Cyprus police refute claims of a link to a terror cell targeting Israeli nationals and businesses in Athens following the arrests of two Pakistanis for planning the attack.
In comments to the Financial Mirror, a police official said that according to intelligence gathered so far, Cyprus was in no way linked to the terror cell in Greece.
Earlier in the week, Police in Athens arrested two Pakistanis for planning terror attacks against Israelis in Athens, part of a larger dismantling of a reported terrorist network.
“After coordinated actions by the Greek police and the National Intelligence Service, a terrorist network was dismantled which, from abroad, was planning strikes against carefully selected targets on Greek territory,” the Greek police said.
Allegedly, the two Pakistanis, aged 27 and 29 of Iranian origin, were planning attacks on Israelis in central Athens.
Greek newspaper Kathimerini said the terrorists planned to carry out the attack with a gas cylinder explosive against an Israeli-owned restaurant in central Athens. The restaurant was also used as a synagogue.
It said the terrorist resorted to using explosives after being unable to acquire firearms.
According to Kathimerini, the Greek intelligence agency was notified in August by Israel’s Mossad that a Pakistani national based in Iran was attempting to recruit several of his compatriots in Greece to carry out an attack on an Israeli target.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office confirmed the involvement of the Israeli spy agency in thwarting the attack: “This is another attempt by Iran to promote terrorism against Israeli and Jewish targets abroad.”
Back in Cyprus, reports drew lines between the terror cell in Athens and the case of an Azeri national arrested in 2021, allegedly planning an attack on Israeli businesses.
“We have been in contact with the Greek authorities and requested information on the case.
“From intelligence collected so far, there is no link to Cyprus,” a police official told the Financial Mirror.
The officer said Cypriot police would remain in contact with the Greek authorities and continue evaluating information for risk analysis.
In September 2021, six people were arrested in connection to an alleged plot to attack Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus, including the main suspect, an Azeri national who appears to be the mastermind of the ‘operation’.
The Azeri, 38, was arrested on 27 September while crossing from the Turkish-occupied north through a Nicosia checkpoint, where police officers intercepted him.
A gun with a silencer and some bullets were found in his possession.
Israel had alleged the Azeri was a would-be assassin recruited by its arch-foe Iran to attack prominent Israelis on the island.
Israel claims there was a wider plot to carry out terrorist attacks against several prominent Israelis in Cyprus.
However, Iran has refuted any involvement in the case.
According to the police, the Azeri is still detained at Nicosia central prisons, pending his trial before Criminal Court.
Only one of the five Pakistanis arrested will face charges concerning the terror case.
One of the suspects was sentenced to a short prison sentence for an offence irrelevant to the case and then deported.
Another Pakistani national arrested was deported, while two were set free without charge.