Two Iranian nationals may face deportation after they were linked to a foiled terror attack against Israelis and Jews in Cyprus, police said on Monday.
The two have been in custody since their arrest on November 3, and had two eight-day remands since.
“They are now under a remand order for custody and deportation,” police spokesman Christos Andreou told the Cyprus Mail.
He said there was no question of them being extradited to Israel, and remained tight-lipped over the details of the case, including where they were arrested.
Both Andreou and the government have cited issues of national security as reasons of not sharing more information of the matter.
Nonetheless, Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad and its National Security Council raised concerns over the north, saying they were troubled by “prior and current use of that area for terrorist purposes”.
In a statement on Sunday by the Israeli Prime Minister’s office Benjamin Netanyahu on behalf of Mossad, it described the north “as an area of activity and transit to attack Israeli and Jewish targets. [This] constitutes a disturbing issue.”
The two suspects are believed to have crossed to the Republic from the north. Police could not say how long they were in the government-controlled areas before their arrest.
The story came to light on Sunday by Kathimerini newspaper, which said the suspects were in the early stages of gathering intelligence on potential Israeli targets.
The two suspects have been named as Mohammad Reza Ebadi Arablu and Sa’id Ebadi. Times of Israel said Arablu has links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force, and had been implicated in a past assassination plot against a prominent Israeli-Georgian businessman.
At least one of the suspects was reported to have multiple travel documents.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar told Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT that he had discussed the matter with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.
“The TRNC state will never allow terrorist activities on its territory. We are closely observing the matter,” adding a series of measures were taken in sea, land and air entries to the north.
The Iranian embassy in Nicosia was not immediately available for comment.
Andreou said police were without a doubt concerned but were taking all necessary measures and assessing information from Interpol and Europol, as well as leads that members of the public were providing.
“All countries in our region, very close to the Middle East, are dealing with this issue.”
This is not the first time an attack against Israeli interests in Cyprus was foiled. In June, Mossad arrested an Iranian citizen, who according to the intelligence agency, confessed he was planning an attack against an Israeli businessman living in Limassol.
Netanyahu said the attack had been thwarted while Tehran denied being behind any alleged plot to attack Israelis in Cyprus.