Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #836 The Death of Alberto Nisman and the AMIA Bombing

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment

AMIA Bomb­ing

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing analy­sis of the AMIA bomb­ing, the pro­gram begins with a reprise of infor­ma­tion from FTR #457. In addi­tion to fur­ther dis­cus­sion of the pos­si­ble role of Monz­er al-Kas­sar in the events sur­round­ing the bomb­ing, the pro­gram high­lights an alleged deal between for­mer Argen­tine Pres­i­dent Car­los Men­em and Al-Kas­sar con­cern­ing a mis­sile and nucler reac­tor deal with Syr­ia. Despite a fore­warn­ing of the bomb­ing, the attack took place with­out inter­fer­ence from the Argen­tine author­i­ties.

After then pres­i­dent Car­los Men­em can­celled the deal and made a good will vis­it to Israel (at the urg­ing of his good friend George H.W. Bush), the reac­tor and mis­sile deal was can­celed. The 1992 attack on the Israeli embassy in Argenti­na and the AMIA bomb­ing fol­lowed short­ly after­ward.

In FTR #155, we exam­ined the sale of Con­dor mis­siles and nuclear capa­bil­i­ties to Sad­dam Hus­sein. The pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Under­ground Reich bro­kered Con­dor sales to both Iran and Syr­ia needs to be con­sid­ered. Giv­en that the Bor­mann net­work has con­sum­mate influ­ence in Argenti­na, they may have been pun­ish­ing the Argen­tines for reneg­ing on the deal.

The AMIA “inves­ti­ga­tion” was bun­gled from the start, with evi­dence being buried and/or mis­han­dled. For an account of the many evi­den­tiary trib­u­taries run­ning in and out of the milieu impli­cat­ed in this inves­ti­ga­tion, see FTR #835.

A syn­op­tic account of key indi­vid­u­als, insti­tu­tions and events in the AMIA inves­ti­ga­tion: sev­er­al peo­ple linked to for­mer Argen­tin­ian pres­i­dent Car­los Men­em; indi­vid­u­als linked to the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal; neo-Nazi ele­ments in Argenti­na; inves­ti­ga­tions into fugi­tive Nazi war crim­i­nals; the res­ig­na­tions of two jus­tice min­is­ters involved in the AMIA inves­ti­ga­tion; the sus­pi­cious deaths of numer­ous indi­vid­u­als linked to one or anoth­er of the ele­ments fig­ur­ing in sev­er­al relat­ed inves­ti­ga­tions; evi­den­tiary trib­u­taries link­ing the AMIA bomb­ing to the Okla­homa City Bomb­ing, the bomb­ing of Pan Am flight 103 over Locker­bie, Scot­land and the Achille Lau­ro hijack­ing in 1985.

Fol­low­ing the shoot­ing death of pros­e­cu­tor Alber­to Nis­man, it emerged that he was going to indict Argen­tine pres­i­dent Kirch­n­er for effect­ing a cov­er-up, alleged­ly in exchange for an oil deal with Iran.

Hezbol­lah salut­ing

He also observed that “I might get out of this dead.” He died on the week­end before his sched­uled tes­ti­mo­ny before the Argen­tin­ian con­gress on a Mon­day.

Short­ly after his death, pres­i­dent Kirch­n­er attacked Nis­man for par­tic­i­pat­ing in a desta­bi­liza­tion of her gov­ern­ment. Both Kirch­n­er and her aides referred to Nis­man­’s death as a “sui­cide.”

Nis­man was report­ed to have been afraid of the very guards who were sup­posed to pro­tect his life.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: The pres­ence of the DNA of a sec­ond, uniden­ti­fied per­son in Nis­man­’s apart­ment; a female wit­ness in the death of Nis­man pre­sent­ed an account of appar­ent irreg­u­lar­i­ties in the behav­ior of the police offi­cers han­dling the crime scene; that wit­ness’s expres­sion of fear for her safe­ty; the dis­cov­ery of the charred body of an uniden­ti­fied female vic­tim across the street from Nis­man; irreg­u­lar­i­ties in the state­ments of offi­cers on Nis­man­’s secu­ri­ty detail; Nis­man­’s fear for the safe­ty of his daugh­ters because of his inves­ti­ga­tion; Kirch­n­er’s intent to rebuild the Argen­tine intel­li­gence ser­vice, fol­low­ing its dis­band­ment by the pres­i­dent.

1. First, the broad­cast revis­its FTR #457 and the treat­ment pre­sent­ed in that pro­gram on the sub­ject of the AMIA bombing—one of the first Islamist ter­ror­ist inci­dents in Latin Amer­i­ca and appar­ent­ly con­nect­ed to the bomb­ing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires two years ear­li­er. (For more about the AMIA bomb­ing, see FTR#’s 529109328330341.)

“Ter­ror­is­m’s New Geog­ra­phy” by Sebas­t­ian Junger; Van­i­ty Fair; December/2002; p. 192. (This arti­cle does not appear to be avail­able online.)

. . . . Ter­ror­ism estab­lished itself beyond a doubt in Argenti­na in the ear­ly 1990’s. Around 10 o’clock on the morn­ing of July 18, 1994, a white Renault Traf­fic packed with 600 pounds of ammo­ni­um nitrate—a fertilizer—and fuel explod­ed next to the Argen­tine-Israeli Mutu­al Asso­ci­a­tion in down­town Buenos Aires. The explo­sion was so pow­er­ful that it brought down most of the sev­en-sto­ry build­ing. The driver—no one knows who he was—disappeared. Eighty-six of the 100 or so peo­ple then I the build­ing died in the blast. A woman who hap­pened to be cross­ing the street just before the explo­sion had near­ly been hit by the Renault van as it took the turn onto Calle Pas­teur, and recalled glar­ing at it, but did not get a good look at the dri­ver. She could not say whether he was old or young, Arab-look­ing or not; all she could say was that he had seemed to be alone.

