Greek police arrested two Pakistanis on Tuesday for planning terrorist attacks against Israelis and Jews in Athens.
The suspects, who entered Greece illegally from neighboring Turkey, had already determined the targets at the time of their arrest. A Greek government official reported that the pair planned to attack a Jewish restaurant in central Athens and a Chabad House.
According to the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, which helped foil the attacks, the Pakistanis were part of an Iranian terrorist network.
“After the investigation of the suspects began in Greece, Mossad assisted in unravelling intelligence of the infrastructure, the methods of operation, and the connection to Iran,” the Mossad said in a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. According to the statement, the two Pakistanis were part of a “wide Iranian network that operates from Iran and out of many countries.”
The Greek police reportedly said the planned attacks were foiled at the last moment.
“An analysis of the seized information and digital data revealed and confirmed that the members of the network had already chosen as the target of the attack a building of special importance, had carried out the reconnaissance of the area and the planning of the attack, and had received final instructions to carry out the attack,” the police stated.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen thanked Greece for thwarting the plot.
“The ayatollah regime in Tehran is exporting terror to the Middle East, Mediterranean and wider world and only a tough stance and cooperation will halt the terror activities of the Iranian regime,” he said.
Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), said that Israel’s intelligence cooperation has helped many nations in foiling terrorist attacks.
“In recent years, Israel has become an ‘intelligence exporter,’ helping a host of countries – including some that do not have formal relations with Israel – stop terrorist attacks. Such cooperation also has saved the lives of Israelis and Jews abroad. As evidence of Iran’s murderous malice in Western capitals mounts, one hopes those same capitals will toughen up on Tehran’s nuclear program in time,” Dubowitz said.
FDD Senior VP for Research Jonathan Schanzer said cooperation between Greece and Israel has “increased significantly in recent years.”
“This has been spurred by mutual financial interests in the eastern Mediterranean but also growing concerns about the malign activity of both Turkey and Iran,” Schanzer said.
“This cooperation has also included Arab Gulf states in recent years, as well. The foiled attack in Athens is the result of a relationship rooted in the shared desire to ensure that the Mediterranean remains a sphere of Western influence,” he said.
Schanzer worked for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2004 to 2007.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.