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Ammonium nitrate found in Cyprus in 2015 destroyed police say

Hussein Bassam Abdallah, a Lebanese-Canadian man is escorted to court by the police in Larnaca in 2015

The more than eight tonnes of ammonium nitrate found in Larnaca in 2015 after an operation police believe had averted a terrorist act in Cyprus have long been destroyed authorities said on Wednesday.

Police spokesman Christos Andreou who had handled the case back in 2015, told the Cyprus News Agency the 8.3 tonnes of ammonium nitrate seized after being located in the basement of a Larnaca house was destroyed in a special area in Marki, Nicosia.

It is the same substance that caused the devastating blast in Lebanon on Tuesday afternoon that killed over 100 people.

Andreou said that by locating the ammonium nitrate at the time and arresting a 26-year-old man from Lebanon, holder of a Canadian passport, authorities averted a possible criminal act within Cyprus.

The 26-year-old, Hussein Bassam Abdallah, had pleaded guilty to several charges including involvement in a criminal and terrorist organisation (Hezbollah), illegal possession of explosives and money laundering. He had arrived in Cyprus a few days prior to his arrest in Larnaca after a police raid at the house he was staying.

He was sentenced to six years in prison. After his early release, he was deported.

The court ruling did not underestimate the fact that Abdallah had “played the role assigned to him within the broader design of events, so that in the end Hezbollah would be able to harm Israeli interests in Cyprus through terrorist attacks.”

It was believed that the ammonium nitrate had been stockpiled in Cyprus since around 2011 and held in the basement of a home in a residential neighbourhood of Larnaca.

Abdallah regularly travelled to Cyprus to check on the ammonium nitrate. His latest instructions before his arrest in May 2015 were to find a warehouse to store it.

 

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