Bulgaria Blames Hezbollah for 2012 Bombing, Refueling Terrorist Listing Debate
Blanford, Nicholas, The Christian Science Monitor
The Bulgarian government has blamed Lebanons militant Shiite Hezbollah organization for a deadly suicide bomb attack on a bus in the town of Burgas last July which left six people dead, five of them Israelis.
The long-awaited results of the Bulgarian investigation into the bombing will place greater pressure on the European Union to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, a classification repeatedly called for by the US and Israel but so far rejected by the EU. European countries are concerned that proscribing Hezbollah could destabilize Lebanon, which is already reeling from the repercussions of the war in neighboring Syria, and potentially jeopardize European interests in the Middle East.
Tsvetan Tsvetanov, the Bulgarian interior minister, said that two suspects had been identified and that they had carried Canadian and Australian passports.
We have well-grounded reasons to suggest that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah, he said after a meeting of Bulgarias national security council. We expect the government of Lebanon to assist further in the investigation.
However, the dominant player in the Lebanese government is Hezbollah, which will limit Lebanons ability to assist in the ongoing investigation.
Still, Najib Mikati, the Lebanese prime minister, repeated his condemnation of the Burgas bombing and said that Lebanon would cooperate with the Bulgarian authorities.
[Lebanon] is keen on Bulgarias security and that of the EU states and on ensuring that these relationships will be maintained and developed on all levels, he said in a statement.
There was no immediate reaction to the Bulgarian announcement from Hezbollah and the groups spokesman was unavailable for comment.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who publicly blamed Hezbollah and its backer Iran for the bus bombing within hours of the July 18 attack, repeated his accusations that both were waging a global campaign of terror and urged the EU to blacklist the Lebanese party.
The White House also urged the EU to take "proactive action" against Hezbollah. John Brennan, the Obama administration's top counter-terrorism official, said the attack exposed Hezbollah as a "terrorist group that is willing to recklessly attack innocent men, women and children and that poses a real and growing threat not only to Europe, but to the rest of the world."
Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, which helps coordinate national police forces in the EU, told the Associated Press that the bomb used in the attack was remotely detonated even though one of the bombers had died in the blast. He said that two counterfeit US drivers licenses found near the scene were traced back to Lebanon, where they were made.
The Bulgarian authorities are making quite a strong assumption that this is the work of Hezbollah, he said. From what Ive 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 this is a reasonable assumption. …