More Baku Metro bombings in Azerbaijan (July 3, 1994)

On this day in 1994, alleged separatists with the assistance of Armenian secret services carried out their second attack on the Baku metro in Azerbaijan in the same year.

We often hear about ‘state-sponsored’ terrorism: this may be a case of that .

When you read of terrorism in the news you sometimes come across the phrase ‘state-sponsored terrorism’. This neologism usually refers to incidents which can indeed be considered terrorist in nature, i.e they are acts of serious violence perpetrated in the furtherance of an underlying ideology (political, religious or otherwise), and which receive some support or push from a state.

This kind of terrorism is actually quite rare in my view. Very few terrorist groups receive any aid from a state (financial, logistical or otherwise). Quite the contrary: states are usually the lead in fighting terrorist groups. Think of the US in the post 9/11 period in its ill-christened ‘war on terrorism’. How much has been spent so far in this effort? I have seen estimates as high as US$2 TRILLION!

But back to this notion of ‘state-sponsored’ terrorism. When you hear of that term I am sure your thoughts go immediately to a few states: Iran, Russia, Syria, maybe China. A fair case could be made that India, at least under the current Modi government, is backing the RSS, a virulent anti-Muslim Hindu extremist bunch.

What I would not expect you to come up with by way of example is Armenia.

On this day in 1994 the metro system in Baku, capital of the relatively new republic of Azerbaijan (out of the former Soviet Union) suffered a second attack in a year (see my earlier post on the other one). 13 people were killed and 42 wounded by a bomb. Authorities accused northern separatist groups and Armenian special services of conducting the attack.

See also: Baku Metro bombings in Azerbaijan | March 19, 1994

I do not know a lot about the Armenian intelligence agencies, never having had the pleasure of meeting with them over my three+ decades in Canadian intelligence. It is true that Armenia and Azerbaijan were having issues over a disputed border area, one of many that came out of the dissolution of the Soviet footprint. But was it behind this attack? Who knows?

The simple truth is that the vast majority of terrorist groups require neither state funds nor any other kind of aid. They appear to do very well on their own, thank you very much. To my mind, state-sponsored terrorism will remain the outlier, not the dominant reality.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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