Patterns of Global Terrorism 2002 - Azerbaijan

In 2002, Azerbaijan continued to be a staunch supporter of the United States in the war against terrorism. Since September 11, 2001, Azerbaijan has added to an already strong record of cooperation with the United States, rendering dozens of foreign citizens with suspected ties to terrorists. Azerbaijan's border guards have increased their patrols of the southern border with Iran, and the aviation department has increased security at Baku's Bina Airport as well as implemented recommendations of the international civil aviation organization on aviation security.

While Azerbaijan had previously been a route for international mujahidin with ties to terrorist organizations seeking to move men, money, and materiel throughout the Caucasus, Baku stepped up its interdiction efforts in 2002 and has had some success in suppressing these activities. Azerbaijan has taken steps to combat terrorist-related funding by distributing lists of suspected terrorist groups and individuals to local banks. In November, a platoon of Azerbaijani soldiers joined the Turkish peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan.

On 25 January, President Bush waived section 907 of the Freedom Support Act for 2002, thereby lifting restrictions on US assistance to the Government of Azerbaijan. The waiver cleared the way for the United States to deepen its cooperation with Azerbaijan in fighting terrorism and in impeding the movement of terrorists into the South Caucasus. The waiver also provided a foundation to deepen security cooperation with Azerbaijan on a common antiterrorist agenda.

Azerbaijan has also provided strong political support to the United States and to the global Coalition against terrorism. In May, President Aliyev instructed his government to implement UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1368, 1373, and 1377. The Government also approved changes to the criminal code that increased the maximum penalty for acts of terrorism from 15 years to life imprisonment and added a provision making the financing of terrorist activities a crime. In October, Baku hosted a US-sponsored seminar on money laundering and financial crimes, including terrorist financing. The United States is working with the Government of Azerbaijan to develop a plan to combat financial crimes.

In April, the Justice Ministry revoked the registrations of two Islamic charities – the Kuwait Fund for the Sick and the Qatar Humanitarian Organization – for activities against Azerbaijan's national interests. In November, Azerbaijan froze the bank accounts of locally registered Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) pursuant to UNSCR 1373. The Justice Ministry subsequently revoked BIF's registration.

In April, the Government sentenced six members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extremist political movement that wants to establish a borderless, theocratic caliphate throughout the entire Muslim world, to up to seven years in prison for attempted terrorist activities. In May, Azerbaijan convicted seven Azerbaijani citizens who had received military and other training in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge and who had intended to fight in Chechnya. Four received suspended sentences, and the others were sentenced to four to five years in prison. Members of Jayshullah, an indigenous terrorist group, who were arrested in 2000 and tried in 2001 for planning an attack against the US Embassy, remained in prison.

Azerbaijan is a party to eight of the 12 international conventions and protocols relating to terrorism.


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