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Alberto Nisman’s Key Findings

For a detailied analysis of the Nisman Report, read Richard Horowitz's full report here.

By Richard Horowitz

The investigation of the July 18, 1994 bombing of the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Aid Association (AMIA) which killed 85 and injured 300, was assigned to Argentine attorney general Alberto Nisman in February 2005. On October 25, 2006, Nisman released a 674-page report concluding that Iran executed the AMIA attack, and on January 18, 2015 Nisman’s dead body was found in his apartment. He was scheduled to testify the next day before the Argentine Congress that President Christina Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman had obstructed his investigation into Iranian involvement in an effort to secure an oil deal with Tehran.

The 2006 Nisman report cites Iran on nearly every page and issued arrest warrants for eight suspects, including Iran’s then President Ali Akbar Rafsanjani and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati. To date, none have been arrested nor extradited to Argentina.

The Nisman report concluded that the idea for the AMIA attack originated with a   committee headed by Iran’s president, and that the decision to execute the attack was taken by another committee whose members included Iran’s Supreme Leader. The report “deem[ed] it an established fact that the main driver of the decision to carry out the AMIA bombing was the [November 1992] unilateral cancellation of Argentina’s nuclear technology transfer contracts with Iran,” since Argentina was concerned that “there were concrete indications that Iran had non-peaceful plans for its nuclear capacities.”  

The Nisman report further underscores Iran’s intention to spread the Islamic revolution through the use of terrorism, citing the preamble to the Iranian constitution. The constitution “shall pave the way for perpetuation of this [Islamic] revolution within and outside the country … the army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the troops of the Revolutionary Guard will be… entrusted with the task of not only protecting and preserving our borders, but also an ideological mission, that is to say, Jihad in the name of God and the world.”          

The report also highlights Iran’s reason in choosing its target: “Iran attempted to undermine and if possible sabotage the Middle East peace process” and quoted former Iranian president Abolhassan Bani Sadr: “[Iran’s] attacks constitute a message aimed at the Arab world, in order to show the Palestinians and the Arabs that Iran is present, inasmuch as the current regime plans to make itself the leader of the Islamic world.” The Nisman report cited an Argentine intelligence report stating that for Iran, Argentina “will serve as a center from which Islam and its ideology will spread to the northern part of Latin America.”

Analzying the findings of several other terrorist attacks ascribed to Iran, the report focused primarily on three attacks in Switzerland, France, and Germany, occurring prior to the AMIA attack, and quoted investigative and judicial bodies from these three governments who maintained that Iran was responsible for the attacks in each country.  Iran assassinated one of its former diplomats, Kazem Radjavi, near Geneva on April 24 1990,  Chapour Bakhtiar, Iran’s last president under the Shah and the secretary-general of an Iranian resistance movement in Paris on August 8, 1991, and four Iranian-Kurdish opposition leaders at the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin on September 17, 1992. 

 The Nisman report details Iran’s method of operations, with sections on safe houses, false documents, sleeper cells, cover businesses, mosques, and embassies.  On the role of Iran’s Supreme Leader in its terrorist attack: “Once the [AMIA] operation was approved, the Spiritual Leader issued a fatwa that authorized the action and legitimized it from the standpoint of Islamic law, in whose eyes the action would have otherwise been a crime. On the basis of the fatwa, a specialized entity was tasked with carrying out the operation, a responsibility that was generally taken in charge by the Ministry of Intelligence, the commander of the Quds Force, or both at once.”

The report further investigated Hezbollah’s role in executing the AMIA attack. “It is also indispensable to mention in this regard the role played by Hezbollah, which was frequently summoned to carry out the final (i.e. operational) phase of terrorist attacks. Such a request was always a safe bet, since Hezbollah had a subordinate relationship with the Iranian government.” 

Finally, the report referred to Iran’s “obstructionist behavior” in its attempt at obtaining Iranian cooperation in investigating the AMIA attack.  An Iranian letter responding to an Argentine request for assistance stated, “The main issue is that we need to be absolutely sure that if we cooperate, the judge in the case will reach the conclusion that such and such persons were not involved in the AMIA attack.” 

Alberto Nisman’s 2006 report detailed various aspects of Iranian behavior in addition to providing evidence of Iran’s culpability for the AMIA attack. Unfortunately, what Nisman said about Iran in 2006 was generally unrecognized when his body was found in 2015.

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Richard Horowitz is an attorney and a former officer in the Israel Defense Forces

[Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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