On September 21st, a Bulgarian Special Criminal Court convicted 2 men linked with Hezbollah for the 2012 Burgas bus bombing, that killed the bus driver and 5 Israeli tourists, and wounded 32 Israelis. The men, Meliad Farah, a Lebanese-Australian, and Hassan el-Hajj, a Lebanese-Canadian, were sentenced to life in prison for aiding and abetting Mohamad Hassan el-Husseini, the Lebanese-French suicide bomber who died in the blast.
Immediately following the attack, Hezbollah was blamed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for being behind the attack with the backing of Iran, in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists for which Iran blamed Israel, but the evidence was deemed inconclusive, and both Hezbollah and its patron, Iran, denied any involvement. An investigation was launched subsequently. According to witness reports, security camera footage, and DNA tests, on July 18th, 2012, the bus, driven by Mustafa Kyosov, picked up the 42 Israeli tourists from Burgas Airport, and shortly afterwards exploded. The source of the explosion was believed to be an ammonium-nitrate bomb planted in the luggage compartment of the bus by Mohammad Hassan el-Husseini, who then proceeded to detonate it and die in the act. He had a fake driver’s license from Michigan, United States, and was seen on security camera tape an hour before the blast, as well as by witnesses in the days prior to the blast speaking to tourists at local beaches. His accomplices, Meliad Farah and Hassan el-Hajj, spent at least a month in Bulgaria before the attack, and provided him with the explosives and other logistical support, and afterwards fled Bulgaria to an unknown destination.
Although Hezbollah and Iran denied any involvement, all three were found to be members of Hezbollah, and the attack was believed to have been plotted outside of Bulgaria for over a year and a half. Following the attack, the European Union in 2013 declared Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization. However, up until today, the European Union, of which Bulgaria is a member of, still differentiates between Hezbollah’s military and political wings, even though a number of major European nations, such as Germany and Austria, have discontinued to do so and consider Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.
As always, the questions that begs to be asked is: how can such an attack, that was planned months in advance, be concluded with the conviction of merely 2 (3, if we account for the dead as well) Hezbollah operatives? Like the International Court of Justice’s Tribunal for the murder of Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, Bulgaria’s Special Court of Justice stopped at the level of low-ranking operatives in the field that physically carried out the attack, and has not addressed and accused the authorizing and dispatching rank of Hezbollah, except for a generally stating the operations were carried out by Hezbollah.
It is obvious that a terror attack such as this one cannot be carried out without Hezbollah’s established infrastructure in Europe. Hezbollah’s infrastructure is founded on different civilian organizations that operate within the Lebanese Shiite communities in Europe and poses a clear threat to security.
Considering this, it is very surprising that aside for a few nations, most of the nations in the European Union in general and Bulgaria in particular continue to differentiate between Hezbollah’s military and civilian wing.
The attack in Burgas, described above, was a wakeup call for Europe, sadly one that wasn’t grasped the way it should have been, and even today, at this moment in fact, France, a major country in Europe, converses with Hezbollah…