A Cypriot court convicted Hossam Taleb Yaacoub of participating in a plan to attack Israeli tourists in Cyprus.
For the second time since the start of the year, Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terrorist group supported by Iran, has been implicated in a plot on European soil.
On March 21, a Cypriot court convicted Hossam Taleb Yaacoub, a dual Swedish-Lebanese citizen, of participating in a plan to attack Israeli tourists in Cyprus. He was found guilty on five charges, including conspiracy and participation in a criminal organization.
Mr. Yaacoub had admitted to being a member of Hezbollah and to being sent around Europe to survey and collect information on Israeli tourists. The Cypriot court rejected his assertion that he did not know the purpose of the information he was collecting.
The conviction of Mr. Yacoub follows the announcement made by the Bulgarian government in February, that it assesses Hezbollah was responsible for the July 2012 bombing in Burgas that killed five Israeli tourists and their Bulgarian bus driver, and injured 32 other people.
President Barack Obama spoke of that tragic attack during his recent trip to Israel:
“I think about five Israelis who boarded a bus in Bulgaria, who were blown up because of where they came from; robbed of the ability to live, and love, and raise families. That’s why every country that values justice should call Hezbollah what it truly is – a terrorist organization. Because the world cannot tolerate an organization that murders innocent civilians, stockpiles rockets to shoot at cities and supports the massacre of men and women and children in Syria right now.”
State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a statement that the United States “applauds the government of Cyprus for its professional investigation and successful conviction in court…of Hezbollah operative Hossam Taleb Yaacoub on a range of charges involving his surveillance activities of Israeli tourist targets. “Over the past year,” she noted, “we have seen Hezbollah engage in increasingly aggressive terrorist activity around the world. In July 2012, just two weeks after Yaacoub’s arrest, we witnessed the deadly impact of Hezbollah’s commitment to terrorism in Burgas.”
Ms. Nuland said that the verdict of the Cypriot court “underscores the need for our European allies – and other governments around the world – to crack down on this deadly group and to send a strong message that Hezbollah can no longer operate with impunity abroad.”