EVENT TRANSCRIPT: IN THE SHADOW OF THE AMIA BOMBING: GLOBAL TERROR AND THE THREAT TODAY
DATE: 5:30-7pm 18/7/18
VENUE: Committee Room 2, House of Lords, Westminster, London, SW1A 0AA United Kingdom
SPEAKERS: His Excellency Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano; Dr. Shimon Samuels; Anita ;Weinstein; Michael Caplan QC; Dr. Ariel Gelblung; Tom Wilson.
Chair It’s very nice to see so many people here this evening for this event, which marks the anniversary of the bombing of the Jewish Cemetary in Buenos Aires 24 years ago, We’re also strictly time limited as we have to finish at 7pm. We will begin with Dr Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
Dr Simon Samuels: Thank you, first of all I’d like to thank Lord Trimble for hosting us here and the Henry Jackson Society for their help here. Why the Amia bombings are so important today, and why here in the palace of Westminster? Amia was preceeded two years earlier by another that left 29 dead and close to 100 wounded, Amia left 85 dead and over 300 wounded. Why is it so special? There are so many acts of terror, even here in London. That is because it has a special status that is almost unique. My late (inaudible) Simon Weisenthal worked very closely with Interpol looking for nazi war criminals and he did that for over 50 years. This was to demonstrate to young people that how ever long it took, longevity was no cause for impunity and that mass murder including terrorism should have no statute of limitations. So five of the six interpol red notice sought Iranians implicated in the Amia Bombings are still active, only last week an argentine judge requested extradition of one of them from Moscow. We dediace this meeting to the memory of the 86 victims of the Amia atrocity. A victim fo that atrocity was (inaudible) was assassinated that morning, he was due to present a explosive report in the argentine congress.A few weeks before his murder, My wife and I and some good friends dined with (inaudible) in London, he was on a visit with his daughter, he shared with us some of his findings on Iranian and Hezbollah activity in America and the Caribbean, and so we hope this evening will comfort the families of terror victims everywhere and there will be closure in the pursuit of justice. And in fact, the Bible invokes ‘justice justice you shall pursue’. Why twice ‘Justice’? Because it has both a motor or an actor or a subject, and an objective and tonight that actor is the British Parliament. I have two messages, I had them (inaudible) somewhat, one is from AMIA, It has been 135 years of the Amia jewish community in Argentina, providing thousands of people welfare and education, nowadays working far beyond the margins of the Jewish community. Unfortunately, for the last 24 years we have had to lead the claim for justice after terrorists caused more suffering. It was the most significant attack against civilians since the horrors of the second world war, a task the leaders of a minority community should not be seeking out, a task that far exceeds our ordinary responsibilities. We are deeply grateful for the initiative of the Simon Weisenthal Society and The Henry Jackson Society in undertaking to give international visibility, not only to our claim for justice but also the Iranian dependence that Interpol warrants were issued. Please (inaudible) on behalf of all those who stand by us as a society who wants to live in peace. The Second message is from the Head of the Organisation of American States, an international organisation of the 35 member states of Latin America, North America and the Caribbean. He states that, ‘ I want to express my support in joining you in this solemn ceremony, in commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the terrorist attack. That fateful morning, the morning of July 18th, the explosion of powerful bomb to which we awoke, this terror attack is part of a pattern of violence against the Jewish people, of the work of Hitler who’s worse than the genocidal manifestations of the holocaust, the tragedy and compound the fact of those responsible for terrorist atrocity are still at large. I reaffirm my commitment to combat and making our continent a terrorist free zone. In sum, we support all those who work to ensure that those responsible for this heinous terrorist crime see that justice be served.
Chair: We are honoured to have with us this evening Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano
His Excellency Renato Carlos Sersale di Cerisano: Thank you for having me, it’s following the invitation of Simon Samuels, it’s a pleasure and I feel personally and institutionally committed with the cause that he is following, so we have here a message from the Minister of foreign affairs, the 18th July marks another anniversary of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA by (inaudible) Gonzales, who claimed the life of 85 people plus left hundreds injured. This and the bombing of the Israeli embassy in 1992 constituted two major acts of international terrorism in our country’s history. The Argentinian Government are fully committed to seeking justice on behalf of the victims. Our country will not cease in its mission to ensure that all those involved in the attack come before the Argentinian courts in order to be (inaudible) and potentially convicted. (Inaudible). The Argentinian Government would like to express its condolences to the relatives of the victims of those attacks and express its solidarity with them. Argentina condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and believe that acts of terrorism not only hold a threat to international peace and security, but also human dignity. We reaffirm our firm belief that terrorism must be combatted through the rule of law and human rights, with ultimate respect for the law and human rights.
Chair: Thank you very much, we also have with us this evening Dana from the Israeli Embassy.
