Cyprus Sentences Hezbollah Member to 6 Years

Lebanese man given six years in jail by a Cyprus court after 8.2 tons of potential bomb-making material were found in his home.

Ben Ariel ,

Hezbollah flag
Hezbollah flag

Cyprus on Monday sentenced to six years in jail a Lebanese man who pleaded guilty to terror charges linked to 8.2 tons of potential bomb-making material found in his home, reports the AFP news agency.

Judicial authorities said that Hussein Bassam Abdallah, who also has a Canadian passport, was a member of the so-called “military wing” of the Hezbollah terrorist group.

The 26-year-old was sentenced to jail by a criminal court in the southern town of Larnaca after he pleaded guilty to terror charges.

In passing sentence, judge Nicolaos Santis took into consideration the Abdallah’s remorse for what he did and what he said was his full cooperation with the authorities, according to AFP.

At the same time, however, he stressed that Abdallah "played the role assigned to him within the broader design of things, so that eventually Hezbollah would be able to harm, through terrorist attacks, Israeli interests in Cyprus".

The charges against Abdallah covered the period 2012 until May 27, 2015, during which time the material was stockpiled in Cyprus.

Abdallah was arrested in a Larnaca suburb in May following a surveillance operation.

Prosecution lawyer Polina Efthivoulou said Abdallah had admitted to being a member of Hezbollah's military wing and sent to Cyprus to ensure the ammonium nitrate was safely kept, adding the bomb-making material was intended for terrorist attacks against Israeli interests in Cyprus.

Foreign Minister Ioanis Kasoulides said during a visit to Israel earlier this month that the authorities believe they have thwarted a possible attack on Israeli targets.

Cyprus attracts thousands of tourists from nearby Israel every year. There is also an Israeli embassy in the capital Nicosia.

Defense lawyer Savvas Angelides said his client's role was only to check on the nitrate and to move it to another location -- not to carry out attacks.

He also urged the court to show leniency, saying that his client cooperated with authorities and had decided to quit Hezbollah, according to the report.

Hezbollah has several times in the past tried to carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis outside of Israel.

In 2013, a Cyprus court sentenced a self-confessed member of the group to four years in prison after he was convicted of involvement in a plot to attack Israeli interests on the island.

Bulgaria named Hezbollah as being behind the attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Burgas in 2012. The attack killed six people, including five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian citizen.

The revelation of Hezbollah's involvement in the Burgas attack contributed to an EU-wide decision to blacklist Hezbollah as a terror group. However, the EU chose to only blacklist Hezbollah’s “military wing”, leaving its political faction off the list.