Canadian Minister Says Bus Bombing Suspect Born in Lebanon
A Canadian suspect in last year's fatal bus bombing in Bulgaria was born in Lebanon and only lived in Canada for a few years as a child, Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday.
"My understanding is he came to Canada as a child at the age of eight, obtained citizenship three or four years after that, and left Canada at the age of 12," Kenney said.
"We believe he's likely a dual Canadian-Lebanese national who has not lived here as a permanent resident since the age of 12," he added.
Kenney also told reporters that parliament should consider stripping Canadians of their citizenship for acts of terrorism, however an opposition leader called the proposal a "knee-jerk response."
Five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian driver were killed in the bus bombing at Burgas airport on the Black Sea in July, the deadliest attack on Israelis abroad since 2004.
On Tuesday, Bulgaria formally blamed the attack on Hizbullah, triggering renewed pressure on the European Union to follow Canada, the United States and others in formally designating the movement a “terrorist group.”
The Bulgarian government said two people behind the attack held Canadian and Australian passports, but lived in Lebanon and were members of Hizbullah.
Canada has confirmed one of the suspects was a dual Canadian-Lebanese national and said it takes allegations of his involvement "very seriously."
Prime Minister Najib Miqati said that his government was "ready to cooperate with Bulgaria to shed light on the circumstances" of the attack.
Hizbullah denounced Israel on Wednesday for waging an "international campaign" against it.
Sheikh Naim Qassem, the group's number two, slammed the "international campaign of intimidation waged by Israel against Hizbullah."
"There is a global attack led by Israel to confront the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine... targeting Hizbullah specifically because (Israeli) aggression has failed against Hizbullah," added Qassem.
Bulgaria's foreign minister defended himself Wednesday against accusations that Sofia lacked the proof to blame Hizbullah for the attack.
"If Bulgaria did not have enough arguments to announce yesterday that the traces in this attack lead to Hizbullah's military wing, we would not have done it," Nikolay Mladenov said on BNT television.
Bulgarian analysts on Wednesday accused the government of not having enough proof to level what may turn out to a dangerous accusation, and of kowtowing to Washington and Israel.
"We have joined the camp of U.S. and Israel... allowing to be drawn into the big game where Hizbullah has to be eliminated as it supports the regime in Syria," international security expert Simeon Nikolov said.
"Do our leaders realize the responsibility they take in announcing results, which are not categorically backed by evidence?" the expert added on BNT television, slamming what he saw as "a strategic mistake" by the government.
"What is this 'justified assumption'? We entered a game, which is not ours without having any categorical proof to show," Yovo Nikolov from Capital weekly newspaper added.
Too small to have access to extensive intelligence data from abroad, Bulgaria obviously "relied heavily on resources from foreign security services" in the investigation, Tihomir Bezlov from the Sofia-based think tank Center for the Study of Democracy said.