Archive for the ‘Iran’ Category

Venezuela: Was Iran behind the colectivos?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

From the [pdf file] WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF
JOSEPH M. HUMIRE
CO-AUTHOR
IRAN’S STRATEGIC PENETRATION OF LATIN AMERICA
BEFORE THE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE (WHEM)
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE MIDDLE EAST & NORTH AFRICA (MENA)
HEARING ON
“IRAN AND HEZBOLLAH IN THE WESTERN
HEMISPHERE”


To most, the Venezuelan government’s ability to brutally stifle student protests, is a capacity developed by the Cuban regime whose intelligence and military direct many aspects of Venezuela’s national security apparatus. While mostly true, this excludes another vital player that has enhanced Venezuela’s foreign internal defense, the Iranian paramilitary force known as the Basij.

In April 2009, the current Iranian commander of the Basij paramilitary force, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi, accompanied then-Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar on a high-level visit to Caracas at the invitation of then-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his foreign minister (now President) Nicolas Maduro. Gen. Naqdi’s role in these high-level meetings was to serve as an advisor to Venezuela’s Ministries of Defense and Interior to aid in training their civilian militias, known as the infamous colectivos’. Years later, the results of this advisory support are evident on the streets of Venezuela as the colectivos’ tactics are a step-up in its previous capabilities, to include new clandestine communication and infiltration/espionage techniques.

Gen. Naqdi, who previously served as the Iranian Police Force’s counterintelligence chief, has a long list of human rights violations dating back to the 1999 student protests in Iran.

Iran no longer on Terror Threat List. Many in LatAm will be happy.

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

This week’s “smart diplomacy” news:
U.S. Omits Iran and Hezbollah From Terror Threat List

An annual security assessment presented to the U.S. Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has excluded Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from its list of terror threats to U.S. interests, despite both being consistently included as threats in previous years.
. . .
In a previous report from January 2014, Clapper included Iran and Hezbollah in the ‘Terrorism’ section, writing that both “continue to directly threaten the interests of U.S. allies. Hizballah [sic] has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s”. Iran was also given its own sub-heading in the ‘Terrorism’ section of such assessments in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Any evidence that Iran and Hezbollah have changed their ways?

No; instead,

“I think that we are looking at a quid pro quo, where Iran helps us with counter-terrorism and we facilitate their nuclear ambitions and cut down on our labelling of them as terrorists,” says [professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations Max] Abrahms.

In the wake of Alberto Nisman‘s death, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect some smiling faces in Argentina. As you may recall, a congressional committee had invited him to testify [in 2013] about Iran’s spy network in Latin America and its alleged role in a plot to bomb John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

Last December, the government fired a powerful spy chief who was Nisman’s lead investigator. The prosecutor retaliated with a bombshell: He accused the president, her foreign minister and other political figures of conspiring to absolve the accused Iranians in exchange for commercial deals. Iranian diplomat Mohsen Rabbani, a top suspect in the 1994 attack, participated in secret talks, according to Nisman’s criminal complaint.

Argentine spies “negotiated with Mohsen Rabbani,” an indignant Nisman said in a television interview on Jan. 14. “Not just with the state that protects the terrorists, but also with the terrorists.”

The Argentine government denied his allegations.

Indeed, back in 2006,

Nisman charged senior Iranian officials and leaders of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah with plotting the AMIA attack

Some others at the Tri-border area will be happy.

Let’s not forget Venezuela, which for years has been helping Iran dodge UN sanctions and use Venezuelan aircraft to ship missile parts to Syria. The monthly flight allegedly

flew from Caracas carrying cocaine to be distributed to Hezbollah in Damascus and sold. The plane then went to Tehran carrying Venezuelan passports and other documents that helped Iranian terrorists travel around the world undetected.

Of course, the regime in Cuba, where Hezbollah has established a center of operations in Cuba in order to expand its terrorist activity and facilitate an attack on an Israeli target in South America, is already happy.

Related:
The Terror-Crime Nexus

Sing it!

