Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, announced on Thursday that its operatives inside Iran apprehended the leader of an alleged Iranian assassination team intending to target Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus.
Mossad, known for its secrecy, stated that the captured individual provided a comprehensive “admission” during interrogation. The information was promptly shared with Cypriot authorities, who subsequently dismantled the clandestine network.
The validity of Israel’s claim remains unverified, and no immediate response has been received from Cyprus or Iran.
Quoting an unnamed senior Mossad official, the agency’s statement affirmed their commitment to pursue individuals involved in terrorism against Jews and Israelis worldwide, even within Iran.
Israel views Iran as its primary adversary, citing Iran’s explicit calls for Israel’s annihilation and its support for hostile militant groups. Additionally, Israel accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge that Iran refutes.
Israel has frequently conducted airstrikes against Iranian targets in neighboring Syria and is believed to have orchestrated various attacks on Iranian nuclear experts and facilities inside Iran. Five years ago, Israel unveiled a trove of documents pertaining to Iran’s nuclear program, claiming they were obtained by Mossad from an Iranian warehouse.
Israel released video footage on Thursday featuring a man identified as the leader of the Iranian cell, Yusef Shahabazi Abbasalilu, who stated that he received orders from Iran’s powerful paramilitary organization, the Revolutionary Guard Corps. He admitted to conducting surveillance and photographing the intended target’s residence in Cyprus but fled the country upon learning that authorities were searching for him.
The circumstances under which the man made these statements remain unclear.
“As a result of the information provided by the suspect to investigators, the cell was neutralized through an operation conducted by Cypriot security services,” declared the Mossad statement.
The claim made by Israel and the identity of the individual in the video could not be independently verified. Cypriot authorities declined to comment on matters of national security when questioned by The Associated Press.
Israel has long maintained that Iran is plotting attacks against Israeli targets worldwide and has advised its citizens to exercise caution while traveling abroad.
In Cyprus, a close ally of Israel, an Azerbaijani man is currently on trial on charges related to an alleged plot to carry out contract killings targeting Israelis residing in the country.