Obama condemns ‘barbaric terrorist attack’

US president calls PM Netanyahu to convey his condolences over the loss of life, affirm US support for Israel.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST CORRESPOND
July 20, 2012 03:26
2 minute read.
US President Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama 370 (R). (photo credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

 
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WASHINGTON – The Obama administration lost no time condemning the slaughter of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria Wednesday and labeling the bus bombing a terror attack.

US President Barack Obama called Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday afternoon to convey his condolences over the loss of life and affirm American support for Israel, similar to messages he conveyed in a sharply worded statement issued in his name an hour earlier.

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“I strongly condemn today’s barbaric terrorist attack on Israelis in Bulgaria,” Obama declared in the statement. “These attacks against innocent civilians, including children, are completely outrageous.”

He said the United States would not only “stand with our allies,” but would provide “whatever assistance is necessary to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators of this attack.”

He also took the opportunity to reaffirm the United States’ “unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.”

The statement was similar to another message put out by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton soon after the bombing.

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“I was deeply saddened and angered to learn of today’s terrorist attack against Israeli tourists in Bulgaria,” she said, calling it “a heinous terrorist attack against innocent civilians.”

She also offered American help to “work with our partners in Bulgaria, Israel and elsewhere so that the perpetrators can be apprehended swiftly and brought to justice for this appalling crime.”

Rapid statements from the highest level of the American government after a terror attack are not unheard of, but it is unusual that so many separate and lengthy responses would be provided in the immediate aftermath of a violent incident.

The response comes as the US and Israel maintain a wary watch on Iran – the country Israel is holding responsible for perpetrating the attack through its proxy Hezbollah – as it presses forward with its nuclear program despite international objections. Iran has fingered Israel in assassinations of its nuclear scientists and debilitating computer bugs that have affected its centrifuges and other components of its nuclear program.

The Obama administration has also been at pains to demonstrate its solidarity with Israel as Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney has repeatedly criticized the White House’s treatment of Jerusalem.

Clinton herself was in Israel earlier this week expressing support for the Jewish state, and Romney will make his own trip at the end of the month.

Romney also issued a statement Wednesday condemning the bus attack.

“The terrorist attack today in Bulgaria is a sobering reminder that the scourge of terrorism continues to threaten all free people,” he said. “My heart goes out to the victims and their families, and to all Israelis who have been the targets of such brutal and cowardly violence for so long.”

He concluded, “We must stand together in the fight against terrorism, and we must prevail.”

Additionally, a plethora of members of Congress issued statements of solidarity with Israel and outrage at the attacks.

They were joined by a host of American Jewish organizations who expressed sympathy for the victims and their families.

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