2. Among the prin­ci­pal play­ers in the bomb­ings was Monz­er al-Kas­sar. (For more about Al-Kas­sar, see—among oth­er programs—RFA#’s 323538—avail­able from Spitfire—as well as FTR#’s 109341.) Mate­r­i­al dis­cussed in this pro­gram alleges an Al-Kas­sar role in the Con­dor mis­sile project, dis­cussed in FTR#’s 155384.)

Idem.

Ter­ror­ists had struck once before. Two years ear­li­er, a Ford F‑100 truck loaded with the high explo­sive Sem­tex had blown up in front of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and killed 29 peo­ple. The truck had been bought in Ciu­dad del Este with hun­dred-dol­lar bills report­ed­ly traced to a cur­ren­cy-exchange house in Lebanon that belonged to Monz­er al-Kas­sar, an infa­mous arms deal­er. Al-Kas­sar had exten­sive ties to the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment and its intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus and was sus­pect­ed of a laun­dry list of ille­gal arms deals and ter­ror­ist acts, includ­ing the 1985 hijack­ing of the Achille Lau­ro cruise ship. He was also sus­pect­ed of bro­ker­ing a deal in 1989 between Argen­tinean pres­i­dent Car­los Men­em and Syr­ia, where­by the Syr­i­ans would make a $100 mil­lion ‘cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion’ to Men­em in exchange for the sale of a nuclear reac­tor and an Argen­tinean mis­sile sys­tem called Con­dor II. A bilat­er­al pact between Syr­ia and Iran tied both coun­tries to the pur­chas­es.

The Con­dor mis­sile had a range of 1,000 kilo­me­ters and was wide­ly con­sid­ered to be supe­ri­or to the Russ­ian Scud mis­siles that were already avail­able to Syr­ia. Under heavy pres­sure from the Unit­ed States, Menem—a close friend of the first Pres­i­dent George Bush, who forced through a $300 mil­lion deal for Enron in Argenti­na, in which the com­pa­ny received huge tax breaks—made a good­will vis­it to Israel and reneged on both the mis­sile-sys­tem and nuclear-reac­tor sales. Crit­ics accused him of pur­su­ing a ‘car­nal’ rela­tion­ship with the Unit­ed States, and with­in months ter­ror­ists had car­ried out the first of their two attacks.

3.  The arti­cle dis­cuss­es the Syr­i­an back­ground of Men­em and his entourage, as well as some of the scan­dals sur­round­ing his wife. (For more about this sub­ject, see FTR#’s 109341373.) The pro­gram then pro­ceeds to dis­cuss the cov­er-up of the AMIA bombing—set forth in con­sid­er­able detail in FTR#109.

Idem.

To no one’s sur­prise, the inves­ti­ga­tion into the bomb­ing of the Argentine—Israeli Mutu­al Association—known by its Span­ish acronym, AMIA—was bun­gled from the start. The crime scene was tram­pled by the police, res­cuers, and the sim­ply curi­ous, and near­ly all the phys­i­cal evidence—including body parts of the victims—was col­lect­ed in plas­tic bags and dropped off at an open-air dump. Three years lat­er the bags were dug up and thrown into the Rio de la Pla­ta. Nev­er­the­less, some progress was made in the case, though in the hall of mir­rors that is Argen­tinean pol­i­tics it was hard to tell who was a vil­lain and who was a scape­goat. Inves­ti­ga­tors traced the white van used in the attack to Police Com­mis­sion­er Juan Jose Ribel­li, who for years had been sus­pect­ed of using his posi­tion to run an extreme­ly lucra­tive side busi­ness traf­fick­ing stolen cars to Paraguay. Inves­ti­ga­tors soon dis­cov­ered that Ribel­li had received a $2.5 mil­lion pay­ment from an unknown source—possibly as a pay­off for the crime, or for tak­ing the fall. (Ribel­li claims it was an inher­i­tance.) And 66 record­ings from police wire­taps of a Ribel­li asso­ciate mys­te­ri­ous­ly dis­ap­peared dur­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion. In the end, 14 more police­men and four of their asso­ciates were arrest­ed for the bomb­ing.

5. An infor­mant attempt­ed to alert the Argen­tinean author­i­ties to the impend­ing AMIA bombing—to no avail.

Idem.

And it got even stranger. Fif­teen days before the AMIA bomb­ing, it turned out, a shad­owy Brazil­ian named Wil­son Dos San­tos had vis­it­ed the Argen­tinean Con­sulate in Milan and tried to warn offi­cials of the upcom­ing attack. His girl­friend was part of the ter­ror cell that had car­ried out the embassy attack in ’92, he said, and they had anoth­er attack planned, for a build­ing in Buenos Aires that was ‘under construction’—the AMIA build­ing. The Argen­tinean diplo­mats dis­missed him out of hand, but after the attack he was quick­ly found in Brazil by none oth­er than Mario Aguilar Risi, who had also had advance warm­ing of the attack from his own sources.

Risi had just been cleared of kid­nap­ping charges and been released from prison. While in jail, Risi says, he wrote numer­ous let­ters to Argentina’s then inte­ri­or min­is­ter, Car­los Corach, as well as to a fed­er­al judge, explain­ing that he had deep sources in ter­ror­ist cells in Argenti­na, Paraguay, and Brazil, and that these cells were plan­ning a dev­as­tat­ing attack on the AMIA build­ing. He was ignored, the attack occurred, and as soon as Risi was released from prison he tracked down Dos San­tos. In Brazil he video­taped him­self with Dos San­tos, who made a brief state­ment that he was return­ing to Buenos Aires to tell the truth.”

Accord­ing to Risi, dos San­tos had agreed to tes­ti­fy as long as his iden­ti­ty was not revealed, but in Buenos Aires, as soon as he made his state­ment to the pre­sid­ing judge, Juan Jose Galeano, his name and pho­to­graph were leaked to he press. Dos San­tos imme­di­ate­ly recant­ed every­thing, explain­ing that the AMIA warn­ing had sim­ply been a lucky guess. Judge Clau­dio Bona­dio threw him in jail to await tri­al for per­jury charges.

