U.S. embassy terror plot uncovered

From: http://edition.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/10/29/azerbaijan.embassy/index.html

Oct 29, 2007

Authorities in Azerbaijan recently uncovered a radical Islamic terror plot against the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Baku, prompting the facility to close its doors to the public Monday, Azerbaijan and U.S. officials told CNN.

As a precaution, Britain also shut its embassy in Baku to the public on Monday "following security concerns nearby," Britain's Foreign Office said.

The terror plot was unraveled after a weekend raid outside Baku that netted several suspected members of the radical group, two U.S. officials who asked not to be identified and a spokesman for Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry told CNN.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack stressed that the details "are still unfolding," and the threat "may or may not be" linked to the Saturday raid.

"There were some specific and credible threat information concerning the embassy and plans by militants to in some way do harm to individuals in and around the U.S. Embassy there," McCormack said, noting that no specific individuals were targeted.

Several days ago, an Azerbaijani army officer who had connections to a radical Islamic group seized four assault rifles, a machine gun and 20 hand grenades from his military unit and hid them in the outskirts of Baku, the ministry spokesman and U.S. officials said.

Government security forces tracked down the group and arrested several members during a sweep on Saturday in the village of Mastaga, about 20 miles (32 km) northeast of Baku, the spokesman said.

One suspected member of the militant group resisted arrest and was killed in the sweep, the spokesman said. Several others are still at large, he added.

He said the terror plot also targeted Azerbaijani government buildings.

The U.S. Embassy in Baku issued a warden message warning Americans in Azerbaijan to take precautions.

"While there is no information at this time that other American or Western interests in Azerbaijan are being targeted, the U.S. Embassy encourages Americans to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to bolster their own personal security," it said.

Azerbaijan is a former Soviet republic that borders the Caspian Sea, and lies just north of Iran.

McCormack said U.S. authorities are working closely with their counterparts in Baku and will determine when normal embassy operations will resume. He said he expects the embassy to limit its operations on Tuesday, as well