NY Times ‘confirms’ Hezbollah/Iran connection to Bulgaria attack by quoting unnamed American ‘officials’

It’s official. It’s not just Benjamin Netanyahu who has accused Iran and Hezbollah of the terrorist attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The accusation has now been confirmed by American officials as well as the crack New York Times investigative reporting team of Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt. The newspaper of record leaves no doubt, as the article demonstrates [my comments in brackets]:

American officials on Thursday 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 and making the bombing a new source of tension with Iran. [The American officials “confirmed” this accusation by believing and repeating the accusations made by Israeli officials.]

One senior American official said the current American intelligence assessment was that the bomber, who struck Wednesday, killing five Israelis, had been “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when opportunities presented themselves, and that the guidance had been given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by Iran, its primary sponsor. Two other American officials confirmed that Hezbollah was behind the bombing, but declined to provide additional details. [The details would reveal too much about American intelligence-gathering methods, and endanger American agents and their sources around the world. We’ll just have to trust them.]

The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has blamed Israeli agents — an accusation that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. “This was tit for tat,” said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. [If the official allowed his name to be used, it would compromise the investigation. Isn’t that obvious? Besides, we can assume that the Times reporters have exhaustively and independently verified this anonymous official’s stellar track record for truthfulness and accuracy.]

The bombing comes amid heightened tensions over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes but Israel and the West say is a cover for developing weapons. [This opinion of “Israel and the West” has similarly been confirmed, corroborated and verified by a wide variety of Israeli and American officials who have spoken on condition of anonymity because the nuclear program is “still under way.”] The United States and Europe imposed sanctions this month aimed at crippling Iran’s vital oil industry, while Iran has sworn to exact revenge for the assassinations, as well as for cyberattacks on its nuclear industry. [The United States and Israel, far more civilized countries, would never engage in “revenge” for assassinations of its citizens or cyberattacks; they engage only in retaliatory self-defense and deterrence of future crimes.]

A senior Israeli official said on Thursday that the Burgas attack was part of an intensive wave of terrorist attacks around the world carried out by two different organizations, the Iranian Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as well as by Hezbollah.

“They work together when necessary, and separately when not necessary,” the Israeli official told reporters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly discuss national security issues. [Israeli government prosecutors are launching an intensive investigation into the identity of the Israeli official who leaked this information regarding Iran and Hezbollah’s collaboration in international terrorism when he (she?) was unauthorized to do so.]

While the Burgas attack fit the modus operandi of Hezbollah [as well as the M.O. of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, various splinter groups, Iran, the Tamil Tigers, and the New York Mets], the Israeli official said, it was not clear whether the bomber intended to blow himself up or had suffered what the official called a “work accident,” adding, “We will never know.” [I doubt that. Israeli investigators will surely be able construct a verbatim transcript of the bomber’s most private, intimate thoughts, including his loyalty oath to Hezbollah and Iran just before detonating.]

The bomber had a fake Michigan driver’s license, but there are no indications that he had any connection to the United States, the American official said, adding that there were no details yet about the bomber like his name or nationality.[No details? This anonymous American official is far too modest. We may not know the bomber’s name or nationality but we are quite certain he was a Hezbollah operative acting on instructions from Iran. That has been confirmed and re-confirmed by two government intelligence agencies and the newspaper of record.] He also declined to describe what specific intelligence — intercepted communications, analysis of the bomber’s body parts or other details — that led analysts to conclude that the bomber belonged to Hezbollah. [Such information is too sensitive to reveal. Indeed it may have been irresponsible for the reporters to speculate on particular forms of intelligence that may have played a role, since it gives valuable information to our enemies.]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a news conference on Thursday in Jerusalem that the attack in Burgas was carried out by “Hezbollah, the long arm of Iran.” [The nature of this sinister relationship is clear because Iran and Hezbollah are close allies, Iran supplies Hezbollah with generous material support, and Hezbollah maintains a powerful lobby in Tehran to ensure that the supply pipeline continues at full throttle.] . . .

