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January 13, 2020 12:32 pm

Argentine Jewish Leaders Scorn Iranian Fugitive’s Claim That Tehran Regime Is Innocent of AMIA Atrocity

avatar by Ben Cohen

People hold images of the victims of the 1994 bombing attack on the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) community center, marking the 25th anniversary of the atrocity in Buenos Aires. Photo: Reuters / Agustin Marcarian.

Jewish leaders in Argentina on Monday scorned the claim of a fugitive Iranian government operative that Alberto Nisman — the late federal prosecutor who investigated the July 1994 terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires — was murdered because he allegedly failed to establish the Tehran regime’s responsibility for the atrocity, in which 85 people died and more than 300 were wounded.

“I think that they killed Nisman so that nobody could find out that he was empty-handed, because he had paid off a lot of people with money sent from Israel,” Mohsen Rabbani, a former cultural attache at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires, told the Argentine broadcaster Radio 10 in an interview last Friday.

Rabbani, however, is not a disinterested observer. In 2007, as a result of Nisman’s efforts, he was one of the six Iranian and Hezbollah operatives who became the subjects of “Red Notices” issued by Interpol, the international law enforcement agency, in connection with the AMIA bombing.

First dispatched to Buenos Aires by Iran in 1983, Rabbani was identified in a 2013 report written by Nisman for his role in creating “local clandestine intelligence stations designed to sponsor, foster and execute terrorist attacks.” Rabbani now lives in Tehran.

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Nisman’s dead body was discovered in the early morning of Jan. 19, 2015 — hours before he was due to unveil a complaint against the former government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over a 2013 memorandum with Iran that effectively exonerated the Islamic Republic of responsibility for the AMIA attack.

Though the Argentine authorities initially portrayed Nisman’s death as a suicide, an independent investigation in 2017 by the Gendarmeria, a national law enforcement agency, concluded definitively from its examination of the crime scene that the prosecutor was murdered.

“Why when Alberto Nisman had the opportunity to testify to the deputies, did they kill him?” Rabbani asked during Friday’s interview. “Who killed Nisman? Why don’t they let people in Argentina know the truth, why are they hiding the truth?”

At no point did Rabbani specify whom he believed had murdered Nisman, or provide any evidence for his assertion that Nisman was unable to prove Iran’s culpability for the AMIA bombing. Later on in the interview, Rabbani speculated that Nisman might have been pressured by others to kill himself for similar reasons.

Asked to comment on Rabbani’s remarks, AMIA President Ariel Eichbaum said they had caused him “pain and irritation.”

Said Eichbaum: “This is what [Rabbani] should do: present himself to the Argentine courts with all the corresponding constitutional guarantees to offer explanations to the families of the 85 fatal victims in the AMIA massacre. Terrorism is a global menace which we should all be committed to fighting so that those responsible pay for their actions.”

Waldo Wolff, a Jewish member of the Argentine Parliament, pointed out in separate comments that Rabbani’s claims of Iranian innocence were “nothing new.”

Jorge Knoblovits — president of Argentine Jewish representative body DAIA — similarly dismissed Rabbani’s assertions, telling local media outlets, “I’m not going to give any credibility to what a terrorist accused of murdering 85 fellow-citizens has to say.”

Rabbani’s interview came just a few days after Argentine President Alberto Fernandez stirred controversy by casting doubt on whether Nisman had been murdered.

“The accumulated evidence does not suggest that there was a murder,” Fernandez told the newspaper Clarin during a New Year’s Day interview.

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