Argentina: Pollicita appeals dismissal of #Nisman’s suit

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

Federal prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita appealed the dismissal of the suit Alberto Nisman filed days before his murder:
Prosecutor Appeals Dismissal of Accusations Against Argentina’s President
Appellate court must now decide if allegations against Kirchner merit further investigation

Last month, Mr. Pollicita asked Judge Rafecas to open an investigation into accusations that Mrs. Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, and others tried to sabotage a yearslong probe into the attack, which killed 85 people at the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association, or AMIA, in Buenos Aires.

But the judge declined to investigate, saying no crime had been committed and that while an investigation might uncover additional facts they would be irrelevant to the coverup allegations.

“Only by carrying out a proper investigation and obtaining all of the facts, based on the participation of all parties, we will be able to decide if it is reasonable to file charges or, in contrast, if it the charges should be definitively thrown out,” Mr. Pollicita said in his appeal.

I hope Mr. Pollicita’s security detail can be trusted.

Today’s podcast

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Talking about Iran in Latin America, Argentina PLUS other stories with Silvio Canto, Jr. Live at 10AM Eastern, and archived for your listening convenience.

Argentina: A quarter million at the silent march for #Nisman UPDATE

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

In spite of the pouring rain, hundreds of thousands turned out to what Cristina Kirchner’s administration called an ‘institutional coup’.

“In honor of prosecutor Nisman. Silent march.”

This is what downtown Buenos Aires looked like last evening in the pouring rain:

I don’t know if Cristina Fernandez was at the Casa Rosada, but the above photo shows the main square facing it. Here’s same area showing the Casa Rosada,

Not only in Buenos Aires, but throughout the country; here is Rosario,

WSJ:

The march along one of this elegant city’s iconic thoroughfares, Avenida de Mayo, organized by fellow prosecutors incensed over how the government has handled the death of Alberto Nisman, drew not only investigators and judges but also students, plumbers and the late prosecutor’s grieving family. They were brought together by their conviction that Mr. Nisman’s death was not a suicide, as an autopsy determined, but an assassination.

Another witness has talked about evidence tampering at the scene of Nisman’s murder (link in Spanish). Apparently there were thirty people at the site.

UPDATE:
The Prosecution Office confirmed in a press release that ex Intelligence Secretariat Operations head Antonio “Jaime” Stiuso has given testimony in the investigation of late AMIA prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s death.

Argentina: #Nisman witness talks about evidence tampering

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

26yr old Natalia Gimena Fernández, in an interview with Clarin, states that

“When we were sitting at the stairs, they brought the stretcher and in that they took away the body (of Alberto Nisman). It was like 3.30 am. He was wrapped up in a black sack. They took him to the right but 15 minutes later they put him back again and took him to the left. ‘No silly, it is this way,’ they said laughing. And then, when they took him back in the apartment, I did not see where they took him out,” the witness explained as she also recalled having seen “dirty” sheets and cloths.

Fernández also saw investigators handling the binders holding the documents Alberto Nisman had been working on, having mate and croissants at the crime scene, and aparently producing five gun shells. She was even offered coffee made on Nisman’s coffeemaker.

Fernandez fears for her safety, particularly now that the burnt body of an unidentified middle-aged woman was deposited across the street from Nisman’s apartment building.

Members of the judiciary are holding a silent march. In a country where loyalty means more than truth, Cristina Kirchner’s administration says the march is tantamount to an ‘institutional coup’

—————————————

In case you missed it (in Spanish),
El Aleph Nisman
La vorágine irracional del Gobierno argentino rompió los pocos frenos que contenían su autoritarismo



Uruguay: Iranian diplomat expelled after bomb explosion near Israeli embassy

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Haaretz: Uruguay expels Iranian envoy suspected of helping place bomb near Israeli embassy
Senior official in Jerusalem says Uruguay updated Israel on the incident, but chose to keep a low profile concerning the affair.

HACER has more (in Spanish) on the January 8th explosion at the World Trade Center building where the Israeli embassy is located.

