Islamic group linked to fatal bombings

July 24, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- A little-known Islamic organization calling itself the Partisans of God has indirectly claimed responsibility for the bombing of Jewish organization offices in Argentina and the crash of a plane carrying Jewish businessmen in Panama.

The statement distributed in southern Lebanon seems to support Israeli accusations that Lebanese militants with backing from Iran were behind the Buenos Aires attack. And it comes after reports that Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia that is leading the resistance against Israel in Lebanon, has sought for the first time to expand its operations against the Jewish state outside of Lebanon's borders.

"Suicide martyr squads have been formed to confront and combat Zionism everywhere. The Argentina and Panama operations are evidence of this continuing confrontation," said the statement from Ansarollah, or Partisans of God, a new group believed by some officials in Lebanon to be linked to Hezbollah. There was no proof of authenticity.

The July 18 bombing of a seven-story building that housed offices for two Jewish organizations in Buenos Aires left at least 46 people dead and more than 60 missing. A day later, a commuter plane exploded and crashed shortly after takeoff in Panama. Two-thirds of the 19 passengers killed were Jews, four of them Israelis.

Hezbollah, Arabic for Party of God, has denied any connection to either incident.

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