Overview: In 2021, Argentina continued to focus its counterterrorism strategy on the tri-border area (TBA) of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, where suspected terrorism financing networks operate. Despite significant travel limitations attributable to COVID-19, robust U.S.-Argentine law enforcement and security cooperation continued in 2021. Argentina maintained Hizballah’s listing on its domestic registry of terrorist groups and entities for the second year.
2021 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Argentina during 2021.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Plans to change the criminal code’s legal framework for terrorism cases remained delayed in 2021. The executive branch drafted and submitted legislation to Congress for approval in 2019; however, it has not yet been approved.
Multiple security agencies maintained specialized law enforcement units that have substantial capabilities to respond to criminal activities, including terrorist incidents. Argentina continued to develop its nationwide network of law enforcement intelligence fusion centers and to incorporate biometric data at ports of entry to fight against international terrorism and transnational crime.
The nation continued cross-border coordination through its participation in the Tripartite Command, an interagency security mechanism created by Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay to exchange information and combat transnational threats, including terrorism, in the TBA.
According to local press, on May 7 federal security forces conducted multiple raids targeting five persons with potential links to ISIS in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santa Fe and seized their phones and computers, which allegedly contained instructions for manufacturing explosives.
The lack of justice for the 1994 Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) suicide terrorist bombing remained in the news, as did developments in several legal cases investigating the attack itself and judicial failures in its aftermath. In 2020, a federal court announced that it had decided to acquit Carlos Telleldín, who had been charged with providing the vehicle used in the bombing; the court’s main argument was related to insufficient evidence. The public prosecutor’s office appealed the decision on May 3, and the case is now with the criminal appeals court.
On October 7, a federal court announced that it had dropped charges against Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (CFK) in what was known as the “Iran MOU Case.” Prosecutors had accused CFK and codefendants of treason for allegedly engaging in a 2013 bilateral agreement with Iran with the intent of covering up Iran’s involvement in the AMIA attack in exchange for lucrative trade agreements. The federal tribunal ruled that while the MOU may have been a poor political decision, it did not constitute a crime. The plaintiffs appealed on October 24, and the case is now with the criminal appeals court.
No new names were added to the Public Register of People and Entities Linked to Acts of Terrorism and Their Financing (RePET) in 2021. RePET was created by presidential decree in 2019 and includes UNSC-designated terrorist groups and individuals linked to Hizballah and the AMIA bombing.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Argentina is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), as well as the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America, a FATF-style regional body. Its financial information unit (FIU) is a member of the Egmont Group. The TBA is one of the principal routes into Argentina for counterfeiting, drug trafficking, multi-billion-dollar trade-based money laundering, and other smuggling operations. In addition, many of the money laundering organizations in the TBA have suspected links to Hizballah.
The U.S. State Department funded the Argentina’s Department of Justice to implement capacity building activities and training focused on strengthening the nation’s ability to identify and disrupt transnational crimes linked to terrorist financing. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2021 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume II, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes.
Countering Violent Extremism: The Government of Argentina has systematically issued statements of condemnation against major acts of terrorism.
International and Regional Cooperation: Argentina participated in the virtual Forum of Parliamentarians Against Terrorism in July and the Organization of American States Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism in October.