The suicide attack, the country’s first, sent police and intelligence officers from Bulgaria, Israel and the United States racing to identify the bomber and to look for possible accomplices and evidence that would connect him to Hezbollah or Iran. [As it turns out, the “evidence that would connect him to Hezbollah and Iran” was overwhelming and immediately apparent, though the details must remain secret. The bomber’s actual identity and possible accomplices may take a little longer.]

Officials here have said they have the man’s fingerprints and his DNA, and are trying to identify a man roughly 36 years old, who they suspect was in the country between four and seven days before the blast. [These are the Bulgarian “officials,” operating at super slo-mo speed. Israeli and American officials are in possession of the bomber’s Hezbollah membership card.] The Bulgarians are still trying to figure out how the bomber entered the country, how he traveled around and where he stayed. [Irrelevant information. The important stuff – connection to Hezbollah and Iran – we already know.] The police released the video in the hopes that the man would be recognized. Beyond that, investigators had more questions than answers. [That’s the Bulgarian investigators. Israeli and American officials have more answers than questions.] “We’re not pointing the finger in any direction until we know what happened and complete our investigation,” Nickolay Mladenov, Bulgaria’s foreign minister, said in an interview.[How does he expect anyone to believe him if he does not speak to the press on condition of anonymity because the investigation is proceeding? What does he think we are, stupid?] . . . Mr. Netanyahu added, “A terrorist state must not have a nuclear weapon.” [What a deadly combination that would be! A country that deliberately attacks civilians equipped with a nuclear arsenal!!!] Bulgarian authorities said they were working with the F.B.I., the C.I.A., the Israeli intelligence services and Interpol. Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said that the F.B.I. determined that the driver’s license was a fake and that the person described on the card did not exist. [Another backward Bulgarian who does not realize that giving his name compromises the ongoing investigation. Where is his common sense?] . . .

A few additional points must be made. First, Israel is once again exercising almost superhuman restraint by not retaliating against the guilty parties. No doubt Israel is weary from previous world-wide anti-semitic condemnations of their right to self-defense. However, let no one mistake weariness for weakness. When pushed too far, Israel will respond, even if its leaders are far more cautious than the average government out of heightened concern for the value of human life.

Second, the courage of these unauthorized leakers never ceases to amaze me. These American and Israeli officials risk everything to disclose the truth to the public despite their governments’ insistence on suppressing this highly sensitive information. Should the unnamed officials speaking without authorization ever be identified, their fate is likely to be similar to that of Bradley Manning, who faces life in prison for similar actions. And then there are the intrepid reporters themselves. They risk subpoenas to compel them to reveal their sources, and serious jail time if they refuse to comply.

Finally, Stephen Colbert must apologize for his buffoonish act at the White House correspondents dinner a few years back, when he insulted the press corps by saying that they simply typed what they had been told by government officials. Kulish and Schmitt’s courageous reporting prove him wrong. Message to Colbert: Being a “comedian” does not entitle you to cross the boundaries of legitimate comedy and engage in outright defamation.

About David Samel

David Samel is am attorney in New York City.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 34 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. gracie fr says:

    The next thing you know, “unnamed official” will be dredging up the story of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who attempted to assassinate Pope Jean Paul II as “proof” of the Bulgarian hotbed/haven for “international terrorism”…..

    • ColinWright says:

      “The next thing you know, “unnamed official” will be dredging up the story of Mehmet Ali Agca…”

      He was working pretty hard during the Intifada. I’m glad to see he’s still got his touch.

  2. RE: “It’s not just Benjamin Netanyahu who has accused
    Iran and Hezbollah of the terrorist attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The accusation has now been confirmed by . . . the crack New York Times investigative reporting team of Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt.” ~ David Samel

    ALSO SEE: “Journalism v. propaganda”, by Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com, 7/20/12
    LINK – link to salon.com

    P.S. Glenn Greenwald will be leaving Salon to join The Guardian beginning on August 20. – link to salon.com

    • straightline says:

      Maybe Greenwald can influence the Guardian’s reporting of Syria. It has consistently, immediately, and without question, parroted the propaganda of the “activists” until proved wrong when it has grudgingly changed its story. At one point a commenter said “I don’t believe a f**k*ng thing the Guardian says about Syria” and received 10 times as many likes as any other comment.

