B’nai B’rith International marks the 22nd anniversary of the bombing attack on the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) building—the Jewish center—in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On July 18, 1994, a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into the AMIA building, collapsing it, killing 85 people and wounding 300. Iran has long been widely recognized as the perpetrator behind this heinous crime.
It wasn’t until 2005—when former President Néstor Kirchner acknowledged the state’s responsibility for the stagnant investigation and named Alberto Nisman to head-up a new investigative unit—that a serious investigation into the bombing finally started. Nisman eventually found that several top Iranian officials, including then-President Hashemi Rafsanjani and former Minister of Defense Ahmad Vahidi, as well as Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah were all involved with the attack. Eventually, Interpol issued arrest warrants for a Lebanese national and five Iranians. To this day, none has been apprehended.
In 2013, despite the extensive evidence found by Nisman, Argentina and the regime in Tehran signed a “Memorandum of Understanding,” which created a "Commission of Truth" to jointly “investigate” the attack. The deal allowed Iranian officials full access to the case file. The agreement also stated that any interrogations of suspects would only take place in Iran. Disregarding the memorandum, Nisman continued to unearth new information. In January 2015, he filed a complaint against then-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, her Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and other members and close allies of the government, for allegedly having negotiated the pact with Iran in order to give impunity to the accused, in exchange for a trade agreement that included oil.
On Jan. 18, 2015, Nisman was found dead in his home, just one day before he was set to expand on his explosive allegations before the Argentine Congress. The causes of his death have still not been clarified.
“The fact that Argentina entered into a deal with Iran, which is widely believed to have planned the attack, has always been very disconcerting and appalling,” B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman said. “Alberto Nisman’s valiant efforts to procure justice for victims of the AMIA building bombing will always be acknowledged by B’nai B’rith.”
When Argentine President Mauricio Macri was sworn into office this past December he decided not to appeal a federal court’s verdict that the “Memorandum of Understanding” was unconstitutional. While she was still president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had filed an appeal to keep it intact.
For more than two decades, B’nai B’rith, with its deep ties throughout Latin America, has pressed for those responsible to be brought to justice. We pledge to never forget the victims and their families, or Alberto Nisman, and what he has done for the Jewish community.
“There is no statute of limitations on bringing terrorists to justice. Macri’s decision to void the AMIA bombing pact with Iran was a major step in the right direction,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “B’nai B’rith will remain persistent in the fight for justice.”