Azerbaijan 'arrested 40 and seized assault rifles and grenades as it thwarted planned terror attacks on Eurovision' -- Security forces claim song contest venue and major hotels were targets -- Apparently most extravagant alleged attack to date -- Other plots included assassination attempt on President Ilham Aliyev, according to officials (Daily Mail):
Security services in Azerbaijan say they arrested 40 suspects and seized weapons as they thwarted a series of planned terror attacks against the Eurovision Song Contest.
Officials said they had discovered 13 assault rifles, a machine gun, 12 handguns, three rifles, 3,400 rounds of bullets, 62 hand grenades, and several kilograms of explosives.
Targets included the song contest venue and major hotels housing foreigners, including the Marriott and Hilton in Baku, the National Security Ministry said.
High risk: The song contest venue of Baku Crystal Hall was allegedly a major target along with hotels housing visiting foreigners. Pictured, Loreen of Sweden performs her winning song Euphoria
Azerbaijan has in recent months reported being the target of terrorist activities planned by groups with ties to al-Qaeda and Iran, and this appears to be most extravagant alleged plot revealed to date.
An oil-rich nation of 9million people wedged between Russia and Iran, Azerbaijan has nurtured close relations with the US and played an active role in Western-led counter-terrorist programmes. Read the rest
"The aim of the Muslim terrorists is to tear the Caucasus away from Russia," Dagestan's President Magomedov has said in the past. "They want to turn the whole region into an Islamic state based on sharia [Islamic] law but we will defeat them.”
Magomedsalam Magomedov, President of Dagestan: "Many of them are mercenaries who've undergone instruction in Taliban training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "They have links to al-Qaeda and to other terrorist groups across the Caucasus which share the same goal. "They want to turn the whole region into an Islamic state based on sharia [Islamic] law but we will defeat them." (BBC 11/2010)
A MASSIVE terror attack on this year’s Eurovision Song Contest was thwarted, Azerbaijan revealed today. SUN TV
Security services in the oil-rich nation seized guns and large amounts of explosives and arrested dozens of plotters in the lead-up to the famous event.
They said the gang had planned to blow up cars packed with explosives outside the multi-million pound Crystal Hall venue in the city of Baku - built especially for the event.
They had also bought tickets for the event and had planned to commit terror attacks inside the hall when the internationally renowned event was taking place.The terror plotters were said to have been from the neighbouring Russian republic of Dagestan.Arrests ... Azerbaijani security forces in city of Baku
The country's National Security Ministry said: "“The main goal of the group was to stage terrorist acts in Baku during Eurovision.”
They continued: “As a result of the measures taken, 40 members of the group were arrested."
The Ministry also said the group was planning attacks on the concert hall where Eurovision was held, on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, police buildings, hotels used by foreigners, mosques and other religious sites in the ex-Soviet state.They also intended to target the luxury Hilton and Marriott hotels in Baku according to the statement.Target ... security officer guards an area around Crystal Hall
Security services detained the alleged gang during operations in the cities of Baku, Ganja and Sumgayit as well as several other regions of the country, the ministry said without giving dates.
It said: “The National Security Ministry opted not to disseminate information about neutralising the group during Eurovision in order not to provoke panic among citizens and foreign guests.”
Some of the alleged plotters put up armed resistance and two suspects were killed, both of them Azerbaijani citizens, the statement said.
The plot was said to have been hatched during a meeting between three of the suspects and what the statement described as “Dagestani emirs” across the border in the neighbouring Russian republic of Dagestan in February 2011.