Iran has planned more than 50 terrorist attacks globally against Jews in recent years, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday in Azerbaijan, where he is on a visit to strengthen an alliance against the Iranian threat.
“By order of the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei], in recent years, Iran has led an unprecedented global campaign of terror focused on Israelis and other Jews across the globe,” Gallant said. “There have been more than 50 attempts in recent years, the majority of which already got to the point of being ready to be carried out but were thwarted at the last minute.”
The plots were thwarted “by virtue of our defense establishment and by virtue of tight cooperation with many foreign countries and by virtue of the understanding that Iran constitutes a threat to the world,” he said.
Israeli efforts to thwart the ayatollahs’ global terrorism continued alongside its efforts to block an Iranian nuclear weapon and Tehran’s weapons smuggling to its proxies on Israel’s borders, he added.
Gallant made the comments not long after meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in the capital city of Baku on Thursday, which was in the shadow of a recent Iran-inspired attempted terrorist attack on Israel’s embassy there and with the Islamic Republic closer than ever to a nuclear weapon.
Iran's mutual threat to Azerbaijan and Israel
Azerbaijan has a uniquely important role regarding Tehran, not only because its media announced on Monday that its security services had thwarted an Iranian-inspired terrorist attack on the Israeli Embassy by an Afghan man, but also because the country borders Iran.
In the past, numerous global media reports have assessed that Israeli intelligence forces have used the porous Iran-Azerbaijan border for operations against the nuclear program and other targets.
Gallant and Aliyev had discussed regional developments and how they could jointly strengthen strategic ties to cope with common security challenges, Gallant said in a statement. In addition, they said they were committed to enhancing technological ties.
They had previously met at the Munich Security Conference five months ago.
Just prior to flying from Israel on Wednesday night, Gallant said: “The visit comes at a moment that is saturated with security challenges. I will present in a precise way before the Azeris the danger to the world of an Iranian nuclear weapon. I will enumerate to them the dangerous activities Iran is undertaking on Israel’s borders, is attempting within Israel, and is attempting throughout the Middle East.”
In addition to Aliyev, Gallant met with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Zakir Hasanov, the head of the country’s State Border Service, Elchin Guliyev, and other officials in Azerbaijan’s defense establishment.
After meeting with Hasanov, Gallant told him at a press conference: “I want to thank you, Minister Hasanov, for hosting this event at your Defense Ministry, which is very important and substantial for me. I want to thank you for your leadership and vision. The relations between our states are based on the positive history of the Jewish people and the Azeri people along with joint interests.”
Azerbaijan’s State Security Service on Monday said it had arrested Fawzan Mosa Khan, an Afghani citizen, on suspicion of conspiring with other individuals to conduct a terrorist attack on the embassy of a third country in Baku.
A video released by the State Security Service showed Khan discussing how he would monitor the target of the attack, as well as footage of him monitoring the location.
Khan was planning to use explosives and other weapons in an attack on the embassy, according to the State Security Service.
The State Security Service did not initially specify which country's embassy was being targeted, but indicated that the suspect was conducting surveillance around the Hyatt Regency hotel complex, where the Israeli Embassy is located, and later reports confirmed the Israeli target.
Additional later foreign reports suggested that the Mossad was involved in helping Azerbaijan thwart the terrorist plot. But Israel has been more careful about keeping a low profile regarding its spy agency’s alleged activities in Azerbaijan as opposed to assisting Europe or Turkey, and it made no comment.
Azerbaijan and Israel have close ties, including arms sales by Israel to Azerbaijan. Earlier this year, Azerbaijan opened an embassy in Tel Aviv.
The ties between the two countries have drawn the ire of Iran in recent years, with Azerbaijan claiming repeatedly over the past year that it has caught Iran-backed cells planning attacks in the country, including cells that were planning coups to establish a state under Sharia law in Azerbaijan.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.