Three Azerbaijani citizens who were arrested by security forces last week planned to attack Jewish targets, including Israeli ambassador to Baku Michael Lotem, a local media outlet reported Tuesday.
Israeli sources also speculated that the terror cell members plotted to attack the embassy in Baku and the ambassador.
The report was published less than three weeks before the anniversary of the assassination of senior Hezbollah
commander Imad Mughniyeh.
The men are suspected of plotting to kill a rabbi and a teacher at the Ohr Avner Chabad Jewish Day School in Baku as revenge for the recent killing
of a nuclear scientist in Tehran. The Iranian regime claimed Israel
was behind the assassination.
Two of the suspects were identified as Rasim Aliyev and Ali Huseynov. According to reports, they received instructions from Balagardash Dadashov, who was in contact with Iranian intelligence and received a sniper rifle, pistols and explosive devices to attack Chabad emissaries operating in Baku.
It is estimated that the would-be assassins were supposed to receive $150,000 to carry out the hit on the Israeli ambassador. It was reported that Aliyev, Dadashov's brother-in-law, recruited Huseynov and gave him $9,300 as an advance.
Dadashov, who is in his 60s, has been wanted since 1995 on charges of murder, abduction of children and other offenses. He reportedly headed a crime syndicate that dealt in arms trafficking, kidnapping and more.
According to an Azeri news agency, Dadashov fled to Iraq, where he lived for many years, and then moved to Iran. However, it was impossible to extradite him because Iran is not bound by any extradition agreements.
Some four years ago agents from Iran
and Hezbollah planned to set off a car bomb near the Israeli embassy in Baku shortly after Mughniyeh's assassination, but the attack was foiled.
Israel has issued a travel warning for Azerbaijan. The Counter-Terrorism Bureau suggested that visitors avoid places frequented by a large number of Israelis.
Some 30,000 Jews currently live in Azerbaijan. They enjoy freedom of religion and are rarely targeted by anti-Semites.
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
recently addressed the terror groups' attempt to attack Israelis overseas. "During this time period, when our enemies in the north are refraining from actions due to fear of a harsh response, we are witnessing efforts by Hezbollah and other hostile elements to carry our vicious terror attacks far from Israeli territory, for example what we saw in recent reports about attempted attacks in Thailand,"
he said, adding "I suggest that no one test our resolve."
Israeli security officials have asked their counterparts in Europe to boost security around Israeli groups for fear of terror attacks initiated by Hezbollah. A number of countries, including Greece and Bulgaria, have consented to the request.
Ilana Curiel, Polina Garaev and Kobi Nahshoni contributed to the report