By Alex Traiman
At least seven are dead and dozens are injured as a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying Israelis on vacation in Bulgaria near the Black Sea. Immediate links are already being drawn to Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran and their terror proxy Hezbollah of being behind yesterday's attacks, but he is not the only one who has identified the link.
While Iranian State Television called the accusations, "ridiculous" and "sensational," others with alleged ties to the Iranian government are not as quick to deny the connections.
"The government in Tehran is a very likely suspect," said Trita Parsi, regime supporterand founder and president of the National Iranian American Council. "It appears that Tehran has shifted its focus to softer targets." Noting the logic of such a strategy, Parsi added that, "Targeting unwitting tourists is much easier than security-conscious officials."
The murderous attack came 18 years to the day after the horrific bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA) that killed 85 and injured hundreds on July 18, 1994 in Buenos Aires. It was the deadliest bombing in Argentina's history.
After an extensive investigation, Argentina's Chief Prosecutor, Alberto Nisman formally charged Iran and Hezbollah for the bombing stating, "We deem it proven that the decision to carry out an attack July 18, 1994 on the AMIA was made by the highest authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran which directed Hezbollah to carry out the attack."
Just two years earlier, the Iranian sponsored Islamic Jihad Organization and Hezbollah took credit for bombing the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. That attack killed 29 and injured 242.
Following the 1994 attack, prosecutors in Argentina called for the arrest of several Iranian officials, including Iran's President at the time, Ali Rafsanjani - also commonly credited as the father of Iran's nuclear weapon's program.
Like the previous attacks, yesterday's strike in Bulgaria was not an isolated incident. Iran has continued a decades-long pattern of attacking its enemies beyond its own borders. Not all the attacks have been successful.
Parsi notes that Iran has been behind several less sophisticated attacks during the past year. "Amateurish attacks did occur in Thailand, and Indian police have accused Iran of being behind a failed assassination attempt of the Israeli ambassador's wife in New Delhi. Iranian agents have also been arrested in Kenya."
Iran has not limited its terror activities solely to Jewish and Israeli targets.In October, 2011, a plot to assassinate a Saudi Diplomat at a restaurant in Washington, DC was foiled by law enforcement. The plot included plans to strike at two embassies in America's capital city. Iran denied any connections to the plot, but Attorney General Eric Holder called the attempt a "flagrant violation of U.S. and international law," and stated that, "The United States is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions."
Yet Iran is barely being held accountable.
For nearly two decades, Iran has sat atop the U.S. State Department's short list of "State Sponsors of Terrorism." Iran is joined on the list by noted actors Cuba, Sudan and Syria. Of those state terror sponsors, Iran has been continuously been designated as the most active.
Iran is on the list with good reason. Many remember some of Iran's most devastating terror attacks against Americans.
On October 23, 1983, two truck bombs targeting American and French military installations in Beirut Lebanon killed 299, including 241 Americans. At the time, it was the single deadliest attack on US interests since World War II. The attack was carried out by Hezbollah, a terror organization that was conceived and continues to be funded by Tehran.
In the 1990's, Iran continued its terror assault. On June 25, 1996, a truck bomb killed 19 Americans when it exploded at the Khobar Towers military housing complex in Saudi Arabia. After a three-year investigation, the FBI concluded that Iran was behind the attack.
In addition to these isolated attacks, Iran was a primary force behind the insurgenciesagainst US forces in Iraq. According to the State Department, Iran provided "lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups that target U.S. and Iraqi forces," and supplied militants with "Iranian-produced advanced rockets, sniper rifles, automatic weapons, and mortars that have killed Iraqi and Coalition Forces, as well as civilians," and provided militants with "the capability to assemble explosives designed to defeat armored vehicles."
As Michael Ledeen, featured in the award-winning documentary Iranium noted in aninterview for the film, "Iran has been at war with America for over thirty years."When you begin to consider the scope of Iran's violent attacks against Western interests, coupled with statements such as, "Israel is a cancerous tumor" that needs to be removed, and "the countdown to the demise of America's demonic power has begun," you begin to understand that the Iranian regime would use whatever tools it has at its disposal to strike its self-stated enemies.
This is what makes Iran's development of nuclear weapons so dangerous. Notwithstanding the fact that Iran's clandestine nuclear program is completely illegal, nuclear weapons in the hands of the world's greatest terror sponsors could have cataclysmic consequences.
There is little reason to assume that Iran - a country that strikes Western interests whenever and wherever they can find them; has killed thousands of Americans and Israelis; and openly calls for the destruction of two nations - would not use nuclear weapons if it came to acquire them.
And the possible methods to deliver such a blast, including infiltrations by terrorists wherever they may be are too numerous to protect against. Today, Iranian terror proxies can be found across Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, Mexico and even inside the United States.
Yet the punishments America has inflicted in response to Iran's illegal and violent actions have simply not fit the crimes they continue to commit.
Sanctions legislation, while improving, has yet to formally cripple the Iranian economy or get Iran to give up its nuclear pursuits. And leading nations of the world, including the United States - that should be thoroughly fed up with Iran's belligerence - continue to search for ways to reach common ground and negotiate with Iran, in the vain and misguided hope of convincing this rogue regime to give up it's nuclear program.
The documentary Iranium covers in-depth the history of the Iranian regime, ideology, sponsorship of terror, nuclear development, and western incompetence in identifying and dealing with the threats.
Today, as we mourn the deaths of innocent civilians, the film remains as important as ever. And while millions across the world have seen the film, millions more have not. Iranium is a comprehensive and emotive tool that enables Americans to fully understand the nature and scope of the threats that Iran continues to pose.
The film struck a chord with officials within the Iranian regime who went out of their way toblock it's screening, and repeatedly denounced the documentary during foreign ministry press conferences in Tehran.
If you have not yet watched the film, please do so by clicking on the player below. If you have watched the film, please pass it along to others. It is only through understanding the nature of the threats we face that will enable us to defeat them.
Alex Traiman is a professional journalist, writer, public speaker and former radio personality covering breaking events and analysis in the Middle East. He is also the director of the award-winning movie "Iranium" which documents the threat of the current Iranian regime, particularly its race to acquire nuclear weapons. The documentary is now available for free viewing on YouTube.