The two South Florida Representatives in charge of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee are urging Congress to honor the work of an Argentinian prosecutor who was a staunch U.S. ally against terrorism.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the chairwoman of the subcommittee, and U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., the ranking Democrat on it, introduced a resolution honoring Alberto Nisman, the Argentinian prosecutor who handled the Argentina Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) case. The AMIA in Buenos Aires was bombed in 1994, killing 85 people and wounding hundreds. Nisman insisted that Iran was encouraging terrorist attacks in South America and is working to expand operations in that part of the world. While Nisman’s death in early 2015 was fir ruled a suicide, investigators now believe it was a homicide.
“Murdered three years ago for investigating Iran and its proxy Hezbollah’s role in the AMIA terror attack, Alberto Nisman was fearless in his fight against corruption and terrorism in Argentina," Ros-Lehtinen said when she brought out the resolution. "Despite constant threats, Alberto relentlessly pursued those responsible for the deadly attack in order to bring them to justice. As he continued gathering evidence that pointed toward Hezbollah, I met with him several times in Washington, DC to talk about his findings and how to protect our hemisphere from the Iranian threat.
“With this resolution, we seek to continue Alberto’s vital work, urge transparency in the investigation of both Alberto’s murder and the AMIA bombing, and finally, once and for all, hold Iran accountable for its senseless and despicable crimes against Buenos Aires’ Jewish community,” Ros-Lehtinen added.
“Alberto Nisman committed himself to uncovering the truth of the horrific AMIA bombing that killed 85 and injured hundreds of others,” Deutch said. “He refused to let Iran or Hezbollah get away with this act of terrorism, and he refused to let corrupt officials cover up the facts and wash their hands of this horrible attack. His hard work was not in vain, and this resolution honors his legacy and urges full transparency on the circumstances of his death and the AMIA bombing investigation.”
More than two decades later, the AMIA bombing continues to shape Argentine politics including opponents of former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner hammering her on the matter, insisting she covered up Iran’s involvement.
Ros-Lehtinen’s and Deutch’s resolution was sent to the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. A similar bill in the Senate is being backed by U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Last month, Ros-Lehtinen joined key Republicans on Capitol Hill in asking the Trump administration to crack down on Hezbollah’s activities in the Western Hemisphere and pointed to Nisman’s fight against that group in Argentina.
Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, and U.S. Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee sent President Donald Trump a letter calling on tougher actions against Hezbollah’s drug trafficking in the Western Hemisphere. The three congressional Republicans called on the White House to designate Hezbollah as a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) and as a Designated Kingpin Entity (SDNTK). They also called on an investigation into Hezbollah’s criminal activities under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
“We are concerned over press reports that the Obama Administration may have inhibited efforts by the U.S. Departments of Justice, Treasury, and State to target and prosecute key Hezbollah operatives engaged in terrorism, drug trafficking, and organized crime,” they wrote Trump. “Addressing Hezbollah’s illicit activities in the Western Hemisphere has been a top U.S. Congressional priority for many years as demonstrated by multiple oversight hearings and visits to the region. These efforts, along with findings by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, have uncovered direct ties between Hezbollah and criminal groups in the region that have reportedly allowed Hezbollah to amass nearly $1 billion annually to support its global terrorist operations.”
They also pointed to Hezbollah’s activities in Latin America.
“In June 2017, an individual with alleged ties to Hezbollah was indicted in Miami after being extradited to the U.S. by Paraguay, and one individual was arrested for attempting to provide support to Hezbollah in targeting U.S. and Israeli embassies in Panama,” the three congressional Republicans wrote. “These events follow the 2014 arrest of a Hezbollah operative in Peru, the Iranian-linked assassination attempt on the Saudi Ambassador in 2011, and the terrorist attacks against two Jewish targets in Argentina in the 1990s as well as the assassination of former Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman in 2015, who uncovered evidence of Iran and Hezbollah’s role in these attacks.”