Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor who had been investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (the AMIA building) in Argentina, has been found dead in his Buenos Aires apartment. Nisman was famous in intelligence and law enforcement circles for amassing evidence that implicates Iran in the AMIA attack, which left 85 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Early reports suggest that Nisman may have been murdered, but the circumstances surrounding his death are unclear.
Nisman had also accused senior Argentine officials, including President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, of protecting some of the Iranian officials responsible for the bombing. Kirchner and other officials scoffed at his claims. Nisman was reportedly set to testify before a congressional hearing today about the matter.
I did not know Nisman well, but I did meet with him some years ago. We discussed the evidence of Iran’s responsibility for the AMIA attack for several hours. I found his detailed knowledge of the players involved to be impressive and convincing.
INTERPOL also became convinced that various Iranian officials, and their terrorist proxies in Hezbollah, were responsible. In 2007, INTERPOL issued a Red Notice saying that six individuals were wanted in connection with the AMIA bombing.
For Nisman, the AMIA bombing was not a one-off event. It was part of a decades-long pattern of Iranian behavior.
From the Iranian regime’s perspective, terrorism is not some taboo. It is an instrument of statecraft to be employed around the world.
One of the terrorists listed in INTERPOL’s Red Notice was Imad Fayez Mughniyah, who served as Iran’s master terrorist until his assassination in 2008. It is widely assumed that the Israelis were responsible for Mughniyah’s death, by way of a car bombing, in Damascus. Mughniyah is a natural suspect in the AMIA attack. He was the godfather of modern suicide bombings, having patented the technique in Iran’s and Hezbollah’s earliest strikes against American interests, including the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Marine barracks and U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
Al Qaeda’s founder, Osama bin Laden, was so impressed by the efficacy of Mughniyah’s operations, which helped force the U.S. out of Lebanon, that he reached out to the Shiite for help. As the 9/11 Commission and various other sources have confirmed, Mughniyah and Iran agreed to help al Qaeda in the early 1990s. They showed bin Laden and his subordinates how to execute simultaneous suicide attacks. Indeed, al Qaeda’s 1998 twin bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were consciously modeled after Mughniyah’s and Iran’s terror spree in the early 1980s.
In the years since then, Mughniyah has been tied to various terrorist plots around the world – all while operating as part of Iran’s international terror network. While Mughniyah’s death was undoubtedly a victory in what was once known as the global war on terror, it did not stop Iran and Hezbollah. Instead, they have groomed a new generation of Mughniyahs.
Just recently, Imad Mughniyah’s son, Jihad Imad Mughniyah, was killed in Syria. He was serving as a Hezbollah operative at the time.
All the while, the Iranian regime does not hide its affection for the Mughniyahs. In January 2014, Iran’s minister of foreign affairs honored the senior Mughniyah by laying a wreath at his grave.
The gesture prompted the White House to respond. “The inhumane violence that Mughniyah perpetrated – and that Lebanese Hezbollah continues to perpetrate in the region with Iran's financial and material support -- has had profoundly destabilizing and deadly effects for Lebanon and the region,” National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said. “The decision to commemorate an individual who has participated in such vicious acts, and whose organization continues to actively support terrorism worldwide, sends the wrong message and will only exacerbate tensions in the region.”