TCS Daily

The Faces of Terrorism

By Duane D. Freese - November 1, 2004 12:00 AM

In San Juan, Argentina, there is a memorial proclaiming sympathy and solidarity with the victims of the July 18, 1994, bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.

I've passed the memorial many times without realizing what it was until I just happened to stop and look at it on my last trip in October. The sentiments in the sign no doubt were sincere. But it struck me that they would mean more if at least some of those who supported and organized the suicide car bombing that brought down a seven story building, killing 86 and injury another 300, had been brought to justice.

None has been. And the reason is a cause of shame not only in Argentina but in the world generally. Britain, a loyal U.S. ally in the current war in Iraq, arrested the former Iranian ambassador of Iran, but won't extradite him to Argentina. Switzerland has refused to cooperate on checking financial flows that may have helped finance the attack or paid bribes to Argentine officials to stall an investigation.

Former Argentine President Carlos Menem is blamed by many in Argentina's 300,000 Jewish community -- the largest in Latin America -- of covering up for the planners. He has denied it, but it's hard to get a definitive answer when he lives in self imposed exile in Chile to avoid questioning on a decade of corruption that helped sink Argentina's economy.

So, sympathy and solidarity for AIMA victims and their families on a plaque in San Juan is all they are getting -- not justice.

What does any of this have to do with America's fight against terrorism?

Well, one of the men for whom Argentina issued an arrest warrant for the AIMA attack was Imad Fayz Mugniyah, a senior member of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. Mugniyah -- called the Lebanese Carlos -- is implicated in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Beirut that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans; plotting, with the help of Syria and Iran, of the twin suicide bombings in Beirut that took the lives of 242 U.S. marines and 58 French troops.

Oddly, despite their loses, the French in 1986 refused to detain him in Paris despite U.S. officials giving them passport information and asking them to do so.

Too bad. He has since been linked with al Qaeda, not as an operative, but as a partner in planning such things as the Khobar Towers attack that took 19 U.S. servicemen's lives in Saudi Arabia and the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole off Yemen in 2000. Further, intelligence agents put him in Iraq last year helping Al Qaeda's Abu Mussab al Zarqawi organize attacks against U.S. forces there.

The point of all this is to remind Americans -- including one presidential candidate -- that the war in terrorism isn't just about getting Osama bin Laden. There are plenty of other bad guys out there, and they will not disappear even if bin Laden is caught. The war on terror, thus, needs to be broad based if it is to be won.

In Argentina, they carried signs last July on the 10th anniversary of the AIMA bombing saying: "Otro Aniversario Sin Justicia" -- Another Anniversary Without Justice.

Justice for them, and for us, means putting terrorists and their sponsors on notice throughout the world that we are in this fight to the finish. The question for voters in Tuesday's election is who will do more in that fight than issue platitudes and write plaques.


TCS Daily Archives