6. More about the failed inves­ti­ga­tion:

Idem.

The investigation—or cover-up—blundered along for years. Its most vocal crit­ic was the num­ber-two inves­ti­ga­tor in the case, Clau­dio Lif­schitz. Two and a half years into the inves­ti­ga­tion, Lif­schitz quit in dis­gust and wrote a book called AMIA: Why the Inves­ti­ga­tion Was Made to Fail. It alleged that the entire probe had been com­pro­mised in an effort by Pres­i­dent Men­em to cov­er up his ties to Syr­ia and Iran. The two bomb­ings went unsolved for years, but sup­port for Lifschitz’s accu­sa­tions emerged sud­den­ly last July, when The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed that a for­mer Iran­ian intel­li­gence offi­cer, using the name Abdol­has­sem Mes­bahi and oth­er wise known as ‘Wit­ness C,’ had tes­ti­fied to Argen­tinean inves­ti­ga­tors that the 1992 embassy bomb­ing was planned by a diplo­mat at the Iran­ian Embassy in Buenos Aires and super­vised by a senior Iran­ian intel­li­gence offi­cer. Months after the bomb­ing, Mes­bahi said, an emis­sary from Men­em flew to Teheran to accept a $10 mil­lion pay­off to cov­er up the first bomb­ing as well as any ‘future’ acts of ter­ror­ism. The mon­ey, accord­ing to Mes­bahi, was deposit­ed in a num­bered Swiss bank account con­trolled by Menem—a fact lat­er con­firmed by Swiss inves­ti­ga­tors. . . .

7. About the alleged sui­cide of Nis­man and the alleged deal between pres­i­dent Kirch­n­er’s gov­ern­ment and the Iran­ian mul­lahs (note that Nis­man fore­shad­owed his own demise in a state­ment before his death):

“Puz­zling Death of a Pros­e­cu­tor Grips Argenti­na” by Jonathan Gilbert and Simon Romero; The New York Times; 1/19/2015.

Police sen­tries guard­ed the fed­er­al prosecutor’s lux­u­ry high-rise build­ing. His door on the 13th floor had been locked from the inside, and a gun with a spent car­tridge was found on the floor near his body. There was no sui­cide note.

Just one day ear­li­er, on Sat­ur­day, the pros­e­cu­tor, Alber­to Nis­man, said, “I might get out of this dead.”

From the moment 10 years ago when he was assigned to inves­ti­gate the 1994 sui­cide bomb­ing of a Jew­ish cen­ter here that left 85 peo­ple dead, Mr. Nis­man, an even-keeled lawyer, became entan­gled in a labyrinthine plot that he traced to Iran and its mil­i­tant Lebanese ally, Hezbol­lah.

But it was only in the past week that Mr. Nis­man, 51, lev­eled explo­sive accu­sa­tions that top Argen­tine offi­cials, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Cristi­na Fer­nán­dez de Kirch­n­er, had con­spired with Iran to cov­er up respon­si­bil­i­ty for the bomb­ing as part of a deal that would sup­ply Iran­ian oil to Argenti­na. Now, the mys­tery has deep­ened with the dis­cov­ery of Mr. Nisman’s body on Sun­day — the day before he was to tes­ti­fy before law­mak­ers about those accu­sa­tions.

The tim­ing of his death, and the out­rage and skep­ti­cism it pro­voked in Argenti­na and else­where, raised a tor­rent of new ques­tions about an unre­solved case that many here call a nation­al dis­grace.

The lat­est turn is con­vuls­ing Argentina’s polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment over whether the country’s acute­ly politi­cized insti­tu­tions can ever pros­e­cute those respon­si­ble for the bomb­ing, one of the dead­liest anti-Semit­ic attacks since World War II.

“This has turned into an attack on the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the fun­da­men­tal insti­tu­tions of the repub­lic,” said San­ti­a­go Kovadloff, an essay­ist and colum­nist for the news­pa­per La Nación.

Offi­cials in Mrs. Kirchner’s gov­ern­ment were quick to assert that Mr. Nis­man appeared to have killed him­self. 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. Autop­sy results announced lat­er said he had died of a bul­let wound to the head.

The bul­let was almost def­i­nite­ly fired from the Bersa pis­tol that lay next to his body, accord­ing to an uniden­ti­fied police offi­cial quot­ed by Télam, the state news agency. The government’s nation­al firearms reg­istry also said that Mr. Nis­man had two guns reg­is­tered in his name. It was unclear whether the Bersa was one of them.

Anoth­er line of inves­ti­ga­tion, Télam report­ed, was that the gun used may have been lent by a friend to Mr. Nis­man.

News of his death imme­di­ate­ly prompt­ed doubts and ques­tions from the polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion and lead­ers of Argentina’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, Latin America’s largest with an esti­mat­ed 250,000 peo­ple. “Every­thing is far more sor­did than it appears,” said Elisa Car­rió, an out­spo­ken con­gress­woman. “They killed him or they induced his death.”

On Twit­ter, Rab­bi Ser­gio Bergman, a con­gress­man, called Mr. Nis­man “vic­tim 86 of the AMIA attack,” using the Argen­tine acronym for the Argenti­na Israelite Mutu­al Asso­ci­a­tion, the destroyed Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter.

Mr. Nis­man, who had been select­ed to inves­ti­gate the bomb­ing by Nés­tor Kirch­n­er, Argentina’s for­mer pres­i­dent and Mrs. Kirchner’s late hus­band, had been expect­ed at the hear­ing to explain the crim­i­nal com­plaint he filed last week against Mrs. Kirch­n­er; her for­eign min­is­ter, Héc­tor Timer­man; and oth­ers.

