Israel’s Mossad spy service says it has conducted an operation inside Iran to capture the head of an alleged Iranian hit squad that planned to kill Israelis in Cyprus.
In a statement on June 29, the intelligence agency said that the suspect, identified as Youssef Shahbazi Abbasalilu, had "received detailed instructions and weapons from senior officials” of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
Mossad published a video of what it said was an interrogation of the suspect.
In the video, the man -- who speaks Persian with an Azeri accent -- says he was commissioned by his superior to identify Israeli and Jewish targets in Cyprus and to attack them. Mossad identified the superior as a senior IRGC leader.
¹ Israeli Mossad: In an operation on Iranian soil - Israel reached the Iranian assassin who was supposed to murder an Israeli businessman in Cyprus, and obtained a testimony from him pic.twitter.com/bVHs3uDqy2— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) June 29, 2023
The suspect further said that he surveilled a target and took photos of the target’s home in Cyprus but fled the island and returned to Iran after being alerted that police were looking for him.
The man said he had worked with Iranians, Pakistanis and Cypriots in the operation.
It was not immediately clear from the video if the man spoke under duress.
Mossad did not provide more details on the alleged planned attack in EU-member Cyprus.
According to Israeli officials, the suspect was operating from northern Cyprus, a statelet that is recognized only by Turkey and divides the Mediterranean island.
Iranian and Cypriot officials did not immediately comment on the report.
Iran and Israel are arch-enemies, and Iranian officials have vowed the destruction of the Jewish state.