Australian linked to deadly bus bombing
Australian with connections to the Hezbollah militant group a key suspect in a bombing that killed six people at a Black Sea resort last year.PT1M26S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2dxat 620 349 February 6, 2013
Two suspects - one an Australian - behind a bus attack that killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last year have been identified and both are now living in Lebanon, a top Bulgarian security official says.
The bomb that exploded on July 18 as the Israeli tourists were boarding a bus at the airport in Burgas also killed a Bulgarian bus driver and the suspected bomber. Three men are suspected in the attack, including the dead bomber.
On Tuesday, an official Bulgarian report said investigators had "well-grounded reasons to suggest" that two of the suspects belonged to the militant wing of the Islamist group Hezbollah, an accusation the group dismissed as part of an Israeli smear campaign against it.
The Bulgarian report said the suspects had been living in Lebanon for years, one with a Canadian passport and the other with an Australian one.
Stanimir Florov, head of Bulgaria's anti-terror unit, said on Wednesday that the names of the suspects were known, they were now based in the same country and "we have asked Lebanese authorities to assist in our investigation." He did not elaborate.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr confirmed federal police had been working with Bulgaria to find the Australian suspect.
"The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has worked with Bulgarian authorities in pursuit of those responsible for the bombing," Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr said in a statement on Wednesday.
"All Australians would be proud that the AFP has played an important role in this investigation to date."
The Australian government has listed the Hezbollah External Security Organisation (ESO) as a terrorist group since 2003, and membership or support for the organisation is a crime in Australia.
The identity of the bomber remains unknown even though his DNA samples have been shared with intelligence agencies in other nations, he said, adding that no DNA match has been found in their databases.
Florov said the bomb was probably supposed to explode while the bus was in motion "but the terrorists obviously made a mistake."
Europol Director Rob Wainwright confirmed that comment, telling The Associated Press that investigators believe the bomber never intended to die. A Europol expert who analysed a fragment of a circuit board from the bomb determined that it was detonated remotely, he said.
If the explosives had blown up while the bus was full, there would have been many more victims and much of the evidence would have been destroyed, Florov said.
"In that case, the investigation would have started from ground zero," he said.
Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told the National Post that one of the suspects was born in Lebanon, came to Canada at age eight, became a Canadian citizen and then left at age 12. He said he assumed the man was a dual Lebanese-Canadian citizen.
"I understand he may have been back to Canada a few times since then, but he has not has been a habitual resident in Canada since the age of 12," Kenney said.
Hezbollah dismisses claims
The Lebanese Islamist Hezbollah movement dismissed Bulgaria's accusation Thursday morning that it carried out a bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists last year, saying Israel was waging a smear campaign against it.
Deputy Hezbollah leader Naim Qassem said Israel was directing "allegations and incitements and accusations against Hezbollah" because it had failed to defeat it militarily.
Mr Qassem said Hezbollah, which fought an inconclusive 34-day war with Israel in 2006 and is now a powerful part of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government, would not change course or be deflected by the charges.
"Israel is leading an international campaign to intimidate people and countries against Hezbollah," he told religious students in southern Beirut.
"All these accusations against Hezbollah will have no effect, and do not change the facts," Mr Qassem said. "We will not submit to these pressures and we will not change our priorities. Our compass will remain directed towards Israel."