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Up to 50 Georgians fight for IS, Georgian security official says

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, November 30
Currently there are about 50 Georgian citizens fighting for the radical Islamist group known as the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, the Deputy Head of Georgia’s State Security Service, Levan Izoria, has stated.

In his interview for Imedi TV, Izoria stressed that compared to previous periods, the flow of the Georgian Muslims, mainly from Georgia’s Muslim-populated eastern Pankisi Gorge and the coastal Adjara region, has “significantly decreased.”

“Based on current information, there are up to 50 Georgian citizens in Syria; we possess information about each of them,” Izoria stressed.

The official added that criminal prosecution procedures have been launched against each of those individuals against whom the law-enforcement bodies had evidence.

Since the Government has criminalised any connection with terrorist criminal groups from early 2015, several cases have been launched.

Most recently, law enforcement officials detained several people from the Pankisi Gorge.

One of them, Aiup Borchashvili, is accused of recruiting youth from the Pankisi Gorge for IS, while Davit Borchashvili has been sent to pre-trial detention for his alleged connections with IS.

Both of the individuals reject the charges. Aiup Borchashvili claims he has never committed trying to recruit young people for a terrorist cause, while Davit Borchashvili stressed he had fought in Syria for the Western-backed Syrian Free Army and not for IS.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Interior Ministry announced it has strengthened control over Georgia's borders and checkpoints, and prevented more than 400 people from entering Georgia, while 31 others had been detained for illegally crossing over the borders.

Georgian opposition parties are demanding more activeness from the Government and closer cooperation with Georgia’s foreign partners.

They also ask for detailed information from law enforcement bodies over terrorist threats and more information concerning security issues, among them a gathering of the Security Committee of Parliament.

However, the Government members claim that they “completely control” the situation and as such there is no need of any additional gatherings over recent security issues.

The radical IS Islamists striving for Muslim influence over the world have revealed a list of sixty “enemy states”, though Georgia is not among them.

For their part, Pankisi locals stress that the number of Georgians fighting for IS is more than 50 and that the youngsters leave for Syria and Iraq to join the radicals through Turkey, where they easily move because of the free travel, ostensibly travelling there “to find jobs”.