Cypriot police suspect a man they arrested this week of planning an attack on Israeli interests on the island after they found almost two tonnes of ammonium nitrate in his basement, local newspapers reported on Friday.
Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer but in large quantities can be mixed with other substances to make a powerful explosive.
The 26-year-old man, Lebanese-born but with a Canadian passport, was detained by police in the EU member state on May 27, after authorities discovered the hoard in the basement of a house.
Three Cypriot newspapers on Friday said authorities were investigating any possible link of the individual with the military wing of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, which views Israel as its arch enemy.
Two newspapers said it was thought the individual, who has not been named, had a close link with the group’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nazrallah.
All three said police suspected Israeli interests were the target, and one said that authorities believed the ammonium nitrate had been amassing at the residence for some time.
Cyprus is a popular holiday destination for Israelis and the island hosts an Israeli embassy in Nicosia.
The suspect arrived in Cyprus in the third week of May and had been staying at the two-storey house in a residential suburb of the coastal town of Larnaca.
Police have declined to speculate on the case, other than saying that all possibilities were being explored.
Judicial authorities have ordered that all court proceedings be held behind closed doors, citing national security. The suspect was detained in custody for eight days by a magistrate on Thursday.
Despite its proximity to the Middle East, Cyprus has seen little militant-related activity in recent decades. 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 an attack on Israeli tourists.
He said he had been asked by Hezbollah to track the movements of Israeli tourists on the island, but denied he was planning any attack.
(Reporting By Michele Kambas; editing by John Stonestreet)