A senior Israeli security official on Tuesday revealed the alleged identity of a handler in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who recruited a pair of Pakistani nationals accused of planning to attack a Chabad house in Athens.
The handler’s name is Mohammad Mohsen Reza, a 65-year-old Pakistani national living in the Iranian city of Qom, the security official told reporters.
The official said that Reza has been running a network of fellow Pakistani nationals that has been planning attacks on targets of the IRGC around the globe.
The pair arrested last week was identified in local media as 27-year-old Irtaza Haider and 29-year-old Hussein Abid, who were allegedly in the final stages of planning the attack on the Chabad house.
The security official said Haider and Abid were recruited by another Pakistani national, 30-year-old Syed Fakhar Abbas, who works under Reza. Abbas is wanted for murder in Pakistan and fled from there to Iran.
Local media reported last week that the suspects were spotted surveilling the Chabad house in the weeks leading up to their arrest. The reports also said the pair failed to get hold of guns to carry out a shooting and were instead told by their handler to buy propane tanks that could be detonated in an attack.
ביוון מפרסמים: חוסיין (29) וחיידר (27) הם המחבלים הפקיסטינים ילידי איראן שתכננו לרצוח ישראלים באתונה בשליחות כוח קודס האירני pic.twitter.com/5aKV0DzL3n
— איתי בלומנטל Itay Blumental (@ItayBlumental) March 29, 2023
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that the Mossad intelligence agency helped Greece prevent the terrorist attack. The Mossad said in its own statement that the foiled attack was “another attempt by Iran to promote terrorism against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad.”
Greek authorities were investigating whether other attacks on Jewish sites in Athens were being planned. The arrests were announced ahead of the April 5-13 Jewish holiday of Passover, when many Israeli tourists flock to Greece.
Greece’s Public Order Minister Takis Theodorikakos said it was likely the two suspects had been offered money to carry out the attack.
The Jewish community of Athens sent a letter to the minister thanking the authorities for the arrests.
Greece’s Jewish community is one of the oldest in Europe. More than 80 percent of the country’s Jews died in the Holocaust.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.