Azerbaijan arrests 22 Iranian-trained hit men

A night view of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku. (

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Azeri security forces have arrested 22 persons who were trained and funded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to carry out attacks on Israeli, Jewish, and American in the Azerbaijan capital Baku, authorities announced Wednesday.

“Twenty-two citizens of Azerbaijan were arrested by the National Security Ministry for cooperating with [Iran],” the Azeri National Security Ministry said in a terse statement.

Arif Babayev, an official at the Ministry of National Security, told AFP that the suspects were provided by Iranian intelligence with explosives and arms for attacks on targets including the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Agency’s offices in Baku.

According to Babayev, one of the suspects, Niazi Krimov, was recruited by an Iranian Revolutionary Guards official during a visit to the Iranian city of Mashhad. Krimov allegedly recruited other Azeris willing to take part in attacks for money.

Babayev said the would-be attackers were then trained in Iranian military bases near Tehran and the city of Karaj. He added that they were given a considerable sum of US dollars to carry out the attacks.

Azeri intelligence officials said the terrorist recruits were flown to Iran through Moscow and Syria to avoid suspicion over their visits to the Islamic Republic.

Just a day before the arrests were announced, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiyev met with officials in Tehran on a goodwill visit, trying to smooth relations after Iran objected to Baku purchasing arms from Israel. He was quoted by Iran’s official ISNA news agency as declaring, “We will not allow Azerbaijan’s soil to be used against Iran under any conditions.”

In addition to its displeasure over the arms deal, Iran accused Azerbaijan of allowing Mossad agents to operate from Azeri territory in order to gather intelligence on the Islamic Republic.