Two terrorist attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires in the 1990s that killed scores of people were carried out by a secret Hezbollah unit whose operatives, contrary to widespread claims, were not abetted knowingly by Argentine citizens or aided by Iran on the ground, an investigation by the Mossad has found, according to a New York Times report on Friday.
The internal Mossad study, the written findings of which were shared with The New York Times, provide a detailed account of how the attacks were planned — including how material for the explosives was smuggled into Argentina in shampoo bottles and chocolate boxes.
While Mossad stresses that Israeli intelligence still believes that Iran, a supporter of Hezbollah, approved and funded the attacks and supplied training and equipment, the findings counter longstanding assertions by Israel, Argentina and the United States that Tehran had an operational role on the ground.
They also countered suspicions in Argentina that local officials and citizens there had been complicit, according to The New York Times.
The first attack, which killed 29 people in 1992, targeted the Israeli Embassy up. The second, in 1994, targeted the AMIA Jewish community center, killing 86 people, including the bomber.
The bombings were carried out by Hezbollah in revenge for Israeli operations against the group in Lebanon, according to the Mossad investigation cited by The New York Times. It said that Hezbollah had used secret infrastructure constructed over years in Buenos Aires and other South American locations to plan attacks.
The investigation found that the explosives used in both attacks were smuggled into Argentina by Hezbollah operatives in shampoo bottles and chocolate boxes on commercial flights from several European countries. They were then stashed in a Buenos Aires park.
Chemicals used to make the bombs were acquired by a trading company used as a cover for Hezbollah’s South America operations, according to the inquiry.
The attackers were not brought to justice or killed in multiple assaults by Israel on Hezbollah over the years, and are living in Lebanon, the investigation reported.
Interpol “red notices” were issued against two people accused of being attackers, both identified in the Mossad investigation as Lebanese Hezbollah operatives. A third person is wanted by the United States. Hezbollah’s operations commander, Imad Mughniyeh, who was mentioned by the Mossad investigation as the chief of the unit that carried out the attacks, was killed in a joint Israeli and American operation in 2008.
Argentina, Israel and the United States have long accused Iranian Embassy officials in Buenos Aires of aiding the attacks with material and organizational help. Tehran has repeatedly denied the claims.
Several Iranian officials are wanted in Argentina for their role in the AMIA bombing, which was carried out through Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah. Iran denies involvement in the bombing and has repeatedly rejected Argentine demands for the accused to testify.
In 2012, then-Argentine President Cristina Kirchner signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran that would have established a "truth commission" to investigate the AMIA bombing.
However, the Mossad inquiry quoted by The New York Times found that Iran had not been involved in carrying out the attacks or in providing assistance. The Argentine Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the findings.
(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)