Shadow War: Media Tune Out Alleged Iranian Terror Plot Against Israelis in Cyprus
Cypriot authorities this week charged six people for allegedly plotting terrorist attacks on Israeli targets living in the Eastern Mediterranean island.
But France24 was the only major English-language news organization outside of Israel and Cyprus to report on the development.
The accused are due to stand trial in December on charges of attempted murder, belonging to a criminal organization, conspiracy to commit a crime, and being in Cyprus illegally. The country’s police chief, Stelios Papatheodorous, said that “there is testimony that [led] the police to file a criminal prosecution against the suspects.”
Moreover, Israeli authorities believe that at least one of the suspects was recruited by Iran. Yet, despite what may well have been an escalation in Tehran’s shadow war against the Jewish state, prominent news organizations did not cover the story.
The primary suspect in the alleged terror plots is Orkhan Asadov, an Azeri national reportedly detained in late September while in possession of a gun and silencer, as he was attempting to cross the buffer zone from northern Turkish-occupied territory into the Republic of Cyprus. Israeli authorities had apparently tipped off the Cypriots about the man’s movements.
Following investigations into Asadov’s telecommunications records, arrests of three Pakistanis, a Cypriot of Lebanese origin, and one additional individuals were made.
Cypriot journalist Fanis Makrides told Iran International that police and security officials involved in the case had confirmed that they suspected “terrorism.” Makrides also said that, “what we know… [from what is] officially being said by the Prime Minister’s office in Israel [is] that the 38-year-old Azeri is connected to a plan by Iran … to harm Israel in Greek Cypriot territory.”
In addition to Asadov’s possible ties to Iran, local media reported that one of the Pakistani suspects was accused of maintaining ties with a Syria-based militia that has fought in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime during the decade-long-plus civil war.
It is striking that major international news outlets have failed to cover this story given its apparent significance: namely, that six people were arrested for plotting to commit terrorist acts within the borders of a European Union member state, and that there is proof that these plans were conceived and coordinated by Iran and possibly Syria-based Shiite militias.
Media outlets regularly report on terror attacks in which Palestinian assailants are wounded by Israeli forces, which effectively turns reality on its head by painting Palestinian aggressors as victims.
A similar dynamic plays out when media outlets implicitly blame Israeli security services for conducting counter-terrorism raids in order to arrest Palestinians suspected of plotting attacks.
Accordingly, the failure to report on the story in Cyprus seems indicative of bias against ever depicting Israelis as victims. Instead, major press agencies tend to portray Israel as an aggressor (see here, here, and here).
Case in point: Israel’s recent designation of six Palestinian NGOs as terrorist front groups elicited international outrage, with the move widely and falsely described as an attempt to “muzzle” human rights groups. Indeed, reports that are harshly critical of Israel continue to be published on a near-daily basis (see here and here); this, despite Israeli envoys having traveled to Washington in response to the Biden administration’s request for evidence proving the NGOs’ involvement in terrorist activity.
It appears, then, that a double standard is being applied.
When it comes to Israel, stories about terrorism are seemingly only newsworthy when the Jewish state can be depicted in a bad light.
The author is Editor-in-Chief for HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, where a version of this article first appeared. Other HonestReporting staff contributed to this article.