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Iranians arrested over plot to target Israelis

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Cyprus authorities, in collaboration with Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, have reportedly thwarted a plot to target Israelis and detained two Iranian nationals.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office confirmed the arrests on terrorism-related charges in a joint statement with Mossad and the National Security Council.

“Cypriot authorities have arrested two Iranian suspects over an alleged plot to target Israelis in the Mediterranean island nation,” the announcement said.

The suspects, identified as Mohammad Reza Ebadi Arablu and Sa’id Ebadi, entered the island posing as political refugees with fake passports via Turkey.

As reported by the Times of Israel, Arablu, previously linked to a 2022 Iran-backed attempt to assassinate an Israel-Georgian businessman in Tbilisi, Georgia, was reportedly involved in the foiled attack.

The extraterritorial arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force, was implicated in the Georgia assassination plot.

The intended target in Cyprus, another Israeli businessman, was alerted and left the country last month.

As reported in Israel, Cypriot security forces, collaborating with Mossad, uncovered the plot in early November.

The investigation revealed the use of fake identity documents by the suspects, who were reportedly gathering intelligence on Israeli and other potential Western targets outside Cyprus.

Kathimerini’s Cyprus edition reported that the two Iranians are currently awaiting deportation.

The foiled attack is “yet another example of the proxy method not working for Iranian terror organisations,” the Prime Minister’s Office statement declared, adding that it came against the backdrop of a sharp rise in Iranian-backed terror attempts on Israel and its citizens since October 7.

Iranians in northern Cyprus

The National Security Council expressed concern about the Iranian presence in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, coinciding with increased travel to Cyprus by Israelis seeking refuge from tensions in Israel during the ongoing conflict with Hamas.

In June, Cypriot police thwarted a terror attack targeting Jews and Israelis, which was believed linked to the IRGC, a branch of the Iranian army that is considered a terror organisation by several countries, including the United States.

At the time, Mossad said it had apprehended the individual behind that thwarted attack with the help of Cypriot police.

The latest foiled plots are similar to a 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.