“[I]f they [the Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” — Hasan Nasrallah, leader of Hizballah
“Bulgaria implicates Hezbollah in fatal bus bombing,” from the Associated Press, February 5 (thanks to all who sent this in):
Hezbollah bombed a bus filled with Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year, investigators said Tuesday, describing a sophisticated bombing carried out by a terrorist cell that included Canadian and Australian citizens.
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, in the first major announcement in the investigation into the July 18 bombing that killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver, said one of the suspects entered the country with a Canadian passport, and another with one from Australia.
“We have well-grounded reasons to suggest that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah,” Tsvetanov said after a meeting of Bulgaria”s National Security Council. “We expect the government of Lebanon to assist in the further investigation.”
Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group and political party that emerged in response to Israel”s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, has been linked to attacks and kidnappings on Israeli and Jewish interests around the world. The group has denied involvement in the Bulgaria bombing.
The bomb exploded as the bus took a group of Israeli tourists from the airport to their hotel in the Black Sea resort of Burgas. The blast also killed the suspected bomber, a tall and lanky pale-skinned man wearing a baseball cap and dressed like a tourist.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Europol Director Rob Wainwright said the bomb was detonated remotely using a circuit board that a Europol expert has analyzed. Although it was initially believed to be a suicide bombing, Wainwright said investigators believe the bomber never intended to die.
Two counterfeit U.S. driver”s licenses that were found near the bombing scene were traced back to Lebanon, where they were made, Wainwright said.
He said forensic evidence, intelligence sources and patterns in past attacks all point to Hezbollah”s involvement in the blast.
“The Bulgarian authorities are making quite a strong assumption that this is the work of Hezbollah,” Wainwright said. “From what I”ve seen of the case – from the very strong, obvious links to Lebanon, from the modus operandi of the terrorist attack and from other intelligence that we see – I think that is a reasonable assumption.”
Europol, which helps coordinate national police across the 27-nation European Union, which includes Bulgaria, sent several specialists to help investigate the attack.
The investigators found no direct links to Iran or to any al-Qaida-affiliated terror group, Wainwright said.
Linking Hezbollah to the attack is likely to escalate tensions between Israel and Iran, and provoke diplomatic headaches within Europe.
The United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The EU does not, and linking the group to the Bulgarian attack will increase pressure on it to do so. France and Germany had pressured investigators not to publicly name Hezbollah as responsible for the bombing, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the news media….