Armed Soldiers Outside SWC Paris offices; A Courageous Campaigner for AMIA’s Victims Found Dead in Buenos Aires

From Paris to Buenos Aires – Updates from the Center’s Offices

January 21, 2015

Buenos Aires -  “I would say he was an enemy for the Tehran regime,” Sergio Widder, Latin American Director told The Wall Street Journal over the death of AMIA Jewish Center Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman. 

Photo: Sergio Widder at a rally following the death of Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, with Sofia Guterman, mother of AMIA bombing victim Andrea, one of the 85 murdered in the 1994 AMIA bombing.

Just hours before Special Prosecutor Alberto Nisman was scheduled to testify before the Argentine Congress about his accusations that Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman, members of the Congress and radical activists were implicated in a cover-up operation that would disengage the Iranian suspects from the AMIA terror attack, he was found dead in his apartment. Nisman traced the links from the Iranian leaders who ordered the attack, to the Hezbollah operatives who planned its execution, formally charging Iran and Hezbollah in 2006.

Police are claiming it was a suicide, but thousands of protestors are not convinced. Evidence released today casts doubt on that claim. SWC Latin American Director Sergio Widder attended the mass rally protesting Nisman’s mysterious death in capital city’s Plaza de Mayo Square. “I would say he was an enemy for the Tehran regime,” Sergio Widder, Latin American Director told The Wall Street Journal.

At the end of 2014, the SWC warned about the increasingly alarming activities of Hezbollah in South America to Secretary-General of the Union of South American Nations. At the time, Widder also pointed to information released a year earlier by Prosecutor Nisman, warning of Iranian and Hezbollah sleeper cells in nine countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay.

– Dr. Shimon Samuels, SWC International Relations Director reports on today's climate in Paris from the Center’s European headquarters:

Photo: Dr. Samuels with two of the armed soldiers, photographed from behind for security reasons, in front of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Paris office.

“Following the deadly terror attacks, security has been elevated with armed soldiers all over Paris. Nine soldiers have been assigned to our building: two at the front, two at the back, and an additional five as a night surveillance squad bunked down in one of our meeting rooms. The lieutenant in charge of the operation shared with me that after forty years of action in French overseas territories, it was now important to protect the homeland.

In the same block as our offices, which serve as the neighborhood headquarters, there are also two synagogues and a kosher restaurant with army units posted at each location. Our office staff and volunteers, though relieved, wonder how long they will be with us. We have recommended to the authorities that they publicly announce that plainclothes guards will be in the area to deter prospective assailants once the impressive military defense is eventually removed. Armored command cars are stationed at junctions in the neighborhood ready to mount checkpoints against hostile vehicles.

While this may be like an image of war, many neighboring residents have protested this as ‘overkill’. This past Shabbat, under army protection, the synagogues were overflowing, unlike the week prior where the synagogues were closed.”