  3. Bumblebye says:

    This farmyard full of bs is too deep for the farmer’s boots not to be overtopped!
    A number of pictures of the still missing Mehdi Ghezali:
    link to old.cageprisoners.com
    Is it possible the US could “lose” fingerprints and DNA in order to fit nefarious political wish lists?

  4. Shingo says:

    I’m surprised that they haven’t fingered the kid for teh batman shootings as a Hezbollah opertive also – he did it to distract world attention from the Burgas terror attack.

  5. mudder says:

    I’m old enough to remember the 1995 Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Office crime, which was perpetrated by Hezbollah.. Or at least that what was said initially by experts who noted that car and truck bombs were modus operandi of Hezbollah.

    Beware those who point fingers based on modus operandi.

    • dbroncos says:

      mudder-

      On of those ‘experts’ was Steve Emerson who was interviewed early and often about the Oklahoma City attack. He made it clear in his interviews that the bombing was committed by Islamic terrorists. Emerson is a Zionist hack.

  6. Brewer says:

    Shades of the Argentinian AIMA Bombing which fixed Hezbollah and Iran as International terrorists in the public’s mind.
    The accusation was, of course, totally false, as it transpired, long after it became accepted and long after it left the front pages.
    link to brewerstroupe.blogspot.co.nz

    The enormous value of branding like this is that, subsequently, all manner of atrocities can be attributed to the target organisation without the necessity for a jot of evidence.

  7. Avi_G. says:

    Officials here have said they have the man’s fingerprints and his DNA, and are trying to identify a man roughly 36 years old, who they suspect was in the country between four and seven days before the blast. [These are the Bulgarian “officials,” operating at super slo-mo speed. Israeli and American officials are in possession of the bomber’s Hezbollah membership card.] The Bulgarians are still trying to figure out how the bomber entered the country, how he traveled around and where he stayed. [Irrelevant information. The important stuff – connection to Hezbollah and Iran – we already know.]

    That sums it all up.

    • Remax says:

      Israeli and American officials are in possession of the bomber’s Hezbollah membership card

      Hot of the press no doubt

  8. ColinWright says:

    The great thing about David Samel’s piece is that it can simultaneously appear here and on most pro-Israel sites I’ve seen.

  9. ColinWright says:

    This could have a sequel:

    “Report: Israel fears Iranian terror attack at London 2012 Olympics.”

    I wonder what Israel has planned now? The wave of terror continues…

    • ColinWright says:

      …Somebody at Haaretz suggested that British security replace the Mossad agents assigned to the Israelis Olympic team.

      Just to be sure the athletes are safe.

    • Roya says:

      Marine veteran Gordon Duff:

      “Israel is likely to try to precipitate a war on Iran by staging an attack on the US, its forces in the Persian Gulf region or on a European NATO target, most likely the London Olympics…. There has been highly credible information that an attack on the Olympics is planned,” he said.

      After attacking the US ships in the Persian Gulf or the London Olympics, Duff added, Israel will use its powerful lobby in the US and international media to blame Iran for what had happened.

      link to presstv.com
      Let’s hope nobody has to say ‘I told you so.’

      • Sassan says:

        lol Roya, PressTV as your news source? lol!

        • MRW says:

          PressTV has a lot of cajones reporting accurate news, and offering different views, outside of Iran. You shouldn’t be mocking it.

        • ColinWright says:

          lol Roya, PressTV as your news source? lol!

          More like memories of the Liberty, I imagine.

          Hey, it almost worked.

        • Roya says:

          The establishment is so threatened by Press TV that they tried banning it in Germany and the UK and Facebook closed its account (for technical reasons, or so they say) . Of course, the pretenses for banning it were so flimsy that they had no choice but to lift the bans. So no, you cannot shame me for using Press TV as a reliable news source.

