July 19, 2012
Israel will likely use the attack in Bulgaria as a pretext to take out Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Earlier this month, we reported on comments made by the IDF that revealed Israel plans to invade Lebanon and “the damage will be enormous.” Israel claims Syria is transferring missiles and chemicals weapons to Hezbollah, the Shi’ite paramilitary organization established following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
The New York Times has weighed in on the suicide attack in Bulgaria that claimed the lives of five Israelis:
A senior American official confirmed Israel’s assertions on Thursday that the suicide bomber who killed five Israelis in an attack here on Wednesday was a member of a Hezbollah cell operating in Bulgaria.
The official said the current American intelligence assessment is that the bomber was “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when the opportunity presented itself. That guidance was given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by its primary sponsor, Iran, he said.
A senior Israeli official told the newspaper the attack in Burgas was part of a larger plan to carry out terrorist bombings against Israeli targets by Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds Force in response to the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.
The U.S. and Israel are pushing the Hezbollah-Iran narrative despite a complete lack of evidence. The New York Times reports “that there were no details yet about the bomber — his name, age or nationality. He also declined to describe what specific intelligence — intercepted communications, analysis of the bomber’s body parts and other details — that led analysts to conclude that the suicide bomber belonged to Hezbollah.”
Earlier today it was reported that the man was Mehdi Ghezali. He was purportedly detained at the Guantanamo Bay camp from 2002 to 2004. According to The Times of Israel, Ghezali previously studied at a Muslim religious school and mosque in Britain, and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where he was renditioned.
Infowars.com has extensively documented links between mosques in Britain and British intelligence.
The CIA and Pakistani intelligence collaborated together to create and run the Afghan Mujahideen in the war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. A faction would later beconverted into al-Qaeda and would be used as a destabilization force in the Balkans and elsewhere.
July 19, 2012
Obama has pledged support for Israel in the wake of a deadly blast yesterday in Burgas on the Black Sea.
“I strongly condemn today’s barbaric terrorist attack on Israelis in Bulgaria. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those killed and injured, and with the people of Israel, Bulgaria, and any other nation whose citizens were harmed in this awful event,” Obama said in a statement. “These attacks against innocent civilians, including children, are completely outrageous.”
“The United States will stand with our allies, and provide whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack,” Obama added. “As Israel has tragically once more been a target of terrorism, the United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.”
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu instinctively placed blame for the suicide bombing that killed at least six people and wounded 32 on Iran. “All signs lead to Iran,”Netanyahu said in a text message. “Israel will respond forcefully to Iranian terror.”
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said additional investigations will be required before a perpetrator is announced. “It is wrong and a mistake to point fingers at this stage of the investigation at any country or organization,” stated Mladenov.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the attack was carried out “by operatives of Hezbollah, who are sponsored by Iran.”
Netanyahu pointed out that the attack came on the 18th anniversary of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires.
Israel and Argentinian officials have blamed Iran and Hezbollah for the 1994 attack. Others insist the attack was an Israeli false flag.
Iran has denied any involvement in the attack. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the accusation is an attempt to divert attention away from Israel’s role in the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists.
“The Zionist regime, which had a direct role in the assassination of our country’s nuclear scientists, is leveling baseless accusations to divert global attention to its own terrorist nature,” Mehmanparast said.
On Thursday, the establishment media pushed the Iran terror narrative and alluded to Iranian involvement despite a lack of conclusive evidence.
Israel will “certainly choose the time and place, and we will react firmly. The Israeli people, state, army of Israel will defend itself and Iranians will know they cannot shed Israeli blood with impunity,” said Michael Oren, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, according to a Fox News transcript.
Oren repeated this mantra on MSNBC during an interview with Andrea Mitchell.
Meanwhile, officials said the suicide bomber was Mehdi Ghezali, an Algerian-Swedish Islamist who spent two years in Guantanamo Bay.
July 19, 2012
Bulgarian media have named the suicide bomber who blew up the bus with Israeli tourists on Wednesday, killing seven. The terrorist is alleged to be Mehdi Ghezali, an Algerian-Swedish Islamist who spent two years in Guantanamo Bay.
