Israeli Intel Leads Argentina to Issue Warrants Over 1992 Embassy Bombing

International arrest warrants issued against two Hezbollah members after intelligence relayed by Foreign Ministry and Mossad, in first significant development in investigation since 2001.

Reuters

Intelligence relayed by the Foreign Ministry and the Mossad led the Argentinian government to issue international warrants for the arrest of two suspects in the Hezbollah bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992, which killed 29 people, four of them Israeli diplomats.

Argentina's Supreme Court issued the warrants last Thursday and approached Interpol. The warrants are against Hezbollah member Hussein Mohammed Ibrahim Suleiman and against Jose Selan al-Ridah, believed to be a Hezbollah member as well. The warrants constitute a very significant development in the investigation of the attack, which has nearly ground to a halt since 2001.

In June 2001, Suleiman was arrested in Jordan and was identified as a member in Hezbollah's foreign attacks division, but was released after spending some time in custody. In his interrogation, he admitted to smuggling explosives inside boxes of foodstuff from Brazil to Argentina in early 1992. According to suspicions, these were used in the embassy bombing.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the "incrimination" of the two suspects and the issue of the warrants was the result of a joint effort by the Foreign Ministry and the Mossad. According to Nahshon, about a month ago the chief of the Supreme Court investigation, Justice Ricardo Luis Lorenzetti, abruptly asked the Israeli embassy for information about two people suspected in the bombing.

The background for Lorenzetti's request isn't completely clear. On March 1, Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner publicly criticized Supreme Court investigation in attempt to divert criticism against her over the death of Alberto Nisman, the chief investigator of the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in the capital, known as the AMIA bombing. Several weeks later, the Supreme Court resumed its investigation.

Nahshon said that after the Argentinian request, the Foreign Ministry searched its databases for incriminating evidence linking the two suspects to Hezbollah, to terrorist activities and to the bombing itself. After coming up empty, the Foreign Ministry decided to approach the Mossad, and asked it to conduct a similar search in its own archives.

The Mossad search found information linking the two to the bombing, and confirmed additional information uncovered by the Argentinian investigators, but the Mossad was concerned that giving the intelligence to Argentina may expose its sources. The Foreign Ministry pressed Mossad, and after several discussions it relented and gave the Ministry all the intelligence found.

"We relayed the information to the Buenos Aires embassy and it gave it to the investigating authorities a few weeks back, and as a result of that the arrest warrants were issued," Nahshon said. "This doesn't mean that they will be caught and brought to justice, but at least it exposes them, and highlights again Hezbollah's involvement. We see it as part of the war of terror, in which all the bodies in Israel, including the Foreign Ministry, participate, and as fulfilling a moral duty to our friends and employees murdered in the attack on the embassy in 1992."