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US Praises Azeri Anti-Terror Fight

The US State Department recently praised Azerbaijan for actively opposing terrorist organizations seeking to move people, money and material through the Caucasus.

"The country stepped up efforts and has had some success in reducing the presence of terrorist facilitators and hampering their activities," according to the Country Reports on Terrorism 2010.

The report said Azerbaijani law enforcement bodies continued to pursue terrorist groups and facilitators operating in Azerbaijan. In October 2009, a Baku court sentenced two Lebanese nationals, Ali Muhammad Karaki and Ali Hussein Najmeddin, to prison terms of 15 years each, and sentenced four Azerbaijani accomplices to terms of two to 14 years after finding the group was planning attacks on the Israeli Embassy. The investigation revealed that Karaki and Hussein were linked to Hizballah and others in Iran. According to press reports, Karaki and Najmeddin were released in a prisoner exchange with Iran and deported in August 2010, along with 12 Iranian nationals.

The State Department said further that the Azerbaijani government continued to implement its law on anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML/CTF) and established a Financial Investigative Unit (FIU). In October, the central bank prepared an action plan to bring Azerbaijan's AML/FIU into conformity with the standards of the United Nations, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and other international organizations and conventions. In addition, the Azerbaijani government submitted its plan to the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), the FATF-style regional body. MONEYVAL reviewed Azerbaijan's proposals in December and agreed to withdraw its advisory on non-compliance for Azerbaijan, and removed the country from the FATF Watch List.

The United States worked with the FIU to improve the legal AML/CTF framework, establish information systems, build capacity for AML/CTF stakeholders, and develop a strategy plan for the FIU, the report said.

It also said Azerbaijan continued to identify possible terrorism-related funding by distributing lists of suspected terrorist groups and individuals to local banks.

Source: US State Department

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