POLITICS

Hassan El Hajj Hassan, Canadian Citizen, Named As Terror Suspect In Bulgarian Attack

07/25/2013 11:32 EDT | Updated 09/24/2013 05:12 EDT
CP
SOFIA, Bulgaria - Bulgarian authorities distributed on Thursday the names and images of two suspects — one of them Canadian — who are wanted in connection with a bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver last year.

The first alleged terrorist is identified as Meliad Farah, also known as Hussein Hussein, an Australian citizen born Nov. 5, 1980. The second is Hassan El Hajj Hassan, a Canadian citizen born March 22, 1988, according to a statement of the Interior Ministry.

The ministry asked people who might have seen them to report to the nearest police station.

In February, Jason Kenney, Canadian immigration minister at the time, said one of the suspects in the Bulgarian attack was born in Lebanon, came to Canada at age eight, became a Canadian citizen and then left at age 12. He said he assumed the man was a dual Lebanese-Canadian citizen.

"I understand he may have been back to Canada a few times since then, but he has not has been a habitual resident in Canada since the age of 12,'' Kenney had said.

On Thursday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird described the suspect as a non-resident, dual national “who lived here for several years when he was a child.”

“We abhor the violence, the terrorist attack in Bulgaria that’s left several Israelis dead," added Baird in Ottawa.

A third suspect, a suicide bomber who died on the scene, has not been identified. Last August, Bulgarian experts produced the image of a young, dark-haired man based on the remains of his body, which was decapitated in the explosion. Fingerprints and DNA samples also have not led to results so far.

The Interior Ministry said that three weeks before the attack on July 18, 2012, the two named suspects were spotted in several nearby cities. Investigators believe they checked into hotels and hired cars with fake ID cards under the names of Brian Jeremiah Jameson, Jacque Felipe Martin and Ralph William Rico.

Bulgarian authorities had previously declared the citizenship of the two suspects but not the details.

Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev would not explain why the details were being released now, saying that recently his ministry had "received data from international partners." He did not elaborate.

"What has already been published is the only information which can be revealed at this stage," he said.

On July 18, 2012, a bus carrying Israeli tourists exploded at the airport in Burgas, killing 7 — including five Israeli tourists, the Bulgarian bus driver, and the perpetrator of the attack — and injuring 35.

In February, Bulgarian authorities said there were reasons to believe that the suspects were members of the militant wing of Hezbollah. Last week, Minister Yovchev said there were "clear signs that say that Hezbollah was behind the bus bombing."

On Monday, the EU's 28 foreign ministers reached a unanimous decision to include the armed wing of Hezbollah in its list of terror organizations.

"We are thrilled that the European Union unanimously has agreed to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization," Canada's Baird said Thursday. Canada has already labelled Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

_ With files from The Canadian Press.

Also on HuffPost

Bulgaria Bus Bombing