Azeri Police Foil Iran Plot on Israeli, US Targets

Washington, Mar. 14 - Authorities in Azerbaijan arrested 22 people in the capital Baku yesterday who they said were working with Iran to bomb American and Israeli targets there. This follows other Iranian terrorist plots recently uncovered in India, Georgia, Thailand and Singapore.

“On orders of the Sepah they were to commit terrorist acts against the US, Israeli and other Western states' embassies and the embassies' employees,” the country’s national security ministry said, referring to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet Republic in the Caucuses.

The ministry said the Azeri plotters, who were found with large amounts of military and espionage equipment, were recruited from 1999 onwards. The statement said the suspects had received training at military camps in Iran to enable them to gather information on foreign embassies, organizations and companies in Azerbaijan and stage attacks.

The foiled plot in Iran’s northern neighbor marks the latest instance of Iranian-backed attempts around the world to attack Israeli targets in the last month.

Yesterday, Indian outlets reported that police in New Delhi have established that an Iranian spy was behind the February 13 car blast which injured the wife of an Israeli diplomat.

Tal Koren was entering a diplomatic vehicle near the Indian Prime Minister’s residence when a bomb thrown by a passing motorcyclist exploded, wounding her. Indian police, named as Syed Mohammad Kazmi, a freelance journalist, had been in contact with an Iranian intelligence officer and even visited Iran.

The same day, a bomb was discovered on a diplomat’s car in Tbilisi, Georgia, and a day before three Iranians accidently blew up their house in Thailand while preparing an attack.

Israeli authorities have said that the explosives in Bangkok were meant for an attack on Israeli diplomats, and all three cases are linked by many similarities and can be traced back to Iranian operatives.

Additionally, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had apparently been targeted for assassination during his trip to Southeast Asia in mid-February by Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists who were arrested beforehand by Singaporean authorities, a report in a Kuwaiti newspaper said.

The U.S. State Department has designated Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department since 1984. In its latest report, issued last April, the department said: “Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2010. Iran’s financial, material, and logistic support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy.”

Iran is under severe U.N. and international sanctions aimed at forcing the Islamic Republic to halt its nuclear weapons program. Iran is a major supplier of India’ oil, accounting for 12 percent of its energy needs.

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