The U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan was on full alert Monday after security officials in the country said they thwarted an attack by Islamic radicals.
Azerbaijan’s National Security Ministry says it prevented the group of Islamic militants from carrying out a “large-scale horrifying attack against government structures and diplomatic missions,” including the U.S. Embassy in the capital city, Baku.
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of National Security (MNS), “several people” characterized as members of a “Wahabbi group” have been taken into custody. A first lieutenant in the Azerbaijani Army, identified as Kamran Asadov, was identified as a key participant in the conspiracy, according to MNS statement. Ministry spokesman Arif Babayev said that Asadov is suspected of having supplied the terrorists with arms, including four machine guns, a mortar and 20 hand grenades. Wahabbism is a puritanical form of Islam with roots in Saudi Arabia. In many former Soviet states the term “Wahabbi” is used as a synonym for Islamic militant.
A ministry spokesman says one suspect was killed and several others arrested during a sweep outside the capital Saturday. He said Azerbaijani officials believe weapons confiscated during the operation were stolen from the military.
The British Embassy in Baku closed down Monday while the U.S. Embassy reduced its operations because of the security threat.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the embassy will likely be closed again Tuesday, but that operations will return to normal in the near future.