Iran has been using Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus as a staging ground for terrorist attacks against Israelis and Jews, Mossad said on December 10. In a rare statement issued through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, the intelligence service said it had helped Cypriot counterparts thwart an attack against Israelis and Jews on the island.
The statement followed a report in Kathimerini, a Cypriot newspaper, that two Iranians had been arrested in November on suspicion of planning to attack Israeli targets. The two may have links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and could face deportation, the newspaper added, noting this would be the third such plot foiled in Cyprus in the last two years.
The Israeli statement did not provide operational details, stating only that the Cypriot interdiction of the would-be attackers yielded valuable intelligence about their methods and potential targets “in Cyprus and other locations.” Further, current and earlier plots have been orchestrated from within northern Cyprus, which is under Turkish rule, calling this “a troubling issue.” It added that Iran’s global terrorism efforts have stepped up since the Gaza war erupted, as well as the fact that a large number of Israelis have sought respite in Cyprus — a 40-minute flight away.
“Israeli-Cypriot counter-terrorism operations are by now a public facet of Eastern Mediterranean cooperation. What makes Israel’s latest public statement unusual is its willingness to call out Turkey for, at best indirectly, abetting the worst of Iranian behavior. Western powers, and especially within NATO, should make clear to Ankara that it will enjoy no deniability for actions on the island that it partly occupies.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO
“Iran’s involvement in clandestine assassination attempts is not mere happenstance. It demonstrates a calculated and intentional campaign of terrorism directed towards Jews and Israelis. This regime, notorious for its flagrant disregard of human rights and its merciless killings of innocent civilians both domestically and internationally, is the orchestrator behind these abhorrent acts of terrorism.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal