NICOSIA (Reuters) - Cypriot police suspect a man arrested on Wednesday was planning an attack on Israeli interests on the island after they found almost two tonnes of ammonium nitrate in his basement, newspapers reported on Friday.
The 26-year-old man is Lebanese-born and has a Canadian passport. He was detained by police after authorities discovered the stockpile.
Authorities are investigating possible links to Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, which views Israel as its arch enemy, three Cypriot newspapers said on Friday.
Police suspect Israeli interests were the target, the Simerini, Politis and Phileleftheros newspapers said.
The unnamed individual may have a close link with the group’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nazrallah, two newspapers said.
“There is some information that he could possibly be connected with them (Hezbollah), and this is something that is under investigation,” a security source told Reuters, requesting anonymity.
Cyprus is a popular holiday destination for Israelis and the Jewish state has an embassy in Nicosia.
The suspect arrived in Cyprus in the third week of May and stayed in the coastal town of Larnaca. The ammonium nitrate — a fertilizer that can create a powerful explosive if large quantities are mixed with other substances — was found in its basement.
Police declined to comment beyond saying they are investigating all possibilities.
Cyprus has little militant-related activity despite its proximity to the Middle East. The island, which is in the EU, hosts two British military bases and receives intelligence from Western agencies.
Its last major security incident was a botched attack on the Israeli embassy in 1988, which killed three people.
In 2013 a Swedish citizen of Lebanese descent was jailed in Cyprus on charges of plotting to attack Israeli tourists.
Reporting By Michele Kambas; Editing by Katharine Houreld and Angus MacSwan