By: Pramod Thomas
Two young Pakistanis of Iranian heritage were arrested for plotting anti-Semitic attacks in central Athens, Greek authorities said.
Israel has accused Iran of being responsible for the plot, calling it a new effort by their long-time enemy to spread terror against Jewish and Israeli targets overseas.
“After the investigation of the suspects in Greece, the Mossad helped untangle the intelligence of the network, it’s operational methods and ties to Iran,” Israel prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said referring to Israel’s national intelligence agency.
“As part of the investigation, it emerged that the infrastructure in Greece was part of a broad Iranian network, operated from Iran toward many countries,” a statement said.
Greek police spokeswoman Konstantina Dimoglidou said the ‘mastermind’ of the cell is ‘a Pakistani who lives outside Europe’.
A police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the person lived in Iran.
“After coordinated actions by the Greek police and the National Intelligence Service, a terrorist network was dismantled which, from abroad, was planning strikes against carefully selected targets on Greek territory,” a police statement said.
Police said the network had “already chosen the target of the attack” and were planning how to execute it.
Greece’s Jewish community numbers around 5,000. The government has good relations with Israel, including a number of security and military agreements.
The Greek police source said that the two Pakistanis of Iranian origin were aged 27 and 29 and were planning attacks on areas frequented by Israelis in central Athens.
The source said the men were targeting a building which houses a synagogue and a Jewish restaurant.
The mobile phones of the two arrested men had allowed investigators to capture conversations, videos and sketches of the places targeted, according to the same source.
The country has not been the target of any terrorist attacks in recent years.
Greek police said the suspects were trying to undermine state security and its “international relations”.
Earlier, Greece’s under-fire prime minister announced elections would be held on May 21, as popular anger seethes over government failures blamed in last month’s train tragedy that killed 57 people.