Swedish officials are denying Bulgarian news reports that say that the suicide bomber who killed five Israeli tourists yesterday has been identified as Mehdi Ghezali, a Swedish citizen who spent two years in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. The news agency Sofia says he was identified after fingerprints found at the scene were submitted to the FBI and Interpol. There was no official comment or confirmation from the local authorities, however, the story was being reported in Israeli media.
This 2009 story by Michael Moynihan in The Weekly Standard provides more details on Ghezali background and arrests. Ghezali was well know to American intelligence officials ever since he was first captured during the Battle of Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in 2001. After spending two years in the Cuban prison, the Swedish lobbied for his release, arguing that he was just a confused student of Islam in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was turned over to the Swedish government on promises that he would not be watched over, but he was never charged with a crime. However in 2009, he was arrested again while trying to sneak into Pakistan with several others who were carrying cash, maps of Western targets, and explosive belts. The arrest was seen as a warning that some Gitmo detainees were being released only to return to fold of terrorist organisations.
The man who was believed to be Ghezali was seen on security camera footage inside the Burgas airport, shortly before going outside and detonating his bomb next to a bus filled with Israeli tourists. The suspect was also accused of carrying a U.S. passport and a Michigan drivers license, though both were considered forgeries. Israeli government leaders have blamed the attack on Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.