Ya’alon: Iran readying sleeper cells to attack US, Europe
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Ya’alon: Iran readying sleeper cells to attack US, Europe

Defense minister, in Cyprus, accuses Tehran of being anchor of axis that includes Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Saana and elsewhere

Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon, left, and his Cypriot counterpart Christoforos Fokaides shake hands during their statements to the media in Nicosia, Cyprus, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (Petros Karadjias/AP)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon, left, and his Cypriot counterpart Christoforos Fokaides shake hands during their statements to the media in Nicosia, Cyprus, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (Petros Karadjias/AP)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused Iran Wednesday of building an international terror network that includes “sleeper cells” that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives to be ready to strike on command in places including Europe and the US.

Ya’alon, speaking in Cyprus, said Iran is aiming to destabilize the Middle East and other parts of the world and is training, funding and arming “emissaries” to spread a revolution.

He called Tehran the anchor of a “dangerous axis” that includes Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Saana and other cities in the region.

In 2012, a Lebanese man was arrested in Cyprus and accused of plotting a Hezbollah attack against Israelis.

Israel considers Iran the biggest threat to the region, citing its support for anti-Israel groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as efforts to use the power vacuum in Syria to set up cells to attack Israel from the Golan Heights.

Ya’alon’s comments came during a one-day visit to the island to meet with counterpart Christoforos Fokaides. The visit was touted by local media as the first to Cyprus by an Israeli defense minister.

Ya’alon, who earlier this week expressed doubt a US and Russian brokered ceasefire in Syria would hold, said that the war there has resulted in “widespread infiltration by murderous, merciless terror organizations.”

Israel has recently grown closer to Cyprus and last month held tripartite talks with Cyprus and Greece over energy exploration in the Mediterranean, following large offshore finds of natural gas.

During his visit, Ya’alon also met the President of the House of Representatives and Acting President of the Republic, Yiannakis Omirou and was taken to lay a wreath at the Imprisoned Graves in Nicosia.

An official press release said that Ya’alon visited the military Camp of Lieutenant General Vasiliou Kapota in Nicosia, where a monument dedicated to Cyprus-Israel friendship was unveiled.

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