Officials have so far refused to comment on the information.
Previously, local police matched up airport CCTV footage with the remnants near the bus carrying Israeli tourists that was destroyed in the explosion. The likely suicide bomber was carrying a US driving license bearing the name Jacque Felipe Martin that authorities believe to be a forgery.
Mehdi Ghezali is a 33 year-old Islamist, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 and subsequently spent two years in detention in Guantanamo. When he was sent back to Sweden, the local government refused to press charges against him. He was arrested again by Pakistani authorities on the Afghanistan border in 2009, but once again set free upon extradition back to his homeland.
The suspect – a long-haired man in shorts wearing two rucksacks – looked no different than the thousands of other holidaymakers at the popular Black Sea resort. He roamed the airport for an hour, apparently waiting for the tourists arriving from Tel Aviv to go through customs before approaching their transfer bus and detonating his bomb.
Five Israelis, the Bulgarian driver and the bomber were instantly killed. Two more tourists remain in serious condition in the capital Sofia, while an Israeli military plane has flown around thirty others who were wounded back to Israel.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the bomber had spent between four days and a week in the country.
”We cannot exclude the possibility that he had logistical support on Bulgarian territory,” said Tsvetanov.
Police have taken a DNA sample from the skin of the terrorist to see if it is listed in any international criminal databases.
The shadow war
Israel did not hesitate in naming the perpetrators of the attack.
“All signs point to Iran. This is an Iranian terror offensive that is spreading throughout the world,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The past year has seen attacks on Israeli embassies in Georgia, India and Kenya. Israel says that each time the investigation led back to Iran, Israel’s principal enemy.
“The direct executors are Hezbollah,” claimed Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The Lebanese Islamist organization enjoys ideological and financial ties with Tehran.
“Israel will do all it can to find those responsible and punish them, both those who carried it out directly and those who dispatched them,” promised Barak.
In response, Iranian TV branded the accusations “sensationalist” and “ridiculous.”
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said further investigations will be necessary before a definitive perpetrator of the attack is found.
“It is wrong and a mistake to point fingers at this stage of the investigation at any country or organization,” stated Mladenov.
July 20, 2012
Anonymous U.S. officials are quoted by the NY Times stating explicitly that a Hezbollah suicide bomber attacked the Israeli tourist bus yesterday. While this is entirely possible, I think we should remember the bizarre bombing plot of a few months ago in which a small-time Iranian drug dealer was alleged by the Justice Department to have direct links to the Revolutionary Guards, and to have plotted the assassination of the Saudi ambassador. By the way, this is the same person, Bandar ibn Sultan, just appointed chief of Saudi intelligence.
We haven’t heard a peep from the government about the so-called Saudi bomb plot though Obama had it all over the front pages at the time, since it was a useful cudgel to use against Iran. So I think caution is warranted in approaching this latest claim.
But let’s assume the news is true and review the issues surrounding possible Hezbollah involvement. Why would they do it? Yesterday, former Israeli national security advisor, Uzi Arad, gave a fascinating interview(Hebrew audio beginning around the 5:00 mark) to Israeli Army (Galey Tzahal) radio. You’ll recall that the irascible Arad left the prime minister’s office (or was fired) in a huff, after being accused of leaking prejudicial information that angered the Obama administration. When he left, he was not a happy camper. As I recall, he even threatened a lawsuit.
Yesterday, Arad got a dose of revenge. He revealed for the first time(Hebrew) a secret that most of the world already knew: that the Mossad assassinated Hezbollah’s second in command, Imad Mugniyeh in 2008. But this statement seemed extraordinarily candid considering it came from an ex-Mossad spy and hardline Israeli national security official. It was made in response to Bibi Netanyahu’s claim that Iran was behind the Bulgaria attack and, as such, was the “world’ leading exporter of terror:”
We are to a great extent the initiator. We attacked Imad Mugniyeh and we are conducting a battle against Iran [an allusion possibly to Israeli assassinations there]. We are not passive. The other side is responding [to us], deterring and [counter] attacking. If Israel responds to this [the Bulgaria bombing], then we must take into account that the other side will respond in kind. That’s the dynamic.
