Saturday, July 27, 2013

Global Impact: Update--Canadian, Australian Wanted in Connection with 2012 Bulgarian Bus Bom

According to The National Post, Bulgarian authorities have named a Canadian terror suspect, Hassan El Hajj Hassan, 25, as a wanted fugitive and suspected Hezbollah operative involved in last year’s bombing of a tourist bus at an airport on Bulgaria’s coast that killed five Israelis and their local driver. Hassan is a Canadian-Lebanese dual national.

Additionally, the Bulgarian Ministry of Interior said Thursday (July 25) has released the name of a second suspect in the bombing, Australian citizen Meliad Farah, age unknown.  Farah also reportedly goes by the name of  Hussein Hussein.

Both men were seen in several parts of Bulgaria in the weeks before the July 18, 2012, airport Israeli at Burgas Airport (situated 400 kilometers or 248 miles from the capital of Sofia).

While in Canada, Hassan is suspected of also collecting money transfers from Hezbollah. Roughly $100,000 in additional funds were received through accounts in Australia, with the money allegedly earmarked for organizing the bombing and fact-finding missions in other countries.

Bulgarian authorities believe that Hassan and Farah received operational and weapons training from Hezbollah in Lebanon prior to the attack.

COMMENT: Hassan came to Canada at the age of eight, with his mother and brother, to join their father who had immigrated years earlier. The family settled in Vancouver. It is believed that Hassan became a Canadian citizen some 15 years ago when he was younger, yet after his parents divorced in 2000, he has been living in Beirut, where he may have become radicalized.

The two confederates were allegedly recruited by Hezbollah while they were studying in Beirut. 

Both suspects would be tried in Bulgaria if they are ever arrested, although if in Lebanon, the likelihood of their being arrested is unlikely.

Hassan allegedly arrived in Bulgaria three weeks before the bombing. He then began using a fake Michigan driver’s license that named him as Ralph William Rico. The suspects allegedly built the explosive device in Bulgaria.

Although investigators initially described the attack as a suicide bombing, they now believe the bomb, hidden in a backpack, went off prematurely as it was being planted in the bus’s luggage compartment.

DNA found on a fraudulent MI driving permit was recovered outside of the bus following the bombing. It is believed that the suicide bomber that was killed following the detonation may have been related to Hassan.

The attack targeted Israeli tourists arriving at Sarafovo Airport from Tel Aviv to visit the sunny beaches of Bulgaria’s Black Sea resort area. Thirty-two people were injured. 

Bulgarian counterterrorism sources believe that Hassan and Farah AKA Hussein Hussein that Hassan and/or Farah may be using fraudulent identification in the names of Brian Jeremiah Jameson, Jacque Felipe Martin and Ralph William Rico.

In July 2012, Farah reportedly rented a Renault Clio with the licence plate number А9027КТ in the village of Ravda.

The Canadian government has already taken legal action to strip Canadian citizens convicted of terrorism of their citizenship resulting in their passports being cancelled.

The Bulgarian government has already determined that Hezbollah was behind the July 2012 Burgas Israeli bus bombing and confirmed that the fraudulent US driving permits were produced by a Beirut printer linked to the terror group.