Azerbaijani Security Ministry Detains 13 People Spying for Armenia: Deputy Minister
Azerbaijan, Baku, 25 June / Trend / Trend interview with Deputy Minister of National Security of Azerbaijan Republic, Major General Ali Shafiyev.
The 21st century was characterized with changeability of the worldwide geo-strategic areals, acceleration of integration processes, as well as appearance of new international security challenges. Manifestations such as armed separatism, terrorism, religious and political extremism, illegal turnover of drugs, radioactive substances and arms, human trafficking are dangerous for Azerbaijan, as well. However, today there are all premises and conditions in Azerbaijan, which confidently moves through the way of establishing legal democratic State where steadfast public and political stability has been created, to protect national interests and take effective measures to combat above-mentioned threats. The public displays a permanent interest in the special service organizations of Azerbaijan, which play a specific role in ensuring national security in a reliable manner. With this respect, we appealed Deputy Minister of National Security of Azerbaijan Republic, Major General Ali Shafiyev, to get detailed responses to some questions.
Question: Today, Azerbaijan is one of the rapidly developing countries due to its economic indicators. It is not secret that certain forces, including international terrorist network, try to use Azerbaijan's openness for political and economic and cultural relations. Could you speak about activities of the security organizations in combating terrorism while it has become into a global problem...
Answer: Your question is very interesting and covers a wide spectrum. I begin, answering the first part of it. The undeniable fact is that today Azerbaijan is amongst the countries demonstrating high growth pace due to political-legal and socio-economic reforms. Under leadership of Ilham Aliyev, worthy continuer of the policy of the Nationwide Leader Heydar Aliyev, our country became a leading country in the region and is in process of rapid economic development improving welfare of population.
Every year of Ilham Aliyev's presidency in Azerbaijan is characterized with considerable achievements. This period was also remembered with rapid integration into the world community, realization of reforms, regional and international projects, high economic progress and Azerbaijan's becoming a country with an influential opinion worldwide. I should note with proud that the National Security Ministry plays considerable role in the consolidation of statehood and defense of national interests of the nation, as the head of state has numerously stated in his speeches.
As to the second part of your question, it not secret that Azerbaijan is a very attractive country with its rich history, cultural and spiritual and material wealth, natural resources and geostrategic position. The attitude towards a country rich in every respect is always different. This is an axiom. There are countries, which are eager to see Azerbaijan as a reliable partner, political and economic ally in their bilateral cooperation with our country and they are in majority. However, forces which cannot reconcile with Azerbaijan's successes, cannot admit them and attempt to impede the country's progress, are also not less in number.
All these factors, including the possible threats, are constantly studied and analyzed, adequate decisions are taken for dynamic development of the national security system of the country, a range of preventive measures are carried out for more reliable protection of Azerbaijan's interests. In its turn, it requires battle readiness, vigilance and professionalism from the security organizations.
Our key task is to offer facilities for successful implementation of internal and foreign policy of the country. Virtually, there is not any sphere in our life, where national interests do not exist. Within the framework of its authorities and jointly with relevant state bodies, the National Security Ministry carries out work to defend national interests in economic, public and political, social, cultural, ecological and other spheres. In many spheres we play a leading role, but in some other fields we take a close part. The Ministry regularly informs the public about results of its activities.
It is possible to state confidently that national security strategy of modern Azerbaijan contributes in ensuring international stability and security. Our country's contribution in maintenance of stability and security in the hottest point of the planet within the anti-terror coalition, shoulder-by-shoulder with the world leading countries, is a bright example for it.
Last year, the national security agencies, which play an important role in recognition of Azerbaijan as one of the most active members of the anti-terror coalition, obtained considerable results. As a result of measures being taken, there were detained three radical armed extremist groups, connected with the international terrorist organizations Al-Qaeda and Al-Jihad, which showed signs of crimes such as high treason, efforts of forcible seizure of power and other law breakings in their activities. Some 40 people, who were part of these groups, were arrested and one terrorist putting up resistance was annihilated. Of them, 16 people are members of the armed group calling themselves as 'Forestry brothers', which is responsible for several armed attacks on the territory of Russia. Furthermore, 9 members of the religious extremist groups committing armed attacks in Baku, using arms and ammunitions being stolen from military unit N of the Defense Ministry, and planning acts of terrorism against the embassies of the United States and other western countries were detained and made criminally responsible.
