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Viewing cable 08BUENOSAIRES702, ARGENTINA: AMIA PROSECUTOR REQUESTS ARREST OF MENEM AND OTHERS FOR ""LOCAL CONNECTION"" COVER-UP REF: A. 1998 BUENOS AIRES 05826 B. 2004 BUENOSAIRES 2540 C. BUENOS AIRES 646 AND PREVIOUS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08BUENOSAIRES702 2008-05-22 22:10 2011-03-02 00:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Buenos Aires
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0702/01 1432253
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 222253Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1124
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
155163,5/22/2008 22:53,08BUENOSAIRES702,"Embassy Buenos Aires",CONFIDENTIAL,08BUENOSAIRES64698BUENOSAIRES5826,"VZCZCXYZ0000PP RUEHWEBDE RUEHBU #0702/01 1432253ZNY CCCCC ZZHP 222253Z MAY 08FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRESO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1124INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITYRHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITYRHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITYRHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITYRHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY","C O N F I D E N T I A L BUENOS AIRES 000702 SIPDIS WHA FOR A/S SHANNON, DAS MCMULLEN AND DMCCARTHY WHA/BSC FOR DRUCKER, FRIEDMAN, AND SHOWELL NEA/IR FOR HWOOSTER S/CT FOR VIRGINIA PALMER AND ARNOLD SIERRA NSC FOR GREG GATJANIS AND JUAN ZARATE FBI FOR CTD IRAN-HIZBALLAH UNIT AND ASSISTANT DIRECTOR TOM FUENTES OIO AMERICAS UNIT 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/22/2028 TAGS: PTER PREL PGOV KJUS AR FBI

SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: AMIA PROSECUTOR REQUESTS ARREST OF MENEM AND OTHERS FOR ""LOCAL CONNECTION"" COVER-UP REF: A. 1998 BUENOS AIRES 05826 B. 2004 BUENOSAIRES 2540 C. BUENOS AIRES 646 AND PREVIOUS 

Classified By: DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION THOMAS P. KELLY FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D) 

