The Terror Attack Against Israelis in Burgas

The Terror Attack Against Israelis in Burgas, Bulgaria: Update and Observations

Posted on July 19, 2012
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IMPORTANT UPDATE TO TODAY’S BLOG 8:30 am Israel time Thursday:

The news from Bulgaria continues to change. According to Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, the bombing was the work of a suicide bomber/murderer. Security tapes reveal that a “long-haired, casually dressed Caucasian man” was in the parking lot of the terminal scouting the buses for over an hour before the Israelis arrived.

Borisov has further stated that this man was apparently was on board the bus that blew up–and it was his body that was most ripped apart by the blast. Hence the conclusion that the man was the bomber.

According to Borisov, the man was carrying a fake U.S. driver’s license (or passport) that was issued in Michigan–an FBI check revealed no person with the document’s information actually exists. Borisov also commented that there is no record of the man having entered Bulgaria. Borisov also told journalists that the Bulgarian Security Services, the FBI, the CIA, and Mossad are all working together on the incident.

UPDATE AND TODAY’S BLOG 6 am Israel time Thursday:

This blurry picture taken by a cellphone shows the inferno created shortly after the bus that was about to carry Israeli tourists to their hotel in Burgas, Bulgaria was bombed in a terrorist attack.

As the Israel Channel 10 newscaster said simply last night in announcing the terror attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, “Israelis’ luck ran out.” 

Following unsuccessful Iranian attempts to kill Israeli tourists in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus, and Bulgaria in recent months, yesterday afternoon’s devastating attack occurred 18 years to the day (July 18, 1994) that Iranian/Hezbollah terrorists blew up the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires killing 87 people and wounding more than 100 more.  

The details of yesterday’s bombing continue to emerge:

1. At 4:45 pm yesterday afternoon, Air Bulgaria flight 392, a charter flight carrying Israeli tourists landed at Burgas’ Sarafovo Airport.

2. After picking up their baggage and clearing immigration and customs, the tourists proceeded to four buses that were waiting in the parking lot of the terminal to take them to their hotels.

3.  [PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION HAS APPARENTLY BEEN SUPERSEDED BY THE INFORMATION ABOVE IN THE MOST RECENT UPDATE] At some point in the loading process for the second bus, a bomb was detonated by remote control; the bomb had either been placed in the suitcase cargo compartment of the bus, or under the bus, or in a suitcase by a baggage handler at the airport. The blast turned the bus into a raging inferno–and also damaged two of the other buses.

4. At least 5 Israeli tourists died in the carnage. In addition, the Israeli guide who lives in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian bus driver were apparently killed (there remains some confusion about the guide and bus driver this morning). 30 more Israelis were wounded–including two critically.

5. Bulgarians who happened to be at the airport heroically rushed to the aid of the Israelis. Many of the wounded were taken in private cars to the local hospital.

6. Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov, and the Bulgarian Interior Minister were on the scene within hours.

Your humble servant’s observations:

*Israelis travel and live abroad in massive numbers (it is currently estimated that there are over 1 million Israelis outside the country). Often they are sitting ducks for terrorists because they travel in groups on insecure local transportation arranged by Israeli and local tour companies. Your humble servant himself has made several trips to Bulgaria and has been on buses exactly like the one that blew up yesterday. Last year, my wife was on one of those four buses when she visited Burgas. 

*It is amazing the extent to which the world’s security agencies have become dependent on Mossad to give them warnings about possible terror attacks in their own countries. In every case of thwarted attacks mentioned above, it was Mossad that alerted local authorities to the possibility of attacks against Israelis. Bulgarian President Plevneliev’s lament last night was that Mossad had not warned him of such a possible attack when he met with Mossad representatives last month.

*There was an unconfirmed report last night broadcast on Israeli TV that the American CIA did have previous knowledge that an attack was going to take place, and had contacted Bulgarian security services but not Mossad. Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak apparently telephoned CIA chief Leon Panetta last night to receive an explanation as to why Israel had not been informed. If this is true, then President Obama’s pledge this morning to help Israel track down those responsible rings hollow.

It also rings hollow because of Israel’s exclusion from recent meetings of the U.S. sponsored “Global Counterterrorism Forum.” At that Forum held in Madrid just 10 days ago, the U.S. undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs, Maria Otero, specifically failed to mention Israel as a country whose citizens had experienced terrorism (she instead focused on terror survivors from Pakistan, Jordan, Northern Ireland, Uganda, Turkey, Indonesia, India, Spain, Colombia, and the United States).

*PM Netanyahu has indicated last night and this morning that Israel holds Iran responsible for what happened in Burgas yesterday and will act decisively against those responsible. Your humble servant wonders to what degree Netanyahu will be hamstrung by those in the military establishment who are already arguing that any response should be put off until the situation in Syria stabilizes.

To what degree has Israel become a paper tiger? Only time will tell.


We here at israelstreet send our condolences to the families of the six Israelis and one Bulgarian who died in yesterday’s attack–and offer our hope for a speedy recovery to those who were wounded.


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