Framing Hezbollah for the Bulgaria bombing?

by Belen Fernandez ALJAZEERA

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine

Effort to incriminate Hezbollah in murderous activity against Israeli citizens abroad seems to be politically motivated.

Last week, the website of the New York Times announced: “Bulgaria Implicates Hezbollah in July Attack on Israelis.”

The investigation into the 2012 attack, which took place in the coastal city of Burgas and killed five Israeli tourists along with a Bulgarian bus driver and the bomber himself, is summarised in the article as follows:

“With help from the United States and Israel, investigators here broke the case – and linked it to Hezbollah – using a tip from a secret source and some old-fashioned detective work, tracing the printer that had produced two forged [driver’s] licences back to Lebanon.”

Given that a lot of things unrelated to Hezbollah – like falafel and Israeli-equipped militias – can also be traced to Lebanon, some may fail to perceive an immediate smoking gun.

As for the “help” provided to the Bulgarians by the US and its junior partner, the initial stages of assistance are viewable in the New York Times’ assessment the day after the bombing:

“American officials… identified the suicide bomber responsible for a deadly attack on Israeli vacationers here as a member of a Hezbollah cell that was operating in Bulgaria and looking for such targets, corroborating Israel’s assertions.”

That it took the Bulgarian administration approximately six-and-a-half months to discover a “reasonable assumption” of involvement in the crime by “members of the militant wing of Hezbollah” suggests that some countries are not endowed with the same talent for issuing spontaneous guilty verdicts, and may instead require some prodding.

Manufacturing evidence

Even before the forged licence-producing printer was traced to Lebanon, there was abundant proof of the Party of God’s involvement in the Burgas case.

Investigative journalist Gareth Porter – recent recipient of the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – reported in July on the so-called evidence invoked by US and Israeli officials to pin the attack on Hezbollah, including the arrest that month in Cyprus of a Lebanese man suspected of plotting to kill Israeli tourists on the island.

Porter dismantles this particular smoking gun, drawing attention first of all to a statement by a senior Cypriot official to Reuters that counteracts US and Israeli efforts to portray the plot as fact: “It is not clear what, or whether there was a target in Cyprus.” Porter continues:

“Furthermore, the Cypriot investigators believe the Lebanese they suspected of planning to harm Israeli tourists was acting alone, which doesn’t make it sound like a Hezbollah operation at all… [T]here [was] no sign of a bomb or even of materials with which to make a bomb.

read more on ALJAZEERA:

The instantaneous US-Israeli “indictment of Hezbollah” constitutes part of the campaign to pressure the European Union to categorise the organisation – both its political and military components – “as a terrorist entity” [Reuters]

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