Az. Defense minister: Azerbaijan committed to fighting terrorism

Defense minister: Azerbaijan committed to fighting terrorism

Associated Press Worldstream
November 25, 2004 Thursday 12:41 PM Eastern Time

BAKU, Azerbaijan — Azerbaijan is stepping up the fight against
terrorism by tracking down terrorist organizations and their sponsors,
the country’s defense minister said Thursday.

During the past six years, authorities have exposed six branches
of charity foundations believed to be financing terrorists, Defense
Minister Ramil Usubov said at a NATO Parliamentary Assembly seminar.

The organizations have been shut and 43 people associated with them
have been expelled from the country, Usubov added.

Meanwhile, in the last five years, authorities have detained 30 people
connected with the Islamic Jihad and the Islamic Army of the Caucasus
terrorist organizations, he said. Twenty members of rebel groups have
been tried in courts.

Usubov also said that Azerbaijan has detained and extradited to Russia
14 rebels believed to have organized various terrorist attacks.

He stressed that one of Azerbaijan’s main problems was illegal
migration, which fuels drugs and weapons trafficking, as well as
human trafficking and the smuggling of goods across borders.

The three-day seminar was supposed to have been attended by two
Armenian lawmakers, but they failed to show up at the last minute.

The Armenian deputies decided not to attend because their letter to the
heads of the Azerbaijani parliament and NATO Parliamentary Assembly
with a request to guarantee security of the Armenian deputies had
been left unanswered, said Mger Shakhgeldian, head of the Armenian
parliament’s commission for defense matters.

Previous visits to Baku by Armenian officials resulted in protests
staged by activists of Nagorno-Karabakh – an ethnic Armenian enclave
disputed by both countries.

Neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan is a NATO member, but both former
Soviet republics participate in NATO’s Partnership for Peace program.

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