New Iran-linked terror plot uncovered in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security announces it had foiled another plot to attack the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish cultural center.

February 22, 2012 01:42
2 minute read.
Azneft Square, Baku

311_ Baku. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

The wave of Iranian efforts to attack Israeli interests abroad appears to be continuing, following an announcement by Azerbaijan on Tuesday that it had foiled another plot linked to Tehran and Hezbollah in Baku.

The conspiracy involved a cell linked to the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and the Lebanese terrorist organization, the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security said, according to state television.

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Authorities detained the cell’s members and seized firearms and explosives, according to the Azerbaijani TV report.

While some news agencies cited the TV report as saying that the targets were “foreign,” a Baku-based reporter for Bloomberg quoted AzTV as saying that the terrorists planned to attack the Israeli Embassy and a Jewish cultural center.

Channel 10 cited Azerbaijani media as saying that two Iranian Quds Force members were arrested. In addition, around 20 people, mostly from the same family, were arrested in connection with the planned attacks, in a village on the outskirts of Baku, according to the report.

The suspects received narcotics from Hezbollah to sell in order to fund the attacks, Channel 10 added.

The Quds Force is headed by Gen. Qassem Suleimani, who reports directly to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.

It is tasked with operating outside of Iranian territory, assisting and arming proxies such as Hezbollah and orchestrating terrorist attacks. The Quds Force has been linked to the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people were killed and more than 300 were wounded.

The Quds Force spent years training Hezbollah’s fighters and building up its arsenal of rockets in south Lebanon, as well coordinating activities with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

Secular Azerbaijan’s ties to Israel and the US have stoked tensions with neighboring Iran, which protested alleged Israeli intelligence activity in the oil-rich former Soviet republic, the state-run Iranian Students News Agency reported recently.

Azerbaijan said last month it thwarted a terrorist plot against the Israeli ambassador in Baku by a group linked to Iran. Two men were suspected of plotting to attack the ambassador and a rabbi.

Azeri authorities said the two suspects had been helped by an Iranian linked to Iran’s intelligence services, who supplied them with guns and explosives.

On February 12, Iran’s Foreign Ministry accused Azerbaijan of aiding Israeli intelligence in the assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist blown up last month, according to the Fars news agency.

Terrorists in India and Georgia, which neighbors Azerbaijan, targeted Israeli diplomats last week, planning bombings of the embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi.

While Georgian sappers defused the bomb in Tbilisi, an Israeli diplomat’s wife and her Indian driver were wounded when a bomb attached to their vehicle exploded.

Israel blamed Iran for the attack.

Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report.

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