Hezbollah operative indicted in Argentina bombing

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York unsealed an indictment Dec. 20 filed against Hezbollah operative Samuel Salman El Reda for his alleged involvement in a bomb attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina three decades ago. The 20-page indictment concerns the 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and caused hundreds of injuries. The US government claims El Reda collaborated with the Hezbollah-linked Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) in the attack.

The indictment outlines El Reda's immigration to Buenos Aires in the late 1980s and his relationships with individuals with ties to Hezbollah in South America, including financier Assad Ahmad Baraka.

The US cited phone calls from El Reda in early July 1994, just days prior to the attack, to IJO members operating in the area to plan the bombing. In 2007, El Reda allegedly began recruiting and training new IJO operatives to carry out future terrorist attacks; he was further linked in 2015 to IJO operative Mohammed Ghaleb Hamdar, who had been arrested in Peru the previous year.

The indictment charges El Reda with conspiracy to provide material support to Hezbollah, under 18 USC § 2339A, which criminalizes the providing of support to a terrorist organization. The government alleges El Reda knowingly "agree[d] to provide Hezbollah with … tangible and intangible property, training services, expert advice and assistance, and personnel (including himself)."

He also faces counts involving aiding and abetting the provision of military-type training from Hezbollah (18 USC § 2339D), with the government claiming El Reda was responsible for "one or more IJO operatives to receive training in the use of weapons and military tactics from other members of Hizbollah.”

Hezbollah, or the "Party of God," is a Lebanese militant group that formed after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. It is a designated "terrorist organization" in the US, UK, and Israel, among others. It is said to be backed by the Iranian government. 

El Reda is currently said to be based in Lebanon, and remains at large.

From Jurist, Dec. 21. Used with permission.