Two police officers hold the arms of a suspect while another officer examines an item on a bed.
Argentine police arrested three men in the Buenos Aires area on Dec. 30, 2023, on suspicion of planning a terror attack. (Photo/JTA-Patricia Bullrich-X)

Argentine police arrest 3 over suspected terror attack during Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires

(JTA) — Argentine Federal Police have arrested three men in the Buenos Aires area on suspicion of planning a terror attack as an international tournament has brought more than 4,000 Jewish athletes to the city.

The three men were arrested Saturday in three separate locations following an intelligence sharing operation between U.S., Israeli and Argentine authorities. According to Argentine press reports, they are of Syrian and Lebanese origin. One is a Syrian national carrying Colombian and Venezuelan passports under his name.

The arrests, the latest amid a series of recent terror threats in the Argentine capital, occurred during the 15th Pan American Maccabi Games, in which Jewish athletes from across North America and South America, as well as Israel, compete in two dozen sporting events. The tournament began Dec. 27 and runs through Friday.

“We’ve been very attentive these days because of the Maccabi Games,” security minister Patricia Bullrich said at a press conference Wednesday. “The president has been paying special attention and also because of what’s going on in the Middle East.”

The three men had been waiting for a package weighing about 77 pounds to arrive from Yemen, according to Argentine media. Their cellphones are currently being analyzed to gain more information about the alleged attack.

Buenos Aires has seen a spate of terror threats in recent months, both real and fake, several of which have targeted Jewish institutions. In October, the U.S. and Israeli embassies were hit with bomb threats via email, and both areas were evacuated. One threat said, “Jews we are going to kill you all.”

In October and December, false bomb threats hit the AMIA Jewish center, which was the site of the worst terror attack in Argentine history, a 1994 bombing that killed 85 people.

Jackie Hajdenberg
Jackie Hajdenberg

Jackie Hajdenberg is a reporter at JTA. She has a degree in political science from Barnard College and a master’s in journalism from Columbia Journalism School. Her reporting and writing has appeared in USA Today, PBS Frontline, the Detroit Free Press, Vox and Hey Alma. She writes satire and hangs out on Twitter @DrJackieMrsHajd