Man on Trial in Cyprus on Terrorism Charges Admits to Working for Hezbollah
A Lebanese-Swedish citizen, Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, who is on trial for terrorism charges in Cyprus, admitted in court to taking part in surveillance against Israeli targets for the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, the New York Times reported.
Yaacoub was arrested by Cypriot authorities last July with the license plates of buses that carried Israeli tourists. He is facing eight terrorism-related charges. His arrest came less than two weeks before a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria was blown up, killing give Israelis and one Bulgarian. A recent report by the Bulgarian government implicated Hezbollah in the attack.
Yaacoub claims he is innocent and that he would not take part in a plot to target Israelis.
“Even if they [Hezbollah] asked me to participate in a terrorist action I would refuse. I could never do that,” Yaacoub said, according to the New York Times.
The verdict in Yaacoub’s case could influence the European Union’s decision on whether or not to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization—if Yaacoub is found guilty of terrorism, it would provide additional proof that Hezbollah was planning attacks in another EU member state, Cyprus.
U.S. and Israeli officials have strongly urge the EU to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and crack down on the group’s presence within the EU. The EU, however, has so far refused to blacklist Hezbollah.