On July 18, a Swedish citizen carrying a fake U.S. driver’s license allegedly boarded a bus full of Israeli tourists near Borgas, Sweden. Setting off a bomb, he killed at least five Israelis, most of them young people, all headed to a resort. Details are continuing to emerge as this is being written.
To try to understand how and possibly why this kind of event can happen, I called Robbie Friedman, Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at Georgia State University.
“I have two reactions,” Prof Friedmann said. “On a personal level, it’s disgusting and despicable. There’s no other way of describing the wanton murder by those who feel entitled to kill.
“On a professional level, it’s unfortunately a recognized pattern that has gone on for decades in the war against Israel. The terrorists choose targets that are soft and relatively easy to carry out attacks on. They want to have plausible deniability.
“Look at the attempts of the past year in Turkey [March 2011], Bulgaria [January and again this week], Thailand [January, February], Azerbaijan [January]; India and Georgia [February]; Kenya [July]; and Cyprus [July]. It’s not that difficult to have something in your backpack and get on a bus to harm unsuspecting civilians.”
Friedmann also said that there are always discussions in the intelligence world about possible scenarios, but he doesn’t think the Mossad knew about this particular attack; otherwise, they would have warned Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev when they met with his government last month.
“There are political ramifications to this type of event,” Prof. Friedmann said. “They can be game-changers. Those in the business follow this closely.”
But Israel, he says, knew immediately after the attack what was going on. Israeli intelligence experts pointed the finger at Iran and its proxy Hezbollah, which is already known to have instigated a number of recent attacks including those in Buenos Aires (1992 against the Israeli Embassy, and again 1994 against AMIA the Jewish Community Center).
“These are the same people who tried to murder the Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.,” Prof Friedmann said. “Iran is the biggest supporter of terrorism that is state-initiated and also implemented by non-state actors that serve as their proxies.”
By Suzi Brozman
Editor’s Note: Professor Friedmann, who is also Director of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange, is the author of several books and articles on terrorism and anti-Semitism.