Bizarre revelations emerged on Thursday in an alleged thwarted attack on Israeli targets in Cyprus, after Mossad revealed that agents had gone inside Iran and kidnapped a man who later confessed on video his plans to kill an Israeli businessman on the island.
According to Israeli media, Mossad agents had gone into the Islamic Republic of Iran for a special operation and kidnapped Yousef Shahbazi Abbasalilo, who was later shown in a video confession detailing plans to kill an Israeli businessman in Limassol.
Neither the time nor location of the video recording was known but Israeli media said Abbasalilo’s apprehension led to arrests in Cyprus.
Last week local media said an Israeli businessman and his wife were in their home in Agios Athanasios, Limassol district, when a tossed makeshift pipe bomb exploded on the balcony of the second floor.
Police declined to speculate on the motive behind the attack but told Knews the bomb incident had no links to a terrorism investigation.
But Israeli news network Ynet suggested “a series of arrests” on the island had taken place after Abbasalilo “provided a detailed confession that led to the capture of the Iranian terror squad by Cyprus security services.”
Philenews, which broke the story last week, said five foreign nationals were taken in for questioning following home searches in Nicosia and Limassol. The suspects were quickly released, the reported added.
Cyprus Police declined to speculate on the motive behind a bomb attack at an Israeli businessman's residence in Limassol last week but told Knews it had no links to a terrorism investigation
“Based on their answers during interrogation, it was confirmed that these five individuals did not have a clear picture of why the Iranian assassin asked to meet with them,” Philenews said.
Cypriot authorities have declined to comment on the case, citing national security reasons.
Israeli media suggested Cypriot Intelligence Services KYP became involved in the case only after Abbasalilo was kidnapped by Mossad operatives in Iran.
Philenews reported that the suspect had fled Cyprus through the island’s northern part “and then an international warrant was issued for his arrest.”
Cyprus Police neither confirmed nor denied whether an international arrest warrant had been issued.
In the video said to be a confession to Mossad agents, Abbasalilo is seen detailing a plan to carry out the attack but also saying he fled the island after he was tipped off by his handler -said to be an Iranian intelligence official- who told him that Cypriot authorities caught wind of the plan and gave him exit instructions.
The Iranian embassy in Cyprus issued a statement dismissing the news story and calling it a “Zionist conspiracy” aimed at driving a wedge between Nicosia and Tehran.
Reuters said a statement from Mossad spoke about a “unique operation on Iranian soil” where the suspect was kidnapped, adding that during an investigation he “gave a detailed confession that led to the exposure and dismantlement of the terrorist cell behind the Cyprus attack.”
The Times of Israel reported on Thursday that the “plotters included Iranians, Pakistanis and locals.”
Cyprus Police kept a tight lid on a similar case two years ago where a Russian national Orkhan Asadov was accused of plotting to kill Israeli businessmen in Cyprus.
Israeli businessman Teddy Sagi was said to have been a target in the plot, initially thought to be a mafia operation to collect unpaid debts but later described by Israeli officials as an Iranian terrorist plot.
Police did not provide details at the time, citing security concerns as well as safety risks to informants, after reports in Israeli media said Sagi and a handful of other businessmen had been advised by local officials to leave the island for safety reasons. Sagi later told Israeli media he was never told to flee.
Asadov, described as an ethnic Azeri, was arrested in Nicosia on 27 September 2021 as he was approaching a rental car under surveillance. He has admitted gun possession and forgery charges in a closed trial last year but denied involvement with terrorism.
Three guns were found by Cypriot authorities to be linked to the case, including a prop gun that was linked to Asadov.