Bulgaria Identifies Anti-Israeli Bomber Accomplices

Thursday, 25 Jul 2013 08:08 AM


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SOFIA, Bulgaria — Bulgaria released pictures Thursday of two suspected helpers of a bomber who blew up a bus packed with Israeli tourists last year, identifying them as an Australian and a Canadian.

"A year after the bomb attack on a bus with Israeli tourists that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian citizen, the authorities are seeking public assistance for information on two people suspected of having links to the attack," the interior ministry said in a statement.

The two were identified as 32-year-old Australian Maliad Farah, also known as Hussein Hussein — a bearded man with dark hair, thick black eyebrows, and brownish eyes — and 25-year-old Canadian Hassan El Hajj Hassan — a man of lighter complexion, with a closely shaved head and a goatee.

Bulgaria had already announced that an Australian and a Canadian linked to the military wing of Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group had aided the still unidentified bomber, who was killed at the scene of the July 18, 2012 attack at the Black Sea airport of Burgas.

The interior ministry said Thursday the men had been spotted several Black Sea resorts between June 28 and July 18 last year.

Prosecutors suspect them of registering in hotels and renting cars under three fake identities — Brian Jeremiah Jameson, Jacque Philippe Martin and Ralph William Rico, it added.

Two identical counterfeit US driver's licenses in the names of Martin and Rico were recovered by police shortly after the attack, both carrying traces that matched the DNA profile extracted from the remains of the bomber, allowing investigators to track down the people who used them and establish their link to the attack.

Israel blamed Iran and its Lebanese "terrorist proxy" Hezbollah for the bombing, the deadliest attack on Israelis abroad since 2004 and the first in a European Union (EU) member state.

It took Bulgaria six months to make what it called a "justified conclusion" that the Lebanese Shiite militant group was behind the attack.

More than a year on, the investigation is still bogged down by lengthy procedures for collecting witness testimony from Israel and legal assistance reports from abroad.

The case, however, played a role in the EU decision on Monday to blacklist Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist organization.

© AFP 2014

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