Hezbollah terrorist indicted for bombing of Argentinian Jewish center

Colombian-Lebanese national Samuel Salman El Reda is still at large, three decades after the AMIA bombing killed 85.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The American Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed its indictment of an alleged senior Hezbollah member Wednesday on terrorism charges for his part in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 people and wounded over 300 nearly 30 years ago.

According to the documents submitted to Manhattan’s federal court, Colombian-Lebanese national Samuel Salman El Reda helped “coordinate the July 18, 1994, bombing of the AMIA building by carrying out… planning operations in Buenos Aires and relaying information” to the operatives on the ground.

He then went on in his terrorist career in the organization’s department “responsible for the planning and coordination of intelligence, counterintelligence and terrorist activities on behalf of Hezbollah outside of Lebanon,” the DOJ said. Between 2007 and 2015 he helped “recruit, train and manage” Hezbollah operatives, sending them to Panama, Peru and Thailand to gather explosive chemicals and look for appropriate targets for future terrorist attacks, according to the indictment.

He is being charged specifically with providing and conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, and with aiding and abetting and conspiring to receive military-type training from a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Altogether, if caught and convicted on all charges, El Reda could face 55 years in federal prison, but the high-ranking terrorist is still at large and believed to be in Lebanon.

According to the New York Post, court records show that an indictment was filed against the terrorists already in 2019, a few months after the State Department put El Reda on its sanctions list and offered a $7 million reward for information leading to his arrest.

The statement put out by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen did not explain why the charges were only revealed now, but called the indictment “a message to those who engage in acts of terror: that the Justice Department’s memory is long, and we will not relent in our efforts to bring them to justice.”

The U.S. is currently investing a great deal of diplomatic effort to deter Hezbollah from joining the Hamas-Israel war that began October 7 after Hamas terrorists invaded Gazan envelope communities and massacred 1,200 people, most of them civilians. The Americans warned Iran to rein in its Lebanese proxy and sent two carrier groups to the Mediterranean to back up its words with an overt military threat.

So far, Hezbollah has limited itself to daily firing of rockets at Israel’s north and periodic attempts to infiltrate on the ground, which has led Israel to both evacuate all its border communities, sending tens of thousands of civilians southward, and respond to every launch with airstrikes and artillery fire on Hezbollah positions. About 100 Hezbollah operatives have been killed, while Israel has suffered the loss of fewer than a dozen soldiers and civilians to date.

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It is possible that the DOJ was also spurred to action by the fact that in June, the Argentinians issued an international arrest warrant for both El Reda and his brother, José, for allegedly plotting the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 that killed 22 people.

In the 1994 suicide attack, a bomb-filled truck was driven into the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) building, destroying the entire structure in the deadliest attack in Argentine history.

Over the years of efforts to bring those responsible to justice, there were many alleged cover-ups, even reaching the highest office in the land. In 2015, prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused former Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of covering up Iran’s role in the bombing. He was murdered hours before he was due to testify, an act the court deemed a “direct consequence” of his accusations. In 2021, the country’s federal court dismissed the charges against her.