Terrorist Who Targeted Israelis to Stand Trial in Cyprus
A Swedish national of Lebanese descent arrested in Cyprus on suspicion of plotting to attack Israeli tourists in the country will stand trial on September 12, authorities said on Friday.
Reuters reported that the man, who has not been identified, faces nine charges of security-related offences related to tracking the movements and areas frequented by Israeli visitors to the holiday island. He was arrested on July 7 as a suspected security threat.
Israel has said the man was planning an attack similar to a suicide bus bombing in the Bulgarian city of Burgas on July 18 that killed five Israelis.
Cypriot authorities have acknowledged the suspect showed behavioral patterns similar to the incident in Burgas, in which the attacker waited for Israeli holidaymakers to board a bus at an airport before detonating a backpack of explosives.
During court hearings held behind closed doors, Reuters reported, police have maintained the Cyprus suspect is a member of Hizbullah, which Israel has fingered as being behind the Bulgaria attack. Hizbullah is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and other countries, but not by Cyprus.
The report said the suspect was detained two days after his arrival to Cyprus via London, following a tip-off from British intelligence services. In his fourth court appearance since his detention, a district court in the southern coastal city of Limassol on Friday ruled the man would remain in custody until his trial in September, the semi-official Cyprus News Agency reported.
At that hearing, before a criminal court, he will be formally charged and enter a plea.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu repeated his assertion that Hizbullah, backed by Iran, is behind the terror attack in Burgas.
Netanyahu said his assertion that Hizbullah is behind the attack is based on “rock solid” intelligence and on its resemblance to other recent attempted attacks across the world.
Iran has denied involvement in the attack and its UN envoy went so far as to accuse Israel of plotting and carrying out the attack itself.
“It's amazing that just a few minutes after the terrorist attack, Israeli officials announced that Iran was behind it,” the ambassador, Mohammad Khazaee, told a UN Security Council debate on the Middle East. “We have never and will not engage in such a despicable attempt on ... innocent people.”
Khazaee added, “Such terrorist operation could only be planned and carried out by the same regime whose short history is full of state terrorism operations and assassinations aimed implicating others for narrow political gains. I could provide ... many examples showing that this regime killed its own citizens and innocent Jewish people during the last couple of decades.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)