U.S. State Department: Azerbaijan actively opposed terrorist organizations

U.S. State Department: Azerbaijan actively opposed terrorist organizations

Azerbaijan, Baku, Aug.6 / Trend, A. Gasimova /

Azerbaijan actively opposed terrorist organizations, the U.S. State Department's report "Country reports on terrorism 2009" prepared by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism under the U.S. State Department said.

Europe and Eurasia Overview chapter says that European countries continued to enhance their abilities to combat the threat from terrorism by strengthening counterterrorism legislation, improving multilateral cooperation, and prosecuting and jailing terrorist suspects, said in the U.S. State Department's report.

The part of the report describing situation in Azerbaijan says: "Azerbaijan actively opposed terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material through the Caucasus. The country stepped up efforts and has had some success in reducing the presence of terrorist facilitators and hampering their activities.  At the end of 2009, Azerbaijan demonstrated an increasing level of seriousness and urgency in taking steps to combat terrorist financing, and is proceeding with efforts to implement its law on anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF) and to establish a Financial Investigative Unit (FIU).

Bank, which houses the FIU, prepared an action plan in October to bring Azerbaijan's AML/FIU into conformity with the standards of the United Nations, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and other international organizations and conventions, and submitted the plan to MONEYVAL, the FATF-Style Regional Body (FSRB) hosted by the Council of Europe. That institution, in turn, reviewed Azerbaijan's proposals in December and agreed to withdraw its advisory (on non-compliance) on Azerbaijan. The FIU has requested technical assistance from the U.S. government to improve the legal framework in the AML/CTF area, establish information systems, build capacity for AML/CTF stakeholders, and develop a mid-term strategy plan for the FIU."

Azerbaijan continued to identify possible terrorism-related funding by distributing lists of suspected terrorist groups and individuals to local banks," the report says.

"Azerbaijan has granted blanket overflight clearance, engaged in information sharing and law-enforcement cooperation, and has approved numerous landings and refueling operations at Baku's civilian airport in support of U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) military operations in Afghanistan. Azerbaijan maintained 90 soldiers in Afghanistan and cooperated with ISAF in medical and social services and civilian capacity-building," the report says.

In 2007, the Ministry of National Security (MNS) arrested 15 Azerbaijani citizens who were members of the "Mahdi Army Group," an extremist organization the government linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

On June 18, 2009, the Military Court of Grave Crimes sentenced Lieutenant Kamran Asadov and 20 accomplices to prison terms from two to 15 years for their participation in an abortive plot to attack the United States and British embassies in Baku in late 2007. Asadov and his co-conspirators stole weapons and ammunition from the army base where he was posted and committed an armed robbery at a Lukoil gas station.

On October 4, a Baku court sentenced two Lebanese nationals, Ali Muhammad Karaki and Ali Hussein Najmeddin, to 15 years each, and sentenced four Azerbaijani accomplices to terms of two to 14 years. The court found that the group was planning attacks on the Israeli Embassy. The investigation revealed that Karaki and Hussein were linked to Hizballah and others in Iran.

In two separate trials in October, the Court of Grave Crimes sentenced 15 Azerbaijani nationals to prison terms ranging from six months to 30 months for participating in illegally armed groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

On November 4, a Baku court sentenced 26 people - 23 Azerbaijanis, two Turkish nationals and a Russian national - to prison terms from two to 15 years for the August 17, 2008 attack on Baku's main Sunni mosque, known as Abu Bakr. The grenade attack killed three people and wounded eight others. The mosque has not reopened since the attack. The Azerbaijani government linked the Abu Bakr Mosque attackers to the "Forest Brothers" organization of the North Caucasus, whose leader Ilgar Mollachiyev was killed in Dagestan in September 2008.

U.S. legislation requires the Secretary of State annually to submit a complete report on terrorism to the Congress regarding to those countries and groups that meet the criteria formed in the legislation.

This annual report is called "Country Reports on Terrorism" and, since 2004, replaced the previous report - "Patterns of Global Terrorism."

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