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IN THE SHADOW OF THE AMIA BOMBING: GLOBAL TERROR AND THE THREAT TODAY
18th July 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pmFree
SPEAKERS: His Excellency Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano – The Argentine Ambassador to the United Kingdom; Dr. Shimon Samuels – Director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre; Anita Weinstein – AMIA Bombing Survivor; Michael Caplan QC – International Criminal Law Consultant; Dr. Ariel Gelblung – Latin-American Representative at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and Tom Wilson – Research Fellow in the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society
On 18th July, 1994, a Renault van bomb loaded with ammonium nitrate fertiliser and fuel oil was detonated in front of the AMIA building in a densely constructed area of Buenos Aires.
The blast caused the near-total collapse of the building. Eighty-five people died, and more than 300 others were wounded. While the attack was claimed by a fringe group believed to be a front for the Shia terror group Hezbollah, Iran remain to this day the key suspects in the facilitation and perpetration of the attack.
It has been 24 years since this brutal attack and no suspects have been convicted. On the anniversary of this tragic event we will hear from survivors, experts, and officials about the legacy of the attack, the threat of terrorism to this day, and the ongoing legal process to bring the perpetrators to justice.
By kind Invitation of The Rt Hon. The Lord Trimble PC, and in partnership with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Henry Jackson Society is proud to be hosting a special parliamentary event on the anniversary of the AMIA Jewish Centre bombing in Buenos Aires.
His Excellency Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano has been the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland since March 2016. Between 2006 and 2010, he served as Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa and as non-resident Ambassador to Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Between January 2000 and December 2005, was Director of International Security, Nuclear and Disarmament Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; President of the “Regime of Control for Missile Technology “(MTCR); Director General of Human Rights at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship; Special Advisor to the Argentine Dialogue (UNDP / UN) from February to July 2002; and Undersecretary of International Economic Relations of the Province of Buenos Aires.
Dr. Shimon Samuels is Director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. Born in London, he has degrees from the the Universities of Jerusalem, London School of Economics, Pennsylvania and Keio of Tokyo. Editor of the series, Antisemitism: the Generic Hatred (five language editions). Samuels received the Legion d’Honneur from President Jacques Chirac.
Anita Weinstein is a survivor of the AMIA bombing. She is a Sociology graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She specialises in the Argentine Jewish community and is an author and curator of internationally displayed exhibitions, digital sites and other materials. Weinstein is the AMIA Jewish Community Centre’s Director of its ‘Marc Turkow’ Documentation and Information Center on Argentine Jewry and is a former Director of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Argentina.
Michael Caplan QC was a senior partner at the law firm Kingsley Napley LLP for 30 years, practising in international and domestic criminal law until his retirement in 2016. He remains a consultant at the firm. Michael Caplan has been a part-time Judge (Recorder) in the Crown Court for over 20 years and is authorised to sit as a Deputy High Court Judge. He has also served on the Sentencing Council and the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee. Involved in important cases of extradition, he was appointed as Queen’s Counsel, taking the silk in 2002.
Dr Ariel Gelblung is a founding Member of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Latin America and has been a Secretary of its Board of Directors since the mid-nineties. He graduated from the Buenos Aires University’s Law Faculty. Dr Gelblung represented the Center at the Argentine Chapter of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) and took part in the extradition of Dinko Šakić and the trial of Nazi video producer Walhalla. Since 2015, he is the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Latin America Representative and is a Permanent Observer to the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Latin American Parliament (PARLATINO). He campaigned successfully for their adoption of the Center’s “11-Point Program against Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia in Sport.”
Tom Wilson is a Research Fellow in the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society. Tom specialises in the study of extremist groups and counter-terrorism strategy. His research has focused on the growth of extremism in the UK as well as terrorist organisations in the Middle East. He regularly appears on broadcast media including the BBC, Sky and CNN, offering his analysis on issues of extremism and terrorism. He has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Telegraph, the Spectator, Commentary Magazine, Standpoint and other outlets. Tom attended Royal Holloway University and UCL, where he obtained a BA and MA in Modern History.
On the 18th of July, the Henry Jackson Society held an event to commemorate the twenty-fourth anniversary of the AMIA Bombing with a panel of distinguished guests including His Excellency The Ambassador of Argentina, Michael Caplan QC, Anita Weinstein, a survivor of the attack, Dr. Shimon Samuels, director for international relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Dr. Ariel Gelblung, a founding member of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and, Tom Wilson, a research fellow at the Centre for the Response to Radicalization and Terrorism. The panel was moderated by The Right Honourable The Lord Trimble, PC. The talk included many different perspectives on the issue ranging from personal accounts of the attack to the legal framework to apprehend the attackers to the continued effects and repercussions for both the Jewish and international community.