As a result of operative search measures being taken by the Ministry of National Security to reveal intelligence-demolition and subversive-terrorist activities against national interests of Azerbaijan, it was possible to divest and detain 15 people, who established a criminal union entitled 'Northern army of Imam Mehti - NIMA' to forcibly change the constitutional establishment and committed a number of heinous crimes and high treason by assisting other States in carrying out hostile activities against the Azerbaijan Republic. Facts were revealed on co-operation of several members of this organization with the special services of the Islamic Republic of Iran on the basis of material reward and military exercises in the training camps. And finally, one of the key goals of this organization was to impede Azerbaijan's integration to the West and to create a regime of governance in Azerbaijan on the basis of Shariah regulations.
Furthermore, last year the Ministry neutralized twenty people involved in intelligence and blasting activities against Azerbaijan, and thirteen of them were engaged in espionage in favor of Armenia, which occupied the territory of our country.
Generally, operative activities of the National Security Ministry in the above mentioned directions has never stopped and the new achievements have been made in preventing intelligence activities of the foreign special service organizations, as well as neutralizing people related to international terrorist infrastructure. Unfortunately, relevant information will be publicized a bit later as the operative investigation measures on these facts are still underway.
Azerbaijan is our Motherland. Work for ensuring security of our Motherland is a sacred service and we urge the Azerbaijani society to regard seriously this issue, assist the national security organizations in fighting against such manifestations and demonstrate real civil position.
IT WAS POSSIBLE TO NEUTRALIZE ESPECIALLY DANGEROUS TERROR GROUPS, SUCH AS 'MUNIRA GROUP', AL-QAEDA CAUCASUS', 'JAMAAT-AL-MUVAHHIDUN'
Question: Some recent media reports urge on the aggravation of the religious situation in Azerbaijan and tendencies of strong politicization of the religious factor. How do you view the situation in the country in this sphere?
Answer: The Azerbaijani people and society have always differed for their patience and tolerance. Fortunately, there is no ground for conflict between religious or other kinds of trends in Azerbaijan and we can be proud of this fact. At present general stability reigns in Azerbaijan and building of democratic state and economic reforms yield results. Azerbaijan is a leader in the region. As I mentioned at the beginning, the various interests towards our country are growing more and more alongside with country's development.
The latest developments on the international scene leave traces in our society as well. For instance, there are various manifestations of the international organized crime and some foreign extremist groupings take attempts to pressure for changing the secular and democratic government of our country and even to prevent Azerbaijan from becoming part of the international anti-terrorism coalition. Some of these attempts obviously make use of the religious factor. Undoubtedly, the respective agencies of Azerbaijan take a set of adequate, consistent and effective measures to combat these threats. Unfortunately, I should mention that we witness attempts of some forces instigated by certain foreign circles to aggravate religious situation and achieve their goals. However, any critical situation originated from the religious sources is out the question.
I think it is not expedient to go into the details of what measures are carried out by the Ministry of National Security to secure the efficient security of our country. However, at the same time I want to mention that we have informed the people in detail about the detention of especially dangerous terrorist groupings such as Group of Munir, Al Qaeda Caucasus and Jammat al-Muvahhidun which tried to use the religious factor to achieve their criminal aims.
Furthermore, the Ministry of National Security is carrying out preventive measures to reverse radicalism processes. For instance, conversations with local people, particularly with the young who are subject to a certain religious radicalization, helping them from being misled, legal education and other measures are priorities of our activities with this regard and I would say, these measures yield very good results. The analysis of the situation in this sphere enables us to conclude that the majority of those who are subject to the religious radicalization are caught in a net of fanaticism because of the lack of knowledge of the core and content of religion, ignorance and lack of education. People without knowledge in this sphere are easily influenced and they become followers of alien religious trends.
As to taking administrative and legal measures, I state once again that we consider them extreme measures. As a conclusion I would say that not only National Security Ministry, but also other responsible agencies including educational, public and youth organizations should deal with this issue. Generally, relevant work is currently realized.
OCCUPIED LANDS OF AZERBAIJAN ARE USED FOR DRUGS TRAFICKING TO EUROPE VIA THE ROUTES OF 'IRAN-AZERBAIJAN-RUSSIA' AND 'ARMENIA-GEORGIA'
Question: The National Security Ministry realizes successful actions against drugs trafficking. Territories of what countries are more frequently used for drugs trafficking from Azerbaijan?
