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Summary: Presentation of the Alberto Nisman Award for Courage

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  • Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Toby Dershowitz, Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Royce C. Lamberth, Senior Judge, District of Columbia

Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow with FDD and its Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, opened the session by noting that he had recently returned from Latin America, where he saw first-hand the indications of Iran’s penetration into the Western Hemisphere. From Patagonia in the southern tip of Argentina to Tijuana on America’s doorstep, he said, Tehran is sowing the seeds of its belligerent, revolutionary ideology. In South America in particular, he said, Iran is indoctrinating locals with hatred for America, Israel and Jews. Meanwhile its proxy Hezbollah is making inroads – and significant amounts of money – among Shiites of Lebanese background there.

FDD’s Vice President for Government Relations and Strategy Toby Dershowitz then spoke of Alberto Nisman, an Argentine federal prosecutor investigating the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people – an attack that he alleged had been planned by Iran, and responsibility for it covered up by the Argentine government. Nisman, a close friend of Dershowitz and FDD, was murdered on January 18, 2015, just hours before he was to present his findings to the Argentine Congress. “Hundreds of thousands of outraged Argentines hit the streets of Buenos Aires, and for good reason,” she said. “They feared another cover-up: this time of Nisman’s murder.” FDD subsequently created the Alberto Nisman award to honor his legacy, and to ensure that his passion for exposing and punishing terrorists continues.

Accepting the award was Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who presided over some 15 years of litigation over Iran’s responsibility for the 1983 bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut that that killed more than 300 people including 241 U.S. servicemen. Since 2007, Lamberth has awarded victims of the attack and their relatives some $10 billion, but Iran has thus far refused to pay any sum at all.
“I found that Iran had indeed bombed our barracks in Lebanon,” Lamberth said, “and I hope the victims ultimately get compensation.” He dismissed, however, any suggestion that he should be praised for his courage. “I’m just doing what I was appointed to do, and let the chips fall as they may,” he said. To rousing applause, he added: “Hopefully the chips fall in a way that makes Marine families millionaires.”