Iran said to target Israeli businessman, Chabad House, hotels in Cyprus terror plot

Greek intelligence services also arrest 7 Pakistan nationals said recruited by Tehran to carry out attacks in Greece; international arrest warrant issued for cell’s leader

Illustrative picture of a Chabad center on Cyprus, September 2005, in the port city of Larnaca. (Marina Passos/AFP)
Illustrative picture of a Chabad center on Cyprus, September 2005, in the port city of Larnaca. (Marina Passos/AFP)

The targets in an Iranian-planned attack in Cyprus included an Israeli real estate businessman and a Chabad House, as well as hotels and entertainment venues frequented by Israeli tourists, Channel 12 reported Monday.

The report named the alleged targets, citing “the investigation” as its source for the information. It did not name the businessman.

Channel 12 also said that in recent days, Greek intelligence services arrested seven Pakistan nationals who were recruited by Iran to carry out attacks in the country.

It was not clarified if they were also linked to the Cyprus plot.

The leader of the cell reportedly escaped and an international warrant was issued for his arrest.

The report noted the close cooperation between the Mossad and intelligence services in Greece, Cyprus and the United States.

In this September 21, 2016, file photo, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard troops march in a military parade in Tehran, Iran. ​(AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

Cypriot media reported the suspected terror plot on Sunday, believed to be linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian army that is considered a terror organization by several countries, including the United States.

The Phile News website said the plot was thwarted by Cypriot intelligence services, in cooperation with other foreign agencies, said to be from Israel and the US.

Cypriot media said the suspected attackers in the foiled plot were using the northern part of the divided island, whose leader is recognized only by Turkey, as a staging post for the potential attack and that Cypriot intelligence services had closely followed the cell for a number of months.

File: A Cyprus police van carrying an Azeri national suspected of taking part in an alleged plot to attack Israelis on the Mediterranean island is pictured outside the criminal court in the capital Nicosia, on December 6, 2021. (Iakovos Hatzistavrou / AFP)

Israel formally acknowledged on Sunday evening that an Iranian-planned terror attack targeting Israeli and Jewish targets in Cyprus was foiled recently, and warned that its operatives would continue thwarting “Iranian terrorism wherever it raises its head,” including in Iran.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a press statement that said: “The State of Israel operates using a wide variety of methods in every place to protect Jews and Israelis, and will continue to act to destroy Iranian terrorism wherever it raises its head, including on Iranian soil.”

Asked about the PMO’s statement, Cypriot government spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis told Cyprus Mail that “we cannot comment on issues regarding national security.”

Israel’s National Security Council warned earlier this year that Cyprus and Greece are countries where Iran is likely to target Jews and Israelis. The countries are popular destinations for Israeli tourists, in addition to having relatively sizable expat communities.

In March, Greek police arrested two Pakistani nationals who were allegedly planning mass-casualty terrorist attacks on behalf of Iran against Israeli and Jewish targets in Greece. The Mossad, which aided the Greek investigation, said in a statement that the two were part of an Iranian terror network.

A Greek government official told The Associated Press at the time that one of the targets was a kosher restaurant in central Athens, which is part of a Chabad House in the capital. Other reports indicated the target was the Chabad House itself.

A man holding an umbrella walks past a Jewish restaurant that Greek officials believe was one of the targets of a planned terrorist attack, in central Athens, March 28, 2023. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

In October 2021, Israel said that an Iranian plot against Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus had been foiled. According to reports, the hired killer was of Azeri origin and had arrived in Cyprus on a flight from Russia, using a Russian passport. Cyprus charged six people in the plot, including the main suspect and three Pakistani nationals.

Iranian plots against Israelis have also been foiled in several other countries over the past year.

In November, Georgian security officials foiled an attempt by a Pakistani citizen to murder an Israeli in Georgia on orders from an Iranian operative.

Turkish riot police officers walk in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul on June 14, 2022. (Yasin Akgul/AFP)

Last summer, Turkish forces stymied an attempt by Iranian agents to kill Israelis in Istanbul, arresting three men. A month before that, the Mossad spy agency and its local counterparts thwarted three Iranian attacks targeting Israeli civilians in Istanbul. Iran denied the allegations.

Iran and Israel have been engaged in a decades-long shadow war across the Middle East and beyond.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: