Mossad captures Iranian behind Cyprus plot

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Israel intelligence services (Mossad) said they had captured the man behind the thwarted terrorist attack against Israeli targets in Cyprus.

Israel said on Thursday its Mossad intelligence service carried out an operation in Iran to capture the suspected leader of an Iranian plot to attack Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus and thwart the attack.

“In a unique operation on Iranian soil, the Mossad captured the head of the cell, who, during an investigation, gave a detailed confession that led to the exposure and dismantlement of the terrorist cell behind the Cyprus attack,” Mossad said in a statement.

The foiled attack was revealed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on Sunday but did not give details.

Cypriot authorities have refused to comment on the issue.

The man was identified as Yousef Shahabazi Abbasalilu.

The Israeli intelligence agency said he “received detailed instructions and weapons from senior (officials) in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard” to carry out such an attack.

According to the Israeli media, Mossad said that Abbasalilu, during interrogation, had confessed that he was planning an attack in Cyprus and described the plan that had been drawn up.

Netanyahu’s office, which oversees Mossad, released a video appearing to show Abbasalilu recalling conversations he had with members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

“In the wake of the information that he gave to investigators, the cell was dismantled in an operation by the Cypriot security services,” the Mossad statement said.

The Israeli government claimed Sunday that Cypriot authorities had thwarted an Iranian plot to carry out an attack against Israelis in Cyprus.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s office expressed satisfaction over preventing the attack “planned against Israeli targets”.

In its statement, the Israeli government praised the Cypriot intelligence service for cooperating with Mossad.

As reported, the intended target was an Israeli businessman who has a business and lives in Limassol.

The foiled attack was reported by Phileleftheros Sunday’s edition, noting that coordination between Cypriot, American and Israeli security agencies foiled an attack against Israelis and Jews in Cyprus.

Phileleftheros newspaper said the planned hit was believed to be linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

According to Phileleftheros, the perpetrator had escaped arrest after his plan had fallen through by escaping to the Turkish-occupied north.

It said the terror cell used the Turkish-held north to organise their forays into the government-controlled Republic.

The failed plot is also linked to a similar case when an Azeri hitman was caught allegedly trying to kill Israeli business people in 2021.

He was arrested in September 2021 while crossing to the Turkish-occupied north carrying a gun.

Mossad said it actively prevented the contract killing of Israeli business people living in Cyprus.

The incident had sparked a diplomatic incident with Israel and Tehran, as it alleged the Azeri was recruited by its arch-foe Iran.

However, Iran has refuted any involvement in the case.

The Azeri man is on trial in Nicosia on suspicion that he planned to carry out the contract killings of Israelis living in Cyprus.