The Canadian dual citizen accused in a deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria last year was born in Lebanon and moved to British Columbia with his mother as a boy, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday while declining to release the suspect's name.
"This individual came to Canada as a child, I think at the age eight, settled into Vancouver with his mother, and became a citizen three, four years later," Kenney said during an interview with Evan Solomon on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.
A day earlier, Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov made public his country's ongoing search for the former Canadian resident, who is one of two suspects being sought by security officials in the July 18, 2012, blast in Burgas that killed five Israelis, their Bulgarian bus driver, and the bomber himself.
'This individual came to Canada as a child, I think at the age eight, settled into Vancouver with his mother, and became a citizen three, four years later.' —Jason Kenney, Canada's immigration minister
Kenney said the suspect has "not normally been a resident of Canada" since leaving the country 10 years ago.
When pressed for the suspect's name, the minister said: "I’m aware of his name, but I’m not going to release that here."
Bulgarian officials allege the two suspects being sought used passports from Canada and Australia, respectively, to enter their country.
Canadian officials have not confirmed or denied that claim, and have not released details of when the man was last in the country.
"We think it’s possible he may have come back since then a couple of times visiting Canada but we don’t have records on when that might have been," Kenney said.
Canada's full support
Bulgarian officials believe both suspects are now living in Lebanon, and have asked Lebanese officials to assist with the investigation.
"We assume that he also has Lebanese nationality since he was born there, and has been living there the past decade," said Kenney, when asked about the suspect's dual-nationality.
Bulgaria believes both suspects were part of the Lebanese militant wing Hezbollah.
"That Bulgaria has found convincing evidence of Hezbollah involvement in this carnage is, sadly, not surprising. It is yet more evidence of the depravity of Hezbollah," said Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird on Tuesday.
A Shia militant group formed in 1982 in response to Israel's invasion of Lebanon, the Canadian government considers Hezbollah to be "one of the most technically capable terrorist groups in the world." The group has been linked to previous deadly attacks on Israel interest, but denies any involvement in the bus blast.
Baird said Canada was offering its "full support" in the investigation.
Canadian authorities are in talks with their Australian and Bulgarian counterparts to get access to the evidence cited about the bus bombing.