December 9, 2017

ARGENTINA: Ex-President Of Argentina Cristina Fernandez Is Accused Of Covering Up Iran And Hezbollah Role In Terror Attack On AMIA Jewish Center. Court Issued Arrest Warrant.

The Algemeiner
written by Ben Cohen
Friday December 8, 2017

The landmark arrests and indictments issued in Argentina on Thursday — following a federal inquiry into the cover-up of Iran’s responsibility for the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires — offer decisive proof that it was the Tehran regime which committed the crime, the president of AMIA said on Friday.

The arrests “confirm that Iran is the main party responsible” for the bombing of the AMIA building in downtown Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, in which 85 people died and hundreds more were wounded, AMIA president Agustin Zbar told the Argentine Jewish newspaper Iton Gadol. Iran has always dismissed the charge of responsibility, despite the issuing of “Red Notices” for six Iranian and Hezbollah operatives wanted in connection with the bombing by Interpol, the global law enforcement agency.

In the first move of a possible treason trial that carries a maximum sentence of 25 years imprisonment, Argentine federal judge Claudio Bonadio on Thursday requested the country’s Senate to strip former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of her immunity from prosecution.

Former Foreign Minister Hector Timerman is also under house arrest, while several other Kirchner lieutenants have been detained by police or prevented by the authorities from leaving the country.

Bonadio’s inquiry into the allegations of collusion with Iran were based on the complaint against Kirchner and her associates assembled by former federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman — who spent a decade investigating the AMIA bombing, before being found murdered in his Buenos Aires apartment in January 2015. At the heart of Nisman’s complaint was the claim that, in January 2011, Timerman signed a secret pact with this Iranian counterpart pledging both countries to a so-called “truth commission” regarding the AMIA bombing. Subsequent testimonies to Bonadio’s inquiry showed that increased trade and even the exchange of nuclear technology were approved by the pact.

Noting that 23 years had passed since the AMIA bombing, Zbar said, “We have consistently traveled a long and arduous path to demonstrate, with ample evidence, the intellectual and material responsibility of citizens and officials of the Iranian state and of the terrorist group Hezbollah, in the attack against the headquarters of AMIA.”

Zbar added that he was encouraged that the Argentine authorities were also investigating local complicity in the attack, following news that Carlos Telleldin, a businessman accused of supplying the truck used in the AMIA bombing, will face a retrial nearly two decades after a previous prosecution against him collapsed. Zbar said it was his hope that the coming Telleldin hearing and “the progress of the investigation into the death of Alberto Nisman” would eventually lead to the trial of the Iranians who planned and executed the AMIA atrocity.

“AMIA from the beginning strongly opposed the pact with Iran,” Zbar stated. “The search for justice has been our priority since July 18, 1994, and we will never give up until all those guilty of that crime against humanity are convicted and imprisoned.”

On Friday, thousands of Kirchner supporters staged a rally in Buenos Aires’ famed Plaza del Mayo to protest what they depicted as government-sponsored persecution of the former president. Kirchner has repeatedly claimed that Nisman’s allegations against her and her government are a fabrication.
Business Insider
written by Linette Lopez
Saturday December 9, 2017

An Argentine judge has ordered the arrest of the country's former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner on charges of treason. When she is finally in custody it will not only be a victory for Argentina, but a victory for the security of the entire western hemisphere.

To understand why you have to understand what she's going down for.

Fernandez — one half of the most romantic and powerful political couple in Argentine politics since the Juan and Evita Peron — is being accused of covering up the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. That bombing has wide ranging implications beyond the tragic deaths of 84 Argentines.

That is because the bomb was set off by Iran-backed terrorists, who for decades have been building a presence in South America.

Alberto Nisman, an Argentine prosecutor, had been tracking their whereabouts for years — and was even ordered to investigate the AMIA bombing by Fernandez's late husband, former president Nestor Kirchner.

When he took power in 2003 Kirchner, like the rest of the country, wanted the perpetrators of the AMIA bombing brought to justice.

But later in his regime things changed. After a collapse in 2001, Argentina's economy would not get out of in crisis mode. It was locked out of international markets and the situation looked increasingly desperate. The accusation of treason against Christina Fernandez de Kirchner is that when money got tighter, she got more desperate too.

She needed friends with cash. And there was Iran, waiting with a bag — strings attached of course.

It was under her tenure as President that Nisman was murdered in early 2015, the very day he was going to testify that she was covering up Iran's involvement in the AMIA bombing.

This is not about Argentina, it's about Iran
Iran decided to murder Argentine citizens because the country had stopped sharing nuclear knowledge with Iran. People often forget that Argentina developed one of the most advanced nuclear programs in the world after WWII. There's your motive.

But of course, the more important question for this story is: Why would the president of Argentina cover for the people who murdered 84 of her own citizens? Mostly it was money.

When Argentina's economy collapsed in 2000-2001, it began a slow, painful recovery — recovery made more arduous by the fact that Argentina flat-out refused to pay some of its creditors. This ostracized Argentina from international markets, made it a cash-strapped nation, and ultimately hurt the Kirchners politically.

That meant the couple would have to fight to hold on to power, and that fight would take money. According to Brazilian journalist Leonardo Coutinho, who testified on this matter before members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in 2015, that's when late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stepped in.

Coutinho told Congress that he interviewed three defected officials of Chavez's regime who said they witnessed a conversation between the Venezuelan president and his then-Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in January 2007.

Ahmadinejad and Chavez reportedly planned to coerce Argentina into sharing nuclear technology with Iran and stopping the hunt for the perpetrators of the AMIA bombing in exchange for cash, some of it to finance Fernandez's political aims. It's unclear whether Fernandez knew exactly where this money was coming from. Either way, she took it and the deal was done.

Alberto Nisman knew all of this, and Iran knew he knew it. According to diplomatic cables published in the 2010 Wikileaks dump, he even confronted Iranian officials about it in 2007 and they went ballistic calling for his arrest.

He was about to tell Argentina's legislature about Fernandez's attempt to hide this arrangement when he was found dead in his apartment. That death, and the government's attempt to have it labeled a suicide, has rocked Argentina to this day.

Fernandez is gone, Iran is not
Fernandez is currently a senator, and therefore enjoys immunity. But the Argentine legislature recently stripped a former member of her administration of their immunity, so her arrest seems like foregone conclusion at this point.

Of course, that doesn't mean this saga is over. The US, Argentina and other nations in the western hemisphere must still contend with the threat of Iran in the region.

According to Politico, the Trump administration has ramped up efforts:
The administration’s counter-Hezbollah campaign is an interagency effort that includes leveraging diplomatic, intelligence, financial and law enforcement tools to expose and disrupt the logistics, fundraising and operational activities of Iran, the Qods Force and the long list of Iranian proxies from Lebanese Hezbollah to other Shia militias in Iraq and elsewhere. But in the words of Ambassador Nathan Sale, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, “Countering Hezbollah is a top priority for the Trump administration.”

Since it took office, the Trump administration has taken a series of actions against Hezbollah in particular—including indictments , extraditions , public statements and issues rewards for information on wanted Hezbollah terrorist leaders—and officials are signaling that more actions are expected, especially in Latin America. Congress has passed a series of bills aimed at Hezbollah as well.

The goal, according to an administration official quoted by POLITICO, is to “expose them for their behavior.” The thinking goes: Hezbollah cannot claim to be a legitimate actor even as it engages in a laundry list of illicit activities that undermine stability at home in Lebanon, across the Middle East region and around the world.
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