News / Middle East

Bulgaria Links Hezbollah to Israeli Bombing

Bus destroyed in a deadly suicide attack on Israeli vacationers is transported out of Burgas airport, Bulgaria, July 19, 2012.
Bus destroyed in a deadly suicide attack on Israeli vacationers is transported out of Burgas airport, Bulgaria, July 19, 2012.
Al Pessin
The Bulgarian government says Hezbollah was responsible for the bombing of a tourist bus near a Black Sea port city last year in which five Israelis and one Bulgarian were killed. The accusation implicates a group whose political wing is a major force in Lebanon’s government.

Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov made the announcement Tuesday in Sofia. The minister said genetic material led investigators to conclude that two Hezbollah operatives were among the three men responsible for the attack. But investigators found no direct link to Hezbollah’s backers in Iran or to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

On July 12 last year, a bomb exploded on a bus carrying an Israeli youth group at an airport near Burgas. In addition to those killed, 32 Israelis were wounded, most of them children. Another man was also killed, and he was believed to be a suicide bomber.

But on Tuesday, the director of the European Union’s police agency, Rob Wainwright, told The Associated Press that it may have been a sophisticated remotely controlled bomb that destroyed the bus. Wainwright also endorsed the Bulgarian conclusion that the attack originated in Lebanon, but said the specific link to Hezbollah is less certain.

“From what I've seen on the case from very strong links, obvious links to Lebanon, from the modus operandi of the terrorist attack, from other intelligence that we see, I think that's reasonable assumption," Wainwright said. "I also have my suspicion at least that either Hezbollah itself is responsible for this, or it was carried out by people that are closely associated with that group.

Still, the European police official called the Bulgarian findings “significant” because this would be the first successful Hezbollah attack in Europe in nearly 30 years.

The Bulgarian conclusion confirms initial Israeli government charges about the source of the attack. Both Hezbollah and Iran have denied involvement.

The United States and the European Union have praised the Bulgarian investigation and denounced Hezbollah for its alleged role in the attack. A White House statement called on European countries to take action to find Hezbollah operational and financial cells on the continent.

The EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said member countries need to seriously assess the investigation’s findings and “discuss the appropriate response.”

The co-founder of mideastnewswire.com, Nicholas Noe, calls that a “very cautious” response that does not come close to designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization, a move the United States made in the 1990s and has been urging the EU to do. 
 
Noe says there is good reason to be cautious, and the case is “at a very early stage,” even after the eight-month Bulgarian investigation.
 
“This case appears, or at least is being billed by Hezbollah’s opponents – mainly Israel and the U.S. – as being a substantial case.  So this could be a real game changer for in Europe.  The observer of these events needs to be very careful in jumping to conclusions.  There is a war going on.  There is an information war going on, and there is a military war going on. Do I think it’s possible Hezbollah was involved?  Absolutely I think it’s possible.  But nothing is definitive right now," he said. 
 
Nicholas Noe says a European decision to call Hezbollah a terrorist organization would have a significant impact on the group’s ability to operate, and he notes it could also endanger European peacekeeping troops in Southern Lebanon. 
 
The issue is further complicated because Hezbollah’s political wing has a dominant position in Lebanon’s fragile government even though its military wing was blamed for a huge car bombing in Beirut in October that killed the chief of the country’s police intelligence unit.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs