Rescue workers search for survivors and victims in the rubble left after a powerful car bomb destroyed the Buenos Aires headquarters of the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA), in this July 18, 1994 file photo.
BUENOS AIRES – New evidence in the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center attack investigation has emerged after 22 years, which could shed light on how the terrorists carried it out.
The Prosecution Unit handling the AMIA case found a bucket in the Federal Police’s freezer that contained organic material and metallic particles taken from the victims’ bodies in 1994. These clues, evaluated in 2002 but then neglected until now, support the hypothesis that the attack was carried out with a van loaded with explosives.
The terrorist attack on July 18, 1994, on the building of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA, the Argentinean Israelite Mutual Association) was the deadliest in the country’s history, killing 86 people, including the bombers, and wounding more than 300.
Investigators have been unable to determine exactly how things played out on that deadly day.
Remembering the 1994 AMIA terror bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
After years of searching declassified documents in the Secretariat of Intelligence (Argentina’s top intelligence agency until it was dissolved in 2015), the Prosecution Unit found an old VHS tape labeled “Autopsies” that showed the red tissue bucket in the Federal Police’s freezer. Investigators were able to find the bucket. This evidence also included swabs with tissue samples, victims’ hair and other remains.
National prosecutors ordered that DNA tests be performed on the evidence.
If the results don’t match with the already identified victims, they could correspond either to an unknown victim or to a suicide terrorist.
Thus, the rediscovered bucket could be useful in identifying the attacker.
The investigation faced many obstacles. The prosecutors made new, specific, reports to the Federal Police laboratory, which replied that all records were destroyed 10 years after the attack. It wasn’t until now that a police unit informed the prosecutors about a frozen red bucket labeled “DAIA,” for Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas, the umbrella organization of Argentinean Jewry.
Having studied the evidence with sophisticated technologies such as electron microscopes and X-rays, the investigators determined that some victims’ bodies contained pieces of the van used in the attack.
Until now, there were doubts about how the explosion occurred.
Carlos Telleldín, who was accused of preparing and delivering the van to the terrorists, has always claimed that the vehicle never existed.
Ariel Cohen Sabban, the president of DAIA, told The Jerusalem Post: “This scientific evidence is really important, as it proves that the AMIA-DAIA attack was not carried out through an explosion inside the building, it was an explosion created with a car bomb.” He added that these clues bring some clarity to Argentinean society, which is still is confused by wide-ranging falsehoods made up by ‘those who deny and lie about the attack.’” Prosecutors Sabrina Namer, Roberto Salum and Leonardo Filippini revealed the new findings in a large and detailed document titled “An analysis confirming the hypothesis of the use of a van in the attack.”
This concrete evidence might revitalize the case, but it is not enough.
“There are still many important facts that must be investigated,” Cohen Sabban said.
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