Tehran-sponsored terrorism struck last week, yet again taking the lives of innocents. Although mostly unnoticed by the global public, there has been a growing international wave of coordinated Ayatollah-backed terrorism over the past few months.
The July 18 attack on a tourist bus at the airport in Burgas, a quiet holiday resort in Bulgaria, raised new awareness of this peril. But it was only the latest in a long list of terrorist attacks and attempted attacks against Israeli and other Western targets, carried out by Iran or its proxies.
Six people were murdered in Burgas, five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver. Last February, an Israeli diplomat’s wife was badly hurt by a bomb in New Delhi but a concurrent attack in Tbilisi, Georgia was stopped in time. Similarly, last October a terrorist attack against the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington was thwarted, and just last week, Cypriot authorities arrested a Hezbollah operative planning yet another attack. Other terrorist attacks against Israeli targets were attempted but failed in Thailand, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Kenya.
Sadly, Iranian-backed international terrorism is nothing new. Twenty years ago, the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina was bombed, killing 29 and wounding about 300 people. Two years later in 1994, the Argentinean Jewish Community Center, AMIA, was also bombed, murdering 85 and injuring hundreds. A special investigation by the Argentinean government determined unequivocally that the attack was carried out by Hezbollah , under the direction of the Iranian government.
Collusion is not limited to Iran and Hezbollah. The two have also formed an unholy alliance with Assad’s infamous regime in Syria. Indeed, Hezbollah and Iranian personnel are actively taking part in Assad’s brutal repression of his own people. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, publicly declared last week his support of Assad and threatened attacks against Israel — and any other state — if they acted to support the Syrian people in their uprising.
This terrorist campaign must be met with a global response. The free world has learned through long and bitter experience that coordinated action is the best defense against campaigns of terrorism.
Solidarity is the first step toward coordination. Indeed, the international community has expressed its solidarity with the victims as well as firmly condemning the attack in Bulgaria. Not only have political leaders and decision-makers denounced this terrorist act, so too has the U.N. Security Council.
Yet, however important these statements of condemnation are, they are not sufficient. Concrete measures must be taken to isolate the terrorists and those who train, equip, finance and direct their activities. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah should be designated by all states as terrorist groups and included in their official lists of illegal organizations.
Noteworthy is the fact that the United States recognized Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in 1995, joined by Canada, Holland, Egypt and Bahrain. Hezbollah ’s military wing was similarly recognized by the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. It is time for the rest of the international community to follow suit. In particular the European Union — many of whose member states have been targeted by these terrorists — should act swiftly and decisively.
Throughout the years, and specifically in the wake of 9/11, the United Nations had adopted resolutions and established professional bodies to deal with terrorism. These decisions call on member states to act against terrorism including by investigating, providing evidence and preventing attacks. These principles must be applied to Iran, the primary purveyor of international terrorism and its proxy, Hezbollah. Only significant and credible action can deter Iran and Hezbollah, thereby preventing future attacks. Only resolute activity can bring justice to the victims of terrorism.
Chaim Shacham is consul general of Israel to Florida and Puerto Rico.