Sofia, Bulgaria — Defying substantial German and French pressure to not explicitly name Hezbollah as the terror group behind the bombing of a tour bus that killed one Bulgarian national and five Israelis in July 2012, the Bulgarian authorities have blamed Hezbollah operatives for the murders.
Bulgaria’s interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov declared, “We have established that the two were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah,” and, “There is data showing the financing and connection between Hezbollah and the two suspects.”
Bizarrely, the French and German governments have seriously watered down their counterterrorism policies and refused thus far to include Hezbollah in the EU’s terror list. The major continental European powers have showed no desire to stop thousands of Hezbollah members from raising funds within Europe. The money is funneled back to the headquarters of the Lebanon-based terror entity to aid the militia in its murderous enterprise.
In response to the finding, Representative Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a statement: “Now that Hezbollah has been found responsible for an attack on a European Union member nation, the EU must designate it as a terrorist organization. Failure to do so will only give these killers the opportunity to further organize, recruit, raise funds, and carry out additional terrorist attacks across the continent.”
He rightly termed the EU’s failure to outlaw Hezbollah “incomprehensible” and noted that, “The EU’s indefensible policy on Hezbollah makes defending all of us from Iranian-backed terrorism even more difficult.”
Bulgaria made the right and objective decision based on the facts and evidence. The small Eastern Europe country has carved out new territory in the efforts to combat terrorism. Western allies such as Germany and France should not abandon Bulgaria at this critical time.
John Brennan, the Obama administration’s top counterterrorism official and the president’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, said in a statement on Tuesday, “The United States commends the government of Bulgaria for its professional and comprehensive investigation into the barbaric July 18, 2012 terrorist attack in Burgas. . . . Bulgaria’s implication of Hizballah underscores the importance of international cooperation in disrupting terrorist threats.”
Brennan publicly chastised the EU in October for failing to ban Hezbollah within its territories because the anti-U.S. terror organization is undercutting American and international security.
He echoed his October remarks today, saying, “Hizballah’s dangerous and destabilizing activities — from attacking tourists in foreign countries to leader Hassan Nasrallah’s active support of Bashar al-Assad’s violent campaign against the Syrian people — threaten the safety and security of nations and citizens around the world.”
Will the key powers in Europe — France and Germany — stand up and combat lethal Islamic terrorism in their backyard and stop blocking an EU terror designation of Hezbollah?
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.