Overview: In 2020 the Azerbaijani government actively worked to deter, detect, and defeat terrorist efforts to move people, money, and materials across its land and maritime borders and within the South Caucasus. Azerbaijani law enforcement and security services historically have conducted operations to disrupt and prevent terror attacks, arrested and prosecuted suspected terrorists, and prosecuted returning Azerbaijanis suspected of joining or financing terrorist groups fighting outside Azerbaijan.
2020 Terrorist Incidents: There were no reported terrorist incidents in Azerbaijan in 2020.
Legislation, Law Enforcement, and Border Security: In 2020, Azerbaijan made no significant changes to its legislation on combating terrorism.
Azerbaijani law enforcement and security services have demonstrated adequate capacity to detect, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism in Azerbaijan’s territory. Responsibility for counterterrorism is vested in several government agencies. The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Azerbaijan’s primary law enforcement agency, cooperates closely with the State Security Service (SSS), Azerbaijan’s domestic intelligence and counterterrorism service. The SSS is responsible for identifying and preventing criminal activities by terrorist groups and countering international terrorism and transnational crimes. Law enforcement and security agencies continued to exhibit wide discretion in determining what activities qualify as “terrorism” or “extremism,” leaving political opponents and religious activists vulnerable to prosecution, detention, and physical mistreatment. Such individuals have been especially vulnerable to physical abuse by the MIA’s organized crime unit. For further information, see the Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and International Religious Freedom Report.
In March, President Aliyev signed an order to dissolve the Special State Protection Service and establish three new government organizations in its place: the Presidential Security Service, tasked with protecting the Azerbaijani president and visiting foreign heads of state and government; the State Service for Special Communications and Information Security, responsible for the Cyber Emergency Response Team and communications safety; and the State Agency for the Protection of Strategic Objects, responsible for protecting offshore oil platforms against terrorism. The State Border Service and the State Customs Committee jointly manage border security and interdict terrorist efforts to move people, money, and materials — including weapons of mass destruction — across Azerbaijan’s land and maritime borders. The Prosecutor General’s Office is responsible for prosecuting suspects accused of terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism, conspiracy to aid terrorism, and other terrorism-related crimes. Azerbaijan used terrorist and criminal watchlists and biographic/biometric screening at ports of entry. Azerbaijan’s law enforcement and security services share information regarding terrorism matters among themselves and with regional and international partners.
Countering the Financing of Terrorism: Azerbaijan is a member of MONEYVAL. Its FIU, the Financial Monitoring Service, is a member of the Egmont Group. In 2020, President Aliyev signed an order approving the National Action Plan for the Promotion of Open Government for 2020-22. Following the provisions of the plan, the Cabinet of Ministers established the Coordination Council for Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.
Countering Violent Extremism: In March, the State Council for Support to NGOs under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the State Committee for Work With Religious Organizations, jointly funded a website, www.drem.az , run by the Azerbaijan Democratic Reforms Development Center, to combat religious radicalism and extremism through education and awareness.
International and Regional Cooperation: Azerbaijan maintained membership in the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other international bodies. Azerbaijan supports NATO CT initiatives as one of the Alliance’s Partnership for Peace countries.
Azerbaijan participated in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, where it deployed 120 peacekeeping troops, and contributed to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund.