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After 12 Years, Some Small Progress in Hezbollah-Argentina Case
After 12 years of dogged work hindered by corrupt judges and investigators in their own ranks, Argentine prosecutors have finally reached the point of asking a federal judge to order the arrest of senior Iranian and Hezbollah officials for the 1994 car bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

This important step is unlikely to have any immediate impact on those seven people charged with having planned the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded 200 others. Former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani still holds an official position within the government, former intellignece chief Ali Fallahijan and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati are protected, and the Hezbollah operatives who actually put it all together are not to be found.

Still, the statements of the prosecutors and their willingness to press forward are extremely important, as is the willingness to state clearly and concisely what the investigation has concluded:

"We deem it proven that the decision to carry out an attack July 18, 1994 on the AMIA (Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, a Jewish charities association headquarters in Buenos Aires) was made by the highest authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran which directed Hezbollah to carry out the attack," Argentine chief prosecutor Alberto Nisman said.

It is also a stark reminder that the reach of terrorist-sponsoring states (Iran) are aided and abetted by non-state actors (Hezbollah) operating from areas of state failure and black holes (the Tri-Border Area, where the attack was planned). This is a pattern that has been often repeated, from Sudan to Afghanistan to Syria, Libya and Iran.

It is unlikely, one Argentine investigator told me, that the attack could have been carried out without the Hezbollah presence in the TBA, where the organization has an infrastructure to collect money, protect individuals, and insure their safe infiltration and exfiltration.

Naming and shaming is never the same as arresting and prosecuting. But, within the limits of the prosecutors' ability, they have sought the truth about a terrorist attack, followed the leads, fired corrupt colleagues who muddled the investigation for years, and refused to indulge in political niceties of hiding the findings.

It is important to remember these events. Iran has not fundamentally changed is way of doing business, Hezbollah remains its long but informal arm and areas like the TBA not only exist but continue to expand. If we don't learn from these events we are sadly destined to repeat them.
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