Terror plot in Greece: Fears that the Pakistani leader is planning a new attack - His family has a murderous past

Sani Pakistani

30-year-old "Sani", the Tehran-based Pakistani mastermind behind a terror plot in Greece, is the son of a family with a heavy criminal past.

Sayed Hakar Abbas, who comes from the same village as the 27-year-old Pakistani who lived in Zakynthos and goes by the name of Sani, is very activity on social media, particularly with videos - but does not appear suspicious as his profile shows an everyday person.

Sani

Sani

Sani

Sani

Counter-Terrorism Units in Pakistan raided three houses in Pakistan, two of which belong to the family of Sani - the name under which the 30-year-old appears on social media.

Reports state that his brother is being held in prison in Oman, having committed two murders, as well as kidnappings. His father is also being held in a Pakistani prison for murders and kidnappings, while "Sani" himself is said to have committed at least four murders, as well as kidnappings.

In any case, a manhunt for his arrest is in full swing as there are fears that he may be planning more terror attacks.

Syed Irtaza Haider, 27, and Saqi Abid Hussein, 29, were arrested last week for plotting to attack a kosher restaurant-synagogue in the Athens neighbourhood of Psirri.

The attackers hoped to strike in early April during the Jewish Passover and Greek Easter. Greek counterterrorism police and intelligence services launched Operation Hyacinth last August after Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency informed them of the plot.

Information disclosed since the arrests confirms the terrorist cell’s links to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. government. However, the arrests have received very little attention in the United States. This report is based on Greek media coverage and interviews.

Hakar is part of an IRGC-affiliated Islamist network that recruits Pakistanis, Azeris and Kurds abroad to conduct terrorist attacks.

Greek police have arrested eight more migrants for questioning. They all come from Sargodha, a Pakistani town in the Punjab region. At least two of them admitted to being in contact with the arrested terrorists, who tried to recruit them.

“The hard part was locating them, because they changed places of residence and work and used to cohabitate with many other individuals,” a Greek intelligence source told Greece’s iefimerida news outlet. “To this purpose, we used human sources to arrest them.”

The two prime suspects admitted to participating in the plot and to communicating with the Iranian-based mastermind. They used WhatsApp to send encrypted messages to the Tehran-based handler, along with photos and videos of the targets.

Videos taken in December showed the Gostijo kosher restaurant and Israelis who went there.

The two suspects entered Greece illegally in 2018 from neighbouring Turkey, officials say. Haider was the leader and was in constant contact with Hakar in Iran. Hakar gave Haider the restaurant’s location, along with a list of Israelis who could be targeted for assassination attempts.

He also instructed the terrorists how to take pictures of the targets without drawing suspicion.

The pair was promised $18,000 for each person killed.

The entire plot, therefore, from the targets to the planning and financing, came from Iran.

“This group was recruited via Whatsapp, widely used by terrorists in Asia and the Middle East,” Greek security analyst Alexandros Niklan of Geopolitics and Daily News told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

“They tried to recruit people from the organized criminal underworld of Greece to procure their weapons. They were actually trying to build an expanded network of terrorists for more future operations.

"If the attack against the Jewish restaurant was successful, there would be multiple casualties in a strike reminiscent of the Bataclan deadly attack in Paris. They had already picked a second target, as the Tehran-based leader was insisting on locating an Israeli ‘businessman with a beard.’”

The cell also coordinated with Hakar on an escape plan. After the attack at the Jewish restaurant, they would flee Greece through smuggling networks and go to Iran, where they would receive additional financial help.

Hakar claimed that he would deposit money in a Pakistani bank account after the attack. The terrorists could use the money to return to Pakistan and buy houses.

Greek authorities are now investigating whether the two suspects have been paid, although that likely would be done through a difficult-to-trace hawala informal fund transfer system. Investigators have already detected transfers of small sums to two of the two suspects’ relatives.

READ MORE: Terror plot in Greece: The Pakistanis wanted to bomb Athens on Christmas Day and attack a Greek island.

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