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Argentine Judge Issues Arrest Warrants in 1994 Jewish Center Bombing - 2003-08-14

It has been more than nine years since the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina that killed 85 people. This week, a federal judge in Argentina issued arrest warrants for eight Iranian officials suspected of helping to plot the attack.

The arrest warrants were issued through Interpol, the international police agency, by Judge Juan Jose Galeano, who has been investigating the 1994 car bombing for several years. The attack on the Jewish Community Center was the worst terrorist attack in Argentina's history, and came just two years after a bomb rocked the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29.

Judge Galeano is requesting the arrest of eight Iranian officials, including the former Iranian ambassador to Argentina. He suspects that these officials had prior knowledge of the attack and helped carry it out.

The United States and Argentina have long-suspected that Iran helped fund the assault - an accusation that Iranian officials strongly deny.

A report published by the New York Times last July claimed that Iran helped plot the bombing, and that it later paid ex-Argentine President Carlos Menem $10 million to help cover up the investigation. The newspaper report was based on a secret deposition given by a defector from the Iranian intelligence agency. Former President Menem and Iran denied the charges.

Current Argentine President Nestor Kirchner recently promised to open secret files connected to the case in hopes of speeding up the much-hindered nine-year investigation.