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Azerbaijani Court Tries Alleged Taliban Supporters

BAKU -- A group of 13 Azerbaijanis are on trial in Baku on charges of involvement with the Taliban, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The defendants are charged with collaborating with the Taliban in Afghanistan by forming illegal groups, supplying them with weapons, and illegally crossing borders.

The defendants -- who are referred to as "religious radicals" -- allegedly received military training at Taliban camps in Pakistan and went to Afghanistan to fight coalition forces.

Some of the accused have plead guilty to the charges.

Defendant Araz Kangarli said he went to Iran through the border town of Astara last summer, then to North Waziristan in Pakistan. He told the court that he bought a gun in the city of Miranshah and went to a Taliban camp where he was told to "fight against Americans [and] to search for occupants."

Another defendant, Telman Isayev, confirmed that he used the same route to get to Afghanistan.

Defendant Tural Soltanov said he attended 10 days of training at a Taliban camp but returned to Azerbaijan because the conditions were not as he imagined and because he caught malaria.

Some of the accused told the court they went to Pakistan to get a religious education, and said that religious scholars there had told them "Jihad is not a crime."

Their lawyers said the defendants were not aware their actions were criminal.