National Security Ministry
"Individuals, acting in an organized group, who handled firearms and explosives in order to commit terrorist attacks against foreign nationals, have been arrested in Azerbaijan," state-run AzTV reported on Tuesday, quoting the Ministry of National Security.
The group was created by someone by the name of Hamid from Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps and Haji Abbas, a leader of the Moqavemat intelligence brigade of the armed wing of Lebanese group Hezbollah, AzTV continued, according to Trend news agency.
Responsibilities had been divided between members of the gang in order to carry out the terror attack, the TV said.
The report from the National Security Ministry did not say where the arrests had been made.
In the last few days, 20 people from the settlement of Nardaran on the Absheron Peninsula, some 30 km from Baku, have been arrested in a joint operation by the ministries of national security and internal affairs, according to a member of the Nardaran Council of Elders, Natig Karimov.
They have been charged with establishing an armed group, illegal possession of weapons, treason and drug trafficking, APA reported.
It is likely that the arrests are of one and the same alleged gang, but this has not yet been confirmed by the National Security Ministry.
One of the Nardaran detainees, Ramil Dadashov, a driver for Iran's Seher TV, is the nephew of Balagardash Dadashov, who is wanted by the National Security Ministry. In January the ministry named Dadashov as the leader of a gang which was planning to assassinate foreigners in Baku and said that he had been collaborating with the Iranian secret services on the plot, charges which seem very similar to those just announced.
Nardaran elder Natig Karimov said that most of the 20 people arrested are related. His brother Niyazi Karimov, chairman of of the public union For National and Moral Values, is one of the detainees. Mehdi Mammadov, Abulfaz Bunyadov, an author of religious articles, and Anar Bayramli, who says he is a reporter for Iran’s Fars news agency, are amongst the other detainees.
Natig Karimov said they did not accept the accusations against the detainees.
Lawyer Anar Gasimov, who represents Anar Bayramli, said that his client was in custody for two months of pre-trial detention and said he was innocent of the accusations against him.
Bayramli was detained by Binagadi District fourth police department. He was summoned to the department, where he was arrested for being in possession of drugs.
Nardaran is known as a strongly Shia village with sympathies for Iran.
All the arrests come at a time of mutual accusations of spying and assistance in terror attacks by Baku and Tehran.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said today that it had dismissed in a written note Iranian accusations that it helped Israeli secret services kill an Iranian nuclear scientist.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry had made the accusations in a note of protest to the Azerbaijani ambassador.
That note followed an earlier protest from Azerbaijan about links between Iran's security services and the gang led by Balagardash Dadashov which was plotting to kill foreigners in Baku.