Panama says new Israeli intelligence evidence shows 1994 plane crash was a terror attack
Panama’s president said on Monday a 1994 plane explosion in the country that killed 21 people, most of them Jewish, was the result of a terrorist attack and called for the case to be re-opened.
All of the plane’s passengers, including four Israelis and prominent Jewish businesspeople from Panama, were killed in the crash.
President Juan Carlos Varela told reporters that Israel provided reports late last year about the plane crash, whose victims included prominent Jewish Panamanian businessmen and which stirred suspicion of hate-motivated sabotage.
The 1994 crash came soon after a bomb at a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people, raising concerns that Jews worldwide could increasingly become the targets of Muslim terrorists amid tense peace talks in the Middle East.
Varela told reporters he will ask Panamanian and Israeli authorities to re-investigate the incident.
“I’ve requested the re-opening of the case given intelligence reports that clearly show it was a terrorist attack,” he said.
The 1994 Panamanian President-elect, Ernest Perez Balladares, said at the time sources close to the investigation told him they believed the apparent mid-air explosion to have been caused by a bomb.
Israeli media reported at the time that a Panama government report had concluded that a Hamas terrorists, Ali Jamal, carried out a suicide bombing on the plane using a suitcase filled with explosives.