Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson
For Immediate Release
Remarks by Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
July 19, 2019
MR EICHBAUM: (Via interpretation) Minster of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Nation of Argentina, Mr. Faurie, Secretary of State of the United States of America Mike Pompeo, ministers, foreign ministers, high dignitaries of the countries of the American continent who are here present today, welcome. Welcome to the reconstructed seat of the AMIA.
Exactly in this space in which we have gathered today laid the historic building of our institution attacked by a car bomb on the 18th of July, 1994, 25 years ago. Today, this memorial site is a space destined to the remembrance and tribute to the 85 fatal victims of that horrendous terrorist attack. For AMIA to welcome you as participants of the Western Hemisphere Counterterrorism Ministerial conference in Buenos Aires is a true honor. It is a true honor and highly significant to have a hemisphere counterterrorism conference and to render homage here in this site.
AMIA is an institution which was incepted 125 years ago, founded by immigrants who came, escaping from misery and hunger, from persecution, from all over the world, and flourished in this country that rendered refuge to them, together with the Jewish community, and in a permanent interaction, a coordinated action in many cases by civil society as a whole. This institution, AMIA, Jewish community, 25 years ago works every day putting in action, as I said before, yesterday, in our speech, the sacred tenet to repair the world.
It is a moral imperative of the Jewish community to try to repair the world. How do we do that? By providing solidarity in response to those that are most in need with social, cultural, educational projects that benefit thousands and thousands of people. From our community and the entire Argentine society, those values of repairing the world, as we say it, is exactly what terrorism attempted to destroy 25 years ago. But these values remain in our souls and allow us to get back on our feet and reconstruct (inaudible) institutional work that is developed (inaudible). To continue demanding justice, repairing the world, as we say, is a way of making justice as well.
The Argentine nation, the Argentine people, is an example of construction based on different identities. Here, we have a peaceful cohabitation – all religions of the world. We have no ethnic problems in Argentina. There is an island of harmony and peace, which is called Argentina. It is a country that has provided refuge to all those who have needed a place to live in the last century, and we can show the world the peaceful cohabitation in diversity.
The judicial investigation of the bombing against the AMIA established clearly from the very beginning that it was perpetrated by a car bomb and that Iran, its diplomats, and Hizballah terrorist organization were responsible for it. INTERPOL validated international arrest warrants ordered by the judge in the case against several Iranians and one member of Hizballah from Lebanon, granting higher priority with red notices, and in spite of constant requests or efforts of Iran to dismiss these red flag – they have been renewed once and again. Every year, red notices being renewed.
Today, I would like to request the foreign ministers and dignitaries present here, the international community needs to understand that these people are being pursued by the Argentine justice to respond for their actions and crimes they have committed. The Argentine justice is a democratic republic that offers all the constitutional guarantees to be able to bring them to justice, and we need urgently the support of all and each one of the countries of the world, especially in our continent. Otherwise, they will continue to circumventing the red notices, and we will not have a possibility to bring them to justice.
The Hizballah is also a terrorist organization which is fully active in many countries of our continent. We know that its networks have expanded to include several illicit activities whose main purpose is to raise funding for their terrorist campaigns. For that reason, I want to point out again to you – and probably thank and manifest to all of you – that we consider appropriate and important and fundamental to have given such a firm step in the fight against terrorism in the region with the creation and the decree signed by President Macri in the last days, with the creation of a registry of persons and terrorist organizations, and that Hizballah has been included in that registry.
I want to recognize the leadership of the United States of America in these – designation of terrorist organizations as an emblem of – we have always upheld with terrorism: We do not negotiate; we condemn and we report. It is indispensable that all our neighbor countries and all our sister countries may do the same. Let’s follow this path. We request that to you. We request that as its additional witnesses of the hell that terrorism has caused here, as present witnesses of that horrendous morning of the 18th of July, 1994. Only with the consensus of all the joint and coordinated actions among the societies of goodwill, we will be able to effectively combat terrorism and to curtail its sources of financing in our continent.
The attacks in Argentina were an early precedent of what years later started to afflict many other capitals and countries of the world. Unlike what happened in the rest of the world where they were pursued, punished, prosecuted, those culprits were brought to justice, but here we continue to demand justice. But we have no doubt that the path that has been taken by these new regulations that condemns terrorism and seizes its account is the right path to take.
Terrorism across all frontiers making its killing arm get and arrive to the different corners of the planet and challenging freedom and democracy, not recognizing any gender, age, religion, or nationality, and it is a global threat of which we need to have a real dimension of. Of the dark clouds of powder and smoke left by the bombs and attacks suffered here, we can only endure by honoring the memory of all the victims and the fortitude of each one of the survivors.
We can only succeed by demanding democratic countries and its leaders a greater commitment to point to and condemn energetically those whose support, fund, and accompany terrorist organizations. Regardless of whether they are called or claim to be political parties, they have terrorist actions, so they are terrorist organizations. We can only be able to succeed by denouncing and reporting the violations of the basic rights of any social minority, ethnic, collective group, or religious group that may be threatened. We can only succeed by defending the life and the search for justice. We can only succeed if we go along a peace path.
And now I want to welcome you again and thank you very much for accompanying us today.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Ariel Eichbaum, President of AMIA. I would like to invite the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Mike Pompeo, to share his words with us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Good morning. I want to thank Foreign Minister Faurie for bringing us together for this solemn, important occasion. My thanks as well, Mr. Eichbaum, for hosting us, and for working every day to carry on the legacy of those lost 25 years ago yesterday.
On that quiet July morning, 5-year old Sebastian was walking down the street just steps from right where we’re standing. He was holding his mother’s hand. He was set to graduate kindergarten soon and he dreamed of becoming president of Argentina. Inside the building beside him was a woman named Susy who was interviewing a single mother named Silvia for a job. Susy taught the Torah in her spare time and Silvia was saving up to send her teenage daughter on a trip to Israel.
Nearby, an electrician and father of six named Martin was collecting his paycheck. He was planning to take his family on their first-ever vacation that next week. Each of these innocent people was killed that morning in a single savage act, a savage act of hate, along with 81 others. More than 300 were injured, many of whom continue to suffer today.
Unsurprisingly, in a nation like this, the victims were diverse. There were citizens of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Poland. They were Jewish, they were Catholic, they were children, grandparents, doctors, janitors. They were killed by members of the terrorist group Hizballah who sought not only to murder as many Jews as possible, but to stoke fears in the heart of all Jews all around the world.
Hizballah had help that day from the Islamic Republic of Iran, which provided the logistical support and funding for the attack through its Revolutionary Guard Corps. This was not the first time, sadly, that Hizballah had targeted Argentina. Two years earlier, its terrorists bombed the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, that time killing 29. But the attack here, the attack here, the attack here at AMIA would go down as the deadliest ever in this country, and it stands today as a grave reminder that terrorism in the Western Hemisphere is not a theoretical threat, but a historical reality.
In the now-quarter century since, justice continues to elude the families of those lost. INTERPOL still maintains six red notices for the rest of the Iranian thugs and Hizballah terrorists suspected of participating in that attack. And today, the United States joins with all of you in rededicating ourselves to justice. There is no retrievable dignity for Hizballah.
Scripture tells God’s people: “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread for them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you.” We remind the families of Sebastian, of Susy, of Silvia, of Martin, and all of those killed that they do not grieve alone. God is with them, the United States is with them, all of us here today are with them. We have not forgotten and we never will.
Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) We want to thank Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State of the United States of America. We would like to invite Jorge Faurie, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of the Argentine Nation, to transmit his message.
FOREIGN MINISTER FAURIE: (Via interpreter) Good morning. I would like to thank for the presence of all the foreign ministers who have gathered here today with us and with the representatives of the Jewish community of AMIA Jewish community center in this commemoration of the 25 years of the tragedy that the entire country lived. We do that with profound gravity and respect.
Elie Wiesel said that “to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time,” for in the end, it is all about memory, its painful sources, its magnitude, and of course its present consequences. In the case of the AMIA bombing, its (inaudible). They are very concrete, adamant – the inescapable need for justice, clearly.
By gathering here today, we are keeping alive the memory of the victims and their pain and their families’ pain, as well as of the entire people attacked. Demanding justice, we continue to work tirelessly so that someday we may attain justice. The attack on AMIA was not only a strike against the Jewish community of Argentina, it was a strike against democracy, freedom, and the entire Argentine society. They chose a particularly active and well-integrated symbol of our nation, community. The Jewish community is a vital part of the social, cultural, industrial, academic tissue of Argentina. It is one of the largest Jewish communities of the diaspora in the world, and something that we are very proud of for all Argentines. The Jewish immigration came to Argentina at the end of the 19th century and was always a key engine of our nation.
We need to remember that this attack occurred 100 years after the mutual Jewish community was created. Exactly 100 years later, terrorists tried to destroy that peaceful integration through horror afflicted on that day in 1994. Eighty-five dead people and more than 300 injured – that is an irrational blow against innocent people that Argentine people cannot forget, as well as the attack on the Israeli embassy two years before that.
Today we commemorate the 25th year’s anniversary of this atrocity. We have requested this year that the Argentine representations around the world, together with the World Jewish Congress, could conduct ceremonies of this kind because we believe it is inevitable to maintain the memory alive. It is all about memory, and memory is there to maintain the inevitable consequence, which is to attain justice, for which President Macri is firmly committed and for which we will continue to work in order to be able to prosecute the suspects, for them to be brought to the Argentine justice system, and this is not negotiable for President Macri. It is our commitment to carry this forward and it is what we know. We who are diplomats know it is the only thing that will help us build the security we need to live in peace and defeat terrorism.
This encounter which we started with this act is a ratification of that commitment that we want to work, all the countries in the region, in order to consolidate hemispheric security and to work in coordination against this scourge which is terrorism.
In these few days we have conducted internal administrative actions of high relevance. Yesterday a day of mourning was declared and the system of compensation for victims was reviewed for the AMIA victims, and what’s most important, decree, executive decree, for the identification of persons and entities linked to terrorism and financing was issued, but our commitment is always going beyond that, because (inaudible) the anti-Semitism is translated into terrorism. Anti-Semitism is a seed for hatred that generates violence. Therefore, we need to work to eradicate that, and to do so with tenacity.
We are full members of the international alliance for the memory – remembrance of Holocaust, and President Macri has transferred 140,000 historic documents and photos to Israel to strengthen the Holocaust remembrance. In the Jewish Kabbalah, number 25 of this anniversary, is associated with a word, number 25th of the Torah, the Old Testament, and that word is “light.” Let it be light.
So this anniversary, 25 years after the tragedy, needs to inspire us so that this may be light that may bring back the truth, light that may bring back justice to us. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) I would like to invite you now – thank you very much, Minister of Foreign Affairs. I would like to invite now the joint declaration signature that was transcribed to the visitors book of AMIA. This book was actually rescued from the debris of the old building of AMIA days after the explosion. We would like to invite now Jorge Faurie, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Argentine Nation.
Thank you. Next I would like to invite the Secretary of State of the United States of America Mike Pompeo to sign the book.
Next, President of AMIA Ariel Eichbaum.
Next, Minister of Security of the Argentine Nation Patricia Bullrich.
We would like to invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bahamas Honorable Darren Henfield.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile Teodoro Javier Ribera Neumann.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay Ambassador Luis Alberto Castiglioni Soria.
(The declaration was signed.)
Thank you. The text of the declaration says, “The undersigned, in representation of the participating countries of the hemispheric counterterrorism ministerial conference held in Buenos Aires today, render homage to the victims of the bombing to the Mutual Argentine Association in the 18th of July, 1994, and we ratify the repudiation of terrorism in all its forms while maintaining our commitment to reinforce cooperation amongst our countries to effectively face this scourge and to help build a future of peace for all. Buenos Aires, 19th of July, 2019.”
Now we will have an official photo for this meeting.
(The photo was taken.)
Now I would like to thank deeply for each of you’s presence reaffirming commitment to truth, memory, and justice. Thank you very much. Good morning. (Applause.)