'Cyprus: Lebanese man planned attacks on Israelis'

Young Lebanese national arrested while holding a Swedish passport, details about Israeli tourists, media in Cyprus report.

July 14, 2012 21:32
1 minute read.
El Al airplanes sit on the runway

El Al airplanes sit on the runway 370 (R). (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)


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An attack against Israeli tourists in Cyprus appears to have been preempted by the arrest of a Lebanese man who had been tracking Israelis on the island, Cypriot security authorities revealed on Saturday.

The 24-year-old man, thought to be a Swedish passport holder of Lebanese extraction, was arrested on July 7 and was being detained following remand hearings held behind closed doors, Sigma TV reported. He has not been charged with any offense.

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Police spokesman Andreas Angelides said, “We can confirm the arrest of a 24-year-old foreign national for specific, serious offenses, and who is in custody by order of the court.”

It was not the first time that a Lebanese-Swedish man has been accused of plotting attacks against Israeli targets. In January, Thai authorities arrested Hussein Idris, a Lebanese- Swedish national, together with another Lebanese man on suspicion that they were plotting a series of bomb attacks against Israeli targets in Bangkok.

Israeli diplomats have been on high alert amid predictions that Hezbollah is trying to avenge the assassination of its military commander Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus in 2008, which it attributes to the Mossad.

Sigma TV’s Web portal reported that the Lebanese-Swedish man had been tracking the movement of Israeli tourists on the island, while Cypriot newspaper Phileleftheros said he was trying to pinpoint areas frequented by Israelis and the buses they used.

A government source said the arrest took place following information received from foreign intelligence agencies. Other media reported that the Mossad had provided Cypriot officials with information about the suspect.

“It is not clear what, or whether, there was a target in Cyprus,” a senior government official told Reuters. “That is under investigation.”

Cyprus lies just west of Syria and Lebanon but has been largely unscathed by the violence and upheaval rattling the Middle East. Its last major security incident was a botched car bomb attack on the Israeli Embassy in the capital Nicosia in May 1988 that killed three people.

Reuters contributed to the report.

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