Soon after the Burgas bombing, the Times of Israel was quick to jump on a story first appearing in Bulgarian media claiming that the culprit was a former Guantanamo detainee and Swedish citizen. It didn’t take long before that story was shown to be false, so, I’m not sure how much weight to attach to the following report, “Gloating Ahmadinejad hints at Iranian responsibility for Burgas terror attack.”
All I can say is that it doesn’t look good. So far this has not been picked up by other media outlets, but if it turns out that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been quoted accurately and that he is indeed claiming responsibility for the attack, then it looks like he effectively just issued an invitation for Israel to strike back.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gloated publicly on Thursday over the deaths of Israelis in a terror bombing in Bulgaria, and hinted that Iran was responsible for the attack.
Speaking hours after Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly blamed the bombing Wednesday at Bulgaria’s Burgas airport on “Hezbollah, directed by Iran,” Ahmadinejad described the attack as “a response” to Israeli “blows against Iran.”
“The bitter enemies of the Iranian people and the Islamic Revolution have recruited most of their forces in order to harm us,” he said in a speech reported by Israel’s Channel 2 TV. “They have indeed succeeded in inflicting blows upon us more than once, but have been rewarded with a far stronger response.”
He added: “The enemy believes it can achieve its aims in a long, persistent struggle against the Iranian people, but in the end it will not. We are working to ensure that.”
Ahmadinejad’s speech was interpreted in Israel as asserting that the Burgas bombing was a revenge attack for the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has repeatedly blamed Israel.
His remarks contrasted with a condemnation of the Burgas bombing by the Iranian Foreign Ministry earlier Thursday.
“The Islamic republic, the biggest victim of terrorism, believes terrorism endangers the lives of innocents… is inhumane and so strongly condemns” it, the Arabic-language television channel Al-Alam cited foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast as saying. “Iran’s position is to condemn all terrorist acts in the world,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Iran’s state TV rejected accusations of Tehran’s involvement in the attack.
Iran’s president has a habit of making provocative statements and it is possible in this instance that he made the ill-judged choice of praising an attack even when Iran had not in fact instigated it.
A suicide attack of this type would seem to fit the profile of a jihadist operation rather than tit-for-tat revenge in response to Israel’s bombing attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists. Indeed, less than a month ago, European intelligence services warned that a Norweigian man trained by al Qaeda was ready to strike.
A trained terrorist from Norway is awaiting orders to carry out an attack on the West, officials from three European security agencies have revealed.
The man is believed to have received terrorist training from Al Qaeda’s offshoot in Yemen and is ready to strike.
Western intelligence officials have long feared such a scenario – a convert to Islam who is trained in terrorist methods and can blend in easily in Europe and the U.S., traveling without visa restrictions.
Officials from three European security agencies confirmed the man is ‘operational,’ meaning he has completed his training and is about to receive a target.
All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly. They declined to name the man, who has not been accused of a crime.
‘We believe he is operational and he is probably about to get his target,’ one security official said. ‘And that target is probably in the West.’
A security official in a second European country confirmed the information, adding: ‘From what I understand, a specific target has not been established.’
European security services, including in Norway, have warned in recent years of homegrown, radicalised Muslims traveling to terror training camps in conflict zones. Many of the known cases involve young men with family roots in Muslim countries.
But the latest case involves a man in his 30s with no immigrant background, the officials said.
After converting to Islam in 2008, he quickly became radicalized and traveled to Yemen to receive terror training, one of the officials said.
The man spent ‘some months’ in Yemen and is still believed to be there, he said.
The official said the man has no criminal record, which would also make him an ideal recruit for Al Qaeda.
‘Not even a parking ticket,’ he said. ‘He’s completely clean and he can travel anywhere.’