By Jim Kouri
American and Israeli individuals and groups — including the American Jewish Committee — on Wednesday praised police and security forces from Azerbaijan for thwarting planned attacks on the Israeli and U.S. embassies in Baku, AJC officials stated.
The Azerbaijan National Security Ministry announced Wednesday the arrest of 22 Azeri citizens for cooperating with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Sepah) in plotting multiple terrorist attacks.
“While the plotters are suspected radical Islamists and believed to be proxy fighters for the Iranian regime, there’s no indication they are members of al-Qaeda or other established terrorist organizations,” according to security expert and former New York City police officer Benjamin Cardona.
It is the second time this year that terrorists connected to Iran were arrested for planning terror attacks in the country, according to American Jewish Committee officers, one of the groups praising the Azeri officials.
“We are thankful that Azerbaijan is fully aware of and alert to the threat that neighboring Iran poses to the region, and is determined to block attempts by Tehran and its proxies to carry out terrorism on the streets of Baku,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris.
“On orders of the [Iranian] Sepah, they were to commit terrorist acts against the U.S., Israeli and other Western states’ embassies and the embassies’ employees,” Azerbaijan ministry officials stated.
These 22 arrests come a month after Azerbaijan foiled an Iranian plot to kill two rabbis and the Israeli ambassador in Baku. That plot coincided with the Iranian-sponsored attempted attack on the Israeli embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, and car bombing of an Israeli diplomatic vehicle in New Delhi, India, according to a Law Enforcement Examiner source within the Israeli National Police.
An AJC leadership delegation has been in close touch with Azerbaijan officials and met with the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev, on several occasions in Baku and Davos, according to an AJC statement.
“At each meeting, AJC voiced appreciation for the country’s strong relations with Israel and the U.S., as well as for the vibrant Jewish life that has been a hallmark of the country,” AJC officials said.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday blamed Iran for the recent escalation of violence with Gaza, arguing that the Islamic republic is funding terrorists in the coastal strip and Israel will not tolerate terrorists backed by a nuclear Iran, according to Law Enforcement Examiner’s Israeli source.
Speaking in front of the Knesset parliament, Netanyahu also lashed out at those who supported Gaza’s disengagement in 2005, which prompted Iran’s grip on the area and the consequent violence.