Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gloated on national television about the deaths of five Israelis in a suicide bus bombing in Bulgaria this week — and may have hinted at Iran’s involvement in the attack.
The Times of Israel reported:
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.”
According to the Times, Ahmadinejad’s speech was interpreted in Israel as admitting that the bombing was revenge for the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists, something Iran has in the past accused Israel of being behind.
Five Israelis — Itzik Colangi, 28, Amir Menashe, 28, Maor Harosh, 25, Elior Price, 26, and Kochava Shriki, 44 — were killed in the attack, as well as the Bulgarian bus driver. Thirty-three others were wounded.
According to the Times, Ahmadinejad’s remarks are starkly different from the Iranian Foreign Ministry, who said Iran, “the biggest victim of terrorism, believes terrorism endangers the lives of innocents…is inhumane and so strongly condemns” the attack.
A Pentagon official on Thursday said U.S. officials “don’t know” whether the bomber that blew up the bus was a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, despite Bulgarian media reports.