con mordaza Página 12 22.07.2012

See also:

Gareth Porter: Argentine Report Casts Doubt on Iran Role in '94 Bomb Inter Press Service 11/13/2006; Bush's Iran/Argentina Terror Frame-Up The Nation Online 01/18/2008; US Officials Rejected Key Source on '94 Argentina Bombing 01/24/2008; an interview Antiwar Radio's Scott Horton on 01/22/2009.

Raúl Kollmann; Una ayudita a los amigos para acusar a Irán Página 12 27.02.2011; “Una operación para encubrir” Página 12 27.02.2011; Llamadas, presiones, ofensas Página 12 27.02.2011

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