(JTA) – Greek authorities arrested two men on Tuesday [March28] who were planning mass terrorist attacks on Jewish sites in Athens, including a Chabad outpost and a Jewish restaurant, according to reports.
The Mossad, Israel’s spy agency which contributed to the investigation, told the Associated Press that the men, who are Pakistani nationals, are also part of an Iranian terror network. A third man is wanted for questioning. The group reportedly entered Greece from Turkey illegally four months ago.
“After the investigation of the suspects began in Greece, Mossad assisted in unraveling intelligence of the infrastructure, the methods of operation, and the connection to Iran,” the Israeli agency said in a statement.
The arrests offer the latest indication that Iranian operatives are active across Europe and frequently targeting Jews. Last summer, as a record number of Israelis visited Turkey, Israel’s intelligence service, the Mossad, and its Turkish counterpart, hunted through Istanbul for an Iranian cell that had reportedly been tasked with targeting Israeli tourists. Also last year, The Washington Post reported that Iran had targeted prominent Jews and Israelis around the world, including the French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy. Josef Schuster, the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, has also been targeted, according to German authorities, who recently also revealed that multiple unsolved shootings at German synagogues are believed to be connected to Iranian operatives.
In Greece, home to between 2,000 and 3,000 Jews, the attacks were believed to be imminent, officials said, noting that the suspects “had received final instructions” to carry them out. Police searched for the suspects in Athens, southern Greece and the island of Zakynthos.
“Their aim was not only to cause the loss of life of innocent citizens, but also to undermine the sense of security in the country, while hurting public institutions and threatening [Greece’s] international relations,” Greek police wrote in a statement.
The statement did not name the restaurant targeted by the attackers, but Gostijo, a kosher Sephardic Mediterranean restaurant, is housed within the Chabad of Athens near of the city’s tourist center.
The United States has classified Iran as a state sponsor of terrorist activity around the world since 1984. Security analysts say the country is more often turning to “soft targets” such as Jews and Israelis, because its high-level assassination plots were too often foiled.