On the night of January 18, 2015, the mother of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was trying to contact him by telephone. When, after repeated calls, she couldn’t get him to answer, she went to his apartment accompanied by Argentine federal police. Repeated ringing of the doorbell wasn’t answered. The door was locked from the inside. The police called a locksmith who unlocked the door.
Upon entering the apartment, they found Nisman’s corpse blocking the door to the bathroom. A Bersa Thunder .22 and a single casing lay on the floor next to him. He had been shot in the head.
The initial statement by Argentine Security Secretary Sergio Berni said, “All signs point to suicide.” But most of the country didn’t buy it, and the administration has since backed away from the assertion. The locksmith’s further announcement that, while the front door was locked, a service door was open, has further quieted such claims of suicide.
Nisman was due to present a 300-page dossier to the Argentine congress on his investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA, the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina. On July 18, 1994, a Renault van packed with 600 pounds of explosives detonated outside the Jewish center in Buenos Aires, killing 85 people. It was the worst terrorist attack in Argentina’s history, and specifically targeted at South America’s largest Jewish population. In the 10 years since, no charges have been filed. But Nisman has been working on investigating the bombing the entire time.
In the course of his investigation, he has accused President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner and the foreign secretary, Hector Timerman, of obstructing the investigation, trying to cover up Iranian involvement in order to secure oil shipments. While Fernandez and her administration have maintained that the accusations are “ridiculous,” the timing of Nisman’s death is suspicious, to say the least.
Most Argentines apparently feel the same way. The allegations of suicide were almost immediately met with derision in Argentina, and on Wednesday, February 18, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Buenos Aires, demanding answers. One of the signs in the crowd read, “They can’t ‘suicide’ us all.”
This case doesn’t just highlight apparent corruption on the part of the Argentine government, it shines light on the extent of Iranian involvement in South America. Iran isn’t just focused on becoming a regional power in the Middle East; they have made extensive inroads in Latin America as well as with Russia, China, and North Korea. One of Hezbollah’s primary fundraising areas is in the Tri-Border Area between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Iranian passports are a free ticket for entry into Venezuela. If, in fact, the president of Argentina did have Nisman murdered to keep collusion with Iran quiet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Iran is directly manipulating Argentina. It does, however, imply that ties are close enough to justify covering up a terrorist attack for the sake of economic ties.
The picture that has been painted of the “Mad Mullahs” in Tehran has been of an apocalyptic, revolutionary terror state. But the Iranians are, in fact, very rational, clever geopolitical actors. The more we look into their activities in South and Central America, the more this will become evident.
(Featured image courtesy of lanacion.com.ar)