Cyprus sentences Hezbollah man to six years for anti-Israel bomb plot

Lebanese-Canadian man was found with 8.2 tons of explosives and 10,000 euros; expresses remorse in court

A Cypriot policeman escorting the Lebanese-Canadian suspect, Hussein Bassam Abdallah, following a court appearance in Larnaca, Cyprus, on June 29, 2015. (AFP/Iakovos Hatzistavrou)
A Cypriot policeman escorting the Lebanese-Canadian suspect, Hussein Bassam Abdallah, following a court appearance in Larnaca, Cyprus, on June 29, 2015. (AFP/Iakovos Hatzistavrou)

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus on Monday sentenced to six years in jail a Lebanese man who pleaded guilty to terror charges linked to 8.2 tons of potential bomb-making material found in his home.

Judicial authorities said that Hussein Bassam Abdallah, who also has a Canadian passport, was a member of the military wing of the Iranian-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah.

The 26-year-old was sentence to jail by a criminal court in the southern town of Larnaca after he pleaded guilty to terror charges.

In passing sentence judge Nicolaos Santis took into consideration the accused’s remorse for what he did and what he said was his full cooperation with the authorities.

But he stressed that Abdallah “played the role assigned to him within the broader design of things, so that eventually Hezbollah would be able to harm, through terrorist attacks, Israeli interests in Cyprus.”

The charges against Abdallah covered the period 2012 until May 27, 2015, during which time the material was stockpiled in Cyprus.

Abdallah was arrested in a Larnaca suburb in May following a surveillance operation.

Authorities seized some 8.5 tons of ammonium nitrate in the basement of his temporary home.

Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer that when mixed with other substances can be used to make explosives. The prosecution said this was a method used by Hezbollah.

Prosecution lawyer Polina Efthivoulou said Abdallah had admitted to being a member of Hezbollah’s military wing and sent to Cyprus to ensure the ammonium nitrate was safely kept.

She said the bomb-making material was intended for terrorist attacks against Israeli interests in Cyprus.

Foreign Minister Ioanis Kasoulides said during a visit to Israel earlier this month that the authorities believe they have thwarted a possible attack on Israeli targets.

The island attracts thousands of tourists from nearby Israel every year. There is also an Israeli embassy in the capital Nicosia.

Defense lawyer Savvas Angelides said his client’s role was only to check on the nitrate and to move it to another location — not to carry out attacks.

He also urged the court to show leniency, saying that his client cooperated with authorities and had decided to quit Hezbollah.

Investigative sources have said the amount of ammonium nitrate seized by authorities is the biggest anywhere in the world.

Abdallah also had nearly 10,000 euros in his possession when caught.

Cyprus is not known for its militant activity despite its proximity to the Middle East.

But in 2013, a Cypriot court sentenced a Lebanon-born Swedish man who admitted he was a Hezbollah member, to four years in jail after he was found guilty of targeting Israelis on the island.

A botched bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in 1988 claimed the lives of three people.

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