Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hezbollah receives ‘significant state sponsorship’ from Iran and Syria: ‘confidential’ CSIS report

Hezbollah receives ‘significant state sponsorship’ from Iran and Syria: ‘confidential’ CSIS report

Stewart Bell 

A “confidential” Canadian intelligence report, written several months before a deadly tour bus bombing in Bulgaria that is being blamed on a Canadian Hezbollah member, said the terrorist group had been receiving “significant state sponsorship” from Iran and Syria.

“Aside from cash, Iran provides military equipment and training to Hezbollah,” said the intelligence assessment by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, released recently under the Access to Information Act.

In the assessment, analysts wrote that support from both Tehran and Damascus had allowed the Lebanese Shi’ite group to develop both its political strength and military capabilities. “Hezbollah has continued to show that it has the intent and capability to launch terrorist operations.”

Hezbollah denied Wednesday it was behind the July 18, 2012, bombing at the Sarafovo Airport on the Black Sea coast that killed six and injured 30, calling the allegations part of an Israeli smear campaign. But the Canadian intelligence document asserts Hezbollah’s continued involvement in terrorism, noting it has a branch called the Jihad Council that “co-ordinates most of Hezbollah’s military and terrorist activities.”

Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, called Hezbollah a “vile anti-Semitic terrorist organization” on Wednesday and urged the European Union to “follow Canada’s lead in listing Hezbollah as a proscribed and illegal terrorist organization.”

Mr. Kenney also confirmed that one of the suspected organizers of the Bulgarian attack is a Canadian who left Canada long ago. He said Canada should consider new legislation that would allow the government to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals who commit terrorism.

“You know, Canadian citizenship is predicated on loyalty to this country and I cannot think of a more obvious act of renouncing one’s sense of loyalty than going and committing acts of terror,” he told reporters in Ottawa.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldCitizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.
He said he wanted to discuss the issue with Conservative MP Devinder Shory, who has tabled a private member’s bill proposing that Canadians who commit acts of war against Canada should lose their citizenship. The minister said he wanted to look into broadening the scope of Mr. Shory’s bill to include Canadians who commit acts of terrorism. The bill, C-425, applies only to Canadians who are also citizens of a second country.

His comments came after Bulgaria said it was investigating a Canadian and an Australian suspected of organizing the bus bombing. Two weeks ago, Algeria also blamed two Canadians for a deadly siege by Islamist terrorists at a desert gas plant.

The Canadian allegedly traveled from Lebanon to Europe, entering Bulgaria with his Canadian passport on June 28. He then began using a fake Michigan driver’s licence manufactured in Lebanon. The bomb was remotely detonated on a bus full of Israeli tourists.

NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty ImagesA truck carries the bus damaged by the suicide bomb blast which targeted a group of Israeli tourists at the airport in Bourgas, Bulgaria, on July 19, 2012.
While one of the terrorists was killed in the explosion, the Canadian and Australian left the country the day of the attack. A senior Bulgarian law enforcement official said the suspects were currently residing in the same country. He did not name it, but there are strong indications it is Lebanon.

Despite travelling on a genuine Canadian passport, the unnamed Canadian had lived briefly in British Columbia as a child. He returned to Lebanon at age 12 after his mother divorced and has only returned on just two occasions, but he still carried a current Canadian passport.

“My understanding is that he came to Canada as a child, I think at about the age of eight, obtained citizenship about three or four years after that, left Canada at the age of 12. I understand he returned to Lebanon,” Mr. Kenney said.

He said Canada could only revoke citizenship from those who had obtained it by fraud. Since the suspected Hezbollah member was a child when he became a Canadian, there was nothing the government could do under existing laws, he said.

While polling indicated “pretty strong support” for dual citizenship, he said “I think where we might want to make a distinction is among dual citizens who have completely rejected any sense of loyalty to Canada, gone out and committed terrorist crimes, committed acts of war against Canada.”

Europol, the European police agency, said in a statement a forensic investigation had traced the false U.S. driver’s licences used by the suspects to Lebanon, and that Bulgaria’s claims of Hezbollah involvement were consistent with Europol findings.

The allegation that Hezbollah had staged an attack on European soil has put renewed pressure on the European Union to add the group to its list of terrorist groups. The matter will likely be discussed at a gathering of EU foreign ministers on Feb 18. A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Hezbollah would face “consequences” if its involvement in the bus bombing was proven.