It reads like a spy movie: a dead prosecutor, an alleged cover-up, a terror attack and Hezbollah operatives, but this saga played out in real life.
The story of Alberto Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor who was investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires is still far from over. He claimed Iran was involved and the Argentine government covered up that involvement. Soon after he presented his argument, he was found dead in his apartment with a bullet wound to the back to his head on January 19th, 2015. While initially deemed a suicide by then-President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the overwhelming consensus was that Nisman was murdered. As of now, no one has been charged with Nisman’s death and it was considered a “suspicious death” by the Argentine police. With the US government considering new sanctions on the terror group Hezbollah, the group that was allegedly behind the 1994 bombing and was allegedly funded by Iran, and the administration’s increasingly anti-Iran rhetoric, Nisman’s case is now more important than ever, as it shines a light on Iran’s overseas activities. If we ever want to find out exactly what happened to this prosecutor, we must consider all the players involved.
First, we have Iran and Argentina, two sovereign states. While Argentina’s largest trading partner is Brazil, Iran and Argentina do conduct business together. Argentina is very energy-poor, meaning it has to import oil and other energy sources. But Argentina has a large agriculture industry, with agriculture making up 11.4 percent of the country’s GDP. Iran, on the other hand, is practically drowning in oil, but US sanctions make it hard for the country to benefit from the international economy. Enter Argentina, needing cheap oil and offering agriculture products in exchange, and is willing to conduct trade with Iran. They made a deal: Argentina would get oil “at preferential prices” and the Iranians would get beef and grain, not to mention a friend on the world stage. Everything started in 2011, when the Argentine foreign minister secretly met Iran’s then-foreign minister. The two allegedly discussed the deal: the Argentine government “was ready” to drop its efforts to bring the Iranian suspects behind the 1994 bombing to justice while reopening “full ties” with Iran. When Nisman allegedly exposed this deal, the Iranians had every reason to want him dead, as the alleged deals never went through, so the Iranians still thought they had a chance.
Then we have Hezbollah, the Shia terror group. Hezbollah arose in 1985 during the Lebanese civil war. They have close ties to Iran and have acted on behalf of Tehran. Hezbollah operatives were the ones who allegedly carried out the 1994 bombing. As they have carried out numerous attacks against Israel, the group has been targeted by US sanctions under successive US administrations.
Now, as the Trump administration is considering turning up the heat on both Hezbollah and Iran, considering Iran’s overseas actions will be of great importance. Iran is, according to the US government, a “state sponsor” of terrorism, meaning they fund and support terrorist activities outside their own borders. The 1994 bombing was evidence of their support for terrorist groups. If the Trump administration wants to prove that they are more than just rhetoric, they should follow through on their words and sanction both Iran and Hezbollah.