BAKU, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Hackers calling themselves the “Iranian Cyber Army” and “Cocaine Warriors from Persia” have hit the websites of Azerbaijan’s national airline AZAL and television station AzTV, the second such attack on Azeri state portals, officials said on Thursday.
Last month, “Azerian Cyber Army” hackers defaced the websites of about 20 Azeri state bodies, posting images of the devil over photos of the Azeri and Israeli presidents, and messages saying “Servants of Jews” and “Enemies of Islam.”
Azerbaijan, a Muslim Caspian Sea state and former Soviet republic that borders Iran, has a secular government and cordial ties with the United States and Israel.
Local media outlets reported the latest hackers’ attacks were believed to originate in Iran, but gave no evidence. Both AZAL’s and AzTV’s websites were operating as normal later on Thursday.
Tension between Iran and Azerbaijan has increased in recent months following the deaths of Iranian nuclear scientists in attacks Tehran blamed on Israel and the United States.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned Azerbaijan’s ambassador after the recent killing of the nuclear scientist and blamed Baku for facilitating Israeli intelligence.
An Iranian reporter for Iran’s Sahar TV and Fars news agency was detained in custody earlier this week on suspicion of drug possession in Azerbaijan, prompting a warning from Iran’s embassy the arrest could damage relations.
AzTV reported on Tuesday more than 20 people had been arrested on suspicion of plotting attacks and having links with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanese group Hezbollah.
Last month, Azeri authorities arrested two men suspected of plotting to attack foreigners, saying targets included the Israeli ambassador in Baku and a rabbi. (Additional reporting by Afet Mehtiyeva; Writing by Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; Editing by Sophie Hares)