Dana Erlich: Thank you very much to the Weisenthal Centre, to the Henry Jackson Society, thank you Lord for hosting us and thank you everyone for coming. I was born in Israel but my family is from Argentina and I have the special honour of being here and seeing the importance of events like this on three counts: the personal importance; my family who were so happy when I told them that I was coming tonight and how emotional they were; also taking a moment to remember, to commemorate, to share the commitment for justice here in London; and the national perspective, representing the state of Israel and the embassy of Israel here but also the international call of all of us here, saying that we won’t put up to terror acts and thank you Dr Samuels, as he mentioned, unfortunately the AMIA attack was not the first one in Buenos Aires and it was preceded by the attack at the embassy where a lot of my colleagues at the ministry of foreign affairs lost their lives, lost their loved ones and I think in that sense we share the bond with the Argentinian people, for better or worse, but also in the commitment to bring to justice the responsible people and to fight terror internationally. I had the distinct honour of meeting (inaudible) and he shared one of his biggest frustrations was that (inaudible) Costa Rica (inaudible) did not think that international terror had anything to do with it and the first sentence that he told him was that if anybody in Buenos Aires would’ve told him in ’91 that something like this could’ve happened he would’ve just sent them out of the room because nobody would’ve believed that. And I think that beats the commitment to the people that were affected at the attacks at the terror attacks in ’92, and everybody who lost their families in ’94 but also with the different activities that we still see, not only actions of terror by Hezbollah and Iran just two weeks ago we were informed of another terror plot that Iran was plotting at an event in Paris, so here also in Europe. So sometimes, things might seem far away or long ago but I think the commitment of all of us together seeking and fighting terror. It’s a (inaudible) that we’re making internationally.
Chair: Anita Weinstein is a survivor, she specialises in the Argentine Jewish Community.
Anita Weinstein: Hi, good afternoon, I want to start by thanking very especially Dr Shimon Samuels, Director for International Relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for this invitation which moves me so much. My thanks also to (inaudible), latin American representative, and the hosts that have me here today. July 18th 1994 was a Monday. A day I figured would be very similar to any other Monday a day in which I was going to resume the preparations for the celebration of AMIA’s 100th anniversary, marking 100 years of intense volunteer and professional work on behalf of the strengthening of Jewish life as an integral part of the argentine society. But it was not just an ordinary Monday, it was a day that changed my life forever. It was the day I became the target of terrorism. Of hatred. And fanaticism. Of people who have chosen to kill instead of honour life. Who had chosen to strong and not to build. Who are taught to hate and not to love. I became the survivor of a terrorist attack, concealed the most outrageous anti-Jewish act after WWII, after the holocaust from which my parents had survived. On that Monday, July 18th at 9:53 am a car bomb initiated by a suicide bomber crashed into the ground floor of the AMIA building, the most emblematic institution of the Argentine Jewish Community, killing 85 people, injuring more than 300 and destroying everything around it. On that day, I had entered the building together with my assistants only a few minutes before. We went to the second floor and a few minutes later, I remembered that I had to see a colleague of mine and went out of the office and went to the rear part of the building. That made a great difference. My assistant stayed in the office and she’s one of the 85 killed and I am here. As soon as I got there, we heard a loud explosion, material started to fall from the roof, an intense darkness covered us, dust made it difficult to breathe, everything was trembling, broken glasses were heard falling from the windows, people shouting. At the first moment, we did not understand what had happened, we did not know what to do. My thought went to my assistant, I wanted to go back to her, somebody held my hand and said “Don’t go further, there’s no floor where to stand”. After, I realised that when one is there, your body is there but at the same time your brain gets paralysed. You cannot grasp what is real and for how long this will go on, you lose the sense of time. When finally, someone came to open the door, we could breathe some air and could cling to the next roof. Standing on that roof with a small band of people including a young woman who was sitting on the floor, breastfeeding her baby, we could see the horrible dimension of the bombing. Almost the whole building of AMIA and the buildings across the street were fallen debris. It was the worst image I remember. We came really aware of the enormous impact of the devastating criminal attack, planned and perpetrated by people willing to kill us and destroy AMIA and everything around. None of this mattered to the terrorists who came, financed and executed the bombing, with the help of Argentine accomplices. Hatred, intolerance, and fundamentalist ideologies guided the (inaudible) to Buenos Aires, just as they had guided them when they had perpetrated the attacks here in London, in Tel Aviv, New York or in Madrid. After we finally could get out, I stayed on the near surrounding for hours, I was in a terrible agony, thinking about the people under the debris. I could not go home until late at night I wanted to help in any way possible.
