A Lebanese man with a Canadian passport pleaded guilty on Monday to terror charges linked to nine tons of potential bomb-making material found in his Cyprus home, authorities said.
Hussein Bassam Abdallah, 26, appeared before the criminal court in the southern coastal town of Larnaca under tight security. He will be sentenced later on Monday.
He pleaded guilty to charges under the terror act of participation in and supporting a terrorist organization, plus illegal possession and transfer of explosive materials, and belonging to a criminal organization.
The charges against him cover the period of 2012 until May 27, 2015.
Authorities said the accused has links to Lebanon’s Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.
The case reportedly went to trial much quicker than normal because Nicosia wants to underline the message that Cyprus is tough on terrorism.
The official Cyprus News Agency said the suspect has confessed to being a member of Hezbollah but did not divulge what the nitrate was for or what the possible targets might have been.
Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said during a visit to Israel earlier this month that the authorities believed they had thwarted a possible attack on Israeli targets.
Police said the man arrived on the island on May 21 for what he described as a holiday. He was arrested in a Larnaca suburb on May 27 following a surveillance operation.
Media reports said the authorities have not ruled out that the suspect was planning an attack on Israeli interests on the island, which attracts thousands of tourists from nearby Israel every year. There is also an Israeli embassy in the capital Nicosia.
Police are looking for the landlord of the house in which the material was found, after the suspect claimed the ammonium nitrate was not his.
Authorities discovered huge amounts of the fertilizer that can be used to make explosives, stashed in the basement of the man’s temporary residence in Larnaca. The man also had nearly 10,000 euros ($11,115) in his possession when caught.
Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer that when mixed with other substances can be used to make explosives.
Investigative sources say the seizure is one of the largest amounts of illegal ammonium nitrate seized anywhere in the world.
Cyprus is not known for its militant activity despite its proximity to the Middle East and a poor security reputation in the late 1970s and 1980s.
The last major incident was a botched bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in 1988, in which three PLO operatives died while transporting the explosive device.
In 2013, a Cypriot court convicted a Lebanon-born Swedish man who admitted he was a Hezbollah member. He received a four-year jail term after being found guilty of targeting Israelis on the island.