“This arrest is further evidence of deep Iranian involvement in international terrorism,” said Israel after an Hezbollah operative was arrested last week in Larnaca, Cyprus in possession of 420 boxes of ammonium nitrate, a massive quantity of explosive material, along with $10,000.
Cypriot police suspect that the man was planning an attack on Israeli interests on the Mediterranean island.
The 26-year-old man, who is Lebanese-born and has a Canadian passport, was detained after authorities discovered the stockpile.
Security sources in Israel say they believe the apartment in which the suspect was captured was an explosive- materials storeroom that belonged to Hezbollah and was supposed to constitute an outlet for carrying out a large-scale series of terrorist attacks across Europe against Jewish, Israeli and Western targets.
Israeli security sources quoted by the Jerusalem Post said that this is “an international mechanism that the Iranians activate, with the intention of building and utilizing a terrorism infrastructure in Europe.”
“In this case, like in other cases, the head is in Tehran, the orchestration is Iranian, the funding is Iranian and the one that carries it out is Hezbollah,” security sources said.
The unnamed arrested individual may have a close link with Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, two newspapers reported.
The arrest conjures up striking parallels to Hezbollah terrorist plans and attacks against Israelis on European soil since 2012. According to Israeli and US intelligence sources, a joint Hezbollah- Iran mission blew up an Israeli tour bus in Bulgaria in 2012, resulting in the deaths of five Israelis and their Bulgarian driver. The Canadian-Lebanese Hassan El-Hajj Hassan and Australian-Lebanese Malih Farah were implicated in the attack by Bulgaria’s government.
The US listed the men as “specially designated terrorists” who are wanted by Interpol. Both men are believed to be in Lebanon.
The EU has outlawed Hezbollah’s “military wing.” In sharp contrast to the half-designation, the US, Canada, Israel and
Holland have proscribed Hezbollah’s entire organization as a terrorist group.
Critics of the EU policy charge that Hezbollah is a monolithic organization and cannot be divided into military and political wings. European diplomats and politicians are reluctant to evict Hezbollah’s structure in their countries because they don’t want to pull the plug on engagement with a party in Lebanon’s government.
Should Europe sanction fully Hezbollah, there are concerns about a terrorist backlash in EU capitals, wrote Benjamin Weinthal from the Jerusalem Post
“Europe has long been a zone of free movement for Hezbollah fundraising and meetings. Germany’s most recent domestic intelligence report lists 950 active members in the country. The actual number of Hezbollah members in the Federal Republic is believed to be significantly greater”, he asserts.