Son of Israel's Ex-counterrorism Chief Claims Bush to Blame for 1988 Death

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Nimrod Nir speaking to Channel 2

Nimrod Nir, the adopted son of Strategic Affairs Minister Silvan Shalom, says he is convinced his natural father, counter-terrorism official Aviram Nir, was not killed by accident when his plane crashed in 1988, but rather was assassinated by American agents. The motive, according to the younger Nir, was to prevent him from talking about the Iran-contra scandal.

Nir, 31, a PR man and radio talk show host, told Channel 2 on Saturday that after poring over information about the incident for several years, he is "quite convinced now that this was not an accident." As a TV screen in the background showed a picture of former U.S. Vice President and President George H.W. Bush, Nir was asked by a Channel 2 reporter if those behind the assassination likely included "candidates for the U.S. presidency." Nir replied, "That's the source. Definitely."

Bush was vice president during the 1986 scandal and was elected president less than a month prior to Nir's 1988 death. The Channel 2 program singled out the roles of Bush and then-President Ronald Reagan in the scandal, which involved Israel's sale of arms to Iran in return for money and the release of American hostages in Lebanon, with the money going to arm anti-Communist rebels, called contras, in Nicaragua. A clip of a CBS interview of Bush by Dan Rather shows Bush denying any knowledge of the deal while Rather reminds him that Amiram Nir met with him three times to fill him in on it.

When the Iran-contra scandal broke, Nir was counter-terrorism adviser to then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Criticism of Nir's role in the affair led to his resignation in 1987, after which he became an agent in London for Mexican arms and oil deals. He was killed in the crash of a chartered plane in Mexico on November 30, 1988.

Since then there has been considerable speculation, though no proof, that he was assassinated to shut him up about Iran-contra. In 2008, Ronen Bergman, a leading Israeli writer on intelligence matters, wrote in his book "The Secret War With Iran" that for 15 years following Nir's death, "a systematic series of burglaries occurred in the homes and offices of people and organizations connected to the affair, including the home of Nir's widow [Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, Silvan Shalom's wife]. The only objects stolen were documents connected to the scandal."

Much of the interview with Nimrod Nir concerned his view of the allegations against Silvan Shalom of past acts of sexual harassment, and the effect they had on his abortive run for the presidency. After saying that Shalom had told him the allegations were false, Nir added: "All the lingo about political assassinations – let's put things in proportion, because once there really were political assassinations."

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