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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Athens - Asharq Al-Awsat

Greece Dismantles Terrorist Cell Planning to Attack Jews, Israel Accuses Iran

People walking in front of an Israeli restaurant (Reuters)

The Greek police announced that they had dismantled a terrorist network and arrested two Pakistanis planning an attack against Jewish targets in Athens.

A statement from the Greek police stated that after coordinating with the National Intelligence Service, the authorities dismantled a terrorist network planning abroad to launch strikes against carefully selected targets on Greek soil.

Police spokeswoman Constantia Dimoglidou said the "mastermind" of the cell is "a Pakistani who lives outside Europe."

According to a police source who refused to reveal his name, the Pakistani resides in Iran, specifically in Tehran, Agence France Presse reported.

Dimoglidou said the two men, 27 and 29 years old, were illegally residing in Greece. They targeted a building that houses a synagogue and a Jewish restaurant.

She added that the detainees chose their target and began exploring the area and planning the attack, noting that they acted after receiving final instructions.

The two suspects were referred to the Public Prosecution in Athens, which launched criminal prosecutions for forming and belonging to a terrorist group. This charge carries a penalty of between ten years and life imprisonment under the Greek anti-terrorism law, according to a judicial source.

According to the source, the Greek judiciary also launched criminal prosecutions against an unknown person, targeting the supposed leader of this network residing in Tehran.

The police said the two detainees wanted to undermine the safety of the country's institutions.

The authorities seized the mobile phones of the two men, revealing their conversations, video recordings, and images of their targets.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office accused Tehran of being behind this plan, stressing that it was a new attempt by Iran to encourage terrorism against Israeli targets abroad.

"After the start of the investigation of the suspects in Greece, the Mossad rendered intelligence assistance in unraveling the infrastructure, its work methods, and the link to Iran," the statement said.

Greece, which includes a Jewish community of about 5,000 people, maintains good relations with Israel and has not witnessed terrorist attacks in the past years.

Greek Minister of Citizen Protection Takis Theodorikakos said the operation "demonstrates that the country's security authorities maintain a high state of readiness for all Greeks and all visitors to our country."

Greece, traditionally considered a friend of the Arab countries, began a rapprochement with Israel more than a decade ago.

Several cooperation agreements were signed between the two countries, especially in the military, security, and energy fields.

Three years ago, Greece, Israel, and Cyprus signed an agreement in Athens on the EastMed pipeline, a project described by the three countries as "important."

The conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which has been in power for four years, has made the country's "security" its top priority by pursuing a strict immigration policy and closing its borders with the help of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex).

Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday that the legislative elections in Greece would be held on May 21. He is seeking a new term.

"The country and the citizens need a clear horizon," the premier said during a cabinet meeting.

Mitsotakis, who also heads the right-wing New Democracy party, is facing a wave of anger across the country since the collision between a cargo and a passenger train on February 28.

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