Country Report on Terrorism 2012 - Chapter 2 - Argentina

Overview: Argentina continued to focus on the challenges of policing its remote northern and northeastern borders – including the Tri-Border Area (TBA), where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet – against such threats as illicit drug and human trafficking, contraband smuggling, and other forms of transnational crime. Law enforcement and security cooperation with Argentina was significantly curtailed in February 2011 after Argentine authorities seized sensitive U.S. equipment intended to support an approved bilateral training exercise with the Argentine Federal Police's counterterrorism unit. Bilateral cooperation now continues at the operational level but is more modest than in the past, and is focused primarily on information sharing, training, and other forms of bilateral law enforcement cooperation.

2012 Terrorist Incidents: On May 23, a homemade explosive device was found in the ceiling of the Rex Theater in Buenos Aires. An investigation revealed that the device was set to go off that day during an event that former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe was scheduled to attend. The investigation has produced neither leads nor arrests.

On December 30, a homemade explosive device was detonated in front of the Department of Corrections Headquarters in Buenos Aires. There were no injuries and only minor damage to the headquarters; no one claimed responsibility.

Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: The Argentine government implemented an identification security system (similar to the Automated Fingerprint Identification System, or AFIS) that uses a fingerprint database created via the implementation of a new national identity card (DNI). The Argentine government is now able to compare the fingerprints of DNI applicants with those existing in the Federal Police, Gendarmeria, Coast Guard, and Airport Security Police databases. The new system will also allow Argentine provinces to compare the DNI fingerprint data base with unidentified prints that were taken at provincial crime scenes, thus facilitating the identification of criminals. This AFIS-type system was deployed at all Argentine international airports, along with a program that requires the taking of photos and fingerprints of all travelers upon arrival and departure. The Ministry of Interior started issuing new e-passports in June that include a new passport book numbering system that facilitates the reporting of lost and stolen passports to Interpol.

The Argentine government continued its efforts to bring to justice those suspected in the July 18, 1994 terrorist bombing of the Argentine-Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and injured more than 150 people. In a marked policy shift, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced at the September 2011 UN General Assembly that Argentina had accepted Iran’s offer to have the two nations’ foreign ministers meet to explore ways to move forward on a case for which several senior Iranian officials, including Iran’s current Defense Minister, have outstanding Interpol arrest warrants. Foreign Minister Hector Timerman met with his Iranian counterpart and agreed to launch a dialogue designed to clarify Iran’s alleged role in the bombing. Two subsequent rounds of negotiations took place in Switzerland. Argentine Jewish community and other opinion leaders publicly opposed the bilateral dialogue, especially in light of Argentina’s continuing judicial investigation, and criticized the government for failing to share information about the talks.

On December 10, security forces arrested Peruvian national Rolando Echarri Pareja, a member of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights, an organization with strong links to the Shining Path, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization based in Peru. Echarri was reportedly subject to an Interpol Red Notice for terrorism-related charges in Peru.

Countering Terrorist Finance: Argentina is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering in South America, a FATF-style regional body. A new law passed in 2011 broadened the definition of terrorism and increased monetary fines and prison sentences for crimes linked to terrorist financing. It closed several loopholes in previous legislation and empowered the Argentine Financial Intelligence Unit to freeze assets, and criminalized the financing of terrorist organizations, individuals, and acts. To date this law has been applied only to human rights cases dating back to Argentina’s military dictatorship of thirty-plus years ago.

UNSCRs 1267 and 1373 have not been used to prosecute terrorist finance cases. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, we refer you to the 2013 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes:

Regional and International Cooperation: Argentina participated in meetings of the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism and the Southern Common Market Special Forum on Terrorism. Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay coordinated law enforcement efforts in the Tri-Border Area via their “Trilateral Tri-Border Area Command.”