BAKU: Azeris Linked To Taliban Militants On Trial


AzerNews Weekly
July 22 2009

The trial of 13 Azeri citizens charged with involvement in Taliban
armed units started in Baku on Thursday.

The defendants are accused of creating armed units in violation of the
country`s legislation, supplying them with weaponry and ammunition,
illegally acquiring firearms and explosives, and trespassing on the
country`s borders.

The indictment says that, having undergone military training at
Taliban camps in Pakistan, these persons intended to fight Azeri and
other coalition forces in Afghanistan.

According to investigation materials, all 13 are religious
radicals. Most of the defendants have pleaded partly guilty, while
several others pleaded not guilty.

Araz Kengerli, one of the persons on trial, said in his testimony
that he was heading to Afghanistan "to protect his Muslim brethren
from infidels."

"Having watched video-clips on the Internet whereby American soldiers
ruthlessly obliterate helpless women and children in Afghanistan,
I decided to come to their defense," Kengerli said.

According to Kengerli, the Prophet Muhammad is often insulted in the
U.S. and most European countries. "The leaders of these countries
are turning a blind eye to this. Therefore, I decided to fight their

Kengerli went on to say that, first, he had crossed the Iranian border
into Pakistan with the help of a guide. Having reached Pakistan`s
Veziristan province, he entered Afghan territory and joined the Taliban
liberation movement there. Afterwards, Kengerli bought a sub-machine
gun with his own money and launched a "struggle against the infidels",
he said.

Another defendant, Telman Isayev, said he had gone to Afghanistan to
carry out a holy Jihad. He was aided by a guide named Abdullah. He
acquired a weapon there, but was never involved in fighting.

"On my way back, I gave my sub-machine gun to the Afghans," Isayev

He noted that carrying firearms is not against the law in Afghanistan
and a weapon can be easily acquired in local markets and stores.

Tural Soltanov said he had undergone 10-day exercises in a Taliban
camp. The conditions there were not the way he had expected, and he
even contracted malaria. He then returned to Azerbaijan.

Seymur Ahadov spent more time in Pakistan due to a leg injury he had
received while in a mosque as a result of a bomb explosion. Ahadov
was subsequently treated in a hospital in Peshawar for four months.

The defendants testified that they had learned from religious scholars
that carrying out Jihad was not a crime and, therefore, sought to
fight coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The defense argued that the defendants were unaware that their
actions amounted to a crime. Lawyer Arzu Aliyeva shared her opinion
on the case.

"According to our legislation, what they did is a crime. But, according
to their religious views, this is not considered a crime, and they are
admitting this themselves. They did not realize that an offense was
being committed. They believed that, as Muslims, they could go there
[Afghanistan] and set up units for the purpose of defending Muslims,
and they don`t see this as a crime. So, they went ahead and joined
the Taliban."