Share This Page

U.S. wants Europe to call Hezbollah terrorist group

| Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 9:36 p.m.

The Obama administration sought on Tuesday to increase pressure on Europe to brand Hezbollah a terrorist group since the Bulgarian government implicated the militants in a fatal attack on Israeli tourists last summer.

Bulgaria blamed the Iran-backed group for the July bus bombing in the Black Sea city of Burgas, making official what U.S. and Israeli terrorism officials had alleged from the start. The attack killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver.

Bulgaria said evidence showed that two of the people involved in the attack were members of Hezbollah's military wing and that they were acting as part of a campaign against Israeli targets worldwide. The United States and Israel assisted with the investigation.

The allegation of a direct Hezbollah terror campaign on European soil escalates pressure on the European Union to reconsider its treatment of Hezbollah. The EU has resisted past U.S. and Israeli entreaties to designate Hezbollah a terrorist group.

Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement urging Europe to crack down on Hezbollah. “We need to send an unequivocal message to this terrorist group that it can no longer engage in despicable actions with impunity,” Kerry said.

Several influential members of the 27-nation EU alliance have argued, however, that Hezbollah is a political and military organization, and that a blanket terrorism designation could be counterproductive. Hezbollah supporters move through Europe and raise money with little obstacle.

Kerry discussed the Bulgarian allegation in a telephone conversation with EU foreign policy representative Catherine Ashton, said Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman. Nuland said Ashton is “well aware” of the U.S. position on Hezbollah but would not say whether Kerry specifically lobbied for a change.

But, Nuland said, “our hope and expectation is that this clear evidence of Hezbollah operation on European soil will be galvanizing to their internal conversations.”

Tsvetan Tsvetanov, the Bulgarian interior minister, said at a news conference in Sofia, the capital, that two of the three attackers had genuine passports from Australia and Canada. He said there was evidence that they belonged to Hezbollah's military wing and had been financed by the group.

No one has been arrested in connection with the attack.

Ashton's spokesman, Maja Kocijancic, said the EU would discuss the implications of Hezbollah's involvement in an attack on European soil.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.