So, Who Murdered Nisman?

It’s been nearly three months but nobody has an answer to this question. Based on the fact that Nisman was murdered for his relentless investigation into the AMIA bombing that remains unsolved since 1994, there is a good chance that Nisman’s murder might remain unsolved as well.

Too much evidence points to Tehran’s involvement in this murder as in the AMIA bombing. And yet, the Iranian suspects which include top officials such as former presidents, wannabe presidents, IRGC commanders, cabinet ministers etc…are all far from even being investigated.

The Argentinian government has bungled it up once again: instead of demanding that Tehran comes clean and allows the Iranian suspects to be investigated, the government first dismissed Nisman’s murder as suicide and then accused political opposition of murdering him just to make de Kirchner look bad.

This is the cost of maintaining diplomatic ties with Iran: innocent people die while government officials are forced to cover up.

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Mysteries of AMIA victim #86

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Slightly more than a week has passed since Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead in his apartment, less than a week after he filed a criminal complaint against a host of Argentinian officials all the way up to President de Kirchner.

Since then, facts and rumors are streaming in together and things have become clearer.

Back in Argentina, Nisman focused mostly on president de Kirchner and foreign minister Timerman who both, he accused, “took the criminal decision to fabricate Iran’s innocence to sate Argentina’s commercial, political and geopolitical interests”. De Kirchner was accused of directly ordering a covert team of negotiators to make an offer “from the shadows” to Iran which would guarantee immunity to former Iranian government officials and ease Argentina’s energy shortage. Nisman who had obtained his information from wiretaps on phones didn’t mince words: “There’s been an alliance with the terrorists” and “Iran admits and even boasts that it carried out the attack” he said on a television interview 4 days before his death.

Both de Kirchner and Timerman initially scoffed at the accusations, trying to turn Nisman into paranoid quack with a knack for conspiracy theories and immediately deemed his death a suicide.

Nisman’s death was definitely not a suicide:

  • Nisman voiced his worries that his life was in danger and he placed 330 CD’s with a friend for safekeeping days before his death – why?
  • The gun was not Nisman’s although he had permits for two guns – why use someone else’s?
  • There is no exit wound for the bullet that killed him which means that the gun was not held close to Nisman’s head – who shot him?
  • A 10 person government security detail guarding Nisman was conspicuously absent on the night of the murder – who called them off?
  • No gunpowder residue was found on Nisman’s hands – so who pulled the trigger?
  • Although two doors to the apartment were locked from inside, another entrance was found from the apartment next door (the owners were conveniently on holiday) with a finger print and a foot print – whose?

De Kirchner herself retracted and moved from suicide to murder, but deemed Nisman’s accusations “confusion, lies and questions” and then spread her own conspiracy theory claiming an orchestrated attempt to discredit her and her government. She also questioned who had “ordered” Nisman to return home abruptly from a family vacation implying that “Nisman’s masters” were responsible for his death. In another article she says “THEY used him while he was alive, and then THEY needed him dead” implying once again that “they” were Nisman’s operators who had killed him to embarrass her.

She vowed that the culprits of Nisman’s death “will be found” but since the culprits of the 1994 AMIA bombing have not been apprehended after 21 years, it’s not easy to believe her. Furthermore, since Nisman requested to freeze $23 million of de Kirchner’s assets, it’s hard for her to be objective. The 21 year-old AMIA investigation always implied negligence and corruption on the parts of the Argentinian courts and governments but now, they were accused of betrayal, treason and conspiracy to murder.

It should be noted that the dubious “truth commission” between Iran and Argentina was initiated by de Kirchner and trade between Iran and Argentina subsequently grew from $84 million to $1.2 billion in the first three years of de Kirchner’s presidency. De Kirchner was visibly angered at the furor following the signing of her “truth commission”: “When it was decided that there would be cooperation by way of the pact, they (the Jewish institutions in Argentina) accused us of complicity with the Iranian state.” What she forgot to mention was that before the “truth commission” was signed in Geneva, a secret meeting between Timmerman and then Iranian foreign minister Salehi took place in Syria two years earlier.

