Tel Aviv bus bomb mastermind indicted


Israel's military prosecutor filed an indictment against the head of a Palestinian terrorist cell who organized the bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv.

Ahmad Salah Ahmad Musa, 25, was charged Wednesday with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, dealing in weapons and materials for war, creating an explosive, membership in an illegal organization and incitement, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Musa allegedly recruited other Palestinians to help him plan and carry out the attack.

A bomb planted on the No. 142 bus in central Tel Aviv detonated on Nov. 21 during Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense as the bus drove near the Kirya, the Israeli military's headquarters. More than 20 bus passengers were injured in the attack.

Musa is accused of heading the terror cell as well as making the bombs and recruiting help. It is believed that he detonated the bomb remotely using a cell phone. He allegedly also planned other attacks.

Mohammed Mafarja, 18, was charged last month with planting the bomb. According to his indictment, Mafarja planted the bomb on behalf of Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, to help the group during the conflict.

The teen has Israeli citizenship as part of a Palestinian family unification program and worked in the city of Modiin. Along with Musa and Mafarja, two other members of the terror cell, all from the West Bank, were arrested in connection with the attack.

Alleged Tel Aviv bus bomber charged


An 18-year-old Palestinian man was indicted for allegedly leaving a bomb on a Tel Aviv bus that left more than 20 Israelis wounded when it detonated.

Mohammed Mafarja was charged Wednesday in Tel Aviv District Court with planting the bomb on the No. 142 bus in central Tel Aviv that was detonated on Nov. 21 during Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense. The indictment says he planted the bomb on behalf of Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, in order to help them during the conflict.

Mafarja allegedly informed other members of a terrorist cell supporting Hamas when the bomb was planted and got off the bus. It was then detonated using a mobile phone, as it passed near the central army base called the Kirya.

The teen has Israeli citizenship as part of a Palestinian family unification program and worked in the city of Modi'in. Three other members of the terror cell, all from the West Bank, were arrested in connection with the attack.

The indictment charges Mafarja with assisting the enemy, attempted murder, conspiring to commit crimes, detonating explosive devices causing severe damage, carrying and conveying a weapon or explosive device and assisting an illegal organization.

No trial date has been set.

Mafarja's attorney told reporters that his client did not know that the bomb would cause such destruction.

Bulgarian police release photo of bomb attack accomplice


Bulgarian police released a computer-generated image and a fake driver’s license photo of a man believed to be an accomplice in the bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Burgas that killed six.

The fake Michigan driver’s license is registered to Jacques Philippe Martin, but investigators have learned that the man from the photo introduced himself by other names, according to the Focus information agency.

The man appears to be wearing a wig in the license photo. It was originally believed that the license belonged to the dead suicide bomber, but it was later determined to belong to an accomplice.

Five Israelis and the bus driver were killed in the July 18 attack on a tour bus full of Israeli tourists shortly after boarding in the Burgas airport.

Planes with wounded return to Israel; Peres: ‘Israel will act against terror’


President Shimon Peres said in response to the deadly attack in Bulgaria that Israel will “locate and act against terror all over the world,” as the wounded and dead arrived in Israel.

Two planes carrying Israelis wounded from Wednesday evening’s attack were landed in Israel at approximately 3:30 local time on Thursday. After landing, passengers were sent to hospitals near the airport or near their homes. A third plane has brought home the 70 Israelis who escaped injury in the attack.

Brig.-Gen. Itzik Kreis, head of the Israeli Defense Force Medical Corps, said that the wounded returning to Israel were “less seriously hurt than we expected.”

Two of those wounded in the attack remained in hospitals in Sofia, Bulgaria—with one in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Kreis said that victims “got very good medical care in Bulgaria.” He said that injuries suffered in the bus bombing were similar to injuries caused by bus bombings in Israel.

“This was a bloody attack against civilians going on vacation. Many of them lost their lives, others were wounded for no reason, for no purpose. They were attacked for the simple and unacceptable reason that they were Jewish or Israeli,” Peres said.

“We will not forget, we will not ignore and we will not give up. Israel will locate and act against terror all over the world. We have the capabilities for it and are committed to act. We have the ability to silence and incapacitate the terror organizations. Anywhere in the world where it is possible we shall build friendship and anywhere in the world where it is necessary we will chase murderous terrorists. We will uproot terror both near and far.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday morning that of the seven dead, five were Israelis, one was the bus driver and one the suicide bomber.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that Israel has concrete information that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group carried out the attack.

The dead have not yet been positively identified, according to reports.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s Interior Ministry released video footage of the man identified as the suicide bomber.

