US Calls on Europe to Brand Hezbollah Terrorists
London, Asharq Al-Awsat-Bulgaria yesterday accused the Hezbollah movement of carrying out a terrorist attack that killed five Israeli tourists last year.
A statement attributed to the Bulgarian government revealed that two individuals linked to Hezbollah with Canadian and Australian passports were behind a bomb attack on a bus in the Black Sea city of Burgas last July.
Three people were involved in the attack, two of whom had genuine passports from Australia and Canada; Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told reporters after Sofia’s national Security Council discussed the investigation.
“There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects,” Tsvetanov said.
“What can be established as a well-grounded assumption is that the two persons whose real identity has been determined belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah.” The revelation by Bulgaria sparked global condemnation, particularly from the Obama administration, which yesterday called on Europe to take “proactive action” to disrupt the Hezbollah organization.
In strongly worded statements, Secretary of State John Kerry and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said the Europeans, must act to prevent additional attacks.
“We strongly urge other governments around the world – and particularly our partners in Europe – to take immediate action to crack down on Hezbollah,” Kerry said in his first substantive statement as secretary of state. “We need to send an unequivocal message to this terrorist group that it can no longer engage in despicable actions with impunity.” Kerry also discussed the matter with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in a phone call, the State Department said.
In his statement, Brennan, who is President Barack Obama’s nominee to run the Central Intelligence Agency, said the Bulgarian investigation “exposes Hezbollah for what it is: a terrorist group that is willing to recklessly attack innocent men, women, and children, and that poses a real and growing threat not only to Europe, but to the rest of the world.” “We commend Bulgarian authorities for their determination and commitment to ensuring that Hezbollah is held to account for this act of terror on European soil,” he said.
The Netherlands considers Hezbollah a terrorist group and said in August that the EU should also do so, which would mean Brussels could act to freeze Hezbollah assets in Europe.
Britain reserves the designation for Hezbollah’s armed wing but other EU member states, which have blacklisted the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, have resisted U.S. and Israeli pressure to do the same to Hezbollah.
A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said there was a need to reflect on the outcome of the investigation and the bloc and its member states would discuss an appropriate response based on the investigation.