Cypriot police arrest alleged Hezbollah agent holding dangerous chemicals

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Police in Cyprus arrested a man on suspicion of planning an attack on Israeli interests on the island with chemicals they found in his possession.

The 26-year-old man, Lebanese-born with a Canadian passport, was detained by police on May 27, after authorities discovered the chemicals in the basement of a house belonging to the suspect, Reuters reported Friday.

In the basement, police found nearly two tons of ammonium nitrate — a fertilizer that in large quantities can be mixed with other substances to make a powerful explosive.

Three Cypriot newspapers on Friday said authorities were investigating any possible link of the individual with the military wing of Hezbollah. Two newspapers said it was thought the individual, who has not been named, had a close link with the group’s leader, Hassan Nazrallah.

Police suspected Israeli interests were the target. According to one Cypriot newspaper, authorities believe the ammonium nitrate had been amassing at the residence for some time.

The suspect arrived in Cyprus in the third week of May and had been staying at the two-story house in a residential suburb of the coastal town of Larnaca.

Judicial authorities have ordered that all court proceedings be held behind closed doors, citing national security. The suspect was detained in custody for eight days by a magistrate on Thursday.

In 1988, an attack on the Israeli embassy in Cyprus left three people dead.

In 2013, a Swedish citizen of Lebanese descent was jailed in Cyprus on charges of plotting an attack on Israeli tourists.

He said he had been asked by Hezbollah to track the movements of Israeli tourists on the island, but denied he was planning any attack.

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