The Tower points out,

Alberto Nisman, an Argentinian prosecutor, who has documented Iran’s extensive terror ties in South America, was found dead under suspicious circumstances nearly three weeks ago as he was preparing to present evidence that Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was conspired with Iran to cover up Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

In recent years the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah has been implicated in targeting Jews or Israeli interests in PeruBulgaria, Cyprus, Nigeria and Thailand.

Nothing to see here, let’s keep to that strategic patience . . .

Argentina: #Nisman is front-page news at the NYT

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

While the White House is purportedly making deals with Iran,

Now the Jerusalem Post reports that European diplomats say the deal between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is for Tehran to keep about 6,500 centrifuges in return for “guaranteeing regional stability” — using Iranian influence to keep Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in check. International sanctions that Obama claims have forced Iran to the negotiating table would be lifted.

Suddenly, the lead investigator of a terrorist attack involving Iran (possibly was the foremost expert on Iranian operations in Latin America) turns up dead . . . the day before he was scheduled to testify to his country’s Congress on his allegations that the country’s president had colluded with Iran to interfere with the investigation.

Prior to his death he had told a reporter

that he had evidence tying Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

The Washington Free Beacon first reported that Rouhani was part of the secretive Iranian government committee that approved the AMIA bombing, according to witness testimony included in a 500-page indictment written by the late Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was appointed to investigate the attack.

Simon Romero’s report made it to the front page of the NYT:
Draft of Arrest Request for Argentine President Found at Dead Prosecutor’s Home

Alberto Nisman, the prosecutor whose mysterious death has gripped Argentina, had drafted a request for the arrest of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, accusing her of trying to shield Iranian officials from responsibility in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center here, the lead investigator into his death said Tuesday.

The 26-page document, which was found in the garbage at Mr. Nisman’s apartment, also sought the arrest of Héctor Timerman, Argentina’s foreign minister. Both Mrs. Kirchner and Mr. Timerman have repeatedly denied Mr. Nisman’s accusation that they tried to reach a secret deal with Iran to lift international arrest warrants for Iranian officials wanted in connection with the bombing.

Romero explains why Nisman didn’t go through with the arrest request,

Normally, a prosecutor in Argentina seeks an arrest out of concern that the people charged with crimes will try to corrupt the investigation or flee the country, according to Susana Ciruzzi, a professor of criminal law at the University of Buenos Aires who knew Mr. Nisman.

But in this case, some legal experts suspect that Mr. Nisman decided against requesting the arrest of Mrs. Kirchner because such a move would have been viewed as a political attack on the president in a case that has already polarized the nation.

Moreover, Mrs. Kirchner and Mr. Timerman have immunity as members of the executive branch. They could have been arrested only if a judge handling the case were to authorize a political trial similar to an impeachment process and ask Congress to lift their immunity, Ms. Ciruzzi said.

For both leaders to be stripped of their immunity would have required a two-thirds majority vote in both houses of Argentina’s legislature.

The draft was dated June 2014,

The date is important because, after Nisman’s death, Fernández de Kirchner claimed that the Special Prosecutor had decided to request her arrest only recently, while he was on a visit to Europe. The president implied strongly that unnamed foreign powers were manipulating Nisman, who spent more than a decade in charge of the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

Also in the draft, Nisman alleged that

Venezuela’s then-ambassador to Argentina, Roger Capella, had in 2006 contributed to the cover-up of the 1994 AMIA terrorist attack.

According to Nisman’s evidence, the Venezuelan diplomat helped foment protests against the arrest of Iranian suspects ordered by the Argentinean judiciary.

“The demonstration against the Argentinean court’s ruling was carried out by the Iranian embassy, headed by Luis D’Elía — supported by Iran’s middleman in Argentina, Jorge Alejandro “Yussuf” Khalil — and promoted by then-Venezuelan ambassador to Buenos Aires, Roger Capella,” Nisman wrote.

Fernandez’s chief of staff, Jorge Capitanich, tore up Clarin’s report showing the drafts in his press conference,

Viviana Fein,

the prosecutor in charge of the investigation into how he died, has radically revised her assessment of how he died, claiming that the deadly bullet entered not through his temple, as originally stated, but two centimeters – around three-quarters of an inch – behind his ear.

