More than two decades after the AMIA bombing in 1994, killing 85 people and wounding hundreds more, twin bombs – metaphorical this time – rocked Argentina this week, creating surprising twists in this already impossibly convoluted investigation.
First came the explosive accusation by special prosecutor Alberto Nisman that Argentine President Cristina Kirchner and others had “covered up” Iranian involvement in the attack, seeking to whitewash the attack and divert the investigation in order to establish trade relations with Tehran – ties that would provide Buenos Aires with much-needed oil.
This revelation generated little attention outside of Latin American, Jewish and Israeli circles. But then came a second twist, which Julio Schlosser, head of the DAIA Delegation of Argentine-Israeli Associations, likened to yet another AMIA bombing – the sudden, gruesome death of Nisman himself, who was reportedly found surrounded by a pool of blood in his own home last weekend.
The death, hours before Nisman was to testify against Kirchner in a congressional hearing, was swiftly reported as a suicide –although shrouded in mystery and suspicion. Soon enough, the “suspiciously fast” report of the high-profile suicide drew international attention: The New York Times ran a lengthy article on the “puzzling death” by its correspondents in Buenos Aires and Rio, repeating the words Nisman had chillingly uttered just one day earlier, “’I might get out of this dead.’”
Other articles followed, such as one by The Guardian’s Uki Goñi suggesting that the death of the “energetic, garrulous,” passion-driven Nisman highlights Argentina’s consistent “bungling” of “the judicial investigation into one of the deadliest anti semitic attacks anywhere in the world since the Holocaust.” A later AP report stated that Nisman’s apartment was barely locked, leading to the conclusion that the “suicide” was not a suicide at all, a sentiment expressed by the prosecutor’s ex-wife, and later given official backing by Kirchner herself – which did not prevent her from throwing accusations at the victim regarding sidetracking the investigation.
Regarding the future, Foreign Policy’s Matthew Levitt opined that the “uniquely determined,” “undeterred” prosecutor “may have been Argentina’s last hope for finding the truth,” adding that “with Nisman’s suspicious death, a deal with Iran may no longer be necessary to derail the investigation.”
Forbes’s Claudia Rosett and Business Insider’s Armin Rosen also focused on the Iran angle. Rosett urged Washington to “pay much closer heed to Nisman’s urgent warnings” on Iran, particularly the “Iranian terror networks which he found extended way beyond Argentina — and in some cases all the way to the US;” Rosen, meanwhile, put the spotlight on what Iran “has to gain” from Nisman’s death – namely, retaining its ability to “shed its pariah status while retaining terrorism as an instrument of policy.” Meanwhile, proof of its involvement in the “execution and cover-up of a major act of terrorism” lie buried – along with the man who worked tirelessly to uncover them.
In our post from July 11, 2013, we urged the media to ignore Cristina’s whitewashing, “do a better job of scrutiny” and heed Nisman’s warnings when it comes to Iran’s involvement in AMIA. Still valid.