On Sun­day after­noon, the offi­cers assigned to guard Mr. Nis­man were con­cerned because they had been unable to con­tact him by tele­phone and his Sun­day news­pa­per still lay out­side his apart­ment. They called his fam­i­ly, but his moth­er was unable to open the apart­ment door with a spare key because a key was stuck in the lock on the oth­er side. A lock­smith was called, and Mr. Nisman’s moth­er entered the apart­ment with the offi­cers.

The pros­e­cu­tor inves­ti­gat­ing Mr. Nisman’s death, Viviana Fein, told reporters on Mon­day morn­ing that there were no wit­ness­es and no sui­cide note. She said she was await­ing evi­dence that includ­ed closed-cir­cuit tele­vi­sion footage and a list of phone calls. She also said that Mr. Nis­man had not eat­en din­ner Sun­day.

Ms. Fein empha­sized that it remained unclear whether Mr. Nis­man had killed him­self. In com­ments broad­cast on Argen­tine radio, she said that the gun found at his side may not have been his, and that inves­ti­ga­tors were review­ing his phone records and text mes­sages to deter­mine if he had been receiv­ing threats.
“We can­not say that this case is solved,” Ms. Fein said.

After years of inquiry into the 1994 attack, marred by delays and cor­rup­tion charges, Mr. Nis­man seemed to bring vig­or to the inves­ti­ga­tion after tak­ing over in 2005. He accused Hezbol­lah of hav­ing car­ried out the bomb­ing and senior Iran­ian offi­cials of hav­ing planned and financed it, accu­sa­tions that Hezbol­lah and Iran’s gov­ern­ment have long denied.

The charges put a deep chill on rela­tions between the two coun­tries until 2013, when they reached an agree­ment to inves­ti­gate the attack.

The pres­i­dent did not com­ment on Mr. Nisman’s death. But Aníbal Fer­nán­dez, a top offi­cial at the pres­i­den­cy, was quot­ed by Argen­tine news media as say­ing he believed Mr. Nis­man had killed him­self. Declar­ing that he was “stu­pe­fied,” Mr. Fer­nán­dez also sought to assure that the inves­ti­ga­tion into the bomb­ing would not be under­mined if Mr. Nis­man had filed his years of find­ings prop­er­ly.

Mr. Nis­man seemed to have dropped an odd­ly prophet­ic hint last Wednes­day, telling a TV inter­view­er, “With Nis­man around or not, the evi­dence is there.”

He dis­closed last week that he had obtained inter­cepts of tele­phone calls between Argen­tine intel­li­gence agents and Iran­ian offi­cials in which details of the secret deal were dis­cussed. He accused Mrs. Kirch­n­er of direct­ly order­ing a covert team of nego­tia­tors to make an offer “from the shad­ows” to Iran. In return, Mr. Nis­man said, Argenti­na guar­an­teed immu­ni­ty to for­mer Iran­ian gov­ern­ment offi­cials in an effort to obtain Iran­ian oil to ease Argentina’s ener­gy short­age.

Point­ing to delays that have long shroud­ed the inves­ti­ga­tion, and to the endem­ic pres­sur­ing of judges and pros­e­cu­tors here, the polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion demand­ed a trans­par­ent and speedy inquiry into his death.

“We’re used to things in Argenti­na remain­ing in the dark,” said Gabriela Michet­ti, an oppo­si­tion politi­cian.

Fur­ther fuel­ing sus­pi­cions here is Argentina’s recent his­to­ry of sus­pi­cious deaths offi­cial­ly described as sui­cides. In 1990, for exam­ple, the death of a for­mer top cus­toms offi­cial who had been inves­ti­gat­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties was pre­sent­ed as a sui­cide. An autop­sy lat­er showed that he had been struck in the face before the bul­let that killed him was fired.

The polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion and large Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty here have fierce­ly object­ed to the agree­ment with Iran, call­ing it a vehi­cle for immu­ni­ty. The agree­ment was also ruled an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al over­reach of the exec­u­tive branch by a local court last year.

The Anti-Defama­tion League, the New York-based group that cam­paigns against anti-Semi­tism and oth­er forms of big­otry, said in a state­ment that Mr. Nisman’s death was “anoth­er trag­ic episode in the sor­did saga of Argentina’s fail­ure to act deci­sive­ly and unceas­ing­ly to find, arrest and pros­e­cute those respon­si­ble for the AMIA ter­ror attack.”

A crowd of thou­sands gath­ered out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace here Mon­day night to protest the mys­te­ri­ous cir­cum­stances shroud­ing Mr. Nisman’s death. They clapped in uni­son, and some held signs that read “Cristi­na mur­der­er,” a ref­er­ence to the pres­i­dent, or “I am Nis­man.”

“They forced him to sui­cide, which is the same as mur­der,” said Cecil­ia Viñuela, 50, a pub­li­cist who was in the crowd. “I’m angry and sad because I know we will nev­er know the truth.”

8. Ini­tial­ly, Kirch­n­er respond­ed to crit­i­cism of her with a blis­ter­ing attack on Nis­man­’s cred­i­bil­i­ty and a rushed judg­ment that his death was sui­cide. It is note­wor­thy that the secu­ri­ty min­is­ter for Argenti­na was present at Nis­man­’s apart­ment with­in a very short time fol­low­ing dis­cov­ery of the body.

After its ini­tial brand­ing of the death a sui­cide, Argen­tine offi­cials opined that the death may have been arranged by venge­ful Argen­tine intel­li­gence agents, pos­si­bly with the assis­tance of peo­ple from the Clar­in group in the media.

“Argen­tine Leader Crit­i­cizes Dead Offi­cial” by Jonathan Gilbert and Simon Romero; The New York Times; 1/20/2015.