Nisman handled the charge that finally led the Argentinian court to dismantle the “truth commission” for being unconstitutional in that it symbolized a breach of the government’s meddling in the courts.

Now back to Tehran: Remember, Nisman listed nine high-ranking Iranian diplomats including Iran’s defense minister Vahidi, Iranian intelligence minister Fallahian, presidential candidates Rezaee and Velayati (now Khamenei’s personal counselor) and over the last week, one more Iranian diplomat was added to this list – president Rouhani himself. True, Nisman doesn’t list Rouhani in the list of Iranian diplomats directly responsible for the AMIA bombing but he does accuse Rouhani of being a member in 1994 of the Iranian intelligence agency which was overseeing secret operations abroad. Rouhani may not have managed the operation but he knew and allegedly authorized it, which makes his purported fight against terrorism (World Against Violence and Extremism – WAVE) look ludicrous and hypocritical.

Since Tehran is denying any involvement in the AMIA bombing and its subsequent cover-ups, it’s highly unlikely that any Iranian officials, including Rouhani, will stand in an Argentinian court in the near future. Yet the money flowing between both countries is tainted by blood.

Argentinian Prosecutor Nisman Conveniently Shot

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Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found dead of a bullet in the head in his apartment and a gun beside him. His death is a prime manifestation of the shadows of political intrigue – an attempt to cover-up a cover-up for political and commercial interests much like an episode from “House of Cards”. His death (murder or forced suicide) implicates governments and statesman, terror organizations and terror states.

The Argentinian government at first decided that Nisman had committed suicide despite the fact that it goes against all logic, as he was to appear publicly the next day for the performance of his lifetime efforts. But others immediately announced that Nisman had become the 86th victim of the AMIA bombing, nearly 21 years later.

21 years ago, on July 18th 1994, a bomb exploded in the AMIA (The Mutual Society of Argentina and Israel) center killing 85 innocent civilians and injuring hundreds more.

As I outlined in my previous post on this matter, the investigation pointed towards Hezbollah, and more importantly, Tehran.

Over the next few years, the prosecution issued numerous warrants for the arrests of Hezbollah operatives as well as a large number of Iranian diplomats and politicians including: President Rafsanjani, Iranian ambassador to Argentina Soleimanpor, Iranian cultural attaché in Argentina Rabbani, IRGC commander Vahidi (later defense minister), Iranian intelligence minister Fallahian and presidential candidates Rezaee and Velayati (Khamenei’s right hand man).

Tehran, of course, denied all and made a big deal about blaming “Zionist” elements for even suspecting them. Out of all of the suspects, only Soleimanpor was questioned and subsequently released. The others either escaped Argentina or stayed put in Tehran leaving too many questions unanswered.

The case was marred by accusations of cover-ups and corruption and as the years went by, more accusations and warrants were issued but no one was yet to be indicted.

For the governments of Buenos Aires and Tehran this was bad news, as trade between the two countries was severely hampered. So, after 19 years, the respective foreign ministers met and signed a memorandum to set up a joint “truth commission”. The idea was simple: set up a mutual Argentinian/Iranian commission which would ease the pressure on both countries. The memorandum was meant to ease the investigations against the Iranian diplomats and finally allow for the trade that both countries desperately wanted. In the process, Iran absurdly went from being or harboring the chief suspects of this crime to becoming partners with the police that was investigating the suspects. Tehran thought the case would be conveniently closed.

They forgot about Nisman, the untouchable justice seeker, who took over the case back in 2005 (by directive of the previous President). His scathing report (2013) accused Iran of setting up an infrastructure of terror and subversion in many south American countries while abusing diplomatic immunity, stating that Iranian so called “cultural centers” had become hubs for Hezbollah operatives, Iranian diplomats, Qods commanders and local anti-US leaders.

