Last updated: 14 July, 2012

Cyprus detains anti-Israel terror suspect

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday lashed out at “Iranian terrorism” after Cyprus police reportedly arrested a man for allegedly planning attacks against Israel’s interests there.

“There are no borders to Iranian terrorism,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued by his office.

“After Iran sent its people to assassinate — on US soil — the Saudi Arabian ambassador and to perpetrate terrorist attacks in Azerbaijan, Bangkok, Tbilisi, New Delhi and Africa, its intention to perpetrate attacks in Cyprus has now been exposed,” he added.

“The international community needs to fight the greatest exporter of terrorism in the world.”

Cypriot media reported earlier Saturday that local police had detained a young Lebanese man who holds a Swedish passport on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack against Israeli interests in the Mediterranean country.

A police spokesman said that because it was a “sensitive political issue” he could not deny or confirm the reports.

“This is an issue of security which we take very seriously and we cannot comment any further,” the spokesman told AFP.

Online news website Sigmalive said the police had been tipped off by foreign intelligence services and the man — who came to Cyprus as a tourist — had been arrested in his hotel room last week.

It said the suspect appeared before a closed court for a second time on Friday, and was ordered detained in police custody for another seven days.

Cyprus state television said Israeli intelligence agents had supplied information to the Cypriot authorities regarding the suspect, but did not elaborate.

Police are trying to unravel the level of involvement of the suspect, his alleged intended targets and whether he had accomplices on the island.

According to Sigmalive the man arrived on the island to plan and orchestrate the blowing up of a plane or a bus.

Local daily Phileleftheros said that notes with details of Israeli aircraft had been found in his possession.

State radio said the suspect, who had been staying in the southern coastal resort of Limassol, had taken photographs of Israeli interests.

Police have made no official public statement about the arrest or the investigation.

While Cyprus saw attacks against Israeli interests in late 1970s and early 80s, since then the island has been viewed as neutral ground for unofficial Mideast peace contacts.