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'Terror cell eyed Israeli targets in Azerbaijan'
ByGIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
January 25, 2012 00:38
Varying reports surface about Iranian-backed plots against Jewish school, Israeli envoy in Eurasian nation.
Azneft Square, Baku

311_ Baku. (photo credit:Ben Hartman)

Conflicting reports emerged on Tuesday night about an alleged Iranian plot against Israeli and Jewish targets in Azerbaijan.

Local media said an Iranian-backed terror cell had planned to kill Jewish teachers at the Or Avner Jewish school just outside the capital Baku.



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Other reports in the media claimed a group consisting of three people were offered $150,000 by Iran to assassinate Israel's Ambassador to Azerbaijan Michael Lotem.

Two of the suspects were said to be in held in custody.

But a spokesman for the Or Avner network of Jewish schools on Tuesday night denied any knowledge of a planned attack.

"The Jews of Baku and the administrators of the school have no information on what was reported in Azeri media last Thursday," said the spokesman. "The community's routine has not changed."

The Israeli foreign ministry could not be reached early Wednesday morning for a response.

Azerbaijan is an oil-rich country with a Muslim shia-majority that has had good diplomatic ties with Israel since 1992. In 2008 a terror cell was arrested in Azerbaijan. Security forces said they planned to bomb the Israeli embassy in the country to avenge the death of Imad Mughniyeh, the group's shadowy senior member. Hezbollah says the bomb which killed Mughniyeh in Damascus was planted by Israel.

The Or Avner school in Baku that was the target of the said attack this week was completed in 2010 at a cost of $10 million donated by Israeli businessman Lev Leviev and other philanthropists. It has about 400 students and also includes a Jewish community center and a sports facility, which will cater to the country’s estimated 12,000 Jews.

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