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The Tower Magazine: Nisman Tapes Show Backchannel Contacts Between Argentina and Iran

In Alberto Nisman’s Secret Recordings, Revealed, which was published in the July 2015 issue of The Tower Magazine, Eamonn MacDonagh writes that the wiretaps made by Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor who died under mysterious circumstances earlier this year, may provide evidence of collusion between the governments of Argentina and Iran in an effort to pardon the Iranian suspects in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.

Such evidence may be present in the trove of some 41,606 recordings of wire-tapped telephone conversations that Nisman obtained through a court order. What those recordings strongly suggest is that Jorge Alejandro “Yusuf” Khalil, an Argentine citizen now seen as Tehran’s main back-channel interlocutor with the Argentine government, was actively involved in negotiating the fateful Memorandum of Understanding with Iran. This, in Nisman’s view, was designed to have the international arrest warrants against the five Iranian suspects in the AMIA atrocity dropped, thus putting an end to Argentina’s demand to extradite them for trial.

The Memorandum of Understanding between Argentina and Iran was agreed to in January 2013, and established a “truth commission” consisting of Argentine and Iranian representatives to establish Iran’s role in the AMIA bombing. (Similarly, the recently concluded nuclear deal with Iran call for the establishment of a commission—which will include an Iranian representative—that will determine if Iran violated terms of the deal.)

After the memorandum was concluded, Nisman recorded a call between Jorge Alejandro “Yusuf” Khalil, an Argentine with ties to Iran, and Luis D’Elia, an adviser to Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

January 28, 2013, Khalil and D’Elía:
Khalil: Right, and another point, listen to me now; if the media call you today, try to keep a low profile for ten days at least.
D’Elía: Okay.
Khalil: I know why I am telling you this, later, tomorrow, I will explain to you.
D’Elía: No, no, no, Parrilli just told me the same thing.
Khalil: Because they have just called me and told me that those on the other side are up in arms, do you see, and we don’t want […] and we don’t want any of our players to run any risks, no risks at all, and we don’t want anyone breaking their balls.
D’Elía: Good, perfect.

MacDonagh observed:

This sounds very much like Khalil giving instructions to D’Elía to keep his mouth shut in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the signing of the Memorandum with Iran. From this recording it seems clear that Khalil is the top dog in this relationship.

The recordings suggest that many Argentines with ties to the presidency served as interlocutors between the two governments to help Iran get away with mass murder. However, a recent court ruling determined that Argentina’s government will not pursue Nisman’s investigation further.

Despite the evidence accumulated by Nisman, nothing is likely to happen that will obtain justice for the AMIA victims, or for Nisman, any time soon.

Nothing like that is going to happen now, at least while the current Argentine government remains in power and even afterwards, until its loyalists placed in the legal system have been removed or they resign. With Nisman dead, the driving force behind the investigation into the AMIA attack and the cover-up that followed has been removed from the scene. With the noble exceptions of Prosecutors Gerardo Pollicita and Germán Moldes, who did what they could to advance Nisman’s complaint, the other actors in the Argentine judicial system charged with examining it have reacted with a mixture of spasms of fear and snorts of contempt.

[Photo: Franco Pereira / YouTube ]