        • hophmi says:

          “PressTV has a lot of cajones reporting accurate news…”

          ROTFLMAO.

          What next, a paean to Pravda?

  10. Remax says:

    A voice from the other side:

    The Washington Post, America’s second most influential Zionist newspaper, reported on Thursday: “Israeli and American officials have blamed the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah for the bombing.” Yet the Post article acknowledged that Bulgarian officials had not even identified the bomber!

    This “rush to judgment” suggests that Israel, not Iran, is the probable author of the attack.

    History shows that whenever authorities blame a convenient scapegoat before the evidence is in, the attack in question is almost certainly a false-flag event.

    http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/07/21/251969/israel-author-of-bulgaria–bus-attack/

  11. ToivoS says:

    David thanks for bringing this all together. I mentioned before that this Bulgarian bus bombing story has opened the flood gates on prior unsubstantiated accusations against Hezbollah. This one comment from the NY Times article caught my eye:

    the Burgas attack fit the modus operandi of Hezbollah

    1) When has Hezbollah used a suicide bomber to attack civilians on a bus? Maybe I missed something here but what incidents is this referring to?

    2) When has Hezbollah attacked targets outside of the borders of either Israel or Lebanon? Again maybe I missed the story so the question is where and when?

    If my memory is correct this in not part of their modus operandi. There are two major Hezbollah attacks against non-Israelis that have been attributed to them. One was the bombing of the US Marine barracks at the Beirut airport but that was in 1982 at least a year before Hezbollah was even formed. The other was the assassination of Hararri in Beirut but again that remains highly contested. At first US foreign policy found it convenient to accuse the Syrians but later they changed their mind and accused Hezbollah. Who knows?

    But the point is there is no evidence that they have carried out any action outside of Israel or Lebanon.

  12. Roya says:

    David Samel, you are a very good translator.

  13. Roya says:

    Breaking news: NETANYAHU SENDS HIS CONDOLENCES re the Batman shooting and says “Israel understands terror” (yeah cuz his country is the foremost sponsor of it). Don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

  14. Danaa says:

    From the crack team of intrepid stenographers, per david,

    “The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has blamed Israeli agents — an accusation that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. “This was tit for tat,” said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way.”

    Now really! don’t these unnamed officials know the code for revenge? the proper tit-for-tat (TFT in the revenge-making jargon for you diletantes) would be to assassinate israeli scientists, silly you! maybe an astrophysicist or a theoretical Higgs Boson researcher would be more like it? everyone knows that one Higgs hunter is worth two Iranian artificial diamond makers + a young (under 40 preferred) procurement specialist, who may or may not know his nuclear blasts from gem ballistics (if handsome enough, blast-knowingness matters even less).

    I think this disclosure represents a serious violation of revenge protocols. Iran should absolutely sue the pants off these mis-peddlers.

    Not to even mention the attributions to Hezbollah (which, as everyone knows, adheres strictly to proper revenge-taking protocols as they are quite keen on maintaining their awesomely proper terror TFT reputation). In what universe does 1 M (Mughniyeh) = 5 IT (israeli Tourists)?

    But the truth is not far – we do have ideas on who it could be – hint: ever heard of the cracker-operator Iranian American with the credible used car salesman cover who ensnared high level Iranian officials (including his own cousin!) in a dastardly plot to assassinate the SA ambassador in return for drugs (the ambassador who then went on to be promoted to security chief)?

    • Ellen says:

      Truth? Who needs that when this tragedy can be whipped up to create more fear (Cries that Israeli’s are now in danger at the Olympics) or to pour the blame onto Iran and if that will not stick onto Hezbollah?

      Even the Bulgarians who are actually conducting the forensic investigation and autopsy of the perpetrator say that it is MUCH too early to lay blame. And that the evidence does not add up with the first assumptions.

