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Entries in Azerbaijan (1)

Thursday
Mar152012

Did Iranian Proxies Target US Embassy Abroad?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAKU, Azerbaijan) -- Nearly two dozen people are in custody in Azerbaijan for allegedly plotting terror attacks on U.S. and Israeli embassies in the Azeri capital of Baku on behalf of neighboring Iran, according to local and international reports.

Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry released a statement Wednesday saying it had arrested 22 of its citizens who were recruited by Iran's Revolutionary Guard to "commit terrorist acts against the U.S., Israeli and other Western states' embassies and the embassies' employees," according to Agence France Presse.

It was not immediately clear whether the suspects had been recently arrested or if the ministry was commenting on a previous round of arrests reported last month.  The Azeri National Security Ministry did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for clarification.

In addition to the purported embassy plots, "the Azerbaijanis began spying on diplomatic missions, companies and public organizations including the Jewish center Sohnut, a U.S. fast food restaurant, British oil company BP-Azerbaijan's office and other objects in Baku," the Ministry said in its statement, according to the AFP.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said on Wednesday that the State Department was working to get a fuller picture of the plot and those behind it.

"We are in the process of coordinating with our embassy in Baku," she told reporters.

During the arrests, officials found weapons and explosives, AFP reported.  A local news outlet, Contact, reported the weapons seized included sniper rifles and pistols, as well as grenades and grenade launchers.

Some of the suspects were recruited as early as 1999 and had trained in military camps in Iran, according to the Azeri statement obtained by AFP.

The arrest comes on the heels of other allegedly Iranian-backed plots against Israeli officials in Thailand, Georgia and India.  The Iranian government has denied any involvement in those incidents. 

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