by Nil Nikandrov, Strategic Culture
Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman was found shot dead on 18 January, a pistol by his side. He had been hours away from outlining his accusations against President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner at a congressional hearing. The prosecutor was to deliver a report on the investigation of Argentina’s worst terrorist attack – a bombing in 1994 that killed 85 people and left dozens wounded at a Jewish community centre. The Argentine special services and the prosecutor’s office first traced it to Iran, then the «Syrian trace» emerged, dirty cops from Buenos Aires were also on the list of suspects. Iran immediately denied its involvement.
Mr. Nissan’s death rocked the country. His personal safety appeared to be guaranteed – Nisman had a security detail of 10 federal police to constantly accompany him wherever he went, his 13th floor apartment in a fashionable city area was also guarded around the clock. Nisman’s housing complex has security guards and CCTV cameras at every entrance. All visitors are registered. No matter that, the tragedy has taken place to start off a detective story. Suicide was the first thing to come to mind. Nisman’s mother found the door to his apartment locked from the inside and got a locksmith to open it. She found her son’s body on the floor of the bathroom, and called the police. A 22-calibre handgun was found next to Nisman’s body together with a bullet casing. It was a point blank shot to support the suicide story. Mr. Lagomarsino, a computer specialist and long-time acquaintance of Mr. Nisman, lent him the gun that killed him for self-defense. As Nisman told him then, «Don’t worry, it’s to have in the glove box just in case a crazy person with a stick comes up and says I am a traitor». Nisman was threatened at the time. He had special fear for the safety of his daughters. The investigators are trying to find out who exactly had tried to exert pressure on Nisman, threaten him with compromising evidence, or blackmail him to make the prosecutor biased to meet somebody’s interests.
The supporters of Cristina Fernandez have said many times that Nisman received instructions from the United States embassy. It worth to note that in the early days of the Kirchner’s era the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Secretariat of Intelligence (SIDE) and the prosecutor’s office blindly followed the scenario offered by the US to put the blame on Iran. The main evidence was provided by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad. The credibility of the both agencies was greatly undermined in Argentina after the US aggression against Iraq in 2003 was unleashed under the pretext of the need to stop the Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program. Argentina started to have doubts – what if the CIA and Mossad were trying to use the terrorist act in Buenos Aires as part of larger-scale operation to prepare for an intervention against Iran?
The US-Israeli influence on the power, foreign policy and judicial structures of Argentina is hard to counter. Prosecutor Nisman is a good example. There is evidence that he coordinated his activities with the political and economic sections of the US embassy in Buenos Aires used as a cover by CIA agents responsible for the Iran-Argentina relationship. Americans were the first to receive the Nisman’s reports on the results of the investigation. The peaceful settlement of problems between Argentina and Iran did not meet the Washington’s interests. That’s why the CIA launched an operation to compromise Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner accused of «behind the curtain» deals with Iran.
The struggle between competing political forces in Argentina is getting hotter. The outside influence is becoming more important than ever. Argentina sticks to independent foreign policy and its government has powerful internal and external enemies. The President has been frequently reported to be ill recently to make Washington view Argentina as a weak link among the Latin American countries implementing the policies Washington would like to change. The coming to power of Mauricio Macri, the leader of centre-right Republican Proposal Party, can trigger the domino effect among the members of Bolivarian Alliance. It’s a well-known fact that Macri is ready to cooperate with Washington. Recently he said Argentina should «improve Argentina’s relation with the world» instead of being part of Bolivarian block. By improving the relations with the world he means restoring the ties with the West and keeping Russia and China at the distance. Macri has no reason to normalize the relations with Iran. He supports the anti-Iranian policy of Washington.
According to Argentine media reports, Nisman wanted to accuse President Cristina Fernandez, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman and some other government officials of trying to strike «behind the curtain» amicable deals with Iranians. He lambasted the bilateral memorandum of understanding on joint investigation of the terrorist act. The both countries agreed to establish a truth commission including leading lawyers from different countries among other measures including the investigation conducted on the territory of Iran. The leaders of Argentina’s Jewish community opposed the decision. They said the document was «unconstitutional» and guaranteed impunity of the perpetrators.
The US State Department frowns upon any progress achieved on the way of reconciliation between Iran and Argentina. Washington and Tel Aviv perceive Iran as a dangerous strategic adversary. In Latin America special operations and black propaganda have been part of subversive activities directed against Iran for many years. Off and on media outlets publish fakes about Iranian intelligence establishing terrorist cells in Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Surinam, Chile, Venezuela, Paraguay and other countries. These concocted stories never lead anywhere. Two-three times the CIA operatives staged cases against Iranians living in Argentina to accuse them of involvement in terrorist activities but the propaganda ballyhoo did not lead anywhere. Such episodes have taken place in Mexico and Paraguay – the Tri-Border Area (an area along the junction of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, where the Iguazu and Parana rivers converge. The area is known as a place where Islamic groups conduct operations to provide funds for terrorist activities). The same methods are more frequently used by US special services against Russian citizens. By and large, it all boils down to accusations of involvement in drug trafficking and espionage.
Experts believe that the 500-page Nisman report contains no information on the perpetrators of the terrorist act in Buenos Aires. The prosecutor just repeated the US propaganda stories about secret agreements concluded with Tehran to do away with accusations in exchange for «geopolitical rapprochement» with the Iranian Republic and the restoration of full-fledged trade to overcome the consequences of hard economic crisis, as well as «grain for oil» bargain deals. Talking on a TV program, President Cristina Fernandez denied the allegations that the government planned to buy Iranian oil. She said it could not be processed by Argentine refineries anyway and there were no problems with grain. Cristina Fernandez believes that the memorandum that Nisman condemned was a serious foreign policy breakthrough. The Nisman’s reaction reflects the negative attitude of the United States and Israel towards the idea of Argentina-Iran dialogue. The expected parliament debates were to be a serious test for Nisman. He told the members of his inner circle that Cristina’s supporters would drive a smear campaign against him. He even asked his daughters not to watch debates on TV. The prosecutor was afraid that the documents related to his secret ties with the US and Israeli special services would get into the hands of his opponents.
Fernandez does not exclude that the prosecutor was killed by operatives of Argentine intelligence in order to compromise her government. Antonio Stiuso had been the key figure in the Argentina’s Intelligence Secretariat till late 2014. Master of cloak and dagger operations, a veteran who started the service as far back as in 1972, Stiuso played the game of his own. He accumulated confidential information on Cristina to share it with Nisman. It came from different sources, including the CIA and Mossad. The government loyal officers reported about the Stiuso’s subversive activities and Cristina fired him. According to Argentine bloggers, the enemies of President decided to do away with Nisman to prevent the imminent exposures and discredit Cristina Fernandez once and for all.
The President reacted immediately. Fernandez said she plans to shut down the Secretariat of Intelligence, in favor of a newly created agency, the Federal Intelligence Agency. There are signs this process will not run smoothly. But the purge is necessary because it is the only way to put an end to arbitrary activities of the Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad.