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Update on the Death of Alberto Nisman

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AMIA bombing

COMMENT: For more than two decades, we have been covering the AMIA bombing in Argentina. Alberto Nisman–an Argentine prosecutor investigating the tangle of evidentiary tributaries in the bombing died under strange circumstances.

Key points of investigative interest in the case include evidentiary tributaries running in the direction of the Iran-Contra scandal and drug and weapons dealer Monzer Al-Kassar and Nazi war criminals residing in Argentina. (The AMIA building had a large archive on Nazi fugitives, including many reported to have fled to Argentina.)

In addition, Iranian officials have been named as suspects in the case. (We would note that the issues of possible Iranian responsibility for the crime, the Iran-Contra scandal and the issue of the Nazi diaspora overlap, to a considerable extent. Monzer al-Kassar used Merex–a firm founded by ODESSA kingpin Otto Skorzeny and Nazi veteran Gerhard Mertins–for key weapons deals. Ayatollah Khomeini’s stay in Paris was financed by Francois Genoud.)

A recent forensic examination of Nisman’s death reached a different conclusion from the dubious “suicide” verdict initially returned by investigators: ” . . . . The latest forensic investigation into Mr. Nisman’s death was carried out by a team of 28 experts. Over the course of nine months, they reconstructed the scene where his body was found in his bathroom, with a single gunshot wound to the head. They concluded the prosecutor was killed by two people, according to the senior judicial official, who has seen the report. The forensic experts discovered several injuries on Mr. Nisman’s body — including a nasal fracture, a hematoma in his kidney, lesions on his legs and a wound on the palm of his hand — that they say are consistent with an attack on the prosecutor before he was killed. According to the official, investigators also said they found ketamine, an anesthetic, in Mr. Nisman’s blood, which they suspect was used to sedate the prosecutor before he was shot. No gunpowder residue was found on his hands, which they said made the suicide theory implausible. . . .”

The largest trove of Nazi artifacts ever uncovered in Argentina was recently discovered in the Buenos Aires suburb of Béccar, near where both Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann lived. Artifacts in the trove have accompanying photos of Adolph Hitler with the same or similar artifacts, which is presumed to add to their commercial value. And the overall quantity and quality has investigators convinced that this could have only come from high-ranking Nazis, raising questions of who else may have slipped into Argentina without the world’s knowledge: “ . . . . They were put on display at the Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations in Buenos Aires on Monday. Many Nazi higher-ups fled to Argentina in the waning days of the war, and investigators believe that officials close to Adolf Hitler brought the artifacts with them. Many items were accompanied by photographs, some with Hitler holding them. . . .”

Nisman’s widow is the judge presiding over the case: . . . . The judge in the case is Sandra Arroyo Salgado, the widow of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Salgado imposed a gag order on the investigation, so no further details were revealed. . . .”

Suspects have been identified in the case: ” . . . . One suspect identified by the police is not in Argentina. There are Argentine and non-Argentinean suspects being investigated, but no further details have been provided. . . .”

“As Argentine Elections Approach, Two Disturbing Mysteries Loom” by Daniel Politi; The New York Times; 9/30/2017.

Only a few weeks ago, Argentina’s midterm election was shaping up to be a duel over economic policy. But in the final weeks before the vote, two national mysteries have roiled the race. The leftist former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is running for a senate seat, hoping to make a political comeback by accusing her center-right successor of undoing many of her populist policies in order to benefit the country’s elite. But the nation’s focus has already started to shift, starting with an explosive new twist in the notorious 2015 death of a prosecutor, Alberto Nisman. Mr. Nisman’s body had been found only hours before he was scheduled to provide damning testimony accusing Mrs. Kirchner, then the president, of a cover-up . . .

. . . . Now, a team of forensic experts has issued a report concluding that Mr. Nisman had been murdered, according to local news reports and a senior judicial official familiar with the investigation. That determination, likely to be made public in the coming days, contradicts the findings of another team of experts during Mrs. Kirchner’s tenure that there was no evidence anyone else was involved in Mr. Nisman’s death, meaning that hehad probably killed himself.

