Swedish, Bulgarian Officials Deny Mehdi Ghezali Is Burgas Suicide Bomber

Officials reject earlier reports by Bulgarian media that suspect in attack on Israelis in Bulgaria was carried out by Swedish citizen who was a former Guantanamo detainee.


Swedish and Bulgarian officials denied Thursday that Mehdi Ghezali, a Swedish citizen of Algerian descent, is responsible for the attack against Israelis in Bulgaria a day earlier.

Bulgarian media reported earlier Thursday that the suspected suicide bomber who blew up a bus of Israeli tourists in Burgas, which killed seven people and wounded 34, was Ghezali, who is a 33-year-old former detainee of Guantanamo.

Several hours after the name was circulated in Israeli and global media, Swedish officials were quoted by the Swedish news agency TT as saying that Mehdi Ghezali was not the bomber behind the Burgas attack.

Moreover, Bulgarian officials told ABC news that the bombing suspect's name that has been circulating on the web is incorrect.

Earlier Thursday, Bulgarian media reported that the man responsible for the attack was Mehdi Ghezali, a 33-year-old Swedish citizen of Algerian descent and former Guantanamo detainee.

Earlier Thursday, ABC showed an image of the suspect's fake Michigan driver's license with the name Jacque Felipe Martin.

The Novinite Daily reported Thursday 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.

Bulgarian media reported that the man had been in the country between four to seven days, and was about 35 years old.

Bulgarian police said they believed the suspect was the suicide bomber because his body sustained the most damage in the explosion.

The Bulgarian police said that footage from airport security cameras captured the suspect roaming the airport for at least one hour, the Novinite Daily reported.

According to the report he was a long-haired Caucasian in sportswear.

Earlier Thursday, Israel Air Force planes carrying the 34 Israeli casualties landed in Israel and they were evacuated to various hospitals for medical care.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his remarks the day before and said that the Burgas attack was perpetrated by Hezbollah, calling it the "long arm of Iran."

However, top Bulgarian official said Thursday that it was a "mistake" to blame any specific country or organization for the terror attack.

"We are only in the beginning of the investigation and it is wrong to jump to conclusions," he added, saying that Bulgaria had "excellent cooperation with the Israeli security forces in matters pertaining to the investigation."

Mladenov added that the countries "will investigate until we discover who is behind the attack. At this stage all we know about the identity of the culprit is his external appearance and a copy of a counterfeit Michigan driver's license."

Iran, meanwhile, dismissed Israel's "baseless accusations" that Tehran was involved in the bombing.



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