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Cyprus arrests 6 in assassination plot targeting Israelis

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By World Israel News Staff

Cypriot police have arrested a total of six people suspected of taking part in an assassination plot targeting Israeli expats living in Cyprus, with the detainees slated to remain in custody until their trial begins in December.

Although the police did not identify the nationalities of the suspects, local Cypriot media identified four of the men as holding Pakistani citizenship who worked as food couriers before their arrests.

The two other men were identified an Azeri national and a man of Lebanese origin who is a Cypriot citizen.

The men are to be charged with counts including membership in a criminal organization, possession of firearms and false identification, conspiracy to commit murder, and terrorism.

In September, an alleged hitman who was reportedly gearing up to slay a prominent Israeli businessman living on the Mediterranean island was arrested while crossing from the Turkish north through a checkpoint in Nicosia.

At the time, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the plot was part of an ongoing shadow war between Israel and Iran.

“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,” he said, though Cypriot authorities said they did not believe the Islamic Republic was involved in the plot.

Hebrew language media speculated about the identity of the businessman who was nearly slain, with many outlets identifying the potential victim as billionaire entrepreneur Teddy Sagi.

Both Sagi and the Israeli government denied that he was the intended target of the plot.

According to Cypriot daily Politis, the Azeri suspect, identified as 38-year-old Orkhan Asadov, received some $40,000 earlier this year, although they did not reveal from where the money came.

Police allege that funds were intended to be used for criminal activity.

Asadov reportedly told police that the gun and silencer found in his car were meant to “intimidate” Israeli businesspeople who owed “large sums of money” to a mysterious man identified only as Mohammed.

Unspecified Hezbollah-related images were said to have been found on Asadov’s phone.

In a statement, Cyprus police chief Stelios Papatheodorou said the authorities had gathered enough evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy in “this serious case.”

“There is testimony that leads the police to file a criminal prosecution against the suspects,” he told local Cypriot media during a press conference.

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