Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said on February 5 that Bulgarian investigators had found evidence that the suicide bombing that killed six people at Bourgas airport in July 2012 was “financed by Hezbollah”.
Speaking after a six-hour meeting of the consultative council on national security, called by Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev, at which Tsvetanov delivered an extensive update on the investigation into the bombing that took the life of six Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver, he confirmed reports in international media earlier in the day that Bulgaria was preparing to officially blame Hezbollah for the terrorist act.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Israel was quick to apportion blame for the terrorist bombing to Hezbollah and Iran, citing its own intelligence sources. Sofia, in turn, has repeatedly underlined over the past six months that it wants to be absolutely certain on the basis of evidence before pointing a finger.
“One can make a valid assumption – I wish to repeat, a valid assumption – that the two individuals whose identity we have established, were members of Hezbollah’s military wing,” Tsvetanov told reporters after the consultative council meeting.
“The identity of two individuals has been established. They had Canadian and Australian passports and lived on the territory of Lebanon between 2006 and 2010,” he said.
The two co-conspirators used their real identities to enter Bulgaria, as did the suicide bomber, and again to exit the country, Tsvetanov said. But while in Bulgaria, they used fake US drivers’ licenses made in Lebanon, Tsvetanov said.
Investigators had managed to track the co-conspirators’ movements in Bulgaria for the entire duration of their stay, between June 28 and July 18, he said. The trio used the fake drivers licences, which looked like those issued by the state of Michigan, to check into hotels and rent cars.
The investigation was ongoing, Tsvetanov said. “We are counting on the government of Lebanon and our traditionally good relations to conclude the investigation,” he said.
Authorities in Canada and Australia, as well as law enforcement partners in European countries, have been contacted for assistance as part of the investigation.
The information disclosure has been authorised by the prosecutor on the case, Tsvetanov said, taking no questions from the media. Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov, in attendance during the briefing, did not speak to the media.
President Plevneliev said that the issue would be discussed further by Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, but gave no further details.
Earlier in the day, several international media have reported that Bulgaria was poised to finally officially point the finger at Hezbollah. Among the leaked details, later confirmed by Tsvetanov, was that one of the suspects had an Australian passport. The New York Times said that an official accusation could force the European Union “to reconsider whether to designate the group a terrorist organization, as the United States and Israel have urged.”
(Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov speaks to journalists at Bourgas Airport after the July 18 2012 bombing)