Targeting Israelis Overseas
It would likely come as no surprise to Israeli security were it determined that he came from either Iran or Lebanon. Intelligence officials in both Israel and abroad believe that recent months have seen an increase in attempts to stage terror attacks targeting Israelis traveling overseas. Evidence indicates that most of those attempts were steered from Iran or from the southern suburbs of Beirut, where Hezbollah is based.
In 2012 alone, terrorists made several attempts to target Israelis.
-- In January, authorities in Azerbaijan arrested two locals who, together with an Iranian agent, were planning to assassinate the Israeli ambassador in Baku and the senior rabbi of the city's Jewish community.
-- In February, the wife of an employee of the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi was injured when a bomb attached to her car exploded. On the same day, a similar attack was prevented in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. The double attack came on the fourth anniversary of the death of Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a February 2008 bomb attack in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Hezbollah has blamed Israel for being behind the attack.
-- Just two days later, a plot aimed at the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok was uncovered when several explosions went off just a few blocks away. The first blast, likely the result of carelessness, damaged the terror team's hideout. Iranian papers and money was later found in the house. Two of the three attackers, all of whom were Iranian citizens, were captured. One managed to escape.
-- On July 2, it was revealed that the Kenyan secret service arrested two Iranians who ultimately led them to a location where they had hidden explosives. The two men are suspected of having planned attacks on a vacation resort frequented by Israelis. They had enough explosives to destroy a mid-sized hotel, according to Kenyan officials.
-- On July 14, Cypriot police arrested a 24-year-old Lebanese citizen following a tip-off from the Israeli secret service agency Mossad. The man was carrying a Swedish passport that was likely forged. According to Cypriot media reports, officials believe that the man had been planning a rocket attack on an airplane belonging to the Israeli airline Arkia.
Israel, for its part, has not shied away from engaging in the proxy conflict. It is thought that the country is behind several deadly attacks in Tehran in recent years targeting nuclear scientists. Officially, Israel has made no comment, but behind the scenes some have boasted that the "long arm of Mossad has reached Tehran".
The Israeli reaction to the attack in Burgas was prompt. First, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blustered about the threat of retaliation against "Iran's terror." Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was more cautious, saying the country would, among other things, file a diplomatic initiative at the United Nations for Hezbollah to be placed on the list of international terrorist organizations. Israel would seem eager to defuse concerns that it might use the attack in Burgas as an excuse to make a first strike on Iran's nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak discouraged criticism of Israeli intelligence services over their inability to stop the attack. The fact that the experts did not predict the bombing was a "mishap", not "negligence", he said.
"The world is big and full of places where these people act," he added. "The success of our intelligence and of others has been great, but there are days that are painful, and yesterday was one such day."
Intellpuke: You can read this article by Spiegel journalist Ulrike Putz, reporting from Beirut, Lebanon, in context here: www.spiegel.de/international/europe/israel-believes-that-iran-and-hezbollah-are-behind-bulgaria-bombing-a-845372.html
Spiegel journalist David Böcking assisted in compiling this report.