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.

Iran-Backed Terrorism In Turkey

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Tawhid-Salam – Remember This Name. 

Most people don’t know yet what Tawhid-Salam is but then again, few had heard of Al Qaeda before 9/11. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t  heard of Tawhid-Salam until about 3 weeks ago but since then, this name has popped up again and again as a growing terrorist group emerging in Turkey and backed by and well connected to, once again, Iran.

In fact, after a 3-year investigation including 234 people who were wiretapped, Tawhid-Salam was named “the stealthiest and the most dangerous terrorist organization of recent times” according to Former İstanbul Police Department intelligence bureau chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer.

 

Terrorists With Top Connections

The relationship between Iran and Turkey has had many ups and downs but can be summed up in one sentence: Tehran has many friends in Turkey who are beneficial economically and politically. As far as money is concerned, it might be worth your while to re-read my article on Iran’s involvement in Turkey’s Gold Scandal from December 29th that involved numerous high ranking officials in Turkey.

It seems that Tawhid-Salam is also very well connected: According to Yılmazer, the police managed to “expose the wider network of Iranian agents that has been set up in Turkey and discovered connections to senior government officials”. These connections include Interior Minister Efkan Ala, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan and Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay to name a few.

 

Links to Quds Forces and the Iranian Consulate

Tawhid-Salam’s track record is “impressive” and includes assassinations of Iranian opposition leaders and Turkish journalists/intellectuals as well as American, Saudi and Israeli diplomats.

The group has alsoconducted surveillance of the US consulate and drawn “plans of the Nuclear Research Institute in İstanbul’s Halkalı neighborhood” and delivered them to Iranian intelligence. Some of these activities were video-taped by the police as part of the investigation.

Tawhid-Salam was first identified in 1996 but has been systematically protected and covered up for over 20 years by various Turkish officials. Hakkı Selçuk Şanlı, one of the group founders, admitted in 2000 that organization members were trained in Iran “to stage attacks in Turkey and conduct intelligence operations on behalf of Iran”. He also added that he had supplied IRGC Quds forces with bombs for attacks in Georgia and Thailand from a storage unit rented by an Iranian Quds operative, Rızazade Metin.

Their contacts with Quds forces were facilitated by their contact in the Iranian Consulate – Naser Ghafari.

Hamid Babaei Jailed For NOT Spying

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Just Another Ordinary Day in Tehran

You’re at an airport, waiting with your husband for your flight home. All of a sudden, officials come over and take him from you. The next thing you know, they tell you that your husband is a spy, and that you shouldn’t hold your breath to see him again. Do you come to terms with your fate and keep waiting? Or do you decide to fight this injustice as hard as you can?

 

Jailed For Not Spying

It might sound like the premise of an action-packed Hollywood film, but this is the amazing, sad and unfortunate story of what happened on the 5th of August to Cobra Parsajoo, wife of Hamid Babaei. Babaei was an Iranian grad student in Liege, Belgium, studying for a doctorate in finance and law. And she had a tough decision to make.

It started a few weeks before in July 2013: Iranian authorities approached Babaei with a request for him to spy upon other Iranians living in Belgium. He refused the “offer”, ensuring the people who contacted him that his lips were sealed, but that obviously wasn’t enough.

So, a few weeks later, after a family visit and waiting for a plane back from Tehran to his life, someone decided to deny him his life, and declared him a national security threat.

 

8 months in hell…and counting.

For the last eight months, the lives of Babaei and Parsajoo have turned into nightmares: Babaei first spend a month in solitary confinement before being transferred to Evin prison in September. On December 21st, after being denied representation by a lawyer of his choice and after a 10 minute trial, he was sentenced to 6 years in jail for “acting against national security by communicating with hostile governments”.

In the meantime, Parasajoo is managing a campaign to release him. Because of this, she is not allowed to travel and has been threatened repeatedly by the Iranian authorities for speaking publicly about Babaei’s case.

Babaei himself was pressured to make a televised confession against himself and Parsajoo which he has resisted until now… If he does break down, Parsajoo may find herself thrown in jail as well.

