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Cyprus charges six with terror for alleged plot to kill five Israelis

Indictment classifies planned attack on Israeli targets as terror; main suspect, from Azerbaijan, allegedly had Hezbollah-related images on his phone; trial to start in December

Illustrative -- A motorcyclist police officer escorts and guards a police van, Nicosia, Cyprus, June 24, 2019 (Petros Karadjias/AP)
Illustrative -- A motorcyclist police officer escorts and guards a police van, Nicosia, Cyprus, June 24, 2019 (Petros Karadjias/AP)

Cypriot authorities filed charges Friday against six suspects for allegedly planning to attack Israeli targets on the eastern Mediterranean island.

Among those charged was the main suspect, Orkhan Asadov, a 38-year-old Azerbaijani national. He and three Pakistanis indicted in the case are accused of plotting to visit Cyprus to commit acts of terror.

All but one of the suspects allegedly planned to kill five Israelis who live in Cyprus, according to the Politis daily.

The vast majority of the charges in the indictment are against Asadov, including for using forged passports and money laundering. The indictment alleged he received $40,000 earlier this year to carry out terrorism.

According to Politis, in an interview with police before he received legal representation, Asadov reportedly told investigators that he received the money from a man named only as “Mohammed,” who told him to go to Cyprus and intimidate Israeli businesspeople who owed him large sums of money.

However, Asadov also was allegedly found to have images on his phone relating to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.

One of the Pakistani suspects, who allegedly helped recruit the others, was accused of having links to an Iran-backed militia of Shiite Pakistanis fighting on behalf of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. Both Iran and its proxy Hezbollah are closely aligned with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The newspaper report said one of the other suspects holds Cypriot citizenship, as his parents had moved to the country, but did not specify from where. There was no identifying information about the sixth suspect.

A judge ordered the suspects be kept in custody until the end of proceedings. The trial is due to begin in early December.

News of the alleged attack plans broke in early October after Asadov was arrested on suspicion of planning an attack against Israelis. Asadov reportedly was in possession of a gun and silencer when he was arrested.

While the Israeli government said the attack was linked to “Iranian terror,” Cypriot officials have previously rejected the idea of Tehran’s involvement.

Reports have indicated that the plot was directed at Israeli businessman Teddy Sagi, though Israeli authorities — and Sagi himself — have denied that he was targeted specifically.

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