Azerbaijan Says It Uncovered Terrorists With Iran, Lebanon Ties

Azerbaijan’s Ministry of National Security said it uncovered a terrorist group with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, or Sepah, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, state television channel AzTV reported.

The authorities have detained an unspecified number of the group’s members, who’d acquired weapons and explosives and were planning attacks against the Israeli embassy and a Jewish cultural center in Baku, the Caspian Sea nation’s capital, AzTV said today. They had also collected intelligence for Sepah, it added. The U.S. deems Sepah and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations.

Azerbaijan’s ties to Israel and the U.S. have stoked tensions with Iran, which protested alleged Israeli intelligence activity in the oil-rich former Soviet republic, the state-run Iranian Students News Agency reported Feb. 13. Azerbaijan said last month it thwarted a terrorist plot against the Israeli ambassador in Baku by a group linked to Iran.

The outlawed Islamic Party of Azerbaijan, which authorities say has links to Iran, said in a statement yesterday that nearly 20 of its members had been arrested in the last few days. Azeri police also detained a journalist who was working for Iranian state television and the Fars news agency after he was found in possession of drugs, according to an Interior Ministry statement yesterday.