The foreign minister of Cyprus confirmed Monday that bomb-making equipment discovered last month with a Lebanese-Canadian suspect was linked to the Hezbollah terrorist group and was intended for attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets on the island.
Cypriot forces arrested the 26-year-old suspect last month when a stash of ammonium nitrate, a common bomb-making component, was discovered in the basement of the place where he was staying in the southeastern city of Larnaca, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told reporters.
Following the arrest, Israeli reports connected the man to the Hezbollah terrorist group, which operates mainly in Lebanon and Syria.
During a press conference Monday, Kasoulides confirmed those reports.
The potential targets of the attacks would have likely been visiting Israelis and Jews on the island, the foreign minister said.
On the same day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed to the case as proof that Iran, which backs Hezbollah, was fomenting regional unrest, in a meeting with Cypriot President Nico Anastasiades, who is visiting the country.
“A lot of this terrorism in the region and beyond the region is fomented by Iran that, along with its henchmen in Hezbollah, they operate a worldwide terrorism network of over 30 countries in five continents, and you and Cyprus have already suffered three terrorist plots, including the recent uncovering of an apartment with an enormous amount of ammonium nitrate, a very dangerous explosive,” Netanyahu said.
An Israeli official said the vast quantities of the chemical, nearly two tons, were not necessarily intended for immediate use, but rather for multiple attacks in the future, the Reuters news service reported.
“It does not look like there was an immediate terrorist action planned in connection with this haul,” the official said.
Until the 1990s Israel and Cyrpus have maintained a strained relationship, despite their close proximity, with the island nation voicing support for the PLO and recognizing a Palestinian state.
Over the past twenty years the two countries improved their ties and each years thousands of Israelis visit the country, many to get married.