…Both Syria and Iran are in retreat. The side that is on the attack is the one seeking to stop Syria and Iran and that will, at the right moment, deal with this problem called Hezbollah.
He said about yesterday’s attack: “now is Iran’s revenge.” How is the assassination of a Hezbollah leader Iran’s revenge? First, Mugniyeh was the chief liaison between the Lebanese Islamist movement and Iran. He was rumored to have played a role in thebombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in which 250 U.S. soldiers died. He certainly played a key role operationally in Hezbollah’s defense of southern Lebanon during the 2006 war.
In that sense, Iran might’ve wanted revenge just for Mugniyeh’s killing. But personally, that wouldn’t make sense to me. That wouldn’t be enough to motivate Iran to take such a large risk that might lead to war. But given today’s claim of Hezbollahauthorship, Arad’s comment yesterday makes much more sense. It isn’t Iran’s revenge, but rather Hezbollah’s. Of course, the two maintain such close relations that there might’ve been some Iranian involvement. And certainly Iran can count this as some sort of revenge (however twisted) for the Mossad murder of its nuclear scientists. But Hezbollah has clear motivation and the least to lose from orchestrating this act of terror.
With such an act it avenges the murder of Mugniyeh and strikes a further blow in return for Israel’s devastation of southern Lebanon during the 2006 war. But what disturbs me about this claim is that Hezbollah hasn’t engaged in such an act of international terror in nearly 20 years. And that’s considering you accept disputed claims that it was involved in the 1994 Argentina bombings. For it to return to such activities seems out of character for the movement. Until now, it has kept the scope of its activities confined to Lebanon itself and its direct feud with Israel.
Israel has warned periodically since 2006 of Hezbollah’s intent to take revenge on its targets abroad. Recently, a suspected Hezbollah operative was arrested in Cyprus for allegedly planning to attack Israeli targets.
If Hezbollah authored the attack, it is willing to go on the attack against Israel despite the heavy losses it incurred in 2006. It is prepared to absorb whatever losses it may incur from expected Israeli counter-attacks. In short, it’s willing to turn back the clock to those dark days of war. With the major difference, that it now has several times the missiles it had then to fire at Israel if hostilities are renewed. It also means that Iran is prepared to see a possible renewal of hostilities on the Lebanese front as well. Which is important to Hezbollah because Iran is its major arms supplier.
I don’t know how the unrest in Syria factors into this. It certainly complicates things for Iran, as Syria was the major arms conduit for matériel it sent to Lebanon. Further, if major hostilities break out in northern Israel alongside a possible Syrian civil war, one wonders how much instability this small region can take at the same time. Not to mention that the more instability there is, the easier it would be for a single incident or even a single bullet to blow the entire region to smithereens, along the lines of the 1914 Sarajevo assassination that precipitated World War I (Trita Parsi picked up on this reference in his post at Open Zion yesterday).
Finally, let’s reiterate a message I’ve stated here countless times (and it was Arad’s too): terror isn’t born ex nihilo. It comes from a context. The context here is that Israel’s acts of vengeance (for example, its launch of all-out war against Leabanon in response to the death of several of her soldiers) have spurred retaliation from the other side. If the U.S. and/or Israel believe that their own acts of terror can bring Iran to heel or force it to do anything it refuses to do (like end its nuclear program), it will pay dearly for the presumption.
To be clear, this is not justification for Iranian or Hezbollah terror. It is a factual, realistic prognosis of what will happen if each side continues to believe it can bomb the other into submission. Blood is blood. It doesn’t matter if it’s Israeli or Iranian or Lebanese. If you shed their blood they’ll shed yours. Should we get to the point where we have to measure which side has the most blood to spare, and can thereby outlast the others? If that’s the case we might as well abandon our pretence of being a civilization and resort to primal wars of conquest and extermination of the sort recounted in the Old Testament. Or better yet, to quote Tom Lehrer, “let’s drop the Big One now.”