Investigations into the recent spate of terrorist bombings aimed at Jews are focusing on Iranian-supported Hezbollah extremists as the lead suspects, U.S. and international officials say.
Unlike past bombings, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah has not taken responsibility for the recent attacks and investigators have yet to name any suspects. But a shadowy group calling itself Ansar Al 'Allah and believed to be tied to Hezbollah has claimed responsibility for the attacks in Panama and Argentina.At a hearing Monday of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on international security, officials representing the State Department, Argentina and international groups pointed to Hez-bol-lah.
The Buenos Aires bombing "certainly has the hallmarks of a Hezbollah operation," said Barbara Bodine, the State Department's counterterrorism co-or-di-nator. "And a statement about the attack has been made by a group using the name Ansar Al 'Allah. This appears to be an offshoot of Hezbollah."
On July 18, there were 95 people killed and more than 200 injured when a van loaded with explosives crashed into the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Aid Association building in Buenos Aires.
The next day, a bomb exploded aboard an Alas Airline commuter plane shortly after takeoff from the Panamanian city of Colon, killing all 21 people on board, including 12 Jewish businessmen.
Last week, more than 20 people were injured in two bombing attacks in London, one at the Israeli consulate and the other at the office of a Jewish social services agency.
Bodine noted that Ansar Al 'Allah, in its statement regarding the Buenos Aires bombing, also referred to the bombing of the Panamanian commuter plane.
"This statement was made well before aviation experts had determined that the plane had, in fact, been bombed," she said.