ATHENS, Greece – Greek police arrested two Pakistani nationals on Tuesday who were allegedly planning mass terrorist attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in the country.
Israel’s Mossad spy agency, which assisted the Greek investigation, said in a statement that the two were part of a terrorist network in Iran.
The Iranian-born pair, aged 27 and 29, were being held at police headquarters in central Athens, Greek authorities said. The third man, who is not in Greece, was sought for questioning and charged in absentia.
A government official told the Associated Press that one of the targets was a Jewish restaurant in downtown Athens. Reports indicated that the target was the Chabad House, which includes a Kosher restaurant and also hosts other religious services.
The official asked not to be identified, pending official announcements.
Police said the suspects had chosen a target of “high symbolism” and were making final preparations for the attack.
“They aimed not only at the loss of innocent citizens, but also at undermining the sense of security in the country, while injuring and threatening public institutions. [Greece’s] international relations,” said the police statement.
The two suspects entered Greece illegally from neighboring Turkey and were in the country for at least four months. As part of their investigation, police searched multiple sites in Athens, southern Greece and the island of Zakynthos.
In a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, Mossad said it helped Athens in “big business,” including finding links to Iran.
“After starting the investigation of the suspects in Greece, Mossad helped to sort out the intelligence of the infrastructure, the methods of operation and the connection with Iran,” the spy agency said.
He claimed that the two Pakistanis were part of a “wide network in Iran that operates from Iran and out of many countries.”
Greek police said an attack was imminent. “An analysis of the captured intelligence and digital data showed and confirmed that the network members had already chosen as the target of the attack, a building of special importance; who did the reconnaissance of the area and the planning of the attack; and had received final instructions to carry out the attack,” read a statement from the Greek news site Ekathimerini.
According to the report, the authorities began investigating the terrorist network after the 2021 arrest of two more Pakistani men suspected of planning attacks on Israelis. The network was also linked to an Iranian plot uncovered in Turkey last year, he said.
Greece’s anti-terrorism police division and the National Intelligence Service were involved in the arrests, according to a police statement.
Greece’s Minister of Public Order, Takis Theodorikakos, said in a tweet that “the operation shows that the security authorities of the country have a high level of preparedness for all Greeks and all visitors to our country.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Eli Cohen thanked Greece for preventing the situation.
“The ayatollah regime in Tehran is exporting terror to the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the world and only a tough stance and cooperation will stop the terrorist activities of the Iranian regime,” he said in a tweet.