Mossad, CIA join Bulgaria´s hunt for Burgas attack accomplice (ISRAEL HAYOM) Avi Cohen, Israel Hayom correspondent in Burgas 07/22/12)
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As investigation continues, Bulgarian security forces distribute
sketch of man suspected of assissting bomber • Local reports say
accomplice still in Bulgaria • Chabad rabbi in Burgas: We are not
Bulgarian security forces, Israeli intelligence officers and CIA
agents are on the hunt for an accomplice suspected of helping the
terrorist who detonated himself near a bus in Burgas last week,
killing five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver.
Bulgarian police on Saturday distributed a police composite sketch of
the suspect to hotels in Burgas and in the surrounding area. The
authorities suspect that the accomplice has ties to the Hezbollah
Bulgarian media reported over the weekend that the suspected
accomplice was an American citizen going by the name of David Jepson.
One possible scenario is that the explosive device carried by the
terrorist, which weighed about 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds), was
activated remotely by the accomplice and that the terrorist himself
did not know he was going to explode.
According to reports, the accomplice was still in Bulgaria, but this
has not been confirmed by the authorities.
Other reports indicated that a Hezbollah cell that was involved in
the attack had subsequently fled Bulgaria across the Turkish border.
Meanwhile, the little known Qaidat al-Jihad organization, a branch of
al-Qaida, has claimed responsibility for last week´s attack in
Burgas. Arab media over the weekend ran a statement by the
organization, saying, "With Allah´s help and accurate preparation,
one of our men was able to blow up a bus in Bulgaria carrying Jewish
tourists. We will continue to fight Jews and Americans until they get
out of Islamic lands."
However, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry on Saturday rejected the
organization´s attempt to take responsibility for the attack, echoing
assessments by Israel and the U.S. that the attack was carried out by
Hezbollah. The New York Times reported last week that U.S.
intelligence had confirmed Israeli claims that the terrorist was a
member of a Hezbollah cell that was planning to attack Israeli
targets in Bulgaria. According to U.S. assessment, the bombing was
carried out in retaliation for the assassination of Iranian nuclear
Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov briefed reporters over
the weekend on developments in the investigation. "In the last 48
hours, large amounts of intelligence were collected," he said, adding
that contrary to what Bulgarian media had reported earlier, the
terrorist was likely not a Bulgarian citizen. He added that the
terrorist spent at least four days in the country before carrying out
Tsvetanov also noted that Israeli and Bulgarian security authorities
were working in tandem on the investigation and that reports that the
bomber was previously imprisoned in Guantanamo were untrue. The
interior minister also denied reports that Bulgarian authorities
received a threat before the bombing that "something terrible will
In addition to collaborating with Israeli intelligence agents,
Interpol explosives experts from the U.S., France and Switzerland
also arrived in Bulgaria to aid in the investigation.
As the investigation advances, Bulgarian authorities continue to
reinforce security at the airport in Burgas. Citizens have been
prohibited from entering the arrivals area at the airport, where
footage showed the terrorist waiting shortly before the attack. In
addition, every car entering the airport terminal is being carefully
Israelis in Burgas: We are not running away
A few days after the attack in Burgas, life seems to be returning to
normal in the Bulgarian coastal city´s popular Sunny Beach. Security
and safety measures that were bolstered significantly in the 24 hours
immediately following the attack have since dwindled. Even in places
often crowded with Israelis, only standard security forces were
deployed to prevent any disturbances.
With the calming of the storm, many Israelis arrived Friday night at
a traditional Shabbat meal at the Habayit restaurant run by the local
Rabbi Chaim Tvardovitz, Chabad´s emissary in Burgas, said, "It was
important for [Israelis] to come for the blessing, so that everyone
knows there is a response to terrorism here and we are not running
But not everyone has embraced the calm following the attack. Raz
Haham, a young Israeli in Burgas, said, "Until the terrorist attack,
no one was scared, but today people are more suspicious and it feels
less comfortable to be here. Some people were even afraid to leave
Another young woman said she felt as if terror attacks were "chasing"
"Last year, I was in Eilat when there was that terrorist attack
there, and two days ago, I couldn´t believe it when there was once
again an attack near me,” she said. “It´s a bit frightening, but I
only learned of the attack in Burgas from messages that I received. I
felt scared and now I´m just waiting for the flight back to Israel."
Another Israeli tourist said on Saturday that he had to leave his
hotel around noon, even though his flight home was at night. The
hotel told him he could leave his luggage in its storage room, but he
told the receptionist that "the luggage room is not secured, and if I
were a terrorist I would take advantage of this." The receptionist
was not moved by his comment, and he was asked to leave the hotel
room at the agreed time.
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