JERUSALEM: Iran’s state-run Nour News said on Friday Israel’s report that it had foiled an attack in Cyprus by capturing an Iranian agent was an effort to cover up its own domestic crisis.
Israel said on Thursday its Mossad intelligence service carried out an operation in Iran to capture the suspected leader of an Iranian plot to attack Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus.
“The Zionist regime, which is (facing a) deterioration of its domestic situation, has narrated a failed operation from a year ago in Iran where all its agents were arrested in an upside-down manner,” said Nour News which is close to Iran’s top national security body.
Mossad announced on Thursday that its agents inside Iran seized the head of an alleged Iranian hit squad that planned to kill Israeli businesspeople in Cyprus.
The Mossad, which rarely speaks to the media, said the man had given investigators a detailed “confession.” It said the information was relayed to authorities in Cyprus, where security services dismantled the cell.
“We will reach whoever foments terrorism against Jews and Israelis around the world, including on Iranian soil,” said the Mossad statement, quoting an unnamed senior agency official.
Israel routinely strikes Iranian targets in neighboring Syria and is believed to be behind a string of attacks on Iranian nuclear experts and facilities inside Iran over the years. Five years ago, Israel unveiled a vast collection of documents about Iran’s nuclear program that it said the Mossad had stolen from a warehouse in Iran.
On Thursday, Israel released footage of a man it identified as the head of the Iranian cell, Yusef Shahabazi Abbasalilu, saying on camera that he received his orders from Iran’s powerful paramilitary Revolutionary Guard Corps.
He further said he scoped out the target and took photos of the target’s home in Cyprus but fled the Mediterranean island nation and returned to Iran after being alerted that police were looking for him.
It was not clear if the man spoke under duress.
“In the wake of the information that he gave to investigators, the cell was dismantled in an operation by the Cypriot security services,” the Mossad statement said.
Cypriot authorities would not comment when repeatedly queried by The Associated Press, saying only that “they don’t discuss matters of national security.”
Israel has long claimed that Iran is plotting to attack Israeli targets around the world and urged citizens to be careful when traveling abroad.
An Azeri man is on trial in Cyprus, a close Israeli ally, on suspicion that he planned to carry out the contract killings of Israelis living in Cyprus.