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Herbert London: Los Abandonados Of Argentina

In 1994 the western hemisphere suffered its worst terrorist attack up to that time. A massive car bombing destroyed the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), the Argentine Jewish Mutual Aid Society, killing 85 people and leaving hundreds wounded.

It was alleged at the time that the Argentine president and foreign minister knew that Hezbollah, with the blessing of the Iranian leadership, was behind the attack. In December 2015 the release of a secretly recorded phone conversation confirmed the long held belief that Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman knew of Tehran’s responsibility for the murders all along.

For years a cover-up was led by Timmerman and President Cristina Kirchner. They consistently tried to reassure Jewish leaders that the best way to investigate the case was through negotiations with Iranian officials. This was comparable to an interrogation of the fox about the disappearance of the hens.

Most notably, Kirchner established close ties to Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez who served to promote Iranian economic interests in Argentina. Kirchner was a willing host with the likelihood of huge transfer payments. Now, as a result of the released phone conversation, it is indisputable Timmerman lied. It is also reasonably certain Kirchner was engaged in the deception as well.

For years, the federal prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who had suspicions about the attack launched an exhaustive investigation with thousands of pages of testimony. When a memorandum of understanding between Argentina and Iran was signed, Nisman asked a federal judge to declare it unconstitutional. He was relentless in pursuit of the truth. But on January 18, 2015, several days before he was to testify at the parliament, Nisman was found dead of a gunshot wound to the side of his head. In a matter of moments after his death, all the contents of his apartment were removed by government authorities.

Kirchner called the death a suicide. But if one looks at where the bullet entered his head, suicide is unlikely. The death is now being investigated, but the circumstantial evidence suggests murder, a murder to silence the truth. On a rainy day in Buenos Aires one day after Nisman’s death, 400,000 Argentinians gathered on the streets in solidarity with Nisman. The corruption choked even the most uninterested parties.

Mirabile dictu, Argentina elected a new president several months after the bereavement, Mauricio Macri. Macri indicated that one of his first acts in office will be opening the Nisman case. He knows that the claims of a cover-up are now incontrovertible. He knows as well that the soul of Argentina hangs in the balance.

In the released phone conversation, Timmerman said, “Eighteen years ago they (the Iranians) planted the bomb.” When challenged about the Nisman investigation, Timmerman asked rhetorically, “So how do you want me to bring (the Iranian fugitives to Argentina)?” How indeed?

The ghost of Nisman is waiting for an answer. Alberto Nisman gave his life to learn the truth. Argentinians deserve answers and Timmerman and Kirchner should be welcome in an Argentine courtroom. There is a film that tells this story with graphic detail, “Los Abandonados.” These are the abandoned ones of Argentina caught in the maze of international affairs. Challenged by a U.S. nuclear deal with Tehran leaders. Challenged as well by those who feel we are better off if the truth is not revealed. Yet there are some who believe justice should be served; who believe that Alberto Nisman’s work was not in vain. Not only does Argentina deserve answers, but so does the free world where truth still has meaning.

Herbert London is President of the London Center for Policy Research, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America). You can read all of Herb London’s commentaries at www.londoncenter.org

The views expressed by commentators are solely those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of this station or its management.

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