Fac­ing a pub­lic out­cry over the mys­te­ri­ous death of Alber­to Nis­man, the pros­e­cu­tor lead­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into the 1994 bomb­ing of a Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter here, Pres­i­dent Cristi­na Fer­nán­dez de Kirch­n­er and her allies lashed out at the dead man on Tues­day, ques­tion­ing whether he had allied him­self with forces seek­ing to weak­en her gov­ern­ment.

In a ram­bling 2,100-word let­ter post­ed on her Face­book page, Mrs. Kirch­n­er, whom Mr. Nis­man had accused of orches­trat­ing a cov­er-up to pro­tect Iran­ian offi­cials impli­cat­ed in the bomb­ing in exchange for Iran­ian oil, said that Mr. Nis­man had been part of an effort to “side­track, lie, cov­er up and con­fuse” attempts to final­ly resolve the case.

The attacks on Mr. Nis­man after his death, includ­ing asser­tions in the state-con­trolled news media that he had been manip­u­lat­ed by Anto­nio Stius­so, a for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cial oust­ed last month by Mrs. Kirch­n­er, raised ques­tions here on whether her gov­ern­ment was sup­port­ing efforts to deter­mine the cause of his death.

“Instead of offer­ing a posi­tion on the insti­tu­tion­al tur­bu­lence and protests, the pres­i­den­cy put itself in the role of detec­tive,” said Car­los Pag­ni, a colum­nist for the news­pa­per La Nación, ques­tion­ing why Mrs. Kirch­n­er would scru­ti­nize Mr. Nisman’s trav­el itin­er­ary and refer to news­pa­per head­lines crit­i­cal of her.

Mrs. Kirch­n­er did not elab­o­rate on why she had referred in her let­ter to Mr. Nisman’s death as a sui­cide, an assess­ment echoed by her top aides and polit­i­cal sup­port­ers. Some of Mrs. Kirchner’s oppo­nents say Mr. Nis­man, 51, might have been mur­dered at his apart­ment on Sun­day. He was to tes­ti­fy before Con­gress on Mon­day about his find­ings.

He had accused senior Iran­ian offi­cials of plot­ting the 1994 bomb­ing and Hezbol­lah, Iran’s Lebanese ally, of car­ry­ing it out. He charged that Mrs. Kirch­n­er and her for­eign min­is­ter, Héc­tor Timer­man, had lat­er promised to absolve for­mer Iran­ian offi­cials accused of mas­ter­mind­ing the attack, which killed 85 peo­ple, as part of efforts to obtain Iran­ian oil to ease Argenti­na’s ener­gy short­age.

The pros­e­cu­tor inves­ti­gat­ing Mr. Nisman’s death, the lat­est twist in the long inquiry into the bomb­ing, said on Tues­day that no traces of gun­pow­der residue had been detect­ed on his fin­gers, bol­ster­ing sus­pi­cions among some here that he had been killed by some­one else.

But the pros­e­cu­tor, Viviana Fein, empha­sized that she had been told that the bar­rel of a .22-cal­iber Bersa pis­tol, which was found next to Mr. Nisman’s body, was prob­a­bly too small to leave residue. The author­i­ties said it had been bor­rowed from a friend.

Inter­na­tion­al bal­lis­tics experts agreed that, unlike a revolver, the Bur­sa might not have left traces of gun­pow­der. “For inves­tiga­tive pur­pos­es, this might raise a flag, but you can­not con­clu­sive­ly say he didn’t fire the gun,” said Ronald L. Singer, a foren­sic sci­en­tist and the tech­ni­cal and admin­is­tra­tive direc­tor of the Tar­rant Coun­ty Med­ical Examiner’s Office in Fort Worth.

The pres­ence of the secu­ri­ty min­is­ter, Ser­gio Berni, at Mr. Nisman’s apart­ment after the body was dis­cov­ered in a bath­room on Sun­day night has also raised ques­tions about pos­si­ble gov­ern­ment inter­fer­ence. Mr. Berni said in a tele­vi­sion inter­view on Tues­day evening that he had not entered the bath­room and had made efforts to pro­tect evi­dence.

Ms. Fein said she would exam­ine Mr. Nisman’s tele­phone records and pos­si­ble threats against him, and whether he had any psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems.

As her inves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ued, the gov­ern­ment author­i­ties sug­gest­ed that Mr. Nisman’s death had been a result of an elab­o­rate plot, per­haps involv­ing venge­ful for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cials and the Clarín Group, a news orga­ni­za­tion crit­i­cal of Mrs. Kirch­n­er.

Jorge Cap­i­tanich, Mrs. Kirchner’s cab­i­net chief, said inves­ti­ga­tors need­ed to ver­i­fy whether Mr. Nis­man had received threats from “cur­rent, dis­placed or for­eign” intel­li­gence agents.

In a state­ment, the Clarín Group reject­ed any con­nec­tion to Mr. Nisman’s find­ings or his death, call­ing such posi­tions “con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.”

9. Nis­man had draft­ed a war­rant for pres­i­dent Kirch­n­er’s arrest.

“Dead Pros­e­cu­tor Had Draft­ed War­rant to Arrest Argenti­na’s Pres­i­dent” by Dylan Scott; TPM Livewire; 2/3/2015.

The Argen­tin­ian pros­e­cu­tor whose death has sparked wide­spread protests had draft­ed an arrest war­rant for the coun­try’s pres­i­dent pri­or to his death, the New York Times report­ed Tues­day.

Pros­e­cu­tor Alber­to Nis­man had been inves­ti­gat­ing the 1994 bomb­ing of the Argenti­na Israelite Mutu­al Asso­ci­a­tion, which killed 85 peo­ple, and whether the gov­ern­ment of Pres­i­dent Cristi­na Fer­nan­dez de Kirch­n­er had pro­tect­ed Iran­ian offi­cials from being pros­e­cut­ed for the bomb­ing in exchange for oil.

Nis­man was killed by a gun­shot to the head at his apart­ment on Jan. 18, the day before he was sched­uled to speak to the coun­try’s Con­gress about his find­ings.

