CHALLAH @ Haaretz
Three men were detained last week after planning to attack two Israelis employed by a Jewish school in Baku, the Azerbaijan Ministry of National Security has revealed. Meanwhile, an Azeri commentator considered close to the republic’s president has launched a scathing indictment of Iran.
The Azeri ministry said it had arrested a cell that planned to “kill public activists,” before it became apparent that the intended victims were two Israeli Chabad emissaries, a rabbi and a teacher employed by the “Chabad Or Avner” Jewish school in Baku. The ministry said that the three men, named as Rasim Aliyev, Ali Huseynov and Balaqardash Dadashov, received smuggled arms and equipment from Iranian agents. The action was apparently planned as retaliation to the gunning down of Iranian nuclear scientists.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds more details on the connection to Iran
The MNS [Azerbaijan’s National Security Ministry] said Dadashov was in contact with Iranian special service bodies and ordered the assassination of prominent foreigners living in Baku. It claims that Dadashov promised Aliyev — his brother-in-law — $150,000 for his work.
“After Rasim Aliyev agreed to this proposal, Dadashov sent him photos of the people to be assassinated, the layout of their homes, and pictures of their cars,” the MNS said in a statement. “Dadashov paid Aliyev a total of $9,300 for preparatory work he had done.”
…The MNS said Dadashov had told his accomplices that he would discuss their plans with Iranian secret services.The arms were secretly brought from Iran to Azerbaijan and hidden along the 150th kilometer marker of the Baku-Astara highway.
Iranian officials have already denied a connection. Unsurprisingly, they are blaming Israel.
Iranian MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi has said that the recent claim that Iran had plotted to assassinate prominent foreigners in Baku is a conspiracy fueled by the Zionist regime.
…The senior lawmaker said the Zionist regime has an active presence in Azerbaijan and “I believe that the issue is a plot hatched by the Mossad and is a trap laid for the Azeri side in regard to the relations between Iran and Azerbaijan.”
Update (Tuesday): Ynet is reporting that one of the targets in the plot included Israel’s ambassador to Baku.