The Times of Israel
July 22, 2012
The one-stop news site covering Israel, the region and the Jewish people worldwide
Mehdi Ghezali (screen capture, Channel 10)
Bulgarian media on Thursday named the suicide bomber who blew up a
bus full of Israeli tourists, killing five Israelis and a local bus
driver, in the Black Sea resort of Burgas on Wednesday as 36-year-old
Ghezali reportedly arrived in Bulgaria five weeks before the bombing and arrived at the airport via taxi, Channel 2 reported.
He was also reportedly given the bomb by someone else, but no further
details were provided. There was no independent confirmation of the
veracity of the information. The reports surfaced soon after Israel’s
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had publicly accused Hezbollah,
directed by Iran, of responsibility for the bombing. The Prime
Minister’s Office made no comment on the reports.
The Bulgarian reports, rapidly picked up by Hebrew media, posited
various versions of how the bomber had detonated the bomb, including the
suggestion that the bomber had not intended to die in the blast, but
may have wanted to place the bomb on the bus and flee.
Ghezali has a Wikipedia page, which describes him as a
Swedish citizen, with Algerian and Finnish origins. He had been held at
the US’s Guantanamo Bay detainment camp on Cuba from 2002 to 2004,
having previously studied at a Muslim religious school and mosque in
Britain, and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and
Pakistan, it says. He was taken into custody on suspicion of being an
al-Qaeda agent, having been arrested along with a number of other
Following a lobbying effort by Swedish prime minister Göran
Persson, Guantanamo authorities recommended Ghezali be transferred to
another country for continued detainment, and he was handed over to
Swedish authorities in 2004. The Swedish government did not press charges.
A 2005 Swedish documentary about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp starred
Ghezali, who detailed his experience in American custody. He was also
reportedly among 12 foreigners captured trying to cross into Afghanistan
Earlier on Thursday the Bulgarian police released a brief video clip
that claimed to show the suicide bomber, responsible for Wednesday’s
terror attack on a tour bus full of Israeli citizens, walking around
shortly before the blast at Burgas International Airport.
The Bulgarian news agency Sofia reported that the bomber was carrying
an American passport and Michigan driver’s license, both believed to be
forgeries. Sofia also reported that the Bulgarian Interior Ministry
managed to recover the fingerprints of the bomber, which they submitted
to the FBI in the United States and the international police
organization Interpol. The FBI and CIA joined Israeli and Bulgarian
officials in investigating the attack.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov told Sofia that DNA tests were
being run to determine the identity of the Caucasian man, who the
minister described as casually dressed with nothing suspicious about his
appearance to set him apart from the crowd of people at the airport. (I
guess everyone carries huge back packs, nowadays?)
The ministry did not indicate how the police came to the conclusion that the man was the suicide bomber.