Now inves­ti­ga­tors say they found a draft­ed arrest war­rant for Kirch­n­er and oth­er top Argen­tin­ian offi­cials in the garbage at Nis­man­’s apart­ment. The war­rants alleged that Kirch­n­er had tried to pro­tect Iran­ian offi­cials from being arrest­ed and charged for the Jew­ish cen­ter bomb­ing, accord­ing to the Times.

Kirch­n­er has denied that there was any deal with Iran to exchange legal pro­tec­tion for oil and accused Argen­tin­ian intel­li­gence of string­ing Nis­man along in his inves­ti­ga­tion. After his death, she pushed for the intel­li­gence agency to be dis­solved.

10. Among those viewed with fear and sus­pi­cion by Nis­man were his own guards. Mem­bers of his secu­ri­ty team have been sus­pend­ed and had appar­ent­ly made con­tra­dic­to­ry state­ments.

“Dead Argen­tine Pros­e­cu­tor Wary Even of His Guards” by Jose­fa Suarez [Agence France Presse]; Yahoo News; 1/28/2015.

The pros­e­cu­tor whose sus­pi­cious death set off a cri­sis for Argenti­na Pres­i­dent Cristi­na Kirch­n­er no longer trust­ed even his body­guards at the vio­lent end of his life, an assis­tant said Wednes­day.

A tense Diego Lago­marsi­no, his voice break­ing at times, recount­ed at a news con­fer­ence in Buenos Aires how Alber­to Nis­man had plead­ed to be giv­en the .22-cal­iber revolver that was used to put a bul­let through his head. Who pulled the trig­ger is not clear.

Nis­man­’s secu­ri­ty chief has been sus­pend­ed and is under inves­ti­ga­tion along with two oth­er mem­bers of his guard detail, a court source said.

The 51-year-old spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor was found dead at his home Jan­u­ary 18, a day before he was to go before a con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee to make a bomb­shell accu­sa­tion: that Kirch­n­er shield­ed Iran­ian offi­cials impli­cat­ed in the 1994 bomb­ing of a Jew­ish char­i­ties office, known as AMIA.

Lago­marsi­no, a com­put­er expert and the last per­son known to have seen Nis­man alive, said the pros­e­cu­tor was des­per­ate for the gun, say­ing: “I no longer trust even my guards.”

“He told me that he was not going to use the weapon,” Lago­marsi­no said.

The car-bomb­ing of the AMIA was the worst ter­ror strike on Argen­tine soil in mod­ern his­to­ry and remains a wound in the col­lec­tive his­to­ry of Argenti­na’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, Latin Amer­i­ca’s largest.

No pros­e­cu­tion has been com­plet­ed in the case, two decades on; 85 peo­ple were killed and 300 injured.

Kirch­n­er denies the claims pre­pared by Nis­man, and alleges that his death — which ini­tial­ly was sus­pect­ed sui­cide — was a plot to dis­cred­it her, sug­gest­ing Nis­man was manip­u­lat­ed by for­mer intel­li­gence agents who then killed him to smear her.

Nis­man con­tend­ed that the gov­ern­ment had agreed to swap grain for oil with Tehran in exchange for with­draw­ing “red notices” to Inter­pol seek­ing the arrests of the for­mer and cur­rent Iran­ian offi­cials accused in the bomb­ing.

Accord­ing to Lago­marsi­no, Nis­man told him that — as well as his own safe­ty — he also feared for that of his two daugh­ters, who are sev­en and 15 years old and were on vaca­tion in Spain at the time.

“Do you know what it is like that your daugh­ters don’t want to be with you because they are afraid some­thing will hap­pen to them?” Lago­marsi­no quot­ed Nis­man as say­ing.

Lago­marsi­no, who had been reluc­tant to hand it over, said Nis­man bad­ly want­ed the gun to “car­ry it in the glove com­part­ment in case some crazy per­son came by shout­ing, ‘You trai­tor!’ This was a weapon that was tru­ly on its last legs.”

After Nis­man­’s death, Lago­marsi­no was charged with giv­ing a firearm to some­one oth­er than its reg­is­tered own­er. He is the only per­son to be charged so far in the murky case.

He was at the news con­fer­ence with his lawyer, Max­i­m­il­iano Rus­coni, who said ear­li­er he would ask that Kirch­n­er be called to tes­ti­fy in his clien­t’s case.

On Mon­day, Kirch­n­er, 61, announced plans to dis­band Argenti­na’s Intel­li­gence Office and replace it with a new fed­er­al intel­li­gence agency.

Inves­ti­ga­tors ini­tial­ly said they believed Nis­man com­mit­ted sui­cide, but clas­si­fied his death as “sus­pi­cious” and said they have not ruled out mur­der or an “induced sui­cide.”

Ruben Ben­itez, a Nis­man con­fi­dant who has been sus­pend­ed, coor­di­nat­ed a secu­ri­ty team of 10 offi­cers who pro­tect­ed the pros­e­cu­tor.

Accord­ing to a leaked state­ment made to the inves­ti­ga­tion’s head pros­e­cu­tor, Ben­itez said he advised Nis­man against buy­ing a gun just days before his death.

But the sus­pend­ed offi­cers have come under scruti­ny for con­tra­dic­to­ry state­ments to the inves­ti­gat­ing pros­e­cu­tor, Viviana Fein.

Nis­man was mourned at a small fam­i­ly-only cer­e­mo­ny Wednes­day at a Jew­ish ceme­tery on the out­skirts of Buenos Aires. Some demon­stra­tors showed their respects out­side wav­ing signs read­ing “Cristi­na = Killer” and “We are all Nis­man.”

Kirch­n­er was plan­ning to trav­el to key eco­nom­ic part­ner Chi­na on Sat­ur­day despite the mael­strom.

11. DNA from a sec­ond, uniden­ti­fied per­son was found in Nis­man­’s apart­ment.

“Argenti­na: DNA from 2nd Per­son Found in Dead Pros­e­cu­tor’s Case” [Reuters]; NBC News; 2/10/2015.