The saga of the prosecutor has long consumed Argentina, for good reason. He had been in charge of investigating the still-unsolved 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people. Before his death, he accused Mrs. Kirchner and members of her government of trying to shield Iranian officials suspected of playing a role in the attack as part of a deal that would supply Iranian oil to Argentina. Supporters of President Mauricio Macri, whose minority coalition in Congress is expected to pick up seats in the election on Oct. 22, say the latest report validates their longtime contention that Mr. Nisman was a victim of foul play.

By contrast, allies of Mrs. Kirchner, who has denied any wrongdoing, characterized the new forensic report as an effort by the current government to further undermine her image. Mrs. Kirchner faces charges in several corruption investigations. But in the run-up to the election, Mrs. Kirchner has a mystery of her own to point to: The disappearance of Santiago Maldonado, an indigenous rights activist who, supporters say, vanished after border guards took him into custody.

The disappearance has outraged many Argentines, and Mrs. Kirchner contends that the government is simply putting forward the new allegations about Mr. Nisman’s death in order to distract attention from the case now unfolding on its watch. “This is an immense smoke bomb to hide Santiago Maldonado,” Mrs. Kirchner said in a radio interview. Mr. Maldonado’s family and human rights groups have called for a protest on Sunday to mark the two-month anniversary of his disappearance. The latest forensic investigation into Mr. Nisman’s death was carried out by a team of 28 experts. Over the course of nine months, they reconstructed the scene where his body was found in his bathroom, with a single gunshot wound to the head.

They concluded the prosecutor was killed by two people, according to the senior judicial official, who has seen the report. The forensic experts discovered several injuries on Mr. Nisman’s body — including a nasal fracture, a hematoma in his kidney, lesions on his legs and a wound on the palm of his hand — that they say are consistent with an attack on the prosecutor before he was killed.

According to the official, investigators also said they found ketamine, an anesthetic, in Mr. Nisman’s blood, which they suspect was used to sedate the prosecutor before he was shot. No gunpowder residue was found on his hands, which they said made the suicide theory implausible. Two teams of forensic experts, including a prestigious unit that operates under the purview of the Supreme Court, had previously said that there was no evidence that anyone else was in Mr. Nisman’s bathroom when he died. Mr. Nisman’s former wife, Federal Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado, has long said that she believes he was murdered. Mrs. Kirchner at first suggested Mr. Nisman had committed suicide, but she later backtracked, saying she was convinced he was killed to tarnish her government. Julio Raffo, an opposition lawmaker who is not allied with Mrs. Kirchner, said in an interview that a group of experienced foreign forensic experts should be empaneled to examine all the reports and make a ruling that is not politically suspect. “This is very alarming; everything related to this case is strange,” said Mr. Raffo, who has long been convinced Mr. Nisman was murdered, and has called on a judge to investigate whether previous forensic examiners covered up evidence.

Diego Lagomarsino, a computer technician who worked with Mr. Nisman, is so far the only person charged in the case, for giving the prosecutor the gun with which he was shot. A team of forensic experts and lawyers representing Mr. Lagomarsino have challenged the murder theory, arguing that suicide remains the most likely scenario. The prosecutor in charge of the case, Eduardo Taiano, must now review all the evidence to decide whether to recommend labeling Mr. Nisman’s death a murder rather than a “suspicious death.” The government is urging caution. “We have to be super prudent with this,” the head of the president’s cabinet, Marcos Peña, told reporters in late September. “We have to wait for the courts to rule.”

While allies of Mr. Macri are focusing on the latest developments involving Mr. Nisman, supporters of Mrs. Kirchner have turned the apparent disappearance of Mr. Maldonado, 28, into a rallying cry. The case has reverberated across much of the country, reviving memories of the mass disappearances and killings that took place during the brutal 1976-1983 dictatorship. Tens of thousands of people took part in a demonstration over the disappearance on Sept. 1, which ended in violent clashes between demonstrators and the police.

