January 17, 2018 – The trial of 29 year old Hassan el Hajj Hassan, a Lebanese-Canadian Hezbollah operative and his accomplice who allegedly carried on the deadly bombing of a tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria, commenced in Sofia today.
Bulgarian prosecuting authorities charged Hassan, who holds a Canadian passport, and Meliad Farah, an Australian national, with terrorism in connection with the 2012 bombing which killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver.
Hassan used to live in Vancouver but is believed to have returned to Lebanon over a decade ago. In spite of residing in Lebanon for years, Hassan has kept his Canadian passport, prized by Hezbollah for allowing its holders to freely travel internationally without arousing suspicion.
The suspects will be tried in absentia because neither the Canadian nor the Australian authorities have been able to locate them in spite of an INTERPOL search placed by Bulgarian authorities.
On July 18, 2012, a powerful bomb carried by a suicide bomber with fake US documents, later identified as Lebanese-born French national Mohamad Hassan El-Husseini, ripped through a bus with forty-two Israelis on board at the arrivals terminal at Burgas Sarafovo Airport on Bulgaria’s Black Sea cost, a popular destination with Israeli tourists. The blast killed five Israelis, including a pregnant woman, as well as their Bulgarian bus driver, and injured a further thirty-two Israelis.
In April 2015, The US State Department listed Hassan, Farah and a third terrorist, Hussein Atris, as “specially designated global terrorists.”
Hassan is not the first Lebanese-Canadian to be involved in terrorist activities. In May, 2014, Fawzi Ayoub, a Lebanese-born naturalized Canadian, was killed in an ambush by Syrian rebels in Lebanon. Ayoub, who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list, was a senior ranking member of Hezbollah who was arrested by Israel in 2000 and spent four years in an Israeli jail before being released in a prisoner swap.
In June 2015, Hussein Abdallah, another Lebanese-born man with a Canadian passport pleaded guilty to terror charges when nine tons of potential bomb-making material were found in his Cyprus home. Authorities said Abdallah had links to Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah, designated by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization.
In 2013, Lebanese-born Canadian citizen and civil rights activist Mouna Diab became the first Canadian woman charged with “committing a crime for the benefit of a terrorist group” after an RCMP investigation linked her to a scheme to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Ironically, Diab was a Muslim activist who fought against the stereotyping of Muslims.