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Terrorism & Security

Israelis fear more attacks abroad in wake of Bulgaria bus bombing (+video)

Confidence appears to be growing that the Bulgaria bus bombing was part of an Iranian and Hezbollah campaign against Israeli interests abroad.

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According to the official, the attack was in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, which Iran has blamed on Israel (and Israel has neither claimed nor denied). Until now, the speculation has been that the attack was revenge for the 2008 killing of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyah, of which Israel has also been accused.

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Hezbollah has a reputation for taking revenge for attacks on its members. But The Christian Science Monitor reports that Hezbollah has denied culpability in this attack, insisting that it wouldn't kill tourists to avenge Mr. Mugniyah. "From Hezbollah’s perspective, avenging Mughniyah requires selecting a target with reciprocal value, such as a high-profile political or military figure in Israel," according to the Monitor.

Sources told AFP that investigators were looking particularly closely at Bulgarians who have recently converted to Islam, as well as any Lebanese living in the country, because of the Hezbollah link. 

"This was an attack against Israeli interests," Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said today, according to AFP. "The aim was to show that Israeli citizens can be attacked anywhere in the world."

Military correspondents Avi Isaacharof and Amos Harel write in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that, barring decisive action by Israel on Iran's nuclear program, the tit-for-tat small attacks will continue. Citing the numerous attempts on Israeli targets in the past few months in India, Georgia, and Thailand, among others, Israelis should be prepared, they write.

Clearly, [Iran's] preference would be to strike at a more "prestigious" target: an embassy, a senior diplomat or politician on a visit abroad, an Israeli plane. Because the Iranians have not succeeded in this so far, and because it is important for them to exact a price from Israel for the assassinations of Iranian scientists and Hezbollah leader Imad Mughriyeh [Mughniyah], they apparently consider even a tourist bus a worthy target. There is no reason to be impressed by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's denial of any connection to this week's attack. Israel should deploy for the possibility of more attempts to perpetrate more of them.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation and international police force Interpol have arrived in Bulgaria to assist with the investigation, AFP reports.

Hezbollah 101: Who is the militant group, and what does it want?

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