Human rights activists have criticized Mr. Macri’s administration for quickly coming to the defense of the border guards who evicted the indigenous rights protesters in Patagonia. Mr. Maldonado had taken part in the protest. Government officials insist that the search for him continues. “I just don’t know what to believe anymore,” said Ana Patricia Baliño, a 38-yearold accountant in Buenos Aires. “Everyone seems to be lying.

Many share her skepticism. A recent poll by Management & Fit, a consultancy, found that three out of every four Argentines said they had little or no confidence in the country’s judiciary. Around 40 percent of Argentines believe that Mr. Maldonado will never be found, according to a poll by Giacobbe & Asociados in early September. Shortly after Mr. Nisman’s death, 59 percent of Argentines said the truth of what happened to him would never be known. “The general public is disgusted by the way in which politicians fight among each other to win points with complicated cases, rather than focusing on figuring out what happened,” said Jorge Giacobbe, a public opinion analyst.

2. “Behind a bookcase, a secret passageway leads to a trove of Nazi artifacts in Argentina” by Max Bearak; The Washington Post; 06/20/2017

The international police agency Interpol discovered one of the largest and most disturbing sets of Nazi artifacts this month in a northern suburb of the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires.

Agents became aware of a collector of historical artifacts who they say had procured items “under UNESCO’s red alert,” referring to the United Nations organization tasked with cultural preservation. This month, with the power of a judicial order, they raided the collector’s house, according to Clarín, an Argentine newspaper. Behind a bookcase, a secret passageway led to a room where they found the biggest trove of original World War II-era artifacts in Argentina’s history.

They were put on display at the Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations in Buenos Aires on Monday. Many Nazi higher-ups fled to Argentina in the waning days of the war, and investigators believe that officials close to Adolf Hitler brought the artifacts with them. Many items were accompanied by photographs, some with Hitler holding them.

“This is a way to commercialize them, showing that they were used by the horror, by the Fuhrer. There are photos of him with the objects,” Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told the Associated Press.

The trove also includes a bust relief of Hitler, magnifying glasses embossed with swastikas (as well as a photo of Hitler holding the same or a similar instrument), a large statue of an eagle above a swastika, silverware, binoculars, a trumpet and a massive swastika-studded hourglass.

Masterminds of the Nazis’ Holocaust Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichmann both fled to Argentina as their counterparts were put on trial for war crimes in Germany. Both lived in houses near Béccar, the suburb where the new trove was found.

The 75 artifacts found in this passageway provide more evidence of similar crimes. Police are now investigating how exactly the artifacts made it into Argentina, thinking, perhaps, about which other Nazi leaders may have entered the country unbeknown to the world.

3. “Tools used in Nazi medical experiments uncovered in Argentina” by JTA; Jewish Telegraphic Agency; 06/14/2017.

Police in Argentina discovered original Nazi objects from World War II, including tools for Nazi medical experiments, at a house in Buenos Aires.

The objects were found Friday in a hidden room of the house in the northern part of the city. They are in the custody of the justice who is tasked with investigating the find.

“We are too shocked, too touched by the impressive finding, but also happy” to have made this discovery, Argentine Security Minister Patricia Bullrich said Tuesday in a statement accompanying a video published on her You Tube channel to show the objects. Bullrich called it “the biggest seizure of archaeological objects and Nazi pieces of our history.”

The judge in the case is Sandra Arroyo Salgado, the widow of prosecutor Alberto Nisman. Salgado imposed a gag order on the investigation, so no further details were revealed. But Bullrich said she will ask the judge to have the objects donated to the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires.

The Argentine Jewish political umbrella DAIA will hold a ceremony next Monday to honor the Security Ministry and the federal police division that undertook the investigation. The ministry also tweeted photos from the cache on its official Twitter account, including photos of the Nazi objects as well as Asian historical objects.

