Officials Deny Bomber Was Guantanamo Detainee

Bulgaria Attacker May Not Be Swedish Islamist

Jihadi: Officials denied reports that Mehdi Ghezali, an Islamic militant who did time at Guantanamo Bay, is suspected in the suicide bombing that killed seven in Bulgaria. He is shown here on Bulgarian television.
Jihadi: Officials denied reports that Mehdi Ghezali, an Islamic militant who did time at Guantanamo Bay, is suspected in the suicide bombing that killed seven in Bulgaria. He is shown here on Bulgarian television.

By Forward Staff

Published July 19, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

U.S. and Swedish officials denied widespread reports that the suspected suicide bomber who blew up a bus of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria was an Islamic militant from Sweden who served two years at Guantanamo Bay.

The reports named the long-haired suspect as Mehdi Ghezali, a Swedish citizen, with Algerian and Finnish origins, the Times of Israel reported, quoting Bulgarian reports.

Ghezali, who was held at Guantanamo Bay from 2002 to 2004, once studied at a Muslim religious school and mosque in Britain, the paper said, and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Ghezali was held at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp in Cuba, after he was captured in Pakistan for being an “unlawful combatant,” Haaretz said.

He was also reportedly arrested after trying to cross into Afghanistan in 2009, but was apparently later released.

MSNBC reported that U.S. officials denied that Ghezali was the bomber. Swedish officials also denied the link. Neither country has said if it knows the actual identity of the bomber.

The bomber had a fake Michigan’s driver’s license, ABC reported, displaying an image of the license with the name Jacque Felipe Martin.

The attack, which occurred Wednesday in the Burgas airport, killed five Israelis and wounded 34.

Bulgarian news outlet Novinite Daily reported that the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov said that officials are still trying to determine whether the suspect’s U.S. passport was also counterfeit.

According to the image obtained by ABC, the license read “Michigan Operator’s License” and showed a fake Louisiana address, which is actually that of a casino called the Belle of Baton Rouge.

Wearing checked Bermuda shorts and blue t-shirt and carrying a small rucksack, the bomber blended in seamlessly with the relaxed crowds travelling to Bulgaria’s sandy Black Sea coast.

The man in his mid-30s, long dark curly hair under dark blue cap, roamed for an hour under the gaze of surveillance cameras through airport buildings and around the car park. Surrounded by Israeli tourists, among tens of thousands who visit Bulgaria every year, it seemed to be just a matter of choosing his target.

He settled eventually on a light coloured double-decker bus.

As he moved along with tourists filing through the bus, he t riggered the bomb in the rucksack, unleashing an explosion that killed five Israelis, the Bulgarian bus driver and himself. The blast bl ew out windows, ripp ed back the bus roof and sent a pall of black smoke over the airport.

“All of them were screaming and running. Some were screaming Jewish names. It was such a panic they didn’t have (any) idea where to go or what to do,” said airport official Svetlin Mirchev.

“It was a massive explosion,” Mirchev said, standing in bright sunshine beyond the cordoned-off site of the bombing.

The victims were among some 150,000 Israelis who come to the Bulgarian Black Sea every year, drawn by sandy beaches, historic towns and relatively low costs. With no record of such attacks, Bulgaria, however, may have been seen as a ‘soft’ target by militants seeking Israeli victims.

With Haaretz


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.