One year on from deadly Bulgaria bus bombing, probe points to Hezbollah and
a Canadian suspect
Stewart Bell | 13/07/17 | Last Updated: 13/07/18 9:51 AM ET
Natalie and Amir Menashe were ready for a holiday when their flight from Tel
Aviv landed in Bulgaria on July 18, 2012. Outside Sarafovo Airport, four
buses waited to carry them and 150 other Israeli tourists to the sunny
beaches of the Black Sea.
The mother of a 10-month-old, Ms. Menashe was boarding her bus when the bomb
went off. "I couldn't breathe and started running away from the smoke," she
told the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. "I turned back and I saw the bus go up
A year later, police on four continents are still investigating the
terrorist attack that, on European soil, killed Ms. Menashe's husband and
four other Israelis, as well as a Bulgarian bus driver and one of the
bombers. Thirty-two people were injured.
The investigation has also stretched into Canada: One of the three main
suspects is a Canadian of Lebanese origin. The others are a
Lebanese-Australian and an unidentified man who died while planting the
bomb, hidden in a backpack, that exploded in the luggage compartment of the
At a briefing Wednesday, Bulgaria's Interior Minister, Tsvetlin Yovchev,
told reporters that while he could not divulge details due to the ongoing
investigation, the evidence points to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed,
Lebanese terrorist group.
Bulgarian officials declined to discuss the case but a source familiar with
the investigation told the National Post that evidence recovered at the
scene of the blast as well as intelligence information clearly show that
Hezbollah was to blame.
The suspects received money transfers from Hezbollah and the explosives were
consistent with Hezbollah methods, the source said. In addition, the U.S.
driver's licences used by the suspects were produced by a Beirut printer
that has manufactured other fake IDs for Hezbollah, said the source.
"There is no question this was Hezbollah," said Prof. Matt Levitt, author of
the recent book Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God.
"The question is how much of the information will be able to be made public.
There are some things that are still unknown. There are some things that are
known but have not been made public. But there is no question that this was
Last week, Bulgaria extended its investigation for five months. Meanwhile,
Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom have been pressing the
European Union to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization now that
it has been found responsible for an attack within Europe.
"Hezbollah continues to perpetuate instability and promote fear, right on
Europe's door step," Rick Roth, Foreign Minister John Baird's spokesman,
said Wednesday, adding "we continue to urge our friends in the European
Union to list Hezbollah as a terrorist entity."
The Burgas bombing was one of several recent terror plots linked to
Hezbollah and the Quds Force, the clandestine branch of the Iranian
Revolutionary Guards Corps. Others have been foiled in Cyprus, India,
Georgia, Azerbaijan and the United States. Prof. Levitt said they were
Iran's response to international pressure over its nuclear program.
"Iran instructed Hezbollah to target Israeli tourists around the world as
part of its shadow war with the West, at the same time that it tasked the
Quds Force with targeting Western diplomats, Israelis, Americans, Brits,
Saudis - all as part of a shadow war over the nuclear program," he said.
The Canadian implicated in the Bulgaria attack has not yet been publicly
identified but in February, then-Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said the
suspect had immigrated to Canada from Lebanon at age eight and later became
He lived in Vancouver but returned to Beirut with his mother when his
parents divorced. "I understand he may have been back to Canada a few times
since then but has not been a habitual resident in Canada since the age of
12," Mr. Kenney said.
AFP PHOTO / INTERPOL
AFP PHOTO / INTERPOLA composite portrait of a Canadian suspected accomplice
to the man who blew himself up near a bus packed with Israeli tourists at
Burgas airport last year.
Travelling on his Canadian passport, he allegedly arrived in Bulgaria three
weeks before the bombing. He then began using a fake Michigan driver's
licence that named him as Ralph William Rico. The suspects allegedly built
the explosive device in Bulgaria.
AFP PHOTO / BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY
AFP PHOTO / BULGARIAN INTERIOR MINISTRYA fake driver's license from Michigan
possibly used by the Canadian suspect.
Although investigators initially described the attack as a suicide bombing,
they now believe the bomb went off prematurely as one of the terrorists was
planting it on the bus. The two surviving terrorists escaped by car
following the blast and are now in Lebanon. Authorities in Lebanon, where
Hezbollah is a key member of the government, do not appear to be
co-operating with the investigation.
At her husband's funeral, Ms. Menashe was still in a wheelchair, recovering
from her injuries. "I have no one now," she said at the service, according
to the Times of Israel. "We talked about our plans for the future and
suddenly we were blown up. I saw him burned before my eyes."
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