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Hezbollah on bus bombing: We wouldn't target tourists for revenge (+video)

Some speculate that the Bulgaria bus bombing that killed five Israelis was revenge for the death of a Hezbollah commander, but Hezbollah said it does not consider tourists an equivalent target.

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If Hezbollah were involved in any of these attempted attacks, it almost certainly had nothing to do with avenging Mughniyah, but was connected to the covert war presently being waged by Iran and Israel. Several Iranian scientists involved with Iran’s nuclear program have been murdered in the past two years and computers at Iranian nuclear facilities have been struck by highly sophisticated viruses. Iran has accused Israel of the assassinations and cyber attacks, raising the possibility that it is seeking to effect a form of deterrence through limited attacks of its own against vulnerable Israeli targets.

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From Hezbollah’s perspective, avenging Mughniyah requires selecting a target with reciprocal value, such as a high-profile political or military figure in Israel. However, one reason for the lack of retaliation 4-1/2 years after Mughniyah’s death is the possibility that it could spark a fresh, and in all likelihood, highly destructive war between Hezbollah and Israel, an outcome that neither seems to desire at the present time.

Certainly, Hezbollah has acquired a reputation for honoring its promises of vengeance. A month after Israeli helicopter gunships killed Hezbollah leader Sheikh Abbas Mussawi in February 1992, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was blown up, killing 29 people. Two years later, a Jewish center also in Buenos Aires was destroyed in a bomb blast that left 85 people dead. The bombing came six weeks after Israeli jets and helicopters killed more than 40 Hezbollah recruits at a training camp in eastern Lebanon.

In the 1980s, Hezbollah was accused of mounting massive bomb attacks against US Marines in Lebanon and twice against the American embassy in Beirut. Those attacks collectively left more than 300 people dead.

Hezbollah has consistently denied involvement in the attacks of the 1980s and the two Buenos Aires operations, and for the past decade and a half appears to have abandoned major international attacks against Israeli or Western targets. Indeed, the last large-scale attack against a Western target in which Hezbollah was accused of playing a role – which it also denied – was the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, which left 19 US servicemen dead.

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