U.S. and Israeli officials are asserting that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah are responsible for the bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and two Bulgarians, according to multiple media reports. Yesterday the Times of Israel reported that Bulgarian media identified the bomber, but the Swedish secret service and Bulgarian officials denied it.
Reuters has obtained a restricted NYPD document titled “Suspected Iranian and/or Hezbollah-linked Plots Against Israeli or Jewish Targets: 2012 Chronology” that lists the Bulgaria bombing as the latest of nine 2012 plots linked to the Islamic Republic or its proxies.
Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times cite a senior American official who said that the bomber had been “acting under broad guidance” from Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and its primary sponsor Iran to hit Israeli targets when opportunities arose.
The official claimed that the attack was in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists that is believed to have been carried out by Israeli agents.
Two other American officials and a senior Israeli official “confirmed” that Hezbollah was behind the bombing, according to the Times. but all the officials declined to specific intelligence that linked Hezbollah to the attack.
Iran has denied the accusations.
Reuters reports that Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov told parliament he hoped that DNA analysis of samples from the bomber would be done in 3-4 days, adding that the attacker was not a Bulgarian citizen.
Bulgaria’s interior minister said that the suspect had been in Bulgaria for at least four days but authorities still don’t know where the suicide bomber came from or where he stayed, according to CNN.
Joby Warrick of the Washington Post points out that an “eerily similar” attack was foiled in Cyprus on July 7 when authorities detained a Lebanese man who reportedly confessed to entering the country to attack planes and buses used by Israeli tourists. U.S. and Israeli officials, according to Warrick, said that similar plots were foiled in Kenya and Mexico.
Warrick added that U.S. officials “cautioned that there was, as yet, no firm evidence linking Iran or its allies to Wednesday’s attack.”
Nevertheless the assertions echo the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that the attack “was part of a global campaign of terror carried out by Iran and Hezbollah.” On Wednesday he said “Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror.”
Tensions have risen between the West and Iran as nuclear talks have broken down. Iran has threatened to closed the Strait of Hormuz – Hezbollah even released an infographic that offers how it could be done – amid Netanyahu’s threats to attack Iran’s nuclear sites so that the Islamic Republic doesn’t arm itself with nuclear weapons.
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