Azerbaijan arrests 22 in alleged Iran spy plot

Azerbaijan arrests 22 in alleged Iran spy plot

Azerbaijan arrests 22 in alleged Iran spy plot

Experts investigate the scene after an explosion tore through a car belonging to the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi in this photo. Israel blamed Iran for the incident. AP photo

Azerbaijan has arrested 22 people on suspicion of plotting attacks on the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Baku on behalf of neighboring Iran. Israel also warned its citizens not to travel to Turkey on March 13, saying there was an imminent danger of attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets there after reports indicating the Iranian threat.

“Twenty-two citizens of Azerbaijan have been arrested by the national security ministry for cooperating with the Iranian Sepah,” the national security ministry said in a statement, referring to the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

“On orders of the Sepah they were planning to commit terrorist acts against the U.S., Israeli and other Western states’ embassies and the embassies’ employees,” it said, Agence France-Presse reported.

The ministry said the suspects had been recruited from 1999 onwards and trained in the use of weapons and spy techniques at military camps in Iran to enable them to gather information on foreign embassies, organizations and companies in Azerbaijan and stage attacks.

Warning for Turkey
Meanwhile, fears about a potential attack in Turkey have prompted Israel to warn its citizens not to travel there. “Terrorist agents intend to carry out attacks against Israel and Jewish targets in Turkey in the coming days. We therefore recommend avoiding visits to Turkey,” said a statement from the anti-terrorist office. The warning came after Israel’s main intelligence service warned Ankara that the diplomatic missions of Israel in Turkey could face “bomb attacks,” according to a story aired last week on the NTV news channel.

A letter was sent from Mossad to the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) claiming the “Iranian Revolutionary Guards-Quds Force” was preparing to attack Israeli targets on Turkish soil. Contacted by the Hürriyet Daily News, MİT sources neither confirmed nor denied the story.

The last such warning came in 2010, after tensions between the two countries spiked following an incident in which nine Turks were killed when Israeli commandos stormed an aid ship seeking to break the blockade on Gaza. Last month, three bomb incidents targeted Israeli diplomats in India, Thailand and Georgia. Israel blamed Iran, which denied any involvement.