Intelligence panel chairman implicates Iran in bombing, says Israel could retaliate

May 2, 2011: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.

May 2, 2011: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP)

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in an interview with Fox News, implicated Iran in the bombing of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria and said the U.S. should take Israel at its word that they will retaliate. 

"I believe the Israelis when they say there will be retaliation for this attack," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told Fox News. "I don't think we should do anything but take them at their word." 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials in his government have vowed to strike back, blaming Iran for the attack that killed five Israelis. Iran has denied responsibility, but Rogers said there are "indicators" it is tied to Iran -- and he believes the bomber had help to execute the operation. 

"It was targeted against Jews specifically. We believe it was Hezbollah who was purposefully targeting ... likely to be inspired by some command from Iran," Rogers told Fox News Thursday night. 

Given the recent pattern of attempted attacks by individuals linked to Tehran, Rogers said he believes the regime is seizing the moment -- effectively throwing gasoline on the flames. 

More On This...

"You worry that Iran is starting to escalate these types of activities," Rogers said. "It shows how brazen they have become and how aggressive they have become ... so Iran is certainly ramping it up, and obviously that's a problem." 

Rogers told Fox News he believes the bomber had outside help from a "logistical system," and the path will lead back "through Hezbollah and likely I think into Iran." 

He said this "fits their profile." 

Officials have said the bomber was carrying a fake driver's license from Michigan. Rogers suggested that detail could bear clues. 

"It could have been absolutely, just something they came upon to use or could have been more significant to try to send a message," Rogers said. "We're going to find that out in a few days and I will tell you nobody knows today." 

Asked if there was any connection between the violence spiraling out of control in Syria and the Bulgaria bombing, Rogers said Iran is feeling the pressure. 

"I think that you're seeing that Iran is certainly ... very, very nervous about losing their only ally in the region." 

"They're going to make sure the world knows that they're alive and well and still lethal," he said. 

The White House has not said whether the administration thinks Iran was behind the attack. Press Secretary Jay Carney, though, said Thursday that "as a general principle ... Hezbollah has backed, and Iran has backed terrorist actions against innocent people in third countries in the past." 

Meanwhile, one lawmaker called after the attack for Iran's special operations Quds Force to be designated a foreign terrorist group. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said the Bulgaria attack appears to "be the work of Iran." 

"The United States should act swiftly to designate the Qods Force as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).  If this administration will not act, the Congress should," he said, noting he's introduced legislation to that effect.

Catherine Herridge is an award-winning Chief Intelligence correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC) based in Washington, D.C. She covers intelligence, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. Herridge joined FNC in 1996 as a London-based correspondent.