NEW YORK, Jan. 19, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC is shocked by the death of Alberto Nisman, the Argentina Special Prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which resulted in 85 fatalities and hundreds of wounded.
"This is a personal tragedy for the Nisman family and a national tragedy for Argentina," said AJC Executive Director David Harris, who, together with Dina Siegel Vann, director of AJC's Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs, met with him frequently. "Argentina's Jewish community has suffered another mortal blow in the 21-year pursuit of justice."
"Without question, Alberto was the right man for this challenging assignment," Harris continued. "Tenacious and undeterred, he was determined to bring to justice all who were responsible, Iranians, Hezbollah operatives and Argentineans, for the AMIA massacre. With his passing, will his tireless efforts be continued by others, as he doubtless would have wished, or will they be shelved? The world will be watching."
The attack on the AMIA building was the worst terrorist atrocity in the Western Hemisphere before 9/11, and came two years after the deadly bombing of the Israeli embassy in the city.
In 2007, Nisman issued a report that blamed Iran and its Hezbollah surrogates. On the basis of that detailed report, and despite fierce Iranian opposition, Interpol issued "red notices"—arrest requests—for five Iranian officials, but the Iranians are still at large.
In 2013, Nisman authored a 500-page report detailing how Tehran has methodically placed terror operatives in several Latin American countries, using Iranian embassies, local mosques and front companies connected with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, to form "intelligence structures" that can strike when needed.
Last year, an Argentine federal court, backing Nisman, laudably declared unconstitutional the 2013 agreement between Argentina and Iran to establish a joint "truth commission" to investigate the AMIA bombing.
And just last week Nisman filed a lawsuit claiming that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman covered up for former Iranian officials accused of being involved in the deadly attack.
Nisman's body was found in his apartment only hours before he was to meet with Argentine legislators to discuss his accusations against the president and foreign minister. "The timing and circumstances of his death are very much in question, and clear answers are absolutely needed, even if, like the AMIA investigation, the chances of getting a full, credible explanation are highly uncertain," said Harris.
AJC, a partner organization of the AMIA, has stood at the side of the Argentine Jewish community from the first moments of the tragedy in 1994, when an AJC group traveled to Buenos Aires to express solidarity with the victims and their families and to call for justice. Since then, AJC delegations have returned at least annually and met frequently with Argentine officials, including, since his appointment as Special Prosecutor in the case, Alberto Nisman.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee