Conclusions of Bulgarian investigation may open way for EU to join U.S. in branding Iranian-backed Hezbollah a terrorist organization, which would enable the EU to freeze Hezbollah’s assets in Europe.
ed note–so what kind of ‘inducements’ were used by Israel to push for Bulgaria’s cooperation on this? Money? Sweet trade deals?
Or, threats of things going BOOM in various parts of Bulgaria if Israel does not get her way, courtesy of Mossad?
Two individuals with links to Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah were involved in a bomb attack on a bus in the Bulgarian resort of Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists last July, Bulgaria’s interior minister said on Tuesday.
In addition, after a six-hour cabinet meeting on the attack, Bulgaria’s foreign minister said the investigation showed that Hezbollah financed the attack.
The conclusions of the Bulgarian investigation may open the way for the European Union to join the United States in branding the Iranian-backed Hezbollah a terrorist organization since there is now a clear connection to an attack on EU territory.
Three people were involved in the attack, two of whom had genuine passports from Australia and Canada, Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters after Bulgaria’s national security council discussed the investigation.
“We have established that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah,” Tsvetanov said. “There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects.”
Israel blamed the attack in the Black Sea city – which killed five Israeli tourists, their Bulgarian driver and the bomber – on Iran and Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite Islamist militia that is part of the Lebanese government.
Tehran has denied responsibility and accused Israel of plotting and carrying out the blast. Hezbollah has not publicly responded to charges by Israel and U.S. agencies that it played a role.
The Netherlands said in August that the European Union should follow the lead of the United States, which designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in the 1990s, a move that would enable the European Union to freeze Hezbollah’s assets in Europe.
Israel, U.S. response
Two weeks ago, Tzvetanov held a preliminary briefing on the bombing in Brussels to his 27 European Union counterparts. A few days earlier, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov arrived in Israel and informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the investigation’s findings.
Israel and the United States had waited for Bulgaria’s official statement to be released Tuesday in hopes it would hold Hezbollah and Iran responsible for the attack. The two countries had feared that while the investigation’s finding would be clear, Bulgaria’s public statement would be ambiguous and would not name Hezbollah responsible.
Both the United States and Israel are expected to issue an official statement following the Bulgarian one.
Since the July 18 bombing, Israel and the U.S. are pressing European Union states to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. While Britain and the Netherlands support the move, other countries, such as France, oppose it. France, who is leading the resisting efforts, fears that holding Hezbollah responsible for the bombing would destabilize Lebanon, as the militant organization is one of the factions forming its government.