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Bulgaria Bomber Identity Discredits Assumptions

Reports claim Medhi Ghazeli was European, a Gitmo alum, linked to al Qaeda

Adam Chandler
July 20, 2012

A development in the story of Mehdi Ghezali, the alleged Bulgaria bomber, one that should give considerable pause, is the report that the bomber was not who many expected he would be. Ghezali was a European Muslim from Europe, a former Gitmo detainee, and affiliated with al-Qaeda.

His father had met with Abdolrahman Barzanjee, an Al Qaeda associate and possible Ansar Al-Islam coordinator for Europe (Ansar Al-Islam is a group of Sunni Muslims trying to turn Iraq into an Islamist state), and Ghazali was friends with a Swedish operative who was a close associate of Abu Zubadayah, a high-ranking official with Al Qaeda.

Ghazali, who was a Swedish citizen, was visited by members of the Swedish government frequently while he was in custody at Gitmo, and the Swedish media played up his incarceration. While Ghezali was detained at Gitmo, he was featured in the documentary Gitmo – The New Rules of War, a film that savaged Guantanamo Bay detention camp by film directors Erik Gandini and Tarik Saleh.

In 2004, according to Wikileaks, Ghezali was deemed a “medium risk” by the powers that be and it was recommended that he be sent to another country for “continued detention.” What happens next, at least in the Breitbart narrative, is that Ghezali is released by Sweden and the “liberal media” ostensibly buys Ghazali a plane ticket to Bulgaria and gives him backpack full of explosives for him to use against Israeli citizens.

More worthy of note is the extent to which this horrible act (if Ghezali is the bomber and given the eight-year gap from Ghezali’s release from Gitmo including a subsequent arrest in Pakistan in 2009), is a failure of multiple institutional bodies, including the Gitmo committee who suggested his transfer, various intelligence agencies who lost track of him or deemed him unimportant, and for many reasons, the Swedish government.

Accordingly this reveal should be the cause for a comprehensive look at how a system of international intelligence sharing and coordination failed and what can be done to avoid it happening again. This is potentially also an embarrassment for Israeli officials who may have been too quick to assert that the bomber had been sent by Iran or through Hezbollah.

Update, 1:03 PM: Swedish officials are now denying Bulgarian reports that the bomber was Medhi Ghazeli.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.

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