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.
"The Azeri security forces acted covertly without alerting us," said Rabbi Shneor Segal, one of the two targets. "It was published that they originally planned to attack 'people who look Jewish and hold foreign passports,' near the school, but when the school guards began suspecting them, they started monitoring the area where I live," he told Haaretz.
Segal added that the second target was Rabbi Mati Lewis.
Irani-Azeri relations, which were never rosy, recently deteriorated even further after Azeri Communication Minister Ali Abbasov accused Iran of carrying out a cyber attack against several offices in the country accused of "cooperation with Israel."
Wafa Guluzade, a political commentator considered close to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, warned Iran that "planning the murder of prominent foreign citizens in Azerbaijan by a band of terrorists, one of whom [Dadashov] resides in Iran, amounts to 'hostile activity' against our country."
Guluzade said that Iran would "break all its teeth trying break us ... no Iranian provocation will influence the sociopolitical situation in Azerbaijan. Iran and its primitive ayatollahs sense their end is near and are trying to terrorize their neighbors. If they persists they will be answered by us, and by our Western allies."
Azerbaijan has accused Iran of supporting Armenia in the conflict surrounding the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Last November an Iranian parliament member accused Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan of being "local Mossad bases."