Down Argentine Way

Alberto Nisman was about to present the findings of his investigation of the cover-up of Iranian responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish community center when he died in January 2015 under mysterious circumstances. The bombing was an act of mass murder; it killed 85 people. Was Nisman himself murdered in turn? We covered the attempts to unravel the circumstances behind his death in a series of posts titled “Who killed Alberto Nisman?”

In a stunning development last week, an Argentinian federal judge asked Argentina’s Senate to allow the arrest of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the former president, on treason and other charges relating to Iran’s possible involvement in the 1994 bombing. The Daily Mail has a straightforward account of the charges here. Daniel Politi’s New York Times story on the charges is here.

By far the best commentary I have found on the charges is the intensely reported New York Times op-ed column by Mark Dubowitz and Toby Dershowitz of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy. It opens:

One morning last week, Argentines woke up to a political earthquake: A judge had charged a former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, with “treason against the homeland,” punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Her crime? Nothing less than covering up Iran’s role in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the Americas before Sept. 11.

On July 18, 1994, Ibrahim Hussein Berro, an operative of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, drove a van filled with 606 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil into the Buenos Aires Jewish community center, known as AMIA. More than 300 Argentines were wounded; 85 were murdered. It remains the bloodiest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history.

From 2004 until 2015, our friend, the prosecutor Alberto Nisman, tirelessly pursued the truth behind this crime. He knew from his investigation that the attack was an Iranian-planned operation. And he determined that Ms. Kirchner was behind a cover-up designed to whitewash Iran’s role.

* * * * *

When we heard the news of Mr. Nisman’s death and of Ms. Kirchner’s suspected cover-up, we were horrified, but not entirely shocked. Anyone who had followed Mr. Nisman’s pursuit of this case knew that he was assuming grave risks by taking on both a terrorist state and his own government. Through a decade of investigation, Mr. Nisman received death threats against not only him but his children as well. One email he told us about had a picture of bloodied and brutalized bodies lying on the ground, with a note saying this would be the fate of his young daughters if he did not cease his investigation.

The column concludes with a message for us: “As Mr. Nisman documented, Iran and Hezbollah have penetrated Latin America, and still pose a grave threat to the security of Argentina, the region and the United States.” Read the whole thing here more than once to let it sink it. It is incredible.

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