NYPD monitoring Bulgaria bomb conspiracy

Jul 25, 2012 Issues: Counterterrorism

Newsday -- by Anthony M. Destefano

NYPD intelligence analysts are continuing to closely monitor developments in the suicide bombing in Bulgaria last week that killed five Israeli tourists, police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday.

Kelly's remarks came as Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said it appears that a sophisticated group of conspirators worked together for about a month in the Eastern European country to pull off the attack.

One of the possible conspirators was someone traveling as an American with a Michigan driver's license, Kelly said.

The Israelis were killed when a suicide bomber boarded a tourist bus in Burgas last Wednesday. The identity of the bomber has not been determined. DNA samples of his remains have been shared with other security services, but no match has been found, Borisov said. He spoke with White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan by his side.

Brennan, speaking in the capital, Sofia, stopped short of blaming Iran or Hezbollah, although he noted that both Iranians and the Lebanese group have been implicated in past attacks against civilians.

An NYPD intelligence detective traveled to Bulgaria last week and returned with information about at least one additional conspirator traveling with American documents. Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) said Monday that the information was being actively investigated by U.S. officials.

Kelly repeated concerns that any targeting of Jews or Israeli interests could have repercussions for New York. In response to the Bulgaria incident, the NYPD ramped up its security coverage in Jewish neighborhoods and at synagogues.