Newly released wiretap audio finds former Foreign Minister of Argentina Héctor Timerman admitting that the government of Iran “planted the bomb” at the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) headquarters in 1994, the deadliest terror attack in Argentina’s history.
Speaking of the Islamic Republic in the wiretapped audio, Timerman says that “18 years ago, they planted the bomb.” In 2012, Timerman expressed frustration to then-AMIA heads President Guillermo Borger and Vice President José Scaliter that neither leader would accept government talks with Iran. “Tell me who to negotiate with,” Timerman demands of Scaliter. “You are telling me who not to negotiate with; how clever. Who do you want me to negotiate with, then?”
Scaliter and Borger both express similar reservations about negotiating an investigation deal with Iran, given their involvement in the bombing itself.
“I will just say that Iran lies, is not credible and denies the Holocaust,” Borger says, after a frustrated Timerman asks, “And who do you want me to negotiate with, Switzerland?”
“If there was someone else, they [the Iranians] wouldn’t have planted the bomb,” Timerman again says. “So we are back to the beginning. Do you have someone else for me to negotiate with?”
Timerman, who is Jewish, tells the AMIA leadership he is frustrated by their lack of support for the Argentine government’s plan to deal directly with Iran on solving the terrorist attack. “It hurts me as a Jew to hear the critics from AMIA. And it seems that the best choice is to do nothing, and if we [the government] do nothing, the AMIA will be happy. But I’m doing this for AMIA.”
The audio has been released by journalist Daniel Santoro in anticipation of the publication of his new book, Nisman Must Die, chronicling the likely assassination of the prosecutor in charge of investigating the AMIA bombing, Alberto Nisman. The audio was played on Argentina’s Mitre radio earlier this week.
Nisman spent more than a decade investigating the AMIA bombing, which killed 85 people and was the deadliest terrorist attack to occur in the Western Hemisphere before the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. In 2007, he demanded Interpol issue “red alerts” – international arrest notices – for eight former Iranian officials, accusing them of personally planning and executing the AMIA bombing. Interpol issued six red alerts for the high-ranking officials Imad Fayez Mughniyah, Ali Fallahijan, Mohsen Rabbani, Ahmad Reza Asghari, Ahmad Vahidi, and Mohsen Rezai. None were arrested, staying within the safety of Iranian borders.
[Correction: Imad Mughniyah was killed in January in a joint CIA/Mossad effort]
The red alerts were only taken down after Fernández de Kirchner negotiated a “memorandum of understanding” with the government of Iran that would allow them authority within the AMIA investigation. The memorandum was widely unpopular in Argentina, believed to give Iran a free pass to investigate itself and find itself innocent, and then-presidential candidate Mauricio Macri vowed to invalidate it. Last week, he did, dropping the government’s appeal of a court finding that the document was unconstitutional.
Nisman was found dead in his apartment of a gunshot wound to the head on January 18, 2015, a day before he was to testify before the Argentine legislature that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Timerman had conspired to protect Iranian interests in exchange for competitive prices on Iranian oil. Before his death, Nisman completed a 300-page legal report accusing Fernández de Kirchner of a “deliberate attempt to protect those implicated” in the AMIA bombing.