Via Times of Israel:
Bulgarian media on Thursday named the suicide bomber who blew up a bus full of Israeli tourists, killing five, in 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.
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.
He was also reportedly among 12 foreigners captured trying to cross into Afghanistan in 2009.
Ghezali said he went to Pakistan to study Islam in August 2001, before the September 11 attacks which triggered President George Bush’s War on Terrorism and the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.
He said he was visiting a friend in the Afghan town of Jalalabad near the Pakistani border when the US invasion started. He decided to return to Pakistan when he heard that villagers were selling foreigners to US forces.
Pakistani villagers seized him as he crossed the border from Afghanistan and sold him to Pakistani police, who turned him over to the US military. He was flown from Pakistan to Afghanistan and arrived in Guantanamo Bay in January 2002, he said.
He was released from Guantanamo on 8 July because he was no longer considered a threat to the United States.
The Swedish press has reported that Ghezali had previously served 10 months in prison in Portugal because he was suspected of burglarizing tourists and stores. He was freed and attempted to study Islam in Saudi Arabia, but failed to do so. He traveled to London where he may have studied under Omar Bakri Muhammad, a notorious jihadist preacher.
Ghezali then made his way to Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he claims he stayed with family. Press reports indicate that he is suspected of staying in a notorious al Qaeda safehouse in Jalalabad instead. Ghezali was arrested in Pakistan in December 2001.
“Ghezali reportedly was part of a group of 156 suspected al-Qaida fighters caught while fleeing Afghanistan’s Tora Bora mountains,” according to the Associated Press.
Ghezali was sent to Guantanamo and his story became a cause for attorneys and activists in Sweden who portrayed him as a wrongly-detained innocent. In July 2004, Ghezali was transferred from Cuba to Sweden.
But the controversy surrounding Ghezali was not over. Five years after he left Gitmo, Ghezali, along with Awad, Benouada, and nine others, was detained in northern Pakistan. The group had traveled through Iran, and one member of the entourage was an Iranian.
Shortly thereafter, another Muslim Swede, Sahbi Zalouti, was arrested in the same area of Pakistan. Zalouti was also picked up this week in connection with the plot against Jyllands-Posten.
Ghezali’s Wikileaks file is here. He was assessed as “medium risk” with a recommendation of release to another country for detention.