Bulgaria-Israel in EU plot against Hizbullah

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Ahmet Aslan

Jumada' al-Ula' 20, 1434 2013-04-01

Main Stories

by Ahmet Aslan (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 2, Jumada' al-Ula', 1434)

Under Zionist pressure, the corrupt Bulgarian regime is trying to implicate Hizbullah in the bus bombing of last July in order to ban it in the European Union. The Europeans are not buying it.

Immediately after five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed last July in an apparent suicide attack in Burgas (a coastal city in Bulgaria), a campaign was launched against the Lebanese resistance movement, Hizbullah. According to media reports, a suicide bomber approached a bus carrying Israeli tourists from the airport, and blew himself up. Bulgarian officials immediately pointed the finger at Hizbullah and Iran. Later Israeli and US officials also joined the chorus and Hizbullah became the prime suspect even before an investigation was launched.

It took six months for Bulgarian officials to conclude the investigation, a rather unusual period for police investigation that was justified by pointing to the complex nature of the event. The Bulgarian police and intelligence failed to identify any suspect(s), nor did they find any tangible evidence that linked the attack to any organization.

Hence, several intelligence services — American, Israeli, Canadian and Australian, for instance — participated in the investigation to help the Bulgarians. The Bulgarian officials sent the fingerprints and DNA samples of the attacker to these countries to be checked against their records.

On February 15, 2013, Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov announced the outcome of the long-awaited investigation. He stated that according to their investigation Hizbullah was “responsible” for the attack: “The Burgas bombers were maintaining part of Hizbullah’s structures in Canada and Australia and had contacts with other representatives of this organization,” he claimed. Based on these findings, Bulgarian officials launched a campaign to seek a ban on Hizbullah in the EU. The attack was also used as a pretext to mount international pressure on the Lebanese resistance group. As part of this campaign, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov presented the “evidence” at the monthly conference of EU Foreign Ministers Council in Brussels. In the meeting he said, “We believe the attack that happened in Burgas last year was organized by people connected to the military wing of Hizbullah.”

He then told European reporters, “We in Europe need to take collective measures to make sure that such attacks will never happen again on EU soil, that we are protected as the EU, we must send a strong message to the rest of the world that activities like this are unacceptable, no matter where they are planned or executed.” US Secretary of State John Kerry offered strong backing to his Bulgarian counterpart’s position saying, “We need to send an unequivocal message to this terrorist group that it can no longer engage in despicable actions with impunity.”

In an article published by the New York Times, the US National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon spelled out the aim of the campaign against Hizbullah. It was to taint Hizbullah’s international reputation and cripple its relation with EU countries. “Now that Bulgarian authorities have exposed Hezbollah’s global terrorist agenda, European governments must respond swiftly… They must disrupt its operational networks, stop flow of financial assistance to the group, crack down on Hezbollah-linked criminal enterprises and condemn the organization’s leaders for their continued pursuit of terrorism.”

Sheikh Naim Qassem, Deputy Secretary-General of Hizbullah reacted strongly to such allegations outlining the reason why his organization labelled them as Israel’s “international campaign” against the resistance movement. “All these accusations against Hizbullah will have no effect, and do not change the facts. We will not submit to these pressures and we will not change our priorities. Our compass will remain directed towards Israel.”

Sheikh Naim Qassem, Deputy Secretary-General of Hizbullah reacted strongly to such allegations outlining the reason why his organization labelled them as Israel’s “international campaign” against the resistance movement. “All these accusations against Hizbullah will have no effect, and do not change the facts. We will not submit to these pressures and we will not change our priorities. Our compass will remain directed towards Israel.”

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hizbullah, also addressed the issue. Speaking to thousands of supporters via video link on February 12 on the occasion of marking the martyrdom anniversary of the movement’s military commander Imad Mughniye, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah called the accusations a plot. Israel had already accused the resistance group for the attack even before the investigation had begun, he said. He outlined Hizbullah’s stand by saying that “the issue is being followed calmly and closely.”

However, it seems the Bulgarian government, backed by the US and Israel, has a difficult task at hand. Firstly, it has failed to provide clear evidence that the suicide bomber and his two associates were members of Hizbullah. The investigation so far has identified a computer printer in Beirut, DNA traces on a used SIM card and several suspicious phone calls.

