Lebanon says ready to cooperate over ‘Hezbollah-linked’ attack in Bulgaria
Lebanon is ready to cooperate with Bulgaria after a report indicating that Hezbollah was behind a July bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian in the European country, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said on Tuesday.
“Lebanon trusts that the Bulgarian authorities will undertake a serious evaluation of the results of the investigation and affirms that it is ready to cooperate with Bulgaria to shed light on the circumstances” of the attack, Mikati said in a statement.
Israel and the United Stated urged the European Union (EU) on Tuesday to take action against Lebanon’s militant movement, Hezbollah.
President Barack Obama’s top counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan, his nominee to lead the CIA, called on European states to take “proactive action” to uncover Hezbollah’s infrastructure, financing and operational networks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed on Tuesday the Bulgarian report linking Hezbollah to a fatal bus bombing, saying the Lebanese militant group and its ally Iran were waging a “global terror campaign.”
Netanyahu said the Bulgarian probe into the 2012 attack in the Black Sea city of Burgas was “further confirmation of what we already knew, that Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, are waging a global terror campaign across borders and continents.”
“The attack in Burgas was an attack on European soil against a member of the European Union. We hope the Europeans will draw the necessary conclusions about the true character of Hezbollah,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
The Bulgarian government said Tuesday that Hezbollah was behind the bomb attack in July that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian.
“We have information on financing and membership of Hezbollah for two people including the bomber,” Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters.
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 EU should follow the lead of the United States, which designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation in the 1990s, a move that would enable the EU to freeze Hezbollah's assets in Europe.
Peres warns of Iranian ‘danger’
Meanwhile, on Tuesday Israeli President Shimon Peres warned of danger coming from Hezbollah’s ally, Iran.
Peres said that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran was growing under the “terrifying dictatorship” ruling the Islamic republic.
“The Iranian danger has grown,” Peres said at the opening of the newly-elected Israeli parliament. “It threatens our existence, the independence of the Arab states, the peace of the whole world.
“At its head stands a group of ayatollahs in their religious robes, a terrifying dictatorship, staining Persian history and a nightmare for its people,” he said.
Much of the international community fears that Iran’s nuclear program includes efforts to develop nuclear weapons, a charge that Tehran denies.