Argentine cover-up

Alberto Nisman had single-handedly proven Iran’s responsibility for the AMIA Jewish community bombing.

Alberto Nisman  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Alberto Nisman
(photo credit: REUTERS)
IN ONE of the swings of an intense history of emotional ups and downs, Argentinians are today prey to a growing pessimism. It is reminiscent of the dark mood of December 2001, prompted at the time by an enormous financial crisis that sent a good part of the middle class into bankruptcy and toppled the government.
Today’s gloom is different. Triggered by the assassination of special prosecutor Alberto Nisman on January 18, it stems from a fear of juridical rather than economic chaos. And it threatens the stability of the 12-year-old government of the Kirchners, (Nestor and the current president, his widow Cristina), which came to power to solve the previous turmoil.
An atmosphere of despair is spreading. Trust in the rule of law has been undermined by the murder of a man of justice, while hate-filled gangs close to the government prowl with impunity. It looks like a nascent Venezuela, which has been hurled into lawlessness and overall corruption.
These gangs, led by pro-Iranian figures like Luis D’Elía and Fernando Esteche, aimed to whitewash the perpetrators of the worst terror attack ever suffered by Argentina, when in 1994 the AMIA Jewish community building was blown up by a truck driven by an Islamist suicide bomber, leaving 85 dead and 300 wounded. D’Elia and Esteche made no secret of their loathing for Nisman, whose January 2015 indictment following years of painstaking investigation of the terror attack specifically mentions both men, together with Cristina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, as guilty of colluding with Iran in the subsequent cover-up.
Nisman had single-handedly proven Iran’s responsibility, and convinced Interpol to issue red alerts against the terrorists. To this day they are wanted by the police, but are protected by the ayatollahs.
I mourn Alberto Nisman not only because he was my close friend, about whom I wrote a novelized chronicle, but also because he was a true hero – an idealistic, brilliant man who believed that law can defeat terrorism, and dedicated his life to proving that proposition. His assassination unleashed widespread skepticism because he was one of the few beacons of hope for justice in his country.
In April 1997, then 33-year-old Nisman was invited almost incidentally by one of the two prosecutors of the AMIA case to join the team. They were starting to prepare for the trial of the Argentinian policemen who had been accused of the terror attack.
Nisman had far more experience as a courtroom lawyer than his two colleagues, and was therefore expected to do the heavy work.
It changed his life.
Gradually he became convinced that the accusations against the policemen were a frame-up, part of a deliberate cover-up of the entire case, and that he was going to devote his life to exposing it.
He did. After thorough investigation, he was able to demonstrate irrefutably not only that Iran – not the policemen – was behind the attack, but also that Iran was the head of a terror network with dormant cells in many countries.
An ad hoc Prosecuting Unit for Investigation was established by the end of 2004 and Nisman was soon in charge of it, with the task of analyzing 113,600 legal pages in more than 500 dossiers, plus 400 ancillary files and 1,700 intelligence documents. Surrounded by cynics, mediocrity and deliberate obfuscation, Nisman, obsessively persevering against the tide, brought truth and facts to the fore. He called it the “tyranny of proof.”
On March 4, 2005, over a decade after the Iranian terror attack, the government admitted the cover-up. But the triumphant prosecutor was not about to stop. The investigation entered a new phase when he realized that the Cristina Kirchner administration intended to discredit all his work in order to appease Iran. He gathered hundreds of taped phone calls and the “tyranny of proof” was partially revealed a few weeks ago.
On January 19, he was going to present the whole case to the Argentine National Congress, but was found dead in his home the night before. A month earlier he had told me in a Buenos Aires café, “They’ll either go to jail or flee the country.” He meant President Kirchner and her loyal Foreign Minister Timerman.
Kirchner first announced that Nisman had committed suicide. Confronted by widespread derision she quickly changed her version to “induced suicide.” Now she steadfastly rejects the suicide hypothesis and argues that Nisman had been manipulated by intelligence officers who wanted to embarrass her for having fired them.
Kirchner also announced her intention of closing down the intelligence agency, thus getting rid of the agents who had secretly investigated her. At no point did she offer condolences to Nisman’s family.
Nisman, a proud Jew, was quite well known in Israel. When I organized his first visit here at the end of 2007, he was widely exposed to the media, lectured at academic and cultural venues, and met with prominent personalities, students and Members of Knesset. Since that visit his computer screen background had been a picture of the Western Wall.
At that time, I was writing the only book about him. “To Kill without a Trace” was published in Spanish in 2009 and in English in 2014. In hindsight, one anecdote reverberates ominously. I showed Alberto a list of the five possible titles I had in mind and he smilingly pointed to the third one. “This sounds catchy,” he said. The title read “The Assassination of Alberto Nisman.”
Nisman’s indictment of January 14 reveals what is probably the worst deception ever devised by a democratic government.
The country’s justice system was treacherously sold out, along with the memory of the terror victims. The motivation was dual: economic interests and the anachronistic approach of the late Venezuelan demagogue Hugo Chávez that to “confront imperialism” you have to join forces with Communist Cuba, fascist Syria and Islamist Iran.
I ended my book with a medieval form of poetry called zajal, which reads: They will your fairness question, With your age, lineage, intention.
But the Opinion they’ll not dare, For they are quite fully aware That when excuses thin do wear Truth awaits in quiet perfection That is the situation today. Nisman’s work is based on the hard truth of data and professional investigation. His opponents can call the late prosecutor names, slander him and question the “conspiranoidic” services he supposedly rendered to the “global Zionist empire.” But they cannot refute the truth that emerges from his 289 incriminating pages.
The government cover-up and “Oil for Wheat” deal with Iran was put into play in January 2011 in Aleppo, Syria, at a secret meeting between the foreign ministers of Iran and Argentina. After Iranian immunity was agreed on and a false trail put in motion, a memorandum of cooperation was signed by the two countries in January 2013 in Ethiopia.
We now know that the task of the “Commission of Truth” supposedly established to investigate the terror attack was to sow confusion by spreading false hypotheses.
In order to evade the demand for justice they needed to discredit the AMIA investigation.
They labeled it “paralyzed.” And in order to fabricate an alternative story, they were helped by a man who was very familiar with the case – former prosecutor Héctor Yrimia.
Nestor Kirchner, who preceded his wife in the presidency, had considered the handling of the AMIA case a “national disgrace.” When he died in 2010, his widow and Timerman decided to approach Iran to alleviate the Argentinian energy crisis with the oil for wheat and whitewash proposal.
They were not even averse to contacting the ringleader of the terror attack, Mohsen Rabbani, promising the cancelation of the Interpol red alerts against Iranian terrorists.
(The fact that former Interpol secretary- general Ronald Noble insists that Argentina never formally requested the cancelation makes no difference. There are other ways to attain the desired result.) My friend Alberto Nisman was a glorious example of a brave man struggling for truth and justice against enormous odds.
Unfortunately for him and his cause, he underestimated the power of the dark forces opposing him. 
Dr. Gustavo D. Perednik is an Argentinian-born Israeli author and educator. His 2009 book ‘To Kill without a Trace’ is a novelized account of the investigation of the AMIA bombing and the attempted Argentinian government cover-up in its wake