Dr. Shimon Samuels opened up the event by providing the context for the motivation of the attacks, the effects of the attacks and the continued relevance of the effects. Those responsible for the attack have eluded justice despite the efforts to find and try the people responsible for this tragedy. As Samuels stated, the search for the perpetrators is to signal, “longevity is not an excuse for impunity”. Samuels emphasized the need to find the attackers to provide closure to victims of the terror attack and to pursue justice. Samuels concluded by reading two messages from groups that were unable to attend the event. The first message was from AMIA, which reaffirmed its place as the heart of the Jewish community in Argentina for over twenty years and stated that it will continue to be in the face of one of the largest anti-Semitic actions since World War II. The second message was from the Head of the American States who in a letter expresses his support in the fight against racial hatred and repeats his commitment to peace.
His Excellency The Ambassador of Argentina expressed his condolences for the attack and delivered remarks that emphasized support to the victims. His Excellency also stated that he would remain an ardent advocate for the pursuit of justice on behalf of the victims. Comparing recent terrorist tasks in the United Kingdom, His Excellency demonstrated a solidarity between the British and Argentine’s governments. For his concluding remarks, His Excellency declared that acts of terrorism against the international community were unacceptable and the continued escape from prosecution was an act of terrorism against the law.
Dana Erlich – Political Counsellor at the Israeli Embassy and a native of Argentina. She spoke of how the biggest frustrations from the attacks was the lack of expectations of the event. With acts of terror happening across the war she expressed how fighting terror together helps to build an international community. Erlich expressed a commitment to bring those responsible for the attacks to justice.
Next, a personal account of the attack from survivor, Anita Weinstein. Weinstein never would have believed that she would have been a target of terrorism and anti-Semitism. Weinstein even gave an extremely detailed retelling of her thought process when she first realized that there had been an attack. Weinstein recalled how her body and brain were present in experiencing the attack but, “were paralyzed” from responding. After surviving the attacks, Anita said her biggest victory was being able to live. Weinstein explained that terrorists wanted her to die but she could defeat them by finding the will to live. Weinstein also explained how difficult it was for her mother, a Holocaust survivor, to believe there was another anti-Semitic attack at this scale since the Holocaust. Weinstein concluded that justice and memory are essential in society to stop an attack like the AMIA bombings from happening again.
Tom Wilson is a research fellow for the Centre for the Response to Radicalisation and Terrorism at the Henry Jackson Society. Wilson was instrumental in providing greater context for how these terror attacks happen and how the perpetrators can escape apprehension. As Wilson explained, it is unfortunate how the government and the general public may not take state sponsored terrorism as seriously as necessary and the AMIA bombings are a devastating example of this. With the continued lack of persecution, there is an unfortunate message sent to Hezbollah and HAMAS that they are legitimized which might prompt them to have more attacks. A big obstacle is that the public is largely unaware of the threats that Iran holds especially when there have been two specific instances where Iran have sponsored acts of terror to the United Kingdom.
Dr. Ariel Gelblubg is a founding member of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Latin America and has taken part in extradition of Dinko Šakić. Gelblung was able to provide the legal context for the prosecution of the perpetrators and why there has been difficulty in bringing the accused to trial. The case is very complex and actually involves four cases in total. There is a lack of progress in the case because there is no accused present to be judged as they are evading arrest. Gelburg called upon the international community to help with the search for the accused and to bring them to trial. A difficulty with the process is the lack of extradition treaties with two of the countries where the accused are suspected to be hiding, Russia and China.
Michael Caplan is part of the Queen’s Counsel and was a senior partner at the Kingsley Napley law firm. Caplan was instrumental in explaining the legal groundwork for extradition and the possible achievement of the process. It must go through Interpol channels and requires the cooperation of many international bodies and countries. First, an international arrest warrant must be issued by an Argentinian judge, which is then sent to Interpol. Interpol then authorizes a red notice. A red notice lets law enforcement know that an individual is wanted for a crime and should be arrested and prepared for extradition, if they escape they are then considered a fugitive. As Caplan explained, in theory the red notice system should work well but there are certain countries that ignore the notices. Russia, where one of the accused is presumed to be, is not very forthcoming with international extradition, which makes it difficult to bring them to trial. Caplan also explained that there are other unique scenarios in which a trial can take place. Besides the country that issued the red notice, it is possible for a trial to happen in the country where the subject of the red notice was found or even an independently agreed upon country, as was the case of the Lockerbie bombing trial.
The event reaffirmed support for the victims and survivors of the attack and included many pledges for international justice to be taken up so the ultimate closure could be given to those affected by the AMIA attacks.