US offers reward for AMIA attack mastermind

US offers $7 million reward for Hezbollah terrorist accused of masterminding deadly 1994 attack on Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Elad Benari, Canada ,

1994 AMIA bombing
1994 AMIA bombing

The United States on Friday offered a $7 million reward to find a Hezbollah terrorist accused of masterminding the deadly 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, AFP reports.

The United States also imposed sanctions on the Hezbollah figure, Salman Raouf Salman, in tandem with Argentina's announcement on the 25th anniversary of the attack that it is designating Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

The State Department said the $7 million reward would go to anyone who provides information that leads to the location of Salman, also known as Salman al-Reda.

The Treasury Department said Salman masterminded the 1994 attack and "has directed terrorist operations in the Western Hemisphere for Hezbollah ever since."

Salman has been reported to have joint Lebanese and Colombian citizenship, allowing him to move more easily across Latin America.

The Treasury Department said that Salman also served as a handler for a man arrested by Peru in 2014 for allegedly planning to attack Israelis and Jews.

Asked where Salman is believed to be now, a senior US official said, "We think he is probably somewhere in the Middle East."

The Treasury designation will freeze any assets Salman may have in the United States and criminalize any assistance to him, although Hezbollah as a whole is already under heavy US sanctions.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was visiting Argentina to commemorate the attack and lit a candle at the site of the devastated Argentine Israelite Mutual Association.

He was joined by several ministers from Latin American nations who also came to Buenos Aires for talks on counter-terrorism.

"They were killed by members of a terrorist group, Hezbollah, and had help that day from Iran," Pompeo told a remembrance ceremony, saying that Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards provided "logistical support and funding."

"We have not forgotten, and we never will," Pompeo said at the AMIA, where a plaque listed the names of the 85 victims.

AMIA president Ariel Eichbaum said that responsibility for the attack lay with Hezbollah and Iran, the primary sponsor of the Shiite Muslim group.

Eichbaum asked all countries to "help us find those responsible and bring them to justice."

After 25 years, no one has been brought to trial and the case has been bogged down in Argentina amid allegations of political interference and high-level corruption.

The Iranians are accused of ordering Hezbollah to carry out the AMIA bombing, which was the deadliest terror attack in the South American country's history.

Argentine investigators accuse five former Iranian former officials, including ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, of orchestrating the July 18, 1994 car bombing.

Iran denies involvement and has repeatedly rejected Argentine demands for the accused to testify.

Last year, Argentina froze the assets of the Barakat Group, also known as the Barakat Clan, a criminal organization linked to Hezbollah, which operates in the area known as the “Triple border” made up of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)