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Cilicia ^

Posted on 07/05/2005 11:18:06 AM PDT by jb6

"Azerbaijan ... served as a logistic hub for international mujahidin with ties to terrorist groups, some of whom supported the Chechen insurgency in Russia"

(The US Department of State: Patterns of Global Terrorism 1999)

Based on the text by the Research & Information Office of the Armenian Assembly of America ( "Azerbaijan And Islamic Terrorism," September 2001.

Picture: Osama bin Laden, the

world's No. 1 terrorist suspect.

Azerbaijani authorities cooperated with Osama bin Laden by providing his terrorists — operating in Chechnya — logistical support, intelligence, and shelter. In turn, bin Laden promised the Baku authorities to aid Azerbaijan if it launches another ethnic-cleansing campaign against the Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh.

Picture: Map of Terrorist Installations in Azerbaijan.

Click on picture to enlarge.

The information below refers to the main stages of the development of Islamist terrorism in Azerbaijan in the past decade.

According to the Associated Press, the Congressional Research Services (CRS, 9/10/2001) issued a report noting that individuals and groups affiliated with the international terrorist Osama Bin Laden and his AI Qaeda organization used Azerbaijan as one of the bases in its elaborate terrorist network. Some reports suggest that various radical Islamist groups had operated in Azerbaijan even before its 1991 independence. However, the real increase in their presence took place after the 1993 military coup, when the government of Heydar Aliyev approved a large-scale deployment of mujahedin fighters from Afghanistan and other countries to join in the fighting against the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh .

Azerbaijan has used the Karabakh conflict, characterizing it as a religious war, to cultivate ties in the radical elements of the Islamic world. These ties, including overtures to violence-prone Jihad-oriented organizations, have been aimed at diplomatically isolating Armenia and raising financial and military assistance for a new military campaign against Nagorno Karabakh. Since 1998, in the wake of the U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the Azerbaijani government came under pressure from Washington to clamp down on radical Islamist groups that operated in Azerbaijan. However, as recent reports show, radical Islamist groups are entrenched in Azerbaijan deeply.

In the late 1980s - early 1990s, Azerbaijan experienced a wave of "Islamic Revival" that led the way to the creation of many indigenous Islamist groups espousing violent ideology and establishment of relations with similar organizations abroad. The most overt expressions of this sentiment by Azeris were made in 1990 and 1991, when the residents of districts bordering Iran destroyed most of the frontier installations to fraternize with the Iran-based Turkophone Muslims, just as several newly-established Azeri Islamist groups offered to provide volunteers to fight in the Gulf War on the side of Saddam Hussein. A member of AI Qaeda, Jamal Ahmed el-Fadl, arrested by the FBI for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings, claimed his organization became active in Azerbaijan as early as 1989 (Trans-Caspian Project 10/3/00, Ekho 9/1/01).

In the summer of 1993, Azerbaijan’s President Heydar Aliyev hired over 1,000 Islamist mercenaries in the war against Nagorno Karabakh Armenians. They were flown on civilian aircraft from Afghanistan to Azerbaijan. The mercenaries, including Arab veterans of the Afghan war (1979-89), took an active role in the Karabakh conflict (Moscow News 9/13/00). One of Bin Laden’s associate claimed that Bin Laden himself led mujahedin in at least two battles in Nagorno Karabakh. (Associated Press 11/14/99).

" ... The government of Azerbaijani dictator Heydar Aliyev is treading a thin line between international terrorists, whom it cultivated to fight its nationalist wars, and the international community, which can no longer ignore this reality ..."

Following the armistice that took hold in Nagorno Karabakh in May 1994, most of the mujahedin left Azerbaijan to fight in other hot spots, such as the North Caucasus and Balkans. Others, however, remained to establish what was soon described Yossef Bodansky, Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives, as "the new hub" for Islamist radicals that involved a network of training camps, mosques, charitable organizations and underground cells. Ibrahim Eidarous, later arrested in Europe by the FBI for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings, headed the Azerbaijani branch of AI Qaeda between 1995 and 1997. In 1997, radical Islamist groups with branches in Azerbaijan reportedly pledged their support for President Heydar Aliyev against Armenians, in exchange for a safe haven in Azerbaijan (Strategic Policy 10/99; Ekho 9/1/01).

In August 1998, the Azerbaijani branch of the "Islamic Jihad" organization, which by then had merged with Osama Bin Laden's AI Qaeda, reportedly coordinated the bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people and wounded nearly 4,600. The FBI was able to trace about 60 phone calls made from the satellite phone used by Bin Laden to his associates in Baku and from them to operatives in

East Africa. The U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan also feared an attack, but as a local radical claimed, they did not attack the Embassy so as "not to spoil their good relations in Azerbaijan" (Zerkalo 7/22/00; Bill of Indictment in U.S.A. vs. Bin Laden et. al. 4/01; Washington Post 5/3/01; Ekho 8/28/01).

Picture: Mr. Gulbuddin

Hekmatyar, Afghanistan's

notorious warlord.