The day after and all the following days I could hear going to the provisional headquarters where AMIA had to reassume its work we had to receive the relatives of the victims, organised in (inaudible). We needed to come from the pain caused by the absence of the victims like my assistant and all the people like myself who had come to AMIA to work, to take care of needy people, or prepare for the future. Paying for the people who had lived in the surroundings or just were bypassers. In an amount of time, I slowly started to be aware that this destruction had to be opposed with my commitment to life. I did not want the terrorist to get away with what they came to do, to kill me, to kill us. I wanted to continue with my personal life. My working in AMIA and the Jewish community in the context of the general society. In my arrival to the (inaudible), I was very inspired by the sentence my mother told me when she gave me a touching hug a few hours after the attack. She then said, I never thought that my daughter would be called a survivor of an anti-jewish attack. She, a survivor of the Holocaust, had wanted to believe that humanity had already understood and learnt some lessons that never again should people be killed based on the hate of the religious, ethnic or ideological preferences. During all these 24 years, I did continue working in AMIA, very focussed on the intent to motivate, especially young people in the preservation of memory and the sustained demand for justice that until now has not been served. I have taken a personal commitment the production of materials about this subject that can help them understand that both justice and memory are essential in grievances in any society. I tried to make them understand that each one of us, whatever place any one stands, has the possibility to contribute to the building of a society respectful of diversity. To the coexistence so that differences cannot become motivators of aggression, violence, or actions, even in taking away the most precious good that we all have: the right to live. On this anniversary, and despite all the years that elapsed, once again I choose life.
Chair: Tom Wilson is a Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society who specialises in the study of extremist groups.
Tom Wilson: Thank you. I think after hearing that, it certainly brings home to all of us, not only the devastating effects of terrorism, but particularly of state-sponsored terrorism. But, in some of the work that I do, and I wonder if some of you also encounter this when discussing this subject, I sometimes find that a particular type of state-sponsored terrorism, that is Iranian state-sponsored terrorism, in this country and also in Europe isn’t always treated with the seriousness that perhaps it might be. Often when it comes to talking about Iranian proxies and Shia militias in Iraq or Houthi rebels in Yemen, it’s all a little bit far away for people, it’s very far away and perhaps they consider it not to be a direct threat. When it comes to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, which have also had Iranian backing, there the problem seems to be even worse. There people’s moral compass seems rather confused. Too often we hear apologetics, people attempting to legitimise these groups, we hear it in our press, sometimes we hear it in our political life. So I thought it might be useful in light of what we just heard about that attack, and the need to drive home, I think, in our political life, to our public and to our politicians, the significance of Iranian state-sponsored terrorism. It might be helpful if we just remind ourselves of two examples of Iranian backed terrorism that I think will very much resonate with the British public and hopefully our politicians. One relates to what has happened to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, of course there’s a wide range of opinion, disagreements over those military activities but I think one thing that I hope we can all be in agreement upon is that the targeting of British soldiers is absolutely unacceptable and abhorrent and yet my concern is that it was never explained to the british public and so hasn’t been explained that when our soldiers were being killed and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was no discussion about where some of the weapons – particularly the IEDS that were doing that – where some of those weapons came from. And our forces experienced in Iraq the same increased sophistication of IEDs that they experienced in Afghanistan and they reason there was the same change is not a coincidence, they were coming from the same place, they were coming from Iran. And our special forces not only intercepted weapons being smuggled from Iran into Afghanistan going to the Taliban where they were intended to kill British and American troops, they also intercepted members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Afghanistan where they would train and finance the Taliban and my concern is that these facts are still not known by our public.
The second point I would make refers to Al Qaeda, people think that Hamaas an Hezbollah are not a driect threat to British civilians, I hope they feel differently about Al Qaeda, and we now know because of what the CIA has made public what was discovered after the raid on Bin Laden’s headquarters, we now know about the extent of Iranian backing of Al Qaeda, starting in the early 1990’s, in Sudan when Al Qaeda met with operatives from Iran who facilitated their training of Hezbollah to carry out bombings like those that were carried out in Kenya and Tanzaniain the embassies there, training them in the bombings that could demolish buildings, like the kind in AMIA. And after the invasion of Afghanistan the coordination became even worse as of course senior figures in Al Qaeda were given sanctuary by Iran, they were sheltered by Iran, some were facilitated to travel to Iraq, people like Al Zaquari to found AlQaeda in Iraq there for what would become the foundations of Islamic State, others carried on masterminding attacks from Iran such as the bombings in 2003 in Saudi Arabia, the attempted attack on the US fleet in Bahrain and in 2015, the Iranians – the Al Quds force – facilitated that leadership travelling to Syria to carry on the conflict there. I’ll mention one particular figure before I conclude, who the Iranian’s sheltered before he fled to Afghanistan and that was Abu Musab Al-Suri and he is one of the most important masterminds in Islamist terrorism. He was the man who, through his 2005 global Islamic resistance call, masterminded the kind of low-tech, lone-wolf terrorism that we’ve seen on the streets of this city, killing British people using a knife, using a vehicle, using online to facilitate those kind of attacks, he masterminded that and launched that plan in 2005. If he had been or captured in 2001 during the invasion of Afghanistan, he never would’ve been able to do that. We have Iran to blame for the fact that he lived on. Just to reiterate, it’s certainly my intention and I would encourage anyone else, whenever you’re having a conversation about Iran and politicians, perhaps reiterate those two points. That Iran provided the weapons for the killing of our troops, and that Iran sheltered, facilitated and helped out Al Qaeda.
