The federal prosecutor’s office said the operation was connected to the arrest in Paris on Thursday of an Islamist convicted in Belgium last year and suspected of plotting a new attack.
Nine people in total have been arrested since Thursday in Belgium and two in Germany, as European authorities swoop on Islamic State militants they link both to the Brussels bombings that killed 31 people and to the attacks in Paris last November that killed 130.
The March 22 terrorist attack in Brussels left 31 people dead and 270 wounded. It brought international condemnation.
Argentinian investigators have blamed senior figures in the Iranian regime for the attack, the worst in the country’s history.
Eighty-five people were killed in the AMIA bombing, which came two years after a similar attack – also involving an explosives-laden truck driven by a suicide bomber – on the Israeli Embassy in the city left 29 people dead.
In 2007, Argentina asked Interpol to issue “red notices” – a rough equivalent of an international arrest warrant – for eight senior Iranian officials and a top Hezbollah terrorist suspected of involvement.
Interpol complied with the request in the cases of the Lebanese suspect and five of the Iranians. The Lebanese man, Hezbollah terror chief Imad Mughniyah, was killed in a bomb blast in Damascus in 2008.
The Iranians were Ahmed Vahidi, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force at the time (and later defense minister in the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad government); Ali Fallahian, Iran’s intelligence chief at the time of the bombing; Mohsen Rezai, IRGC commander at the time, and now secretary of an advisory council to the Iranian regime’s supreme leader; and two officials based at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires at the time of the bombing, Mohsen Rabbani and Ahmad Reza Asghari. Then in early 2013 President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Nestor Kirchner’s widow) reached a controversial agreement with Iran’s regime to establish a joint “truth commission” to investigate the AMIA bombing.
Nisman, the chief AMIA investigator, among others opposed the “truth commission” deal and in 2014 an Argentine court ruled it unconstitutional. The Fernandez government said it would appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile Nisman’s investigations revealed allegations of widespread illicit Iranian activity in Argentina and Latin America, including intelligence gathering and support for terror activities.
In January last year, a new scandal erupted when Nisman alleged that Fernandez and other officials were trying to shield the Iranian terror suspects in exchange for improved trade ties.
Fernandez denied the allegations. Four days later – one day before Nisman was due to testify before Argentina’s Congress about the allegations – his body was found in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head. His mysterious death sparked large street protests and an investigation that is still underway.
On taking office late last year, Macri dropped his predecessor’s appeal against the court ruling that the agreement with Iranian regime was unconstitutional. He also established a special unit within the Justice Ministry to investigate the AMIA bombing.
Early this month, a former Argentine intelligence operations chief Antonio Stiuso testified that Nisman had been killed by a group with ties to Fernandez, because he refused to drop the investigation, CNSNews wrote. After Stiuso’s testimony the presiding judge ruled that the case be moved to a higher court.
The indictment, filed in a federal court in New York City, described the suspects, who live in Iran, as 'experienced computer hackers' believed to have been working on behalf of the Iranian regime. Separately, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted two Iranian companies on Thursday for supporting the Iranian regime’s ballistic missile program and also sanctioned two British businessmen it said were helping an airline used by the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).