WASHINGTON – The Foundation for Defense of Democracies today established the “Alberto Nisman Award for Courage” to honor the late Argentine special prosecutor who worked tirelessly to bring to justice those responsible for the 1994 terrorist bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish community center. FDD also announced the inaugural award would honor former Manhattan district attorney Robert M. Morgenthau.
“This award is intended to recognize men and women who—like Alberto Nisman—relentlessly pursue justice for the victims of terrorism, and who risk their own lives protecting the innocent from the forces of hatred and intolerance,” said Clifford D. May, FDD’s president. “It is our honor and privilege to help preserve Alberto’s legacy and keep his memory alive.”
Nisman, who worked closely with FDD leaders, spent more than a decade investigating the AMIA attack, which killed 85 people and wounded many more. For years, Nisman sounded the alarm over Iranian terrorist networks, which he found extended beyond Argentina – into other countries in Latin American and even into the United States. He wrote in granular detail about how Iran’s government patiently plants sleeper cells in cities throughout the Western Hemisphere, calling on them to act whenever the regime decides. Nisman provided information about Iran’s activities to governments in Argentina’s backyard as well as to officials in the United States.
Nisman was found dead in his apartment in January, one day before he was expected to testify before the Argentine congress. He had already prepared a complaint implicating senior Argentine leaders in conspiring to cover up Iran’s involvement in the bombing. His suspicious death remains under investigation.
“Alberto Nisman was a man of great courage and determination who pursued the evidence where it led him without fear or favor,” said Mark Dubowitz, FDD’s executive director. “He was a devoted friend and an inspiration to us at FDD. Through this award and our own work in defense of democracies, we are committed to continuing his legacy.”
“It won’t be sufficient for us to mourn his death,” said Toby Dershowitz, FDD’s vice president for government relations and strategy. “We must pay careful attention to the detailed Iranian playbook he left behind and from it, heed important lessons in counter-terrorism and law enforcement.” She continued, “It takes courage to stand up not only for the principles of justice, but for the implementation of justice, no matter the consequences. Alberto stood up for both. This award will express our profound gratitude for his purposeful life and pay tribute to those who possess his uncommon courage.”
The new award, to be presented at FDD’s annual Washington Forum, will go to an individual who exemplifies the courage, bravery and determination for which Nisman should be remembered.
Morgenthau, the inaugural recipient of the FDD Alberto Nisman Award for Courage, served for 35 years as Manhattan’s district attorney and prosecuted some of the most high-profile national security cases. Under his leadership, the office became a central player in the enforcement of U.S. sanctions against Iran through New York’s unique relationship with financial markets around the world. His office tracked and prosecuted rogue activities in the Tri-Border Area of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay — a region in which Iranian proxy Hezbollah is known to be active — and uncovered a pervasive system of illicit financing used by Iranian banks to skirt U.S. sanctions. These activities crossed the globe from London to Beijing to Caracas. Like Nisman, Morgenthau’s investigations of specific activities uncovered vast networks of money laundering, organized crime, and terrorism.
“Robert Morgenthau has been a pillar of the law enforcement community. He worked relentlessly to enforce sanctions, deter illegal conduct, and prosecute violators,” May said. “He shined a light on nefarious activities of terrorists and nuclear proliferators and the financial institutions that facilitate these activities. FDD is honored to recognize his extraordinary accomplishments by presenting him the inaugural Alberto Nisman Award for Courage.”
Morgenthau will accept the award on April 15, at this year’s FDD Washington Forum at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. For more information about the conference, visit http://www.fddwashingtonforum.org/
About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)3 policy institute focusing on foreign policy and national security. Founded in 2001, FDD combines policy research, democracy and counterterrorism education, strategic communications and investigative journalism in support of its mission to promote pluralism, defend democratic values and fight the ideologies that drive terrorism. Visit our website at www.defenddemocracy.org and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Matthew E. Berger, Senior Director of Communications