On Tuesday, the Azerbaijani government announced that is caught a terrorist cell targeting Jewish and Israeli targets in the capital city of Baku.According to the Ministry of National Security, the cell consisted of 20 people from the same family living outside Baku. The cell linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force as well as Hezbollah. The cell was found to be hiding Iranian explosives inside radios and had at least one sniper rifle and several pistols that were likely smuggled in to the country in pieces. The ministry also reported that the family was to sell narcotics from Hezbollah in order to fund the attacks. A raid on the family residence also revealed Iran supplied dossier files filled with targets to be considered.
The report by the ministry identified the ringleader as Balagardash Dadashev who has a previous criminal record. Dadashev talked his brother-in-law and others into a plot to kill Jewish students at a local school in exchange for nearly $150,000. However, when the polot unraveled, Dadshev was found to be in Iran and out of reach.
The Quds force is known to act outside Iran and perpetrate attacks against anyone the Iranian government declares an enemy. They were linked previously to the massive 1984 attack in Buenos Aires as well as rockets shot from Lebanon into Israel. They are also known to be backers of Hezbollah and answer directly to Ayatollah Khamenei.
The latest plot is the second that has been unraveled by Azerbaijani security. The first was caught last month and was supposed to assassinate the Israeli ambassador to the country. Two men were arrested and admitted to plotting to kill the rabbi of the local Chabad as well as the ambassador.
Iran reacted to the report with scathing criticism, claiming that the country is host to Israeli intelligence agents and therefore is acting against Iranian targets. The Iranian Foreign Ministry also accused the country of being part of the assassination team that killed an Iranian scientist in Tehran in January. Azerbaijan has denied being part of any assassination plot nor having been host to Israeli intelligence operations. Israel has not issued any comments on the most recent plot.