JERUSALEM (JTA) — A group of terrorists planned to stage attacks in Baku during the Eurovision Song Contest, including targeting the Azerbaijan hotel where the Israeli contestants were staying.
Azerbaijan’s security minister said Wednesday that police had arrested about 40 suspects in the planned attacks on the annual competition, which was held in the home country of the previous year’s winner.
The alleged terrorists were arrested during Eurovision, which ended Saturday, though it was not announced until four days later..
Attacks allegedly were planned on Crystal Hall — the concert hall where the contest was held — and on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, as well as on hotels, mosques and other religious sites, the National Security Ministry said in a statement, the French news service AFP reported.
The terrorists had obtained tickets to the event in order to carry out an attack, according to the ministry.
Members of the Israeli band Izabo, which did not make it out of the Eurovision semifinals, were under heavy security — Israeli and Azerbaijani. It was feared that Iranian terrorists from Iran, which borders Azerbaijan, would target the band.
The group was ordered to leave Baku immediately after losing in the semis, even though they had been told in advance that they could stay until after the finals, according to AFP. The group opted to stay on without a security detail.