A través de @PFAOficial incautamos objetos históricos de origen asiático y piezas con simbología nazi destinadas al mercado negro. pic.twitter.com/CO6lyTTFc8— Ministerio Seguridad (@MinSeg) June 9, 2017

“The main hypothesis is that someone who was part of the regime entered into Argentina because the amount of objects of the same style is difficult to find in private collections that can have one or two objects, but not of this amount and of this quality,” a police officer who was part of the nine-month investigation told Argentine television.

The police officer said that some of the objects “were used by the Nazis to check racial purity.”

Nazi puzzles for kids also were discovered in the cache.

One suspect identified by the police is not in Argentina. There are Argentine and non-Argentinean suspects being investigated, but no further details have been provided.

In June 2016, a collector from Argentina paid $680,000 for Nazi underpants and other memorabilia.

Argentina was a refuge for Nazis after World War II. Adolf Eichmann was captured in the northern area of Buenos Aires in 1960. Nazi war criminals Joseph Mengele and Erich Priebke also chose Argentina as a refuge. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion

One comment for “Update on the Death of Alberto Nisman”

  1. Did Hitler survive WWII in South America? That was the tantalizing tip a CIA agent, code-named “CIMELODY-3”, sent back to his higher-ups in 1955. It’s also one of the gems in the recently released JFK files. According to the documents, COMELODY-3 was contacted by a trusted friend who told the agent that a former German SS trooper, Phillip Citroen, told him that Hitler was still alive, had been living in Tunga, Colombia, and even provided a photo of the alleged living Hitler. The SS trooper told CIMELODY-3’s friend that Hitler moved to Argentina around January 1955.

    A second memo from 1955 was also about this same SS trooper about Hitler’s presence in the area. So, at a minimum, it’s pretty clear that this former SS trooper wanted to give the CIA the impression that Hitler was still alive:

    Miami Herald

    Hitler may have escaped Germany for South America, say CIA memos from the JFK files

    By Josh Magness
    October 31, 2017 12:09 PM

    It’s regarded as a historical fact that Adolf Hitler killed himself on April 30, 1945, when it became increasingly clear that Nazi Germany would fall to Allied forces.

    But a handful of recently-declassified CIA documents, unveiled with the highly anticipated JFK files last week, show that the Central Intelligence Agency was investigating whether Hitler escaped from Europe and was hiding in Colombia in 1954.

    The first document, dated Oct. 3, 1955, says that an unnamed CIA agent referred to as “CIMELODY-3” was contacted by “a trusted friend who served under his command in Europe and who is presently residing in Maracaibo (Venezuela).”

    That friend, who also remained anonymous, told the CIA agent that a former German SS trooper named Phillip Citroen told him that Hitler was actually still alive — and that the former dictator could no longer be prosecuted as a criminal of war because it had been over 10 years since the end of World War II.

    Citroen, according to the document, said he had been talking to Hitler “about once a month” during a business trip that took him to Colombia, where he said Hitler was hiding.

    The former German SS trooper also told CIMELODY-3’s friend that he posed with the alleged Hitler for a photograph, which was included in the CIA memo.

    Citroen said he is on the left side of the image, while the man he claims to be Hitler is on the right. The back of the image said “Adolf Shrittelmayor, Tunga, Colombia, 1954.”

    Citroen also told CIMELODY-3’s friend that Hitler moved to Argentina around Jan. 1955, the memo details.

    Another document, this one dated Oct. 17, 1955, provided more information, citing “an undated memorandum, believed to have been written in about mid February 1954.”

    According to that CIA memo, Citroen told a former member of the CIA base in Maracaibo that he met a person “who strongly resembled and claimed to be” Hitler in “Residencias Coloniales,” which was located in Tunja, Colombia. The document says that Citroen claimed many former Nazis were living in that area — and that they held the alleged Hitler in high esteem, “addressing him as ‘der Fuhrer’ and affording him the Nazi salute and storm-trooper adulation.”

