Is one of the Burgas terror suspects actively using Facebook?
On July 25, Bulgarian authorities released the names and photos of two Hezbollah operatives, Hassan el Hajj Hassan and Meliad Farah, who are wanted in connection with the July 2012 terror attack in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian national. Subsequent press reports have made a few new claims regarding the suspects, whose names were known to investigators since at least February, such as that the suspects received $100,000 in money transfers from Hezbollah and that they smuggled parts of the bomb on a train from Poland.
Yet an interesting detail about the elder suspect appears to have gone relatively unnoticed. Farah, an Australian national who is believed to have built the bomb in Bulgaria, may still be active on Facebook as authorities search for him.
One Facebook account possibly attributable to Farah states that the user studied at the Lebanese International University (LIU) and lives in Australia. According to press reports, the printer utilized to create the forged licenses carried by the Hezbollah cell responsible for the Burgas terror attack was based at LIU, where the suspects are said to have studied engineering.
The user of this account, who has 'liked' an array of celebrities and athletes, including Usher and David Beckham, appears to have used online chat services, such as Tohla and Omegle, among others. The user of the account was also involved in online poker via Facebook.
Interestingly, none of the publicly available photos linked to the account provides a match to the photo released by Bulgarian authorities. In fact, the user has used photos of Turkish actor Necati Şaşmaz and Iranian actor Mostafa Zamani as profile pictures. A photo of Zamani is currently adopted as the user's profile picture.
The last public activity for this account, which has 62 friends, was today, July 29, when the user became friends with a few women based in Bulgaria, including at least one in Burgas.
A second account potentially tied to the wanted Meliad Farah shares a few Facebook friends with the first account. In addition, the account, which says Farah is married, lists his hometown and current location as Sydney, Australia.
Coincidentally, the second account, which currently has 65 friends and 'liked' a page about the AK-47, has uploaded a few of the same photos used by the first Meliad Farah account.
The user also appears to have played online poker via Facebook similar to the first account. In addition, the second account 'liked' a number of the same pages as the first account. The second account 'liked' nearly twice as many pages as did the first suspect account, however, including one honoring former Hezbollah spiritual guide Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah.
Also, while the first account used a photo of Iranian actor Mostafa Zamani as its profile picture, the second account appears to use a photo of the aforementioned Necati Şaşmaz.
Of further note is the fact that the second account, which was used as recently as July 26, became friends lately with a number of women in Bulgaria, at least one of whom is also friend of the first account. It is also eye-catching that a couple of the friends of the second account have hardcore Hezbollah material on their own Facebook accounts.
Finally, a third account potentially tied to Farah, who allegedly returned to Lebanon a day before the attack in Burgas, was started on June 12, 2012. Within a day of starting the account, the user changed its profile picture to an image seen on a number of websites and videos sympathetic to Hezbollah.
This account appears to have taken greater steps to limit how much of the profile can be viewed by the public, so not much else can be gleaned.
While it is currently close to impossible to definitively say that any of these accounts are tied to the Meliad Farah wanted in connection with the Burgas terror attack, there are lots of coincidences.
Almost too many.