Piece by piece, the tools for an alleged Iranian-directed murder team were smuggled into Azerbaijan on the Caspian Sea. A sniper rifle with silencer. Pistols. Sixteen pieces of plastic explosives and detonators.
Finally came a dossier with photos, names and exacting details – down to workplace drawings – for Israeli targets in the capital of Azerbaijan.
Each step, according to authorities in Baku, was overseen by Iran’s intelligence services for what could have been a stunning attack weeks before the suspected shadow war between Jerusalem and Tehran flared in Azerbaijan’s neighbour Georgia and the megacities New Delhi and Bangkok.
The shadow war is picking up as concerns are growing over Iran’s alleged weapons experiments. Iran denies charges by the West that it seeks atomic weapons, insisting its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes only, such as power generation.
The alleged plot, which unravelled in January, was recounted through interviews and police records. It has been largely overshadowed by this month’s arrests and attacks in Thailand, India and Georgia that suggest Iranian payback after the slayings of at least five Iranian scientists in the past two years – all with some links to Tehran’s nuclear program.
The Baku allegations bring a different scenario: local mercenaries suspected of being recruited by a well-known gangster with alleged ties to Iranian secret services.