From 1992-1994, Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense recruited up to 1500 Afghan mercenaries belonging to Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami quasi-terrorist organization. Says The Earl of Shannon of the House of Lords of the British Parliament: " ... Hence the theoretically overwhelming might of Azerbaijan; its large population; Turkish officers in uniform commanding troops; and Mujahideen, whom I interviewed through interpreters, being paid 500 dollars per month to come to fight for the Azeris. The infinitely smaller Karabakh population threw out that overwhelming might and drew a cordon sanitaire around its country to stop it being shelled over the border ..." (Testimony before the House of Lords, UK, 17 March 1999)

Following the 1998 embassy bombings, Azerbaijan came under increased U.S. pressure to curtail radical lslamist activity on its territory. However, Azerbaijan refused to hand over suspected terrorists to the U.S., so as not to "earn the ire of Islamist fundamentalists," extraditing them instead to their native countries. One of the extradited terrorism suspects, Ahmad Salam Mabrouk, who at the time headed the local branch of AI Qaeda, was detained while trying to acquire chemical and biological weapons in Azerbaijan. (Aviation Week & Space Technology 10/12/98; Agence France Presse 3/18/99; London's Sunday Times 7/18/99; Zerkalo 7/22/00; Ekho 8/29/01).

Azerbaijan, nevertheless, continues being an attractive destination for the international terrorist networks, particularly those based in Afghanistan. In late 2000, head of the UNHCR mission in Azerbaijan Didier Laye noted that most asylum-seekers that arrive in Azerbaijan come from Afghanistan. Azerbaijan is an odd destination for these arrivals, as Azerbaijan and Afghanistan have no direct borders, are not ethnically related. In the Azeri capital, mosques influenced by Islamist radicals attract a large following. That following reportedly includes even some senior members of President Aliyev's staff. Most recently, the local media speculated that should Bin Laden be forced to flee Afghanistan, he may appear in Azerbaijan. Over the years, Bin Laden's sympathizers have moved out of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, to establish camps in rural areas of the country, particularly in the remote mountainous areas in the largely Sunni Muslim north of the country (Strategic Policy 10/99; Turan 11/21100; Ekho 5/2/01).

Picture: Col. Alparslan Turkes of

Turkey, the late leader of "Grey

Wolves" international terrorist


Besides hosting radical Islamist groups, Azerbaijan cultivates neo-fascist organizations which preach the idea of racial supremacy of the Turkophone nations. One of them is the Turkey-headquartered "Grey Wolves" militia.

In 1991, Azerbaijan became the first and only post-Socialist country where a neo-fascist, Iskander "Furher" Hamidov, held a post in the government, as the Minister of the Interior. Hamidov's "Grey Wolves" gangs are responsible for many war crimes perpetrated in Nagorno Karabakh.

In the words of one Islamic scholar, Azerbaijan is part of the "Global Intifada" that also includes Palestine, the Balkans and Kashmir. As recently as a few weeks ago, sources in the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security, cited by local media, confirmed that radical organizations, such as Bin Laden's AI Qaeda, continued to be active in Azerbaijan. Two weeks ago, Egyptian citizen Mahmoud Yaballah was arrested for his connection to the U.S. Embassy bombings, while trying to enter Canada after flying in from Azerbaijan (Ekho 9/1/01).

Azerbaijan is an authoritarian state, where President and former KGB General Heydar Aliyev controls all spheres of life. The Aliyev government, which came to power by means of a military coup, has repeatedly banned political parties and media outlets, stolen elections and thrown thousands of its political opponents in jail. It is highly unlikely that groups such as Bin Laden's AI Qaeda could operate in Azerbaijan without at least some consent from President Aliyev. The Aliyev government is thus treading a thin line between international terrorists, whom it cultivated to fight its wars, and the international community, which can no longer ignore this reality.


In addition to reports in the above-noted and well-recognized sources, such as AFP, AP, Aviation Week & Space Technology, The Times and Washington Post, this issue brief is based on the following additional sources.

Ekho and Zerkalo are leading Russian-language daily newspapers in Azerbaijan which can be found at, and In August-September 2001, Ekho featured a series of articles on ties between Bin Laden and Azerbaijan written by its Deputy Editor Nair Aliyev.

Moscow News is a leading English-language liberal weekly newspaper published in Russia and can be found at In September 2000, it featured an article on connections between Chechnya, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan and the Islamist terrorist network, written by its Azerbaijan correspondent Sanobar Shermatova.

Strategic Policy (formerly Defense & Foreign Affairs) is a monthly international affairs report published in Alexandria, VA, and found at http://www.strateqicstudies.orq/dfa.htm. Its October 1999 issue featured an extensive article by Yossef Bodansky, Director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare.

TransCaspian Project is an online reporting and analytical service on Caspian regional affairs (found at http.// Its October 3, 2000, report featured an analysis by Alexey Malashenko of the Moscow office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Turan is the leading news agency in Azerbaijan and can be found at

TOPICS: Russia; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: alquada; armenia; azerbaijan; islam; quada; russia; terrorism; trop; wot

1 posted on 07/05/2005 11:18:08 AM PDT by jb6
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FSB/KGB propaganda.

2 posted on 07/05/2005 11:50:52 AM PDT by Wiz
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