Cyprus police investigating attempt to kill Israelis as terrorism

Cyprus Police believe terrorism was the motive behind the plot to murder Israeli businessmen on the island.

 Police vehicles arrive at a court, where a remand order was issued against a man suspected of plotting to murder Israeli businesspeople on the island, in Nicosia, Cyprus  (photo credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS)
Police vehicles arrive at a court, where a remand order was issued against a man suspected of plotting to murder Israeli businesspeople on the island, in Nicosia, Cyprus
(photo credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS)

Terrorism is the Cyprus Police’s leading theory for the motive behind the attempt to murder Israeli businessmen on the European Union island, consistent with Israel’s allegation that it was an Iranian plot.

Police in Cyprus arrested a 38-year-old Azeri-Russian man on September 27 for targeting Israeli businessmen. The case drew attention earlier this month, when billionaire Teddy Sagi said that he was tipped off by the Israeli authorities – likely the Mossad – that assassins were after him, and he escaped Cyprus, where he lives, to Israel.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s spokesman Matan Sidi said the following day that the attempted murder was an Iranian terrorist attack.

Cyprus Police has not confirmed that Iran was behind the attack, but found evidence that the Azeri planned his attack on Israelis to take place on a Muslim holiday, which led them to believe he was trying to send a message, Phile News reported on Thursday. However, they are still following other leads, as well.

An accomplice of the Azeri hit man, a 27-year-old Pakistani food distributor working for a major company, was arrested in Paphos, Cyprus, on Wednesday. Communications between the Pakistani and Azeri men were found on the latter’s phone. A uniform from the major food company was found in the Azeri assassin’s possession, likely supplied by the Pakistani man to be used as a disguise.

 People wearing protective masks walk next to a Cypriot flag painted on a wall in capital Nicosia, Cyprus (credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS) People wearing protective masks walk next to a Cypriot flag painted on a wall in capital Nicosia, Cyprus (credit: YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/REUTERS)

Earlier this month, Cyprus Police revealed that they had found a pistol with a silencer in one of two cars the Azeri man had rented.

The Azeri assassin intended to hit his target and then escape to Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus through a pedestrian crossing, on an electric scooter. He reportedly did not arouse suspicion when he appeared on surveillance cameras.

No residence was found for the assassin in Cyprus, and the authorities assume he was living in the north.