Bennett calls Cyprus plot ‘Iranian act of terror,’ rules out Israeli tycoon as target



Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York City on Sept. 27, 2021. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

Idan Avni and Yehuda Shlezinger, JNS

 — Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday that a recently foiled plot in Cyprus reportedly targeting Israeli tycoon Teddy Sagi was in fact a much wider Iranian attempt to kill Israelis residing in the island nation.

“As opposed to some of the reports yesterday regarding an incident in Cyprus, I can clarify on behalf of the security establishment that this was an act of terror that was orchestrated by Iran against Israeli businesspeople living in Cyprus. This is not a criminal act and the Israeli businessman Teddy Sagi was not the target,” Bennett’s spokesman said on the prime minister’s official Twitter account.

Cypriot authorities announced last Tuesday that they had arrested an Azeri national on suspicion that he had been hired to target Israelis.

Sagi, 49, is the founder of gambling software company Playtech and owns Camden Market in London. He splits his time among the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Israel. According to Forbes, he is worth $5.6 billion, making him the fourth richest person in Israel.

Cypriot media outlet ANT1 alleged last week that the Iranians had contracted several mercenaries with the aim of killing and potentially abducting businessmen based in Cyprus.

Another Cypriot media outlet, Knews, said that the suspect, 38, was detained on Monday in Engomi, in western Nicosia, following an undercover investigation. At the time of his arrest, he was in possession of a handgun with a silencer and said to be casing the office building where Sagi’s operations are headquartered on the island, according to the report.