It is alleged that she covered up Iran’s role in a deadly terrorist attack involving Iranian-backed Hezbollah, when an operative, Ibrahim Hussein Berro, drove a van filled with 606 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil into the Buenos Aires Jewish community center, known as AMIA, on July 18th, 1994. At least 300 Argentines were wounded, and 85 were killed. It is believed to be the bloodiest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history.
Prosecutor Alberto Nisman worked tirelessly from 2004 until 2015 to prove that the attack was an Iranian-planned operation. He also discovered that Ms. Kirchner was behind a cover-up designed to whitewash Iran’s role.
Ms. Kirchner was formally charged in the crime when federal judge Claudio Bonadio handed down the 491-page indictment against her; her foreign minister, Hector Timerman; her handpicked intelligence chief; her top legal adviser; two pro-Iran activists; and 10 others.
In trying to determine Ms. Kirchner’s motives, one looks to Argentina’s economic problems at that time, as well as her government’s a populist ties to Iran and the Bolivarian bloc of nations led by Venezuela.
Judge Bonadio called the attack on the Jewish community center an “act of war” by Iran, and accused Ms. Kirchner of covering up the role of senior Iranian leaders and their Hezbollah proxies in exchange for a trade deal.
Alberto Nisman, however, didn’t live to see justice served. He was set to testify to the country’s Congress three years ago, regarding Ms. Kirchner’s role in the cover up. He was found dead in his apartment in Buenos Aires, with a bullet in his head, on the day before his testimony, despite the 10-man security detail who were there to protect him.
Ms. Kirchner quickly announced that Mr. Nisman had committed suicide. She claimed his death was part of a lovers’ spat. Later, she claimed that his death may have been the result of rogue intelligence operatives.
While Mr. Nisman investigated this case, he received death threats against him and his children. Still, he didn’t let it stop him. Mr. Nisman fearlessly led his team and determined that former Iranian and Hezbollah officials had planned the AMIA attack. He showed that the plan included Iran’s former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; its minister of intelligence; its foreign minister; the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; the head of the corps’ elite Quds force; the Iranian cultural attaché in Argentina; and the third secretary at Iran’s Embassy in Buenos Aires, as well as the former head of Hezbollah’s external security.
Nisman’s investigation led Interpol to issue red notices against six of the perpetrators. Argentina issued arrest warrants for Rafsanjani and then-foreign minister, Ali Akbar Velayati, which Iran disregarded.
Nisman released a 500-page indictment in May 2013, that outlined the way Iran had penetrated not just Argentina, but also Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay, Trinidad, Tobago and Suriname. He showed how mosques, social service organizations and its own embassies were used to radicalize and recruit terrorists.
Nisman also shared information that helped American authorities determine that Mohsen Rabbani, Iranian embassy cultural attaché, and one of the AMIA bombing masterminds, helped four men plot to blow up the fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport in New York. Nisman’s murder investigation was stymied for years,
but three months ago, under Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, a fresh investigation by the Argentine national police began. They found that Nisman had been drugged with Ketamine, a drug used to sedate animals, then brutally beaten before he was shot in the head.
More than 40,000 legal wiretaps and other evidence, much of it collected by Nisman, sealed the case against Kirchner, and reveals a secret backchannel between her government and Iran. It is apparent that Kirchner and her allies went to great lengths to establish this backchannel. In 2011, Ms. Kirchner’s foreign minister made a secret trip to Syria to iron out the plan with Ali Akbar Salehi, who was then Iran’s foreign minister, former Argentine ambassador to Syria revealed earlier this year in court testimony. A voice recording further implicates Ms. Kirchner in the bombing.
The judge in the case has asked the Argentine Congress to strip Kirchner of immunity, so that she can be arrested and tried. Additionally, President Macri supports an independent investigation to identify the person(s) responsible for ordering Alberto Nisman’s death.
What ever happens next, it is clear, as Mr. Nisman documented, Iran and Hezbollah have penetrated Latin America.