The above mentioned memorandum went against the judicial process, overturning many decisions by the courts, raising public criticism. Within the year, Nisman managed to convince the Argentinian court to declare the agreement as unconstitutional.

Nisman now further charged the government of being involved in a massive cover-up that reached all the way to then Argentinian president Kirchener and his daughter, Argentina’s current president Fernandez de Kirchner: “The president and her foreign minister took the criminal decision to fabricate Iran’s innocence to sate Argentina’s commercial, political and geopolitical interests“.

Nisman had seemed worried that he might be a target for an assassination but assured that “with Nisman around or not, the evidence is there” in a TV interview last week. Since he is now dead, we can only hope that the evidence will come to light.

So the AMIA case just got more complicated, or more simple, depending on your point of view. I have no doubt that Nisman was eliminated by a Hezbollah/Qods operative in Buenos Aires with or without the help of the Argentinian government in an effort to silence Nisman’s accusations. His life is a small price for the potential billions of dollars in trade between Tehran and Buenos Aires. And so, Iran remains far from the hands of justice…for now.

Iran Recruits Terrorists through Cultural Centers

cultural terroristsIran has been abusing its diplomatic and cultural centers for the sake of strengthening its infrastructure of terrorism and subversion for years…a quick peruse of all my posts on this blog will testify to that.

And now, the mullahs in Tehran are at it again and this time, the abuse is justified in order to pit Jihadist Shi’ite terror against Sunni ISIS terror.

Last week, Sudan closed an Iranian cultural center and gave its members 72 hours to leave the country.

Why? Sudan’s foreign minister: “Lately, it was noticed that the center had violated its mandate and the activities it is allowed to carry out in a way that has become threatening to Sudan’s social and ideological security.” That’s the long version. The short one is this: Sudan chose Sunni Saudi Arabia over Shi’ite Iran.

Up until about two weeks ago, Iran consistently denied being worried about the possible threat of ISIS to Iran although it is next in line after Iraq. In order to deal with the threat of ISIS, Tehran is willing to cooperate with two of its biggest arch-enemies, the US and Saudi Arabia: The US, because it sees itself as the defender of the world against terrorism and Saudi Arabia because ISIS is reported to have been funded (and possibly still be funded) by Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, over in the UK, Tehran is recruiting Shi’ite Jihadists to fight ISIS in Iraq and once again, recruitment is organized through an Iranian cultural center, the Ahlul Bayt Islamic mission (AIM), which published a call for Jihadists on its website: “We must be ready to sacrifice, leave everything behind us and run for the defense of truth and its supporters, representatives, and relics…(to) prepare ourselves spiritually and deserve the honor of defending Islam. Every man must be ready to join the armed forces and every woman must urge the male members of her family to go seek this noble cause and do anything she can to serve this cause … May Allah (SWT) enable us to put our words into actions and to defend Islam and its principles till our last breathe and drop of blood!“. By the way, AIM is managed by one Muhammad Hassan Akhtari who just happens to be one of the founders of Hezbollah and it is believed that AIM is being directed by none other than Khamenei himself.

Hossein Abedini from the National Council of Resistance of Iran is not surprised: “We have had concrete information in the past that the theocratic regime ruling Iran has been recruiting people from European countries and dispatching them to terrorist camps inside Iran for training.” Unlike its Sudanese counterpart, AIM thrives in England and is yet to be shut down.

Last week, Iranian defense minister bragged about Iran’s growing sphere of influence in the world under Khamenei’s word, while the IRGC’s special Quds force chief, Qassem Suleimani, who is responsible for saving Assad’s ass in Syria is reputedly “secretly running” Iraq. Any way you look at it, Iran is getting ready to take on ISIS and is willing to work with the devil to do so.

