Home inContext Hezbollah Behind Attack on Israelis in Bulgaria

Hezbollah Behind Attack on Israelis in Bulgaria

Michael Johnson

Individuals with links to Hezbollah were behind an attack on Israelis in the Black Sea resort of Burgas last July, according to the findings of an investigation released February 5th. The Bulgarian interior minister announced three people were involved in the bombing, including Australian and Canadian passport holders. “We expect the government of Lebanon to assist in … further investigation,” said Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, as Lebanon is the home to Hezbollah’s political wing.

While the incident initially appeared to be a suicide bombing, Europol officials believe the bomber may have never intended to die. Circuit board pieces analyzed by the European police agency suggest the explosion was set off remotely. Europol also traced fake Michigan drivers licenses found near the bombing back to Lebanon.

The bus damaged by the suicide bomb blast that targeted a group of Israeli tourists at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria on July 19, 2012. (Photo:Nikolay Doychinova/AFP/Getty Images)

In response to the Bulgarian investigation, the U.S. government put more pressure on European allies to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. France has been especially hesitant to label the group as terrorists because they see Hezbollah as a political organization and fear retaliations against French peacekeepers in Lebanon. A White House statement called on Europeans and the “international community to take proactive action to uncover Hezbollah’s infrastructure and disrupt the group’s financing schemes and operational networks…” Last September more than 300 members of Congress signed a letter also encouraging the EU to take a stronger stand against the group.

This latest attack in Bulgaria demonstrates again that Hezbollah has a global reach. Argentine officials also suggest the group, with assistance from long time ally Iran, carried out a 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, killing 85.

On February 18th, the Bulgarian Foreign Minister plans to take the results of the investigation to his EU counterparts. It remains unclear whether Hezbollah’s latest attack against unarmed civilians will concentrate minds in European capitals against Hezbollah.