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Op-ed by Dr. Shimon Samuels published in The Jerusalem Post
16 July 2019

International conference on counter-terrorism to open in Buenos Aires

On the 25th anniversary of the AMIA Jewish Center bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentine President Mauricio Macri is slated to open an international conference on counter-terrorism.

This will be a commemoration of the 85 people murdered and more than 300 who were wounded that July 18, 1994.

However, over the proceedings looms the specter of the 86th victim, a personal friend, prosecutor Alberto Nisman, gunned down in the early morning of January 18, 2015.

That morning, Nisman was due to present findings of a lengthy investigation into the atrocity to the Argentine Congress.

A few weeks earlier, he had joined me, my Argentine-born wife and two friends in London, where he shared some of his revelations: Hezbollah nests in nine South American and Caribbean countries; over 90 sleepers in Argentina; Iranian arms delivery to Venezuela and its ALBA bloc allies; Fajar-3 missile launchers on the Venezuelan island of Santa Margarita directed toward Tampa, Florida; narcotics-dealing and money-laundering by Hezbollah in the lawless triple frontier region between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, etc.

The AMIA assault was preceded in 1992 by the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, with 29 dead and more than 100 wounded, the same profile of Iran and Hezbollah is evident in both atrocities.

Over the past 25 years, there have been terrorist assaults all over the world. The importance of AMIA remains in its antisemitic intent and the six “red notice” international arrest warrants of INTERPOL, five of which are still active. Those five are for Iranians, among whom three are known to be close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center identified one from photos at a conference in Mecca and called for his detention by Saudi INTERPOL. He flew back to Tehran the following morning.

Another, then defense minister, was seen in the media to be in Bolivia – an ALBA bloc state – on his way to Chile. Again, Santiago INTERPOL was alerted, but he too fled back to Tehran.

Last year, together with the Henry Jackson Society and the Argentine Embassy in London, we marked the 24th AMIA anniversary in a session of the British Parliament. The United Kingdom, in practicing universal jurisdiction, had detained Gen. Pinochet, the Chilean ex-dictator. Our meeting – featuring an AMIA survivor, an Argentine jurist, a British Queen’s Counsel and an expert on Iranian-sponsored terrorism against British troops – was designed to highlight a situation where one of the five, upon landing on British soil, would be detained with an immediate demand for extradition to Buenos Aires for trial.

A journalist asked me for a comment at INTERPOL headquarters in Lyon, following the successful vote on the red notices. “Those complicit in mass murder can no longer openly visit their Swiss bank accounts, have a good Paris meal or see a New York musical... they can only visit the family.”

Our mentor, Simon Wiesenthal, was a great client in the use of red notices in his arrests of Nazi war criminals.

There is an irony in that Jihadi terrorists have followed the Nazis through similar so-called ratlines to South America.

The 86th victim of the AMIA bombing, Alberto Nisman, walked in the footsteps of Wiesenthal and paid the price of a still unsolved assassination.

The previous Argentine regime tried to smother the truth of Nisman’s murder and was willing to sell out justice through a memorandum of understanding with Tehran to forget AMIA.

The current government seeks transparency and closure for the victims.

President Macri, we salute you, as we mourn for the 86th victim. May your counter-terrorism invitees convince their governments to ban Hezbollah and cleanse the Americas from its evil presence.

The writer is director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.