Thursday, October 18, 2012

18-Oct-12: Cyprus says it stopped a terror attack on Israelis

Limassol by night: Terror target [Image Source: Wikipedia]  
Ynet and Times of Israel are both reporting this evening on revelations made in the Cypriot newspaper Alithia saying that the Cyprus secret service has thwarted a terror attack against Israelis in Limassol. Ynet says this happened at Limassol Airport but from checking the online version of the Alithia story (it's here) we think Ynet's editors seem to have misunderstood. Limassol is a major sea port; it has no airport. 

One hundred grams of explosives were found somewhere in the port, intended, as the report suggests, to target Israeli tourists visiting Cyprus as passengers on cruise ships. The attempted attack has not been reported in any other Cypriot news media outlets, and Kol Yisrael's news (state radio) this evening says Israeli government sources say they are not aware of the plot. No information at this stage about whether any suspects have been arrested.

Ynet reminds us that in September, Israel's Counter Terrorism Bureau asked security and government authorities in Cyprus, Bulgaria and Thailand to step up visible and undercover security around Israeli tourists. 

Also worth noting that a Lebanese, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, was arrested in Limassol three months ago, and charged with terrorism offences that involved tracking the movements and planned arrival times of Israeli tourists. He was in court just this past Friday (under tight security, it may not surprise you to know) and pleaded not guilty [source]. His trial should have gotten underway in September, but was delayed.

Something's happening there because the original 17 charges have been reduced to eight and it's no longer terrorism but conspiracy to commit a crime and membership of an unnamed criminal organisation. He remains in custody until his next hearing a week from today. AFP says "Cyprus police have refused to comment publicly on the case, describing it as a “sensitive political issue” but did say investigators have found no evidence to suggest he had any accomplices" whatever that means.

Additional background in these earlier blog posts of ours

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