Overview: Azerbaijan maintained its strong counterterrorism cooperation with the United States and actively opposed terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money, and material through the Caucasus. The country continued to strengthen its counterterrorism efforts, prosecuted numerous individuals under statutes related to terrorism, and confiscated sizeable quantities of illegal arms and munitions.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: Azerbaijan continued to use counterterrorism legislation, first adopted in 1999, that governs the investigation and prosecution of individuals who have committed or plan to commit terrorist acts. The Ministry of National Security is primarily responsible for combating terrorism, although the Ministry of Internal Affairs also plays a role as the country's primary law enforcement entity. Both ministries demonstrated the ability to detect and deter terrorist activities.
Officials from the Department of State's Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program met with Azerbaijani officials to discuss the country's security needs and capacity to respond to terrorism-related events – including infrastructure security capabilities – and began developing a plan to resume the training of Azerbaijani security forces. In late October, ATA delivered a Tactical Management of Special Events course to the Azerbaijani Presidential Protective Service unit.
Significant law enforcement actions included:
On September 20, a counterterrorism operation resulted in the confiscation of firearms sent from Iran to Azerbaijan.
On October 31, authorities detained an Iranian national near the Israeli embassy in Baku, suspected of planning to carry out a series of attacks against diplomatic centers. The individual was released after 30 days in detention and returned to Iran.
On November 23, the Ministry of National Security announced that it had arrested two Azerbaijani citizens suspected of planning to acquire firearms, ammunition, and explosives, as well as preparing terrorist acts aimed at killing a large number of people.
On November 25 and December 10, 39 individuals accused of plotting terrorist attacks during the 2012 Eurovision contest in Baku received prison sentences ranging from nine years to life.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Azerbaijan has increased its professionalism in anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) since 2009, when it adopted AML/CFT legislation. This legislation created a financial intelligence unit, the Financial Monitoring Service (FMS), and imposed the necessary obligations on financial institutions to conduct customer due diligence and to report suspicious transactions to the FMS. Institutions from outside the formal financial sector that conduct monetary operations, however, are often not required to report, which presents vulnerabilities.
In order to bring Azerbaijan's legislative framework into conformity with international standards, including those of the UN, the EU, and the FATF, Azerbaijan continued to implement Moneyval recommendations to address AML/CFT issues. The U.S. government, primarily USAID and Treasury, has been one of the FMS' leading partners since its formation, working with the Prosecutor General's Office and others to provide technical assistance and training to improve enforcement capabilities. For further information on money laundering and financial crimes, see the 2014 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR), Volume 2, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes: http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/index.htm.
Regional and International Cooperation: At the end of 2013, Azerbaijan concluded a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UNSecurity Council, supporting various terrorism-related UNSCRs. Azerbaijan remained an active member of the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other regional organizations. Additionally, Azerbaijan took part in working group meetings of Caspian Sea littoral states to coordinate law enforcement efforts aimed at combating terrorism as well as smuggling, narcotics trafficking, and organized crime.