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Cablegate: Argentina: Jewish Community Leaders Tell

VZCZCXYZ0002
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #1651/01 3381858
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031858Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2615
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 001651

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER PREL ASEC SNAR SCUL AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: JEWISH COMMUNITY LEADERS TELL
AMBASSADOR THEY WILL PUSH AMIA INVESTIGATION TO GO AFTER
"LOCAL CONNECTION"

REF: (A) BUENOS AIRES 1598 (B) BUENOS AIRES 1420 AND
PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Summary: Leaders of the Argentine Jewish Mutual
Association (AMIA) told the Ambassador November 28 that they
are satisfied with prosecutor Alberto Nisman's work in going
after the Iranian authors and perpetrators of the 1994 AMIA
bombing that killed 85 persons, but they believe he now needs
to show some results in going after the terrorists' "local
connection." They also said they were publicly urging the
Supreme Court to decide favorably on the admissibility of the
bulk of evidence produced in the original judicial inquiry.
On December 1, leaders of the American Jewish Congress (AJC)
echoed these concerns with the Ambassador and indicated that
they would raise the issue on December 2 with President
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The AJC leaders also
expressed concern that Venezuela's President Chavez is
helping Iran establish greater influence in Latin America.
End summary.

2. (SBU) AMIA Secretary General Julio Schlosser, Vice
President Angel Barman, and board member Agustin Zbar called
on the Ambassador November 28 to convey their concern about
an unsigned diatribe against them that appeared in "Buenos
Aires Econimco" (BAE) on November 19. The article
mischaracterized a November 7 meeting that staffdel Quilter
had with AMIA representatives (ref A, paras 15 & 16), and
claimed that AMIA and another Jewish community organization,
DAIA, were intent on absolving a former judge who is under
investigation for alleged irregularities in his oversight of
the first judicial inquiry into the AMIA bombing.

3. (SBU) In the meeting, Schlosser, Barman, and Zbar did not
dwell on the BAE article. Instead, they praised the work of
prosecutor Alberto Nisman in going after the Iranian authors
and perpetrators of the AMIA bombing, but also urged that he
show some results in going after the terrorists' "local
connection." They said the prosecutor should focus on basic
questions, such as who purchased the truck that was used in
the bombing, who had telephone contact with the bombers, and
who intervened to transfer AMIA's police detail on the day of
the bombing. They also questioned the priority the GOA was
placing on the investigation of the alleged cover-up and
protection of the "local connection," insisting that former
DAIA president Ruben Beraja was beyond reproach and had been
wrongfully charged in the investigation.

4. (SBU) The AMIA leaders also said they were publicly urging
the Supreme Court to decide favorably on the admissibility of
the bulk of evidence produced in the original judicial
inquiry. They said that if the Supreme Court failed to
single out the evidence that had been "compromised" and
instead tossed out all the evidence, that would essentially
obviate any chance of a successful prosecution.

5. (U) AMIA issued a press release November 27 making points
that tracked with those outlined above.

Meeting with American Jewish Committee
--------------------------------------

6. (SBU) On December 1, leaders of the American Jewish
Committee (AJC) echoed these concerns with the Ambassador and
indicated that they would urge President Cristina Fernandez
de Kirchner (CFK) to pursue the local connection in the AMIA
attack more aggressively. The Ambassador observed that CFK
views herself as an international human rights defender and
had continued her husband and former President Nestor
Kirchner's policy to call on the Iranian government to
extradite the Iranian suspects of the AMIA attack to
Argentina. When asked whether Argentina proactively lobbies
other countries in Latin America on Iran, poloff noted the
GOA's recent efforts to weigh in with its neighbors on UN
General Assembly resolutions sanctioning Iran.

7. (SBU) AJC leaders also expressed concern that Venezuela's
President Chavez is helping Iran establish a greater presence
in Latin America. They asked whether such efforts were
gaining ground in Argentina. The Ambassador stated that
bilateral relations between Iran and Argentina are
non-existent. When asked about Argentine-Iranian trade, he
explained that Argentina sells soy and other commodities to
Iran on the open market just like any other country and that
Iran had been purchasing significantly more recently from
Argentina. The AJC leaders said they would also flag their
concern with GOA leaders. They clearly did so with Justice
Minister Anibal Fernandez on December 2, as initial press
reports out after the meeting quoted him as saying commercial
trade with Iran would cease. The Minister's office later
told the press those reports were incorrect.
KELLY

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