Chair: Dr. Ariel Gelblubg is a founding member of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Latin America.
Dr. Ariel Gelblubg: The first question question all you people in England are asking is why 24 years after, the case is still open. What happened? Why? There are many answers about this but you have to know that we don’t have one case, we have 4 cases. Two of them are investigating the two governments that were in charge. They are under trial because they were trying to cover up what happened and their investigation. The first judge is under trial all he did was declare new (inaudible). The second one, the last government we had until 2015, the president and the former foreign minister are under trial because they signed a memorandum of understanding with Iran to put an end to the case. The third one, the third case, is the investigation of the murder of the prosecutor of the police. We think it’s related, his murder with the case, with the investigation. And we have the case itself. We have no judicial assistance, we have no judgement incentive, so we need that the accused has to be there to be judged. So we need the help of the international community, to grab them, to send them to Argentina so they can be judged. I know – here’s the ambassador – I know what he says it’s real: that the government is committed with the case. Last week one of the accused was present in Russia, and after that he went to China and the government did, and the judge they did all they had to do to ask for the detention and extradition of them. But it did not happen so this is some of the answers I can give to you, the other side, we get them in a questions that you’ll ask, thank you.
Chair: Michael Caplan is a senior partner in a law firm here, specialising in international and domestic criminal law.
Michael Caplan QC: Thank you very much. Now, I’ve been asked to say a few words about the legal position and is there any realistic prospect of those responsible being brought to justice and I look at this, of course from a legal point of view. You probably don’t realise it but we’re sitting in a most important room here, a room which is one of the foremost as far as international justice is concerned, the reason for that is you all would’ve heard the supreme court sits over the other side of parliament square, well that’s a new building. Up until last few years, the House of Lords judicial committee was the most important court in this country and used to sit in these committee rooms with the Lordships sitting round here and the barristers and advocates sitting along there and being kicked all around the room on international arguments, so it’s very potent and poignant that we are sitting here today. This was a crime against humanity, that’s how it was described by the judge in issue of the arrest warrants. I just want to explore in the next few moments what a red notice means, is it possible for a trial to take place for example in this country or if not this country can they be tried elsewhere. So what does a red notice mean? Well if an international arrest warrant in this case by the judge in Argentina he can and did in this case send that to Interpol. Interpol is a service you would have heard of, there are a number of members of Interpol, in fact well over 150, when I last looked I think it was 193, and it includes all the countries you would think of, including some who seem to give it lip service and don’t seem to think much of it – and that’s a difficulty, a real difficulty. If those arrest warrants are sent to Interpol, Interpol then issues a red notice, and what a red notice is – it’s difficult to understand it – it’s a notice which is sent out by Interpol to all its member states, its picked up by the bureau which is in each individual state, there’s one in this country, there’s one for example in Russia, which I shall come to in a moment and that’s policed by individuals, normally by police officers of that particular country, and that is a direction to that police force that if that person enters the country or is found to be in the country, they should be stopped and detained. Detained effectively means detained, pending a request from that country that has asked for that person to be detained, so for example, and I’m afraid I’ve had many calls late at night in this country, when someone’s been subject to a red notice, they’re detained by the police, the police have contacted the country that has requested that, and that country has said ‘we want that person arrested’, there’s no reason whatsoever why that shouldn’t take place in the individual countries and that person shouldn’t go through the extradition process. This country is particularly structured, we do have arrangements with Argentina, they are complex and complicated, quite rightly I won’t go into them – they’re difficult if anyone wants to know about them, but the person is detained and arrested and remains in the country as a fugitive until those extradition proceedings are continued and carried out. Now, the reason why I mention it in those details. What argentina clearly did in this country was to send information to Interpol and the red notice went out but it isn’t quite straight forward. You might think that should happen in every case but there are some countries who decide not to send out the red notice, the reason being that if someone is detained, wherever they are detained is the country from which there has to be the extradition, so that there are some countries – particularly one – who didn’t take kindly to sending out necessarily the request to Interpol as they hope that someone would for example would detain them in this country as the arrangements for detention as they are were relatively straightforward and the US thought that was a good idea. If they had to do it in another country, they’d be forced to deal with that other country. Now, we know last week, some of those, at least one of which there was a red notice sent back from Russia to Argentina, yet there has been no explanation as to why those extradition proceedings have not moved forward in that country. Now I’m not an expert as you’ll appreciate in the extradition arrangements between Argentina and Russia, but there is in force an extradition treaty, it was signed by Putin and Kerchner I think in July 2014. There really should be a proper explanation as to why judicially – not concerned about the politics, politics should not come into this – why judicially what was a move that was not moved forward, and the person upon whom there was a red notice given by Interpol, by Russia and Argentina and all other countries wasn’t stopped and detained, why it went through. We might get an explanation but we might not because I hate to tell you but Russia is not terribly forthcoming in explanation for why they don’t arrest someone and allow extradition proceedings to move forward.
