And surprise surprise he’s a Muslim who was once held at Guantanamo Bay.
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 Mehdi Ghezali.
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 was reportedly 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.
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.
He was also reportedly among 12 foreigners captured trying to cross into Afghanistan in 2009.
Further details on the swine here:
Pakistani police said, on Monday 09/14/2009, that a recently detained terror suspect Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali, is the same Swedish national once held by the USA at Guantanamo Bay and that he was trying to connect with Al Qaeda operatives.
Dera Ghazi Khan police chief Mohammad Rizwan told The Associated Press that authorities made the determination after interrogating Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali. “I do confirm that he is the same person. He is a very dangerous man,” Rizwan said.
Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali was arrested on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan, a southern Pakistani town, on 08/28/2009 along with Munir Awad, his wife Safia Benaouda and a group of foreigners including seven Turks who lacked the proper immigration stamp.
A Swedish man with the same name was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 and held for two years at the USA prison in Cuba. He was released on 07/08/2004 after he denied any ties to Al Qaeda. After his released Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali criticized the Swedish government for not helping him sufficiently.
Though many of those held at Guantanamo Bay have been released and left the public eye, some are known to have joined or rejoined militant movements despite attempts in some countries to rehabilitate them.
Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali was born in Stockholm in 1979. He is the son of an Algerian immigrant and a Finnish woman. He finished secondary studies in 1999 and trained as a welder. Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali then he traveled to Portugal, supposedly to pursue a career as a Football player. Ghezali was apprehended by the Portuguese Police in Algarve, on 07/31/1999, for a suspected bank robbery and a jewelry theft.
Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali and his partner were sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment, but were released early. Ghezali was released from prison on 06/12/2000, after having spent 10 months in a Portuguese prison, and returned to Sweden (his father claimed that Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali went to Algeria to serve in the Algerian Army).
Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali then traveled to Medina, Saudi Arabia, to study at the university. However, he was not accepted and returned to Sweden in 04/2001 for a brief period before travelling to London where he studied at the Madrasa of the Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad. He then travelled to Pakistan in the summer of 2001 in order to study at one of the Madrasas situated there. After failing to gain acceptance into any of the Madrasas he then travelled to Afghanistan, where he according to his own statements stayed with a family in Jalalabad.
According to media reports Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali stayed at the “Algerian House”, supposedly a known hideout for Al Qaeda and was used also earlier by Ahmed Ressam. Mehdi Ghezali claimed he came to Pakistan to take part in a gathering of Tablighi-Jamaat.
And of course there’s Wikipedia.
Ghezali also features in this documentary on Gitmo. You can see him at 3:22, 18:18, 31:15 and 1:09:45.
Update: Note to mainstream media and others reporting this: I’m pretty sure I’m the first to find the video and make the connection, so if you found out about it here, please do the right thing and link to this post.
Reports identifying Swede as behind #Bulgaria suicide bomb incorrect, secret service tells TT: “We can confirm he is not the suicide bomber”
— Carl Fridh Kleberg (@CFKlebergTT) July 19, 2012
We will follow this story closely.
Update: Swedish Security Service denies he was the bomber (hat tip: Challah)
Update: Now Bulgarian officials are denying it.