If Fein’s latest conclusion is borne out by the facts, it will further weaker the assertion that Nisman’s death was a suicide, since the the bullet’s point of entry strongly suggests that the trigger was pulled by someone else.

Yesterday she announced that she would be taking a vacation between February 18 and March 5.

Over in the Middle East, Iran and Hizbullah Mourn Mughniyeh and Plan Revenge Worldwide (h/t The Tower; emphasis added),

Nasrallah, for his part, in his speech on January 30, the day of remembrance for the fallen in the Kuneitra operation, asserted that all of the existing rules of the game with Israel before the Kuneitra operation were no longer in existence. In mentioning the assassination of the second leader of Hizbullah, Abbas Musawi, he alluded to the price Israel paid with the 1992 bombing attack on the Israeli embassy in Argentina carried out with Iranian assistance, implying that this would be a model for the response.

But none of this matters to the White House, where

Ideals, persuasion, feelings, and intent are now the stuff of foreign policy, not archaic and polarizing rules of deterrence, balance of power, military readiness, and alliances.

The deals with Iran roll right along.

Related:
Argentina: Intolerancia: El gobierno desafía una vez más la libertad de prensa de manera violenta

Did the Argentine Government Kill Alberto Nisman?



Argentina: Nisman wanted Cristina’s arrest UPDATE

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

From The Tower: Documents Found in Prosecutor’s Apartment Shows Intent to Arrest Argentina’s President 

Documents found in the garbage of Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman’s apartment show that he had intended to ask a judge to arrest Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, according to a report (Spanish link) yesterday in Clarin, a Spanish-language newspaper in Argentina.

Clarín’s article points out that Nisman first asked for Cristina’s arrest on a 26-page first draft of June 2014. Clarín has copies of the request for arrest that were found in the garbage can at his home on January 20, two days after he was found dead in his apartment,

According to Clarin, the documents were found in the garbage by police investigating Nisman’s death. A document calling for Kirchner’s arrest was dated June 2014, which is significant because the government has been claiming that Nisman’s decision to call for Kirchner’s arrest was made when he was vacationing in Europe in early January at the behest of unnamed foreign powers who were manipulating the prosecutor.

Is there A Culture of Fear in Argentina? Regarding the civil complaint Nisman filed the week prior to his death, Two judges have declined to take on the case.

Related:
Jonathan Blitzer asks, What Happened to Alberto Nisman?

UPDATE:
Alberto Nisman Death Investigator Claims Bullet Entered From Back of Head, Further Undermining Suicide Claim

Linked to by Neoneocon. Thank you!

Argentina: Cristina wants to dissolve Secretariat of Intelligence

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Let’s keep in mind that the Secretary of Intelligence was first on the murder scene,
Argentina leader wants shakeup after scandal

Kirchner has sent a draft bill to the country’s parliament which, if passed, would mean the Secretariat of Intelligence (SI) is replaced by the Federal Intelligence Agency.

Cristina would have us believe that Nisman, probably one of the most knowledgeable people on Iran’s presence in Latin America, was

a naive investigator who was used by others who fed him false information

I wonder whether anyone believes Kirchner at this point.

However, Alberto Nisman’s death ‘responsibility of pro-Kirchner intelligence operatives’, claims ex-official
Former senior Argentine security official blames presidential loyalist cell for killing of prosecutor as Cristina Kirchner calls for intelligence agency to be dissolved

But in the latest twist to the dramatic saga, the former senior official said that it was in fact Kirchner loyalists in the intelligence services (SI) who were responsible for Mr Nisman’s death.
He said that political operatives from the president’s Peronist faction took control of the SI after she fired its director John Stiusso and his deputy in December for allegedly being too close to the US and Israeli intelligence services.

Why kill Nisman after so many years?

Because, it is alleged, that among the Iranians who participated in the decision to bomb the AMIA buliding was none other than the current president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani.

Juan Zarate underlines why Alberto Nisman’s death is significant,