Protesters in Buenos Aires Outside Agentine Congress
Since the death of Argentine Prosecutor Nisman the continuing investigation into those circumstances and release of the Complaint against Argentine President Kirchner and Foreign Minister Timmerman raise controversial questions. The 289 page Complaint alleges cover up of their involvement in a trade deal with Iran in exchange for dropping charges against Islamic regime officials involved in the 1994 AMIA Jewish Center blast that killed 85 and injured hundreds. Discovery of Nisman’s death at his luxury apartment on Sunday night occurred just before his scheduled testimony in an Argentine Congressional hearing on Monday, January 19th. The Buenos Aires Herald today cited President Kirchner saying in letters posted on her Facebook page that she believed that Nisman’s death was not a suicide.
The Herald reported Kirchner saying in a letter on her Facebook page:
That the “real operation against the government was the prosecutor’s death” and she added: “They used him while he was alive and then they needed him dead. It is that sad and terrible.” Nisman’s report ‘was planted’ with false information,” she added.
“Nisman’s accusation not only collapses, but it becomes a real political and legal scandal,” the president wrote. “Prosecutor Nisman did not know that the intelligence agents that he listed as such, were in fact not. Least of all that one of them had been accused by (ex Intelligence chief ‘Jaime’) Stiusso himself.”
Antonio “Jaime” Stiusso, a senior spy, was fired in a December shake-up of the agency, where one of his duties was to help Nisman with the investigation into the 1994 bombing.
According to the Times of Israel (ToI), Argentinean media reported forensic investigators uncovering a finger and shoe pint in the hallway on Nisman’s 13th floor apartment . Nisman ex-Wife, Judge Sandra Arroyo said to inquiring reporters “No” that his death was not a suicide. Unlike President Kirchner, Arroyo was not willing to leap to conclusions, saying to reporters , “There is an investigation underway. We must let justice proceed. I cannot make conjectures”. Investigative prosecutor Viviana Fein, the ToI noted there were no traces of gunpowder on his hands from a 22 caliber gun found at his side, allegedly given him by a colleague. Nor was there a suicide note found.
The 289 page Compliant that Nisman left behind was ordered opened by an Argentine Judge Ariel Lijo, Tuesday night. iMarket Reports noted:
The complaint provides passages from intercepted phone calls and other evidence to bolster Mr. Nisman’s main accusation–that President Cristina Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and others conspired with Iran to sabotage an investigation into a 1994 terrorist bombing that killed 85 people at a Jewish center here.
The government on Wednesday declined to comment on Nisman’s complaint. But cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich told reporters the government is working to clear up Mr. Nisman’s death and the AMIA case. “The judicial investigation is essential, and it is ongoing,” he said. “It will continue with support to determine the cause of this death.”
Iran’s embassy in Buenos Aires declined to comment.
The New York Times filed a report citing examples from the intercepted phone calls contained in Nisman’s Compliant, “Argentine Phone Calls Detail Efforts to Shield Iran”:
In one transcript from 2013, an Argentine union leader and influential supporter of Mrs. Kirchner said he was acting on the orders of the “boss woman,” adding that the government was open to sending a team from the national oil company to advance the negotiations.
“He’s very interested in exchanging what they have for grains and beef,” said the union leader, Luis D’Elía, referring to a powerful Argentine minister with whom he had just met.
Another intercept shows negotiators talking about ways to place blame for the bombing on right-wing groups and activists.
Yet another transcript includes a discussion about swapping not just Argentine grains, but weapons as well, for Iranian oil.
Then there is this exchange at a January 2011 Aleppo , Syria meeting between Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman and his then Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi:
At the meeting, the complaint contends, Mr. Timerman informed his Iranian counterpart that Argentina was no longer interested in supporting the investigation into Iran’s possible role in the attack. Instead, Argentina initiated steps toward a détente, with an eye on improving trade between the two countries.
After this meeting, Mr. Nisman said a covert team of Argentine negotiators, including Mr. D’Elía, who has publicly asked whether Israel was to blame for the 1994 bombing, tried in vain to exchange Iran’s immunity for oil.
Mr. Nisman said the negotiators, including intelligence agents, were given the task of “constructing a false hypothesis, based on invented evidence, to incriminate new authors” of the 1994 bomb attack.
The Times recounting of the Complaint findings noted the significant growth of trade between Argentina and Iran over the period from 2010 to 2014 reaching an annual level over $1 Billion. But it cited how the refusal of Interpol to lift the 2007 arrest warrants against Iranian officials forced back channel discussions of a trade exchange deal to fizzle:
Beyond trade, the warming relations between Argentina and Iran extended into the diplomatic realm, according to the intercepted calls.
“We’re doing very well,” Ramón Héctor Bogado, who is identified in the complaint as an Argentine intelligence operative, said about the signing of the 2013 memorandum on a joint investigation into the bombing.
“We have to work calmly,” Mr. Bogado told a man identified in the complaint as go-between on the Iranian side. “We have a job to do for the next 10 years.”
“It looks like” Argentina’s foreign minister “messed up,” the go-between for Iran is quoted as saying in the complaint after returning from Tehran in May 2013, when it was becoming clear that Interpol would not remove the warrants.
The Times cited comments from a US Treasury source suggesting that the barter deal might have violated current sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program.
After reading these excerpts of the Nisman compliant led one reader to comment, “ there’s a 95 percent chance that his death was a professional hit job”. The question remains, if the investigation in to Nisman death doesn’t get derailed or entombed, who might have perpetrated it? Could that be someone close to the Kirchner Administration , who has the ultimate shield of deniability? Or could it perhaps be a cell of Hezbollah or Iran’s Qods Force based in the so-called “triangle of terror “ at the conjunction of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Stay tuned for developments.