Bulgaria has blamed Hezbollah for a bomb attack in July last year that killed five Israeli tourists, leading to renewed calls on the EU to declare the Lebanese movement a “terrorist” organization.
“What we can make as a justified conclusion is that the two persons whose identity we have established belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah,” Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters on Tuesday.
He said they “had Canadian and Australian passports, but have resided in Lebanon since 2006 and 2010.”
The investigation made the conclusions on the basis of three fake drivers’ licenses — made in Lebanon — from the US state of Michigan used by the bomber and the suspected accomplices between their entry into Bulgaria on June 28 and the July 18 attack.
“From these three fake personalities, we established beyond doubt two persons’ real identity ... We traced their whole activity on the territories of Australia and Canada, and we have data for funding and complicity with Hezbollah,” he added.
Canada confirmed that a suspect linked to the bomb attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria is a dual Canadian-Lebanese national and said it takes allegations of his involvement “very seriously.”
Five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver were killed in the bus bombing at Burgas airport in the deadliest attack on Israelis abroad since 2004. About 30 Israelis were also wounded and the bomber also perished.
Bulgarian investigators managed to recover DNA and fingerprints from his remains, along with the fake driver’s license in the name of Jacque Felipe Martin.
The young Caucasian-looking man was also caught on airport cameras. His image and DNA data were run through Interpol databases, but failed to find any match.
Israel immediately blamed Iran and its “terrorist proxy” Hezbollah for the bombing, but Bulgarian investigators had stopped short of pointing the finger at anyone until Tuesday. Tehran has also denied any involvement.
Israel and the US have long pressed Brussels to blacklist Hezbollah and on Tuesday both reiterated their stance, as did Canada.
“We strongly urge other governments around the world — and particularly our partners in Europe — to take immediate action to crack down on Hezbollah,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said. “We need to send an unequivocal message to this terrorist group that it can no longer engage in despicable actions with impunity.”
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird echoed the view, urging the EU and others to recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist entity “and prosecute terrorist acts committed by this inhumane organization to the fullest possible extent.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said the EU should now draw the “necessary conclusions about the true nature of Hezbollah.”
“This is yet a further corroboration of what we have already known, that Hezbollah and its Iranian patrons are orchestrating a worldwide campaign of terror that is spanning countries and continents,” he said.