UPDATE (2:55 p.m.): Swedish officials are denying Bulgarian news reports that Mehdi Ghexali is the suicide bomber behind yesterday's attack. The Bulgarian police have not officially released the identity of the terrorist.
Bulgarian police have released a short video of the man they say is responsible for Wednesday’s terror attack on a tour bus full of Israeli tourists from Tel Aviv. The bomb, which killed six Israelis and one Bulgarian, marks the deadliest attack on Israelis abroad since 2004, and is the first such incident to ever occur in the country.
Bulgarian media reported Thursday that Swedish citizen Mehdi Ghezali was behind the attack. Ghezali had been held at the US's Guantanamo Bay detainment camp as an unlawful combatant between 2002 and 2004, having studied at a Muslim religious school and mosque in Britain, and traveled to Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. When he was released to Swedish custody in 2004, the Swedish government did not press charges. He was later reportedly captured trying to cross into Afghanistan in 2009.
On the orders of IDF Chief of General Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, IAF aircraft retrieved 33 injured Israeli civilians from Burgas today. Escorted by IDF Medical Corps doctors and IAF Search and Rescue unit personnel, the victims are due to land at the Ben Gurion Airport today and will be transferred to hospitals across Israel. Three remain in serious condition at a hospital in Sofia.
"We are facing a global wave of terror... the attack in Burgas was led by members of Hezbollah and sponsored by Iran," Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli public radio Thursday. "We will do everything possible to track down the perpetrators and instigators of the Burgas attack and punish them.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, fresh off an official visit to Israel, said that America would assist Israel in any way needed to apprehend those behind the "heinous" terrorist attack.
"We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their loved ones," Clinton said in a statement. "The United States stands ready to offer any assistance necessary, and we will work with our partners in Bulgaria, Israel and elsewhere so that the perpetrators can be apprehended swiftly and brought to justice for this appalling crime."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," on Wednesday. "The full tragedy of the attacks is not yet clear,” UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton was "shocked" and "appalled” by the events. "The terrorists who planned and carried out this attack must be brought to justice,” Ashton added.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov urged Israelis to continue to vacation to Bulgaria, emphasizing that Wednesday’s blast was an unprecedented incident. Bulgaria is still "one of the friendliest nations," Mladenov said, adding that should Israelis stop visiting Bulgaria because of the attack, the terrorists will achieve their goal.