Iranian Expats, Beware.

It seems that you can decide to leave Iran but Iran can decide not to leave you, both metaphorically and literally.

So while Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is trying to set up a committee for the return of Iranians from abroad and while President Hassan Rouhani promises to improve the state of human rights in Iran, the regime that preceded them is still working based on a code: either you root for Iran or you become its enemy. If you don’t spy for the regime, you must be spying against it…simple, and very very sad.

Was Babaei brave or stupid to refuse the “offer”? I would like to think that he was brave

This story could happen to anyone. Well, anyone who is an Iranian living abroad and visiting home. Was Babaei brave or stupid to refuse the “offer”? I would like to think that he was brave although I’m ashamed to say that I contemplated choosing the easier path…

 

Trouble Brewing in the Gulf

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The Gulf as a Microcosm

As Iranian diplomats battle their way into a nuclear agreement in Vienna, trouble is, once again, brewing much closer to home: lines are being drawn in the oil-soaked sands and the Gulf states are choosing sides.

And although this might seem far away and irrelevant for most people, this conflict is not going to be contained within the Gulf – in fact, it is being played out in countries as far away as Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, India and the US. Because what happens in the Gulf definitely doesn’t stay there.

The Red Corner: Iran-Oman-Qatar

Oman is a natural partner of Iran and has been so since the Islamic revolution. The ties are strong and are fuelled by their control of the Straits of Hormuz as well as money – a lot of money. Last year, Iran inked an agreement with Oman to export gas and Iran is setting up a deal with Oman and India for an underwater pipeline bypassing the current land route through Pakistan. Since relations between Iran and Pakistan are on the rocks right now, such a pipeline would be a double blessing for Iran.

Qatar was not always pro-Iran and, in fact, was at odds with Iran as far as Syria is concerned by backing the rebels (to the tune of 1-3 Billion dollars) as befitted the will of the country’s ex-monarch – Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. But since the crown-prince of Qatar, Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is an avid supporter of Assad, sentiments have changed up to the point where Qatar has decided to take a step back from the conflict in Syria and actually back Iran. In the meantime, Qatar and Iran are planning to establish a “Joint Free Trade Zone” which is sure to sweeten the relations between both countries.

The Green Corner: Saudi Arabia-Bahrain-UAE

The nuclear negotiations never did not sit well with Riyadh quite simply because the Saudis do not believe Tehran’s claims of a peaceful nuclear program. Consequently, the Saudis believe that the nuclear deal was a green light for them to buy a nuclear bomb from none other than…Pakistan.

The growing conflict between Tehran and Riyadh is not contained in the Gulf but is being battled out in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq through proxy-terrorist groups being financed by both sides. The Saudi backing of Al-Qaeda troops against Iranian-backed Hezbollah has resulted in an upsurge of terrorism in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq at the expense of civilians and Iranian diplomats caught in the crossfire.

This conflict is about money as well – Iran is trying to mobilize Iraq to form a front against Saudi Arabia’s control of OPEC, a move which is certain to add fuel to an already growing explosion in the making.

The Saudis are visibly upset with Qatar’s siding with Iran in this political tug of war, recalling its ambassador a week ago. True, relations between Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been on the rocks for a while (since Qatar openly backed the Muslim Brotherhood) but the context of their relations is definitely Iran.

And then, of course, there is Bahrain which is, with the UAE, a natural ally of Saudi Arabia and a victim of Iranian attempts at subversion and terrorism. Bahrain never supported Iran and will definitely not do so in the future.

The Future of the Gulf

Iran has never hid its aspirations to become a leader in its neighborhood. After decades of sanctions and animosity with the West which definitely benefitted the Saudis, its rapprochement through a nuclear deal has raised many questions and anger levels between the neighboring countries. Their calls for diplomacy with Saudi Arabia by Iran are repeated in the same breath as accusations and there seems to be no end in sight.

One thing is certain – this won’t be a clean fight: Tehran will use all its resources to topple the Saudis balancing grip and judging from the past, be prepared to read about exposed spy rings, IRGC/Qods/Hezbollah operatives, shipment of munitions etc…