Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Framing Iran?

By Cernig

My thanks to a regular reader for bringing my attention to a very interesting article by Gareth Porter regarding allegations that the Iranian government was behind the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center in 1994. The Argentinian prosecutor now handling the case, Argentinean Attorney General Dr. Alberto Nisman, has secured Interpol backing for international warrants on six people said to be involved: former Iranian intelligence chief Ali Fallahian; Mohsen Rabbani, former cultural attache at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires; former diplomat Ahmad Reza Asghari; Mohsen Rezaei, former leader of the elite Revolutionary Guards; Ahmad Vahidi, a general in the Revolutionary Guards; and Lebanese Hezbollah militant Imad Moughnieh, one of the world's most sought-after terror suspects. Nisman has said that the motive for the attack was Argentina's decision under US pressure to "suspend and later stop providing Iran with nuclear technology."

The allegations have been used by many hawkish pundits and by "unnamed Bush administration officials" in reporting by the WSJ and others to illustrate "how Tehran has used its overseas embassies and relationship with foreign militant groups, in particular Hezbollah, to strike at its enemies."

But Gareth Porter, in an article for The Nation, writes:
After spending several months interviewing officials at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires familiar with the Argentine investigation, the head of the FBI team that assisted it and the most knowledgeable independent Argentine investigator of the case, I found that no real evidence has ever been found to implicate Iran in the bombing. Based on these interviews and the documentary record of the investigation, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the case against Iran over the AMIA bombing has been driven from the beginning by US enmity toward Iran, not by a desire to find the real perpetrators.
His whole piece is worth a read. It shows that, at every turn, informants thought to be crucial to establishing the case against Iran were later found to be false witnesses even by Argentinian prosecutors but that their allegations nevertheless stuck as part of the narrative implicating Iran. Finally, the entire case came to rest on one eye-witness who Dr. Nisman told Interpol had positively identified the bomber, but who had actually been rather more hesitant and could only say that she saw some "similarity in the face" in one of the suspect's photographs after she was shown a police sketch based on her description after the bombing. She was the only one of some 200 eyewitnesses even to claim to have seen the alledged vehicle used for the bombing and some forensic evidence points to that vehicle not actually being the bomb in the first place.

Even the judge who issued the warrants for the named suspects backed by Interpol admitted to the BBC that the case against Iran wouldn't have proceeded due to lack of evidence tying Iran to the explosion if the US hadn't pressured the Argintinean government to do so. Others watching this investigation have noted other problems with the official narrative too.

Yet more fixing of the facts around the policy?

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