The bomber was dressed like a tourist and carried a fake Michigan driver’s license, Novinite.com reported.  He reportedly had hung out near the buses slated to take the Israeli tourists to their hotel for more than an hour.

Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov reiterated on Thursday that Bulgarian officials had received no warning of an imminent attack on Israeli or Jewish targets.

At least 7 Israelis reported killed, dozens injured in Bulgarian terror attack


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[11:35 a.m., Haaretz] According to Bulgaria’s interior minister, five people were killed in the attack and 33 were wounded, 3 of whom are in critical condition.

“We are currently preparing a list with the names of the people on the flight, in order to identify the victims,” he said.

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[9:00 a.m., Reuters]: Three people were killed and over 20 injured by an explosion on a bus carrying Israeli tourists outside the airport of the coastal city of Burgas on Wednesday, Bulgarian authorities said.

The mayor of the city, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, said the bus was carrying Israeli tourists, but police could not immediately confirm their nationality. Police said several other buses at the site had been damaged.

“Initial information showed three people have died, there are injured,” a spokeswoman for the interior ministry said.

An Israeli witness said in an interview with Israeli army radio that the explosion was probably caused by a suicide bomber at the entrance of the bus.

Bulgarian police said it was investigating and could not say at this point what caused the explosion.

Bulgarian national radio said many people were injured in the blast. Burgas airport was closed after the incident and flights were redirected to the airport of Varna, police said.

Israeli officials had previously said that Bulgaria, a popular holiday destination for Israeli tourists, was vulnerable to attack by Islamist militants who could infiltrate via nearby Turkey.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; editing by Ralph Boulton; Editing by Louise Ireland

Netanyahu on deadly Bulgaria bombing: ‘All signs point to Iran’


A Black Sea coast town in Bulgaria became the scene of carnage when a bus carrying Israeli tourists exploded, killing at least five people and injuring at least 33. Nine people reportedly were missing.

The explosion Wednesday at Sarafovo International Airport in Burgas hit one of three tour buses carrying Israelis, Israel’s Channel 1 reported. Some news reports said a suicide bomber boarded the bus as it was taking the Israeli tourists to the terminal. Others quoted Burgas Mayor Dimitar Nikolov as saying that explosives were in the luggage area of the bus.

A video on Ynet showed black smoke billowing upward. Sirens at the scene could be heard.

The attack, which Israel’s government is blaming on Iran, comes on the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that left 85 people dead. Israel, Argentina and many other governments blame Iranian agents for that incident; Tehran denies the allegations.

“All signs point to Iran,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “In just the past few months we’ve seen Iran try to target Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Cyprus and more. The murderous Iranian terror continues to target innocent people. This is a global Iranian terror onslaught and Israel will react forcefully to it.”

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak added, “This is clearly a terrorist attack initiated probably by Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad or another group under the terror auspices of either Iran or other radical Islamic groups. We are in a continual fight against them. We are determined to identify who sent them, who perpetrated [the attack], and to settle the account.”

The Lebanese-based Hezbollah, which is armed by Iran, denied responsibility for the attack, according to the website Novinite.com.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said his government “strongly condemns this aggression and terrorism.”

“Such a horrible act committed on the territory of a sovereign country, a member of the EU, is a provocation at the efforts of the democratic society towards world peace,”  Borisov said, according to the FOCUS News Agency. “I guarantee that we will investigate this incident so as to punish the perpetrators with the entire severeness of the law. I am convinced that the Bulgarian and the Israeli nations will get stronger and more united after this tragedy.”

The mayor of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, home to nearly 5,000 Jews, ordered stepped-up police patrols of areas linked to the Jewish community, according to reports.

Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces Chief, ordered the Home Front Command, the Israel Air Force and the Medical Corps to send a team to Bulgaria Wednesday night to provide medical care and to assist those injured as they return to Israel. The team is led by a senior IDF officer and includes doctors specializing in trauma, orthopedics, intensive care, surgery, burns and pediatrics.

Likewise, the Israel-based ZAKA Rescue and Recovery Organization told JTA that it hired a private jet to fly to Burgas. The plane, which is scheduled to land in Bulgaria at about 11 p.m. local time, is carrying seven volunteers, a doctor and a paramedic, as well as medical equipment and equipment to help identify the Israelis who were killed.

President Obama condemned the “barbaric terrorist attack,” according to The Associated Press. “As Israel has tragically once more been a target of terrorism, the United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people.”

Immediately after the explosion, Ben Gurion International Airport was closed, delaying 11 flights. However, the airport reopened between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. to allow the flights to proceed.

Novinite.com reported that Bulgarian authorities foiled a bomb attack in January on a charter bus for Israeli tourists heading from the Turkish border to a Bulgarian ski resort. A bomb was found on the bus.

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