Second to this, if you can’t do it that way, you could for example, for one of these people for whom there has been an arrest warrant issued, could they be detained in this country or be tried in this country, the answer is almost certainly not, but interestingly enough we can try people for crimes that occur outside the UK if they are a British Citizen and they committed homicide, murder or manslaughter they can be tried in this country. There are problems with evidence with that that I won’t go into now. The second instance is that we do have extra territorial jurisdiction where there’s torture in place and we do try from time to time people who’ve alleged committed torture in countries not far away from here. But, can I float this idea as a possibility? We have moved sadly since these events took place in 1994, we certainly have moved the possibility of a third country hosting a trial where either two countries for whatever reason don’t want it to take place in their country. The example of course is the Lockerbie Bombing. There was a trial which took place in the Netherlands, it was a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands as many people were sceptical about it, thought it would never happen – I have to confess, I thought it was highly unlikely to happen but it did happen – As to whether it was successful is another matter, but there is an opportunity there possibly if there could be a dialogue for example with Iran, I see no reason why it shouldn’t be about a trial taking place because after all Lockerbie was a (inaudible) and who thought it would ever take place in Scotland and Libya. The third possibility of course is whether these events take place and whether the world is not a safer place as we know since this. We have found that there is another way, these type of rebel activities and crimes against humanity could be tried elsewhere. And of course since then, there has been the birth of the international criminal court, and the Rome statute that created that accord is 20 years old this week and there have been various celebrations about it. I personally am a great supporter of the court, I think it is something that should be moved forward, there are a number of detractors, there are problems with it, there are a number of countries who don’t subscribe to it and I understand their reason but I think somehow they should be accommodated for I think if we don’t move forward and if we don’t have a base on which people can be tried for crimes such as this then peoplee will not be brought to book and these terrible heinous acts will continue as we see.
Chair: Well I’d like to thank all the people who’ve spoken so far who’ve said things fairly quickly, we’ve got through to the point where we now have a fairly good period for questions and observations.
Q1: I’d like to get an idea whether there’s been a final assessment of the investigation I understand, there have been many hours spent looking into this investigation. Where are they in this investigation?
A1: We’re still in the trial. The only thing I can confirm now is that they really say that this was a murder, this was an assassination, and not a suicide as they say. What happened and what else they can say, we will have to wait.
Q2: I want to ask what do you think could be the solution because I’m 100% behind the judicial investigation and sentencing and so on, but what we are talking about the mess between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, the three point frontier, it’s a mess, nobody’s doing anything and if anybody thinks it’s not getting to us, so any time you see a youth dying because of an overdose, thank Hezbollah who invests in opium and not doing anything. It’s a bigger problem, it’s beyond this and how to control them.
A2: the first thing to know is that a long time ago the three governments were not in the same political ideology. When they were close to Venezuela, it was impossible to do something against Hezbollah. Nowadays, I’m doing things that are working against Hezbollah in serious ways, Paraguay detained some of the people who were involved with Hezbollah and last week, we froze the accounts of people who were involved in Argentina. So it’s the first time in 24 years that we are working with what will be happening with Brazil. Let’s see.
Q3: Can I just say first of all, how touched I was by Anita’s description, in my own case it was in ’93, I think it was that a Mercedes car blew up outside of my flat in Moscow. It was a mafia occasion, but I mention only because luckily I was shaving in the bathroom at the rear of the building and we lost all our windows but if I multiply that experience by a million, or a hundred million, then maybe I can get a little feel of Anita’s experience. I don’t know if anyone else here has experienced a car bomb but it’s not a pleasant thing but to move onto the point, if I could merge two Henry Jackson Society meetings together, we had one yesterday over in Portcullis house, and the subject was Extra Territorial murder by Moscow or by Russia and this was the main speaker there was a good friend of mine Marina Litvinenko, now that may ring a bell with some people her husband was murdered by Polomium 210, she is the most wonderful woman and you will also know that we had a public inquiry here only two or three years ago, when a subject or the subject or the perpetrator of that murder – Mr Lugovoi and his accomplice Mr Kovtun – were found guilty. But it’s quite clear since then Mr Lugovoi’s been made a member of parliament, he’s been given an award by Mr Putin, now all that indicates to me that if these perpetrators go to places like Russia then there’s absolutely no chance whatsoever, you will never see the person again. I wish I could be more optimistic, but the point is, this is the way it’s going to happen they will not be released by Moscow once they get there – they will stay there and live a happy life.
