Day before scheduled to testify about government cover-up.
Alberto Nisman, the Argentinian prosecutor who investigated the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires and documented Iran’s extensive terror ties in the western hemisphere, was found dead at his home Sunday night of a bullet wound to the head.
Nisman was slated to testify today on his latest explosive accusations that the current government of Argentina, specifically President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, purposely covered up Iran’s involvement in the bombing in order to preserve a grain-for-oil deal with the Islamic Republic.
The New York Times reports:
The body of the prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, 51, who had been heavily protected by police sentries because of threats, was discovered Sunday night. He had been scheduled to testify on Monday at a congressional inquiry about his accusations.
The security minister, Sergio Berni, said evidence at the scene, including a .22-caliber pistol and spent cartridge found near Mr. Nisman’s body, indicated suicide. An autopsy announced later said he had died of a bullet wound to the head.
But the news immediately provoked shock and outrage from the political opposition and leaders of Argentina’s Jewish population, Latin America’s largest, who demanded a transparent inquiry into his death. The timing appeared to put a skulduggerous international shadow over his accusations.
Nisman’s work on the AMIA case led him to provide documentation of Iran’s terror network in the western hemisphere—specifically in South America—which would provide Iran with a motive for killing him. In addition to motive, Iran has an established capability of striking at its enemies on foreign soil. Christopher Dickey reports:
Between 1987 and 1993, according a French government memo published in a very detailed study called Le Hezbollah Global, between 1987 and 1993 some 18 opponents of the Tehran regime were murdered in Europe, and the CIA estimated that between 1989 and 1996 the Hezbollah network carried out 200 serious attacks costing hundreds of lives.
By the late 1990s, the Iranian government apparently decided to slow these operations after several of them started to bring down too much heat. The Germans conducted a relentless investigation of the murder of Kurdish leaders in Berlin in 1992, tracing them back to the then-head of Iranian intelligence, Ali Fallahian. The AMIA bombing in 1994 caused international outrage. And the bombing of the Khobar Towers apartments in Saudi Arabia in 1995, which killed 19 Americans, was eventually traced to another group of Iranian acolytes.
Finally, Imad Mugniyeh, seen as the key Hezbollah operative in many of the group’s terrorist attacks, dating back to the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, was blown up with a well-placed car bomb in Damascus in 2008. The Israelis generally are credited with that hit.
Kirchner and Timerman can’t have wanted Nisman’s testimony aired in open court, which would have supported the charges he made last week.
Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that Nisman had discovered a plan hatched by Kirchner to overlook Iran’s role in the atrocity, in order to “make a geopolitical move closer to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to establish full economic ties” for the purpose of alleviating “Argentina’s energy crisis through a ‘grain for oil’ deal.” Nisman, whose findings are summarized in a 300 page complaint, now wants to question Kirchner and other officials over whether there was an attempt to “fabricate,” as he put it, “the innocence of Iran.”
Nisman, who formally charged the Iranians with having executed the bombing in 2006, claimed that Kirchner had set up a secret “back channel” to Iran with the aim of “transmitting the Presidents instructions and achieving her objectives.” A number of prominent figures have been named in connection with these clandestine communications with Iran, including staff members of the state intelligence service, parliamentarian Andrés Larroque, pro-government activists Luis D’Elia and Fernando Esteche, and Jorge “Yussuf” Khalil, a leading figure in the country’s Muslim community who is reported to have close ties with the Iranian regime.
David Horovitz, editor-in-chief of The Times of Israel laments Nisman’s loss and recalls a conversation he had with the late prosecutor two years ago.
Hearing the news on Monday morning, I could not help but recall what Nisman told me in a June 2013 telephone conversation: Tehran had established its terror networks for the strategic long term, he said, ready to be used “whenever it needs them.” In that same call, he warned that terrorist networks first established by Iran in several South American countries in the 1980s and 1990s were still in place. As throughout his investigation into the AMIA bombing, Nisman said he continued to receive intermittent death threats, by phone and email. “I report them to the authorities,” he said simply.
Horovitz noted that Nisman’s investigation of the AMIA bombing was substantial enough for Interpol to issue “red notices” for high ranking Iranian officials. (A red notice isn’t quite an arrest warrant, as Interpol doesn’t have that power, but it’s close.)
Nisman had been after Kirchner for making an agreement with Iran to set up a “truth commission” to investigate the AMIA bombings, effectively allowing the chief suspect to exonerate itself.
Now Nisman is dead meaning that Kirchner and Iran can rest a lot easier. Are we to believe that his death is really a suicide, as the Argentinian government claimed today?DONATE
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