Sources are now saying that the jihadist’s identity is not clear. His Hizballah membership appears clearer. “Hezbollah Is Blamed in Attack on Israeli Tourists in Bulgaria,” by Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt in the New York Times, July 19:
BURGAS, Bulgaria “” A senior American official confirmed Israel”s assertions on Thursday that the suicide bomber who killed five Israelis in an attack here on Wednesday was a member of a Hezbollah cell operating in Bulgaria.
The official said the current American intelligence assessment is that the bomber was “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when the opportunity presented itself. That guidance was given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by its primary sponsor, Iran, he said.
The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists by Israeli agents, something that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. “This was tit for tat,” said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the investigation was still underway….
The nuclear scientists were not innocent civilians. They were part of a war effort.
A senior Israeli official said on Thursday that the Burgas attack was part of an intensive wave of terrorist attacks around the world carried out by two different organizations, the Iranian Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran”s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as well as Hezbollah.
“They work together when necessary, and separately when not necessary,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss national security issues.
While the the Burgas attack fit the modus operandi of Hezbollah, the Israeli official said, it was not clear whether the bomber intended to blow himself up or had suffered what the official called a “work accident,” adding: “We will never know.”
The bomber was carrying a fake Michigan driver”s license, but there are no indications that he had any connections to the United States, the American official said, adding that there were no details yet about the bomber “” his name, age or nationality. He also declined to describe what specific intelligence “” intercepted communications, analysis of the bomber”s body parts and other details “” that led analysts to conclude that the suicide bomber belonged to Hezbollah.
“This looks like he was hanging out for a local target, and when this popped up he jumped on it,” the official said, referring to a tour bus carrying Israeli vacationers outside the airport in Burgas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a news conference Thursday in Jerusalem that the attack in Burgas was carried out by “Hezbollah, the long arm of Iran.”
For their part, Iranian officials condemned the attack and all acts of terrorism. “Terrorism endangers the lives of innocents,” said a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, according to Iran”s state Arabic-language television channel, Al Alam.
The Bulgarian authorities released a security video Thursday showing the suspect wandering into the arrivals hall at the airport here, for all appearances just another tourist in his plaid shorts, Adidas T-shirt and baseball hat.
But it is his oddly bulky, oversized backpack that, in terrible hindsight, stands out the most. This bag, investigators believe, contained the bomb that the man is suspected of detonating next to a bus outside the airport, killing the five Israeli tourists, a Bulgarian bus driver and himself in a fireball that upended this city on the Black Sea.
The suicide attack, the country”s first, sent police and intelligence officers from Bulgaria, Israel and the United States scrambling to identify the bomber and to look for possible accomplices and convincing evidence that would connect him to Hezbollah or Iran.
Officials here have said they have the man”s fingerprints and his DNA, and are trying to identify a man who was roughly 36 years old, whom they suspect was in the country between four and seven days before the blast….