Iran-backed terror plots against Israelis revealed in Nigeria, Cyprus

Click photo to download. Caption: The flag of Cyprus. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) While the aftermath of the Bulgarian investigation that said Iran-funded Hezbollah was responsible for last summer’s Burgas bus bombing continues to unfold, additional terrorist plots against Israel that were backed by the Islamic Republic were revealed in Nigeria and Cyprus.

The Nigerian secret police on Wednesday said it foiled a terrorist group backed by “Iranian handlers.” Secret police spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar said that the leader of the terrorist group, 50-year- Abdullahi Mustaphah Berende, “took photographs of the Israeli culture center in Ikoyi, Lagos, which he sent to his handlers.” Nigeria has arrested Berende and two other suspects from the group, which it did not describe any further.

Ogar said Berende studied at an Islamic university in Iran in 2006 and learned how to make homemade explosives when he returned to Nigeria in 2011.

Meanwhile, a Lebanese-Swedish citizen, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, who is on trial for terrorism charges in Cyprus, admitted in court to taking part in surveillance against Israeli targets for Hezbollah, the New York Times reported.

Yaacoub was arrested by Cypriot authorities last July carrying the license plate numbers of buses that carried Israeli tourists. He is facing eight terrorism-related charges. His arrest came less than two weeks before a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria was blown up, killing five Israelis and one Bulgarian. A recent report by the Bulgarian government implicated Hezbollah in the attack.

Yaacoub claims he is innocent and that he would not take part in a plot to target Israelis.

“Even if they [Hezbollah] asked me to participate in a terrorist action I would refuse. I could never do that,” Yaacoub said, according to the New York Times.

The verdict in Yaacoub’s case could influence the European Union’s decision on whether or not to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. If Yaacoub is found guilty of terrorism, it would provide additional proof that Hezbollah was planning attacks in another EU member state, Cyprus.

U.S. and Israeli officials have strongly urged the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and crack down on the group’s presence within the EU. The EU, however, has so far refused to blacklist Hezbollah.

Posted on February 21, 2013 .