Foren­sic experts in Argenti­na have found DNA evi­dence of a sec­ond per­son in the apart­ment where an Argen­tine pros­e­cu­tor was found dead last month in a case that has shak­en the coun­try.

Alber­to Nis­man was found in his bath­room on Jan. 18, a bul­let in his head and a pis­tol by his side. He had been sched­uled to bring a case to Con­gress the next day accus­ing pres­i­dent Cristi­na Fer­nan­dez de Kirch­n­er of try­ing to derail the crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble Iran­ian involve­ment in the bomb­ing that killed 85 peo­ple in a Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty cen­ter.

The judge in the case filed court papers say­ing a sam­ple “cor­re­spond­ing to a genet­ic pro­file dif­fer­ent from Nis­man­’s” had been found; until Tues­day there had been no evi­dence of any­one else in Nis­man­’s apart­ment.

The pres­i­den­t’s chief of staff told reporters on Tues­day that every­thing point­ed to a sui­cide. But mes­sages from the gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the pres­i­dent, have been con­tra­dic­to­ry.

Friends have said Nis­man showed no signs of being sui­ci­dal and was ready to go to Con­gress on Jan. 19 to present his case.

The next big step in the inves­ti­ga­tion is expect­ed to be tes­ti­mo­ny by for­mer Argen­tine mas­ter spy Anto­nio Stius­so, who was fired by the pres­i­dent in Decem­ber. The gov­ern­ment says Stius­so manip­u­lat­ed Nis­man into lev­el­ing the con­spir­a­cy accu­sa­tion against the pres­i­dent in reprisal for his fir­ing.

12. The charred body of an uniden­ti­fied woman was found across the street from Nis­man­’s for­mer res­i­dence. It is unclear how she died or if her death was in any way linked to Nis­man­’s. A wit­ness to the removal of Nis­man­’s body described alleged irreg­u­lar­i­ties in the han­dling of the body. She also said she feared for her life.

“Argenti­na: Wit­ness ‘Lives in Fear’ After Charred Body Found Across from Dead Pros­e­cu­tor’s Apart­ment” by Frances Mar­tel; Bre­it­bart; 2/17/2015. 

As Argen­tine inves­ti­ga­tors attempt to uncov­er the mys­tery behind the death of pros­e­cu­tor Alber­to Nis­man, a new wrin­kle has appeared in the inves­ti­ga­tion: the body of an uniden­ti­fied mid­dle-aged woman, deposit­ed and burnt across the street from Nisman’s apart­ment.

Neigh­bors called the police around 3 AM on Mon­day, cit­ing a large fire that had been found in an elec­tri­cal room at a pow­er sta­tion. As the fire was near a pow­er sta­tion, author­i­ties expect­ed to find an elec­tri­cal fire, but instead found an uniden­ti­fied body and a con­tain­er labeled “eth­yl alco­hol,” indi­cat­ing that the body had been delib­er­ate­ly set on fire.

Argen­tine news­pa­per Clarín reports that the woman’s body was found to be drenched in a com­bustible, and wit­ness­es stat­ed they did not hear any voic­es or signs of con­flict, indi­cat­ing that she may have already been dead when brought to the street across from Le Parc apart­ment com­plex that was once home to Nis­man. Author­i­ties first report­ed that the woman had been elec­tro­cut­ed, giv­en her body’s prox­im­i­ty to the elec­tri­cal sta­tion, but lat­er recant­ed that hypoth­e­sis as the cause of death.

The Clarín reports police have pro­posed two hypothe­ses: that the woman set her­self on fire, thus elim­i­nat­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of con­flict and explain­ing why neigh­bors did not hear any screams, or that she had been killed else­where and her body mere­ly dis­posed at the loca­tion, per­haps to send a mes­sage. Author­i­ties say it may take weeks to con­duct DNA test­ing and iden­ti­fy both the woman and her cause of death.

In the inter­im, those involved in the inves­ti­ga­tion into Nisman’s death have expressed deep con­cern. Nis­man was found with a gun­shot wound in his fore­head in his home on Jan­u­ary 18, the day before he was to present before the Argen­tine Con­gress a report claim­ing that Pres­i­dent Cristi­na Fer­nán­dez de Kirch­n­er had con­spired with the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment and Hezbol­lah to pro­tect the ter­ror­ists respon­si­ble for the 1995 bomb­ing of the Argen­tine-Israeli Mutu­al Asso­ci­a­tion (AMIA), the dead­liest ter­ror­ist attack in Argentina’s his­to­ry. His death was ini­tial­ly ruled a sui­cide, but inves­ti­ga­tors lat­er opened the case up for fur­ther inves­ti­ga­tion after Fer­nán­dez de Kirch­n­er her­self said in a blog post she believed Nis­man was killed by nefar­i­ous char­ac­ters attempt­ing to smear her name.

Pros­e­cu­tors have since tak­en up Nisman’s man­tle, and Fer­nán­dez de Kirch­n­er has been for­mal­ly charged with work­ing to pro­tect known ter­ror­ists in order to secure favor­able gas prices from the Islam­ic Repub­lic of Iran. The President’s term con­cludes at the end of this year, and with it her pos­ses­sion of exec­u­tive immu­ni­ty. The Argen­tine court sys­tem must now deter­mine whether they will pur­sue the case against Fer­nán­dez de Kirch­n­er and her For­eign Min­is­ter Héc­tor Timer­man.

At least one wit­ness involved in the Nis­man inves­ti­ga­tion has said she is con­cerned for her safe­ty and is demand­ing law enforce­ment issue her extra pro­tec­tion. Natalia Gime­na Fer­nán­dez was leav­ing her job as a wait­ress in the neigh­bor­hood the night Nis­man was found dead. Hav­ing walked by the Le Parc com­plex, she claims police inter­viewed her, and dur­ing the process she observed a num­ber of dis­turb­ing irreg­u­lar­i­ties with the pro­ceed­ings.

