U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Terrorism 2006 - Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan's counterterrorism cooperation with the United States included granting blanket overflight clearance, engaging in information sharing and law-enforcement cooperation, and approving numerous landings and refueling operations at its civilian airport in support of OEF. Azerbaijan has supported peacekeeping operations in Iraq since August 2003 with an infantry company of approximately 150 soldiers stationed at the Haditha dam. A platoon of Azerbaijani soldiers has been working with the Turkish peacekeeping contingent in Afghanistan since November 2002, and President Aliyev announced plans to double this number to between 40 and 44 soldiers.

Azerbaijan stepped up its efforts and had some success in reducing the presence and hampering the activities of international mujahedin with ties to terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material throughout the Caucasus. Azerbaijan took steps to combat terrorist financing and identify possible terrorist-related funding by distributing lists of suspected terrorist groups and individuals to local banks. In December, the inter-ministerial experts group responsible for drafting anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance legislation, provided its most recent draft to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Council of Europe (COE) for comment. The draft law included the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and would expand the predicate crimes for money laundering beyond narcotics trafficking.

In April, the Azerbaijani Serious Crimes court sentenced six men in a group called Al-Muvahhidun Jamaat to prison terms ranging from ten to fifteen years. The group was convicted of purchasing illegal weapons, armed robbery, illegal border crossing, fabricating documents and resisting arrest. According to the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security, the members of the group planned to travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey for military training. The group was accused of planning bomb attacks on the U.S., Israeli and Russian embassies, the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) building, and the National Bank of Azerbaijan; and "seeking the physical elimination of the leaders of Azerbaijan's government and security forces." (Members of the group were first arrested on July 13, 2005.)

Also in April, in a trial involving a group called al-Qaida Caucasus (separate from a group of the same name sentenced in 2005), 16 group members were sentenced to terms of up to life in prison. The group was convicted of the illegal purchase and bearing of firearms and for the July 2005 assassination of an officer of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs. The group consisted of citizens of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia and Yemen. Most of them were activists of various radical religious organizations that had undergone training at a camp in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.

Azerbaijan extradited to Russia a terrorism suspect accused of a bombing in Dagestan in 2002. The suspect was originally arrested in Azerbaijan and, in April, was sentenced by an Azerbaijani court to seven years in prison. He was subsequently extradited to Russia.

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