Date: July 19, 2012
Abstract: Bulgarian media have reportedly identified the man responsible for blowing up the bus with Israeli tourists on Wednesday as Mehdi Ghezali, a jihadist who spent two years in Guantanamo. US officials responded there is “no evidence” that it was him.
Ghezali’s name was revealed by Times of Israel newspaper, who cited local Bulgarian media sources.
But later the story grew murkier, with ABC reporting that Bulgarian officials denied that Ghezali was behind the attack. Swedish agency TT says it has received similar refutals from security services in Stockholm. NBC later said that US officials also had no information linking Ghezali with the terrorist act.
None of the countries have issued an independently verified statement.
Previously, local police matched up airport CCTV footage with the remnants near the bus carrying Israeli tourists that was destroyed in the explosion. The likely suicide bomber was carrying a US driving license bearing the name Jacque Felipe Martin that authorities believe to be a forgery.
Mehdi Ghezali is a 33 year-old Islamist, who was arrested in Pakistan in 2001 and subsequently spent two years in detention in Guantanamo. When he was sent back to Sweden, the local government refused to press charges against him. He was arrested again by Pakistani authorities on the Afghanistan border in 2009, but once again set free upon extradition back to his homeland.
The suspect – a long-haired man in shorts wearing two rucksacks – looked no different than the thousands of other holidaymakers at the popular Black Sea resort. He roamed the airport for an hour, apparently waiting for the tourists arriving from Tel Aviv to go through customs before approaching their transfer bus and detonating his bomb.
Five Israelis, the Bulgarian driver and the bomber were instantly killed. Two more tourists remain in serious condition in the capital Sofia, while an Israeli military plane has flown around thirty others who were wounded back to Israel.
Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the bomber had spent between four days and a week in the country.
”We cannot exclude the possibility that he had logistical support on Bulgarian territory,'' said Tsvetanov.
Police have taken a DNA sample from the skin of the terrorist to see if it is listed in any international criminal databases.
The shadow war
Israel did not hesitate in naming the perpetrators of the attack.
"All signs point to Iran. This is an Iranian terror offensive that is spreading throughout the world," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The past year has seen attacks on Israeli embassies in Georgia, India and Kenya. Israel says that each time the investigation led back to Iran, Israel’s principal enemy.
"The direct executors are Hezbollah,'' claimed Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The Lebanese Islamist organization enjoys ideological and financial ties with Tehran.
"Israel will do all it can to find those responsible and punish them, both those who carried it out directly and those who dispatched them,” promised Barak.
In response, Iranian TV branded the accusations “sensationalist” and “ridiculous.”
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov said further investigations will be necessary before a definitive perpetrator of the attack is found.
“It is wrong and a
mistake to point fingers at this stage of the investigation at any country or
organization," stated Mladenov (RT, 2012).
Title: Al Qaeda, Ex-Gitmo Detainee Involved In Consulate Attack, Intelligence Sources Say
Date: September 20, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: Intelligence sources tell Fox News they are convinced the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was directly tied to Al Qaeda -- with a former Guantanamo detainee involved.
That revelation comes on the same day a top Obama administration official called last week's deadly assault a "terrorist attack" -- the first time the attack has been described that way by the administration after claims it had been a "spontaneous" act.
"Yes, they were killed in the course of a terrorist attack on our embassy," Matt Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said during a Senate hearing Wednesday.
Olsen echoed administration colleagues in saying U.S. officials have no specific intelligence about "significant advanced planning or coordination" for the attack.
However, his statement goes beyond White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, saying the Sept. 11 attack on the consulate was spontaneous. He is the first top administration official to call the strike an act of terrorism.
Sufyan Ben Qumu is thought to have been involved and even may have led the attack, Fox News' intelligence sources said. Qumu, a Libyan, was released from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2007 and transferred into Libyan custody on the condition he be kept in jail. He was released by the Qaddafi regime as part of its reconciliation effort with Islamists in 2008.
His Guantanamo files also show he has ties to the financiers behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The declassified files also point to ties with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a known Al Qaeda affiliate.
Olson, repeating Wednesday that the FBI is handling the Benghazi investigation, also acknowledged the attack could lead back to Al Qaeda and its affiliates.
"We are looking at indications that individuals involved in the attack may have had connections to Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda's affiliates, in particular Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb," he said at the Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing.
Still, Olsen said "the facts that we have now indicate that this was an opportunistic attack on our embassy, the attack began and evolved and escalated over several hours," Olson said.
Carney said hours earlier that there still is "no evidence of a preplanned or pre-meditated attack," which occurred on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
"I made that clear last week, Ambassador Rice made that clear Sunday," Carney said at the daily White House press briefing.
Rice appeared on "Fox News Sunday" and four other morning talk shows to say the attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans was "spontaneous" and sparked by an early protest that day outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, over an anti-Islamic video.
"It was a reaction to a video that had nothing to do with the United States," Rice told Fox News. "The best information and the best assessment we have today is that this was not a pre-planned, pre-meditated attack. What happened initially was that it was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo."
However, that account clashed with claims by the Libyan president that the attack was in fact premeditated. Other sources, including an intelligence source in Libya who spoke to Fox News, have echoed those claims. The intelligence source even said that, contrary to the suggestion by the Obama administration, there was no major protest in Benghazi before the deadly attack which killed four Americans. A U.S. official did not dispute the claim.
In the face of these conflicting accounts, Carney on Tuesday deferred to the ongoing investigation and opened the door to the possibility of other explanations.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, called Wednesday for an independent review of the attack."A State Department Accountability Review Board to look into the Benghazi attack is not sufficient," Collins said. "Given the loss of the lives of four Americans who were serving their country and the serious questions that have been raised about the security at our Consulate in Benghazi, it is imperative that a non-political, no-holds-barred examination be conducted" (Fox News, 2012).