According to the Bulgarians there were three people involved in the bombing; they were Lebanese natives but held foreign passports — two Canadians and one Australian. They were in possession of forged driver’s licenses from Canada and the United States. Bulgarian officials assume that the man who blew himself up was a Canadian citizen. The investigative report identified him as Jack Philip Martin, the name given in his forged Canadian driver’s license.

The investigative report narrates that the cell members started their journey from Beirut to Istanbul and then flew to Warsaw. From there they took trains to Prague and Romania before arriving in Burgas. After the bombing the two surviving cell members fled back to Lebanon the same way. In Burgas, the alleged cell monitored the movement of Israeli tourists. The Bulgarians speculate that the original plan was to attack a hotel that hosted mainly Israeli tourists, but for unknown reasons they decided to attack a tour bus which was waiting at the airport.

Bulgarians also suggest that the cell’s plan was not a suicide attack; instead they wanted to detonate the bomb by remote control when all the passengers were on board. However, the Israelis confronted the bomber who was trying to put his bag into the bus’ cargo hold. The Bulgarians believe that during this confrontation the bomb went off and killed the bomber and others.

Since DNA samples of the attacker have not been identified, the only trace that connected him to the two other members of the alleged cell was a SIM card and a forged Canadian driver’s license, found in a town located on the Bulgarian-Romanian border. The driver’s license and the SIM card had DNA traces that were very similar to those of the suicide bomber. However, it does not prove any connection or link to Hizbullah. Their “hardest evidence” is the driver's licenses that all three members of the alleged cell carried. With the help of the CIA, Bulgarians traced the printer that produced the licenses to Lebanon.

Yet this piece of evidence itself is not enough to convince EU countries to outlaw Hizbullah since anybody can print documents in a printer located in Lebanon. They need much clearer and stronger evidence to blame Hizbullah for the attack. So far only the Netherlands has outlawed the group and Britain has outlawed its military wing. Some EU countries such as France and Germany have very stable relations with Hizbullah. They consider the organization an important political player in Lebanon and try to keep good relations with it. France, as the former colonial power, holds regular meetings with Hizbullah officials in Lebanon, and Germany has successfully negotiated for exchange of prisoners in the past.

In order to outlaw Hizbullah, all 27 member-states of the EU must give approval but that appears highly unlikely at this stage considering the position adopted by France and Germany. The situation is best summed up by Cypriot Foreign Minister Gujarat Cossack-Marcolis who said, “there is no consensus on the issue, because Hizbullah also has an active political arm.”

The Bulgarian story seems to have fallen short of convincing even the Bulgarian opposition. Volen Siderov, leader of the Bulgarian nationalist party Ataka, warned the government against unfounded accusations against Hizbullah. “Bulgaria’s government is playing a dangerous game and I am absolutely sure this is a mistake and we all will pay a high price for it… The most important thing is that by pointing your finger at Hizbullah, which is the leading government player in Lebanon, you point your finger at the whole country.”

Also Bulgarian Socialist Party leader, Sergey Stanishev, said the government’s accusation of Hizbullah is “poorly founded and imperils national security… It is obvious that the Bulgarian government has chosen a political approach and is only repeating the interpretation alleged by Israel on the very next day following the attack, when the investigation had not even started.”

Since then, Marin Raikov, the new Interim Prime Minister, has backed away from Bulgaria’s official position. In a radio interview with BNR, he announced that his country would not call for the EU to label Hizbullah as a terrorist group. “Bulgaria will not initiate a procedure [for listing Hizbullah a terrorist organization]…We will only present the objective facts and circumstances, and let our European partners decide.”

The Bulgarian government has expanded its military and intelligence ties with Israel since Israeli relations with Turkey deteriorated after the Mavi Marmara incident (May 2010). It seems that by participating in such a malicious conspiracy, it is trying to ingratiate itself to the arrogant Zionists. As the opposition leaders have pointed out, there are many risks in showing such open hostility to an organization like Hizbullah. Perhaps subsequent events might teach the imprudent Bulgarian politicians a harsh lesson. Should that happen, the Zionists will not come to their help. After all, the Zionists are only interested in securing their nefarious designs in which everybody else is dispensable; to be used and then discarded.

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