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Terrorists Planned Slaughter at Jewish Sites, Malls, Squares in Athens

ATHENS – The arrest of two Pakistanis, believed to have been directed by a handler in Iran, revealed a plan to carry out a terrorist attack at Jewish sites in Athens using automatic weapons to cause mass casualties and destabilize Greece ahead of the May 21 elections.

According to the Greek police, “their aim was not only the loss of innocent civilians but also undermining the security feeling in our country.” The Islamist network was busted with the help of Israel’s Mossad intelligence.

The attack was aimed at the Chabad house in downtown Athens, which is a place that disseminates information about Judaism and hosts classes, lectures, workshops on Jewish topics, religious services, and Shabbat meals. The other target was Gostijo, a kosher restaurant in the Greek capital. A piece written by Ioannis Kotoulas, a Senior Fellow for the Investigative Project on Terrorism, for the Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) showed how chilling the plot was.

The handler urged the two terrorists to recruit more members to commit additional attacks in public areas such as squares, malls, and soccer stadiums. “Let’s kill two, three, as many as we can,” he wrote to his co-conspirators, according to Greek media reports citing intelligence sources. The information available suggests that additional attacks were planned, including assassinations.

The attack was considered imminent, and the terrorists in custody reportedly scouted the restaurant, taking photographs of the neighborhood to plan for maximum casualties and their escape.

Police said that the plotters had considered using poisonous gas or a car bomb, but ultimately decided to use automatic weapons bought on the black market to kill everyone in the restaurant in a massacre.

The report added that the Pakistanis had contacted the Greek underworld, which police have not been able to contain, to get Kalashnikov rifles. The attack had the potential to include Greeks, tourists, police, and anyone else in the way.

The two terrorists, who were temporary workers in Greece, and their handler were not identified, but all are Shia Pakistanis, and the man in Iran is reportedly wanted for previous murders.

Police said the handler had contacted and recruited the two prospective terrorists, aged 27 and 29, promising them €15,000 ($16,278) for each person killed.

All three individuals are from Sargodha, a town in the Punjab region of Pakistan. Greek intelligence and police described them as “hard individuals with no moral qualms, no respect for human life, and embedded with religious fanaticism,” according to the site.

This news comes just as Greece has opened its doors to tourists, hoping for a record-breaking year after nearly 31 million foreign visitors arrived in 2021, filling squares and sites that could have been potential targets for terrorists.

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