    But the CIA remained skeptical — in a letter dated Nov. 4, 1955, higher-ups casted doubt on the reports.

    “It is felt that enormous efforts (spent trying to confirm the rumors) could be expanded on this matter with remote possibilities of establishing anything concrete,” the letter said. “Therefore, we suggest that this matter be dropped.”

    That appears to be the final document released with the JFK files about Hitler potentially hiding in South America.

    Even though seemingly nothing came from the reports, a source at the Department of Defense told NationalInterest.org that it’s still interesting someone at the CIA spent any time on the case at all.

    “The source thought it worthy of sending up to HQ which is notable,” the source said. “Even at the time, those guys had to do a lot of separating the wheat from the chaff.”

    Abel Basti, an Argentine journalist, wrote a book titled “Tras los pasos de Hitler” that tracked the alleged movements of Hitler throughout South America and, more specifically, Colombia, according to Colombia Reports.

    “I have a CIA document that says that Hitler was in Colombia, also a CIA photo of Hitler in the town of Tunja where he met with another Nazi named Phillipe Citroën in 1954,” he said, according to Colombia Reports.

    There was additional controversy surrounding Hitler’s death in 2009, when U.S. researchers say they conducted a DNA test for an hour on what the Russian government claimed was a skull fragment from the German dictator.

    The researchers found it belonged to “a woman between the ages of 20 and 40,” Nick Bellantoni, from the University of Connecticut, told ABC News.

    ———-

    “Hitler may have escaped Germany for South America, say CIA memos from the JFK files” by Josh Magness; Miami Herald; 10/31/2017

    “The former German SS trooper also told CIMELODY-3’s friend that he posed with the alleged Hitler for a photograph, which was included in the CIA memo.”

    It wasn’t just a rumor. There was a picture of “Adolf Shrittelmayor” provided by this former SS trooper. But that didn’t tempt the CIA into investing resources into solving one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th century:


    But the CIA remained skeptical — in a letter dated Nov. 4, 1955, higher-ups casted doubt on the reports.

    “It is felt that enormous efforts (spent trying to confirm the rumors) could be expanded on this matter with remote possibilities of establishing anything concrete,” the letter said. “Therefore, we suggest that this matter be dropped.”

    That appears to be the final document released with the JFK files about Hitler potentially hiding in South America

    And it’s true that enormous efforts might be required to find Hitler since this SS trooper Citroen told his contacts that Hitler had already left Colombia for Argentina in early 1955. But it seems like a stretch to argue that enormous efforts would be required to confirm the rumors. After all, they had reports on where Hitler was staying and even a photo. And apparently a bunch of Nazis has been living there and treating him with reverence:


    Another document, this one dated Oct. 17, 1955, provided more information, citing “an undated memorandum, believed to have been written in about mid February 1954.”

    According to that CIA memo, Citroen told a former member of the CIA base in Maracaibo that he met a person “who strongly resembled and claimed to be” Hitler in “Residencias Coloniales,” which was located in Tunja, Colombia. The document says that Citroen claimed many former Nazis were living in that area — and that they held the alleged Hitler in high esteem, “addressing him as ‘der Fuhrer’ and affording him the Nazi salute and storm-trooper adulation.”

    Would it require an “enormous effort” to confirm that there were a bunch of Nazis living in “Residencias Coloniales” and someone that looked like the Hitler guy in the picture had been living down there? According to the CIA higher-ups, yes, that would just require too many resources.

    And that’s part of what makes this memo, and the stunning lack of interest, so conspicuous: when you consider the kind of threat a living Hitler operating in South America would potentially create for US interests combined with the fact that this was the period when Allen Dulles – someone with an track record of working with Nazis before, during, and after WWII – was heading up the agency and the US was making extensive use of ‘ex’-Nazis, the CIA higher-ups’ completely lack of interest in this matter is pretty interesting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 7, 2017, 4:21 pm

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