The suicide bomber who attacked Israeli tourists in Bulgaria earlier this week was an Hezbollah operative, U.S. officials told the New York Times, adding that the bombing was ordered by Iran in order to avenge assassinations targeting its nuclear scientists.
On Thursday, in what seems like the first confirmation of Israel’s suspicions concerning the source and perpetrator of the attack, U.S. officials said that the man identified the suicide bomber was a member of a Hezbollah terror cell.
One official speaking to the U.S. daily said that current assessments were that the bomber acted “under broad guidance” to strike Israeli targets when possible, and that guidance for the operation was provided by Tehran. Moreover, the official said that the attack was ordered to retaliate for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has been blaming Israel and the U.S.
“This was tit for tat,” the official, speaking under condition of anonymity, told the New York Times. Two other officials confirmed that Hezbollah perpetrated the bombing.
The bomber, who killed five Israelis, a Bulgarian bus driver and himself, reportedly had a fake Michigan driver’s license. While his name or nationality remains unknown, there are no indications that he was connected to the United States, the senior American official said.
“This looks like he was hanging out for a local target, and when this popped up he jumped on it,” the official said, according to the newspaper.
He speculated that the attack was in response for assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and workers in the past few years, which Iran has blamed on Israel. The Jewish state has neither confirmed nor denied the allegations.
Shortly after the bombing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed Hezbollah for the attack.
With Haaretz and JTA