Phone Taps Reveal Argentinian President “‹Fernández de Kirchner’s Attempt to Cover Up Iranian Involvement in AMIA Bombing, Prosecutor Says
In a sensational development in the long-running investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires – the single worst antisemitic atrocity since the Holocaust, in which 85 people were murdered – special prosecutor Alberto Nisman has accused Argentinian President Cristina “‹Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman of deliberately covering up Iranian involvement with the attack, citing phone taps as evidence.
Argentine newspaper La Nacion reported that Nisman had discovered a plan hatched by Kirchner to overlook Iran’s role in the atrocity, in order to “make a geopolitical move closer to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to establish full economic ties” for the purpose of alleviating “Argentina’s energy crisis through a ‘grain for oil’ deal.” Nisman, whose findings are summarized in a 300 page complaint, now wants to question Kirchner and other officials over whether there was an attempt to “fabricate,” as he put it, “the innocence of Iran.”
Nisman, who formally charged the Iranians with having executed the bombing in 2006, claimed that Kirchner had set up a secret “back channel” to Iran with the aim of “transmitting the Presidents instructions and achieving her objectives.” A number of prominent figures have been named in connection with these clandestine communications with Iran, including staff members of the state intelligence service, parliamentarian Andrés Larroque, pro-government activists Luis D’Elia and Fernando Esteche, and Jorge “Yussuf” Khalil, a leading figure in the country’s Muslim community who is reported to have close ties with the Iranian regime.
According to La Nacion, “every message from the President was communicated in detail to the fugitive Mohsen Rabbani, who was Iran’s Cultural Attache in Buenos Aires at the time of the attack.”
Some of Nisman’s evidence was culled from phone taps which came into his possession. One transcript revealed D’Elia, a former member of Kirchner’s cabinet, telling Rabbani by telephone, “I have an urgent message from the Argentine government to urgently send over to Tehran before tomorrow. I am in Government House right now. There is no matter of greater importance than this, believe me when I tell you.”
According to Nisman, his complaint “presents irrefutable evidence that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ordered Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido to meet with D’Elia, and through him, to transmit the government’s interest in swapping grain for oil.”
“The fact that Nisman is advancing these charges now indicates that he feels a much stronger degree of support from his colleagues in the judicial system than at any point in the past,” Eamonn MacDonagh, a writer and political analyst based in Buenos Aires, told The Algemeiner. “This isn’t because Argentina has had a sudden pang of conscience, but because we are dealing with a lame duck government. Come the elections in October, this government will be gone – and the judicial system has started to flex its muscles in preparation.”
MacDonagh also noted the significance of Nisman receiving details of tapped phone calls. “If he has hundreds of pages of phone taps, that can only indicate that some part of Argentina’s vast and unaccountable intelligence system is assisting him,” he remarked.
Today’s developments come exactly two years after the approval of a memorandum of understanding between the Argentine and Iranian governments to establish a “truth commission” into the AMIA bombing. Nisman believes that the commission was regarded by Kirchner as an initial step in deactivating the arrest warrants issued for Iranian figures connected to the atrocity. That agreement, however, was dismissed as illegal by a federal court in May 2014, prompting Foreign Minister Timerman to declare, “Argentina will appeal the mistake and, if necessary, take it to the nation’s Supreme Court of Justice.”
Nisman’s accusations against Kirchner and her colleagues are “probably the most serious leveled during her administration,” Ignacio Labaqui, who analyses Argentina for emerging markets consultancy Medley Global Advisors, told Reuters. “The prosecutor is accusing her of being responsible for a maneuver to cover up the worst terrorist attack in Argentine history.”