1. (C) Summary:   Alberto Nisman, Argentina's Special Prosecutor to investigate the 1994 terrorist attack against the Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, has requested the arrest of 
former President Carlos Menem, former federal judge Juan Galeano, and others for their alleged role in covering up and protecting the ""local connection"" involved in the attack (ref A).  Both Menem and Galeano have publicly claimed that the accusations are politically-motivated.  Galeano added that the accusation is an attempt to divert public attention from the country's current problems, alluding to the ongoing farmers' strike.  After the news broke, Legatt contacted 
Nisman, who apologized for not giving us the heads-up and explained that family members of the victims had pressured him to rectify the mistakes of the previous investigation. Nisman stated that he had not considered the international implications of the announcement, and offered to offered to sit down with the Ambassador and Legatt to discuss next steps.  Post will follow up with Nisman and other relevant GOA authorities.  Although it is too early to tell why Nisman chose to make the announcement now, in the past he has told us privately that he aspires to a federal judgeship.  His decision to pursue the local connection may be an attempt to }}ingratiate himself with President Cristina Fernandez de }
Kirchner (CFK) by going after one of her political enemies. End Summary.  ---------------------------------- AMIA ""Local Connection"" Reexamined ----------------------------------  2.  (C)  Francisco Larcher, Under Secretary for Argentina's national intelligence agency (SIDE), told visiting FBI Deputy Director John Pistole and the Ambassador May 22 that criminal charges were to be announced later that day concerning the ""local connection"" (ref A) in the 1994 terrorist bombing of the AMIA investigation.  In his carefully crafted comments, 
Larcher did not specify names, and reference to the ""local connection"" was understood to be phase two of the AMIA investigation, focused on individuals based in the Tri-border Area (TBA) who provided logistical support for the attack.  3. (SBU) Later on May 22, it became clear what Larcher was alluding to.  Local media reported that AMIA Special }Prosecutor Alberto Nisman had requested the arrest of former President (and currently Senator) Carlos Menem for his alleged role in covering up and protecting the ""local connection"" (ref A) in the 1994 AMIA terrorist bombing that killed 85 persons.  Nisman also requested that federal judge Ariel Lijo, who is presiding over the court case looking into }he mishandling of the first AMIA investigation, issue an arrest warrant for Menem's brother Munir Menem, former Chief of Intelligence (SIDE) Hugo Anzorreguy, former Undersecretary of Intelligence Juan Carlos Anchezar, former federal judge Juan Jose Galeano, and former federal police counterterrorism 
chief Jorge ""Fino"" Palacios.  Nisman has accused them of protecting Alberto Kannore Edul, Jr., who is suspected of facilitating the local logistics of carrying out the attack for former Iranian Cultural Attache and suspect Moshen Rabbani.  4. (C) The first investigation into the AMIA case was widely considered to have been botched, leading to the acquittal in 2004 of the local stolen car ring used to procure the vehicle }sed in the terrorist attack (ref B).  According to one press article, Nisman decided to reexamine this aspect of the case, citing evidence that Kanoore had called former suspect and chop-shop operator Carlos Telleldin on July 10 -- the day the 
truck that would be used in the attack left Telleldin's possession.  When Kanoore was asked why he made the call, he first said his chauffeur made the call, then later acknowledged that he made the call to confirm the purchase of the truck.  In addition, Kanoore's contact book included the contact information for Moshen Rabbani.  The truck was alsoseen passing a vacant lot close to Kannore's home five minutes before the attack occurred, the article reported. 
5. (SBU) The article goes on to state that Nisman's complaint alleges that federal judge Galeano ordered authorities to wiretap Kanoore's telephone calls eleven days after the attack and the discovery that Kanoore had called Telleldin. The wiretaps continued until August 8, when an unnamed ex-SIDE official called off the wiretap.  In addition, the transcripts and tapes of the phone conversations disappeared 
from Galeano's office.  Galeano later gave a declaration where he admitted that when he arrested Kanoore to interrogate him, he had received a call from Munir Menem who expressed interest in the case.  The Kanoores and Menems are reportedly from the same town in Syria, prompting the press to label this as the ""Syrian lead"", the article continued.--------------------------------------------- ----- Menem Rejects the Charges as Politically Motivated ----------------------- ----- 6. (SBU) Menem and Galeano rejected the accusations as politically motivated.  Leading daily, ""La Nacion,"" quoted Menem saying that the Kirchners were using this to deflect attention from their own activities, such as the ""valijagate"" scandal(ref C).  In an interview with ""Perfil,"" known for its independence and often critical assessments of the Kirchner administration, Galeano claims that the accusations were contrived to divert attention from the country's current problems, alluding to the Kirchners' continued problems with the long-standing farm strike.  Sergio Burstein of the Friends and Family of AMIA Victims Association stated that if Nisman's request is approved, it would be the first step towards learning the truth behind the attack.  -------------------------- Nisman's Side of the Story 

--------------------------7.  (C)  Shortly after the news broke, Legatt contacted Nisman to get his side of the story.  Nisman apologized for 
not giving us the heads-up and explained that family members of the victims had been pressuring him to rectify the mistakes of the previous investigation.  He said he wanted to make the announcement ahead of the July anniversary of the attack and that the timing was not intended to coincide with Pistole's visit.  He maintained that it was his obligation as a prosecutor to charge someone when an offense is identified. 8.  (C)  When Legatt noted that the announcement may once again prompt the Iranian government to question the credibility or impartiality of the investigation, Nisman said it should not, maintaining that this was what the Argentine justice system should have done in the first place.  Upon further reflection, however, Nisman conceded the point and 
stated that he had not considered the implications of the announcement on the international investigation.  Legatt told 
Nisman that the Ambassador is concerned and wished that 
Nisman had given us prior notice.  Nisman again apologized 
and offered to sit down with the Ambassador and Legatt to discuss next steps.  Post will follow up with Nisman and other relevant GOA authorities.  ------Comment -------  9. (C) Details of the criminal charges against Menem and the other suspects came as a surprise to Post, which up until now had an excellent and fluid relationship with Nisman, primarily via our Legatt Office.  In conversations with Nisman two years ago, Legatt officers recommended that he focus on the perpetrators of the terrorist attack and not on the possible mishandling of the first investigation.  Such  action would only confuse the victims' families and distract from the hunt for the real culprits. 10. (C) We find Nisman's explanation wanting, given that SIDE gave us a heads-up earlier in the day, albeit cryptically. In the past, Nisman has privately told us, and former colleagues have confirmed, that he aspires to a federal judgeship.  His decision to pursue the ""local connection"" may be an attempt to ingratiate himself with President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner by going after one of her political enemies, but it is too early to tell.  In the end, Nisman may become a witness in his own investigation since he was an assistant prosecutor during the early stages of he nvestigation and intimately involved with the former prosecutors who also face charges of malfeasance. WAYNE