Echoing Israeli Claims, US Blames Hezbollah For Bulgaria Attack
US officials are now echoing Israeli claims over who is to blame for a deadly terrorist attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria that killed seven people at the Burgas airport. The New York Times has a front-page article this morning based on an anonymous US official’s claim that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, was behind the attack.
Right after the attack, the Israeli government announced that Iran was behind it, and later said that both Hezbollah and Iran colluded to attack the Israeli tourists. Iran is a chief sponsor of Hezbollah.
But no evidence has been produced yet to justify those claims, though it is possible that Hezbollah or Iran carried out the attack. The US official quoted in the Times says that the attack is “tit for tat” retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian scientists widely thought to have been carried out or directed by Israel.
Mainstream media has also largely bought into Israel’s case without evidence, as blogger Nima Shirazi writes.
But as the Washington Post notes, “Israel offered no concrete evidence tying the bombing to Iran, and Bulgarian officials cautioned that it was too early to attribute responsibility.”
Marsha Cohen at LobeLog has an excellent rundown on the bombings, and cautions against the knee-jerk reaction to blame Iran. She writes: “What gives Israel’s accusation against Iran both punch and pungency is the apparent lack of alternative explanatory variables for journalists covering the unfolding story. But such variables do exist.”
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald also weighs in on the Times’ coverage:
By “identified,” “confirmed” and “corroborated” Iranian and Hezbollah responsibility, what The New York Times means is this: American officials asserted that this was so, even as they “declined to provide additional details” and even though “the investigation was still under way.” Indeed, this accusation is, as the NYT sees it, ”confirmed” and “corroborated” even though “no details yet about the bomber like his name or nationality” are known; even though their anonymous American source “declined to describe what specific intelligence — intercepted communications, analysis of the bomber’s body parts or other details — led analysts to conclude that the bomber belonged to Hezbollah”; even though “the Bulgarians are still trying to figure out how the bomber entered the country, how he traveled around and where he stayed”; and even though the Bulgarian Foreign Minister said: “We’re not pointing the finger in any direction until we know what happened and complete our investigation.” All The Paper of Record knows is that U.S. and Israeli officials have blamed Iran and Hezbollah, and — as usual — that’s good enough for them. Identified, Confirmed and Corroborated.