Australian-Israeli Selwyn Franklin was in complete shock and felt in profound danger when he heard that the Chabad in Athens he was praying at daily during a vacation this week had been targeted by Iran, he told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
“I came out of the Chabad and I suddenly stopped. I saw the cameras outside – eight teams of media and cameras and reporters,” said Franklin when the story about Iran’s terror plot broke Tuesday night.
The Mossad helped Greece crack an Iranian terror cell, according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office that came out that night shortly after Greek media reported arrests.
The spy agency said that it had assisted Greece with analyzing and taking apart Iran’s operating procedures to solve the puzzle of the underlying crime and method of operation of the terror organization involved.
“This is another example of Iran trying to use terror against Israeli and Jewish targets overseas,” said the clandestine agency, referring to the arrests of two Pakistani men with Iranian connections who Greece had arrested for plans to target the Chabad.
After escaping the media frenzy outside the Chabad on Tuesday night, Franklin said he quickly made his way back to his hotel.
When he arrived at his hotel, he said that friends had sent him a link, “to The Jerusalem Post story that these guys [the Iranian-linked terrorists] had been apprehended, that they had targeted the Chabad and the affiliated restaurants. The result was we [he and his wife] decided we needed to get out of there.”
Continuing, he said, “Suddenly. I realized how dangerous a situation it was and might have been. It is not easy to find a parking spot outside Chabad in Athens. It is a convoluted neighborhood like Jerusalem’s Old City. if they were observing what was going on, they would see me driving and managing to find parking and then I could have been a marked man. I could have been targeted.”
Next, he stated, “There are a lot of innocent people visiting from across the globe. The Chabad representative had been there for around 20 years. They were quite concerned. I said to him ‘you know what happened in Mumbai?’ He responded, ‘Well, the possibility is horrific.’” (a Chabad in Mumbai was attacked by terrorists in 2008.)
“I suddenly realized the vulnerability of the Jewish people around the world. In Israel, there is the threat of terror, but at least there is a strong network of security which protects us.”
“I suddenly realized the vulnerability of the Jewish people around the world.” Rabbi Selwyn Franklin
Franklin said, “Certainly overseas, Jews are totally and utterly vulnerable. There is no way to be protected. That was why we decided it was time to leave.”
On Wednesday morning, he said, “I went back to morning prayers the next morning. When I left the Chabad, I was very innocent about it when a cameraman came down to me.” Franklin said before he realized what was happening, camera crews were filming him and he realized his face was now being broadcast on Greek national TV.
He expressed concern also that after he had been interviewed by Greek media “that maybe that will result in a personal attack against me.” He described being in other difficult security situations, but nothing as scary.
For example, he said that he and his family “took a stand in South Africa against the apartheid system. We got threatening phone calls. That was why ultimately we left South Africa.”
Franklin returns to Israel
Once they were spooked by the terror story, they decided to race back to Israel early but did not even notify another Greek television media outlet of canceling until he was about to get on an airplane back to Israel.
In case, he was being targeted, he wanted to leave a false trail for any terrorist to think he was still showing up on Greek TV.
At the time, “We didn’t know that they [the terrorist] were arrested a couple of months ago. It could’ve been a day ago.”
“We thought they were ready to do the attack that very day or the next day. Maybe they had been arrested enroot. We had no idea about the timing or the schedule. We just thought we were in danger,” said Franklin.
Asked if he thought there could be more Iranian operatives on the loose in Greece, he said, “I wouldn’t put it past them. To get that kind of network, there have got to be other people. We had no idea so we just didn’t want to take a chance.”
On the positive side, he said, “It was absolutely amazing that Israeli security services were able to cooperate with Greek authorities. What could have been a major tragedy was averted. 100 people may come through there per day.”
“It is amazing that despite the threat of terror in Israel, I feel the safest here because of the fact that we have the Mossad” and other security agencies.
Source : The Jerusalem Post