And if you ask Henry Kissinger, we should be worried more of Iran than of ISIS:  “ISIS is a group of adventurers with a very aggressive ideology. But they have to conquer more and more territory before they can became a strategic, permanent reality. I think a conflict with ISIS — important as it is — is more manageable than a confrontation with Iran“. Somebody must have forgotten to tell Obama about this because he is rushing in to partner with Iran without really understanding that by doing so, he is partnering with Assad/Hezbollah/Quds and will find himself unable to effectively sanction his new-found partners if the nuclear negotiations flounder.

AMIA Bombing Still Looms Over Key Iranian Diplomats

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As we’re approaching the 20th anniversary of the AMIA (The Mutual Society of Argentina and Israel) community center bombing in Buenos Aires (July 18th, 1994), the survivors and families of victims are still searching for the truth and retribution for the 85 lives and hundreds of injured.

The investigation pointed towards Hezbollah and more importantly, the Iranian regime at the time all the way up to Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Iran’s former president.

The prosecution issued warrants for key Hezbollah members as well as Rafsanjani, Hade Soleimanpour (Iran’s ambassador to Argentina) and Mohsen Rabbani (Iran’s cultural attaché in Argentina). Only Soleimanpour underwent questioning and was released after offering his testimony. Rabbani disappeared and re-emerged in Tehran and Rafsanjani simply denied any involvement by himself or by Iran.

The list of Iranian diplomats who were suspected of being involved kept growing: Interpol published names of six individuals (out of nine) who were officially accused for their role in the terrorist attack. These include Ahmad Vahidi (IRGC commander and later appointed as Iran’s defense minister), Ali Fallahian (Iranian intelligence minister), Imad Mughniyah (founding member of Hezbollah), Mohsen Rabbani, Ahmad Reza Asghari (Iranian diplomat), Mohasen Rezaee (Iranian politician and presidential candidate). Other suspects included Ali Akbar Velayati (presidential candidate and Supreme Leader Khamenei’s right hand man). All are high ranking diplomats who would rise even higher over time.

Iran vehemently objected to the notion of arresting its politicians, and so a makeshift solution was conceived: A truth Commission.

Last year, the government of Argentina announced it had signed a memorandum with Iran in order to investigate the AMIA bombing further. It basically meant that Argentina and Iran would now investigate together Iran’s participation in the bombing. The memorandum overturned decisions made by Argentina’s courts and prompted a lot of criticism by the families of the victims as well as US senators who wrote a letter to President Christina Kirschner, saying that they found the agreement “disturbing“.

But, last week a court decision on the matter was given: An appeals court in Argentina declared the deal as unconstitutional but this decision is not yet final since the government is planning to appeal this decision to the high court.

In any case, the AMIA bombing represents a pure example of Iran’s shadow diplomacy: One hand places the bomb and kills people while the other hand diplomatically tries to wash away any connections. And to make matters more complicated, Iranian diplomats sign a deal with Argentina which allows the prime suspect to become a part of the investigation! I can understand why the Iranians acted the way they did…can’t say I understand the motives of the Argentinians.

 

other posts on argentina: irans-ongoing-tango-with-argentina and iran-emerging-from-the-shadows-in-argentina

 

Iran & Iraq: From Enemies to Neighbors to Partners

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26 years ago, the UN Security Council resolution 598 put an end to the Iran-Iraq war which cost over a million lives and nearly $600 Billion. Since then, relations between the two countries have been mostly chilly and formal…until now.

“Close ties between Tehran and Baghdad will serve the interests of regional countries“, said Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaking directly to appease the fears of the Gulf and nearby states, like Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which I wrote about previously in this blog.

An eye opening piece by Ali Hashem in Al monitor explained Iran’s type of political game with its neighbor: “It is a matter of common interests, indeed. The Iranians proceeded according to a playbook with their eye on the long game. Tehran backed the US political process adopted by the Shiite Iraqi groups that had sought refuge in Iran during Saddam Hussein’s rule, but at the same time supported the armed insurgency against the US occupation”.