A3: I have to be slightly careful in relation to the public inquiry, of course you are right in what you say but can I just say in a caution point of view, an inquiry cannot find anyone guilty or not guilty, but it can indicate what the position is and what that led to is the director of prosecutions indicating that they would like to put forward tried individuals. The Russian extradition treaty does not let them extradite their own nationals so that’s the Russian constitution, there are other constitutions around the world that similarly do not allow that. Now that means of course that if a Russian is in Russia they will never be extradited to this country. It’s not quite as good news for them as they think as of course if they travel to another country then of course they could be stopped and of course then be tried – could be extradited to this country. Coming onto the wider issue, how do we bring people to these circmstances to be tried, because up to now, in most cases it’s failed, and the answer really is, it seems to me is that it has be a buy in of all the countries around the world to agree that there will be no hiding place then there has to be some kind of mechanism to try these people. If you don’t have that then the world won’t be a safer place.
Q4: October 1980, a motorbike bomb exploded outside the Copernic Synagogue in Paris. I was visiting a BBC correspondant who was living on the corner. She had a house-guest for the weekend who had come from Israel, she had been a filmmaker and she asked her hostess if she wanted something for that dinner, she said maybe a few fillets. I walked this lady down, and she turned into the Rue Copernic and I continued straight down and within a few seconds her life was taken. Now, the following morning, the Prime Minister of France announced that the bomb had killed, apart from Jews, four innocent Frenchmen. One was a Chinese waiter in the restaurant opposite, one was a Portuguese delivery boy, the third was this friend and the forth was an innocent Frenchman. Over the years that went by, from 1980, we were insisting that this had all of the fingerprints of the BFLB. 26 years later, a professor of Sociology at Carlton University in Ottawa was arrested and he was a Lebenese of Palestinian Origin. I was in Ottawa, I walked the 6 blocks to the extradition proceedings, between two democracies, there could not be any weaker extradition proceedings. It took four years, he was finally sent to France, there was evidence, fingerprints etcetera, we waited for three years for him to come to court. In France it never happened and suddenly this man who was wearing on his ankle a chain – he shouldn’t have been able to get away, in the middle of the appeal process, he disappeared. A man that had no fly rights, a man without any passport, suddenly we saw him the following morning back in Ottawa with his wife. So these are two democracies, what do you do in a situation like that? We tried to find out who signed those papers. There were 41 people wounded, 4 people killed in that case and they are never going to see justice because this was the level of two democracies who decided it wasn’t worth while doing it. Just another example.
Q5: Just taking up that point first, I wonder what the difference is between innocent Frenchmen and Jew – it obviously wasn’t an innocent Jew and that was the response you got. But the question I wanted to ask was, we hear all about these dreadful acts of terrorism but are any of the speakers able to speak about the acts of terrorism which are thwarted because nowadays, in cyber defence there are quite a lot of actions which are thwarted and I think we ought to think about those in the terrorist services that do that.
A5: Well, just to go back to something that you mentioned. The Litvinenko case left a very clear trail with the agent that was used. But in addition to that, there are about a dozen cases of persons who people who are on the wrong side of Putin have died from a variety of causes here in England and I think we should not have any delusions about the nature of the Russian regime. I am rather saddened to see the current president of the United States supporting him. I think it’s encouraging that the legal process and investigatory process are now functioning and one very much hopes that that will produce something that makes all the waiting worthwhile.
Q6: I think that most people in society definitely have me believe in this ruling that totally condemns all the terrorist groups that are state sponsored, all the terrorist groups that we have been talking about here today. What can we do, here in England, with the support that Hezbollah seems to get, that Hezbollah flags were allowed to fly through the streets of London at the Al Quds rally and the absurd notion that there is a separate political branch of Hezbollah than the armed wing when the Hezbollah leadership says that there isn’t a separate branch of Hezbollah but somehow the British Government says that there is. And the fact that Hezbollah members have been invited here to our houses of parliament and been called friends as well of Hamas leaders by Jeremy Corbyn – the leader of the Opposition, how can we British Citizens stop this regard that some people seem to have for these terrorist organisations. We must have zero tolerance for these terrorist organisations.
A6a: I agree entirely with what you say, Corbyn’s got form on this. I speak particularly about how he would bring members of the IRA into this building and it was actually a republican splinter group that killed (inaudible). I think we have to put pressure on Government, I’m afraid the British government at one stage had some foolish notions about the nature of these terrorist groups, that you could in some way deal with them, or have some kind of understanding with them and here I think, a lot of people have been misled by what happened in Northern Ireland, because I don’t think they fully have an accurate idea of what did in fact happen. The terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland did not give up their campaign because they had a change of heart, they moved away from violence when they realised they were losing their operation, that our intelligence organisations had penetrated those organisations and were frustrating those operations and eliminating the most dangerous persons within it. The IRA and similar bodies were beaten. That is the reality. Some people have looked at what appears to be the superficial consequences of the fact that some of these people are still moving around and have escaped justice, we have tolerated that because we are now in a completely different situation. There is now no serious terrorist activity and we’re quite confident it will never reoccur again. But there is no justification for being soft on Hezbollah or being soft on Putin and I think we have to press on those boundaries. It’s an embarrassment to me to hear that we have not managed to get the Government to legislate as in the US and other juristictions whereby persons who are known to be associated with criminal activity are denied visas. We have not implemented that legislation yet. We’ve had attempts to get it, we’ve had partially, but the government is reluctant to have it which publically points a finger at a particularly known persons. I can’t give you an answer as to why this has not happened. It’s the Home Office that does that, and it hasn’t given a reason yet. I’m not going to recall who was running this all until recently.
