The Ministry of Tourism in Bulgaria has unveiled plans for significant reforms in the tender procedures for beach rentals across the country, aiming to enhance transparency and fairness in the process
Swedish Ex Guantanamo Inmate May Be Accomplice in Bulgarian Terrorist Attack
The former detainee at Guantanamo, Mehdi Ghezali, might in fact be the wanted accomplice involved in the July 18 terrorist attack in Bulgaria's Burgas, judging by his photos and computer-generated images of the potential accomplice.
The July 18 terrorist attack in Bulgaria's Burgas, also known as the Burgas Bus Bombing, killed 5 Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver at the Sarafovo Airport near Burgas.
The Bulgarian and international investigators have already found that the bomb that exploded in the tourist bus at the Burgas Airport was placed inside the baggage compartment of the vehicle in a backpack by a young, blue-eyed Caucasian male – as clearly visible from photos of his head leaked by Bulgarian site Bivol.bg. The authenticity of the photos has later been confirmed by the police.
Judging by his behavior, however, Bulgarian journalists and Israeli security experts have stipulated that the man in question was hardly a suicide bomber but was mostly likely used as a "mule", without being aware that he was carrying explosives, and that he was most likely blown up from a distance by another person who detonated the bomb once it was on the bus.
Former Guantanamo inmate Mehdi Ghezali, a Swedish citizen pictured with short and long hair, the second being his most frequent photo found online.
The days immediately after the Burgas Bus Bombing saw initial media reports that Mehdi Ghezali, a Swedish citizen and former Guantanamo inmate, was a possible suspect to be the actual suicide bomber. This information was quickly repudiated by the police authorities of Bulgaria and Sweden, which, however, made no mention of Ghezali's current location and occupation, and provided no grounds to base their claims on.
A comparison of Ghezali's photo, which can easily be found online, where he has short hair, appears to match the computer-generated image distributed on July 21 by Israeli media of a man, who is believed to have been an accomplice in the Burgas terrorist attack, and might even have been the one who detonated the bomb from a distance once the suspected mule placed it on the bus filled with Israeli tourists. (Please see the photos above).
The computer-generated image of the wanted accomplice or perpetrator (if he was the one who detonated the bomb) in question appears to be based on testimonies of Bulgarian witnesses. Initial media investigations in Bulgaria, however, were based on the statement of the Bulgarian government that the attack was committed by a suicide bomber (which is different from the "mule blown up from a distance" version mentioned above); that is why most reports at first assumed that the description provided by witnesses must match that of a suicide bomber acting alone.
(Left) A headshot of the distorted face of the alleged "mule"/perpetrator who placed the bomb on the bus at Burgas Airport; (Right) Computer-generated images of the same man with long and short hair.
A July 20 report of the Bulgarian National TV quoted officials from a rent-a-car office from the Black Sea town of Pomorie, located close to Burgas, who came in contact with a suspicious young man. The man spoke relatively bad English with an Arab accent, was Middle Eastern in appearance, and had a very short haircut. According to their testimonies, the man came in on July 15 asking to rent a car for four days carrying lots of EUR 500 notes in cash. The officials told him they were not able to provide a car immediately, and asked him to come back the following day, which he did on July 16.
However, as they were about to finalize the renting of the car, one of the officials, a former passport control officer at the Burgas Airport, became suspicious of whether the young man was using a fake driver's license since the driver's license photo pictured him with very long hair, and his head was almost shaved.
According to the officials, upon sensing their distrust, the man said he needed the car for two days, then - for just a day. At the end they decided that his driver's license was fake, and refused to rent him a vehicle.
The testimonies of the Pomorie car rental office officials that the man who sought to rent a car had a very short haircut at first seemed to match the statements of the Bulgarian government officials that the alleged suicide bomber wore a wig. The headshots of the dead mule, however, show that he was a Caucasian with longer hair, not a nearly shaved head, regardless of whether he wore a wig or not. Apparently, if the suspicious man who tried to rent a car in Pomorie in fact has anything to do with the Burgas Bus Bombing, he must be an accomplice or even the actual perpetrator.
Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) was prompted by a reader from Sweden to make a closer comparison of the Israeli computer-generated image of a wanted accomplice with the short-haired photo of Mehdi Ghezali, currently known to be 36, a man of Algerian and Finnish descent who was detained at the US detention facility in Guantanamo in 2002-2004.
Mehdi Ghezali's short-haired photo does appear to match roughly the computer-generated image of the wanted accomplice in the Burgas Bus Bombing, as well as the description of the suspicious man provided by the car rental officials from Pomorie.
Even though the Bulgarian and Swedish police authorities at first ruled out the media reports that Ghezali might be the actual suicide bomber who blew himself up (as thought at the time) on the Burgas Airport bus with Israelis, it remains unclear whether the man in question should be investigated as an accomplice or perpetrator. To rule out any suspicion altogether, the police authorities of Bulgaria and Sweden must provide founded evidence of Ghezali's current location and occupation as well as evidence of his whereabouts on and around July 18, 2012.
Regardless of the various media reports and the statements of the governments of Bulgaria and Israel, according to which the potential perpetrators of the Burgas terrorist attack might range from well-known groups such as Hezbollah, all the way to completely unknown brand-new groupings, the fact of the matter is that 12 days later, the investigators have not presented to the international public any evidence-based plausible versions for this shocking act of terror.
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