Terrorist Attack Targeting Jewish Synagogue Foiled by Greek Police

Greek authorities arrested two men for allegedly planning an attack at a Jewish center in central Athens. The suspects appeared in court on March 31 to answer accusations of plotting a terrorist attack and appeared before a public prosecutor, who ordered their detention while pending trial.

Greek police and intelligence officers revealed that the two men, aged 27 and 29, were of Pakistani origin and were recruited by a man wanted for murder in Iran to carry out attacks against the Chabad of Athens center in the neighborhood of Psirri, in central Athens. 

The center is part of the larger Chabad-Lubavitch international movement. It also hosts a synagogue, a grocery store, and a kosher restaurant.

Authorities also discovered that the two men worked manual jobs in Attica and the countryside, where they were part of a Pakistani jihadi group operating in Athens. Greek police and intelligence officers subsequently dismantled the terrorist organization.

Reports also suggest that the men would receive 15,000 Euros from the mastermind for each victim they would kill in the planned attack. They were also arrested for illegally staying in Greece.

According to the investigation, the plan to attack the Chabad of Athens was almost completed. The would-be suspects chose to attack with either weapons, explosives or by setting fire to the center while 50 people were inside.

The case unfolded when information about the jihadist group and its activities reached Greece’s National Intelligence Service (EYP). The anti-terrorism department of the Greek police was also informed about the organization. Israel’s national intelligence agency, Mossad, provided the information to the Greek government and promptly thanked them for acting on the case.

Intelligence officers acted on the case, observed the two suspects for weeks, and arrested them on February 15th and 16th for not having the papers to stay in Greece legally. Authorities also found their phones, which contained communications with the mastermind.

From the conversations between the two men and the mastermind, the pair closely monitored Aesopou Street in Psirri before they were given final instructions to carry out the attack. The two men also began looking for more people to help carry out the attack.

However, police are still investigating if the duo planned to attack other parts of Greece. They looked at multiple sites in Athens and expanded their search to southern Greece and the western island of Zakynthos. The mastermind was charged with terrorism-related offenses in absentia and remained at large.

Iraklis Stavaris, the lawyer representing the two suspects, said that one of the men had agreed to take videos of the Jewish center during the attack but chose not to proceed with the plan. Stavaris also said that the mastermind was allegedly in a position to hurt and carry out criminal acts against one of the men and his family members.

Greece’s minister of citizen protection, Takis Theodorikakos, posted a message on his Facebook account on March 28th, announcing the capture of the two suspects through the coordinated support of Greek police and intelligence officers.

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