UPDATE March 30, 2023: Eight new suspects from Pakistan were detained as part of the investigation into a terrorist network suspected of planning attacks against Jews in Athens, a Greek police source said Thursday; more here.
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UPDATE March 29, 2023: NGO StopAntisemitism released photos of the two initial men arrested with intent to attack a Jewish restaurant and other Jewish places around Athens ; more here.
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Greek police said on Tuesday they had arrested two men suspected members of a group that was planning an attack against Gostijo, a Kosher Israeli restaurant in Athens, a case which Israel said was orchestrated from Iran.
The anti-terrorist agency launched the operation that led to the arrests on information gathered by the country’s intelligence service, police said in a statement. It said the arrests had helped “dismantle a terrorist network” that was being managed from abroad.
A police official said the two men, 27 and 29 years old, were Pakistani nationals. According to the semi-official Athens News Agency, citing police officials, they were receiving orders from other Pakistani nationals in Iran. The two suspects both entered Greece illegally from neighboring Turkey and had been in the country for at least four months, according to two Greek officials who spoke to the Associated Press.
NGO StopAntisemitism, a leading US watchdog organization combating antisemitism, noted the target was located across the street from a Chabad Jewish Center.
As part of their investigation, police searched multiple sites in Athens as well as in southern Greece and on the western island of Zakynthos.
Israel’s intelligence service Mossad said in a rare statement that it had assisted in the investigation. “The investigation exposed that the operation in Greece was part of a vast Iranian network, operated from Iran across many countries,” it said.
The Iranian Embassy in Athens could not immediately be reached outside of business hours.
Greek police said they had confiscated digital evidence which revealed that the group was planning to attack a building of “special significance” in Greece and was looking for people who could help them carry out their project.
The police official said that the target was an Israeli restaurant in Athens.
“They were aiming at human loss and wanted to undermine security in Greece and hurt its foreign relations,” the Greek police said in a statement.