Baku, 29 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- An Azerbaijani court today sentenced six members of the illegal Hizb-ut-Tahrir Islamic group to jail sentences of between six and seven years. The six, all Azerbaijani nationals, were found guilty of plotting against Azerbaijan's secular political regime. They had been arrested weeks before the Azerbaijani authorities increased repression against the Islamic group in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which originated in Central Asia, wants to set up a caliphate by peaceful means to replace secular regimes in the region.
The group recently set up cells in Azerbaijan. Authorities in the Southern Caucasus state are still looking for the group's local leader, Uzbek citizen Abdulrasul Abdulrakhimov.