A6b: Can I just comment on both questions, just to go back also, I think the double tragedy of terror attacks are again discovered when it’s only on the plot side is that not a lot of people know about it. And unfortunately threats and activites we see everywhere in the world not just towards Israeli targets, not just towards Jewish targets but we see different attempts and different senarios. But, again, as I mentioned, only two weeks ago three Iranina citizens were arrested, two of them were arrested in Belgium, one is a diplomat appointed to Austria, and they were arrested because they were plotting a terror attack in Paris. And unfortunately, we didn’t hear a lot of news about it, there wasn’t any publicity and we didn’t hear a clear voice of international leaders saying that they would not tolerate this kind of activity, so if we say how do we make those cases more vocal in order to learn from them, to raise awareness that it can happen anywhere at any time, and again we should work together so I think that’s one of the activities.
A6a: I’m going to disagree with you, part of what you said, with regard to the operations that have been foiled. The authorities here have mentioned that there have been a number of incidents where they have prevented a number of attacks occurring. I think it’s important when that happens that we don’t go into detail as to how it was we were able to foil the attack. That’s signalling to the perpetrators what their mistakes were. We don’t want them to find out what happened. We’ve got to be careful we don’t say too much.
Q7: Was it controversial that Sadiq Kahn, you know he defended the 9/11 terrorists and now he’s sitting as the Mayor of London and in addition, Hamas is being glorified as well. I don’t understand how all these terrorists are allowed and defending terrorists.
Q8: I always think I’m objective but I don’t think anyone can be really. I listened to the BBC, the world service and it is quite soft on terrorism. It doesn’t come out with things, Israel is always the big bad wolf, the only democracy in the middle east it’s unbelievable to me, it’s like they expect the borderless world to be moral and whatever state of civilisation you are, the west and America have got this guilt because they were colonialist but you know, look at other places in the world, the west has done good to draw people up towards democracy rather than going down, so what can you do if you had a magic wand about the BBC?
Q9: I apologise if this has been spoken about before, but the acoustics in this room are really dreadful. I wanted to ask two things: the Iranian suspect who was said to be in Russia and then escaped I think I heard you say he moved to China. Was there any move whatsoever, through the Interpol red notice, to try and track him down in China. Was there any approach made to the Chinese authorities.
A9: There is no red notice about him.
Q9: But you knew that he went to China?
A9: He is still related to the Iranian government and he went to meet with Putin and after that he went to China and then back to his country.
Q9: So no possibility of making any approach to the Chinese authorities?
A9: there’s no extradition treaty between Argentina and China, but with Russia the new one is from 2014
Q10: The second question, if I can ask, of the other suspects, what can you tell us about what the situation is with them. Where are they thought to be?
A10: they’re all in Iran. Nine of them were asked by the judge for warrants for detention. Interpol gets 5. There are 5 still living in Iran. One of them was in Bolivia and the Argentinian Government asked the detention went away before that. He was also in Venezuela.
Q11: Among them was Mozon Uvani, he was in Buenos Aires until the 18th July. He today is an advisor of interfaith affairs to the Supreme Leader. He appeared in a photo next to King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, we immediately alerted the Argentinian authorities, there was an Interpol notice to Rihad and of course nothing ever happened because he was in a city of sanctuary which was Mecca. When the notices first came out in Interpol, we were active in Lyon, where Interpol is and one of the things I was asked by a journalist: what validity is this going to have? My answer was simply that all of these will go to the family. They’ll all be able to go to Bolivia, they can go to Saudi Arabia, but if they want to go to Geneva, to see their bank balance or go to Paris for a good meal or New York for some reason then they’ll get caught. This really is the bottom line of what we have hoped for today. We’re looking for a situation where, if they come to the UK in the same way as Tzipi Livni had to stay on an ElAl plane and couldn’t get off because there was the possibility that she would be detained, are we in a position to announce that should one of these characters land on British Soil they could be detained and they could be a request for extradition by the Argentinian Government, because if so, then it could be done away?
