Argentina Brands Hizbullah Terror Organization, Freezes Its Assets
Argentina's government on Thursday branded Hizbullah a terrorist organization and froze its assets, 25 years to the day after a bombing blamed on the Lebanese-based group destroyed a Jewish community center in Argentina's capital, killing 85 people.
The nation's Financial Information Unit took the action a day after President Mauricio Macri's government created a list of terrorist organizations to help coordinate actions with other nations and as the nation held memorial services for victims of the attack, for which no one has been convicted.
The unit noted that Hizbullah has been accused of responsibility for a 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Argentina that killed 29 people, as well as the 1994 attack on the Argentine-Israelite Mutual Association in Buenos Aires.
"At the present time, Hizbullah continues to represent a current and active threat to national security and the integrity of the financial, economic order of the Argentine Republic," the unit said.
It's not clear how much impact the ruling will have or how many assets Hizbullah might have in Argentina. The group already has been put on terrorism lists by the U.S., the European Union and several other nations.
At midmorning Thursday, sirens resounded across the Argentine capital to honor the 85 people who died in the nation's worst bomb attack.
Argentine prosecutors blame Iranian officials for plotting the attack and say Hizbullah operatives carried it out. But nobody has been convicted despite years of tangled investigations. Iran has refused to turn over the people who now face charges, and denies any involvement.
The memorial service began with a moment of silence, followed by a reading of the names of each of the 85 victims.
"How is it possible that 25 years later there has not been a single responsible person imprisoned for this crime against humanity?" asked Ariel Eichbaum, president of the association, which is known by its Spanish initials, AMIA.
"We continue to have questions to which there are still no answers. Twenty-five years have passed and the wound remains open, a wound that cannot be closed without justice," he added.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was flying to Argentina to attend another memorial service on Friday and attend a meeting of international officials on fighting terrorism.