Iran’s strategy in Iraq is in line with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s overall  “beyond boundaries” defense policy which is based on exporting the revolution to its neighbors, especially those with substantial Shiite populations,  and to any countries with “anti-Imperialist” forces. Iraq fits that description on all counts.

Iran has also another motive to strengthen ties with Iraq which is the home of a large community of exiled members of Iranian opposition groups. According to the latest report from the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Iran is behind the Iraqi forces who have killed 116 refugees and wounded 1,350 in refugee camps. Furthermore, Iran has formally requested the extradition of these exiles in order to give them a “fair trial” back in Tehran before sending them to rot in prison or hang from the gallows.

In fact, a source in the know of the relations between the two countries, explained further: “All the other countries in the region stabbed Iraq in the back. Iran’s decision was to help Iraqis in whatever they wanted to do, and that’s why today Iran and Iraq have a $12 billion trade exchange, and in a few years this will be $30 billion.” Iran’s bet seems to have been successful or as Iraq’s Deputy PM Rowsch Nuri Shaways explains: Iran is now Iraq’s “most trustworthy neighbor”.

But the Iranian foreign office and other notables high in the hierarchy might have bigger fish to fry: the US State Department officials are considering an investigation into the presence of Iranian weapons in Iraq. The Iranian interest in Iraq is paramount, and it recently reached what some spectators might call a boiling point: the Iraqi elections.

On the 19th, Iran issued a statement congratulating Iraq on a well-organized and successful election. And yes, Tehran backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for his 3ed term.

Iran is searching for reliable allies and Iraq in 2014 seems to be one of its best potentials. You can bet on the fact that part of the trade between these two countries in the future will include military dimensions.

Iran’s Problem with Baharain

 

 

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I’ve posted on this blog posts on Iran’s relations with its fellow gulf countries before (“Trouble brewing in the Gulf, “With friends like these 3“, “Iran’s diplomatic duality in the Gulf“, “With friends like these 1“.

This week, Bahrain is taking focus again in that area and once again, it has to do with Iran’s efforts at subversion in the area. On the 28th of April, a Bahraini court sentenced 12 men to a life sentence in prison for spying. The Judges ruled that the men received training from the IRGC in Iran and that they also possessed weapons and explosives.

Furthermore, an article in The Express Tribune reported that: “Bahrain accuses Iran of fueling unrest in the country since a 2011 uprising led by the Shi’ite Muslim community demanding reforms and more share in running the kingdom ruled by the Sunni Muslim al-Khalifa dynasty”. This is quite the hefty accusation and it followed similar accusations last year regarding the IRGC setting up a terrorist cell that planned to attack its airport and government buildings.

The response from Tehran was as expected: It denied the allegations, but defended the cause of the Shi’ite opposition. The row between the two countries started a few days before, when the Bahraini Authorities expelled Iraq Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s representative, Hussein al-Najati, in the latest sign of tension with the Shia majority in the Persian Gulf country. “We strongly condemn (such) measures by the al-Khalifa and announce that we will never leave the Bahraini people alone,” said the Grand Ayatollah Hossein Nouri Hamedani in a speech in Qom, and added that this is a sign of the Al Khalifa’s fall.

The troubles in Bahrain did not go unnoticed by its neighbor and Iran’s archrival, Saudi Arabia: “Our regional security requires that we, as a Gulf grouping, work to create a real balance of forces with it, including in nuclear knowhow, and to be ready for any possibility in relation to the Iranian nuclear file” said  former Saudi intelligence director Prince Turk Al Faisal to the Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies.

So while Iran is succeeding in getting closer to the West, its neighbors are getting wearier of its continued efforts to stir up a Shia opposition from within. This might seem very distant and irrelevant to readers from Europe and America but Iran’s world view is certainly not limited to its neighbors.