Argentine court seeks arrest of Hezbollah terrorist for ’92 bombing

The Supreme Court yesterday requested that Interpol arrest alleged Hezbollah member Hussein Mohamad Ibrahim Suleiman, one of the suspects in the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 22 in 1992.

The move came after the Israeli Embassy submitted information to the country’s highest tribunal. Court sources confirmed to the Herald that the Israeli Embassy confirmed the identity of Suleiman but did not send any new detail about El Reda.

Sources from the Israeli Embassy praised the decision by the Lorenzetti-led tribunal.

“We celebrate the permanent cooperation that has existed between Israel and Argentina,” diplomatic sources told the Herald yesterday.

According to the Centre for Judicial Information (CIJ), the Israeli Embassy confirmed the information the Court had about Suleiman, who has been in the judicial spotlight since 2005.

The Supreme Court has jurisdiction to investigate the attack on the Israeli Embassy because it is considered to be an attack perpetrated against a foreign country.

According to a report issued by Court Secretary Esteban Canevari in March, the former State Intelligence Secretariat (SIDE, now AFI) informed the Court that Suleiman had been arrested in June 2001 in Jordan.

Suleiman was identified as an agent of the Hezbollah, the Islamist movement that — according to the country’s highest tribunal — was responsible for the deadly attack.

According to the report issued by the Court, Suleiman, a Lebanese national, declared that in 1991 he travelled to Sao Paulo and that during the first days of 1992 he received the explosives that he brought into Argentina. The explosives were hidden in food boxes, the Hezbollah member reportedly said. The explosives were then used to blow up the diplomatic headquarters located on Arroyo street.

In the same report, the Supreme Court informed that it had requested information from other countries and intelligence agencies but they haven’t received a formal response. The Israeli Embassy responded to the request in September through the Foreign Office.

The investigation into the attack on the Israeli Embassy was reactivated after President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner pointed a finger at Lorenzetti during her congressional inauguration on March 1, wondering why the probe into the attack on the Embassy was at a deadlock.

Two days later, Lorenzetti responded to CFK, suggesting that the Israeli Embassy was a closed case, but had to backtrack amid criticism from Kirchnerite officials and relatives of the victims of the attack.

The attack took place on March 13, 1992. In 1999, the Supreme Court confirmed reports that a Ford F-100 truck was used to blow up the embassy.

Twenty-two people were killed in the attack and 350 people were injured.

According to the Court, Hezbolah was to blame for the attack because it claimed responsibility in Beirut’s An nahar newspaper a day later.

Following the resolution issued in 1999, the Court continued with the probe and identified José Salman El Reda Reda, who had been arrested in 1992 in Rosario with counterfeit dollars. According to the Court, those dollars could have been used to finance terrorist actions. El Reda was also linked to the AMIA attack by Alberto Nisman.

Court Sources explained that should Interpol find the suspects, they have to be brought to the country as if they have already been indicted to be interrogated by Canevari.

In 1999, the country’s highest tribunal also considered that there was enough evidence to indict Imad Mughniyah and to order his arrest.

According to information received from Germany and the SIDE, Mughniyah was in charge of the Hezbollah Operations when the attack took place.

Mughniyah was killed in February 2008, according to information revealed in January by the Washington Post. The Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, had reportedly planted a bomb in a tire of the vehicle that he was using in Damascus, Syria. According to the Washington Post, the United States built the explosive and tested it in a CIA facility in North Carolina.