Answer: The drugs trafficking is one of major forms of transnational organized crimes, threatening the future of mankind. Use of income from drugs business, which is supposed to be one of the most profitable types of crime, for financing other transnational crimes and terrorism actually increases the level of its dangerousness. Over the past period serious achievements have been made in combating transnational organized crime, including drugs trafficking.
With respect to combating drugs trafficking we carry out goal-directed work to detect cases of transportation and withdrawal of this 'white death' of Afghan origin, in the routes of 'Iran-Azerbaijan', 'Occupied Nagorno-Karabakh-Iran-Azerbaijan', 'Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia-Japan', 'Iran-Azerbaijan-Georgia-Europe' which are very often used transnational organized criminal group
I also want to inform you about certain data on the measures being held with regards to drugs trafficking. Damage which criminal groups and persons may inflict to gene pool of Azerbaijan ought to concern all of us. Generally, over the past three years (2005-2008), the employees of the National Security Ministry revealed and withdrew more than 1.1 tons of various kinds of drugs (heroin, hashish, opium), which were to be transited via the territory of Azerbaijan. During this period, 70 criminal cases were filed and 240 people, including 25 foreign citizens were instituted to investigation.
Last year the National Security Ministry had a brightest achievement in fighting drugs trafficking, when it succeeded to detect and withdraw 142kg of high quality heroin from illegal turnover.
For the first time in their history, the law-enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan detained such volume of heroin, and the matter is that the destination of these drugs was one of the countries of Western Europe. I would like to mention one more new fact on this theme. As a result of measures taken over the past few days, more than 40kg of heroin was withdrawn and several people were detained. Currently operative-search measures on the case are underway and additional commentary will be provided later.
The analysis shows that Azerbaijan still remains a transit country in the list of narco-syndicates' routes. This is short and profitable route. At the same time, I would like to stress that such attempts are prevented more decisively year by year. I think, not only the law-enforcement agencies, but all citizens should take a direct part in preventing drugs-related threats to our society and state.
Question: What can you say about the threats posed by the drugs trafficking in the Azerbaijani territory which was de-facto occupied by Armenia and out of control of the international institutes?
Answer: In fact, it is not only Azerbaijan who faces these threats. The occupation of the Azerbaijani territory by Armenia and misuse of these lands for the purposes of the organized crime pose threat not only for the security of our country, but also for Europe in whole. The governmental agencies of Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated that there is a need to intensify the efforts of the international community to combat planting, production and transportation of drugs in the Armenian-occupied territory of Azerbaijan - Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent regions, the 'grey zone' which is out of the national and international control. The criminal cases investigated earlier revealed the facts of use of the Armenian-occupied Azerbaijani lands for criminal purposes. This territory is used not only for transit, but also for the production of drugs which are later transported to Europe through Iran-Azerbaijan-Russia and Armenia-Georgia routes. For instance, the National Security Ministry neutralized a transnational organized criminal grouping in drugs smuggling from Iran to Azerbaijan, withdrawing some 4kg of heroine produced in the laboratories located in this territory. The Iranian citizen who was one of the members of this criminal grouping confirmed the above-mentioned facts. He said that drugs are produced in the special laboratories in the Armenian occupied Azerbaijani territory and they are transported to Europe through the neighboring countries.
Question: Could you please mention, unless it is secret, the questions which you regard as priority in the activities of the National Security Ministry in the sphere of international cooperation?
Answer: Quite interesting question. Today the world has become so global that the national security is admitted not a separate element, but a major constituent of regional and international security. Now no country irrespective whether it is developed or developing, small or big, cannot flatly state on its ability to ensure its security by itself. At present the security of any country depends on allied relations with partner countries. The National Security Ministry, giving a priority to maximal use of opportunities of the international cooperation to ensure national interests, tries to expand real and rational use of cooperation with the relevant organizations of partner countries. On the other hand, the similarity and identity of danger in their turn increase the importance of cooperation between the Ministry of National Security and special service organizations of other countries. With this respect, the Ministry efficiently cooperates with the security institutes and special service organizations of more than 50 partner countries, as well as international organizations in combating terrorism and different manifestations of transnational crime.
The cooperation is not restricted to technical assistance, training, exchange of experience, but also contributes in the establishment of favorable conditions for the country's policy on the solution of strategic tasks, including the security issues, consolidation of our positions using the opportunities of international juridical acts and exchange of information.
Question: Thank you for interview ....
Answer: I am also grateful to your team for an opportunity of communicating readers.