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Bulgarian officials on Tuesday implicated the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah in a targeted bombing last year that killed five Israeli tourists.
Bulgaria could clear the way for Europe to finally designate Hezbollah as a terror group by officially pointing its finger at Hezbollah—and by proxy Iran, which sponsors the terror group.
Bulgarian investigators revealed they could link the terrorists to Hezbollah and Iran.
“There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects,” Reuters quoted Bulgarian interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov as saying Tuesday.
“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,” Tsvetanov said.
Israel and the United States suggested Hezbollah was to blame for the attack soon after it occurred last year.
“We strongly urge other governments around the world—and particularly our partners in Europe—to take immediate action to crack down on Hezbollah. We need to send an unequivocal message to this terrorist group that it can no longer engage in despicable actions with impunity,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday in a statement.
The revelation of Hezbollah’s involvement in the coordinated attack could pave the way for European nations to finally blacklist the terror group, which is still permitted to fundraise and transport money in much of the European Union.
“The announcement comes in the midst of American efforts to convince the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist group and to ban the organization from conducting business on the continent,” the Israel Project (TIP) said in a statement Tuesday morning.
“France and Germany have broadly rejected U.S. appeals to blacklist the group,” TIP stated. “Their objections may now become strained as Bulgarian officials outline evidence that Hezbollah committed a terrorist act on the sovereign territory of an E.U. member state.”
Iran continues to deny involvement in the attack.
The Bulgarian investigation found that the perpetrators were carrying fake U.S. driver’s licenses, according to Reuters.
“All three people involved in the attack had fake U.S. driving licenses that were printed in Lebanon,” according to the report. “The two suspects with Canadian and Australian passports had been living in Lebanon, one since 2006 and the other since 2010.”
Experts have warned in the past that Bulgaria could be a target for terrorists.
“Bulgaria has long been viewed as a potential target for terrorists, in part because of its increasingly warm bilateral relationship with the United States,” TIP stated in its release on the commission’s findings. “The two countries enjoy close military ties, Bulgaria having contributed over 400 troops to the U.S.-led campaign in Iraq and over 600 personnel to the NATO mission in Afghanistan.”