U.S.: Hizbullah Could Attack in Europe, Elsewhere at Any Timeإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
The United States fears Hizbullah may be planning imminent attacks in Europe and around the world, a senior security official in Washington said Friday.
"Our assessment is that Hizbullah and Iran will both continue to maintain a heightened level of terrorist activity and operations in the near future," said Daniel Benjamin, the U.S. State Department's counter-terrorism coordinator.
"We are increasingly concerned about Hizbullah's activities on a number of fronts, including its stepped up terrorist campaign around the world," he said.
"And we assess that Hizbullah could attack in Europe or elsewhere at any time with little or no warning," he warned, in a conference call with reporters to announce new U.S. sanctions against Hizbullah, Iran and Syria.
Iran- and Syria-backed Hizbullah has been accused both of carrying out recent bomb attacks on Israeli targets in Europe and Asia and of backing Syrian President Bashar Assad's bloody crackdown on an armed revolt.
Benjamin warned Hizbullah might step up violent action as international economic sanctions turn the screw on its backers in Iran and Western-backed Syrian rebels threaten to overthrow its sponsor in Damascus.
"Hizbullah maintains a presence in Europe and its recent activities demonstrate that it is not constrained by concerns about collateral damage or political fallout that could result from conducting operations there," he said.
"Hizbullah believes there have been sustained Israeli and western campaigns against the group and its primary backers Iran and Syria over the past several years and this perception is unlikely to change," he continued.
"Both remain determined to exact revenge against Israel and to respond forcefully to the Western-led pressure against Iran and Syria," he said.
"This suggests more acts of terrorism by both Hizbullah and Iran are likely and they will continue to pose a serious threat for the foreseeable future.
"We have not detected any operational activity of the group in the United States," he added. "We do not have any information on any operational targeting or anything like that in the U.S.
"But, that said, it's a very ambitious group with global reach," Benjamin went on to say.
On July 18, a bomb attack at Burgas airport in Bulgaria killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian driver and injured around 30 people. Israel blamed Iran and Hizbullah, but Tehran denied any involvement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack "was perpetrated by Hizbullah, Iran's leading terrorist proxy".
The bombing was part of "a global campaign of terror carried out by Iran and Hizbullah" which had reached "a dozen countries on five continents", he said.
Iran's U.N. envoy accused Israel of staging the attack.
The envoy Mohammad Khazaee said Israel staged the attack as part of a campaign of "state terrorism operations and assassinations aimed at implicating others for narrow political gains."
The envoy said there were "many examples" of Israel killing "innocent Jewish people" and renewed accusations that Israel has been behind recent killings of Iranian nuclear scientists.