“When we were sit­ting at the stairs, they brought the stretch­er and in that they took away the body [of Alber­to Nis­man]. It was like 3:30 am. He was wrapped up in a black sack. They took him to the right but 15 min­utes lat­er they put him back again and took him to the left,” she claims. The men, she claims, were laugh­ing as they moved the body. She also claimed she was offered cof­fee which she was told was made in Nisman’s Nesspre­so cof­fee pot.

Pros­e­cu­tor Viviana Fein, who is in charge of the Nis­man inves­ti­ga­tion and was iden­ti­fied as being on the scene by Fer­nán­dez her­self. has dis­missed the young woman’s claims as “ridicu­lous” and reject­ed them as admis­si­ble evi­dence in the inves­ti­ga­tion. Nonethe­less, Fer­nán­dez tells Clarín that she fears for her safe­ty: “I am scared and would like some type of pro­tec­tion. I live in fear.”

11. In assess­ing the “tan­gled web” of evi­den­tiary trib­u­taries we spoke of in our pre­vi­ous pro­gram, we should remem­ber that the “Nazi” con­nec­tion and the “Iran­ian con­nec­tion” are not mutu­al­ly exclu­sive. In this con­text, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that the Iran­ian fun­da­men­tal­ist regime has long had con­texts with Nazis—so-called “neo”-Nazis and mem­bers of the old guard. Bank Al Taqwa direc­tor Achmed Huber has been very close to the regime in Tehran and the Aya­tol­lah Khomeini’s exile in France was paid for by Fran­cois Genoud. Huber has also served as a liai­son per­son coor­di­nat­ing the activ­i­ties of Islam­ic fas­cists and both Amer­i­can and Euro­pean neo-Nazis. (For more about Huber, Iran, Genoud and the neo-Nazi con­nec­tions, see FTR#’s 343352354456499.) “Iran’s so-called Holo­caust con­fer­ence this week was billed as a chance to force the West to recon­sid­er the his­tor­i­cal legit­i­ma­cy of Israel. But why would the Ira­ni­ans invite speak­ers with so lit­tle cred­i­bil­i­ty in the West, includ­ing a for­mer Ku Klux Klan grand wiz­ard and dis­graced Euro­pean schol­ars? That ques­tion miss­es the point. Iran­ian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad por­trays such con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants as David Duke, the for­mer Klan leader, and Robert Fau­ris­son of France, who has devot­ed his life to try­ing to prove that Nazi gas cham­bers were a myth, as silenced truth-tellers whose sto­ries expose West­ern lead­ers as the hyp­ocrites he con­sid­ers them to be. . . .The two-day meet­ing includ­ed no attempt to come to terms with the nature of the well-doc­u­ment­ed Nazi slaugh­ter, offer­ing only a plat­form to those pur­su­ing the fan­ta­sy that it nev­er hap­pened. In addi­tion the orga­niz­ers of the con­fer­ence, a small cir­cle around the pres­i­dent, have been build­ing ties with neo-Nazi groups in Europe. . . . [Empha­sis added.]”
(“Iran Leader Uses Con­fer­ence on Holo­caust to Push Agen­da” by Michael Slack­man [New York Times]; The San Fran­cis­co Chron­i­cle; 12/14/2006; p. A28.)

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #836 The Death of Alberto Nisman and the AMIA Bombing”

  1. You don’t say...:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Argen­tine lawyer Alber­to Nis­man ‘may have been forced to kill him­self’

    The mys­te­ri­ous death of the man who inves­ti­gat­ed Argentina’s worst ter­ror­ist attack could been induced sui­cide, says for­mer pros­e­cu­tor

    Thurs­day 19 May 2016 22.26 EDT

    Alber­to Nis­man, who inves­ti­gat­ed Argentina’s worst ter­ror­ist attack before he was found dead in his home last year, may have been forced to kill him­self, a pros­e­cu­tor who was for­mer­ly in charge of his case has said.

    Viviana Fein, who in Decem­ber was removed from the inves­ti­ga­tion into Nisman’s mys­te­ri­ous death, had said before that it was like­ly sui­cide.

    But in an inter­view with local radio sta­tion La Red, she acknowl­edged for the first time that it was pos­si­ble he was “induced” to kill him­self.

    Fein said that Nis­man had sev­er­al back-and-forth calls with “six or sev­en peo­ple”, includ­ing the country’s for­mer spy chief, Anto­nio Stiu­so, and then-army chief Cesar Milani on 18 Jan­u­ary 2015. The body of Nis­man, who led the probe of the 1994 AMIA Jew­ish cen­ter bomb­ing in Buenos Aires that killed 85 peo­ple, was dis­cov­ered on that day in his apart­ment with a gun­shot wound to the head.

    “I find it sug­ges­tive and note­wor­thy that per­son­al­i­ties of this cal­i­bre were on the same day of his death talk­ing unin­ter­rupt­ed­ly,” Fein said.

    Nis­man had been sched­uled to appear in Con­gress the next day to present alle­ga­tions that then pres­i­dent, Cristi­na Fer­nan­dez, orches­trat­ed a secret deal to cov­er up the alleged role of Iran­ian offi­cials in the attack. Fer­nan­dez denied the alle­ga­tions and judges threw out the case.

    ...

    Con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries have flour­ished around the case. While some peo­ple includ­ing his fam­i­ly believe Nis­man killed him­self because he felt his claims against the for­mer pres­i­dent lacked proof, oth­ers say he was mur­dered because he was a threat to the Argen­tine and Iran­ian gov­ern­ments.

    “I find it sug­ges­tive and note­wor­thy that per­son­al­i­ties of this cal­i­bre were on the same day of his death talk­ing unin­ter­rupt­ed­ly”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 21, 2016, 12:01 pm

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