Buenos Aires’s lesson

The recent spate of Iran-sponsored attacks punctuates how little has changed in the two decades since the Buenos Aires bombing.

The Buenos Aires skyline Argentina 311 (R) (photo credit: Enrique Marcarian / Reuters)
The Buenos Aires skyline Argentina 311 (R)
(photo credit: Enrique Marcarian / Reuters)
On March 17, 1992, at 2:42 p.m., a pickup truck loaded with explosives driven by “Abu Yasser,” an Argentinean man who had converted to Islam, smashed into the front of the Israeli Embassy on the corner of Arroyo and Suipacha streets in Buenos Aires.
In the ensuing blast, 29 people were killed, including four Israelis. Most of the victims were Argentine civilians, many of them children. Until the 1994 AMIA [Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina] bombing, it was the deadliest attack on an Israeli diplomatic mission.
In a statement claiming responsibility for the bombing, Islamic Jihad, an organization that receives funding and training from Iran, praised Abu Yasser who “pounded like a bolt of lighting on a terrorist Zionist base in Argentina, obliterating it in a split second.” Islamic Jihad went on to vow that the “open-ended war” against the “criminal Israeli enemy” would not cease until Israel was “wiped out of existence.”
Buenos Aires’s Jewish community will mark the 20th anniversary of the attack this weekend with a ceremony, a rock concert and a “Today I Turn 20” ad campaign that will focus on people who could have been killed in the attack but weren’t.
Unfortunately, a recent spate of developments involving Iran serves to punctuate how little has changed in the two decades since the Buenos Aires attack. As Argentina’s Jews commemorate a tragic incident of the past, a coalition of terrorist forces spread across the globe and linked to Iran is working hard to generate more Jewish tragedies.
Just this week, Azerbaijan’s security forces arrested 22 people suspected of plotting to attack the Israeli and American embassies in Baku. Suspects trained, funded and armed by Iranian intelligence allegedly also planned to target the Jewish Agency’s offices and other Jewish organizations.
Also this week, India officially confirmed what Israel has been saying from the beginning – that Iran was behind last month’s attack on the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi.
Indian police issued an arrest warrant for three Iranians suspected of being connected to the attack.
Meanwhile, Malaysian authorities, at the request of Thailand, are moving to extradite to Bangkok an Iranian man suspected of being involved in a bomb plot that was to target Israeli diplomats in Bangkok. Masoud Sedaghatzadeh was arrested at Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on February 15, a day after a bomb unintentionally went off in a Bangkok apartment. Two other Iranians, including a man whose legs were blown when he tried to hurl a bomb at Thai police, have also been arrested.
At home, the same Iranian-backed, trained and funded Islamic Jihad responsible for the 1992 bombing in Buenos Aires has been the driving force behind the barrage of more than 300 projectiles – including Kassam and Grad rockets – fired at towns in the South since Friday.
The Islamic Republic has been spearheading international terrorism for decades. Adding urgency to this terrorist threat is Iran’s steady march toward the attainment of nuclear weapons. We dare not imagine Iranian-sponsored terrorist activities backed up by the threat of a nuclear Armageddon.
Already in 1993, just a year after the Buenos Aires attack, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin warned of the existential threat presented by Iran’s nuclear program. Successive Israeli governments and American Jewish organizations have advocated painful sanctions against Tehran.
But as Iran continued to support terrorism while, in parallel, investing in its nuclear program, the international community refrained until just recently from applying painful sanctions or taking other steps against Iran, in part to avoid damaging efforts toward “engagement.”
However, after years of procrastination based on the false hope that Iran’s leaders would somehow change their ways, the tide finally seems to be changing. Standing side-by-side with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the White House, US President Barack Obama warned Iran Wednesday that the window of opportunity for a diplomatic solution was “shrinking.”
“Meet your international obligations or face the consequences,” he said.
In the 20 years since the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Iran’s mullahs have made it abundantly clear that they are a threat to Western civilization that must be stopped. We pray that the international community has finally internalized this message. If not, Israel will be forced to act alone.