Argentina’s Nisman Case: Swinging Pendulum, Weighted Scales
Alberto Nisman, the Argentine federal prosecutor who had called for the arrest of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was found shot in the head in his own apartment on January 18th, the night before he was to testify before the Argentine Congress about how the country’s President and Foreign Minister were obstructing justice in the investigation of Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Jewish AMIA center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people, in exchange for favorable terms on Iranian oil.
The investigators said that since he was found with a bullet in his head by his own gun and his apartment was locked from the inside, it must be a suicide. But there were no powder burns on his hands. And the surveillance cameras had been switched off. And, oh, yeah, because a professional assassin would not know how to either use the victim’s own gun or lock the apartment door behind him or exit some other way.
The story has shocked the world — mostly because it reads like a John Le Carré novel and exhibits a level of government impunity most people like to think is no longer around. Unfortunately, they are wrong to be surprised for a number of reasons.
Here are the three things that are not surprising about this story:
- That the Argentine government would stifle dissent by using murder.
- That Iranians wield a heavy influence in Latin America.
- That a head of state would interfere in the prosecution of an act of terrorism against his or her own people in exchange for oil.
First things first.
Argentina is the very same country of the Dirty War under the right wing military junta that ruled it from 1976 to 1983, during which up to 30,000 left wing political opponents were “disappeared.” After they were tortured to death or assassinated, some bodies were dropped from helicopters into the Atlantic or cemented into the walls of the football stadium. No one really knows what happened to most of them, though.
Not what you might call a country with a strong streak of political tolerance. The fact that the pendulum has swung and now it is a left-wing government that is repressing dissent and suppressing justice is not surprising either: the Kirchner regime (like Kirchner’s close Venezuelan allies) feel that now it is their turn and the past injustices against them justify their injustices against others now. It’s not dissimilar to Iraq that way.
Second, Iran has been kicking around Latin America since soon after the Iranian Revolution in 1979, when it became Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini’s stated mission to export the revolution globally. The Iranian Revolution also established a big footprint in Asia.
Lest there be any doubt, Mohsen Rabbani, Iran’s former Cultural Attaché to Argentina, is not only a renowned mullah, but a renowned terrorist recruiter, who still travels between Qom and South America without impediment. He often enters through Brazil or Venezuela, and is very active in the Tri-Border Area (where the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay intersect). The TBA is a hotbed of illicit funding for Hezbollah, who carried out the AMIA bombing on orders from Iran. Narcotics and weapons are big in TBA trafficking, but cigarettes are also a huge business for the Iranian terrorist proxy, Hezbollah.
As for an example of heads of state overlooking their dead at the hands of terrorists for a good oil deal, one need look no further than the scandal of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s 2007 Prisoner Transfer Agreement (PTA) with Moammar Qaddafi: BP got a £545 million ($830 million) oil exploration deal in exchange for the return to Libya of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi.
In some minds, though, the Megrahi-for-BP deal might not have been as egregious as it sounds. Many believe he was a patsy and the Lockerbie bombing was not carried out by Libya, but by Iran.
It is unlikely we may ever know the facts in either terrorist act and their subsequent political coverups, but they are certainly bound to be stranger than fiction.
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