      The guy had “light” skin, fair eyes, etc. And that there could have been an accomplice.

      link to macon.com

      And then there were the plaid shorts and baseball cap…. just sayin’

  15. David Samel says:

    I think I got a little carried away with my sarcasm, leaving the impression that the NYT article should be ridiculed, but it’s much worse than that. When an article like this appears in the paper of record, it is enormously influential, and the notion that every reasonable, knowledgeable person agrees on the Iran/Hezbollah connection to Burgas becomes the prevailing collective wisdom. Especially where people with major firepower are talking about starting a war against Iran, an article like this can be a tipping point. Such “journalism” accounts for the high number of people who believe that Israel invaded Lebanon in both 1982 and 2006 to stop incessant rocket fire, that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was responsible for 9/11, that Iraqi soldiers took Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and left them to die on hospital floors, etc.

    Speaking of which, I must acknowledge the sad news of Alex Cockburn’s untimely passing. I recall him being the lone voice to question the Kuwaiti incubator story as it was being told. In fact, Cockburn specialized in immediately sniffing out BS that was widely accepted yet proved wrong months or even years later by others: the Grenada invasion to save American med students; the bombing of the Sudanese pharma factory; US excuses for shooting down an Iranian civilian airliner in June 88. That’s why mainstream media repeatedly asked his opinion of official pronouncements on breaking stories – NOT. He loved to quote his dad: “believe nothing until it has been officially denied.” Good rule of thumb.

  16. American says:

    Previously unknown group claims Burgas attack

    Jerusalem Post – ‎Jul 21, 2012‎

    Israel and the United States have accused Hezbollah of perpetrating the attack but on Saturday a group called “Base of Jihad” claimed responsibility for the attack. Bulgarian police have published pictures of the suspected bomber who was carrying …

    • Roya says:

      Base of Jihad? Uh oh. Looks like they’re at it again. There was never and there is not such a thing as al-Qaeda. There is something called the Mujahideen, America’s former ally that America created to fight off the Soviets. After the Cold War the US dumped them and after 9/11 the neocon administration decided they needed a new name and gave them the name of al-Qaeda (which means “the base” in Arabic). Here you can watch Hillary Clinton explaining this. It’s analogous to the way that Israel helped create Hamas, which you can watch Ron Paul alluding to here.

      • Roya says:

        It is even more suspicious that this news about the “Base of Jihad” originated at the Israeli news outlets Yedioth Ahronoth and the Times of Israel, who claim to have received an e-mail from the organization (very nice to see supposed terrorist groups assuming diplomatic relations via the Internet). If I had it I would bet you a million that this “Base of Jihad” is either fictional or a front group created by CIA-Mossad. I had suspicions that this Burgas attack was a false flag but if they are going to attribute it to “Base of Jihad” that just about confirms it was one.

  17. jon s says:

    Anyone remember the Burgas bombing?

    link to news.yahoo.com

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      From the story:

      “What can be established as a well-grounded assumption is that the two persons whose real identity has been determined belonged to the military wing of Hezbollah.”

      LMAO. In other words, they’re going to assume the connection to Hezbollah is true. Sounds like one heck of an investigative team they have there in Bulgaria. No doubt they’ll be happy to release all of their evidence, and don’t want us to just take their word on it and adopt their “assumption.” yeah, right.

      Anyone know if any USsraeli government officials have been seen promising “gifts” in Sofia lately?

  18. piotr says:

    The fake driver license is puzzling because it was such an obvious fake! To non-Americans: the address was in the capital of Louisiana but with Michigan written as the state. I also do not recall another case of a terrorist attack when the body of the perpetrator could not be identified. It seems that the perpetrator was an amateur managed by some professionals, something that it is easier for an intelligence agency than for a terrorist cell.

    In particular, the perpetrator had real explosives, left very light trace of crossing borders, registering in hotels, communicating. This suggests instructions and aid from experts. On the other hand, he behaved very amateurishly at the airport, and of course got himself killed. This suggests a patsy.

    Both Israel and Iran had motives to do it.