BEIRUT — A federal judge in Argentina sent international arrest warrants to INTERPOL for four Lebanese citizens linked to Hezbollah over their alleged involvement in a 1994 bombing against a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, media reported on Thursday.
In July 1994, a bomb-laden van detonated at the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, killing 85 people and injuring more than 300 others in the deadliest attack in Argentina’s history. Two years earlier, 29 people were killed in a bombing at the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.
No group has ever claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Argentinian prosecutors and Israel have accused Hezbollah operatives of being behind them upon the orders of Iran, which repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks.
The four suspects are Hussein Mounir Mouzannar, Ali Hussein Abdallah, Farouk Abdul Hay Omairi and Abdallah Salman (also known as Jose el-Reda).
“Regarding these individuals, there are well-founded suspicions that they are collaborators or operational agents of the … armed wing of Hezbollah,” federal judge Daniel Rafecas wrote in his request.
The prosecutor in charge of the case, Sebastian Basso, sought the arrest of the four men after conducting his own investigation. Basso traveled to the porous tri-border region that connects Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, known as the Triple Frontier, where Hezbollah is suspected of running a wide criminal network. The prosecutor also took statements and collected court documents from Argentina as well as from Brazil, Paraguay, Colombia, Chile and African countries, according to the Argentinian La Nacion daily.
According to the prosecution, Reda, who is believed to be living in Beirut, is responsible for planning and carrying out the 1994 attack, “fulfilling most of his duties from the Triple Frontier with the support of operative groups belonging to Hezbollah in the region.”
Mouzannar has a Paraguayan national ID and could be living either in Paraguay or Brazil. Omairi is a naturalized Brazilian citizen whose last known address was on the Brazilian side of the tri-border region. Abdallah, a naturalized Brazilian citizen, has both Brazilian and Paraguayan passports. All three are accused of providing logistic support to Reda, including false addresses and documentation to allow him to move freely between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Argentina is home to Latin America’s largest Jewish community, hosting nearly 200,000 Jews, according to the World Jewish Congress. A large Lebanese community lives in Argentina as well. Data by Information International, a Beirut-based research and consultancy firm, estimate the number of people of Lebanese birth or descent in the Latin American country at around 1.5 million.
Hezbollah, which first emerged in Lebanon in the 1980s as a resistance group against the Israeli occupation at the time, has expanded considerably in the past years with Iranian support to become a transnational organization. Designated by several countries as a terrorist group, Hezbollah is believed to run a global network of drug smuggling and money laundering to fund its activities. Argentina designated Hezbollah as a terror organization in 2019 and froze its assets in the country.