A11: I think that’s directed at me and the position is this. I’d like to say that whatever criticism there is of the police and the judicial authorities here, they’re usually very good. If there is an Interpol red notice, that is a direction to a police officer to stop and detain: hold, incarcerate and wait until the country who has asked that to be issued, in this case Argentina has been told ‘we have in this country Mr X, we’ve seen the red notice, what do you want us to do?’ and the Argentinian authorities would be entitled to say, ‘there is an international arrest warrant, we want you to arrest him’. So that we’re clear, what happens is the Police pop along to Westminster Magistrates Court and they get a provisional arrest warrant straight away and they arrest someone, they can’t arrest someone without an arrest warrant, we’re a democracy, that’s what happens. And in the case of our arrangement with Argentina, which is different from a lot of countries, Argentina will be entitled to make request for his extradition, formally go to the Home Office and do it through a diplomatic channel through the Foreign Office – they have a few days to do it. It’s a slightly different system from what we have with European Arrest warrants. It’s very clear in the extradition act that that is the process so that if I put the boot on the other foot, if I’m acting for example for one of my colleagues somewhere in this country or acting for the individual they would find if the process had gone through correctly and the Police will do it by the book, that person will be arrested. If they do apply for the extradition, the Home Office have to apply for a certificate with the grounds upon which are so limited that they have refuse that certificate it’s almost certain that certificate will be granted and can go the magistrates court.
Q12: things have moved on from the Tzipi Livni case since we passed the police act it changes the universal jurisdiction, up to that time anybody could go the Magistrates and apply for a…
A12: Can we not go there, because it’s a rather large argument, it’s complex and complicated and there’s no sense these things are straightforward. We really shouldn’t start talking about universal jurisdiction because it’s a long and large argument.
Q13: [Inaudible], she signed this memorandum of understanding with Iran, how are the legal consequences against her and I understand that there were charges against her, have these charges been put against her been dropped?
A13: This is the third case I talked about. Again, the AMIA case itself, the murder and two of them, and one of the investigations is about the government, the forth case if there is treason of another legal figure there’s some felony there. There’s an investigation, it’s what the ambassador said.
Q14: Knowing from what Hezbollah was involved in in Argentina would the Argentinian Government be willing to speak to the British Government about proscribing Hezbollah in its entirety?
A14: It is an agenda that we have a priority to do.
Q15: You mentioned about this case, where an Iranian official was praised. How will these cases that are not reported, how can we counteract this news that the European government take (inaudible) united states policy…it’s a comment not a question.
Q16: Shouldn’t we have a certain sympathy for these fugitives because they live their lives wondering, for example, whether the Mossad will come and get me. After all, the Mossad raided tons of documents from Iran, it must be comparably easy to seize an individual so they must live their lives wondering whether someone is coming to get me.
A16: It’s also the case that there are a lot of people looking after these people cause they always seem to get warnings first about something about to happen. These organisations tend to help each other.
Q17: Lord Trimble, you made an interesting comment about what led to the Irish peace process which you described to be the defeat of the terrorists in practice. Is it your experience then that this has to be your first route to resolve peaceful processes where terrorists are involved, does it involve the complete defeat of these terrorists?
A17: The crucial thing is intelligence, getting this intelligence and while a lot of intelligence can be gained electronically, it’s not as good as human intelligence, it’s not as good as having situations where you can infiltrate people into the organisation. It took us a decade and a half to find people prepared to infiltrate the organisation and for them to be able to do that they have to come from the same communities as the terrorists themselves. That was a big plus factor for us, when they managed to find people who came from an Irish nationalist background, even had involvement with the IRA and then disagreed with them and agreed to work for us from within. I don’t suppose we have such a good chance with Hezbollah. Your human intelligence has to come from the same demographic as the organisation
Q18: May I ask the panel whether they believe President Trump’s draw from the Iranian Nuclear deal is going to enhance cooperation or remove it.
A18: I think the agreement that the Europeans and some others had was a bad one and I’m sorry to see that arrangement being repudiated. So I notice with interest that the US Government is renewing its sanctions and European businesses dealing with Iran and the effect on that on the regime will be considerable.
Q18 Cont.: I say this because if you put sanctions on Iran, you are not going to get their cooperation on anything and things are going to get worse and worse in my view. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.
A18 Cont: We’re not going to get any cooperation from the Iranian government, maybe slighter brighter prospects with regard to the people.
A18: Perhaps I can add to that some of the points I was going to make, I think that problem with the deal was that it supposed that the Iranians were going to be reasonable and compliant on this one issue while we could see in every other area such as the activites elsewhere in the region they weren’t beign at all reasonable. In that respect, in perhaps a slightly similar way to what happened in Northen Ireland, the Iranians came to the negotiating table precisely because sanctions were being taken so hard. It was surprising that the Obama administration would be willing to negotiate with a group that were so on the ropes in that sense.
Simon Samuels: I thank you Lord Trimble. Just to close, I hope that all of you share all the same commitment as the organisers and speakers here. If you are interested to stay in contact with us please follow the Henry Jackson Society. What we tried to do here we will replicate in other countries around Europe we would like the Iranians to know that on this issue there will be a lobby group for justice. Thank you all for coming and please pass on the message.