Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mehdi Ghezali, Suicide Terrorist in Bulgaria Bombing, Was Released from Guantanamo in 2004 -- UPDATED!

UPDATE: "Officials Deny Bulgaria Bomber Was Guantanamo Detainee."

At the Times of Israel, "Bulgarian press names bomber: Mehdi Ghezali" (via Blazing Cat Fur and Memeorandum).

Russia Today has the video, "Burgas suicide bomber identified by media as Guantanamo jihadist (VIDEO)":
Bulgarian media have named the suicide bomber who blew up the bus with Israeli tourists on Wednesday, killing seven. The terrorist is alleged to be Mehdi Ghezali, an Algerian-Swedish Islamist who spent two years in Guantanamo Bay.

Sweden's The Local has more, "US held Swedish terror suspect 'for information'." And at National Post, "Bulgaria bus bomber in attack on Israeli tourists was ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Mehdi Ghezali: reports."

Plus, from Michael Moynihan, at the Weekly Standard, "Double Jeopardy":
With a black baseball cap pulled tight over a mop of stringy long hair and a patchy, close-cropped beard, Mehdi-Muhammed Ghezali looked more like a Metallica roadie than a disciple of Ayman al-Zawahiri. He addressed the scrum of reporters in a clipped, heavily accented Swedish and accused the American government of wrongly detaining him for three years and "physically and mentally" torturing him. A book about his experiences was in the works; a documentary crew, cobbling together a film about American human rights abuses, had requested an audience; and his legal team was plotting a lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld. It was 2004, and Ghezali was a free man.

In late 2001, Ghezali, a Swedish national, had been detained during the battle at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, handed over to the American military, and sent to the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay. According to his lawyers, he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although he spoke none of the local languages, Ghezali told his captors, in the midst of the Taliban's retreat into the mountainous hinterlands of Afghanistan, he had crossed that country's border with Pakistan to study Islam.

After an intense lobbying effort by Swedish prime minister Göran Persson--and a vague promise that the country's intelligence services would keep a watchful eye on him--Ghezali was delivered to Sweden (on the government's private Gulfstream jet). The Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter noted that Ghezali had achieved "rock star status" upon returning to his homeland, a native victim of America's rapacious imperialism. And after two-plus years in isolation, the emotionally fragile former prisoner would be happy to discover "that a majority of Swedes were glad that he was home."

That his story was threaded with head-scratching omissions and inexplicable gaps in chronology--the years in Cuba were, apparently, not enough time to concoct a consistent narrative--seemed to have little effect on his credibility. To his supporters, he was merely a bit player in a larger morality play. But even his most credulous supporters winced when, during a press conference in his hometown of Örebro, Ghezali offered the following opinion of Osama bin Laden: "I don't know him as a person and therefore can't pass judgment on him. I don't believe what the Americans say about him."
More the link.

Plus, at Legal Insurrection, "Report – Suicide bomber in Bulgaria was former Gitmo detainee from Sweden." And at Memeorandum.